author of The Turnaway Girls, out September 4th
Author, I Never is a segment in which I interview fellow authors about the writing process, breaking into the industry, and breaking rules. I ask some hopefully novel questions along with some of the old standards, and finish it up with a round of I Never (kid friendly version) to find out what cardinal writing rules we've broken.
Question the first: Monica, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a writer since I can remember! I’ve always loved words and storytelling, to the point that whenever a teacher assigned us vocabulary words and tasked us with writing a sentence for each, I would link my sentences together so they would form a story. The more vocabulary words we were assigned, the better. I’m sure the other kids didn’t feel that way, but I found it such a fun exercise. I have a draft from the first story I wrote when I was 8, but stories had been filling my brain well before then.
I love that! Question the second: What has been your proudest or most exciting moment as an author so far?
Publishing my book has been my proudest achievement so far for many reasons, mainly because I set my heart on something I loved and my dream came true.
It is truly amazing to be able to say that. Question the third: At what point did you think to yourself "I've made it" or at what point do you think you'll feel that way?
Writing is one of those things were the goal line keeps moving. First it’s getting a book published, then another, and then having one of those books turned into a movie, becoming a bestseller, and so on. Personally, I’ll feel like I’ve made it when my writing is enough to support my family.
Oh, that's the dream right there. Question the fourth: Did any experienced authors or industry people mentor or give you helpful guidance on your journey to publication?
A few years ago Zoraida Cordova read my query for an older book and helped me whip it into shape for a contest. I thought that was so sweet of her.
That is! Question the fifth: Have you ever had a time when you've felt like giving up?
YES! Funny story, I actually did give up about two years ago. I had just parted ways with my agent and my book hadn’t sold and I was done. After years of rejection, I was tired and ready to throw in the towel. So I lay there on my couch at 1 in the morning, staring up at the ceiling and decided to give up. No more than a minute later, my phone buzzed with a new email from an Entangled editor. I almost didn’t open it because I was sure it was just another rejection, but thank God I did because it was my editor saying she was reading the book and loved it and would get back to me shortly. Of course being in the mental funk I was in, I was sure she’d end up hating it and rejecting me, but she emailed shortly after saying she loved it and wanted to publish it. I want to say the moral of the story is don’t give up, but I think it’s more of you never know when it’s going to happen so don’t give up hope.
I love this story. You're the first person I've interviewed who's answered that they did give up! I gave up at one point too. I love that everyone's journey is so different. And I love that the phone rang just when you were sure it never would! Question the sixth: What was the most inconvenient time or place you were struck by inspiration?
I’m always struck by inspiration at inconvenient times; my best ideas come either when I’m driving or cooking. Because of this, I now make sure I have a notebook on my kitchen bar so I can jot down notes or I use the voice memo app on my phone to get the ideas down and replay them at a later time.
Voice memos forever! Question the seventh: Where do you look for inspiration?
Whenever I’m in need of inspiration, I listen to music. It’s truly an endless source of inspiration. I love to pick a soundtrack and daydream about my books and stew on ideas. It’s probably my favorite part of the writing process.
I agree! And speaking of favorites, it's time for the...
I Never Round
The basic rules of I Never, the kid friendly version- I state a generally established writing rule (or at least a norm). If you've broken that rule, state your guilt for the record.
I never made up a word in my manuscript, and stood by it during copyediting.
If I have made up a word, I’m quick to let it go during copyedits. I figure they know better. I will stand by some questionable word choices though, if I feel it makes the sentence stronger or better illustrates what I want to convey in a scene.
I never had an amazing idea right before bed, and decided sleep was more important.
Believe me, if I get an amazing idea before bed, you better believe I’ll stay up all night working on it. I barely sleep as it is. Night time is the only time I can write uninterrupted so sleep knows the drill by now. I’ll catch up on sleep later, but you have to catch inspiration when it hits.
All nighters it is! I never started a story with a character waking up, looking in the mirror, or in a bathtub.
*hangs head in shame* My current draft starts with my character waking up from a nightmare, but it’s just a placeholder...I think.
I never worked on two manuscripts at once.
I typically work on more than one manuscript at once until the more dominant of the bunch takes over and then that becomes my focus. I have this habit of not knowing whether an idea will work or not until about 10k into the book so I’ll usually have a few first chapters that I’m working on until I find the one that captivates me.
I have a synopsis + early chapters graveyard on my computer. It's such a sad place. I never went several days or even weeks without writing.
I just got off a two-month break. Before that, I took various breaks here and there. I totally believe in taking breaks when needed for however long is needed. Self-care comes first.
I never wrote "for a long moment."
I think I need to go hide somewhere. For a long moment and a moment are my crutch phrases. I have to edit them out because I use them so much!
I think everyone does. But don't tell anyone. I never cheated during NaNoWriMo.
I’ve actually never cheated. If I don’t finish, then I accept the failure but at least I have a few thousand words of a story that I didn’t have before.
Thank you so much for appearing in Author, I Never! When and where can we look for, preorder, or buy your next or most recent book, and where can we follow you on social media?
You can pre-order my books here:
And you can find me on social media here:
Bonus question: If your book had a theme song, what would it be?
Ooo, a music themed question. My favorite! The theme song for SEVENTH BORN would be How It Was Done from the Sherlock Season 3 Soundtrack!
DJ Spotify, how is it done?