Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Getting what we wished for

Ah, here we are, the holidays**! It’s the time for wishing and hoping and dreaming. And I know what a ton of writers are wishing for: you want to have your books sell like *insert famous author here.* And sometimes we aren’t very good at paying attention to what that wish means.

I’ll admit, this is something I’ve wished for. More than once―okay, I’m human, I wish for this just about every time I pay the bills. But there’s something else that comes with it that is completely glossed over when it comes to writing success. With every person who loves the book, there’s someone else who hates it, and possibly vocally.

There’s a surprising amount of hate in the world of book reviews, and I toggle back and forth about whether it’s a good thing or not, and now we will talk about Twilight. I know about half of you just rolled your eyes. Twilight is a perfect example of a divisive book series. Either you love Twilight, or you hate it. Oddly, I suspect that most of the people who hate it actually hate other things about it than the book itself, but it has, for whatever reason, spawned a large pile of hatred aimed at the book. These come in the guise of book reviews and newspaper articles. These come as ed op pieces decrying the downfall of teenage girls. This hate trickles down and we all sort of shrug and say that it’s normal for a book to have its detractors.

After reading some of the reviews, I wish I could give Stephanie Myers a hug. People are vicious. And when it’s someone big like Twilight, everyone says rude things like “it doesn’t matter because she gets to cry into her bags of money when she goes to sleep at night.”

It’s like people feel it’s okay to be mean and rude because of her success. And this happens to all books.

When you put a book out into the world, you lose a certain ownership of it. You give it to the world with a big bow that basically says “Go ahead world, send me your worst―I dare you.” And the world sends back a smorgasbord of responses. Worst? Yup. Best? Present and accounted for. In the middle? Sure you can have that too. And if you’re the writer, all of it is right in your face. Good, bad, ugly. And the only response you can have is to grin and bear it. Sit back, thank the world in general, and pretend the mean reviews didn’t hurt your feelings. It’s nothing personal. Welcome to publishing! Everyone gets bad reviews.

So, maybe you’re sitting at home, wishing your books could be published, or maybe you’re wishing your books could sell like Stephen King, or Nora Roberts, or Stephanie Myers. Just keep in mind that you should always be careful of what you wish for. Also, get back out there and write! Your next book isn’t going to magically write itself!

Oh, and enjoy the holidays!

**Wait, is this an attack on Christmas? Nope! I know there's more than one super important holiday right about now and it takes too long to list all of them at the beginning of a post! Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Years, Merry Krishna! And that's not even close to representative of all the holidays people celebrate this time of year (that doesn't even cover the sampling from the readers of this blog alone), which is so amazing! Feel free to send me whichever holiday greetings are appropriate for the holiday you celebrate!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

All roads lead to publishing… sort of (part II)

This is the second installment of how my book got published, and specifically about how I took a pretty circuitous approach to seeing my novel into a book. You can read part I here.

So there I was with my third novel dead in the water (and of course, its two sequels, because if you’re gonna make a rookie mistake, be sure it’s to the tune of 350,000 words!), and no real start on my next project. I had some ideas, but nothing seemed to be sticking. And writing had been SO easy before (turns out, that was just the clich├ęs talking), so I decided that it would be good for me to sit down with one of these elusive, not sticking ideas, and pound out a story.

I told myself this would be “good practice.”

Before anyone gets any thoughts about how this novel was “just for practice,” I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I struggled for the wordsthe right wordsthey would come in fits and spurts and then I’d go back through and erase entire chapters for not living up to my expectations. I maybe cried a lot as I wrote this book.

When I finished, I was briefly triumphant, then instantly certain that pretty much all of it had to be rewritten. And that’s when the real work started, but hey, I thought: It’ll be good practice seeing this novel through from start to finish.

So I started in on revising. I rewrote most of the ending. Then, I rewrote most of the beginning. Then I changed most of the words in the middle, polished it up and sent it to an agent who was having a query contest.

I’ve talked before about what she told me during that contest. She told me that my writing was fine, good even, but the problem was that there was another story that was similar enough in concept that had done very poorly in the market place. She said that because another book had done poorly, she wasn’t even interested in mine. I might as well have written a vampire novel.

And so, with a heavy heart and after wasting most of a year on a book that was still not the one, I trunked my novel without sending it out into the world.

Stay tuned for part III

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Insecure just talking about myself

It's that time again, so close the circle and join with the ninja captain, Alex and his cohosts, Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell as we take another journey through the lands of insecurity and writing:

One thing about self promotion: you talk about yourself a lot. Which sometimes is good, and sometimes, well, it gets uncomfortable. It’s not that I don’t want people to go out and buy the book. It’s not that I don’t think the book is worth talking about or not worth getting attention. But if it’s not the book, then what is it?

Which sort of led me to a startling realization:

It’s me. I’m the one I don’t think is really worthy of being talked about. The whole insecurity around my self-promotion is that I feel like I shouldn’t be hogging all that cyber space and that I might really need to keep my mouth shut and listen to other people. What gives me the right to take up all that time and space with something “Oh look at me, I wrote a book and published it! Aren’t I a super special snowflake?”

Of course, it is hard to write. Publishing is a major milestone in any writer’s life, so why am I sort of hesitant to take up that lime light and pour it over myself? I’ve never had a hard time taking up all the space in any room I was in, but I’ve never asked people to pay for something either. I’ve never really worked retail or marketing. I’ve always been the person with the zingers or the funny story. I’ve never been the person who stands up front and says “This is awesome and you should all buy it. I can tell you that it’s awesome because I wrote, so I am completely unbiased.” Despite living my whole social media career as a wallflower I’ve been tweeting, facebooking, and generally sending spam into the world in the hopes that someone will see it and connect with my book.

This makes my tummy turn, this marketing, and it makes me doubt myself and my ability. So yup, that’s what I’m insecure about. How do you handle the unhappy feels that come with not just being in the spot light but gobbling up all of it (and hoping people buy your book)?

Monday, November 23, 2015

It's here!

This is one of those posts that writers dream about writing:

My book published today.

Like Holy Cow, didn’t someone know they were supposed to shut the door before I got out?

Well, it’s too late. My book is out, and you can buy it here!

Need a little more convincing? How about this awesome cover?

Oh yeah, that’s amazing! (Thanks again to Amalia, her stuff is Ah-Maz-ING!)

And here’s the back cover for those still in need of convincing!

Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, she just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon’s fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures hiding within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he’s been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson must choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit.

I'll be having a Facebook party here later today (between 1 and 5 Pacific time).  Stop by and say "Hi!"