Janet Ursel takes your questions

Janet Ursel, whose Christian fantasy Disenchanted was released today, is here now to take your questions in the comments. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Disenchanted. Squarespace keeps no record of the email of commenters, so to be eligible for a prize, either leave your email address (in spambot-proof format: yourname at whatever dot com) or safer still, subscribe to the comments by email, just above the comment box to the right.

Disenchanted links:   Amazon  Barnes & Noble   Goodreads

As usual, I've pulled up the comments into the main text here for easier reading. Some very light editing has happened.

Janet Ursel
Good evening, everyone. I hope we haven't worn you all out in the first two hours!
In case anyone is wondering, DISENCHANTED is NOT autobiographical, LOL! I actually made a very conscious effort to create a character very different from me, with a totally different life.

Faith Song
Hey, Janet. :-) I have a question. Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from a dream?

Janet Ursel     
Yes actually. I read recently that one of Tolkien's bits of writing advice was to write from your dreams. I've been dreaming of flying ever since I was a child, so I turned that into a serial short story that I give to people who sign up for my newsletter. But I want it very clear that Harvey Anderson is nothing like me, even if he got to do the flying... ;o)

Faith Song     
Oh, really? I've been dreaming of flying since I was little, as well.
I recently had a dream which helped me solve a plot issue in a story I'm writing. It was lovely.

Janet Ursel     
Tell me about it.

Katherine Coble
In an earlier interview you mentioned facing health challenges. Are these still ongoing or was an underlying issue rectified?

Janet Ursel     
It's improved. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At one point it was so bad I spent the entire day on the couch and started losing weight because the effort of making a sandwich was too great. (I was living mostly by myself at that time.) But I managed to find a couple of the causes and rectified them, so now I am much more functional. I still have to be very careful of my energy but I can write again. :o)

Amanda Gawthorpe
What are your writing habits like? Do you have any routines you follow? Do you write daily or when the mood strikes?

Janet Ursel
Habits... *sigh* I try to write daily but it's a struggle. Once all these launch activities are over, I am going to try to get back to daily writing. But whenever I am unsure of myself, I become incapable of writing, so I have to figure out where the problem is. Right now, I have concluded I need to know some of my characters better, so I am exploring their lives a bit before I continue the book. I got a short story out of that and I'm guessing another will be coming soon.

Janet Ursel     
DISENCHANTED has made Amazon's list of Hot New Releases in Christian Fantasy. :o) #14 of 88.

Faith Song     
I struggle with writing routines, as well.
Have you ever participated in a writing program, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), or Camp NanoWrimo?

Janet Ursel     
Yes, I credit NaNoWriMo with giving me the kick in the butt that I needed several years ago. I didn't win, but I did get over 30,000 words written that month, which was absolutely phenomenal for me! I am a slow writer. I didn't do too badly the year after, but by the third year I froze solid and couldn't do it any more. I've learned I need to stop writing sometimes and do the deep thinking about my characters or why things are happening the way they are and where they are going. If I just write for the numbers, I end up psyching myself out. But it was great while it lasted and I made some good friends. :o)

Faith Song
Great. I've found Nano useful because it helps me get words on the page. I like Camp NanoWrimo better, though, because you can pick your own word goal, and because there are writing groups which are very helpful for having writing friends to cheer you on.

Nadine Brandes
Yes, Camp NaNo is MUCH more fun and motivational for me, too! :)

Amanda Gawthorpe
How many books are planned for the Coventree series?

Janet Ursel     
I don't know. I have ideas for three or four so far, but who knows? I've been a little amused by reviewers who just assumed that a trilogy was planned. They didn't get it from me.
I don't have an overall plot in mind, like the Harry Potter books. But as each book ends I will be asking "Where does Coventree go from here?" and seeing what comes up.

Heather Huffman
Are you a plotter or a pantser? (As in, plan and outline your plot or fly by the seat of your pants when you write?) Do the characters ever surprise you?

Janet Ursel     
I outline until I run into a brick wall. Then I write the story until it passes that brick wall and I hit the next one. Then I outline again until I hit a brick wall. Then... I have a headache. And yes, my characters occasionally refuse to do what I tell them and take things in different directions. Stupid characters... They're usually right.

Faith Song      
So, a lot of authors have a certain character that they enjoy writing, connect well with, or just like quite a bit.
Out of your characters, is there a certain character that you would consider your "pet character?"

Janet Ursel
Wow, that is perhaps the hardest question I've been asked this evening! I'm not good at favourites. Of course, I'm fond of Blayn, I've spent so much time with him. But I also love Catherine, which is good because she will take center stage in the sequel. And believe it or not, I found Edgar Saville fun to write. I didn't love him, because he was a total, cold-blooded psycho, but somehow he was very easy to write. So scheming. I'm not a schemer, so I really don't know where that came from.

Heather Huffman
Too funny. You answered my question as I was posting it. Never mind. :0) And congrats on the ranking!

Mark     
I see I'm late.. :)

Janet Ursel     
ROFL! And your question is... ?

Mark
Glad to see the good listing on Amazon, Janet.

Janet Ursel     
Thanks, Mark. I'm glad to see that a total unknown can get a little traction. ;o)

Laura Blackman
So happy for you Janet. It's been a busy season here but I want you to know I've been thinking of you and enjoy reading your blogs and posts. I'm entering a children's book for my first writer's contest. You definitely have inspired me to keep writing! Thanks, my friend.

EJ Hanagan     
Hi Janet! Do you have any traditions while writing?

Janet Ursel     
EJ, not many. The only thing that is really consistent is that I prefer doing the very first draft on paper. Somehow a blank page is friendlier to me than a white screen. Go figure. Then I start the next day's writing by typing in what I did the day before, polishing a bit as I go, and that gets me in the flow to start again on paper.