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Interview with Maddison Michaels
Maddison’s Path to Publication
I’m thrilled to be sharing with you all my Path to Publication, which has been and is still an ongoing rollercoaster ride filled with wonderful ups and downs… I suppose it’s lucky I like rollercoasters! I hope that for those of you that are aspiring authors perhaps my story may encourage you to just keep going, and for those of you that are just readers, I hope you find my path to publication an interesting story!
- How long have you been writing for?
Gosh, I know most writers say ‘for as long as I can remember’, but that’s true of me too. I do remember very vividly that when I was eleven and my school teacher mentioned a writing competition, it was like a light-bulb went off, and these ideas for a story started to zoom into my head, from what seemed like every direction (I’d never really written a story before then either). Since that moment though, a part of me always wanted to be a writer, which is why I have been writing on an off for years… but life always seemed to get in the way – at least it did until I became serious about my writing.
- How long did it take you from when you started writing, to when you became a published (or soon to be) published author?
Well I started writing romance (or perhaps dabbling is a better term for what I did for years) when I was around 18 years old – though it was always in stops and starts, as inspiration either did or didn’t strike (I now don’t believe in waiting for it to strike by the way. It tends to strike more often with a regular routine of writing). Interestingly enough, I actually completed ‘The Devilish Duke’ back in 2010 (I had to finish the novel, as I was selected to take part in the inaugural RWA of Australia 5 day manuscript intensive workshop, and you needed a completed manuscript for that). That’s where I met the lovely Annie Featherstone, who writes historical romance under the pen name Sophia James, and was my mentor for the live-in workshop. She was the first professional to believe in my writing and in my characters Devlin and Sophie. However, the subplot of the book needed major re-work, and after the workshop I basically put the novel in a draw (so to speak) and didn’t touch it again until the end of 2015, when I finally made the decision, that enough was enough, and it was time to get serious with my writing and actually write! So I dusted off the pages and edited it. Took me a good six months to edit and then write the synopsis and query letter – then it took me several months to gain the courage to start submitting it.
- Where do you write from, home, office, coffee shop, etc? And do you have any pre-writing or actual writing rituals (such as lighting a candle, listening to music, etc)?
I have the most amazing writing room in my home (I’ll post a picture) – it’s my own personal space, which has the best ergonomic chair (it’s a neck and back lifesaver for a writer), a sit stand desk, a rebounder to bounce on (great to ensure I’m not so sedentary when writing for long blocks), a big white board for brainstorming plot points and my books and bookshelves (of course)… so I just LOVE writing in my room! But I also make use of writing wherever and whenever I can (particularly at my daughter’s gymnastics and taekwondo classes) – all I need is my pair of noise cancelling headphones and my macbook, and I’m good to go.
In terms of pre-writing rituals, when I plot my books I create a playlist soundtrack of music and I listen to this while I brainstorm and plot out the story. Then when I’m writing the story itself, I play the playlist too – so it actually gets me back into the mojo of the story I’d plotted. I also love burning some aromatherapy oils in my diffuser, which does seem to send a message to my brain, that ok time to write. Oh and I MUST have my cups of tea and coffee too, while I write (that’s a no brainer, lol).
- Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in-between?
I’m definitely a plotter. Every time in the past that I’ve tried just running with an idea, without plotting it out first, I’ll be steaming away at the beginning of the story, but then I hit around 15 to 20-thousand-word mark and I go blank… the story stalls and I’m stuck. So now, I plot out in detail the story’s twists and turns – sure it can change as I write (the characters do tend to have a mind of their own and can be rather stubborn about things at times), but I find that if I sit down to write and I know what is going to happen in that scene, then the writing flows beautifully.
- What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Plotting out the story – that’s where I have the most fun. I meet the characters and really get to know them, and I discover their story. Oh, also I do love writing ‘The End’ – that part of the writing process is one of my favs too.
- What is the most important part of a novel to you: plot, characters, or setting?
Probably both the plot and characters in equal amounts. The plot to me is like working out an elaborate puzzle, and making sure it all fits together (which can be rather difficult), but also I think characters are the absolute heart of the novel, particularly with romance. Settings are not my forte… dialogue I do great, but settings I have to work on a lot!
- Describe your writing routine (how long do you spending plotting the novel, time spent writing, editing, submitting it):
I spend about 2-4 weeks plotting out the novel. Then I spend another week writing up the synopsis, tag line and blurb (I’ve learnt the hard way, that it’s much easier to write these BEFORE you write a 100,000 word novel). Then I spend about 10-12 weeks writing – my quota is 10,000 words per week.
- How many books a year do you usually write (or are you aiming to write):
I have managed to write two books this year. Next year I’d like to push that to three, but I’ll see how I go.
- How did you get your agent, or your publishing contract?
I was really fortunate that after sending out my query letter to multiple agents, I was so lucky to have four agents offering to represent me. Check out my Successful query letter article for more info J
- How did you cope with rejection during the querying process?
I just had to keep pushing on, and reminding myself that it’s such a subjective business, but that if I keep going I will eventually get a YES! And I’m a firm believer that everything has a purpose, and if something doesn’t work out as I would have liked it to, there’s usually a good reason (though I might have no clue what that reason is!).
- Describe the time when you got ‘the call’ regarding publication:
I was casually checking my emails when I saw an email in my inbox from Entangled. I immediately thought ‘Oh this will be a rejection’ – then I started reading it and it said:
Thank you for querying Entangled with The Devil Duke. I really enjoyed your submission and would like to discuss possible publication.
Are you still interested in publishing The Devil Duke with Entangled? Please let me know. If so, I’d love to talk to you about taking this to our acquisitions board for final approval for our Select Historical line and eventual move to contract.
Congratulations on writing such a wonderful story, and I look forward to speaking with you further!
Entangled Publishing, LLC
OMG – she wanted to discuss possible publication?!?!?! BEST EMAIL EVER!!! I swear I’ve never smiled so much before.
- What were your biggest learning experiences or surprises throughout the publishing journey?
I had no idea about the editing process and how grueling and tedious it can be… and how sometimes you only have a few days to go through and do pages and pages of edits…
- Looking back, what do you think you did right that helped you break in?
I decided that I was going to pursue publication no matter what. I was commited that I would submit my manuscript to agents, then if that didn’t work, to publishers, then if that didn’t work, I’d self-publish. So I truly made the decision to push forward regardless of any rejections. And I think that was the key, and thankfully I was very fortunate to get an agent and a publisher too!
- Is there anything you wish you could do differently?
Yeah I wish I’d gotten serious about writing and pursuing publication about ten years ago!!
- Best advice you’ve ever been given, or have heard, about writing?
Be true to yourself and be true to your story. Sure, listen to critiques and take on board feedback, but at the end of the day, you know your story the best of all, so listen to yourself and be guided by your inner voice.
- Any advice for aspiring writers on writing and submitting?
Just keep writing, and just keep on submitting. Don’t accept rejection as being an indication that you can’t write or that your story isn’t good enough, just think of it as either the agent or publishing house isn’t the right fit for you now, but that if you keep persevering you will find one that is your perfect fit (just think of JK Rowling and how many times Harry Potter was rejected… imagine if she’d given up after the last rejection before she finally got her YES).
- What advice can you give to other writers on building a platform and gaining a readership base?
Start now! I’d always heard to start building a reader base even before you had a publishing contract, and I always wondered how that was possible to do, without a book to promote… but I wish I’d listened, because it’s certainly possible. Join Facebook readers and writer groups, interact with others on those groups and form friendships. But most important of all, support your fellow writers. Help them promote their books and get the word out, and trust me they will remember and help you. I truly believe in treating others how you would want to be treated, and if we can all help each other, all the better!!
- What’s up next for you, and what are you working on now?
Edits for my second book ‘The Fiancé Fiasco’ are right around the corner I imagine… so when they come I’ll be working on those. But in the meantime I will be working on the launch of my debut novel ‘The Devilish Duke’ due for release Feb 26th, and I’ll be working on my next submission package to get to my agent.
- How can people connect with you?