Guest Post | Shauna Bickley, author of The Worst Lie, on How Long it Takes to Write a Book

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for a spot on this blog tour

I have the honor of welcoming Shauna Bickley to my blog today. She has written a wonderful mystery book which I will share a bit about after Shauna’s post. So, please join me in welcoming Shauna to Tessa Talks Books.


Welcome, Shauna Bickley…

Hello and thanks for inviting me on your blog.

Among other things, people often ask how long it takes to write a book.

The answer is vague. How long is a piece of string? Or, it depends.

I write in two main genres: crime and women’s contemporary fiction. I don’t like to say that one is easier to write than the other as writing a book is never an easy task, but it usually takes me longer to write a murder mystery.

It took me about eighteen months to write my current crime novel, The Worst Lie.

As a child, and even as a young adult, I had the idea that the author wrote each page just as it appears in the finished book. In real life I can tell you that definitely isn’t the case, or not for me. Sometimes the final version of a book is relatively similar to the finished first draft, but sometimes it’s vastly different. Such was the case with The Worst Lie.

Authors rarely talk about the number of pages in their books; they talk about the number of words. In general, a novel is somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 words. When I’m in the flow of a book I try to write about 2,000 words a day. The maths is simple, that’s forty days for 80,000 words. Forty days you’re thinking, gosh that’s easy. A finished book in eight weeks if you write five days a week. But, (yes, there’s always a but), that timeframe isn’t taking life into consideration. Life always happens: work, family, burst pipes, sick children, sick writers and on it goes. Even if you do manage to finish your first draft in two months, a first draft for most writers is a long way from a polished and edited book that someone would want to read.

I wrote The Worst Lie in a fairly linear fashion initially, going from the 2005 parts to the 2010 scenes and finally to the current action, but it became obvious early on that it wouldn’t work like that as a book, but at least I knew the story (this is me trying to find the silver lining!). I did some hefty revisions to get it into its current form and they took me longer than the initial writing. Editing on that occasion meant large changes. However, I have written books that didn’t need major structural revisions like that, but there are always edits required whether strengthening character arcs, tweaking plots lines, or deleting or adding scenes.

The old fashioned thought of a writer slaving away somewhere in a garret might be romantic, although I’ve never thought of attics as romantic, but the reality is much more job-like. However, I’m not complaining. Writing is a lot easier now than when Dickens or the Bronte sisters were alive. Using cut and paste on my laptop is far simpler than writing everything out again by hand.

There are wonderful moments in writing. I’m still not totally sure whether they are down to “the muse”, our subconscious working it out and only letting us in on it much later, or pure luck. But when it happens it feels as though someone has sprinkled pixie dust over the words and magic occurs. Here’s an example to explain what I mean. In one of my earlier books, Lives Interrupted, Dru has a secret that he doesn’t share with Kate until late in the novel. She is aware he has kept something back, but not what. During later drafts I decided to add an event to deepen Kate’s character and show her initial fearless and outgoing character to contrast the changes that occur after the bombings. I wrote this into an existing scene, but it was a while before I realised how completely it fitted, like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. It answered the question why Dru kept his secret, and acted as a mirror image of his experience. Pure magic.

I think experiencing that magic is one of the reasons why authors write.

Many thanks again and happy reading to you and your followers, Shauna xx


Book Description

Madelaine had everything she wanted.
Friends, a successful film career, and a loving boyfriend.
Then she was dead…

Lexie’s friend Helen was part of a close-knit group at university. Now, ten years later, Helen is fearful when another of the group reappears and suggests a reunion.

Lexie contrives an invitation to the weekend get-together at one of England’s ancient stone circles where one of the group admits they believe their long-dead friend was murdered.

Lexie discovers each of the group has secrets and each has lied, but could they also have committed murder?

There is another death at the stone circles, and Lexie uncovers information that may connect the two crimes… and implicate her good friend.

Is someone targeting the former students, or is the killer one of the group?

The Worst Lie is the second standalone novel in the exciting Lexie Wyatt murder mystery series.

If you like British crime novels featuring ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, then you’ll love this gripping tale of secrets, lies and obsession that leads to murder.


About the Author

Shauna writes mysteries featuring characters who aren’t afraid to go looking for murderers and generally get themselves in all sorts of danger. In real life, Shauna doesn’t do any of those things.

When she can’t come up with a murderous plot, she also likes to write about ordinary people pushed into extraordinary situations. Underneath all that criminal intrigue is a true romantic who likes to see the magic and mystery in everyday life.

When she isn’t writing (or surfing the internet pretending she’s researching), you can find Shauna reading, running (or more likely walking), coming up with excuses not to attend Zumba, and trying to find new ways to use the excess fruit from the trees in the garden.

Shauna’s latest release is a crime thriller, The Worst Lie, featuring Lexie Wyatt from the novel Still Death.

Currently she’s working on a sequel to Writing the Stars, but if discovered staring out of the window she’s probably contemplating new ways to kill people for a third Lexie Wyatt novel.

Shauna is always happy to hear from people, but only if they’re friendly and don’t ask hard questions. You can find her on Twitter, Pinterest and via her website or through good old-fashioned email.

If you’d like to know when Shauna’s next book comes out or when she has special offers on other books, you can sign up to the Book Club at http://www.shaunabickley.com

Website: www.shaunabickley.com
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/@ShaunaBickley
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/shaunabickley/

2 thoughts on “Guest Post | Shauna Bickley, author of The Worst Lie, on How Long it Takes to Write a Book”

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