This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Widely published in short story anthologies and fiction magazines, Rebecca Raisin decided to make writing romance novels her career and hasn’t looked back since signing with Carina UK. Rebecca joins us now to talk about her latest novel, Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe, and how she uses Pinterest to her advantage when starting a new book.
Everywhere! It could be something as simple as a word I like the sound of, or a song that makes me picture a scene, and suddenly it plays out in my mind. However, I do tend to write about things I’m passionate about, like food! Hence writing the Gingerbread Café series books, I can happily plug away on my laptop about the sweetness of comfort food, and how baking helps my heroine, Lil in times of need. For her, it’s not just about making money in the café, it’s her go-to place when she needs to make sense of the world.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I spend the best part of dawn toasting bread to get it to the exact right shade for my littlest twin boy … to say he’s fussy is an understatement! Once I’ve wrangled my children into their uniforms and hastily dropped them at school I return home to write! I ignore the mess in the kitchen, and sit at my dining room table and write for a stretch of four hours or so. Of course that includes checking out the latest Buzzfeed posts, and catching up on Facebook and Twitter. I prefer writing in the morning and seem to get a lot more done when I’m by myself in the quiet. Eventually real-life calls and I switch off, until the late afternoon, when I get back online and catch up with the social media side of writing.
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
I usually start a Pinterest board while an idea is forming for a book. While compiling pins, I’ll find a celebrity that most resembles what I picture the character to look like! I share the Pinterest links for each book, and I do get a lot of feedback from people saying it helps them visualise and anticipate the coming book. Which, of course, makes me feel better about losing hours on Pinterest once I get started!
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Such a tricky question! I’m a voracious reader, so to pluck just one out of my mind is like choosing a favourite child. However I read The Harp in the South trilogy by Ruth Park a couple of years ago, and was instantly hooked. They’ll stay with me always. The larger than life, unapologetic characters felt like my family by the end of them, and I missed them badly when I was finished. I will read them over and over, and for me, that’s a sign of a truly extraordinary book.
What female writer has inspired you?
Kristan Higgins! I adore her. Her books read as though your best friend is talking to you, but not only that, she’s a huge support to other writers no matter who they are. She makes time for people and I think she’s a great role model for all of us. She recently featured me as one of her authors of the week. It was such a huge thrill for me, and she does that kind of thing for people all the time. She’s a total sweetheart.
Can you give us three book recommendations?
I recently read Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons and thought it was superb! It was very real-to-life, and the characters really resonated with me.
Casebook by Mona Simpson was fantastic, a slow-moving, elegant novel, that had me frequently shaking my head in awe of some truly remarkable sentences. I’m a sucker for great metaphors.Also, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith. I adored this novel. It was beautifully written, and very clever, linking the geography of heart, with location, and life. Stunningly written.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I used to dive right in and hope for the best! But now my editor and I plan books ahead of time, so I’ve found myself writing outlines and plotting so we can discuss each story and their merits, and how they’ll link with future books. It’s been a refreshing change, and has helped immensely when it comes time to write. I write a rough draft, and then send it to my editor, warts and all. When I say rough, I haven’t looked for typos, or anything too pedantic at this point, though I’ve gone over the manuscript a number of times myself looking for anything that’s confusing, or moot, and usually so has my writing group. My editor will then then do a structural edit, which is more like a document full of notes like: move this section, soften this character, add a scene here … I absolutely love this part of the process because my editor, with her fresh perspective, easily picks up plot holes and things that need to be fixed. This round of edits takes me the longest. I go back through the manuscript and make the changes and then I comb through it looking for any other errors. It goes back to my editor again, then if she’s happy, it’s sent to the copy editor, and then returned to me. This round doesn’t take as long, it’s a matter of accept or reject the changes. I usually print the manuscript and comb through it once more. And I also send it to my mum who has an eagle eye for the dreaded typo!
Six years ago a writer I’d met online suggested I take a writing class because he could see potential in me. I assured him I was a reader not a writer, though secretly I was thrilled as it had always been a dream to write a book one day! I followed his advice and took some creative writing classes and was hooked. I wrote a novel first up, but it was evident at the point I still had a lot to learn. I began writing short stories and entering them in competitions. I had a lot of success this way, and it inspired me to keep going, and also forced me to attempt writing different genres. I met some amazingly supportive authors online who told me about RWA (Romance writers of Australia) I joined and thought about writing some longer pieces. I fell in love with writing the Happy Ever After, and knew I’d finally found the genre for me. I had an idea for a Christmas novella and a friend had spotted a tweet from Carina UK calling for Christmas manuscripts. I sent mine in and got ‘the call’ a few days later! It was such an amazing experience! I’d had plenty of ‘no’s’ along the journey, and that only drove me to improve, so when I got that ‘yes’ it felt like all that hard worked had paid off! I have now signed for thirteen books with Carina UK.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
I guess that a book just sells itself. The marketing/promo side of writing is just as time consuming as writing the book. I spend hours each day blogging and using various forms of social media to interact with people and to get my books more visibility. The upside to this is, that it’s not really work per se, it’s like being at a party every night and chatting away to your girlfriends. By and large the people I’ve met online are lovely and hugely supportive of one another, which makes it quite a nice place to be.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Write every day. Even if it’s only ten minutes stolen here and there. I read somewhere that writing is like a muscle, the more you do it, the stronger you will get, and I think that’s true.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on Secrets at the Maple Syrup Farm, which is a stand-alone book set in the same town as the Gingerbread Café series. So for those who miss the girls from the café you might just see some cameos of them in this book! It’s a love story about two people who are adrift in the world because their secrets have held them back.