Louise Ahern is the total package. She writes. She edits and now she is coaching other writers. She is joining us to talk about her work at this year’s A Rally of Writers. We did a Q&A with her to talk about the coaching and her other work.
As a writer and author, why did you make the leap to coaching?
It was a natural fit for me and not a huge leap. I’ve taught writing workshops for many years, and a few years ago, I began getting requests from writers to help them one-on-one when they were struggling with their books. It grew out of that. I also found as an editor that the majority of books that came to me weren’t ready yet for editing. I would find myself wishing that I’d had a chance to work with the writer as they were crafting the book.
People get writing coaches confused with editors. What is your coaching practice like?
Editors tackle your work when you’re done. Coaches like myself help you as you are writing. For example, if you’re stuck in the middle of your book and can’t seem to move forward, I can help you get unblocked. I’ll read what you’ve written so far and give you a detailed worksheet that asks you to explore everything from your characters’ backstories to how you want people to feel when they’re done reading your book. After I’ve reviewed your answers, we’ll meet over the phone, via Skype, or in person. More often than not, one coaching session is all it takes for writers to get unstuck. I find that most writers get stuck because of weak character backstory, insufficient conflict (an over-dependence on coincidence is a common problem), and/or too much reliance on an external plot to drive everything. Once I pinpoint what I believe is the problem, I help writers flesh things out so they can get moving again.
How do you balance the coaching with producing your own work?
I’ve learned to not take on any clients when I’m within a month of a deadline for my own work or another major milestone (such as release day). Even with the best time management, those times are just too stressful and unpredictable to be able to take on any work outside my own.
You have two books coming out. Tell us about them.
I signed a three-book deal with Berkley (Penguin/Random House) last fall for a romantic comedy series that follows the antics of a group of men who read romance novels in a secret book club. The first book, The Bromance Book Club, will be out Nov. 5 in trade paperback. That book introduces the book club and is about a Major League Baseball player who turns to the book club (and romance novels) for advice on winning back his estranged wife. The second book is slated for release in March 2020. The title and plot for that book are still under wraps. I’m finishing it right now. And the third book is tentatively scheduled for a November 2020 release. I’ll start writing that as soon as I turn in book two to my editor.
If someone wants to reach out to you to explore coaching, how do you want them to do this?
The easiest way is to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell me what you’re struggling with and your timeline. We’ll go from there.