I’d like to give a big welcome to AUTUMN MACARTHUR to my blog.
rem: Thank you for joining us today, AUTUMN. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
AUTUMN: Hi, I’m Autumn! I was born and grew up in Sydney, Australia, in a semi-rural suburb not far from the beach. Once I completed my nursing and midwifery training, I moved around a bit, wanting to experience more of what Australia had to offer. I spent some time in a country town, then moved to the outback. I came to England for a one year working holiday nineteen years ago, and stayed! I now live in a small market town just north of London, not far from Cambridge.
rem: Love how “one year” turned into nineteen…. How does life differ from Australia and other locales? How is it the same?
AUTUMN: Good question. It’s more different than you’d expect, but hard to say how. The obvious and expected things were – less sunshine and far more crowded; but to make up for that, so much greener, with lovely parks and gardens, and a lot more historical buildings (more so outside London, which unfortunately lost a lot of the older buildings in the Blitz). The things I didn’t expect are the constant queuing, and how distances seem much further here than in Australia. Back home, I’d think nothing of getting in the car and driving 80 miles to see a friend or go to a concert. Here, that’s a major expedition!
rem: As if my appetite to see for myself wasn’t already whetted! Tell us three things about yourself.
AUTUMN: Ack, I can never answer these questions! [rem: and yet I ask! heehee]
- My husband wants to move to Bulgaria, so I’ve learned to read the Cyrillic alphabet. I also know not to call it the Russian alphabet, as though it’s used in Russia, it was actually invented in Bulgaria in the 9th
- I grew up in a family of DIYers, in the house my grandfather built first, then we moved to an old house my father renovated. In his spare time, the family built a boat we spent most weekends on. So I’m a fairly decent handywoman and would love to build or renovate a tiny adobe house to be my writing studio if we do move. Like many homesteads in the US, New Zealand, and Australia, a lot of the village homes in Bulgaria still have the old one or two room earth house in the garden, built as temporary living quarters while the family constructed a larger home as time and finances allowed.
- I grew up in a family who weren’t believers, but still developed an interest in God and Jesus from an early age. My favourite book as a child was my big yellow book of children’s Bible stories. I gave my life to Jesus aged sixteen, but spent many years away from God. Thankfully, in His grace and mercy, He didn’t let me go!
rem: 1. I want to learn Russian, ergo the Cyrillic alphabet! What is your most treasured possession?
AUTUMN: I think the only way to answer this is – what item would I be most upset to lose? Either my wedding ring, or the old family photos. I need to get out that box of photos and scan them into my Dropbox. Once that’s done, it would be my wedding ring for sure!
rem: Which reminds me, I need to be more diligent backing up… everything! What is your favourite quotation and why?
AUTUMN: I’ve always loved this Thoreau quote – “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” Especially as Christians, we need to follow God’s calling and be willing to walk out of step with the world.
rem: Indeed we are set apart. What do you most value in a friend?
AUTUMN: Honesty. Even it’s ouchy, like when I ask my husband, “Does my bum looks big in this?”, or my CP what she really thinks of the chapters I sent her!
rem: I agree, without honesty, you have no foundation. What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
AUTUMN: Faith. It’s so inspiring to learn from people further along in their journey with Jesus than I am.
rem: What do you do as a hobby?
AUTUMN: LOL, write? Caring for my disabled husband has become my main job since his long term physical health problems have worsened, so writing has had to drop back a step. I also love to read, walk, garden, try to make funky jewellery, and refashion thrifted clothes. I need more hours, or way better time management!
rem: Sorry about your hubby. I, too, enjoy going for walks and gardening – being outdoors in general.
Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
AUTUMN: I love both, but it would have to be cats. I love their independence, and the way they don’t have to love us, they choose to. We share our home with four cats at present. A lovely gentle older tabby, a mean long-haired tortie, and a sweet little silver tabby who chose to move in but was so wild he wouldn’t stay in the same room as either of us for the first six months. He’s my favourite, now tame and affectionate, asleep beside me as I write this! There’s also an older black and white boy whose people moved away, so he’s trying to decide if he wants to live with us or the couple two doors down.
We’d love a small rescue dog, too, but as our yard isn’t fenced, that’s not an option.
rem: Me too! Hands down a cat person! What is your Writing Routine?
AUTUMN: Ha, I wish I had one! I truly admire authors I know who get up and write first thing. I am not one of them.
Every story seems to have a different process. This year has been a challenge, and I’m writing way less than I’d like.
rem: What are your Top Writing Tips?
- Write every day, even for ten minutes. Whether that’s planning, drafting, or editing, it keeps the story alive in your mind.
- Allow yourself to write badly in first draft. If the story is a beautifully detailed sand castle, the first draft is shoveling wet sand. I wish I could remember who said that first!
- This is hard, but if you’re one of those people who is very tough and judgmental on your draft, try to keep writing right to The End without looking back at what you wrote. Finishing a draft will teach you way more than a dozen unfinished first chapters. Been there, done that!
- Try using tools like Write or Die for fast drafting. I use the setting that gives kitten pictures and a purring sound as a reward so many words. Works better than the punishment settings that eat words! Any sort of timed “get as many words as you can in this many minutes” writing is a good way to push yourself to write more, and to write faster without that pesky internal editor stopping you every second work. I often use timed writing to get me over that blank screen terror at the start of a new scene. I set Write or Die to a target of 800 words in 20 minutes. I can’t actually type that fast, so it really pushes me! Even if it’s nonsense, I write what comes in my head. Once I have 800 or 900 words, I can go on to tidy it up and finish the rest of the scene.
- Learn to touch type as young as possible. I really wish I had. I’m a fairly fast two finger typist but I can’t get over 40 wpm, and I’m finding it frustrating how slow I am trying now to learn to touch type. I have writing friends who can touch type 80, 100, even 120 wpm. No surprise they can write more than me in the same time!
rem: Yeah, typing by touch rocks! [chagrinned face] Tell us a little about your writing journey.
AUTUMN: It’s been a long one! Have you got an hour? [rem: we have all the time you need]
I was one of those kids who made their own little story books as soon as they could write, and I wrote a lot in my teens and twenties. I loved reading romances, and I wanted to be a Harlequin author. I did get an article published in a Christian magazine aged sixteen, and got a cheque for $5, my first ever earnings from writing. It was a long wait for the next time!
I’d become discouraged by the number of discarded stories that never got past chapter 1, and stopped writing for many years. I hadn’t learned then that most writers don’t produce perfect first draft and what we read in the published novel might be twentieth draft, with input from several editors on top.
Eventually I decided to chase that old dream of learning to write well and have a book published. In January 2008 I signed up for JanNo, aiming to draft a 50,000 word novel in a month. That was the best thing I could have done. No working and reworking first chapters then giving up. I had to keep writing. The story is a mess, but it was a huge writing milestone. My first ever completed draft!
After that, I discovered Harlequin’s online writing contests, and wrote a load of romances targeting their secular romance lines. I scored all rejections, though a couple were encouraging ones. I’m so thankful none of those stories were published, as they weren’t what I would want to write now! God took charge, calling me back to Him, including writing for Him. I began aiming for Harlequin’s Christian inspirational lines, and growing in faith in the process. With every story I write I learn the same spiritual lessons my characters need to learn. Sometimes painful, always valuable.
I found I had story ideas that I couldn’t submit to Love Inspired, due to non-American settings, but I felt strongly called to get the stories published. Being a DIYer, I learned all I could about indie publishing, cover designing, and formatting, then workshopped stories with an editor. On August 31, 2014, my first indie published book released. I now have five books out, and God willing, many more to come!
rem: Um, five books in ONE YEAR! What part of that is slow going? What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
AUTUMN: I have terrible time management. I’m a procrastinator, I love spending time on the internet, and I still haven’t quite gotten rid of the belief I need a couple of solid hours to sit and write, which makes me overlook all those shorter bits of time I could use productively.
Handling it? I pray about it a lot! Keeping off the internet, writing before I check emails and Facebook, and keeping my story files open on the laptop and loaded on the phone to use those ten minutes here and there would definitely help.
rem: Time management? What’s that?
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
AUTUMN: Mostly, sitting on my bed! We live in a small one bedroom house, my husband tends to use the dining table as his desk, and there truly is no space to wedge another desk in anywhere. I lined and insulated our garden shed to use as a writing den and crafting room, but discovered with its big West facing window it’s still way too hot in summer and too cold in winter. I do need a cave!
rem: Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
AUTUMN: Editing. For me, that’s where the real magic happens. I do at least four editing passes now, and I love seeing the rough story take on its real shape in the process.
rem: I edit as I go, so no telling how many actual “passes” I end up with. LOL What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?
AUTUMN: Do – 1. write something every day, 2. let your first draft be bad, 3. always pray before a writing session. It’s amazing the difference that makes.
Don’t – 1. judge your first draft and give up, 2. refuse to change your first draft, 3. Leave God out of your writing process
rem: What do you enjoy most about being a writer? What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
AUTUMN: I love the sense of creating something out of nothing but my own ideas. And I love that readers and authors are so much closer now. Getting feedback from someone who enjoyed or felt moved closer to God by something I wrote is a huge blessing!
The hardest aspects are the reverse sides of those two. Facing a blank screen or word count that’s way less than it needs to be and knowing it’s all down to me to produce the story. That’s where the prayer comes in, because of course it’s NOT all down to me. The other tough thing is dealing with negative reviews.
rem: So true. As Christian authors, all we have comes from Him. What would you do if you didn’t write?
AUTUMN: Read more! I used to read so much more before I started writing again.
rem: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
AUTUMN: Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
rem: Me too, sigh… At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
AUTUMN: I learned to read aged 3, and from then on read everything I could, including borrowing right up to the limit from three different libraries! I was slower learning to write, as I was a clumsy kid and couldn’t manage the fine motor skills of using a pencil. I started writing poems and little stories at 5 or 6.
rem: If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?
AUTUMN: I haven’t thought of that one for a while! When I was maybe ten or eleven, there were two story characters I wanted to be.
Beauty, from the original fairy-tale Beauty and the Beast (not the Disney version!), because I cried every time I read the story in my old fairy tale book. Something about the way her gentleness and kindness tamed the Beast and saved him touched me deeply.
And a character you probably won’t know! Thowra the silver brumby, from a series of books I loved, about a wild stallion living in Australia’s Snowy Mountains. I wanted his freedom and his courage.
rem: Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?
AUTUMN: In fiction, I read mostly clean or Christian romance. Authors like Debbie Macomber or Georgette Heyer. I also enjoy Harlequin’s Love Inspired books, and way too many indie authors of Christian romance to list. A peek at my fellow authors in the Splash! boxed set will show several 😉
rem: Tell us a little about your book / series? What sparked the story for this novel / series?
AUTUMN: My current series is Love in Store, set mostly in London where I lived and worked for many years. All the stories loosely connect to an old family owned London department store. Think Selfridges’ poor-relation maiden aunt, a little frumpy and past it, but still keeping up her genteel appearances!
Book 2 in the series was written first, back in 2010 for a secular romance publisher’s call for submissions. The stories had to use a specific secular Christmas song as the theme. I’m not sure why I came up with the idea of a celebrity actor, brought in by the eccentric owner to play Santa in an attempt to save the store; and the Ms Scrooge store accountant, doing the real work to keep the store open and save everyone’s jobs. I do know for sure that the story works far better as a Christian romance than it ever did as a secular one! It needed the real meaning of Christmas – God’s love, forgiveness, and willingness to redeem us all if we turn to Him.
rem: What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
AUTUMN: God’s love. He’s there for us, always.
rem: Yes, He surely is, always. Thanks you, Autumn, for being with us today.
Autumn’s links are-
© Website/ blog : http://faithhopeandheartwarming.com
© Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/autumn.macarthur
© Twitter : https://twitter.com/autumnmacarthur
© Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/autumnmacarthur
Autumn is offering any one of her Love in Store Series ebooks [shown above] to a random commenter on today’s blog post.
#autumnmacarthur, #authorinterview, #theweddinglist, #believeinme, #amodelbride, #forgetparis