Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Guest Blogger - Carla Cassidy

The Playfriends first met today's guest blogger while waiting in one of the long lines at the RWA Conference in Dallas last summer. We were staggered to find she has a backlist of over a hundred books. Yeah, I said, HUNDRED, people. We knew then that we had to invite Carla to the Playground to talk about how in the heck she manages to be so prolific. Please give a warm Playground welcome to Carla Cassidy!

Being Prolific and The Creative Process

I have a confession to make. This is my first time guest blogging and I’m terrified. I feel this compulsion to make myself sound super intelligent and professional, but to tell the truth that just takes too much work!

So, I’ve decided to just talk to you about working and the muse and being prolific. I sold my first book in 1988 and since that time have written and sold over a hundred books.

One of the first things I learned when I got into the business of writing was that if I waited for my muse to come and sit on my shoulder and whisper plots and conflicts into my ear, I’d be sitting there a very long time with nothing on my computer screen.

Most of the time my muse is on vacation and it’s just the computer and me together to create. I’ve always believed that the imagination is like a muscle and the more you use it the stronger it gets.

As I was thinking about writing this blog, I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I ate a meal at our table. I always eat while I work at my computer unless hubby is taking me out. I also don’t remember the last time I sat in my living room to watch television. I always watch television while I’m sitting at my computer and working.

Early on when I first started getting contracts I told my husband he had a choice – he could have a nice hot meal every night or he could have sex, but I didn’t have time for both. Needless to say I haven’t cooked much over the years.

The key to being prolific is what writers hear all the time – butt in chair. There’s another component to that as well, and that is sacrifice. I don’t go to movies, I don’t do lunch with friends. I write. I don’t take naps, I don’t spend hours at the mall. I write. Boring? Yes, that’s my life, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

If I had to come up with one tip for increasing productivity it would be to identify the time when you are most creative. For me it’s before noon and after seven at night, so I try to plan the ‘have to’ stuff between those times of the day.

Notice how I haven’t mentioned much about the creative process. I’m not sure how it works for others and to tell the truth I’m not exactly sure how it works for me. I just have stories I want to tell, stories that I hope others will like to read. Let me hear about your writing process and maybe you can some of the secrets you’ve found to being more prolific!

And now, I would be a fool not to mention that my latest Signet Eclipse romantic suspense, Every Move You Make, hits the bookshelves today.

Hopefully my first guest blog wasn’t as painful to you as it has been for me!


Be sure to check out Carla's newest release, Every Move You Make, which comes out today. One lucky reader will win an autographed copy by commenting on the blog today. You can also visit Carla's website at http://www.carlacassidybooks.com/.


CherylStJohn said...

That Frank is a smart man, I tell ya.

Your writing energy has always amazed me. If I was a fangirl I'd ask where you get so many ideas. LOL

I'm wondering when and if you take time in between projects to think up new ones. Do you plot and brainstorm at your desk? Do you have brainstorming friends? I need other brains to help me pull ideas together and to bounce things off.

When I grow up I want to be just like you. Oh wait, you're not grown up....

Love ya!

Wendy said...

Hi Carla!

Great first guest blog. :) I look forward to reading your new book, Every Move You Make, I'm a big fan of romantic suspense. :)

Problem Child said...

Hi Carla! Thanks for being here!

I think I'll give my hubby that choice--I hate to cook.

I'm a piddler, so if I have a lot of time on my hands, I'll piddle it away on little things. I've found I work better when I have a deadline *and* other stuff going on. I makes me focus myself and not waste time.

To that end, I've picked up some substitute teaching. Maybe I'll get those revisions done quickly! :-)

Smarty Pants said...

Hot dinner or sex...that's a great idea. DB may not be so pleased, but he's only home half the time anyway.

I need to work on writing even when I don't want to. At this point, I have no real deadlines, but I need to write anyway. No muse, no problem - write anyway. I need a sign that says that...

Carla Cassidy said...

Lately it doesn't seem like I have much time between projects. Usually what I do is take one day after finishing one and starting another to clean house. Yes, you heard me! I'll either clean or re-organize something. That somehow cleanses my mind from the book I just finished and gets me in the right state of mind to move on.

I don't have brainstorming friends on a regular basis, although I can always put out a call to my local RWA chapter members (the MARA group) and they'll help.

Mostly I do a lot of head writing before I actually sit down at the computer. I stew scenes and ideas almost all the time so that when I do sit down at the computer, everything is kind of in place in my head.

And Cheryl, I'm looking forward to your blog because you're one of the smartest writers I know!
And this is as growed as I'm probably going to get!

Love ya back!

Carla Cassidy said...

Hope you enjoy Every Move You Make! So far, it's one of my personal favorites.

Problem Child - I always told my hubby that if we got insanely wealthy, I didn't care about a maid or a big house or travel, just hire me a chef! I like to cook about twice a year.

I did some substitute teaching, too. It was the perfect job to help earn some money and yet have time for the writing because I could pretty much pick when I wanted or needed to work.

It's my nature to be a piddler, too. I constantly have to work to stop the piddle and get busy!

Carla Cassidy said...

Smarty Pants.
Even if I don't have official deadlines, I create my own and put as much pressure on myself for one of the self-imposed ones as the real deadlines.

And yes, one of the keys of success, as far as I'm concerned is to write even when you don't feel like it. Sometimes those days become my best, my most productive!

Playground Monitor said...

I'm in awe. I can't write one book and you've written a hundred. But I don't remember meeting you. Maybe I was in another line. Or in the bathroom. We'll meet in San Francisco, okay?

I'm easily distracted and can find excuses not to write. For example, #2 son is home this week for spring break. I see him so rarely that I hate to spend his visit with my butt glued to my office chair. And sometimes the laundry just calls to me.

I like your statement about imagination being like a muscle and improving with use. I'm finding that to be true in my case.

Thanks so much for blogging with us. I'd never have been able to tell you were a blog virgin if you hadn't told us. ;-)


Lynn Raye Harris said...

Carlala!!! So great to see you here!!! Y'all, I've known Carla for a loooong time, and she gave me some of the best advice I ever got: don't give up because this journey may take a while. :)

I didn't listen to her like I should have at the time, but she was RIGHT. You have to hang in there.

Carla, I have always, always been amazed at how productive you are. You've been like this since I first met you -- and now I know the secret! Sex OR dinner. Why didn't I think of that? :)

Looking forward to the new book! And your first guest blog was awesome. :)

My writing process has changed somewhat since the first novel. Back then, I was working, so I wrote at night -- all night. Now, I get up early, goof off far too much on the Internet, then hit my stride in the afternoon typically. I love your advice for identifying those periods when you are most creative. Hmm.

I also give myself permission to write a crappy draft. I used to be worried about perfection, which is laughable in the early stages. No wonder it took me so long to write a book. :)

Lynn Raye Harris said...

PM, I think it was me, SP, and Kira maybe. I'd known Carla for years, but it was the first time I'd met her in person. I saw her name on her badge, which was not her pen name, and showed her my badge, and we had an "oh my God" moment. It was fun. :)

Instigator said...

Welcome to the Playground, Carla! We're really glad to have you in on the swingset today.

My problem is always being tired. But I find if I force myself to go through my writing routine that even if I'm exhausted the words come. They may trickle instead of flow but they're still there.

And you're first guest blog was fantastic!


anne said...

Welcome Carla,
I enjoy romantic suspense greatly and it is a favorite of mine. I have read your books and love the plots, characters and thrills. Great to have your here.

Kathy said...

Welcome, Carla! The playground is the place to be!!

Great first guest blog!! I'm amazed and inspired by your writing stamina. :-)

Sadly, I think I waste my best writing hours piddling on this and that. I need to pay more attention to my inner voice.

How long have you been writing?

What inspires you?

What genres do you like to write best?


ruth said...

Hi Carla,
Your books are riveting reading and I look forward to your newest release. Congrats and much success.

pearl said...

Congratulations on this great book. Love to read the newest and all of your novels are appealing and special.

*lizzie starr said...

I am in awe, but know that if I could keep my butt in chair--and my eyes off the internet--LOL--I'd have a lot more books done. Oh, they're in my head just awaitin'.

It's nice to hear of someone else who writes in front of the TV...

Wish I had the option of not cooking--but since that's my day job it's also pretty much expected at home. But, I do enjoy cooking and use the time to mull over scenes and characters.

Thank goodness we'll never grow up!

diane said...

Wonderful blog and I enjoy romantic suspense. Every Move you Make looks wonderful. Congrats on this release. It looks like a winner.

LauraP said...

Hi Carla! - great guest blog.

I've always admired your self-discipline, especially the ability to stick to those internal deadlines. That's a key factor in your success. Plus, you're brilliant.

Carla Cassidy said...

Lynn Raye,
It's was so wonderful to meet you in person after all these years. That's the terrific thing about the national conference, getting to finally put faces with names! You're such a sweetheart!

Trust me, I get the being tired part! There are days I just want to stay in bed until noon, then stumble to the sofa and do nothing. It's funny, but I have no kids at home, no reason to get up or keep a schedule. But, I do. I feel guilty if I sleep past seven-thirty because of all the time I've wasted.

Usually, no matter how tired I am once I immerse myself in the writing, in the story and characters, I forget about being tired and instead get energized. I just love what I do!

Carla Cassidy said...

Playground monitor,
I'm not going to SF this year. I'm going to stay home and work. Thankfully you guys made losing my guest blogging virginity as painless as possible. Thanks for being gentle!
Anne, Ruth and Pearl,
Thanks so much for your nice words about my books. I really appreciate it! And thanks for your support!

Carla Cassidy said...

What inspires me? My credit card debt!
Seriously, what inspires me most is people. I'm fascinated by life and the choices people make, and where love comes and where danger might lurk.

As far as what I like writing best? I love romantic suspense, but I've also got paranormal ideas working in the back of my head, some womens fiction ideas, some straight contemporary romances, the list could go on and on!

I started out writing young adult and have ideas for some of those books as well.

I just love the process of creating a character and then getting to know them.

I've written Silhouette Romances, Desires, Shadows, Intimate Moments, Yours Truly, and Bombshells. Genre doesn't seem to matter to me, although I tried a historical once and when I realized how much research it took, I decided that definitely wasn't for me!
I'm loving writing the romantic suspenses for Signet Elipse.

Minna said...

Congrats on the book! One more I need to add to my TBB list.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Carla, I think I remember that historical! It was a Western -- either that or I'm mixing you up with Avis. :)

Sorry to hear you aren't going to SF. I'd have loved to get together again. :)

Okay, I am DEFINITELY working on my book now. ;)

Anonymous said...

Your blog was not painful but very interesting to read. And I love the part about sex or food. No brainer, huh. LOL. I especially loved Promise Him Anything and The Perfect Family.

Pat L.

rebekah said...

Great blog, loved the part about sex or food. I know what my husband would pick, but I think most of them would. Book looks really good.

Anonymous said...

I love suspense and thrillers.

Not a surprising choice by your husband. Am sure all men would make the same choice.

Who is your favorite author?

Karen T.

tetewa said...

I think you did a great job here today for it being your first time. Congrats on your newest release and I can't believe you have out over a 100 books. ROCK ON!

Cherie J said...

Thanks for blogging with us Carla. Congrats on the new release!

catslady said...

I wish I had thought about telling my husband that lol. There's a lot of time wasters out there and it sounds like you enjoy what you're doing so much you don't get hooked on them. Now I have to admit I've never read any of your books (how did that happen?) but I'm looking forward to reading one now!

Anonymous said...

Howdy Carla

I would like to take a minute to thank you and others like you for being a continuing inspiration and guide to all of the authors who enjoy this sight to work and play.

My wife (and one of the lovely co-founders of this sight) speaks of the accomplished individuals (like yourself) constantly. She truly draws encouragement and support from both her close friends and her mentors.

Please do not let me take to much of your time. Thank you again.


Angel said...

Hey, Carla! Chiming in late today. Welcome to the Playground.

How truly inspirational! Like others, I tend to let little things eat up my time. Or I spend too much time on the blog and email. If I don't, then I feel guilty when I finally make an appearance and everyone has been there but me. (like today)

But I'm learning to prioritize. Finding ways to cut those time wasters. I'm also reminding myself that I have young children, which means I won't have as much time as others may have. But they won't be young forever. :)


Kathy said...

Thanks for answering my questions, Carla. Wow! I'm super impressed!!

With all the ideas going through your mind, how do you decide what to write on first? And are you tempted to write two books at once?

You've been such fun!

Maureen said...

Congratulations on over one hundred books. That is amazing. I can't believe I've not read one of your books but I will have to check them out.

jenna said...

Impressive blog which goes with all of those wonderful books. I have read your great suspense novels which enthrall. Congrats. on your new release and I will be looking out for it.

Carla Cassidy said...

lizzie Star,
I can't write without the television on. My best writing days occur when there are great movies to watch while I write! I'm also hooked on every trashy reality show that's on right now!

Lynn Raye,
It was a western and I adored it, but I think it was flawed in every area.

You humble me with your nice words. I can tell you one thing. I love to encourage new writers. I love to nuture this dream. I write for ten years before getting published and that's why I always preach for writers not to give up. There are so many more talented writers than I am who never got published because they quit, they gave up and I refused to do that.

I had a friend once who'd been writing for about fifteen years and getting nothing but rejections. She asked me when it was time to quit and put the dream behind her. My advice to her was that when writing becomes more pain than pleasure, then perhaps it is time to move on. I guess I like pain!

Carla Cassidy said...

I think most of my friends have learned that I don't always get email answered when I should and that I don't do my personal blog on a daily basis. I just don't have the time. I spent about fifteen minutes in the morning, fifteen in the afternoon and the same amount of time in the evenings surfing the web and answering email.
Oh, I also think I'm the last person left on the planet that doesn't have a cell phone. There are times I don't want to be reached!
I try to guard my writing time, but I don't always suceed. For instance since I posted earlier today my 30 year old daughter had a doctor's appointment and I had to drive her there. We got inside and she proceeded to have six seizures, one right afte the other (which is why she doesn't drive) So, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance, I followed in the car and six hours later I'm home and so is she, pumped full of anti-seizure medication.
Life does intrude, but I try to let that happen as little as possible. Ah, if only I had the control I truly wanted!

Carla Cassidy said...

I don't actually write two books at a time, but when I'm writing one I'm always thinking about the next one. Before I go to sleep at night my brain whizzes through story ideas and scenes. I finally had to go to my doctor and get a sleeping aid to quiet the voices in my head! I love my sleeping pill almost as much as I love my writing.

Ha, I was worried about sounding intelligent and now I sound like a drug addict!

Kathy said...

I hope your daughter is all right, Carla! What a scare!! I've got 2 sick teenagers at home today and my heart goes out to you. :-)

Thanks again for taking time to answer our responses to your wonderful first guest blog!

Stacy S said...

Great blog! I'm looking forward to your new book. It has a great cover.

Carla Cassidy said...

The cover gods have blessed me with all my romantic suspense novels for Signet. Each one has been terrific!

I want to thank everyone for stopping by. I really appreciate the support! Also, thanks for having me here!