My ‘keep writing’ secret

One of the questions that I’m frequently asked as an author is: “Where do you get all of your inspiration from?”

And you know what? Sometimes that is a really difficult question to answer.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those people who drives their spouse insane by waking up in the middle of the night with a fantastic idea and having to get their phone open, dazzling screen ablazing, to write it down in ‘Notes’ – only to wake up the next morning to see:

andt he gloves not white but henot care

(An actual transcription from my ‘brilliant 3am ideas’ notes.)

I am also one of those authors who has, at the time of writing:

  • a twelve book series plotted out
  • a four book series plotted out
  • another twelve book series with the first three written
  • a five book series plotted out
  • and an eight book series with the covers designed, but no plots at all.

And you know what? I still have moments at my keyboard where I have no idea where my characters are going.

It can be frustrating, especially when (as I do), you are an author that works full time at another job. Carving out writing time is a real challenge, and I don’t even have the excuse of having children!

So when it comes to writing, I just want to sit down and go: no distractions, no hesitations.

When that doesn’t happen it can be overwhelmingly frustrating – but I am going to share with you my secret for how I am able to keep going.

tk

Yup, you read that right: tk. The letters ‘t’ and ‘k’ appear together very rarely in the English language, so if you decide to search ‘tk’ in your manuscript then you aren’t going to find many, unless you have a lot of pocketknives in your book.

So whenever I get to a sticking point and I know that it’ll frustrate me and distract me from the narrative, I just stick in tk and then move on.

Can’t think what the name of that piece of Regency clothing is? tk

Need an extra name for a character that is literally only in this scene? tk

Want to check whether that town is a real place, or I need to create one? tk

It may sound weird, but it’s a real simple way for me to keep with the flow of my writing. Then when I come to the end of my creative time, which usually doesn’t reach lunch (I’m definitely a morning bird!), I just stick ‘tk’ into the search, and the places that I need to go back to appear.

I never miss them. My manuscript is always better because of them, because I can then take my time to investigate clothing, find the perfect name, and research eighteenth century geography, without losing precious creating writing time.

So there you have it. YES I have tonnes of ideas. YES I have book ideas coming out of my ears. And YES sometimes my brain grinds to a halt and I have to use clever tricks to keep going.

Happy writing!

Writing a bestseller when sick

My loyal readers will groan when they hear that once again, I’m sick!

I’m known for being very susceptible to colds and this is my third, and worst, of the winter season so far. Along with the bunged up nose, slight earache, and dry throat, I’ve also just come out of a 3 day migraine.

Not ideal when you’re trying to write your next bestseller.

One of the challenges of taking your writing seriously as an author is that when you get sick, everything stops. I had a clear schedule for the book that I’m writing right now, and according to it Chapter 16 should be finished tomorrow.

Trouble is, Chapter 10 hasn’t even been started.

Now, there are two schools of thought when it comes to writing when sick or uninspiring:

  1. Write anyway darnit, it’s your job and you should treat it like that! Push through the pain, grab a box of tissues, and let’s DO THIS!
  2. Don’t bother. You’ll only write something terrible that you’ll have to scrap anyway, so dose up on Vitamin C, grab a box of tissues, and let’s RECOVER!

Now normally I fall into camp 1, but the last few days have just been awful – and I mean crying in the dark, praying that the migraine leaves me alone, awful.

I have barely been able to look at a screen, let alone write fantastic fiction.

So apologies to my lovely readers, but this cold has got me beat. I’m going to sign off now, and hopefully next week’s blog will find me in better health!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Those of you who know me may be a little surprised at this blog post – after all, I’m not American but a Brit!

However, I think it’s important to take the time to be grateful for the awesome things in your life, and although I probably shouldn’t need a day literally entitled ‘Thanksgiving’ to do so, it’s remarkable how it focuses the mind.

So without further ado, here is my list of things that I am thankful for right now:

  • my wonderful family – husband, parents, brother, and incredibly large extended family. What would I do without you all?
  • my marvellous readers – without you, my books are just words on a page! You bring them to life when you read them.
  • my computer – still up and running, helping me to craft my historical romances with very few crashes!
  • my day job – not only does it pay the bills, but I can do so while enjoying it and surrounded by fab people.
  • the internet – it may be sad in places, but the research ability it gives me from my armchair is just incredible!
  • cheese and chocolate – my writing reward foods that help me push through difficult chapters when I’m feeling uninspired.
  • my editor, formatter, and cover designers – I don’t know where I’d be without them!
  • Netflix – the ultimate reward after a long day of keyboard bashing.

Do we have some of the same things on our list? Let me know yours in the comments below!

What is it that authors even do?

Believe it or not, I get asked this question a lot – and I kind of understand it. After all, most of our images of an author is someone like Jane Austen, scribbling away on a tiny desk, or Oscar Wilde, resplendent in his elegant clothes while mocking the very class that he comes from.

Nowadays, not so much.

Let me take you on a journey of this weekend as an author, bearing in mind that I work a full time job as a Marketing Manager Monday to Friday.

Saturday morning

It’s a glorious day! It’s also a day when I take stock of where I am, and what I’m behind on, because I’m always behind on something. After running through my Trello boards (sort of like magical online to-do lists that ping me emails every time I’m late for something), I decide that doing a deep plot of my next book is the most urgent thing.

I head somewhere quiet because my poor husband also has work to do, and cosy up. With a little concentration and six hours, I’ve deep plotted (that’s written out a play by play for each chapter) an entire novella. It’s 8000 words. I have pasta.

I then turn my attention to my glorious reader emails. I probably get about 25-30 a day, and so I try to reply to them each day otherwise they pile up, but I’ve been busy. I take the time to reach each one, and reply to most of them.

It’s 4pm. I head home, and decide with my man to ignore work (as much as possible) and enjoy the evening together.

I respond to three more emails and post twice on Facebook before bed.

Sunday

Typically I’d head to church, but it’s one of the few days that I actually get with my husband (who works shifts), so we decide to take a lazy day. I have writing to do, and so I get up at 6am and bash out 7600 words before my husband gets up.

I shower, and apologise to the husband for continuing on. I’ve got the mother of all admin to do.

First I print, read, sign, photograph, and email a publishing contract that I’ve been meaning to do for weeks (sorry Emmanuelle!) for a super secret book project that I’ll be all too excited to announce soon! I pop over my manuscript to her too, and then start the uploading process of a paperback to Amazon.

This takes forever, so while it’s doing that, I respond to five new emails that have popped into the inbox, and update my sales spreadsheet to see how my new release, Drenched with a Duke, is doing. The reviewers love it! I give myself a pat on the back, and remind myself that I need to do four more things before lunch.

I update my bio on Audible, update two images on my newsletter, and realise that Amazon isn’t loading my paperback, so save where I got to. I email another publisher about the paperback of a different series, and drop an email each to my cover designers.

And then I started writing this blog.

Is it what you imagined?

Being an author isn’t always staring into the distance with a clever look on your face and a quill in your hand. When you’re a hybrid author – that’s one who has publishers and publishers their own books – you are not just a plotter, writer, researcher, and editor. You’re also a proofreader, publisher, marketeer, administrator. You sort out the finances and the emails, you chat with the fans and swap ideas with other authors.

It’s exhausting and wonderful and terrifying and amazing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Want to see the fruit of my labour? Just check out my seventeen books here!

Emily Murdoch Launching Kickstarter!

I am excited to reveal that I am launching a Kickstarter for my new series, Ravishing Regencies!

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to get involved in not just a book, but a whole series – bringing it to life and working alongside me to get these Regency romance novellas ready for the world.

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Each of these novellas – from Lost with a Lord to Drenched with a Duke – force two people together through a calamity. This encounter brings together earls, dukes, fisherman’s daughters and courtesans: and of course, romance ensues.

I love these books, but it’s going to cost me almost £190/$250 to publish each one, and that’s just money that I don’t have. That’s why I’m asking for help.

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It is why I am asking you, my incredibly supportive readers, to pledge £19/$25 and join the Ravishing Regencies Team. For that, you’ll receive a huge number of rewards:

  • All eight books as ebooks, 50% off list price!
  • A magical bundle of digital extras!
  • Signed paperback of book 1
  • Exclusive limited edition bookmark!

Want to get even more involved? You can name a secondary character for me if you pledge £75/$100, enjoy an exclusive Skype chat with me the author for £132/$178, or even make a huge plot decision for me for £375/$504.

Of course, if you don’t have £19/$25 then there are options for just £1/$1.50 too. I want everyone who wishes to be a part of the Ravishing Regencies Team, to do just that.

Ready to join the time and make something incredible together? Click here!

Got a few questions before you are ready to join? Some of the frequent questions have been answered here, or you can contact me directly here.

I can’t wait to make Ravishing Regencies with you!

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Struggling to Write Second Book

I know this post may sound a little strange, and I know it is definitely a first world problem, but it’s something that I’ve been struggling with for a while, so I thought I’d share it: I am really struggling to write a second book.

I know that sounds mental: it’s supposed to be the first book that’s difficult! And for many people it is, but I found that my first book Conquests almost flowed out of me. It was a story that I knew inside out, and I really wanted to tell it. And so I did – it only took me about three months, although getting it published was another matter. But once it was done, there, put on paper, it didn’t feel difficult.

But the sequel?

My word, it’s like drawing blood from a stone. Just like my first book, Conquests: Hearts Rule Kingdoms, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, exactly where my characters are going…and yet they aren’t getting there.

I think partly it’s because I’m terrified that I won’t be able to match the success that I’ve had with my first book. From here, the only way should really be up…but what if my readers don’t like it as much? What if they hate it? What if my family hate it, and they start to disown me because it’s just too terrible to be associated with?

I’m also in such a different place than I was when I wrote my first book, almost two years ago. Then, I was just about to graduate with a BA in History and English, and had days and days of nothingness in which I could write. Now I’m working two internships whilst planning my wedding and a move to the other side of the world (New Zealand). Empty days are a distant memory.

But if I’m serious about being a writer (which I am), and if I want to end up writing about three books a year (which I do), then surely I’m going to have to get used to this? After all, life isn’t going to slow down just because I have another chapter deadline. Life doesn’t stop after the wedding and the move – I’ll have a husband to look after, a house to keep, and a social life to create. “Time to write” isn’t going to drop into my lap.

So here’s the challenge to myself – and you, if you’re struggling to find time to finish that first, second, or fifteenth novel. Divide it into chunks, and allot rewards. For every chapter, a chocolate bar. For every character development, another episode of The Big Bang Theory. For every completed novel, a weekend break away.

Whatever it takes to keep you writing, chipping away at the word count and killing off that antagonist, find it and use it.