Today I have Sabrynne McLain here to talk about writing and to let us get to know her a little bit.
Sabrynne McLain received her B.A. and M.S. degrees from Michigan State University and then went on to hold numerous positions in marketing, operations and finance in the U.S. and U.K. In addition to her first published article in the Journal of International Consumer Marketing, she has written for travel and lifestyle websites such as Pology.com and Panalba.com. During her tenure as a financial adviser, she also wrote a three-part series on financial planning for Scottish Woman magazine. She currently divides her time between writing (her author blog, the occasional article and her next novel) and working as a financial adviser. She lives in Edinburgh, U.K. with her partner Gareth Thomas and a very demanding cat named Barnaby. When Red Is Blue is her first novel.
1. What first interested you in writing?
I’ve been an obsessive reader for as long as I can remember, but I guess I became interested in writing when I turned 30 and found myself questioning my direction in life. I was working for an insurance company in marketing and realized I had sort of stumbled into a job rather than deciding on a career path that would make me happy and then pursuing that path.
These days I still “work for a living,” but the fact that I now have a plan in place that includes fitting in the time to write a number of books within set time periods, I feel like I’m living my life on purpose, which makes me happy. I do hope to one day be able to write full time, but actually, I’m grateful just being able to write. I’m also thrilled that there are people out there who appreciate my efforts.
2. What is your favorite book and why?
I think I would have to say that the collaborative effort of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens is one of my favorites. I’m a big fan of both writers for different reasons: Gaiman for his wordsmith abilities and Pratchett for his humor and storytelling abilities. Good Omens is a delightful book that showcases both authors, though I think more of Pratchett’s style comes through. I know they both said they’d never collaborate again, even though they still remain friends. I can understand how hard it would be for two highly creative authors to put their heads together (and egos aside) to write a book.
3. What one piece of advice would you give all aspiring authors?
I know you’re asking for one but I’m going to give you two and hope it’s okay=):
1. It’s worth taking a bit of time to properly interview cover designers and editors. That means seeing samples of their work (having the editor edit a sample for you), having a chat with a few of their previous clients, asking about budgets and making sure you both are crystal clear on what that person will do and how they work.
I spoke with three editors, didn’t get references, and went with one I felt was the most qualified (she’d written several books that were traditionally published, had impressive editing and teaching credentials, etc.) Even though she sold herself as a copy and story editor, her copy-editing of my book consisted of sticking in Oxford commas without asking my preference (I don’t like them), which I then deleted, and fixing the odd typo. It was a huge ordeal for me to have to then self-edit (very hard to do properly) multiple times until I was happy. Since I had paid her quite a lot, my budget didn’t allow for me to hire another copy-editor.
I did an even worse job on vetting a cover designer. Even though he is very experienced and good from a technical perspective, he wasn’t interested in my issues with the design once he had decided it was perfect. So I now have a cover that’s okay but not great and an imprint logo I hate.
2. I’ve read a lot of blogs about “writer’s block” and how to defeat this dreaded affliction. I know this is a controversial idea, but I believe writer’s block is simply a result of lack of planning.
I asked a woman I met at a conference who was complaining about this what she did in terms of advance preparation before typing a word on the screen. She looked at me like I’d grown another head; then I described my planning stage of the writing process: outlining the plot and subplot, deciding on the characters and then making them real (background, appearance, speech patterns), researching the parts that need it (perhaps a place, culture, occupation, technology, customs, etc.). Then I use a pad of paper (because I feel freer and can make sketches and write in the margins) and scribble out one or more of the beginning scenes. A scene outline is more than an outline but not really writing the scene – it’s like if you had 15 or 20 minutes to write it and didn’t have to worry about it being perfect.
So the point is, plan, plan and plan some more. If you always know where your book is going, you won’t suffer future “blockages.”
If you'd like to know more about Sabrynne you can find her:
If you'd like to know more about Sabrynne you can find her:
About Sabrynne's Book:
Kate Faraday, a young woman from a small town in Michigan, dreams of leaving her past behind her and moving to California. But when her schizophrenic mother is found dead in a ravine, Kate is forced to examine her conflicting emotions over her mother’s death, while coping with the demands of her alcoholic father and local residents who witnessed the shame of her childhood. In the end, Kate discovers that the most difficult relationship to reconcile is the one she has with herself.
When Red Is Blue is based on events that took place during Sabrynne McLain’s childhood and twenties. This character-driven story paints a vivid picture of the emotional trauma and self-esteem issues faced by children of dysfunctional parents, while leading the reader through a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance.
When Red Is Blue received the 2012 Trophy Award from the NNAAMI for “a book or publication that has provided excellent standard or understanding of the needs of young people and others who have a mentally ill parent.”