Mishael Austin Witty is a professional editor and the internationally bestselling author of SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME, a Christian thriller/suspense novel, and BELIEVE IN ME, a sweet contemporary romance novella. She is also the author of a zombie fairy tale, CAMPANULA (a zombified retelling of Rapunzel, complete with zombies, angels, and everlasting love) and the upcoming THE FALLING SUN (Sunset’s Hope, Book One), a full-length historical novel set during the American Civil War period.
Ms. Witty’s love of books began when she was very young. She wrote her first story at the age of four and (almost) never looked back. She took a brief break from writing fiction to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology before realizing that her first love, literature, was also her strongest. So she succumbed to the pull of her attraction to the written word and became an editor. A few years later, she wrote, and self-published, her first book, SHADOWS OF THINGS TO COME (2006).
In addition to her books, which are all self-published (to date), Ms. Witty has written several highly acclaimed flash fiction works that can be found on sites such as Faithwriters, The Iron Writer, and Colors of My Soul. One of her stories, “Today You Will Be With Me”, won an Editor’s Choice Award and appeared in the Faithwriters anthology, A Year of Celebration (2005).
She lives in Louisville, KY, with her husband, two daughters, and two feline fur babies.
What inspires you to write?
Anything and everything – song lyrics, quotes, Bible verses, snippets of conversation, Facebook posts.
People, mostly. Their struggles, life lessons, and relationships. Staying somewhat true to my psychology roots, I love exploration the human mind as it relates to character development. People are strange creatures. We do weird, wonderful, and sometimes terrible things. And these things, and what comes from them, are what make for truly great fiction.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m not a pantser. I can’t work that way. I’m not so much a planner, either, I have to fall somewhere in the middle, or else I never get anything done.
I always start with a rough story idea and expand that as much as possible, even going so far as to (sometimes) write an outline (yes, really). This outline, however, is always a rough one, created simply in the same Word document I use to write the story. Then I delete the outline once the story is complete, or once I no longer need a particular piece of that outline.
Once I start writing, my characters take over at some point, and sometimes they want to change their stories. They don’t always want to go by the nice, neat little outline I’ve created. And that’s okay with me. Oh, and I always create at least skeletal descriptions of each character. It’s important for me to know what each one looks like, that way I don’t get confused later on. Knowing each character’s overall motivation is also very important, so I make sure to make a note of that before I start writing and keep that in mind at all times.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I mostly listen to them. In fact, I’m pretty sure I ONLY listen to them. I don’t THINK I’ve ever talked to any of them. But they’ve definitely talked to me. Once the story starts, that’s all I hear – the character’s voices telling me, “I need to do this in this scene. … I need to say this. …Now, that doesn’t sound like me, does it?
It doesn’t seem to ever end – until the book is finished. Then their voices are usually silenced…unless they’re wanting me to write a sequel/prequel.
What advice would you give other writers?
Oh, the usual advice you hear certainly is the best: Keep writing. Practice every day, no matter what. That’s the only way you’ll ever get better. And you should always be trying to improve your craft. Nobody’s “there” yet. Even the bestselling authors have a lot of work to do, and the best ones keep on working at it.
Be open to constructive criticism, and take the non-constructive criticism with a grain of salt. There’s no way everyone in the world will like what you write. People are individuals, with different tastes, backgrounds, belief systems, etc. They just might not like your book. But if they tell you why they hated it, then you have some extra insight into just who your audience is (and isn’t), so you can market more effectively.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
So far, I’ve published all my books myself via Lulu and Amazon KDP and CreateSpace. In January 2014, however, I will have one traditionally-published story as part of Kathi Macias’s 12 Days of Christmas series from Helping Hands Press.
Here’s how it all started:
In 2005, I heard about Nanowrimo, and I read Chris Baty’s book, NO PLOT? NO PROBLEM! Being the kind of warped individual that I am, I thought: ‘I can do this. I can write a book in 30 days. Why not?’ So I plotted out some scenes, and started writing. Thirty days later, I had an almost completed novel. I edited it and added some things and, in a few months, I had (what I thought) was a pretty darn good Christian thriller.
I tried shopping it around to different publishing companies (not even agents – I went straight for the publishing companies). But I didn’t have much luck. I got impatient to see that thing in print (even though I was probably going about things the wrong way). And then I found out about Lulu.com (this was in 2007, and Amazon hadn’t quite developed CreateSpace). I uploaded my book, bought a few dozen copies, and called myself a published author.
Five years later, I decided to switch my Lulu book to Amazon, to join the digital book revolution. And, a year after that, I finally figured out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing as an indie author of both print and digital books. Well…at least, I now know more than I did then…way back when.
So, that’s how I became an indie author. I was driven by more own impatience to have a book in hand. Life as an indie author certainly is not easy, but it’s well worth it. I’m glad I gave it a try!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
To be honest, I haven’t really thought that much about the future of book publishing. I’ve thought about MY future book publishing, but not the future of the industry, in general.
The Internet, obviously, plays a huge part in how ANY book is published, marketed, and sold right now, and I think that influence will only increase as time goes on. I do believe (from talking to other authors), that more will jump on the self-publishing bandwagon, since it is so easy to publish your own works, thanks to Amazon, etc., and the royalties and control you get from the experience definitely beat royalties you can get from most traditional publishers.
I don’t, however, see traditional publishing disappearing anytime soon. But it will have to evolve in response to market demands.
What do you use?
Ghostwriter, Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Christian Fiction, Thriller/Suspense, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print