- GUEST PUBLISHER AND AUTHOR -
Today, I welcome a courageous lady with many talents. She is also a person I could spend hours chatting to.
Welcome, Carolyn ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I’m the Director of . We opened 2 weeks ago as a service to Indie and Self-Published authors, and for readers who want to support quality Indies.
Hawkeye Books is my passion project. Unfortunately, not all self-published authors are rigorous and they damage the industry’s reputation. Hawkeye Books is a low cost service for reputable self-published authors to benefit from group power.
Additionally, I run Brisbane Book Authors - a non-profit social networking group for published authors.
And I have 6 books published under my name – Carolyn Martinez – and my pen name – Cate Sawyer. I write children’s picture books, and adult non-fiction.
My bestsellers are , and .
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
When I was 16 I sent a short story into a national magazine. When the editor phoned me to say they were publishing it, she was stunned to find I was a school kid. They paid me more than my Dad’s weekly wage at the time.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I plan some, and wing some. I know how the tension starts, builds each chapter, and resolves itself. But sometimes, extra characters will appear during the writing process, and I’ll find them so interesting that I run with them.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
The ability to entertain and connect with readers. I love exploring topical social issues – in an entertaining way. Connection and laughter – two of the most meaningful experiences in our human existence.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Being extroverted enough to successfully publicise, when most authors are either introverts or a mix of introvert/extrovert. I’m a mix.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
An unenthused but successful public servant. When my sister died when she was only 36 years old the fragility of life hit home and I realised if there’s something we really want to do, we must. I quit my high paying secure job and bought a local newspaper. Many around me thought I was crazy, but the people who mattered, they got it.
7. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Join a writing group. I have a Master of Arts (Writing), 6 published books, and have been working in the industry for 30 years. I still attend learning events a few times a year.
These are a few mistakes new book writers tend to make, and writing and critique groups will help weed out of your writing:
1. Switching between past and present tense.
2. Switching point of view inappropriately.
3. Switching between active and passive voice.
4. Using redundant words.
5. Background info dumps instead of showing everything through action.
Here a few things you’ll hear new or aspiring writers say that make experienced writers wince:
I don’t really read. I don’t have time.
I’ve edited my book myself and I know it’s good; do I really need to pay for an editor?
My life story is so interesting that this book is going to be a bestseller.
8. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
I subscribe to Stephen King’s philosophy. Writing is my livelihood, so yes, ‘I only write when I’m inspired, and I make sure I’m inspired at 9am every week day.’
9. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
When I started out, I set a 500 word a week target – I was working a full-time day job at the same time. Now when I’m writing a book I have a minimum 2,000 words 5 days a week target.
10. WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST COMMENT FROM A READER?
After meeting me at an event, a fan said – ‘I can’t believe you’re the same person.’ Apparently, I write intellectually but speak Aussie ocker.
11. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
My kids, the ocean, travelling.
There is something ethereal in the power of waves, and in the feeling you experience when you go somewhere you’ve never been before and explore the countryside and culture.
12. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Always! Don’t approach Hawkeye Books if you’ve haven’t used an independent editor.
I’m an editor myself, but I still hire an independent editor for my books before I self-publish my own titles.
An author is not the team.
You’ll always produce a better book with a second set of experienced eyes challenging your work.
13. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Yes. After the first structural edit of Finding Love Again – which I’d already spent 2 years writing – I had to re-write the entire book. It was early in my career. I admit I wallowed in self-pity for 6 months before I grew balls and tackled the task.
14. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
Places to Poop. It’s my book least likely to ever win me any literary award, but it makes everyone laugh. I love making people laugh. Kids lose themselves in this book, and at readings they’re yelling ‘read it again’ when I finish. It’s short, simple and hilarious.
15. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Three things sell a book – The cover, the blurb and the reviews.
Never under-estimate the importance of the cover.
And a heads up, a graphic designer is not a book cover designer.
Book cover designers are generally less expensive than graphic designers because they’re quicker – since it’s what they specialize in – and the investment is certainly worth it.
16. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
To be sitting in a movie premiere with my loved ones around me, watching a movie based on one of my books.
17. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
Marketing and publicity is a longer commitment than writing the book. If you want to sell books, you never stop marketing. You have to consistently put yourself out there if you want people to find your books.
Many authors are hog-tied by their lack of information technology skills. It’s one of the reasons I’ve started Hawkeye Books. For $60 a year we can take care of an authors website presence if they like.
18. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Self-publishers who publish bad writing.
And tailgaters. Nothing makes me more wild than a driver behind me tailgating me.
19. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around! And Clancy, thanks for hosting me. You’re a legend!
Clancy's comment: Mm ... It's not very often I'm called a legend, but thanks, Carolyn. Keep up the great work, and I do recommend that you all check out Carolyn's website above.