This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Cathy Lamb's latest book, What I Remember Most, is out now and will be reviewed here soon. Today, Cathy is telling us a little about her writing process and the set word count she sticks to each week.
I spend an embarrassing amount of time daydreaming. I would like to call it mediation so I could sound all Zen – like and peaceful, but it’s not. It’s daydreaming. I put my daydreams into books. Daydreaming also focuses me for writing. I have three kids who are in and out, so the little sweethearts take up a lot of time. I write best from ten at night until two in the morning. It’s quiet and I like the dark. It’s mysterious, soothing, inspiring.
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When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I have never used a celebrity for inspiration, please stop reading my books if I ever start. I also do not use anyone I know in my books. My characters come straight out of my wild and untethered imagination and take on lives of their own. They talk back to me and throw things and get into love affairs that I could not have predicted. I argue with them, they win, I keep writing. It’s like watching a movie in my head.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Oh, I can’t answer this question. TOO HARD. I tried, I did, and kept having debates with myself. I will say that my favorite women’s fiction book that I read this year was Heartburn by Nora Ephron because it was funny and witty, and touching, and I am sorry that Nora is no longer with us.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I write in a journal to get started. Every single book I write gets at least three or four journals, often more. I think of a plot after weeks of writing and doodling and staring off into space. I go over my plot with my editor and agent and I get their – very needed and appreciated – input. I do not write a word until the first sentence of the novel comes to me. Then I write the first draft straight through.
I write 2,000 words a day, 10,000 a week or I don’t go to bed on Saturday night. I do not waver from that goal. When I get stuck, which is often, I journal again.Every book is edited eight or nine times before it goes to my editor and agent, then I do another three edits after that as I implement my editor’s suggestions, and also during copy editing and proofing. By the time a book is on the shelves I have edited it twelve times and don’t want to read it again. Ever.
5What was your journey to being a published author?
It was a tough one. Many years ago I was trying to get published in category romance. I would write a chapter and synopsis and mail it in. (Those were the days of mail…) The editors would like it and ask for the first three chapters. I’d mail it in. They’d like it and ask for the book. I’d write it and send it in. They would reject. This happened a number of times.
I wanted to bash my head into a wall. After a particularly bad rejection, I gave up. I wrote the first 40 pages of Julia’s Chocolates. It was women’s fiction. This is the first line, “I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota.”
I gave Julia an Aunt Lydia who painted her house pink, “like a camellia. Like a vagina,” and her door black to “ward off evil spirits, disease and seedy men.” Aunt Lydia put five huge ceramic pigs in her front yard and named them after men she didn’t like. I gave Julia new friends including a trapped minister’s wife, a psychic hiding from family money, and a mother married to an alcoholic. Julia needed them as she was on the run from an abusive and dangerous ex – fiancé.
I sent it out to four agents. They all asked for the book. I went with my favorite agent, who I am still with today. He sold it to my publishing house as part of a two book deal two weeks after that. I was thrilled to death. I still am. The feeling has never left.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
Hmmm … I think all the myths have been exposed. It’s a job. It’s a great job. The social media part can be overwhelming and I’m learning how to control it so it doesn’t control me. But I love it, I love writing and storytelling, and I’m grateful for it every day.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Read. Read all the time and read in all genres. Study what you read. Ask yourself if you liked the book and why. Was it a character you could relate to? Was it the fast pace? The beautiful language? The setting? The relationships? What made you keep reading? Examine the structure, the themes, the plot development. Did it pull at your emotions? How? Or, if you didn’t like it, ask yourself why.
Write all the time. If you want to publish, know that for almost everyone, it’s a winding, beastly road. But others have been successful on the road, and you certainly can be, too. I hope I don’t sound irritating when I say that because it is the truth: You can do this, too.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on my next novel, due this December. Here are a few hints: The main character is a writer. She has writer’s block. Scotland. Kilts. Legends. Best friends.