Naming your book – and naming my book!

Let me start out by saying that I suck at naming my books. Seriously. I come up with working titles during the drafting stage that don’t work for one reason or another, and then I get to the end of the process and can’t think of anything else.

Bear FacepalmFor example, Isla’s Inheritance originally had a title that actually contained a (minor) spoiler. I know, right? I’m an idiot. The working title was a great title—just not for that book. (I may use it for the third book in the trilogy; that remains to be seen.) The second book in the series was “Book Two” for ages, till it eventually became Isla’s Oath after Sharon suggested it.

Likewise, the book I just finished had a working title that might work for the name of a series, but doesn’t really grab me for the first book (in fact, I just googled it and it already is the name of a series … so that’s not going to work either, gorramit!). So I’ve been noodling new ideas for the past few weeks as I’ve been editing, settling on my criteria for a good book name.

These are my thoughts.

1. It shouldn’t have the name of a well-known book.

This point is pretty obvious. Bestsellers receive more promotion—anyone who walks into a store looking for your book may come out with the bestseller the bookseller has heard more about. (We’re not talking about your hardcore fans here, because they’ll know the author—but it’s amazing the number of people who buy gifts or hunt for books based on a fragment of information!)

For example, I thought about calling Isla’s Inheritance simply “Inheritance”, but Christopher Paolini already did that for his last Eragon book. Rats. If you’re not sure who else has used your potential title, Goodreads and Amazon searches are your friends.

I’ve been agonising about whether it’s okay for my book to share a title with any other work of fiction. If there’s an obscure self-published novel with only one or two ratings that has the same title, is that okay? I’m thinking probably. I have more than two relatives I can persuade to rate my book, so I should at least be the more popular one. 😉

One thing you can do, especially on sites like Goodreads, is give your book a subtitle: often the name of the series. Or, for some genres, titles that incorporate a unique, unifying element can work. Harry Potter is taken, though.

2. If it’s part of a series the titles should be thematically related … but also easy to remember.

As much as I’m not a huge fan of the Twilight series, Stephanie Meyer—or her editor—deserves huge amounts of respect for coming up with an awesome series of book titles. They are connected but not samey. You know which book is which. And they are short, which makes them easy to remember.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find a long series where the titles are all too close to one another very confusing. Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series of thirteen books is a good example. All of the books have the word “Dead” in the title. I just couldn’t tell the titles apart after a while—which made buying the next one trickier than it had to be! The titles were clever, but distinct? Easy to remember? Not for me, at least.

I haven’t plotted the sequel to my latest book yet—I need to write the third in Isla’s trilogy first—but there will be one. So I want a title that lends itself to that as well.

3. I like titles to be clever and beautiful.

My absolute favourite book titles are the ones that not only sound beautiful but have a double meaning—something where the readers go “oooooooooh!” at some point during the story. Those are hard to come by. Two examples off the top of my head are Bound by J. Elizabeth Hill and Forget Me Not by Stacey Nash (I’ve only seen a draft first chapter of the latter and I already know how perfect that title is for that book).

I love the poetry of Isla’s Inheritance and Isla’s Oath. They both roll off the tongue. But if my editor came up with something that did that and also had a double meaning, I’d give her a big wet kiss and change both titles in a heartbeat. (And of course, unless you’re self-publishing, there’s a good chance the title you’ve agonised over will get changed anyway. I gather this is especially true at the big end of town. But it pays to show you’ve put some thought into it; submitting a manuscript called “Insert Clever Title Here” doesn’t really show you at your professional best.)

So, after all of this consideration, what is the (tentative) title of my latest novel?

Lucid Dreaming

(I really wanted a gif with exploding fireworks but I couldn’t find one in the two minutes I spent googling!)

Four ways to see your writing anew

Plotting: an artist's impression (image: Wiki Commons)

A plotters journey: an artist’s impression (image: Wiki Commons)

Drafting a novel is like hiking through a huge forest. Your approach to the impending journey may vary: some of us come up with a detailed map, set their feet on the a path and power on through, while others see the edge of the trees, think “let’s see what’s in there”, and wander in. Most of us have approaches somewhere in the middle: we might know where we want to end up, but not have a specific path in mind. Almost all of us get distracted by things along the way; sometimes the distractions turn out to be just that, while other times they are a valuable addition to your journey.

But there’s an idiom that also applies to a writer who is in the middle of or has just finished drafting a novel.

I can’t see the forest for the trees.

Whether you love your work or hate it, when you type THE END, you are not seeing it clearly. Everything from being able to discern the dead wood, those scenes, characters or chapters that don’t move the story forward, to spotting typos is harder. You don’t have the altitude. You’re still in the trees.

So here are four ways to see your work differently: to get a Google maps perspective on your forest.


This is the first and most important, which is why I gave it shouty caps. If you can possibly avoid it, don’t jump straight back into editing. Give the manuscript a few weeks to stew. Read a book (or five). Write something else. Go on holiday. Spend some time with the loved ones you’ve been neglecting. You’ve written a novel, which is a thing to be proud of. Celebrate, but not by re-reading it.

This point should be applied in conjunction with one or more of the other suggestions, below. The only exception is if you’re up against a hard deadline that doesn’t give you the luxury of time. I’m not talking about a pitching contest you want to enter—there will always be more pitching contests—but something with legal ramifications, like a contractual requirement.

2. Read it in hard copy.

Speaking of trees (sorry about that, forests of the world)… This is my favoured approach. I wish I could get the necessary distance while still reading my words on a screen, but that’s the place where I drafted it, and I just can’t. On paper I can see misspelled or misused words, tracts of exposition—they all leap out at me. Usually I do a dirty word search before I hit print and make those amendments to the soft copy (looking for the crimes against English that I know I commit when drafting). Then I sit down with a pen and have at it.

This does have the drawback that I have to enter my edits onto the soft copy afterwards. It’s tedious but, for me, worth it.

3. Change the appearance of the words.

If you draft in Arial, try looking at your manuscript in Times New Roman. Or Comic Sans MS, if that’s what floats your boat—just remember to change it back before you submit it to any agents or publishing houses. I know some people who actually format their book and read it on their Kindle, to try and put themselves into the role of a reader rather than the author.

As an aside, I do this with all my blog posts. I write them in Word, do one proofread in the WordPress data entry screen, and then do a final check in the blog preview screen.

4. Read it aloud.

Obviously this is better for picking up line edit problems—passive sentences, overused words, that sort of thing—rather than structural problems. Although if you get bored reading a scene maybe that’s a sign the scene could go. There are also text-to-speech programs that you could use if you don’t want to read your 150,000-word opus aloud for fear of never being able to speak again. (And, um, if that’s your first novel I also recommend reconsidering the length.)

I’m tempted to add a fifth point here that says “see point one”, but I won’t. You get the idea.

Do you have other tricks that you use to let you see your words afresh?

Editing: my four (well, five) writing weaknesses

Before we start, have you guys read my interview with the awesome Steampunk writer Jay Kristoff over at Aussie Owned and Read? If not, it’s here. Go on, I can wait.

An overworked train metaphor chugging away... (Image via Wiki Commons)

An overworked train metaphor, chugging away… (Image via Wiki Commons)

Since I finished my most recent work-in-progress, I’m back on the editing train, steaming my way from the tiny villiage Stream of Consciousness to the (hopefully) shiny metropolis Compelling Prose.

(Fact: sometimes “steaming” can also be applied as an adjective to my first drafts!)

One of the things that makes you a better editor of your work is to know your writing weaknesses—the crimes you commit against the English language when you’re caught up in the initial drafting rush—so you can spot and fix them. Here are a few of mine, to give you an idea of what I’m taking about.

I LOVE the word “that”. Love it. In my first book, there were hundreds of unnecessary uses. I’m getting better but it’s still a problem. I use it when it’s necessary, when it’s unnecessary, and when it’s just plain wrong—for example, when I should instead say “who”, I say “that”. Every time. When I finished my manuscript a fortnight ago, I did a search for the word “that” and checked each usage.

It took hours.

I describe impossible bodily actions. My characters’ eyes do all sorts of things they shouldn’t. They roam the room instead of staying in their sockets where they are meant to be, the cheeky little sods. So I search for “eyes” and make sure to change it to “gaze” (or similar) when I’ve used it in that context.

As an aside, I’ve seen a senior editor suggest the word “blush” causes a similar problem in first-person books. Blushing is actually a reddening of the cheeks, and the first person character can’t see her own cheeks to know they reddened; she feels her cheeks burn, but can’t see it. This editor consequently said not to say “I blushed”. One to watch out for.

I describe redundant body parts. “He shrugged his shoulders”; “she nodded her head”. Given these are the traditional body parts to use, mentioning them is redundant. The only time you should mention the body part in these cases is when the character is using an atypical part—for example, nodding a hand during a puppet show.

Likewise, saying a first-person (or close-perspective third-person) character “saw” or “heard” something is almost always unnecessary. Given they are telling the story, if you describe something to the reader it’s implicit that the character noticed it.

He said, she said. When I’m describing dialogue between two characters in the first person, I can go for ages without mentioning the name of the second character. It’s all “I said, he said”. My solution to this is, again, to search for the character name and scan through the section of dialogue. Word 2010 highlights any found words in yellow, so if I see a whole page with no yellow, that’s a sign it needs review.

Complex sentences. I love these too. I go nuts with the ands, commas, dashes and semicolons to link ideas together. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but other times—such as during fight scenes or other adrenalin moments—a long sentence slows the action down. When I edit, I find these scenes and chop the sentences up, sometimes even into fragments.

So, those are my main writing sins—and yes, you got five instead of four. Counting? Me?

What are your writing weaknesses?

What I wish I knew before my book deal

Today’s guest post is by Emery Lord, whose first contemporary YA novel is out with Walker/Bloomsbury next April. I’ve had a few posts on indie publishing and small presses, so I’m really happy that she and Amy (whose post will go live on Sunday) have provided us with the other side of the coin.

Hi y’all, I’m Emery! Cass was kind enough to invite me to talk about what I wish I knew before my book deal.

My biggest Wish-I-Knew? That the querying process was giving me tools I needed for the rest of my publication path.

(Just for clarification, I’m going to be talking about the way I pursued [traditional] publication: wrote a book, revised it a lot, queried agents, signed with one, revised some more, went on submission to houses, sold. Also, add in some rejection, angst and brownie-gobbling during and between every step. 😉 )

I guess I thought of querying as a wall—a tall gatekeeper set up on the road to publication. For some people, it’s a glass wall, easily demolished with a few thrown query-rocks. For others, it’s a brick wall that is chipped away at over years. It can be laborious and time-consuming and sometimes disheartening. I think it’s easy to wish that an agent would magically pick you from on high, before you even struggle through the querying.

But the querying process isn’t just a way to get an agent. It’s a way to get vital practice for what’s waiting down the publication road. If I’d known that at the time, I think querying might have felt a bit easier to handle!


When querying, you write up a few-paragraph pitch, maybe a synopsis, and possibly a one-line “elevator pitch.”  Learning how to describe your story with brief but distinct details is vital once you sell a book. Plus, your agent may actually pull from your query text to create the submission pitch! So, all that time laboring over my query and synopsis? I now see it as a training ground for a skill I needed to start learning.

Waiting/Radio Silence

It’s so hard. But waiting is a reality of every step of traditional publishing. It’s good to learn your coping mechanisms sooner. (Mine: whipped cream straight from the can, shoe shopping, and diving into a new project.)


It happens with editors much the same way it happens with agents: inevitably–some quickly, some slowly. You might get feedback; you might get a generic ‘not for me’.

These are hard messages to receive, but I’m glad I’ve gotten a taste of that. Because writing is so personal … but publishing makes it public consumption. There will always be rejection or disinterest from someone, and that’s okay. It’s still worth it. (Can you tell I’m trying to emotionally prepare myself for the 1-star Goodreads reviews…? 😉 )


Sometimes you get feedback from agents you queried; sometimes you don’t. Same goes for editorial submissions. I learned not to judge that feedback from my first week’s reaction to it. Sometimes it rang true once the sting wore off. Some agents (and likewise some editors) will give you an R&R (revise and resubmit). Even if they don’t ultimately sign you, they’ve given you experience in revising with/for someone, which is a huge part of the post-book-deal process!

So, there you have it: the fruitful moments I wish I’d recognized when I was in the querying trenches! Happy writing to all of you, and thanks to Cass for having me!

Emery Lord is a 20-something American girl who writes stories about high school and best friends and weird families and the crushes that make you feel combustibly alive and also more awkward than you thought was possible. If you’re not sure how to pronounce Emery, try slurring the name “Emily,” and that will get you really close. Her first book, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, will be out in Spring 2014 with Walker/Bloomsbury.

Emery Lord

Why editing is like streaking

I’ve seen a lot of writing metaphors in my time. But this one is totally new to me. I hope you enjoy this guest post by Lauren McKellar!

If you’re a sports fan you’ve no doubt seen a man naked before. Of course, I’m not referring to the locker room or some more extreme version of sumo wrestling, but more to the one sport that seems to get everybody talking: streaking.

Recently, us Aussies watched a rugby league game where two of our fine states went head-to-head in a battle to win the shield. Or it could have been a plate. Maybe even a trophy. Have I mentioned I’m an editor, not a sports journalist?

So, they battled it out to win. It was the series decider and the question on everyone’s lips was: Will Queensland take it out for the eighth year in a row?

Yet the day after the match the winning state wasn’t the most reported on topic of conversation; instead, it was the guy who streaked.

Which got me to thinking (and I should warn you, this is a stretch): editing is like streaking. Do it well, and you notice it. Fail to have it, and you’re left with a lack of exposure and no chance of going viral.

That’s not where my loose connection ends. When preparing your book for an editor, there are a few leaves you can take out of the streaker’s book to enable your expert to focus on the bigger elements at play. These tips include:

Shedding those outer layers, baby. If there’s one thing a streaker does well, it’s delete excess items of clothing. You need to ask yourself if, as a writer, you have any.

Is every paragraph, every scene, every chapter moving your story forward? Are you telling us some new information we need to know with every sentence you craft?

Because if not, it’s time to make like a streaker and delete, delete, delete! Your editor will thank you for it.

Break the rules. Yes, there are rules of grammar and no, you don’t want to look like an idiot and use ‘there’ when ‘their’ would have been a better choice. Still, there are times in writing when you’re allowed to break the rules.

Technically, you’re not supposed to start a sentence with the word ‘and’,

And I guess you’ve never done that, right?

If there were a naked man at every game we’d quickly get bored and lose attention. But a well-timed streaker can take a rugby match from dull to damned interesting in a heartbeat!

Sometimes, being a literary badass can give your writing character and help get your point across. Go against the grammar grain and run naked across that football field; you deserve it.

Eliminate the backstory. One of the most common editing issues I come across is excessive chunks of backstory just vomited throughout a manuscript.

I have to confess; I am guilty of committing this crime in my own work. I’ll be all ‘What? No! Never!’ and then look at the highlighted paragraph in question: a quick little explanation on my childhood best friend, my family dynamics throughout history and a short snippet on how I used to be a nerd but now I’m a crime-fighting superhero, and realise I’m guilty as the next person.

Search your manuscript for backstory and include it naturally through relevant dialogue, pertinent flash backs or a subtle sentence here and there. Remember, as readers, we’d like to think we’re pretty smart. We get it, already.

And how is this like streaking? Well, just like you don’t want to have too much backstory on the record in your manuscript, a streaker doesn’t want to have too much of a streaking history on his criminal record. After all, get caught streaking once, face a hefty fine. Get caught for streaking twice…now you’re a crazy man who thinks he’s the emperor wearing a new suit.

Lauren McKellar is a freelance editor currently taking on new clients for late August and beyond. With over six years publishing experience, she is currently a Senior Editor for digital romance house Entranced Publishing. For more information on her services, visit her website here.


Brake and accelerate: writing advice from Chuck Wendig

One of the things I struggle with as a writer is pacing. My first book needed major editorial surgery—after pointy-edged feedback from various folks, whom I owe for their insight and honesty—before I was able to get it right. It was less a problem of exposition in my case but of description. I was describing a lot of things, but many of them were the wrong things. What a room looked like, rather than what the character was feeling. Boring stuff, not the juicy stuff a reader really wants to know. Yawn.

So when Chuck Wendig posted his latest advice blog post, 50 Rantypants Snidbits Of Random Writing & Storytelling Advice, this one particularly struck me.

Know what speeds your story up and what slows it down. Dialogue is lubricant: frictionless. Description is grit: friction-filled. Action is a coked-up jackrabbit; exposition is a tired sloth. Short chapters are a bottle rocket; long chapters are a big boat. A story is the slowness of alcohol with the swiftness of meth; sometimes a story needs oxygen to breathe. Sometimes a story needs oxygen to light things on fire. Tension/recoil. Momentum/restriction. Green light. Red light.

Because I love writing dialogue, now I suspect I’ll need to guard against going too far the other way—too fast instead of too slow. (Of course, this is a problem to deal with when you’re editing, not drafting. When you draft, just get it down any way it falls out of your hands or mouth.)

Anyway, follow Chuck Wendig’s blog. Even if profanity offends you (and, believe me, he doles that out like Halloween sweets), follow his blog. He’s cussing you out for your own good. :p


Seeking feedback: the importance of critique partners

(Original photo from wiki commons.)

Writer’s toolbox: an artist’s impression. (Original photo from wiki commons.)

Stephen King—who is pretty much the god of writing as far as I’m concerned—said writers should write with the door closed, and edit with the door open. In other words, once you’ve done your first draft, you need to let a few people, people you trust to be honest without being cruel, read it and give you some feedback. These crit partners are often referred to as “beta readers”.

The way you might choose to approach getting that feedback, though, is up to you. There are two basic approaches.

The perfectionist writer lets the drafted manuscript percolate for a month or so, then re-reads it and does a first-round edit on it before letting anyone else lay eyes on it.

Pros: This is a great approach if you want to make sure that your beta readers aren’t going to be distracted by random typos or plot holes you could drive a semitrailer through.

Cons: It’s possible to get stuck in a cycle of editing and re-editing—possibly induced by fear, the mother of procrastination—and never actually let go of your baby enough to give it to someone else.

The sharer is a writer who completes their first draft and then sends it straight out to all their beta readers.

Pros: You can get an idea of where the weaknesses are early, so when you do your first edit you can fix them straight away, rather than tinkering around the edges, working on things that may have bigger problems—the writing equivalent of putting a coat of paint on a car whose engine doesn’t work.

Cons: There will be problems with the first draft—and many of them will be problems you could have fixed if you’d taken the time. That means your beta readers will have a lot more to criticise, which can be a blow to the ego—potentially a fatal one if you’re a new writer struggling with self-doubt.

Both of these approaches work for people, and both have things to offer. But I have writing friends who actually use a middle ground approach, by using an alpha reader.

The alpha reader is the one person you trust to give you the feedback on your raw work. They see it before you edit, and help you shape the direction of your work, but without stomping your heart into the floor. A lot of people use their significant others for this. I know of some that actually give their chapters to their alpha reader as they are completed, before the entire work is finished. This has the benefit of egging them on to write, but you’d want to choose your alpha reader even more carefully in this case, to make sure you don’t get sucked into doing revisions when you should be drafting in the first place.

My boyfriend is my alpha reader. I wouldn’t show him, or anyone, an incomplete manuscript—I’ve feel like I’ve only just become brave enough to share it with others in the first place!—but I do brainstorm with him when I come up against a difficulty in the plot.

For example, I realised recently that my current work in progress was going to run short if I continued to follow my outline. It’s an adult (or possibly new adult) manuscript, and it was looking like tapering out at about 50k words—around 30k shorter than I was aiming for. I explained where the story was up to and what the antagonist’s resources and plans were, and he came up with a few suggestions for things the antagonist could do to throw spanners in the works—even more spanners than I already had. A whole toolbox of spanners.

It helps that my boyfriend is an evil genius, of course.

What is your approach to getting feedback on your writing? Do you fall into any of the camps I’ve described, or is your approach different again? I’d love to hear from you!

Imprecise use of pronouns, with Doctor Who!

Have you entered my double Amazon giveaway yet, which I’m running to celebrate my book deal and 1000 Twitter followers? The details are here.

One thing I see a lot at work is people using pronouns imprecisely. There was a great example in pop culture over the weekend with the season finale of Doctor Who, where an imprecise pronoun was actually used as a plot device. I’ll explain below what I mean, so please take this as your spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the episode yet! The spoiler material will be at the bottom of the post, beneath the delicious, delicious picture of David Tennant…

First, what is a pronoun? Here’s a dictionary definition.

Pronoun noun
1.  one of the major form classes, or parts of speech, comprising words used as substitutes for nouns.
2.  any such word, such as I, you, he, she, it, this, who, what, they, us, them.

Basically, it’s a word we use as a substitute for a noun (or a proper noun, like a name), to avoid repeating the noun. Here are a few examples:

Cassandra is writing a post on grammar because she (Cassandra) is a grammar geek.

Cassandra admired the Doctor Who script because it (the script) took advantage of poor grammar.

Where you need to be cautious is where the antecedent (the noun to which the pronoun is referring) is unclear. I find this happens a lot in my writing where there are two people of the same sex acting in a scene. For example:

Leander didn’t like Brad, because he was jealous.

Who is jealous? Brad or Leander? To make it clear, we need to rewrite the sentence.

Jealous, Leander didn’t like Brad.

(Better would be something like “Jealousy drove Leander’s dislike of Brad.”) In this case, the rewrite actually removed the pronoun—which is more elegant than repeating Leander’s name. That won’t always be the case.

Grammar is cool. (Image belongs to BBC; no copyright intended, although perving definitely is.)

Grammar is cool. (Image belongs to BBC; no copyright infringement intended, although perving definitely is.)

Now, what was the example from Doctor Who? It’s this quote, from a madman:

“The Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave. It is discovered.”

Most of the characters assumed (and the viewer was meant to assume) that the “it” was the secret. It’s logical assumption, because secrets are more traditionally discovered than graves. But in this case, the secret was actually secondary; it was the discovery of the grave that was significant. The Doctor and River both realised this as soon as they heard the quote, but they had the advantage of knowing what Trenzalore (the place mentioned in the context of the madman’s quote) was.

I think as writers we can take a lesson from this example. (Note that I added “example” after the pronoun “this” just then, because otherwise there are a lot of things preceding it to which it could have referred.) And the lesson is this one: avoid unclear antecedents for pronouns … unless you’re using it deliberately, as a plot device. Then go nuts.

Or, to paraphrase the English poet Robert Graves, master the rules of grammar before you attempt to bend or break them. :p

What happens after you sign with a small press?

Today’s guest post is by the amazing Katie, whose book, KIYA: HOPE OF THE PHARAOH, came out yesterday with small press Curiosity Quills. I’m excited to have her here as the first stop on her blog hop to celebrate the book’s launch. You can find out more about that at her blog.

Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh

Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh

Thank you so much Cass for having me on your blog today.

So Cass asked me to talk about my process of publication after I signed with a small press.

For a start, I needed to format my manuscript for their standard requirements. Curiosity Quills has a handy author’s guide to say what they use for font etc. So once I’d gone through and implemented that, I sent my manuscript to my coordinator.

My coordinator manages everything. She picked the release date and assigned me my editor, cover designer, proofreader and so forth, and is my liaison for each of them as well as everyone else working behind the scenes. She does a very good job too.

So once she had my manuscript I filled out a cover outline. It asked what I wanted to see on the cover, and if I had any ideas I could draw them up too.

Then, I waited. For several months.

When my number came up, everything seemed to just jump into action. My editor contacted me and we began my process. I only did two rounds of editing, but some other I know do more. It depends from author to author. Editing was intense. My editor was fantastic though, and walked me through the whole process. She was always just an email away if I found myself stuck, and was my cheerleader on Facebook when I got frustrated.

My CPs were also a great help during this time, as I bounced emails back and forth with them. Their patience with me is astounding!

During my edits, my cover design came through. Let me just say, I loved this cover from the moment I saw it. It was brightened a little, the sun in the background was added, but it still looked awesome. I’m so happy with it.

Finally, my editor told me she sent my final to the proofreader! Hooray! After that, all I needed to do was check the manuscript one last time with the proofreader’s notes, and add my dedication and thank yous.

All in all, I survived. I was a bit stressed through edits while trying to meet deadlines, but it wasn’t a bad experience. I learned a lot from everyone involved and I believe it’s made me a better writer.

About the author:

Katie J Teller (nee Hamstead) was born and raised Aussie, but now live in Arizona with her Navajo husband and their beautiful little girl. You can find her at her blog or on Twitter.


Interview: Summer Heacock, Women’s Fiction writer

Remember how a while back I mentioned an amazing woman on Twitter who’d just drafted an entire novel in four days? (No, that isn’t a typo. FOUR (4)!) Her name is Summer Heacock and she kindly agreed to do this interview about her writing process.

I was completely awestruck when I heard you’d done the first draft of a manuscript in four days (I can’t even manage four months!). Tell us a little about Pineapple!

I have to be honest, I didn’t expect or plan that in the slightest! I’d been planning to write this story idea for a little over a year, but every time I sat down to write or plot, I was stuck staring at the screen, or writing out crap. I was actually coming to the point where I thought I would have to move on to another story because this one just wasn’t coming out!

Randomly, I happened upon a picture on Google at like 2AM on Friday night and thought the guy looked like what I thought the main fella in Pineapple would look like. The next afternoon, I was thinking certain parts of the book through, decided to sit down and scrap everything I’d written before, and damned if the words didn’t just start falling out.

For those who obsess on numbers like I do, how many words did you average a day? How many hours a day were you writing?

I averaged about 15,000 words a day. I still had to do real life, I’ve got kids and a husband, but for Saturday afternoon and most of the day Sunday, I was a total recluse and in the word zone. I totally need to buy my hubs a pony for the slack he picked up when I was pretty much ignoring life for two days.

I’d say I was writing 4–8 hours per day, depending on the day, and what else had to be done, like getting the kids ready for and to and from school, and so on.

Okay, I’m looking at that and it seems slightly insane… I swear, I’m aware my brain isn’t normal. I have these word binges where I’ll dump out giant word counts but then not be able to write anything for weeks.

Because I write so slowly, I do a quick edit of what I wrote in the previous session before I start drafting the next bit—mainly to remind myself of where I was up to. I’m guessing you don’t have that problem! What is your editing process?

Eek. Um. Well, I’m not sure I have a process. Outside of making sure I have Jelly Bellies and a playlist of music going, I just sort of dive in and hope for the best. But I’m utter crap at editing, so don’t strive to be like me, kids.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Was Pineapple fully plotted before you started?

I’m both! I usually will have a scene in my head that inspires an entire story. Usually it’s something near the end of the book, so I have that in mind, and sort of just write out what happens to get to that point. With some stories, I have a more info, like multiple scenes that I piece together and fill in the blanks. I will do a rough outline with those scenes marked to get to, and the rest kind of pops up as I’m watching it all happen in my head.

I seriously hope other writers are as loony as I am…

What other projects do you have on the go right now?

I’m revising Pineapple now, and hoping to get it shiny and on point after my betas get through with it. I try not to work on more than one story at a time, but I have another MS that is waiting patiently to get started on after Pineapple is finished. It’s probably the most outlined story I’ve ever had before starting, and it’s quite different than my other Women’s Fic stories, so I’m intimidated and excited to see if I can pull it off when it’s time.

Until then, all the Pineapple! I have strong feels for this story, so I hope I can do it proud.

Tell us about yourself.

Let’s see. I am a writer, a mother and a wife. I am relatively badass at all these things. You will notice I did not say housekeeper up there. I suck at that. Like, hard. I am a writer of very strange characters that if I didn’t put word to paper would take over my brain, and who knows what would happen then. I write to SAVE LIVES, people.

When I am not donning my Super Mom/Wifey underoos, you will find me on Twitter or at my blog. I write Women’s Fiction and dabble in YA when I’m feeling froggy for it. You will find my fluency in profanity present in ALL THESE THINGS.

I am repped by the unfathomably brilliant Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown. I genuinely have no idea how I managed to snag someone so incredible as my agent, but I’ma run with it before she realizes she signed a crazy person.

Summer Heacock

Summer Heacock