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Category: My Writing Experience

My Author Journey

My Author Journey

My journey begins today!

Thoughts from today:

It’s been one hell of a journey, these last 7 years. In that time, I’ve been up and I’ve been down while at the same time and I’ve been standing still. It was time to make some major changes. It started with the complete rewrite of book one and restructuring my entire series. I had the blog completely recreated and organized. My Twitter handle and Facebook author page changed. I turned it upside down.

It’s funny though, because the struggles from seven years ago are still the struggles I have seven years into the journey. The only thing that’s changed is; I’m far more knowledgeable and maybe a little more confident about what I want and where I want to go. And as book two is finally about to be released, I remember and reminisce, and really the journey is still the same.

So here’s my Throwback Thursday blog from 2011.

I can’t believe that it’s been a year, this month, since I published The Day of First Sun. In that time, I’ve cried, complained, written, edited, worked on the blog, cried, hated Twitter, loved Twitter, cried, threw my computer down in disgust. I’ve researched, questioned other writers, sat for hours under a cold breeze at Wizard World, all in the hopes of finding that one thing, the one spark that would get my book out there in the market, in front of the right person.

In the first 11 months, I did what I was told would work. I got a Facebook author page, a Twitter Account, Amazon author page, sent letters to independent books stores in hopes I could get a book signing. But in that time all I’ve managed to do is sell my book to my friends and family and maybe some strangers. 

It’s always time well spent, on an anniversary, to take a moment to reflect on the past year and learn something from it. I learned I suck at marketing and I’m rather computer/internet illiterate.

No I actually did learn something valuable. I learned my passion and my love, is the path I should take. It fosters confidence, which breeds more confidence and that opens you to possibilities. I’ve always looked at the book as my product, one that I need to get to market. In an effort to accomplish that, I attended my first book expo and that was my greatest lesson. I realized how much I didn’t know about publishing and that I had choices to make; I either stop pursuing this journey, stop spending money in hopes that something good will happen, or I stop straddling the fence, jump in with both feet and make the dream a reality.

 

 

What Do You Do at the Fork in the Road?

What Do You Do at the Fork in the Road?

black-market-3b1JK Rowling always knew she had something good. I know I have something worthwhile; a full and complete book series that weaves the story throughout each book, that will, in the end, culminate to a final resolution.

After re-writing The Day of First Sun twice, commissioning several different book covers, and restructuring the series, I can finally say, I have a good product that will entertain someone, if I can find the right someone.

And now it’s time to release Black Market.

So what to do with my next book? I have an opportunity to sign with a publisher, but hairs on the back of my neck caution me. I can sign with the publicist and venture down an entirely different marketing promotion than anything I’ve ever done before. But will it gain me anything?

It weighs heavy on me; the direction should I pursue as I flip 180 degrees and back again, staying awake all night in a debate with myself.

Mistakes in my past come back to haunt me; the premature re-release of The Day of First Sun, without a marketing plan, because I really had no idea what to do, early editing errors that ran me in circles through multiple drafts, my inability to outline as story and stick to it.

As I wait for the final design of the interior layout of Black Market, I worry, will book two succeed if book one was just thrown in the marketplace?

It’s a question many independent authors ask as we muddle through the ups and downs of publishing. If we do this will it get us closer to our dreams, but what if it doesn’t?

I mull over options, I take a long hard look at the world I created, the media I’ve made. I ponder and ask my fellow indi authors, what did you do? What path did you take? Was it worth it?

The Day of First Sun available on Amazon.com.

The Day of First Sun - Copy to Use

 

Embrace Myself – I’m a Pantser and Proud to not Plot my Books

Embrace Myself – I’m a Pantser and Proud to not Plot my Books

What’s a pantser you ask?

I  didn’t embrace myself when I started to write. I assumed I was doing something wrong until I met other authors. As I quickly found out, there are two types of authors. One like JK Rowling who meticulously plans out the story. I’m sure if you’re a fan you’ve seen the notes and graphs of her outlines. She is what’s known as a plotter.

The other side of this is the writer who starts with an idea, a beginning, middle and end and sits in front of the computer screen and just writes. That would be Stephen King, He approaches his stories as if he’s discovered an artifact and as he writes, he carefully unearths the story. This is called a pantser.

And that is me.

Doing it wrong – embrace myself.

For the longest time I thought I was doing it wrong. The crafting of the story I thought might go smoother, easier if I could plan it out. Unfortunately for me, planning always goes off the rails and I end up writing by the seat of my pants anyway.

After reading On Writing, by Stephen King, I realized other authors write like me and I stopped fretting and worrying, and finally embraced my style, learned to work with the quirks rather than fitting my style into someone else’s.

But is this a good way to write?

Hell yes! As I write, I become kinda like the reader. I might have a direction in which I’m heading, but the story is slowly revealed to me and that includes twists and surprises. There have been times that the story unfolds and I will stare at the computer screen and think, “What the hell? I wasn’t expecting that!”

I enjoy the surprises, not knowing exactly what’s coming up for my characters. Though I must say, it can take more draft before the story is crafted the way that I like. But it is so worth the extra time. And I enjoy the surprises now that I embrace my process.

Lessons

Lesson in the first: Embrace yourself. Why fight your true nature. Learn to work within your quirks.

Lesson in the second: Know your limitations and find a work around. I know it will take me more than two drafts before I have a well crafted story. It’s just the way it is. I couldn’t be happier with how The Wizard Hall Chronicles are shaping up. It wouldn’t have been this good if I planned it.

Lesson in the third: Embrace who you are. When I stopped worrying about doing it like other authors and really looked at how I worked, whether it’s writing as a pantser or writing best between 1 and 7 in the afternoon, I worked better not harder.

Lesson in the fourth: I’m not a bad story teller and I have a good product. Be proud of your work, put the effort in and people will notice. I’ve been fortunate to have found some amazing fans. Now if I can only clone them and find more like them, it’ll be gravy.

So here’s to the writers who plan and plot and those of us who sit down and write and let the story unfold. We are who we are however we get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Water Churns, and Undulates, Alive with Pain, Anger, Love and Loss

The Water Churns, and Undulates, Alive with Pain, Anger, Love and Loss

I’m writing my memoir, sort of. It’s not an exact retelling of my life and the low, very low experiences that have eventually brought me to this point. It’s a lot of poetry, a lot of essays and a lot of imagery.

That’s not so remarkable. JK Rowling wrote about her depression. She made it a character in her books. Remember the dementors? They were an embodiment of the depression she experienced after her divorce. Mine is an image, its water. Water, something that I bathe in everyday, that I drink all day and use to prepare meals. And yet, since I was about six years old, I’ve been terrified of the water.

I learned to swim in a lake. Dark and dirty, I couldn’t see the bottom. I had a loss of control during one class, the day we jumped off the dock and the instructors kept us under water for what seemed like an eternity. I can still see the sun through the greenish water, a dull ball in the sky. I remember the panic waiting for the teacher to lift me out of the water. From that day on, I never liked being in the water.

I tried to learn over the years. I took the classes in high school, but my fear was so gripping that my teacher, while holding me in the deep end, told me, you are too afraid, I can’t teach you here.” She proceeded to swim me to the shallow end, where I spent the rest of the two-week unit, walking. As if that’s not a waste of time.

As I write about my life, about the death of my daughter, I find myself using water as a representation of that horrible time.

“it beats roughly against the rocky coast.”

“The water churns, and undulates, alive with pain, anger, love and loss. Each harsh wave erodes the rocks, removing a piece forever.”

“I can no longer breathe as the water pummels me, suppresses me, I try to scream but my voice can no longer be heard amidst the roar.”

I found myself writing the second entry and the images waters contained my sorrow, my heart-felt apologies, my fear and anger.

The water doesn’t just scare me. It terrifies me. White knuckle terror. When I took swimming lessons after the birth of my second child, I remember swimming in the deep end of pool. I climbed out still wearing my life jacket and stood above the pool. My teacher told me to jump in. My head understood the command, but my legs were grounded to the pool deck. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed.

This is the imagery that describes the ups and downs. The white water rapids that describe my life. the way I can deliver my message and have others understand how I view my life.

Water terrifies.

Faking Confidence Leads to Real Confidence

Faking Confidence Leads to Real Confidence

Is confidence something we’re born with, or is it something we grow within ourselves when we are surrounded by a loving family, friends, society? Is it always with us or does it wane over time or experiences? I think about that as I examine my life, my choices, my career.

At seven, I knew I wanted to be a writer. Everything I did was leading me to that career. I wrote in my spare time, I became and English major, worked as a technical writing intern. I worked as a technical writer when I graduated.

Regardless of what I had done over the course of my life, I always stayed close to writing. It was what I was told I was good at since I was young, it was what I enjoyed the most and it gave me confidence. Some of the best jobs I had involved writing, whether it was business letters, technical manuals or user guides, there was a pride that came with learning a job and translating that for others to learn from. So when did the confidence wane and leave?

Bad jobs, fractured relationships, the death of a child, there are so many things that eat away at confidence, that leave a black cloud over your head, that suck the light and life away.

A series of bad events, of loss, left me paralyzed. And yet when the confidence was at its lowest, I decided to put myself out there, expose myself and write again. I needed to be reminded that I wanted to write a book and when I was, I did. To do that requires honesty and being open with the world in hopes that you find your audience.

You throw yourself out there when you publish your book whether you have a publisher or you self-publish. You read the reviews and you meet other authors and bloggers who can help you attract readers. Its raw and scary, terrifying and sometimes your read a review that is hard to stomach and you can’t speak for a week.

But there’s something in my makeup that when the confidence is lacking, propels me forward and keeps me writing. It’s a manufactured confidence, when I believe that I’m strong enough to keep writing, marketing and planning for that dream future.

Confidence is a tricky thing. It can be strong or it can be weak. We can be slaves to it or we can overpower it. I’ve never overpowered mine at least not until recently. I no longer wanted to watch other accomplish what I could only dream about. I wanted more. Even when the confidence leaves, I’ve learned to fake it. Negative self-talk can break you and positive self-talk even if you have to pretend for a while is better than none at all.

Because somewhere along the way I realized that I can do whatever I set out to do, I just have to believe in myself. Even if I have to fake it once and awhile.

Never Tell a Writer to Stop

Never Tell a Writer to Stop

I’m tired. I took a full-time job to pay for the marketing to try to sell my books. I come home, take care of the children, the bills, groceries, dishes and take care of the other commitments that come with living in the real world. It makes me no different from other moms. I’m not claiming I am. And this isn’t about how my life may or may not suck.

It’s about my second job. The one I’ve been working at for the last four years. The one I’m not getting paid for, the one that takes me away from friends, commitments, children, relaxing. Again, it’s not a mom thing. I’ve been an unpaid mom for sixteen years. No, this is about the dream, the job I really want.

When people ask how I’m doing, I mostly say I’m okay, unless I’m really tired, really stressed and really needing a good writing session. And frankly I don’t complain much about it because most people tell me, maybe if I’m that stressed, I should put the books away for a little while.

I’m tired of explaining myself to everyone. It’s not a simple proposition to put the book down. It’s like cutting off a limb. It’s a part of me. When I’m not writing, it gnaws at me, crawls through my skin reminding me that there’s something else I’d rather be doing. I almost waited too long to begin my journey and if I put it away for even just a week, I may out of habit never pick it up again. I can’t do that.

Even as my world can sometimes crash around me as I struggle to get the laundry done, the groceries bought, the children taken care of, have a social life, I desperately reach for something to hold on to so that I don’t drown in my daily life. My life saver is writing. When you want something badly enough and you can’t shake it, you keep at it even when everything else is in danger of falling to pieces. It’s my life line.

Never tell an aspiring writer to put it away for a little while. We have a story to tell, an emotion to release, a message to say. If we put it away for even a little while, it burns a hole in us and we’re no longer being true to ourselves. .

One day maybe the non-writer will understand.

 

Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block

I’ve been blocked for days. I’m editing a book and writing a second. I had hoped to be done with the second book by now, the problem is, that book wasn’t going well. I scrapped it again because it’s just not coming out the way I wanted it to and now I’ve been unmotivated and even when I sit down to write, the words aren’t coming. I’m mentally exhausted. In the last year since releasing She Wulf, I’ve been on an up and down roller coaster of emotion and self-doubt. I haven’t been able to focus on which book should be the second in the series. Where do I go from here?

Just for fun I looked up writer’s block on You Tube. I didn’t watch the entire video, I simply have no patience for it, but what I did get from it is this, give yourself permission to write garbage. It’s the idea that the way to break through the block is to simply write. Books don’t get written if words aren’t put to paper.

Who hasn’t put too much pressure on themselves as they attempt to fulfill their dreams. I’m feeling that pressure. I’m overly critical and have developed a fear of losing my hold on my dream. To keep that hold, I work every day. I write something everyday, I work on Twitter,  and Facebook at the expense of my children and my relationships and myself. I’ve lost my balance and now I’m blocked.

When we feel paralyzed by fear or uncertainty, the key to pulling ourselves out of our funk is to create junk, jump into a problem with both feet without analyzing it or over thinking it. Just do it. I think I’ve heard that somewhere before. The most important plan is to just write it, just do it, stop thinking about it. Stop letting the block become the obstacle that derails you.

I experienced that recently in my day job. Taking a job that involves me  calling people on the phone and selling sponsorships. Who was I thinking I was when I said yes to that? I couldn’t change what I did, I wasn’t able to control the nature of my job and I forced myself to stop thinking about the fear. I realized that working outside of my comfort zone would benefit me regardless of what I was doing in my life. So after twirling in my chair, I made my phone calls. It wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t perfect but I did it.

By not dwelling on the past and swimming in the despair opened me up to new opportunities. Whether it be a job or an unexpected story line, controlling the fear gives you a new approach to the problem. So if you write something awful, that shouldn’t be seen by anyone else, that’s okay. That’s what the edit is for. At least the story is moving forward and you gain word count. Say to hell with the writer’s block. You’re better than that.

 

 

Third Times The Charm

Third Times The Charm

I had this brilliant idea for a book and I wrote the first draft. But then my book She Wulf came knocking on my door. Instead of finished what was then known as Heavenly Gifts, I put it aside to write this new story. After restructuring my book series this year, and re-writing The Day of First Sun, I decided the new second book in the series would be the original story I had intended on writing and I decided it was time.

I started from scratch, re-writing this brilliant idea, examining what happens when good intentions go horribly wrong, when everything must be in moderation or else. I still love the idea, but the book, again, doesn’t want to be written. It keeps fighting back. And as much as I keep pushing forward, it insists on telling me, it’s just not right.

First the story started out like a fish and grew eight legs to eventually become an octopus. I scaled way back, took one direction and moved forward. The problem for me now is that the book is a boring procedural mess of a book that I can’t even keep enthusiastic about. Mind you I still love the idea behind the book, but the book once again has denied me. It’s just not right.

So again, I put the book away, still not finished. I still don’t have a viable ending. All I have is a great premise and a head full of ideas. I have my characters lives in my head and I’m anxious to get them out of there. So I took from the book some scenes that go together and I’m using them to write a completely different book. They are now my new outline. All I need to do is fill it in.

I’m still shooting for a second book when I release the new version of The Day of First Sun. It’s pushing it but it’s coming. So here’s to the third time being the charm. I may finally find that second book.

The Dream as it Slips Away

The Dream as it Slips Away

I started to work full-time this year because frankly, I wasn’t selling any books. I was marketing. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, you name it I was throwing it out there. I just wasn’t selling any books. One sure way to find the market to buy your product is to advertise, so rather than going broke trying to market my product, I took a job last March to pay for the whole shebang.

My life has become an endless tedious quest for the prize and though I can’t give it up, because I really don’t know what I’d do if I did that, sometimes I wonder when will enough be enough. I work full-time, drive the kids around to their things, grocery shop, put the clothes away, clean the kitchen, you know the stuff that has to get done. Sometimes that stuff gets pushed to the side because I have to edit or write the blog or tweet or a host of other things that hopefully will need me to where I want to be. It leaves very little time for friends, for relaxing, for going to the doctor, an appointment I needed to schedule six months ago and well, I haven’t done it yet.

The more engaged I become in the job I now have, the more I feel as though that dream is slipping away because something is about to break. Most likely me of a nervous breakdown. But then someone like Snooki publishes a fourth book and I wonder again if I should even try.

The dream doesn’t completely slip away because I still have a plan and a desire for something more than that average 8-4 job. I have places I want to revisit, or trek to for the first time, I have experiences I want to experience, and there’s a career that I really want to have.

The job is stressful, it’s a new industry and something that’s completely out of my comfort zone. It reminds me everyday that I have gotten close to where I want to be and sometimes, it’s simply depressing. But sometimes, that negative is what you need to push yourself. I’m not really running out of time. Everyday is the beginning of the future and everyday, is one step closer.

To quit or not to quit will always cross my mind, but so does try and do.

 

It’s Like Amputating a Leg

It’s Like Amputating a Leg

frustrationTonight I removed The Day of First Sun and She Wulf from Amazon. I’m sad and yet I’m so very relieved. I’ve been struggling for a little over a year with my idea of where I was going to where I actually was standing and they were worlds apart. I never fully recovered from really bad reviews and it’s sent me into a tail spin ever since. The thing is, I still believe that I have a really good idea worth reading and pursuing, I just think now after so many years, the best place for me is, if I’m going to start the book series over, I need everything to start from scratch. That includes no longer selling the version of the books that will be gone as of this summer.

If I didn’t really believe in the books, I could have just let them fester in cyberspace forever, not really selling them, letting them rot and maybe once and awhile someone might decide to buy a copy, just because. But I actually do believe in them. I love the characters, I love the premise of the series. And if I spend so much time rewriting the first book, shouldn’t I give it a chance to succeed on its own and not be tied into the old book and the old reviews?

Yeah. That was my thought too. I do feel like crying. It’s like going to sleep with two arms and waking up with only one. A large chunk of my life is tied to those books. A lot of tears went into them. A lot of tears convinced me it’s time to take them down, make a fresh start and prepare for the next phase, the revisions of the stories that are so much a part of me, I’d miss them if they were truly gone.

It’s a great time to do this with the New Year just starting. I’m finishing up the new book two, I’m waiting on my editor for the new book one and I will have two books to share with everyone by this summer. That I can guarantee. If I didn’t believe in myself I wouldn’t be putting myself through so much pain. I guess I’m just that type of person who needs to do it more than once to make it work.

You can’t be afraid to throw it all away and start again. You have to believe in yourself and in your vision before you can make it happen. And sometimes, you have to start from scratch. It may seem like a complete waste of time and some people have asked me why I don’t just write something else. I just can’t. I need to finish what I started and see it to the end. Annie and Cham deserve that and I deserve the chance to live out my dream.

I’m not done. This blog will so go on and I have a new project I’m working on as I finish up my two new fiction books. I learned something tonight. I have a voice, I have something valuable to say. So I’m going to just say it.

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