Sasha Leigh is a self-diagnosed dreamer. When she isn’t stuck in worlds of her own making, listening to characters squabble for attention in her head, she’s immersed in stories created by others. A lover of all things “weird”, Sasha’s world is considered complete when she has her daughter at her side, her sketchpad, notebook, and something to write with – even if it’s just a piece of chalk. Working by day in the insurance industry, she spends her evenings and weekends devouring or writing new tales of magic, mythology, and all things supernatural (except dragons).
When she isn’t writing and updating readers, Sasha Leigh tries to update a separate blog at www.MythicWords.blogspot.ca with all that she’s come across in the self-publishing industry, be it formatting, covers, beta readers, editing, etc. By sharing her mistakes and what she finds works, she can help someone else along their journey.
What inspires you to write?
Everything. I always keep a notebook with me, and I absolutely love the voice recorder on my phone, which I utilize all the time. It’s especially good when you wake up after a really good dream that you don’t want to forget. But other than dreams, pictures inspire me. I saw a picture of a flaming bird and an entire book series popped into my head, though only the synopsis is written at this point. Driving past a cemetery on my way home from work inspired another series, which I just started writing.
As I said, “everything”. It all depends on the mood I am in and what’s going on around me. My first love was art and poetry, so I guess I’m just the type of person who can see something in all that’s I’m around. I love playing the word association game – with a twist. Pick a word, and instead of trying to find other words that are similar, try to see if you can come up with a synopsis for a novel. Ninety percent of the time, it’s going to be silly, but it sure helps when you want to brainstorm for new ideas, whether for new stories or just a new twist in a story you already have on the go.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I first starting thinking of writing (after I had written and deleted two novels), I was so caught up in the “how” of it, I spent most of my time on the internet and with my head stuck in books trying to learn what was expected of authors. What’s the best way to present characters? How should my plot be arranged? Prologue or Epilogue? What is needed in the beginning, middle and end? Literary devices, bookisms . . . and oh, my goodness! Is my grammar and punctuation okay? I have binders filled with meticulous notes handwritten and categorized.
Thankfully, I have always been a bookworm, so I have shelves filled with novels, from classics to encyclopaedias. At the time, I didn’t realize this was the best way to learn. For my first series, Cast From Power, I filled a binder with character sketches, detailed outlines of locations, plots, etc. When it came time to write, I knew everything inside-out, and everything has a meaning – eye colors, names, location names . . . even the dogs names! This series is my baby, but in a way, outlining it all sort of took the fun out of writing.
So I began the Twisted Fate Series. For this, other than a four-page synopsis that I began years before deciding to write, I am a total “pantser”. I have written four novels and a novella so far, and it wasn’t until I went back to the first to edit that I decided I needed to start notating character descriptions and locations. I have a general idea of where the plot goes, with the end being determined already, but otherwise? The last two books will be written the same way the first four were.
Having written both ways, I much prefer the “pantser” method; however, it would be smarter (for me) to write outlines for characters, locations, and timelines prior to editing, so a mix of the two methods would be ideal.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters yell at me if I ignore them for too long. I write everything by longhand, which allows me slow down what I am thinking so that it’s like a movie in my head, as well as saves me from the dreaded “delete” button I used to love so much. But while I am writing, I can picture everything that is said – the tone, the pronunciation, and gestures. When I’m not writing, or haven’t written for a while (I am currently going back and forth between two series), the characters will start to talk to each other. This happens mostly while I am trying to fall asleep, and sometimes entire scenes with some really great lines play out, which means I have a lot of stickies and recordings on my phone to figure out come the light of day.
What advice would you give other writers?
My advice to other writers is this: keep going no matter what people say, learn everything you can about the genre you are interested in writing, and READ AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
When you start writing, your work isn’t going to be ready for a best-seller list. More likely than not, your first story is going to find the delete button (my first two did) or a shredder. But find a critique site – Wattpad and Figment are great for younger crowds – and let people help you because it’s only going to make you better. Other authors are people you can learn from, and readers? Well, they will let you know what they do and do not like, such as what drags and the kind of pacing that keeps them interested. Don’t let the negative critiques, whether it is on a critique site, from a teacher, or on a published novel somewhere like Amazon, get you down. Learn from it. Grow. Be better. Let a story simmer after you’ve read comments on it or before you edit, and you’ll come back without the resentment and make it better with a fresh pair of eyes.
Everyone has a story to tell, but it’s up to you to share it in a unique way.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Sometimes I feel like this decision was made for me!
I’m just kidding (sort of). I found a couple of critique sites online to “share” without giving up who I was – I think it was WritersCafe.org and Authonomy. At the time, there was no way I wanted to tell people I knew what I was doing. A lady found and read my book. She asked if I had thought about publishing, at which point I said something along the lines of, “That’s a dream.” She gave me her email address and said, “We need to talk.” So we did.
She shared what she knew about querying agents and traditional vs. self-publishing, and I started to research on my own. At this point, I was quite adept at the whole “looking into it” process. The first thing was comparing the two, and after a lot of articles and stories from other authors, both traditional and indie, I decided that I wanted to go the self-publishing route. It isn’t so much about the royalties, but the control. I like owning my rights, deciding my titles and covers, and if I fail? That’s ALL ON ME. It’s harder, sure, with marketing and promotion, but if I don’t fail? If I can do well, or at least not-too-shabby?
That’s all on me, too 🙂
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future of book publishing as already begun, and the possibilities are unlimited. Not too long ago, it was said that self-published authors had a stigma placed on them, but authors like Amanda Hocking tore that to shreds. Not only have we succeeded when traditional snobs said it couldn’t be done, indie authors have the capability of being picked up by publishing houses and have the rights to movies being optioned! Fifty Shades of Grey anyone?
Conversely, traditional publishing is changing. Look at Authonomy and Figment – those are both owned by publishing houses, and the stories posted there are being picked up more and more. Literary agents are looking everywhere – Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, oneshotpitch.com, etc. – for new talent, which means EVERYONE has to be at their best.
Everyone has their own taste, though, and public opinion – the ability to get a good read seen – is going to remain what matters the most. It’ll be interesting to see where the mix in publishing leads.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Mythology
What formats are your books in?