Tammy, what about Candace’s bio convinced you to sub to her?
Everything. Candace (@Literarydust) is dynamic, outgoing, and kind. She’s got great editing game and her writing style is quick pacing and a great punch without hiding behind flowery words or fluff. She has it all. I still message her all the time, and I consider her a great friend.
Candace, what made you fall in love with Bird?
I felt it was a unique story with a cool paranormal vibe. I was also drawn to the sisterly bond in the story, because yes Casey loves her sister Bird, but you can also feel the frustration of what she goes through because of Bird’s problem.
Tammy, looking back, what was your favorite part of the #WriteMentor experience?
That’s a punch of a question. It’s a tie between gaining so many friends and all the learning that took place. I really got a chance to see things from another perspective. One night, Candace worked with me live with the whole process happening in real time on my screen and I couldn’t believe how much it changed me to see it. It was one of the best experiences, and I wish I could write like that with someone everyday.
Candace, tell us what it was like working with Tammy?
Let me just say that Tammy is the sweetest person I’ve ever worked with. And I mean seriously, so incredibly nice. Also, she’s easy to work with. When I received the manuscript back from her, I could see all the hard work she’d put in!
Tammy, what was the most surprising part of the #WriteMentor experience?
Getting in. It’s such a close-knit community and everything is so positive. Even those who didn’t get in this time are still connected to the group and it just feels like I’ve known everyone so much longer than since the start.
Tammy, the revision process is only three months and can be intense. Tell us about your revisions and how you dealt with constructive criticism from Candace.What advice do you have for future mentees?
I’ve always loved constructive criticism. Things can’t improve without another outlook and sometimes looking outside the box you’re in. Candace and a couple of the other mentors gave me some great feedback right off the bat. With Candace, she was eager to hear my rationale for things and offer her own when she saw changes she thought should take place. She was really open to my vision, and sharing hers. She allowed me to contemplate the changes by relating it to the whole story concept. She was literally the perfect mentor for me and I was so lucky to have gotten her. As far as advice for other mentees – listen, weigh, play the scene in your head and do your best to see it for what it is. Constructive criticism isn’t a reflection of you, or your work—it’s just another view. We so often see that word in a negative light, but it’s most often given because someone is invested, cares about the outcome, and can see something maybe you couldn’t. You don’t have to accept every change, but not being open and honest about their validity only hurts your growth.
Tammy, after #WriteMentor, you signed with Ann Rose of The Prospect Agency. Give us all the details of “The Call.”
Can I have 7 pages to gush this out? It was straight out of my dreams. When Ann called it probably should have felt intimidating or awkward, but it didn’t. It was an easy conversation and within just a couple minutes, I was overwhelmed by how much I wanted her to be part of my journey. She had really taken time and put in effort. She already knew my manuscript inside and out. We talked about the characters, the pacing, the place it was now, and where it had the potential to be. It was such natural communication that I felt like I had already storyboarded with her and that she knew exactly what I was trying to accomplish. Afterward, she told me exactly what kind of agent she is, and what to expect from her. I won’t share everything…because some things should just be experienced, but it was a moment I’ll never forget. When we ended the call I felt different, lighter, and my mind buzzed with the excitement of wanting to see the whole picture the way she did. When I signed the contract, I was a mess. Not just because of how thankful I was to be here and how many people played a vital role, but because I know without a doubt Ann is exactly who I was supposed to be with. I want the entire writing world to have that experience, so….everyone should probably query Ann. (Sorry, Ann. You’re amazing).
What does your writing process look like?
Tammy: Messy first drafts with holes and scattered moments. Lots of surprises that I didn’t see coming. Then labor intensive painful second and third drafts that make me hate my first draft process. Then serious remorse about previous drafts until I begin to see the weaving of where the story wants to be and then slowly chiseling it there line by line. Sort of.
You’re on deadline! What are your go-to writing snacks?
Candace: It would have to be white chocolate, preferably white chocolate Reeses. And! Red velvet cake and nachos would be a bonus.
What fictional character would you like to spend a day with?
Candace: Warner from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. He’s perfectly awesome!
What author has most inspired you, and why?
Candace: I’d like to say the classics, but I can’t. It would have to be Sarah J. Maas because her books are so well written. The fact that she can write such big books amazes me too! I need those skills!
Tell us about your favorite writing spot.
Tammy: My favorite writing spot is at my kitchen table. It’s in the back of my house, so there isn’t much noise and I tuck myself in the corner in silence. Distraction doesn’t bother me for first drafts, I can do that anywhere, but revisions and edits, silence and safety are mandatory.
What fictional world would you most like to live in?
Tammy: To be honest, none. This world is enough for me, beautiful, terrifying, and filled with more than I could see in a lifetime. I’ll take this one and all it’s mystery…that’s a lifetime of discovery right there.
Candace: The 80s! When everyone wasn’t glued to a cell phone!
What is your favorite book (or series). Why?
Tammy: My favorite book is The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. It’s the first book that caused me to hurt deeply over fictional characters. It’s family, and sacrifice, and pain, and pleasure, and an incredible look at how far people will go to fight for what they believe.
What author would you most like to cowrite with? Why?
Tammy: Margaret Atwood. Because I love the fact that she see’s everything on a plane that’s just above and below reality. She writes what could be in a way that just too close to the line to be comfortable and in all her work there’s that moment of realization that good and bad aren’t ever without varying degrees of both. Her evil is usually founded in desperation and drive and her good is never just for the sake of goodness.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Tammy: Reading (best passion ever), movies, a brain that always heads straight to the worst scenario possible. Books have always been my adventure friends, and when I was young and finished one, I’d take those characters in my head and move them forward into new territories and clash them with other characters so the time I had with them wouldn’t be over. I think that helped me a lot, being that kid.
Candace: Movies, books, and my weird brain!
Tammy Oja always has her head in a book – which explains why she’s constantly tripping. She works full time as a nurse and is a mom to 2 teens and 2 puppies. Her motto for life is kindness always wins.
If she’s not at work, you can find her at the kitchen table revising or procrastinating on Twitter.
Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words. When she’s not writing stories, she maintains a book review blog. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.