My Name is Tanya.
I love NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.
I love ChaNoWriMo. They gave me an opportunity to share my strategies to surviving 30 days of writing to reach the goal of 50K words.
They've been sharing bits of the interview on their wonderful Facebook page. Be sure to like them by clicking here. In case you missed those tidbits, here's the full meal.
Thank you and good luck if you're taking on NaNoWriMo. Click here for more information about this wonderful writing challenge.
1. What first got you interested in NaNoWriMo / ChaNoWriMo?
With NaNoWriMo, I can’t pinpoint how it came to my attention, but I believe it was via Facebook, perhaps a post from an author I follow. We were new to Washington State, making a long journey up the Pacific Coast for about a week in October. Once we settled in the area, but before we found our home, I remember being at our lodge and deciding to go for it. I needed a distraction from the stress of our long journey. I liked the idea of challenging myself to write 50K words in 30 days. That was 2012, and I’ve participated ever since. For ChaNoWriMo, I learned about it in 2014 and love the idea.
2. What keeps you going through a whole month, day by day?
Most days, it’s the story that unfolds in my mind—the characters, the events, the dialogue. But, for less motivated days, I love that NaNoWriMo keeps tabs on your daily word average. I also keep up with other writers in my city as well as those on Guam.
3. How much time do you try to spend writing every day in November? What does an average November writing day look like, for you?
I try to carve out time in the morning, before the family rush, and in the evening after the home is tucked in and sleeping. If I get a solid hour or two a day, I can meet my goal.
4. What (if anything) do you do in advance to prepare for actually writing the novel during November (drafting, outlining, lists of scenes, etc.)?
I’m a girl scout in that I’m honest. Sometimes I wonder if other NaNoWriMo participants start writing long before the November start date. For now, I’m debating in my head about two story lines. I don’t actually start writing (again, because of my innate honesty), but I may begin an outline and I love having my character names settled. It helps propel the story and my writing efficiency.
5. Any tips and secrets you would like to share on building plot, character, etc.?
I love sharing. It helps get writers motivated and stories born.
I keep files on my computer for each book I write. I include drafts, outlines, scenes, and character profiles. In my profiles, I may have “journal” entries of the main characters, lists of my character’s likes, dislikes, quirks, and personality. I even go so far as finding celebrities I envision as my character (as if in a movie) and using their pictures as a visual guide. Some people like music when they write, and I’m in that group. I make a ‘soundtrack’ for my book and it helps with feeling and tone as I write. In addition, I print out my drafts and use index cards and stuff them into a journal or folder. If I find time away from home, I have things in front of me that I can work on in my car, or the library, or a coffee shop. As much as I love computers, I keep printed copies of everything I have, so the progression doesn’t need to be dependent on my accessibility to my laptop.
6. Who are the Chamorro or Micronesian, Oceanic, writers that you consider role models?
There are so many. I love that Craig Santos Perez is making waves as a poet. I’m a fan of Sieni A.M. and Lani Wendt Young. I’ve been able to bounce off ideas and information with Young. I’ve met the wonderful author, Kristiana Kahakauwila and her short story collection, ‘This is Paradise: Stories’ is read worthy. And, I appreciate the art and writings of Dr. Judy Selk Flores. She continues to be an inspiration to me.
7. Any Pacific novels in particular that really inspire you in terms of what literature can do?
I feel like my last novel, Secret Shopper was a blend of Guam meets Bridget Jones’s Diary. I like what Lani Wendt Young has done with her YA Telesa Series, and I’m pretty fervent about her dive into Contemporary Romance/Comedy with her Scarlet Series now. For Guam, I am not aware of any novels that are in my genre specifically, which is women’s literature/romantic comedy. I have a number of projects in the Young Adult genre, and again, would love to see a rise in Chamorro titles out there.
8. What inspired you to use Chamorro motifs and language in various pieces of writing (especially in your wonderful short-story collection Attitude 13)? What do you think that adds to your work?
The biggest inspiration is being Chamorro. It’s what I know and what I am. My father passed away in 2007 and that’s when the short stories started to build in me and burst onto paper. I feel like writing stories that reflect my island and upbringing brings a mirror up to those readers from the same heritage and a light to those not familiar with us. I wrote Attitude 13 with a conscious effort to include Chamorro themes and ideals. I’m working on a volume 2 of short stories that I want to be more wide ranged and organic. I have many influences that I would like to seep into the writing.
9. What does the Chamorro canon of literature look like, to you? What do you dream of it looking like in the future?
It’s misleading to say it’s burgeoning, because, it’s always been there, a constant, but gentle flow. With the rise of indie publishing, there is more out there than we realize. Sometimes, and I invite others to try it, I type in ‘Guam’ or ‘Chamorro’ in the search bar of Amazon, under books. You’ll be surprised by what’s being published. Some of them come from a genuine place and from Chamorro writers. My hope is that Chamorro writers, whether on Guam or other places in our great big world, continue to write, to hone the craft, and be bold and publish.
10. What advice might you give about publishing, promotion, etc.?
I’ve been doing self promotion since 2010. I’ve attended Chamorro Festivals up and down the west coast—selling my books, speaking on writing and publishing. Social media is a big help to authors, so as introverted as I may be, I utilize Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and my blog, Guam Goddess in Training, to my advantage. I used to carry business cards, but found them, at least for me, an uncomfortable tool.
In terms of publishing, indie publishing is great. I used Authorhouse in 2010 to publish Sirena and Attitude 13. I didn’t in 2013 when I self-published Secret Shopper. The difference, money. Amazon’s Createspace offers a free self-publishing program. I’ve done the traditional publishing route too and hold my numerous rejection letters as trophies of honor. I would travel that route again, once I’ve polished a manuscript I deem worthy enough to submit. Find yourself a publishing company, large or ‘boutique’ and follow their submission guidelines. Brace yourself for the sound of crickets, i.e. ‘no response’, or a cookie cutter rejection letter, but don’t stop, because what one publisher might turn their nose up to, another might love.
11. Are there any historical or current events that inspire you in terms of writing?
I can’t say that there are any specific events. I’m very inspired by people who are underdogs or wallflowers who rise to an occasion, even if it’s just discovering their own power. I’m inspired by other writers who keep trying. And, that’s why I love NaNoWriMo, because it gets me to wring that story out of my brain, which would otherwise not happen.