What’s Your Writing Process: Fay Lamb

Fay Lamb works as an acquisition/copyeditor for Pelican Book Group (White Rose Publishing and Harbourlight Books), offers her services as a freelance editor, and is an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Because of Me, her debut romantic suspense novel is soon to be released by Treble Heart Books/Mountainview Publishing.

Enjoy this interview.

Do you tend to write nonfiction or fiction?

Most definitely, fiction. The who, what, where, when, and how of non-fiction completely evades me.

How long does it take you to finish a book?

I have been known to finish a first draft in a month. Granted, I’ll have two months worth of edits after that. On the other hand, I have a story I’ve been working on for thirty-five years. It’s a modern retelling of the sword God held over David’s family after David’s sin with Bathsheba. When I started the story, the characters were my same age. Now, they’re still young and beautiful, and I’m . .. older. But the story is being sent through a last round of critique and edits, and I’m about to send it out into the world.

What’s your usual approach? Seat of your pants? Outline?

There’s a wonderful system James Scott Bell teaches called, “The LOCK System.” It’s the most wonderful invention for seat of the pants writers. It allows you to create while you outline by sketching out your scenes on index cards. I start with the LOCK System, and as I get to know my characters, I tend to let them get off the beaten path and surprise me a little bit (seat of the pants writers love that kind of surprise). Then I give a whistle when I think they need to head back down the LOCK-system trail.

How many rough drafts do you usually go through before you’re satisfied with the final version?

Three seems to be the number for me. The first draft sketches out the story, gives me the conflict, introduces me to the characters. The second draft adds the emotion, fills in the plot holes, and gives me an idea if the story needs another layer. Then the third draft is for review, to go over the final details: punctuation, grammar, do the sentences flow well, all those little things that are important to a successful novel.

Do you have someone you give your manuscript to for feedback before you give it to an editor or agent?

I believe in the power of critique. If you utilize the critique process to its greatest extent, you can come away with a very polished manuscript. Currently, I work with 275 of the sweetest, hardest working critique partners you’ll find in (American Christian Fiction Writers) ACFW’s large critique group, and if that isn’t enough, I have three small groups that might take a whack at telling me what will help my story. The suggestions range from everything to comma placement to plot holes, and I’m truly appreciative of each and every critique I receive.

Sometimes writers get so close to a piece that they aren’t good at judging what needs to stay and what should be edited out. How do you get perspective when this happens?

That recently happened to me. I had a story that I just knew the editor was going to love. There were certain aspects I think she liked, but she came back with plenty of advice and a rejection of the project.

When this happens, I work hard at a gracious thank you. It isn’t always easy when your emotions come into play, but then I’ll sit on the project for however long it takes me to look at it without emotion. Nine times out of ten, I end up agreeing with the person who offered the advice.

Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone give me advice that wasn’t meant to further my career. If I keep that in mind, I can always take a closer look at it and make a valid decision based upon their suggestions and what I know of the story.

What’s your latest project?

Well, I’m editing the story I mentioned above so that I can resubmit it to the editor.  I have completed a second romantic suspense, Willow’s Path, and two contemporary romances. Currently, I’m working on two other romantic suspense novels and the last story in the contemporary romance series while editing a contemporary fiction entitled, Storms in Serenity. Beyond that I am excitedly looking forward to delving into a novel that includes the intriguing world of professional surfing.

Where can we catch up with you online?

If you really want to catch up with me, I love to make friends on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fay.lamb. I’m on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@faylamb, and my website is www.faylamb.com.

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