Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another Friendly Conversation: Tanya Reimer

Hi everyone! I hope you're all busily writing or editing your entries for my contest. (I'm really excited to see what you all come up with!) Today, however, I want to introduce you to my friend Tanya Reimer. She's possibly the funnest person I've met since I started blogging...seriously! we go!

Thank you so much Reece for inviting me over, I’m thrilled to be a part of your awesome blog. You always have great tips for writers, and now I get to be a part of that magic!

How did you get started as a writer?

 I feel like I was born a storyteller, but it will take me my entire life to perfect my abilities as a writer, so in a wayI’m just getting started.

What was your first complete published story? 
I was snooping the archives at the community center where I work when I came across what was probably some of the first articles the local paper ever published of mine. Yeah, my first stories are in the local archives! Somebody recognized them as having historical value to the local Francophone community and added them to the archives, which I found pretty touching. Anyway, I’d forgotten all about them until they were staring me in the face. I would have been fifteen (1991), and the columns were called… drum roll… a Fly on The Wall/Horizon Fran├žais

You had your own column in the local paper when you were 15? *Hangs head in embarrassed shame* And I thought I was a serious writer at that age (...okay, as serious as any male adolescent can be. Sheesh!). What about your first fiction? Or novel?

How do you keep things organized? 
I use Microsoft Office OneNote to keep myself organized. Everything goes in my OneNote from research to character charts. It has it all! 

Plus, I use a Workbook I created from knowledge I stole from agents, writing tools, and the best storytellers I could find. And! When I meet new talent like you *blush*, it’s very easy to update. It takes me through the entire writing process in logical steps starting with building the story, revising it, editing the novel, and then preparing it for sale. Every MS has its own interactive Workbook the moment it is born, and when the MS has made its way through the entire Workbook, I know it is ready. It's just up to me to put it out there. Which takes courage! Please pass me some... Yikes!  

I've actually been thinking about putting together a notebook/workbook like that! Warped Great minds, and all that ;)
If you outline, do you plot the entire story first, or bits at a time as you write?
I would never outline a story on a first draft that would kill the rush of it. I write with passion and for thrill. But! I do have a beginning, a climax, and an end in mind, always! I see my story, I feel it, I can taste the dang thing before I begin. It’s just burning my keyboard, itching my fingertips... write.

I outline my story on my second draft, and decide then if it will survive or hit the trash. One story, which hit the trash ten years ago, recently got new life, so you never know. Sometimes they just need time to grow. Passion is a lifelong commitment after all. 

As Diane Setterfield's eccentric character Vida Winter put it, everything in life—every experience, every story—is compost: you let it sit, mingle with other things, and eventually it becomes the fertilizer for something new and better.

What do you do to counteract writer’s block? 

I cheat.

For me it’s not so much that I can’t find the words, but that I can’t steal the time. So when I tell you that I write full time every single day, that I do not ever ever miss a day (this is the Writer’s truth too I never do!)-- not even when attacked by a dog, down with a sinus infection, and enduring flu-like symptoms (yeah on the same day), know that I... might......... be cheating a bit and my writing time might actually have involved letting a steamy fantasy sweep me away (which I later reviewed on my blog).   

Oh??? The secret is what to count as writing. You should count everything that furthers your writing career. Think about it.... all that reading you do, critiquing, blogging, agent hunting, editing, rewriting, reviewing, the workshops, the research, the public speaking, the radio, newspaper, or Internet interviews, oh yeah, and the actual writing. It all counts. I bet you write cheat as much as I do! Why not count it?

So when faced with a block; put down your pen and do some other form of writing that you’re great at, and kick butt! You’re a writer, cheat write dang it.

Of course, don’t make cheating a habit. Only do it when you must. But it is nice to know that you can shove aside your keyboard and still do something “writerly”, no?

This is a dangerous tactic for me. On more than one occasion I've caught myself (or someone pointed out) writing a scene or a piece of dialogue that I thought was wonderful...only to discover it was almost exactly like something I'd read elsewhere. I don't do it on purpose, of course, and then I have to go back and either get rid of it or rework it. It's rather frustrating.

How do you keep your characters original? (i.e. what do you do to make sure your characters don’t turn out the same in every story?) 

I dream about them. I fall in love with them. I really really hate them. And then... I rewrite them over and over again.

I do have a very good tip that I’ll share from my Workbook: highlight one character’s dialogue through the entire MS. Read it out loud in one sitting, tape it. Listen to it. Is their voice consistent? Now go over it, adding in spunk, traits, originality, quirks... Just make this voice jump off the page! Does this character ever lie? Scream? Cry? Oh??? Maybe they should. Spending time with this one character’s dialogue will really give you some insight into this character.

Need another tip? Have a character that you can’t get in touch with? Write the scene from their point of view. No one needs to see it but you. Now go back and rewrite the scene with your new eyes. Now that is magic.

Ooh! I like your highlighting tip! I'm going to try it!

How do you build a believable world within your stories?

A few steps from my Workbook:
  1. Research. See Life's like that: Research Part 1- Use All the Tools for details.
  2. Bring these elements to life for the characters by using ALL their senses.
  3. Check for accuracy. There is nothing more embarrassing than opening a fridge in 1917 Saskatchewan, or calling that cool machine you built a Hemcraft on page 4 and a Humcraft on page 123. Oops.
  4. Give it to Reece, one of my crit partners. He tells me if I pulled it off. I trust him with my entire world. No pressure, buddy, really, none at all. Hee hee.
I may (or may not) have edited out some flagrant flattery here, just for decorum's sake. ;)

What do you do to make your whole story interesting? How do you avoid “slow stretches”? 

To me, my entire story is interesting! Why else would I write it, right? So it’s not so much a question of how to make it interesting, it’s to find a reader that sees the problem and is kind of enough to tell me my heroes shouldn’t be standing around. (thanks guys!)
But I’ll share the words of wisdom my daughter gave me while she beta read for me, The scenes where things happen are far better than the ones where things don’t.” Enough said eh? ----MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. PERIOD. (Even an eleven-year-old knows this. sigh.)

Children have a talent for stating the obvious in ways you don't expect...and making you feel like an idiot.

How does your own life inform your writing? 

I’ve been suffering from headaches for a while, so I bet ya, in my last nine books, one character always has a headache related problem. Even in my mid-grade! Weird eh? Does this ever happen to you? I considered fixing them, but ya know what? It gives them interesting conflicts to resolve, so I left it. I’ll be known as the headache writer. Lol.

Well, seasoning for your stories aside, I hope your headaches go away. Headaches suck! 

Favorite genre to write? 

I can’t seem to pull myself from urban fantasies these days. To me, this genre is perfect. I can add all the elements I love in any combination; from history to sex and I can do it while creating new monsters and worlds, while using magic and raising the dead. Now that is cool. 

It is cool...though truth be told, I'm glad I don't live in your stories (or rather the one I'm currently reading): I don't think I'd last a whole day!
When you’re not writing, what do you do in your spare time? 

Mostly, I just laugh and smooch with my hubby, but I do make time to play video games and read with my kids. My couch-potato St Bernard likes to take me cat chasing too that’s always an adventure.  

Somehow, I figured you were probably someone who laughs a lot. It comes across in your writing (i.e. our correspondence, not your fiction). I like to laugh, but usually my laughing mood coincides with my I'm-being-a-dork-and-making-dumb-jokes mood.

What are three interesting facts about you?
1-    I have little time for TV, but my son makes me watch The Big Bang Theory once a week because he says it’s our kind of funny, and I have to agree, it always gets us giggling. Those boys.
I have to admit, I love that show! It probably says a lot about me that I find their nerd/science jokes so funny.

2-    I write non-fiction reports in French at work, yet write fiction in English in the evenings at home.  
3-    I can’t draw, sing, or bake, but I love comic books, Nickelback, and chocolate chip cookies.
I'm a Collective Soul fan myself (much the same way Einstein was pretty smart, Mozart liked music, or Lance Armstrong rides fast, if you get my drift), but I do like other stuff too.

Wow Reece, it was nice chatting with you today! Thanks again for having me over for a visit, and I sure can’t wait to peek into your life! So stop by my place sometime, bring your stories, and a few friends.


  1. Another awesome interview. Great tips with each one done.

    Also, you have an award over at my blog.

  2. I learn something new about Tanya just about every day. Thanks for conversing for us.

  3. Great interview!

    I use OneNote for a lot of my projects, too. I have a sub-folder for almost every story, and I usually type up my outlines in the program. :)

  4. Hahahaha! Reece, just to let you inside the mind of a 15 year old gal- I was only turning in those columns so faithfully because I was pretty sure Superman worked at the Daily Planet and well... you get the idea. I live in a fantasy.

    As for my first novel, I was 18. I thought I was a creative genius yet somehow I turned out the worst piece of crap imaginable. But! It was a mystery that taught me how to weave a plot around a red herring, and make those surprise endings I will one day be famous for.

    Thanks Angela!

    Hmmm.... Richard, now I'm nervous. Exactly where are you learning about me? My last few interviews were in French and on the radio... lol. Actually, Reece if you get a chance, Richard did a review of my blog a few months back on his. Oh man...If you ever need a chuckle it had me giggling.

  5. LOL! Tanya definitely has a way with words. Characters with headaches find their way into my novels, too. Strange that. I guess that's our way of writing what we know.

    And I just wanted to add that I've used Tanya's advice on highlighting a character's dialogue, and writing from another character's POV, and they both really work! My secondary characters are much richer for it. And writing from their POV was actually fun!