Feel the Fear, and Do it Anyway

Franklin D Roosevelt once famously said ‘The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.’ – but maybe he’d never been faced with climbing to the top of the O2. Okay, so I’m being a bit glib, but the fact is that sometimes I feel like a walking talking ball of anxiety. Especially when it comes to my bete noir – heights.

I can’t remember when I first started being afraid of tall buildings and mountains. Probably when I learned what happened if you fell off them. And that’s what my fear really is — it’s not a fear of heights, it’s a fear of falling to the depths. A fear of mortal injury!

A wise fear, you might say.

It’s not that dissimilar to some of the fears I face as a writer. What if people hate my book? What if they find out I’m a fraud? (One of my big ones — see this post on Imposter Syndrome for more details). What if I fail?

And sometimes even more scary, what if I succeed?

At the end of the day, the only failures we have are those when we don’t try. When we hang up our hats and hide away and decide not to challenge ourselves. So I try to ignore those inner voices that tell me to stop writing, the same way I try to ignore the inner voice that tells me I’m sure to die if I scale the dizzy heights of a skyscraper.

So I write and I publish, and I try to face my fears. That’s also why I decided to climb the O2 – that giant white tent-like structure in London, home to many a concert and exhibition. It looks like this:

As you can see, the sloping nature of the roof makes it hard to climb, which means you have to wear special equipment, including a harness, strong shoes, and a carabiner that ties you to the roof. You know, just in case you fall. So by the time I was fully dressed and ready to go, I was shaking. I was that afraid.

The route to the top is on a bouncy walkway, along with a hand rail that you have to cling to, otherwise the steepness is too much. All the way your carabiner is locked on to a wire, keeping you safe, but it’s hard work. And a bit like being an author, I found the best way to keep my anxiety under control was to keep my focus ahead of me, not look to the side, and keep breathing. That last tip is good for anything in life — breathing is important. Anyway, after around half an hour our group made it to the top, Want proof? Here’s a picture of me smiling, yes smiling. Because I did it. And the view from the top was amazing.

The route down was actually steeper than the route up (something to do with no platform going down), but I found that walking backward while clinging to the handrail helped. And when I finally made it to the bottom, I got a welcome rush of adrenaline, along with a sense of accomplishment. Because I did it – I felt the fear (oh boy did I feel the fear) and I did it anyway.

Would I do it again? I’m not sure, but I’m definitely glad I did it the first time. With every new thing I try, my fear of failing (or falling) becomes less. And I’m determined never to let my life be limited by fear again. Whether that be in my writing or anything else.

My Writing Year – Looking Ahead in 2017

This is part 2 of a 2 part blog. The first part looked back at 2016 and can be found here.

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LOOKING AHEAD TO 2017

Last week I discussed my 2016 writing year, and the exciting things that happened. As I explained, 2016 was a year of transition for me, as I moved into full-time writing, and really began to concentrate on building up a backlist of work, as well as increasing my social media presence.

I see 2017 as a chance to consolidate. I’ll not only be releasing 2 books this year (and believe me, I can’t WAIT to share more about these books with you), but I also plan to write 3 additional books. I’ve worked out that 3 books is my ‘sweet spot’ – my books tend to run to around 90,000 to 100,000 words, and along with re-writes and editing, that pretty much fills up my working year.

As you’ve probably realised from my previous posts about writing, I’m a planner. I not only like to plan my stories (even if the characters never seem to stick to the plan) but I like to plan my work, too. Maybe it’s a hangover from my time working in Human Resources — if I didn’t have a ‘to-do’ list on my desk at all times, I was lost. So even though I’m now my own boss, and I work in my home office, some good habits remain. I have a weekly diary where I plan the word count for the days, as well as any publicity, marketing or meetings I have. I also have a year planner — one aimed at entrepreneurs where I plan out all the books I want to write, when I’m planning to release them, and what marketing and publicity I’ll be using to promote them. By writing them out at the start of the year, I’ll be able to measure myself against my targets and see if I reach them or not. Essentially, at the end of 2017 I’ll be giving myself a thorough going over, and deciding if I’ve been a good girl!

So, for those of you that are interested, here are my plans in all their glory.

JANUARY

So we’re two thirds of the way through January already, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting on my coat tails. I had two major projects this month. The first was to complete the line edits of the first in my new Shakespeare Sisters series. The second was to begin writing the third book in the series, with a target of 40,000 words. So far I’m on track – the edits are complete, and the words are beginning to appear on the page. I’m 25,000 in, and hope to make it to the 40,000 goal by the time the month is out!

FEBRUARY

In February I’ll continue to write the third book in the Shakespeare Sisters series. At some point that month I’ll also need to check the copy edits for A Summer’s Lease (due for release in July). On a personal note, I plan to take a week off at half term to spend some time with the family — we’ll be visiting Dublin for a week. I haven’t been to Dublin since 1996, so I’m really excited to go back and see the beautiful city!

MARCH

March is the most exciting month of the year in the UK publishing world — the London Book Fair takes place from the 14th to 16th. Though it’s more of a meeting place for Agents and publishers, I’ll be heading up there at some point to soak in the atmosphere and meet some old friends. I also plan to finish the first draft of book 3, as well as complete any proofreading of A Summer’s Lease. By March I’m also hoping I’ll be able to share the cover reveal for A Summer’s Lease. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan!

APRIL

Oh to be in England now that April’s here. And luckily for me, that’s exactly where I’ll be. April will see me doing the re-writes for The Winter’s Tale the second in the Shakespeare Sisters series, due for release in November 2017. I’ll plan on taking a few days off around Easter, but apart from that it’s all systems go!

MAY

In May I’ll be finishing up The Winter’s Tale, and submitting it to my publishers ready for November. Once that’s finished, I’ll be going back in to edit the book I wrote in January and February, plus I’ll be working on the marketing plans for A Summer’s Lease.

JUNE

June will almost certainly be my busiest month. I’ll be starting a new book this month, a super secret project that I’m really excited about. I’ll also be attending my first signing of the year — The Dedicated Ink Book Signing event in Newcastle, England. I expect at this point to receive the developmental edits for The Winter’s Tale, which will see me trying to spin a few different plates. Hopefully nothing will get smashed!

JULY

I said that June will be busy, and I expect July to be a close run thing. July 7th will see the release of A Summer’s Lease, and I’ll be spending a lot of time in person and online promoting it. I’ll also be continuing to write the super secret project, as well as hopefully spending some time with my family, and taking advantage of what little summer we might get here in the UK!

AUGUST

As a mum and a wife, I try to cut back on the work in August. We usually take a two week vacation during this month, plus the children will be on a break from school, and I always look forward to spending time with them. If I haven’t already finished the super secret project in July, I’ll finish it in August, plus I’ll continue the publicity for A Summer’s Lease. At the very end of August is my second event of the year. ChapterCon takes place on 25th and 26th August, and I’ll be sitting on a panel here, as well as signing and attending

SEPTEMBER

In a strange way, September always feels a little like January to me. A beginning of a year (of the school year at least) and a chance to throw myself back into work. Any residual edits from The Winter’s Tale will need to be done this month, plus planning for the November release. I also intend to start my final book of the year in September. The second book in my super secret project, of which more details soon!

OCTOBER

It feel strange to be planning so far in advance, but if you’re still with me, we’re almost there. October will see me writing book 2 in the new secret project, plus any final changes for The Winter’s Tale. After that, my thoughts will start to turn to my 2018 publishing plans, which include the final 2 books in the Shakespeare Sisters series.

NOVEMBER

Ah, just writing that word makes me think of bonfires and falling leaves. It seems a world away from this chilly January morning. By this point I’m hoping to have finished or be finishing my third book of the year, which will leave the rest of the month for any developmental edits for the third in my Shakespeare Sisters series. November also sees the release of book 2 in the series, and I’ll be planning lots of fun and games to celebrate!

DECEMBER

And so we come full circle. December will see the end of another year, and hopefully it will be a successful one. As with most Decembers, I won’t plan to be doing too much writing this month, not least because I’m Christmas Crazy and I’ll be wanting to spend my time cooking, decorating and celebrating! In December I’ll also be looking back to review 2017, as well as making plans for 2018. It seems strange typing that now, but from experience I know that time will fly, and no doubt I’ll be back here talking about whether I achieved all my goals!

Wow! I’m exhausted just typing that. If you’ve stayed with me, well done – you deserve a cup of tea or something stronger. It looks like my 2017 is going to be just as crazy as 2016, but I can’t wait. I feel very blessed indeed to have the chance to write for a living, and am grateful for all the support I’ve had from my lovely readers, publishers, agents and author friends.

 

Until next time,

Carrie Pink

 

 

Photo Credit: Depositphotos

My Writing Year – 2016 In Review

This is part 1 in a 2 part blog. The first part is looking back at 2016. The second will be discussing my plans for 2017.

2016 review text on a napkin with a cup of coffee

Happy New Year!

Better late than never, right? I hope you had a great holiday season. I took a bit of time off to spend with my family, and to catch up on my over-stuffed to-be-read list. And boy are there some great books out there right now.

January has always been a time of self-reflection for me. A chance to take stock of the year before, and then to turn my eyes onto my goals for the next 12 months. This year has been no different. So I thought I’d share my highlights from the past year, and my plans for 2017. Hopefully by writing them down, I’ll have to hold myself to them!

2016 IN REVIEW

Last year was all kinds of win for me. In February Corvus released Fix You in paperback, and I finally got to see one of my books on a shelf in a shop. On Facebook my friends were sharing pictures of them finding it in grocery stores and bookshops, and every image made my day. It’s the kind of things writers dream about.

Then in April I released the third book in my Love in London series. Canada Square was my first new release since I became a full-time writer (although it was written before I went full time). It was a milestone in all kinds of ways, rounding off the series, and letting me share the lives of Beth, Lara and Amy a final time. (Not that it was the final time – read on for more!). As with the other Love in London books, the release went well, although it didn’t light up the sky. Let’s hope this series is a slow burner!

April also saw my first visit as a writer to Germany, at the Love Letter Comvention in Berlin. It was amazing to spend time with so many avid romance readers, and the welcome I received was so warm. I was only there for three days, which really isn’t enough time to soak up everything the beautiful city has to offer, but I will be back!

In April I also finished the first draft of a new book in a new series. A Summer’s Lease (The Shakespeare Sisters book 1) was my first fully-written book as a full time author, and marked a turning point for me. When I sent it off to my agent, I was nervous as hell. Luckily, she fell in love with Sam and Cesca as much as I did.

June and July saw the publication of Fix You (or Kiss You!) by Ullstein in Germany. These wonderful months also saw me sell the rights to the four Shakespeare Sisters stories to Piatkus (Little Brown). A very exciting piece of news for me.

I took August off to spend time with my teenagers. It was a calculated risk — August is traditionally a quiet time in the publishing industry, plus I’d finished writing a (mystery) book at the end of July, so I felt I could spare the time. As my children get older I’m realising that they’ll soon be leaving the nest and flying away, so I’ve decided to enjoy the time I have left with them.

September saw me writing the second book in the Shakespeare Sisters series. By Virtue Fall tells the story of Juliet, the second of the Shakespeare sisters. I managed to finish writing this one by November 2016.

In November, I attended a wonderful writing retreat, hosted by the fabulous Urban Writers’ Retreats. It’s my second time to this location, an isolated farmhouse in the hills of Devon, and I have to say I LOVED it. I went with a firm plan, because by that time I was juggling multiple projects.

In the mornings, I allowed my creative muse to take flight, and wrote a short story, based on the characters in the Love in London series (so Canada Square wasn’t my last encounter with them, after all!) In the afternoons I was carrying out developmental edits, as agree with my editor at Piatkus. This was the first of two rounds of dev edits. Evenings (after dinner and a few drinks) were dedicated to proof-reading the US version of Fix You, which I was due to release in December. Somehow having 3 very separate projects allowed me to be very disciplined with my time, and I went home having achieved everything I wanted to.

November also saw the release of the Love in London series in Germany. I was beyond excited to see these stories translated, and to get so many lovely reviews and comments from my German readers, and can’t wait to share more stories with you all.

December saw the release of Fix You in the US and Canada. Traditionally this is a bad month to release books, and combined with the fact that Fix You had already been released in the UK and in numerous foreign translations, I wasn’t expecting the world from this release. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the reception and how well it’s sold. It’s always fun to introduce Richard and Hanna’s story to new readers, and it was a great month to do that. I also completed the second round of developmental edits to A Summer’s Lease, and agreed a release date of July 7th 2017. I’m so excited to be publishing a new series this year.

Looking back, 2016 was a year of changes for me. I think it’s the first year I’ve really treated writing as my job, which I guess isn’t a surprise, since until last year I was combining it with my day job. It was also a year of consolidation for me — finishing one series, and beginning another, while trying to build my brand recognition. Having written everything down, I feel as if I achieved so much more than I set out to, but still have much more to do in order to reach my long-term goals. I wrote around 320,000 words, published 3 books (a bit of a cheat – one was a box set!), and sold a 4 book series to a publisher. Let’s see if I can beat that in 2017!

So that’s my 2016 in a nutshell. Join me next week to find out my goals and plans for 2017!

Carrie Pink

 

 

Photo Credit: Depositphotos

What I’m Writing Right Now #LoveChatWrite Blog Hop

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Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Leslie Hachtel’s blog, thanks for joining me, and don’t forget to check out her books!

This week’s the fabulous Lyra Parrish asks us: “Lyra Parish – How many projects do you currently have started? Can you give us a quick sentence description of each one.”

I’ve been writing steadily for the past year, and I have a LOT of works in progress. All of them are at different stage of the writing / publication process, which can sometimes be hard to juggle. But here’s a quick run down of where I’m at, and what I’ll be releasing over the coming year!

FIX YOU

Tells the story of Richard and Hanna, star-crossed lovers who are divided by wealth, geography, and a secret that threatens to break them both.  It’s due to release in the US and Canada on December 13, and is available for pre-order here.

It’s already for sale in the UK, Australia, Italy, Brazil, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. For more information, click here. 

SUMMER’S LEASE (The Shakespeare Sisters #1)

This is the first in my 4 book ‘Shakespeare Sisters’ Series. It tells the story of Cesca, a down-on-her-luck writer, and Sam, a glamorous American movie star. Sparks fly as soon as they meet in a beautiful Italian Villa on Lake Como.

I’m currently working with my publisher on edits for this book, and will hopefully have a cover to share with you in early 2017! Summer’s Lease will be released in July 2017. For more information, subscribe to my newsletter.

BY VIRTUE FALL (The Shakespeare Sisters #2)

This is Juliet and Ryan’s book, the second in the Shakespeare Sisters’ series. The first draft is written, and it’s undergoing revisions. I’m in love with these two! By Virtue Fall will be released in November 2017

I’m also writing the third and forth books in the series right now. They will be released in 2018.

LOVE ON THE WATER (San Martino Bay #1)

The first in my new San Martino Bay series, set in a Southern Californian beach town, Love on the Water is Caitlin and Breck’s story. This book is written and edited, but no release date set yet!

Wow, there’s so much going on in my writing life right now, and I’m LOVING IT! With Fix You releasing next month, and the Shakespeare Sister series coming in 2017, it looks as though I’m going to be a busy author. I hope you enjoy the books when they come out – let me know what you think!

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Pre-Order Fix You at these stores:

Kindle US  |  Kindle CA |  Nook  |  iBooks

Coming Soon: Google Play  |  Kobo

Also available to buy here: Kindle UK  |  Kindle AU

Now let’s hop over to A.S. Fenichel’s Blog to see what she’s working on.

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Until next time,

Carrie Pink

Photo credits: Depositphotos & authors own.

Retreat, Retreat!

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This week I’m at a writing retreat in South Devon. Set in the hills between Bovey Tracey and Hennock, I’m surrounded by farmland and peace – the perfect setting to do the developmental edits for my next book (A Summer’s Lease, the first book in my new Shakespeare Sisters series). There aren’t many places you can go to in England that have more animals per acre than humans but this old farmhouse in the west country is one of them.

Run by Urban Writers (hats off to the lovely Charlie), this retreat feels like a home from home only infinitely better. Mainly because I don’t have to cook, clean, or scream at my teenagers (though I have to admit I quite miss doing the latter). On arrival I was shown to my room (see pics below) – a lovely attic turret complete with King size bed, slipper bath, and the perfect window seat for an avid reader. I arrived at 5pm, which gave me 3 hours until dinner, which I spent writing this blog.

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My bedroom for the week!
img_0782My desk with a view!

Having been here before, I didn’t need the grand tour this time around. But our host is always willing to help out with suggestions of places to write, pretty walks, and of course she is the beloved bringer of food.

In the evening we met in the living room for wine and nibbles, and introduced ourselves. A few people have been here since Friday, but there are four of us who arrived today (Monday), and it’s nice not to be the only newbie. Once dinner was ready, we sat down and ate, drank and were generally merry. Everybody’s work is very different – there are people writing a screenplay, editing non-fiction books, and finishing a first draft. It gives us a lot to talk about when we’re taking our breaks.

The evenings are fairly quiet. Most of us retreat to our rooms to either work, take a bath (did you see my slipper bath?) or read. I expect some of us even get some sleep! All ready to get up first thing tomorrow to start all over again.

There’s something about a retreat that makes me feel very productive. Perhaps it’s because I don’t need to walk the dog (although I DO walk – it’s to beautiful around here not to). Or maybe it’s because I don’t have to interrupt myself to make food (it’s all laid on for me) or do the laundry. Whatever it is, I have to admit I love it here. And since I’ve now written this blog, I’m already beating my targets. How’s that for overachieving?

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The view from my bedroom window

Urban Writers Retreats run residential stays in Devon around 8 times per year. They also run one day retreats in central London. For more information see their website here.

Carrie Pink

 

On Imposter Syndrome

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Recently I’ve been trying to improve my health. Simple steps like drinking less wine, and trying to walk 10,000 steps a day. It’s amazing how having a sedentary job can help pile on the pounds, and I’m hoping that a few tweaks here and there will counter the sitting around all day! Anyway, as part of my plan, I’ve started to listen to writing podcasts as I walk. Most of them last for around an hour, which is enough time for me to get in around 8,000 steps (I do the final 2000 steps at night).

This week I listened to Joanna Penn’s latest podcast about creating a successful author mindset. She gives a lot of great tips, which I won’t repeat here, but if you’re a writer and suffer from doubt, prevarication, or any of the other things that actually stop us from getting the words on the page, I urge you to give her podcast a listen.

Anyway, one thing that really struck me in her podcast was when she mentioned Imposter Syndrome. Her brief allusion to the way that success can make you feel like a failure really struck a chord with me, and made me want to learn more.

According to Wikipedia (and I don’t have to repeat that Wiki isn’t always the best source for information, but I will anyway!) the term Imposter Syndrome was was coined in 1978 by psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. In essence it refers to a state of mind where you’ve achieved something, but have failed to internalise the achievement. Instead, you tend to think you’re a fraud and that you didn’t deserve the success.

Looking back, I can see a number of times I’ve suffered from something similar to this, and it explains a lot about my mindset. Not just in writing, but also in other aspects of my life. And though I’m no doctor, it may well explain some of these experiences I’ve had.

The first time I can really remember feeling this way was back when I was ten years old. I was learning to play the clarinet (though I was never very good) and I had to go through an audition to attend a music school on a Saturday morning. Long story short, I passed, but one of my friends who was better than me didn’t. My first thought — they’ve got us mixed up, and as soon as I arrive at school they’ll tell me there’s a problem and send me home.

Of course they didn’t tell me that. And quite honestly, I wasn’t much of a success at the clarinet either. Suffice to say I left a couple of years later and never played the clarinet again!

In more recent times, being a published author has brought some of these feelings to the surface once more. When people ask me how I managed to get where I am, I tend to tell them I was in the right place at the right time. Not that I wrote a good book, or that it was worthy of getting published, but that I was lucky.

The problem is, if you think you’ve been lucky, what happens when your luck runs out? In the mind of somebody suffering from Imposter Syndrome, that’s when they get ‘found out’. People will suddenly realise the Emperor is wearing no clothes and laugh at them. And even though I have an agent, a book published in six different languages, and another four contracted for publication from 2017, I still feel that way.

According to Wiki, Imposter Syndrome is particularly found among high achievers, and though it’s prevalent in both genders, women are more willing to own up to it than men. I know from speaking with many of my writer friends that I’m not alone in feeling this way, as I wonder if the next book is the one where people will realise I’m a fraud. The saddest part is that it stops us from enjoying our successes, because they’re always tempered with a fear that they cannot continue.

So what do we do if we suffer from Imposter Syndrome? This article from Psychology Today suggests we go public about it (hence this post). It also suggests that a certain level of impostership is healthy, as it helps us remain humble. This article from the Shriver Report suggests 10 ways to battle these feelings, including internalising the external validation, talking to like-minded people, and taking stock of your success. In all the articles I’ve read, what comes through is that by talking about it, we lessen the effect of what we’re going through. As with so many mind-based issues, suffering in silence is the worst thing we can do.

So today I’m going to go and look at my books and hold them in my hand and tell myself that I made these. They have some wonderful reviews (as well as a few one stars) but each time somebody contacts me to tell me they loved them, I need to realise they’re talking about my words making a difference in their lives.

How about you — does any of this ring true for you? What do you plan to do today to make yourself realise that, in the words of Aibileen in The Help (Kathryn Stockett) “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”?

 

Carrie Pink

My Writing-Free Week

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Last Monday, I managed to type the most beautiful two words that an author can write; ‘The End’. Though I was sad to say goodbye (at least until I begin the edits) to the lovely world I’d created, and the characters I’d come to care about, I have to admit the feeling of accomplishment was fantastic.

But then what?

You see, in my mind I was going to type those words on Friday, leading into a weekend of rest before I got going on another project. But instead I’d been typing so fast and so hard, and the characters had been demanding so much of my time that I finished way ahead of schedule. Which left me with four days to fill. I didn’t want to jump straight into my next project (editing another book) because I needed time to let this story go. Time to pull myself out of their world and back into my own one. Time to take a breath and step back.

So I decided to spend the week adulting.

Yes, I know, very unlike me. But there was a lot of stuff I’d been putting off, and I really had no excuse not to do it any more. Plus there were the pleasant things too – you know, having coffee with friends who’d all but forgotten I existed, actually talking to my teenagers when they got home from school, and *gasp* even cooking food that didn’t come in a shrink wrapped tray. So for four days I was a bone fide fully-fleshed adult.

I even enjoyed it!

On Tuesday I spent the day cleaning the house. And I mean CLEANING. Not my usual swipe of a cloth until it looks surface clean (sorry Mum), but proper deep cleaning that made everything sparkle and shine. The sort of clean that makes everybody ask me if I’ve done ‘something’ to the house (nope) or if I’ve had a clear out (yep). So that was good.

Then on Wednesday morning I sorted out my clothes. I packed away my summer clothes and brought out the sweaters and stockings and furry socks. I even tidied up my closet and my drawers, and of course I discovered clothes I’d forgotten I had. In all it was very satisfying. I rewarded myself that afternoon by spending time with my sister-in-law and her very gorgeous new baby.

On Thursday I had coffee with another sister-in-law and our friend (I sense a theme here), followed by cleaning out the oven (bleurgh) and then chopping back all the overgrown bushes in the garden. We have a hundred-foot plus backyard, which can defeat me at the best of times, so actually getting things done was pretty satisfying.

Then on Friday I read.

Yep, I read.

I sat down with my kindle and a cup of coffee and didn’t move off my butt. And it was goooood.

Reading is one of my favourite occupations, and yet the first thing that I lose out on when I’m writing a new book. So for the three months that I’m typing away, I buy books and stockpile them, waiting for the moment to arrive that I can finally download them and veg out on my sofa. That moment was Friday and it was amazing.

By the weekend I was feeling antsy, so I started to sit down and plan some writing-related things. Marketing plans, teasers, release dates and signings.

Oh, and I met with my accountant to agree my tax return. Which doesn’t sound like much fun, but my accountant is lovely and funny and always makes me laugh (through my tears). So there was that.

I’m back to work today, but I’m glad I had a few days to spend doing the things I’ve been avoiding for months. Adulting is hard, but it’s also rewarding, and stops my family from throwing me out. All good things.

Have a good week!

Carrie Pink