5. Your blog draws a lot of interest when you discuss the CBA and the issues around it. Many people on the tour are aspiring authors, obviously with a love for speculative fiction. What advice would you have for them in this journey?
MIKE: I believe that Christians should be the most wildly creative community on the planet! Our craft should be impeccable, our ideas lavish, our wit sharp, our humility great, and our perseverance unwavering. (How’s that for rallying the troops?)
I am not convinced that speculative fiction and the Christian market are a great mix. That said, there is so much great craft and market advice out there. With a little research, the aspiring author can have a lot of great info at their fingertips. My advice would probably revolve around three things.
First, resolve your calling. The devil will always attack us at the level of our calling. If we are unsure whether God has “called” us to write, we will be vulnerable to depression, defeat, and doubt. That would be my first suggestion: Are you writing as a hobby or for publication? Do you believe God wants you to really dig in – as in “career” digging in – or are you doing this recreationally? That perspective is important to your approach.
Second, develop a thin skin. That’s right – a THIN skin. Too many writers are too defensive. We hedge against critique, rejection, and advice. We develop chips on our shoulders and spout about artistic liberty and subjectivity. Of course there is a time to ignore the critics and press on. But sometimes, especially when interest in our material is waning, we need to ask, “What am I missing? What do I need to work on?” A thin skin will help us learn from our mistakes, readjust, grow, and heed the advice of others.
Thirdly, find a good critique group. I can’t stress this enough. Other writers who can review your material and provide tough critique are THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in your growth. We cannot be so beholden to praise that we do not allow others to dislike our writing. Finding a good critique group, those who will critically evaluate your stuff, will take time. Nevertheless, it is one of the most aspects of growing as a writer.
6. You are king of CBA for the day, and you are allowed to make ONE change to the industry. What would that be? (Pushing you out on a limb here…)
MIKE: I would start over.
7. Can you tell us about your next novel? How is the process different than writing the first one?
I was thrilled to learn that my publisher included the first chapter of my next book in The Resurrection. It is tentatively entitled The Telling. It’s about a disfigured modern-day prophet who must overcome his own despair in time to seal one of nine mythical gates of hell. The story includes a llama ranch, a black cherub, a roadside attraction, a haunted mine, and cactus jelly. Not necessarily in that order.
Writing the second book has been hugely different than the first. Most notably… I now have a deadline. I would encourage all aspiring authors to ponder this word and what it means: DEADLINE. This deadline has produced consternation and self-doubts. Am I a fluke? Am I a one-hit wonder? Can I do this again? About half way through the second novel, I had a meltdown of sorts. Between blogging, working full-time, family, and the next novel, I hit a wall. When I finally peeled myself off, I realized I had a good thing going.
All that to say, time management has become awfully important for me. I no longer have the luxury of perusing blogs and lounging on the sundeck like I once did (okay, the sundeck thing isn’t true). Things have become really busy, really stressful, and kind of exciting.