Wendy Sparrow is one of the very first authors I started following on Twitter that I didn’t know and rather quickly came to know and adore. Her romances are cute and guaranteed to be a good way to get in a better mood. I’m looking forward to reading her YA work. She blogs about a variety of things including writing at http://wendysparrow.com/blog/ and can be found on Twitter.
Minerva Zimmerman: Are you a Nanowrimo person?
Wendy Sparrow: Yes. I’ve been doing it since 2009.
MZ: What is it about Nanowrimo that works for you?
WS: Actually I do some of my best writing on the manic pace when I’m forced to concentrate. I’ve had many of my NaNoWriMo stuff published.
MZ: That was my next question 🙂
WS: Frosted, Cursed by Cupid, Past my Defenses and its sequel were all NaNo projects.
MZ: Really? Wow! That’s great. Can you tell me what you’re working on this year?
WS: I’ve cheated and done 50K in novellas a couple times.
MZ: I don’t think there’s really such a thing as cheating in Nanowrimo
WS: I like to FEEL like I’m a rebel.
WS: This year I’m writing the sequel to Stealing Time.
MZ: Yaaaaay, I’m excited. I liked that one
WS: A rulebreaker. I’m off to a tepid start though because of all the stuff I’ve got going on though.
MZ: Yeah it has to be hard with older kids
WS: November is a craaaaazy month to be pulling this. I’ve had a few Thanksgivings where I’m in a corner writing.
MZ: Yeah I’ve always thought January or March would be better.
WS: I think so. But I write better under stress. I’m not sure why. It’s not healthier that’s for sure.
MZ: November just seems like a silly month to pick. I’m trying to learn how to gain balance in my work, home, and writing life. Not sure it’s working 🙂
WS: Oy. If you can manage that…you should share it with writers everywhere. I swear when you get published that balance really disappears because then the business side of writing kicks in and there are so many demands on your time.
MZ: I’ve gotten a lot more organized, which helps, but yeah. I think writing the first thing after you get published is probably the hardest (or at least so far).
WS: There are a hundred things I “should” be doing right now. Le sigh. It’s funny how the goal is to get published, but after you’re published the goal shifts to finding time for writing.
MZ: and getting published again… and stretching yourself and all of that
WS: I feel like there’s also more pressure to keep up with the Joneses. Because you have this artificial impression that other writers are doing more and better and so on. And some are, but we don’t all have the same lives outside of writing.
MZ: I think it’s pretty important to have a good sense of writer community so you can actually challenge those thoughts when they crop up. And support each other and assure each other that no one is really doing it all.
WS: The envy is much shorter lived when you interact more with other writers…and you do get a sense that everyone has their own struggles. Even on places like Twitter…where you get more of a glimpse of their lives.
MZ: Right. Everyone has a pet that pees on the floor or a kid that’s shoved crayons in the DVD player or whatever. I was going to say VHS… and then I remembered no one has small children AND a working VHS
WS: LOL. My husband was explaining what a pager was to my son earlier. My son was utterly confused by the concept. It said he’s not allowed to bring a pager to camp…and he didn’t even know what that was.
MZ: Hahahahahaha /cries
WS: Oy. We’re old.
MZ: I am trying to get people to donate technology items from the 70s, 80s, and 90s for our education program at the museum. I should put “pager” on there
WS: It’s like when you try to explain to them what the world was like without the internet and they act like we were out killing our dinners and writing on papyrus.
MZ: I might have one in a drawer somewhere
WS: I think you should carry it around for the day and see if people give you weird looks.
You can clip it to your belt beside a Walkman.
MZ: Duuuude, my collections volunteer brings a Discman to listen to
I just… blinked and didn’t say anything.
WS: Old school.
MZ: the average age around here is about 56 with most people tending older
WS: So, their school WAS a bit old. 😉
MZ: I was trying to explain that school children were born between 1996 and 2009
so it’s pretty amazing how much kids aren’t familiar with.
WS: I know. They’ve always had computers in their house. My kids toss around the word “lag” every time anything takes more than two seconds to load up.
MZ: ugh… ground them and give them a 2400 baud modem
WS: Exactly. They’ve never experienced the joy of listening to a modem dialing.
MZ: that’d learn them to appreciate high speed internet 😀
WS: It would. Though I’ve become spoiled and I think it’d annoy me too at this point.
MZ: Yeah, I think that would probably kill me. Well, hyperbole-wise
WS: I left my phone at home by accident today and it was like I’d severed a limb.
MZ: It bothers me way more when my husband doesn’t have his phone than when I don’t have mine
WS: My daughter and I watched the Bells of St. John Doctor Who today –where everyone is being uploaded to the wi-fi. That gets a bit creepier every minute as technology invades more.
MZ: Yeah. My brother was telling me about a guy who has an antenna screwed into his head. The line between humanity and machine gets blurrier every day
WS: Which is gold for dystopian writers everywhere. I have an unpubbed YA where machines take over the world. It’s sort of Terminator meets Dark Angel.
MZ: That sounds fun in a dark sort of dystopian way.
WS: They get attacked by heavy machinery taken over by nanobots. I did a lot of research into weird things like tractors.
MZ: Ooo lots of tractors around here not sure I want to think about them coming to life.
WS: I took a lot of pictures of construction and farm equipment and people sent me pictures of machines they thought were scary looking.
MZ: yeah the disc machine is super scary
WS: Logging machinery…some of that stuff is creepy as hell. There’s this thing that looks like a giant spider–no joke.
MZ: So I have an admission. I’ve been describing your romance novels as “cozy romances”
WS: Have you? One of my publishers described them as “sexy sweet.”
MZ: that works too. I save them up and then read them when I feel like making a blanket fort and hiding from everything.
WS: I would call “The Teacher’s Vet” a cozy romance.
LOL. Well, then, you can call them anything you want.
WS: I didn’t plan on being a romance writer. It just sort of happened.
All of my earlier stuff is urban fantasy or paranormal or YA. It all has elements of romance, but I was subbing romance while my agent was subbing my YA and my romance just kept getting picked up, so I shifted to that. My agent is still trying to grapple with signing a YA author who became a romance author.
MZ: Heh, there are worse problems to have
WS: There are. And I’ve always read romance so it was a natural fit for me…but I always worried there wasn’t really an audience for more “sweet” romance which is what I write.
I still worry about that.
MZ: I think sweet is a good thing to be these days.
WS: I think there’s a market for it, but primarily in contemporary. Though I am published in paranormal with it.
MZ: I really like the paranormal stuff being more of a genre person
WS: This is all in romance of course. Outside of romance it’s easier to find a market.
MZ: Do you think so?
WS: For less erotic elements I mean. It’s easier outside of romance to keep the physicality of relationships lighter without impacting the marketability. In my opinion.
MZ: Oh, right, yeah that makes sense
WS: Though I suspect it’s harder to find a balance of how much romance is acceptable in things like epic fantasy…even if love is the age-old quest in every story.
WS: I know a few female authors who write in fantasy or sci-fi get flack when they have romance in their books. And there is a weird sort of guilt I feel when I do shorts in sci-fi or fantasy that I’m making them “too girly.”
MZ: eh, guys get crap for it too, but not like female authors, true
WS: Do they?
MZ: Yeah if they put romance instead of just sex I think it’s mostly teenage boys going “ewwwww coooties”
WS: It’s so funny because everyone at some point in their life is searching for love and most stories boil down to a quest for some sort of love, but it’s like a dirty word among some crowds.
Well, it’s good that they can put sex in there still. That’s cool. 😉
WS: It’s sad, isn’t it? That there are these stereotypical roles that even authors fall into to align with their gender. It’s hard to break from that too…in your mindset. Every time I think to myself, “I’m making this too girly,” I want to shake myself because I’m female…and having a relationship between characters shouldn’t be something in only women’s writing.
MZ: I am a character-driven writer so relationships happen, and I don’t worry about it
WS: I wish I could do that. Because I’m character-driven too. I’m a dialogue fiend. I swear I just write out the dialogue and fill in the rest later in rewrites. Descriptions go in during like the third or fourth revision.
MZ: yep, I’m guilty of that sometimes. I’m trying to get better at setting, but eh
WS: You’re a pantser too, though, aren’t you? I think pantsers tend to be character-driven and dialogue-heavy.
MZ: Yeah, I pants it until about 60% through and do a reverse outline of what I’ve already done
WS: Ohhhh clever.
MZ: and figure out sort of what I’m missing
WS: And try to find that black moment? My plot gets a bit meandering around that time. In some of my writing, that’s about when I found out who the villain is.
MZ: figure out what my writer brain was trying to tell me cause I generally leave myself lots of little clues I didn’t know were there
WS: LOL. I do that too. It’s almost creepy.
MZ: and it’s a matter of clarifying them and bringing them to fruition at that point
WS: It’s weird that something you just stuck in there becomes a crucial clue later on. Writing is magical in that way.
MZ: yeah it’s always what feels like a total throw away detail. Well, we should probably wrap this up. Is there anything you want to make sure to talk about?
WS: Okay. I still have packing to do. Not that comes to mind.
MZ: I recommend elderberry syrup from the natural section at Freddy’s for avoiding catching whatever the camp kids have. (Wendy is heading off to be a chaperone for her son’s 6th grade outdoor education. When she did it for her older daughter she came back with the flu.)
WS: Oh, dude, if I come home with anything vile again…I’m going to live in a commune on a tropical island.
MZ: oooo I want a commune on a tropical island
WS: A writer commune. You can come live on my island with me.
WS: We’ll get Mountain Dew air-dropped in. LOL. Or maybe not…those things would explode when you try to open them.
MZ: we’ll fill the pool full of ice to chill them
WS: It’s only three days…it’s only three days…it’s only… sobs quietly
MZ: You’ll be fine.
WS: This a camp run by the YMCA. We get cabins with bathrooms. It’s really close to glamping.
They get to dissect squids and play with reptiles and canoe. T will have a blast and I’ll survive…probably.
MZ: That will be fun. He’ll think it’s great. You just need to hang out and tell kids to stop climbing on things. It’ll be fine.
WS: I just need to keep him caffeinated and then keep myself medicated and covered in hand-sanitizer.
MZ: I’m thinking good thoughts for you. Glad you’re in cabins though.
WS: Oh, I know. I’d be such a wreck if it was “real” camping.
MZ: I don’t think you should ever go real camping with 6th graders.
WS: I’d toss my kid on the bus while shouting, “You’re on your own. Try not to kill the other kids.”
Yes. But I get to chaperone a dozen girls.
MZ: but they aren’t your girls that helps
WS: If they’re like last time, they won’t go to bed until 2 a.m. the first night and they’ll paaaaay the next morning.
MZ: oh yeah, I’d love waking em up extra extra early if they did that
WS: They didn’t expect their chaperone to be an insomniac. They thought they’d stay up later than me. Bwahahaha. I was all “Girls, please…I’ve slept less in my life than you have already.”
MZ: hahahahaha they won’t know what hit them Well, thank you for doing this. I really appreciate it and I”m looking forward to your next publication.
WS: I’m going to reread Stealing Time while I’m there so I can get cruising on the sequel faster when I get home. You’re welcome. It’s been fun.
fistbumps with explosions