What goes on inside the writerly mind?
Let’s sit down with Word Weaver Writing Contest 2nd place winner Anne Clare and find out.
Anne Clare lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, where she spends her time chasing her three children, reading, writing, teaching, serving as a church organist and choir director, and procrastinating on her housework. She blogs about writing, World War 2 history, and ‘momming’ at https://thenaptimeauthor.wordpress.com/ .
DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece?
Anne Clare: A little of both! The bones of the story came from a chapter halfway through a novel I’ve been working on. However, I had to adjust quite a bit of it to make it work as a short story – giving more background details in some places, and eliminating the bits that weren’t necessary for this story arc. I enjoyed looking at this section in more detail, and I think that some of the changes will have to make their way into the longer piece.
Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?
I’ve completed one novel to date. The process was…interesting. The following steps sum it up.
- Have a crazy dream set in World War 2 that outlines the climax of an interesting story.
- Journal ideas to the story, and realize that I know too little about the time period I’m writing in.
- Find as many history resources as I can. Ignore the dishes in the sink and READ.
- Pay lots of library late fees.
- Have a major household plumbing disaster.
- Develop difficulty sleeping.
- While waiting in the house for repairmen to tell me that they have to do ANOTHER job, and in the wee hours when I can’t sleep, write like crazy.
- Celebrate the first draft! (And working plumbing!)
- Get beta readers and revise, revise, revise.
- Set the book aside, and start something new. Come back and revise periodically until the time is right to send it out into the world!
That’s it! I AM hoping that the next book will skip the plumbing and insomnia. I’m trying to make fewer involuntary library donations, too.
Ha! That’s an awesome list. Back to the profile:
Where do you do your writing?
I spend most of my time as a stay-at-home mom, and focused writing time is scarce. I found that journals and notebooks do pretty well for a first draft as they are easy to transport and hard to break—I’ve filled lots of pages out in the yard while I watch the kiddos play. Otherwise, I like to work late on my laptop with music that fits the mood of the piece I’m working on.
Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?
I love stories. I grew up in the middle of a cornfield (no, I’m not exaggerating) and lived off of books. I’d like to create excellent historical fiction for others to enjoy. It would be nice to have them published with a fabulous-looking cover, too!
What helps you the most when it comes to writing?
I like to have music playing in the background. It doesn’t need to be instrumental, but it needs to fit the mood of the piece I’m writing, and I need to know it well enough that I can tune it out if I need to.
Since I’ve been focusing on historical fiction, research has helped drive my stories. I’ll read about a fascinating event or place, and start asking myself what might happen to someone who was there. If I get stuck, I research my time period further, and see what ideas present themselves.
What does writing success look like?
Writing success is being able to read something I’ve written and enjoy it, and to know that it is the best work I could do. If I’m not satisfied with my work, in the end it won’t matter what others say. Of course, if it moves on to publication, to others enjoying it, and (dreaming big here!) to paying for itself, those are excellent bonuses!
What are you working on now?
Along with the endless edits on my first book, blogging, and poking at some short fiction, I’m slogging through the first draft of my second historical fiction novel. It’s set in WW2 Italy, and involves a POW escape. I have the story arc set, but I have TONS of research materials to find and sift through. Library time!
There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?
I’ve been following Dan’s blog for several months. I’ve been impressed with his informative, encouraging posts. When he announced that the theme for this contest was ‘mystery/suspense,’ I immediately thought of the story I submitted. The contest sounded like a great opportunity to have my work critiqued, and to connect with other writers.
Have you ever entered a writing contest before?
I entered a MUCH earlier (and much uglier) draft of my first book into the 2016 Athanatos Christian Writing Contest. I was pleased to make the first judging cut, but I didn’t make the finals. Their thorough feedback showed me why, and gave me many ideas for improvement. I’ve submitted part of the current draft into another contest—I’ll find out the results in the fall.
Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest, if there is one?
If I can come up with an idea to fit the topic, I’d be happy to enter another Word Weaver Contest.
What was Dan’s critique process like?
Dan’s critique was very helpful. His notes were thorough and covered both grammar and style. He was encouraging and noted the story’s strengths, and was kind with his suggestions.
Gang, join me in congratulating Anne for a terrific story!
Here’s where you can read more of her work:
“explores the world of writing, one stolen minute at a time,” as well as her exploits in getting published.