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A Day in the Life of ‘Seven Year Switch’ Claire Cook
by Claire Cook
I wrote my first novel at 5 AM in my minivan outside my daughter’s swim practice, and while I’m thrilled to have moved inside to a home office, I’ve kept the early morning writing habit.
I wake up and spread some whole wheat toast with almond butter while the coffee is brewing, then I head up to my office with a big mug of coffee and get to work. I like to start my day’s writing before I’m fully awake, before the doubt and procrastination set in. Before the rest of the world is awake.
I write two pages a day, seven days a week. This keeps me almost living in the book, following the characters, nudging the story forward.
I start by rereading and polishing the pages from the day before, which helps me find the rhythm again. I try not to go back much farther than that. If I did, I might still be working on the first chapter of my first novel instead of my eighth!
Sometimes my two pages take only a few hours. Sometimes I wrestle well into the night. My deal with myself is that I’m not allowed to go to bed until I’ve finished my daily quota. Books are fun to start and triumphant to finish, but all those pesky pages in between can really get you into trouble. So this works for me. No matter what else happens in my life, I can finish two pages.
And two pages become four, then six, then eight, and one miraculous day I have the first draft of a novel. And then the revising begins!
For more writing tips, and to win a beach bag filled with all 7 of Claire’s novels, plus a beach towel, go to http://ClaireCook.com.
Claire Cook is the bestselling author of seven novels, including Must Love Dogs, which was adapted into a Warner Bros. movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, The Wildwater Walking Club, Life’s a Beach, and her latest, Seven Year Switch. Her reinvention workshops have been featured on The Today Show, and she has been a judge for the Thurber Humor Prize and the Family Circle fiction contest. Her books have been featured on Good Morning America and in People, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and more. She has two kids, seven brothers and sisters, and one husband. She lives in Scituate, MA.
Visit her website and find reinvention and writing tips at http://www.ClaireCook.com. Friend her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ClaireCookbooks/. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ClaireCookbooks/.
Thanks so much for having me, Beyond the Books. Seven Year Switch is my seventh novel, appropriately enough!
Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
I wrote my first novel, Ready to Fall, in my minivan in the parking lot outside my daughter’s swim practice during one long cold New England winter ten years ago when I was 45.
Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
Amazingly, it sold to the first publisher who asked to read it.
Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
I think the trick to avoid rejection might be to procrastinate for decades and skip all those stages!
Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Hindsight 20/20, if the first publisher you approach wants your book, you should get an agent fast! I only queried two agents, who were both so famous even I had heard of them. One wrote back: “Dear Claire, If your novel is half as funny as your query letter, you will definitely find someone, however it won’t be me.” I thought, ha, who needs an agent? So I submitted to Bridgeworks, the publisher who launched Tom Perrotta and Lorna Landvik, and they took it. I spent more on gas driving to the few stores who would let me do events than I made on the advance, but the novel did well enough to bring me to the attention of my agent, the famous Lisa Bankoff at ICM, and in her brilliant hands, my next novel went to auction – so it was all good!
Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
I taught middle schoolers at the time, and I remember I brought the reply to my Bridgeworks query letter with me to school and opened it in front of my students. They were psyched and most of them immediately started cranking out their own books, figuring if I could do it, anybody could!
Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I started workin’ it and haven’t stopped in the ten years since! I set up a website. I started an email list. I begged stores to host me.
Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
Yes. I would have taken the time to find a good agent first. It makes all the difference.
Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
My goal is to become a better writer with each novel. I work really hard at that, and I think I’ve done it.
Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I don’t look back. I only look forward. This is the career I almost didn’t have, and I think the time it took me to get here makes me appreciate it all the more.
Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
Survival? It’s tough out there!
Most people would probably say my biggest accomplishment is the Must Love Dogs movie. It’s definitely the thing that has given me the most name recognition, which has really helped readers find my books. And it was a totally fun experience. Plus, even my kids thought I was cool for a week or two!
Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
Ha! I chose quite a few of them! I taught physical education, multicultural games and dance, dance aerobics, open ocean rowing, and creative writing. I wrote advertising copy for a now defunct shoe company (not my fault!) and worked as continuity director of a radio station. All of these jobs later found their way into my fiction.
Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
I’m living my dream and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?
Finally taking a nap?
Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
It’s never too late! You just have to decide you’re going to hang in there for as long as it takes. And check out the writing page at http://ClaireCook.com, where I share everything I’ve learned with emerging writers.
Join Claire Cook as she virtual tours the blogosphere in July ’10 to promote her new book, Seven Year Switch (Hyperion), which is the perfect beach read this summer!
Claire is the bestselling author of seven novels including Must Love Dogs which was adapted into a Warner Brothers movie starring Diane Lane and John Cusack, The Wildwater Walking Club, Life’s a Beach, and her latest, Seven Year Switch. Her reinvention workshops have been featured on The Today Show, and she has been a judge for the Thurber Humor Prize and the Family Circle fiction contest. Her books have been featured on Good Morning America and in People, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and more. She has two kids, seven brothers and sisters, and one husband. She lives in Scituate, MA.
Seven Year Switch centers on Jill Murray who is perfectly happy living a man-free existence. She’s got Anastasia, her ten-year-old daughter, and a sweet little bungalow to call home. Life as a cultural coach didn’t turn out quite the way she planned, but between answering phones for Great Girlfriend Getaways and teaching Lunch Around the World classes, the dust in this Jill-of-all-trades life is starting to settle.
Then her ex-husband comes back.
They say that every seven years you become a completely new person, and Jill has long ago stopped wishing her deadbeat husband would return. Now she has to face the fact there’s simply no way she can be a good mom without letting Seth back into their daughter’s life. But why can’t she seem to hold herself together around him? And then there’s Billy, the free-spirited, bike-riding entrepreneur who hires Jill as a consultant. When their business relationship seems destined for something more Jill’s no-boys-allowed life is suddenly anything but.
It takes a Costa Rican getaway to help Jill make her choice — between the woman she is and the woman she wants to be. It’s a wild ride, sure to thrill Claire Cook’s many fans, complete with laughter, revelations, and one heckuva big tarantula.
People Magazine says, “Bestseller Cook charms again with this lively warm-hearted look at changing courses mid-life.”
Publishers Weekly says, “Cook creates an impossible-not-to-love cast of imperfect, funny, wistful, and wise characters.”
Kirkus Reviews says “Cook hits her marks…a beach tote couldn’t ask for more.”
If you’d like to follow along with Claire as she tours the blogosphere in July, visit her official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store including giveaways. Find out things about Claire you never knew before on her Seven Year Switch Virtual Book Tour ’10!
You can visit Claire’s website and find reinvention and writing tips at http://www.ClaireCook.com. Friend her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ClaireCookbooks/. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ClaireCookbooks/.
Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in virtual book tours. You can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.
Claire Cook, author of the just released women’s fiction novel, Seven Year Switch, is offering a super giveaway for those lucky readers who are willing to post a review at Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook or Barnes & Noble! Here are her details:
Because I know it’s the power of my incredible readers spreading the word to your friends and family that will make this book take off, we’re going to have another giveaway!
All you have to do is read SEVEN YEAR SWITCH and post a nice review on Amazon (buy locally, review globally is my motto!) Goodreads or Facebook or Barnes & Noble or even your own blog, and email the link to the review to Claire @ ClaireCook.com. (Just make sure you put REVIEW in the subject line so I don’t think it’s spam.)
You can post the same review on as many sites as you want – in fact I hope you will! – and each one counts as another entry! The prize is pictured above: a beach bag filled with a complete autographed set of all seven of my novels – and a beach towel, of course!
If you already own signed copies of all my books, you can donate the whole thing to a fundraiser for your favorite charity or use them as birthday presents.
Thank you — your support is what has made this midlife career of mine possible, and I appreciate it so very much.
— Claire Cook
Visit Claire Cook’s website at www.clairecook.com.