The Worried Writer Episode Ep#46: Sherrilyn Kenyon ‘Respect Your Muse’

My guest today is urban fantasy superstar Sherrilyn Kenyon. Sherrilyn is a number 1 New York Times and Internationally bestselling author. Her first novel came out in 1993, she has over 70 million books in print worldwide and she writes in several successful series such as the Dark Hunters and Black Hat Society. Her latest Dark Hunter book (number 28) is Stygian.

I spoke to Sherrilyn in the summer while she was busy packing for DragonCon and she was incredibly nice and upbeat, despite having just come back from a visit to the dentist. A real professional!

Sherrilyn shares the worst rejection of her career, secrets of longevity in publishing, and her writing process.

Find out more about Sherrilyn at www.sherrilynkenyon.com

Visit her on FaceBook or Instagram

IN THE INTRODUCTION

I go through my goals for 2018 and talk about how I’ve done, and some lessons learned.

I mention my on-going attempts to improve my concentration and focus after reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work.

Here is the link to my 2018 goals (set in January).

 

I give a shout-out to new patrons supporting me via Patreon. Thank you so much!

You can support the show for as little as $1 per month and, for supporters at the $2 and above level, there is an exclusive mini-episode released in the middle of every month.

There are nine ‘extras’ already available and another one will go up mid-December. So far, I’ve answered patron-questions and given writing craft tips, but I’m also open to suggestions…

To become a Worried Writer insider and to support the podcast head to The Worried Writer on Patreon.

THANK YOU!

LISTENER QUESTION

If you have a question you would like answered on the show

contact me via email or Twitter or leave a comment on this post.

 

IN THE INTERVIEW

On writing a long series:

‘I’ve been writing Dark Hunter since I was eighteen… I love the characters, I love the world.’

‘Don’t write anything you don’t love… Go into it thinking that these are lifelong friends… Don’t chase a trend, don’t write just to get published, write what is in your heart, what is in your soul, because you may have to live with these characters for the rest of your life.’

On the pressure of success:

‘You never want to disappoint a fan, you do have that pressure… And nothing hurts worse than hearing that a fan didn’t like a book, that’s a stab to my throat and my heart.’

‘I put my heart and soul and every ounce of time, I don’t rush a book, I respect my fans too much for that.’

Sherrilyn’s writing process:

‘I know when I’m really in the zone when it’s just me and the characters and I don’t hear anything else.. I used to keep my babies literally strapped to my chest because I was worried they would need something and I wouldn’t hear them.’

‘All I’ve ever really done is write.’

‘Writing advice is like a buffet, take what you like… Leave everything else behind.’

‘I attempt to do 25 to 30 pages a day, but I don’t always.’

 

‘To me writing is like channeling spirits, its almost like being a medium.’

 

On self-doubt:

‘I hate it when writers beat themselves up… Writers – don’t be cruel to yourselves! Respect your muse, because that’s a quick way to kill her.’

‘No, we all think we suck. The suck song goes on every time I write.’

‘All I ever wanted was to be a writer and I pursued it wholeheartedly.’

‘Be fearless when you write. Just turn those chickens loose in the yard and let them take you on a journey.’

On not giving up:

‘Let those characters fly… We’re all writers but those characters chose you. They live in you. They could have picked another writer but they picked you, don’t let them not have their story told.’

‘I’ve seen so many writers give up over the years and that really breaks my heart because I think of all the stories they had in them… And I hate that… Please don’t give up, get that story out there.’

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make 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 Ep#45: Rachel Burton ‘Little And Often Is The Key’

My guest today is Rachel Burton, author of contemporary women’s fiction. Her two novels, The Many Colours of Us and The Things We Need To Say, have been called thought-provoking and emotional.

Rachel and I first connected as she was a listener of the show, and I was delighted to chat to her about her writing success. Rachel suffers from chronic illness, M.E and Fibromyalgia, and we talk about writing books under challenging circumstances.

For more information on Rachel and her books – and for tips on writing with a chronic illness – visit RachelBurtonWrites.

Or you can find Rachel on Twitter and Instagram.

IN THE INTRODUCTION

I give an update on the launch of The Night Raven. Short version – it went really well and I’m a very happy author!

If you are interested in London-set paranormal mystery which has been called:

‘My favourite new urban fantasy series, clever and twisty and deliciously magical, with a shivery sense of wonder that feels utterly grounded in its London setting. Perfect for fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Genevieve Cogman or Robert Galbraith!’

You can click here for shopping options – thank you!

And I give a shout-out to new patrons supporting me via Patreon. Thank you so much!

You can support the show for as little as $1 per month and, for supporters at the $2 and above level, there is an exclusive mini-episode released in the middle of every month.

There are eight ‘extras’ already available and another one will go up mid-November. So far, I’ve answered patron-questions and given writing craft tips, but I’m also open to suggestions…

To become a Worried Writer insider and to support the podcast head to The Worried Writer on Patreon.

THANK YOU!

LISTENER QUESTION

I answer a couple of listener questions this month.

One from Karen Heenan (via Twitter) about writing a synopsis. I run through the differences between a synopsis, blurb and pitch, and recommend a book I found very helpful back when I was submitting to agents:

How To Write A Great Synopsis by Nicola Morgan

And one from Catherine Barbey. Catherine has published her first novel – congratulations, Catherine! And is getting fabulous reviews, but is finding it really difficult to write the next book in the series.

Catherine wrote:

‘How did you know, after you got your first book published (which I know wasn’t the first you’d written) that you wanted to carry on and keep writing? How did you know that you weren’t just a ‘one-hit wonder’?  And how did you get over ‘second book syndrome?’

 

If you have a question you would like answered on the show

contact me via email or Twitter or leave a comment on this post.

 

IN THE INTERVIEW

On publishing:

‘It felt very like I had no idea what I was doing… It felt very overwhelming, like I was totally out of my depth.’

On writing her first book:

‘The last few chapters of that book seemed to take a hundred years.’

Rachel’s writing process:

‘I write the end first. So when I plan a book, I know how it opens and I know the ending… When the going gets tough which, for me, is usually around 40,000 words in, I go and write the end. I write the last 5000 words, and then I’ve got something to aim for.’

‘I’m not a huge believer in necessarily writing the book in order. Some scenes require more research, some are harder than others… So just leave it and move on… Don’t just sit there hoping they will miraculously write themselves, just move on and write the next bit; keep it flowing, keep going.’

‘Little and often is the key because it gets you in the habit of putting words on the page.’

‘It is hard to get to the end so make your end somewhere you want to get to.’

‘There are days when I will do anything rather than write.’

 

On writing with a chronic illness:

‘I do suffer from chronic pain issues… I do have to make sure I’m sitting in the right chair. I also have to take very regular breaks and I can only write for a little bit of time and then I have to get up and walk around the room or I will get stuck in a chair shape for the rest of the day.’

‘In terms of energy levels, that has been hard. It’s hard to work out when you can and can’t write. With M.E one of the biggest problems is brain fog and when your brain is foggy, concentrating is hard, focusing on something for a long time is difficult.’

‘There are times when I’m not well enough to work at all, but I do find that even if I’m just writing a few notes about a character… I find that really does help my illness and helps me find a bit of energy and joy.’

‘Creativity does energise me.’

‘With chronic illness than can be a lot of feeling bad about yourself, feeling that you’re not adequate enough. You compare yourself to other people who aren’t ill and the word counts that they do…’

‘You can’t compare yourself to someone who doesn’t have the same setbacks as you.’

‘Be honest with everyone. I think we want to hide our chronic illness sometimes, we think people will judge us… Think we’re not capable. But I found when I was honest with my editor and my agent, they were absolutely fine with it.’

 

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes (or whichever podcast app you use) that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast and make 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 #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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The Worried Writer Ep#26 Rachael Lucas ‘I’m horrible when I’m writing!’

My guest today, Rachael Lucas, writes contemporary romantic fiction for Pan Macmillan. Her titles include Coming Up Roses and Wildflower Bay, and her first YA novel, The State of Grace is coming out this month (6 April 2017) from Pan Macmillan Children’s Books. Rachael has also run an award-winning lifestyle blog and worked as a social media consultant.

You can find out more about Rachael and her books at rachaellucas.com or chat to her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

In personal news, my non fiction title for writers Stop Worrying; Start Writing is coming out this month – yay!

It should be available in all the retailers (Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, Nook etc) on April 14th in print and eBook with the audio version following later this year.

Here’s the cover and blurb (drum roll!):

Do you want to write but can’t seem to get started? Are you struggling to finish your novel or frustrated by your slow progress? Perhaps you are starting to worry that you aren’t cut out for the writing life…

Let bestselling novelist and host of the popular Worried Writer podcast, Sarah Painter, show you how to skip past negativity, free-up writing time, cope with self-doubt, and beat procrastination.

Along with mega successful authors such as C.L.Taylor, Mark Edwards, and Julie Cohen, Sarah will show you how to: smash writing blocks to finish stories faster, handle self-doubt so that it doesn’t stop you creating, trick yourself into being more productive, schedule your time, and much more.

Packed with honest, supportive, and hard-won advice, this is your practical guide to getting the work done. Don’t let creative anxiety kill your writing dreams: Stop Worrying and Start Writing today!

‘Inspiring, comforting, warm and wise.’ Keris Stainton, YA author.

 

Hope you like it! 

In the interview:

On writing The State of Grace:

 ‘The story just fell out of my head’

 

On writing retreats:

‘It took me a little while to get into the swing of it.’

‘I realised that I could go there and take off my mummy hat and put on my writing hat’

 

On writing her debut novel:

 ‘I did NaNoWriMo and wrote the majority of the book.’

 

On self-publishing:

‘I was turning forty and I think I just thought ‘if I don’t do this now, I’m never going to do it.’

 

‘I enjoyed the control because it turns out that I’m a bit of a control freak.’

 

On process:

‘I don’t start writing until I can see the entire book like a film in my head.’

 

‘I walk around a lot and I think about it and I sort of let the characters talk to me in my head and then I plot with post-it notes and I plot like a demon.’

 

‘I really like silence, I don’t listen to music.’

 

‘I’m horrible when I’m writing!’

 

‘I do really procrastinate a lot… To the extent that I can almost feel physically sick with dread.’

 

On marketing and social media:

‘It’s as simple and as difficult as ‘just be yourself’.’

 

‘I’m not convinced that Twitter sells books, I think Facebook sells books, I’m interested in Instagram…’

 

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/included in 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 you would like answered on 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 #15: A.J. Waines ‘I love deadlines’

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Alison Waines publishes fiction under the name A.J.Waines and has sold over 150,000 books worldwide. Last year, she topped the UK and Australian Kindle bestseller charts with her number one hit Girl On A Train, and was also awarded the Kindle KDP Top 20 ‘Most Read Author’ in the UK. Alison used to work as a psychotherapist before publishing her dark psychological crime fiction, and she is a hybrid author, straddling both traditional and self-publishing.

For more about Alison head to www.ajwaines.co.uk or find her on Twitter or Facebook.


The Self-Esteem Journal by Alison Waines
I’m giving away a copy of Alison’s non-fiction title, The Self-Esteem Journal, as I think it could be useful for those struggling with creative self-doubt, as well as more general lack of confidence.

To be in with a chance of winning, just leave a comment on this post, or send me an email (sarah (at) worriedwriter.com) with the subject ‘win’.*

In this episode, I give a personal writing update, as well as share the news about In The Light of What We See (it’s been a wonderful first month of publication, with 99 five-star reviews on Amazon, already – whoop!).

I also mention brain.fm which uses AI-generated music to promote focus, relaxation and sleep. Although initially sceptical, I have tried the ‘for focus’ music and it seem to improve my concentration.

I heard about brain.fm via Mark Dawson’s new podcast (which is excellent) – Self Publishing Formula.

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle in a future episode, 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).

 


Alison reveals what it was like when a high-profile thriller was released with a title which is almost-identical to her own (already published) book.

Alison describes her journey into both traditional and independent publishing and her experiences with both:

‘One of the nice things about being hybrid is that for some of the books I have complete control over everything and I really enjoy that.’

 

 

Alison’s writing process:

‘I love deadlines!’

‘Never leave at the end of a chapter or a scene… I always want to put something that just triggers where I am for the next time I am back at my desk.’

On marketing:

‘People should play to their strengths.’

On fear:

‘I always come back to that awful terror of I can’t do this.’

Alison’s Recommendations:


On Writing by Stephen King


Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg


The Artists Way Julia Cameron


Life Choices Life Changes Diana Glouberman

 

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening! 

*Giveaway is open internationally. Ends at midnight (GMT), 25th May 2016.

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Creative Thinking for Beginners

hotairballoons

This post is aimed at the absolute beginner, but it might help if you’ve temporarily lost your creative-mojo, too!

Maybe you want to write but you’re too scared to try because you don’t think of yourself as creative.

Maybe you had some knock-backs or harsh criticism in the past, or perhaps the idea of creativity just feels out of your reach… Something that you’d love to do but just isn’t on the cards.

You need a crash course in creative thinking and the best news is that it won’t cost you a penny (and very little time).

The first thing to say is that you are already a creative person. I can say this with authority because it’s part of what makes us human. (If any toasters are reading this, sorry, but kudos on the literacy skills).

You are a creative person. You have your unique perspective on the world and a well of individual thoughts, responses, interests and emotions. All you have to do is to start noticing and valuing these things and you’ll find that ideas begin to flow.

Creative thinking is about two things – noticing stuff (external observations and your own thoughts) and then putting them together in new and interesting ways. Don’t worry about the ‘new and interesting’ part just yet, just concentrate on noticing.

So, when you see a person walking their dog while furiously typing into their phone and it strikes you as funny, notice yourself noticing it. Expand on the impression a little by thinking about that person and why that text is so important and serious. Imagine describing the person to someone else and pick out a few details which encapsulate the scene.

camera

Imagine your mind is like a camera, taking snapshots. Fix these images in your mind by being very specific on the details. This will help you to recall the impression later on, but will also hone your powers of description.

Play the ‘what if’ game. What if the sky was a different colour? What if cats could talk? What if a modern-day bubonic plague decimated the population? It’s okay if you can’t think of an answer, just practice asking the questions.

This works just as well for more ‘everyday’ scenarios, too. When I’m on a train or restaurant or waiting room, I like to people-watch (sorry people!), but I also like to think through ‘what if’ for scenarios like a fight breaking out or the train derailing. I think about what I’d do (and feel!) in the situation and what the other people around me would do, too.

Which leads me to my final bit of advice for creative thinking:

Embrace boredom. Boredom is your new best friend.

Intentionally leave your paperback at home and put down your smart phone. Go for a walk without audio accompaniment. Engineer small spaces of time in which you don’t have an escape mechanism for your mind and, instead, entertain yourself with the thoughts in your head. This might feel uncomfortable – even scary – to start with, but it will get easier.

I hope this is useful. Do let me know if you’d like more of this kind of post, and please leave your own tips for creative thinking in the comments. Thank you!

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