Please join me in welcoming Lynne Tagawa to the blog! Her writing tips and experience are sure to encourage and help you on your writing journey. If you’ve never read one of her books, please keep reading!
What do you write? How/why did you pick your genre?
I have written mostly historical fiction, and it’s a long story because I’m a science teacher by trade. I wrote a Texas history curriculum for my school, and in the process got hooked. History is so interesting–you just can’t make this stuff up!
How long does it take you to: write the book? Edit it? Finalize it?
I am a slow writer. It takes me a long time to research and write the first draft. I tend to do a bit of editing as I go—enough to shut up my internal editor—and then later I discover even more mistakes as I submit my work to writers’ groups. I am hoping to speed up the process, but each book of the Russells trilogy took two years total, start to finish.
Which was harder: the first book or the following books? Why?
I call my first story, A Twisted Strand (contemporary romantic suspense), my Creative Writing 101. I had never plotted a novel before and got stuck a third of the way through. James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel from the Middle saved my life. I also hired a good editor, and it was a great investment, not just for that book, but for all future ones.
What’s your favorite book on writing? What do you like about it?
I like Dwight Swain’s Techniques of a Selling Writer. The word “Selling” was a turn-off at first, but really, it’s a book about craft. Very comprehensive, and the part about scene rhythms—action and reaction—slowly became part of my mindset.
What conference do you most want to attend? Why?
I’d love to go to the Blue Ridge conference. One of my books was a Selah finalist and I just feel a connection there. Of course, my characters live on the Blue Ridge, that must be why!
How do you prepare to write your books: pantser, plotter, both, something completely different?
I’m more of a pantser than a plotter, but every story has a beginning, an ending, and turning points. I guess I’m a post-er. I drive posts into the ground at key points along the way so I won’t get lost or distracted. I fill in the gaps between these key scenes as I go. Then I have to go back and tidy up. I suppose folks who write detailed outlines have less to tidy up, but I doubt if I’ll ever be that tidy. (Just look at my house.)
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I’m indie for several reasons. First was my genre. I knew of at least one mid-sized publisher that might take my stories, but I feared that there was just too much theological content in it for others. I don’t want to be in a situation where I’m rethinking what to write because it won’t be accepted by an agent or publisher. Then a friend who has been published both ways explained the royalty differential. That solidified the decision.
What does your revision process look like?
I look over the scene I’ve written the day before and make any revisions. Eventually, a writer’s group will look at that chapter, and I’ll make more revisions. I have found it useful to make a print copy at some point (Office Depot or Staples) and mark that up. Beta readers come next, and then perhaps an upload to my kindle for another read-through. I pick up a lot of awkward paragraphs and misplaced commas that way. Of course, I don’t catch everything myself! I’m amazed at how much my proofreader finds.
Lynne Tagawa is an author and educator. She’s written a Texas history curriculum, Sam Houston’s Republic, and 18th century historical fiction, including The Shenandoah Road: A Novel of the Great Awakening.
To find out more or sign up for her newsletter, go to www.lynnetagawa.com.