Sunday, 19 April 2015

Need For Speed - Guest Post Samantha Tonge


Today's guest needs little introduction, not least because this is her third visit to my blog - welcome back Sam!
Most of you will know Sam originally through her magazine stories and, more recently, through her successful career as a novelist. Sam's latest novel, Game of Scones, is being published tomorrow and as her digital publisher CarinaUK is well known for their fast turnaround, I asked Sam if she could talk a little about this.

Over to you, Samantha.

The turnaround with a digital-first imprint, like CarinaUK, is very fast, and I’ve always wondered how some writers are able to produce several books a year. It surprises me that I am now at a point where I can write two in twelve months, with a little time to spare. I’m an author full-time which, of course, makes a huge difference. However, I’ve particularly noticed, whilst typing the last two books, that improvements in my writing have speeded up the process.

Before my debut Doubting Abbey was published I had, um, several rejected novels under the bed! I learned a lot from writing them but they still took six months to one year each to finish. However, by now I’ve had four novels pushed through the Harlequin revisions process, and I have to say that’s made all the difference. My writing hasn’t become quicker, but I think what I’m now producing is less first-draftish and therefore doesn’t – touch wood – need quite so much work afterwards.

I’ve noticed that my prose is much tighter and I’ve also managed to work on my two main weak areas, thanks to four books’ worth of perceptive comments from my editor. Firstly, I never put in enough emotion, so I focus on this from the start. Also, I’ve struggled over the years with making certain characters likeable, so again, I check constantly, as I go, that no one is whingeing too much, or being spineless, selfish... not if they are a character I want readers to warm to.

It’s a bit like writing short stories... One year I sold around fifty to The People’s Friend. After a while I had a good sense of what the editor – and therefore reader – was looking for, so it meant that the first version of these stories wasn’t as rough as they were when I first started subbing shorts. My writing hadn’t got quicker, my understanding of what the genre required was just better, from the start.

Before getting published I would get editorial reports done on my books from organisations such as Cornerstones. I saw the cost as an investment into my career. I learned a great deal from this, as the reports are tailored to your own needs. I would ask for information on where I was going wrong with a particular book, plus my writing in general.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be in the league of some Mills & Boon writers, who produce five or so quality books a year, but if I can keep at two, I’ll be more than happy. This would never have happened when I first started out, as my first book reached 90,000 words and only had four chapters! Now I also keep a firm control of my wordcount!
 

Game of Scones
A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!
Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones –with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niko by her side…
Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niko and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project - The Tastiest Little Teashop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…
If you’re a fan of Lindsey Kelk or Lucy Diamond then don’t hesitate to step into Samantha Tonge’s truly delightful tea shop.
Bio:

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and two cats who think they are dogs. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels and short stories is her passion.

Samantha has sold over 80 short stories to mainstream women's magazines. Her debut romantic comedy novel from CarinaUK Harlequin, bestselling "Doubting Abbey", was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award, 2014. Its fun sequel is From Paris With Love. Mistletoe Mansion is a fun standalone Christmas novel.
 
 
Thank you very much for visiting today, Sam, and good luck with the new book!

 


38 comments:

  1. Knowing where you're likely to go wrong and therefore not doing it does sound an excellent way to speed up the process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anything that speeds up the writing process sounds good to me, Patsy.

      Delete
    2. Taken me 3.5 years to write no 1 :). The day job does get in the way ...

      Delete
    3. Yes, the day job is something that a lot if writers can't avoid, Nicky. Good luck with your novel.

      Delete
  2. So basically - get it right first time! Thanks for the interesting post, Wendy and Sam.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think trying to get it write first time is what's slowing me down, Kath!

      Delete
  3. Yes, Patsy, I think that's they key - but it can take a few novels under the bed to work out where exactly you keep going wrong .. Or it did in my case!
    Hmm, a full day job or having small children can hinder the speed, that's for sure NIcky ... but even a couple of hundred words a day soon builds up x

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sam and Wendy, thanks for this, I found it really interesting. Sam, I'm amazed (whoops, I wrote 'I'm amazing' there first! Modest, moi?) at your output and you're definitely an inspiration! How many hours a day (roughly) do you actually spend in front of the PC or scribbling away on a notepad?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aw thanks Helen - lol, of course you are amazing!
    Well, when I'm doing first draft I just keep and my desk on and off all day, doing social media and domestic stuff in between - but usually solid in the morning and then more bitty. If i'm on a roll, one chapter ie 2000-3000 words a day. I couldn't just sit down and do that solid, though, I need the breaks.. Sam x

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes Kath, the more you can get right on the first draft, the better, imo - but that doesn't mean constantly going back to tweak (although I do do that sometimes!) x

    ReplyDelete
  7. Great post, ladies. Sam, I'm so impressed with 50 short stories sold to People's Friend in one year - well done, you. And equally impressed with 2 novels written in a year, too. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd be happy to get my one finished in a year, Suzanne!

      Delete
  8. Me again.. I think, though, Sam's clear (and honest!) about the process she's been through to get to the stage when she can write 2 novels a year. She's learned from the novels she wrote that are .. ahem, still under her bed and before she was published, she paid for critiques so she could work out where she was going wrong. So, she's worked hard at it - and continues to do so, I'm sure but her success, I'm sure she'll agree, hasn't just come 'overnight' but because she's applied herself and learned as she's gone along! Great example to us all. Well done, Sam. I need to catch up with all your published novels and I will, I promise!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was very interested in your self-analysis, Sam, or at least the analysis of your writing. Over time some things drip through into our subconscious and I'm sure elements come through in our writing, but to be so aware of your personal pitfalls and therefore to be able to overcome them is a blessing. If you can maintain two novels a year you're doing okay. We all (in spite of the pressure we put upon ourselves) need to work within our comfort zone. Thank you, and Wendy, for a very interesting post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome - thanks for your comment, Natalie.

      Delete
  10. An interesting post, Samantha, and it's great to see your success with Carina. You're absolutely right about the difference a few editorial experiences make to future writing and how we absorb what we learn. Still not sure I'd like to write two books a year to deadlines, though I suspect it would make me less prone to procrastinating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure how well deadlines suit me either, Rosemary.

      Delete
  11. It was very interesting to read about how you learned to analyse your writing, Samantha. Editorial critiques can be worth their weight in gold - you learn so much from them. Two books in a year is a huge achievement - congratulations! Thanks, Wendy, for hosting such an entertaining blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A pleasure, Susanna - Sam always makes a lovely guest.

      Delete
  12. Thanks Natalie - yes the editorial reports i got done before i became published were invaluable. They picked out things I'd never even thought about.
    LOL, thanks Rosemary - um, well it doesn't keep me off Facebook!
    Thanks so much, Susanna! Yes, i think those reports really are such an investment into any writers career>


    Thanks everyone for the comments :) x

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great post and good advice. Lovely interview. Thank you xx

    ReplyDelete
  14. Loved reading this, Sam and Wendy. You are an inspiration, Sam xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for popping over, Teresa. I've missed you!

      Delete
  15. So much output. I could never find the time but you're such an inspiration, Sam ,. I shall get writing more immediately. And Wendy I have been doing the napowrimo challenge of 30 poems in 30 days through April. Find me at gramswisewords.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thank you so much, Marian - and i have to say 30 poems in 30 days is incredibly inspiring - well done you! :)

      Delete
  16. Thank you Sam, and Wendy, very interesting and inspiring, there is hope for us all! You deserve success, good luck with your book launch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like me, Sam started off by writing short stories for The People's Friend so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that one day I might follow in her footsteps!

      Delete
  17. Great post, and love your determination. Look forward to reading the story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for popping over, Susan.

      Delete
    2. Aw, thank you very much, Susan! x

      Delete
    3. Aw, thank you very much, Susan! x

      Delete