Monday, March 23, 2015

Interview with Lynn Blackmar

Lynn Blackmar is the self-published author of the best selling Misfit Spies series which has its third book, Catalyst upcoming.

I’ll start off with a softball question. Coffee or Tea?

I am mostly a tea drinker, but I do like an occasional coffee. I’m a big fan of Adagio Teas. You can blend your own tea, or buy ones themed with fandoms. My favorite is chocolate mate with cherries. If I drink coffee, it’s in the late afternoon, which most of my family thinks is really weird.

What has been the single biggest influence on your life as an author? Was it another author, a different kind of artist, a parent, a friend?

There a lot of authors that really influenced me, but I think my biggest influence has been myself. I can’t help making stories. When I don’t write, they pour out of me in some other way, from roleplaying to telling myself stories to put myself to sleep. It’s been that way since I was a toddler. I had written several novels when I realized this, and then I decided I was going to put those stories in my head to better use.

Who do you most look forward to reading your work?

I really like it when people I don’t know tell me they loved my books. I feel like I have this connection with someone through a story.

Are there any upcoming projects you’d like people to know about?

Catalyst is about to be released. It’s the third book in my Misfit Spies series, and probably will be the last. After this series, which has been action-adventure aimed at teens, I plan to write about a teen superhero who finds out she’s on the wrong side.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Tell us about your most recent project or projects.

I love to write first drafts. I could write first drafts all day long. For the most part, I’m a discovery writer, or what many people call a pantser. I find out what happens as I write, and it’s like I live it as I’m writing. It’s thrilling.

I don’t like using outlines, though I have used them. Once I’ve outlined a story, something in me is convinced the story is already told, and then it’s a struggle for me to write it. Contrary to what I read about pantsers, I don’t have trouble with structure, and outlining often causes me to stall. I think a lot of those are written by people who haven’t actually tried it, or for whom it’s just not natural.

I do often use a plot template instead of an outline. I set up the points in the template in Scrivener, and then just fill in with scenes. A simple plot template would be a three-act structure: setup, confrontation, resolution. I’ve taken books in genres I like and given each chapter or scene a one-word summary of the type of scene it is. For example: characters meet, epic battle, or startling twist. Turn that into a list, and you have an extensive plot template. No plot points, just pure structure. There was a great example on the Nanowrimo forums this past year: http://nanowrimo.org/forums/nano-prep/threads/169898

. What do you find the most challenging about being a self-published author?

Editing, in several different ways. I self edit in three passes before I ever let anyone else see my work. In the first pass I fix large issues, rewrite sections, and make sure all the timelines are correct. In the second pass, I go line by line and fix word choice and edit for clarity. The last pass is a proofreading pass, and I do this with software. I use Autocrit, Serenity Software’s Editor, and I also go through and search for doubled and repeated words. I started making a list of words to check for a few books ago, and it’s really handy.

I have had editors edit my work, to vary degrees of success. Just because a person says they are an editor doesn’t mean they are good at it or that they really understand story structure. They also may just be a proofreader. There’s nothing wrong with proofreaders except in how you market (and price!) yourself as an editor. I’ve had two freelance editors disappear on me, or take months to get back to me. Now I use proofreaders and beta readers.

I don’t completely agree that you can’t edit your own work. I spent years in academia and never had the luxury of having someone else edit my work. You can learn to see your errors, but I don’t don’t think most people believe you can, so they don’t try. From what I hear from my traditionally published author friends, they have to have a near perfect work before they can submit, so they may have a proofreader, but their editor is just acquiring their work, not editing it. So really, those authors are also their own editors.

If given the option to go the traditional publishing route, would you take it?

I have already had that option, twice actually, but I turned them both down. They were both for small presses, and, at least at the time, I was doing better than their best sellers. There wasn’t much they could give me that I wasn’t already doing for myself.

I really like self publishing, and it’s hard to see me choosing something else, but I’m not totally against the idea. If the right offer came along, one that allowed me to keep self publishing and writing, I would consider it.

What’s one thing you want your fans to know about you?

I’d love to hear from them! They are welcome to tweet me (@LynnBlackmar) or message me on Facebook from my author page. They can also find me at my blog http://www.lynnblackmarauthor.com/.

With your newfound riches, what is the one thing you want to do?

Go to more conventions! Meet people, and buy more books! Okay, that’s three, but I was never very good about following directions.

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