Friday, May 2, 2014

Random Q&A: Mati Raine

Because I don't have a review for you this week (I know, I'm lame. It's been a busy week!), I decided to do a random Q&A about my own experiences as a writer. If you have your own answers to one of these questions, I'd love to here your response as well!

Q&A: The Author's Life for Me?
Author: Mati Raine
Publisher: Fantastic Journeys Publishing
Books: Archipelago (YA Urban Fantasy)
Website: This blog! Also,

What is the hardest part about being a writer?
I think the hardest part about being an author I've found so far is when people critique something in your book you know will get answered further down the road. It both frustrates and excites me. You sit on your hands a little bit to keep from bouncing out of the chair yelling "WAIT! I KNOW THIS ANSWER!" While you hope every reader will keep going, there will be a few that rage quit and never let you finish your story.

Being a writer means someone will eventually hate what you've written, no matter how well edited, polished, written or executed a book is. It isn't a profession where there is a right or wrong answer, rather, you're always waiting to find your audience, then dedicate what you're doing to those chosen few. Someday, somehow you will upset or disappoint someone. You just have to pick which person you will let down. 

Do you ever get discouraged about writing? 
I'll be honest, I do get discouraged sometimes. While I do appreciate all feedback, I would be lying if I said I haven't dreamed of 5-star reviews from time to time. It is a delicate balance between humility and being calloused enough to handle the demands of writing. If you don't take any feedback to heart, you'll never improve your stories. But if you don't learn to tune out the harmful stuff, you'll quickly give up because negativity is painful.

When you get a few negative reviews in a row, it gets discouraging. You wonder if you did something wrong, if you jumped in too soon, if you could have done something better. You just have to hold onto the reasons WHY you did certain things. 

For instance, (spoiler alert) there is one love interest in my story people really like. Partway through, he turns into a jerk. I've had people really let down that I did this with one of their favorite characters, but I chose to do that BECAUSE he was so likable. Every romance story I read, there is a knight in shining armor, but it never reflected the real life experience I had that sometimes princes turn BACK into frogs. Love falls apart. People jump too fast, then realize something is wrong. I don't want readers to hate this guy, but feel and experience the blindsided hot/cold nature love can have in high school. One day you're dating, the next your dumped. There isn't always a perfect reason. 

Writing is about maintaining your goals admits all the garbling input around you. Sometimes it's like protecting a sand castle in a windstorm. It gets frustrating when people don't see 'what you intended' But when they get it, that's the reward that keeps you going. 

Is it hard to be a writer and a reviewer at the same time?
I know some reviewers that are very cautious about letting people know they write as well. There is a mentality at times that writers can't be readers, because they will suddenly be biased about what they're reviewing. Yes, authors can be biased, both in a positive and negative light. It is hard sometimes to give a negative review because I've been on the other side of one, and sometimes I want to give a higher review if I really like a particular author. But at the end of the day, I look at the story, and force myself to follow the review guidelines I already wrote for myself. Are there character flaws? Is the plot solid, etc, etc. Having my own checklist to follow helps keep me keep the focus on the story.

One hard thing about reviewing and writing at the same time is when people read your own writing. If you've critiqued something in one story, and someone finds a similar flaw in your own, it puts a slight blemish against you because 'you do the same thing'. It's like reading the work by an editor, and finding a grammar error. The problem is writers are often blind to our own writing. I'll be the first to admit that! I can spot quotation errors and punctuation issues in books, but my editor always has to move my punctuation marks inside my quotes all the time. This is because our brains often automatically correct those errors while we're working on things. This is why editors/beta readers/and reviewers are so meaningful, regardless of whether you are one of those individuals yourself. You need someone to look at your work who has enough distance from it to see clearly.

What is your favorite thing about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is actually just watching my characters grow. I know I'm the one 'controlling' them, but sometimes they still go off in directions I never intended. Characters are alive: I am a firm believer in that. If you write them well, they react, expand, and decided what to do all on their own. This is why I rarely outline: I want to let my characters respond to the environment, and I don't want to say 'this is where you're going'. Some of my favorite characters are the ones who don't give a crap what I want and ruin the story all on their own. Although 'ruin' usually means 'help' in the end. 

What is one thing you wished you could tell people reading your work?
I always wish readers could see all the files I have hidden away I used to build my world. Heck, as a reader, I always wish I could see all of the authors OWN world building processes. I can put the url to my website at the end of my book, but there is never a guarantee they will go there and look at things. As a reader, sometimes we take for granted the building blocks a novel is built on. When I open a book and see appendices or maps, sometimes I think 'hey, that's useful'. But a quick glance at a map never seems to reflect the hours I know when into planning everything on it. 

What are your writing goals for the upcoming year?
My writing goals for this year are to finish my next book, Confluence. With each review I get, I feel more motivated to get it into the market. It has one of my favorite characters in it, and I have been super excited to share her with people. But I also have a goal to get it written and edited well first. I've seen some rushed books this year, and I want to make sure I don't get caught in that hype. Some books can be written great in a short span of time (I think of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer), but I think it's easy with the rise of the e-book industry to throw something out there before it's completely 'polished'. Writers may hate waiting for more than a year for a book, but I think being handed an unfinished book is much more disappointing. 

AUTHORS!!! What about you? How would you answers these Q&A questions? Send in your answers (along with some basic author info/links), and I will try to feature one or two of you this week here on my site! 

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