Author on the Couch: Paula Millhouse

Today on Author on the Couch, I conduct a session with Paula Millhouse.   GIVEAWAY! Paula is giving away a custom made Dragonstone ribbon bookmark to one person who comments on her session today! Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life. Paula: This past summer I decided to go on walk-about (vacation) by myself to RWA 2015 in New York City. I’d wanted to see the city since I was seventeen, honestly, and the National Writing Conference opened up the perfect opportunity. I don’t usually travel alone – I’m not that bold, but this year I decided to step outside my comfort zone, find the courage to go, and fulfill this longing. The experience was so much more than I expected. Not only did I tour the area, visit national landmarks, and take photos marking the journey of a lifetime I met at least a thousand writers, editors, agents and citizens who were kind and generous with their time. I met people and solidified friendships during this trip that will last a lifetime. To be among “my people” celebrating the field of romance and fiction reinforced my love of writing. Me: One of the best things about Nationals is to be among “our people”. These people really get it. They know what it’s like to be a writer with all the crazy ups and downs this industry brings. What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author? Paula: My tenacity helps me most as an author, Abbie. My level of commitment to get things done is one of my greatest strengths. It helped me in Grad-school, and it’s a powerful asset for a writer. Me: I don’t think you can succeed in this business without tenacity. What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author? Paula: Procrastination, and playing into the resistance of actually writing. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to get distracted with dozens of different tasks that support writing. I keep myself in check with a calendar, a timer, and a plan. Most days, that is… Me: I gave you an A+ and a Gold Star for getting the Author on the Couch questionnaire back to me in record time. So… you getting it back to me so quick was probably one of those wonderful reasons to procrastinate from writing. : ) I SO get that! There’s always something that needs done that isn’t actually writing, but does “support” writing. <Point your finger at me as I’m sitting here formatting your post instead of actually writing> Balance is the key! What was your high point as a writer? Paula: Signing the contract for CHALVAREN RISING and actually getting to work on revisions was my most recent high point as a writer. Working on pulling together my manuscript with my talented editor has been the best part of this writing process for me. Collaboration, and exchange of ideas is what makes me tick. I’m the luckiest person in the world to be working on what I love to do most. Me: What was your low point as a writer? Paula: I think writers all have low points mixed with the highs. Waiting to hear back from your editor can also be a double-edged sword in that, for a Type A, very productive person like myself, it’s easy to get mired down in the absence of feedback. It’s not so much that I want pats on the back, mind you, it’s more the absence of work, and the absence of communication flares up worry in a writer’s head. Self-doubt can bludgeon you when silence sets in. I get over that weird space of limbo by working on a new project, focusing on my other hobbies, and talking the waiting through with friends, especially other writers who understand the process. Me: How do you deal with rejection or bad reviews? What advice can you give others about how to handle rejection and bad reviews? Paula: There’s an old quote I love – “It’s none of your business what other people think of you.” The advice I’d give others about how to handle rejection or bad reviews is, when you create art it’s for you alone. When you release art, it then belongs to others. Sure, it stings to read criticism, Abbie, but critics usually disappear into the ether. The salient point is, your story impacted someone enough to speak about it. Me: What’s your life motto? Why does that motto speak to you? Paula: Be okay with the principle of change. The motto speaks to me because everything changes – heck, just look at the landscape of publishing in the past five years as a prime example. The more flexible you are with change, and the more open you stay to subtle differences in your life, the less mental illness you’ll have to suffer. Change is the only consistent thing in our lives. Me: You wouldn’t believe the number of people who sit on my real couch and say something like “I hate change.” And that’s the reason they are in my office. Because life changes. Every. Single. Day. Nothing remains the same. Kids grow up. Parents age. Illnesses and accidents happen. One of the traits that determine our ability to be happy is our resilience. Our ability to bounce back after these changes occur. Because changes WILL happen. So I LOVE your motto. I wish more people embraced change rather than denied it or bemoaned that it happened! If you could be any character in any book for a day who would you be? Why? Paula: Oh, that’s an easy one to answer: Mia Ansgar from CHALVAREN RISING. I’d choose to walk in Mia’s shoes because she’s courageous despite her fears, determined, and goes after what she wants. Even though she’s entered a fantasy world where the rules have changed and she has to make sacrifices, she finds her own internal power. When Mia decides to let her power shine … Continue reading Author on the Couch: Paula Millhouse