My guest on the blog today is the lovely Lilac Mills. Lilac is an indie author, who writes feel-good romantic stories. She’s the author of Under the Cherry Tree, And a Sixpence for Luck, and the intriguingly titled Elephant and Pinky Moon. Over to Lilac.
Thanks for answering my questions, Lilac. So here goes … What inspires your story ideas or characters?
Do you know… I have no idea! The stories themselves often start with a vague comment I hear or a sudden flash of “I could do something with that”. I write the idea down, just one or two lines, pop it into my ideas box, then forget about it for a while, until I’m ready to write my next novel.
What has surprised you most about being a published writer?
The amount of behind the scenes work it takes to get your book out there if you’re an indie author. I had a romantic idea of sitting at a typewriter, and doing nothing but penning novels. Hmph! The reality is, I spend as much time answering emails, booking marketing slots, and so on, as I do writing. But having spoken to traditionally published writers, they too have to do a considerable amount of time doing writery stuff that isn’t actually writing too!
I think that surprises most of us! What are your writing goals long term and/or short term?
How short do you want it?? I’m constantly giving myself deadlines. I aim to publish 4 books next year, so I’ve broken that down into 1 every 3 months, then I’ve broken it down further into write for 2 months, edit for 1 month. Then the writing is broken down into how many days I can write (I always take Saturday off), and then each day is broken down into how much I can write during that particular day, which varies as to whether I have a late meeting at work, or whether the family have to be catered for. So my short term goal for today is to write 2000 words.
My long term goal is to get all these darned stories out of my head. But I think that’s going to prove difficult because I’m thinking them up faster than I can write them!
Wow! That’s organised. I’m impressed! Which genre would you like to write in but don’t think you could?
Oooh, I’d loved to write a psychological thriller, a real twisty turny one, full of nasty dark secrets. I have tried a couple of times, but I find silly humour starts to creep in until it turns into some weird chicklit/psycho mess.
What thing or things are guaranteed to cheer you up?
Puppies!! You can’t go wrong with a tiny wriggling bundle of lickiness in your arms. And I love the smell of them, all milky and not at all doggy. Unfortunately I don’t get to see many puppies, but one of my fondest memories is disappearing into next door’s garden where they had a huge kennel (they bred Dalmatians and showed them) and sprawling in the straw with a dozen little white balls of cuteness. And the mum was so tolerant of me, she’d let me spend hours with her babies.
Aw, puppies are the best! What’s your favourite social media outlet and why?
I like Twitter, but I liked Twitter better when it was only 140 characters. For a writer, I sure do hate writing stuff (my emails are short, my texts are even shorter), so I didn’t find it a chore being so limited. Plus Twitter has some good gifs!
What are the best and worst things about being a writer?
The best is that I can let my imagination run wild. The best is the feeling I get when I complete a novel and know it’s all mine, that I did that. The best is holding my finished paperback in my hand and still not believing it’s real.
The worst is reading those reviews that make me feel like giving up. The worst is getting mid-point in my work-in-progress and wondering why I’m putting myself through it. The worst is not being able to stop writing. But that’s also the best bit, too.
Yep, I can relate to all that. What one piece of advice would you give to other writers?
Put your writing first –always (I mean in terms of being a writer – I’m not saying neglect the kids!). My ratio is two to one in terms of time; I aim to write for twice as long as I spend doing other writerly stuff. The best way for me, is to set aside time for writing and don’t let checking reviews or searching for just the right book cover distract you. You can do things like that when you’ve only got ten minutes and there’s not enough time to get your story-head on.
Where do you write?
Oh dear, this one is tricky! Hubby has set up a space in the dining room, but I actually don’t like it (shhh, don’t tell him). I like curling up in a squishy chair and balancing my laptop on my knee. But I’ve also been known to write in the bath, at the supermarket, on a train, on the platform waiting for the train…
Thank you, Lilac. It’s been lovely getting to know a little more about you.
Lilac spends all her time writing, or reading, or thinking about writing or reading, often to the detriment of her day job, her family, and the housework. She apologises to her employer and her loved ones, but the house will simply have to deal with it!
She calls Worcester home, though she would prefer to call somewhere hot and sunny home, somewhere with a beach and cocktails and endless opportunities for snoozing in the sun…
When she isn’t hunched over a computer or dreaming about foreign shores, she enjoys creating strange, inedible dishes in the kitchen, accusing her daughter of stealing (she meant to say “borrowing”) her clothes, and fighting with her husband over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.
Find out more about Lilac from her website.
Under the Cherry Tree.
“My dog didn’t like men. Actually that was a lie – she didn’t like the men I chose. The only ones who rocked her world had been my father (who was no longer with us), Ross (who was gay), and the butcher on the high street (for obvious reasons).”
When Jenni Meadows has the opportunity to expand her dog-grooming business she takes it, and when a nice man appears on her horizon but fails to make any sparks fly, she decides she has enough on her plate with her business without adding a boyfriend into the mix.
Besides, Millie doesn’t like him and when her dog doesn’t like a man, Jenni knows all about it. So why does Millie take a very strange liking to the new vet, especially since he has a taciturn expression, wears a wedding ring, and wields a needle?
Under the Cherry Tree is a tale of love and hope, waggy tails, and cold noses.
Under the Cherry Tree is available to buy here.