Monday, May 23, 2016

A Chat with Janice Hardy: What Would You Ask the Person Behind Fiction University?

Facebook can be a huge distraction but it also can be a way to connect with people and find out what's going on in their lives. I'm never sure who I'm going to read about, but at times I find out interesting tidbits about a friend's life. 

For example, several months ago Janice Hardy, author and blogger extraordinaire, mentioned she'd just moved to central Florida and was trying to make her way through a pile of boxes. Wow! One of my favorite blog personalities was living just down the road from me! (Not exactly...but close enough.) I jotted an email and asked if we could meet sometime. It took a few months of coordinating schedules, but we finally met. 

Here are some notes while we ate a delicious lunch at Turner's Kitchen and Bar in Leesburg, Fl. (BTW, they specialize in fresh, local food if you're in the area!)

Janice's Background

CAROL: I'm always impressed with your depth of knowledge about the writing craft. How did you learn so much?

JANICE: I taught myself "on the job" and by reading every writing book I could put my hands on. I learned a lot about writing by critiquing other people when I was a member of Critters Writing Workshop.

CAROL: I'm surprised. I thought you had a degree in writing!

JANICE: My training is in commercial art. I did that to make a living, but I’ve always wanted to write. When I was little I drew stories and then wrote stories about them.

Finding the Time

CAROL: You're a novelist with three fantasy books in print, you write and self-publish excellent books about writing (Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure Foundations of Fiction Volume I) plus you post A LOT of blogs. How do you find time for everything?

JANICE: I don't. (grin) Some stuff just doesn’t get done.  And I have days when I feel like I'm behind in my own writing. My goal is a minimum of 2000 words a morning (I write for about 4-6 hours). If I'm disciplined I can write 80,000 words in two months. And that’s a book. I keep a structured schedule but make sure I take breaks. 

This might not be the best writing in the world, but it’s a pretty good draft.  In the afternoon I also try to write 1000 words a day on my writing books and/or blog posts.

I don’t check my email until noon and can walk away from it if it's not important. 

It helps to have a guest authors every week on the site besides myself. I have posts that are just story prompts. My Indie column features Indie authors and I also have a monthly, "How do they do it?" series. I've recently begun re-posting old articles on my Refresher Fridays. Real Life Diagnostics runs on Saturdays, and sometimes they can be pretty quick to write, but not always. 

I'm always trying to make writing easier for my readers, that's why I cross post to previous blogs. My husband Tom said it is more like a writer resource site than a blog.

Inside Fiction University

CAROL: What is your favorite thing to do on your blog? 

JANICE: Finding different ways to approach a tough subject for people. For example, how do I explain show don’t tell? It's gratifying when I know I have helped a writer take the next step. 

CAROL: What is the most common mistake you find in Real Life Diagnostics

JANICE: A lack of conflict; no sense of a problem. 

Inside Janice Hardy

CAROL: What are you working on right now?

JANICE: I'm revising an adult paranormal suspense that I began as a Nano novel. I wrote it for fun and it's making me laugh. I may self-publish it since I know there are readers out there for this type of book. I'm also working on a young adult science fiction fantasy. 

I'm working on a writing book on revision that I will self-publish. Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Final Draft is due this summer; it's a more fleshed out writing workshop.  I have a third Planning Your Novel Workbook that is a companion book to the writing book.  

CAROL: How long did it take before your first novel was published?

JANICE: Fifteen years. I received lots of rejections in the beginning because I didn't know what I was doing. When I had the  right book, the process of getting an agent and publisher went fast. 

CAROL: What's your opinion on critique groups?

JANICE: The sweet spot is being in the middle skill-wise. Having a few people better than you who you can learn from and a few people under you who you can help is ideal. You learn by teaching; you'll see stuff in other people’s work and either check it in your own or realize you do it too.

I have critique partners who give me different types of feedback One on characterization, another on descriptions or worldbuilding. All my beta readers have different strengths and bring something strong to the table. 

CAROL: If you could give advice to other writers, what would it be? 


  1. Don’t send your manuscript out until it’s ready.  
  2. Read and write a lot. Read widely. In your genre and other books also. It gives you ideas about how other writers handle things. 
  3. Focus on what’s unique about your story and run with it. 
  4. My high school creative writing teacher told me: “Stories are interesting people solving interesting problems in interesting ways." When your character resolves his problem, the book is over. 
  5. Write your query first. Set up the world, the characters, and what the problem is and how they’re going to resolve it. The better you know the ending, the more you'll know where you're going with your book. 
  6. A great story trumps writing skill any time.  

If you haven't already found the wealth of information Janice has on her blog, what are you waiting for? Fiction University is at your fingertips and like One Stop for Writers, is another amazing writing resource.


Linda Phillips said...

Janice, I read your blog because Carol put me on to it and now I rely on it heavily when I am mentoring others or when I am in need of some direction or correction in my own writing. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with all of us!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

An inspiring interview, Carol! Thanks for all the great writing tips, Janice! Two of my faves: We need to read widely. We learn through teaching.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Clara and Linda. Yes, Janice has a lot to share!

Linda A. said...

Thanks Janice and Carol! Well done! Boy, your writing word counts are impressive, Janice. Way to go!

Carol Baldwin said...

I know, pretty amazing, huh LInda?

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks so much Carol! I had such a great time at our lunch, and hopefully we can do it again one day.

Linda VP: Thanks so much, glad you (and your writers) are finding it helpful.

Clara: Oh we totally do. Reading keeps us fresh and lets us know what other writers are doing to keep us inspired. Plus, it's fun.

Linda A: Thanks! On average I write about 500-700 words an hour, though I've had 100-word days as we'll as 4000-word mornings. When the muse is working I try to stick at it as long as I can, and when she's not feeling it, I give myself a break and walk away.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks again, Janice, for a lovely interview and for taking the time to meet with me. Maybe next time you'll come visit South Carolina--Greenville is a hot spot for the arts!

Luanna Stewart said...

Great interview! Janice Hardy, I devour your blog regularly - and always learn something. I like your writing schedule, creative writing in the morning, and slightly less creative writing in the afternoon. That's a habit I'm trying to develop, saving the marketing/schmoozing for later in the day when my brain has run low on words.


Carol Baldwin said...

Luanna, Thanks for stopping by. YEs, Janice's blog is definitely in my "top ten" list of blogs! I'm trying to cultivate the habit of more serious writing in the AM all other stuff in the afternoon--but it doesn't always work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great interview Carol! I loved hearing more about Janice and her work. I've been reading her blog for a while and it is chock full of great writing advice. I especially liked her 'Show Don't Tell' posts!

Carol Baldwin said...

Yep, Kathleen, Janice's blog is tops!

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks so much, guys!

Luanna, splitting the writing really made a difference in my productivity. Hope it has a similar positive effect on yours.

Kathleen, glad the blog has been helpful for you. I'll actually be putting out a show, don't tell book sometime this summer/fall. :)

Carol Baldwin said...

WOW! Another book? Terrific, Janice!

Janice Hardy said...

I have three writing books I plan to have out by the end of the year. One is just about ready to launch, one just went to the proofreader, and I'm finishing up the Show/Tell one now for a fall release. Oh, maybe one more. I forgot about the other polishing one.

Plus the novel :) And hopefully (if I haven't lost my mind by then) another MG novel before the end of the year.

Carol Baldwin said...

Unbelievable, Janice. You are a writing machine !!!

Janice Hardy said...

Let's see if I can get it all done :) I'm really pushing myself this year, so it's iffy.

Carol Baldwin said...

You can inspire us all, Janice. And I'd be happy to run a follow up post at the end of the year letting us know which goals you met!

Janice Hardy said...

Not a bad idea. It could be interesting to see how I did, and knowing it's coming it would help keep me motivated.

Carol Baldwin said...

You're on!!

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