Today we welcome the lovely Jaimie Admans who is the author of Kismetology...
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I try to be on the computer by 9am. I check Twitter, Facebook and catch up on emails, and then start preparing and planning what scenes I’m writing that day. I write until 11am, when it’s time for a tea and biscuit break (tea and biscuits are a vital part of the writing process, honest!) then it’s back to the laptop and writing again until I stop for lunch and another quick Twitter check. I try to be back on the laptop again by 2pm, and then write until I hit my word count goal for the day – usually 3000 words. After that I can spend time on Twitter without feeling guilty.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
Yes. Probably a bit too much! In Kismetology, I borrowed quite a bit from my own mum. She wasn’t too pleased about it either! Things like when Mackenzie’s mum complains about her curtains not being straight – my mum always moans about that. And she loves Martin Clunes for some unknown reason – I had to include that in the book! Everyone who knows us and has read the book thinks it’s a true story, so maybe next time I shouldn’t borrow quite so many characteristics of people I know. I use celebrities as well – it wasn’t intentional, but when I was writing the character of Jeff in the book, I got a very clear picture of the actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan in my head, so he ended up being a bit like him.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
See Jane Date by Melissa Senate. It’s the book that inspired me to write. I read it for the first time in 2003, and although I already loved chick-lit and adored characters like Bridget Jones and Becky Bloomwood, I had never connected with a character like I did with Jane. There’s a bit in the book where Jane has a huge crush on her unavailable boss and whenever he talks to her, she replies to the light switch beside his head or the stapler on the desk in front of him rather than making eye contact. I was doing exactly the same thing in my job with my own crush on my unavailable boss. And the situations that Jane gets herself into are exactly the type of thing I’d do too. I had never seen ‘me’ in a book before.
At the end of the book was a page from the publisher saying, “Can you write a book like this? We’re looking for submissions.” And although I had no interest in the submissions part, I realised that yes, I could write a book like that. And that was the start of my writing journey.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first of dive in? How many drafts do you do?
Whenever I get an idea, I have to mull it over for a while and really think about it. Is it good enough? Will I be able to write a whole novel out of it? Is it boring or has it been done before? Are there subplots and characters that people will like?
I picture scenes in my head and have to make sure I have enough of them to make a full novel.
Once I’ve decided on an idea, I plan lightly. I have to have a beginning, middle, and end. I know from experience that if I start writing without knowing the ending, I will stall halfway through. I have to know where the book is going, and roughly how it’s going to get there! My outline is nothing more than a list of scenes in some vague sort of order. I like leaving plenty of room for the characters to take over!
What was your journey to being a published author?
Novelicious was actually very inspirational! I have been writing for years, but never done anything with my work except let it gather virtual dust on my hard drive. Although traditional publication is my dream, I’m not in a position to pursue it properly right now. I had never really considered self-publishing, at least not in the years since ebooks came along, but seeing the amazing success of Kirsty Greenwood’s Yours Truly and Anna Bell's Millie and the American Wedding inspired me. It made me realise that self-publishing is not just a last resort for people who can’t get a ‘proper’ publishing deal. If amazing books like these are self-published, then it can only be a good thing. It really made me think about it, start researching it properly, and something clicked for me. Self-publishing felt like the right thing for me to do. I spent the summer getting Kismetology edited, whipped into shape and ready for release, and I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every second of it!
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s not hard work. That I get to do nothing but sit around on my bum all day. (Well, I do sit around on my bum all day, but only because it’s hard to type standing up!) And that I finish a novel, click my fingers and it magically appears on Amazon the next day. People don’t understand how much work goes into a book, how much time is needed for multiple drafts, edits, more edits, covers, formatting, even more edits, etc.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Do it little by little. The best advice I ever heard was to try and write a few words every day. It doesn’t matter how many, even if it’s only a hundred or so, but if you write a few words every day, eventually you will have written a novel.
I realised that if I wrote 1000 words a day, quite a reasonable target for me, within three months I would have a novel. It was a bit of a wake up call. I’d always thought that novels took years to write.
That was how I started my first novel. I plugged away at it every day, doing a few words here and there, and eventually it got to be 50,000 words long and more than halfway through. I was so excited to realise that I had written that many words, I went on a bit of a spree and wrote the next 30,000 words in a week and finished the novel! And no, that particular novel will never, ever see the light of day, but it proved to me and to everyone else that I could do it.
You’d be amazed at what happens when you start putting words on the page.
What are you working on at the moment?
Multiple things. Next up for publishing is a children’s Christmas story called Creepy Christmas, which is currently with an editor and due for release hopefully before Christmas!
I will also be writing for this year’s NaNoWriMo, which is a very dark young adult book called Autumn. Let’s just say the main character is a serial killer, and my search history (for research purposes, honest!) could get me arrested!
What are your top five writing tips?
1: Unplug the internet cable. If Twitter is tweeting in the background and the new email sound keeps pinging, you’ll never get any writing done. Unplug it, ignore the husband/kids/dog, sit down and put your fingers on the keys.
2: If you’re stuck, skip it. Personally I find that if I get stuck on a particular scene or if I just can’t get past a certain point, it’s because something isn’t right. Don’t just sit there staring at a blank screen and cursing writers block. Move to the next scene. Move to a part of the book you’re excited about writing. Heck, move to another book. If you’re stuck on something, you’re stuck for a reason.
3: Write Or Die. http://www.writeordie.com This is a great little tool. It may not be for everyone, but it really works for me. You can use it online or download an app or desktop version. Basically, you set a time limit and number of words you want to write, for example you tell it 500 words in half an hour. It opens up a text box, and you write your words. If you stop writing, it punishes you. Simples.
There are three modes – gentle, normal, and kamikaze. In gentle mode, which is usually enough for me, if you stop writing, your screen flashes red and a warning telling you to keep writing comes up. In normal mode, it starts to play an extremely unpleasant sound like nails on a blackboard or babies screaming, and the sound only stops when you start writing again. In kamikaze mode, it starts deleting the words you have already written. That one is a bit too scary for me!
I find it great for the times when I can’t stop procrastinating. When I’ve been fiddling around all day and done everything I can do to not write, I use Write Or Die to give me the kick I need to get going!
I am a big fan of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, where your goal is to write 50,000 words in November. There are other months too, like the Camp NaNo that runs in the summer, but the idea is the same. You don’t have time to worry about the words being perfect. You don’t have time to edit as you go. You don’t have time to agonise over every sentence. You only have time to get the words onto the page, into a rubbish, messy first draft that will need a lot of editing later. But it’s a first draft more than you would have had a month ago.
This is how I write all the time, NaNo or not, because it’s what suits me. Write now, fix later. Do a bit of research beforehand, but anything you come across in the story that needs looking up, stick a note by it and fix it in the editing. Do nothing but write the words down. You can make them look pretty later.
I’m in my seventh year of NaNo now, and I enjoy it every year. It’s great for connecting with other writers who are all in the same boat as you. The forums are great for fun and for research. You won’t fail to find someone to answer your questions, offer plot help and advice, and even if you don’t use them, the dare threads should give you a good laugh!
When I’ve written 500 words, I can have a bit of chocolate. Or a cup of tea and a custard cream. It doesn’t have to be food related. It can be an episode of a TV show, or a bubble bath or something. Anything that motivates you and gives you a goal besides word count!
6. Seriously, unplug the internet cable!
Thanks, Jaimie *unplugs internet cable*