I’m so grateful to my long-time friend Lesley Cookman for revealing some of the secrets of a bestselling novelist‘s life. Read today’s guest blog to see what you have in common with her, and get a sneak preview of the cover of her next book (which won’t be published for months yet).
Lesley is the author of the Libby Serjeant series of murder mysteries, with the eighteenth recently published – Murder by the barrel. Each new book whizzes to the top of its category on the Amazon bestseller charts, but despite Lesley’s success, the writing life is still not easy. But it is rewarding… Read Lesley’s guest blog here – and do ask questions in the ‘comments’ bit!
You have the blockbusting idea.
You know all the novel-writing techniques.
Your favourite cousin works for a publisher.
You have all the gizmos and apps that a writer could ever want.
Your characters zap, your dialogue zings.
But you can’t get down to writing the actual, chapter-by-chapter, 80,000 word manuscript.
You want to, you yearn to, you’re excited about it… but you can’t find the time. You can’t find the motivation. HOW DO AUTHORS DO IT?
All published writers – authors, journalists, scriptwriters, dramatists – will tell you this unhelpful secret:
“Just apply your bottom to the chair and your fingers to the keyboard.”
Gee, thanks. But they’re right. It’s the only thing to do. So here are 14 ways to trick yourself, persuade yourself, bully yourself, cajole yourself into doing it. Try them all. See which works best, and stick to it.
Commit money to your book: commission a cover illustration or hire an editor.
Go on a weekend writing retreat to get yourself started. After a weekend’s dedicated work in the company of other writers, you’ll be in the flow.
So, tell me – how do you motivate yourself? What gets you to the keyboard and the top of Page 1?
…illustrated children’s book. This is a great insight into some of the challenges and solutions for writers itching to get their story told: a piece by Michael Gallant for the BookBaby blog. Read, then get writing!
My long list of books I’ve loved… These are books from all genres and none, for all ages. It’s not a snob list of books I pretend I’ve read – I have actually read each of these, to the end, at least once. And I think everyone would enjoy most of them, too.
I’ve adapted a list I filched off Facebook, removed some, added some. There’ll be lots I’ve missed off or *shame* forgotten. I’ve stuck to one (max 2) books by any author, even though it pained me to resist temptation.
I invite you to do the same and pass on your list. But before you do, please let me which of these you’ve read (or your top 5 or 10 favourites off the list) and which titles you’d add or delete.
And which of these have you hated? Or tried to read and gave up in boredom or disgust? I junked Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and the Shipping News, for instance. Got bored by the first, and enraged by the second.
This isn’t a contest and there are no right or wrong answers. It’s just fun to see what people read, what they like and what they don’t.
There are two which you might think I’ve chosen just because of their titles. You’ll know when you see them… But genuinely I love these books for much more than the title (although they are little extra bonuses).
Tell me about your books and whether they’ve changed your life in any way. And what are you reading right now?
… wouldn’t drag me to… where or what? These wild horses are in the Carpathian Mountains, but they could be almost anywhere.
There’s a story here. The horses’ story? Told from their viewpoint, maybe? These horses share their space with bears and wolves, and have to survive winter temperatures that fall to -30C and below, with snow up to their bellies. How do they survive? Are they truly wild, or do they have a human protector?
Which is the stallion that leads the herd, and what threats does he face? Is there a younger colt who promises to snatch the leadership from him? Is there a battle for supremacy ahead?
How will the lives of these horses change in the next few months? How will your story unfold…?
Have you had a nightmare like this? Who’s after you? Where is this? Will you wake up, or is it real?
It’s a steep climb up that hill… and what lies waiting in the barn? Who’s going to be ready for the surprise? Can they cope with the resulting events? Who’s going to be the hero (or heroine)? Who’s going to be too scared to move? Where can they run to?