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Interview with Liza Kane from the #writecampaign

September 21, 2011 10:29 pm by MRM in Interviews, Writing

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The second in my series of interviews with fellow authors from the #writecampaign is here, and this time I’m talking (okay, emailing with) Liza Kane.

Liza has an amazing blog and a fantastic twitter feed. I’d give you a brief bio on her, but her own is so much better.

According to Liza: “I’m a full time reader, writer, dreamer, though I pay the bills as a store manager. One day, my passion for words will eventually pay the bills.”


Michael: Liza, you have a very involved and interesting blog. I highly suggest that anyone who hasn’t already done so go check it out.

Liza: Thank you so much. Really. I appreciate it, since I blog mainly to keep myself accountable to my goals. So the fact that anyone else finds my blog interesting in any way is awesome to me.

Michael: What keeps you involved and interested to keep posting, tweeting, and reviewing away?

Liza: Ah, I love The Twitter. I’ve met so many friends through twitter and my blog – and they are positive reinforcements to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I enjoy all the feedback, the support, and the sense of community. Even before the outcropping of hash tags, such as #amwriting and #mywana, I found other writers that I connected with really well (and are now great friends with).

For example, I met one of my crit partners (@melissaiswrite) through a #Mockingjay chat. Mockingjay had just been released (I’m talking literally the day before), and there was a general “holy crap amazing” outcry among all the fans. Melissa was one of the readers that I tweeted with about the level of amazing that book was. Melissa also happens to have a WordPress blog, which strengthened our solidarity, since many bloggers seem to have blogspot blogs.

Speaking of blogs, originally I started my blog because I wanted (read: needed) to keep myself accountable to my writing goals. When I turned 30, I was at a high point with my pay the bills job and my physical fitness goals. I experienced success in other aspects of my life, but they weren’t my dreams. I finally acknowledged my dream of writing a novel, and told myself that it’s OK for me to pursue it!

Book reviewing on my blog is new to me, and I’m still on the fence about it, to be honest with you. I’ve resisted for so long. I think I’m still “over” writing about books from my English Lit major days. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about books, but there’s a difference between analyzing books for a literary theory class versus reviewing books in such a way to keep it spoiler-free and also inspire others to read the book. I’m still finding my groove there, but what keeps me wanting to review the books would be an obligation to the publishers who give away ARCs and e-galleys. Also, if I LOVE a book, I want to share it with the rest of the world. I know how important word of mouth is for any business, and I want to support the writing community as much as possible. After all, they’ve provided me with my first addiction love, BOOKS, so I want to pay it back/forward as best as I can!

So, all in all, I blog and tweet because I like doing them, and I’ve been lucky to find similarly minded writing friends, several of whom are now my crit partners!

 

Michael: Does any one part of the social media push feel more like a chore than the rest?

Liza: Hmm… I don’t think so, but mainly because I do what I want. I love blogging, so I blog, and I blog in my own random way. I don’t have a specific agenda in mind when it comes to that. Same with Twitter. I LOVED getting instant responses from my heroes, like @Shawn_Phillips to @MargaretAtwood, and getting that type of access is really amazing.

I can see that if pushing a business or product were my main “work,” then it may feel like work. For now, though, blogging and tweeting are my fun activities, something that I do because I want to, so, I don’t feel like any part of it is a chore, really.

 

Michael: I noticed you have a schedule of books to read that is pretty long, and you plan to have it done by the end of the year. How do you find time to write when you read so much?

Liza: Actually, that schedule is tied to the ARC/e-galley thing that I mentioned above. Those books haven’t been released yet, and I’m currently reading through them so that I can post about them around their release date (spread the word, and all that!)

So, I actually read a whole heckuvalot more than that (I use GoodReads to keep track, though I’m still kind of behind there), and my simple answer to “finding the time” is I make the time to read. I love it, so I do it. A running theme on my blog is “Find solutions, not excuses.”

My easiest solution is prioritization. Like, I need to pay the bills, so I need to go to my job. And, my husband kinda likes to spend time with me, too. But, I don’t necessarily need sleep, so I choose not to sleep, especially when my reading marathon bug hits me.

Side note: my last marathon was the first week of August when my paythebills job was at its most intense. I already preplanned a writing hiatus that week, but was swept away with a need to read. Like, for reals, yo. I read eight books in less than a week, one of those books being The Passage by Justin Cronin. That was an 800-page monster of a book, and I’m proud to have crossed that off my to-read list in that crazy, hectic week!

Michael: According to your author bio, you have moved around a lot in your life. How does that affect your writing?

Liza: I think moving around has affected my overall outlook on life, which of course, influenced my writing life.

Moving so much created a weird dichotomy within me, part dreamer, part ridiculously practical/independent, and I choose to think of this dichotomy as a good thing.

I didn’t really attach myself to one place, so I don’t necessarily have a single place I think of as "home." New York would be the closest. I didn’t live on Maui, but the few times I’ve visited I’ve always felt like I was returning home. Similarly, I don’t necessarily identify with a specific people group, much to the chagrin of my thoroughly Filipino parents and extended family. But that’s OK, since my experiences inspired me to dream up strange and distant worlds or to make the familiar unfamiliar (or vice versa).

Overall, moving so often has made me thankful for anything I have, and made me cherish the relationships I can build (probably why I embraced social networking tools like Twitter, since I’m able to connect with those who are far, far away!). It’s made me appreciate the little things in life, and not put too much stock in things. Believe me, the less you need to pack and unpack, the better!

It has also given me a need for change, a restlessness that drives me to be better everyday of my life. I’ve had to rely on my own ideas and opinions, and trust my gut instincts to make business decisions, and I thank God everyday that so far, my instincts have led me well. It’s that relentlessness that keeps me going, and I hope it will keep me going as I pursue a career as a novelist.

Michael: Speaking of your writing, where and when can we buy your books?  Do you plan to epublish or go the traditional route?

Liza: Alas, my books are hardly finished, let alone available for purchase! But, I want to say they’ll be available wherever books are sold, I just don’t know when! ;)

And, I am planning on the traditional publishing route.

Michael: Your second novel is a YA Sci Fi piece. What attracts you to YA? And Sci Fi? Do you think you’ll ever expand into other genres?

Liza: WIP2 is YA Sci Fi because the story lends itself to that category.

In terms of “writing YA,” I think CS Lewis says it best:

"A children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last."

Also, I like my friend Carol Miller’s tagline: “I write YA Paranormal because every time I try to write cathartic, literary fiction, my characters end up weaving magic with one hand while flipping me off with the other.”

Though I write YA, I don’t consider myself a YA writer. Especially at this stage of my writing career, I prefer to think of myself as a writer of stories, and leave the genre labeling for later. I enjoy my freedom of being able to write what I want and not think about marketability and audience.

But, in terms of writing other genres, I already know that I will. As of this moment, I have two other WIPs burning a hole in my brain, waiting to be written, not to mention the ridiculous ideas that flit through my mind on a daily basis. All four of my WIPs are in different genres (dystopian, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary), and one of them is adult.

Michael: I notice you have a widget tracking your progress at 20000 out of 50000 words. How did you pick 50K as a target word length?

Liza: 50K is the magical NaNoWriMo word count length for novels. I have that up there more for “mindset” issues rather than thinking that my novel will be finished at 50K words. You know what I mean by mindset, right?

Michael: Kind of…

Liza: Like, a project may seem ridiculously huge and daunting, and where am I going to start, but when broken down into manageable chunks, it’s really not that bad? Well, 50K is really not that bad. ;)

Realistically, the rough draft of this novel will probably land me closer to 80K words. It’s a rough estimate, but in considering how long my scene/chapters are, where I am in the actual story, all I need to get me to The End, I’m thinking 80K is the shorter end of the estimation.

Michael: Are there any indie writers out there that have really blown you away? Any that you’ve met through this or a previous #writecampaign?

Liza: Well, so many come to mind when I think of indie writers on Twitter. But the one stand-out whose online presence, career, and writing style has impressed me the most? Hands down, Rebecca Rasmussen. She’s an absolute treasure, and her book The Bird Sisters is beautifully written. She is an author role model for me.

Michael: Have you ever met or gone to a talk by an established writer? What did you take away from that meeting?

Liza: The one that comes to mind is John Green. I write about some of my takeaways in this post.

Green spoke a lot about putting aside works in progress that weren’t really ready for him to write – even though one of those works eventually morphed to become The Fault in Our Stars. He recognized that writing something more worthwhile, that would add more beauty into the world, was more important to him than writing something and publishing it because he could. That encouraged me to set aside WIP1 (for now), and gave me “permission” to work on WIP2. I’m so happy I did. WIP2 is SO much fun to write! WIP1 is still very important to me, but I recognize that it’s not time for me to work on it now, and that’s OK.

Michael: Do you write much flash fiction? What makes for good flash fiction, in your mind?

Liza: Ha, NO! I’m definitely a novel-length writer! However, I enjoyed writing the flash pieces that I have written because it made me understand my writing process a little bit more. Plus, it’s sometimes fun to think about a small distraction like a flash piece if my WIP gets too confusing. Writing flash fiction gives me a more economical view of words, and even in longer fiction, I make sure that every word has a purpose in that sentence. I’m not so much concerned about it now as I’m drafting, but in revising the little bit that I have, I know that word choice will definitely be a major concern of mine.

Michael: Are there any entries in the first #writecampaign challenge that you’d recommend? 

Liza: Well, the winners have already been chosen, so I don’t want to seem repetitive but I definitely loved and voted for Jessica Therrien’s Soulless, which won the “People’s Choice” and fourth place for the judging round. I also really enjoyed and voted for MC Rogerson’s Infinite Doors, and that won first place in the judging round.

Michael: What advice do you have for a fellow indie author just getting started creating an online presence?

Liza: Definitely be interactive with your followers/fans. I can only speak from the receiving end of awesome authors out there, but I truly appreciate the time that authors give to answering emails, replying via twitter, sending out signed book plates, setting up chats, etc. I think it’s because I value time so much myself, that I am honestly grateful for any time spent on my behalf.

In terms of actual steps, or the idea of community at all, I would recommend Kristen Lamb’s website, along with her book, We Are Not Alone. I haven’t read her book, but it’s highly recommended by many, many writers.

Personally, participating in social media outlets that you enjoy is important. If you like blogging, but hate facebook or twitter, then just blog! If you prefer facebook to twitter, then good for you (though, I don’t think we can be friends…) ;)

Life is too short to do something because you feel you need to do it (but would rather be doing something else…like write your book). Creating an online presence seems the logical thing to do, but I think that writers get so caught up on creating that presence that they neglect writing and working on their book (you know, the reason behind all the work in the first place). I would even venture so far to say that writing a beautiful novel, and continuing to write beautiful novels is the best and only thing you really need to do to help you build your presence. Everything else is icing on the cake.


You can catch Liza all the time on her Twitter feed or at her blog.


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