Hello, Melanie, welcome to On The Page With . . ., make yourself comfortable and tell us a little about you:
I'm a first generation Canadian. My father was born in Scotland and came to Canada in 1930 through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland. I've been lucky enough to travel to Scotland on a number of occasions and see the place where my dad was born in Aberdeenshire and where he was raised (OHS) near Glasgow.
Where does the writing magic happen?
Although I have a great set up with the two monitors, ergo keyboard and comfy leather chair, I tend to do most of my writing on my laptop whilst sitting in my Ikea POÄNG chair (link) with my feet up on a small stool.
Two screens?! How wonderful . . . I'm a little envious! What do you write and how long have you been writing for?
Short stories, articles, and I have one novel published along with a few other manuscripts in various stages of completion.
I would say since I was about thirteen, although it wasn't until many years later that I began writing for publication first with articles. I didn't even know that the first piece I had published had even been accepted by the Scottish Banner (published in the US and Australia) until I opened it and there it was - a two page spread.
That must have been a wonderful surprise! What are you currently working on?
Although it's ground to a halt, I'm working on the sequel to my debut novel (pictured opposite). I'm a little over half-way through the first draft and the ending is written. Now I just have to get my characters to cooperate so that the ending will work. I don't think that will be a problem, though. Ooops, perhaps I said a wee bit too much.
Tell us something non-writing related about yourself - hobby/interest/hates/passions etc. For example, I love shoes. No, seriously, I love them, although my poor shoe closet would have to disagree - it's stuffed!
Non-writing related... hmm... like you, I love shoes although I tend to gravitate towards boots. I love to travel - especially to Scotland - where I have family and over the years have made some very good friends.
Yes, I love boots too. I like the pair you're wearing above! You've self-published a collection of short stories, please describe why you chose the self publishing route.
Since I had already been traditionally published with my debut novel A Shadow in the Past, I thought I would take a stab at self-publishing. I had a number of short stories on my hard drive and thought I would put them together in an anthology and see what happened and The Consequences Collection was born.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered?
Getting my ITIN from the IRS - seriously. I've tried a few times and each time my application has been rejected.
I know that frustration, it took me two attempts to gain mine! On the opposite end of the scale what do you love the most about being self-published?
Just being in control. I rather like that.
I agree, that is one of the wonderful things about being self-published. I love designing book covers.
You've also had work published by a publisher, describe a little about your path to publication . . .
After many years of submitting and re-writing and rejection letters, I finally stumbled onto an online writers' conference (I'd seen a write up about it on Rosemary Gemmell's blog) where you could pitch to editors and/or agents. I got an appointment to pitch to Vivian Zabel of 4RV Publishing (a small press in the US). She asked me to submit.
That is brilliant! How did you celebrate your first publishing deal?
Promise you won't laugh... I took a copy of my manuscript and contract along with a few small bottles of bubbly and a proper champagne flute and went to the cemetery where my parents are both buried and celebrated with them. My dad died when I was young and my mum the year before I got my contract.
That is lovely, and very touching. I completely understand, my mum died before I released my first novel so that's why I've started a tradition of writing a Christmas novella every year - she loved Christmas so very much.
What did you do when you first opened that first ever offer? - Jump up and down/scream/race around like a loon and trip over the cat (or something similar)?
I don't have a cat so I didn't trip over it. The offer came via email about eight hours after I submitted. I was relaxing in my rocking chair after supper, watching a bit of telly when my Blackberry went off. There was the email from Vivian - "we're offering you a contract". Well I about fell out of the chair. I'm really glad it had arms on it. I passed my phone to my husband to verify that I wasn't seeing things.
What do you love most about being traditionally published?
I'm with a great publishing house. It's like having an extended family. Everyone is warm and friendly and supportive of one another.
That sounds very nice. Can you offer a nugget of advice for other writers?
Follow your dream. Join a writers' group and write every day. Finish what you write (I should heed that, too), and submit. And give yourself permission to write a terrible first draft. It will improve with each re-write.
Good, solid advice! Where would be your ideal place to write if you could write anywhere you wanted? I'd love a room lined with shelves of all the books I love to read, huge landscape windows with a view across a vast garden, a big desk looking through the windows, room enough for a squishy sofa . . . oh, I can dream!
I'd love to have a writing room that looked out onto the scenery in my novel - A Shadow in the Past, which is set in the area of Scotland where my father was born although it goes by a fictitious name.
That does sound wonderful! Something else I love are dogs, we'll share a snap of your pooch, Jake! Doesn't he look cute and comfortable?
What are reading at the moment, Melanie? I'm reading Shaman's Drum by Ailsa Abraham and it's very good.
Tall, Dark and Kilted by Lizzie Lamb
Finally, to finish off here are Melanie's links:
Blog: Celtic Connexions
Thank you, Melanie, you've been a wonderful guest!
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Thanks for joining us today and, of course, for reading!
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