“Too much imagination trapped in a mind is bad for the soul.”
~ Tamara Shoemaker
Author, Tamara Shoemaker, first began writing as a “vent” for her “over-active imagination.” She reveals that she would put herself “to sleep every night spinning tales for anything near” her, whether it be her pillow or her favorite stuffed bunny.
Shoemaker’s writing process is dependent on “what point of metamorphosis [her] book is in at any given time.” Before beginning a project, she spends several weeks detailing her story world in a notebook. She will scribble anything and everything down that may be relevant to the world she is creating. This includes “political systems, inhabitants, love triangles, tragic histories, secrets, [and] traditions” among other things. This process helps Shoemaker’s central plot focus become clearer and more focused. Once she has completed the general notes, she will spend a few more days writing a chapter by chapter summary for the entire novel. Once all of this is done she is finally able to start the thing we’ve all been waiting for – writing.
Many writers have a base goal for the number of words they try and achieve in a given day or week, for Shoemaker it’s a thousand. This can seem daunting, and sometimes it is. Shoemaker admits that it’s frustrating sometimes because she believes she needs to have “perfect sentences and deep and vivid imagery.” Half the time all Shoemaker can think of is “clichéd phrases and overly simplified descriptions,” but guess what?
IT DOESN’T MATTER!
“I keep steam-rolling through it.” ~ Tamara Shoemaker
Once she finishes her first draft, while not being great – what draft (especially a first one) ever is? – she starts the edits. She goes through the draft to “polish and shine the story” and then she sends her manuscript to her editor who goes through and does developmental edits. Her editor will tear the story to shreds and then send it back to Shoemaker who will then make tons of changes to strengthen it and catch all of the flaws she missed initially, – trust me, a second set of eyes is AMAZING! – and then it goes right back to her editor for line edits.
*** Line edits go chapter by chapter – line by line through each chapter – to perfect it even more.***
After the line edits Shoemaker goes through her finished manuscript one final time to make sure that there are no more errors before sending it back to her editor who formats it. Then her editor will send her a “beautiful PDF” that Shoemaker will read again . . . and then . . .
IT’S OFF TO THE PRESSES! (Finally.)
Each book is read between five and six times “AFTER it’s polished and before it’s published.” You still want to be a writer? Good!
Publishing a book was something that Shoemaker always considered, but in the way that she considered being cast in a movie – “interesting, fun, but as likely as voluntarily entering outer space”. Did I mention she has a phobia of space? Well, she does.
Shoemaker wrote her first book while on her lunch breaks at a law firm she used to work at as a receptionist, but didn’t do much with it for another six years when she heard of a small press – Route 11 Publications – that was looking for manuscripts. She took a “deep breath”, dusted off her manuscript, and sent it in.
“When the publisher asked if they could offer me a contract, I experienced emotions and feelings I’ve only ever experienced after the birth of my children. It was incredible. A dream that had never had any basis in reality was coming true.” ~ Tamara Shoemaker
Shoemaker began her career with a set of mystery novels. Having read lots of mysteries, that was her “natural inclination to write” when she began, but she soon changed to YA (Young Adult) Fantasy. Her YA Fantasy novels came to be as her “love for unfettered imagination soared.” She no longer wished to be bound by this world’s rules, so she made her own rules.
Mark of Four, Shadows of Uprising, and the soon-to-be-released Guardian of the Vale take place in a post-apocalyptic world where Elementals (those who can wield one of the four elements—air, fire, earth, or water) co-exist with Natural Humans. One girl, however, can wield all four, and no one knows why. But all the powers in the world, both good and evil, wish to use her power to help their own causes, and Alayne has to decide which way she will go.
Kindle the Flame, Embrace the Fire, and Unleash the Inferno (to be released in early 2017) take a more traditional approach to fantasy, including in them creatures familiar to the trope: elves, dragons, pixies, sirens, and other creatures. This trilogy begins with the political intrigue of a stolen throne and kingdoms warring against each other, bringing the action to a cataclysmic, epic battle in Embrace the Fire.
While romance is a part of every book Shoemaker has written, she is now preparing to launch her first romance genre books in the next two years. She will continue to write fantasy, since it’s her true love, but she has always enjoyed historical romances, and an idea for “at least a set of three” came to her a few months ago. Currently, she is in the research phase for these.
Her biggest advice for anyone who aspires to be a published author?
DON’T GIVE UP.
“There are millions who compete on the market for sales, and if you look only at the numbers, it’s overwhelming and intimidating. But don’t give up. If you continue to write, continue to hone, continue to polish and increase your skill and your brand, eventually something will open up.” ~ Tamara Shoemaker
Shoemaker hopes to help others enjoy the tales she creates and to maybe one day be a New York Times bestseller. The best way to get there? Through the love, support, and encouragement from her family, friends, and fellow writers.
“I love connecting with my readers. Hearing someone say: ‘I just read fifty pages and couldn’t stop’ is some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever had the privilege to hear. I’m looking forward to meeting, either virtually or in person, many of you!” ~ Tamara Shoemaker
Ready to dive into her latest novel, Embrace the Fire?
Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.
Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.
Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.
Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…
Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—but who can survive the fires of Dragons?
Now available in print and e-book
Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee. She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the first two books of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame and Embrace the Fire, as well as Mark of Four and Shadows of Uprising, the first two books in the Guardian of the Vale trilogy. In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction.