In this column I’m asking subscribers to share their knowledge about writing, publishing, and marketing their books. I’m calling it “Ten Questions.” Thank you, Cornelia Fick, for sharing your journey from wanting to be a writer to becoming the author of a published book. You have definitely achieved the dream that motivates all of us!–Marylee MacDonald
Cornelia Fick’s Author Tip: “Trust yourself. It is very intimidating to have to submit a piece for critique. At the end of the course, my supervisor said my greatest lesson was my fearlessness as a writer.”
Cornelia Fick is the author of Eye of a Needle, a collection of short stories. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of the Western Cape and was long-listed for the Sol Plaatje/ EU Poetry Award (2016).
Follow her on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33854644-eye-of-a-needle
MM A book begins as an idea in the writer’s imagination. Eventually, this grain of sand turns into a pearl. What was the grain of sand that fired your imagination?
CF My collection of short stories originated in the MA Creative writing at Rhodes University. I had to choose which genre to write inm and I chose the short story because I have always been attracted to the challenge of condensed writing that conveys a complete picture. And I had the opportunity to experiment with different forms.
MM How did you approach turning this idea into a manuscript, and eventually a book? Did you take classes, read books, or just plunge in?
CF I just plunged in. I’m not one for a lot of planning so I just start an idea and see where the story takes me.
MM Authors today have many options when it comes to publication. Did you work with an agent, find a publisher through other means, or self-publish your book?
CF I went the route of independent publishing. Being an older writer, I didn’t want to waste time searching for a publisher before moving on to the next project.
MM What is the biggest single lesson you learned during the writing process?
CF Trust yourself. It is very intimidating to have to submit a piece for critique. At the end of the course, my supervisor said my greatest lesson was my fearlessness as a writer.
MM What would you advise others who are still at the idea stage?
CF I come across many people who say, I’m not really a writer. When you enquire further they have a blog and they are writing for a local newspaper. My advice is start out by saying, I am a writer. Without that confidence your idea will never get off the ground.
MM Were there any writing tools you’d recommend? Did you use apps like Grammarly, Scrivener, or another outliner to help you structure your book?
CF I’m sad to admit that I’m not great with technology. But I’m working on it.
MM Was it hard to decide on a cover, or did you or your publisher hire a professional designer?
CF I worked with this awesome person Cal Sharp www.caligraphics.net who designed my cover from a mock-up cover I’d made and sent to him.
MM Who is your ideal reader? Who would particularly enjoy your book/s?
CF My ideal reader is anyone interested in reading more about what makes other people tick. My writing is character-driven so most of the action springs from that.
MM How do you connect with readers? Do you like to do live events, such as book fairs or library talks, or have you found readers through social media, Goodreads, or Amazon?
CF Most of my readers connect with me via social media. However, I love to meet readers at book fairs, etc.
MM What has been your greatest reward in undertaking this publishing journey? (This doesn’t have to be a financial reward.)
CF My greatest reward has been achieving a childhood dream of being an author.
For more on writing and publishing short stories and dealing with rejection, read this post. (https://maryleemacdonaldauthor.com/literary-magazines-tips/ )
Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, a short story collection, and THE RUG BAZAAR, a chapbook. Her books and stories have won the Barry Hannah Prize, the Jeanne M. Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, a Readers’ Favorites Gold Medal for Drama, the American Literary Review Fiction Prize, and many others. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, and when not reading or writing books, she loves to walk on the beach and explore National Parks.