In high school, I always enjoyed writing. I loved doing research papers and essays. I have an overactive imagination and used to make up stories in my head before I went to bed every night. I've also always enjoyed reading. When I bought my first computer as a junior in high school, I decided I really wanted to write a novel. I wrote more than half of it, but had to put it aside when I left for college.
How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
Although I started writing my first novel in high school, I put writing aside for many years. After I stopped working full-time, I found time and mental energy to write again. I have been writing seriously for about five years. To begin with, I finished that novel I'd begun in high school. After I realized it wasn't very good, I read many books on writing and started from scratch. The third novel I completed, Star Shining Brightly, was accepted for publication and was released in July 2006.
What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
When I write, I'm all over the place. I don't plan a lot. I usually write down a page of events that will happen and then elaborate as I go.
Generally, I have a scene or some dialogue that runs though my mind all day. When I finally have a chance at night after the kids are tucked in bed, I sit down to write all the lines that were running through my head that day. Sometimes, it's a scene at the beginning of my novel, and sometimes it's at the end, so I never write in order. I first write what's most anxious to come out of my head. As I write, I leave sections that I know I have to come back to later, and maybe jot down a few notes about what I want to have happen there. Then, I just write what I really want to. Often, this leaves large sections of stuff that I'm not so eager to write, but I know I have to come back to it eventually.
How do you choose your characters' names?
For the most part, I just go with whatever name pops into my head. I don’t do a lot of research or over-thinking. I like to use basic names that aren’t too common, but also not overly creative.
What type of writing schedule do you have?
I don't have a fixed writing schedule. I can't write while my kids are awake. There's too much to do for them and with them. I write when they are tucked in bed. I don't write every night, but when I do, it's often for a few hours until I tire myself out. Sometimes, if I have some free time during the day, I'll write down notes or dialogue in a notebook and transcribe them to the computer at night. This doesn't happen very often, but it’s good to always have a notebook handy.
How do you handle life interruptions?
Sometimes it’s frustrating when you have a goal you want to accomplish and other things come up. My current goal is to have my finished manuscript off to the publisher by the end of this month. That’s not going to happen because we just found out we’re moving. I would have to say that’s a big interruption. We have to ready our house for selling and look into buying another home in the town to which we’re moving. At first, I was frustrated that I wouldn’t accomplish my goal. But now I realize that the time will come for that manuscript. It won’t be when I wanted it, but it will come. There is no sense in rushing through something just to finish it. It’s better to put it off a bit to when I can dedicate my time on it. Sometimes, things have to get put off, and that’s okay.
Do you get blocked? Any hints on how to stave it off?
It seems I’m constantly dealing with bouts of writer’s block. When that happens, I try to at least do something to get my momentum going. Sometimes, it’s just sitting at the computer and reading old bits of my previous novels, just to get inspired or at least feel like I’m doing something. There is really no sure way to get rid of it. Stay involved in writing in some form whether it be writing a blog or reading up on writing techniques.
What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?
That's a hard one. All the novels I’ve started and am working on are LDS in nature. The characters and themes are LDS. I love reading and writing LDS fiction, but one day, I would like to write a novel for the national market.
What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
The thing I like most about writing is the creative process. I really enjoy writing down the ideas that have been swimming around in my head. For me, the hardest part of being an author is promotion. For the most part, I’m shy and don’t talk about myself very easily.
What is your next project?
Right now, I am busily editing and revising the sequel to Reasonable Doubt. It's called One On One. I'm so close to finished, but it's been dragging a bit. Editing/revising is not my favorite part, but it has to be done. A good friend and editor just finished reading it and has given me great suggestions. I am now sending it to my sister who always has good revision/editing suggestions. Then, I will have my husband read it because there is a basketball theme to this novel, and he's my sports expert. I hope to have it finished in a month or so.
What is your advice for other writers?
I really suggest doing as much research as you can about the market you want to write in. There is so much information available about LDS publishing that was not available even 3-4 years ago. Read books about writing and publishing. Also, you definitely want to read a lot of books in the genre you’re writing in. Know the business really well before even submitting. Also, have someone you trust read your manuscript and be ready to accept their feedback. I didn’t have anyone read my first manuscript; it wasn’t very good and wasn’t accepted.
Tell us about your new book.
Reasonable Doubt is about attorney Julia Harris, who must defend a college basketball player on a charge of murder. She believes that he is guilty, but wants to earn a promotion at work, so she throws herself into the case. With the help of her new co-counsel, Pablo Torres, she begins to piece together the case. Pablo’s belief that their client is innocent, along with Julia’s distrust in men, causes her to dislike Pablo. In spite of her feelings, they must unearth the truth together.
That sounds like an exciting book, Marcia. Thank you for answering my questions.
Thanks again for the great opportunity to do this interview. I really appreciate it.
Visit Marcia Mickelson's website at Marcia Mickelson.com and her blog at MarciaMickelson.blogspot.com.