Heya, TWNers! I am so sorry today’s post is going up later than expected, but I guess me failing to schedule a post was bound to happen sometime during this rally. I’m honestly impressed with myself that it wasn’t sooner. XD Okay, but in all seriousness, we’re wrapping up the first week of our rally. That means there’s only one more week left. I can’t believe how fast this last week has gone, but we’ve had SO many amazing posts, and we have another full line up waiting for you next week! So thank you for joining us for day six of the 2022 Teen Writers’ Rally. If you’re new here, welcome! We’re kicking-off National Novel Writing Month with back-to-back posts featuring amazing authors, bloggers, and more! Tune in every day until November 5th for new posts full of writing tips, advice, and encouragement. Posts are live at 6:00 EST (*cough* usually XD), and if you’re not already, subscribe to Teen Writers’ Nook via email to receive a notification when the next post for the rally is up. (Form can be found to the right if on a computer or at the bottom of the page if on a mobile device.) And as always stay until the end of the post for information about the giveaway running through the entire event!
So today we have Caitlin Miller join us!!! Her debut novel The Memories We Painted released this year, and y’all, if you haven’t read it yet, it is a book you are NOT going to want to miss. I was in near tears by the end of it, and it’s rare that a book moves me so emotionally! Caitlin is an authorly genius is all I have to say. I can already tell her writing career is going to be amazing, and I can’t wait to see all that she has in store!!! She is also the author of the upcoming historical fiction novel, Our Yellow Tape Letters. I am SO excited to share my interview with her today, so it’s time I quit talking and hand the spotlight over to Caitlin!
#1. Hi, Caitlin! Thank you for joining us today!!! I’m SO thrilled to have you here at Teen Writers’ Nook! To begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your books, and where we can find/follow you online?
First off, my name is Caitlin, but I generally go by Catie. I’m a college student, author/editor, and part-time English teacher in Japan. I published my first historical fiction novel, The Memories We Painted, in March of 2022. I’m currently working on my next book (also historical fiction), Our Yellow Tape Letters: A WW2 Novel, which releases in January of 2023. You can find me on my website (https://caitlinfaithmiller.com) or follow me on Instagram (@authorcaitlinmiller). I’d love to hear from you!
#2. When did you first discover your love for writing and what inspired you to pursue it seriously?
I fell in love with writing during my early teen years, but what inspired me to pursue it seriously was when my family walked through a very difficult few years when my sister’s health crashed and she was diagnosed with a rare disease. During that time, I learned so much about suffering, where to find God when He seems far away, and how to hold on to hope when everything in me wants to give up. It was during that season of life that God challenged me to write a book featuring a main character who had difficult health struggles and wrestled with the same questions I had.
That is so inspiring! I love how God brought something good through those difficult times.
#3. What astounded me most in The Memories We Painted was your gorgeous, breathtaking writing prose. (I may or may not be slightly jealous.) While I’m sure most of that is pure talent, do you have any tips, tricks, or advice you learned to polish your prose?
Ahh, well first off, you’re so sweet! Secondly, I do have a tip that helped me to polish my prose. What I do when I’m trying to polish my prose or write creative lines is I read a book and write down one word that stood out to me. It can be an adjective to describe something or imagery that stood out to me, and then I write a sentence using that word or create my own imagery. My brain loves to recycle similar phrases or stale writing, and reading books and doing creative writing exercises really helps me!
Oh my goodness, that is SUCH a creative idea! Ah, I love that! I am definitely going to have to try it sometime!
#4. What would you say was the hardest challenge (can be during the writing, editing, or publishing process) in creating The Memories We Painted and how did you overcome it?
The hardest challenge in creating The Memories We Painted was the publishing process. As that book was my debut novel, navigating the publishing world was overwhelming for me. I basically learned as I went and gleaned from other writer friends who had experience with self-publishing, so I definitely had help, but for a lot of it, it was trial and error and learning on the go. It was definitely a huge learning curve, but devoting time to researching the ins and outs of publishing, the necessary steps to getting my book in the hands of readers, and how to manage my budget and set goals for myself really helped me to overcome that challenge.
That is amazing! I think it’s great that you had helped from other indie authors and took time to research the best ways to succeed with publishing. But, yes trial-and-error is usually the best learning experience from me, too. I’m someone who will usually jump right into something and figure it out as I go along, usually making a ton of mistakes but that’s how I learn.
#5. Another thing I loved about your book was the theme. Do you plan your themes before writing or do you let them come to you in the drafting stages?
I definitely plan the themes before writing my book. To me, themes are one of the most important aspects of a story, and if the themes are good, I’ll still buy the book even if the plot isn’t intricate or super compelling. What I do is I sit down and plan each character arc and ask myself, “Where is this character at Point A and how are they going to reach Point B? What are some scenes I can write where the readers can track clear development and glean from the themes?” This really helps me to have a goal. Of course, as I write the story sometimes the character arcs change slightly, but I generally stick with my Point A. to Point B plan.
I love it, too, when a book has strong and good themes! It usually overshadows anything I might not like in a book. Your Point A to Point B strategy is SUCH a good idea, and I am definitely going to try that in my own writing!
#6. Do you have advice for a writer who is worrying his/her theme isn’t strong and touching or is one readers will dislike?
This is such a relatable and real fear. When I was writing The Memories We Painted, I had days where I was worried that readers wouldn’t connect with the main character in a wheelchair or that the themes I chose to represent the book wouldn’t be relatable or strong enough to leave a lasting impact on the reader. Little did I know that some of my readers were also in wheelchairs, and it meant more than words could say to read a character who was just like them. And other readers related so well with the heavy themes of loss and pain and health struggles. All that to say, writers, don’t be afraid that your themes aren’t touching enough or won’t make an impact. It’s often times the things we’re afraid won’t make a difference make a bigger impact than we could ever imagine. Write your themes and ask trusted friends for input on how to improve them.
Okay, I just LOVE that! SO true! If the theme of your book matters to you, reader, then it will matter to someone else out there! So write what God’s placed on your heart, but like Caitlin said at the end of her answer, you can also get trusted friends to read your book and see their opinion on your themes.
#7. What do you want readers to take away from your books?
My biggest hope and prayer since publishing The Memories We Painted is that readers will walk away with a profound sense of where to find God in their own set of struggles, whether they be physical, emotional, or mental. I want readers to know that they’re never alone, even when God feels so far away. That good can come out of their circumstances, even when it seems impossible. That there’s hope, even when your situation says otherwise. God is always, always with us, through everything we face—and He wants to meet us in our questions, anger, grief, and loss.
Aw, I love that! SO beautiful!
#8. Can you describe a typical writing session for you? Are there things you do that help you write faster or better (i.e. listening to instrumental music, writing at night/in the mornings, etc.)?
A typical writing session looks like going to a quiet room and keeping my phone out of reach. It’s so easy for me to pick it up when I hit a slump in writing, and then all my writing time goes to scrolling on social media. Something that helps me write faster or better is doing writing sprints. When I was writing the second draft for The Memories We Painted, I did 500-word sprints. After I wrote 500 words, I would allow myself a short break to relax or text a friend. That way I had a goal to reach and incentive to reach it sooner!
Ooo that’s cool that you track your sprints with word counts. I know a lot of writers who will do timed sprints. Like write for 25 minutes, break for five, but I like the idea of tracking your time with words. That would be a good thing to do instead of tracking by minutes if you’re anything like me and you spend your 25 minutes, staring at your screen, waiting for when the timer’s up. Tracking through words can help make sure you’re actually writing something. That’s such a neat idea, and I love it!
#9. What is your favorite part about the writing process?
I have two favorites! The first is brainstorming the storyline. It’s so exciting to sit down with a set of characters and come up with unique character arcs for them and do plot development. I love seeing where my imagination can take me! The second favorite is the final read-through of my story. It’s so bittersweet, because it’s saying goodbye to characters that I spent months and months with, but it’s so rewarding looking back at hundreds of pages and several drafts and countless hours of time and effort.
#10. Do you have any advice, encouragement, or words of wisdom for teen writers who want to take their writing seriously?
One of the biggest words of encouragement I got on my writing journey was from an author friend of mine, Ashley Clark. She sent me a notebook in the mail with these handwritten words on it: “Never give up on your dreams.” I can’t tell you how often I held on to those words on the days where I questioned my ability to write or my calling to be a storyteller or when I fought fear and discouragement on my publishing journey. And I want to impart those words to you, teen writers: Never give up on your dreams—because dreams are worth chasing after. If you want to take your writing seriously, start today. Stay grounded. Set goals. Get words down on paper, even if it’s only a handful of them. Keep learning. And most importantly, never give up.
Wow, Caitlin. I… I love that! I could not have worded it better myself. Yes, just yes!!! Don’t give up, writers, because someone out there needs your story and the only way that person can read it one day, is if you start right now. Choose right here today that you’re going to keep writing that next sentence, paragraph, chapter, novel. One day, you’ll look back to this place and decide that every long night was worth it. More than worth it!
Thank you SOOOO much Caitlin for joining us today!!!
I hoped y’all enjoyed the interview, readers, as much as I did! If you loved this, show your gratitude to Caitlin by getting a copy of one of her books or adding them to your GR shelves. If you’ve already read them, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads or recommend it to a friend! Not only is writing books hard, but trying to get your name out into a very competitive market is just as difficult. So every bit of support means so much to these authors!
WHO’S READY FOR THE GIVEAWAY TIME?! *raises hands* During the rally (October 24th-November 5th) Teen Writers’ Nook is running a giveaway. Three winners will be chosen and the winners will win their choice of one of the books pictured below. (Imagine anthology is also included, though not pictured.) This giveaway is open to both U.S. and international entries!
Every post you comment on during the rally earns you an extra entry into the giveaway! To enter with this post comment below and tell me: What’s one word you overuse in your writing? Like suddenly or smirked or whatever.
Remember to tune in tomorrow for a guest post from one of TWN’s first readers, Penelope Rugan who will be sharing about her writing journey!
What’s YOUR favorite part of the writing process? Do you prefer to do sprints in minutes or word counts? Let’s chat all about it in the comments below!
Keep on being awesome and never stop writing,