sally lawton
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Sally Lawton has designed her own website to try and catch the attention of agents and publishers - here she talks about her experience of the writing and rejection process.

1.When and why did you start writing?
I've always loved writing. I was brought up to be very creative. My cousins lived across the road and we would always write and perform plays for the neighbours.
It's something I've always loved to do.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Every day life. Every person you pass on the street has a story to tell. I often walk past people and wonder where they are going and what they are doing.
I get a lot of inspiration from my own life and my friends lives. Different character traits of people fascinate me.

3. What keeps you going?
The fact that being published is my dream. It's easy to feel like giving up when I see another rejection letter fall through the letter box, but I've never let hard work get in the way of anything.
I never want to turn around when I'm 80 years old and say 'I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't given up?'
Walking in to a book shop keeps me going. Reading other peoples books keep me going. As do nice comments on my website and encouragement from my friends, family and boyfriend.
Most importantly the feeling in my stomach I get when I'm sat down writing. It's all I want to do.

4. Have you finished your novel?
No, I wrote three chapters and sent them off to agencies whilst I continued with the rest of the book. I'm half way through.

5. How long did it take you? or How long is it taking you?
It's taken me six months to write half of it.
I have a full time job and I work in the theatre most evenings. My writing is done at any spare minutes of the day I get. Either in the morning, on my lunch break or in the evening. I make sure I write something every day, even if it's just a sentence.

6. What is the worst type of rejection letter you've ever received?
Well most of them are all general ones they send to anyone they have rejected. The worst bit about these is the fact they don't put your name and simply put 'Dear Author.'
I appreciate they have hundreds to get through, but really - how long does it take to write someone's name at the top of the letter.
The worst rejection definitely has to be from an agency that didn't even send their own letter, they just scribbled on my synopsis 'Couldn't place this work.'

7. Who is your favourite author? [Don't worry I'm not expecting you to say me!]
I have so many favourite authors. I absolutely love Sophie Kinsella. Her books are so much fun to read.
I'm not just saying this because you are kindly interviewing me, but I also love your books, Andrea.
I'm a HUGE Chick Lit fan, and love to read a book that covers tough topics in a light hearted way. Both Sophie and yourself have made me laugh out loud.
I also love Shari Low, Sarah Ball, Deborah Wright, Lisa Jewell and Faith Bleasdale.
I'm discovering fantastic new authors all the time. I've also become interested in the American Chick Lit market as the genre is just starting to bloom over there. I've just bought a few books by American authors from Amazon and can't wait to get stuck in to them.

8. Why did you decide to set up a website about your writing?
I wanted to make not only my work, but me as a person stand out to agents and publishers. I wanted to show them that I was committed to writing and was willing to work hard to promote myself.
I love all of the author websites, it's great to read success stories and read tips on writing. I was on-line one day on my book club site and noticed a book called 'Save Karyn.' I was fascinated by it and bought it to read more.
It's a true story about a girl who gets a great job, moves to NY and spends sooo much money on shopping. She then loses her job and owes thousands of dollars. She sees no way of getting out of debt and so she decides to make a silly website asking people for money.
The site caused a huge buzz and Karyn managed to pay off her debts!
It got me thinking about the power of the Internet and how great websites can be. So I decided to make my own and promote my writing, and let people share my journey to (hopefully) a published book.

9. What has been the best piece of advice you've ever received?
The last time I ever saw my Granddad before he died, he told me to never look back, always look forward. It's something that has always stayed with me, and it's the best piece of advice I've ever had.
In terms of my writing a big publishing house emailed a rejection and told me where I was going wrong. I emailed back and asked if they would mind if I rewrote the opening chapters with their advice in mind.
They are giving me a second chance and wrote me a lovely long email pointing out the best and worst bits about my writing.
It's the first time anyone has told me where I'm going wrong, and at last I feel like I have some sort of direction.