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MWW22 Faculty Mia P. Manansala has exciting news!

Mia P. Manansala (she/her) is a writer and certified book coach from Chicago who loves books, baking, and bad-ass women. She uses humor (and murder) to explore aspects of the Filipino diaspora, queerness, and her millennial love for pop culture. Her debut novel, Arsenic and Adobo, is out now, and the sequel, Homicide and Halo-Halo, released February, 2022.

And let’s congratulate Mia because Arsenic and Adobo recently won the Agatha Award (from Malice Domestic) for Best First Novel!

Find out more at https://www.miamanansala.com

Mia will teach the sessions “How to Craft a Character That Can Carry a Series” and “The Inside Outline: The Perfect Tool for Outlining,” and as a panel member for “Point of Entry” (about novel openings). She is also on the MWW22 Manuscript Evaluation Team!

 

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Q&A with Mia P. Manansala

Leah Lederman, MWW publicity chair, had a few questions for Mia P. Manansala about her sessions for MWW’s summer hybrid conference. She has helpful things to say that writers of any level can take to their practice.

Hopefully you enjoy this interview as much as we did!

MWW: You’re teaching a session about an easy outline method for writing books, the “Inside Outline.” It seems like something that could benefit outliners and pantsers alike. Are you an adamant outliner or do you find that there are specific times when pantsing might be advantageous?

MM: I’m a big proponent of “find the process that works for you.” The writing process varies from person to person and sometimes even from book to book, so I would never want it to seem like I’m delivering writing rules from on high. The Inside Outline is just another tool that a writer can utilize–the power is in its flexibility. You can use it to plan your book before drafting a single word, to figure out next steps when you get stuck midway through drafting, and/or to diagnose your book’s issues when it’s time to come up with a revision plan.

MWW: Your bio talks about your exploration of diverse voices. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters that are entirely unlike you, perhaps from a different gender, class, or race? How do you recommend writers approach this with sensitivity?

MM: For me, the most difficult thing is making sure that I’m doing these characters justice. That I’m not letting my ignorance and internal biases (which we all have) prevent me from writing a nuanced character rather than a flat caricature. I always recommend that you think of your characters as people–no group is a monolith, so making sure that you give each character the same attention to detail regarding backstory and nuance helps make them feel real. Second, get sensitivity reads and/or beta reads from people from those backgrounds. Again, no one can speak for their entire group, but hopefully they can pinpoint the areas that don’t feel right to them and make you think about your characters in a way you hadn’t before.

MWW: Your book Homicide and Halo-Halo came out in February–congratulations! Tell me, when you have a writing “win” how do you reward yourself?

MM: 99.9% of the time, a writing win means going out for a nice meal or sweet treat. If you can’t tell from my books, I LOVE food. If it’s a really big win, like signing a contract, I’ll shove aside my Midwestern frugalness to splurge on something I really want but would normally not buy.

MWW: When you’re creating characters, what elements of real live people do you use? Do you pull from people you know, people in history or celebrities, strangers on the street? How do you melt their attributes down into compelling characters? 

MM: I’ll take certain personality traits or quirks from people I know, and combine them with aspects I make up entirely. I don’t want any of my characters to be a discernible person, so I’ll decide each characters’ defining trait(s) and build around that.

MWW: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar?

MM: My website/author logo has a peacock feather because peacocks have my favorite color palette (purples, blues, and greens), but I’m not sure what that says about me as a writer!

There are takeaways for everyone, no matter your genre.

MWW22 is an important opportunity for you to network with others and build a writing community for yourself.

REGISTER NOW!

YA author Jay Coles discusses Diversity in Kidlit at MWW21

Jay Coles is the author of critically acclaimed Tyler Johnson Was Here, a composer with ASCAP, and a professional musician residing in Muncie, Indiana. He is a graduate of Vincennes University and Ball State University and holds degrees in English and Liberal Arts. When he’s not writing diverse books, he’s advocating for them, serving with The Revolution church, and composing music for various music publishers. Jay’s equally passionate about playing drums. Find him and nerd out over making some dope beats. Jay’s forthcoming novel Things We Couldn’t Say is set to be released this fall with Scholastic!

MWW board member and publicity chair, Leah Lederman, has interviewed the faculty for MWW21. Today, meet Young Adult author Joy Coles who discusses his writing and what he will present at our virtual summer conference.

Jay’s MWW21 sessions:

  • “Diversity in Kidlit” — In this workshop, we will look at what it means to write diversely for young adults and middle graders as well as discuss examples of books/authors that do this well and how can we better equip ourselves to write more inclusively to reflect the world that we live in.
  • “How to Strengthen Your Opening Pages” — In this workshop, we will examine how to make your opening pages to your manuscript stick out by looking at all the ways that you can hook readers–narrative voice, character, setting, and/or killer opening lines. All the things that’ll keep your reader wanting to turn the page.
  • Panel: “Staying Motivated & Productive / Beating Rejection / Improving Your Writing Routine” with authors Larry Sweazy, Jay Coles, Pam Mandel, Matthew Clemens, Moderator: Angela Jackson-Brown

MWW: In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says “Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on.” Do you think this sentiment applies to the work you’re doing, and can you touch on certain themes that emerge from your writing, things you tend to pay attention to? 

JC: Of course. I feel a lot of my writing is fueled by my curiosity to understand and know the world we live in. There’s always more to see, more to experience, and more to discover about our world and even about ourselves and the people we are. My writing usually follows characters who are on a journey of self-discovery and exploring their identities in this broken world. This is why in anything I write you will find conversations about race, sexuality, religion, social justice, and other social issues because these are things that are so deeply entangled with our world and our very existence and it feels unfair not to communicate what’s going on in my work, even if I’m writing fiction.

MWW: What authors or books most inspire you, and why? 

JC: I will read anything by Jason Reynolds, Adam Silvera, and Renee Watson because not only is their writing so gorgeous and poetic, but they happen to tell very real stories in very honest and unflinching ways that inspire me deep at my core.

MWW: When you hit the wall and nothing is working on your computer screen, how do you clear your head and refresh? Do you power down and go to a movie, or do you just keep pounding the keys? Advice? 

JC: I definitely disengage. I close my laptop (or my writing journal) and I turn on a good movie on Netflix or Disney Plus. I go get dinner, ice cream or a tasty snack and I don’t think about my writing. I’d rather not force anything, even if I’m on a hard deadline. My advice to writers when they feel like they’ve hit a wall, is to stop writing. It’s okay to take a break and recharge. Go on a walk, play a board game with a friend, cook your favorite meal, go biking, or just sit under a tree if it’s nice out! Do anything else to recharge your creativity.

MWW: If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?

JC: Don’t believe people who tell you that the best thing to do is write everyday. That’s stupid. And unrealistic.

MWW: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar?

JC: An owl. I love staying up super late writing and snacking (ha!), but I also just love owls in general. My favorite childhood book was HOOT which is all about owls!

Register for Virtual MWW21 and meet Jay!