I try to write every day, usually in the afternoon, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t have time on a particular day. When I begin a novel, I write a lengthy synopsis (usually 4-6 typed pages) and use that as my basis.I also write a synopsis for each chapter, usually one page. I never write by the seat of my pants.
You’ve recently started writing novels around your own Mormon heritage. What prompted your interest in this area? How has your own personal connection impacted the writing?
I’ve always been interested in LDS church history, particularly that period right around the turn of the 20th century, when the church was well-established in the intermountain West, and beginning to reach out to a wider world. I would have written a Mormon novel sooner, but I was always under contract for Regencies, so that took precedence. In 2009, when we moved to Utah from North Dakota, I had a small window were nothing was promised to anyone. I finished an LDS-themed novel I had started years earlier, and it started me on another phase of my writerly journey.
What are you working on now?
I’m getting ready to start Book 4 in the Spanish Brand series. When that’s done, I’ll write a novel about those days in 1914-16, when the National Park Service was turning into reality, especially in relation to Yellowstone Park, which had been administered by the US Army. I’ll be combining so many “loves”: The National Park Service, the US Army, and Yellowstone Park.
Final Words of Wisdom
I have a mantra: “This isn’t Hamlet and you’re not Shakespeare.” I don’t believe in writer’s block. When I feel some slowing down and frustration, I review my outlines and keep writing, being patient with myself until things are working again as I would like.I can always ditch what isn’t good. I just keep going.
I urge writers not to waste time on reading badly written novels. Have confidence in yourself and know that you have a story to tell that no one else can improve upon. Most of all, have faith in the process and yourself.