As some of you may have heard I took part in Movember 2011 (pics or it didn’t happen…here you go then), and some kind and wonderful writers, from a forum I frequent were generous enough to donate to the cause. After Movember was over I promised these bighearted people that I would reward them all in some way…
…my exact words were:
“You could post a story with a little biography, promote a business (doesn’t have to be writing related), paint a pretty picture of yourself, have a rant discussing how annoying it is when some bugger pushes in front on you at the queue in Starbucks then doesn’t know how to order properly, post an embarrassing picture of a friend after they’ve had a little too much wine…literally anything you want! Maybe this is the time to put up that post you didn’t dare put up on your own site 😛
If you want me to conduct some sort of interview thingy then we can do that…heck if you want me to take a picture of myself dressed as a monkey holding a sign saying “Thanks [name here] for donating to the Movember cause”…then I’ll see what I can do – its not easy to rustle up a monkey costume you know! But I will try. Bear in mind this WILL count as your only post!”
Things went a bit boobs north after Xmas (and before in fact) and I’ve been struggling to get back into the swing of things, writing, blogging, life-ing…the donators have been very patient with me – either that or they’ve forgotten about the whole thing! But I’m glad to announce the promised publicity prizes will now be going ahead! The first person to donate was Carol, an East Midlands writer with a penchant for romantic fiction, and she chose an interview (thank you for not picking a dare, Carol!).
SC: Welcome to stevenchapmanwriter.com, Carol. Tell us a bit about yourself.
CB: I’ve been married to the same man for 27 years, and I have four sons (they include a set of triplets). They’re all fairly tolerant and supportive of my writing- which is fortunate. And in turn I can observe the male mind which is invaluable in creating my characters.
I was writing constantly as a teenager, and even then my stories always ended up with a romance involved so I suppose it was natural that when I went back to writing in 1999 after a long break, the novel I started writing was an historical romance- I have always enjoyed history.
Nearly 11 years ago I joined Nottingham Writers’ Club so I could learn more and make my work publishable, so I’m certainly patient, but in that time my writing has improved and I’ve learnt a great deal from other published club members, and the numerous writers who have given talks at the club and shared their experiences.
Currently I’m using my writing time for a pocket novel set in early 19th century Nottinghamshire, and my Dorset novel, which is a mid-18th century setting.
I also blog about my writing and literature related news at http://carol-bevitt.blogspot.com
*Carol then innocently let slip she was popping out to the NWC Awards Night*
SC: Woah, woah, woah…awards night? You’ve won an award? Explain?!
CB: Nottingham Writers’ Club has always supported and encouraged its members and the competitions the club runs are a big part of that encouragement.
This December I was the winner of the Mary Street Memorial Shield for the Romantic Novelist of the Year, for the synopsis and first three chapters of my Dorset novel, set in the mid 18th century. It was judged by short story writer and Choc-Lit author Sue Moorcroft.
I’d originally intended to submit my novella this year, but it wasn’t ready in time, because I’ve had ongoing problems following an accident earlier this year.
We were short of entries for this year’s competition, so to help out I offered my entry from 2010. It needed a quick tidy up, and my synopsis cutting to fit the maximum wordage.
I didn’t expect to do well, but saw a positive in having some opinions from a good writer- feedback is invaluable, but you have to go with your gut instinct sometimes.
I was amazed to win. But I now have to find a space on my crowded bookshelves for the trophy…
SC: Winning awards, juggling four kids…you must be very organised. What does a typical writing day involve for you?
CB: Now I have to be honest and say I don’t write every day, though I will be doing other writing related stuff.
My multiple birth family includes special needs and that does make demands on everyday life and how much free time there is for ‘actual’ writing. But each year improves, and next year I’m determined to do as much as I can- procrastination will not be allowed.
Meanwhile I research for my future projects, blog and learn as much as I can to improve.
So on the days that I’m writing it goes like this…
- Check e-mails and deal with anything essential.
- First mug of coffee and a piece of pineapple, as I have quick look at the Talkback forum.
- Browse the headline news on a few online newspapers.
- Check my blog- or if it’s a day I post, write my blog and get it posted.
- If it’s my novella, I open up the last chapter I was working on, and my novella log.
- My log is a recent thing. I keep track of each stage- preparation, character notes, outlines and chapters, by noting when I start and when I finish a session, what I’ve done and approximate wordage.
- I need quiet- no TV, radio or anything that intrudes into the ‘zone’.
- I might stop for lunch for ten to fifteen minutes, or eat as I’m working, but otherwise I only stop for a few minutes to get another coffee, or water- just to give my muscles and eyes a break.
- By about 3pm I’m done and I make sure my work is saved on a memory stick, and full pages are printed off, the log updated.
- Another quick look at my e-mails, Talkback and The Bookseller website, and then domestic duties start.
SC: Are there any pieces of published work you’re particularly proud of/that we should check out?
CB: There’s a piece of flash fiction which won the club’s Manuscript of the Year competition in 2007 which was on the web as an audio piece, but is now only available as text on my blog. It’s called Positive Exposure and is 250 words long.
They are very different from my longer work-which are only romance, as these are women who don’t need a hero. They are strong, go-getting types.
SC: Tell us all about your current/next big project?
CB: The last few months I’ve been concentrating on my novella, After the Storm, which I hope will eventually be suitable for the 50,000 My Weekly Pocket Novels. It’s set in 1802 in a fictional Nottinghamshire village.
As with my Dorset novel, my characters are dealing with unresolved issues from their and their families past, and this obviously creates conflicts in the developing romance.
I do have times when I can’t give the intense concentration I need for the historical romance projects, so I’ll go back to short stories- I have one in the final revision stages for sending out. But I’ve yet to succeed with the Womag market.
So often the ideas that I think are short stories are just the beginnings of another potential novel/novella.
For 2012 I will be entering the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition.
SC: You mentioned being a member of writing forums, do you think it’s important for writers to ‘belong’ to a community even though writing is viewed as a solitary activity?
CB: Personally I feel that belonging to a community of writers, whether that’s a forum like Talkback, or a writers group, or even a critique group, is invaluable for not just your writing development, but also the mental and emotional well-being.
Other writers understand how devastating a rejection can be as they’ve been through it themselves, so wallowing in misery is short-lived and resolve to try again encouraged…
Also, we all have different experiences of careers, life and publishing, so you can guarantee that someone will be able to answer a question, or know where’s the best place to find out the answers if you’re having difficulty.
SC: Now an oldie but a toughie…why do you write? How did you start?
CB: I know that that moment when I was seven and finally cracked the reading problem, was the key. I saw the power of words and knew I wanted to write myself. I think that all the reading I did in the following years was the catalyst, inspiring me to create my own stories.
The reason I write now is because I need to for my sanity. I’ve always enjoyed history and characters seem to emerge from insignificant facts or information I see or hear. The plot of my Dorset novel really took off when I overheard a comment that made connections between some characters and random scenes I’d had lurking in my brain for years.
But essentially- once a writer, always a writer.
SC: So for all us non-romance fans, sell it to us…
CB: Hmmm. That’s a tough one.
Current romance novels bear no relation to those produced by Barbara Cartland in the previous century…
You can have the romance set against any genre- mystery/suspense, paranormal, futuristic, contemporary or historical among them. The author needs to do just as much research and gaining of background knowledge for the story to be believable; like a non-romance author does.
Whatever the setting, the romance is about two people with all their quirks, emotions, ambitions and imperfections, finally resolving their issues to be together- with a guaranteed happy ending to make you feel good.
SC: And finally, any advice for aspiring writers?
CB: The obvious one is read, especially books within your chosen genre, but anything you enjoy.
Write, so find a writers’ or critique group that will support and encourage you in developing your writing.
We all have weak spots, be it description or dialogue, so if you know you have a problem area, work at improving it.
And the most important one to remember and keep your enthusiasm: Rejection is part of a writer’s life; you can guarantee that almost every best-selling author’s had their share of rejections earlier in their career, but they kept trying.
SC: Thank you, Carol, for your wonderful answers, suffering my first attempt at an interview, and also waiting months for it to actually go online! Don’t forget to visit Carol’s blog, guys!