Inkpop Blog

Write, Read, Connect

From Blogs to Novels: Inside the Mind of Holly Cupala

Posted by inkpopbecki on June 23, 2010

So what does it take to go from being a successful blogger to a successful novelist? As a blogger for the hit site readergirlz.com and author of the new novel Tell Me a Secret, we felt writer Holly Cupala would definitely know the answer to this question, so we sat down with her for a quick QA. If you’d like to ask Holly a question of your own, join us for a live chat with Holly Cupala at 5 p.m. EST on inkpop foums.

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How does writing a novel compare to maintaining a popular blog? Are there skills that translate?

Blogging and writing a novel are very different for me—blogging is far more casual and upbeat, whereas in writing I want to dig deeper into a character’s thoughts and emotions and life questions. But I think all writing contributes to learning how to put what’s in your head onto paper. One of my friends subscribes to the “million words” idea—meaning, it takes writing a million words to develop your craft. I’m not sure if I’ve hit that, but blogging certainly counts!

When it comes to getting ideas for your book, where do you look for inspiration?
Many of the details in TELL ME A SECRET came from bits of life and memories, blended up and poured into a new, original shape. (My close friends know the secrets, and they’re not telling!) Sometimes, if I’m stuck on a scene, I will seek out stimuli to get myself thinking—a novel in a different genre, a new canvas to paint, or even a shower! Yes, I get a lot of ideas in the shower. Writing is sort of a puzzle, and you have to understand the shape of it and how the pieces fit together. To me, that’s the most thrilling part of the process—getting to that “Aha!” moment.

How do you manage to maintain a blog, twitter, facebook page and write a novel without suffering from writing fatigue? Is this what is necessary to create a readership in today’s publishing industry?
I definitely have periods where I am more or less active online in relation to working on a novel. Right now the focus is all about responding to readers about TELL ME A SECRET! Hopefully I have made friends in the process, and that’s the best way I can think of to connect with a readership.

What does it take to become a successful blogger these days?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to give an answer, but I’ll try! I think there are several ways to carve out a place in the blogosphere. Here are a few things I’ve learned on my journey and from the venerable bloggers who have gone before me:

• Find your blog voice: this is your unique take on the world—your subject, your humor, your personality. For instance, YA author Melissa Walker and her friend Anne co-founded http://www.beforeyouwerehot.com, a blog comparing the ugly duckling you once were with the hottie you are now. Brilliant.
• Make friends: I think the single most important thing you can do—in blogging and in life—is to be nice. Be genuinely interested in others, and in continuing the dialogue about books. It’s not all about getting yourself out there, it’s about making connections.
• Join forces: There are lots of reasons to team up with friends and colleagues. Some examples that come to mind: Five Awesome YA Fans, YA Highway, and readergirlz, a non-profit teen lit community to which I contribute. Joining forces can translate into live events, like the Teen Author Carnival in NYC with 30 authors, coordinated by bloggers Devyn Burton, Mitali Dave, and Korianne Wey.
•Think about ways to give back. I really admire people who give back to their communities and support the things they believe in—blogs can be an awesome place to do that! Ten percent of our proceeds from TELL ME A SECRET go to World Vision’s Hope for Sexually Exploited Girls. When you put together a blog, think about a cause that fires your passion—then do something about it.

Have more questions? Join the live chat with Holly Cupala tonight at 5 p.m. EST.

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