Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Home Stretch: the Road to Published

If you’ve been following parts I, II, III, and IV, you’ve probably guessed that this book took a long time to become a book, and boy, you’d be right.

I had given up on my book not once, but twice, and I’d started querying another book. It’s complicated because when you start querying one book you have to make a choice agents or publishers. You don’t do both. So I started sending my new novel out into the world of agents, and things were different. I got partials and fulls and my book did well in contests. It was all very exciting.

That is, things were very exciting up until the point when they were painfully “not right for our needs at this time.”

Yeah, rejection sucks, but it’s part of the process. For this new novel, I started getting personalized feedback, concrete bits I could actually work with. Unsure how to apply them to my current novel, I practiced that feedback on my old novel, the one in the trunk. Then, I saw a contestif there’s one thing you should know, it’s that I have a weak spot for contests. But this contest wasn’t the usual query contest for agents, it was aimed at publishers only. My current query bait was already out in the world with agents, and I didn’t want to query both agents and editors with my book. That would be rude. But I did have that other novel and thanks to the feedback, I had a good idea what might be wrong with my novel. I edited Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon and put it in the contest.

And something happened that hadn’t happened before: someone from the publishing world, an editor, loved my book. It was such a moment of validation to have someone other than close friends and family say they loved my work. They were enthusiastic and hopeful.

And then I got a second offer.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to make up your mind, but it ain’t easy. I talked to all the people I knew who had published with small publishers and with the publishers I was considering. To be truthful, I had already researched one of the publishers, Curiosity Quills, and they were the reason I had entered the contest in the first place. I had been hoping they would notice me, and they did. I was over the moon.

And that, as they say is that.

I know it’s pretty normal to talk about these things, but if you saw something about my path to publishing that you’re curious about, feel free to ask. From my rather longwinded story here, it should be obvious I love talking about myself and my process.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Entertaining bits on the Hugos

Right, so I’ve been in a friendly vote war on a list with my writer buddy @Michelle4Laughs over a list on Listopia keeping track of books eligible to the Hugo awards in 2016. And I’ve received a number of questions about the Hugos and the list, and no, being on it in no way guarantees a nomination. In fact, the likelihood of my book getting nominated is exceptionally slimbut as with all fun things on the internetthere is a slim possibility.

So, the Hugos

Entertainingly, the Hugos are currently a popularity contest where one can BUY the right to vote for not only the nominations, but also the award. In fact, it’s such a scattergun system, that last year, a very small group of people all threw their votes one way and got a whole slate of stories nominated for Hugos, stories that might not have otherwise made it.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons, it literally means that a couple dozen people voting in concert could change the fate of the whole Hugos one of the biggest awards in science fiction and fantasy. In short, it’s slim that a nomination is coming my way, but a concerted effort could, in fact, make it a realityunlikely as it may be, as happened last year.

I said currently because the Hugos, of all the awards, is a rapidly changing target. It takes two years to change how the voting will be done, and after last year’s debacleand last year was a debaclevoting is likely to change next year. Another entertaining fact: you have until January 31st to become a voting member of the Hugos! 

So what does this list mean?

Nothing. It means nothing. It’s a voting member’s list modeled after another list, and it does more to collect books than it does to help people connect to them.

That being said, I’m still trying to beat out Michelle Hauck’s Grudging on this list, because, you know, competitive streak!

For the curious, you can find the list here. As of this writing, I’m number 68, so all first page.And again, if you want to buy a vote and nominate my book for the Hugos (voting member is the supporting membership), I wouldn't stop you there either.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On the road again: Part IV of the road to publishing

This is part IV of All Roads Lead to Publishing (maybe). Part I, Part II, and Part III

There I was, part of the blog hop that felt like winning the lottery just to get on the ticket. Everyone was twitterpated about the contest, and by that I mean all the judges were on twitter. I joined twitter on the spot, following their every tweet, but that wasn’t enough to quell my obsession of Who Was Going To Be Picked. I read through every tweet hint, then I read through them all again. Then I read every entry on the whole list, all 200 of them.

When people tell me they have a hard time with writing queries, I tell them to go read as many query contest entries as possible. It definitely helps you get a feel for query writing. The good ones are clear and have a sort of pep to them. The bad ones are awkward and hard to read. I only mention this as part of my road to publishing because this moment, more than any other, was a major marker in my writing. I learned so much just by reading through all the other queries.

But, as had always happened to me, up until that point, other people were getting picked. I quietly sat on the sidelines encouraging my friends, but it was looking pretty grim. I made peace with not getting picked: I had already won because I'd learned so much, and I knew there was a ton of work left on my novel.

Then the unthinkable happened: my story was picked as an alternate by Monica!

I jumped and did the happy dance and laughed because someone else finally said they had seen something in my writing, something that was worthwhile. It was amazing to hear that from someone who wasn't my mother. As part of the contest, she edited my first page and it was a miracle. It was amazing. I'd already learned so much from that contest, and now I had personalized feedback on my writing. Hint: good editing makes you sound more like you. Bad editing makes you sound more like your editor. In the case of Monica, she was a great editor. Her suggestions helped me get the writing out of the way of the story, a gift of craft I have carried through every novel since.

Things went live, and... crickets. I did get a lonely partial request, but nothing like the other amazing writers who were making everything look flawless and amazing. (bonus hint: Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s; your journey is as unique as you are so don’t get caught up in the “I GOT AN AGENT IN TWO DAYS” hype).

So I started querying the old fashioned way. I got requests here and there, more than previously, but they all ended in no. Sorry, but no. Your writing is great, but it’s me. The story isn’t quite what’s selling now, or my personal favorite “Your pages made me laugh a couple times, but ultimately the story didn’t grab me.” I took all of those rejections and I gave them a home in my heart next to where this novel lived, andsad to be sureI moved on to the next story, because I’m a writer and that’s what you do. It’s not about one book. It’s about all the books. It’s the next book. It’s the book after that, and if this wasn’t going to be The One, then I was going to put my best foot forward with my next book.

That’s right, I gave up on this novel not once but twice. On the other hand, I still had a lot to learn. And I’ll be talking about that next time.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Aren't you a little old for insecurities?

It's time for another installment of Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you're so inclined visit the linky page here, and say hi to Ninja Captain Alex (tell him The Doctor sent you). This month's co-hosts are L.G. Keltner, Denise Covey, Sheri Larsen, J.Q. Rose, Chemist Ken, and Michelle Wallace!

I’d like to think that at some point along the journey of my life, I would have outgrown insecurities. It’s not that I ever made it my goal, but when I was a kid, all the adults seemed to have it together. None of them seemed like the world was eating them from the inside out with everything from “will they like my book” to “Oh, god, I hope no one figures out I’m a complete fraud.”

Because of that, I sort of assumed there must be something wrong with me since I continued to feel the insecurities. I thought they were something we would outgrow with age. I’d hoped that at some point I’d “get there,” and I wouldn’t still wonder how long it would take before people realized I was just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. I remember buying my first house and wondering when the people were going to show up and say “Nope, sorry ma’am, only grownups get to do that.”

It’s because I’ve never felt the way my mom looked when I was a kid. She was always so confident and in charge of everything.

Turns out it was all a big fake.

My mom confessed to me how worried she was all the time when we were kids. She told me about how she felt judged by people, how she could never seem to get things right, how she decided that having clean butts was better than having clean clothes on more than one occasion. She worried that she’d be fired from her job. She worried that everything she did would turn out for nothing. She worried about the bills.

And all that time, she swung through life like a wrecking ball, obliterating obstacles dumb enough to get in her way. To give you an example: she once chain-sawed a house in half, loaded it onto two flatbeds, drove it forty miles, poured a foundation around it and rented it out for years and years.

Yeah, she poured the foundation when I was still in a playpen. That’s not the kind of woman you expect to be haggard by self doubt. And yet, she was.

So yeah, I’d hoped to outgrow this self doubt, but the real key is to keep going. You’re the only one who sees the insecurities. The people around you see how you sawed that house in half and put it back together. (And to be honest, sometimes, they're worried you might be looking for something else to cut in half and load onto a truck to get it the heck out of your way)