Monday, November 2, 2009
Seekerville Welcomes Sandra Byrd
Hey! Thanks for inviting me into your online "home!" Here's a little biographical info so you know a bit about me and then I'll toss in a few writing thoughts. I'd much rather field your questions than yammer on, so post them at will and I'll check in often.
Sandra Byrd biography:
After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd went on to publish more than three dozen books including her widely-acclaimed adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake and it's sequels, Bon Appétit and Pièce de Résistance. Keep an eye out for her forthcoming tween/teen fiction series, London Confidential.
A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra is also an accomplished non-fiction writer and author. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications such as Radiant, Focus on the Family's Clubhouse Magazine, Christian Parenting Today, Today's Christian Woman, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. During the past eight years Sandra has mentored hundreds of students through the Christian Writer's Guild.
Sandra Byrd Online:
What made you start writing?
When I was a kid I wanted three careers: to be a hair stylist, to be a waitress, and to be an author. After I mohawked my Barbie and gave myself a bad red dye job I knew I wasn’t cut out for the hairstylist career. I actually was a waitress in a Jewish deli when I was a teenager, and I worked for a caterer. Although I loved talking to my customers, especially Holocaust survivors, and watching them slice a clover-stained cow's tongue, writing was the real passion. And it stuck!
What's the most difficult part of writing for you (or was when you first started on your novel journey)?
The hardest part of anything is getting started. Getting started with a new book, a new chapter, a new page, or just sitting down at the computer and staying there till I've done my word count. First hard part - outlining, and I outline religiously. It's the most difficult, and most important, part, of writing my books. Then, of course, it's sitting down and writing the book every day. Once I get a page done, I'm on a roll and I can stay in the zone. Jim Bell calls those first words the "nifty 350" and he's right.
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
I have a pretty well-established process: I think through the concept and ask a few questions of my focus group, which consists of likely readers and a couple of readers. Then I outline and then I write. I send the manuscript to the focus group and when it comes back I make corrections. My rule of thumb is that if one person suggests a change I may or may not do it depending on how I feel about it. But if two people mention something, I clearly need to address it, whether I feel like it or not.
After this rewrite I am comfortable sending it to my editors. I think too many "voices" giving direction can be confusing and undermine a writer's confidence. So I have a very few people I trust to read. I listen to them. But I also listen to my "gut." I try to listen to reviewers, if I can sort out things that help and things that hurt.
Much of this series revolves around food. Do you like to cook? What kind of research did you have to do while writing this book?
I do like to cook and bake! I got my first serious cooking instruction book, by Jacques Pepin, when I was 17 years old. La Technique. My first "real" job was for a caterer, and I've been a home cook and baker every since.
For the book, I went to France, of course. You feel bad for me, don't you? I also job shadowed a baker at a French bakery here in town. And I visited a baking school for a day. It was great fun, but I also so how very hard they work. The physical endurance required of bakers and chefs is amazing. Something we lay people don't often think about.
Do you write for yourself?
Yes, and no. When we're professionals, we're not diarists, so we can't actually write for ourselves. I have a "customer" in mind, and that customer is a reader. My goal is to provide pleasure and encouragement for the reader. That's what he/she is paying for. However, if I write about things I love, I enjoy, feel passionate about and interested in that passion is going to come through in my books. As Robert Frost said, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."
There are some lyrics from a song my kids listen to called, "Remember The Name," by Fort Minor (clean version, of course!). They were written about a kid who writes rap, but honestly, I think the same percentages are true for all writers. Of course in the case of Christian writers, the Name we're interested in people remembering is not our own. :-)
You ready?! Let's go! Yeah, for those of you that want to know what we're all about It's like this y'all This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill Fifteen percent concentrated power of will Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!
Sandra is our kind of guest, she writes, she cooks and she eats! Today she's giving away a of copy of Piece de Resistance together with a package of "fabbo Barefoot Contessa cookies" to one lucky commenter. Drawing to be held at 8 pm MST.
Additionally, (see I told you she was our kind of guest) she has offered to give another copy of a Sandra Byrd book to a commenter who signs up as a Facebook fan/friend or signs up for her newsletter. So you must let us know in the comments if you did this. Drawing to be held at 8 pm MST.
Today is not the day to lurk, join us as Seekerville welcomes Sandra Byrd!