Cathy Yardley is an inspiration! Her sexy novels are a smashing success, and she recently published a guide for writers that's been instrumental in the development of my own work. Her book, Will Write for Shoes, gave me the courage to try my hand at writing Chick Lit.
Will Write for Shoes truly freed me to explore a side of my writing that was never given a voice. We connected online, and I've been following her on Twitter. When she agreed to grant me an exclusive interview for Indigo Skye: Ink and Art, I was thrilled! Today, she's here to dish the dirt about prom queens, agents, writer's block, and her newest Harlequin series, The Players' Club.
Q: Your recent post about prom queens really resonated with me- excellent advice. There’s a big temptation for writers to be all things to all people… any thoughts on a few ways budding writers can put down the prom-queen tiara and find their tribe?
A: That post really connected with a lot of people, writers or not. I think that as writers, we’re constantly thinking “I have to reach everyone to make the sales” or “my book could appeal to anyone.” I think that it’s a waste of energy. I truly feel it’s better to figure out who your “right reader” is, and then focus on reaching her. You can do that by thinking about who your perfect reader is, then drawing out what blogs she might read, or where she hangs out, or what else she likes. Then you can focus on connecting with those readers. Also, I think it’s crucial to maintain connection with people who have already shown they’re your right readers: people who say they like your work!
Q: Buzz has it you’re currently working on a blog for writers. I know I’m looking forward to it. Give me all the juicy details! What inspired you to create an online resource for writers? When can we expect this new project to be launched?
A: I haven’t quite launched yet, so this will be more like a teaser. I love talking shop about writing. If I’m at a conference I’ll talk to anyone for hours about it… not just the craft side, but the business side. In my old day job, I was an analyst, and one of my “things” was taking complex and crazy problems and making easy systems to solve them. (I’m compulsive that way, so it worked out.) Being a write-at-home Mom of a four year old, I’ve discovered I have to really focus on making the most of a little focused time, so I’ve created systems that help me: plotting systems, promoting systems, and most of all how to get unstuck in a hurry. I want to be able to share those systems. I also want to share more info on how the publishing industry works, in really simplified terms, and what the changes in the industry means to writers.
Also, I discovered that teaching totally energizes me, so I’m looking forward to offering some “mentoring courses” for authors, giving feedback as well as information. So excited about that!
I should launch in mid October… I’ll let you know soon, and I’ll be posting about it on my own blog, www.cathyyardley.com/blog . I’ll also put out a notice on Twitter and Facebook.
Q: Tell me more about your new Harlequin Blaze series, The Players Club. What inspired you to write about these poker-loving playboys and their romantic escapades?
A: I loved the idea of a hero-centered trilogy, and this particular Club is especially fun. It’s a secret society that does all these crazy, adrenaline-addict challenges. They ask the question: if you were going to die in a month, what three things would you want to do? And then, to join the Club, you have one month to do every one of those things. It’s sort of like Dead Poets’ Society meets Fight Club. So much fun!
Q: When will the first novel in the series be released? Do you have any special events planned to promote The Players Club?
A: I don’t have a pub date yet, so no special events planned. But again, I’ll definitely be announcing on my blog, newsletter and other social media!
Q: What’s next? We’d love to dish the dirt about your upcoming projects and new releases. What do you have in store for readers this year?
A: This year, the big thing is the launch of the new writing blog. Next year, The Players’ Club. And I’m currently shopping a new, strange project that I’m so excited about I can hardly stand it. Unfortunately, that’s still secret until I get the word!
Q: Name three things you do to beat writer’s block…
A: I’ve got a few processes that really work for me right now. The first is from a site called www.fluentself.com . The woman who writes it, Havi, calls it “Meeting your Monsters.” If I’m blocked, it’s not because I’m lazy. It’s because I’m scared of something, or because I’m burned out. So first, I meditate and try to identify what, exactly, I’m afraid of, then try to come up with a compromise, so the fear feels a little better but I’m still able to get work done. If it’s burn out, I work on replenishing myself. That means taking my “soul vitamins,” which could be hanging out with my writer friends, or spending time by myself somewhere. Walking every day and meditating every day definitely helps.
Q: They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Is there any way to prevent these dreaded creative blocks?
A: Taking care of yourself is one thing. The other thing: I truly believe no writer can do it alone. If you don’t have a support network that you check in with on a regular basis, I think that blocks are inevitable.
Q: Many of my readers dream of writing full-time. What’s your advice for fledgling writers hoping to break into the biz?
A: Think about why you want to write full time. Is it because you hate your day job? Because writing isn’t going to just be the art… you’re going to become an entrepreneur, and that means a lot of risk.
If you can’t handle risk, especially being financially insolvent and going for long periods of time with no income, then being a full time writer might not be for you.
If you can handle it, and like the idea of being an entrepreneur as well as an artist, then I think there are a lot of steps you can take toward breaking in. My writing blog will have a lot of information as well as direct instructions to help you write full time.
Q: With so many changes to the industry, do you think it’s necessary for a new writer to obtain an agent to represent her work? Why/why not?
A: I think if you’re serious about being a full time writer, getting a good agent is absolutely necessary. Agents are gatekeepers: most editors look at agents as the first filter. If you’ve got an agent, then they’re not wasting their time with someone who knows nothing about the industry or has a story that isn’t right for them. Also, a good agent knows what editors are looking for, and will be able to target their queries more specifically. When you sell your book, an agent can press for stuff and act as your shield: you get to be good cop, while she acts as bad cop. Finally, your agent should be able to negotiate for the best price as well as retain as many rights as possible. Just reading a book on “being your own agent” might not be enough to protect you. Besides, this is your career. Do you want to do all your own bookkeeping, build your own website, do all of your own promotion, and clean your own house? Even if you’re broke to begin with (and believe me, I feel that one) I think it’s important to look at wise investments. An agent – a good agent – is worth the investment.
Q: What inspires you most?
A: Great stories, in any medium: films, television shows, and of course novels of any genre. I also get a lot of ideas from songs, strangely enough!
Q: What’s your secret formula for a sex scene that sizzles?
A: I have no idea, LOL! I just sort of wing it every time. But I will say if it doesn’t turn you on, it won’t turn anyone else on.
Q: Any final words of encouragement for all those budding novelists out there?
A: Keep writing. Get a group of writers who believe in you, and meet with them often. It’s not about genius: it’s about persistence and sheer, crazed, all-encompassing passion.
You can connect with Cathy online at Cathy Yardley for the latest news on new releases, interviews, events, and more! Follow her tweets on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cathyyardley.