My guest today is Kate Murdoch, the author of Stone Circle, a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy that was released December 2017. She is sharing some tips on the business of writing for those considering writing a novel and seeking publication. As she says, getting from that first word on paper to a published book is not easy.
I am not sure what a beverage of choice was in Renaissance Italy, but I am sure if it was some kind of wine, it might have been carried in a flask like this. Tip a swallow for yourself and enjoy…
First, thanks to Maryann for having me here on the blog. Yes, the road to publication can be long and arduous—here are some ideas of what to do, and what to avoid.
If you want to obtain an agent, don’t send your manuscript to any publishers. Agents like to be the first people to see a manuscript so they know that when they send it out, none of the targeted publishers have seen it before.
Don’t wait more than six months for a publisher to get back to you. If it takes that long, it’s time to try another.
Rejection is part of the process. Whilst rejection will always be painful, rather than let it flatten you, use it as fuel to steel you and power ahead. Prove them wrong.
Don’t compete with your fellow writers. You’re in this together, and the more you can offer emotional support and concrete help, the more you will receive. Let them know about competitions, critique their work and give them a shoulder to cry on.
Don’t forget lived experience. Writing doesn’t happen in isolation. Interact and observe, even take notes of conversations and visuals.
Don’t mimic your favourite authors. Be inspired, take elements of what resonates, but try to develop your own voice. Your perspective on life is special and unique. No one else can tell the same story as you.
Attend workshops and take writing courses. Not only will you develop skills and confidence, you’ll meet new friends for the journey.
Write short fiction and submit it to publications. This was crucial for me. Short form is very challenging, and practising it regularly informed my long-form writing. In addition, when these pieces were published, it gave me much-needed confidence to keep submitting my novel.
Send multiple query letters to different agents. It’s unrealistic to do one at a time.
Beta readers are important. Try and have as many as possible give you feedback before sending out your manuscript. The more drafts you do, the better.
Enjoy the process of creating, of not having any real pressure. When you’re published, you’ll be working to a deadline and promoting your work. There will be less time to immerse yourself in the joy of writing.
Read widely and often. Good writing filters into your own if you fill your head with it. Bad writing can remind you what not to do.
Critique others’ work. This is a good way to figure out what’s important to you in your craft, what you value, what you find boring. Once this list of stylistic ‘do’s and don’ts’ are clear in your mind, your writing will improve. You will also learn an enormous amount from other writers.
The journey to publication should be lived fully, day by day. Don’t wish away time, every step is important. If it happened overnight, you may not be ready for it, and you probably wouldn’t value it as much. Know you’re not alone, and there are many who can support and encourage if you seek them. Onwards and upwards.
Is the ability to read minds a blessing or a curse?
When Antonius’s father dies, he must work to support his family. He finds employment as a servant in the Palazzo Ducal, home of Conte Valperga. Sixteenth-century Pesaro is a society governed by status, and Antonius has limited opportunities.
When a competition is announced, Antonius seizes his chance. The winner will be apprenticed to the town seer. Antonius shares first place with his employer’s son. The two men compete for their mentor’s approval. As their knowledge of magic and alchemy grows, so does the rivalry and animosity between them. When the love of a beautiful woman is at stake, Antonius must find a way to follow his heart and navigate his future.
Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone Circle. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing. In between writing historical fiction, she enjoys writing short stories and flash fiction.
Her short-form fiction is regularly published in Australia, UK, US and Canada.
Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press December 1st 2017.
Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.
Learn more about Kate on her website and follow her on social media:
Kate is offering to answer questions for anyone who would like more information about the writing business or about her books. Ask away in the comments.