I use Scrivener to help me focus on my writing, but like all authors, we have our electronic preferences for all things word-related. Be it an app on your phone, an old version of Word, or a clanky old keyboard missing a few keys; we all have our nuances. I learned to type when I was just little. A local school did an experiment teaching five-year-olds and although I was too small to reach the keyboard without assistance, my mother dutifully brought along my car booster seat each week. The quick brown fox jumped over several lazy dogs before I was finally fluid at typing. It became so natural that now I now can't remember a time without it. This month I got the pleasure of talking to two other women who have garnered both natural writing talent, and the tenacity to keep learning and here is what they told me...
This month's authors:
E. Rachael Hardcastle
Author, publisher and all-round writing guru, I was keen to chat with best-selling author Ms Hardcastle and find out her tricks and tips:
As a best selling author – what has been the highlight of your writing career to date and why?
It's always nice to see your book in print, especially if it's on the shelves of your favourite or local store. I think, though, the highlight of my career to date is the response I've been receiving from my readers and the joy I see in their faces at signings.
I remember meeting my favourite author (the first famous author I'd ever met, actually), and I was so nervous. I couldn't wait to ask her all about her writing processes but when I got to the front of the queue I stammered and didn't say much at all. Though I'm not a famous author, young children don't know the difference—an author is an author. They are always so thrilled to chat about books, especially if they are illustrated. I love inspiring them.
I absolutely adore meeting my readers and signing their copies—I like learning about their favourite genres, hearing their recommendations and taking photos with them. Last year, someone also told me I was their favourite author and this was such an amazing feeling as an indie. I can only hope it continues.
What inspired you to start your own business helping self-published authors?
I started as a writer and self-published my debut book in 2010 after a bad experience with an agent and various offers from publishers who were just looking to take advantage of my age and naivety. I was eighteen and didn't really understand the difference between the platforms, or what a vanity press did. Thankfully, I avoided falling for any offers and put my time and effort into learning the skills required to self-publish my paperback. It took a long time and I made tons of mistakes, but it allowed me to build rapport with companies, shops and other authors and improve my knowledge.
Then, a few years back, I fell in love with editing. I got good grades in school but didn't study writing at university, so I wasn't sure if becoming an editor was a possibility. I took some courses and got my first couple of clients, then branched out and offered other services. I'd found something I enjoyed that I was good at, so it made perfect sense to help other authors to accomplish what I had through my skills. But I didn't want them to fall into the same traps I did. I didn't want them to waste time learning from petty, avoidable mistakes; if I could tell them all about my experiences and failures, perhaps they'd be ahead of the game.
This being the case, I started a publishing company. Curious Cat Books (2017) offers a variety of services (including publishing!) for new or struggling authors, and it's a company I'm so pleased to run. I also have a book due for release at the end of November 2019 called, 'The Universe Doesn't Give A Sh*t About Your Book: A Brutally Honest Guide to Self-Publishing', which is my honest account of what it's like and what authors should know.
What do you wish authors knew or did when they first started writing?
This is a really difficult question (and is why I wrote the book I just mentioned!) because there are so many things I'd want them to know... we'd be here all day! I think above all else, write for yourself at first. Worrying about the quality of your work before actually completing it will dampen your creativity and only encourage self-doubt, so try not to stress over whether it's any good and what people will think until you actually have a polished draft that's ready for an editor's eye.
I would also encourage new authors to learn the basics of self-editing (spelling, grammar, punctuation). Learn as much as you can about the industry and the way things work. What does interior formatting involve? How much does a decent book cover cost to produce? These are all areas where authors could lose money (or if they do it themselves without the relevant skill/s, quality!). Knowing ahead of time what to expect means you can make safer choices and give your book a chance at success.
Which genre do you like working on most, or which one do you find easiest?
I read a lot of speculative fiction, so I enjoy editing that the most I think. Fantasy and dystopian fiction are favourites of mine, but I also love to read personal development books, particularly anxiety-related as I've suffered from this most of my life. I also love working with children's fiction for the photographs and the rhyming—it's so much fun! I'll work with almost anything. I avoid crime and erotica because I don't usually read these genres, and some non-fiction depending on the subject and if I know anything about the content.
Rachael uses Facebook most often, though she does have Instagram and Twitter, plus a YouTube channel. All her social media links can be found on my website at www.erachaelhardcastle.com, where a list of her books, the authors signed to her company and news can be found.
I hope you can take a moment to support her and her upcoming authors, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
With stories and poems aplenty, I was keen to chat with Lindsey about her writing and her inspiration:
What are the pros and cons of working alongside other authors on an anthology?
Working with other authors on an anthology is really challenging but also really fun. On one hand, working with other authors is amazing, because as you’re planning the anthology, and then writing it, you can bounce ideas off of each other and get instant, really great feedback. But on the other hand, you’re tied to whatever the group decides. So unlike when you’re writing alone, you can’t totally change tracks without clearing your ideas and choices with other people first. Which, I suppose, is good and bad, because it forces you to problem-solve and write within boundaries.
What would you consider the highlight of your career to date, and why?
The highlight of my writing career so far was the day that my publisher, Line by Lion, emailed me and offered me a deal for my novel, The Upworld. I remember, my husband was driving, and I was in shock as I read the email over and over. (Not that I’d been compulsively checking it for the previous 2 weeks or anything.) It was such an amazing, surreal feeling. Then, a close second was when I got to hold an early copy and see my words bound as a novel before it was officially for sale, and I was just completely over the moon! I definitely cried.
How do you like to tackle starting a story?
I used to just sit down and start writing and hope for the best, but things always went wonky that way. So now, I have a system. For starters, I have to know my world and my characters (and any rules the world has, for magic or science or whatever) backward and forward. Then, I need to have a rough outline of my plot from start to finish. And only then can I even think about starting a story - a short one or a novel-length one. I’ve had too many false starts trying to wing it. That being said, I’m not a true “plotter,” because my plot outlines are always the roughest part of the story and almost always change.
Who would you most identify with as one of your own characters?
I supposed I identify in a small way with every character I write. But Erilyn, the protagonist in my novel, is who I probably identify with the most. Erilyn is an empath, in the sense that she has powers that literally allow her to feel what others feel, see what they see, and experience what they experience. I’m an empath in the sense that I’m an extremely emotional person and am strongly affected by the emotions of those around me. So, when I was writing Erilyn and her powers, I was definitely keeping that feeling I have when I am affected by other people’s emotions in mind. And, she’s also kind of the person I wish I was - strong and quiet (I’m very loud).
Lindsey loves talking with readers on multiple platforms. Her top two are Instagram (www.instagram.com/lindseysfrantzwriter) and
I hope you can take a moment to support her by checking out one of her pages, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler