Our 2019 Novel (focus on Plot) workshop leader Shirley Hailstock has a lengthy writing career and over 30 books bearing her name. This is her first time leading a PWC workshop, so I decided to pick her brain and find out what what she’s learned after decades of writing. Here is what she had to say!
AW: How has your personal writing community influenced and assisted you?
SH: I was fortunate to meet with two wonderful writers the first day I joined my local romance writers group. We became critique partners and for years worked together. They helped me hone my craft and we all looked out for places to submit our work. In addition to that group, there were conferences where I got to talk to other authors, those above me in experience and in the industry. They were willing to help with questions and general information. I absorbed everything they had to say and tried to apply it when necessary.
AW: Where do you draw your inspiration?
SH: I love the process of writing. I get inspired by the world around me. I hear things and think of a novel plot. I read a book and think of a twist that I could put on a plot. When I read a really good book, I aspire to write as well or to craft a book as well as the one I read.
AW: How important are conferences and conventions to a writer?
SH: Conferences are invaluable. There is the networking with other authors who understand talking about fictitious people and settings as if they are real. The workshops are great for getting more information or discovering a tidbit that could make your writing better.
AW: What are some hints for getting your butt in the seat and your hands on the keyboard?
SH: Make writing a priority. Put it on the front burner, not the back one. Let the other stuff get done second, write first.
AW: How do you balance your writing time with the rest of your life’s responsibilities?
SH: I used to be better at this, but now I tend to bite off more than I can chew and I’m always trying to catch up. I still make writing a certain number of words a day a priority. Even if I only get one page or one paragraph done, it’s more than I had and it keeps the book moving forward.
AW: When did you first realize you were a writer?
SH: I don’t know if I’ve ever come to that conclusion. Every book is a new adventure. Each time I wonder if I can do it again. Will my style get old or my plots become too familiar? If people ask what I do, I tell them I’m a writer, but as for my own personal thinking, not sure.
AW: Could you share your process/routine for writing?
SW: I usually write at night. Even though I’m home during the day, it seems to be filled with trying to take care of the daily routine of things like laundry, shopping, etc. I have a child in school, so I try to run errands while she is not at home.
I usually begin to write when she goes to bed. My goal is one page a day, but once I’m into the book, of course, I write more than that. I don’t stop at any point and say I’ll know where to begin the next day. I like to finish the scene, chapter, etc. However, I write from a plotted synopsis. I work out what will happen in the book, so I know what to do when I sit down.
I also, don’t go back when I know I should have added something. I make a note and keep going until the end. When I finish, I can go back, add, delete (I never delete), modify, polish and get the book ready to turn in.
AW: What are you working on now?
SH: I’m finishing up a series for Harlequin Kimani. The line closed last year, but they are finishing out contracts that were in force. There were three books in the series: Love in Logan Beach, Love in San Francisco and Love in New York. The books are about three brothers who manage their family department stores in those cities. Each have difference personalities and different need to polish their rough corners. The heroines are there to soften their hearts and show them that together each other’s rough edges fit well together. Love in San Francisco is a March 2019 release and Love in New York will be out in August 2019.