Samantha March tells us what it’s like being a disciplined self published author and running a successful Blog! Take it away Sam (oh, how very Casablanca!!)
A big reason why I started Chick Lit Plus was to help me write a book. Even though I had been interested in writing for years,
I thought I needed a little advantage. Starting a book blog was not only a way for me to turn my hobby into something even bigger, but also a chance to really connect on a new level with readers and fellow writers. I’ve always said starting CLP was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had, and I still firmly stand by that.
With my blog, not only was I able to read more books, but I was able to really dig into my reviewing side, look at different styles of writing and examine character development and debate on certain topics. Has this made me a better writer? I like to think yes. I write one or two reviews a day, in addition to the “Plus” posts about beauty, health, fitness, fashion, and celebrities. And I was able to find a support base––a group of wonderful readers and successful authors that encouraged me every step of the way to keep writing and never give up. My debut novel, Destined to Fail, probably would have never made it to the light if not for the constant encouragement and support I received along the way from the wonderful book community.
But now, Destined to Fail is here. And I suddenly had a harsh wake-up call: I had no time for myself. Not only do I run Chick Lit Plus––which means constantly reading, writing reviews, interviewing authors, hosting guest posts, and the “Plus” articles––but I also am a freelance editor and run CLP Blog Tours. (I coordinate virtual tours for authors looking to gain more publicity.) Among many reasons why I didn’t fully give my all to traditional publishing––I already have so many connections with fellow book bloggers and authors. I figured I would just coordinate a tour for myself, and voila! Marketing. What I didn’t realize when I hit ‘publish’ was that I barely had any free time left to be my own coordinator. Between CLP, CLP Blog Tours, editing, and my full-time job in a hospital, my hours were being sapped up faster than I could handle. How could I fit in time for Samantha March and Destined to Fail?
My solution was better time management. For me, this meant making and sticking to a schedule. I have pieces of each day carved into separate sections: I write in the mornings, I tackle all emails around 5:00, and I prepare my posts for the next day at nine at night. I have a daily, weekly, and monthly to-do list that outlines what needs done. My Outlook calendar is my best friend, and cheerfully color-coordinated. I have folders and binders and planners and a dry erase board that showcases my schedule on it. What I’m trying to say is that organization is vital, and time management is best friend. As I was writing this, I realized that it might sound a little crazy. But really, it isn’t bad, and it’s the only way I could get anything done! My schedule helps keep me on track, my to-do lists don’t let me forget anything, and my multitude of binders and folders help keep my office from looking like a paper factory exploded. Do I follow my schedule to a T? No. Of course things pop up that are unexpected, and I’m not going to pass up a nice date night with the BF because my schedule says I need to be in the office. I know how to work around these occurrences, make time for my writing, my blog, my services, myself, and my social life. It might be hard work, but what’s the fun if it isn’t? I’m so lucky that I have found something I love, am passionate about, and can make happen. It’s been a battle to finally find the balance between work and play, but now that I have, the ticking clock doesn’t sound quite as loud.
Rosemary is a very talented lady.
She’s also a wannabe published novelist, poet, performance poet, mum, lecturer at Open University in Creative Writing, winner of countless writing competitions and all round dreamer!
AND she’s kindly found the time to write a Blog piece about her journey so far… Take it away Rosie….
The Magic Of Writing By Rosemary Dun
I have always believed in magic. When I was a kid I believed in fairies – they lived in our cupboard under the stairs. And I read all the books in the library with witches and magic of any kind. At home, I’d mix up concoctions in jamjars: rose petals, leaves, found bird feathers, searching for frogs and toads to add (don’t worry I didn’t find any). Then I would make up spells and experiment on my little brother. Or I’d invent stories to tell in the playground. I seem to remember there was a serial about Fatty, Thinny, and Middle Size, and their adventures in magical lands. I’d tell my brother stories as he listened, open eyed, in the dark. I’d track animals in the woods, search for birds’ nests, lie on my tummy on the ground for hours watching ants going about their duties in and out of anthills. I kept caterpillars in my pockets, had a jackdaw as a pet, visited local ponds with my net made from a bamboo pole and one of Mum’s stockings, I tried using my powers of telepathy on the fish in the fishpond, (I sorely wanted to be one of The Tomorrow People!), and rode ponies from the local riding school – dreaming of ponies, being in love with ponies, drawing ponies, cantering around the local streets on my imaginary pony called Rumble; setting up jumps on our lawn for show jumping with Rumble. Sometimes I’d just lie on my back on the local golf course, watching the clouds float by, as me and planet Earth hurtled through space. Magic. All magic.
So, stories and writing were just things I was good at, at school. No-one in those days back in the 60s and 70s thought girls from working class homes could be writers. But that sense of magic never left me.
Instead, I left it, (the magic), for a while, and entered the world of science. Became a physio and then a social scientist. Got married, had a baby, and then the world split in two. My little brother – my playmate from all those days so long ago – was in a horrendous motor bike accident and life would never be the same again. But writing found me. I began to write about it. I wrote and wrote and wrote. Before long, I’d written a novel. I’d rediscovered that love, that magic, and it was healing. I began to go to writing groups, sent out stories, was short-listed for the Ian St. James Award with my first ever story. Got an agent who was one of the judges – the wonderful and much missed Maggie Noach. My first novel Long Shadows got as far as an acquisitions board at Hodder. ‘Never mind,’ said Maggie. ‘It’ll get published after you break through with your next one.’ I went to Bath Spa to do the MA, happy to be back in touch with my magic.
And now, some years on, after a long bout of ill health during which I managed to keep writing, (although I sadly didn’t have the strength to write novels but instead concentrated on shorter spurts of poetry), I’m back doing what I love the most. Writing novels. I began to teach creative writing, got myself a gig teaching at the Winchester Conference, where I met the lovely and truly magical Lola Jaye. Lola had not yet secured an agent, but I could tell. I could tell by her sparkle – and yes, by her magical aura – that she would make it. We bonded over teasing Simon Trewin – who’s lovely but did miss the chance to sign either of us on (you hear that Simon?) Just kidding …
So here I am. I now have a new agent – Kate Hordern – and am finishing the first draft of my new novel. I’m living the magic. Walking around with my new batch of imaginary friends, and stories, and conjuring up new spells, out of words words words. I love this quote from Raymond Carver (I’m more than a little in love with Raymond Carver – sadly now no longer with us). He said: “a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing—a sunset or an old shoe—in absolute and simple amazement”. I love that. He might well have replaced my love for ponies!
I hope your 2012 has got off to a great start!
I’m furiously making headway on my new fantasy novel (still untitled) as it now needs a very good ‘going over.’ So, because of this, I don’t have the time to update my blog… But never fear, as promised and as a treat to you, here is the first of my Guest Blogs!! And it’s by Bestselling author Carole Matthews.
Being a Successful Author While Baking Cakes- By Carole Matthews
As I write two books a year, I use up a lot of material. So I try to do lots of varied and interesting things that I can store up for future use in my books -paintballing, ballroom dancing, white water rafting. You get my drift. I once spent a whole year researching opera for Welcome To The Real World and, frankly, if I ever see another one in my lifetime, it will be too soon. For my latest book, Wrapped up in You, we went on safari to the Maasai Mara. Doing two books every year, I use up a lot of research material. So when I had the vague idea that learning to decorate cupcakes might come in useful for a future novel, I never imagined that going along to a cupcake course would rekindle a long-lost interest in baking and turn it into an obsessive hobby.
Yep, that’s correct… I HAVE JUST FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY NEW (UNTITLED) FANTASY NOVEL!
YES, I have been so busy over the last few weeks, sorting out the new website/blog/fantasy novel (ok, a web developer helped me with the website etc!) but I did manage to enjoy my Christmas whilst working everything out and now as I sit here typing this post, we’re into the early hours of 2012!! How time runs!! In no time at all, ‘Being Lara’ will be out and hopefully the book I am currently writing (no name, as of yet) will be taking real shape!!
So the work continues… and as I’ll be a busy bee over the coming months, I have roped in a couple of ‘friends’ to help me keep this blog updated from time to time. Namely the wonderful bestselling authors Carole Matthews, Katy Regan and many more… so stay tuned, or logged or whatever the cyber-version is called!
Okay, so I’m off to bed soon after I finish listening to the Late Great Amy Winehouse – so I bid you good night… But do take a tour around my NEW WEBSITE and I hope you like my new look blog and… the Avatar… her name’s Lola Pagola.
…And I am still in my PJ’s writing…
Yes, my aim is to get LOADS done on my new fantasy novel, over the holidays. Of course I will have Christmas Day and Boxing Day off, but the rest of the time will (hopefully) be devoted to clocking up a certain number of words each day. Of course I don’t type in the evenings, so I’ll still be changing out of the PJ’s and into something more fetching to celebrate at various points during the holidays – but for the most part THIS FIRST DRAFT OF THIS NOVEL WILL BE COMPLETED…
IT WILL BE COMPLETED.
Or at least attempted….
As I was visiting the Big Apple anyway, I thought it a great idea to finally meet my new Editor and Publicist.