It's not what we usually do here on the Author Spotlights, but I'm taking this opportunity to do a massive shout out to Olivia Miles, who has just sold her first book to Harlequin Special Edition. Congratulations, Olivia!
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What is your writing process?I write most days. I start early, around 6.30 in the morning, once my husband leaves for work and the dogs and horses are fed I usually check emails then open up my work in progress and get started. I’ll usually re-read the last few pages, or check any notes I wrote the day before. I try to write a thousand words a day – sometimes I get more which is a bonus. I’m a panster, so I don’t have detailed outlines, and I trust my characters to take me where they need to go.
Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?I just keep reminding myself how lucky I am to be a full time writer. If I’m stuck or my motivation is a zero, sometimes I’ll go for a walk, read a book or even watch a movie. I believe that the only thing we can truly control in life is how we respond to things – so I don’t get hung up on what’s not working, and try to think about what is. Doing something creative, that’s not writing, can relieve the pressure we sometimes put on ourselves to get it perfect every time. And if I’m having a blah day, I might go and sit in the paddock with my horses and watch them graze – I find that relaxing and de-stressing. The key is finding what does it for you. In saying that, there are times when I’m on edit or revisions deadline and I simply have to push past the resistance to work and make myself do it.
Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?I leave my computer at three o’clock every afternoon and head outside. With eight horses, three dogs, three birds and a house cow named Ginger, I have enough to keep me busy for a couple of hours. I spend afternoon feeding, riding or grooming. Then there’s troughs to clean out, rugs to mend, feed shed to sweep (At some point I try to get a little of my own housekeeping in too).
Do you believe in writer's block?I believe it’s hard to stay focussed 100% of the time. Life intrudes; daily stresses can interfere with the process. The thing I try to remember is that we all feel these pressures at some point. I recently had a plot problem with my current book and couldn’t figure how to get past it – so I called a writer friend and we sat in my office for five hours and just pulled my plot apart. For me, ‘writers block’ is usually because something in the story isn’t working. If that’s the case I’ll talk it out with my agent or critique partners – it always helps.
Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?I do use places and people I know, but not obviously. The setting for Made For Marriage is a little town at the southern most point of the Great Barrier Reef – a town with an uncanny resemblance to the one where I live. I haven’t got into trouble yet .
In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?Readers! I love hearing from readers. And of course it’s a wonderful feeling to experience the realisation of a dream. I was submitting for over twenty years before Harlequin bought my first book, so I feel very grateful to be in this position.
Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?This blog tour, which has been great. I have a website, Facebook, Twitter – these are all ways to reach people. Creativity aside, this is a business and like any business, promotion, be that self-promotion or publisher promotion, is an important part of that.
What is your top promo tip for other authors?Do what you’re comfortable with. There’s little point in forcing yourself to blog or tweet and make book trailers or post interviews on uTube, especially in the beginning. Take baby steps if your natural style is a more conservative one. If you love the lime-light, go for it – as long as it doesn’t intrude on the writing.
What did you learn while writing this book?To write what I know. To trust my instincts. To make the most of opportunities.
What was the most fun part of writing this book?Being able to write about what I love – horses. My heroine is a horse riding instructor and I loved being able to include some of my own horses in the story.
And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?Hawaii!
Equestrian Callie Jones was used to difficult parents at her riding school. But Noah Preston took the cake.
How dare he question her teaching abilities, after his headstrong daughter paid no heed to rules—her teacher's or her father's?
Single dad Noah was ready to apologize for overreacting. But he wasn't sorry for the way the stunning American riding instructor made him feel. And he soon learned that there was more to Callie than her smarts, sass and fire: a shattered heart that threatened to splinter even further. Could he make her see that he—and his family—were for keeps?
Thanks for having me here today. To celebrate the release of Made For Marriage, I’m giving away a copy to one commenter. And as part of my blog tour, I have a grand prize of a $50.00 Amazon voucher, and for those who like a little bling, a fabulous silver Pandora Bracelet.
For the full itinerary of Helen's Celebration tour check out Helen Lacey- Author Page.
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Made For Marriage is available in book stores, through the eHarlequin website, Amazon, Amazon UK and the Book Depository.
You can find out more about Helen on her blog, on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.