Following my theme of beginnings, I’ve asked a few new authors I’ve met online to relate their experiences. First up is Anne Clare. She recently published as an independent author a WWII novel that is both equal parts romance and suspense. So glad you could stop by, Anne!
What do you consider your first story?
My first “real” stories that I recall were written scrap paper from Dad’s office, sometimes with thin sheets of cardboard for covers. I didn’t write them myself, being small and not having mastered the art of spelling (still working on that, actually.) My cousin was a few years older, and she and I hid out in her room to create! I dictated stories that she recorded in her nice, big-kid handwriting—wild adventures of magical horses, talking dogs, and princesses. I did the illustrations, and then we’d share them with our parents. I still get a chuckle out of reading through the few that my mom saved.
What do you think is the main difference between a writer and an author?
This is an interesting question, and one I hadn’t really thought about before. I’ll confess, in trying to come up with an answer I popped onto the internet to see if there was a set differentiation that others used. I found about half a dozen!
The first word that came to my mind when considering the difference between “writer” and “author” was intent. In other words, what’s the end goal of the writing?
I wrote for years—just for myself—in journals, in notebooks, on sticky notes and scraps of paper. I wrote to release feelings, to recall events, to record amusing ideas that might turn into something later. However, I had no real intent for these bits and pieces of writing. They had no focus, and no reason for one as I didn’t intend to share them with anyone in any formal way.
That changed when I got about half-way through my novel, on the day I thought, “This…this might be something I’d want to publish.” When my writing became something intended for other eyes—whether as a blog post, short fiction, or novel—I shifted from calling myself a writer to calling myself an author.
Why did you decide to become an author?
It wasn’t so much a choice as something I fell into. While I’d authored some pieces to share in the classroom or for church functions, I had no plans to pursue authorship. I certainly hadn’t considered becoming a blogger or historical fiction author.
Then, I had a vivid dream, set in London at the end of the Second World War.
As our house was going through major repairs and the kids and I were more or less trapped at home for several months, I started writing a story that incorporated the scene from the dream. As I said above, about halfway through the first draft I began to think that maybe this story wouldn’t just be for me. I dove into research on history and writing craft, and after lots of drafting, editing, and starting a blog, I moved on to eventual publication!
What was the most difficult thing to learn about being a new author?
There’s so much more to taking on the mantle of “author” than coming up with stories. There’s the actual writing process, then the editing process, then deciding whether to publish independently or through a traditional publisher. Once I decided to go indie, there was formatting, cover design and source citing to figure out, not to mention figuring out just how I was going to deal with the book’s income (if any) on my tax forms…
Still, the greatest struggle for me wasn’t dealing with all of the details—I’m an elementary school teaching mom. Juggling lots of complicated details is part of life. No, the real struggle was embracing the fact that I was embarking on a completely new journey, one that was going to have unexpected twists and turns. I had to learn to slow down, to get organized, and (hardest of all) to ask for help when I didn’t know what to do next.
What was the biggest surprise?
I was shocked to find out that using the “tab” key to indent paragraphs would mess up all of my book’s formatting. Learning how to format paragraphs properly and getting all those tabs out of my manuscript took a surprisingly long time!
What advice would you give to writers who are considering becoming authors?
Don’t go it alone. Whether you’re still in your writing process, getting ready to publish, or trying to figure out the mysteries of marketing, there are authors out there with treasure troves of information and experience, and many of them are willing to share! I could not have published my novel last year without the help and support of other authors who aided me with beta readings, edits, formatting and cover design, marketing help… so many things!
Of course, we don’t all have a ready supply of author friends on hand—that’s where the internet can become an invaluable resource. There are strong writing communities online—it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your needs and tapping in to it!
If you’ll allow me one more piece of advice, it’s to be kind to yourself. Writing and publishing are challenging, involved processes, and we’re all at different stages of life. You can read advice on what the process “should” look like all day, but in the end, whether it’s fast or slow, easy or rocky, it’s your journey.
I wish you all the best on it!
Being kind to yourself. That’s something we all need to remember. Thanks so much for your great advice.
All that Sergeant James Milburn wants is to heal. Sent to finish his convalescence in a lonely village in the north of England, the friends he’s lost haunt his dreams. If he can only be declared fit for active service again, perhaps he can rejoin his surviving mates in the fight across Sicily and either protect them or die alongside them.
All that Evie Worther wants is purpose. War has reduced her family to an elderly matriarch and Charles, her controlling cousin, both determined to keep her safely tucked away in their family home. If she can somehow balance her sense of obligation to family with her desperate need to be of use, perhaps she can discover how she fits into her tumultuous world.
All that Charles Heatherington wants is his due. Since his brother’s death, he is positioned to be the family’s heir with only one step left to make his future secure. If only he can keep the family matriarch happy, he can finally start living the easy life he is certain he deserves.
However, when James’s, Evie’s and Charles’s paths collide, a dark secret of the past is forced into the light, and everything that they have hoped and striven for is thrown into doubt. Weaving in historical detail from World War II in Britain, Italy and Egypt, WHOM SHALL I FEAR? follows their individual struggles with guilt and faith, love and family, and forces them to ask if the greatest threat they face is really from the enemy abroad.
Anne Clare is a native of Minnesota’s cornfields and dairy country. She graduated with a BS in Education in 2005 and set out to teach in the gorgeous green Pacific Northwest, where she and her husband still live. She also serves as a church musician, singing in and occasionally directing choirs, playing piano, organ, and coronet (the last only occasionally, when she forgets how bad she is at it.) After the birth of her second child, she became a stay-at-home mom, and after the birth of the third she became reconciled to the fact that her house would never be clean again, which allowed her to find time to pursue her passion for history and writing while the little people napped. Although she’s back to teaching part-time, she continues to write historical fiction and to blog about WWII history, writing, and other odds and ends at thenaptimeauthor.wordpress.com.
You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @anneclarewriter.