RACHAEL LUCAS!!!! I’m SO excited to have Rachael on my blog today. I’ve been a fan and followed Rachael’s story (stalked) for a while now. Rachael isn’t just a great writer (her latest book Wildflower Bay – Part 1 is OUT NOW, and on my kindle for my next read) but she’s a great person. Well, either that, or every time a message from me pops up on her phone she pours herself a gin. Either way, over to Rachael and her post about procrastination.
I was going to sit down and write something helpful like FIVE WAYS TO FIND THE TIME TO WRITE or HOW TO JUGGLE FOUR CHILDREN AND WRITING or something like that.
You know the sort of thing – the ones you read and think ooh, I’m definitely going to take those hints on board, and next time I sit down to write I’m going to be super efficient and organised.
The thing is – it would be a lie. I’m appallingly bad at finding the time to write. Very good at finding the time to stand at the kitchen worktop burning dinner and tweeting. Excellent at sitting in Costa reading a magazine and looking out of the window. And yet the books get written, somehow. A post on HOW TO HIT DEADLINES WHILST PROCRASTINATING WILDLY doesn’t sound quite so appealing, mind you.
But I’ve learned that procrastinating wildly is actually part of the process for me. This morning when I was supposed to be writing this (and about fifteen other things, and doing a million other publication day related activities) I decided instead to drive across the countryside to go and try on riding hats. (There is a logical reason for that. As a random displacement activity it would have been a bit odd, even by my standards.)
As I was driving along listening to dodgy songs from the 90s a snippet of thought from the character I’m trying to write floated into my head and lodged itself there, waiting in an obliging manner until I could stop and scribble it down. And as if by magic, whilst faffing, I have the beginnings of the prologue for book five – proof that procrastination can actually be useful writing time.
I spend ages floating around, scribbling bits of ideas down in notepads which I then lose. I type character sketches into my phone. I drive early to school and sit in the best car park space (the one where you can see them come out so you don’t have to stand freezing your arse off in the middle of winter) and watch people and think. It all looks like I’m doing nothing, but that’s where the stories come alive.
If you’re thinking this is basically an extended justification for wasting time online, avoiding boring housework, and spending a fortune in coffee shops, you’d be right. The good thing about it? By the time I’ve done all that, the deadline is usually looming, and that gives me The Fear (I suspect because I’m always convinced someone’s going to come along and tell me I’ve been found out, and I’ll have to go and get a proper job). So the work gets done. And then I write blog posts which end up being HOW TO HIT DEADLINES WHILST PROCRASTINATING WILDLY – because it’s the only thing I can talk about with any authority.
(Well, that, and what’s happening on Twitter.)
My new book Wildflower Bay is published by Pan Macmillan. It’s released as an exclusive three part ebook serial starting today, and will be available in the shops in paperback on 11th August.
When I met Christie in January I was a little bit starstruck. Not only is she lovely in real life, but her books are hilarious, heartwarming, and just… well… fab. So when she agreed to write a post for #WriteThinking I was thrilled, then when I read the post, I was even more thrilled. It’s heart warming and motivating, just like her. So without further ado…
Sometimes I wake up in the morning, open my eyes and think, ‘Is this real?’
But then I hear one of the kids shout, ‘Where’s my uniform, mum? Mum, can you check my spellings? Has someone let the dog out?’
Okay, my four kids, my mad cocker-spaniel Woody, the chickens, the horses and even my husband can jolt me back to reality pretty quickly but at the end of the day, it’s these characters in my real-life that got me writing in the first place.
One day, after I’d turned 40, my children were asking me what did I want to do? I found myself answering, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book.’ I had spent years dedicating my life to being a full-time mum, and piano teacher, but now the kids were getting older, there perhaps was something more I could do for me. After making this bold statement, I thought I better try and see it through – and show my kids that you CAN achieve anything you set your mind to.
What to write about came to me pretty easily, as I was always fascinated with the dynamics around the primary school gates with mothers and playground politics. Of course all my writing was fiction with a huge heaping of one-liners. After self-publishing A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, I was amazed to see it rocketing up the Amazon charts reaching no 1 in its category and no 11 for Kindle downloads. The reviews were amazing, calling it ‘witty’ and ‘laugh-out-loud funny’. Before I knew it, my wacky village characters were appearing on the page in a sequel, TheMisadventures of a Playground Mother.
This is when my life really took a parallel course with reality. One morning after the school run, I came home to find an email from literary agent Madeleine Milburn – I had just finished writing Misadventures, intending to self-publish again, when Ping! I not only had an agent but within a few weeks, I had a publishing deal with the fabulous Bookouture.
My third novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream has just been released. It introduces a new set of characters centred around love and genuine friendship, with a few chickens added in to the mix. And, I’m working on a completely different novel that’s due to come out in September.
It’s been an amazing experience – especially since signing with my agent and Bookouture. I’m attending events and meeting many authors whom I’ve admired for years. Through my social media presence I was approached by the Zuri Project, a charity that supports development and community well-being in Uganda, working with UK celebrities to make a difference.
But, I have to say, my kids keep me grounded! I had an opportunity to take my two youngest to meet David Walliams at a book signing in Birmingham recently. I joked to them that I might tell David I kept him off the top spot for a few days. Their reply, ‘Mum, you can’t steal his thunder, this is his day, let him enjoy it!’ Okay kids, you’re right – but I still took the opportunity to take a photo of my book next to his in a Waterstones’ bookshop!
Now I’m about to pop my head on the pillow after a crazy day of writing and responding to reviews on Kitty and I think to myself, ‘Is this real?’
Luckily for me, the answer is yes.
You can buy Christie’s latest book Kitty’s Countryside Dreamhere and follow her on Twitter here and Facebook here.
SORRY! Life has got in the way, and I haven’t had chance to get near my blog, or if I have, I’ve been easily distracted. This week we have the fantastic Catherine Hokin writing a guest post. Catherine is a Glasgow-based author whose fascination with the medieval period began during a History degree which included studies into witchcraft, women and the role of political propaganda. This kick-started an interest in hidden female voices which resulted in her debut novel, Blood and Roses.
BAMBI GOES TO AUTHORLAND
Do you remember that scene in Bambi when our eponymous little hero first steps out into the snow with that wide-eyed grin and confident bounce? Yes he falls through the snow and gets buried a couple of times by piles of the wet stuff dropping on his head but he gives himself a little shake and skips merrily on unbowed and then he lands on the ice…
Bambi, dear reader, is a newbie author.
One day a professional, competent person who understood the world and its tribal languages and could even (sometimes) get its teenage kids to do what was needed, the next a wide-eyed ingénue staring at a message that isn’t the expected rejection but contains the magic word yes glittering at its centre.
It’s a wonderful feeling which I hope all authors will get to share at some point in their career but it is also the gateway to a world that can feel like Wonderland crossed with The Hunger Games. So here’s some things I learnt on the road to the publication of Blood and Roses and beyond:
Your publisher wants your book – they may not want you with your crazy questions about sales and marketing and covers and launches and…Watch how the UN works and learn diplomatic skills. Quick.
Define words carefully: my publisher told me I would have cover input but not control. Beware that phrase. My book is about the Wars of the Roses, more specifically a feminist revision of Margaret of Anjou. There is a lot of blood and no romance; it is not a ‘bodice-ripper’. I said that a lot, yet the ‘holding cover’ which appeared on the publisher site looked like a soft-focus gardening catalogue. Teeth were gnashed. We discussed crowns, we discussed blood (a drop, not a crime-scene), we discussed colours (black, red, gold). We agreed it wouldn’t be girly. At all. Timescales came, timescales went, then, with 24 hours to go before the wholesale catalogue needed the completed artwork, the cover came…It was pink, the palest pink, with pastel blue flowery blood bursts and a wishy-washy watermark of Margaret. Toys flew out of the pram like nuclear missiles. The UN were called.
Throw yourself on the mercy of other authors – they will explain things like hashtag days and blog tours, they will share their own war stories, they remember your pain and their scars have healed…almost. There are lots of communities out there so pitch in.
Promise your family a dedication in the book – you are about to ignore them for months and have melt-downs they were never allowed (teenagers have long memories). They will forgive all this on launch day when people point to their names on the inside front page. Also lie and tell them you sold the film rights and they’re going to be in it…
Enjoy every mad moment and celebrate every little success (there’s a reason authors and alcoholics are often mistaken for each other) – why? Because you did it…you’re an author.
This is the best rollercoaster you will ever ride: when you finally get to the end, you will be sat in a bookshop, signing copies of your book, surrounded by people applauding your achievement. You will be in Authorland and, trust me, you’ll be itching to get back on the ice as soon as book one is done.