Tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey everyone, and thanks to Liv for having me.
I’m a recovering employment lawyer from the suburbs of Sydney, Australia who now works for a university in employee relations. I’ve been reading since before I could walk, starting with the magical world of elves and pixies and fairies, before graduating to more grown up fairy-tales 😉 I used to write a lot as a child, but that tapered off as I got further into my education and academic writing. I came back to creative writing a few years ago.
Many of my story ideas come from my work – there’s a lot of ‘I wonder what his wife will say when he goes home and says he’s been fired for X’ or ‘oh, I wonder what would happen if that guy she met Friday turns up to work on Monday?’ There’s also some random inspiration – I’m dabbling with a short at the moment that has a Conor McGregor character which came to me while watching him box… yummy. Another one was inspired by my fangirling over Fifty Shades when I was in Seattle recently (and roaming up and down the street outside the actual Escala hoping to catch my own Christian Grey…).
How do you find time to write?
I try to write 3-4 nights a week as well as weekends but it’s not easy!
I work full time in a role that involves a lot of influencing and emotional work (I do lots of investigations, and disciplinary matters, and giving people advice on how to manage people issues). It’s sometimes hard to come home and sit down at the laptop to write because I’m exhausted (I also hate answering the phone at home… because I do a lot of talking at work!) I’m also a CHAMPION procrastinator so, often, I’ll sit at the computer and get sucked into the social media vortex (or start reorganising my files, or looking for other distractions or… you get my drift!). On top of that I like to have a life, and I have family, and commitments to older parents that take priority, so it’s very much a juggling act.
I am trying to be more disciplined about writing long-ish outlines or synopses at the outset so I know where I’m going. My current WIP has been written from beginning, then from end and now I’m battling with the middle – something I would definitely NOT recommend! I also have a great friend who is also my writing angel. I can often hear her perched on my shoulder yelling at me to put the fingers on the keys…! She has awesome writing discipline, so I do try and adopt some of her practices – but I’m still working on it.
What are your publishing tips?
Firstly, don’t work with blinkers on. Find yourself a few (just a few – you don’t need a football team) trusted readers to give you constructive feedback. If you’re traditionally published, listen to your editor. If you’re self-publishing, engage a good editor, and listen to them. Ultimately, you don’t have to do everything the editor suggests, and sometimes their ideas may have you wondering if they’ve been smoking crack, but you should have a good reason for not doing whatever it is they suggest. Remember you can be too close to your work.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask questions – of your editor, publisher, agent, lawyer, whoever! This is your business and you are entitled to ask as many questions as you need to ask in order to understand the deal. If someone is discouraging you from asking questions, maybe you should be asking if they’re the right person to be working with. Trust your gut.
Finally, run your own race. Not everyone will make millions from selling a book, not everyone can publish multiple books in a year, not everyone can win awards (although, as an aside, if you don’t enter, you can’t win…). You need to set your own goals, and work to meet them. Don’t try and be the next someone else, just be you!
Any promotional and marketing tips?
Like I just said, be you!
But, seriously… give some thought to what that means. What is your brand? What do you offer to readers that makes you different? What’s the promise you’re going to deliver on every time (even if the setting, and nature of the stories change)? When you’ve sorted that out, set yourself up a website that has at least your bio and your books, and that suits your brand (that is, if you’re writing rural romance, you don’t want a dark, mysterious looking webpage. If you’re writing fun, urban contemporaries, don’t go with hay…).
Pick the social media that works for you, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever. You should make sure you have your name ‘reserved’ on each of the sites – but you need to focus on the ones that work best for you. And, when you do, engage with people. Don’t just bang on about ‘buy my book’ because, eventually, your audience will stop listening. Engage in a positive way, talk about things that interest you (and try not to get into too many fights). Don’t sign people up for groups or lists that they’ve not agreed to be on.
Tell us about your recent book.
Love Sabre is a seven-story anthology published by Boroughs Publishing Group in February 2018. The stories range from sweet to spicy and each can be devoured in a lunch-break, or over a coffee or glass of wine.
The idea for Love Sabre came when seven slightly crazy and very exhausted women who’d only just met were sitting at the same table at the Romance Writers of Australia AGM. Instead of concentrating on proceedings, we started daring each other to come up with the silliest purple prose we could think of and someone came up with ‘sheathing your love sabre.’ After that – because what else would you do? – we dared each other to use the phrase in a short story – and Love Sabre was born. The Love Sabrists are now busily working on the next instalment, which should be available sometime in 2019.
As for me, I’m working on finishing a category romance along Dare lines that I’m hoping will be picked up buy a publisher soon (well, when I finish it #procrastination). It’s a twist on the boss/employee relationship trope with my main character Charlotte finding her Friday night hook up is Monday’s new employee…
You can keep up with all of my caffeinated comings and goings at www.wordsbykristinecharles.com or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. You can also buy Love Sabre from your preferred seller here.
Groot the puppy, my faithful companion, sits by my side while I write my stories.