The Worried Writer Ep#56: Vanessa Lillie ‘Enjoy The Good Moments’

My guest today is Vanessa Lillie whose debut thriller Little Voices is out this week from Thomas and Mercer.

We talk about dealing with reviews and being read, and how Vanessa transformed from a free-writer to an outliner.

Vanessa has fifteen years of marketing and communications experience and enjoys organising bookish events in Rhode Island, where she lives. She worked as an editor for a publisher, before leaving to concentrate on her own writing.

For more on Vanessa head to vanessalillie.com or find her on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

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WRITING UPDATE

This month I’ve been battling with the third Crow book. I said I was almost done and I thought I was, but the ending keeps moving away from me. This is partly because there are scenes which are in the wrong place (or I’ve realised there is a better, more exciting way to order them) and that takes lots of thought and weaving together and rewriting, and partly because the ending itself got a wee bit more complicated and I needed a few more chapters than I expected. It’s nearly done, though, which is very good news as it’s due out in November!

SPEAKING

Also, I did a talk for the lovely folk at the Borders Writers Forum. If you’re a member of the group and have tuned in today, hello and thank you, again, for having me. It was so much fun and I have great writerly chats with people after the official Q and A had finished.

One thing I wanted to talk about was somebody said that a person in their life had said something about ‘why write?’ because there were enough books in the world and every story had already been done, or something similar.

I realised this was a doubt I dealt with a long time ago and had actually forgotten that I’d once had…

So.

There is nothing new. No new ideas. No new stories. And that doesn’t matter. The execution is what matters and, crucially YOUR VOICE. Nobody else has your POV and so your book most definitely hasn’t been done yet.

Also, who cares? Who gets to say ‘enough books’? Who has that authority? It’s not like writing books hurts anybody. This is not life or death, this is just telling stories. Who on earth has the right to tell you that you’re not allowed to tell your stories?

Also, yes, there are loads of books which have been written in the past and they are valuable and wonderful, but they are products of their time. Books written now are products of this time, this moment in history. That’s important, too.

Finally, and most importantly, think of a book that was just the right book for you at just the right time. Something you loved with a passion, something you fell into at a time you needed to escape. Think about that book and how you felt the first time you read it. It might be one you’ve gone back to many times in your life as a comfort read or one that you only read once, but it transformed your world during the time you spent in it and you are eternally grateful.

Now imagine that the author who wrote that book let self-doubt stop them. They will have felt the same fears, have heard the same arguments, they might have let that stop them and you would never have had the magical experience of reading it.

Now go a step further. There is somebody out there who needs the book that is currently inside you. You don’t know them and they don’t know you, but you are connected by this need. The book inside you is the one story, the one voice, the one moment that will give them that same perfect experience. If you don’t write your book, that reader won’t get to read it when they need it.

It’s a thought which I found massively inspiring and helpful and I hope you do, too.

PUBLISHING

In more practical news, I’m not sure I mentioned it before but I have hired my husband out of his job one day a week and he’s doing lots of stuff to free up my time such as editing the podcast and the transcription of the interview.

This links to my overall business plans, but also to my mission to write as many of the books I have inside me as possible before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Remembering that this is my purpose, my ‘why’, is very motivating, and I highly recommend delegating stuff to other people as soon as you can afford to do so. This could be paying someone to do your cleaning to free up writing time or, if you’re indie and running the publishing business side, delegating operational tasks such as book-keeping.

LISTENER QUESTION

I had a great listener question on Twitter from Joanne Mallory about branding. Thank you!

It has inspired me to dedicate a whole episode to marketing and branding for authors next month.

If you have any questions about writing, process, procrastination or the business side of things such as marketing or publishing options, email me, leave a comment on this post, or find me on Twitter.

 

IN THE INTERVIEW

I’m still trialling the full transcript of the interviews (see below). I want to make the podcast more accessible for those who prefer (or need) to read, rather than listen. I would love to hear what you think! Do you like the full transcript or do you miss the ‘selected highlights’ of the old format?

RECOMMENDED

Vanessa is a reformed free-writer, and she recommends the following books to learn how to outline and structure a novel.

Writing The Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maas

Save The Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

 

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INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

 

The Worried Writer Episode #20: Caroline Green ‘Storytelling Is What Inspires Me’

ww_carolinegreen

 

Caroline Green is an award-winning author of books for young people. Her debut, Dark Ride, won the RONA Young Adult Book of the Year and the Waverton Good Read Award, Hold Your Breath won the Oldham Book Award, and both Hold Your Breath and Cracks have been short-listed for eleven awards between them. Caroline is Writer In Residence at East Barnet School and teaches Writing for Children at City University. She has recently moved genre with a pen name, Cass Green, and a brand new psychological thriller, The Woman Next Door, which is currently storming the Kindle charts.

You can find out more about Caroline and her books at www.carolinegreen.net

Also on Facebook and Twitter: @carolinesgreen or @CassGreenWrites

 

 In the intro I give a quick update on my writing (I finished my latest book – yay!) and recommend Mark McGuinness’s new book, Productivity For Creative People which is currently free on Amazon (or from Mark’s website, Lateral Action).

Mark is poet and a creative coach and he really knows his stuff. You might also like my interview with him in episode 12 of this podcast!

Also, I have completed my first ‘independent’ venture and the audio book of The Language of Spells is out now!

You can listen to a short sample on Audible and, if you sign-up for a 30-day trial, you can get the whole book for free. Here is the book on Audible (UK)Audible (US) and iTunes.

I answer a listener question on the writing advice ‘show don’t tell’ and mention an article I wrote on this subject for Novelicious. Here’s the link.

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!

In the interview:

Caroline on the realities of publishing:

 ‘The year when most of these things were happening and I had national paper reviews and won awards and everything was wonderful, that was the year I actually did my self-employed accounts and cried because I had made no money.’

 

On using a pen name:

‘I think it just helps you to separate the two writing personas…’

On writing:

‘My perfect writing day involves going to The British Library… It feels like more of a commitment and I feel that when I’m there I really have to make the time count.’

‘Storytelling is what inspires me.’

Recommended:
Caroline recommends Into The Woods by John Yorke

Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way

Write Your Novel From The Middle by James Scott Bell

Zoe Marriott’s blog The Zoe-Trope.

The Pomodoro Technique for timed writing sessions.

 

Episode #02 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with Stephanie Burgis

ep2My guest today is Stephanie Burgis, award-winning author of short stories and novels that mix the genres of fantasy and historical.

I’ve know Stephanie online for a couple of years and I’m continually impressed by her productivity. No matter what is going on in her life, she seems to pull amazing word counts out of the bag with an astonishing regularity.

Stephanie is also a generous and supportive member of the writing community, and it was wonderful to get the opportunity to speak to her.

For more information on Stephanie and her books, head to www.stephanieburgis.com or find her on Twitter @stephanieburgis

We talk about the importance of both discipline and kindness in staying productive, and Stephanie gives her top tips for making it through the long slog of a novel.

Recommendations from the podcast:

Stephanie mentions that the Clarion West Workshop was life-changing for her as a writer.

The wonderful short story that made me sob (available free to read on the Daily Science Fiction site): Dancing In The Dark 

I share my recent difficulties with getting back to writing after a short break, and a technique for introducing a little kindness into the way you speak to yourself when struggling with writing (or anything, really!).

I also answer my first listener question (sent in by @evergrowinbrain – thank you!).

He wrote:

‘I do wonder if forcing words out ever becomes good stuff and if you keep tabs on which bits your write ‘under duress’ and which bits were easy. 

Are 500 rubbish words still better than no words at all?

Or do they not count if they aren’t good?’

My experience, for what it’s worth, is that by the time I’ve finished the draft and let it rest, I can’t tell which words came easily and which did not.

I slogged my way through 50,000 words of a book once before deciding that life was too short to spend this amount of effort on something I hated. I put the book in the metaphorical bottom drawer. A year later I read it with surprise and pleasure. There was lots of good stuff in there.

So, to answer your question, I don’t think the quality of the words matter for two reasons. Firstly, you are too close to assess quality at the time; you need to finish the project and let it rest before you know.

Secondly, it’s all practice and you should count all of the words you write. You might end up deleting them, but that’s okay; sometimes it’s necessary to write the wrong words before you get to the right ones. And you should definitely get the credit for the work!

The only thing I would add is that if you are finding every single writing session a horrible slog, then it might be worth considering whether there is something wrong with the big picture. It might be that you’re trying to write a book for the wrong reasons, or that there’s something wrong with your plot or character motivation.

I do hope that answers your question, and thank you again for writing in.

If you have anything to add to my answer – or an alternative opinion – do let me know.

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

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a review on iTunes.

And thank you for listening!