For our second (grossly late) check into the Blog World Tour, we’re featuring Heather Hayden.

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog and her Twitter, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

Hi artist’s rendition of Heather.
Heather Hayden
Hi Heather.

And now, the questions!

So Tabitha. How long (on average does) it take you to write a book

It really depends on the book. The Astrals (working title) has been a work-in-progress for over a decade now, but Augment took six months from conception to publication. Upgrade, Augment’s sequel, is taking closer to ten months, though I hope to release it later this month, or early in September. Demon’s Blade and its sequels each took a month for the first draft (they were my National Novel Writing Month novels for three years straight). Their revision will probably take three or four months, though—my plan is to release them over the course of the next year.

And now I feel like a slacker. Have you faced any challenges in writing Upgrade? Would you do anything differently next time?

I wrote the first draft during National Novel Writing Month in 2015. I then posted it on Scribophile for critiques, as I do with all of my writing now. However, I took a few months’ break after that, and didn’t touch the manuscript. By the time I returned to edit it, Augment had somewhat faded into my memory, and I had trouble getting back into the world of the story. I’m doing better now, and Upgrade’s almost ready for publication, but I definitely think that sequels should be handled immediately after their predecessors from now on.

Heh. We’ve all read something that we forgot what we wrote. Do you do your own proofreading and editing, or do you get someone to do that for you?

Thanks to a wonderful writing community, Scribophile, that I am a part of, I receive plenty of critiques and editing suggestions. Once I’ve revised my story to the point of satisfaction, I read through it a few times looking for errors, and also get fresh eyes to go through it as well (usually press-ganged volunteers among my family and friends or fellow Scribophiles.)

Augment went through this process before publication and had very few errors to catch in its proof. I might consider hiring an editor in the future, but at the moment I would prefer to put my money toward good book covers, marketing, etc.

Click it. Click it.
Scribophile‘s getting a lot of plugs today.

Scribophile’s a neat site, for sure. In other news, where is your favorite place to write?

The moment I can get my hands on a beach-safe laptop with a no-glare screen, that’ll be a nice, sandy, sunny beach somewhere. Right now, though, I mostly write either in bed (when at home) or sitting on a couch (at my family’s summer place.) I do prefer writing during rain or thunderstorms, or when it’s foggy out, or with my own music. So I guess my favorite place is more a favorite mood set by the weather or music. I also work better without interruptions (though I think that’s every writer’s bane!)

Don’t we know it. Final question from me: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read everything you can get your hands on. Fiction, non-fiction, genres you love, genres you hate, books about writing and publishing (whether you self-publish or pursue traditional channels, this is good information to know)… The more you read, the more you’ll absorb about writing, the flow of narrative, lifelike characters, and so on. Every writer should be a reader.

Follow the rules of writing…to a point. Yes, there are writers who broke all the rules and still became famous. But to break the rules, you need to learn what they are, and practice using them before you start finding way to break them.

Good deal, Heather. Thanks.

If these questions seem like some small part of a larger whole, that’s because they are! You’ll hear plenty more from Heather among us bloggers in this Blog World Tour.

And now, back to our regular programming.