Everyone’s journey to publication is different and unique. In Behind The Scenes, I interview writers who tell us how they started and got to where they are today. With the knowledge that comes from experience, they share their words of wisdom with us. If you’re a writer, I’d love to hear about your journey! Please contact me here if you’re interested in being interviewed. New interviews featured every second and last Monday of the month.
Joining me today is Rachel Schieffelbein, who writes YA novels. Whether you’re into zombies or modern-day retellings of fairy tales (which I absolutely love!), Rachel is sure to take you an a thrilling adventure.
1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?
When I first started I wanted to write picture books, but I wasn’t very good at it. It wasn’t until much later that I decided to try my hand at YA, and I’m thankful I did. That’s where I found my voice. I also started blogging a few years ago and met a lot of wonderful writers, including my critique partners, and without them I would probably still be writing in circles. Writing, but not improving. I owe a lot to them.
2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?
Maybe be more patient, which is something I still struggle with to be honest. In the past I’ve sent queries when I wasn’t ready. It’s a hard mistake, but I learned from it.
3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?
As everyone says, “Write, write, write. Read, read, read.” But also, connect. Get online, meet other writers, read writers’ blogs, agents’ blogs, book reviewers’ blogs. There’s so much to learn that way.
4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?
RUN FOR THE ROSES is set within the world of Arabian horse showing, something I did for many years before I had kids, and have started to do again. It’s a unique setting, it really is like its own little culture in some ways. And I really loved being able to share that world with my readers, and to (hopefully) show the bond between a rider and her horse.
5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?
One of my favorites characters to write was Anya, from DON’T FALL. It’s a contemporary Rapunzel retelling, and she was my Rapunzel. She’s sweet, optimistic, and enthusiastic. It was her enthusiasm that made her so fun to write, to get into her head and just enjoy the world and all it has to offer.
6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?
I’m working on a YA contemporary about a teenage girl who has a pregnancy complication that leads to her moving away from home, and her boyfriend. She goes to stay with her aunt and uncle, so she can be at a hospital where she’ll receive better care. She’s dealing with the pregnancy, her cousin and her snotty friends, and a growing doubt about whether or not to give up her baby.
7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?
I have two YA novellas and one novel published by Swoon Romance, and a YA zombie novel that I self pubbed. I’ve enjoyed both experiences. It was great having a team behind me for the YA contemporaries, I love my editor at Swoon, Mandy Schoen. But the freedom that comes with self-publishing can be great as well. For example, since I wrote the zombie book for my husband, I was able to release it on his birthday, which was fun.
Whether you plan to self pub, or seek traditional publishing, the best advice I can give you is to put your best foot forward. Make sure you’ve written the best story you can, get it critiqued by people you trust, revise, revise, revise. The more work you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it.
Rachel Schieffelbein grew up in a tiny town in Southeast Minnesota reading books, riding horses, and participating in speech and theater. She is now married with four kids and enjoys reading books, riding horses, and coaching speech and theater. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
She enjoys writing characters she can relate to, ones she would want to hang out with, or fall in love with. She hopes her readers will love them, too.
She is the author of SECONDARY CHARACTERS, RUN FOR THE ROSES, DON’T FALL, and FLESH EATING ZOMBIES AND EVIL EX-GIRLFRIENDS. She also writes New Adult under the pen name Georgia St. Mane.