Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Status Update, just like the last status update: Life after contract

Yet another reason writers tend to fall off the radar is that it takes a long time to write a book.

And for the whole time we're writing, we are painfully aware that most of the book doesn't exist yet. The problem with that is it's rude to talk about something that literally no one else can share in. I can talk about it sure, but it ranks on the same boring scale as people telling you about what they dreamed about last night. Some people will find it interesting, or they might find parts of it interesting because they like you and are interested in what your dreams tell them about you, but otherwise? Nope, not really the stuff of riveting conversation

Sadly, the same is true of a book that isn't even a book yet. In fact, in some circles, it's considered rude to talk about unwritten novels. No one can even read it. There's no use in pitching it because it doesn't exist yet. There's no use in talking about the plot because, well, that could change dramatically too.

And yet, there's this ongoing need to do a sort of check in.

Many writers move to the talking about word count, or the "wrote a great scene" sorts of posts, but those aren't exactly the stuff of legends either. So there's the writer, a book in their mind, a blog full of blank pages and they've already talked about the--still imaginary!--book enough to push the boundaries of politeness.

Which brings me rather nicely to a status update:

Everything is uncertain in a writer's life. I currently have one novella that is in production. Everything else is in various states of maybe or not finished. I'm waiting to hear back on one novel. I'm finishing up edits on a rough draft to send off to my early readers. I'm plotting the rest of a rough draft for a novel in a completely different world. And I'm researching self publishing and if I want to go that route with one of my books.

Which is a guarantee of exactly nothing (another reason writers tend to clam up). It looks like I have a lot going on writing wise, but it could literally pan out to nothing (except the self publishing bit). And every time a writer finishes up a book, that's where it might be headed. All that work, seemingly for naught.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Life Goal Met! Now what do I do? Life after contract


This post is pulling double duty as a continuation of my Life After Contract Series, and Insecure Writer’s Support Group. So pop on over and say Hi to Alex, and give a big hand to this month's co-hosts: Jennifer Hawes,Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

Sometimes writers talk about how the first half million words suck. Yeah, that was me. I was well past that mark before agents and publishers started requesting partials. All of those early requests landed in the rejection pile.

My most recent break in writing lasted until the summer of 2009. I hit September and started writing like a woman possessed. Over the next 18 months I wrote over 350,000 words, all of it crap. I spent the next six months after that writing another novel, so two full years in. Then, a year after that (!!!) I got my first partial request. It came back a week later as a form letter rejection.

As you can imagine three full years of busting buns to get a thing going, and the best I had to show for it was ONE partial request. Ouch doesn’t begin to cover the moment when I started questioning my life choices. And, as a side note, writing was not the thing I was doing for my daily bread. Writing was a major sacrifice for me and my family. I had believed in it—believed in me!—and all I had at that point was a partial and a quick rejection.

Yeah, things were dark, so I did the thing that many writers do: I picked a different goal. I stepped back from my writing and asked myself “What would be worth it? What would be worth all of this sacrifice?”

Fame?

Well, to be clear, fame has its own problems, and I’m just not interested in playing that game.

Fortune?

Well, pretty much no one makes a fortune in books (which reminds me of a joke: Wanna know how to make a small fortune in publishing? Start with a big fortune). Okay, so money isn’t on its way.

So if fame and fortune aren’t goals that I can work towards, then what is the goal?

After much soul searching on the Do I cut bait and run or do I stick this out scale, I came up with another reason to write stories. I wanted to write stories so that other people, people who found them could know that they are not alone. Specifically, I wanted people to be able to read my books, identify with something or someone inside the book and think “I’m not the only one.” Because, honestly, I was very lonely growing up, and books were my salvation. So I chose that. I told myself that if just one person could ever have that feeling after reading my book, I was good with the effort I put into it. That thought carried me through years of rejections and hope and revisions, it was what kept me from diving into my writer’s cave to never come out. I could always write and not share it with the world. But I held the hope of sharing the light of not being alone in this great big universe with someone else, someone I would never meet, through my books.

And then my book came out into the world, and someone said that reading my book made them feel less alone—on the very first day! A complete stranger no less!

That’s right, life goal met on day one. Now what?

And there was this mad scramble in my mind because I had never prepared for success. Not once, not ever. There were plans and contingencies for failure. Failure I knew how to handle, but this unqualified success, this light in the darkness thing? What was I supposed to do with that?

There’s a StarTrek saying that’s confusing until you experience it: Having a thing is not so pleasing a thing as wanting a thing. It means that sometimes the pursuit of a goal is more fulfilling than have accomplished the goal. I know, pure insanity, but for me, the journey had become tied up with my identity as a writer.

And by having accomplished that thing, I fell into a sort of shock. Now what? I thought. I’d done the thing. I’d managed the impossible. Now I needed a new dream, and I hadn’t been ready to say goodbye to the other dream. It caused some major discord in my life to have my identity stripped from me by success. I’d failed so much that not failing had become out of character.


How about you? Did you ever accomplish something big and have that moment where you’re looking around for the things that define you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

One Year Later

It's sort of insane to write this, but one year ago, my first book was unleashed on the world.


Like Wow. I don't even have words. That statement feels simultaneously long ago in a galaxy far away, and like it happened just a couple days ago. And it's still such an honor to have my work out in the world, and supported by the amazing people at Curiosity Quills. I am amazed and humbled by the reception my book has received. Fan mail and reviews, all of it has been amazing, and I count myself lucky to have connected with some many wonderful people along the way.


The thing I get asked the most is: "When is the sequel coming out?" Coincidentally, this is the biggest compliment anyone can give a writer, to express excitement about future work. Thank you all for making the last year unbelievable!

(And yes, there is a sequel in the works!)







(Also, you can buy the book here or here if you don't already have a copy!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The least life could do is Wave as it passes: an IWSG

Yeah, publishing takes forever. For those of you who are very patient, this might work well for you. For those of you who are not patient (like me), publishing in all its forms will drive a writer to fits of the crazies. Publishers can go months at a time without any word. Agents? Just as long. I’ve had a project that sat in someone’s in box for nine months before being read and have a revise and resubmit requested.

Then the project sat for another six months. UGH!

And during that time, we writers are constantly aware of the fact that the market is shifting. The readers are leaving (or if you write YA, Growing UP!) And pretty much each tick of the clock might as well be the death knell of your writing career. Projects that were awesome a year ago, two years ago, four years ago—well, they aren’t awesome anymore.

I’ve watched this. The only condolence I can give is that while we’re watching the clock tick by, some things will cycle back around. People couldn’t give away paranormal romance a few years ago, and now I’m starting to see those move (slowly, but WAY more than the nothing from two years ago).

So that’s the first advice—it all comes in cycles.

Dystopians were huge. Now they’re dead. Everyone expected Sci Fi to take off, it’s still very hit or miss. And largely, YA fiction has this feeling that if it could just find the thing that got people excited again… Alas. No new Harry Potters (did you read Cursed Child too?). No new Katniss Everdeen. And it’s not like there aren’t Amazing books out there, it’s just that they aren’t getting traction.

And then there’s the feeling that no matter what the category or genre, I’m missing the boat. It’s a really hard feeling to shake. I’ve been sitting on a novel that needed a few edits before it would be ready for submission for months. I needed to write a different book first because the two tie in, but months. I’ve been waiting for months, and it’s still not ready. Even if it was ready tomorrow, I’d have to wait more months before I got any sort of word. RRRRRRGH! So yeah, sometimes, when I’m in the middle of the publishing cycle, I get caught up in how slow I’m going and how fast the rest of the world is going. I’ve got no good answers, but I can say this: never turn in shoddy work.

Ever.

Ask for more deadline time. Figure something out—bribe people. Nothing but your best will suffice later when you look back at your works. Nothing.


Now, off to go turn in a lousy start to NaNoWriMo (I think I participate so I can watch myself fall behind).

Don't forget to visit ninja captain Alex, hop on the linky, and say hi to the cohosts: Joylene Novell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I used to be a writer like you, but then I took a contract to the knee

I know I’ve sort of already talked about how the time for writing shrivels up as soon as you sign a contract, so people stop writing on their blogs, but life after contract can really mess with your ability to produce words of all kinds.

And when the words don’t come, a writer doesn’t feel like a writer. All over the internet—right now—there are memes that basically say you’re only a writer if you write EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! I know, that’s sort of a gold standard, but it’s also, for some of us, completely impossible. I simply cannot write every single day. I work 10 hour shifts, ride herd on a child reluctant to eat dinner/brush hair/teeth/do homework/clean her room, cook the foods, and other wise do all the things that make a normal house a normal house.

So yeah, sometimes, I don’t have any words at the end of a day—after all, I can only throw hot dogs at my daughter for dinner so many nights in a row. It happens. But the world is busy stuffing this idea that only true writers—writers who really deserve success—are even capable of writing every day. It’s as if I’m only a really real writer if I punish myself by toiling on my novel every single day. Now, not to put too fine a point on it, but there’s a word for that—insane. Because that’s what I’ll be if I write at the end of every day.

And this impossibility adds to the impostor syndrome many writers are already feeling because not only is the editor “just being nice” but now I can’t even manage to write every day? Total fake.

Oh, but there’s more (there’s always more). When I do have time to write, instead of running off into the sunset capturing some new novel, all that “free time” is now shoveled into editing that novel that just got the contract.

And editing is something of a shock initially. Every comment from the editor (you know, the one just being nice?) feels like a personal attack. So not only are the words not coming, there’s independent confirmation that all the words you ever made sucked. It all confirms the self fulfilling prophecy of mediocrity.

This, to some extent happened to me to the point that I haven’t finished a new novel in two and a half years. I’m hopeful to finish a rough draft real soon, but this is a big reason why writers with newly minted books seem to dry up and blow away with the dust.


In truth, like all things in publishing, it’s different for everyone. Good luck, and keep your chin up (it’s easier to breathe when the water is closing in over you if you keep your chin up).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Being my own third wheel: The Bio


Welcome back to my weekly series about Life After the Contract where I talk about the things that happen after you have a contract that largely go untalked about. Last week I talked about how as soon as a contract exists you need a bazillion things previously not needed, causing a huge emergency time rush. One of the most agonizing things is the biography.

Under normal circumstances, I don’t mind talking about myself. In fact, I tend to think of myself as a key eyewitness in my life. Perhaps my deductions into the reasoning behind certain actions are somewhat amateurish leading to the occasional emotional outburst (hey, if I were a professional, I’d be able to channel that stuff properly), but otherwise, I’m something of an expert.

But once there is a needed to describe myself to other people as though it isn’t me doing the describing… let’s just say it got interesting. Oh, and did I mention that I basically needed it yesterday?

In a nutshell, the bio has to tell the world who you are, why anyone should care, and what you’ve done. And you have a very short space to do it in. Oh, and did I mention that there are literally millions of people who have written bios, and no one is ever going to pick up your book base off your bio? But everyone knows that some people might pick up your book based off your bio, it just depends on if it can stand out (which is different for every person, because, you know, some people like Papyrus font and some people would like to burn Papyrus from every word processor).

And it’s traditionally done in third person.

I talk about myself as though I am not myself? Which sort of makes me feel like I should wear a sign along the lines of “Pay no attention to the writer behind the curtain. She is in no way biased about this bio currently being read.”

In short it makes me crazy to talk about myself like that. Worse, if a writer had been at all prepared—and as people will no doubt recall, I was not—this should already have been written. Which means a writer with contract in hand has a sudden need to talk about themselves as if they were someone else bragging about themselves and might potentially be suffering from the solid sting of embarrassingly knowing they should have done something sooner. This knowledge that you should have written it already REALLY give the imposter syndrome some nice material to work with. And, because you’re rushing, it’s not your best work. Which means, you might be pushing that imposter alarm a few more times. *sigh*


In short folks, learn from my fail.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

In which I forget it's Insecure Writer's Support Group

Zang. How'd I forget that?

Right, so see previous post, I guess.

I haven't missed one of these in a... ummm, maybe ever? I'm confused. And this is exactly what happens as soon as you sign a contract. Once upon a time, I was super organized and I never missed deadlines.

That time is a Distant memory.

Worse, I even used to be insecure about how I don't have my $h!7 together. Alas, I've given up on caring about it because it was taking up too much brain space. In short, I'll see you all for the Next IWSG

(I think I'll set a reminder in my phone now!)

Did I mention memory is the second thing to go, I just can't remember the first!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wait, it’s Tuesday? How did that happen?

Welcome back to Life After Contract where I talk about how things get suddenly different but also exactly the same.

After signing, one of the things that almost immediately happens is your time just drains away. Gone. Like, “Yesterday I had 24 hours in a day, and magically, mystically, today I only have 10. And I’m working my day job for 8 of them!”

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but almost the instant you get a contract, there’s now a million different things you have to do: edit the book, build a platform (if you don’t have one), edit your book, clean up your online profile (or delete a few as you never know how good your fans will be at digging), edit your book, and of course building marketing.

And all of that stuff is really boring. You shouldn’t talk about editing so much, at least not in any way that is actually interesting. The nitty gritty of editing is really boring and, in some cases, confidential. So no talky.

Building or dismantling profiles, well, no one wants to talk about deleting all those very personal posts on the very public blog. So nothing to talk about there.

Other boring writerly things that are suddenly important: Writing a bio, getting author pics, coming up with a plan for marketing, and unless you have a bunch of money to spend on advertising, now is the time to start selling your services to help launch your book, or to start pitching to all those reader blogs. This stuff swallows time in unreasonably large doses, eating away at all the other time, like the deadline bound editing, and the holy grail: writing the next book.

In the light of all those new responsibilities, many of which are grade A not interesting, it’s no wonder writers suddenly stop blogging so much. It is however part of the whole experience. And you can literally spend hours and hours on those tasks with nothing to show, nothing to point to. So yeah, right after the contract is a very exciting time filled with new tasks—some of which a writer may or may not be good at—and the book news is all exactly the same. So there’s not a lot to say.

Blog posts from this time go like this, “I did more writer stuff today. It was boring and confidential, so nope, I can’t talk about it. Some of it has me happy. Some of it has me sad. I’ve been told that I will sell more when I am happy, so don’t pay any attention to the part that isn’t happy. Besides, it’s not even real unhappiness, it’s disappointment that my contract didn’t come with all the great trappings of fame and fortune like those movies showed me—specifically, I’m not JK Rowling yet. PR refuses to work on that for me.”


For those of you reading who’ve been through the weird post contract-suddenly-my-title-changed-to-published-author-and-it-isn’t-like-the-movies, what parts were the hardest for you? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I’m so happy for you! Don’t mind the green, it’s a seaweed wrap

Sometimes, in my youth, I imagined that one day, all of my dreams would come true, and I would get a sort of ticker tape parade where everyone honored me and my accomplishments. As I got older, the confetti parade morphed into the book deal and the signing with an agent and all the trappings of success in publishing. Obviously, this is all some sort of dream. It’s not like confetti launches when you sign a contract (how cool would that be?).

To make things somewhat worse, right after signing, not only is there no confetti parade, there are no great lights blinking over your head to let everyone around you suddenly know that you’re a signed writer and your really, real book will be out in the world (soon—okay, soon by some very lengthy scales). There’s nothing to see, and for many writers, there won’t be a thing to even hold in your hand for a year, so it doesn’t feel real.

And then, to make it worse, all around people are having what looks like the Confetti parade. They have the Signed With AWESOME AGENT posts; the I SIGNED A 6Figure Contract; The MY BOOK LANDED ON THE NYT Bestseller list. Oh, it’s exhausting sometimes to hold your little candle of success up in the world so noisy and filled with blowtorches of success—and wishing your little candle was more like a Hollywood special effect. But it isn’t (well, not yet you tell yourself, but there’s this feeling that it might never come true). And then after being inundated by all this noise, all this bluster threatening to blow out your little candle of success, there comes One More Person with GREAT News.

Oh, dear folks, I will tell you jealousy is an emotion you are not supposed to have. It’s not supposed to exist. I’m supposed to be a gracious and magnanimous person. And I am—most of the time. Right after I signed, I suffered from this emotion I’m not supposed to feel. I’d been taught that jealousy is bad. I’m supposed to ignore it. I’m supposed to be able to “just get over it.” So there it is, jealousy in all its hideous—shameful—presence. And the book that lands on the bestseller list is a fan fic of a fan fic, widely panned by critics as the worst stinking pile of poo ever, and it’s selling 100,000 copies a day.

UGH.

And I’m jealous of that pile of poo, an unenviable position to begin with, but the very act of being jealous is also shameful. AAAAGH!!!

There is only one response: grin and bear it. If I can’t manage that, then I’ve got to find a way to at least make sure that there is no evidence I ever suffered from that shameful emotion. So it’s time to crawl into a hole, or become a smiling automaton.

This is what society has dictated, and, if you’ve been watching social media, any other responses are absolutely skewered in the public view. So writers with contracts drop out of the race. They hide. They take the shameful emotion and hide the fact that they ever had it. Because we aren’t supposed to be jealous—we’re supposed to be happy.

I know, it’s not very original, but it’s the truth, sometimes, the emotions are hard to deal with. And if you're wondering, this might be among the reasons a writer drops off the radar.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Congratulations! You’ve signed a contract! Welcome to Imposterville, Population 1

Pretty much the first set of feelings I had as a “really, real” writer was imposter syndrome. I felt like a fake. Worse I felt like the acquisitions editor was “just being nice.”

This is laughable.

It’s not that acquisitions editors sit around drinking scotch and smoking cigars—I mean, that’s a lovely pastime, but sometimes there’s real work to be done—but they certainly aren’t the evil overlords looking to destroy the world and crush the hopes and dreams of writers. Well, not today at least. So yeah, the idea that the person trying to acquire my book was just being nice rather than being a professional trying to convince me to sign a contract is, in retrospect, kind of na├»ve.

But there it is, I felt like I’d somehow bamboozled my way through the gate. Largely, this was because I didn’t know what to expect or that there were even people in the world who might like my book. I had over 200 letters telling me that my books weren’t what people were looking for, that in this crowded market, they weren’t likely to stand out, and that the premise seemed engaging but the actual book was in the unenviable position of not having been fallen in love with (It’s okay, poor book, there’s a special lobster for your too).

So I thought I was a fake. And if I’m a fake, so is the contract.

That’s right, I deluded myself into believing that the whole book getting published thing wouldn’t happen, and that all of this was just a big joke. Lucky for all parties involved, I decided that I wouldn’t be the first to break and call it a joke, and that I would follow all of my contractual obligations leading up to the release of my book. In my head, it became some sort of complicated game of chicken.

You might ask why it was that I was so convinced of this was fake. There are some precedents in my life where I’d been led along like something was real and had the rug ripped out from under me, but for the most part, those were little events—right up until it was a thing I’d been working on for a decade. When that fell through, I sort of lost faith in the Universe. (Sorry Universe, it’s me not you? No wait, that time it was you.)

But I had to look at myself and accept a few things: I had some signs of classic depression, and more than a little bit of clinical anxiety. Depression and anxiety were the ones telling me that my writing had sucked and that my work wasn’t worth anyone’s time and effort. All those rejection letters had just given my anxiety the words it needed to really hunker down and make some logical sense. My anxiety and depression had convinced me that other people, the ones saying nice things about my book—the ones offering me contracts for my book!—were lying about liking it.

Clearly, they weren’t. The book got published—much to my surprise—and now there are a bunch of copies out in the world. And it’s sort of amazing and wonderful, and more than anything, I’m glad I decided to follow along and jump through the hoops to get my book published, because, I like my book. I never expected to be in a place to admit that I love my own books, but I do, and that one in particular.

So pretty much this goes down as a learn from my fail. I wasted a ton of head space and time thinking they were going to pull the plug. And pulling the plug does happen in Publishing, NONE of the signs were there. Literally none.


I’ve talked to a ton of writers and this isn’t an isolated incident. Mine might have been stronger than many, (mine might have been actually a weak case all things considered, I just like to build mountains out of mole hills) but it’s not an isolated feeling. Imposter syndrome is real, and it will warp your mind.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Arrow of Time Points in a Circle

I’ve noticed something in my time in the Bloggosphere: I’ll be following a writer, they’ve just signed with their agent, they’ve just released their first book into the world, and then crickets. They were all over the place, and then, suddenly, dramatically, they’re gone. The blogging records are really good right up until release day. When I was querying madly and trying to figure myself and my own writing out, I always wondered why that was. Why did they get to that spot and stop? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to ramp it up?

And to be truthful, some writers get to that point and they did ramp it up—with promotions for their book. They completely stopped writing about all the things I’d gone to their blog for: writing tips and how to, and the like.

I get it. You publish a book, and it’s time to sell the book. I get that. I really do. But the thing I was always curious about were the thoughts writers had after releasing a book.

And then I looked back at my own blog and saw EXACTLY the same thing. *Sigh*

Turns out, I’m not all that special. Turns out, I’m just like all the other writers. Turns out, I have many of the same insecurities and fears as all the others. Turns out that when things got rough, I abandoned my blog because as writers, we’re supposed to happy and supportive and exciting. Turns out, it’s easier to go silent than it is to process the feels while you’re in a place that many other writers are envious of.

With writing, there are some things you’re allowed to shout from the rooftops, and there are things you’re supposed to hide (terms of contracts, for instance). So I’m going to start a series of blog posts that I intend to go from now through the start of NaNoWriMo (you are getting ready, right?) to cover some of the things that don’t get talked about as much (largely because they’re boring).

What they will be: A look at writing; what’s changed about writing since publication; a look at some of the challenges after publishing that don’t get talked about a lot; ways to cope; thoughts on strategy; learn from my fail; and quite a bit of Just Keep Swimming (sorry, it’s the nature of the beast).

What it won’t be: Woe is me, look at how my success ruined my life (because it didn’t, but there are definitely feels, and those feels are very real elephants come to trample you and your muse).

This’ll be a weekly engagement (should I say weakly, my blogging hasn’t been that good lately), and I’ll intersperse some other posts (reviews, costume related, fangirl moments—you do know Flash season 3 airs in October, right?).


If there’s anything specific you’d like me to talk about, send me an email, comment here, hit me up on Facebook, carrier pigeon—I’m easy to contact, and I want this series to be a resource for people going through the process. I know that parts of this topic exist in the blogosphere, but they were often stories about “when I was a young writer” and not nearly that much about the way publishing is now (and publishing changes faster than a model during fashion week—but it’s all the same which is paradoxical and complicated). 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Squash like grape!

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, and that means: Insecure Writer’s Support Group!

This month, my particular insecurity is oddly specific. I’m worried that I’m writing the wrong book.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been working on a sequel. This is fun, terrifying, and, strangely, sloooooow. I’m starting to think that the reason it’s so slow is because I’m not convinced I’m working on the right project.

See, I interrupted a book to work on this project. A shiny book. A book that was starting to really grow on me, but then I realized the better business decision to make, would be to make sure that we have another book in the race. So I set aside the thing that had the momentum and now I’m moving as fast as molasses at Christmas. In fact, it was so slow, that for a while there I wasn’t managing any words at all. But then things got a little better, but still not great.

And all the while, I keep thinking about the book I left behind. Did I ruin it by leaving it? Will the magic still be there when I finally finish this other project? And did I leave behind the magic to write something kind of crummy? Ah the doubts gnaw like remoras.

But, I’ve made a choice and I’ve picked my side of the road. For those of your who maybe didn't grow up watching the Karate Kid, Mr. Myagi famously stated to the MC that he either had to go all in or stay out of Karate all together. If he wobbled in the middle, he'd be squashed like a grape. So I'm all in, and there’s only one way out. I keep trying to remind myself of that saying: If you have to walk through hell, don’t stroll. Back to work for me. 




And don’t forget to visit all the cohosts, C. Lee McKenzie,Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata, and hop on NinjaCaptain Alex’s Linky and visit some other blogs

Monday, August 8, 2016

Right, so maybe I've been doing this thing...

I should be writing.

You all know this.

I know this.

Instead, I've been doing something else. I've been painting and I've been playing Pokemon. Yes, I do have a full time job (a couple actually), and I'm getting a real kick out of playing a game. Admittedly, a bunch of people at work are playing too, so it's fun to get the poke reports during breaks and lunches (you know, between the secret missions and all that).

More amazing than me having a blast playing a silly game and "wasting" my time is this: I'm writing more too.

Like for real. It's funny right, I spend more time doing a thing that takes time away from the writing thing and the end result is more writing? BWahhhh?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and sometimes, it's good to just have fun. For real. Like everything in life isn't about advancing the careers. And what I really didn't expect was that slowing down to play a game would help out my word count, but there it is.

So, that's my word of wisdom for the week: have fun!

Also, I have a winner to announce!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Challenge

Here we are, running headlong into another month which means it's time for another installment of Insecure Writer's Support Group. Stop on by the Ninja Captain's blog and say hi or jump on the linky. This month's co hosts are Tamara Narayan,Tonja Drecker, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Lauren @ Pensuasion, Stephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders!





More and more, my words are dogged by doubt.

Well, I mean, that’s unfair. My words were always filled with doubt, but now I can see where those doubts come from: now I know the shape of them.

It’s a funny thing that by the time you know enough about writing, you know to be careful with it, when really, when we’re writing our early drafts what we really need is to be wildly carefree. We need to throw our words around, send them where we will, experiment with the emotions of a scene.

But you’ve heard all this before, and this probably isn’t helping except to reaffirm that these feelings we have are real and other people have them too.

So here’s something new. A challenge. Are you still with me?

I’m always talking about learning how to not compare myself to others? How when I compare myself to others, I only disappoint myself? Well, there’s someone else I keep comparing myself to, and it drives me nuts. I keep comparing myself to me. I compare my rough drafts to my finished novels. I compare my scenes on paper to the ones in my head. And the most annoying thing about comparing myself to me is that I always find myself wanting.

Like I did a good job back then, but that ain’t happening again. I’m convinced the thing that makes the stuff suck between the idea and the words is that the idea and the words pass through me, like I’m some filter of suckage.

Of course the rough draft isn’t going to be anything like a polished published novel. Why do I even compare them? It’s like I forgot all those intermediate steps I took to make it all the way to the end.

Of course my ideas aren’t going to translate perfectly to the scenes in the novels. Those scenes are just guideposts anyways.

So I need to challenge myself to stop comparing me to me. No big deal. This should be totally easy.





Spoiler alert: Totally not easy!


Also, did I mention I'm running a little giveaway for my book? Just comment on this link (FB link) for a chance to win an eCopy of Acne Asthma and other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Olympics and Summer

w00t! How's everyone's summer? Mine's been interesting. And I think that's the nicest thing I can say about it so far. On the plus side, I've been to some museums, got to tour other cities (for all the wrong reasons, but you know, lemons become lemonade), and I've been working on my art.

I'm pretty excited about the upcoming Olympics. And to celebrate the upcoming Olympic games, I'm doing a blog tour for my book, Of Pens And Swords, as the main character, Cyra, desperately wants to go to the Olympics.

Go check out Elsie's blog and Katie's blog. Don't forget to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of my first title!

And before I go, What events are everyone gearing up for? I, for one, cannot wait for the equestrian competition to start!



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Under Paintings

I don't know how, but I've managed to survive to another Insecure Writer's Blog Post! It was a narrow thing on my part, I assure you. So if you haven't heard of the Insecure Writers support Group, head on over to the Ninja Captain, hop on the Linky and say "Howdy" to this month's cohosts Yolanda Renee, Tyrean Martinson, Madeline Mora-Summonte , LK Hill, Rachna Chhabria, and JA Scott! .

This month, I'm insecure about not having masterpieces fall from my finger tips. I know, I know, I need to give myself some credit because just the writing of a first draft is both hard and important. It's actually been slowing me down as I write, this need to have everything perfect as it hit's the page, but then I remember: this is a first draft.

Say it with me folks: First Drafts have permission to suck.

You know what doesn't have permission to suck? The final draft.

But I keep getting the two confused in my head, so I'm trying to remind myself that my first drafts are like under paintings. Sometimes, in painting, you sort of sketch out the form of what you're going to paint in muted colors. It's to give you a road map for when you're really slinging the paint around.

Here's one of my recent paintings with it's underpainting.
This is me not being finished
And this is me being finished.































So yeah, I need to pull back a little bit and judge my first draft by the standards of a first draft.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The funny thing about writing...

People may or may not know this about me, but I love playing Halo. I'm a big fan (right up until the whole not getting split screen time, 343!). When I first started playing, I had also been playing a game called Fable. Now, I LOVE Fable, and I LOVE Halo.

But these two games have rapidly diverging systems.

With Fable, you get to spend your time developing how you level your character, so at the end, you are a uniquley you version of yourself. As you level, the challenges become less challenging because you become more powerful. Miss a mission early in the game and it's a cake walk later.

See, in Halo, you never level up. Never. You occassionally get cooler more badass toys, but you never level up.

The game never makes your character better. The difficulty never gets easier. In fact, the game doesn't really change (some levels are stupid easy, and some levels are ridiculously hard). But the truth is, the only thing that gets better in playing Halo is the player. The game still requires that you make good choices in the moment and that you stick to proven tactics until an elite with a force sword warms your spine through your bellybutton.

Writing is a lot more like Halo.

I used to think it was more like Fable, but it's clear to me that's not how it works. You can "level up" as a writer, but that's not going to save you from reaching into the cliche chum bucket. it's not going to help you rid your work of purple prose. Sometimes, the goal of an edit is to make it to the next save point before you die, so the next time you die, you're a little closer to the target.

One big frustrating thing about writing is that you can have success that's followed by not success. You can be rejected after you've "published well." It's pretty terrifying, but that's just the way it is, so maybe it's time to get back out there and write!



For those of you interested in winning a free ecopy of Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon, pay attention: all next month there will be opportunities to win my ebook as I go around celebrating the release of my second book Of Pens and Swords!




Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sequels, the lament

I love sequels. I love getting to take those characters out on another hair-brained adventure. It's the nature of us as humans to crave very strongly the "Same but Different" feel that a really good sequel is supposed to give you. I love sequels.

Right up until the moment I'm the one writing it.

With sequels, part of the problem is that we've been training to write the first book in a series, not the last book or the middle book. One thing we have going for us is that there are some really amazing sequels out there:

The Empire Strikes Back

and, umm, you know, that other sequel...

Okay, I'm gonna level with you, there are very few sequels that make me happy that I'm dealing with a sequel. There's something about sequels that make me tremble in fear. Largely, the biggest fear is that people lose their ability to tell stories. For instance, the reboot of StarTrek: the absolute pinnacle of the movie (for tension purposes) happens 15 minutes before the end, and then Spock goes and punches out Khan. *sigh* And this is a common problem in sequels. The actual beats are misinterpreted by the very people in charge of making the sequel. And I live in fear that I'm also making those mistakes.

Of course, the real problem with writing a sequel is This Song!


(That's what we do in Hollywood)




(And everybody knows that the sequel isn't quite as good...)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Great things get in my way: Insecure about getting it done

There's this thing that gets in my way sometimes.

When people are inspired by something, they often move to produce work to honor it, or mimic it, or anything, but they are inspired to produce.

When I see something that touches my soul, it washes me out in a sea of ennui. For days afterwards, I'm in a funk because I want to make something that touches people the way I've been touched. I want to give people an experience, but right after I've had one, I'm paralyzed by the enormity of what I'm trying to do. It feels like, in those moments, that I'll never manage to do something as beautiful/meaningful/inspiring/hopeful/touching.

I admit this is the leftover dregs of that inner voice. It's there in the background saying nasty things like "See that, you'll never make anything that good." I hate that it exists, and I really hate that I can't exterminate it. I see this as one of my greatest personal failings. People talk about how they are able to destroy this voice inside them, that they can shut it up. Mine has a loudspeaker and access to the house speakers.

So what about you? Does your nasty voice compare you to what's going on around you? Does it get in the way of your ability to create?

Remember to hop around and go visit the Ninja Captain and  his cohosts Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, Chemist Ken, and Heather Gardner!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Changing of the guard

If you read much of any of my social media, you've probably figured out that I have a new cat in the family.

What I haven't talked about much is how we also lost a kitty. My James Bond Villain cat died. She was a wonderful cat, and I didn't plaster it all over town because I didn't feel like it was anyone's place to know but me.

I hurt so much that I had a very difficult time with the whole "moving on" thing. People sort of expected me to be able to just get up and move on like I had when I was younger. For those of you wondering, when I was younger, my cats were never quite the same part of my life. Those cats were indoor, outdoor cats, and they never had the same level of affections. They were obligations, meat machines to be properly fed and watered with the occasional pet, but Villain cat was different. She sat with me when I read books. She slept next to me at night. She patiently waited while I worked on my master's degree and then later when I sifted through all manner of research. She waited up with me when the baby was crying. She was like a presence in my house that I had come to take for granted.

And at first, the hardest thing was to think about another cat. My other cat roamed the house yowling all night long. He had always done this, but only for a few minutes a night. After the death of Villain Cat, he roamed the halls singing the songs of his people at all hours.

It was clear, we would need to get another cat, because the companionship alone was killing my kitteh, and he was making sure we all knew his suffering. But whenever I met new cats, cats looking for a new home, I just couldn't attach myself to them. They felt like shoddy replacements, and I was definitely struggling with the too soon problems. I clung desperately to the memory of how Villain Cat and I had met, the only thing in the world that she wanted was out of that cage, and anyone would do. By the graces of luck, it had been us, and she had changed our life.

And then we found Jack.

He snuggles on my daughter's lap and climbs the curtains. He ate the edit letter from a revise and resubmit. He ate the chicken right off our plates when we looked away for a second. He's so very different from Villain cat, it's funny. My other cat, Tea Thief, loves him too.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

State of the Writing address

Okay, nothing so formal, but I thought I'd put in some questions I was asked at my signing as they bare repeating here since people have been asking both on and off the interwebs:

I hope this is the first in a series. Yes I am writing a sequel to Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon. No, just cause I'm writing it doesn't mean that it's going to happen.

Are you going to self publish the sequel if it comes to it (i.e. if my publisher decided not to pick it up, or folded or otherwise was unable/unwilling to publish the title)? I don't know yet. The thought of being in charge of the whole thing currently makes me shiver in me timbers.

Are you going to be writing anymore contemporary? Probably not. They aren't my real cup of tea, and the last one made me cry too much. Also, the general lack of explosions and car chases was a real downer for me.

How long does it take for you to write a novel? Umm, that depends on the rest of my life. I know, I should be all professional, but unfortunately, my muse doesn't work that way. I started in on the sequel in March, but had to put it aside for other endeavours (fingers still crossed), and only just started back in on the sequel. So when will my first draft be done? Historically 2 to 3 months. So in July-ish. Maybe? Next question!

What made you decide to write?
... With writing, it's never about deciding to write, it's about failing to quit. This question is so loaded with traps. I love it, but the answer is dependent on the day and the mood. The question I think I like better is "why do you write?" because why did I decide to write implies that there was a moment in my life where I could have either written or not, and in that moment I had a profound thought. This wasn't the case. There was a moment when I could have written, and I did because I thought it would be fun (oh, naive me)




Wednesday, May 4, 2016

We're doing a sequel! IWSG post


Wow, A to Z was insane this year! I think I might be spending the next ten months just trying to catch
up, which brings me to, “Wait? It’s May? What happened to April???” I know everyone is saying it, but April, for me, was a blur of my first real author events and other insanity not related to writing.

But you came for the insecurity, so please check out TheNinja Captain and his co-hosts Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris! 


So what am I insecure about? Wow. What a thing to ask. Right now, the thing eating at me is the fact that I don’t know how this next part goes. See, I’m writing a sequel. I’m very hopeful that this sequel will get published, but the last time I wrote a sequel was in 2010. I’m a bit rusty. And there are a lot of people who REALLY want to read it. As in I get more than one email a week asking for a sequel.

Now, part of me wants to respond to all y’all and say “It Cometh,” but the fact of the matter is, I already know the story and how long it will take (sorry, longer than you would hope…), and the other part of me wants to curl up in a little ball and pretend the real world doesn’t exist. Obviously, the second is less conducive to the whole writing of a sequel thing, so clearly I have some issues. They are as follows:

Issue of the first: will anyone even like what I’ve done to their favorite character
Issue of the second: What if I choke up and can’t do any of it?
Issue of the third: Will anyone even care because I will have taken so long to get the sequel out?

Right, well, issue of the first is a non-issue. Roughly half of the people are going to hate what I’ve done with their favorite character regardless of anything I actually do. In fact, the only way the first issue can become a real issue is if the characters never do anything again. And that’s not happening because I’m writing the sequel.

Second: I choke. Well, I mean that could legitamitely happen, but I sort of already have a plot, a support group, and a helluva good start. Choking does not appear to be in my realistic future.

Third: Will anyone care. I have to admit this one eats away at my soul, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. I’m human, and no matter how fast I write, a sequel will take a greater than zero amount of time to write. So, I just have to get things moving and hope for the best.

So yeah, full of insecurity, and all of it stuff I can do nothing about. I guess that really means it’s time to get back to work.


What’s eating you this month? Got any answers to my conundrums other than “don’t worry about it?”

(also, I have that song from the most recent Muppets at the beginning. the line goes "Everybody knows that the sequel's never quite as good!")

Monday, May 2, 2016

Z for Zero Tolerance: A to Z challenge

Ack! I missed Z!

Well, that changes now. Here's my installment of Z!! Happy A to Z challenge everyone!



Endless Interview!

Howdy! A to Z was crazy right? Amazing stuff out there, and I'm still going through the backlog.

And no rest for the wicked, I'm kicking off May with an interview with Misha for her book Endless!

Here we go:

What inspired this book? 
It started because I went through a phase of reading and watching more than my usual helping of vampire fiction. I wanted to write about something other than vampires, though, so I got stuck on the concept for about two years. 

A weekend spent playing Assassin's Creed II made the idea fall into place for me.
Did you have anything specific in mind when you wrote it? 
Yeah I wanted the story to center around an immortal with amnesia, who falls in love with an immortal who helps her, but who turns out to be from an enemy faction. 

But after that weekend, I realized I wanted it to be more than enemy factions, I wanted it to be about two differentkinds of immortals entirely. 
Chocolate or steak?
Both.
Where do you love to write?
Anywhere, although I can't write in company. Like... I can write in a restaurant full of people, but not if any of them are sitting at the same table as me.
What is your least favorite trope?
Deus ex Machina. An answer just appearing out of the ether to solve things for the characters is just sloppy writing.
And last but not least, How do you handle those days when you just don't feel the muse?
I work on multiple projects in various stages of completion. So on days where I just don't feel like writing, I'll edit another project. 



W00t! Thanks for stopping by the blog, Misha! 



About the Book

First, do no harm.” Blake Ryan swore that oath to become a doctor. Ironic, given that he spent most of his thousand year life sucking souls out of other immortals.

Things are different now. Using regular shots of morphine to keep his inner monster at bay, Ryan has led a quiet life since the Second World War. His thrills now come from saving lives, not taking them.

Until a plane crash brings Aleria into his hospital. Her life is vibrant. Crack to predators like him. She’s the exact sort of person they would hunt, and thanks to a severe case of amnesia, she’s all but defenseless.

Leaving Aleria vulnerable isn’t an option, but protecting her means unleashing his own inner monster. Which is a problem, because his inner monster wants her dead most of all.



 About the Author

Misha Gerrick lives near Cape Town, South Africa, and can usually be found staring at her surroundings while figuring out her next book.

If you’d like to see what Misha’s up to at the moment, you can find her on these social networks:





Excerpt:

This had to be what dying felt like. Floating outside my body, waiting for that final link to my life to be severed, only vaguely aware of indescribable pain. More screams than I could count rose up around me. Hundreds of footsteps beat against tiles. I couldn’t open my eyes if I wanted to. Not when it was easier to listen and wait. People shouted for a doctor or an IV, or a thousand other things that made no sense. I listened to all the chaos, trying to untangle it in my thoughts.

Soon, I could go. The peace around me was so relaxing, completely out of place in the clamor I heard. I wanted it. To rest forever in that peace. Why not? There was a very good reason, but I couldn’t call it to mind.

A numb buzz shot through my body and shattered my serenity.

It happened again. Only this time was more of a sharp pulse. The third time jolted like lightning. The fourth…Hell. Suddenly, the screams were coming from me. My heart’s relentless thundering added to my torment.

Pain.

Everywhere.

My chest burned like fire. It hurt to breathe. Cold air drove down my throat and into my lungs, amplifying the inferno in my chest. My skin felt scorched. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t right.

I had to see. I had to understand why pain dominated my existence like this. My eyes were fused shut. My breaths grew shallow, trying to draw air when there was none. I tried to clench my teeth. I bit hard plastic. A pipe. Cold air suddenly forced back into my lungs, out of time with my own breathing. This was wrong. It wasn’t safe. I had to see. The best I got was a little fluttering of my lashes.

A high-pitched beep shot through my head. It repeated again and again. I wanted to reach over and slam my fist into its source. My arm wouldn’t lift. Something kept it trapped. A scream rose up from the depths of my soul, but the pipe jammed inside my throat stifled the sound. I only managed a whimper, trying my best not to gag. More air blasted into my lungs against my will. What was going on? I was trapped in my own body, but why?

I needed to move. I had to move. Now. Before… Even… Even though… Panic gripped me. The beeps increased at a frenetic pace. I needed to move. To be gone. Didn’t matter where. Just not here. Not defenseless. Not trapped.

The air sucked out of my lungs. I gasped, choking on nothing, strangled by invisible fingers. I tried to convulse my body. To twist myself free of what’s holding me.

Nothing.

The air rushed back in a cold flood. Seconds later it left, only to return in the same amount of time.

There was a rhythm to the air. In… out... in… out… The breaths were slow—sleep-like. I concentrated on this rhythm, striving to clear my head. If I wanted out, I needed to think. Calmly. Clearly. Eventually, those irritating beeps slowed. I tried to focus past the sound.

Voices buzzed about me, adding to my need to see, to do something to protect myself. No one seemed to pay attention to me. Good. I could use that to my advantage.

I centered my every thought on moving my little finger. It finally jerked, but collided against something solid. So the thing trapping my arm was physical and too heavy for me to lift. It was better to be trapped than paralyzed. With luck I could escape my restraints. I tried my other hand, but it was cemented stuck as well. Right leg. Left leg. Damn it! Both trapped. I had to move!

No.

No, I needed to stay calm. I tried to make larger movements, biting the pipe in my mouth against the urge to scream in pain. There was no wiggle room.

Fearing that I might be blindfolded, I focused on blinking. It worked. My eyes opened and the blur faded, revealing ceiling tiles. Why would there be tiles? Where was the canvas of hospital tents? The distant sounds of bombs dropping? The power of their explosions rushing through my blood?

No. That wasn’t right. I wasn’t there.

Where was I, then?






Thursday, April 7, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

D is for Dialogue: The A to Z challenge

All the way up to D for Dialogue!






Ha, I love how the thumbnail looks like I'm about to go into Hamlet's soliloquy!