Creative Careerist Bess Gilmartin

DSCN2328Meet Bess Gilmartin:

Writes: Regency Romance and silly blog posts.

Likes: Dogs, zombies, hiking, tea, kayaking, everything to do with Jane Austen.


What does an average day look like for you in your creative career?

Since I lost my real job last June, my average day looks a whole lot better than it used to. I still write, drive kids places, ignore housework, and feel like I never get anything done, but I’ve stopped grinding my teeth. Woohoo!!


How did you get to where you are now in your career? What key moments, decisions or circumstances brought you here?

  • Decide at age 15 to be a writer; 30 seconds later Tolkien and internal editor conspire to kill my inner writer
  • Many years later, stay home after kids are born; start writing to escape the madness.
  • Spend 8 years writing picture books and first chapters of romance novels; entering contests, joining writers’ groups, attending conferences, submitting manuscripts
  • Write random scenes of W-I-P (A Duchess is Always Right); for 3 years, cut and paste until I have a plot (internal editor says this particular story may not be worth the effort)
  • Start How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse: The Essential Guide for Middle School Kids; submit 2 chapters/outline to agents
  • Duchess still not looking good; Husband says, “Why don’t you write for Harlequin?”
  • Write half of Convince Me
  • Agent requests the full Zombie MS; write remaining 5 chapters in 1 month
  • Finish Convince Me
  • Get nicest rejection ever from agent who “thoroughly enjoyed” my sense of humor and says my “voice really is perfect for middle grade,” but can’t sell it because the market is oversaturated; internal editor feeling slightly less cocky
  • Send out Convince Me queries
  • Full MS requested and then rejected by both Harlequin (lack of sexual tension) and Entangled (something similar in the pipeline)
  • Rewrite Convince Me (to the sound of internal editor’s laughter)
  • Enter Duchess (aka Violet Camberwell) in the 2012 Royal Ascot contest sponsored by the Beau Monde chapter of RWA.
  • Win! Internal editor squawks as door hits her on the way out.
  • Explain to people suddenly interested in Duchess that it needs polishing (read: it ain’t done yet).
  • Avoid W-I-P by self-pubbing Convince Me; study cover design, formatting, and WordPress
  • Currently working on Duchess


What excites you most about your work?

Something I never thought I would enjoy (probably because I assumed I’d suck at it), is reaching out to readers and other writers. For a long time, I avoided everything but critique groups and the occasional conference. I was in serious hermit mode, trying to figure out what exactly I was supposed to write. Now that I seem to have figured it out, I’m having a blast reading other people’s books, hanging out at places like Goodreads, and commenting on blogs, instead of just lurking in the shadows all the time.


What is its greatest challenge for you?

Making myself work on the W-I-P! As much as I love to write, it’s still a whole lot easier to blog, format, design covers, and visit all the blogs I love to read every day!


How do you get your best ideas?

I hear them. Maybe the muses whisper them in my ear, I don’t know, but dialog is always where it starts for me.


What do you do when you get stuck?

I try to imagine what the characters in the scene would say. If I can get one of them talking, I can always keep going—even if it’s not in the direction I thought we were headed.


How do you make sure you make time for creativity in your life?

It’s amazing how easy it is to sweep writing time under the rug; kids, spouse, job, dogs, exercise, housework, dinner…time flies and I am seriously undisciplined when it comes to making myself write. What works for me is to write as soon as everybody is out of the house for the day—before I do anything else. Once I’ve finished with the W-I-P for the day, I reward myself by checking email and reading blogs. Often, that will lead to writing a post for GroggSpot.

What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives who want to follow in your footsteps?

If you want this, don’t stop working for it—ever. Don’t listen to the people who say you can’t or shouldn’t. Just write every chance you get. If five minutes is all you have today to pursue your dream, then write your heart out for those five minutes. And do it again tomorrow.


One thought on “Creative Careerist Bess Gilmartin

  1. Pingback: Join Bess Gilmartin at Creative Juicer!! - GroggSpot

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