My guest today is S.K. Nicholls, author of Red Clay and Roses. Her advice on editing (it’s often the small things that get overlooked, that can ruin an entire experience), and research (again, details matter) are absolutely worth taking a look at.
Please join me in welcoming Susan to the Guest Author Program!
If you are interested in participating in the program, you can submit here.
- Tell us your name, and a link to where we can find you (blog, Facebook, etc).
- How many books have you written? This can include both published and unpublished works. Describe each of them in 1-2 sentences apiece (if published, feel free to include the links as well).
I have written one full novel @ 97,000+ words, Red Clay and Roses, and about 20,000 words of one and 56,000 words of another literary work. Neither of my WIPs have titles.
- Tell me a little bit about your current WIP.
I have two WIPs. One is a bit of an autobiography, but the narrative mode point of view is as a character in the first person who is not the author. (I had to do that to protect the innocent and the guilty.) The next is a multiple murder mystery, gay romance, written in the voice of the gay man, which might actually evolve into a drama series.
- What does writing preparation look like for you? Do you do full outlines and character profiles, or do you just start with a general idea and write?
I always start out simply writing. By the time I am on about the third chapter. I have to stop and create outlines and timelines. I find them necessary because I want the work to flow smoothly and for all of the pieces to fit well relative to life events in the history of the characters.
- Editing is a challenge for many writers. Give us some of your tips for editing efficiently and well.
Editing is a challenge for all writers. Even in works I have read by alpha authors who were traditionally published I almost always find some error, no matter how trivial, and it is always glaring. I had my work edited by myself and my husband four times each, two teachers and one college professor, all professional editors. Three full chapters were stripped. Then I edited again twice, by a professional and myself. I published and found that I had used the proper noun “my Dad” where it should have been “my dad” in several places. None of the editing had caught that. I know that it was trivial, but I pulled the entire text and had it edited twice again, then I resubmitted it. A few days ago, I read the entire book with all of the editing completed and found one spot of the same that nobody caught. Of course it is trivial and it is glaring because I am a bit of a perfectionist.
- Research is another challenge writers face, but is an important part of the writing process. What are some of your research tips?
“The devil is in the details.” For example, One could not possibly write with credibility about Florida in 2004 without mentioning at least one of the four Hurricanes that hit us that year. No romance would have any credibility if a song was play in 2010 that did not get released until 2012. Especially when you are writing past tense, details are paramount; the color that was fashionable in ladies wear, a perfume, a car make or model, songs playing on the radio, popular food for a region…it all matters. Since my first work was most historical, I googled everything, checked out books at the library, researched archives from towns and cities, old newspapers, and most significantly talked to people, especially old people. Some of my interviews were actually incorporated into my book through developing characters. Of course, much of what they said still had to be verified and supported through other sources, but it gave me some pretty good leads. Credibility and authenticity depend on research!
- If you have been published (self or traditionally), what type of marketing did you find worked the best for you? What was the least helpful?
Word of mouth is everything to me. Reviews are great. I did not pre-market my work and I would advise any and all to do that! Harry Steinman talks about his various marketing strategies and he has some very good ones that can be read on Ionia Martin’s guest blog series http://readfulthingsblog.com/category/guest-blogs/ I find that giving my bookmarks away like candy and getting people talking about the book leads to more sales than any amount of money spent can. I go to colleges and schools to talk about writing and publishing. With fiction, pitching to Book Discussion Group Members is also helpful, but you must approach them gently. Most draw names out of a hat rather than get books assigned by a mediator. Approaching them individually and casually works best, like over a drink after the meeting. That works well in big cities.
- What genre do you write in? What are some of the challenges to writing this particular genre well?
I am having trouble with this. I am not a genre specific writer yet. I am not certain if I have found my niche. I read all genres. My published work does not neatly fit into a category. The romance in it is brief but most pertinent, so I could not really call it romance novel. Nor does it end with the hero and heroine riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after. It is a true story so it had to end differently. It is Southern Fiction, but not all sellers use that category. It has been placed in Historical Fiction by some sites, which is not a bad thing, except it comes up alongside war stories, alternate histories and historical romances from medieval times.
- What advice would you give to a writer who is starting out? Keep writing! Blog before you publish, but don’t be intimidated. Keep writing! (Did I say that?)
There is so much to learn from fellows in the field of writing and publishing. Research and edit.
- What are your writing, editing, marketing, and research goals for 2013?
Red Clay and Roses will be coming out in paperback soon and I am planning to step up the marketing campaign once this is accomplished. I need to spend less time reading blogs and spend more time actually researching and writing in my WIP. I am; however, most grateful for what I have learned.
- Pretend I am from a publishing house and you are looking for me to take on one of your books. Pitch it to me in 1-2 paragraphs.
Red Clay and Roses is Southern Fiction steeped in history that deeply penetrates the surface of a complex era providing a rich and full bodied reading experience. Set in the Deep South during a period of civil unrest, Red Clay and Roses is a fictional account of a true story. The discovery of an old ledger opens a window into life in a time when woman were supposed to keep quiet and serve, abortion was illegal, adoption difficult, and racism rampant. Mystery, rape, murder, racial tension, drama, and forbidden love meld as the origin of the ledger unfolds.
- Finally, is there anything else you’d like your readers to know?
The WordPress community is awesome!