The Worried Writer Episode #16: Cesca Major ‘Being rejected is hideous’

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howtofindyourfirsthusbandthe silent hoursMy guest today is Cesca Major. Cesca is a fascinating interviewee as she writes in two genres under different names. Cesca’s debut historical novel, The Silent Hours, was published last year by Corvus, to great acclaim. However, Cesca also writes romantic comedy under the name Rosie Blake. The first Rosie Blake book, How To Get A (Love) Life, was originally published by Novelicious Books and was then picked up by Corvus, as part of a three book deal.

Rosie Blake’s latest novel is How to Find Your (First) Husband – out 2nd June, 2016!

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major
For more about Cesca Major or her alter ego, Rosie Blake, head to: cescamajor.com or rosieblake.co.uk or via

Twitter: @CescaWrites and @RosieBBooks

In the interview:

Writing during the holidays as a teacher and the value of chunks of time:

‘I do hour long chunks and I call them word races.’

 

On the difficulty of writing:

‘It’s hideous sometimes and the first five minutes can be awful…’

 

 ‘The hardest stage I find is that end of the first draft structural edit’.

 

On rejection and the journey to publication:

‘Frankly, being rejected is hideous and you have months at the start where you lost faith that it will ever happen.’

On bad writing days:

‘Don’t beat yourself up too much, have a cream egg.’

Recommendations:

Cesca very kindly recommends my ‘Write Your Novel’ column on Novelicious.

The Bookshop Café FB group: ‘It’s lovely to be part of a group where people are just constantly discussing novels.’

Cesca’s own vlogs on writing and editing on The Writers & Artists site.

The beat sheet described in Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need

The LOCK principle from James Scott Bell’s Write Great Fiction – Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting and Plot That Grips Readers from Start to Finish
On the importance of using primary sources for historical research: Nella Last’s diaries (Housewife, 49 etc)

Also in the show:

I give a small update on my own writing and reveal my plan to get The Language of Spells made into an audiobook!

I’m very excited to dip my toe in hybrid publishing. If all goes well, I will get The Secrets of Ghosts and The Garden Of Magic made, too. I’m using ACX which is a platform which connects people who own audio rights to books such as publishers and authors, with narrators and audiobook production companies.

I first heard about ACX via the wonderful Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn and I’ve also read Simon Whistler’s excellent guide to the subject Audiobooks for Indies.

I will keep you informed on the process as I go along!

Listener Question:

This month’s question comes from Jeanna Kunce (windhillbooks.com).

Do you feel it is important to be a part of any writers/artists associations? Aside from any conferences or networking benefits there may be, do you think you think it makes a difference simply having on your resume/submissions? Would it actually help someone get their foot in the door? Some people seem to feel it’s only your story that will get you published; others seem to feel that having that “badge” helps to make you seem more serious or professional. Thoughts?

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).

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!

The Worried Writer Episode 13: Mel Sherratt ‘You have to face that fear’

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My guest today is bestselling author Mel Sherratt. Mel writes gritty crime dramas and, as her alter ego Marcie Steele, romantic comedies. Since 2012 she has published ten novels and she has sold over half a million books. Mel started out as a self-publishing sensation when she released her first crime thriller, Taunting The Dead, as an indie author. Within six weeks it hit the Kindle top ten and was number one in Police Procedurals. Mel has since released two more books featuring DS Allie Shenton from Taunting The Dead, four books in The Estate Series and a standalone psychological thriller called Watching Over You.


We discuss daily routine, the importance – and difficulty – of staying healthy as a full-time author, and the how perseverance wins the day. It took Mel twelve years before she became an overnight success and I think her story is both reassuring and inspirational.

 

Find out more about Mel and her books at Amazon or melsherratt.co.uk or find her on Twitter @writermels.

In the interview:

Mel on getting help with research for her police procedurals and how she turned her lack of police experience to an advantage by focusing on the point of view of the criminals and victims.

‘On the third one I think I’d realised that yes, maybe I can do this, it’s just storytelling… It isn’t write what you know, it’s write what you can go and find out and make sure it’s good.’

 

On feeling the fear but self-publishing anyway…

‘I put my women’s fiction out as a guinea pig first. So Marcie Steele I kept a secret for three years.’

 

On routine:

‘If I don’t do it first thing in the morning I will be the worst procrastinator.’

 

And fear:

‘You have to face that fear and you have to get up everyday and face that fear.’

‘I think my self doubt will always be there and I think that’s a good thing. It keeps you grounded.’

 

Books recommended:


Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert


Quiet by Susan Cain

Mel also loves to read lots of short ‘how to’ craft books to keep her in the right frame of mind.

Other recommendations:

Mel uses a Fitbit to remind her to move around more often and to help avoid the health problems associated with long periods of sitting still.

Mel and I are both fans of Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn). Check out my interview with Joanna in episode #8.

 

Also in the show, I answer a listener question from Susan Mann (@susankmann on Twitter). 

Susan asked:

‘I’d like to ask how you tackle editing after the first draft. I don’t have a lot of time with work & family life. It’s a daunting task of editing the whole book. Writing bit by bit was easy. But how do you break it down into a re-write that doesn’t seem over whelming?’

I give my answer in the show, but if you have any tips on editing that you would be willing to share, please leave a comment on this post.

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I give an update on my experience trying Headspace (meditation app) and mention (oh so casually!) that my new novel, In The Light of What We See, is out in one month.

Here’s the link to pre-order, just in case you are interested…

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).

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! 

The Worried Writer Episode #10: Miranda Dickinson ‘Remind yourself that it’s fun!’

The Worried Writer Meets Miranda DickinsonMy guest today is Sunday Times bestselling author, Miranda Dickinson. Miranda’s first book, Fairytale of New York, was a massive success and was short-listed for the RNA Novel of the Year award as well as hitting the top ten on the Sunday Times Bestseller list. Over the last six years, Miranda has published another six books, including Welcome To My World and It Started With A Kiss. Her work has been translated into seven languages and has sold almost a million copies.


Miranda’s latest novel is A Parcel For Anna Browne – available now!

(Please note that this and other book links on the site are affiliate links, so I will earn a small commission if you use it to make a purchase. The money goes towards the running costs of podcast.) 

Find out more about Miranda and her books at:

www.miranda-dickinson.com

On Twitter @wurdsmyth (and follow #WriteFoxy for information on Miranda’s inspirational writing days.)

Or watch her vlogs on YouTube

In this interview, Miranda reveals how she combines writing with looking after her daughter, Flo, and offers tips for busy writers.

‘I’m having to learn to be really structured with my time.’

 

We discuss Miranda’s popular ‘Write Foxy’ inspiration days and the importance of having fun.

‘If you’re not in love with your writing you won’t survive as a writer.’

‘You have to remind yourself that it’s fun and that you can do it.’

 

And the incredible way Miranda pulled herself back to writing when suffering a serious creative slump:

‘For the first time ever I wrote for my readers first and not for me… and because they were so excited, I got excited.’

 

Also, I answer a listener question from Helen Redfern @helenredders

How do I learn to write for just ten minutes? I feel if I don’t have a few hours uninterrupted there’s no point in starting & just doing ten minutes-How do I change that?

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).

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!

 

Episode #09 The Worried Writer: Catherine Ryan Howard ‘The More You Do It, The More You Want To Do it’

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distresssignalsCatherine Ryan Howard is a self-publishing superstar with the successful titles Mousetrapped, Backpacked and Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.

Catherine recently landed a two-book deal with Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books. Her debut thriller, Distress Signals, is out on 5th May 2016.

You can find out more about Catherine and her books at catherineryanhoward.com or follow her on Twitter @cathryanhoward or Facebook.

 

 

Episode 9 includes:

Sneak peak of the title of Catherine’s self-help book (not really): ‘Don’t start until it’s already too late!’

‘I’m going to go all in’: The moment Catherine Ryan Howard committed 100% to her writing.

 

Catherine’s insight on success: ‘I have discovered that if you want something bad enough you will get it done… And it will involve actual sacrifice.’

 

And keeping going: ‘The more you do it, the more you want to do it.’

Catherine also reveals her unusual revision technique:

‘I retype the whole thing… I can’t be one of these people who go like surgically goes into the middle of a chapter and does things – I can’t deal with that at all.’

 

Recommended:


Catherine rates Save the Cat by Blake Synder and uses the concept of ‘beats’ to outline her novels.

Also in the show:

NaNoWriMo has started. Good luck if you’re taking part! I am not doing it officially, but I am trying to get as many first draft words done this month as possible.

I mention my recent writing troubles and the article I wrote as a result: The Only Way to Defeat a Bad Writing Day.

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).

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!

 

Episode #06 The Worried Writer: Lani Diane Rich ‘Claim Your Awesome!’

ww_ep6_lani_imageJoin me for an energising chat with New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, podcaster extraordinaire, and inspirational writing teacher, Lani Diane Rich.

Lani writes funny romantic books and, under the pen name Lucy March, magical contemporary fiction. She has eleven books published and runs a creative business helping other writers, Storywonk, with her husband Alastair Stephens.

forloveormoneyFind out more about Lani at www.lanidianerich.com or visit www.storywonk.com

Or, find Lani on Twitter: @LaniDianeRich or @storywonk

Lani’s next book (as Lucy March) is out in December 2015. It’s the third the Nodaway Falls series: For Love or Magic (Nodaway Falls)

Also, I highly recommend the Storywonk podcasts. Head here for the full list!

We discuss:

Lani’s process – she has periods of creation, editing and so on throughout the year, rather than focusing on a weekly or monthly schedule.

Lani writes in three basic phases: Discovery phase (soundtracks, staring out the window, collages etc), drafting phase – where she tries to write 2000 words a day, and revision.

Lani says the revision phase is where: ‘I take all my understanding of story and structure and apply it to the hot mess’.

We talk about how the process can vary from book to book. Lani says:

‘I do what the book asks of me, if I have to get up and write at midnight, I get up to write at midnight.’

Lani talks about the importance of giving yourself permission for a ‘full and rich discovery phase’.

To stay productive and creative over time, Lani suggests writing every day (something small and fun – something which reminds you what you love about writing), and engaging with narrative every day in a way which is enriching and inspiring to you (this can be good television or film, video games, graphic novels, as well as novels).

And don’t miss Lani’s brilliant ‘Claim Your Awesome’ speech!

Recommended:


In the first section of the show, I talk about how useful I’ve found keeping a simple and regular routine. I first heard about this concept (as it applies to creativity) in Murakami’s excellent book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

 

 

TheGardenOfMagicIn other news, I was thrilled to be listed as one of Jodi Gibson’s ‘Five Essential Podcasts for Writers’. Thanks, Jodi!

And, on a personal note, I shouted about my new novella The Garden of Magic, which is out on 14th August 2015, and my super-exciting (to me!) book deal news.

For more details, head to my author site.

 

 

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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

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!

Episode #04 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with thriller author C.L. Taylor

ww_ep4_imageIn this episode I chat with Cally Taylor about hopping genre, developing craft through short stories, getting the writing bug, and typing while walking on a treadmill.

Cally Taylor wrote two sparkling romantic comedies, Heaven Can Wait and Home For Christmas, before turning to dark psychological suspense under the name C.L. Taylor. The first of these, The Accident, was hugely successful, shooting up the Kindle charts and selling over 150,000 copies in the UK alone. Last year, Home For Christmas was made into a film by JumpStart Productions and, since this interview was recorded, Cally’s second thriller, The Lie, has shot up the bestseller charts.

For more on Cally and her books, visit her website CLTaylorauthor.com or follow her on Twitter @callytaylor

Books recommended by Cally:

Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke

The Story Book: A Writer’s Guide to Story Development, Principles, Problem-solving and Marketing by David Baboulene

Cally mentions the importance of taking ‘artist dates’ as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Also, I mention that my debut novel, The Language of Spells is now available in paperback (meep!)


and I recommend a book I’ve been enjoying this week: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

 

Listener question:

This episode’s listener question comes from Maggie Jones – thanks, Maggie!

‘How ‘sucky’ can a book be when you send it in?!’

‘This question is definitely something I struggle with as I have very little confidence in my own work and never feel that something is good enough or even safely passed the ‘it sucks’ stage.

And therein lies the problem. We are probably not the best people to judge the suckiness or otherwise of our work.

Also, it’s worth remembering that ‘sucky’ is a subjective term. I think it might have been Jenny Crusie who said ‘your book is not a $100 bill, not everyone is going to like it’ and that is so true.

There may be published books that you don’t like, that other people love.

So, a book’s merit is a subjective thing. There is no opposite to ‘sucky’ which is ‘perfect’, only opinion on what is good or bad or fun to read or boring.

Once you’ve accepted that there isn’t an ideal you can achieve before sending your work out, you only have to ensure that it’s as good as you can make it.

Whether you’re sending your book to an agent, an editor or hitting ‘publish’ yourself to put it into the Amazon store, there are steps you can take to make sure that it’s ready.

Things like finishing it first, and rewriting it as much as you can stand to get it into the best possible shape. You can also get perspective through feedback from critique partners or by letting it rest before you edit for a final time. Four to six weeks is a good amount of time to leave it, so that when you come back to it you can see it anew. When I do this, I find I can detach my writer self from the reader, and I often find there are plenty of things I like – and have forgotten writing. It’s like magic. It also makes the dull or awkward or confusing parts glaringly obvious.

I hope that helps, Maggie. Thanks again for the great question.’

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. It would really help me!

Thank you for listening!