Book Cover of Noah Padgett and the Dog-People

Sarah Potter Chats about Book Publishing & Writing Inspiration

I am pleased to give the blogging stage to author Sarah Potter today! I first connected with Sarah a few years ago, through her blog Sarah Potter Writes. Since then, I have enjoyed following her publishing career as well as reading the poetry and short stories she has shared on her blog.

When she released a new book of juvenile fiction titled Noah Padgett and the Dog-People, I wanted to have her over here to talk about the writing process and learn more about the book. So, without further ado, here is Sarah.

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Thank you, Christy, for inviting me to guest post at your wonderful blog, to talk about publishing and my latest novel, plus offer some tips on finding writing inspiration.

Welcome to the world of multi-genre mash-up

By nature, I’m an eccentric person with a quirky, exceedingly British sense of humour who doesn’t find it easy to conform; thus it’s hardly surprising that my novels buck against the trend and don’t fit neatly into a single category, which, in turn, makes them a huge challenge to market. I have a pile of rejection letters from publishers and agents to prove that this is the case; they say things such as, “beautiful writing, but too hard to market” or “we applaud your imagination, but can’t see this fitting neatly on any shelf in a bookshop.”

Chatting with Sarah Potter about books and more

Author Sarah Potter, taking a break from writing.

Last year, encouraged by my family, I decided to indie publish one of my five novels, Desiccation, rather than leave it filed away gathering dust. It is a young adult crossover novel (for readers aged 15+).

Years ago, my teenage son read it in a night and spent the following day dozing off at school. He didn’t care that my novel was a multi-genre mash-up of sci-fi, fantasy, horror, humour, with a few erotic undertones and plenty of teenagerisms. He just loved the story and characters.

My latest novel, Noah Padgett and the Dog-People, aimed at readers aged 10-18+, is an adventure and survival story with smidgeons of science fiction and fantasy.

Am I glad I’ve indie published? Yes, I like being in control of a project from beginning to end. Editing is exhilarating. It’s immensely satisfying learning nifty tricks for formatting that end up producing a professional result in print and on Kindle. Do I enjoy marketing? No, but I keep at it, living in the hope of that big breakthrough. What do I love the most about doing what I’m doing? That some people who read my first book, have now bought my second one, which means they appreciate my writing enough to come back for a second helping.

Who are the Dog-People?

“Dog-People” is the nickname my boy hero, Noah, has for members of the species Canis sapiens who live in the Zyx-dimension where most of the story takes place. They are intelligent biped dogs who treat any dog-like behaviour as a criminal offence. Thus, it’s against the law to show your tail in public, get down on four paws, roll in fox’s scat, play fight with mouths and claws etc. The dog-people consider Noah and his puppy, Bluebell, mutants and alien collectibles.

Main Themes of the Book

Loss — Noah has lost his mother and has to suffer a stepmother from hell. His father gives him a chocolate Labrador puppy to help console him, only to have her stolen from him in the Zyx-dimension.

Overcoming fears — Noah is mildly afraid of many things, but terrified of heights and water, both of which he has to vanquish in order to survive. One of the ways he overcomes his fears is by having to be brave for someone else who’s even more afraid of everything than he is.

The making of a hero when you’re rather puny and the odd one out — This is all about being a stranger in a strange land, who must prove himself, cement strong friendships, build allies, and outdo an enemy with his wits rather than with muscle.

Sarah Potter holds the book Noah Padgett and the Dog-People

Author Sarah Potter with her book in hand. A proud achievement!

Tips for Writing Inspiration

My number one tip is to read and read and read. Don’t stick to one genre, but read widely anything from pulp fiction to high literary, depending on your mood. If you don’t like a book, abandon it. Life is too short.

By reading we learn and inwardly digest what works and what doesn’t work. On both a conscious and a subconscious level, we absorb technique and expand our vocabulary.

If you have writer’s block, don’t beat yourself up about it. Leave it be, whether for a few hours, weeks, months, it doesn’t matter for how long. Do something completely different.

Embrace the great outdoors, climb a mountain, disappear into a forest, dig the garden, visit an art gallery, socialise, paint a picture, take photographs, groom the dog, watch a movie; there’s so much else other than writing to do. The Muse often strikes you, when you least expect her to; she cannot be coerced into submission or forced. When she reappears after a long absence, she’s like a new romance, or the return of an old flame reignited.

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Wow, great advice to end the guest post! Thank you, Sarah.

Pick up your copy of Noah Padgett and the Dog-People now to immerse yourself in a literary adventure. Connect with Sarah at her blog (link is at the start of this post), Goodreads, and Twitter too.

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56 thoughts on “Sarah Potter Chats about Book Publishing & Writing Inspiration

  1. Dee

    I can relate to the writer’s block. Your suggestions on how to handle it are excellent. When you return, it stimulates your creative juices. Good read today and appreciated much!

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      Thank you, Dee. Yes, it always helps doing something different for a while.Today, when out walking the dog, this cracking good first sentence for a crime novel came at me out of the blue. Maybe it’s a sign and a gentle nudge that it’s time to write something that fits into genre. Doubtless it will still end up, in some way, being a quirky novel. Often I think of ideas while out walking, just because I’m not forcing my brain but just enjoying being.

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  2. milliethom

    It’s always interesting to read about other authors’ routes into publication. I haven’t tried the traditional route yet, as I’m reasonably happy with being self published – although I find the marketing side hard, too, and wish I knew a few magic tricks on that one. It was nice to read about Sarah, and wish her all the best with her two books.’Noah Padgett and the Dog People’ sounds like a great find tor a wide range of age groups.

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      I’m coming to the conclusion that success is only achieved through extreme patience. With Desiccation, I didn’t give the search spiders long enough to find my keywords, so kept changing them. I’ve left my keywords alone with Noah Padgett and the Dog-People and, to my delight, only a fortnight after publication, five of them are on the first 2 pages in Amazon searches (2 of them on pp 1), while the remaining 2 have made it to the top 10 pages. This makes my book discoverable, even though it hasn’t translated into impressive sales yet. I remain unconvinced about social networking helping those authors who aren’t yet established to sell their books, but it works fine for those who have already made it.

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  3. Bun Karyudo

    I admire Sarah’s tremendous energy in going down the indie publishing route. I’ve read on other blogs that this can be a good solution for getting a book in front of readers, but I know it must take a lot of work. I also completely agree about the problem of writer’s block. Absolutely the worst thing to do is start agonizing over it. That just makes matters worse.

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      Oh, Bun, I’m not sure that it’s energy, but rather stubborn determination. A fortnight before publication day, I got flu and I’m sure this was down to exhausting myself with working too hard. The wonderful thing about blogging, are the friends I’ve met on the same publishing journey. We’re like a little club, all cheering each other along.

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  4. Sue Dreamwalker

    I would read everything at one time from crime fiction to historical novels.. Great tips and thank you for your intro to Sarah’s book, sound a wonderful ‘Tale’ if you do not shake it in public 😉

    Thank you for the share Christy and enjoy the rest of your week.. xxx

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  5. theburningheart

    “My number one tip is to read and read and read. Don’t stick to one genre, but read widely anything from pulp fiction to high literary, depending on your mood. If you don’t like a book, abandon it. Life is too short.”

    I love that advice, however have some reservations about pulp fiction, I tend more for high literary, exactly because life it’s too short, and there is so much to read! 🙂

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      Sometimes today’s pulp fiction is tomorrow’s classic, but not always. Occasionally I’ve read something lightweight because I’ve been too tired to read anything else. It’s usually a piece of two-dimensional vintage pulp — sci-fi mostly. Such books are all plot, too much exposition, sexist, and heavily weighted in favour of telling rather than showing. Thus it’s an education in how not to write!

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  6. ghostwritingplus

    Excellent post! I especially appreciate these points: 1. That by reading widely we absorb writing techniques at a subconscious level, and 2. Sarah’s advice to go out and live (garden, movies, museum, whatever!) when we feel stuck in our writing. Great advice!!

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      I love blogging and having the chance to engage with people from all around the world. Guest posting is such fun, although sometimes a challenge. For me, it can bring about an instant attack of writer’s block, so those who invite me need to be blessed with great patience while waiting for the spirit to move me. Indeed, Christie is blessed with such patience 🙂

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  7. Mabel Kwong

    Thanks Christy for sharing. Nice to meet you, Sarah. Indie publishing. What an achievement, having to do most of the work hands-on. Nice to hear that you liked it and you had full control – full creativity and you could take the novel wherever you want to go 🙂 I agree with you if we have writer’s block to not beat ourselves up. Inspiration is a fickle thing. When it strikes, it strikes. I think a lot of the time it rubs off on where we go and what we see – so why not seize the day, live a little and then come back home to sit down and write 🙂

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      So glad to be of help, Sue. We all need nudging from time to time 🙂 Presently, I’m immersed in The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, which is the last book in his totally epic Passage trilogy, which in its entirety is probably about 2,000 pages long, I just love his writing. He’s a professor of English Literature who has chosen to write an apocalyptic thriller, or whatever you want to call it (as it’s many genres rolled into one, yet always accessible). Stephen King is in awe of this guy and has said all sorts of wonderful things about the trilogy. I am in awe of him,too. It confirms to me that humans are meant to be creative and if you have stories to share, you should be sharing them.

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  8. Ste J

    Reading widely is always a good thing, those that stick to a genre may appeal to those who also stick to the same genre but to gather in an audience from outside and indeed to mash up genres is to grab a wider readership whilst shaking up the original genre.

    Too hard to market is an interesting phrase, I wish I had a job where I could reject things because I found it a challenge. Still if publishers can’t find innovative ways to market things that can’t be readily pigeonholed you have to wonder for the future of reading as we know it…

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      This pigeonholing is so worrying, Ste. Publishers used to be so much braver and more innovative than they are now. Why can’t there be an official “quirky books” category? I would check it out every time, to see what gems it had to offer. I reckon there are so many rejected novels gathering dust, thus denying the reading public the opportunity to read something new and different.

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      1. Ste J

        Exactly, we want innovation and to be wowed, to see new concepts…I bet House of Leaves wouldn’t get published these days. As much as I enjoy historical fiction, I really don’t want to be trawling through even more World War II stories which seem to keep coming and a lot of the blurbs are reading the same, sadly.

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        1. Sarah Potter Writes

          I’ve just put on my reading list The Four-gated City by Doris Lessing and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. They are reputedly brilliant genre mash-ups of the most quirky kind, but would they get published today if those two writers submitted as unknowns? It’s quite probable that the answer would be “no”.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Ste J

          Vonnegut certainly knows how to mix things up, Slaughterhouse 5 was very effective with that style of mash up. I will raise a tankard of ale (any excuse) to the indie publishing scene.

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Sarah Potter Writes

    Reblogged this on Sarah Potter Writes and commented:
    Last week, I had the honour of being a guest on Christy Birmingham’s wonderful blog. It was such fun meeting a whole load of new bloggers and having the chance to interact with them.

    Yet again, many thanks to Christy for making me feel so welcome in her blogging home, and to her followers, too 🙂

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  10. kbeezyisviral

    Yes, reading in abundance is the only method to expand your writing horizons. I haven’t gotten writers block yet, but I’m preparing to do something inspiring when, and if it comes. Congratulations on publishing your novels. I have a long reading list currently, but in the foreseeable future I’ll get around to reading your work.

    Thank you for sharing. Peace and blessings.

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      I tend to get writer’s block if anybody imposes a time limit on me and they’ve chosen the subject. I also get writer’s block when trying to think of something meaningful to say in greetings cards. There you are. I’ve written 5 books in all (equivalent to about 500,000 words) yet writing a birthday card, or suchlike, gives me a major headache.
      Am hoping, Kyle, that you get through your reading list quickly, so you can read my work, says I, who has just recommended 2 authors to you in a comment over at my blog!

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      1. kbeezyisviral

        There’s definitely no time limit on writing, so I understand where you’re coming from. Personalized writing doesn’t operate from the same place of creation as fiction. Imaginative prose combined with a sense of magical realism presents endless scenarios to write about, but a birthday card you must specifically pinpoint a personal quirk about the person you address the card to.
        I’m quite the voracious reader, it’s a possibility I will get to them sooner than later. Let’s see how time progresses and plays out.

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    1. Sarah Potter Writes

      You know, Cybele, I’m always pressing post before I’ve finished comments, not only on blogs but with text messages and on Facebook. Anyway, thank you for your sweet comments. And you know that I love your writing, so we are a mutual admiration society!

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