Stephanie Churchill – To plan or not to plan?

Today my guest is Stephanie Churchill, author of The Scribe’s Daughter and The King’s Daughter.

Being first and foremost a lover of history, Stephanie’s writing draws on her knowledge of history even while set in purely fictional places existing only in her imagination.

Inspired by gothic romance novels like Jane Eyre, epic fantasy stories like The Lord of the Rings and The Game of Thrones, as well as the historical fiction of authors like Sharon Kay Penman, Anya Seton and Bernard Cornwell, Stephanie’s books are filled with action and romance, loyalty and betrayal. Her blend of historical-feeling fantasy fiction combined with elements of gothic romance ensures that her books should please readers of historical fiction and epic fantasy literature alike.

Stephanie grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska in the US. After graduating from college, she worked as an international trade and antitrust paralegal in Washington, D.C. She now lives with her husband, their two children, and her dog-who-thinks-he-is-a-child in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Over to you, Stephanie!

“I was pretty clueless the day I started my first book. The Scribe’s Daughter, began as an experiment. I had written two other full-length manuscripts, but I didn’t love the voice in either of them so abandoned them. What, I asked myself, would happen if I wrote from a first-person perspective? As it turns out, a published book, apparently. I hadn’t intended my experiment to turn into a book, but once I discovered the magic of first person, the spark ignited, and that fire produced something worth publishing.

That’s how my writing journey started, but as I befriend more and more authors over the years, I’ve discovered just how odd my path to authorship was. Most people know they want to be a writer before they write a book.  They know it at an early age and pursue that goal by pursuing an education – either formally or informally.

I wanted to go to law school and didn’t get a clue until I was in my thirties.

Most authors practice the craft of writing during those early years by writing. Many of them write their first book as teenagers.

I just read other people’s books.

Other authors create a neat plan to publish a series, write full drafts of each novel, build a platform, plan a release, then have an accelerated launch into authorship, one book at a time, one year at a time.

I wrote a scene, then another scene, and those scenes turned into a book, and then I decided to write a second book, but that book was really tough because I’d written myself into several corners with the first (unplanned) book, so I had to fix those problems, and oh-by-the-way I need a platform, so let’s make one of those, and I probably should write a couple of blog posts and then maybe write some guest posts for other people in order to do some marketing and promotion which I really should do too, and hey, wouldn’t it be great to write a third book… (big gasp for air)

I like to think it’s worked out well enough, but I don’t recommend “The Stephanie Churchill Method of Becoming an Author” for most people. That being said, the reality for me was that I likely would not have stumbled upon the path except the backward way.

A wiser method, and the more commonly recommended one, is the way my friend Kim Barton is doing it.  She knew from an early age she wanted to write. And now years into it, she is still writing her trilogy. She planned out all three books, wrote and is now editing all of them, and she still hasn’t published one.  Despite the successes of those around her, the sales figures and the communal excitement, she is staying focused. Yes, she tells me, it’s really, really hard not to be impatient. She is dying to see her name on a book, but her path will be trekked with patience.

Now that I know these things, I can appreciate the benefits of planning:

  1. You know ahead of time the who, whatwhen, where and why of each and every character and plot element. You won’t write yourself into a corner (raises hand) like I did.
  2. You can publish each book in the series more quickly following the last one, thereby leveraging the momentum by building readership and sales.
  3. It’s easier to sell the idea of a series to an agent or publisher because they can see that you have more books in you, making you a better investment.

This is all well and good, but it wouldn’t have worked like this for me. I had to do it backward because I didn’t know I could write a book and publish it until I wrote a book and published it.  The process was the teacher for me, and the thing I needed most was the confidence that completion produced.  I had to do what I did to know I could do what I did.

And for the maybe half percent of the writers out there who might need to work like me, I just want you to know it’s okay.  If you need to work on your book, hoping to make it good enough to publish, all the while doing it without foggiest idea what you’re doing… If you need to write the book so you know you can even write a book… If you need to write the book to gain the confidence necessary to think about what comes next…

It’s okay if you don’t have a plan, if you don’t think you are any good.

Just write the book and see what happens. You might discover you are an author.”

Thank you, Stephanie! I think there are as many ways to write a book as there are authors. 😉

Connect with Stephanie

What’s The Scribe’s Daughter about?

“My name is Kassia, and I am reckless. Or at least my sister, Irisa, would have you think so.  Maybe she’s right, but my recklessness helped us survive as orphans on the dusty streets of the Imperial city of Corium.

Everything changed the day a stranger showed up at our market stall to hire me to complete a task beyond my abilities.

I probably should have asked more questions, because my decision set into motion a series of events that would change my life forever.”

Buy from Amazon UK    Amazon US


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for the first four of the series.

Get INCEPTIO, the series starter, FREE as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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