What Does Being A Full Time Author Mean?

This is the beginning of Week Four of being a full time author.

What does that mean? It means drinking a lot more coffee than I used to, and having a very tidy house for starters. It also means I've had to get pretty serious about my writing, my writing goals, and my personal writing habits.

What have I done so far? Well, number one, you're looking at it. A shiny new author website - www.kirstenmckenzie.com. Secondly, I've created the template through Mail Chimp for semi regular / semi sporadic author updates, to be emailed to those people who put their name down to receive it. You too can add your name to the list, via the handy form on this website.

I've written a schedule. It looks very much like my old school schedule, but without Double Maths (thank goodness), and no PE. Although looking back on it, I should have enjoyed PE way more than I did. I've allocated time for writing, naturally, and time for website updates, online marketing stuff (probably too much time), time for Goodreads surfing, and time for competition writing.

What is competition writing? On my list of personal goals, I've written down that I want to enter 12 writing competitions this year. It's good to give my brain a break from 1860s New Zealand, and the troubles in India in the 1800s, and the dastardly Benjamin Grey. I've already entered one, so only eleven more to go! I'll keep you posted about when I win some.

Future plans, from April I'll be posting guest blogs from other authors, but there will be a cohesive theme to their posts, complementary to what I write, so as to not throw you all. So keep watching, check in for more posts, and don't forget I'm on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and Instagram too. 

Author Q&A - What Is Your Best Advice For Budding Authors?

On August 15 2015, Jim Vines hosted a Question and Answer session on his blog. Here are my answers:

Q: Kirsten...what made you become a writer?
A: When my youngest daughter was about to start school, my family were constantly asking me what I was going to do with my "spare time." I declared that I was going to write a book, as I'd always wanted to leave a piece of me behind when I'm gone. So I sat down and wrote one. 

Q: What is your typical writing day like?
A: Get up, kids off to school, coffee, procrastination, coffee, procrastination, frantic writing, pick the children up from school, family/household stuff, dinner, kids to bed, wine, casual and calm writing, astonishment that its bedtime already, bed. Really I should only write at night, and give up trying to write during the daytime!

Q: Do you outline? If so, how extensive are your outlines?

A: Ah, no. I've never outlined in my life. I've jotted down notes about things I need to resolve, but I've never outlined. My writing is influenced by what happens in my day. What I've seen, or experienced. 

Q: How many revisions will you typically do on a novel?

A: Two by me alone. Followed by however many revisions the editor needs.

Q: What is your best tip for editing a manuscript?

A: Start from the very beginning. One word at a time. Resolve any issues you come across straight away. Don't leave them till later as they will only bother you. 

Q: Which writing habits and/or tricks of the trade have made you a better writer?

A: Save in different places - hard drive, drop box, USB. Save, save, save. Always finish mid sentence - as it gives you something to come back to the next day. Do not create inflexible word count goals. If you only made 500 words, do not punish yourself for not making 1,000 words. Every word on the page is one word more than you had the day before. 

Q: Do you ever suffer through writer’s block? If so, how do you fight it?

A: Yes I do. I can go days without writing anything - although I still find time and inspiration for social media engagement. I deal with it by walking away from the computer, and reading something else. I read a lot. Since joining Goodreads, my reading list has grown out of control. I love seeing what other authors recommend. 

Q: What drew you to write your preferred genre(s)?

A: I don't think I consciously decided to write historical fiction, but its certainly turned out that way. And I love it. My day job is an antique dealer, so there is a tangibility about the things I'm writing about. I can feel them, or something like them. Every day at work I find inspiration from the things surrounding me.

Q: Do you utilize beta readers?

A: I did for a brief time - I used two, one was more forthcoming than the other. But now I prefer going it alone. I could use them, but I'd need to find the right one. I've been a beta reader for a fellow author, and I enjoyed the role. It is something I would consider doing again. 

Q: In your most recently published novel, what’s one scene you really enjoyed writing—and why?

A: I very much enjoyed the scene set in India, where my characters embark upon a tiger hunt (I certainly don't support hunting, but this is set circa 1860). I had a cast of servants, officers, older ladies, simpering young girls, Indian royalty, and rifles. And I had a ball moving them all around like chess pieces. 

Q: What makes the main character(s) of your most recent novel so special?

A: My main character in Fifteen Postcards, Sarah Lester, has semi-autobiographical hints to her. The others I've tried very hard to give faults to, even the good guys. No one is perfect, and it would be a very dull read if you just gave the readers cardboard good vs evil characters to read about. 

Q: What is your best advice for author self-promotion?

A: Engage, engage, engage, but do not spam. You want to make friends with your potential readers, but you don't want to be the equivalent of junk mail shoved under their front doors. And even if your book is months away from being finished, start your self-promotion now. People want to know who you are before you start trying to sell them your book.

Q: How do you deal with negative reviews?

A: Ignore the outliers. For middle tier reviews - take note of their feedback - and learn from them. And bask in the good and great reviews. 

Q: What is your favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: No one is telling me what to write, or how to write it. 

Q: What is your least favorite aspect of being an indie author?

A: Feeling like everyone is getting more support or help from some magic well that you haven't found yourself. 

Q: What is your current writing project?

A: The sequel to Fifteen Postcards. I never intended to write a novel with a cliff hanger, but it happened. So now I have to resolve it!

Q: What are three of your favorite novels?

A: Gone With The WindA Suitable Boy, and The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

Q: If you could have lunch with any novelist, living or dead, who would it be? What would talk to them about?

A: Ernest Hemingway. What would I talk to him about? Paris. His life. His decisions. We'd drink a lot together I'm sure. I spent some time in Cuba, and really felt his vibe there. I think I am in historical love. 

Q: What is your best piece of advice for budding authors?

A: Just do it. And share your journey with others, everywhere. I'm on Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn. I am constantly posting pictures of my current word count, things I've researched, pictures that have inspired me, amusing images - but different things on different platforms. You'll find the general populace is very supportive of people following their dream. And engage, engage, engage. 

Q: What is your favorite inspirational quote?

A: "It is what it is." That's mine. I don't know if someone else said it before me, but its how I live my life.

The link to Jim Vines blog is here : http://jimvinespresents.blogspot.co.nz/