The Worried Writer Episode #32: Monica Leonelle ‘I’m a burst of energy writer’

My guest today is Monica Leonelle. Monica is a USA Today bestselling author writing YA urban fantasy and paranormal romance, as well as practical books for writers such as Write Better, Faster and The 8-Minute Writing Habit. Before becoming an author, Monica had a successful career in digital marketing.

For more on Monica’s latest website for authors, head to The World Needs Your Book

And there is still a wealth of information on

Prose On Fire

For all of Monica’s books head to Amazon UK or Amazon US

Or find her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

In the intro:

I give a small writing update (10,000 words on my shiny new first draft!) and share tips learned from the process of recording the audio book of Stop Worrying; Start Writing.

I answer a listener question:

Matthew asked:

The late great Terry Pratchett insisted in his will that the novels he was working on at the time of his death be crushed in their hard drive. By a steamroller.

This action was carried out today.

Morbid Q for the podcast – what would you want happening to your unfinished works in the event of your demise? Tolkienesque approach – the family get to cash in through publication of a bunch of things of varying quality that were never meant for public consumption, or Pratchett’s cleaner approach with death as a full stop rather than an ellipsis?

I talk about my own preference (for early drafts to be deleted!) and discuss how thinking about this kind of thing can help us to place proper value on our work and to consider the long-term strategy for our career/finances.

Mentioned:

Neil Gaiman’s post on will-making for creatives (with sample template).

Helen Sedwick (writes about legal/financial stuff for authors).

In the interview:

On publishing:

‘I’m all for traditional, I think there is a lot of opportunity there.’

On self-doubt:

‘Everytime I publish a book I still feel self-doubt… You don’t know how a large group of people is going to respond to your book.’

 

‘The way I think about fear is really that you’re going to feel fear and it’s going to be there with you, but can you take action anyway.’

 

‘I will say that years and years ago I was a procrastinator… I remember when I was trying to establish a daily writing habit, that first day I sat at my computer with my ms open and I stared at it for an hour without writing anything…. It was like my mind couldn’t process or something.’

 

‘A lot of this is a muscle that you have to work, but I also think ‘yes you are afraid’.’

 

On the ‘eight-minute writing habit’:

‘It feels like a long enough period to get something done, but short enough that really have no excuse not to do it.’

‘A twenty-five minute timed session where you’re focused and then a five minute break… So with the eight minute thing, I was like you can do eight minutes, two minute break.’

‘Eight minutes is very easy to add to your morning routine, so do eight minutes in the morning, eight minutes at lunch and eight minutes in the evening.’

 

On her own process:

‘Some people do really well with 1000 words a day, kind of paced approach… For me I might write 5000 words a day for two weeks and then not write for a month…. I have embraced that I’m a burst of energy writer.’

‘About thirty percent of my time goes to fiction but, that being said, I have kind of mastered my own writing productivity. So, this year, for example, I’ve published three YA novels, two novellas for that series and a short story and that’s as of June 2017.’

‘It’s not my dream to just do fiction… I do have varied interests and I do love both sides of it.’

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or the podcast app of your choice) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make it more likely to be discovered by new listeners.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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The Worried Writer Episode #31: Phoebe Morgan ‘Getting A Deal Is Often About Timing’

My guest today is Phoebe Morgan. Phoebe Morgan is both an editor at HarperCollins and an author, so she understands both sides of the publishing equation. Her debut psychological thriller, The Doll House, is coming out on the 14th September, and it’s an excellent dark and creepy read. I love the way Phoebe has created a sense of foreboding in the book so I definitely recommend you check it out.

We talk about self-doubt and pre-publication nerves, but Phoebe also give insights as to what grabs her as commissioning editor when she is reading submissions and, conversely, the common mistakes she sees authors making.

Even if you aren’t looking to submit to an agent or publisher, I do think her advice is spot-on as you will always need to grab your reader.

For more on Phoebe head to phoebemorganauthor.com or find her on Twitter.

You can pre-order The Doll House for just 99p here.

In the introduction:

I give a small writing update and talk about my great excitement at being a guest on The Creative Penn podcast.

Here is the link to the episode on Joanna’s (wonderful!) website. It’s also available on YouTube and through your preferred podcast app.

Being invited on the show which started my podcast-obsession (and inspired me to start The Worried Writer) was a big moment for me and I talk about some lessons learned from the experience.

I also mention the time I interviewed Joanna on The Worried Writer. Head here for that episode.

  • Stop Worrying; Start Writing audiobook. I said last month that I would try to get it recorded during August, but I didn’t manage to fit it in – sorry! I am hoping to book the studio time during September and get it finished.
  • Thank you for all your replies re. possible funding for the show. Most folk have voted for Patreon and I’m considering ideas for ‘subscriber-only’ perks such as a private Facebook group for writerly support. Let me know what you think!

 

In the interview:

On working in publishing as an editor as well as being an author:

‘There isn’t a switch off button because everything I’m doing is in the same field. At the same time I do really love what I do.’

 

‘It can be quite tricky, sometimes. It’s a lot of characters in my head!’

 

‘It’s hard to have a full-time job and have the energy to do the thing on the side. I think it comes down to trying to enjoy it… You also need to be kind to yourself.

 

On writing process:

‘I do best during the day on a Saturday and Sunday.’

 

‘It’s about finding the time which works best for you.’

 

‘When I’m not actually physically writing, I’m always thinking about it… Stuff takes time to form.’

 

‘I’ve spent ages wishing I could be a planner and I’ve tried to be a planner… But it just doesn’t work. It kind of blocks something in my brain.’

 

On creative block:

‘I get quite paralysed by thinking about the industry… Because of my job I know how many submissions we get and how many get published and it’s not many.’

 

‘There will be times when I’m writing and I’ll think ‘this is never going to sell’ and that’s quite paralysing.’

 

On working as an editor for Harper Collins:

‘Everyone in publishing is so nice.’

 

‘Getting a deal is often about timing.’

 

‘We have a lot to get through so the opening of a book is really important…’

 

‘I find a lot of writers think they need to start a chapter quite softly and they’ll talk about the weather or do a recap on the previous chapter… Cut that out and go straight to the action.’

 

‘I always say to my authors that what I’m saying is a suggestion rather than an order. At the end of the day, an author is the one in charge of their book.’

 

On getting a book deal:

‘The key is to carry on.’

 

Recommended by Phoebe:

On Writing by Stephen King

Writing A Bestseller by Jacq Burns

How To Become A Writer (short story)by Lorrie Moore – New York Times 

Literary Rejections Blog 

 

 

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast in iTunes and makes it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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The Worried Writer Episode #30: A.L. Michael ‘Always Write More Than You Talk About Writing’

A.L.Michael

My guest today is A.L. Michael, author of nine romantic comedies including Goodbye Ruby Tuesday and The Last Word.

Her latest release is Cocktails and Dreams, part of the new Martini Club series.

Andi is also a Creative Therapeutic Facilitator, currently researching the power of creative writing to be helpful in recovering from eating disorders.

 

Find out more at almichael.com or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

In the intro I give a personal update (spoiler-alert – I did more holidaying than writing in July!) and talk about my plans for August.

I also mention Joanna Penn’s recent podcast episode about her experience at Thrillerfest, in which she discusses comparisonitis and the difficulty of balancing ambition and contentment. Go here for the episode (it’s really worth a listen) and here for Joanna’s wonderful book on marketing How To Market A Book.

Finally, I talk about the future of the podcast and the possibility of adding advertising or sponsorship or joining Patreon. And, in lieu of corporate sponsorship, I plug my own book on writing! Click HERE for store links.


 

If you have any thoughts on advertising or patreon or suggestions for ways in which I can improve the show, please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you!

In the interview:

On process:

‘I have a number for that day that I’m happy with wordcount-wise.’

 

‘Sometimes, I’ve got no idea where they’re going now so I’ll play with the characters for a bit or research a location and something usually pops up.’

 

‘I work from a very brief skeleton, but I usually write little chunks in a notebook that’s specifically for that book.’

 

On writing as a career:

‘I had my careers advice at seventeen and I said ‘I’m going to university to study writing and I’m going to be a writer’ and he said ‘that’s not a job’.’

 

On doing a degree in creative writing:

‘I think I wrote a lot of crap then, but I learned how to form a story and how to get criticism and feedback… But you could only be a literary writer in their eyes.’

 

Andi’s tips for productivity:

‘I like being in control… I do a lot of list-making and goal-setting.’

 

‘I would love to do a retreat so that’s on my list… I usually go to a festival every year where I run creative writing workshops.’

 

‘I think play is really important and experimenting.’

‘Always write more than you talk about writing.’

 

On being a worried writer:

‘You’ll always have worries with writing because it makes you so vulnerable.’

 

‘Everyone has that particular number in their word-count when you hit it and think ‘God, I’m awful’… Usually to get over it I remind myself that I’ve done it once so I can do it again. I think finishing a book is the hardest thing you can do… But if you’ve finished a book, you can finish another book.’

‘I thought being published was the end of the journey, the end-goal, but it’s actually the start.’

 

On writing as a therapeutic tool:

‘It’s a very freeing experience.’

 

 

Thank you so much for listening – I truly appreciate it!

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

And if you have a moment to share the show on social media or leave a rating on iTunes (or your preferred podcast app), that would be brilliant!  THANK YOU!

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2017 Goals: Halfway There?

As regular visitors know, I’m a massive fan of setting goals. During the last couple of years, I have aired mine in public for some extra motivation (accountability!) and as an exercise in ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’.

If you’re interested, the posts are here: January 2016 and January 2017.

So far, this year feels like my most productive ever, but I know there is still so much I want to do! Also, I want to make sure I don’t let my motivation or progress slip over the second half of the year.

Time seems to be flying past faster than ever and I know how easy it is to lose weeks – or even months – if I don’t stay focused on my main goals. It’s too easy to get caught up in the latest ‘shiny thing’, in learning about all the possibilities in this exciting publishing landscape, or just in the day-to-day ‘busy work’ of running an author business.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to do a halfway check-point to see if I’m on track. I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit nervous…

Writing

I set the goal of writing two new novels and finishing, editing and publishing the Worried Writer book.

Progress Report:

Stop Worrying; Start WritingStop Worrying; Start Writing is finished and out in the world! Yay!

Writing two new novels… Um. Not started, yet. Need to prioritise this for the remaining five and a half months of the year.

My initial thought is ‘Argh! I can’t write two novels in under six months’, but some quick calculations shoot down that objection… Let’s say I have five months. That’s 20 weeks.

2 x 80,000 words = 160,000 words

160,000 divided by 20 = 8000

8000 words per week is 1143 words per day.

That sounds much more manageable, doesn’t it?

I will, however, have to get strict about prioritising writing new words, though. I find it frustratingly easy to let writing slip down my to-do list even though it’s the most enjoyable and fulfilling part of what I do, as well as the most important!

Publishing

I planned to rewrite and publish Beneath The Water and my supernatural book, and to get The Secrets of Ghosts made into an audio book.

Progress Report:

I landed a new publishing deal with Lake Union for Beneath The Water and have just finished the structural rewrites. It will be published early 2018.

I am currently working on the editorial notes from my agent for the supernatural book and am planning to have that finished by the end of next week.

I did get an audio book made, but I chose my novella, The Garden of Magic, instead… The narrator, Tracey Norman, did a fabulous job and was a joy to work with.

Also, I have decided to attempt the narration for the audio version of Stop Worrying; Start Writing. I’m going into the studio next week!

 

Learning

I have been consuming less and creating more, which is excellent as I think I’ve been skewed in the wrong direction for a long time! I’ve still read some brilliant books, though. One really useful ‘craft’ book I discovered is Alexanda Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks For Authors.

On the business/marketing side, I’m working my way through Mark Dawson’s Ads For Authors course. Even if you aren’t ready to spend money on his paid training, he offers loads of information (and a mini video course) for free, and his Self Publishing Formula podcast is excellent, too.

Creativity

I still haven’t started scheduling ‘artist days’ to refill the creative well. Must do better!

Walking isn’t strictly ‘creativity’ but I do think it helps me to think (as well as having health benefits) and I’ve been sticking to my daily habit of a morning walk. I would like to increase my stamina and distance, though, and maybe add a second walk in the afternoon (or a yoga session).

Community

I planned to keep up with my newsletter for my mailing list subscribers and I wanted to increase the size of my list.

I also planned to continue with the monthly episodes of the podcast and to add more content to this site.

Progress Report:

I created a ‘perk’ (a free short story) and have been giving that away via Instafreebie to grow my list.

I’ve been keeping up with my newsletters, sending them every 4-6 weeks, and have had some brilliant conversations with readers which feels amazing!

If you are interested in hearing about my fiction releases, giveaways and exclusive content, sign up here!

I have also made more of an effort with Facebook and have started a dedicated page for The Worried Writer (to keep the ‘stuff for writers’ separate from my author page).

I’ve kept up with the monthly podcast, but could do better with adding more content to this site… However, I was delighted to be listed in the ‘Top 100 Websites for Writers’ by The Write Life – yay!

Also, I was interviewed on the Self Publishing Journeys podcast (link to my episode here), and am planning to do more guest spots on other podcasts.

My lovely brother has given me his old video camera and I am looking into adding some videos to my websites or, perhaps, starting a YouTube channel.

Finally, I’m considering attending the ScotsWrite conference in September.

Your turn! How are you doing with your 2017 goals? 

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The Worried Writer Episode #27: Tracy Buchanan ‘Write A Novel That You Want To Read’

My guest today is Tracy Buchanan, author of The Atlas of Us, No Turning Back and the number one bestseller, My Sister’s Secret. My Sister’s Secret was one of the top ten bestselling books of 2015 and has been published in the US, Denmark, Italy, Hungary and Germany and My Weekly said it was ‘both heartbreaking and uplifting’.

We talk about the pressure of writing under contract, plotting using an Excel spreadsheet, Tracy’s writing routine and the opportunities for authors in this new publishing landscape.

For more on Tracy and her books, head to www.tracybuchanan.co.uk or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

In a quick intro (I’m very tired!), I give a happy and grateful update on the successful launch of Stop Worrying: Start Writing. It hit number one in the creativity chart and got to hang out with Stephen King in ‘authorship’. Meep!

I have also been bowled-over by the wonderful feedback and reviews (phew!). Here’s a small extract from one of the Amazon reviews:

‘The best book on writing and productivity I’ve read in years. Sarah tackles the fear we all feel when it comes to our writing in such an honest way that I was left feeling like here was someone who really understood…This book, was refreshing because it deals with the things most writers truly face, and more than that it really offers actionable steps to help see you through the other side.’

Dominique Valente, Amazon Reviewer

You can get Stop Worrying: Start Writing from all good retailers including Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, iBooks or Barnes&Noble.

Next month, I’m planning a ‘just me’ episode so that I can give proper attention to some of the wonderful listener questions I have received.

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

In the interview:

On Tracy’s writing process:

‘In the past I would just be very dreamy and just start writing it and let it lead me… but I have to be a lot more disciplined now.’

On writing the Atlas of Us:

‘It was a really cathartic, wonderful experience and it helped me with all the infertility stuff I was going through.’

On getting started:

‘Write a novel that you want to read.’

‘First drafts can be rubbish, just write and enjoy it.’

On her routine:

‘I need to get the boring stuff out of the way first… That usually takes a couple of hours and then I start writing.’

‘I don’t really have a daily word count. My aim is to write as much as I can as quickly as I can.’

‘I really find walking helps me unblock plot issues.’

‘I’m trying to do things like go to the cinema and see that as work or go to a museum to get inspiration, but I’m being really rubbish at that!’

Recommended:

FB groups

Absolute Write forum

Listening to podcasts like this one!

‘Listening to other writers and hearing what they are going through feels like a support network, it really helps because you don’t feel like such an alien and so weird.’

Writer’s retreats such as The Urban Writers’ Retreat

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast in iTunes and makes it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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Publication Day Contest for Stop Worrying; Start Writing!

Hooray! My first non-fiction book, Stop Worrying; Start Writing is finally out in the world!

It has had some wonderful reviews already (pause for big sigh of relief!):

‘I’m a huge fan of The Worried Writer podcasts so I’ve been really looking forward to this book. I read it in one sitting, and it was even greater than I expected! I’ll definitely be dipping into it again very soon. It’s full of honest, practical advice for writers, delivered with warmth and gentle humour. I found it wonderfully reassuring and empowering, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever struggled while facing a blank page, or at any other stage of writing a book.’

Amazon Customer Review

‘To me, it felt like Sarah was taking solely to me, voicing my own personal thoughts. It was a strong voice and not at all patronising. I made pages of notes as I was reading, and that’s what I feel should go alongside reading a book about writing, something to go back to after you’ve finished and to help you to move forward yourself.’

Sarah Thorogood, Amazon review

‘Inspiring, comforting, warm and wise. Both new writers and established authors will find something helpful here.’

Keris Stainton, YA author.

‘The best book on writing and productivity I have read in a long time. It tackles the fear and self-doubt we all feel when it comes to our writing in such an engagingly honest way, that there are times when I was laughing aloud because here was someone who truly understood. Written with such heart, Sarah, in her characteristically kind, and gentle way that listeners of The Worried Writer podcast have come to love and appreciate, offers solid, actionable advice that will inspire you to approach your writing with enthusiasm and renewed determination!’

Lily Graham, author The Cornish Escape and The Summer Escape

The ebook is available in all of the major retailers, including

Amazon UK, Amazon USKobo, Nook and iBooks, and it’s available in paperback, too:

UK Paperback

US Paperback

If you have read the book (thank you!) and would consider leaving a review online, it would be massively helpful. Reviews make a massive difference in the visibility and success of a new book!

LAUNCH DAY CONTEST!

So, I’ve put together a lovely bundle of stationery. It’s not just pretty, though, it is the perfect starter-set for some of the techniques set out in the book. Whether you want to track your word count, give yourself reward stickers, brainstorm story ideas, or plan your time, this collection will help you to get started.

It includes a very fine Leuchtturm hardcover notebook (with grid paper), cute washi tape and stickers, sticky notes, and my favourite pens for brainstorming, planning, and doodling – Stabilo fineliners.

I will also include a signed paperback copy of Stop Worrying; Start Writing in the package!

To enter, simply email: sarah (at) worriedwriter.com (or use the contact form) with the subject line ‘contest’ and, in the body of the email, the last word of the third chapter (‘Make Friends With Your Worries’).

I will pick three winners at random. First name out of the hat wins the bundle and the next two will each receive a signed paperback of Stop Worrying; Start Writing.

Good luck!

The contest is open worldwide and ends on Friday 21st April, 2017 at midnight (GMT).

 

 

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