Q&A with Author and WLT Instructor Shennandoah Diaz

Shennandoah Diaz, a marketing and publishing professional and a writer, is starting the Fall off right at the Writers’ League of Texas with her class, Anatomy of an Author Website: How To Build A Site That Keeps Them Coming Back” The class is Saturday, October 15, 2011 from 9 a.m. – Noon. Check out more details about the class on the website.

But first, learn a little more about Shennandoah here with her Q&A!

What book are you reading right now?

I’m a double fisted reader so they are Johannes Cabal The Necromancer by Jonathan Howard and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

When you’re not reading or writing, what do you like to do with your time?

Talk, or so I’m told.

What’s your favorite opening line of a book?

I can’t say what it was because this is a mixed audience but the book was Outrageous Fortune by Tim Scott, so you can look it up. (it’s a bad word—I’m a naughty girl!)

What life lesson did your last book or project teach you?

Don’t rush! I have a bad habit of flying through a scene (or multiple scenes) instead of taking the time to let them unfold, develop an entire sensory experience, and move at a natural pace. It’s much harder to go back and fix something like that then it is to do it right the first time.

What word do you love? What word do you detest?

Love: habitual

Hate: phlegm

What is a little known fact about yourself?

Referring back to the hobby of talking, it’s hard to find something that no one knows about me. Hmm . . . well I’m a damn good pool player (8 ball) and was offered sponsorship to compete on the women’s tour.

How do you deal with the ups and downs of the publishing business?

A box of Kleenex, a subscription to Writer’s Digest, caffeine, and the support of my solid network of writers and publishing professionals. It may be better to ask my husband how he deals with me dealing with the ups and downs.

How do you balance writing with work and family?

I have a consistent schedule I follow where I block out time every week to write (refer back to the word habitual above). My family understands its important to me so they leave me alone during the allotted time, but I also make sure that I shut down the computer when its time and focus on my family. I work for myself so I have a flexible schedule, which is awesome for handling those inopportune moments when a fit of inspiration strikes.

What is your writing routine and where do you write?

I block off 4 hours 2-3 times a week to write in the morning. The kitchen table is my favorite spot with the sun shining in from the window, a mega-cup of coffee next to me, and everyone asleep or off at school or work.

Do you outline or just start writing?

I usually start by writing because I begin with a scene or image in mind—it’s that initial spark of inspiration. Then I go back and develop the characters and plot a story around that scene so I can develop something that actually works.

Do you have trusted readers you turn to as you write, and if so, who and what stage?

I have a couple of people that I send stuff to after I worked a piece to death. Then I get their feedback and do it some more. I don’t send half-cocked ideas or first drafts. I always wait awhile and work over a piece a couple of times to make sure I really have exhausted my efforts. The feedback from my readers adds inspiration, answers questions, and provides additional direction that I can use to build on.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

For as long as I can remember! I won my first writing contest when I was 8 and the prize was an all day writing seminar at the local college. I was hooked—lame answer, I know!

Cyndi’s Fast Five

1. What are three things in your office/writing space that would surprise someone who popped in?

–the weird assortment of crafting supplies
–my collection of BBC comedies
–the worn copies of business books mixed in with the speculative fiction, writing, and philosophy books

2. What book first influenced you as a child?

I’m jumping on the bandwagon here, but it was My Side of the Mountain. I built my own little hideaway and even tried my hand at acorn pancakes—they were terrible by the way.

3. What time of day do you write?

AM—I wake up at 5:30 in the morning just bursting with ideas, resolutions to plot issues, and new scenes. I brainstorm in my sleep, when I’m not dreaming about zombie cheerleaders that is.

4. If you could have a beer or coffee with a writer living or dead, who would it be and why?

Neil Gaiman hands down! I’m a huge comic book fan and fell in love with Sandman (yes I have the comics) and have read all of his other books. His characters are the most unique and his worlds so vivid. He is a genuine storyteller.

5. Beer or coffee?

Mexican Martini

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