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Day 23 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Therese Walsh

With great pleasure I’d like to introduce Therese Walsh. Therese is not only a fantastic novelist, she is also the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a terrific resource for writers. And just think, if it wasn’t for the Internet and online networking, I might never have met Therese. Three cheers for the Internet! Please help me welcome a true encourager of writers.

Therese Walsh is the author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Crown, Random House), and is the co-founder of Writer Unboxed, a blog for writers about the craft and business of fiction. She is the writer-mama of two writer-kiddos and more four-legged critters than she cares to admit. (Oh, okay, four.) Learn more at her website.

Maeve Leahy is a busy professor of languages with no time for memories of her lost twin, Moira, or of her many lost opportunities. Until a childhood relic and a series of anonymous notes changes everything—resurrects her long-dead dreams, a lost language, her most painful recollections, and prompts her to cross an ocean in search of ancient history. There, Maeve will learn new truths about her past,  and come face to face with the one thing she truly fears. Only then can she choose between the safe yet lonely life she’s built for herself and one of risk, with bonds she knows can be both heart-breakingly delicate and more enduring than time.

1. How has writing (either just the act of writing or writing this book or both) impacted your self-confidence?

I began writing The Last Will of Moira Leahy in 2002 with little creative writing experience. (I was a science major in college.) As I wrote, I studied my craft; and as I learned, my writing improved significantly. I came to understand that writers direct a great deal of their own evolution and ultimate success. If writing were a sport, it would be running: It’s all you–your willpower, the conditioning you demand of yourself, and your fight. And when you climb hill after hill, then look back to realize how far you’ve come–when you look back at your earliest pages and can clearly see your improvement as a writer–it’s an incredible confidence booster.

2. What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?

Unpredictable. Surprising. Evolving.

3. What good has your book created in the world?

There are two stories I’ve heard about The Last Will of Moira Leahy that make me feel especially gratified. The first is that the novel literally saved the life of a woman who was low-down and read it, and felt lifted out of her dark place. The second is that a dying woman read the book–after months of not being able to finish anything–and loved it. It was the last book she read before she died.

• • •

I like this part of what Therese said, “…writers direct a great deal of their own evolution and ultimate success.” How are you taking the reins of your writing career and steering it towards success, whatever that means for you?

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Thanks for spreading the word!

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  • Heidi Smith Luedtke May 23, 2011, 10:49 am

    As a freelancer, it seems perfectly obvious to me that I am directing my own evolution and success as a writer. Well, except when it feels like I’m not moving forward. Then it is easy to think it’s something external that’s holding me back, rather than focusing inward, finding my own rhythm, and moving ahead in a slower, more deliberate way. I am working hard on “growing up” into better-written, higher-paying markets. I could use more focus on the craft of writing and not just the strategy of getting the clips, though. I need to find sources and mentors for that kind of learning.

  • Marta May 23, 2011, 1:36 pm

     How am I taking the reigns of my writing career?  First, I want to say that I’ve got the reigns, I’m on the road, and I’ve got a map.  But I don’t necessarily know if I’m handling the reigns correctly, on the right road, or understand the language the map is written in. I write every stolen of every day I can. I connect to other writers. I submit, submit, submit and try to learn from rejection.  I do the social networking thing–and that’s great–but if my writing doesn’t improve, I don’t feel I have any success.  Because there is the success of being published (would love to have that) but there is the success of writing well and reaching another human being (and that I’ve done). 

  • Connie Cox May 23, 2011, 1:42 pm

    Therese, very interesting that the two legged children are writers just like their mom.  What a wild household that must be!  My very pragmatic husband really has his comfort zone challenged with just one writer (me) in the house. 

    Would love to hear about how you schedule in your writing time between mom obligations.  Do you write fulltime? Or also juggle a day job?

  • Betty May 23, 2011, 2:04 pm

    Steering my career is a slow process because of time conflicts between a full time job (as a technical editor/writer) and an elderly dad and family obligations as well as friend obligations. However, I’ve been reading craft related books (On Writing by Stephen King; Story by Robert McKee) and making more time to read fiction in the genres I want to write. I’m also trying to squeeze out more consistent time to write. I’ve been writing only on weekends, but that doesn’t always work either due to the above obligations I mentioned. My overarching goal is to develop my craft/storytelling capabilities so that when I quit my day job (hopefully in 3-4 years) I have the toolbox of skills handy to develop engaging stories.

  • Laura Drake May 23, 2011, 2:10 pm

    Oh Therese, I can’t imagine how gratifying it would be to have the feedback of those two women on your novel!  I get wrapped up in the daily grind of trying to get an agent, revision, etc., and forget that THIS is why I write. Deep down, I want to touch people in a lasting way that’s hard to achieve in day to day life. 

    Thanks so much for sharing that, and reminding me.

  • Juliet Farmer May 23, 2011, 2:23 pm

     I am busy revamping old published pieces with a fresh spin and pitching them like crazy–I figure if they were good enough to be in print the first time around, there’s value in them to rework them to make more money. Why reinvent the wheel if it’s working, right?

  • kat magendie May 23, 2011, 3:04 pm

    I have Theresa’s book already and can’t wait to read it – just wanted to stop and give my support – loved the interview and the analogy to running, since I run and write, I “got this” ! 😀 

  • Michele Thornton May 23, 2011, 3:23 pm

     I’m directing my own success by not giving up. Even when too much time passes between work sessions on my manuscript, and the characters are feeling standoffish, the plot details elude me, and it’s just SO MUCH WORK to get back into the groove, I do it. Each time, delving back in feels like jumping into an icy lake, but I always (almost) emerge feeling refreshed. 

  • Laura Ackerman May 23, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Evolving – I like that word to describe my writing career. It is definitely evolving and definitely being directed by my own steering.  The self-direction, though, is being guided by opportunity.  Since I am an unknown in the freelance world, I am taking advantage of opportunities to write as I see them.  They aren’t necessarily on my ultimate path for where I want to go as a writer, but I think taking a few curves in the road to publish some articles and get my name known will eventually help me get where I want to be.  When the path ahead looks like a mountain, the longer, curvier road around the mountain my actually be the better route.  Once I have some clips, query experience, and confidence under my belt, I think I will be in a better place to chart my course for the book deal.

  • Patricia Yager Delagrange May 23, 2011, 3:42 pm

    I liked this interview very much and now know a little bit more about Therese.  I read WU every day and this gives me more of a connection with the creator of one of my favorite blogs!
    Thank you.

  • Diane J. May 23, 2011, 4:43 pm

    I’m taking the reins by learning. Sometimes this holds me back and I feel safe hiding behind the learning, but for the most part, it’s always helpful.

    I searched out a writer’s group…two. Both have different styles, so it’s tremdously helpful.

    I search out any writing assignments I can find, like the guest columnist position in the local paper.

    I keep searching, learning, and trying.

  • Malia Jacobson May 23, 2011, 4:47 pm

    I love the comparison of a writing career to running–except that I hate running. What does that say about me as a writer? 🙂 In today’s environment, I believe that a successful writer HAS to have both hands on the steering wheel. It’s very easy to get off-track. I think it’s vital to stay internally focused, but also to seek outside support and guidance from trusted advisers. The combination of internal motivation + outside support has worked for me, so I’m going to keep it up.

  • Sara May 23, 2011, 6:55 pm

     Oh I’ve been wanting to read this book so bad!  Back to the question.  I feel like lately I really have taken the reins of my writing career, finally.  I’ve been focusing on what I want in life, which naturally comes with what I want to write.  I pushed all other motivations besides JOY away from my writing.  I have a solid start to my first novel and I think success, as we each define it, will come when are doing what makes us happy.  Since I’ve been focusing on what’s good for me, and what I really want to write, I can see my voice emerging much clearer than before.

  • Barbara Forte Abate May 23, 2011, 7:44 pm

    Although I have been writing with purpose and intent for 20 years and my first novel was released nearly a year ago, I am still in the process of trying to take the reins and go galloping off into my happy, comfortable, perfect fit, writing place. I know for certain that I will always be “learning to write” and that there will always be a need to better my craft, and so I continue to read, absorb, and collect advice. My daily writing plan is continually evolving, in that I still haven’t found the right fit. The place doesn’t change, but the time has yet to be resolved. If I can somehow find the trick to turning off the noise of the world at large, I think that would be the biggest accomplishment to date.  Just sit down in front of the blank page and write. That’s my plan. The thing is, it isn’t so simple as it sounds in print, but of course, you all already know that 🙂

  • Carol J. Alexander May 23, 2011, 9:10 pm

    Taking the reins  of my career and steering it, to me means that
    I not only write, but that I submit my writing for publication. Not only do I try to learn from rejection; but also compare what I’ve submitted to what’s actually published to see how that particular editor might want something written differently. I  work on
    developing my platform, acquiring followers and readers, and building
    relationships with others in the publishing industry. I also take classes to
    better develop my skills.

  • Kelli Estes May 23, 2011, 10:00 pm

    I could easily set writing aside to deal with the challenges of raising kids while struggling with my chronic fatigue, but I choose to put ME near the top of my list every day. In order to be ME and to feel I am steering toward success (having a published fiction career), I try to write something every day. I’m currently writing my sixth book and, though none have yet been published, I will not give up. Ever. I will only fail if I stop writing.

  • Pam Maynard May 24, 2011, 1:36 am

    I write, I read, I write some more.  I belong to a great critique group that helps support me every day.  Most of us in my group have started blogging regularly.  Blogging helps steer my writing in new and wonderful directions to new and exciting opportunities.   I recently enrolled in another ICL course so I can focus on actually submitting my work to be published.
    I am also co-founding a new writer’s group in my town.  It is so exciting to be able to help others get on their writing path!

  • Cara Holman May 24, 2011, 1:58 am

    I like thinking about my writing career as something
    evolving. In the last few years, I have learned many lessons in when to hold
    on, and when to let go, as I cared for my parents in their last months. I’ve
    found that many of these lessons are applicable in other endeavors of life,
    including writing. My original goal was to try to get as many of my writings as
    possible in print, feeling that in that way, I could reach the largest
    audience. But while I value the writings that have or that will appear in
    anthologies, I came to realize that the flow of information often seemed
    one-way. Except at the handful of book readings I participated in, I had no way
    of knowing if my stories were actually being read and enjoyed. And this is when
    I discovered how much I enjoy the immediacy of the internet, with instant
    publication and feedback. I still try to keep a hand in anthologies, but I am
    much more willing these days to try new things, take new challenges, and let go
    of what is not working for me anymore.

  • Mar Junge May 24, 2011, 4:55 am

    I am building my staff and training them to service c3PR’s clients with less input from me. This will give me more time to develop other areas of my writing, e.g. research for historical fiction, training in plot, character development, and more. My mentor once said that a writing career is not “fair;” you can work at it your whole life and never achiever greatness or commercial success. A young writer can come along and have his or her first book published, even if it’s not a smidgen as good as that of more experienced writers. So writers must define achievable success on their own terms. My achievable success at this point is simply to have more time to explore a greater variety of writing.

  • Rebecca Cherba May 24, 2011, 5:09 am

    It’s odd, but since the birth of my son almost two years ago, followed by the death of my father less than a year ago, I’ve finally come to take my writing seriously. Perhaps ironically, there’s something motivating about the knowledge that my dad will never read my novel when it’s FINALLY done… while I can’t fix that mistake, I can push forward, as a tribute to his faith in me as a writer.

    Becoming a mom has forced me to become more disciplined in a way I’d never really had a reason to be before, and it’s the new foundation that provides me with the means to schedule a writing life into my life as a full-time mom. Furthermore, losing my dad reminded me to consider what regrets I’d have if my own life were cut short sooner than I’d planned on. Somehow, the terror of tackling the complexities of my novel and doing it well has become far less scary than the idea of never finishing it. And so I carry on.

  • Angela Stevens May 25, 2011, 4:12 am

    Having dreamed of being a writer since I was in third grade, I have finally learned to grab the reins and advance my skills by becoming a freelancer. It took me exactly three days to get my first job offer, and shortly after I received another! I am currently a part time college student, wife, mother to four children and work part time out of the home. Ultimately, I would like to stay home and become a full time writer. I am currently making about $500/mo regular income from writing with a couple hundred dollars in extra income from one-shot writing gigs…and I only just started in April! I am also developing a novel and while it still has a long way to go, I think it will be fantastic when I’m done!

  • Laura Ackerman May 25, 2011, 5:06 am

    I haven’t read a lot of fiction for a long time (too many demands on this mom’s time right now), but I actually wanted to read this one.  I was intrigued with the lost twin.  Thank you Theresa and thank you Christina.  I am excited.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:01 pm

    Moving ahead “in a slower, more deliberate way” is huge. Best of luck to you!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:03 pm

    You’re doing all the right things in my opinion, Marta. The trick about that map, though, is that you’re actually making it as you go along. It’s always the right map, but not always the right direction. Keep going, and I believe you’ll find your place. Best of luck!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:08 pm

    Yes, it is wild, Connie!

    No day job for me, though I do sometimes take on a freelance assignment. If I had a 9-5 job, I would be buried because my responsibilities with Writer Unboxed are extensive. (Sometimes I think of the blog as my day job!) It is a juggle with mom responsibilities and writing, but it’s do-able; I prioritize on a daily–sometimes an hourly–basis. Thanks for your comment. 

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I commend you for being such a good juggler, and for honing your craft during this busy time. Best of luck!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:10 pm

    Laura, those stories keep me going, no lie. I look forward to being touched by your novels soon.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:11 pm

    Absolutely. As a freelance health writer as well, I can understand your need to recycle ideas. It can be incredibly hard to come up with a spin on an old topic you’ve written about 20+ times. Best of luck.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:11 pm

    I hope you enjoy the book, Kat, and thanks so much for your support.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:12 pm

    Michele, I believe perseverance is the #1 key to becoming published. Go, you!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:13 pm

    Taking the long and winding road may mean more opportunities for you in the end. Best of luck!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:14 pm

    Hi Patricia, thanks for swinging by and for your comment. I’m glad that you’re a part of the WU community. Write on!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:15 pm

    Wonderful approach. Continuing to learn, and receiving feedback on your work (as you may do with your writer’s group) are two keys to becoming published. Best of luck!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:18 pm

    I hate running, too, ha! 

    Internal motivation and focus are huge, and honestly not my strong suit. I seem to vacillate between intense focus (that burns me out) and reluctant focus (if that makes sense!). Best of luck to you. 

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:20 pm

    JOY is a wonderful internal motivator, and it’s especially helpful with the first book. I had such joy inside of me when I wrote Last Will–when it wasn’t doing its job and driving me crazy, that is. I hope that you’ll have the chance to read the book soon, and that you like it. Meanwhile, enjoy all that joy!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:22 pm

    Amen to trying to minimize distractions. Yes, that’s a big trick, and I hope that you first learn it and then teach it to the rest of us. Best of luck to you, Barbara, and thanks for stopping by.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:23 pm

    You’re wise to realize you can learn a great deal from rejection. Best of luck to you!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:24 pm

    I applaud you. Good for you for making yourself a priority, and fighting against several tides in order to accomplish your goals.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:25 pm

    Blogging can provide a treasure-trove of opportunities, as can banding with other writers for critique and other experiences. Enjoy that rich road; I definitely have.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:29 pm

    My condolences on losing your parents. Letting go is important, I agree, in life and lit. Though it’s never easy. Hugs.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:31 pm

    “Writers must define achievable success on their own terms.” A big Amen to that. Also, if you can visualize your life, your goals, your career within your own universe, it can also help to prevent you from comparing your career experience with others. 

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:33 pm

    I can identify with what you’re saying here, Rebecca. My father’s death played a large role in the evolution of my debut novel, in ways I didn’t understand until it was completed. It’s a story about acceptance, life, death. My son was also born shortly after my father died. Life is strange, isn’t it? Best of luck to you.

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:34 pm

    I love your outlook, Angela, and your positive spirit. Best of luck to you!

  • ThereseWalsh May 25, 2011, 6:35 pm

    I hope you’re able to read it, Laura, and that the story resonates with you. As Christina can attest, Last Will is a cross-genre piece that leans on a Javanese myth as well as twin lore. Happy reading, and thanks for stopping by.