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Interview with Shirlee McCoy, part deux

Captain’s Log, Stardate 02.01.2006

Continuing my interview with Shirlee...

CT: What is your most memorable moment as a writer?

SM: I have two. The day I got THE CALL and learned Steeple Hill wanted to buy my first (and second) book. And last summer when my agent called to tell me I'd been asked to take part in a Love Inspired Suspense continuity. That one was a big deal moment because it came just a week after Steeple Hill offered me a three book contract.

CT: When did you first discover that you were a writer?

SM: I've always been a story teller, but I think I discovered I was a writer when I took my first creative writing class. That was in high school.

CT: Writing a novel is ...

SM: like baking bread. It might take a while to do it right, but the results are worth the effort.

CT: What's your greatest writing weakness and how do you overcome it?

SM: I've got a real problem with pacing my stories, so when I'm writing I ask myself questions - Why are the heroine and hero here? What should they be accomplishing in this scene? Is this scene vital to the development of the story, or is it just a filler? Those questions help me keep the story flowing at a good pace.

CT: What's your best writing strength?

SM: I've got a vivid and rather twisted (or so I've been told) imagination.

CT: How do you handle deadline stress? Any advice or tips?

SM: I'm usually frantically polishing my manuscripts a few days before deadline, but I kind of enjoy the trauma...I mean drama of that. Most of the time my manuscript is completed a few weeks before it's due. Then I check and double check things until I know it's got to be mailed. People are so individual it's hard to give tips and advice. What might work for one, won't work for another. One thing I do feel really strongly about is something I mentioned in a previous question - make goals and stick to them. Make sure you build enough time into your writing schedule to meet your deadlines. There's no such thing as getting a manuscript in too early, so strive to finish ahead of schedule.

CT: Most writers struggle with insecurity. How do you retain your confidence as a writer?

SM: Confidence? We're supposed to have that? Seriously, I am my own worst critic. I take comfort in knowing that I'm where God wants me. I don't have to be the best. I only have to be my best. And even when I feel I'm falling behind, not quite doing what I need to, and feeling like the most horrible writer ever published, I know that I'm in His will. In the long run, that's what matters most.

CT: What's the biggest risk you've ever taken as a writer?

SM: Saying I would speak at an RWA chapter meeting this June. I agreed to discuss writing romantic suspense. As if I actually know what I'm doing!

CT: How do you handle writer's block? Do you ever get writer's block?

SM: I do. I just push through it. Sometimes I'll let a scene be something other than what I know it should. Then come back to it the next day with a fresh perspective.

CT: Describe your writing space as it is now, and your fantasy writing space.

SM: Must I? Okay, I've got a cluttered desk sitting against the wall in my kitchen. I use a laptop that has no internet connection so I won't be tempted to play games, check emails, or do hours of research. I sit in a hardbacked chair that isn't all that comfortable. When I'm stumped, I look out the dining room window. We've got woods behind our house. Thick, dark, and very creepy when the moon is just right. What better inspiration could a suspense writer ask for?

My fantasy space - an office with enough room for my writing stuff and all our homeschooling stuff. A cluttered desk with a view of dark, mysterious woods. Walls lined with bookshelves.

CT: Do you have a special verse specifically to inspire your writing?

SM: Colossians 3:23, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for men.

CT: What's the best writing advice you've ever received?

SM: Write the book of your heart. Then worry about the market.

CT: Thanks for doing the interview! Any parting words?

SM: Yeah, don't be afraid to dream big. God can do so much more than any of us can ask or imagine!

Prayer, Lies and Writing with Brandilyn Collins: Dineen’s posted a rockin’ interview with Brandilyn on her blog. Check it out!

Bible in 90 Days: Day 24. I’m getting the kings mixed up. I’m trying to keep track of who was a good king and who wasn’t. Many of them pleased the Lord but didn’t completely rid their land of all idol worship. A lesson for me, I guess. Sin isn’t to be compromised on. Also, it was really interesting to see the exile of Israel and how the Samaritans came to live in Canaan.

Writing: Well, I did NOT work on my scene worksheet last night because I was tinkering with my website template as per feedback from Dineen, Marilyn and Heather. But TODAY I will work on my scene worksheet. :)

Diet: Had a tough PT session today, then had ramen with vegetables for lunch (600), which is a bit larger a lunch than I’ve had the past couple days. I was full for about 5 hours after that, whereas before I’d be hungry after 3 hours and usually eat another 300-400 calories in a snack. Maybe the small-meals-throughout-the-day type of diet just isn’t for me? I had leftovers for dinner (700), another larger meal, and my calorie count for today is really good so far.

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