Off the Page: Claire Boston

I’ve always been interested in learning how other writers work and what they do when they aren’t focusing on what’s happening on the page of their latest novel. Today it’s my pleasure to introduce Claire Boston, who is celebrating the release of All That Sparkles, the second contemporary romance in her Texan Quartet series.

 

Thank you, Teena for having me on your blog. I must admit I’m always curious to see how other writers set up their work space and what process they go through to get a finished product, so I’m happy to share as well!

OfficeI have my own writing room. I commandeered a spare room a few years ago and set it up as my own space. Let me take you through it.

My desk wraps around in an ‘L’ shape so I can type or write as necessary. I have a lovely view out of the window of the garden and when I’m stuck for words I can look at all of the birds flitting about in the bird bath.

You’ll notice I have two screens: I use the big screen for my writing, and the little screen usually has my writer’s bible on it so I can quickly cross-check facts like eye-colour when needed.

On the wall I have lots of paper, including; my calendar with inspirational writing quotes (you can download a copy from my website under the Freebies section), my business goals for the year and also for the quarter, as well as my business plan and my writing schedule. The red notebook in front of the monitor is for my weekly goals.

So you may be able to tell that I’m an organised person. I find writing down all the things I need to do and then breaking them into bite-sized chunks, makes it so much easier to achieve them. It also stops me from stressing about all of the things I have to do – trust me you do not want to see me stressed!

The funny thing about this is, when it comes to my writing I’m a pantser not a plotter. I can’t imagine sitting down and working out each scene before I write it. I do try a little; I’ll usually have a rough idea of the first few chapters which I’ll jot down before I forget, but then I’ll start writing and see where the story takes me.

writersbibleI have a writer’s bible where I write all the relevant bits about the story down, so I don’t forget. I use Microsoft’s OneNote to do this. If you haven’t used it before, I recommend checking it out. It comes as part of the standard Microsoft Office suite but most people don’t know what it is. Basically it’s like one of those spiral bound notebooks with dividers in it – but it’s digital. In my writer’s bible I have a tab/divider for character, plot, setting, research, blurb and anything else the story requires. Then each tab is divided by pages, for example each main character has their own page and then a secondary character may have a page. I also keep a page for minor characters who have only a small role or may be names that are mentioned but never appear in the book (like a brother or sister). This allows me to keep all the information in a single file so I don’t have to open multiple documents when I’m in the middle of writing.

So that’s a little glimpse into my writing world. When I’m not writing you can find me in the garden trying to tame the weeds and grow vegetables or else I’ll be swinging on a sidecar.

motorbikesThat’s me on the right hand side, hanging on for dear life! My husband is the one with the throttle. A lot of people ask me how I came to be a sidecar passenger (or swinger as they’re known). Well it was a large part of ignorance on my part! My husband has been riding vintage motocross for many years and then at the end of the season one year, his regular passenger couldn’t make it for the last three events. As it turns out, passengers are hard to come by, because most people have more sense than to try it! Not knowing any of this I said I’d fill in for him so he didn’t miss out. Let me tell you it’s a lot harder than it looks! The passenger is the person who makes the sidecar turn and has to lean out to the left if there’s a left turn or lean out to the right if it’s a right turn. That makes a lot of moving about and it’s exhausting. But it’s also a lot of fun when it’s not downright terrifying! One day all my experiences are going to go into a novel!

You can find Claire online at:

www.claireboston.com

www.facebook.com/clairebostonauthor

www.twitter.com/clairebauthor

Pre-order All That Sparkles here http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/all-that-sparkles-the-texan-quartet/

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Meet the Author: Satima Flavell

SATIMA’S TOP WRITING TIP: Don’t rush the process. It’s a great temptation for writers these days to write a book in three to six months and immediately self-publish it on Amazon. Take your time, go to classes, join groups, and only put the book out when people more experienced than you are think it’s ready to publish. And don’t expect to make a living out of writing. Very few people do. Most writers either have day jobs or well-paid, understanding partners who are willing to carry the financial burden on their own.

Satima mug shotSatima Flavell (also known as Carol Flavell Neist) is a writer, editor and reviewer. Her first poem appeared on the children’s page of what was then The Manchester Guardian when she was seven, and she continued to earn pocket money through writing until teenage interests took over. After training and working in the performing arts, she began reviewing dance performances in the 1980s, and this rapidly expanded to writing reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Music Maker, Dance Australia and many other journals. However, her favourite reading matter has long been fantasy, and her first novel, The Dagger of Dresnia, was recently published by Victoria’s Satalyte Publishing. Her website is at http://www.satimaflavell.com and you can find her under the same nom de plume on Blogger and Facebook.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Because there are stories in my head that want to get out!

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Teaching dance. Despite my advancing years, I still attend dance and fitness classes and teach theatrical dance. Dance makes a nice contrast to writing.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Publishers. It’s a crazy world, publishing. You have to get your story onto the desk of an editor at a publishing house that just happens, on that particular day, to be looking for the kind of story you’ve written. The chances are probably about the same as winning a major Lotto prize. No wonder self-publishing has become so popular.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The flexible hours and the sheer fun of getting stories down on paper.

—the worst? Being stuck on characters and/or plot. This is where supportive writerly friends are so useful because sometimes they might make suggestions that can trigger new ideas.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Probably not very much, because what I did worked for me. I started out by joining several writing groups, both face-to-face and on line. I really recommend the Online Writers Workshop (http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com). I learnt a great deal from exchanging crits with other writers there. I really believe a writer learns more from critiquing than being critiqued. I also went to workshops at the various writers centres in my city (Perth, Western Australia) and joined classes offered by numerous editors and authors. Every one of them taught me something new. It took me 10 years to get published and this is not unusual, so I’d encourage new writers to accept that there is no quick and easy path to publication. Some people are luckier than I was, but 10 years is not at all unusual for a writer’s apprenticeship.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? The fact that out of every thousand books that are submitted to the big publishing companies, only a couple are likely to be bought. With that knowledge I think I would probably have not bothered sending my MSS to the big houses: I would have gone to small press or self-publishing straight away. The big houses often take weeks or months to respond and sometimes they don’t respond at all.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Make sure you make time for your inner life. Regular exercise (I practise dance and yoga), meditation and reading are more important to writers than lots of socialising. But don’t neglect family and social life, either. Balance in all things is a healthy goal.

perf6.000x9.000.inddThe Dagger of Dresnia

Satima Flavell

The newly widowed Queen Ellyria just wants her sick triplet sons to live, each ruling over a third of the kingdom as their dying father decreed. When she finds herself trapped in a deadly bargain with a dark spirit, she recruits a band of young mages to help – but a terrible curse takes over.

The Dark Spirit befriends her enemies and seduces her friends, and Ellyria soon finds that famine, betrayal, pestilence and bereavement are all in its arsenal. Can Ellyria unite the elvish and mortal sides of her family, and in so doing, save the kingdom?

Where to find The Dagger of Dresnia, book one of The Talismans

Sales at Satalyte: http://satalyte.com.au/product/the-dagger-of-dresnia-the-talismans-book-one-by-satima-flavell/

Meet the Author: David Stanley

DAVID’S TOP WRITING TIP:  All authors were once ‘first-time’ authors, without knowing with any real certainty whether their books would become bestsellers or they would be considered ‘great authors’. Although the one thing all successful authors have in common – they went ahead and wrote their first book.

StanleyDavid Stanley is the pseudonym of a former New South Wales police officer who has opted to keep his identity secret due to the controversial nature of his recently released book. I haven’t read it yet but with the teaser that ‘every reader’s challenge will be to differentiate what is fiction and what isn’t’, I was certainly interested in finding out about its author.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I have stories to tell – stories that I have borne witness to that are too important not to be told. The nature of my previous work as a police officer has given me endless inspiration to write: about heroes, about villains, noble and corrupt conduct, the entertaining and the controversial.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I have already done it: police officer; corporate management, small business owner. Writing, in my case, is not all-consuming, it is a therapeutic activity I undertake out of passion, not a financial need.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? The toughest obstacle to being published, for a new, and therefore unknown, author is to be given a chance. Without a reputation (good or bad) and without a catalogue of published works, finding publishers and then readers, willing to invest their time and money regardless is by far the toughest obstacle.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The ability, through fiction, to explore issues that through other means may be taboo, too controversial, or highly sensitive. Writing does, within reason, allow for the purest form of ‘free speech’ and to indulge in characters and situations that bring joy, entertainment, anger, suspense and thrills to the reader

—the worst? There are two. The first is the time and effort required to write a book. In an age when instant gratification is the norm, the motivation and self-discipline required to complete a book can shake the most determined author. The second is the unknown. Authors write with the deliberate intention of sharing their stories. Competing with millions of other books for readers’ attention, not knowing if your stories will be read, and enjoyed, is another negativity that must be overcome.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I consider myself to still be in the process of ‘starting out’ so my perspective remains steadfast on having no regrets. In that regard, write the story you wish to tell, even if it doesn’t conform to a ‘successful formula’. With my limited hindsight however, gaining a greater understanding of the challenges and obstacles facing new authors would have been beneficial.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set outto become an author? That the most daunting aspect of being an author is not the time, effort, or discipline required to get published (along with some good luck), but the vulnerability associated with your work being available to readers, reviewers and critics and their subsequent opinions.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

 BOOK BYTE

TJF Cover DuologyTJF Syndrome

The Complete Duology

by David Stanley

Optimistic. Naive. Ostracised. Isolated.

Oscar Herald’s first day as a Probationary Constable in the New South Wales Police Force did not go as expected. His dedication to policing, his emotions and his mind are pushed to their limits as he crashes headlong against a carefully indoctrinated organisational culture.

From the twisted political machinations that manipulate the very top executive officers, to the chasm between policy and practice separating criminals and victims at its grimy bottom, Oscar struggles to find support from those around him who have fallen victim to the syndrome ensuring justice will not be served.

As a multiple murderer threatens the lives of thousands, Oscar’s attempts to track him are hindered and dismissed. With no one willing to listen and nowhere to turn, Oscar seeks absolution in a desperate attempt to catch a killer and faces consequences that he could never have imagined.

The challenge for every reader will be to differentiate what is fiction and what isn’t.

For sales links visit

http://www.tjfsyndrome.com/

Meet the Author: Sophie Masson

SOPHIE’S TOP WRITING TIP: Don’t give up! But don’t be stubborn, either—be flexible and keep your wits and sense of humour about you!

Sophie portrait blue and redBorn in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in Australia and France, Sophie Masson is the author of more than 60 books for children, young adults and adults, published in Australia and many other countries. Her historical novel, The Hunt for Ned Kelly (Scholastic Australia), won the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature in the 2011 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. She has also written four popular YA romantic thrillers under the name of Isabelle Merlin. Under the name of Jenna Austen, she has also published two romantic comedies for tweens and early teens.

2014 was a big year for Sophie, with several novels for young people published: The Crystal Heart (Random House Australia), 1914 ((Scholastic Australia) and Emilio (Allen and Unwin).

As well, her latest adult novel, Trinity: The Koldun Code, first in the Trinity thriller series set in Russia, was published by Momentum Books in 2014, and her non-fiction adult title, The Adaptable Author: Coping with Change in the Digital Age , featuring interviews with more than 40 authors, agents and publishers on the state of authorship and the publishing industry today, was published by Keesing Press in the same year.

Forthcoming in 2015 are Hunter’s Moon (Random House Australia, June 2015) and Trinity: The False Prince (Momentum, October 2015).

Sophie is also one of the founding partners in new children’s publishing house, Christmas Press, www.christmaspresspicturebooks.com

Sophie has served on the Literature Board of the Australia Council, the Book Industry Collaborative Council, the Board of the Australian Society of Authors, the Board of the New England Writers’ Centre and the committee of the New England and North West sub-branch of the Children’s Book Council of NSW.

Sophie’s blog: www.firebirdfeathers.com

website: www.sophiemasson.org

Why do you write? Because it’s as natural to me as breathing. Because I love stories. Because that’s what I was born to do!

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I would always have found my way to writing, no matter what. I loved acting too at one stage in my childhood. But writing was more satisfying.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Getting to understand why my first two books weren’t taken even though I had good feedback on them—and acting on that feedback so that the third book I wrote actually did get through!

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I go on wonderful mind-adventures every day and take my readers along with me.

—the worst? Waiting around for publishers to decide on proposals!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Nothing, really—I think that the path to publication is different for every writer and I think instinct guides us, so that it’s difficult to take up a path someone else has trod, because it might not suit your way of doing things at all.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? That it doesn’t matter how many books you’ve had published, you still have to fight for every one of them, you can never ‘rest on your laurels’ in this business! When you’re an aspiring writer, you might think that once you reach a certain level, everything’s cool. Nothing could be further from the truth. ‘Established’ writer can be a misnomer—actually most of us who have been in the business a long time don’t feel ‘established’—that feels too settled, too solid. We can never take things for granted—rather than ‘established’ it should be ‘seasoned’—in the sense of a seasoned campaigner in a never-ending battle!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Don’t give up.

Crystal Heart cover

The Crystal Heart
by Sophie Masson
Random House Australia, 2014A girl in a tower. An underground kingdom. A crystal heart split in two, symbolising true love lost . . .When Kasper joins the elite guard watching over a dangerous prisoner in a tower, he believes he is protecting his country from a powerful witch.Until one day he discovers the prisoner is a beautiful princess – Izolda of Night– who is condemned by a prophecy to die on her eighteenth birthday. Kasper decides to help her escape. But their hiding place won’t remain secret forever.

Will they find their happily ever after?

“A deftly woven tale of warring kingdoms and the redeeming power of love. Another winner from Sophie Masson.” – Juliet Marillier, author of the Shadowfell series

Buy: http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-crystal-heart-sophie-masson/prod9780857982070.html

Meet the Author: Robin Bower

ROBIN’S TOP WRITING TIP: Keep writing, keep persisting at everything to do with the craft. Practise, join writers’ groups, associations, network, submit to publications and enter competitions. Travel as much as you can (but not cruises), meet the locals, experience the colour and the everyday. Listen to language everywhere you can and note it down – trains, buses, family gatherings, work, school – everywhere. Keep honing your craft but start something new often. Have several projects on the go at the same time. Read your favourite genres and authors. Then read outside your genre. Keep submitting, keep writing, self-publish eBooks while you’re working on the next great novel. Build it and they will come…

Amazon picThis week it was my pleasure to meet Robin Bower, a writer and accredited editor with more than 20 years publishing experience in Australia and overseas. In Melbourne she edited educational books and wrote freelance articles. She was managing editor and publisher of a magazine in Hong Kong, where she reported on the diamond industry for Asia and Europe. Robin taught Writing, Editing and Publishing at Curtin University, Perth in 2011. She has had almost 50 articles published in publications based in Hong Kong, Perth and Melbourne, and was awarded her Master of Creative Writing from the University of Canberra in 2011. Beyond Home is her first novel. Her second novel, set in Perth and Afghanistan, will be available in 2015. For more information, see www.robinbower.com.au

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? It’s a real release for my creativity that I constantly yearn for. Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to be a published author. It’s taken a while! I’m in my own little world when I’m writing and I love telling stories that I’ve created from nothing. I love to write because I want my voice heard about important issues (or issues I deem important); I want people to read my writing and feel moved by it in some way.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’m also an editor and a publishing professional and have done manuscript assessing. I would probably help others to publish so be a publisher, designer, or an artist.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I’ve just released my first novel on Amazon Kindle. I have found that just getting through the process of writing, editing, development, rewriting, assessments, sending out to readers, rewriting and finishing with a final that I’m happy with is the hardest thing. So the whole process is time consuming and hard! It’s also a matter of confidence in what I’ve written – a confidence that grows with everything I publish. I have to let go of the critical self.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Having people read my work, love it and tell me about it. I also love the research that goes with writing a fictional piece. Absolutely everything must be researched so that I can bring authenticity to my characters and situations. This is an engrossing part of the whole process.

—the worst? When I have limited time to research, write, edit, rewrite, publish and promote my writing. I have to be strict about scheduling or life will just get in the way!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would find myself a part-time job in a writing environment, dedicate myself to finishing my novel to a deadline and get the process done much more quickly. I wouldn’t be so harsh on myself or wait to get industry approval.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? It takes five years to write a book. I finished my first book, Beyond Home, in 2008 after a five-year process. I’ve released it in 2014. In the meantime, I wrote my second book which is currently in the market for a publisher. That book also took five years so it’s a useful benchmark to have in the back of my mind. In retrospect, perhaps it’s better not to know and just do it!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Make ‘em laugh, make ‘em cry, make ‘em think. Just keep writing.

BOOK BYTE

Beyond Home coverBeyond Home

Robin Bower

On her father’s death, Eve Robinson discovers a diary that reveals his life was a lie. He has not just been a public servant in Australia, but has a mysterious past in Burma far from Australian shores. Why did he lie to her? What really happened to her mother? Eve embarks on a journey to Burma to discover who her father was. On the way, she becomes involved in a kidnapping, political intrigue, corruption and murder. She forges an unlikely bond with a charismatic Burmese soldier who will do anything to become the leader. What starts as an accident turns into a crusade as Eve tries to rediscover the father she thought she knew.

Where to buy Beyond Home

Get the Kindle version for Australia here

Get the Kindle version for the US here

Get the paperback here

Check out Robin’s Amazon author page here and her website here.