I first met Casey at a writer’s conference a few years ago. I felt instantly welcomed by her warm spirit and her love of writing. When she shared her story with me recently of the amount of work she had produced in the last few years, I knew other writers could gain from her experiences. Please welcome Casey Clifford to The Editing Essentials!
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Casey Clifford retired from college teaching and writes women’s fiction and romantic suspense. Her debut novel won the Holt Medallion for Best First Book and the Write Touch Readers’ Award for Best Romantic Suspense. She enjoys speaking about craft, writing under pressure and for pleasure, and motivation techniques for writers. She’s a seasoned woman who uses her experiences and her observations of life to enhance the stories she creates. Those stories always involve love, family, friends, good food, great wine, superb desserts, and problems–big or small. Just like life. Her Sunday blog does also. Visit these sites to learn more about Casey’s books: http://caseyclifford.wordpress.com/ or her Amazon Author page: http://amzn.com/e/B0046UYW3G
Brittiany suggested I write a few words about how I produced 4 books in one year. First of all I want to clarify I didn’t start from scratch, and the time frame was more like 14-15 months.
In the fall of 2010, I sold my second romantic suspense An Island No More to The Wild Rose Press. Edits didn’t begin immediately, but were scheduled to start early January 2011. My editor had a family emergency which shoved my start date into early February. The email with her suggestions, comments, and requested changes/edits arrived the same day my son died unexpectedly. Since I was his closest living relative, I faced edits and funeral arrangements simultaneously. I notified her and she offered an extension but that would put me at the bottom of her project list. Not going to happen. I said I’d meet her deadline and did. I edited through my grief.
My son’s death affected me deeply. He was too young to die. But his death forced me to come to terms with the fact that I was getting older. And I had many stories I wanted to get into the hands of readers. Traditional publishing is a process of being patient and waiting–contract to published can take up to 2 years. I could die before I produced another book publishers would take to contract. This was especially true for the women’s fiction stories that were really exciting me. My agent told me she loved my book, but couldn’t sell it. However, she believed readers would love it, so I listened when she suggested I look into independent publishing. I heard the buzz on the loops and from writers I knew personally who had taken the plunge and published some of their work independently.
After I finished with the edits on An Island No More in March, I decided to take out those manuscripts that editors had rejected for reasons that had nothing to do with readers but everything to do with not wanting to take a chance on something just a bit different from an unknown author. Then I got to work.
Revision was my way of dealing with my stress. Polishing and fine-tuning manuscripts I’d worked on and set aside because the “market wasn’t ready” or “romance can’t have the hero and heroine married to each other,” I realized I was now writing love stories of a sort. So in October 2011, I independently published Seasons of Wine and Love, a romance with a 40ish heroine/hero, which isn’t the norm. In December 2011, Fireweed went live. That one continues the adventures of Caitlin and Mike from my award-winning first novel, Black Ribbon Affair. But now they’re married so it’s not a romance. In February 2012, Better Than Dessert was published. In September More Than A Trifle went live. These last two are part of my ongoing women’s fiction series about a group of women friends in their early 50s. Each book is stand alone but characters continue and new ones are introduced. Each book centers on one of the friends who’s dealing with a serious life-changing event.
Only More Than A Trifle wasn’t finished in rough draft in 2011. So I guess I’ve polished and produced 5 books in 14 months.
As I mentioned. I’m driven to write–initially to work though my grief at the death of my son. Also, I love the process. Even the boring parts like doing that final check for too often repeated words excite me. Yeah, I know I’m crazy. I’d rather write than promote which isn’t a good thing. From what I’ve read, if you’re not good at promotion, then have more books available. I’m trying. 🙂
Besides being driven, I’m blessed with an adorable husband who loves to cook and grocery shop and supports my need to write. This allows me time to work uninterrupted in my office every day. And I do mean every day.
I set monthly goals and weekly goals to achieve them. I retired to my second career as a writer so I keep a daily log of what I accomplish each day to achieve those weekly goals. Generally I spend a minimum of 2 hours writing/researching/editing. One day is a “free” day, usually Sunday, but I’m reading or catching up on PR items on that day unless I’m doing something with my family. Holidays the writing schedule lightens but that means I only write/edit an hour a day unless we’re traveling. With my laptop I get writing in before anyone else gets up.
I have my own writing process but that’s another article. However, I will leave you with 2 ideas to ponder.
1. A rough draft is a rough draft. Get your story on paper or in a file and don’t worry about making it pretty. After 27 years of teaching writing, I understand when ideas flow, let them flow and don’t worry about perfection. The more you do this, the better your rough drafts will get. No, they won’t be perfect, but those elements you’re strongest in will become stronger and those weak ones? They get better.
2. Don’t believe in writer’s block. If you don’t know where to start, start where your mind takes you. With that scene that’s playing in your head–you know the one. OR maybe you need to do a bit more research or thinking about your characters, setting, that scene where you think you should start. Maybe write the setting, only hitting all your senses concerning it. Or “interview” an interesting secondary character. Or your hunky hero. Or that love scene you’ve been thinking about. Or the ending that you know exactly how you want to write. Any of these will get you going. You’re a writer, all you need sometimes is that little push.
I appreciate this opportunity to share my story with you. I’ll be available to answer any questions and in fact would love to hear from you. Write well. 🙂
Thanks so much for being our guest today, Casey! We hope you enjoyed her story, and learned something from her experiences. Please feel free to ask questions. She’ll be here with us all day.