My author today, I am delighted to say, I met (virtually) some time ago through Bridge House Publishing when one of her short stories was runner-up in our competition and published in On This Day. I finally got to meet her in person at a book launch at the end of last year. She is a wonderful writer and she asked me to work with her on a couple of her YA novels over the years but one of them really stood out and I urged her to submit it. Which she did. It got close to being signed, in fact one publisher did offer to publish an eBook but she held fire on that; it was also shortlisted in a big competition. Now that novel IS published I have asked to tell you something about her journey…
Please welcome L.G. Flannigan to the spotlight …
Introduce yourself: Have you always wanted to be a published writer? Tell us something about your path to having your first book/story published.
My eleven-year-old self knew I wanted to be a published fiction writer. However, my avid reading had me aspiring to be a marine biologist (even though I can’t swim at all well), a lawyer, a scientist, a detective, a textile designer… In other words, I wanted to do whatever profession the main character did in the book I was reading! In my late teens it was to be a book called Occupations that had me training to be an Occupational Therapist eventually specialising in Forensic Psychiatry. Through that I ended up contributing a chapter about Occupational Therapy to a Forensic Psychotherapy book and I rediscovered my love for writing but it wasn’t until over a decade later that I took a course in creative writing. This course gave me the encouragement and confidence to start sharing my work and in 2010 I entered a short story competition run by Bridge House Publishing and I was fortunate enough to be a runner-up with my tale Trojan. It gained a place in the anthology On This Day and most importantly gave me the conviction to carry on writing. I have now written six novels and have ideas for many others!
Did that journey involve an agent? If not did you try to get one? Any advice about that?
My first novel, Blood Rain, (for young adults) was met with many favourable responses from agents and came close to snagging one although it never came to fruition. I tried again to get an agent for my debut novel Ordering Flynn Matthews and again I had good feedback but still no success.
Undeterred I tried publishers and it was positively received however as many authors know breaking into the market is tough. I hoped that my shortlisting for the 2015 Choc Lit Search for a Star competition might trigger interest from established publishers and I have still not given up. A US Indie publisher offered me an eBook contract but after much thought and reflection, including advice from the Society of Authors, of which I’m an associate, I decided to self-publish. It is important to have self-belief, so I now imagine how Ordering Flynn Matthews will be successful and that I’ll have a choice of agents and publishers!
Do or did you ever belong to a writing group? Crit group? Did you ever have someone professionally critique your work before first submitting? Or do you have friends or anyone else who sees it before you send it off? Has that changed since you became a ‘successful author’?
I have been a member of a writing group and met some great people who I still stay in touch with but with my writing and having started work, I don’t have any spare time to keep attending.
One of the best things I did was to get my novel Blood Rain professionally edited by Debz. Whenever I feel the need to blush I think how naïve I was so early in my writing career to send it to agents without proper editing and no longer wonder why Blood Rain was initially rejected out of hand. Thankfully Debz was able to provide a detailed critique which importantly provided a mix of encouragement and constructive criticism. What was clear was that I had a lot to learn in the art of writing. Where most would probably scrap that first novel I was determined to rewrite it. I sent it back to Debz who responded positively and as I said earlier, it eventually came close to getting an agent.
By the time I sent Ordering Flynn Matthews to Debz for more great insightful editing it had been edited numerous times by myself using the lessons learned with Blood Rain. It’s been through even more edits since then!
I have four main people who read my writing, bless them. My dear friends Carrie and Sam, and my husband and daughter who are my harshest critics! I can’t imagine submitting anything before they’ve seen it.
Hmm, not sure I can say I’m a successful author yet. I’ve had two short stories published, another due to be published this November and of course Ordering Flynn Matthews was self-published last month.
Who did you first tell when you heard your first book had been accepted?
What happened next? Can you tell us something about working with an editor? How important is that to you now – is there a lot of discussion and does the editor make a real difference to your work?
I didn’t accept the publishing contract for Ordering Flynn Matthews but I can tell you what it’s like working with Debz as an editor. She’s excellent and thorough and yes her input has made a big difference to my writing.
Tell us something about your writing day, routine.
I work part-time in a library so my days, no matter what I am doing, are immersed in books which is a lovely place to be. When I’m not at work I try to be at my laptop ready to write by 9am. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on just one idea however my concentration is aided by a large mug of Rooibos Earl Grey tea, and then the hard work starts. I will write for at least four hours a day although it is often way more. I take my wildly excitable dog out for a mid-day walk which helps me stretch my legs and the different scenery inspires and helps me think through a character or plot problem.
I’m having slightly different issues to deal with at the moment, but no less enjoyable, because publishing Ordering Flynn Matthews has created some distractions. I’ve been writing extras for the Ordering Flynn Matthews website such as newspaper articles and scenes from the novel written from the point of view of different characters. In the novel the main character, Ellie, is a moderator on Flynn’s Fan Forum so I have also created a forum which readers can join if they want to. It’s still writing but not as we know it!
What or who inspires you most? Any particular people, authors, books?
Having worked as an Occupational Therapist I have come across many people who have faced profound difficulties yet have been able to get on with life and often with a smile. It is these people that I think of whenever I need inspiration. Public figures can also inspire and like many others it is hard not to feel admiration for the way Nelson Mandela conducted his life especially how he encouraged forgiveness having experienced the exact opposite. Finally, I feel inspired by all successful authors – it’s a tough road but if they can make it, with a lot of hard work I can too.
Why do you write? (Now that’s the question!) What do you want your stories to do?
My husband plays a lot of golf and I encourage it because it’s a real stress reliever, is not bad exercise and is sociable and I get a happy spouse. I sometimes play the golf widow card but the real truth is, and I’m not sure he has figured this out, he is actually an author widower. You see I let him play golf so he can’t fully see how much time I devote to my writing. It’s just that I can’t not write. It satisfies an itch and relaxes me. And I hope my stories give the reader enjoyment and a chance to immerse themselves in another world.
As a writer I find that I tend not to take the well-trodden, predictable road in my stories and while this can mean that it is hard to categorise my novels I am happy to strike out on my own. This also means I portray my characters honestly, even if occasionally the reader dislikes them, because that is the truthful way to write them.
How much marketing have you had to do? How comfortable are you with self-promotion?
I’m not comfortable with self-promotion so this makes marketing difficult. As I said earlier I do want people to read my novels so I have to accept it’s a necessity and come out of my shell otherwise no one will know about them. Marketing is a much different matter compared to writing and the two aren’t necessarily compatible. I’m aware it is a real issue for many authors and whether self or traditionally published it is part of the job. Self-publishing means I have to create the strategy and then have the energy to implement it. Social media is obviously a crucial aspect of marketing so I have been developing my on-line presence which for me is relatively easy because I have the skills and experience to do so. Also, like my heroine Ellie, the online community allows a degree of anonymity which suits my personality. So, I am doing all my marketing and I’m sure when I have mastered it I will feel great satisfaction but it is certainly not easy.
Tell us about the latest published book…
Ordering Flynn Matthews is a pacey contemporary novel about love, loss and betrayal in a world of social networking, celebrity obsession and media frenzy.
The story centres around Ellie, a university student, who feels more confident online than she does in real life. She has been a fan of Flynn Matthews since she was twelve and is a moderator on his fan forum spending most of her free time on the internet connecting with fellow fans and sharing information and photographs of him. Desperate to meet Flynn she makes a vision board of what she wants, hoping the universe will deliver him to her. Coincidence or not she bumps into him and has her fangirl illusions destroyed. He has a drug problem and he’s not the hero she imagined. While she’d rather not have any more to do with him Flynn needs her. In knowing him Ellie becomes unwittingly embroiled in a series of mishaps, and naïve judgements which put her in the media spotlight. This exposure impacts on her family and puts her closest friendships in jeopardy.
It’s fun, thought provoking at times and an unpredictable read.
Follow LG on Twitter – Twitter
Facebook – Facebook
Website for Ordering Flynn Matthews: www.flynnmatthews.com
Flynn’s Fan Forum: www.flynnmatthews.freeforums.net/
Available as an ebook on Amazon: AMAZON
What next? Tell us about work in progress and aspirations. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
My immediate task is to market Ordering Flynn Matthews. This marketing business is like having children I reckon. Before you have them people tell you how much they will change your life and you nod in blissful agreement but truthfully you have no idea how they will change and enrich your life… until one micro second after they are born and those earlier words of wisdom hit home and you actually see the depth of what you have been told.
That’s how I now feel about marketing. I knew I would have to publicise my novel; after all I’d read it on the internet but what that means in practice is a whole lot more far reaching. At the moment I am therefore neck deep in publicising my novel and trying to simultaneously edit the next one, Failing Flynn Matthews, which is a follow on to OFM, but can also be read as a standalone.
Eek! Not sure I can think ten years ahead but I would love to keeping having new ideas, my husband’s golf handicap lower and to have many readers enjoying my stories and eagerly awaiting the next one.
Any advice for writers who are trying to get their work published?
You have to have a good product so my first advice is to get it edited. An impartial, professional evaluation will make the world of difference. Have an online presence so that you can connect with your audience, and other writers who, in my experience, are generous in sharing their advice and experience. And finally, don’t give up.
Tell us something random about you for the pure hell of it
I can touch my nose with my tongue!
Which of your characters would you most like to be friends with and why?
Flynn because despite his flaws he’s honest, loyal and fun.
Finally: can we post an extract of your latest published book?
Yes! Here’s the blurb for Ordering Flynn Matthews:
Using a vision board university student Ellie brings heartthrob actor, Flynn Matthews, into her life. She quickly realises he isn’t the man she thought he was – he’s a foul-mouthed narcissistic drug addict. And it’s not fun being in the media spotlight after her life spirals into chaos from just knowing him.
How will Ellie cope with the way her life is now she is trending on Twitter, being exposed by incriminating photos and hounded everywhere she goes; not least, when the press find all those messages her teenage self once wrote on fan sites about Flynn? And does she even want him now?
Extract From Chapter 3
Breathless I sneak another look. Flynn Matthews is running towards me. There’s a substantial gap between him and the photographers.
I manage to shout out, “Psst, this way!”
Hearing my words, he throws a glance behind him and then speeds over to me. Hopefully it’ll look like he went down the passageway that runs parallel to our alley. We sprint along the path. I pull him into the recess of our front door and watch the photographers run past the end of the alley.
“Thanks,” he says in that dreamy voice of his.
“That’s all right,” I squeak wishing my voice didn’t do that when I get nervous.
“Is this place yours?” His blue eyes sparkle down at me.
I nod. It’s all I can manage.
“Do you mind if I come in and lay low for a while?”
I hear him, but my brain and mouth have disconnected and I can’t formulate any words.
“They’ll figure out I came down here soon. Can I babe, please?”
He just called me babe, Flynn Matthews called me babe. OMG.
He touches me on the arm, “Please.”
His hand on my arm electrifies my body jolting me into action, fumbling for my keys I let him in. He follows me up the stairs and into the kitchen. I can’t think of anything sensible or normal to say.
“Would you like a drink?” is all I can spurt out and I’m still squeaking.
“Yeah, sounds good.”
I dare to look at him as he pulls out a chair. He spins it round and straddles it; he leans forward resting his arms on the chair’s backrest. He can even make sitting on a chair look sexy.
Of all the ways I’d imagined meeting Flynn this scenario hasn’t been one of them. Sitting in a cafe alone he asks if the chair opposite is free, I say yes, he sits and I am witty and erudite, happily ever after ensues. And in real life all I can say is, “Tea, coffee, orange juice?”
He frowns, “I was hoping for something a little stronger, it’s been a heavy morning as you saw.”
I open the fridge, “There’s some bottled beer.” But that’s Dad’s.
“Not really into beer.” He smiles but there’s a hint of irritation in his voice and a little sigh.
Understandable really considering he was being chased. I remember the bottle of whiskey Dad bought last Christmas because his cousin was coming round.
“We’ve got whiskey, will that do?” My voice seems to be returning to its more normal pitch.
“Now we’re talking.” He runs his hand through his famous flick of hair momentarily distracting me. “Anytime today babe,” he says his mouth twitching at the corners.
“Sorry. We don’t have any mixers I’m afraid.”
He raises his eyebrows at me as if I’m some sort of nutter, “Fine by me, don’t usually have them, I like my whiskey straight.”
I put the glass on the table and pour out a couple of inches of the brown liquid. I stop but Flynn nudges the bottle, “You might as well fill it to the top babe. Gonna join me?”
I shake my head.
“Suit yourself,” he says draining the glass and then pouring himself another.
I feel sorry for him. Being chased has stressed him out.
“So you know who I am? Silly question, course you do.” He flashes his ever so white teeth at me focusing his eyes on my t-shirt.
I feel foolish. Why did I have to wear this t-shirt, today of all days.
“Thanks.” With all the stress he hasn’t asked me my name, “I’m Ellie and—”
“Good. Nice pad.” He casts a quick look round the newly fitted kitchen. A couple of months ago he’d have thought the place was a dump.
“Thanks. I live here with my—”
“Why don’t you sit down Emma.”
“Yeah I meant that, sit down Ellie.” Flynn takes another gulp of whiskey.
I sit opposite him plotting how I’m going to get an exclusive interview for the forum. I’m already thinking of titles for the thread. “Why were they chasing you?”
“If I can give you any advice at all babe, it’s choose your friends wisely.”
Thank you so much for your wonderful answers and for being on my blog today, which I know will inspire others. We wish you all the very best with this… go on folks, give it a try!
If you want it you will never give up… and this book is a great one to add to your collection 🙂
But don’t just take my word for it 🙂
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!