WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
NM: I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where I graduated from college last May with a double major in Mass Communication and Speech Communication.
WG: Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer? Explain.
NM: I’ve always enjoyed storytelling and writing. When I was fifteen I wrote what could either have been a short romantic story or the first chapter of a novel. My sister encouraged me to keep going on the story and see where it might take me. I finished my first novel a few months later.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
NM: I wrote my second novel as a teen with a definite eye toward publication then stopped writing for about two years to focus on my new career as a college student. However, I realized that I missed doing what I loved most and cut out some of my extracurricular activities to revise, edit and send my second novel to Love Inspired Historical. It was about nine or ten months from the time I sent off the proposal to the day I got the call from my current editor.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
NM: I completed one book before I sold another to Love Inspired Historical. That first book is still sitting in my desk drawer but I’m dusting off some of the themes, plot points, and characterizations for a new book I’m working on. Meanwhile, I’ve sold a total of three books to Love Inspired Historical.
WG: Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?
NM: One night I allowed myself to really think about the possibility that I’d sell a book. I’d been too nervous to even hope that might happen until that point. The very next morning the editor called! It felt really surreal.
WG: How has being a published author impacted your life?
NM: It impacted my life in more ways than I can count particularly since I was still a college student when it happened. It changed my outlook on the future considerably. I realized that I could accomplish much more in my life than I’d thought possible.
WG: What aspect of life as a published author surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?
NM: It’s a lot of work! I wasn’t expecting that. I just thought, ‘Oh, yay! My book is going to be published. That’s so cool.’ It was and is cool but there is so much more to being a published author than just having a book on a shelf. It isn’t just writing, revising, and editing anymore. There are deadlines, legalities, publicity, planning, etc. It can be a lot to handle.
WG: What about your writing process. Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
NM: I write every day but I try not to put too much pressure on myself to keep a schedule.
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
NM: I don’t set formal goals unless I have a deadline from a publisher. I have an idea of what needs to be done and when I’d like to have it done by. I try to stick to that but don’t stress out if I don’t reach them. I’d rather have a good story than a rushed one.
WG: Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
NM: Music helps a lot. Sometimes a song will have the specific mood I’m going for with a particular scene so listening to it will help me develop it.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
NM: I use to just dive in, but now that I’m selling on proposals I have to do a lot more planning up front.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
NM: Each book is different depending on whether it’s a stand-alone or in a series. Often, I’ll get an idea for one scene and the rest of the book will blossom out of that.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
NM: My heroines tend to be strong, independent women who make the most of their circumstances and skills. My heroes have to be man enough to handle that.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
NM: I love using plot twists in my work to give my readers something fresh and unexpected in each book.
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
NM: I’m in a time of transition by going from life as a college student to one as a young career person. The uncertainty of what lies ahead can be a bit distracting but I try to stay focused on what I’m doing right here and now rather than worry about the future.
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
NM: I definitely feel as though my writing process is still evolving and hopefully improving with time.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
NM: Historical fiction as a writer and reader.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
NM: Eventually, I’ll probably write some contemporary romance. One day, I might even try my hand at non-fiction.
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
NM: Believe in yourself. You are talented. Just keep doing what you love because you love it.
WG: Is there a specific 'ah-ha' moment you've had as a writer that you would like to share with us?
NM: With me, it’s more of a process than a specific ah-ha moment. I’m learning to appreciate and take advantage of my own strengths without comparing them to those I see in other authors.
WG: Rejections, notes from unhappy readers and less than stellar reviews are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?
NM: I’m pretty sure that no one is more aware of a mistake or potential weakness in a book than its author. For that reason, I try to ignore negative feedback and focus only on the positives.
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?
NM: It seems like very magazine article or well-known author wants to tell you that a successful writer does everything this certain way, or writes this many pages, or sticks to this particular schedule. I’ve been most productive when I’m not trying to be what everyone else says a successful writer must be. I trust myself to do my best every day. That’s enough success for me.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?
NM: The most rewarding part of being a writer for me is that I have the ability to create an entire world out of paper and ink with character who live within the margins of a page yet laugh, love and hurt just like we all do. Sometimes I try too hard to make sure every word is perfect and judge my work too harshly.
WG: When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?
NM: I love reading, spending time with my family, and hanging out with my friends.
WG: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
NM: A writer.
WG: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
NM: I love dancing and have taken ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and salsa lessons in the past.
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
NM: My favorite TV show is Once Upon a Time. The writing is extraordinary. I love the twists and turns of the plot and the development of the main characters.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotes - inspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
NM: I love quotes, too! One of my favorites right now is, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”-Arthur Ashe
NM: A Texas-Made Match is a story about a matchmaker who can find a match for everyone but herself. She prays for a little help and gets more than she bargained for when the entire town ends up doing just that.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
WG: What inspired you to write this particular story?
NM: The hero and heroine, Lawson Williams and Ellie O’Brien, did. They appeared in my previous books Unlawfully Wedded Bride and The Runaway Bride so it was time for them to get their own story.
WG: What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?
NM: There was an awkward moment when I’d written a scene for a characters birthday that led up to the big moment where everyone was supposed to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. I did a bit of research and discovered that the birthday song didn’t become popular until about five or ten years after my story was supposed to take place. Needless to say, I had to rearrange a few things.
WG: Tell us about your upcoming plans.
NM: I’m working on a series proposal for Love Inspired Historical which is set in the same town where a Texas-Made Match takes place. I’m also waiting to hear back from another publisher about a proposal I sent them.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.
NM: They can check out my website at http://www.noellemarchand.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Thanks for having me, Winnie!
WG: Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!