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Interview and Great Writing Tips from Author, Megan Vance


Image Copyright © 2013  Megan Vance

Image Copyright © 2013 Megan Vance

“Interview and Great Writing Tips from Author, Megan Vance” by Joan Y. Edwards

Megan, thanks for agreeing to do a guest interview on my blog.

Joan, thank you for inviting me. I enjoy sharing my writing journey and tips that might help other writers along the way. I am excited. There’s a giveaway for one of the lucky people who leaves a comment. Let’s get started.

1. How did you do in English as a kid?

I won a competition in grade school for a book report I did about the book Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski. I did not enjoy English grammar very much but I enjoyed Literature and got some poems published in our high school literary journal. I never thought I would want to write for publication then. One poem was about my elderly grandmother whom I saw infrequently as she lived far away. I think the poem I wrote about her pleased her.

2. When did you decide to become an author?

In 2005, when I decided to take the Institute of Children’s Literature course, I took a chance on a new path in my life.

3. What’s your favorite book? Why?

The Bible, because it speaks to every need of the human heart.

4. Are your characters based on real people?

In non-fiction of course. But I  made up funny characters for humorous book ideas. Some of the ideas came from my own kids, who were very imaginative.

5. Did you outline and plan your books before you wrote them?

No, I am more of fly by the seat of your pants type of person.

6. How much research did you have to do for writing and/or publishing your books or manuscript in progress? What helped you in doing your research that others could benefit by your experience?

My non-fiction devotional book, Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering  is undergoing edits for publication by 4RV publishing in 2014, I did hours and hours of research for each one of the 40 stories. I’ve revised each story at least 15 or 20 times, probably more.

7. Did you cry while writing one of your books?

I have been deeply moved by researching many of the subjects for Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering.

8. What feelings do you have as you do the final edit for your non-fiction book?

I am happy with each final edit of a chapter in my non-fiction book, and am ready to move on to the next one. I’ll really be happy when 4RV Publishing releases it in 2014. That will be a great day.

9. What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you related to your writing?

There is one lady in my one critique who really gets a hoot from my Super-Cat stories. These are stories about my personal pet cat. Hearing her laugh really is encouraging for me.

10. What is your favorite genre?

I really enjoy writing poetry, it seems to come naturally.

11. What are the 3 purposes of distinctive voice? How can we create a distinctive voice in our writing?

It is important to have a strong writing voice because:

1)Your voice is what characterizes you as a writer.
2) People will come to enjoy hearing your voice when you can make it resonate with them.3) You should stay true to your own voice, for no one else has your unique perspective.

Ideas to help you develop your voice:

1)      Read books in the genre you wish to write in.
2)      Study what makes those books effective.
3)      I believe the quote: “Imitation is the highest form of honor.”

After you study what made a writer’s voice voice effective, replicate the techniques in your own writing. For example, there are certain books that “stay” with me, long after I read them. I often think about what that author wrote that made me enjoy it so much. In my own way, then, I try to practice it in my own writing.

12. What is your pet peeve about characterization? 

My pet peeve about characterization is that some authors make the main characters too perfect. I recently read a book in which the main characters could do no wrong. Though the plot of the book was fascinating, it really bothered me that the characters were so perfect.

How many perfect people do you know? I don’t know any. In writing about either a true person or a fictional character you need to make that person someone people can relate to, someone who may have a problem like your readers. No one likes to feel that others are more perfect than they are. It discourages them about themselves.

Here are three ways to create flawed characters:

1)      Give your main character specific quirks with which your reader can identify.
2)      Study other books and see how the characters are given specific traits.
3)      Think about your reader and how your words will affect them. The last thing you want to do is discourage anyone by what you write.

13. How do you know when a manuscript is ready for submission?

When I submitted my first book, I asked people in my critique group to go over particular parts of my manuscript. I needed their reassurance.

I recommend reading a book about fiction or non-fiction book proposals. Prepare your manuscript from the expert advice in the craft books. I used a book called Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Non-fiction and Get it Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato. It helped me.

Now that I am working with 4RV Publishing ( http://www.4rvpublishing.com/ ) I realize that I got some wonderful advice from the ladies who first encouraged me, including my editor Liz DeWitt, so I owe them a debt of gratitude.

14. Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as a writer?

I would say my husband, Kevin, first and foremost. Just today as I sat at the computer frustrated and ready to give up he gave me gentle words of encouragement that I must not quit, that my book had a purpose to help other people. He was also there the night I sent my manuscript. I was too nervous to push the “send” button to the publisher. I was also thoroughly exhausted, so he came and did it for me after a motorcycle awoke him from his sleep shortly after midnight. My family is also very supportive.

 15. What are you writing now?

Right now I am finishing my first book with 4RV Publishing called Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering. I also enjoy working on my memoirs with a memoir writing group I am in. I write poems when the muse strikes, which is frequently. Some of them are on my website. My Supercat book is on the back burner until my devotional book comes out.

16. Why do you like to write?

I like to write because I feel it is a gift from God. If I can help someone somewhere who is struggling and/or may not know Christ as Savior, I feel it is worth all the time I put into it. I get pleasure from sitting down and penning, then polishing something from my heart to others.

A short bio

Megan Vance will soon be grandmother of two little grandsons. She is wife of 29 years to Kevin, and Mom to Jon, Jesse and Jo. She discovered that she really enjoyed writing in midlife. Her devotional book under contract with 4RV Publishing, Sure Mercies: Hope for the Suffering, was born from her writing course with the Institute of Children’s Literature. Megan has a background as a registered nurse and is  a former homeschooling mother. Most important to her is reflecting God’s grace through her writing.

Megan’s website: Megan Vance, Sure Mercies: http://meganvancesuremercies.weebly.com/

Here are links to 3 great posts on Megan’s blog:

  1. http://meganvance.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/ezra-jack-keats-the-snowy-day/
  2. http://inchristalone-byhismercy.blogspot.com/2013/04/one-day-soonall-will-be-right.html
  3. http://inchristalone-byhismercy.blogspot.com/2013/03/peace-and-safety.html

Here are five favorite links to blog posts, Megan believes you will enjoy:

  1. http://www.marydemuth.com/stress-less-badge/
  2. http://www.vondaskelton.com/2013/11/21/writers-headlines-writing-opportunities-for-you-3/
  3. https://joanyedwards.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/first-lines-from-non-fiction-best-sellers/
  4. http://ediemelson.com/   Edie Melson has a great series on how to make a living as a freelance writer.
  5. http://wisewifesoaps.blogspot.com/2013/12/aromatherapy.html

Published Books, Newspaper Articles

1. Megan wrote an article that is included in Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle by Edie Melson. It is written for military families and loved ones who have active duty military people in their family.

http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Fear-Winning-Soldier-Leaves/dp/0983319677/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387145481&sr=8-1&keywords=fighting+fear+winning+the+war+at+home#reader_0983319677

2. Megan Vance also wrote this newspaper article about Homeschooling and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/portfolio/2010/02/26/Family-of-readers-filled-arms-minds-from-our-libraries.print

Megan, congratulations on the release of your new book in 2014. Thank you for being a guest on my blog. I know my readers will enjoy learning about you and will gain many ways to improve their writing skills. 

You’re very welcome, Joan. 

GIVEAWAY: 

Megan will give a free FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE to one of the lucky people who leave a comment on this post before midnight on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Random.org will choose the winner. I’ll announce the winner, Thursday morning.

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17 Responses

  1. Great post, Megan and a prize to boot. Thanks!
    And Joan, another giveaway. You are so generous. thank you.

    Like

    • Thank you Mona for your comments and reading the interview! Best wishes to you!
      Megan

      Like

    • Dear Mona,
      Thanks for writing. Megan is giving the free First Page critique. She is indeed generous.

      Celebrate you today!
      Joan

      Like

  2. Interesting blog about Megan. It was great learning about her and her work.

    Like

    • Dear Sandra,
      Thanks for reading my interview and leaving a comment. Best wishes!
      Megan

      Like

    • Dear Sandra,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you enjoyed the guest interview with Megan.

      Celebrate you.
      Joan

      Like

  3. Megan,

    Congratulations on your book deal! You book will be published very soon. What makes your devotional book stick out?

    I’d love to hear more about your journey in writing a memoir too. Do you have a blog post that tells more about that or could you contact me off line with more information, if you’d rather not post it here?

    I really enjoyed getting to know more about you.

    Good interview Joan and Megan.

    Like

    • Dear Linda Andersen,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad you have questions for Megan, She’ll answer them.

      I’m glad you liked the interview.

      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

    • Hi Linda,
      Thanks for writing! My book is a bit different because it doesn’t follow the traditional format so much. My meditations include a biographical sketch of 40 Bible heroes, and how God sustained them in their lives in times of desperation. Each chapter is around 4 pages long.
      I will send you an email about my memoirs. : )
      Thank you so much for your kind words!
      Best wishes to you and Scotty,
      Megan

      Like

      • Linda, Whoops! I should correct my comment to say heroes, not Bible heroes. They were not in the Bible, but lived by the Word of God.
        Megan

        Like

  4. Favorite book? THe Bible. It surely meets our deepest needs. Best wishes on your forthcoming books.

    Like

    • Dear Carol,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Megan and discovering that her favorite book is the Bible. I agree that it meets our deepest needs.

      Celebrate you.
      Joan

      Like

    • Hi Carol,
      Thanks for your comments! Yes, there is no other book like the Bible and it is on my reading list everyday! Thank you for your kind thoughts and best wishes to you also!
      Megan

      Like

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I especially enjoyed this ” Just today as I sat at the computer frustrated and ready to give up he gave me gentle words of encouragement that I must not quit, that my book had a purpose to help other people. He was also there the night I sent my manuscript. I was too nervous to push the “send” button to the publisher. I was also thoroughly exhausted, so he came and did it for me after a motorcycle awoke him from his sleep shortly after midnight.”
    It’s so important to have friends and family that not only support you, but also pushes you to take the steps you need to take even if it means they take them for you.

    Like

    • Dear Angie,
      Thanks for writing. It is indeed great that Kevin is one of Megan’s most supportive in her writing endeavors. He is a great husband and friend.
      Thanks for telling her that.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

    • Dear Angie,
      Thank you for your comments! I am glad you liked what I shared. I don’t think I would have made it without my husband’s help. I hope you are blessed with support in the same way.
      Megan

      Like

  6. Thank you, Megan for allowing me to interview you and for offering a free first page critique to one lucky person who left a comment on the interview blog post.

    There were five people who left a comment on Megan Vance’s interview blog post.
    1. Mona Pease
    2. Sandra Warren
    3. Linda Martin Andersen
    4. Carol Federlin Baldwin
    5. Angie & the Cool Network

    Random.org chose number 2. Therefore, Sandra Warren wins a free first page critique from Megan Vance.

    Congratulations, Sandra. Please send me your first page and I’ll forward it to Megan Vance. If you don’t have one right now, I’m sure it will be good until you do.

    Thank you to all of you for reading my blog.
    I have more interviews with authors I admire in January and February. Most of them will have giveaways. I hope you’ll come back.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

    Like

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