Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. Today, I bring you Elizabeth Maddrey. I love anyone who had a crush on Pierce Brosnan in “Remington Steele”, so I already feel like we’re a bit like soul sisters. Add two little boys and a love of crochet, and I feel like we should be next door neighbors who regularly enjoy sharing cups of coffee. I very much enjoyed reading about her writing and hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My husband and I have been married just over 19 years. We met in our first college class (bright and early at 8am) – a computer architecture course. We’re both computer nerds at heart, though I don’t flex those nerd muscles professionally any more, preferring being home with our two boys and getting to write instead! When I’m not writing or being Mom, I enjoy cooking and crochet and playing the piano.
Tell us about your current release. Love Defined is the third, and final, installment in my women’s fiction series about twin sisters and their attempts to start a family. Infertility is one of those things that’s never really finished, so even though I’m ending the series, not everything is tied up in a pretty little bow. I feel like all the characters have reached a place of resolution and happiness that will see them through the next stage of their life. That, to me, is a happy ending and I hope readers will get that sense.
If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely! In fact, I spent a number of years wrestling with questions along these lines before I ever ventured into the publishing world. I wanted to be sure that my motives for writing were what they needed to be. Having that understanding that, you know what, it’s okay if I’m not one of those big-name authors from the large houses who everyone raves about, has really helped me focus on the fact that what matters is telling stories that will resonate with people who maybe aren’t used to having stories published that do that. I’m just incredibly grateful anytime God uses one of my books to touch someone.
How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher(or agent or audience if you self publish)? I’m not sure I actually push past the fear – that fear comes right along with me every time I submit a new idea to my editor. But you know the saying “Feel the fear and do it anyway”? That’s what you have to do. I just remind myself (sometimes I do it a lot) that I’m not in this for fame or fortune but because I want my stories to touch hearts, and they can’t do that on my hard drive. So while there are always going to be people who leave negative reviews, I can look past that and focus on the fact that there are other people who enjoy my books and that makes it possible to take a deep breath and write another one.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? I started out looking for an agent and then, hopefully, a contract with one of the big traditional publishers. After several conversations and critiques and mentoring sessions with authors I respect, I realized that the stories I like to tell weren’t probably going to be a fit for what was tending to sell. I considered self-publishing at that point, but I also met with a new small publisher who was interested in the less-mainstream plot-lines. It was a good fit, for both of us, and I’ve been very happy publishing my books with her. I have, just recently, dipped a toe into the indie pool though and that was fun, too. So I might do more of that in the future, we’ll just have to see.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I generally have a semi-vague notion of what I want to write before I start – but it could be as simple as one or two sentences highlighting the main plot arc (e.g. twin sisters struggling with infertility). From there, I start writing and I see where it takes me. I usually get a good feel for the next few pages as I’m writing and it just strings along from start to finish. I’ve tried do to more concrete planning…it just doesn’t work super well for me, unfortunately. I kind of envy the plotters of the world.
Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? I usually have a target of around 75,000 words, but really it’s all about the story. How many words will it take to tell the story the way it needs to be told? I can fluff or cut if I have to meet some kind of length requirement for my publisher, but generally speaking I don’t like to do that (and haven’t really had to, either.) But I think the 75K mark makes a nice size book to hold in your hand and gives you a good bang for your buck in terms of time spent reading vs. price.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? I hope it’s both, but I don’t spend a ton of time analyzing how many people I think are going to like an idea before I sit down and start writing it. I think there are enough people out there in the world that there have to be some who are going to enjoy the stories that I enjoy writing. Maybe not as many as if I tried to follow the market trends – but I also know that when I try to write something that isn’t where my heart is, it turns out horrible. If I can’t love my characters and their stories, the time I spend with them is painful, and it shows in the final product. (And those few manuscripts that ended up that way will never see the light of day!)
Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her on Facebook Pinterest Google+ and on her Website. You can purchase her books at:
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