The Joy and Terror of a Book Release

When I first decided to write with an aim toward publication, I followed dozens of writing blogs. Common advice, at that time, was “Don’t expect to make any money until you have at least ten books published.” As of today, I’m halfway to that goal. Love & Liability is my fifth published novel.

Love & Liability

Some authors hit the motherlode with their first book, of course, just as some authors publish far more than ten books and never make much money. At my age and lack of speed writing, I may never get ten books written and published. So the odds of me making a living at writing are slim to none. But then, that’s partly my fault.

I’m not a business woman. I don’t “write to the market,” which means writing whatever type of book that’s bestselling at the moment. Unless luck strikes you, that’s the only way to make money writing fiction. You must be able and willing to change genres—or sub-genres, at least—as often as it takes to satisfy the whim of the gods. And, in this case, readers are the gods.

Also, you need to write lightning fast, publishing several books a year. My first novel, The Brevity of Roses, released in March 2011. It’s now May 2017, and I’ve just seen the release of my fifth. See a problem?

So, why do I persist in writing? Though I’m serious and conscientious with my work, and though this retiree absolutely appreciates every dollar earned, writing is not primarily a business venture for me. Writing is partly therapy—it keeps my brain nimble and engaged. It’s partly vanity—it boosts my self-esteem when people read and enjoy my words. But mostly, I write because I have a need to create.

I’ve expressed my creative nature in many ways during my life, usually in multiple ways during each period, but for the last few years, I’ve concentrated on creating with words. I can’t describe the thrill and satisfaction of making a whole new world come to life—literary-ly. 🙂

If you’ve written a novel, you know it’s not easy. You know you will alternately love and hate your work as it progresses. But eventually, when it’s done and polished and ready to share with others, you’ll be proud of it. And then comes release day. Your creation is in the hands of strangers. You can barely breathe, waiting to learn if those strangers appreciate your vision, your skill, your determination. Only a small percentage will ever let you know, personally or publicly, but that doesn’t stop you from looking forward to the next creation in words.

That’s the joy and terror of the next few weeks for me. I’ll be watching my sales stats obsessively. I’ll be thrilling at good reviews and deflating at bad ones. But I’ll continue working because I love it. I have a few more worlds to put into words.

Linda

CANCER

I debated whether to blog about my latest personal trial. This is not a writing instruction blog, but I’ve also not often blogged about my non-writing life—my life as an ordinary human. Funny thing is, I’d been thinking of doing just that before my current ordeal began. I just never expected to start with such a biggie.

beach-8-15My forty-eighth wedding anniversary was 31 August. That’s certainly something to celebrate. My husband quickly arranged a day trip to the ocean for an early celebration because we didn’t know what our situation would be in the coming week. Unfortunately, I spent our actual anniversary day in the hospital. Two weeks earlier I’d been diagnosed with cancer. Now, I’m home recovering from major surgery and a bit shell-shocked at how much one’s life can change overnight.

Before 17 August, I was focused on daily promoting my latest novel on Facebook and Twitter, and I was elated to see its Amazon sales rank rising to levels I never expected to hit with a full-priced book. The renewed interest in my first two novels was the cherry on top. Life was exciting and good.

Then a doctor spoke the word cancer and none of that mattered. Suddenly, my thoughts were on whether my husband could handle my death, whether I would live to see all my grandchildren grow up, whether I would die before my elderly mother, whether I would be alive at Christmastime. One night I was disappointed to realize I might not see the third season of Sleepy Hollow.  Yes, you go a little insane when you know you have a large time bomb inside you. Thankfully, I had an excellent surgeon who moved things along ASAP.

I believe we live many lives, so I wasn’t afraid of death, only of the process of dying. I shared my “news” with only close family, two childhood friends, and two writer-friends who have maintained close contact with me. They were, of course, all loving and supportive. Then, at every turn, I was amazed at the kindness of strangers: doctors, nurses, and technicians. I think only the best of the best were chosen to care for me.

So here we are, twenty-three days after the diagnosis. The surgery went well, the pathology report was reassuring, and I may not need any chemo. I’m healing normally, though slower than I’d like. I’m happy to be surrounded by so much love and caring, and I hope to return it more diligently than I have been. I’m looking forward to eating real food again. I’m anxious to get back to my “social life” on Facebook. I’m back to thinking about marketing High Tea & Flip-Flops, which fell sharply in sales rank while I was in the hospital. And I’m itching to write the next book. My family says that one of my statements while I was still half doped after surgery was, “How am I going to make a romantic comedy out of this?”

Life goes on. 🙂

Linda

Laughter and Love in the Writing Room

I’m struggling a bit with the first draft of one of the books I’m writing this year. The story is meant to be lighter in tone than those I’ve written previously, which means I have to stop myself from delving too deeply into the dark side of my characters. But I entertain myself exploring that off page.

The main character in this novel is Chelsea, who’s twenty-three but having a hard time moving into adulthood. I’m long past that age. At twenty-three, I was married and the mother of two. So even if I could remember my thoughts and feelings back then, they would bear little resemblance to hers.

New_Girl_Intertitle

But I know how to research. I’ve done a good portion of that by reading books and watching movies and TV series featuring characters who are young, single, and funny—and looking for love, of course. Life is all about our relationships.

You might recognize the photo accompanying this post. I’ve recently discovered New Girl. Yes, I know it’s been on the air for three seasons, but I don’t watch much TV and when I do it’s usually drama. Yes, I know the characters in New Girl are in their thirties, but they’re still single and immature and funny. And the show is many years more current than Friends.

Via Netflix, I watch a couple of episodes a night before I fall asleep. So far, that hasn’t inspired any dreams directly related to my book’s plot, but I’m sure my Muse is paying attention.  Plus, laughter is good medicine, which helps with my chronic pain.  And that describes what I’m writing—a little light pushing back the darkness.

I wish you a week filled with laughter and love.

Linda

Sanctioned Daydreaming

Whether you’re reading fiction or writing it, what you’re actually doing is daydreaming. I’ve always been a daydreamer. Fortunately, I was smart in school and very competitive, so I got my work done fast before letting my mind wander. I also had artistic talent, so I was allowed extra time to create. And though neither of my parents was a reader, they usually allowed me plenty of time for that–except at the dinner table.

girl_daydrmThen, from the ages of twelve to fourteen, I was sick and spent loads and loads of time alone—ideal daydream time. In fact, I suspect that isolation changed my personality from medium to deep introversion.

I’ve begun reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. It’s a book that Michelle D. Argyle brought to my attention in a blog post. I’m only a couple of chapters into the book, so I haven’t discovered what “power” I have, but I’m hoping to learn ways to make my introversion work for me.

Actually, I do know one advantage: the ability to go quiet, to go deep inside and create story.

I love being quiet. And to keep my energy level up, I require a lot of time alone. Alone and quiet is good for writing, but only if you don’t care to share your work with more than a few people. Like family and friends. If you have them. And if they happen to like reading the stuff you write. After all, no stranger is going to knock on my door and ask to read what I’ve written.

So I know a bit about the disadvantages of being an introvert in the writing and publishing world.

Yet, I’m obsessed with putting my daydreams down on paper. Maybe I’m doing it for myself. For when I lose my short-term memory and can pick up one of my own books and find it’s a brand new story to me. Or if dementia robs me of the ability to daydream, hopefully I will retain my ability to read the daydreams preserved in writing by myself and others.

May we daydream forever, one way or the other.

 

Linda

A Time for Looking Back

I’m big on memories. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a product of my age, but then at our family gatherings of three generations, sooner or later, the reminiscing begins. Memory is our personal history book, skewed of course, but still. I’ve spent some time looking back this week.

lookbackNot too long ago, I mentioned that I was re-watching the X-Files series. Last week, I watched an episode about reincarnation. It stirred up a longing to work on my family history again, but subconsciously it stirred up more.

Two days later, just as I woke from a nap, I thought of the first novel I wrote. I finished the first draft fourteen years ago. I revised it, even modified the genre, but I never finished polishing it. Then, after we moved back to California and my life entered a new era, I set it aside.

I didn’t think about that novel much during the next eight years. Then I wrote another novel. And after that one was published, I thought about revising my first novel. I made a half-hearted attempt to convert it to women’s fiction. But ideas for other novels distracted me.

But last week that X-Files episode reminded me that I’d written a dark novel about two reincarnated lovers who find each other again. I opened the file of Forever (working title) and scrolled through, stopping to read several passages.

As I told a friend, the newbie errors made me laugh and some purple prose embarrassed me, but mostly the quality of the writing pleasantly surprised me. So even though I vowed to lighten up this year, I’m now entertaining this dark tale. If I’m happy writing, the result will be the same.

Sometimes looking back leads you forward.

Linda