Author Beeginnings: Amanda Egan

We are happy to have independent British author Amanda Egan joining us today. Her debut novel Diary of a Mummy Misfit is available now.

Here's our interview with Amanda about how she started her writing career. Enjoy! And be sure to leave a comment to let us know what you think. Thanks!

What was your favorite book(s) when you were a child?

I was the youngest of three daughters, following over a decade behind, so in some ways I felt like an only child.  They were off doing teenage things and I was left to my own devices.  So reading became a huge part of my life, a place to escape.  I was brought up in a family of massive readers, so it felt the natural thing to do.  My earliest recollection of reading by myself was “The Wishing Chair” by Enid Blyton.  It’s filled with pixies, gnomes and giants and I believed every word.  This was the first time I realised that a writer could make moving pictures in my head with their words - it was like watching a film. Being a Blyton fan led me to ‘The Naughtiest Girl’ series.  Looking back, I can see this as the start of my love for chick-lit.  What could be more girlie than ‘bad girl sent off to boarding school, meets best friend and eventually becomes a good girl’? Then of course there was the ‘Malory Towers’ series - boarding school again, but for older girls, so along with it came the bitching and trials and tribulations of being a growing young woman. I wonder if Enid Blyton ever realised she was churning out chick-lit for young ‘gels’? Noel Streatfeild’s books followed - ‘Ballet Shoes,’ ‘Curtain Up,’ and ‘Party Frock.’  This was when I began to realise that I was a bit of a luvvie and the stage was definitely calling me.  I got to read about rehearsals, back stage rivalry and dressing up.

When did you start writing?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember.  When I first realised that all I needed was a pencil, a piece of paper and my thoughts, I was away. At school, it was called ‘Composition.’  Nothing would fill me with more joy than having a ‘Comp’ for homework.  I remember the pride at receiving 5 stars for my story on ‘Bonfire Night’ - I wrote it from the angle of the fireworks in the box and, believe me, I was those fireworks! Not only did I receive the acclaimed stars in my exercise book, I also had to go to the headmaster to get an ‘ink star’ put on my forehead.  Guess that was my first good review, but I don’t think you’d get away with it in schools now.

What kind of writing did you start with?

Once I started to write as an adult, I took the short story route.  I never managed to get anything published in magazines and I became disheartened.  Then I realised I had too much to say for short stories - I wanted my characters to develop by themselves and the plot to unfurl. Two very dodgy and half finished novels now reside in my desk drawer.  They seemed fine at the time, and may one day be rehashed, but they just didn’t grow wings.  Writing should be a joy and they felt like I was plodding through treacle.  I now know you have to follow your instincts and you’ll know when you’ve got it right. I’ve even attempted to write a Mills & Boon.  I’d never been interested in the genre but hubbie and I decided if we devoured enough of them we’d crack the formula and churn out a beauty.  I soon gave up when I realised I found them too constricting - there’s little room for humour and I got a bit sick of all the ‘heaving bosoms’ and ‘flushed cheeks.’

When did you decide to become an author and how did you know it was the right career for you?

I’d always dabbled, but it wasn’t until my son moved on to secondary school, aged 11, and developed school phobia that there was a turn in events.  His anxiety meant that he was initially unable to enter a class room and, after consulting with a child psychologist and the school counsellor, we were told that his recovery would involve baby steps with me constantly in the background.  To cut a very long story short, I was at the school, or in the school car park, for a total of three years.  I had to entertain myself somehow so I found that I could escape to another world and read anything up to five books in a week.  I guess this was the final bit of my homework - if you want to write, you have to read.  Then one day, based on past experience and observations, the germ of an idea came into my head and the book wrote itself.  I flew through the story in three months, tapping away on a borrowed laptop in my car, come rain or shine, for seven hours a day. I realised it was the right career for me when I received what my agent called ‘unprecedented praise for a new author’ from top publishing houses.  I figured I must be doing something right and began to believe in myself. The other up-side is that my son has now been flying solo for two years, just completed his GCSE’s and is looking forward to returning to the school he grew to love.

What was the most challenging part of starting a writing career?  What was the best part?

After a wonderfully positive start to my writing career - accepted by the first approached agent and fantastic reviews from prospective publishers - things started to go horribly pear-shaped. Two major London publishing houses had enthusiastically received my book.  I was asked to do several word culls, add another hook and start on the sequel.  I went off gladly and did all of this - after all, my agent was talking about going to auction and playing one publisher off against the other. Said agent then took his eye off the ball - obviously concentrating on the bigger (celebrity) fish he had to fry - and, by the time he finally chased up the interested parties, the landscape had changed and they’d decided against signing me.  Their reasons being that they had already contracted someone ‘a bit similar in style’ and ‘the recession meant they weren’t taking chances on newbies’. Needless to say I was devastated.  I’d come so close and it had all been snatched from me. Many hissy fits and temper tantrums followed until I finally discovered there was another option.  Sack my agent, self publish and keep all the profits! It might sound weird, but the best part has been the learning curve of going solo.  The book won’t sell itself so I spend most days networking and raising its profile.  Every day is a new challenge and most days end with reward. How I’ll ever find time to finish the next book is beyond me but I’m very excited at the prospect of creating again.

Describe what it was like when your first novel was published.  Were you relieved, excited, anxious? How did you celebrate the launch?

I was terrified. I didn’t have the security of an agent, publisher, editor or publicist.  I felt naked and vulnerable.  Luckily the sales and reviews put my mind at rest fairly quickly.  People seemed to be enjoying what I’d written and they were asking for more.  It’s a continuing journey so you might need to ask me how I feel in six months time or when I get my first bad review! My launch was very low-key.  A romantic dinner at the local Italian with my husband!  I hope in the future to throw a book party but who knows when?

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

I’d say trust your instincts and you’ll know when you’ve got the right idea. Try to write every day, it maintains the flow. Also, those words soon start to add up. Don’t over plan. Sometimes your characters will surprise you and take you on a journey you didn’t know you were going on. Write about what you know - it makes it so much easier for you and more believable for your reader. Read, read, read and read.  That way you’ll know what sells and what you write best. Edit, edit and edit.  Get someone else to read through it for you too. Have you made yourself clear to your reader? And that errant apostrophe or typo will always be hiding somewhere. Believe in yourself and keep at it. It’s a great feeling when you type ‘The End.’
About Amanda Egan
Born and raised in London, Amanda was trained professionally as an actress and has now started writing Chick/Mummy-lit. Her debut novel, Diary of a Mummy Misfit, is a tongue-in-cheek look at the easily recognized types of self-centered mums you can find at prep-school gates anywhere in the world - “the Meemies.”  In her spare time, Amanda reads anything from Maeve Binchy, Jill Mansell, and Penny Vincenzi to Noel Coward, Dostoevsky and Zola. She also loves crafts and entertaining, particularly hosting themed dinner parties. For more information, you can connect with Amanda on Twitter, Facebook, and by visiting her blog.

Author Beeginnings: Lorena Bathey

Lorena Bathey is an independent author of memoir Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother and debut novel Beatrice Munson. Lorena is generously offering 20% off of the Beatrice Munson eBook through July 27th to Chick Lit Bee readers. To receive the discount, please visit and input WD65M when purchasing the eBook.

To get to know Lorena better, we asked her about how she began her writing career. Enjoy!

What was your favorite book(s) when you were a child?

I was a prolific reader as a child because I was an only child. Books were my escape and I would go to the library and leave with a stack as big as I could carry. Historical fiction was my most favorite. I think there were two books that I remember impacting me in my youth. 

First was one that most girls remember, Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. Of course, reading this book explained the beginnings of puberty to me and gave me insight into what I could expect at this tumultuous time.

The other book was when I was about thirteen. My father worked for an airline so we were able to fly to Europe very reasonably. This afforded me the opportunity to travel there often in my youth. One time my mother, aunt, and I were traveling to visit my cousin who had moved there with her husband. My aunt was a huge reader and gave me a book to read before we left called Katherine by Anya Seton. That book was historical fiction about John of Gaunt (one of the princes during the War of the Roses) and Katherine Swynford whose affair ended in their marriage. Their children formed the Tudor line and even the royals now can be traced back to them. This book opened my eyes to how writing can enhance an experience. During our trip I kept seeing places I had read about in the book and even saw both the characters' names. This author was great at creating a romantic book that thrilled its reader with facts of places they had never known.
When did you start writing?
Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother
I began writing in 2005. My mother had passed away from cancer, my father got remarried very quickly after, and my husband left me - all within three years. I had lost my stability and had to begin again. I began writing what was happening. Getting divorced, getting a job after being home for nine years with my kids, having to date, and finding myself. This journey became my first book, Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother.

Once I wrote the memoir and began a career helping women find their inner fairy godmother, I found that these characters were popping into my head. I began to write them down and Beatrice Munson was started. However, I wrote about half before I set it aside and picked it up five years later to finish it.

What kind of writing did you start with? (short stories, poems, articles, etc.)  

I had always written. I wrote poems, journals, and did a lot of essays as an English major. But I didn't really ever sit down to write a book, short story or anything until I began my first book, Happy Beginnings. That book just fell out of me and I wrote as fast as I could. That began my real passion for writing.
When did you decide to become an author and how did you know it was the right career for you?

After I published Happy Beginnings, I did a lot of speaking, classes, and one -on-one work with women to help them find their power. And yet through it all, it was the writing that I really loved. But I was scared to simply commit fully to the process of being a novelist. It wasn't until I met the man of my dreams and he asked me what I really wanted to do and writing was the first and only thing that came to my mind. He simply said, then do it. And so I did. We both committed to following our dreams and doing what we love, so I am an author and he is now making drums. (

When I finished my first novel after a nine hour writing session, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. But it took someone believing that I could do it to make me sure enough to follow my path.
What was the most challenging part of starting a writing career? What was the best part?

Oh, for sure the most challenging part is letting go of convention. You have to stop those voices of your family, friends, and the world who thinks you are crazy not to have a job where you get health insurance, 401K, and security. It is hard to go against the tide and pick something that is so unsure as a career path. But you know what, that is also the best part.

I lived my entire life doing what everyone else wanted me to do. It wasn't until my mom passed that I truly understood that this life was my life. That having money and security were not the things that made me happy. What made me happy was writing and choosing to follow that path, as rough or scary as it may be, and that is what makes me a better human being.

Not only that, but writing these works and creating a world that people can get lost in is just the best kind of fun. When I get someone saying, "thanks for making me cry three times on the plane," it feels good. It means that they connected with the characters enough to get lost in the story and to feel what these characters felt. That's something you can't put a price tag on or truly explain the satisfaction and inspiration that it creates.
Beatrice MunsonDescribe what it was like to see and hold the first published copy of your first novel. Were you relieved, excited, anxious? How did you celebrate the launch?

The day I finished my novel I was writing with a friend I've known for over 25 years. We write at Panera every week and during our weekly session I got on a roll. She had to leave and I sat there until my eyes were blurry just finishing the book. When it was done I sat there, took a deep breath and began to cry. It was elation. It was satisfaction. It was exciting. And it was thrilling. I was hooked.

When I picked up the printed copies and opened the box, which I do immediately because I can't wait to see them, I just felt my breath stop for a second. I remember saying to myself, I'm a novelist. The artwork for the cover of my book was drawn by my busband (a term I coined to explain that he's more than a boyfriend just like a husband) and seeing it as a book just filled me with joy and promise. I always know what I want the covers to look like and he captured it perfectly. Seeing and holding the finished product that matched my mental picture was exhilarating. This book was the first step in building my life-long career as a writer.

I'm still celebrating the launch. The book itself was up on Amazon and Smashwords right away as an eBook. And seeing people buying and downloading it was very satisfying. The reviews have been good and everyone loves the Beatrice character. In fact, I am beginning a newsletter with Beatrice Bits because everyone wants to know more about this character's life and way of being. (You can sign up at

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

It's simple....write! I have people say to me all the time...I mean ALL the time that they have a book they want to write. If you have a book, write it down. That is the biggest step you will take.

Next, don't worry what people think. If you feel the story, then it is a story and believe me in this world of millions of people, someone will love it. The biggest mistake you can make is to listen to anyone that thwarts your creativity and many will try. Being creative comes from a different place and it's important to let that part of you emerge. So write and then get involved in a group that you feel comfortable in and let them read your work. Listen to what people say and incorporate what you think works, but always remember it's your story and you know best.

Take chances. If you have a story but you feel like you don't know enough about the topic, do research. But don't let a good idea pass you by. I believe in muses, inspiration, and divine intervention giving you the right idea at the right time, so don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Write down any idea that won't go away and make it happen.

Next, always, always, always have a professional editor edit your work. This is not a suggestion; this is one of the most important things you can do. A good editor will make your work even better. A good editor will show you where you need to expand a character, plot line, and simply make your words flourish.

Lastly, make sure that whatever you put out into the world is professional, well created, and looks like it could be on a shelf in any book store. There are criteria that every writer should aspire to and not making sure to keep your writing at the highest caliber not only affects your work but the industry of indie authors and publishers.

About Lorena Bathey

Growing up in the Bay Area of Northern California, Lorena Bathey attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga graduating with a degree in English. Then she traveled, learned about life, and developed great fodder for a book. Losing her mother to cancer and her own marriage’s demise brought her to find herself. She wrote Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother and found speaking and empowering others was her passion.
Lorena Bathey found after writing her first book that characters were visiting her mind and wouldn't leave. She was introduced to Marissa, Andrea, Lily, Deidre and Beatrice and her first novel, Beatrice Munson, came to life. After finishing that book, she was inspired to write more novels and she knew that pursuing her passion was the best way to live her life. So, she became a writer. After meeting the love of her life, they embarked on the thrilling life to follow their dreams bringing their families along for the ride. Today Lorena has nine novels in her writing queue all with screenplays in the works. But writing isn't the only muse that inspires Lorena. She has become a passionate photographer and likes to push the envelope taking shots while learning how to navigate Photoshop. Travel, walking, enjoying new restaurants, and Italy are other loves and things she makes sure she has time for. 

To get in touch with Lorena, you can email her at You can also learn more about her at and connect with her at and at
We would love your feedback on our interview with Lorena. Be sure to leave a comment. Thanks!

Author Beeginnings: Alison Pace

Alison Pace is the author of If Andy Warhol Had A Girlfriend, Pug Hill, Through Thick and Thin, and City Dog. Her new novel A Pug's Tale was released today. Congratulations, Alison! To celebrate and to get to know her better, we asked Alison about how she started her writing career. Enjoy!

What was your favorite book(s) when you were a child? I was a big fan of Where the Wild Things Are, Little Women, and Little House on the Prairie. After that, pretty much I wanted to read anything that came my way.

When did you start writing? The first story I remember being very into, and proud of, was when I was in third grade. Then I wrote all the time, journals, series books about horses, overwrought poetry, second-person essays were big with me, too.

What kind of writing did you start with? (short stories, poems, articles, etc.) See above, but once I got serious about writing as an adult, I started with novels. I think all of the forms are very different...I just spent a few years writing essays. I thought they'd be easier, shorter. So much more challenging for me than novels.

When did you decide to become an author and how did you know it was the right career for you? Oh, I don't think I ever decided, I think I just wrote my first book and thought, you know, I like this, and I'm going to try and get an agent and see if it could get published. I never really know if being a writer is the right career choice, but it's by far the thing I am best at, so I keep trying and keep writing.

What was the most challenging part of starting a writing career? What was the best part? Worst part: The not-knowing. Best part: knowing that people read and love and are sometimes very touched by my work.

Describe what it was like to see and hold the first published copy of your first novel. Were you relieved, excited, anxious? How did you celebrate the launch? It was awesome, lovely to hold the first book. It's lovely to hold any book for the first time. There's a terrific feeling of "wow, I did this." Friends had a big party for my first book launch...I like a big party very much and it was a wonderful night...all my friends were there.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Keep writing! Believe in yourself. Ignore all the people who tell you it's impossible; it's really not.
What do you think of our interview with Alison? Be sure to leave a comment to let us know and pick up your copy of A Pug's Tale. Alison will join us again later in the week to answer our 20 Questions. Stay tuned!

Author Beeginnings: Melissa Senate

Melissa Senate is the author of ten novels in adult fiction and young adult fiction including See Jane Date, The Solomon Sisters Wise Up, Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?, Theodora Twist, The Breakup Club, Love You To Death, Questions to Ask Before Marrying, The Secret of Joy, The Mosts, and The Love Goddess' Cooking School. Here's our interview with Melissa to learn more about how she started her writing career. Enjoy!
What was your favorite book(s) when you were a child? 
As a kid, I loved Encyclopedia Brown and Judy Blume’s novels, but my very favorite has always been Anne of Green Gables. That book taught me that imagination will take you everywhere.

When did you start writing? 
I started writing in high school, but my work was always met with a sneer by the snooty teen editor of the literary journal in high school and college. In my early twenties, I took a writing class taught by one of my favorite literary writers, and she also hated everything I turned in. I was so discouraged until I realized what their problem was with my voice and style: I was a commercial writer, with a commercial, fun voice. When I understood that, when I took ownership of that voice, I wrote my first novel with confidence. And sold it!

What kind of writing did you start with? (short stories, poems, articles, etc.) 
I started with short stories. I love reading stories and story collections.

When did you decide to become an author and how did you know it was the right career for you? 
I’d long had the idea for my debut novel, See Jane Date, but because of discouragement when I was so young, I just kept it my head—and heart. But after reading Bridget Jones’ s Diary in the late 90s, I realized there was a market for the type of book I wanted to write, for my voice and style. Writing See Jane Date felt so right and so wonderful and when I wrote The End on the last page, I felt such a sense of achievement. I’ve been writing ever since.

What was the most challenging part of starting a writing career? What was the best part? 
The most challenging part for me has to do with how hard writing can be. Sometimes the words just won’t come, or they come backwards, or they come in circles. But that’s also the best part, because figuring it all out is what makes writing so rewarding.

Describe what it was like to see and hold the first published copy of your first novel. Were you relieved, excited, anxious? How did you celebrate the launch? 
I was so excited! No matter a negative review here or there, or someone saying, “That’s not my kind of book (there are some serious book snobs among my own dear friends and family!), I wrote a novel—and that novel was published. I was crazy proud. I threw myself a big launch party at a snazzy lounge in my then neighborhood in New York City. It was almost ten years ago and I vividly remember every wonderful minute of it.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Believe in yourself and trust your gut. The gut knows
Thank you, Melissa!

Look for Melissa's newest novel The Love Goddess' Cooking School available on October 26th!

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Have you read any of Melissa's novels? Can you relate to her responses? Let us know!

Author Beeginnings: Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen is the author of The Opposite of Me and forthcoming Skipping a Beat. To get to know Sarah better, we asked her about how she began her writing career. Enjoy!

What was your favorite book(s) when you were a child?
I adored the Nancy Drew mysteries and still have my old set in my basement. Another favorite was Little Women. My grandmother gave me a beautiful, hardback copy of that book and I cherished it. And, of course, anything by Judy Blume. I remember reading Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and feeling almost electrified - the writing was so good and real!

When did you start writing?
When I was a kid, I used to write books and send them off to publishers, then confidently wait to see them on shelves at the store! I've got an old letter on Raggedy Ann stationery that I wrote to a publisher, asking when my collection titled "Miscellaneous Stories and Poems" would be published. My niece actually found that letter tucked inside of one of my Nancy Drew books, and now it's one of my most cherished possessions. It's up on my website, at

What kind of writing did you start with? (short stories, poems, articles, etc.)
After college, I went into journalism and worked for papers including The Baltimore Sun. I did a bit of political writing, but I was the worst Capitol Hill reporter ever. Politicians didn't interest me - real people did. I wrote freelance articles for magazines, then, after my kids were born, stayed home with them. But I missed writing so much. It was like losing my best friend. So one day I began playing around with a novel.... and, after some twists and turns, I finally did get to see my book, The Opposite of Me, on a shelf at the store!

When did you decide to become an author and how did you know it was the right career for you?
I always knew I wanted to write, but it wasn't until my late 30s that I turned to fiction again. It just felt right to me - like slipping on a perfect, comfortable pair of jeans. I feel sort of itchy and unsettled when I'm not writing and I can't imagine my life without it.

What was the most challenging part of starting a writing career? What was the best part?
Fighting through days when the writing comes so slowly (and badly!). Everyone has those days. It's agonizing to even put down a few sentences, then you're sure they're the worst sentences ever written. But you need to keep going. If you abandon your work on the tough days, you'll never complete that book. And you can always go back and fix your prose - that is, if you've written something in the first place. The best part was learning editor Greer Hendricks wanted to buy my book! Greer edits Jennifer Weiner, my favorite author, so her enthusiasm for The Opposite of Me meant the world!

Describe what it was like to see and hold the first published copy of your first novel. Were you relieved, excited, anxious? How did you celebrate the launch?
Surreal and crazy and thrilling, all rolled into one! I couldn't believe it. I kept moving the book around my house - I put it on my mantle, then my nightstand table, and carried it into my car the next morning. I still love seeing it. For the launch, I did a big booksigning at my local Barnes & Noble, then went across the street to a bistro with a huge group of friends. We drank chocolate martinis and laughed and talked. I'd had my makeup professionally done and wore a new outfit, and, of course, sky-high shoes.  It was truly a dream night. Of course, the next day it was sweatpants and Grape Nuts again!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? 
Read as much as you can - and write the sort of book you love to read, be it chick lit, a mystery, thriller..... whatever lines your own bookshelves. And try to write something every day, even if it's just 200 words. If you manage a page a day, you'll finish your book in a year. I've also got lots of information, including how I got my agent, up at my website -
Thank you, Sarah!

For more information about Sarah and her books, you can check out her Web site, follow her on Twitter, and visit her Facebook page.

Have you read The Opposite of Me? Can you relate to Sarah's experiences? Let us know!