Author Camille Faye found the muse for her novel, Voodoo Butterfly, during a family trip to New Orleans where she dreamt of a woman who had the power to change evil people good. I asked her some questions about her writing process, and what's next!
1) What is your writing process? Do you have a routine, or does it vary according to the limited time you have available with two kids at home?
As a busy mom, I have to write things down. That goes for my fiction writing too. I keep notepads everywhere: in my bedside table, my kitchen junk drawer, my desks in the living room and basement, and in my car. Whenever a scene, plot twist, or bit of dialogue comes to mind, I jot it down. This method has eliminated writer's block from my life. (Hallelujah!) I always have something to write because I have a gazillion pieces of paper with ideas on them.
My routine is to commit to 15 minutes a day of writing time, which doesn't sound like much but I was able to, over the course of one year, write a draft of Voodoo Butterfly that was ready to submit to New York editors and agents. Normally the 15 minutes will stretch into an hour, but sometimes I could only make time for the 15 minutes.
The best times to work are during my toddler's nap time or after the kids go to sleep. Now that school's in session, my son goes all day and my toddler goes to preschool two mornings a week, so I try my hardest to make those two days my "work days." But I'm a SAHM, so many times I will have to use the preschool time to make appointments, run errands, and catch up on housework.
The support of family and friends is crucial. My husband is amazing at stepping in to cook a meal or watch the kids so I can go on a weekend writing retreat. My good friend, Karla, watches my toddler one day a week so I can write and catch up on mom business. My parents live four hours away, but they'll come watch the kids so my husband and I can get a weekend away. Happiness at home and connection with my husband is essential so that I can focus on my work when it's time to work. Sometimes I'll try to force myself to work at every free moment and then I really get no rest, so I don't think that's productive.
2) Are you an outlinter or a pantser? Do you plan or fly by the seat of your pants? Why does that work for you (or not!)?
For Voodoo Butterfly, I was a pantser. A scene would flash in my mind, I'd jot it down, and then deal with it during my writing time. When I had enough of these bits and pieces, I worked them into a loose outline.
With the second book in the series, I decided to try an outline. I like knowing the overall structure, but I give myself flexibility to move chapters and scenes around. And if I'm working on chapter 6 and then get an idea for chapter 17, I allow myself to bounce around. I must be more of a holistic thinker rather than a linear thinker, but that's okay.
3) Do you edit as you go, or write a draft or two before the editing process begins?
During the first draft, I really resist the internal editor. When I feel a bit stuck, I'll do a freewrite, which is a technique I've taught as a university Composition instructor and when teaching to writing groups. Basically, you write for 1-5 minutes and there are only two "rules":
1) Don't stop writing
2) Don't edit
When I have a chapter ready, I'll submit to my critique group, The Lit Ladies. Being a part of a critique group helps you grow so much as a writer, plus we help support the careers of the others in the group when one of us has a book published. So far, 3 out of 6 of us have earned traditional publishing contracts, and all of us have had submission requests from agents and editors who work in NYC.
Based on The Lit Ladies' critiques, I'll revise the chapter. When I've worked through every chapter in the book, I'll do one final revision of the book as a whole. Then it's ready to submit.
4) How long did it take to write this book? What would you do differently now, knowing what you know?
Five years from the start of writing to publication. I began writing Voodoo Butterfly in October 2009 and submitted the manuscript to an NYC agent (at his request) in late 2010. Since then, I've been learning everything I can about the businesses of writing and publishing from books, attending writing conferences, and joining writing organizations (in person and online). As well as getting about a dozen partial or full requests (for submission of the manuscript) from agents and editors.
In October of 2013, I became a finalist in the paranormal category of the Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America writing competition. One of the judges of my submission was Debby Gilbert, who owns Soul Mate Publishing out of New York state. She offered me a contract, I accepted, and we got the novel out for the Halloween season of 2014.
I don't know that I could have done anything different. In the midst of writing the novel, our family moved twice, my son and I had surgeries, my husband took a new job, and we had a baby. So life was carrying on. My hope is to be able to feel comfortable churning out a book a year. I think as my kids grow, that will become more realistic.
5) What’s next?
Right now I'm working on book two in the Voodoo Butterfly series while balancing home life and marketing the first book as well. It's a roller coaster, but I love roller coasters!