Eva Marie Everson is a multiple-award winning author and speaker who hails from the picturesque Southern town of Sylvania, Georgia. She is president of Word Weavers International, director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, Managing Editor at Firefly Southern Fiction, and enjoys coaching new authors through her company, Pen in Hand. She is an avid photographer who enjoys turning her photos into inspiring memes for you to share (with proper attribution). Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida. They are the parents of three fabulous children who have blessed them with the world’s greatest grandchildren.
Caleb: I know you’re current project is set in the 70’s. When you’re writing something set in the past, how do you keep track of the differences in the time periods and keep yourself in the right mindset?
Eva Marie: For one thing, in the 70’s I was a young woman. So I do think back to “this is what we wore,” and “this is what we did.” One of the things I do when I’m writing this particular novel is I listen only to 1970’s music. Because the thing with music is that it will take you back to a time and a place. I’m also watching shows like “Mary Tyler Moore” or “The Bob Newhart Show.” Any show that was popular back in the 70s that was currently the 70’s. The same thing when I write books set in the 50’s or the 40’s, I listen to that music. That puts me there. Then I do a lot of research online. I read a lot of old newspapers that you can find on line, you know, things like that.
One thing I definitely found in interviewing older people is that by and large we really haven’t changed that much. They had the same temptations that we have today. They made the same mistakes that we do today. The only difference is, let’s say for example, if you were a young couple back in the 1940’s and you found yourself expecting a child before you got married, you got married. In those days, that was understood.
Caleb: That really put a lot more constraint on not necessarily the choices that the the characters make, but on the reaction from those choices – the effect it has on the people around them.
Eva Marie: Also there were things that were socially acceptable in those days that are maybe not necessarily so much today. For example we didn’t know in the 1940’s and the 1950’s, and even in the 1960’s, the effects of cigarettes. And so everybody smoked. That was just kind of a common thing.
But even things like when you flew somewhere, you got dressed up. Men and woman got dressed up to fly somewhere. What’s interesting is that I did my own little experiment. Used to, when I would fly I would wear a pair of jeans, a nice top, sneakers, because you’re doing a lot of walking. I started dressing to get on a plane, and what surprised me was the difference in the way I was treated, not only in the airport but once I got on the plain. It’s like all of a sudden they were looking at me differently. I think there’s something to be said for that.
Caleb: Do you have any advice for anyone new to the industry?
Eva Marie: Join Word Weavers! That’s the first thing. We’ve got over 900 writers now, and many of them are multiple published, award winning names that you would recognize, and they started at Word Weavers.
Author, speaker, licensed counselor, and life coach, Tina has won over twenty-eight writing awards. She is passionate about guiding people across the threshold of healing to access life’s potential and has over twenty years of teaching experience. Two of her writing workshops are available through Serious Writer Academy. Tina is the publisher of Inkspirations Online, a writers’ devotional and mentors four chapters of Word Weavers International. Beautiful Warrior, her upcoming book on women’s esteem, is scheduled to release with New Hope Publishers in July of 2019. For the latest on Beautiful Warrior, or to connect with her as a speaker, coach, or manuscript therapist, visit tinayeager.com.
Click here to check out Tina’s latest release: Beautiful Warrior
Caleb: How has your experience in counseling helped you in character development?
Tina: Characters should be as realistic as possible, so they should be as human as possible. The more you know about the mindset of a real person, and how someone is constructed … it’s going to give your characters a more three-dimensional quality that captures the imagination and the heart of your reader, and immerses them in the story.
Caleb: What is the first step you take in getting to know your character?
Tina: I’m a daydreamer. I’m an organic writer. I like to just go with what appears in my mind as that character. You can use a tool like a personality test if you really want to go in to thinking about things like are they an extrovert or an introvert? Think about not just their personality but their backstory. How does that play into what’s going to happen with that character, and daydream that character into existence before you put them onto the page. That will keep you from info-dumping on the first page of your novel. You might want to flush all that out, but don’t do that for the reader, or the reader will be board. Know your character well enough to paint them, and then write them.
Caleb: How simple/complex should a character’s psychological struggle be?
Tina: I would err on the side on complex than on the side of too simple. Someone has to have enough layers of complexity in order to be realistic.
Caleb: What is the difference between an internal struggle and an external struggle?
Tina: An internal struggle is the character discovering who they really are, something that is an issue within them that is a conflict they’re trying to resolve. Whether that is a mental conflict, a conflict with their emotions or a conflict overcoming a wound, or a trauma, or a lie, or a fear in their past that was created. They are changing as the story goes along. The external conflicts are the forces that are coming against your hero from the outside, whether it’s a decision or a circumstance or an antagonist. That’s the external conflict.
Caleb: As complex as human motivations are, how do you choose which internal conflict drives the character through the story.
Tina: It depends on your story and it depends on your character. You shouldn’t just pick [an internal struggle] and say, “Oh here’s a popular, trendy thing!” You should pick something that is appropriate to the story and appropriate to you as a writer.
Caleb: How do you properly portray a character with a mental illness or trauma?
Tina: Please do your research if you are going to put a character into your story that has mental health issues, because you will have readers who experience those mental health issues and it will be insulting to them if you get it wrong. Please do your research, and please do not stereotype anyone with a mental illness. Make sure you’ve put enough depth into your character so they will be relatable, and realistic and that they have qualities that the reader admires.
Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Line Between, The House of Bathory Duology (The Progeny, Firstborn), Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker. A notorious night-owl, she loves watching TV, eating bacon, playAing video games with her kids, and sending cheesy texts to her husband. You can find Tosca hanging around the snack table or wherever bacon is served. A Single Light, Tosca’s highly-anticipated sequel to The Line Between, releases September 17 from Simon & Schuster and is available for pre-order now!
Caleb: Why did you choose to write thrillers?
Tosca: So I think sometimes we feel like we should write certain kinds of things. And I feel like a common mistake we can make at the beginning is to feel like we should write certain kinds of things when what we really like to read is something else. I’m a big advocate of write what you like, and I enjoy thrillers. I really like keeping readers reading late into the night, way past bedtime.
Caleb: One thing that impressed me about the Progeny was how you were able to weave suspense and mystery throughout the story even after some of the initial questions were answered. How did you accomplish this?
Tosca: So I think there always needs to be some kind of story questions. It doesn’t have to be your classic type thriller question of “who did it?” It can be a question of “will the girl get the guy,” or “will they get the job,” or whatever the goal is. I think there’s an overarching question, but then it’s really important to put those little hooks in along the way and pull the reader along.
Caleb: Do you do a lot of outlining ahead of time, or are you an organic writer?
Tosca: Well I’m a little bit of a hybrid, but I have to have an outline, and I learned that the hard way. I would love to be a panster. Steven James is a friend of mine and he’s a panster, and that’s the fun part for him. The fun part for me is not getting lost. And I will just get lost and write myself into a corner without an outline. I think people who can pants it are amazing, and I’m so jealous!
Caleb: How do you come up with your characters and discover their motivation?
Tosca: I always have to think about what are the stakes for this character, and I always think about what is the outside goal. But I’m always thinking too about the inner journey, and you know that’s something you hear writers talk about a lot, and so the inner journey is basically who does the character think they are, versus who are they really? So who do they think they are, who are they really, and how did they come to that at the end?
Caleb: How do you come up with your stories? How do you keep track of your ideas and what to make into a novel?
Tosca: I have folders on my computer where I will have sometimes longer documents with notes, and sometimes it is just one or two words, but I know what those one or two words mean. Ideas that you come back to a lot, that you circle back to are the ones that probably you should look into.
Caleb: How do you research your setting and immerse the reader into that environment? Even little details that most people don’t think about can plunge the reader into a setting.
Tosca: For the Progeny, every single place that is mentioned, I traveled to write that book. You draw from what you’ve got and then you MacGyver it together with duct tape and a paper clip.
Caleb: Do you have any parting words of wisdom?
Tosca: I have just a couple of rules for writing:
– Write like no one will ever read this, because it gives you permission just be bold and not worry about what people will think.
– Get the clay on the wheel. Don’t keep perfecting the part you’ve already done. The temptation is so very strong, but [for a first draft] just let it be a total mess and just get to the end.
Tessa Emily Hall is an award-winning author who writes inspirational yet authentic books for teens to remind them they’re not alone. Her first teen devotional, COFFEE SHOP DEVOS, released with Bethany House in 2018. Tessa’s passion for shedding light on clean entertainment and media for teens led her to a career as an Associate Agent for Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency, YA Acquisitions Editor for Illuminate YA (LPC Imprint), and Founder/Editor of PursueMagazine.net. She’s guilty of making way too many lattes and never finishing her to-read list. When her fingers aren’t flying 128 WPM across the keyboard, she can be found speaking to teens, decorating art journals, and acting in Christian films. Her favorite way to procrastinate is through connecting with readers on her blog, mailing list, social media (@tessaemilyhall), and website: www.tessaemilyhall.com. Tessa is also co-host of Firsts in Fiction with Aaron Gansky.
Tessa is represented by Cyle Young at Hartline Literary Agency.
Caleb: Where did your writing journey start, and how did you become interested in YA?
Tessa: I was a teenager when I really started to pursue writing seriously. I started writing my first book, which was Purple Moon. I wanted to write for teenagers, not just because that was my age, but because I wanted to pursue ministry in some way. I felt like in some way God was calling me to write inspirational stories for teenagers – stories that they could relate with.
Caleb: What is it about young adult fiction that appeals to so many different age groups.
Tessa: It’s so cool! I think I even heard a study that said about 50% of readers of young adult fiction are actually adults. Just the teen angst… I think some of us can still relate with that sometimes. I love that age group, and I especially love the voice in young adult fiction, especially in the contemporary genre. I just love how a lot of the young adult fiction books are written in the first person point of view, because that allows me to get in the head of the character, and to hear their voice a little bit more.
Caleb: Do you do a lot of reading in the YA genre?
Tessa: Some people find it hard to [read in their own genre] because they start writing in that authors voice and style, but to me it kind of unleashes my voice a little bit more. I don’t copy that author, but it allows me to unleash my own voice. I read during my evening time as I’m winding down. Sometimes I’m only able to read five minutes a day, and I try to read at least an hour a day if that’s possible. I also listen to audio books.
Caleb: How can a YA author stay relevant in a market where the genre’s trends are changing so often?
Tessa: You really can’t predict the future of publishing. The thing is publishing moves at such a slow pace, and the process of writing a book is slow. you don’t know what’s going to be popular by the time your book is actually published. My advice is not to try and chase the trends. It’s important to understand and be familiar with what’s important, but you don’t know what’s going to be the next trend setter. Be familiar with what’s trending and write in a way that can be appealing to that target audience, but do it in a way that can bring something fresh and something new to the table.
Cristel is “Saving the world from bad writing, one project at a time, all while drinking copious amounts of coffee.” Cristel is part of the Serious Writer team, lending her editing expertise to writers at conferences and online. Mentoring and coaching authors through the editing and proposal process is what makes her shine. She is also a member of The Christian Pen and owner of The Editing House, where she edits manuscripts and other projects for the Christian industry. Managing editor for Decapolis Publishing in Lansing, Michigan for 7 years. Editing reviewer for CBA for 5 years. Editing for Elk Lake Publishing for 4 years. Deep POV edit is her specialty.
Does everyone need to hire an editor for their work?
Well I hope that everybody who’s listening or watching loves coffee. Because I actually spend my Saturdays over at Starbucks and there are actually three other authors that are there on Saturdays doing writing. We’ve had some wonderful chats, and every single one of them are indie authors and they all will pay for the editing because they know that there are errors in their babies. They realize their focus is just the writing. They want to tell a story, and they want to tell a good story, but they may not necessarily be good at some of the grammar, and some of the specifics that make it easier for a reader to understand what they’re saying. Even before you submit for a proposal, make sure it goes through a professional editor.
Where should the editing process begin?
I think that the last few clients that I’ve worked with have been writing long enough that they actually get people that are good readers that are friends of theirs that they call beta readers. They will send it out and have a friend of theirs read it and make sure that there are no questions in their minds. Beta readers are kind of the first line of editing, and it’s usually just a friend that loves to read. If an editor gets something that’s already gone through that process, it makes my job a whole lot easier. The less amount of time I have to work on a project, the cheaper it is for the author to get the job out there.
I think that the one thing that I enjoy doing the most is actually working with authors as I’m working on their book. I usually make a phone call as soon as I take a job, and I ask some very detailed questions. One of the ones that a lot of people don’t know how to answer initially is “when you’re reader is done with your book, what do you want them to feel like? What are the takeaways that you want them to have?” I’m honored to walk alongside an author in “birthing their baby.”
What are your pet peeves as an editor?
I think the hardest thing is people who are just extra wordy and they don’t need to be. I think people just want to read how you would have a conversation with someone. I think just telling people what’s in your heart and doing it in a conversational style makes it so much easier.
Basically words that we repeat a lot like, “that, and, of, very.” I just got done editing one where every other sentence was an exclamation point. The more exclamations, the more question marks and the more ellipses that you use, the less powerful they are.
What are some things new writers should know before going into the editing process?
We (as editors) are the watch guards of what you want your reader to read and come away with. So if I can make sure that I know the knowledge you want the reader to have at the end of the book, or the feeling that you want them to come away with, I can be that watch guard. I think probably the hardest part for a new author is having an editor ask them to go places they don’t want to go. Especially with a brand new author, I end up kind of holding their hand as we walk through. There’s a thing called a substantive edit. A substantive edit is where I literally dig deep into your story. Does the timeframe match? Are the words that you use correct for the time period? I have to walk hand in hand with an author and ask those kinds of questions.
What are some things writers should remember when submitting to publishers?
Always if you’re going to submit to a publisher, the very first thing that you need to do is you need to download a copy of their style sheet. Their style sheet will tell you how they want the document set up. Most style sheets will also tell you what the word count needs to be for each of their genres. If you submit based on their style sheet, you can pretty much be assured that they will at least read it. They will at least get started with it.
What is one piece of advice you would like to give to an aspiring author?
Don’t be afraid, and don’t be discouraged when an editor changes something. Don’t be afraid of the editor’s marks and changes. All they’re trying to do is make it better. Don’t feel threatened by it.