Today I’m delighted that Sheryl Browne, author of Recipes for Disaster, is visiting my blog to chat about why she writes and her road to publication. It’s always great to hear from Sheryl, she has such a lovely, bubbly personality which I think shrines through in her writing.
The question most often asked of a writer seems to be, why do you write? Applied to me, at least up until my recent publishing success, I think that question should read whatever possesses you to keep writing?
It’s a good question, and I think ‘possession’ is possibly the answer. By and large, unless blessed with an inordinate amount of talent combined with good luck (ergo able to find that elusive unique selling point, make your characters compelling, your story captivating and then get it in front of the right eyes at the right time), an author’s debut novel tends not to be their first. They’ve worked hard at it, most always editing and re-drafting, possibly re-writing the book in its entirety, or putting it to bed and moving on the next one.
As mentioned in other interviews, I am a creative soul by nature, my background being in Art & Design. For me, creating a character through words in is not dissimilar to creating a portrait on canvas. Whichever way you choose to paint, representational or abstract, you want dig deeper than skin surface and capture the essence of the person, to connect emotionally.
Writing, in my mind, is therefore as much an expression of emotion as sculpting or painting, and sometimes it pays to learn the skills of the trade, whether through creative writing courses, sharing through writers’ groups, learning from constructive feedback via dreaded rejections, employing editors. Recently, I approached the Romantic Novelists’ Association in regard to editorial services on one of my previous books. The RNA recommended someone whose rates were affordable and whose help was invaluable. Feedback from the RNA New Writers’ scheme is excellent incidentally, if you are fortunate to get on board with that, as I was some years back.
So, ‘why do I write’ ? Possibly for the same reason I read or watch a film. Like most writers, I want to connect with people, share emotionally with people, to escape to another place, cheer the hero/heroine on and come away satisfied. Also, yes, I admit I am a little obsessed with the desire to get my work out there. To make it as good as it can be, to get it published, to get feedback, which grants me permission to keep writing. Ah, you might say, but you don’t need anyone’s permission. Sadly, though, you do in a way. Most writers juggle family and often day-jobs, and desperately need to justify being able to say, go away, I’m writing, without feeling guilty because it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
You may have heard (or possibly not, because I haven’t been shouting very loudly… ahem) that I finally, finally, feel able to do just that, having recently had my book Recipes for Disaster published by wonderfully supportive Safkhet Publishing!
What Safkhet Publishing did for me in saying they loved my writing and, equally quietly J, cheering me on to write Recipes for Disaster, was to make me stay focussed; to believe in myself and stay true to my writing style.
I’ve used every single piece of constructive criticism I’ve had, taken on board suggestions from agents and publishers who were kind enough to offer advice, stored away editorial comment for future reference, but what I always tried to do was not stray too far from what I wanted to do: To make people smile. My catharsis from those tedious, sometimes traumatic, life events ~ and let’s face it, we all have them ~ is to write. It is my emotional outlet. Through writing I hope to tap into other people’s emotions, but in a good way. In a way that helps me and, more-importantly, the reader, leave his/her problems behind, at least for a while.
At last, I feel I’ve achieved my aim. And now that Safkhet have offered me a further three-book contract under their new Safkhet Soul imprint, I feel I can go on doing what I know has bordered on obsession occasionally, because I am possessed ~ by a passionate spirit that will wither and die without writing.
In summary, finally, I’m glad of the journey, even though I got so very tired of the rejection sometimes, of coming close, but not close enough. If anyone asks me that other question that often crops up: what advice would you give to aspiring writers(?), it would be: have one-to-one with yourself. Be honest and ask yourself, is this a burning passion I truly can’t give up? If the answer is an adamant yes, then don’t. Keep at it, use every bit of advice ~ as long as it makes sense (and you know when it does) ~ and stay true to your art, because that’s what it is.
Phew. Right, now I’ve got that off my chest, I’ll shut up! Um, except… No, no more from me. Just the teeniest of extract from Safkhet’s press release re their new imprint, Safket Soul, which might just help a few people. Here you go:
The first book in the imprint is Sheryl Browne’s Recipes for Disaster, which had a wonderful reception in its first week on the market: over 5,000 Kindle copies sold! Recipes for Disaster is deliciously different; fun recipes combined with romantic comedy make this book unique and cater to the romantic comedy and cookery readers at the same time. A man’s point of view also appeals to male readers who want to cook or learn how.
Sheryl originally approached Safkhet with her book previously published in the US. She knew Safkhet had no list for the type of book and yet was not quite ready to give up hope. Kim, the editor who received her submission, loved her writing style and asked if she would like to write a romantic comedy cookbook. Having just the recipe names to work with, Sheryl gave it a go and managed to convince everybody else on the Safkhet team that a new imprint was needed. An imprint for Sheryl’s books and more just like it. Something to cheer up the reader, something bright and something that combines fun reading with recipes.
Safkhet signed Sheryl for three more books to be released within the next 18 months. They will all be published both in print and for the Kindle. Safkhet will soon accept submissions for this new imprint; up to four titles are planned for publication per year.
There really are some fantastically supportive people out there. Keep writing!
Recipes for Disaster
The shortest way to a man’s heart
Mix romantic comedy and step-by-step cooking instructions. Bake at 200 degrees for an entertaining read and handy guide.
She’s a single. He’s a widower. She wants him. He wants her. She wants to impress. So does he. There’s just one catch – she can’t cook. To get him, she needs to get past the big fish – his mother. Lucky her, she’s got an Ace up her sleeve and all she’s got to do is impress this one time. Bad luck, though, her new guy can’t cook either, her dog Rambo is on the loose and now they’ve got to pull off the big lunch at the club. Will it be a match made in heaven? Will they be able to pull off a culinary miracle? Will their combined efforts result in love at first bite? Or is it simply a Recipe for Disaster?
Format: Paperback. Also available on Kindle
Available from: Amazon, any local bookstore, or direct from Safkhet Publishing