Enclosed are a few questions I answered for Goodreads. If you would like to ask me any other questions, feel free to ask them here, or go to my Goodreads page and scroll down to Ask The Author.
Ask the Author: Cathy Lamb
“I love books. I love reading and writing them. Ask me anything…” Cathy Lamb 18 days ago
How do you deal with writer’s block?
Cathy Lamb I don’t get writer’s block.
What I do suffer from is, “I Would Rather Play Than Work Disease.” It’s a real problem. These things are distracting to me, in no particular order: My kids. Innocent Husband. (I call him that because I don’t want anyone to blame poor Husband for crazy things I write or say). Girlfriends. Walking. Running. Daydreaming. Reading. Being outside. Being in our drift boat on a river fishing. Falling down a ski slope. More daydreaming.
So many fun things to do.
If I do feel stuck in a book, I journal. I work it through. I don’t let myself go to bed until things are figured out. I work the problem, twist it around, think it through.
And I write. Even if I know the writing is going to be poor, I write. I can’t fix a blank page but I CAN fix poor writing.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Cathy Lamb The best thing about being a writer is that I love writing.
From the time I was sixteen, I knew I HAD to be a writer. I wanted to write a column, write for a newspaper or write books – preferably books. I worked for years to publish, with many rejections and crushing disappointments.
I just couldn’t see myself doing anything else so I kept going. Except for teaching school (I was a fourth grade teacher for almost eight years) there is really nothing else I’m skilled to do and teaching school is exhausting.
I love that I can day daydream and put those daydreams on paper. I love telling stories. I love creating characters and relationships. I love living in my head. I love hearing from readers and how my books have effected their lives.
And, frankly, I have loved being a writer while raising my kids. They probably want me around the house less, though…
What are you currently working on?
Cathy Lamb: I am currently working on my eighth novel.
Here’s a hint: Friendship. Letters. Scotland. Lies.
Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?
Cathy Lamb: Ah ha…
Where did I get the ideas for my most recent book, What I Remember Most, out in September 2014…
Grenadine Scotch Wild is my main character’s name. As soon as I had her name, I felt like I was on a roll, writing wise. Why that name? Whose idea was that? Who likes Scotch?
Grenadine is a collage artist and painter. I decided to make her an artist because I have always wanted to be an artist but have zero talent.
Grenadine is also on the run. Her husband was an “investor” who lost his clients’ money. She was implicated in his schemes, though she had only been married to the jerk for a year and was completely innocent.
I was interested in what it would feel like to have your whole world collapse, to be arrested and jailed for a weekend, to lose your home and have your bank accounts locked up.
Where would you go? How would you survive? How do you start over? How do you avoid jail for a crime you didn’t commit?
And, I was interested in Grenadine’s back story. When she was six, her parents disappeared on a foggy, scary night in the woods. She was put in foster care and never knew what happened to them.
Though the story is written first person, through Grenadine’s eyes, I tell her back story through children services reports, police reports, a court transcript, police reports and letters. I was interested in writing through a different structure.
Hope you like it!
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
Cathy Lamb: My advice for aspiring writers is to read. Read fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, non fiction, thrillers, etc. Read all over the place. Also read in the genre in which you wish to publish.
Then STUDY what you read. WHY did you like the book? Was it the characters? Was there someone you related to or did you sympathize with their journey? Was the pace smooth and gentle or did it grab you by the throat? What did you like about the structure? Why did the plot or setting interest you? What about the language and word choice? Simple or complex? Did you laugh or cry or get angry? How did the author pull out your emotions? Did she make you think?
Conversely, if you did not like the book, why NOT? Study that, too. Was it boring? Were there no characters to grab onto? Was the writing non descriptive?
My second piece of advice is to write. Write all the time. Think about writing when you’re not writing. Plan on writing time. Stick to your writing goals.
I write 2000 words a day when I’m in the first draft of my book. If I don’t write 10,000 words a week I don’t go to bed on Saturday night. I edit my books eight or nine times before I even send them to my agent and editor. I edit them 12 times altogether.
So, write like your hair is on fire the first time around. Don’t worry about making the word choice and sentences perfect. Just write. Then edit the hell out of it.
My third piece of advice involves a bit of my own story. Many years ago, for years, I tried to break into category romance writing. I would write a synopsis and mail it to the publishing house. They liked the synopsis and asked for the first chapter. I sent it. They liked it. They asked for three chapters. I sent it. They liked and asked for the book. Then they rejected it. This happened four – five times.
After a rejection when the editor waited about two years, after asking me for many edits and after implying they were going to buy the book and then she REJECTED it, I called it a day on category romance. I was so unhappy I could not do it again.
I then wrote about forty pages or so of Julia’s Chocolates. I sent it to four agents. They all asked for the book. I told my favorite agent, the one I’m with now, that I had to do a “little editing.” It was a tiny white lie.
I then wrote from ten at night until two or three in the morning. I had three young kids at the time and I was freelancing for The Oregonian. I was busy but desperate.
My agent loved the book, I signed with him, and Julia’s Chocolates sold within a couple of weeks.
Here’s the moral of that story: If you keep getting rejected in one genre, switch genres. I went from category romance to women’s fiction.
Don’t quit too early, don’t quit when you get a few rejections, don’t quit when you’re having a temper tantrum, don’t quit unless you have done your best and are now unhappy with what you’re writing and want to bang your face against a wall.
BUT, keep in mind that the first genre you attempt to publish in might not be best suited for you. You may well be better suited in a whole new place.
So, read, write, and live life. Have fun. Have adventures. Meet new people, go new places, travel.
Good luck. Truly, I mean it. I hope you publish.