About author, Cathryn Chapman: Cathryn nearly gave up her writing career when her eighth grade English teacher refused to believe her sensual poem could have been written by somebody so young. Two years later, when Cathryn was fourteen, that same English teacher declared she should start writing for Mills & Boon, and a women s fiction writer was born. Cathryn graduated from university with a Business Degree and spent seven years travelling the world working on cruise ships, and living in London, New York, Paris and South America. In her thirties, she left a successful marketing and public relations career to pursue her dream of gracing the stages in London s West End. When this failed dismally, Cathryn settled down with a husband and baby boy, and stayed in one country long enough to finally write her first novel, SEX, LIES, AND CRUISING.
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My Fears as a Writer
Those of you who are also writers will probably understand this. People think I’m a really confident person, so it feels strange to admit it, but I have so, so many fears. Especially as a writer. It took me three years to finish ‘Sex, Lies, and Cruising’, admittedly with a few long breaks — but it took its toll on me, my finances, and my family… so while finishing it and putting it out into the world makes me feel proud, it also fills me with fear.
I read an interview with a successful author who said of publishing your first book – “Be prepared for reviews of people who do not know you. They don’t owe you anything.” Geez, that really scared me, because I had always feared that. I had seven amazing beta readers for this book, and all of them were either friends or family. A couple of them were very open and honest about what they didn’t like in the first draft (the published version is about the tenth draft!), but there is always that worry that the people who offer to help you with beta reading (or similar) are also the people who want to see you succeed. So waiting for the reviews to come in has been like waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I started seeing a life coach this month about it. She asked me to describe what I was feeling, and it all tumbled out…
“I fear that the book is no good and people won’t like it. I fear that the years of time, effort, and tears I’ve put into this will prove to be a big, embarrassing waste. I fear that the beta readers loved it because they love me, and that everybody else will think it’s a terribly bad joke. I fear that anybody who does like it, won’t like the sequel. I fear that people will think the lead character is me, and will judge me for it. I fear that I won’t sell many copies and will spend years paying off the loans I have taken out to pay for editing and promotion…” I said, very emotional. Yep, it turns out I fear a lot of things.
Doesn’t sound much like a romantic comedy writer, does it?!!
The counsellor summed it up pretty well. “Well, you’re pretty much stuffed no matter what happens, aren’t you?” she said, smiling kindly. “You’ve got a life script which says you’re not good enough, and nothing you do or achieve is going to make you feel like you are. You’ve seen to that.”
I suppose it’s strange that somebody with so many fears of judgement would choose to write a book and self-publish it. Not only that, but I took out loans to promote it, which means that even more people have had a chance to judge me and my work. I also allowed my publicist to tell people that I worked on cruise ships and allow everybody to think the book must be a thinly veiled autobiography, which causes a whole host of new problems for a new fiction author… Is it total lunacy? Or do I have some confidence mixed in with the fear, which dares to believe people will like what they read…?
It also makes me want to ask you, the readers of this blog: “What are your fears?” and “How do you overcome them?”
Having said all that, at the time of writing this blog, I’ve seen a few reviews of ‘Sex, Lies, and Cruising’… and they’re good! It makes me so, so proud and happy to have written something which people like, and I get the warm and fuzzies big-time when I read these reviews! As someone who has been a voracious reader since about the age of seven, I always took for granted that books just ‘appeared’ in the bookshop, and now I know that a whole bunch of those authors are probably as fearful as I am, having sweated for months, or even years, over their precious babies!
The book is basically a comedy, even though Ellie learns some difficult lessons. I hope you find her relatable, even if you think you wouldn’t make the same decisions she does. I hope you have a lovely few days or weeks getting lost in the crazy world of cruise ships, with a fair bit of sex, more lies than we’d like, and a little bit of cruising.
And at the risk of facing my fears, I can’t wait to hear your feedback!
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“Sex, Lies, & Cruising”
Blurb: Exotic locations, sexy men, and crazy crew parties… Ellie has her dream job… or does she?
When Ellie’s fiancé cheats on her with a younger, slimmer, blonde from the office, she boots him out of her life and finds solace in a fabulous photography job aboard a Caribbean cruise ship. Twenty-four hours on board and she’s already shagged her sexy Texan colleague, who happens to love her muffin-top. Unfortunately he’s leaving in a week, and his ex-girlfriend, a hot-headed Brazilian with stripper moves right out of the 90s and a talent for stealing boyfriends, is still on board and out for revenge.
Ellie must work out how to deal with the loco ex, sort the lying scumbags from the good guys, and figure out how many crew members in a cabin it takes before officially becoming group sex. Who the hell knows? (It’s five, actually.) It’s a world completely unlike the one she left behind, but as she tries to find her place on board, Ellie discovers laughter and tears in equal measure. And in the midst of the craziness, she realises the greatest thing this lifestyle change has given her is the chance to rediscover herself.
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“Should we keep this secret?” I asked abruptly. “It’s a bit weird, right, that I only got here and yesterday and we’ve already…you know…”
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” he said with a shrug. “This is a cruise ship, little lady, not a convent.”
Our night of passion had been one of my exotic cruise fantasies, and he was being refreshingly nonchalant about it, but I still felt awkward as arse. It had been a long time since I’d had to deal with the walk of shame. But before I could skulk back to my own cabin, there was something I needed. I felt around under the covers and quickly scanned the floor. Damn, they were about three feet away, curled up in a little ball right near Seth’s left foot. Bollocks.
“Can you, um, please pass me my pants?” I felt my cheeks go hot. This was embarrassing.
He looked around in confusion. “I thought you were wearing a skirt?”
I suddenly remembered the difference in vocabulary across the pond. Cringing, I said, “My…underpants.” Excruciating.
He looked down and spotted them. As he handed over my pants, uniform, and thankfully, my bra, our hands met and I felt a little jolt of electricity. His hand lingered…then he leaned over and kissed me quickly on the lips. “Thanks for last night, Miss Ellie. I had a jolly ol’ good time,” he said, mocking my accent embarrassingly badly.
“Oh, no problem at all. I’m not normally so…forward…but it was fun.” I reached under the sheet, trying to struggle into my pants. Where was last night’s carefree Ellie when I needed her?
“Well, we should do this again,” he said over his shoulder as he disappeared into the bathroom. I heard the toilet flush, followed by the shower being turned on full blast. I swung my feet onto the floor, straightened myself out, and looked for a mirror to check how scary my hair and makeup looked after last night. I couldn’t find one, so I rubbed a finger under my eye and groaned when it came away black. I gingerly patted my hair and quickly discovered it was sticking up at the back. “Ugh.” Not the best look. Then again, if someone like Seth wanted to spend the night with me, again, I must have been doing something right…
I looked around Seth’s cabin as I squeezed myself back into my wrinkled uniform. It was the same size as mine, obviously, but surprisingly neat for a guy’s room. The desk held a laptop, iPod docking station, and a few books. At the back of the room were a couple of little chairs and a small, round table, where Seth’s crumpled uniform lay in a little heap.
I really couldn’t believe I’d slept with him. I hadn’t been with anyone other than Dan for years, and while I was looking for fun, I hadn’t intended to play ‘How’s Your Father’ with someone quite so soon. Mind you, I wasn’t complaining. Seth had the accent, face, and body of most girls’ secret (and not-so-secret) fantasies.
A knock at the door interrupted my thoughts. “Seth? Please hurry up!” It was a woman with an unidentifiable accent. “We were supposed to be on gangway five minutes ago. Justin is going to kill us!” Knock, knock, knock. “Seth!”
The door flew open and a short girl with wavy black hair burst into the cabin. “Oh, it’s unlocked. I hope—” She saw me and stopped short, staring. “Oh. You must be that new girl.”
Damn. So much for getting out of there before anyone discovered me and started labelling me as some wanton whorebag. I’d thought these doors automatically locked from the inside…
Naturally, I had to play cool. “Oh, hello, I’m Ellie. Really lovely to meet you.” I stuck my hand out.
She just looked at my hand without shaking it, and then looked back up at me. “You seem to have settled in.” There was no trace of a smile on her heart-shaped face. I figured she was South American, or maybe Spanish; either way, she was astonishingly beautiful, and I suspected I might hate her already.
The sound of the shower stopped. “Hey, Maria, how many times have I told ya not to come into my cabin without being invited?” Seth called from the bathroom. “I really need to get that lock fixed,” he added, almost, but not quite, under his breath.
“Sorry, Mr Big Shot,” she said sarcastically, watching me with narrowed eyes.
“What was that?” He stuck his head out the bathroom door.
“I said sorry, I forgot,” she said, smiling with total insincerity. “I see you have a guest.”
“Ellie, this is Maria. Maria’s a fellow photographer, from Brazil. Maria, Ellie is our new Pic Stop girl from England.” Seth came out of the bathroom, drying his hair, a towel casually slung around his waist.
Maria and I caught each other eyeing his toned torso. “We’ve met,” she mumbled, and swung around so that her back was to me. Her curvaceous figure was barely contained by her tight work skirt. I’d inherited my mum’s flat bum and cursed the fact I’d never look that good in mine. I was hoping eventually I’d fit into my uniform and look stunning, but right now I just felt like a cow in a skirt too tight for me. Far cry from Maria’s glamourous figure.
The tension in the room was very uncomfortable. I wondered if Maria was not the type to have fallen into a fling so quickly. According to Seth we didn’t have anything to hide, but I didn’t want to get a colleague offside so quickly, either.
“I just popped over to find out from Seth if, um, I could come and help today.” I stumbled over the lie and felt my cheeks going red.
“Oh yes, obviously that is what you were doing.” Already halfway out the door, she said over her shoulder, “Do not bother. We do not need help.” Then she was gone.
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