There are a few questions that most writers will be asked at some point, so I have brought them together here for you.
WHAT AM I WORKING ON AT PRESENT?
I am one of those people (gluttons for punishment we're called) who like to have a few projects on the go at any one time. That is the best way I have found for avoiding the dreaded, so-called, 'writers block'. Personally, if I do find I am up against a bit of an obstacle with one project, I switch projects and gears, and work on something completely different for a while. This gives my subconscious the chance to work out the problem from the other project. Okay, it sounds complicated, and I know it wouldn't work for everyone, but it does work well for me.
My third Western for Black Horse, with Robert Hale here in UK came out in August 2015 it's called 'The Secret of the Silver Star.' Robert Hale also published my first two traditional Westerns, 'The Ghosts of Poynter' and 'Crazy Man Cade' (all three are now out in World-wide large print versions as well.) I write for Hale under the Author name of Amos Carr, and have two more planned for them up to now.
An American publisher, Prairie Rose Publications, published 'Saint or Sinner' in both print and e-book in March 2014, 'Hearts and Red Ribbons' both as a single e-book and as part of an Valentine's anthology entitled 'Cowboy Kisses.' 'Eyes Like the Sea' came out in 2015 and in 2016 they took a true story about one of my dogs for the anthology 'Pawprints on my Heart,' and my supernatural novella, 'The Guardian' which came out just in time for Halloween!
I had to change my author name for them, as PRP only publish works by women, so for them I am Gil McDonald. A name which could be either male or female, and which is an old family name. Under the same name I am half way through another Romantic Western for them now, with a lot more Romance than the Hale books!
In 2016 I sent another manuscript to PRP, which wasn't quite right for them, it was 'too English.' They sent it off to another publisher and in January 2017, it was accepted by Rebecca J Vickery Publishing. So I now have two American publishers! That book, 'The Gypsy's Kiss,' is a contemporary, slightly supernatural romance and will be out in the Summer of 2017. I changed my author name slightly as it s a new publisher, and for them, I am now simply Jill McDonald.
Also on the go is a trilogy which I have been working on for around eight/ten years, on and off. It is a teen fantasy trilogy with lots of adventures, wonderful discoveries, fights with really nasty bad guys, a gorgeous, enigmatic man of the woods, and a smattering of First Luurrve!! Book one is finished, Book two is around half way, and Book three is just a whole pile of information and research with lots of pages of total nonsense right now!! But I do know what is going to happen; I just have to make order out of the chaos.
I have two more Contemporary Romances, a 1920's and a Medieval Romance sizzling away on the back burner, and a selection of short stories which I will be sending to various magazines or competitions this year. I am also quite a way into working up an idea for a sort of Fantasy journal, written from the point of view of a male magician. Oh, and there's a collection of poetry too. Phew!
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN THE GENRE?
As far as the books for Robert Hale are concerned, I am guilty of adding a little too much Romance! That's the main difference. They prefer 'straight' Westerns, all shoot-em-up, kill-em-dead and don't say a word whilst you do it! Which I do try to give them, but with a little smattering of Romance thrown in for good measure. I hadn't really thought about this before working with Hale, but I now believe that at heart I am really a Romance writer, as everything I write has to have some True Love in it somewhere. My book 'Saint or Sinner' was originally turned down by Hale. I think it was because there was a Romance between the hero and another man's wife! PRP accepted it almost at once, with an extra serving of Romance to be added!
I do think that the old style Westerns are mostly written by men, (actually, I am one of only four or five women in UK who write traditional Westerns). I believe that when women write a Western, on the whole, they write in a somewhat 'softer' way. Other than that, we can be just as bloodthirsty as the men!
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
Well, shall I say - It came to me in a dream! Or would it be better to say - a ghost made me do it? Both of those are true actually. No really, bear with me! I had been writing in a variety of genres for a long time, probably about 40 years or so, without much success. One or two poems and articles appeared in magazines over the years, and there were a couple of competition successes with nice silver cups, but never 'the big break', despite sending work out to agents and publishers for many years.
One morning, I woke from a vivid dream, which left me with the title and almost the whole book laid out before me like a film. I sat down and started to write it. Around eight or nine months later, I sent the resulting manuscript to the only publishers of Westerns I had heard of in UK, Robert Hale. After a short time, they accepted it! With a very few alterations, 'The Ghosts Of Poynter' by Amos Carr, was published in June 2012.
When I told my Mother I was to have a book published at last and it was a Western, she went pale. It turned out that her father had only ever read Westerns, there had been no other books in the house! I like to think it really was Grandad Harold who put the idea for that story in my head! He also gave me the 'film' for my second book for Hale, 'Crazy Man Cade' (which came out in October 2012) I am certain of it, so that makes me a real 'Ghost writer' doesn't it? Tee-hee! Perhaps he also helped with the idea for my third one, 'The Secret of the Siver Star'?
If it wasn't Grandad Harold, what else could have put a whole book so clearly into my head that first night? Then another? And the detailed outlines for the next three for Hale? Grandad had no part in writing the Western Romance or other stories for the American publishers though, that was all me! But he did give me a very good start, and I don't want to upset him, do I? So I will carry on with my Westerns for the foreseeable future.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS GO?
I don't really think I have an actual 'process' as such. As I said earlier, I always have a few projects on the go, so I can swap and change when the going gets tough. As for the technical aspects of the work, I used to write everything in longhand, fine black pen, on A4 narrow lined paper. Later, as I transferred the work in to the computer, I made the first lot of edits and changes. I worked that way for many years. Then when Grandad Harold gave me 'Poynter,' I simply sat and wrote it straight into the computer. I had never worked that way before! And the odd thing was, it came out almost word perfect. I had to make very few changes before sending it off, and Hale only made a couple of minor changes. The same thing happened with 'Cade,' so now, I pretty much write everything straight onto the computer. Although after a couple of traumatic incidents, I am beginning to think maybe writing it all by hand first, might be the best way, at least you can't have a pen and paper crash like you can a computer crash eh?
I write whenever the mood takes me, and wherever I happen to be at the time. I do keep a small tape machine beside the bed in case I wake up with an idea, and don't want to get the laptop out, that way I can just talk into it without even turning on the light and get back to sleep straight away. I do still keep my pens and paper all over the house, because, well, sometimes the only way the writing will work is if it is done by hand. That is something I can't explain, but there are just times when handwriting seems to be the 'right' way to do it.
I try to remember to save all my work onto a 'stick' However, it doesn't always work and I have lost documents in the past. I now save to computer, then to the 'stick' and also on to an external hard drive! Is that called belt and braces? Although, even that is not infallible! Recently I had reached over 70,000 words in my latest novel. The stick I was using was acting up, so I saved what I thought was the latest version of my work on to a new stick, only to find when I opened it again a few days later, I had actually saved an older version and what was on the new stick was 20,000 words short!! AARRGH!! Now I have to try and remember those 20,000 words and re-write it! The dodgy stick was thrown away when I had downloaded everything I thought was right, so I can't even go back to that! Ho Hum! Maybe if I'd had a handwritten copy, I could have rescued some of it?
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A list of my books to date.
'The Ghosts of Poynter' by Amos Carr. Pub. Robert Hale, London, June 2012. Ulverscroft large print world-wide edition pub. Jan 2014
'Crazy Man Cade' by Amos Carr. Pub. Robert Hale, London, October 2012. Ulverscroft large print world-wide edition pub. July 2014.
'The Secret of the Silver Star' by Amos Carr. Pub - Robert Hale, London. August 2015. Ulverscroft large print world-wide edition pub. 2016
'Saint or Sinner?' by Gil McDonald. Pub. Prairie Rose Publications USA. 2014.
'Hearts and Red Ribbons' (in anthology 'Cowboy Kisses' and as a single sell e-book) by Gil McDonald. Pub - Prairie Rose Publications USA 2015.
'Eyes Like the Sea' by Gil McDonald. Pub Prairie Rose Publications USA. 2015
'Kat's Story,' in Anthology - 'Pawprints on my Heart,' (various authors) Pub Prairie Rose Publications, USA. 2016
'The Guardian,' by Gil McDonald. Pub. Prairie Rose Publications USA. 2016
'The Gypsy's Kiss,' by Jill McDonald. Pub RJ Vickery Publishing. USA. Feb. 2017.
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That's quite an unusual name for a female writer don't you think? In fact, I am one of only about three or four female Western writers living in the UK who write Westerns for Robert Hale and we all write under male names.
Elsewhere in my site, I have explained more about me, and how I began writing Westerns, but I haven't said how I came by my pseudonym (pen name) of AMOS CARR.
I felt I needed to have a male name, in order to be taken seriously within the world of Western literature. I also thought that it needed to be a short, easy to remember, 'shoot from the hip' sort of name. It also had to be one which came close to the beginning of the alphabet, so that those folk looking for Westerns in the Library wouldn't get too fed up of looking before they reached my name!
After researching my Family Tree for some years, I found that the name Amos was common among my Scottish ancestors and it had that certain 'ring' which made it sound almost Western! My husband Chris's grandparent's family were called Carr. So there we have it. I put them together and Amos Carr was born! Bizzarely, I recently got an email from a gent in America who said his name was Amos Carr! He'd never seen anyone else with the same name and was intrigued when he heard about me and wanted to know more. How strange!
Another strange thing is, when I am writing my Westerns, my mind seems to take on another persona and my language changes to that of the Old West! (or maybe it is more what our British minds believe to be the language of the Old West? Either way, it works for me).
Thanks for reading! Come back soon!