Valuable Advice from Celebrated Author Cathy Cassidy

Today I’m celebrating my 100th post and, doing things in style, I’m extremely pleased to welcome Cathy Cassidy to the blog. Author of the Chocolate Box Girls series and three times winner of the Queen of Teen award, Cathy has kindly offered some valuable advice on how to keep your writing fresh when creating multiple-character books.

Saying Goodbye to the Chocolate Box Girls…

Cathy cassidy book cover

When I started writing the Chocolate Box Girls series a few years ago, I had no clue just how attached to those characters I would become. The bohemian blended family who were a kind of ideal ‘dream family’ for me became so real that I just didn’t want to let them go, but Fortune Cookie, book six, out June 3rd, will be the series finale… all good things come to an end, and it was time for me to step back, move on.

The Chocolate Box Girls series feels very personal to me; each of the sisters has a particular character trait of my own at the heart of their personalities. Cherry is the outsider, the story-maker who carries a lot of sadness from her past; Skye is a dreamer who loves vintage and history; Summer is a perfectionist who pushes herself hard – too hard, sometimes; Coco is eccentric, animal mad and wants to change the world; and Honey is a drama queen who feels things too strongly and often messes up.

I can see myself in each of those characters and I deliberately planned the series to give each girl a chance to tell her own story… that kept the whole thing fresh for me, as one of the things I love most about writing is being able to step into the shoes of a new character, a new narrator. I love that you can find a whole lot more about what makes each character tick by reading their book!

Of course, although the Tanberry-Costello girls may appear to be the perfect family, they’re a very long way from that. Each girl has her own worries, problems and challenges to face, and that makes their stories very real. Trying to find a satisfying ending to the series meant    leaving each sister perhaps not with a happy ending as such, but certainly the possibility of one… and finding a way to pull them together at last into the unshakeable family unit they have worked so hard to be.

Right from the outset, I had planned the series and made a story arc to take the overall story forward; I had never written a big series before, and although I don’t normally plan too much on paper, I didn’t want to mess up or get things wrong. I had notebooks stuffed with sketches, character notes, background details; I had a moodboard crammed with pictures, postcards, clippings. I knew what was going to happen. And then, out of nowhere, in the middle of writing book five, something unexpected happened. The book that should have been the last in the series, Sweet Honey, turned out to be the penultimate one, because Honey unearths a huge family secret that has the power to change everything.

It wasn’t in my notebooks, it wasn’t on my moodboard… it wasn’t in any synopsis or plan, but once the idea surfaced I knew it was absolutely the only way to go, and the perfect way to end to the series. Fortune Cookie is told by a brand new character, a half-brother called Jake Cooke, and because he is part of the family and yet not part of it at all, he was the perfect character to tell the very last installment.

Cathy Cassidy Chocolate Box SecretsAlong the way, I fell in love with the Tanberry-Costello family. I wrote a World Book Day short, Bittersweet, from the viewpoint of one of the boy characters, and then four e-book shorts also narrated by minor characters. I even put together a craft/style/recipe book called Chocolate Box Secrets, also out June 3rd,a non-fiction book to help arty, creative readers to grab themselves some Tanglewood cool… because I wanted to hang on a little longer to that magical fantasy world. But in the end, you have to let go, and when Fortune Cookie was finished I felt exhausted, sad, lost… but satisfied, too.

It was a little like seeing six of your children leave home to seek their fortunes, all on the same day. I will miss the Chocolate Box Girls, but I’m very glad to have known them.

About the Author

Cathy Cassidy

Cathy Cassidy is a British author of young adult fiction. She was born in Coventry, but now lives in London. She has written 23 books and been the agony aunt for Shout, a teen girl magazine. She has also written the Daisy Star series of books for younger readers.

http://www.cathycassidy.com

Advertisements

Blog Awards

Blog awards aren’t something I have participated in thus far in my blogging career. I was grateful to receive a nomination last year for the Blog of the Year 2012 from Mridubala, but didn’t feel I could participate, as my blog was still so new you could smell fresh paint.

However, like buses, blog award nominations seem to be coming in threes (or even fours). I’ve had a few this past week, so I thought I’d amalgamate them and thank those who have been kind enough to nominate me.

I’m very grateful to Bette Stevens over at 4 Writers and Readers for supporting my efforts in the early days and giving me encouragement. Bette has kindly nominated me for two awards. The Word Press Family Award

and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award 2

I’m also grateful to both Gedwardsmith, over at A New Writer’s Life and Times, and E W Brown from the Blissful Blog for their kind nominations of my blog for The Sunshine Award.

As the Very Inspiring Blogger Award requires me to state 7 things about myself, and the Sunshine Award provides a list of 10 things to tell, hopefully answering the listed questions will fulfil the requirements of both.

Favourite colour: Orange. The brighter the better.

Favourite animal: My cat

Favourite number: 2

Favourite non-alcoholic drink: Starbucks Hot Chocolate

Favourite alcoholic drink: Gin

Facebook or Twitter: Neither if I can help it. What’s wrong with talking?

My passions: My faith, my family, my home, my writing.

Giving or receiving gifts: Receiving. To receive is to bless the giver.

Favourite city: Manchester, England.

Favourite TV shows: Big Bang Theory, Once Upon A Time.

And now to the best bit, a list of blogs I follow, all of whom can consider themselves nominated for one or all of the above:

Here’s some blogs which look at writing craft

On Becoming A Wordsmith

One Step At A Time

Courage 2 Create

Change It Up Editing

Creative or Crazy

Everest by Fog

Creative Writing With The Crimson League

The Struggle To Be A Writer That Writes

Organization and Inspiration for Fellow Writers

Cindy D

Writing Distorted Realities

These are more a Journal style of blog

Back to Basics

A Writer’s Fountain

Imagineer-ing

My Little Library of Things That Mean Something To Me

Writing Distorted Realities

Kimberly Mellor

S J O’Hart

Beccaaudra

Michelle Zeigler

Sufey

Ceondash

And these are nothing to do with writing, but a I like them anyway

Hovercraft Doggy

Secret Gardener

Midnight Run 193

What’s It All About?

Sometimes writing can feel like you’re chasing the white rabbit and have fallen down a hole like Alice did.  It’s dark and scary and you’re very much on your own.  You may even wonder why you want to get hold of that rabbit anyway if it’s this much trouble.  Let someone else find it.  But catch it you must, because you’re a writer, and writers write – it’s what we do.

“But Alice wasn’t alone,” you say. “She met friends along the way who helped her.”  And you’d be right.  We can learn a lot from Alice about how to find the rabbit.

My name is Lorrie Porter and I write fiction for teenagers. My first novel, Fury, has wolves, bandits and other miscreants among its pages. While my second novel, Cradlesnatch, is about a monster who steals children.

It took me 8 months to write Fury in first draft and three years to edit. With Cradlesnatch it’s a different story.  I’ve been working on the first draft since 2008, and it still isn’t finished.  I have a deadline for having a polished manuscript ready for my agent and the clock’s ticking.

I thought it would be interesting to share my journey from first draft to publishable manuscript, because in this internet age writing doesn’t have to be the lonely pusuit it once was.  I hope you’ll share the adventure with me.

My writing is supported by the Arts Council of England through their Grants for the Arts programme.

You can link to my website here: http://www.lorrieporter.co.uk/