Category Archives: The Almost-Authors

The Almost-Authors: Jill Corddry

Almost-authors are people with projects the world hasn’t seen yet. They might be a few drafts or just a few cover letters away from being a published author…for the first or the tenth time. They haven’t made it to the finish line yet on this one – but I’m going to find out how they plan to get there.

Jill Corddry is a sunshine-loving Midwestern girl whose passion has always been for telling stories. These days, that’s mostly urban fantasy and darkly humorous short stories. She’s also a dear friend of mine and my writing partner of six years. We’ve created short story challenges for one another, co-written about half of a novel, and squealed over the other’s successes.

August Writes a Book: Why hello, writing partner-in-crime! I’m so happy you agreed to do this. Tell me all about what makes you an almost-author — what you’re working on that hasn’t been published yet.

Jill Corddry: I’m lucky enough to have had eight short stories published, mostly in 2013-14, but I’m in the process of querying and pitching my first novel. And by first novel, I mean the first one that’s fit to show anyone other than me, myself, and I! I’m “almost” because I’m so close I can taste it. My critique partners and beta readers have been so positive and encouraging that it gets me through all the rejection (past and pending).

August: So you’re pursuing traditional publishing for this book?

Jill: At this point, [yes], whether that’s with a large, medium, or an indie publisher, but I am open to the idea of self-publishing in the future, or for other projects.

August: So what’s the biggest obstacle between where you are now and seeing your book on shelves?

Jill: The slush pile. There are so many people who want to be an author, and they are in such a hurry they submit well before their manuscript is ready. I’m definitely guilty of this! I look back in horror at the early drafts I sent to agents.

I’ve learned over the years to take my time, write the story I want, get it to a freelance editor (and I cannot stress that enough: HIRE AN EDITOR!!!), and then off to a handful of trusted readers before I send it to any agents or publishers.

Also, myself. Not knowing when to stop working and start trying to get it out in the world. I joke that it’ll be done when it’s pried from my cold, dead fingers, but there’s some truth to it…I could tinker with one book for the rest of my life and never be fully satisfied with it. There will always be something to change, to add, to replace, to take out. Always.

That’s why writers need a team around them, to help them know when it’s time to stop and move on. That’s where I find a professional editor especially helpful.

August: What’s been most challenging in this whole process, and how did you move past it?

Jill: Working on a project for so long that [I] lose steam and interest in it. It’s very easy to get burned out on your WIP (work-in-progress). If I had to hazard a conservative estimate, I’d say I’ve read the story I’m currently querying over 100 times in the past seven years. I have had months where I hated every last word in in.

And that’s when it’s time to take a break. Maybe work on something else, especially if it’s a really different project. Or don’t. It’s okay not to write every day. Give your brain a vacation. Read, both in your genre and outside of it.

And sometimes I’m simply bogged down on a specific scene or chapter. Now, I’m a “pantser” (meaning I don’t write an outline first, I write by the seat of my pants). But I also don’t write the story in chronological order. So if a scene just isn’t coming to me, I move on to a section of the book that feels right. Or I might go back a few chapters and re-read it, looking for insight, places to add foreshadowing, that kind of thing.

I also find getting away from the laptop helps. I take a walk, have lunch with a friend, work in the garden, and all those words sort of come together subconsciously.

Give yourself permission to cut yourself some slack!

August: What are some of the small and annoying roadblocks in the course of this process, especially the ones that make you chuckle in hindsight?

Jill: How naive I was when I first got started. Like, I had no idea how long a book should be. At least not how the page count in a paperback measured up to a word count in my manuscript. Turns out the average 350 page novel is NOT 330,000 words. No, it’s more like 100,000. Yup. The first book I wrote was actually a trilogy, I just didn’t know it.

And that info is out there; all I had to do was google it. **sigh** But in many ways I’m glad I didn’t know. I’m still proud that I wrote a novel, even if it needs a lot of work and has been locked away in a cone of shame.

The internet is also a huge procrastination temptation, and it’s so easy for a five-minute break to become a 30-minute black hole. I’ve (partially) solved this by having one window with all my social media and a second with the tabs I’m using for research. Then I keep the first one minimized so I don’t see all the alerts popping up.

Find Jill on Twitter and Facebook.

Are you an almost-author? Would you like to talk to AWAB about your roadblocks and your master plan? Check out this post to get in touch!

The Almost-Authors: Eva Gibson

Almost-authors are people with projects the world hasn’t seen yet. They might be a few drafts or just a few cover letters away from being a published author…for the first or the tenth time. They haven’t made it to the finish line yet on this one – but I’m going to find out how they plan to get there.

Eva Gibson is an author of contemporary YA, who is drawn to dark stories for both consumptive and creative purposes. When she’s not inflicting Dante-levels of emotional turmoil on her characters, she’s inflicting said turmoil upon herself, in her quest to balance writing with parenting. Eva is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis.

August Writes a Book: So tell me what makes you an almost-author. (Or at least, as much as your agent will let you.)

Eva Gibson: I am currently working on four dark contemporary Young Adult novels – one is on submission, one is in the revision stage, and two are unfinished first drafts.

August: What kind of publishing are you pursuing?

Eva: Traditional publishing.

August: What’s the biggest roadblock standing between you and publication?

Eva: I wouldn’t call it a roadblock so much as a step: getting my work in front of the right eyes. Rejection is a huge part of the publication process, from querying on up, and everything is subjective.

I was lucky—I found an agent who loves my writing enough to work with me through draft after draft. Once revisions are done, the next step is to find the right editor or publisher who loves it just as much. That’s where I am at the moment.

August: What have been your specific strategies to get past the roadblocks in your way?

Eva: Working on projects simultaneously, switching between narrative voices, and prioritizing my time to meet my goals. I have small children, so the only (mostly) uninterrupted free time I have to write is after they’re in bed for the night. So that’s what I do – once they’re down, I get to work. Since I have such a small window, I have to be very disciplined about writing every single night, in order to get as much done as I can. The only strategy for that is to just sit down and do it.

I write until it’s time for bed, and then I check my work for clarity and clean it up a bit in the morning. As for simultaneous projects, I work on whichever one is furthest along in the draft process – revisions based on agent feedback, for instance, take priority over new material.

August: What’s been the most obnoxious roadblock in the course of your process?

Eva: The writer’s ego, otherwise known as the worst possible gauge. I can write ten pages I think are absolute genius, then blink at them the next morning and wonder why I ever thought they were anything but an utter mess. Luckily, I have excellent critique partners to steer me and help me steer myself.

And the delete key. I do always have that.

Find Eva on Twitter.

Are you an almost-author? Would you like to talk to AWAB about your roadblocks and your master plan? Check out this post to get in touch!