I am very proud today to interview Michelle L. Devon (Michy), who is my writing and editing mentor. She has taught me a lot about the industry in the past year and change I have been working with her, and she has held my hand and let me cry on her shoulder dozens of times while I struggled through writing and editing my books and launching my freelance career. She is the proprietress of Accentuate Services and moderator/mentor extraordinaire of the Accentuate Writer's Forum. Stop by the forum for some writerly companionship, advice and paying writing leads!
Jennifer Walker: How did you get your start as a published author?
Michelle L. Devon: I had a friend in the publishing industry, who was the EIC of a small publishing company. She had contracted me to do some editing work. While working with her, we chatted about some of the things I'd written and she asked me to send them to her. I did, and she offered to publish a book of my essays. I was excited, so immediately started pulling together some of my best things, and the rest is history. Later, I was published in an anthology where I was also the lead editor, and then went on to publish two other books.
So I guess I got my start as a published author by being a manuscript editor first.
Jennifer Walker: Can you tell us a little about the different books you have published?
Michelle L. Devon: I have had three books published, and three short fiction stories in an anthology. Two books are essays and prose, contemporary philosophical type stuff. They are In a Perfect World, and The Path: A Series on Redemption and Sensual Awakening. The other book is a nonfiction book, How to Create an Effective Employee Handbook, with step-by-step instructions, forms, legal information, and a companion CD-ROM. The anthology was a suspense-type collection of short stories from nine authors, many of whom are award winning. It was an honor to be selected to be included with them for my three shorts, The Crazy Cat Lady, Empath, and Dreamwalking.
Jennifer Walker: You are a full-time writer. What kind of writing work do you spend most of your time on?
Michelle L. Devon: That's changed a lot recently. I used to spend most of my time writing freelance articles. Second most were the web content articles. I needed the money from them to keep me afloat while I wrote my fiction. Here recently, though, I'm spending most of my time on fiction writing, working on my novels, and I only write articles now when the mood hits me or I'm really interested in something and feel compelled to write it.
I love working on the novels. I get so wrapped up in the characters, it's hard to pull myself away sometimes.
Jennifer Walker: Does your day-to-day work, the work that brings in most of your income, get in the way of your fiction writing?
Michelle L. Devon: Sometimes, when I take on an editing project, I will put off my own writing until the editing is finished. I've found that the skill set needed to edit is different from the skill set needed to write, and sometimes switching back and forth between the two is tough.
Other times, I use 'work' as an excuse not to write. I mean, I love to write, but sometimes I fight it, particularly when I'm in the middle of a tough scene or have a character being difficult. For the most part, though, I do try to write in my novels at least a little bit every day.
Jennifer Walker: What writing-related achievement are you most proud of?
Michelle L. Devon: This might sound silly, but with all I have accomplished, I am most proud of is an essay I wrote in the fifth grade. I entered it in an essay contest, and I placed. Can't remember what place or what the award was, but I remember that essay as being the catalyst for making me dream that just maybe something bigger could be achieved with the words and ideas that rattled around in my brain and forced their way out onto paper.
However, talk to me again after my novel, Identify, wins a Pulitzer (fingers crossed), and let's see if I change my answer.
Jennifer Walker: You do a lot of mentoring to other writers, including me. How do you find the time to do this, yet complete your own projects?
Michelle L. Devon: Sometimes I don't!
I don't know how I do it. What I do know is that the universe gives back to you what you put out into it. I live with that philosophy that, "You are what you help others become..." so if I want to be a successful writer, I should help others become successful writers and my success, along with the divine inspiration and action on my part, will come to me.
So far, the universe has made sure I always seem to have the time to do everything I need to do. I don't question it, but I am grateful!
Jennifer Walker: How supportive is your family of your writing lifestyle?
Michelle L. Devon: Oh, man. My sister and my mother's husband are fascinated by what I do, and proud of me, I guess. My mother, she doesn't seem to understand at all. At Thanksgiving last year, I gave her a copy of my most recent book and she flipped through it and said, "You're weird." I asked her what she meant and she said something about not understanding how someone could write for a living and come up with the ideas and such. I told her my friends and fellow writers didn't think I was weird. She responded with, "Well, they're weird too."
However, my immediately family, those who are closest to me and who live with me, they are very supportive of what I do. When I was finishing my most recent manuscript, with a working title of What Brothers Do, I recall them leaving the house one night to leave me alone, so I could finish it without interruption. I also recall them laughing at me when I was typing and crying during one scene, but they did it lovingly. I'm blessed to have family and good friends who really encourage and support me in my writing endeavors.
Thanks again to Michelle L. Devon (Michy) for stopping by to chat! While we're at it, let's clear up something people are always wondering about...it's pronounced "Mickey". :)