After allowing Joshua Johnson to write a few guest blog posts I finally got him to scribble out answers to a few questions. His second book Soulless just came out.
1a) How do you handle writers block?
To be honest, I don’t get writers block very much during the actual writing of the book. That’s because I outline beforehand, and so I can usually solve any problems out there. I find it’s much easier to delete a few sentences rather than a few chapters if something doesn’t work. However, if I do suffer from writers block during the actual writing, I find it’s best to let the project ‘simmer’— watch something on the television, read another book, or even work on something else. Nine times out of ten, the answer to your problem comes to you when you’re least thinking about it.
1b) Are there days when you can’t stop writing because the words are just flowing so well?
Yep! I try and write everyday— for example, for my current project, my minimum is 1k a day— but some days it all seems to just come from nowhere. I think the most I’ve written in a day was about 7k words, and I was actually really happy with them. If only days like that happened everyday!
2) How do you handle a friend or family member that interrupts your writing just because they are done with their work or task?
Whereas some people like to write as they listen to music or watch television, I prefer writing in silence at home or in a library, or in a cafe. However, if somebody walks in as I’m writing they usually get a ‘Just give me a minute to finish this sentence!’ said to them. I do most of my writing in the evening— although I do write in the day, too, just not as much— and I don’t get very many distractions from anybody then, whether on or offline.
3a) What is your favorite type of tea?
PG Tips! I’m not sure if they’re sold in the US, but they’re quite popular in the UK. In fact, after hearing me mention them on Twitter, a follower told me they were going to ship some over to the US so they could try some, which is quite cool! I like my tea quite strong and not too hot. Sometimes I let myself have a spoonful of sugar in it, but only as a treat!
(Yes PG Tips is here in the USA, for the record I have some)
3b) Do you make your own milkshakes?
I am quite known for my love of milkshakes! In the past, I have made my own milkshake— it was a chocolate flavor made with Twix chocolate bars and ice cream. Although most of the time my milkshake is just bought from the store. However, in my town we do have a shop dedicated purely to milkshakes— it’s all made right in front of your eyes, and you can choose from hundreds of combinations of chocolates and sweets. Some are a bit odd, though— cereal and/or sherbet lemons, for example!
4) Do you snack whilst you write? (I.E. @BJSheldonAuthor and her gummy bears)
Gummy bears are a favorite of mine, too! Just a few weeks ago I was in the line at a store when I spotted two bags of them. I might have shouted out-loud about them in excitement a little bit too loudly, because the entire line began laughing at me as soon as the words left my mouth. *blushes* Usually a cup of tea and some biscuits can be seen next to me when I sit down to write.
5) How thorough are your outlines? Can you give me a small sample of your outlines, maybe a scene (Not spoiler) from SOULLESS?
My outlines are quite thorough, but they tend to grow. When I have an idea for a book, I’ll jot it down and leave it. Over time, I’ll add a few more notes to it here and there, before eventually sitting down and really working with it. It’s at this point I’ll write down the major scenes in the book I want to happen, and then I break those down into chapters and fill in the blank chapters. By this point, I have a sentence for each chapter of the book. I’ll then expand these sentences into a list of events for each chapter. After this, I’ll have what happens in every chapter from the beginning to the end. SOULLESS had quite a detailed outline, but that grew as I wrote it.
I thought I would put these four questions (are you self-published or with a publisher?, who does your editing?, cover art?, and why did you go the self-publishing route?) together and answer the question in one go.
I’m not really down one route, so to speak. For example, for one project I worked with a small press publisher and their team and we chose on who would do/what would be the cover, whereas another didn’t involve a publisher but did involve proofreaders and a beta reader team and group-editing sessions along with the rest of the original writing/editing/revising.
I’m continuing to spread across the different routes right as we speak, as I’m currently on submission with three sample chapters of a secret project with an agent/larger publishers, although nothing has happened so far, and probably won’t until 2014 now. In the future, I hope to be working on books across the different routes, or— as I believe they’re called— an ‘hybrid’ author, although that sounds like a different species!
7a) Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year?
I did. I didn’t win, though. It was really exciting this year because many of my friends decided to have a go at NaNoWriMo, which made it different for me, because—being an author— everyday of the year is like a smaller version of NaNoWriMo. As I said, though, I didn’t win because I had SOULLESS release, this blog tour to prep for, three books to read and write reviews for, and do some work on another project!
7b) I know of at least one of your books started as a NaNoWriMo project, which one?
THE SWEET LIFE in 2012, which releases this month (December 14th!), and is a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel as well as the first in a series of companion novels, each of which will re-tell a different fairytale. When I started THE SWEET LIFE for NaNoWriMo I didn’t know my first book— BONES ON THE SURFACE— was going to be released until halfway through the month, and so I had to stop writing SWEET, and work on BONES, but I think I let myself ‘win’ by combining all the words across the two projects I worked on during November. I can’t remember if that’s allowed or not?!
(Yes Josh combining word counts is allowed, a bit rebellious but allowed.)
8) What advice would you give to all those aspiring writers out there that just finished a NaNoWriMo novel?
First of all, when December 1st comes round, don’t send it out to agents/editors/publishers! If you’ve just finished your NaNoWriMo novel, take some time out to rest your mind and re-charge your batteries, before coming back to your novel. Read through it from start to finish, jotting down things that need changing. When you reach the end of the book, go back and change the things you said needed changing. Continue repeating until you’re happy. Then read through it and do smaller edits, and then when you feel you’re done and you’ve made it the best you can, then move onto the publishing part of your book. I wish you all good luck! 🙂
9) How do you get reviews in advance of publication?
You can send out ARCs or eARCs. This stands for Advanced Reader Copy, or Electronic Advanced Reader Copy. These are copies of your book that aren’t final copies— some printing may be wrong, or spellings might be found, or the front cover may not be final, or it might not have a cover at all! You can contact reviewers, host giveaways, ask family/friends, etc., to read these ARCs in exchange for a honest review.
10) How did you develop your fan base?
I’ve been ‘out there’ as an author for over a year now, and all the meanwhile I’ve been trying to build my fan base. I’ve done giveaways of ARCs, posted out signed postcards with letters written on the back of them, done competitions to win bookmarks, LiveShows on YouTube, blogging, guest posts on blogs, cover reveals on different websites, done my own blogging, hosted other people’s writing on my blog as they refer back to you when they share it, and just lately began reviewing books for a marketing company— I’ve found that when I write the reviews, people discover me after reading the review, so promoting other authors can help, too.
During all of this, I’m very active on Twitter. I try my best to reply to every tweet, and I share not only book-related things, but also aspects of my life away from being an author. I think it makes readers feel more personal with the author, and as a reader myself, I love seeing what some of my favorite authors are up to.
(I wish I could be half as active as you are on twitter.)
This week I began a ‘Friday Five’ on my blog. Each Friday I’ll share five things that I did during the week, whether it be author-related or life-related, which is something I’ve never done before and I hope it helps readers connect with me more.
11a) How do you come up with ideas for your novels?
I’m not too sure, to be honest! They all come from different places, and whenever I flick back through my writing I’m all confused as to where it all came from! BONES ON THE SURFACE, my first book, came to me as I was working on another book that will always be unpublished because it wasn’t very good at all. SOULLESS was actually my fourth book to write for publication, although it was my second released, and I wanted to write it because I wanted to try something new that was out of my comfort zone. THE SWEET LIFE (releasing Dec ‘13) is a re-telling of Hansel and Gretel, and so I thought I could add a new twist to the tale. Finally, THEIR TIME TO GO (2014) is the start of a five-book series, and after visiting a care home myself several times, a few ideas merged into one— it’s a book that’s very personal to me.
11b) How many more books can we expect in 2014?
11c) When and titles?
THEIR TIME TO GO on January 25th, 2014, my contemporary Russian novel of which no details have been revealed yet will be around April, a new young adult book in Summer,and then two more but I’m not saying anything about those yet at all.
Thank you so much for having me! I love the questions and I’ve really enjoyed the interview. 🙂
To follow Joshua on twitter click here.
Josh I must say I write on a daily basis as well, but my first novel hasn’t ventured beyond a few select hands. I will say my 2014 goal is to get it published by mid November 2014.