Monday, August 1, 2011

A BOA with Steph, Who Is Maybe Genius

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, my readers, I give you the third series; Bloggers of Awesome. Yeah, it’s the BOA.

Today's guest is S.E. Sinkhorn, who writes both speculative and contemporary YA fiction, and was the 2010 runner-up for the Katherine Paterson Prize for YA & Children’s Writing. She loves cyborgs, alternate universes, wily heroines, and cookies.

BBC:  So you run an excellent blog over at Maybe Genius. What made you decide to take the approach you do on your blog?
SS: Thank you! I started out as your usual writer-who-wanted-to-record-her-journey about two years ago. From my own daily writing musings, it evolved into crafting tips and publishing news, as these things tend to do. About a year ago, I decided to turn my focus over to YA literature, because it’s what I write and what I’m passionate about. I wanted to create a space where “mind meets heart.” I believe young adult literature can be so powerful, so important, and so GOOD. I wanted to stay away from jumping on trends and “cashing in” on the YA craze and focus more on building strong, well-crafted stories.

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?
SS: Plan ahead, heh. I keep a long list of possible topics. That way, I always have a subject to turn to when it’s time to write a post. I only blog three days a week. I keep my posts fairly short – I can usually bang out 500-1000 word posts in about an hour. If time’s really tight, I write posts ahead of time (usually on weekends) and schedule them. It’s also 100% okay to give yourself time off. I just took a month-long hiatus so I could finish my current draft. It dips your readership, sure, but your writing comes first. Even more important: only blog if you really enjoy it. If it’s a chore, don’t do it. Write.

BBC: It looks like you’re a big reader - do you set aside time for that?
SS: Definitely. I am completely behind the idea that you must read to be a writer. It’s important to me to know what’s currently out there in YA lit, so I make time for it. It’s not all I read, but it makes up the bulk of my reading habit. I’m also constantly in search of the diamonds in the rough, and you can’t find them unless you look.

BBC: Do you think blogging is a helpful self-marketing tool?
SS: Tough question. Yes and no, because it depends on how you use it. I blog for writers. Writers will certainly be interested in any book I put out, but they’re not my target audience. I don’t think blogs really work as “marketing” unless you’re targeting the people who will buy your book. I definitely think successful blogs increase sales, but as to how much, I couldn’t say. If I find an agent and sell my current manuscript (*fingers crossed*), I may toy with the idea of creating a second, more targeted blog.

BBC: What other websites / resources can you recommend for writers?
SS: Oh, tons:


Agent Mary Kole's Blog
Nathan Bransford's Site
Absolute Write
Publisher's Marketplace
Shelf Awareness
SCBWI
Duotrope
QueryTracker

On Writing by Stephen King
Writing the Breakout Novel (and workbook) by Donald Maas

How’s that for recommendations? :D

BBC: What is your genre, and what led you to it? Does your genre influence the style of your blog?
SS: I write Speculative and Contemporary fiction for young adults, and yes, it absolutely influences the style and content of my blog. It’s the main focus, really :)

BBC: Any words of inspiration for aspiring writers?
SS: All the usual advice about writing what you love and screw the trends and all that, but also: don’t sacrifice (or straight-up refuse to learn) craft because you think rules are for squares or something. Don’t. It doesn’t matter how amazing or original your idea is if you can’t skillfully transfer it to the page. Yes, successful authors break rules all the time. They also know what they’re doing. Be careful not to confuse “breaking the rules” with “it’s too much work to learn them, so I won’t.”

7 comments:

Jen Daiker said...

I adore Steph! I'm an avid lurker and there is nothing maybe genius about her... she's just plain genius!!!

Steph Sinkhorn said...

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me, BBC. I had a lot of fun :D

Suma Subramaniam said...

Hello Mindy

I was wandering in the blogosphere and stumbled on your blog. You have a really good blog. What a great interview. I loved Steph's blogging tips and tricks. Isn't it interesting to see how we evolve as bloggers with each passing year?

Best,
Suma.

Anita Grace Howard said...

Excellent interview, Ladies. And this is the best advice I've ever heard: "only blog if you really enjoy it. If it’s a chore, don’t do it. Write."

So often, writers feel like they HAVE to blog to be successful. But if writing posts is a chore, it can suck away your creative juices, then you have nothing left for the real writing. And if you're not writing on your books, all the publicity in the world isn't going to make you a success. Thanks for that great insight!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Suma, Jen, Anita - I agree, Steph is awesome. I happened upon her blog by a reference from a buddy, and ended up over there for... uh... a few good hours. And I agree, if you want to start a blog, and your first question to yourself is, "But what will I blog about?" It's probably not for you!

Steph - thanks so much for loaning us your time! I appreciate you doing the BOA!

martha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mindy McGinnis said...

Hi Martha! I'm so glad I could be of help - feel free to contact me if you need more information, or just want to pick my brain. There's all kinds of stuff up there, but I can't guarantee the content :)