Please join me in welcoming S.F. Rhoads to The Spinning Pen! Sandra was born in Queens and raised in Texas where she earned an MA in her seventeenth-century crush, John Milton. This talented author also has experience in acting, directing, and script writing!
SP:Hi Sandra! How did you start writing YA fiction specifically, and what made you decide to pursue that professionally?(Also, I’m dying to know who your other literary crushes are!)
Sandra: I love talking about story, process, and creativity but what I love most is to encourage others to see their talents/art as valuable and important gifts to the world, so thanks for having me as a guest!
A little about me: I’ve always been a storyteller and writer, although it wasn’t necessarily on paper. Mainly I’d create fantasy worlds in my daydreams while I was on the playground or doing chores.
It’s the question posed to every growing child. However, once you enter college, the question morphs into two questions: “What are you majoring in?” and “What do you want to do with that?”
I majored in English, and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I was told the degree was useless and a waste of time and money. But what I dreaded even more than hearing the word “useless” again, was the inevitable follow-up question.
“Oh, so you want to teach English?”
No, I would say in the kindest manner possible, I wanted to be a writer and editor.
Why I Really Do What I Do (and Why It Matters to You)
Let’s try a little experiment. What comes to mind when I say, “It’s time to edit your story”?
For many writers, the notion of editing conjures an unwelcome memory of brutal critique or derision—a time you offered your story to a peer or mentor only to be shot down.
Maybe for you, it was a stern English teacher in grade school who filled your papers with inky red hieroglyphics. Or perhaps that college critique group who ripped your idea to shreds and laughed about it—right in front of you. Maybe you’re visualizing the relative who scorned your dream of becoming a writer and told you to find “real” aspirations instead.
Or perhaps—if you’re lucky—you don’t have any specific negative memories of critique; there’s just a general tightening in your midsection at the thought of sending your story child off to a total stranger who probably collects red pens and blogs about comma abuse.
Whatever the source of your apprehension, I get it. Writing stories—even fictional ones—is a deeply personal endeavor, and there’s something terrifying about revealing your creation to another human being, especially when that human’s job (and possibly joy in life) seems to be identifying all of your flaws and weaknesses.
It’s the evening after #PitMad and as usually goes, rejection haunts me.
You’d think I would be used to it by now. The trademark of being a writer is rejection. While there are always the lucky few who make their break early and fast, the majority of us writers slog through a plethora of rejections before finally getting that coveted book deal, agent, or movie deal.
And yet, it still hurts to refine your pitches, touch up your query letter and apply for yet another program or pitch your manuscript on Twitter—all for nothing. That empty inbox, that polite rejection email, the lack of likes on your PitMad tweets, staring back at you like an empty bag of chocolate.
In literature, the Reclusive Hero is someone who tends to work in the shadows. They know what needs to be done and have a clear idea in their mind of what they need to do, but they prefer to keep their abilities hidden or—at bare minimum—avoid the spotlight. Once their work is completed, they’ll often slip back into the shadows until forced to emerge once again.
Two of my favorite Reclusive Heroes are Sherlock Holmes (who became a legend only because of the masterful storytelling of Watson) and James Scott Bell’s Mike Romeo. Both characters are well-read in matters that interest them, adept at problem solving, and quite comfortable spending the bulk of their time lost in their own thoughts. Unfortunately both have a low tolerance for spending any amount of time around groups of people, as they often find social activities to be rather draining on the nerves.
In literature, the Romantic Hero is an eternal optimist. They somehow know how to turn even the most desperate of situations into an opportunity and—to the outsider at least—may appear to rebound quickly from setbacks. In truth they keenly feel every bump and bruise. They just stubbornly choose to believe that the heartache is worthwhile, that each obstacle and roadblock is temporary, and that their eventual victory will be all the sweeter for all the tears.
Cress and Winter from The Lunar Chronicles are two of my favorite examples of romantic heroes. I love the way that Marissa Meyers took two fairy tales about damsels in distress and transformed them into examples of women of substance. Despite the cruel abuses they suffered at the hands of a wicked Queen, they still held onto their hope of seeing a better world for their people. They didn’t just work within the system they lived, they found ways around it—not to benefit themselves in the short-term, but to benefit others in the long-run.
“[The queen’s] words carried too much weight, but Winter didn’t try to decipher them. She was busy nudging at the girl with her toe, gesturing for her to get into the crate.“
It’s what we’ve all be waiting for, Nova McBee’s debut novel is released into the wild!!!! *Cue champaign popping and frantic celebration!* CONGRATS Nova! Spinning Pen founder, fierce supporter of new writers, Pitch Wars 2020 mentor, and an expert champion and bridge builder between existing authors, it is now Nova’s turn to be supported and loved on by our community!
The world of writing can appear elusive. When you see a great author’s work, it’s a rare sight to see the author themselves. They can exist in a somewhat hidden manner and appear to be a group of untouchables that many of us are unsure how to approach. It’s one of the many factors that can make the decision of becoming a writer seem grand, exotic, or simply unrealistic.