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.
Can you even believe it is July? No really, can you? I just can't.
I used to believe that old adage "time flies when you're having fun" but this year has been boring at best and craptastic at worst for me - depending on the day, and I still can't believe it's half-done. So I guess time waits for no man or woman to get herself together and start moving forward. Good to know.
It's summer of course where many of my readers are but it is winter here in Sydney and I am just not a winter girl. I like my sun shining, my breezes warm and my toes not frozen thanks very much. I'm lucky I don't live in Norway or Wisconsin because I for sure would suffer from seasonal depression and I really feel for those people who have to endure long, dark winters.
Really here in Australia we are very lucky that our climate is so mild. On the other hand where I live half the people don't have decent heating and most of the cafe's are designed as if the temperature was never below about seventy-five degrees or the mid-twenties in celsius so venturing outside can be chilly.
Still this is good writing weather.
I am about to send book 5 in the Upper Crust Series off to the editor. I'm a bit behind but it's coming and Book 6 is rady to go behind it. I also have a Christmas novella ready to be edited and I have a story going in a New Year's multi-author box set so there will be a few new releases from me in the latter part of the year. Oh and I have a Valentine's novella ready to go too.
A few people have said The Upper Crust Series needs a seventh book to tie up all the loose ends so I better get working on that as well.
Meanwhile I have started a new series I'm really excited about and I hope my readers will be too. I'm writing the first two books simultaneously (I do like a challenge) and I'm going to be pitching it to a few traditional publishers and if they're not keen that series will start releasing in 2017.
I always feel like I'm marking time but I guess maybe I'm zig-zagging rather than running on the spot.
And if you do like my Upper Crust Series all the books are on sale now so....pop over to Amazon and grab yourself copies while they're a bargain. Author.to/MoniqueMcDonell
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.
Put one foot in front of the other.
Once upon a time there was a writer who was lucky enough to make some lovely friends. She joined some writing groups and organisations and met lovely writers from around Sydney, across Australia and even around the world.
One day she took a plane to the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Freemantle. She shared the journey with one of the lovely girls in her writing group. When they went to get dressed for a pirate themed cocktail party that evening, the writer realised she had brought with her two flat black shoes that didn't match; a left shoe from one pair and the right from another. She had a decision to make.
Would she walk with a tilt all weekend or get new shoes.
She really didn't want new shoes but she went to the Freemantle Markets and a nice lady there sold her some super soft ballet flats made from goat leather (Yes goat, sorry vegans). And she walked without a tilt all weekend (at least before the cocktails) and for the next two and a half years every time she wore those shoes she thought of the conference and her writing friends and what joy that brought to her life..
Then on a sunny December morning she headed into the city for her end of year writer's lunch. She realised she had been in this writing group for ten years now and it was with love in a heart and a spring in her step that she slid the shoes on, her writing shoes and headed out.
It was a beautiful lunch with gorgeous friends that turned into cocktails beside sparkling Sydney Harbour.
And then the heavens cracked with lightening and thunder and the last remaining writers ran through a storm to get to the station and our writer and her shoes were soaked. Each shoe contained a small lake at the ball and when she walked she could feel it wash over her toes.
"How delightful!" She said. feeling anything but delighted by this turn of events as they laughed their way to the train.
And when she climbed into the car, where her delightful husband was waiting, she knew for certain her writing shoes would never recover and she sighed. And for a brief moment she was sad.
Then she reminded herself better to have good memories and a story but no shoes, than perfect shoes, no new memories and no story .
I've been at this writing game a while now and I've managed to get a book or two published. In order to do that you have to learn a few lessons along the way, even if you're a really slow learner you publish eight books and you will learn a thing or two.
(Some of the things you learn are more about yourself and your temperament than anything else, maybe those are the hardest lessons of all.)
As a result of hanging in there so long people do sometimes ask for my advice on all manner of things from how I structure my time, how do I get my ideas, how do I manage my social media...lots of different things about the writing life...and I try and give practical answers.
There's a lot of aery fairy information out there that isn't super helpful. Telling someone to find their muse for example, what does that even mean? And where should they look for her? And when they find her, then what, do you offer her a warm beverage?
I try to give people more practical advice for while I have the soul of a fairy godmother and would love everyone to be able to make three wishes and have them come true, in life I'm a fairly practical soul. My advice is practical usually and actionable.
People often respond with "Oh that's such a great idea!" so I figure some of what I tell them is useful.
I woke up this morning with a lot of things to do and realised that I probably haven't been taking my own advice all that much in the latter half of October. Now I'm in a pickle I could have avoided. Don't you HATE that? I know what to do.
Here's an example. When people ask what is the most important thing about social media I always tell them, be consistent. Yet have I written a blog post in the last 10 days? No. My blog posts load across the social media platforms so I get many bites at the cherry for one task...I explain this to people several times a week...yet I have ignored my own advice.
I've had two books on promotion this week. Did I send a mail out to my subscribers? No I did not.
You get the idea. I know this stuff, I tell other people to do it and I haven't done it.
There a couple of reasons - well maybe lame excuses for this - one being I always forget that I feel a bit flat the week of so after I launch a book...the truth is unless your book goes gang-busters this is pretty common. It's a huge deal to write a book, get it edited and formatted and published. Doesn't matter if you're traditionally published or indie - that's a whole lot of work. The number of people who tell you how happy for you is high, the number who buy your book or leave you a review is way lower and that always stings a little. It can take a few days to shake that off.
The real reason I haven't done all the things I meant to was I didn't have an up to date to-do list. And there's no excuse for that. The truth is without a list stuff gets forgotten or shoved aside and things just don't happen. I know this. I've essentially worked alone running a small business for fifteen years. It's not rocket science.
There are lots of great programs and apps you can do all this organisation on but I like the feeling of crossing that line of chicken scrawl off in my notebook. (I do use the apps as well).
So here's my advice...follow your own advice, sometimes that's the best advice of all.
And as part of my blog tour for Any Way You Slice It - I'm running a competition to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Please enter below.
To be a writer you need to write.
I haven't been much of a blogger lately and my social media engagement had been down as well, I suspect.
Sometimes I really fret about that stuff - you can't sell books without an online presence if your books are sold almost exclusively online. You lose visibility and people forget about you, or so everyone says.
On the other hand you can't sell books if you don't write. Without that stage you have nothing to sell. That's a fact.
For the last couple of weeks I've chosen to focus on the writing and not get quite so distracted by the business and promotion side. Who knows if that's a good strategy or not but I do feel more energetic, more engaged with my characters and more enthusiastic about writing so those are all positives.
Any Way You Fight It, Book 3 in The Upper Crust Series is off at the editor now and will have an October release. Any Way You Plan It, Book 4 in the series is with the BETA readers now and Books 5 and 6 are ready for reading too. And I have a Christmas and a Summer/Valentine's novella ready for readers as well.
I guess that means I need to take a little break from the writing and get back to the promotion and other aspects of the writing business because that's what it is, a business. I already run another small business so I guess this makes me a entrepreneur, with two businesses on the go.
Like any business this one has goals - I want to get those four Upper Crust and two novellas published by January, I want to get better at organising my promos and newsletter, I have sales goals and marketing goals and now all I need to do is maintain momentum. Yeah, that's the hard part.
This song came me into my head yesterday for some inexplicable reason...and it reminded me of Marissa and Mike in
Any Way You Plan It...so here we go an old Australian '80s classic by Jenny Morris for Musical Monday.
It's Monday and frankly I am exhausted. That's not a great way to start the week but I am tired for a good reason. I spent from Thursday to Sunday at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. I really love the conference. I find it overwhelming, exhilarating, exhausting and inspiring.
Musical Monday today is an old school choice. The conference has a great after party where we dance the night away and so for all those writing queens and goddesses I have chosen this classic.
7/28/2014 1 Comment
Today's guest blogger is Jennifer Gilby Roberts whose novel After Wimbledon features in the Have Chick Lit, Will Travel. Read about what inspired her and then read the book.
The Inspiration Behind After Wimbledon
Naturally, for a novel by an English writer about the Wimbledon tennis tournament, After Wimbledon was born in Australia. For the tennis fans: it is the Laura Robson of chick lit novels.
I was taking some time out after finishing my degree. Having fried my brain by studying physics, a light-hearted romance was all I was good for. I arrived in Melbourne halfway through the Australian Open and spent most of the next week hanging out in Fed Square watching the action on their big screen. That was fabulous because it was right in the middle of the city and anyone could just wander down. I even sat in the Rod Laver Arena (the equivalent of Centre Court) for one day. Since I was travelling alone, I managed to grab an odd seat right in the front row. I heard Roger Federer swear, that's how close I was.
At the same time, I was struggling with a decision. I'd been dating someone for a couple of years before I went away and had left him back home. In a twist on the classic tale, he was sure we were for keeps and I was uncertain. I was only 23 when we started dating and wasn't expecting to get serious. Marriage was something for my thirties, if it happened at all. One morning, in a shower stall at the hostel, I broke it off over the phone. It was Australia Day, but the fireworks seemed rather out-of-place.
A few weeks later, I decided it was time to write another novel. My first, The Dr Pepper Prophecies, had been completed five years earlier. Suddenly, I had something to write about again: tennis and major life confusion. And out of those things After Wimbledon was born. The first draft contained much angst. I reckon I cut out about 30,000 words to get to the final version. I'm just counting that bit as therapy. It's a much better read without it!
And the boyfriend I mentioned? Reader, I married him. Only happy endings here...
After 12 years on the pro. tennis tour and four years with her sort-of boyfriend, Lucy Bennett has had enough. She wants real life... and real love.
Her life, her decision. Right? Well, no one else seems to think so. With opinions on all sides, Lucy's head is spinning. And she's stumbling right into the arms of long-term crush and fellow player Sam. Shame her boyfriend - his arch-rival - would sooner smash a racquet over their heads than agree to a simple change of partners.
As the Wimbledon Championships play out, Lucy fights for her life on and off the courts. The question is: what will she be left with after Wimbledon?
After Wimbledon is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, other Amazon sites, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks and most other ebook stores.
Where to find Jennifer
Find Jennifer Gilby Roberts on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LibraryThing and Wattpad.
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.
Sometimes I think my efforts to keep my blog interesting and on topic leave it not that interesting at all.
I thought I'd introduce a new "Thoughts on Thursday " feature so I can ramble a little more freely on less bookish topics.
Of course the first thing I'm going to tell you completely flies in the face of that because it's about a writing workshop I went to yesterday. It was given by the wonderful Australian author Kate Forsythe. It was two hours of her discussing plot and character, pace and structure and I found it very inspiring.
As I often do I came home all enthused to be a better writer. I mean this in the sense of better of the craft but mainly better at the job of writing. When I see how methodical, how systematic, how stinking disciplined some people are it puts me to shame.
I'm not really a competitive person in the pure sense - I don't think in terms of winning and losing (probably why I'm not a business wunderkind ), I don't look at someone else succeeding and think I must have failed and I don't even get envious much these days of other people's success - but I do often say to myself "For goodness sake if they can do that, then surely I can."
In the case of a writer who sets them self a neat routine and sticks to it I often think "Well if she can do it, why can't I?"
I got up and hit my desk today fuelled by a positive attitude and that can do feeling and then the page stared back at me and nothing came. It was one of the worst days I've had in a long time.
What can you do? Keep trying I guess. Get up tomorrow and do better. I attended the workshop with friends from my writing group and I text one friend who said her day was just like mine. She tried and did not get her word count up either. It didn't make me feel any better to hear that - I always wish my friends success.
In other unrelated news it is now Autumn and I am really not a fan. I like sunshine and beaches and balmy nights. I dislike Autumn because it's a prelude to Winter which I detest. My husband loves Autumn - "Great for fishing and the water temperature is still warm." Then again he fished through a cyclone when we were in Queensland earlier this year so his credibility is shot.
I might need to download some books set in the tropics to warm me up over the next few months.
I'm also pondering my writing future (as I often am) this week. What direction should I take, where should I focus my energy and does anybody but me really care? (I know the answer to that last bit by the way, no need to respond). Maybe that's the problem with both the character in my book and myself - too much thinking and not enough doing.