Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dog Days of Summer: Dara's Advice to Authors

On Thursday we met author Dara England and found out a little about her book, life, writing space and favorite bookshelf. On Friday we read some reviews related to her debut novel, Brought to Life, and yesterday we got to read an excerpt (and the random comment contest was revealed). Today is our last day with Dara and we'll start with some advice she has to give authors and a little information about her publisher, Lyrical Press.

Dara is a twenty-six year old housewife and mother to two toddlers. When she's not chasing children, writing or helping run a household, Dara also runs an author promotions service.

Dara says:

Brought to Life called for very little research (unlike my historical paranormals) because I kept everything simple in this story. I tried to write only about things I was already familiar with or that I felt I had a good grasp of.

So Dara used the "write what you know" principle here, too (remember our previous author, Eva Gordon also utilized this commonly suggested writer's adage).

I think my main strength as a writer is more about determination than natural skill. As a kid I loved to write but was terrible at it. I set my heart on pursuing a writing career (something I’m still struggling to get off the ground) and worked for it. This isn’t my weekend hobby or something I do because it comes easily to me.

Writers--this is important. I'm also a strong believer that you may start out as a weak writer, but you can focus and hone your craft through practice (Dara says she tries to write every day). Is creativity a trait that can be learned? I'm not sure, but skill in writing can be, as Dara proves. You must have tenacity--a true desire to succeed in writing and Dara shows she has that, too.

I’ll be the first to admit it’s made much easier if I can get myself into a creative mood. For example, I like to have the soft buzz of a fan running in the background as I write and it helps if I have the lighting dimmed.

Dara also gave us some wonderful advice directly aimed at aspiring authors:

I’ve been asked what I feel are the three most important rules aspiring writers should live by. Here are the ones I consider necessary: persistence (yes, even more important than talent IMO although it helps if you have both), imagination, love. I include that last one because, although writing is work, it’s a kind of work most of us have chosen. We wouldn’t go through the headaches and heartaches involved if we didn’t take something away from it.

Some of you (as you begin to investigate publishing options and the wide variety of publishers available) may benefit from knowing a little more about Dara's experience with her publisher, Lyrical Press.

Now for a little about my publisher and how I chose them. It might be more accurate to say Lyrical Press Inc. chose me. Certainly I put them on my list of places to submit to but I felt pretty lucky (and thrilled) when they gave me a yes. The thing I enjoy most about working with Lyrical and its editors is their level of professionalism. They’re a small press but they don’t approach publishing as a hobby or treat their authors like one big happy family. True, there is an author friendly atmosphere but I don’t want my publisher to be my family—I already have one. I want a publisher to be run like a business and Lyrical is.

This evening please return for one last post regarding Dara England and her debut novel (available for sale at her website and through Lyrical Press)--Dara will give us all some handy tips on being an active promoter on a shoestring budget. At that point I will also announce the winner of the Bag o' Swag from our random comment contest. If you haven't entered, hop over to Dara's book excerpt and please do so!

~Saoirse

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