09 July 2012

Blogging Mentor Monday: Ilima Todd


I met Ilima Todd from Ka'ao: Tell A Fanciful Tale at Storymakers when she was having a really good day. Her query was critiqued in front of a live audience by a literary agent who praised it, and at the same time she pitched to a different literary agent and received a full request. I'd been following Ilima's blog for sometime, but after that, I had to know more about her writing, and of course, her blog.

Welcome, Ilima! When and why did you start your blog?
I started my blog in August 2011, and honestly, it was because I thought that's what I had to do as an aspiring writer. You know, have a landing page when agents started researching me, proving to them I was serious about this writing thing. Look professional and the like. And since I didn't have anything queryable yet, I figured I should be building my following so that when said agent comes-a-lurking, I'd look that much more impressive. Yeah--I was completely clueless. 

Let's just say my reasons for continuing to blog are entirely different. I don't care much about that follower number anymore, and though I still get excited about comments popping up on my posts, it's because I enjoy interacting with others and am truly anxious to hear what they think or find out what they're up to. Writing can be a lonely quest and I LOVE the friends I've made online.

I'm with you. I was a very lonely writer before blogging.

You’ve been actively seeking a literary agent. Do you think blogging increases your odds of signing with an agent? Why or why not?
I think it does help, but not in the way I first thought. Back to the first question, attracting an agent was my #1 reason for starting the blog. But for the most part, I don't think agents care whether you have a blog or not, at least not before you're published. I do think it helps in a roundabout way, though. Having a blog has stretched my online reach and as I've gotten to know sooo many other bloggers and writers, I also learn about this online writing contest or that writers conference, or check out this new agent looking for yada yada. And those are the things that increases my odds. A nice percentage of the requests I get are from online contests or conferences. (One of my CP's signed with an agent from an online contest request and another CP signed with an agent from a conference…so they really do work.)

Keep telling me that. It's what I want to hear!

What is your blogging schedule, and how did you decide upon it?
I used to post once a week. I thought it was often enough to not get lost in the interwebs but sparse enough to keep me sane. And then I lost my brain or something during the month of April because I signed up for the A to Z challenge. Posting everyday was REALLY HARD. I've since been trying to recover and have been posting whenever I feel like it. I'm still pondering what I want my "regular" schedule to be.

I'm super impressed with everyone who did the A to Z. Blogging every day is a ton of work.

What is your most memorable blogging experience to date?
I did NaNoWriMo for the first time last November. That was quite the writing challenge for me, and as a result, my posts for the month were pretty up and down. This post (http://ilimawrites.blogspot.com/2011/11/i-can-do-hard-things.html) was my attempt at motivation to keep going, and ended up being a spring board for a lot of encouragement from and to fellow Nano-ers that month. I still like to look back whenever I need a boost of confidence to keep going in this crazy writing endeavor.

What a great post! It's still relevant today.

Random Question: Who is your favorite literary character of all time?
Um, that would be Brigan-Ian-Four-Etienne-Cricket-Jace-Will-Zach-Ash-Kartik-Patch-Lend-Po-Elias-Peeta-Devyn-Sam-Ky-Oliver-Elder-Geric and pretty much every other heart throb in every YA novel written all rolled into one. Duh. 'Kay, but seriously, if I had to choose…I'm gonna go with Katniss. Because girls rule.

I swooned when I read your long name reply. And Katniss rocks, too.

Thanks for mentoring us, Ilima! I'll be watching your blog for a literary agent announcement. I have a feeling one will snap you up soon.

47 comments:

Cristina said...

GREAT interview. and yeah, that's my favorite literary character too.. love it that you have all of my favorites in there.

Nick Wilford said...

Nice interview. It's amazing how blogging can lead into all sorts of other opportunities that you would never have expected.

Cassie Mae said...

Oh, Ilima is awesome!! And I love her post I can do hard things. I still remember it from when I first read it way back when. (ya, I stalked all her old posts from before I was a follower because I do that sometimes, lol)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've stayed for the friends I've made through blogging.
This was my third year for the A to Z Challenge. It's crazy but a lot of fun. Three posts a week is more my style though.

Brinda said...

Hi Iliama! It's nice to meet you here. I agree that writing can be lonely until you meet all the people online and there are so many!

jaybird said...

If it wasn't for the encouragement and support of Ilima, I would not be blogging (at all) anymore-
I love her and her blog!

She is chock full of talent and heart, and always lends great advice. If you don't follow her yet, you should.

And I agree with you, Emily, I'm sure, we will see all of her publishing dreams come true, in the very near future!

Deana said...

Now that's an interview. Illima and Emily, two of my favorite people in an interview together:)

I started my blog for the same reason, Illima. It's funny how those reasons change over time and blogging become more of a support system than anything else.

Leigh Covington said...

I was a lonely writer before the blog too! Thank heaven for blogging and the wonderful writing community! Great interview! :)

Taryn said...

That's my CP <3 <3 <3

Taryn said...

That's my CP <3 <3 <3

Theresa Milstein said...

Emily, thanks for introducing me to Ilima. I'm impressed with anyone who does NaNoWriMo.

J.L. Campbell said...

Ilima certainly sounds as though she enjoys challenges - the A-Z and NaNoWriMo being major ones.

L.G.Smith said...

Isn't it funny how we all think we need a blog as aspiring writers to attract an agent, but what really ends up happening is we connect with this great resource of online writers and make great friendships.

Patti said...

Great interview. It's funny how we all start blogging for different reasons, but stay for the same.

Kathryn Purdie said...

Ilima is my CP and one of the best people on the planet! She is completely honest without causing offense, she is a model of perseverance in all things in her life, and a truly giving and loving individual (oh, and a FABULOUS writer!). Three cheers for Ilima!!!

Jay Noel said...

I blogged for a good 5 years - just to share fun stories about science. But it became so much work, and it took away from my real love: writing novels.

I had to start a new blog centered around writing, and it's been amazing. Writers are so supportive of each other.

Tasha Seegmiller said...

This is a great interview. I feel like some of my best friends are online. Great community.

Lydia Kang said...

Great interview, Ilima! I also agree that blogging doesn't necessarily attract an agent, but it did so many things that helped me get an agent, namely improve my writing skills.

And Emily, I love your blogger background! Jewels and sparkly trinkets, love it!

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Great interview! I LOVE Ilima's favorite lit character list. I completely agree!

Johanna Garth said...

Nice to meet you. I started blogging for the same reason as you and have stuck with it for the same reason too. It's nice to have peers! Will stop by your blog.

Alleged Author said...

What a beautiful name! I started a blog so agents would take me seriously, too. We'll see how that goes. LOL!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wow, that was an incredibly good day! She and I were almost in the same Pub Primer group. Almost.

Crack You Whip said...

What a super great interview! Blogging has helped me to reach out much further, as well. I enjoy being a part of such a great network of people.

Kim said...

Thanks for introducing me to another great writer! And what an experience that must have been to have your query letter praised in public :) Maybe she can offer us some tips? :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Emily, thanks for introducing me to Ilima. Now I'm going to check out her blog. Hope Baby King is still doing well :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I love your favorite character. :) Imagine having them all rolled into one . . .

Coleen Patrick said...

Awesome interview--and I am so in awe of anyone who did the A to Z challenge. I get dizzy just thinking about it! :)

Suze said...

Best of luck with everything, Ilima!

tfwalsh said...

Great post... That's what I love about blogging - meeting all the wonderful people.

Suzi said...

My reasons for blogging have changed too since I started. Of course, part of it was to step into the writing communtity as a future published author, but when I started, I was writing for friends and family. Now I'm writing more for online writing friends. And myself.

Elana Johnson said...

Awesome interview! And Ilima is super awesome in person too. :)

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

Great interview! Best of luck with your agent search, Ilima! I love blogging for all the reasons you mentioned. I (sort of) stopped paying attention to my "numbers" and focused on just being friends. It's much less stressful and more fun! :D

Carrie Butler said...

Gotta love Ilima! Her last answer was awesome. :D

Emily said...

Just wanting to get in on some of this Ilima love. I'm super lucky to have her as a CP...and with that the added bonus of getting to read her WIPs, which are A M A Z I N G!!

Great interview. Also, I read "I can do Hard Things" on, like, a weekly basis. I read it to my husband and cried...

Morgan said...

Ilima Rocks!

Loved the interview, Emily... it's such a neat thing to know we're all supporting each other in this community together :D

elizabeth seckman said...

I started blogging for the same reason...because I felt I had to. Now it is more like writer therapy. Thanks for the post!

Medeia Sharif said...

It took me a while to figure out a schedule. A to Z was difficult, but I'm going to do it again. I haven't tried Nano yet, but I'd love to.

I love that literary character. I should try rolling up all my favorites together.

I'm glad I stopped by. I love these mentor posts.

Tara Tyler said...

Ilima is sweet and i hope to come through a winner of camp nano next month =)

Honey said...

Great interview! How agents look at blogs was good to know. I started my blog for the same reasons but I love it now for the writing community and support.

Martin Willoughby said...

Blogs are a great way to meet like-minded people who understand writing.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I wonder how come no one mentions that shmoozing is also a good way of getting an agent. Maybe writers in general are bad at shmoozing. But it seems to work in the corporate world, so I'm sure someone out there has tried it. Is shmoozing considered unacceptable? If I was hot, I'd totally shmooze. I'm such a book slut.

Melissa said...

Great post! And LOL on the fav character name. :D

Lara Schiffbauer said...

What a nice introduction to Ilima! I read your (Ilima's) entry to an online contest and was so impressed!

I never thought about the pipeline to writerly contests, etc... as a benefit to blogging, but I think that's a great point!

Leslie S. Rose said...

Po-Cricket-Jace...*fans self* So nice to meet Ilima - an inspiration.

ilima said...

Just stopping by to say a great big THANK YOU to Emily and everyone who has commented. This is exactly why I love blogging, because the writer community is so supportive and amazing. Nice to meet you all!

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

Wonderful interview. Nice to meet Ilima. I'm on my way over to visit your blog. : )

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Nanowrimo's tough but great writing practice. I really liked this interview.

Congrats Emily, you recieved a new blog award from me today.

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