How to enjoy the love of your life without killing it :) - AMA

MP Sharma
Sep 21, 2018

Seriously - how many of us "struggling" (is there any other kind?) writers out there feel like throttling our writing gene all the time but would slit our wrists if we ever stopped to put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard?

I know I'm flat out trying to maddeningly, I mean harmoniously blend my current work, family time and incessant, pathological need to continue to write during the week, I don't have time for a real soul mate. Not that I'm complaining - eharmony is brutal - I attest this from personal experience.

So I thought in celebration of the near release of the second book in my vampire (paranormal romance, cultural heritage, diversity-ridden) The Last True Blood series, WereVamp, we'd have an AMA about the writing journey and my experiences as a diverse author. I promise some joy, a bit of laughter, more than enough cursing the written word, and far too many tears!

BYO - alcohol (but I encourage drinking responsibly for the over 18's), loads of coffee for those who aren't quite there yet (or you're like me and never got over milkshakes), your sense of humour because really how else are we supposed to get through this? and pocket knives (for slicing open the chip packets. Geez guys, sliting our wrists was a metaphor).

It should be awesome. Or at least awesome-ish. Alright, full disclosure, it'll keep us busy for half an hour, okay?

Blog: mpsharmaauthor.wordpress.com

Twitter: @mpsharmaauthor

Facebook Handle: mpsharmaauthor

You can also get my first book, The Last True Blood FREE for a couple of days to celebrate the release of my second one in the series, WereVamp on Friday. So go on, what's the harm - it's free peeps! :)

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Let's get started!

Thanks for all the great questions everyone's been sending me these past few days. I've had a lot of fun responding and if anything, I hope they've entertained and helped you in your endeavours - writing and not! Have a great day ahead everyone!

Also, please make sure to catch my paranormal romance books, The Last True Blood & Werevamp (remember, The Last True Blood is free for a limited time) on the links above.

Thanks! :)

Sep 21, 5:01AM EDT0
What might your “favorite things” list look like for the writing of Last Two Blood Series?
Sep 15, 4:53AM EDT0

I presume you are referring to the favourite things in my book and/or the process of writing it.

Hmm, definitely the process of writing non-stop when you have an idea in your brain and your writing gene latches onto it - it's like a tap that never stops running - it's brilliant because the opposite of writers' block can be invigorating, albeit, tiring but ultra-inspirational and enjoyable nevertheless.

Learning about your characters as if they're real as you write about them, it's like getting to know a friend better.

Though this will surprise many - the research process. I've always been fascinated with paranormal issues and features so researching the historical representations, myths and perspectives of vampire and werewolf stories and literature were so fascinating and enjoyable for me.

Also, learning more about India, the US and other cultural nuances were really pathbreaking for me on a personal front.

Sep 17, 1:41AM EDT0
As a kid were there fictional characters you dreamt of—or did you create any of your own?
Sep 14, 7:22PM EDT0

Who said that this has to stop after we grow up?! :D

As a child, I often created fictional characters and would even use already famous characters in my imaginary world (such as Black Beauty during my horse crazy phase), 

I was a bit of a loner when I moved to Australia and got picked on quite a bit so I found that I retreated into my imaginary world a lot more during this phase.

So short answer - yes, yes and still do!

Sep 17, 1:11AM EDT0
You seem to have yourself figured out. How important is it for you to understand who you are for you to be able to communicate with your audience effectively through your books?
Sep 14, 4:11PM EDT0

Haha - I wish! I don't think I'll ever have myself completely figured out which is a good thing in my opinion otherwise I'd be rather bored if you ask me :D

What I will say, however, is that during the process of writing my novels, I do learn more about myself - especially with a book I haven't published yet called Un-Belonging (a story of immigrant children and what we go through from a physical and sociological perspective when we do get uprooted from our countries of origin. I found that this book was a cathartic experience for me regardless of whether I do go ahead and publish it or not. 

So basically, I figure myself out bit by bit every time I take pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard).

Sep 17, 1:45AM EDT0
At what point do you decide to start marketing your book?Before or after publishing it?why?
Sep 13, 6:25PM EDT0

With my first book, I did no prior publishing and I really regret that decision (but whatever - we make mistakes to learn from them, right?). I regret this because without any promotion, how is anyone going to know you wrote a book.

With my second book in this series, I have attempted, rather poorly I must admit (due to work pressure), marketing earlier.

I've blogged and put it on my social media accounts but because I've been MIA for a while, many of my followers have moved on. 

So my suggestion - stay on social media consistently and market it as early as possible as well as after for like, forever! :D

Sep 14, 1:06AM EDT0
Do you ever see yourself writing full time instead of doing it as a hobby? What will influence your decision?
Sep 13, 2:50AM EDT0

I would absolutely love to in all honesty and there is only one issue that influences my decision not to do this full time at present and that is that it is not financially feasible for me.

I am pretty driven and when I take something up, I like to do the absolute best I can - like most people.

My problem is that even if I am financially secure in life, I still wouldn't be content with my writing if I wasn't successful at it.

I view success in my writing as not only being financially lucrative but also as having a global reach and audience that is hanging off the edge of all my words! :D

The only way I am going to achieve this milestone, however, at this stage, is to continue to do this on the side and in all honesty, putting some weekend writing work in!

Sep 13, 3:42AM EDT0
Where would you like to see your writing career? Do you plan it out or do you live a day at a time?
Sep 12, 3:39PM EDT0

In all truthfulness, I should plan it out better but due to work commitments, it really is happening a day at a time.

For example, I answer these questions during a quick lunch break from work. 

When I have time and I am committed and determined, I try to write more on lazier or slower days but I tend to procrastinate or as I put it, "rest" or "recover".

So, basically short answer - when I have time in the future and work gets a little less crazy I'm going to try and be more disciplined with writing.

Sep 14, 1:09AM EDT0
Writing is not a very lucrative career, especially at the beginning. What would you tell someone who is considering writing with the assumption that there is money to be made?
Sep 12, 12:26PM EDT0

In all honesty - that this is a very false assumption!

Writing, like many creative fields, is unfortunately not a lucrative career at all, even if you do print journalism for example (I speak from experience!).

So if you are going into writing for the love of money, please choose another career.

There are very few J.K. Rowlings out there (though there is no reason you can't be one), I would suggest that you work at it in conjunction with a career that pays your way. Writing when your poor is not very fun and sometimes even makes you hate the thing that you once loved so passionately.

Work at it, chip at it and be determined (unlike me sometimes!) and you'll get there - you have to when you work this hard! And one day, you too can quit your day job and become a Stephen King :)

Sep 13, 3:52AM EDT0
What inspired you to take that one big step to write and the even bigger one to publish your work?
Sep 12, 3:52AM EDT0

My family, really.

My mum and in particular (dad) have always encouraged me to write.

As I mentioned earlier, I've been writing for a very long time (for as long as I can recall actually) and then gave it up as I got older and school/uni/work priorities took over.

My parents have always fuelled my passion for writing and now, as my sister got older, I have a third person driving me on. Well, pushing me really which is what I need often.

I tried the publishing book road and failed so decided that as this was not a full-time job and I didn't have the time or luxury to pitch agents and publishers every single day, I would self-publish instead of my manuscripts gathering dust on the bookshelves. This way, even if one person enjoys my fiction, that's one more person who would be exposed to my writing.

Now, I write for myself really. If someone likes my work, that's great but it keeps me sane which is a pretty good and solid initiator! 

Sep 17, 1:49AM EDT0
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Sep 12, 12:38AM EDT0

Yes.

Absolutely.

Madly & truly.

I've been writing since for as long as I can remember, my first story was penned at 6 and it included a magic carpet, Mermaids, a deep dark green and yellow ocean and a riveting adventure I can't quite recollect anymore!

Sep 14, 1:11AM EDT0
What are your thoughts on relationships and the writing career? Is it one at a time?
Sep 11, 8:13PM EDT0

I don't think so - when you find the right person.

Truthfully, I am a pretty cranky person to be around when I don't write for long periods of time so my better half (when I get one) would be out of his mind (I would think) to have me choose writing or him! :D

I know I write mini letters with my family sometimes and place it in their lunch boxes so at least my partner would be entertained during lunch time :)

I think when a habit like writing keeps you happy, your true partner would never ask you to choose so definitely - both at the same time. Like everything in life, you need to achieve a harmonious balance because unhappiness in your relationship is bound to show up in your writing, especially when writing is an extension of yourself.

Sep 13, 3:45AM EDT0
How was your first book received? Did it have any influence on your decision to continue writing the second book?
Sep 11, 7:44PM EDT0

Honestly, I wish I had had more time to analyse how my first book was received after I published it.

It had some positive reviews and one very good critique (which I did work upon) but I never really followed through with more promotion because I had just entered the family business full time and truthfully, that was (and still is) my priority. It's what brings the moolah in and I know that if I can make the family business more of a success, I will eventually have more time to spend on writing - so it's definitely my long game.

Also, my family business involves everyone I care about so it's definitely a priority at this stage.

I was always going to release the second book because it's not very fair to my readers to end on a cliffhanger! I know this from personal experience, my sister was (and still is) my first reader and I'd always get bored halfway through, she'd be so angry she could throttle me - basically, I don't want any more bad karma! :D So, I guess my first book influenced my second one insofar as writing the sequel. 

Sep 17, 10:29PM EDT0
There are people that feel like sliting their wrists sometimes without the added stress of being a writer. For such people do you recommend a life away from writing?
Sep 11, 3:55PM EDT0

Haha - only if it makes you want to slit your wrists further!

For me writing is a double-edged sword, I'm damned if I don't and damned if I do!

I have been writing since I was 6 years old but honestly not continuously (if I had, I would have probably been famous by now).

What I find, however, is that if I don't write for long periods of time, I tend to get depressed and nothing makes it better but writing again. 

So ... I start once more until I'm ripping my hair out and teetering on the edge of self-annihilation and then I quit for a while.

A journalism career helped a little because it paid the bills and I enjoyed reporting on the news which I have now transferred to freelance journalism on the wellness and organic space for my business at Nim-Veda Australia. So for me, writing is never too far away - it's like my security blanket! 

Sep 11, 11:05PM EDT0
How would you define your style of writing?
Sep 11, 12:44PM EDT0

I feel blessed to have studied journalism so I could hone my writing skills to fit any format.

As a print journalist, you have to learn how to write creative pieces, opinion pieces, review pieces, event coverage, and simple, solid, strong news articles. And you have to do this quickly - often churning out anywhere from 2 - 5 news articles per day.

So, my writing varied depending on the situation, the audience, the medium, the cultural demographics, and much more.

For my fiction, I've written a romcom, I've written fantasy and even a type of autobiography on being an immigrant of colour in a western country like Australia.

They've all be thoroughly enjoying to create but by far, my favourite genre at the moment is the romantic comedy space - [articulalry as they pertain to diversity of all sorts (sexual orientation, culture, country of origin, and anything you can think of really).

Sep 14, 1:15AM EDT0
To those who are yet to read your book, what would you say they are missing out on?
Sep 11, 5:17AM EDT0

Well, I'm biased of course! I think every writer has, to a certain degree, one massive ego. I don't necessarily think this is a bad trait because it is also most likely the prerequisite to continue to write - especially in the world of self-publishing.

It's pretty much our innate belief that people have to read this book we've written.

Having said this, I think there is a real lack of diverse stories in the fiction world actually written by diverse authors. I know in the paranormal space, it is os hard to find diverse protagonists. Sure, there are diverse characters in books (at least the ones that I've read) but they are rarely the main focal point and dare I say, tend to be add-ons to fill a diversity quota. 

Also, I think you'd be missing out on a lot of cultural nuances if you didn't read my book as seen by an immigrant - in my case an Indian brought up predominantly in the West.

It's really hard to read works of fiction that analyse immigrant issues - whether we like it or not, we are different. We feel a sense of un-belonging where we rarely fit completely in our adopted lands or those of our origin. A topic of conversation I really do believe needs to be dissected further - for the sanity of all of us! :D

Sep 11, 11:01PM EDT0
Since writers tend to write most of their life, if not all of it, is there a time you think you will slow down enough to give this soul mate business some consideration?
Sep 11, 2:52AM EDT0

Haha! Sure, why not. You're right - writing is more of a lifestyle than a life choice or hobby for those of us who are cursed blessed with the writing bug.

I think when my actual soul mate does come around, it'll just click. Isn't that what soul mates are supposed to do, anyway? 

That's what the characters in my book are like anyway :D They're perfect in tune with everything their better half is going through and wanting, even when she is a blood-sucking vampire that's your genetic, sworn enemy!

Sep 11, 10:50PM EDT0
What are some of the misconceptions people have about writing as a career?
Sep 10, 11:28PM EDT0

That it's "easy" for those of us who are "gifted writers" - it really ain't, people. Writing, like any hobby and love, needs to be worked upon and honed. There are no shortcuts, no easy ways out and no magic pill you can take to make you a better writer (if there is, please let me know. I'll buy it, devour it, overdose on it).

That it's not a real job - um, yes people, it is. Just because you love doing something doesn't, once again, make it a walk in a park. Plus, if you write long enough, you will also find that you and it are on the brink of a tumultuous divorce often. And there's no prenup either. I know, go figure!

That you'll be a famous bestselling author one day - you may be. Really, it can happen but for many of us, it doesn't. It's hard, there will be a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (more of that last one) and fewer laughs and wins. But please prove me wrong, I'll be happy. Truly. Cross my fingers and hope to continue writing (because the craft can sometimes be worse than complete annihilation). 

Sep 14, 1:22AM EDT0
What is the one thing others find totally abnormal about you that you feel defines who you are?
Sep 10, 9:58PM EDT0

Hmm, there are so many! :D

I think what is slightly more abnormal about me (than the other habits I have) is the way imagination and reality blurs but I really do believe that this is what helps me write and improve constantly with the written word. 

It also helps to keep things interesting! I find that I am often so lost in my pseudo imagination/reality surroundings, the mundaneness of life becomes slightly more bearable and in some cases completely invisible. Which is always a good thing.

Sep 10, 10:20PM EDT0
Are you managing to maintain a perfect balance or do you sometimes wish to be left on your own to write?
Sep 10, 7:14PM EDT0

Rarely!

Life tends to get in the way, unfortunately.

Especially when writing is a hobby rather than a financial incentive. When I was a full-time print journalist, I wrote for a living so it was easier.

However, as I work in my own business now, writing does rather sadly, take a back seat most of the time. I find that I am often too tired after working till 10 pm at night to write and imagination and aligning words into comprehensible sentence structures actually takes brain power - go figure! 

It would be wonderful to be able to take some time off to do nothing more than write but I find that when I do get time off, I tend to just recuperate and then it's time to go back to work again. 

However, I find writing takes discipline. There is a fine line between procrastination and writer's block. It's like exercise and endorphins!

I find that once I start, I feel better for it - like I've unblocked a blockage in my brain :)

So I shut myself in a room and write my fingers to the bone!

Sep 10, 10:28PM EDT0
What are some of the hilarious things you have heard people say about you?
Sep 10, 4:40PM EDT0

There are far too many to count!

I guess the most hilarious thing I have heard people say about me is that I'm sane :D

In all honesty, the funniest thing (for me) people have said about me is that I'm an extrovert! Anyone who really knows me knows that I am a pathological, traumatising, shameful introvert.

 Journalism taught me how to pretend to be an extrovert but this definitely does not come naturally to me.

As I started work in the journalism and writing field, I could feel myself change completely as I walked through the doors in my office from 8 am to 4 pm. I was everything I wished I was in school and it was almost like an out of body experience.

Now, as I work in my own business, my natural nature has taken over once again but it never ceases to amaze me (and humour me) when I meet people I came in contact with during my work at News Corp who state I am one of the most confident people they have ever me - if they only knew! :D

Sep 17, 1:54AM EDT0
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