Have you always wanted to write a novel, but don’t know where to start? Having published two novels so far, I often get asked this question. Although I’m not the world’s leading expert on how to get the book in your head onto your computer screen, I have a few rules that I try to follow. One of them includes chocolate, so if that’s not a hook, I don’t know what is.
1. Love your heroine – and others will love her too. Hate her? So will your readers. Who wants to read 300 pages about someone they hate? No one. So make sure your heroine is lovable…even if she’s full of flaws.
2. Believe in your book. There’s always going to be someone – an agent, an editor, a reviewer or a reader – who doesn’t like your book. You can’t please everyone, (even Pulitzer Prize winners have haters), but you have to believe it’s the best book you can write. If it’s not the absolute best you can do, rewrite it until it is.
3. Don’t give up. (Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s true!) If you really want to be a writer, you have to write. More importantly, you have to keep writing. Revise, or start on a new book if the one you’ve written isn’t working. It takes 10,000 hours to become really good at anything., so even if your first book doesn’t sell, don’t get discouraged – writing it got you that much closer to your 10,000 hour goal.
4. Be excited about what you’re writing. You should want to sit down and write the book in your head. If you find yourself wanting to mow the lawn instead, there’s a problem. Either scrap the idea and start fresh on something else, or figure out what isn’t keeping you engaged and rewrite so you’re enjoying it (what’s the point of writing something that bores you? Imagine how your readers will feel…).
5. Treat writing like a job, not a hobby. Would you leave work to go home to do laundry or vacuum? Didn’t think so. (Although, if you said yes, there’s probably a good story right there!) If you said no, then don’t let chores get in the way of your writing time.
6. Set a schedule for writing. It can be the same time every day (get up a half hour earlier so you can fit it in before the alarm goes off, the kids wake up, the dog needs walking…) or at different times – whenever you can fit it in. Put it in your calendar and when it’s time to write, treat it like an appointment and drop everything to get to it! (This helps keeping it separate from that looming load of laundry).
7. Need inspiration? Pretend to be your character. Spend an afternoon doing what he or she would do. If you’re trying to write a scene but aren’t sure how it would play out – go do it. (For Love Struck, I spent a day with a personal shopper to see what it’s like to be one. I did a spinning class and got my teeth whitened. Aside from having fun, realizing I hate spinning, and get a gorgeous smile (until I had a glass of red wine), I gathered a ton of inspiration and concrete details that went into the book.)
8. Ask your friends to read your work – others can see the problems with plot, characterization and dialogue that you may not be able to see yourself. Listen to their feedback, but don’t feel obligated to use it if you don’t feel the same way. It’s about getting a fresh perspective.
9. Chocolate solves everything. Plot problem? Stuck in a scene? Eat chocolate. Then get back to writing. (Popcorn and jujubes work equally effectively.)
10. Remember that writing a book is a process. Even though it may be your dream, it’s not always going to be easy. Just try to keep the end goal in sight (finish writing your book), and if you’re having a particularly bad day, refer to rules #1-9. (Though I recommend starting with #9).
And now, my review for Love Struck….
Love Struck took a classic chick lit story and twisted it into its own unpredictable saga of love, betrayal, forgiveness, self-discovery, respect and growth. It was my first endeavor into the writing of Canadian chick lit author, Chantel Simmons and I was very impressed, hooked by page one.
Poppy Ross seems to have it all; the perfect marriage, the perfect job; the perfect life. She has a successful business as an image consultant, which basically means she gets to shop and play dress up with friends, family and a laundry list of a-list clientele for a living. She is married to Parker, a good-looking and successful businessman. They share a fabulous home and lifestyle without being weighed down by any kids or pets. In love and free to do what they want, when they want, Poppy couldn’t be happier…until one day at the nail salon, she overhears the women next to her gossiping about their friend Sienna who’s been having an affair with a married man named Parker Ross!
Poppy is sure her life is over. She doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t know what to say to Parker. Should she confront him? Should she look for more clues and try to catch him in the act? And then, just when she thinks she’s heard it all, her cell phone rings and she’s told Parker and another woman have been struck by lightning and are in the hospital.
Upon waking up, Parker is elated to see his wife and just to be alive. He has no recollection of the past few weeks, including the affair with Sienna and now Poppy is in even more of a bind about what to do. How can she tell Parker about the affair now? She doesn’t want to draw anymore attention to his drifting love for her or worse, risk pushing him back to Sienna. Poppy comes up with a plan for how to keep her man interested and keep him from straying. Using her prowess as an image consultant, Poppy decides to give herself the ultimate makeover – into the “other” woman – hoping to give Parker everything he went looking for elsewhere but so that he can find it right at home, with Poppy. Will Poppy’s transformation be able to keep Parker from straying back to Sienna? What if his memory comes back? What if Sienna looks for Parker? Poppy thinks she’s come up with the perfect plan to save her marriage but what if there’s more to Parker’s affair than just outward appearance? Poppy eventually discovers she will need to look deep within herself to figure out why Parker strayed in the first place? Maybe their marriage hasn’t been so perfect after all…then again, what is perfect?
I definitely recommend this novel as one of the summer’s top carry-alls. Bring it with you to the beach as you soak up the sun or take it indoors on one of those rainy, humid afternoons. Love Struck has a little something for everyone, taking readers on a roller coaster of emotions right up until the end. For all that was funny and light about this book, it also had a more serious, thought-provoking level to it, broaching on the topics of intimate relationships and how we project ourselves to others. Poppy endured one self-mutilating procedure after another to project what she thought Parker wanted in a wife, and I cringed, and cried, and laughed right along with her with each one; but eventually, this book showed how marriage, love, life – and self- is all about what’s on the inside. All in al, this book makes one think about just how much can change in a flash – quite literally, in Poppy’s case with that bolt of lightning. I will definitely be seeking out Chantel Simmons first novel, Stuck in Downward Dog and I hope there will be many more novels from her to come.
Thank you so much to Samantha at Chick Lit Plus for setting up today's blog tour with Chantel Simmons, and another big thank you to Chantel for stopping by my blog today and taking the time to share a guest post with us all. I know I’m sure going to be stocking up on chocolate now for those long days of writing! She is the author of Stuck in Downward Dog and Love Struck. Be sure to check out her web site for more information, http://www.chantelsimmons.com/.