Welcome back to Inkspots! Today, I have the great honor of interviewing young self-published author Melody Beerbower. I know Melody personally, and she was willing to let me ask her a few questions about her and her lovely debut book, The Gossiping Wind. So meet Melody, everyone!
MB: Hi! My name is Melody Beerbower. I have been home-schooled from kindergarten all the way up to graduation. (I graduate at the end of this school year) Besides writing, I enjoy drawing, hiking, and hanging out with friends. I have seven siblings, two of which are getting married this year.
What is your story about?
MB: The Gossiping Wind is narrated by the Wind. The Wind has taken interest in the lives of the inhabitants of the small western town of Prattlebrook. A gossipy spinster, an idealistic school teacher and her overbearing mother, a single father struggling to raise five sons and run a store under the critical eye of his own father, a handsome young man who is trying to win the school teacher's heart, a man whose skin is "black as night", and others struggle to keep what is theirs. With mysterious kidnappings by a band of Chinese bandits, a terrible fire, and raging rumors, everyone must pull together to keep their town being torn apart. But who will be willing to take that first step to overcome all the prejudice and lies that have crept in unnoticed like a soft current of air?
Where did you get the idea for The Gossiping Wind?
MB: I actually started out with just the title, "The Gossiping Wind". I wrote a little piece (I guess you could call it a poem) describing the wind, and that set the tone for my book. I knew I wanted it set in a western town and I wanted a gossipy spinster. That's about all I knew before I started writing. The rest just came as I went along.
You wrote TGW during National Novel Writing Month in November. Can you tell us a bit about NaNoWriMo, and what made you decide to write TGW?
MB: NaNoWriMo is a website that encourages writers of all ages to write. You can sign up on their website for free and receive helpful pep talks and interact in many different forums, made specifically for your various writing interest. NaNoWriMo's biggest project is a writing contest in November. The goal is to write 50,000 words by November 30th. All who complete this task will receive various prizes, including a chance to get five free paperback copies of your book. They also have smaller writing events throughout the year.
I first heard about NaNoWriMo from my aunt. She was participating in it, and I though it would be fun to join her. November first came around and I had no idea of what I was going to write about. I flipped through a notebook of ideas I had jotted down, and came across a hastily written title. The Gossiping Wind. It really captured my imagination. I explained above how I used that as a jumping point for my story.
What was the writing/editing/publishing process like for you? What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
MB: For the NaNoWriMo contest I wrote over 50,000 words in November of 2012, which is approximately 1,666 words a day. On a really good day, I could type one page (about 500 words) in half an hour. That meant only two hours of writing a day. Not bad. But that was on on realllly good days. It usually took over an hour per page. I am a slow typer, I admit, but most of that time was spent thinking, not typing.
My most intense day of writing actually took place after the contest. I had given myself a dead line to complete the manuscript and was far behind. (See, after November I had 50,000 words, but not a complete story by any means.) I sat at the computer determined to finish the ending of my story. That day I completed roughly nine hours of writing, adding nine pages to my story, (approximately 4000 words), plus did some random editing. It was pretty intense. After that I printed it out a couple of times, had multiple people edit it for me, made changes, revised, cut scenes and added some, until my story was complete.
I published The Gossiping Wind through Createspace, a free website which is affiliated with NaNoWriMo. They have wonderful tools to walk you through the process of formatting and uploading your book, even designing the cover.
My least favorite part was definitely formatting the manuscript. All my page numbers got messed up. They wouldn't start in the right place, and then some were missing. I had to add and delete pages to get them right. I had to figure out how to have two different headers and how to delete them off specific pages. It was definitely a learning experience, but also a whole lot of busy work.
My favorite part was writing about the wind and finding just the right words to describe it.
What was your most favorite scene to write?
MB: That would have to be the scene right before the ending, but I can't tell you about it or I'd give it away. I also loved the scene where Bertha and the ladies from the sewing circle chase a chicken out of her house. Then again, all the scenes with Rich Shi and his sons are fun.
I know you based a couple characters off of your uncle and your cousin. Are there any other characters who are based off of people you know?
MB: There are a few, but mostly I did not have a specific person in mind. Just a strong character.
What other kinds or genres of writing do you enjoy? Are there any more works in progress you want to publish?
MB: I enjoy westerns and have attempted to write a few, but never finished one. Mostly I enjoy historical fiction.
I have several story ideas floating around in my head, but the hard part is deciding which one to finish. I completed a short story called Dancing Dust, which I may publish in a collection of short stories when I have enough of them to fill a book.
What writing advice do you have for aspiring writers? Or even advice for writing during NaNoWriMo?
MB: My advice for both is simply: Keep on writing. I often build stories in my head, but if I don't put them down on paper, no one else is able to enjoy them. Don't be discouraged when parts of your story sound awful. Keep writing. You can go back later and edit, but you can't edit a blank page. Often as you're writing another scene, you'll have an idea of how to improve the one that was giving you problems.
Also, jot down ideas, phrases, and words that strike your fancy. You never know when you can use them. After all, The Gossiping Wind started out as just a title in my notebook.
I hope you enjoyed the interview! I know I did. Now go enjoy her book, too, so you can get the full experience! You can find her book on Amazon.