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Five Questions with Darcy Woods

Louise Ahern

YA author and all-around nice gal, Darcy Woods is a familiar face around these parts. Her debut novel, the adorably swoony Summer of Supernovas, was nominated for two RITAS (basically the Oscars for Romance authors), and she's hard at work on her follow-up.

Darcy was kind enough to swing by our blog for a quick Q&A. Warning: no-nonsense answers with a dash of charm ahead!


1. What is your favorite part about writing? The most challenging part?

Breathing life into a story. Watching characters evolve from cardboard cutouts into three-dimensional beings with their own hopes, dreams, and fears. And if I’m real lucky, they hold my hand and pull me all the way through their journey. All the way to the almighty THE END. Ironically, my favorite part also happens to be the most challenging. Some characters and/or stories speak in shouts, while others speak in whispers. The nuance (and magic, IMHO) is in the whisper, which can require Herculean effort to be heard. Because it means blocking out the world around you, in order to fully devote yourself to the creation of an imaginary one. 


2. What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received? How did you overcome it?

Hmm . . . I can't recall any terrible advice off the top of my head. But I can tell you on more than one occasion—whether it be from workshops or blog posts—I’ve heard some very authoritarian advice. And anything that begins with, “YOU MUST ALWAYS [insert writing commandment here]” makes me tune right out. I believe we’re all wired differently. What works for one author, may not for another, and that’s okay! So with the exception of a handful of fundamental guidelines, I see nothing wrong with cherry picking from the advice you receive. Adapt it to your situation, writing style, and process. 


3. Looking back, what did you do right that helped you become an author?


In terms of becoming a published author, I attribute writing contests for really catapulting my career. The RWA’s Golden Heart® Contest, along with other chapter affiliates, provided an incredible springboard for getting in front of agents and editors who wouldn’t have otherwise seen my work. Interestingly, it wasn’t until after my book deal that I discovered my current editor had actually judged every manuscript I’d ever entered. She’d been following my writing through three different manuscripts, and wound up publishing the third. Talk about kismet!


4. What would you change or do differently when it comes to your writing career?

Not a damn thing. Even if I feel in hindsight I spent a little too much time on promo—social media, in-person events, interviews, etc. At the end of the day, I can look in the mirror and say, “I did everything I could to make this book a success.” And that to me, is a success unto itself.


5. What are you working on now?

I’m keeping it a little on the down low, so without revealing too much, I can tell you it’s a high-concept YA contemporary dealing with fractured families, a PTSD-afflicted father, and a girl who seeks refuge in rules. But when the girl discovers her family is on the verge of financial ruin, she devises a secret (and illegal) plan to save them all. And for someone who’s never colored outside the lines, she’s about to cross every single one of them.

Thanks so much, Darcy! We can't wait to get our hands on your next novel!

Five Questions with Teresa Crumpton

Louise Ahern


1.   What is your favorite part about writing? The most challenging part? 

My favorite part of writing is the grinning face after I have a complete first draft. Until then, I don't really know what the story's about. And--sometimes--I have to work pretty hard to figure out which one thing my story is about. But I know I have to narrow it down.  Once I know who desperately wants what and what hideous thing is going to happen if she doesn't get it, then I begin revising. I love to revise. I think I love to revise because only then do I start to have hope this is a real story.  The most challenging part for me is to come up with a single-sentence premise line. I understand why it's needed, and I support the idea--but, geesh, it's hard work. 


2.     What’s the worst writing advice you’ve ever received? How did you overcome it?

 The worst writing advice I ever got came at the of my three-year stint in an MFA program. My advisor praised my novel, but insisted I break it into three discrete books and present it as a series. It wasn't as much a suggestion as one might hope. So I did it. It took quite a bit of rewriting and revision to make three books that could stand alone. Then I went to a conference and had a meeting with an agent from an agency I admired. The agent scrawled Bravo across my manuscript and we spent the meeting time talking about working together. But when I asked him how we'd transition from book to book, he looked shocked. No, he wanted the entire story in one book. He was certain I could write it in 400 pages. And as soon as I got that done, he wanted to see it. Majorly bummed. More years of reworking the novel in my vanishing spare time. When I overcome that bit of academic advice, I'll send out an email. 

3.     Looking back, what did you do right that helped you become an author? 

There came a day in my zoo-like* shipwreck of a life that I realized if I were ever going to do what I wanted to do, I was going to have to be the one to speak up.  I started in journalism and got paid 50 cents a column-inch for feature articles in the Brown City Banner. It takes a lot of inches to feed five teenagers. I moved up through big papers, then on to technical and nonfiction books. I got my MFA in fiction writing and discovered the best times of my life were had workshopping with a few writers and drinking fu-fu coffee. No matter how the powers-that-be drove me into IT or Finance, I kept saying I was a writer. By then I was an editor, too, and I found that editing was what I did best. Editing is a finely tuned glob of writing and encouragement. I confidently report I am no longer in danger of slipping off into an IT department somewhere. 

* Note the five teenagers


4.     What would you change or do differently when it comes to your writing career?

If do-overs were permitted, I would speak up for myself in high school journalism.  I loved it--even though the teacher was one crotchety dude. I'd told my dad that journalism was the career I was going to pursue.  Encouraging sweetheart that he was, he told me I'd never be able to do that. I needed to stick to math and science. Wonder what would have happened if I'd had 30 more years of writing experience. Anyone waiting to speak up for their inner writer, be encouraged. Don't wait any longer than you absolutely have to.


5.     What are you working on now?

Currently, with a small team of editor/educators, I'm developing a series of online courses for fiction and non-fiction writing. The fun part is that the courses have workshops built into them, so when they go live, I'll have all the joy of being with writers in real time.  I'll have to buy one of those fancy coffee machines. 


And, finally, what can we expect from your workshop?


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell about the workshop. It's my chance to ask authors to bring with them a scene or two from their works in progress.  We'll be trying out our powering-up techniques on our own writing.


To thwart the audio-visual jinxes that haunt me, I've created a small workbook for the workshop. Using the workbook, we'll cover three power tools for boosting our prose. 

 Art by Lisa Stewart

Art by Lisa Stewart


For this one session, we'll look away from story structure and big picture concerns, and we'll focus on sentences and short passages. We'll play with ways to power them up so they are more vivid, more effective, more fun.  One fun part is that almost all the examples of story used in the workbook come from authors in our community, who have generously shared their work, and I'm excited about showing off their work.

Be sure to stop by Schuler in Okemos on Wednesday, October 4th at 7pm for Teresa's workshop!

Five Questions with Erin Bartels

Louise Ahern

Erin Bartels is a longtime member of the CCWA family. In addition to teaching workshops, she has had a hand in planning past conferences and events. We are thrilled that she stopped by for a quick Q&A session, and even more thrilled to announce that her debut novel is scheduled to release in January 2019 from Revell Books!

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