Ep 166 How to get over your wall of self doubt. And meet Rachael Lucas, author of ‘The State of Grace’.

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podcast-artworkIn Episode 166 of So you want to be a writer: How to get over your wall of self-doubt and discover the art of writing murder mystery characters. Take virtual literary tours of New York! Do you want the chance to win a Mother’s Day book pack with 7 books? Plus: meet Rachael Lucas, author of The State of Grace and much more.

Click play to listen to the podcast or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here, or listen to us on Stitcher radio.

Shoutout of the Week
From Monique Mulligan:

I’ve listened to a fantastic podcast called So You Want to be a Writer by Valerie Khoo and Allison Tait (this week’s episode, A Playlist for Writer’s Block) gave me hope as well as answered some questions I’d been mulling over.

Thanks, Monique!

Show Notes

Writing a Murder Mystery, Character Creation: The Murderer, Part One of Two

Take a virtual walking tour of literary NYC locations

Writer in Residence

Rachael Lucas

Rachael Lucas’ debut YA novel, The State of Grace was published on April 6th, 2017 in the UK. It will then be released in 2018 by Albin Michel Jeunesse in France, and Feiwel & Friends in the USA, with other territories to be announced.

She’s also written three romantic comedies – Sealed with a Kiss, Coming Up Roses, and Wildflower Bay. All three are published by Pan Macmillan.

Visit Rachael Lucas’ website

Follow Rachael on Twitter

Competition

WIN 7 books in our Mother’s Day pack!

Your hosts

Allison Tait

Valerie Khoo / Australian Writers’ Centre

Connect with us on twitter

@altait

@valeriekhoo

Email us

podcast at writerscentre.com.au

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Interview Transcript

Allison

Rachael Lucas is the author of three romantic comedies: Sealed with a Kiss, Coming up Roses, and Wildflower Bay, all published by Pan Macmillan. Her most recent novel, The State of Grace, is a YA novel published in Australia in March and then in the UK this month, before hitting the US, France and other territories worldwide in 2018. So welcome to the program, Rachael. Thanks so much for coming in to have a chat with us today.

Rachael

Thank you for having me.

Allison

All right, let’s start at the beginning. Because you and I have actually been palling around on social media, so to speak. For people who’ve never met, we’re sort of quite chatty on social media and have been for many, many years now. But I remember when Sealed with a Kiss came out. Because that’s how we roll. When you’re on social media, you know this stuff. But you sort of began your author journey writing romantic comedies for adults. Was that the first book you ever wrote?

Rachael

No. The first book I ever wrote was a pony story when I was eleven. And I typed it on my typewriter, proper old fashioned typewriter. I used to do it every night after school. And I spent months and months on it. And it was basically an absolutely terrible amalgam of every pony story I’d ever read in my life. And I went to the post office, and I bundled it up into an envelope, and I posted it to a publisher, and I said, “I have written this book”. And I went to the library, and I checked out what you were supposed to do if you were submitting a book. And I did it all correctly.

And I sent it to a publisher. And they wrote back and said, “Dear Rachael, thank you so much” – and they sent the book back – “thank you so much for sending us your book. We think it’s wonderful and it’s great that you’re writing, although it’s not quite what we’re looking for right now.”

Allison

Get back to us in ten years.

Rachael

“But keep writing.” Now, the publisher was Pan, as they were then.

Allison

No!

Rachael

So it’s really sweet that I end up, all these years later, slightly more than I’d like to admit, being published by Pan Macmillan. Because they were the publisher of all the pony stories that I loved. So that was actually my first book.

Allison

How fantastic! All right. Well, there was a slight gap between the pony story and Sealed with a Kiss. Where did we go in the meantime? How did that book come to be published?

Rachael

Well, Sealed with a Kiss actually started a good fifteen years before I wrote it when I moved to the island of Bute with my ex-husband when we were first married. And right back then I thought I’d really like to write a story about somebody coming to live on this island. Because it was such a unique experience. The island isn’t very big. And everybody really does know everybody.

And it’s such a funny combination. There are no secrets, and yet there are lots of secrets. And so I thought, there’s a story in this. But life, having four children sort of got in the way. So it was a really long time before I finally sat down and started writing it.

Allison

And how did you go back about that? When you sat down to actually start writing it, did you have notes that you’d made all that time before? Or did you just sort of think, right, the time is right, I’m going to pull that story out of the air?

Rachael

Well, actually what happened was I realised that if I didn’t sort of startle myself into it, it was quite possible that I would never write. Because I had that thing of, you know, I’m going to write a book, that people have. And they sort of think that a fully-fledged perfect novel is just going to suddenly appear one day on their computer. And so I signed up to do Nanowrimo. And I thought, right, this is the sort of thing that appeals to me. I have a challenge, I have a certain number of words to do per day.

And I was a blogger, so I knew that if I blogged about it there would be some accountability and that would make me do it. So I did Nanowrimo, and I did the 50,000 words. And then I just kept on going until I’d finished it. Because once I’d got to 50,000 words it felt like an actual book, and I felt like I knew what I was doing. And I didn’t really plan it. If you could go back and look at my Google history then, it would have things like “what is a scene?” and “how long is a chapter?”

[laughter]

Rachael

The thing is, I had done a degree in English. And I have always been a voracious reader. So I think you’ve got an instinctively good knowledge of story if you read a lot. So I had the basic idea of this is what needs to happen, there needs to be, I want there to be three acts. But I didn’t know any more than that. And the fact that it ended up being called Sealed with a Kiss, and being about a girl who rescues an abandoned baby seal was as much a shock to me, I think, as anybody else. Because the seal just popped up one day when I was writing.

Allison

As they do. Those seals.

Rachael

As they do.

Allison

Okay. So you’ve written this book. You’ve blogged your way through Nanowrimo. Because of course, I think that’s probably where we… Did we find each other through blogging? We did, didn’t we?

Rachael

Yes. Right back. 2009. Back in the blogging days.

Allison

Back in the blogging hey days. So you’ve got this thing. You’ve written this thing. What did you do then? How did the book come to be published?

Rachael

Well, I actually put it in a drawer. Metaphorically, obviously. I put it in a metaphorical drawer, and for a few years, and I got divorced. And again life kind of got in the way. And I think because I’d had an initial agent, I had an agent who was publishing a book of my blog, which was a very lovely lifestyle blog. I’d said, “oh, do you want to have a look at my book that I’ve written?” And she didn’t like it. And so I did that thing, that you see people doing, I got one knockback and I thought, “oh, well, it’s obviously awful.” So I shelved it.

But then I moved to the seaside and started a new life. And a girlfriend of mine who is a really successful self-publisher said, “I love that book. I wish you would just publish it.” And so I decided, you know, it was very much, oh well, I’ll just give it a go and we’ll see what happens. And I just kind of thought, well, if 100 people read it then I’ll be quite pleased. And… So I hit publish. Within six weeks, 60,000 people had downloaded it.

Allison

Wow.

Rachael

And it was number seven in the overall Amazon chart in the UK. And it just… And I think it was, you know… It really took me by surprise, and I didn’t expect it at all. And so I kind of came into it in a really funny way. Because I did the self-publishing and it did really well. And then I started to get emails from agents. So I did it, you know, the opposite way to most people.

Allison

Well, it’s quite a calling card, isn’t it? It’s quite a business card. Like, here I am with my top ten Amazon bestselling novel.

Rachael

Yes. Exactly!

Allison

How do you like me so far.

Rachael

Well, except of course, not knowing anything about this, I mean, I’m in the… The writing social media world is so lovely and friendly that I knew a lot of published authors. And they were saying, “oh Rachael, I hope you’re screen grabbing these Amazon placings because these are amazing.” And I was thinking, “are they?” Because I didn’t know what was good and what wasn’t. What I was thinking was, “oh, it’s not number one.”

No, that’s, number seven is really good. And so I sort of, I wish I could go back, actually, and tell me, past me, you know, “really enjoy this.” Because I think I was so stunned by it all that I didn’t really take it in.

Allison

I would have to Google how to do a screengrab at that point.

Rachael

Yes. I did. I did actually. I didn’t know how to do that either.

Allison

That’s funny. All right. So then agents started calling you. And so the process for your follow up books was then relatively straight-forward, was it?

Rachael

Much more straightforward. Because I signed with my agent. And then we got a deal, we actually published, Sealed with a Kiss was then published by Pan Macmillan, sort of taken over by them. And I had a deal to write two more books, and also a novella. And so I set off on the traditional path.

Allison

Fantastic.

Rachael

Which was an interesting experience. So it has been an interesting experience.

Allison

Well, it’s certainly becoming more and more interesting every day from what I can see.

Rachael

Yes.

Allison

But why do you think you were drawn to romantic comedy in the first place? Like what took you into that genre in the first place?

Rachael

Well I think, I was thinking about it the other day, if somebody asked what would be my desert island book, and I think my number one would be Pride and Prejudice. And I think that the social side of that, but I also really like the humour in that book. And it sort of, it came on from that. I’ve always really liked authors like Katie Fforde, and Jill Mansell. I like their humour. I also like the fact that they’re able to take, they take issues, and their books do touch on subjects that are, you know, important to us all, but they do it in a light and humorous way.

And I like the idea of a book that you can read and relax with. And I think because it was the kind of book I like reading myself I thought, well, that’s what I’d like to do.

Allison

Yes. It’s often the best case, isn’t it? To start with something that you love reading, to see if that’s… Because if it strikes a chord with you as a reader, chances are it will also strike a chord with you as a writer.

Rachael

Exactly.

Allison

And what do you think the key to writing great romantic comedy is?

Rachael

I think it’s having characters that you can relate to. And making them really authentic. Because you have to really invest in the characters. Because the basis of a romantic comedy is – and mine aren’t, I don’t say they’re not funny, but they’re not particularly funny. It’s not slapstick, but there is some humour.

But we all know, the boy meets girl, something will happen, and eventually, boy and girl will get together in the end because that is basically the way that they work. So it really all hangs on the writing. And if you don’t have characters that your readers can invest in, then they’re not going to read the book. So for me, the key is character. And also setting actually is really important to me. It’s something that means a lot to me.

Allison

Okay. So we’ve had a switch. There’s a change of pace going on in your writing life. Because your new novel, The State of Grace, is a YA novel. And it’s quite different. I mean, I don’t call YA a genre, so where would you place The State of Grace within the YA market. Like, what kind of spectrum, where would you put it?

Rachael

It’s a contemporary romance, and it’s also an own-voices novel. I wrote it because my daughter got Asperger’s diagnosis a few years ago, after a long time of pushing to get this diagnosis. And in the process of getting the diagnosis, I actually got one as well.

Allison

Oh. There you go. Two for the price of one.

Rachael

And so what I realised, as Verity was growing up was – even before she had the diagnosis, and I know it’s the same in Australia because I’ve done lots of reading, but it’s tricky over there for girls particularly to get a diagnosis, it can be a difficult thing – that I would try and find something to say to her, look if you read this. But the only books that were out there were The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which was a male protagonist. Or older books like The Rosie Project, again a male protagonist.

And the thing I liked about the own-voices movement was you were not only writing about a subject, but you were writing about it from your own perspective. So I’m writing as an autistic writer about autism. And so it gives it an extra layer of, well, authenticity, I suppose. But also it makes it particularly relatable to people who have autism, or whatever the subject might be. So that’s why, that’s sort of where it sits.

But at heart it’s not a book about autism. It’s a book about Grace, who is 15, and it’s about first… I wouldn’t say love, but you know, your first sort of relationship, and family things. So it’s very sort of contemporary. It’s set now.

Allison

And what was your elevator pitch for that book? When you were putting together your here’s-my-book? How do you describe it in three sentences?

Rachael

I always said, how do you follow the rules when they don’t make any sense? It’s the story of Grace who wants to try and work out where she fits in, but she’s not sure if she even wants to. That’s really what it’s about.

Allison

I think we can all relate to that a little bit.

Rachael

I think so. And I think that’s actually the thing that’s really key, is the message from the book is, really, we’re all muddling along, we’re all trying to do our best, and we’re all going to mess up. And I think that’s what I want people to take away from it, is it’s okay to mess up, because we all do.

Allison

Okay. And was the writing process different with this novel? Like, it’s quite a personal project for you on many levels. Did you approach it in a different way? Or was it just a similar thing of, I’m going to write this book, and sit down and off you went?

Rachael

Really different, actually. Because having written Sealed with a Kiss sort of on spec, I have become quite a planner. I will start off with my post-it notes, and I work out what I’m doing. And with Grace, obviously I like to work out what I’m doing with the story with my post-it notes, but her voice just came into my head one day when I was walking along the road. And she said, “yeah, I could totally be popular if I wanted to. You just have to follow the rules.”

And this voice, I thought, okay, there’s something here. But she wouldn’t stop talking in my head. And eventually, I thought I better write some of this down because she’s not going to shut up. And it was like I’d be having a shower and she’d be chatting away, and I thought this is going to have to happen.

Allison

You’re so lucky you’re a writer because otherwise, we’d have to be having a chat, wouldn’t we?

Rachael

I know! Yes, I’ve got people talking in my head all the time.

Allison

Oh yeah. I hear you.

Rachael

So I started writing. And I did a little bit, but I realised I wasn’t feeling, I didn’t feel brave enough. Because it was so personal. And I actually put it to one side for a year. And I wrote Wildflower Bay. And then I had just finished Wildflower Bay and it had just come out in October and I thought, right, I’m going to have a break and relax. And then Grace went, “no you’re not! You’re going to write this book!” And I wrote the whole thing in about six weeks, the first draft of it. It was really fast. And it just poured out.

And I did sit down, once I started to realise this book is not going to stop coming out, I sat down and I kind of plotted it out. But then I found that I was just writing 5,000-6,000 words a day really easily. I wish I could do that all the time.

Allison

I find it interesting that you say that. Because I think that this is a question that comes up a lot with writers, is that notion that you… That happened with me a little bit with The Mapmaker Chronicles, as well, because I had never written anything like that. And I could tell from the very first minute that it was going to be a project of some scope, and I had never attempted anything like that. So that sense where you said you weren’t quite brave enough to have a crack at it at that point I think is a really interesting one. And it’s something that it’s important to recognise that fear, for what it is, and not be completely put off by it. Sometimes you do need to put them away for a little while and come back to it. But it is definitely just a sense of oh no, I’m not up to this, isn’t it, as opposed to anything else?

Rachael

It really is. I think it’s massive imposter syndrome, and it’s also perfectionism. And it’s this thing that we all have that… What we actually mean when we say, “I’m too scared to write it” is “I’m scared I’m going to write it and it’s not going to be perfect.” But of course, your first draft is never going to be perfect. And until you’ve actually told yourself a story by writing it down, you don’t have anything to work on. And I’m actually thinking about an adult book at the moment, and I’ve been having the same thoughts, “oh, I don’t know if I’m capable of writing it.” And I have to remember, well, it’s come into my head for a reason. So I just have to get on with it, really. And trust.

Allison

Yes. Well, the trust, that’s the thing, isn’t it? You have to trust that the words will do the job if you just let them get on with the job. And don’t get in their way too much, that would be good. Now the interesting thing I think about it is that it is also, The State of Grace, it has a huge buzz around it. It’s been one of those books that right from, even when you first started talking about it, and the reviews have been amazing, and there’s a lot of, you’ve sold into however many territories. Did you feel… Were you shocked? Did you know that this was a special book as you were writing it? Or was it like, oh, here I am with my first YA novel and maybe I should have just been doing this all along?

Rachael

Well, actually, it’s a really funny one. Because I always knew I would write YA. It’s probably the thing that’s sort of dearest to my heart, because I really believe that the books that you read when you’re growing up form partly who you become. And I feel very warmly and very strongly about the books that I read, and I still go back and re-read them a lot, and I would never part with them because I’m very emotionally attached to them.

So as I was writing it, yes, I think I did feel different. I felt that it was a very exposing book to write because I was writing a lot about my own teenage experience, and my daughter’s experiences. But I was also thinking as I was writing this, I think this is going to make a difference to… And I just kept thinking if one girl reads this and feels understood, I will actually feel like I have done what I needed to do with this. It felt like it was something that had to be done.

And then I announced, we announced the deal after the Bologna Book Fair last year, and I mean, the Tweets that I wrote, I think it got retweeted like 300 times or something. All of these people from all over the world saying how excited they were about a book about a girl who was autistic. And I just felt that something really amazing is happening here. And it’s such a funny feeling.

Allison

It would be. I can’t even imagine! I can’t even imagine. So you have an agent, you mentioned that before. What did she say when you said, oh, I’ve got this manuscript but it’s actually not romantic comedy this time?

Rachael

She’s actually, Amanda, my agent, is absolutely brilliant. I will… She’s really collaborative. So I quite often will just send her a snippet and say, “what do you think? Does this work?” And I just sent her, when I first had the voice of Grace in my head, I sent her an email with just a couple of little passages of Grace talking. And she just shot back straight away, “love this!” And then I wrote back and said, “it’s not a grown-up book.” And she said, “no, that’s okay.”

And she has such a lovely view of, you know, we work on this together. And as she said, basically, “my job is to let you write the books or to help you write the books that make you happy, and I don’t mind what they are as long as you’re happy writing them.” So she’s amazing.

Allison

She sounds great!

Rachael

Oh, she is. She’s absolutely wonderful.

Allison

So, okay. Let’s move on to something slightly different, in the sense that, as mentioned, we did meet online via blogging and Twitter and all of those sorts of things. What role do you think that social media and your online platform – which is fairly substantial these days. I was looking at your Pinterest account thinking, whoa, we’re going to talk about that in a little role. But role do you think that that has played in your career to date?

Rachael

I think it’s key, really. I’d like to say that it wasn’t. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Because I love social media, personally. I like being on there and chatting. It’s difficult because it has become work, which means it is very difficult for me to take my work hat off and just have a laugh on Twitter. But I think it is key.

I think that getting to know other authors obviously helps in terms of getting your book out there, I think, getting known in the publishing world. But also, I think, having the Twitter account, having the blog, having the Facebook author page, allows people to know you as a person. And I mean, you don’t have to give away everything about your life. And there are lots of things that I obviously don’t.

But I think that I have a real sense that the readers that have followed me right from the very beginning, when I was blogging, when I was married and I was blogging, and I was writing a lifestyle blog, and I was writing Sealed with a Kiss, they’ve stayed with me. And it doesn’t matter even that I’m writing YA. You know, I’ve sort of said, I’m not sure how many people will read it. And I’ve been amazed by how many people have said, “oh, I can’t wait to read it.” And I feel that we’re all in it together, and I think that’s really nice, actually.

Allison

So you now offer, you actually do social media coaching, you offer it on your website. What do you think is the main mistake that you see authors making? What do you, what are you talking to people about? What are they coming to you for?

Rachael

I think a lot of people come thinking, “how do I sell my book?” When actually you can’t really use social media to sell your book. You just, I’m always saying, it’s as simple and as difficult as just be yourself. So you have to be willing to… Sometimes you see people coming on and they say, “well, why can’t I just go on there, I don’t like Twitter, but I want to use it to sell my book, can’t I just go on and Tweet about my book?” And I say, “well, you can. But if you do, nobody is going to follow you.” Because nobody wants to listen to somebody saying, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book.

But if you’re on Twitter and you engage with people, and you’re a person and you talk about… I mean, I don’t hold back. I talk about politics, and I talk about my opinions about things. And I’ll talk about I’ve had a really rubbish day. I think then when you do actually have to say, and I will sometimes, I will just Tweet, “guys I’ve got a book coming out so brace yourselves.” But nobody then, everybody then says, “yeah don’t worry about it.” Because it’s okay if you then have to go, basically, buy my book. It’s here, it’s out. But actually what you find then is people support you.

So what I say is, just go on, be yourself, but also be generous. Retweet other people’s things, share other people’s things, talk to people. Just act like you would in the real world, really.

Allison

Yes. Don’t run around with a placard – buy my book.

Rachael

No! Exactly.

Allison

Gee, sometimes you feel like it though, don’t you? You feel like standing on a street corner and just going, “over here. Over here!”

Rachael

Buy my book. Oh, god yeah.

Allison

So let’s just have a quick moment to discuss Pinterest. Because I haven’t actually come across an author that’s got quite as many, you’ve got nearly 20,000 followers there on Pinterest. Which is a lot. How did that come about? And do you think it’s a platform that maybe a lot of authors are not really investigating closely enough?

Rachael

I think so. I think the thing about Pinterest is it’s a visual medium, and of course, we’re used to writing. But for me, because I’m a very visual person, the first thing I do, and the reason that I think my Pinterest kind of blew up was because right back when Pinterest first started I was writing Sealed with a Kiss, in 2009, 2010. And I thought, oh, this is amazing. I can actually find pictures that represent the place that I’m writing about, and I can find the character who looks exactly like my main character.

And so I would draw together all these pictures – and I’m gesticulating madly, I realised, as I’m saying this – but I would draw together all these pictures on my laptop, and it would really help me to immerse myself in this world. So it’s become the thing that I do before I even start.

If you look at my Pinterest you’ll actually see, there are a couple of, all of my novels are on there, and so you can go and… And I really like it, because I’ll say to people, go and have a look. And you can really get a picture for The State of Grace, because you can see behind the scenes, but you can also get an idea of the pictures of the world that I’ve created, what it looks like.

But there are also a couple of books that didn’t quite happen, or maybe will happen in the future. And they’re on there. But I also, I mean, I like Pinterest, because I like looking at delicious recipes that I’ll never make and amazing crafts that I’ll never do, and gorgeous houses that I’ll never own.

Allison

I used to have a board on Pinterest, I don’t know if I’ve still got it, but it used to be called ‘Things I love but will never do’. That was the name of the board.

Rachael

I have actually got one that’s got a similar name.

Allison

I used to just put everything on there that I loved the look of but would never actually happen in my life.

Rachael

Exactly. Yes. And then I’ve also got, I think I have an entire board full of Aga cookers, because I dreamed that one day I’m going to have one of these lovely Aga stove cookers.

Allison

And where do we find you on Pinterest? Are you just RachaelLucas?

Rachael

I am RachaelLucas1.

Allison

RachaelLucas1, okay. So check it out, people. If you’re looking for some authoring Pinterest inspiration. RachaelLucas1 is your girl. Okay, so now you also have a family, as you mentioned. You have four children, I believe, currently on school holidays as we speak and probably listening at the door. But how do you fit the writing, and all these other… Because, you know, the social media stuff can be, it’s a job in itself, and you’ve got a lot of other things going on. How do you fit it all in, I guess, is my question.

Rachael

I think we’re very lucky in that my partner is also a writer. So we both work from home. He’s working on a book at the moment. So actually at the moment, I’m in publication mode, and he’s in writing mode. And so we sort of juggle… I do the school runs. And I tend to use that time when I get to school, I catch up on social media while I’m sitting in the school carpark. So that’s morning and night, it’s a good way of doing that.

And then I would love to say that I then come home and sit down in a disciplined manner and write for two hours before walking the dog and doing some yoga.

But that would be a lie.

What actually happens is, a lot of the time, I sort of try and forget about the fact that I have a book deadline until I’m quite close to the book deadline. And then I tend to write it all in a feverish burst, where the children eat a lot of slightly burnt pizza, and the house gets progressively more untidy, and because I’m the tidiest one in the family, so as soon as I go off duty every surface becomes plagued with cups and newspapers and chaos.

And then, of course, I emerge from the study, half way through a chapter I’m stuck on and go, “look at the state of this house!” And everyone goes, “oh, she’s at it again.”

Allison

Right. So situation normal for most writers then?

Rachael

Yeah. I’m sorry. I’d love to say I’m like the poster girl for organised writing, but it would be a lie.

Allison

Okay, fair enough. All right, so what’s the next project for Rachael Lucas? You mentioned before you had another adult novel idea. Will you go back to the romantic comedy? Or will you look for something different? Or what will you do?

Rachael

My next project is actually my next YA book, which is out early next year. Which is called My Box-Shaped Heart. And I’m very excited about that. And what I do tend to do, I suppose I should say, is I sort of squash all the writing in at the end because what I do is I sort of wander around with the characters in my head for ages until the story sort of appears from the mist. And so when I’m writing, I pretty much know what’s going to happen. And then I’m just sort of reeling it off, it’s almost like dictating a movie in my head.

So I’m going to be writing My Box-Shaped Heart, and then I’m going to be working on my next adult book, which I’ve actually written some of already. I actually wrote 35,000 words, but I realised there was… I wrote about it on my blog actually, in a blog post which I called something like, ‘Why I binned 35,000 words’. I didn’t actually literally bin them. What I did was I thought, no, there’s something not working here. But I’ve worked out what it is, so now I’m quite looking forward to going back to that book and writing the next adult book.

Allison

It’s such a good feeling that, isn’t it? When you know something’s not right, and you walk away from it, and you’re washing dishes or something, and suddenly it’s just like, oh, that’s what has to happen. Oh, thank heavens for that.

Rachael

Exactly. Because I just thought, that’s 35,000 words wasted. That’s ridiculous. And as I was saying, “oh, words are never wasted, it’s good practice.” And I was thinking, hm, it’s a waste. But no, I knew that there was something in there. It’s a… It’s a romance. It’s got some comedy in it. It’s probably slightly more… I suppose the term would be, over here it would be contemporary women’s fiction. It’s a slightly less rom-com, and just slightly more… It’s not a drama. But it’s just a little bit less funny.

Allison

But so that’s pretty great. You’ve got things on the boil. Things are coming up. Which is where you like to be, really, isn’t it? It’s good. All right. So let’s finish up today by talking about your top three tips for aspiring writers.

Rachael

I’ve kind of touched on all of these, actually, in the process of this conversation.

My first would be to read a lot. I think it’s absolutely vital. Because as I said, if you read a lot you understand how story works, and I think you understand how to build a narrative and you understand, you can see how characters work, and which characters don’t work. And I think, so for me, it’s really really important. And I actually do put aside time for reading. And I will actually, I have to remind myself, I’ll say this is work. But I will actually say this is work. I will count reading as working time. Because I think it’s really, really important. So that would be my first one.

My second comes back to our history, which is I think that writing a blog is really helpful. Because I think it gets you into a daily writing or a regular writing habit. I think you learn about structuring writing because your blog post has to have a beginning, a middle and an end, because if it’s engaging people to read it. It obviously helps you to build up a readership as well, which is again, comes back to the author platform thing that we talked about.

And my third is if you’re going to write something, get it finished. This is what I always tell people when I do workshops and classes.

Allison

It’s so true.

Rachael

Everybody says, “I’ve got, oh I’ve written 10,000 words, I’ve written 20,000 words.” And I say, “how is the rest?” And they say, oh, oh well. And the thing is, and I’ve been there, that thing of, oh I’ve written three chapters and I’d like to send it to an agent. And I have to say, “no, they’re going to want to see the whole thing.”

Because one of the things, they don’t just want to see that you can write. They also want to see that you can follow through and actually finish writing. And also, I think it’s so important because you get it finished, you’ve also got to finish it again when you do the edits. You’re going to have to finish another one when you have if you’re lucky, and you get a two or three book deal. Finishing a book has to become something that you get used to doing, I think. And you can’t edit something that’s not done.

Allison

So true. There you have it, people. Rachael Lucas, a member of the Finish the Damn Book Club.

Rachael

Yes. Yes. Definitely.

Allison

Which has got some excellent members, let me tell you. All right, well thank you so much for your time today. The State of Grace is out now in Australia and the UK, and coming to other places very, very soon, which is fantastic. Where do we find you online, Rachael? Are you RachaelLucas.com?

Rachael

I am RachaelLucas.com, that’s my website. My Facebook page is RachaelLucasWriter. And my Twitter account is @karamina which I’ve never changed and has been since the olden days.

Allison

I know. I love it.

Rachael

So but if you search Rachael Lucas on Twitter, I’ll come up. You’ll see me that way. But yes, I’m still old school on Twitter.

Allison

I think it’s hilarious that you and I are both, you can totally tell that our entire social media networking and stuff was all very organic, because everything is different. And now I go to workshops and I say, “make sure that all of your, you have the same handle across all the platforms. Don’t do what I did.”

Rachael

That’s what I say too. “Do as I say, don’t do as I do.” And then people say, “but it works for you!” And it’s like, it sort of built up over time. It’s not really the answer.

Allison

Yeah. Do you really want to put this much time in?

Rachael

Well, yes. And also I spend a lot of time having to say, yes, well I’m this on Pinterest, I’m this on Instagram. Actually, on Instagram I am RachaelLucas. Just RachaelLucas. So I should be just using that.

Allison

And we should also point out that Rachael is R-A-C-H-A-E-L Lucas. There you go. All right, well thank you so much. You’ll find all the links in the show notes. And we’d just like to say thank you once again for coming and having a chat, and I hope The State of Grace goes gangbusters for you.

Rachael

Brilliant. Thank you so much for having me.

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