I am pleased to have this opportunity to post an original article written by C. Hope Clark as part of her “Guest Author” blog tour to promote her latest novel, Murder on Edisto that has just been released by Bell Bridge Books. I have been a long-time subscriber to Hope’s very informative and useful Funds for Writers newsletter, and have enjoyed reading her previous mysteries. Here’s Hope!
As a writer who wears two hats, mystery author and commercial freelance entrepreneur, I’m often asked for advice when I speak, guest blog, and appear on radio shows. With 15 years in the business, I’m loaded with suggestions. However, I’m also quick to tell people to listen to their own gut, and not allow someone else’s journey to dictate their own. But every once in a while, someone comes out of the blue and asks me, “Do you follow your own advice?”
Picture the author at a book signing, behind five stacks of books, the room stuffed with eager readers. All everyone can think of is how that guy signing books has his act together or he wouldn’t be where he is. He has to be wise, as well as disciplined. We want to be him. We yearn to know his secrets. To reach his pinnacle, he has to have developed mantras along the way that cut through the noise and crap that deter the rest of us. If you spoke to him one-on-one, maybe you’d learn that he’s loaded with foibles and flaws and has stumbled along the way like everyone else, but he’s risen above it all like some miraculous phoenix and turned ashes into gold.
Murder on Edisto is my fourth mystery and newest release. It’s my most solid book, in my opinion. I wrote it differently than the other mysteries, and in writing its sequel, I’m on an entirely different path there, too. The lessons I learned and advice I preached when I toured with my first, second and third novels aren’t necessarily applicable today. So what advice is there to follow with such an erratic set of standards?
What are the tools and guidelines a novelist uses to reach this stage in my career? I’m not a millionaire author, but I’m maintaining one contract after the other with a traditional press. I remember when I looked up to those authors who stood where I am now. And when I was at that stage, I recall being hungry for their advice. Lay it out for me and I’ll do it, I thought. Just show me the way and I promise I’ll do whatever you say.
However, the rules I followed for Lowcountry Bribe weren’t applicable to Palmetto Poison. The thoughts I had creating and marketing the Carolina Slade Series don’t necessarily match the needs of my new Edisto Island Mysteries. No two books evolved the same way, frankly.
We grow with each new word we put on a page, with each good book we absorb, with each blog post we read, with each setback we have to overcome. So what rules can we follow that empower us to continue the writing journey when nothing is stable?
1) Be kind to yourself.
2) Believe in your potential.
3) Don’t measure yourself by others.
4) Strive to write each page better than the one before.
5) Write daily.
Set out with your tools and know you will falter. But only the diligent survive this trek. Along the way, you learn you are your best ally, your loudest cheerleader, your kindest shoulder. You will cheer some days and cry others. And what you tried last year won’t work today.
But the advice I’ve adhered to from day one as a writer is this: I will write through it all. That’s the best prescription I can hand to anyone, because it’s worked for me.
C. Hope Clark feels her latest mystery release, Murder on Edisto, is her strongest. It’s the first in her debut Edisto Island Mysteries from Bell Bridge Books. Her award-winning Carolina Slade Mystery Series is also known for its suspense and rural South Carolina locale. Hope’s other persona is editor of FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. She lives on the bank of Lake Murray in central SC, with frequent trips to her beloved Edisto Beach.
Funds for Writers
C. Hope Clark is featured on Reading Recommendations on Oct.1, 2014.