Books, My Books, Reflections, Writing

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

Real Life, Reflections, Writing

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

Imagination, Reflections, Writing

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

Promotion, Real Life, Reflections, Writing

A Year of New—or How I Hope to Stay Sane This Year

I believe 2014 may be a year of new for me. We’re only a week into the year and I’ve already started writing a new book—in a genre I’ve never written before. I don’t want to jinx it by telling too much too soon, but I’m excited about it, even though I know how much work I have ahead me. And I don’t mean just the writing, editing, and revising. I’ll need to maintain a different mindset to write in this genre.

KG_crocus That’s all right, though. I need a new mindset for this year. A positive, I’m-going-to-enjoy-life-no-matter-what outlook. I need to focus on what I CAN do, who I CAN be, and build my self-esteem. And that requires changes in many areas of my life.

In my writing life, that means I must STOP comparing myself to other writers. Bye-bye, tons of frustration and disappointment. And I can’t afford to waste time like I did in 2013. I now have two books to write and edit this year. (The book I hoped to revise will have to wait for 2015.) I absolutely have to get organized and assign priorities.

I’ll elaborate on some of these points in future posts. Being a writer in the digital age is both a blessing and a curse. Maybe if we talk honestly about it, we’ll help each other enjoy more of the first and suffer less of the second.

So, that’s my plan to make it through 2014 saner than I did in 2013.


But first, I have to finish up one “old” thing—it’s coupled with a new experience, though, so that’s good. I’d planned to stop actively promoting my first two books, but I’d forgotten that a few months ago I requested to be put on the waiting list for a promotion with eReader Buddy. My name finally came up, so I decided to pair that promotion with a new tool for books in KDP Select. So for the next couple of days, The Brevity of Roses ebook will be on deep discount at $.99 and then rise in price twice over the next days until it’s back to the regular price. That’s called a Kindle Countdown Deal at Amazon. I’m interested to see how it works.

Linda

Image courtesy of Karpati Gabor / Morguefile.com

My Books, Publish, Reflections, Social Media, Writing

My salad days, when I was green in judgment . . .

Research the origin of the phrase “salad days” and you’ll discover, especially in the U.S., it’s currently used to mean being at the peak of one’s abilities. That’s not how I’m using it. I use it as did William Shakespeare when he coined it in 1606. “My salad days, When I was green in judgment …” is from Anthony and Cleopatra: Act I, Scene 5 and Cleopatra speaks of her youthful naivete.

salad_mI’m a long way from my youth in life, but not in novel writing. In the fall of 2008, I was in the midst of writing the first draft of my novel The Brevity of Roses. Concerning the publishing business, I was not only hopeful that I’d be a success, I was confident. Ah, yes. I was “green in judgment.” I was naive. But I felt alive.

When I finished writing that novel, I queried it to the big name agents, none of whom broke the sound barrier in their haste to send me a contract. I revised my query letter and sent it to other agents. I received some, but not a lot of response. My confidence took a big hit. My hope waned.

Then, a major change in my life circumstances made the idea of self-publishing attractive. In hindsight, I see how “green in judgment” I remained. I am not naturally suited to indie publishing by personality. But I was even less suited to it after  the agent querying process eroded my confidence. Since publication, some lovely positive reviews have helped restore a bit of that, but I fear I’ll never regain it completely.

I know I can’t fully return to those salad days. It’s unrealistic to think I can retain naivete and gain experience at the same time. But my Muse, jaded by reality, misses the exuberance of her “youth.” I’m having a devil of a time shutting off that publishing/marketing voice that questions every aspect of what I’m trying to write now.

To say I’m stressed is putting it mildly—and stress, for me, always takes a physical toll. Before I published my first novel, I was a few pounds overweight, but otherwise mostly healthy. Now, I’m more pounds overweight than I can bear to say, and I’m beaten down with health problems. In some sense, I have to find a way back to those “salad days” of writing.

I really don’t want to make the decision not to publish anything more, but I do want to write without distraction from publishing/marketing concerns. I need to recapture some of the innocence that made my fingers fly over the keyboard, thrilled at the story unfolding before me. I need to throw off these chains of stress and depression by believing once again that the story I’m writing is wonderful and the words flowing from my imagination will speak to readers in the way I’ve always dreamed.

So, I rescind my statement in a previous post that I hoped to have two books ready for publishing by the end of 2014. I don’t know if I’ll have even one ready. Right now, publishing is off my radar. I want to write. Further marketing of what I’ve already written is not something I can deal with, either. I want to interact in social media simply for the fun of it, like I did in my salad days … but maybe with a little less greeness.

It’s time to quit frowning and start smiling again. It’s time to feel alive again.

Linda