Sunday, December 20, 2009

Advice to Writers: Diana Castilleja

During the 2009 Dog Days of Summer BlogTour I had the pleasure of asking author Diana Castilleja of the Aiza Clan shapeshifter books to tell me a little about her writing process and the advice she'd give aspiring authors.

Diana told me that not only does she try to write "nearly every day" with a goal of 1,000 words, but she also says: "Often I can get between 2-5K on a rockin' day."

When asked if she had or did anything in particular to get into a writing mood, she replied, "Not really. I just start concentrating on the immediate action of the story, whatever scene I'm in. I don't have candles or a soundtrack or stuff like that. I just...write. I know. I'm boring."

What three tips would she pass on to aspiring authors?

1. Stay positive. There are a lot things that will turn you off of writing. Long waits, attitudes, reviews. Write what you want to write, how you want to write it, for the book that you would want to read.

2. Understand the basics of writing. Good grammar, self-editing skills, learning the proper concept of the story itself (story arc, character arc, pacing), understanding Point of View and how to use it effectively are important. They are all things that can be learned. Any well known, published author was once a new untried voice. Give yourself room to make mistakes, to learn what works for you. As you develop those, the essentials will solidify. But make no mistake. They are essential.

3. Be patient. There isn't a single aspect of book writing or publishing that moves quickly. For as long as it takes you to write a story, it will take as long if not longer to see it published.

I wondered how Diana chose the publisher she's currently with...

I watched Tease for almost year. I know the people behind the scenes, but have learned patience (see above) is a virtue when it comes to writing. I originally sent my vampire novel, THE ETERNAL KISS to them for their Dark Tarot Imprint, did the whole loop-de-loop of cover, edits and production and was very impressed on the whole with their attention to detail at every step. Since that first book, they've become my primary publisher and they have worked with me to get more attention to my books.

...And what she likes most about her publishing house.

I adore my primary editor. She's funny, and corny. Kinda like me. They don't accept just because I'm already there either. I have had stories rejected for different reasons. We have to work together to make each book a success and I really can appreciate the business sense behind that. Their cover artists are phenomenal.*

*Agreed! Holy heck, have you all seen this puppy--sorry, must show it again..

About research for Diana's writing:

I do geographical research for believability of their surrounding world more than anything. Most of their living world are straight creations. If there's anything that is the "expected accepted" I see if it will fit with my intentions, but it's not required. I like to create little nuances that make the stories individual.

An interesting note regarding the flexibility and openness we as writers need to maintain:

"As an aside, I had originally started the series with Selene's story, A Trust Earned. About two chapters in I realized it wasn't the first book that needed to be written. Roman, the hero in book 1 was all for that. After I knocked out Delilah and Selene the next two were a cakewalk, and just a ton of fun to get into to write."