About Charlotte Henley Babb:
Living in the suburbs of Upstate South Carolina, I’m a steampunk fairy godmother living in an alien land. I am working on retirement, to begin to collect some back of what I’ve paid in for the last 40 years, figuring out how to make the transition to old age. I am widowed, single now for 20 years, and taking care of myself as well as I can.
I love the writing of Terry Pratchett, Shelly Adina, Gail Carriger, Robert Aspirin, classic writers Robert Heinlein, Spider Robinson and Frank Herbert, and 19th century writers Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott and Frances Hodges Burnett. I am inspired by the art of Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo and Emily Carr. I listen to classic hard rock when I am not sitting in silence–Led Zepplin ( I went to one of their concerts in 1970, and I saw Jimi Hendrix.), Aerosmith, Cream, Vanilla Fudge and Iron Butterfly. When I am writing, I tend to listen to instrumental jazz so that I’m not singing along.
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired by both the events of my life and by fantasy and fairy tales. I’ve always thought that there should be more magic in the world, so I am writing stories where the magic works, where the people learn to be willing to believe and then to be the magic.
My life has been very mundane, not exciting at all unless you consider divorce, bankruptcy, widowhood, a master’s degree and such as being exciting. I’ve worked as a high school teacher, a washing machine gasket inspector, a waitress, a web desginer. a cloth store associate, college writing instructor on ground and online, advertising sales rep, temp office worker and a telephone psychic. Note that many of these jobs were part time, contract work. So, yes, I’m a survivor.
Tell us about your writing process.
I am in transition between outlining and pantzing. I work in Scrivener and in MS Word, sometimes on paper with a pen. To the extent that I can make a plan for the story, the writing goes better, but I am always open to a better idea, a more interesting twist, but just pantzing takes too long and requires too much revision.
Sometimes the stories come quickly, and sometimes it’s very slow, so I trust the process and pick a main work in progress and hammer on that until I get it done.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I have typed conversations with my characters, often with surprising results. Sometimes characters in books that I am not working on get restless and start clamouring for more of my headspace. The road goes on forever and the party never ends, except when it does and things get very quiet.
I have not had a character take over and just refuse to do what I wanted, so I’ve never had to just kill one off. I’m sure that will happen sometime, but not so far.
What advice would you give other writers?
1. Don’t take writing advice from people who don’t write, including English teachers. Readers know nothing about writing.
2. Write a lot. Remember that you have to write about 10k words to find your own voice. Get those out of the way as soon as possible.
3. Read a lot. Then go back and read the same book again to see how the writer put it together. If you are a Netflix binger, note the episode arcs, the season arcs, and if the show is well-designed, the show arc. How is the story built?
4. Remember that every writer questions his or her value as a writer, as a story teller, as a human being. Learn to love yourself.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was very desperate to have my first book published, so I signed a contract with an ebook company (no advance) that mostly sold romance and mystery. It was not a good fit, and I learned that not only did I have no control of pricing or any other aspect of marketing, other that driving traffic tot he website, I could not get any sense of what sales I had except for a spreadsheet at the company. The great benefit of the publishing company is that I did not have to pay for editing or for the cover design. The first editor assigned to me did not work out, but the second one was great, and the new material I wrote for the first editor worked out better than my original material.
The company was a perfectly good company, but it was not a good fit, so I waited the two years to get my rights back, and then self-published. I have good computer skills for cover design and book layout, so I can do that myself. I still need to hire an editor because nobody is that great at self-editing. Don’t fool yourself–everyone needs an editor, and that was the best thing that the ebook company provided, as well as a great cover designer.
What I like about self-publishing is that I can put up a book on the web as soon as I get it properly formatted, in only a few days, once the editing and revision is done.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I buy many more ebooks than paper books, unless the price is better on paper, as it sometimes is when a mass market paperback is cheaper than an ebook. I don’t see digital going away.
I don’t get high on the smell of paper, ink and bookbinding glue, and I have found myself trying to figure out how to search a paper book for some scene I wanted to re-read. Clicking on paper does not work. 🙂
Stories are forever, and now that it is easy to get them digitally, I think that digital is the wave of the future. That being said, libraries rock (when I remember to take the books back), and paper never needs to be recharged.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: fantasy, humorous fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, southern fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.