Thirty seconds to Marrs

George’s little intro

Today I’d like to welcome Shirley Marr to Literary Clutter. Shirley is the author of the just-released YA novel Fury. It’s her first novel, and she has kindly stopped by to tell us a little about her journey to publication.

Thirty Seconds to Marrs (well perhaps a few minutes. OR YEARS.)
By Shirley Marr

What do leopard print, William Faulkner, a Guy Sebastian ticket, a Harry Potter owl and porcelain Royal Albert pig have in common? Absolutely nothing except they all happen to collide at my desk. Welcome to my writer’s space. My name is Shirley Marr and I am pro-clutter. After witnessing the photo of George’s desk though, I think mine is not all that bad, what do you think? I am challenging all future guest bloggers to take the Literary Clutter challenge and send in their photos.

I’m here today to share the experiences of getting published for the first time and maybe offer some advice that you might find useful.

So what do you think you need to become a published author? A literary background? Be an industry insider? Special connections? Special skills?

The simple truth is that you just need to love writing. You don’t have to be the best writer in the world, you just need to practice and eventually you’ll become pretty sufficient at stringing a bunch of words together. What is important is that you’re the only person out there with a story that can be told in your voice, through your eyes and experiences. Remember that.

My debut book Fury is out this May. Against all odds, I mailed a three-chapter sample to an indie publishing company called Black Dog Books and was pretty much signed on the spot. How does that happen? In my words “I’m just a girl”. I don’t have an English degree. I’ve never been to a single writing workshop, class or group. I work full time in a job that is nowhere near the literary world. The closest I’ve ever been to getting advice on how to write is buying a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel.

The secret is that I’ve been writing seriously for ten years. Ten years ago I said to myself “I want to be an author” and I started writing. I am no overnight success story. I’ve been through multiple crappy manuscripts and reached my lowest points where I chucked tantrums and threatened to quit because I believed I could never succeed. And it was an incredibly lonely ten years. It was ten years before I produced something that I thought was even fit to be seen by someone else. That something was Fury. And boy did my Draft Zero suck.

Here’s a tip. Find someone who can give you honest advice. It makes your journey less lonely. My peep is BetaGirl. She does as her name suggests. She completely betas the living daylights out of everything I write until it’s a virtual pile of scraps. I then cry, put the scraps back together and what I have is something better and more wonderful than I had before. So by the time I submitted to Black Dog Books, it was as best as I could get it. It was luck they wanted me, but it was also a lot of hard work.

The actual writing process took me three months, but it doesn’t end there. The editing process with Melissa Keil took around a year. If you can’t put everything that ever meant anything into it, then seriously, don’t do it! But if you really, really want (zig-a-zag-ahhhh) it — don’t be a diva, don’t get upset when someone says something sucks and just prepare to bust your ass! I wish you the best. It’ll be the best and worst time of your life.

For me now, it’s almost time to be a debutante. Being a new girl I expected this leg to be the hardest. I expected to be ignored, snubbed and maybe have my hair pulled. In fact, to be honest, I expected to be hazed… but all the other authors I have met have been super nice. George came up to me in the proverbial play yard and wanted to be friends and share his bloggy sandwich with me. I am glad to have made it here. And I am nothing special. In fact you are probably a better writer than me, so if I can do it… Believe that you can too.

George’s little bit at the end

Positive reviews of Fury are already hitting the net — like this one and this one.

Also, here’s a vid of Shirley talking about Fury:

Now, as for Shirley’s desk — it doesn’t look cluttered to me! In fact, it looks positively neat, although it does have some interesting paraphernalia. But what about you, dear reader? Tell us a few of the weird and wonderful things that adorn your workspace. Go on… embarrass yourselves!

Tune in next time to find out what my family and I have been reading.

Catch ya later, George