Welcome to T. J. Wooldridge, this week’s Blog Ring of Power guest! T.J. is a professional writing geek who adores research into myth, folklore, legend, and the English language. Before delving full-time into wordsmithing, she has been a tutor, a teacher, an educational course designer, a video game proofreader, a financial customer service representative, a wine salesperson, a food reviewer, an editing consultant, a retail sales manager, and a nanny.
While infrequent, there are times she does occasionally not research, write, or help others write. During those rare moments, she enjoys the following activities: spending time with her Husband-of-Awesome, a silly tabby cat, and two Giant Baby Bunnies in their Massachusetts home hidden in a pocket of woods in the middle of suburbia, reading, riding her horse in the nearby country stables and trails (not very well), reading Tarot (very well), drawing (also not very well), making jewelry (pretty well), making lists, and adding parenthetical commentary during random conversations. She also enjoys dressing up as fey creatures, zombies, or other such nonsense at science fiction, fantasy, and horror conventions.
Part 1 @ Terri
Part 3 @ Emily
Part 4 @ Sandra
Part 5 @ Vicki
PART 2: THE WRITING LIFE
What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc. My writing process is all over the place and driven by deadlines and other people. I have some elements of regularity: a few standing writing and critique dates with friends, stolen moments after Sunday horseback riding lessons before that coffeeshop closes, various meetings with friends and colleagues to talk about our work and support it. Mostly, though, it’s not all that regular. I write when I can. If I know I need an oil change or some car work done, where I’ll be sitting for at least 15-20 minutes, I’ll make sure to bring my netbook so I can write. Similarly, if I’ve got various errands and appointments with time in between, I find a place to stop and grab a coffee and plan to get a little writing done.
I’m also an editor, and unless I’m at the very tail end of a deadline that will get MY editor in trouble, I will work on my authors’ work before mine. So, when I get my own writing done depends on what I’m working for with my other authors. Similarly, if I’ve got deadlines for Broad Universe, where I’m president, or I’m handling Broad Universe related things, those get attention before my writing. I also work a lot of conventions and converences, for BU, for myself, for my publishing house, so those change up my schedule quite a bit. I have been known to steal time in a convention’s green room or con suite at the bar to get writing done, too, though.
My handwriting alternates between pretty and ornate to totally illegible, so unless I’m writing poetry, I type.
How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life? Not all that greatly, I’m afraid. I haven’t been late on any deadlines for some time, and I do get an awful lot accomplished, but I’ve pulled more all-nighters and lost more sleep than I’d like to admit. Basically, I work on a “what’s the nearest deadline? And what deadline is after that?” sort of mentality. I have spreadsheets for my projects for what needs to get done when. I check those spreadsheets regularly and I make lots of little to-do lists on the back of quartered sheets of old critiques (because I support recycling!)
I also fail at exercise. I DO a lot–I ride my horse, I hike, I read Tarot at stores–but I also spend copious amounts of time sitting at my desk which is awful for my back. I have a horse, and having her is an amazing part of my life, but occasionally I get a few weeks where I only get to see her once a week (I board her about half an hour away from my house) and sometimes, if I’m traveling, I can go two weeks without seeing her… and I hate that.
What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written? My original cover artist for The Kelpie was wonderful and amazing, but she stopped working as a professional artist…that’s why we changed covers: so we could maintain a “brand” with the series.
That said, I’d never met this artist, Vic Caswell, before in my life, and she had read the entire novel. We had a Skype meeting over the phone and she told me how moved she was with the book. We both ended up with tears in our eyes and I’ve never felt so wonderful before. Here was this amazing woman, amazing artist whose sketches were already capturing the pictures I had in my head, and she was moved by my book! It meant something to her…someone I didn’t know and had never met before.
I still get teary when I think of that call and that will pull me through when I will get negative interviews (when I hear about them) and when I get future rejections for other stories. There was one person who I never new before and who I may not get a chance to work with again, and we both touched each others lives on that deep a level.
Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support? My writers groups and Broad Universe. And it feels weird to say the latter because I’m current president, but when I sent out a call for help in publicizing my book, I had an amazing amount of people come forward. Members I hadn’t met in person before or had not spoken to before… and I couldn’t even include everyone on my blog tour! (But I appreciate all of you!) Not only that, I see so much of my stuff shared by members.
I have three writers critique groups, one of which I’ve known since my very first convention–DragonCon–in 2002: The DragonWriters. We were all part of A.C. Crispin’s writer’s workshop and many of us have stayed friends and supporters all these years. I just co-edited an anthology with Anthony Francis, one of the members that came out this past September, Doorways to Extra Time. Most of the DragonWriters are scattered, so, outside of DragonCon, we are mostly online friends. I have two in-person critique groups who have been amazing resources, too. Traveling Java ended up was created when I had to help a member of Broad Universe get some cheese back to Massachusetts from WisCon…and grew with other mostly-local Broads and friends of ours. The critiques are top notch and make my editors’ lives a whole lot easier, I truly believe. Also, the monthly deadlines keep my writing and editing on track. My other group, which was at one point called Common Ground and met at a coffee shop, now meets once a month at one of the member’s family’s Thai restaurant and they’ve also come to a lot of my local events and given me great feedback on my writing…particularly with feedback on male point of view and characters from different cultural backgrounds than mine.
How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews? I have a desk drawer dedicated to holding my stash of chocolate and other snack foods for emergency use. Also, I really don’t have a lot of time to read reviews, so unless someone sends them to me or they end up in my Facebook feed, I don’t see them. With rejections, I’m definitely down and less productive for a few days, but I have too many other people’s projects depending on me to really let me get too down. And I have a lot of wonderful friends and memories (like of my first cover artist) who support me.
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Blog: novelfriend.blogspot.com and novelfriend.wordpress.com
THE KELPIE: I can’t honestly say I was joking when I suggested to my best friend, Joe – Prince Joseph, eldest son of England’s Crown Prince – that we could probably find something the police had missed in regards to the missing children. After all, eleven and twelve year olds like us did that all the time on the telly and in the books we read…
When Heather and Joe decide to be Sleuthy MacSleuths on the property abutting the castle Heather’s family lives in, neither expected to discover the real reason children were going missing:
A Kelpie. A child-eating faerie horse had moved into the loch “next door.”
The two barely escape with their lives, but they aren’t safe. Caught in a storm of faerie power, Heather, Joe, and Heather’s whole family are pulled into a maze of talking cats, ghostly secrets, and powerful magick.
With another child taken, time is running out to make things right.