Please join me in welcoming author Margo Candela as she discusses her journey as a writer, making the leap to full-time novelist and how she developed boundaries to protect her writing time.
About the Author:
Margo Candela’s husband owes her six months…preferably on a tropical island sipping margaritas. The deal was, she had three years to write her first novel Underneath It All and find a publisher. She signed the book contract at 2 ½ years so she still has that six months coming to her. She’s been musing over a few brochures for Fuji.
Of course, Underneath It All wasn’t her first novel. Her first was a romance novel spoof she wrote at age 15 on an antique typewriter she paid $20 for—actually her mom paid $20. Sadly, Wenchhead and the Isle of Evil Men was never published. Do you think it was the title?
In between Wenchhead and the Isle of Evil Men and Goodbye to All That, Margo enjoyed a trip to magazine land where she wrote articles on everything from extreme sports to computer hardware to plushies(people who are sexually into stuffed animals). Shhh, don’t tell Margo’s mom about that last one. She might want the $20 or the antique typewriter back!
When not writing, Margo vacuums. It’s her secret solution to writer’s block and when she hits the Times bestseller list Margo dreams of buying a Dyson DC 25 Animal. And shoes. Ask her the about the black heels on the cover of Goodbye to All That.
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leave a comment or question for Margo before day’s end and you may be the randomly selected winner of GOODBYE To ALL THAT (US addresses only, pls)
Raquel Azorian is Hollywood’s invisible woman. She stands in the shining light of young starlets giving their careers nudges, her memos help boss Bert create money-making productions, and her practicality keeps her quirky family co-existing peacefully. Amazingly, no one notices. But then Raquel decides she deserves a chance to be the star. Why can’t she have the gorgeous boyfriend? Why can’t she tell the VPs to deal with their own snafus and grab a little power for herself? Why can’t she stop being the middleman in countless family dramas? When Raquel takes off her invisibility cloak everyone in Hollywood notices! Don’t miss it.
Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell
- Tell us about your love of writing! Your blog says you wrote a novel when you were fifteen. (Love the tongue-in-cheek title, BTW!) What types of writing outlets and inspiration did you have as a teen? Is there anything parents and teachers can do today to encourage their young writers?
When I was in grade school, our TV broke and my parents, for whatever reason, didn’t replace it right away. With nothing to do after coming in from playing outside, we turned to books and it stuck. Books and reading became a part of daily life and somewhere along the way, the idea that I could work with word and information took hold in my mind.
Nowadays, kids have so much competing for their attention it takes strong willpower to just focus on one thing. When I was growing up, I had the choice between TV or books, that was pretty much it. What I remember from those years are the great books I read and some really funny Three’s Company reruns.
As a parent myself, I don’t nag my kid to read. He reads as much as he does because I invested the time in effort in reading to him when he was little. He also knows how much I value books and reading time. Now it’s something we now have in common. As for teachers and parents, the trick is to find the right book for the right reader. It’s no small task, but when it pays off there’s no better feeling.
- Please share with us your writing process: do you begin with a character, or as Stephen King says “with a situation” i.e. I want to write a story about a woman getting revenge on her chauvinistic boss? Do you write straight through your first draft or do you research and revise as you go?
I start with the seed of an idea and hope it sprouts into full-fledged novel. If I’m excited about an idea, I write an outline. That’s where I can tell if there’s enough for a novel or if it’s just a fun idea that I need to file away. I write and research as I go and I write to the end before I even think about revising. If I do need to make changes while I’m writing, I make them in the outline so I don’t get caught up in revising the same chapter endlessly. For me the whole point in writing a novel is to finish it and an outline helps me get there.
- How did you make the leap from magazine writing to novelist? At what point were able to “quick the day job” and write books full-time?
When I was in journalism school, I always knew feature writing was my strong point. I enjoyed using humor and anecdotes to convey information. The straight who, what, when, where and how of journalism 101 gave me the framework to be able to tell a story without wasting words or getting off track. I still use what I learned in class as a basis for my novels. I tend to write 2,500 word chapters or sections and I write toward a daily word count goal. It’s an ingrained habit and one I’ve made work for me.
As far as quitting my day job to write fulltime, I didn’t quit it, it quit me. I had my son just around the time that the dotcom bust happened and was careful with the small nest egg I’d managed to build. I did some freelancing while I was at home with him and once he went to preschool, I started working on my first novel full-time. I set a goals and dates for myself and treated what I was doing like a job (writing and polishing my manuscript, finding an agent) and expected results. After a lot of work and a little luck, I signed my first publishing contract 6 months ahead of my do or die date.
- Do you have any advice for working women who are trying to balance day jobs, family (kids/spouse) and their writing projects? Any “deals” you’ve made with your family in exchange for uninterrupted, un-guilted writing time?
The hard truth is it’s impossible to balance everything; something is going to have to be set aside. I keep my life very simple, no unnecessary drama or commitments, and I stick to a schedule. I had to make it clear to my son and husband that what I do isn’t a hobby, it’s my job and just because I work from home, I’m not a housekeeper or 24-hour cook. I don’t interrupt them at work or school and I expect the same respect for my writing time. I don’t feel guilty for taking time to write or do something just for myself. It takes an effort to maintain balance and boundaries but helps me be a happier person which means I’m a better wife and mother even if I am a lousy housekeeper and cook.
- I’m intrigued by how other writers organize their space. Can you describe your work area for us?
I redid my office in what I call a French sanitarium style. It’s all white, gray with dark wood furniture that isn’t the least bit fussy. It’s the one room in my house that’s totally me and mine. I also have a separate desk in front of a window where I do my editing while my working desk faces the wall so I don’t look at anything besides my monitor. I’m lucky to have such a nice writing space and it inspires me by letting me focus on my writing and not what’s in it.
- Tell us what’s next in your writing and promotion projects!
I’ve adapted my second novel, Life Over Easy (Kensington, Oct. ’07) into a screenplay and am working on finishing an adaptation of More Than This (Touchstone, Aug. ’08). I’ve met a producer who likes my writing and I’m working with her to see it through the process. I’ve recently pitched a novel to an editor and hoping she bites. It’s an exciting time and I can’t wait to see what happens.
Margo’s website: http://www.margocandela.com/
Margo’s blog: http://margocandela.blogspot.com/
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