Friday, August 19, 2011

A BOA with Once Upon A Time...

My original intention for the series of interviews I do here was to focus on agents (BBCHAT) and successful authors (SAT). In the course of internet wanderings though, I’ve ran across a lot of really awesome people, and culled an enormous amount of information from blogs. As I raided my brain – yes, I picture myself on the prow of a Viking ship, approaching my own gray matter – for more people I’d like to interview, it repeatedly offered up names of bloggers. And so, the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.

The BOA guest today is Cristina Dos Santos whose blog, Once Upon A Time, is a great place to visit for writing musings, tips, and lots of great book reviews. Cristina is a writer living in CT with her husband and their two boys.  She suffers from a serious book addiction, and when she's not reading she is busy drinking coffee and working on her first novel.

BBC:  So you run an excellent blog over at Once Upon A Time. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?
CDS: Aw, thank you for having me.  My first blog was a mommy blog and it was super fun. But soon after starting it, I realized what I really craved was a space of my own; I mean I love my children and all, but I already spend 24/7 with them,  so writing about their antics, funny as they may be... well, it was overload.
So I created Once Upon a Time, where I get to explore my passion for  books and writing.  Sometimes my children and husband might weasel themselves in, but for the most part, it's about me and my writing.

BBC: I know a lot of aspiring writers who are intimidated by the idea of blogging.  They want to, but they are worried it will cut into their (already precious) writing time.  You're a prolific blogger - how do you recommend one be both a successful blogger and writer?
CDS: It's definitely a challenge.  I started with posting whenever inspiration struck, but that only led to inconsistency. I also used to spend countless hours reading blogs, because they are so addicting. As you can imagine, not much time was left for actual writing.
So, for me, it's about time management and scheduling. I now post twice a week (or try to), and allow myself an hour a day to read blogs and comment.

BBC: It looks like you’re a big reader - do you set aside time for that?
CDS: Honestly, finding time to read is the one thing that comes easy, and maybe it's because I don't think I could live without it. 
I read 2-4 hours a day. And now that my little devils are a bit older and don't require my undivided attention all day long, some days I get more time in. 
I watch little TV and... well I think this is a big one...
I don't have internet access on my phone, gasp! What?! I know, I know.. but hear me out.. I see it everywhere, people are glued to their phones; at check out lines, at the playground, during dinner at a restaurant, while walking down the street, on the train ride home. People are addicted, and I would be too if I had such easy access;  and you might not notice it, but time adds up. So,  instead of the internet, I choose to carry a book and a notebook with me.

BBC: You do a lot of reviews. Have you ever given a bad review? Why or why not?
CDS: No. I don't post bad reviews. It's all so subjective, so I'd rather spend my time sharing my favorite reads. At the end of each month I post my favorite for the month and encourage my readers to share theirs with me. 

BBC: Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?
CDS: Yes, it can be. There's definitely the potential to reach a large audience, but you have to do the work and reach out.

BBC: What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?
CDS: One of my top favorite blogs is It is full of amazing articles on the craft of writing, and she posts every single day. 
My other recommendation for anyone who aspires to become a better writer are the collection of writing books from Writer's Digest. They cover everything, from how to write dialogue, to description, point of view... they are truly a great resource.

BBC: What is your genre, and what led you to it? Does your genre influence the style of your blog?
CDS: I love reading YA and I write YA, so that's what you'll find on my blog. There's a sense of freedom, a sense of 'anything can happen' in YA that I often find missing in adult fiction. Adults have replaced endless and imaginable possibilities with rules and boundaries. YA on the other hand, are still willing to go there with you, you just have to make sure that you treat them with the same level of respect you would an adult audience.

BBC: Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?
CDS: Well, not that I'm an expert, far from it actually.. but if writing is what you want to do, then writing is what you need to do. Writing isn't easy, at least for most writers, and it's easy to give in to the inner voices that tell you you suck.. tell them to shut it. Push through the hard days, put in the work and you'll see yourself grow as a writer.

A question for my followers: Is it hard for you tell the inner voices to shut it? Or can you block them out pretty easily, and make the ink flow?


Christine Murray said...

Great answers. I think sometimes the ink flows well, but every now and then that critical inner voice kicks in. It can be negative, but that voice also helps make sure you're writing the best work you can.

Jen Daiker said...

LOVED THIS! I love learning about all my blog besties... yes, I consider you both my besties (what can I say, I love everyone).

Inner voices depends on the day and how loud they want to be. I can only hold them off for so long. I prefer writing it out so I'm not up at 3am wondering why they're up. It's just plain rude.

Pepca said...

Great interview! I always find inspiration in Christina's blog, including right now as I'm looking for excuses what to do instead of writing, in this interview:) - just decided to stop looking for excuses. Thanks for sharing!

Cristina said...

Mindy, thank you so much for having me :)

Kathryn Elliott said...

My IV can get pretty mouthy - (wonder where she gets it?). On those self-pity days I tend to block her out by surfing fellow writer blogs for success stories - a little good news goes a long way in bolstering the creative juices! Great post.

E.R. King said...

Cristina, great interview! Mindy, thanks for having her, and I'm following you on Google Reader now!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Christine - that critical inner voice can be such a weight, but it serves a purpose in keeping us honest, too. I've read so many times from agents that an egotistical writer is (usually) a bad writer :)

Jen - AW.... I'm a bestie : I agree, those inner voices often find inopportune times to pipe up, don't they?

Pepca - Yes! Cristina's blog is a great source of inspiration, and while it may *feel* like procrastination sometimes, I find that reading other writer's blogs helps me keep my head on straight in terms of self-expectations.

Kathryn - Absolutely! If we can learn, as writers we need to look at the success stories as others as rays of hope, rather than being jealous.

E.R. - Hooray! I hope I can keep you reeled in :)

Cristina - Thank YOU for agreeing to the interview!

Abby said...

She is so fun! I love her blog and love to see was she has new to post! Glad I found your blog too! Now another something wonderful to add to my blog reading list! :)

Suma Subramaniam said...

Great interview Mindy.

Cristina - Its just so nice to know. Just reminds me that I'm not alone and someone like you thinks exactly the way I think about the writing life.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Abby - Oh good! I hope I can keep you interested :)

Suma - I think knowing I'm not alone is one of the main reasons I started reading blogs, and blogging myself, on the topic of writing. I never thought e-relationships could be so important, but they are... they are!

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