Today it is my pleasure to introduce to you Katie O’Rourke, author of Blood & Water. It’s on sale this week for 99¢. I just downloaded my copy and hope you will, too.
Thanks Katie, for telling us about your writing practice:
1. Tell me about yourself. When did you start writing & how to you get your ideas:
I’m a hybrid author. My debut novel was traditionally published by LittleBrown in 2012. My third novel was chosen for publication by KindleScout in 2015. I’ve self-pubbed a few books in between. It was during my last semester of college that I was introduced to “creative nonfiction” and that was the bridge that led me to write fiction (after years of writing angsty, introspective poetry). People who know me well can find the sections in my novels that have been “stolen” from real life. All of my characters are created from fragments of actual people, but none of my characters are based on a single person.
2. Are you writing a series?
I write family sagas with overlapping characters, so they’re all connected. My current work in progress is my first actual sequel.
3. Do you have a writing routine?
I like to write while listening to music. I don’t focus as well in silence. I’ve never been the kind of writer to force daily outputs, but I participate in Nanowrimo most years to kickstart a project and help me get organized. I’m otherwise pretty distractable!
4. Advice for aspiring writers:
Here’s the thing: writing advice is so valuable. I love to listen to different writers share their different approaches for what works for them. It’s inspiring and it always reminds me how many different paths there are to a similar goal. The problem with writing advice is that often it’s delivered as if it’s coming from an expert who is letting you in on an absolute secret about the definitive correct way to do it.
My advice is that before you take advice (even mine), do two things: 1. consider the source and 2. decide if the advice rings true for you.
If you’re a big fan of Stephen King and you’re interested in learning how to write the kind of books he writes in the way he writes them, you might want to read On Writing. There are other helpful manuals written by other kinds of writers. Find one that’s right for you. Not everyone writes like Stephen King or Charles Bukowski or Earnest Hemingway or Anne Lamott or Ray Bradbury or Sol Stein. Not everyone wants to. I’m sure each one of those authors has helpful nuggets of wisdom to share and I think new writers should be open to all of it, but skeptical when it doesn’t resonate.
The one-size-fits-all advice is something I see more and more as writers are pressured to create content for blogs that will strengthen their “platform”. I don’t think it’s helpful and I’m especially dismayed by how-to book writers claiming to be experts so they can make money off newbie writers. I think it’s exploitative.
Writers who make it through the gauntlet to publishing should absolutely share what worked for them with writers coming up after them. The stories are as fascinating as they are diverse. Some writers get an MFA while others are self-taught. Some writers plot everything out on color-coded note cards while others begin writing without any idea where their characters will take them. Some writers work in seclusion while others rely on supportive writers groups. Some edit only when their first draft is complete while others edit as they’re writing.
The more of these stories you hear, the clearer it becomes that there are many different ways to do it. I think, especially for new writers, the biggest lesson to learn is which advice to take and which advice to ignore.
About Blood & Water
Tucson, Arizona is a place for runaways. Everyone came from somewhere else and has a story about what they left behind.
Delilah arrives on her brother’s doorstep with a secret. She hasn’t seen him in five years. He ran away from their family long ago for reasons no one talks about and she still doesn’t understand. The stress of raising his teenage daughter alone sometimes makes David envious of his deliberately childless friends, Tim and Sara, but they’re runaways too, harboring secrets of their own. Blood & Water tells their stories and traces the deep connections between this unlikely group of friends.
This novel is about family, in its various manifestations: the one you’re born into, the one you choose and the one you create.
I had the pleasure of meeting Bonnie McCune at the Author U Conference in 2016, where my novel, Lipstick on the Strawberry, then yet to be published, was a finalist in the “Draft to Dream” competition. Bonnie and I share a background in freelance journalism, and like me, she has won awards for her writing. Her third novel, Never Retreat, was published this week by Imajin Books, and I asked her if she’d be a guest blogger on my website. I’m committed to promoting the work of other women writers, so I’m pleased to offer Bonnie’s essay on women’s fiction in our very complicated world.
TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME IN POPULAR FICTION
By Bonnie McCune
Seems like life gets more complicated as the years pass. What toothpaste do I choose in the
supermarket out of the dozens of brands demanding my attention? How do I choose screen – time programs with thousands of stations, streaming videos, and DVDs at my fingertips? When election time rolls around, which candidates and political parties are worthy of support?
Just as convoluted are our concepts about traditions. Terms as basic as “home” and “family” aren’t simple. Nowadays, a family may have one parent, same-sex parents, one or more children with no genetic ties to the adults, assorted friends and hangers-on who give and receive emotional stability from one another, and an assortment of different ages. Ditto “home.” It might be an apartment, a separate house, a tent, a motel, even a box under a bridge.
Fortunately, we’re more flexible these days. We don’t need to be limited by words when we think about ‘family’ and ‘home.’ These terms are more easily defined by emotions than phrases, and I’m fascinated by the changes reflected in popular fiction. Whereas in romances, the happy ending used to always mean the hero and heroine got married, this is not as true today. The romance field has a term “happy for now” (HFN), meaning the reader can’t predict with certainty that the main couple will wind up together. Probably they will, but maybe not.
Those of us living in the real world know every life has its share of knocks. Fiction, particularly the type described as “women’s fiction” now incorporates reality. In my new novel, Never Retreat, I wanted all my characters to have feet of clay. L believe there’s room in fiction to include writing unafraid to debate contemporary concerns. Heroine Raye, in addition to being half Latina and facing some kneejerk racism, is a single mom. Hero Des is an ex-military man who doesn’t necessarily agree with all the decisions leaders make. This type of fiction pulls no punches, while providing a fresh look at age-old issues.
The homecomings they experience range from survival in the wilderness to learning how to open up and depend upon each other. When we read fiction, we’re able to encounter many types of people and a multitude of homecomings. The plots of women’s fiction often take the long way home. They wind, tantalize, puzzle, enchant. But one thing they have in common, a truth we’ve long known, as always, home is where the heart is.
NEVER RETREAT – FACT SHEET
A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.
PUBLICATION INFO: PUBLISHING MARCH 15, 2018, 978-1- 77223-350- 6 Kindle ebook, 978-1- 77223-351- 3 Trade paperback, 240 pages. Amazon or Imajin Books. Ebook and paperback.
CONTACT: Bonnie’s writing has won several awards. Visit her at www.BonnieMcCune.com, Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.