Hi Holly, I am so pleased you’ve joined me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, I Will Follow Him?
My story is about Francie, a private detective hired to follow a groom-to-be and his groomsmen as they go on a cruise. It’s a romantic comedy about a singles’ cruise, so there are lots of laughs, surprises, and (naturally) love.
What have been the challenges of writing within the Oceanic Dreams book series?
No challenges! It’s been great!
Do you need to have read the other books to read yours?
No. Every book can be read as a standalone story.
What is your writing process like, from idea to first draft? (If you are happy to provide a photo as an example of any part of the process, then that would be fantastic.)
I just jump in and start writing. I’m a total pantser, meaning I fly by the seat of my pants. Every story has a “feeling” to it, a mood, of those particular characters, setting, etc. When I signed on to the Oceanic Dreams project, I loved the light, fun premise. Although I didn’t have a particular plot or character in my mind until I sat down to write and saw what showed up, the series had been on my mind, percolating, for months before I started and I’m sure that helped me.
Is character or plot more important?
Character. I’d read a book about a fascinating person cleaning their house. I would not want to read a book with a great plot but characters who are boring.
How important is it to pick character names and how do you pick yours?
Important. I often change my characters’ names (find and replace) several times before I get it right.
Which authors do you admire?
Barbara Kingsolver, Miranda July, Stephen King, David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Astrid Lindgren, Mark Twain, Flannery O’Connor, Lois Lowry
Which fictional character would you like to meet?
If I was still a kid, Pippi Longstocking and Anne Shirley. At this point in my life, I’m not sure. I like to read books with really flawed characters, but they’re probably more fun to read about than to actually meet.
What advice do you have for someone suffering from writers block?
Pick a different story and work on that instead. Start a new one if you have to. There’s nothing wrong with having several books going at once.
Which elements need to be in place before you begin to write?
I need a block of quiet time to myself. If I don’t have at least two or three hours, I usually don’t bother. the exception is if I’m REALLY into a book I’m working on. Then I might steal moments that are shorter. Usually, though, I either get in the zone or don’t.
How much planning prior to writing a novel do you feel is enough?
Zero minutes, ha ha. My books start with a sentence and go from there.
What’s your writing day like? Where do you like to write? Longhand? Need coffee?
If I’m going to write, I usually get going fairly early. I don’t set an alarm, but if I’m working on a book I’m excited about, I’ll often wake up early on my own, ready to go. Coffee is a must. I write on a computer. Even though I have a designated writing area, I’m more likely to sit on the couch and write. On a really good day of writing, I might write for ten or twelve hours.
What are you working on now?
I’m making some updates to old books (now and then you have to update your ‘also written by’ list and make little tweaks like that) because I’m kind of stuck as to which book I want to finish next. I have many partly done ones. I’m not sure which one I’m “feeling” most.
What are the best/worst parts of being a writer?
Best parts: The whole having your own schedule thing is wonderful. I love not having to set an alarm. Not having to talk to people early in the day. Not having to get up and get moving if you don’t feel great. Being able to work for many hours straight if you are feeling it. Working at eleven o’clock at night or six in the morning. There are days when a person feels productive and days when they don’t, and it’s a shame every job can’t do a better job of working with that. So that’s the best part.
Worst parts: Unfortunately, there are many. It’s such an antisocial job. If you have the tendency to be a hermit, it’s not necessarily best to let yourself embrace that tendency.
What are the most common traps for new writers?
Here are lots of traps and I’m sure at some time or another, I’ve fallen into all of them:
Comparing themselves to others.
Not getting enough feedback from beta readers.
Using the wrong beta readers who don’t understand/appreciate their genre, style, or writing voice.
Finding the balance between confidence and arrogance. (Writers need to believe in themselves. They also need to be ready and willing to change and improve.)
Putting out books before they’re ready. (If a writer is self-published and they’ve done this, they need to take their book down and fix it. Sometimes people get the feeling that once it’s out there, it’s too late, but it’s never too late to improve a book.)
Expecting to make lots of money on their first books.
Writing about things they don’t know enough about or trying to write to a trend.
Getting spammy on social media.
Not being open to criticism.
Throwing away money on marketing that doesn’t work. (There’s nothing wrong with trying different marketing tactics, but they need to pay attention to the results so they can pull back quickly if they’re wasting money.)
Spending their writing time going down internet rabbit holes.
Believing just the writing tips and marketing tips that support what they’d hoped in the first place.
Having a bad cover.
Not being flexible about their own writing and publishing journey.
Not knowing what success means to them. (For some people, success means money. For others it means having book signings at big, famous bookstores. For others, it just means having a book in paperback. Writers need to focus on building the kinds of success that actually matters to them.)
Not networking with other authors.
Taking more than they give.
What do you wish you’d known when you were a new writer that you know now?
Everything in the list above.
Any advice for new writers?
Read a lot of great authors. The really famous writers are famous for a reason. James Joyce. Raymond Carver. Edgar Allen Poe. Franz Kafka. Emily Dickinson. Mark Twain. Sylvia Plath. They’re doing things with words and rhythm, pacing, lyricism, humor, symbolism, the way they reveal a truth or hide it.
You can be a writer of modern stories and still benefit from these writers from fifty or a hundred or two hundred years ago. Read and write poetry. I’ll admit, I don’t do this much any longer, but as a teenager, I was obsessed with poets and poetry, and I believe it’s helped me as a writer. Reading outside your genre helps you think about the flow and beauty of sentences. Read books on craft.
Write all the time. If you’re a kid, now’s the time to start.
More about Holly:
Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty books including Kindle Unlimited All-Star winner Sweet Hollow Women. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
For more information about Holly, visit http://hollytierneybedord.com.
For more information about the Oceanic Dreams series, visit https://oceanicdreamsbooks.com