To avoid pre-conceived notions which can sometimes be connected with certain genres, the number of books published and/or an author's appearance, none of that information will be revealed until the bottom of the interview. So pour a cup of coffee, have a seat, and check out this interview – see how much, or how little, you have in common with this published author.
What is your favorite part of being a writer?
Never knowing what’s going to come out regardless of how much plotting I do (which is usually negligible). It all goes to pot as the characters take over (which I love).
What is your least favorite part?
Not having enough time. Give me a deadline though and I’ll keep to it (with rare exceptions) so I can get everything done if I put my mind to it. It’s just that my mind is usually split into too many directions.
Name one obstacle you’ve had to overcome.
Eek. Writing-related? Mmm… probably the most annoying aspect of what I do is when Google Feedburner refuses to recognise the latest podcast episode script in the Dreamweaver text for no apparent reason or my website software reformats the fonts for exactly the same non-existent reason; because it’s a computer and, like the aforementioned characters, it does what it likes.
Is there a specific part of your writing you’re working on to improve?
Cutting down on the waffle… I’m not doing badly so far here am I?
What part of your writing makes you particularly proud?
These are good questions Kat (think I might have to steal one or too… oops you said no touting)… OK. Generally: that I’ve done so much of it in a relatively short time (although I keep having to remind myself of that fact as it feels like I’ve done diddly). Specifically: there have been moments when I’ve been so chuffed with something that I’ve sat at my desk and clapped (which bemuses my dog).
What does your favorite main character have in common with you?
I’d have to pick April because my other favourite is male (and unnamed!) she’s female but she’s been married to a farmer for umpteen years and older than me so I guess being female is about the only thing; although I’d say we both have our feisty moments.
Do you do a lot of research for your projects or do you only write about what you already know?
Research… yuk. Some people love it but me? Not so fond. I’m SO grateful for the internet as it cuts it right down and when I was writing my NaNo novels it was great being able to Alt/Tab (more recently cmd/Tab – I’m a Mac convert), Google something (other search engines are available), slot it in and carry on (or if I’m really on a roll I put ‘MORE HERE’ and come back later). I did ask my vet for an avine disease once (I’d picked the wrong one so was grateful for the steer) which is about as adventurous as my researching gets. I tend to set my stories locally too (because Northampton’s had very little written about it) so I don’t even have to travel far.
How do you use the internet for your writing?
Apart from the minimal researching, it’s great for being able to bounce ideas off other people (on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook in the main) and for hooking up with fellow writers when I’m struggling, or just chatting to them when I’m not.
If you’ve won any awards for your writing, what impact do you think that has had?
I’ve won a couple of competitions and been shortlisted in a few others and it’s great to put on my CV. It’s affirmation from a professional that I have potential and it boosts the rejection-flagging ego.
What one marketing tool have you had good success with?
It has to be my blog. I have lots of things going on (that’s not being too touty is it?) and it’s been an amazing journey, albeit for just five months so far, meeting some wonderful people (writers and readers) along the way.
What good writing habits have you developed that you think would be helpful to someone starting out?
This is where I burst out laughing. And I like that you’ve put ‘habits’ plural. I suppose because writing is now my life (although not as yet one that pays the mortgage) any form of writing-related activity is a boon but as far as actual writing, it tends to be during writing workshops (c. 3-4 evenings a month) or deadline projects such as NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org) or StoryADay (http://storyaday.org). So yes, write daily, more than 3-4 times a month, and don’t beat yourself up if it’s drivel. Beat yourself up if you don’t write but want to. You can ALWAYS find time (see aforementioned NaNoWriMo or StoryADay).
Do you have any bad writing habits that you’d advise writers to avoid?
Waffling. Just don’t. Ever. At all. Every word counts in short stories and every sentence (or better still, word) in novels. And I’m an avid repetition nut. Only use the same word or phrase if it enhances or proves something. Read your work out loud and the errors jump out.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I love writing in second person which a lot of people find strange (if they’ve written it and don’t get on with it – it happens often – or they’ve never tried it). Also I can’t write with a pencil. I can obviously but don’t and try not to. I’m not sure why, perhaps the fear of it being rubbed out too easily. And I love to ‘red pen’ with a… red pen, especially others people’s (this is where I’d mention my new ‘red pen’ podcast sessions but I won’t because I’m not allowed to tout yet).
When you’re not writing, do you read, and if so, what?
It tends to be audiobooks more than paper or eBooks (my eReader gathers dust as I rarely travel) because I can multi-task when listening. I do read novels of some of my interviewees but that tends to be more coincidence than plan (a/ because I interview a different author each day and even I’m not Superwoman and b/ because I have so many other books to read) and I keep quiet about it (too late now I guess) or I’d be inundated by review requests. To answer your question a little more succinctly (see earlier reference to waffling) I love reading short stories and novellas – a format I can do in one go as I don’t read daily (slap wrist) and two extremes: dark (I love quirky) and humour. Roald Dahl and Kate Atkinson are my favourites.
What are you trying to accomplish with/through your writing?
To get people to read it (without making them do it obviously) and hopefully amuse, chill or entertain them.
ADVICE TO OTHER WRITERS
What words of wisdom do you have for young writers?
Start now, please. I started when I was late 30s and even then it took another 4 years to take it seriously. If you have any passion for it then keep going. If you’re like the other 99.9% of us that finds it thrilling to write then it won’t be as hard as you think… until you get a rejection. React as badly as you need to for the first one then get over it – it gets easier.
What advice do you have for someone looking to get published?
Ditto. Keep going. These days you have two basic choices; try your heart out for an agent / publisher or go it alone (but ideally with some help – everyone needs an editor) and do the eBook thing. I tried the former, to a single-figure extent, before realising that I’d rather do the latter although I still wouldn’t say “no” to having my books in the shops.
Any thoughts on what this author writes? How many books published? Here's a little more information about the author...
How many published books are to your credit? 5
Do you have an agent? No
Are you self-published? Yes.
How many different companies have you published with? Three
How long have you been writing? 6 years dabbled, last 2 obsessively.
Do you write full-time? If not, what is your other job? And how do you balance work/writing?
Sadly not. I work two and a half days as a secretary for a chartered surveyor (who’s an avid reader) so I’m luckier than most, especially as being a secretary for (lah lah lah) years has given me a good typing speed (80wpm?) so I can do things like write a 117,000 (it was a bit more than that but who’s counting?) novel in a month (NaNoWriMo 2009).
So, any thoughts? Here's the full scoop:
Morgen Bailey is a blogger, podcaster, fiction writer (of four and a bit novels but mostly short stories, her first love), author interviewer, ‘red pen’ critiquer and writing group lead. English was her best subject at school and she was an avid reader (and sometime limerick writer) in her teens, before life took over, but came back to writing, thanks to a college evening class six years ago and has never looked back. Her mother told her recently that she shouldn’t let it take over her life but she didn’t have the heart to reply that she was a couple of years too late.
She has just released a couple of writing guides to Amazon and the likes. ‘The 365 Writer’s Block Workbook’ and ‘A Story A Day – May 2011’: the latter of which details the process of (and includes) the 32 stories I wrote for the ‘Story A Day May’ project earlier this year. Thereafter I plan some other short story collections and two or three novellas (the novels with the waffling removed!).
All of Morgen's books are currently available on Smashwords. Her author page is http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morgenbailey
What are you working on now?
Getting my eBooks ready. I’ve been taking photos (took some great ones in Norfolk last week) leaving plenty of plain space (well… sky, grass, concrete etc) for the title and my name so it’s all coming together.
Anything else about being a writer that you’d like to share?
Just how wonderful it is to write and how exciting the future is for us. If you read but have never thought of writing, do it. I’ve shared some of my writing with reading friends and they (kindly) said that they could never do anything like that but if they’ve never tried how do they know? Even with the best outline, a story can spin away into unexpected territories keeping a fiction writer on his or her toes, and who wouldn’t want that?
You can learn more about Morgen Bailey at her main website which is her blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com). She also has a website (http://morgenbailey.com) but the WordPress (blog) software is so much more user-friendly that the website is more of a ‘this is what I’m about, best go have a look at the blog’.
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