Today I thought I'd ask myself the Top 5 questions I get asked about my writing life.
1. How's your writing going?
This is the question people who know I write but don't really know about the details ask. It's the most common question I get.
It's going fine. I have another book out next month and my last release was okay although I didn't promote it properly. It was a novella and I don't think people really want novellas from me. My January release No Time For Temptation went well and readers are giving it great reviews which makes me happy.
2. When is the next book out?
This is the question from my friends who read and love my books.
Girlfriend, I'm doing my best here. It takes a lot longer to write a book than read a book you know. I'm working really hard here and but you'll have books in April, May, June so don't panic. There will be lots to read. I do really appreciate that you love my books and your support makes me cry all the happy tears.
3. Can I get it in paperback?
Asked by lots of non e-reading friends.
You know I used to do paperbacks and they just don't sell unless you have a book launch or a signing but I have No Time For Temptation in paperback and it will be live on Amazon soon. I'm also ordering duets of the Upper Crust series soon, I promise. Here's an example!
4. How do you write so fast?
This is usually asked by other authors who don't write as quickly as I do.
Firstly, I have had years of practice at being quick at turning work around in my day job where I've basically written all day for a living. Secondly, I'm not bad at time management in general so I'm really good at using 15 minute increments to get stuff done - a Facebook post, some emails, or some behind the scenes activity. Thirdly, I know my best times of day for creativity and it's good to work these out for yourself. (Mine are 10am -12noon , 2-4pm, and 5-6.30pm) If I can get two one hour blocks in these times I can get 2-3,000 words of a draft done. I try and do a minimum of 1,000 words a day. That adds up. Fourthly, by writing every day I can dive straight back in where I left off which saves time and backtracking. Finally, i enjoy writing (editing and promoting not so much) but I do it because I like it and that makes it easier.
There is no correct pace to write at. It depends on a lot of things. I like to release regularly because as an indie romance author that helps me with sales, visibility and the pesky Amazon algorithms. Also I read quickly so I understand that kind of reader who wants to read a series back-to-back. That means I need to write quickly and it's important to me so I make time for it.
Also I don't watch TV hardly at all (except the odd cooking show) . I haven't seen a movie since January 2018 and I don't play sports or have a time consuming hobby. As does meal preparation (we don't eat take-away) and planning on the home front. Oh yes, and my house isn't company ready 95% of the time. You'd be amazed how much time that frees up.
5. How do you come up with your ideas?
Lots of people ask this.
Ideas are not an issue for me. I have books planned out and so many things I'd love to write that I'll never get to. The characters appear before me and then I want to tell their stories. Picking the right stories in the right order is the challenge for me as is deciding what people would like to read. I'll have a plan and then get distracted by shiny new things. Staying focused is the challenge.
If you have any question please feel free to ask me in the comments below.
Where is my tribe?
Social media is an interesting thing - some people love it, some people hate it. I get both points of view but at least for now it isn't going away.
I'm on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn . I find each of these has a place.
I'm not entirely sure I'm using Twitter properly and I'm quite certain I'm not making the most of the other three. It's a little bit like I'm standing in the library and I know the perfect book is inside but no one has taught me how the books are catalogued so I'm wandering around a lot scratching my head. I do find what I need usually but I'm sure there's more that I could utilize if I only knew how.
Facebook however I feel like I get. you all know I have a Facebook author page but that's not what I'm here to talk about today.
Today I'm talking about Facebook Groups and how great they are for writers. There are two sorts of Facebook groups that authors can utilize groups the first is where other writers (and sometimes readers) of your genre or with similar interest gather to support each other and share information. The second are groups where authors can promote their books to readers.
Let's talk about the first and what invaluable resources they are. I'm a member of several groups and the sorts of information and support available varies. What you need will determine what groups are good for you.
For instance I started the #1000wordsaday Facebook group. We have just shy of 250 members whose aim is to write #1000wordsaday. Pretty simple. We start a daily thread and share our numbers and cheer each other on. Writing can be lonely having people who "get you" makes it less so. That's all that group does. And that's enough.
I'm a member of several other groups for romance authors, indie authors, chicklit authors, #NaNoWriMo and they provide a variety of opportunities and information depending on the group but here are some examples:
- People will help you pick your next book cover
- Recommend promotional opportunities
- Put together a short story collection or box set
- Help you write your blurb
- Cross-promote your book
- Run an online party
- BETA read your books
- Help you if you're having issues with uploading a book
- Marketing advice
You get the idea right? Depending on the group, where you are on your journey and what you need to know you can find people to help you. That's pretty cool.
A note of caution - not all groups are created equally and some of the people in some groups can be negative at best and nasty at worst. I don't stay in those groups. I do not engage. So there can be some trial and error but I've met lovely supportive writers from all over the globe this way and the advice I've received is priceless.
The second lot of groups are pretty much groups where readers go to find new release, free and discount books. Again these are not all created equally and some are populated almost entirely with other authors and some are populated with people who like to share porn so choose wisely. They really can help you sell books if you know which ones to choose.
Yesterday I was responding to a blogger about an upcoming promotional opportunity and she wanted a summer themed book. My Upper Crust Series isn't especially seasonal (except Book 6 which isn't out yet) but lots of my stand alone novels are.
It got me to thinking about those books and how I got started writing and well, why I write.
Reasons I don't write (ie thinks that are not motivation for my writing):
- financial success (Despite what you think most writers don't make a living from it)
- fame (For every author's name you know there are thousands you don't)
- recognition (Ah considering at social gatherings even the people who know and love me barely acknowledge my writing we can leave this off the list)
* Disclaimer at various times I have thought my writing might bring me one or more of these things but I no longer believe that.
So why did I start writing and why do I continue?
I wrote as a child and in my twenties but then I stopped. Time, motivation and need were all lacking then. (I'll be honest my twenties rocked. I had a great social life with lots of friends in and out of work and lots of them lived near by me. we had disposable incomes and we ate out, drank like fish and danced until dawn often. Good freaking times!)
In my early thirties I had a child and struggled with the notion I was lucky to get that one and wasn't getting anymore, my husband was away around 50% of the time and most of my friends weren't married or were just married and didn't have kids. I was alone a lot. And I'll be honest with you, I didn't love it.
Then my imagination came back to help me. Writing allowed me to create the sorts of friends I wanted to hang out with every day, the sorts of friends I had but missed. I got to write fund dates, romantic scenarios and parties. I drew on things I knew from my life, the good bits.
My early novels particularly Mr Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire had aspects of my personality in them, and my life. Dog phobia is all me. Living by the beach, that's my life. Meeting a hot guy on a tropical island - hey I did that. My writing was a really good way to draw on my experiences and the better, more fun parts of myself that were kind of taking a back seat to my day-to-day reality.
Yesterday got me thinking about those characters and how much I loved them. I wondered why and realise it is because they represent the best parts of my friends, my life and my twenties. That's probably why Cassie and Jack from Hearts Afire remain among my favourite characters. They made my life less lonely more full and they didn't settle, they were characters who bounced back.
I've always had a vivid imagination and a somewhat quirky world view....drawing on this was a way to connect my past to my future.
My reasons for writing have changed over the years. I'm more pragmatic - although I still crush on lots of my own characters and mainly write characters I could see myself sharing a glass of wine or a plate of nachos with. Now though, my writing is a daily practice and an extension of who I am now rather than who I used to be.
People are often fascinated by writing space. Where does a writer work? How do they work? How is their sacred space laid out?
I'm sure it would be nice to have such a space but above is a small slide-show of a few of the places I've written over the past few weeks. They vary from my dining room table (my regular haunt), to the local library to the beach.
The truth is most writers are just trying to carve out a niche in their family home and da to day life to write. Finding the time to write is a huge issue and finding the space is another.
I know lots of writers with young families who write on laptops in front of the TV pretending to be enamoured by Ben Ten or Pepper Pig or Superman. Some of them have a space but no one will leave them alone long enough for them to use it.
I know people who write wildly o the train as they commute from the outer suburbs to the city. They find a space between the thrumming music of their fellow traveller's headphones, the newspapers and the school students to scribble in their notebook or tap out a few words on their laptop.
I know others who spend their lunchtimes in cafes, libraries and parks trying to keep the story moving forward daily with only forty minutes to spare.
There are writers who share a desk with a teenager and others who have an armchair and a coffee table.
Of course there are many writers with a desk and an office just for them. A constant and regular place to develop good habits (or tear their hair out) and most of them are extremely grateful to have it.
I myself am usually perched on the end of the dining room table which is a total pain when we have visitors and we do that pretty regularly. I load everything in an archive box or my backpack and tuck it away. At the moment we're doing some renovating so my space is dusty and noisy. It's hard to write to the dulcet sounds of an angle grinder.
You will often here people say "I have no time to write" and "I have no space to write" but just like exercise or watching Game of Thrones or following a football team, if it matters to you then you find a way. You sacrifice one thing for another. In the case of writing space often what gets sacrificed is good posture and ergonomics, in the case of time it's one of these other pursuits.
So for the next few weeks as the dust flies and the contents of my kitchen remain scattered around my home I guess I'll have to be creative about my writing space.