Category Archive: Revision

New Author Speaks Out

“…the story wrote itself.”

Today Scribes takes you Salford, UK, to visit new author Debbie Hope, and talk about her first book, Lunar Regeneration. We found out she is a very busy woman!

How would you describe yourself as a writer?
I write about the things that interest me. Once I had the intriguing idea about a regenerating skeleton the story wrote itself. Perfecting my English and editing took a lot longer and I am studying a BA in English to help perfect my skills.
How would you describe your genre?
My genre is very much Young Adult/Fantasy with a little romance.
How did you decide to self publish? Do you think there is a stigma associated with self publishing?
As a businesswoman, I have taken a businesslike approach to publishing my own work and I have no time for phrases like ‘vanity publishing.’ Journalists that use terms like that need to get with the times. I write for YA and talk to them direct through Twitter and reader sites like Goodreads. They would never dream of judging a work by the publisher’s logo. 
Do you have any words of advice for anyone starting their first manuscript?
If you are just starting a novel my advice is to FINISH IT!
How about some advice for anyone just having just finished their first manuscript?
Edit, edit, edit again. Then hire a free-lance editor (I used Anne Greenberg) and if you can’t afford a copy editor ask an English Teacher friend for help.

If you are just starting a novel, my advice is to FINISH IT!


What is the absolutely most important thing you would like people to know about you?
My pen name ‘Hope’ is very important to me. I never give up hope.
What was your biggest help in writing your novel?
I love fantasy and never stop reading and that will always be important.
What was your biggest hindrance?
Time and life’s practical nuisances will always keep creeping up to delay the would-be writer. Set yourself a writing period and stick to it. Even if it has to be in the middle of the night to work in peace.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
I write in the late evenings when everything is done, including the ironing. Writing is my me-time, my reward; I work full-time, pursue an English degree in the evenings and have a family. Once I sit down to write, I am totally happy. I improvise when in full stream, and lost in the story, and I can write 2000 words a night.

Writing is my me-time, my reward. Once I sit down to write, I am totally happy.

However, editing for me is a slow and painful process, and I may only keep the best 200 of those 2000 words and will revise a thousand times. I always keep a copy of the first book in my The Immortal MacAbre series by me to encourage me to finish the next book. I love to Twitter to my readers but I don’t dare switch it on until my writing is finished for the night.
For the technical side, check the ‘about this book’ section on my website. I had no money to spend, but I did collect lots of advice and assistance along the way. If you are looking to self-publish, get your writing techniques and your work polished first. Then when you have something to promote make sure your precious budget is spent with the right people. I give technical talks on ‘how to self-publish’ for business networking groups because it is a skill you need to acquire.

The Groove

Sometimes the words and paragraphs just seem to fly by. Is this really when you do your best work?

I love it when I get in the groove. The words just seem to flow, I can hear the characters’ voices in my head, and my inner critic pops a Xanax. This, I say to myself, is how it is meant to be. But just how good is the stuff I’ve written in the groove?

Sometimes I’ve had great reader reactions to writing that was done as beads of blood formed on my forehead, as I second-guessed myself the whole way, wanting to delete the whole thing. I’ve also gotten negative or bemused reader responses to writing that came easy, with me riding high, loving every minute of it.

Make no mistake; the “groove state” is one of the great pleasures of an artist’s life. Psychologists like Mihály Csíkszentmihályi say this state, which they call “flow,” creates happiness and kills depression. I’m all for that, especially if it gives me the shot in the arm I need to meet my daily word production goal, or get up early the next day to make sure I get my keyboard time.

The “groove state” is one of the great pleasures of an artist’s life.

Yet one thing I’ve noticed about my “groove writing” is that I am loath to change it. Like many other writers, I instinctively feel a passage birthed in this way is anointed by the muses, smeared with that ineffable something. The truth is, I felt darn good when I wrote it, and rereading it reminds me of that, rather like seeing a picture of a loved one from that vacation a last year in Cancun. That’s why it hurts when my peer reviewers shoot me down, saying “I’m not too sure what’s happening here. There’s too much dialogue. I need to come up for air.”
Michael Crichton had this to say:

 “Inevitably, you react to your own work – you like it, you don’t like it, you think it’s interesting or boring – and it is difficult to accept that those reactions are often unreliable. I mistrust either wild enthusiasm or deep depression. I have had the greatest success with material that I was sort of neutral about.”

We must take our favorite paragraphs off their pedestal. What about you? Do you find criticism about your favorite tidbits hard to swallow? How do you get an objective take on your words?