By Laura Childs
As former CEO of my own marketing firm, I was used to working under the gun to develop unique concepts and campaigns for multiple clients. But when I sold my agency and turned to novel writing, it never occurred to me that I’d find myself doing pretty much the same thing. Well, here I am, some 12 years later, writing 4 different series. That’s right. I currently write the New York Times bestselling Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. And just recently, my publisher, Penguin Random House, gave me the green light for a fourth hard-edged thriller series.
How do I handle this multiplicity of work? Very carefully and with the same degree of planning that went into a Napoleonic military campaign. Of course, everyone in my life is in favor of me writing as many books as I can handle. My editor, agent, husband, dogs, cleaning lady, etc. all told me to go for it. And coming from that advertising/marketing background, I was fairly familiar with pounding out ideas and sweating tough deadlines.
Still, my daily schedule is very, very tight. So I try to be highly productive – that is, I write ten to fifteen pages per day for four days, then switch over to working on marketing for a couple days. I’m also very lucky in that I never get lethargy, I never get blocked. I simply don’t believe in those things. When you’re in the media business (novels, journalism, TV, screenplays, whatever) you have to be like the shark – just keep moving forward!
When would-be authors ask for advice, I generally tell them to do their homework and be a bit practical. Ask yourself – do you really think publishers are chomping at the bit for another culinary mystery? How about a vampire story? The thing is, you have to find something nobody else has done and put a big fat, juicy spin on it. Also, it’s critical to write a few pages every day – and to always work straight through. Don’t go back and do revisions until your manuscript is completely finished. Chances are, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised at what you end up with. Okay, it’s done? NOW go back and punch up your work like crazy – ratchet up the action and human drama, make your characters loveable or despicable. And do have fun!
Laura Childs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tea Shop Mysteries, Scrapbooking Mysteries, and Cackleberry Club Mysteries. Devonshire Scream, the 17th Tea Shop Mystery, releases today, March 1. Little Girl Gone, the first book in her Afton Tangler Thriller Series written under her real name of Gerry Schmitt, releases July 5. In her previous life she was CEO of her own marketing firm, authored several screenplays, and produced a reality TV show. She is married to Dr. Bob, a professor of Chinese art history, enjoys travel, and has two Shar-Peis.