Why being a writer is like motherhood

Whoa! What did she say? Being a writer is like being a mum? She probably doesn’t have kids…

Actually I do. Two gorgeous little sproglings who drive me crazy. Which is why I can honestly say that being a writer is exactly like venturing into parenting – because I’ve done both.

Before having babies we had an idea of how it should be. I am probably the worst person for saying things like “I won’t let my kids watch TV for 8 hours a day.” It’s the summer holidays, I still have to work, it was raining, so I stuck the TV on and let them watch it all day the other. “I won’t let my kids have tablets in their bedrooms.” Guess where they are right now… It was the same pre-writing. “I won’t change who I am once I’ve written a novel.” I’ve created two personas – mum-me and writer-me.

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A naive, 20-year old me. Pre-child.

Every pregnancy is different. I know women who walked through 9 months, pop out a baby, and voila! Parent. I know women who struggled to get pregnant, and went down every avenue to have their precious child. Personally, I had a horrendous time throughout the process. Getting pregnant? Took me 3 years. The pregnancy? Well I’ve lost 4 babies, my daughter was born by emergency c-section at 32 weeks, and with my son I was hospitalised from 27 weeks onwards and then his labour was 36 hours long.

Writing is no different. I know writers who sat down, tapped on a keyboard, threw up a great novel, got published and now have writing as a full-time career. I know writers who have an amazing amount of talent but struggle to finish anything. I’ve been rejected numerous times – I kept my very first rejection letter to keep me grounded for when I hit the big time. I went the long route as well. I wrote fiction, but started working as a freelance writer and through that made connections in the publishing industry, which most definitely helped with getting that coveted contract (of which I now have two!)

Pregnancy is a time to nurture. You’re growing a child – a tiny little miracle that begins as an egg and develops into a living, breathing, human being that you can hold in your arms. You’re given a load of advice, lists of Dos and Don’ts, and you don’t know what to believe. Mums who have been there, done that, tell you what it should be like. “Oh I ate blue cheese throughout my pregnancy with little Zak.” Doctors who haven’t ever given birth tell you “Braxton Hicks don’t hurt” (trust me they do). You buy book after book, scour the internet, write a birthing plan… And then that goes out the window the moment your first contraction kicks in.

Writing is the same. You have this seed of an idea that you want to grow into a fruitful career. You care for it, nurture it, develop it. Other writers try to intervene with contradicting advice. “An adverb is telling now showing.” “Adverbs are fine.” “Don’t say she said, he said, tell us how they’re saying it.” “Don’t describe dialogue, it should be obvious.” So you buy book after book, scour the internet, write a plotline… And then the characters take you in a completely different direction.

Giving birth. Oh. My. God. Some women brag how they birthed their children without painkillers, at home, in a car, up a tree… Okay, maybe not up a tree, but you get the picture. Me? Well, an emergency c-section at 32 weeks was not on the birthing plan, and because of the complications I’d had with my son, I wasn’t even allowed to make a plan!

Producing a book? It can be just as painful as labour. There are writers out there who don’t bother editing or getting a Beta-reader, they just through it at an agent and poof! A book appears. They are rare though. Most writers, including myself, finish a novel and then spending longer going through edits than they did writing the original story. I have three trusted Beta-readers, 2 are my highly critical best-friends and 1 is a fellow writer. 2 women and a man. Exactly like in the labour suite – 2 midwives and a very confused husband. I also pay someone to read it and give me an honest critique – she’s a bit like the health visitor. The woman who you trust to give you good advice, because it’s her job.

There you have it. Your new baby. And writers do tend to consider their books as children. But it doesn’t stop there. You don’t give birth and throw it out into the wide world alone. We’re not sharks! Well, not all of us.

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Pregnant me

Your book goes through the same stages as a growing child. You need to teach it the way of the world, get it out into the open, and show it off. You need to choose appropriate clothing in the form of a book jacket. You need to work with your editor to make it as perfect as possible, teaching it right from wrong. You let other people read it for their critiques.

Parents will ask, “What age should you stop breast feeding?” “When should you potty train?” “Does this look like chicken pox?”

Writers will ask, “Is this a good first chapter?” “Is there a different way I can say this?” “Is this chapter necessary at all?”

If you’re going down the traditional publishing route, it’s a bit like sending your baby off to school. You have to trust that the publisher knows what they’re doing, but if you’re not happy you have every right to ask questions and make suggestions. “What’s that? A bigger title is bullying my book off the shelf?” That’s because that title has an entourage of reviewers behind it. That’s because that title went viral. Sometimes this happens, and there is nothing you can do. You can protect your book, hide it away from the public eye, and hope the big book goes away. Or you can tell your book to stand its ground and prove that they are the better story. Tell your publisher that you’re not happy with the sales and they will give you some advice with regards to marketing and publicity.

Some parents hire a home tutor for their children. Writers should most definitely do some home tutoring themselves – social media, blog tours, media interviews, release blitzes, reviews… It all helps to mould and improve your book’s chances of getting higher up the ladder.

Home-schooling is an option, as is self-publishing. I don’t know much about either of these options. I trust our education system since I work at the local primary school. However, I have ventured into the realm of self-publishing. My first novella was self-published. Like a new parent, I had no clue what I was doing and it was all guess work. It didn’t go so well. But like with a first child, I learned from my mistakes (yeah, us first-borns are always practice kids according to my Mum!) and when Seven Dirty Words was finished, it was a marked improvement. But if you get the advice and do the research, you can be just as good as an established education department or publisher.

Your child has flown the nest. Off to uni, got married and had kids of their own… But they’re still your child. I still ring or text my mum every day for advice or a moan, especially when it comes to parenting and cooking. Yup, you guessed it… Just because your book is published and on the shelf, doesn’t mean you can ignore it.

All those interviews? Connections with your readers? They still need to continue. You still need to be the proud parent, showing it off whenever you can.

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My other children

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Cover Reveal – One Night In Brussels

Originally posted on The (Really) Naughty Corner:

I have a beautiful cover for One Night In Brussels, my novella in Tirgearr Publishing’s City Nights erotic romance series. The artist has done a great job of bringing to life the two central characters, Dominic and Saskia, and capturing the strange, fairytale character of the buildings in Brussel’s Grand-Place. Here it is:

One_Night_in_Brussels_by_Elizabeth_Coldwell-500The story has more than a dash of romantic suspense, as a simple afternoon’s sightseeing turns into the hottest, most dangerous night of Saskia’s life. Here’s the blurb:

Saskia van Gaal works as a translator for the European Commission, dreaming of a life filled with excitement and hot sex. When she bumps into suave, sexy Englishman, Dominic May, and offers to be his tour guide in the beautiful city of Brussels, she doesn’t realise she’s about to embark on the wildest night of her life.

A stolen necklace is only the beginning of the adventure, and…

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Seven Dirty Words by Charlotte Howard (@shy_tiger) #erotica #romance @CW1985

Originally posted on Kacey's Kreations:

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Blurb:

Paige Holmes hides herself in a masculine world in a desperate attempt to remain safe.

Just as she is ready to face her fears and her past, she finds herself torn between Matt Jackson and Vance Ellery: handsome, rich, and safe – or handsome, rich, and dangerous?

Which will she choose?

The one who appears to be the most perfect, or the one who makes her use all Seven Dirty Words?

Buy links:

Tirgearr Publishing: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Howard_Charlotte/seven-dirty-words.htm

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1ExJtUx

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1dy702q

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/seven-dirty-words-charlotte-howard/1114293556

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/seven-dirty-words-3

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/seven-dirty-words/id992996036

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/541059?ref=cw1985

*****

Excerpt:
“I’ve never seen a girl eat like you.” He laughed.

“I’m starving,” I said, in between mouthfuls of prawns and peas, trying to ignore the dimming room. A crash overhead started the storm’s symphony. Fat raindrops splattered against the window as the room lit with a sudden flash. Seconds later, another rumble filled the air…

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Charlotte Howard on advice for writers

Originally posted on L.C. Wilkinson:

Seven_Dirty_Words_by_Charlotte_HowardThank you for hosting! Recently I got asked about my routine when it comes to getting published – how do I do it, and do I have any tips. The one thing I say over and over again is that new writers should find their local writers group and join. Joining Yeovil Creative Writers was the best move I made, especially since I met my writing buddy who doubles up as a beta reader and gives me honest critiques. I won’t name and shame him in case he gets embarrassed or a big head, but it’s suffice to say that without him I probably wouldn’t be the writer I am today.
Anyone who is writing a novel – be it their first or their fiftieth – needs someone who will tell exactly what they think without the sugar coating, I know I do. My first version of Seven Dirty Words…

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Release Blitz for Seven Dirty Words by Charlotte Howard @shy_tiger #erotica #romance

Originally posted on Bitches Be Writin':

Seven_Dirty_Words_by_Charlotte_HowardBlurb

Paige Holmes hides herself in a masculine world in a desperate attempt to remain safe.

Just as she is ready to face her fears and her past, she finds herself torn between Matt Jackson and Vance Ellery: handsome, rich, and safe – or handsome, rich, and dangerous?

Which will she choose?

The one who appears to be the most perfect, or the one who makes her use all Seven Dirty Words?

Buy links

Tirgearr Publishing | Amazon UK | Amazon US | BN | Kobo | iBooks | Smashwords

Excerpt

I died for a short while the first time we met. There was no fluttering in my chest, no somersault of my stomach, no burning in my loins; my heart literally stopped. He was tall, at least six foot four, and dressed in a pair of worn indigo jeans that perfectly matched his intense stare. A silk black shirt…

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Re-released on 3rd June: SEVEN DIRTY WORD

Being re-released on 3rd June, available for pre-order now: SEVEN DIRTY WORDS

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Seven Dirty Words has a new home! Now under Tirgearr Publishing, Seven Dirty Words is being re-released on 3rd June (my birthday!) with a new cover and new edits.

Paige Holmes hides herself in a masculine world in a desperate attempt to remain safe.

Just as she is ready to face her fears and her past, she finds herself torn between Matt Jackson and Vance Ellery: handsome, rich, and safe – or handsome, rich, and dangerous?

Which will she choose?

The one who appears to be the most perfect, or the one who makes her use all Seven Dirty Words?

http://goo.gl/Pkq8QG

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Getting Smutty in Scarborough

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This year will be the third Smut by the Sea at Scarborough Library and it’s bigger and better than ever before with a schedule filled with sexy, seaside shenanigans.  This year’s event is sponsored by Sexhibition, the brand new and innovative Sex expo to be held in Manchester this August. Smut UK will be there, you should be too!

On the 23rd May 2015 Smut UK will take over the upstairs of Scarborough library from 9am -5pm with workshops, performances and more to delight you. All day you will be able to indulge in the delights of the erotic market place. Get your homemade gifts and treats from Bella Settarra, and Cara Sutra will be giving away goody bags and selling sexy treats including DVDs, bondage gear and lube. Pick up a book from the Smutty book stall, check out Steph’s Ann Summers table and of course you must have a go on the world famous Erotic Tombola, you never know what you might win.

There will be two reading slams filled with top quality authors, make sure you come and listen to Cara SutraJanine AshblessKiki DeLovely, Charlie J Forrest , Bella Settarra, , Anna Sky
Slave Nano, Cameryn Moore, Helen J Perry, Ashe Barker, Jacqueline Brocker, Ashley R Lister, Lisabet Sarai, and Victoria Blisse as they read 5 minute excerpts for your aural pleasure.

Three diverse workshops will take place though out the day, Jennifer Denys will be leading one on researching and writing Werewolf stories, Slave Nano will be Kinking up the Past in his historical and sexy workshop and Cameryn Moore, professional potty mouth will be talking dirty to filth up your fiction or steam up your sex life.

And as if that’s not enough there will be performances from the Enchanting Bea Noir and the sensual Blue Belle and those brave enough can pick up a Free Spanking from Mistress Cara Sutra!

Tickets are still available including a VIP package that includes a sexy goody bag filled with treats, your lunch and priority seating in all workshops, performances and slams.

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