Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Waiting Game

As soon as people find out I'm an author, they pepper me with questions about everything from how well my book is selling to what I'll do when I'm famous. But the number one question they ask is:

When is your next book out?
That's a lot of pressure. Especially if you've just released a book, are busy marketing, and aren't close to publishing again. Sometimes other parts of life (family, non-writing career, etc.) take center stage. When dealing with curious readers, I usually skip the lengthy explanations and mumble something about how I'm working on it. 

These days I tell them that I've submitted Book Two to my publisher. That spurs question two:

Have you heard anything yet?

Because I'm an established author, things are a bit different heading into the big, bad world of publishing. I understand the process more the second time around and therefore have more patience with The Waiting Game. Now I know the rules.

There's a lot more than preference going into the publisher's decision to accept or reject my book. Does it fit their style? Will it appeal to their audience? Is the timing right to put a book like mine on the market? How much editing will be needed to make it successful? Is it worth the effort? It takes time for publishers to consider all of these issues. 

After I submitted Becoming Beauty, I waited for months and nearly gave up before the blessed email arrived. My published friend chose that moment to comment, “I didn't want to say anything, but I thought it was good that you hadn't heard from them.” What I had overlooked was that no rejection meant no rejection. It's something to appreciate, even though it doesn't spring you from The Waiting Game.*

What do you do in the meantime?

Sit back and relax as much as you can. Nothing makes you look less professional than throwing a fit because something hasn't happened yet. When you're ready, get back to work on the next project. 

By the way, wouldn't it be nice if authors had one idea at a time and could work on it to completion? But whether you plot out your novels meticulously or fly by the seat of your pants, story ideas intrude on each other like a group of untrained kindergartners. This problem actually works in a writer's favor when they're playing The Waiting Game.

What if your book gets rejected?

If you garner a rejection letter, you'll join the ranks of writers, many of whom are now published authors. We've all had rejection letters. It makes sense that your story won't appeal to every agent or editor you query. But that doesn't mean it's the end of your story or your career as a writer.

The first time around, I had no idea what I would do if my book was rejected. I had no connections to editors, cover artists, or publishing gurus. And at that point, I didn't trust myself to take the self-publishing route alone. A couple of years later, I do have those connections and I'm becoming more comfortable with the thought of becoming an indie author. If I felt like it was right, I'd take that path. After all, it never hurts to develop a plan B.

I hope that my ramblings have been of help to you. I find that mixing a bit of perspective into any situation makes it bearable. That's all I'm trying to do. While my carpal tunnel surgery has kept me from writing much more than the occasional blog post, it can't keep my mind from flitting onto the next project. As soon as my hands are strong enough to keep up with my brain, that's what I'll do to distract myself from The Waiting Game.

* * *

How do you keep yourself from going crazy or giving up during the writing and publishing process? I'd love to know what others have learned that has helped them to move forward. Leave me a comment! And as always, thank you for reading!

*Let me clarify that I DID hear something from both publishers initially. One was a speedy rejection and the other was interest expressed in my novel along with a request for the entire manuscript. It did take several months for formal acceptance to arrive. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Laughter is the Best Medicine. Also Percocet.

You're all well aware of my philosophy on drama, right? Suck it up, laugh it off, only deal with what you have to? That's me. 

So when this summer's health problems hit, I was taken by surprise. (I didn't freak out horribly.) Honestly, the one million allergies diagnosis was a relief because it meant I wasn't sick all the time and with some treatment, I would feel better. I didn't panic about carpal tunnel surgery until I was on the gurney under the huge, bright surgery room lights and the anesthetic hadn't kicked in.

Before that point, I'd been making jokes. My mom said, “You're silly. And all they've given you is sugar water!” I was trying to ignore the large needle they'd shoved in my arm and the fact that we'd already waited a good two hours for the doctor to get started. A girl has gotta do something instead of just sit and stew, right? And it kept us both amused.

Later on when my friend sent me a selfie in a truly goofy pair of glasses, I remembered something else in my arsenal. My own crazy glasses. That first day we got some funny comments:
Are you surprised? She was completely drugged!
Well, you're having a goooood time!
I promise it wasn't the meds, but hey, a good dose of pain meds never hurt a gal, either! 

So, this is me. Saying thank you for all the laughter, support, prayers, kind thoughts, flowers, treats, and everything else that came my way. Every day I'd post updates and receive so much love in return. If my recovery is going well, it's because of you. Thank you, friends, family, and wonderful far off friends who support from the other side of the globe. I certainly needed it, because Percocet or not, we all need the to feel the love from time to time.

If, like me, you're going through a rough time, please remember that you're never alone. There are many who will uplift and tease until you feel like yourself again. Thank you, my friends.

Here's a bit more inspiration for you! What Doesn't Kill You, Cringe Worthy, Panic City, Population: 1, and Plot Twist!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hell, High Water, & Deadlines

Stuff happens. And it happens when you have other plans. Like vacationing for the summer. Or writing another book.

Eight years ago, I started teaching at a new school. That first year we survived what I call Hell and High Water. The upstairs flooded. We kept teaching. The power went out for five hours. In the dead of winter. We kept teaching.

Because of the many challenges that have come my way, this summer has felt oddly like that year. Hey, I thought, why don't I apply the stick-to-it-iveness I learned as an educator in public school to my summer writing career? So today, my writerly (and not so writerly) dears, we're chatting about facing Hell, Highwater, and Deadline with grace. (And only a little swearing.)

I've already talked to you about my crazy health issues this summer. People have more hellish problems than what I've faced, but it has certainly thrown off my groove. Just like last year when my dad had a heart attack in the middle of everything. Nothing makes you more nervous than when someone you love is hurting physically, mentally, or emotionally. The trick to overcoming the hellish things that come your way? Take care of yourself and make sure you take time for yourself

Hi, water!
Also, I've talked about the changes in my career. It's pretty rough facing all the goodbyes and huge changes, but it's necessary. What I haven't mentioned is that my friends and family are going through some pretty heinous things this year as well. Words like cancer, Hashimoto's disease, court dates, and unemployment keep rolling in like waves endlessly burying me and mine. How do you deal with that? Share the love. Keep close to those you love and hold tight to the beliefs and practices that keep your heart and mind in the right place.

Dead, deady, dead (lines)
Lastly, we've discussed the woes of editing. (Now there's a process that never ends. It's like laundry, but with words.) Last summer, I was vacationing AND editing Becoming Beauty at the same time. I hate deadlines. Self imposed or otherwise, they come right in the middle of all the drama and the good and bad times. They're obnoxious, but without them, little would get done in a timely manner. Here's how I cope with the drama of deadlines:

  • Get organized. Schedule in all the things that I need to do and prioritize tasks in order of importance. (Even when you're crazy busy, it's amazing how good it feels to check things off the list.)
  • Ask for help. There's nothing wrong with admitting that you can't do it on your own. We all need a healthy support group to bounce ideas off of. (And occasionally laugh like a crazy person with.)
Good luck, my dears! We all deal with a healthy amount of turbulence in life and writing. Take a breathe, eat a cupcake, and jump back in. If it helps, I'm in the same muddled mess.

I'd love to hear your tragedies and triumphs in overcoming them. Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Full-Time, Part-Time, Indie, or Traditional

We all have issues, like problems with our health, self-image, employment, and relationships. But writers have their own special set of  issues. Two subjects that fascinate and infuriate writers everywhere are Traditional vs Indie Publishing and Full-time vs Part-time writing. As I've made my way in the writing world, I've seen some pretty heated discussions about each of the issues. Recently I interviewed author Jo Ann Schneider, who just released her third book Fractured Memories, and I grilled her on both subjects. Plus we had really good pizza.

Me: I've only gone down the traditional publishing path, but while I waited for that acceptance letter to come, I wondered what my next step would be if it didn't come. I thought about my indie author friends and considered the difference in income from self-publishing and receiving royalties from a publishing house, managing marketing campaigns, taking care of editing, and the amount of control writers have over the publishing process. 

In the end, I was grateful Cedar Fort gave me a chance and helped me through the editing and publishing process. That choice worked for me at the time. But Jo, you’ve gone down both avenues. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Self-publishing vs. Traditional publishing? Are the any drawbacks or major annoyances you want to share?

Jo: I’ve now gone through one small press, one serial into a book press online, and one that I published myself.

I do have to say that having someone send me all of the files with the book cover, and the different e-formats of the book, and the bookmark designs, and all that jazz is awesome. 4 weeks before I released Fractured Memories (my indie book) my cover designer copped out on me, so I had to scramble to find a new cover artist. In the end I think I found a group I can work with for almost everything, but it was a huge pain. At one point I was literally waiting for a cover—everything else was finished and ready to go. So not having to worry about that is nice. Plus formatting e-books is a pain. Luckily I have a computer savvy hubby who did most of it for me.

I like being able to control my price point on my indie book. And I make more money per book than on my more traditionally published books.They’re just on-line, not in the book stores, so that’s a conundrum.  However, if you look at the stats, Amazon sells a lot more books that a brick and mortar bookstore.

The part I really loved about Indie publishing is that when my book was ready, I got to release it. I didn’t have to wait for a year and a half before the publisher actually got it out. That delay is really annoying. The release date for New Sight got pushed back twice before it finally got published. That’s not a unique problem, it happens all the time in the publishing world. It’s frustrating.

I always tell people to do what feels right for them. I went traditional first, while a good friend of mine went indie. We’ve had different experiences and we’ve each learned from what the other has been through. There are pros and cons to both paths. If you’re wondering what to do as an author, go find others who have done it to talk to. They’ll tell you all about it.

Me: So interesting! In my experience, Cedar Fort handled cover art and publishing almost completely, editing was a collaborating process, and I had a larger role over marketing than I might have had with a larger publisher. I'm really grateful to have had such wonderful mentors to help me launch my my first novel. But maybe in the future when I'm a little more established as an author, I might take the self-publishing route.

The other thing we've discussed before is full-time vs part-time writing. As a single woman and a fledgling author, if I don't work full-time, I can't afford my condo. Or Netflix. Because of that, I consider my teaching career to be necessary to my writing career. There are perks to working 9 months out of the year and dedicating summer and school breaks to writing. It may not be ideal, but it works for me. Your position is completely different, Jo. If you had the choice, would you be a full-time writer or continue as a part-time writer? Give me the goods!

Jo: Ooh, good question. Not sure. Sometimes I think I get more accomplished as a writer if I don’t have unlimited time. I make it a priority and don’t mess around on the interweb or run errands all day. If time is short, I often get more accomplished.

That being said, if I could find the discipline to really buckle down and write, then I’d love to go full-time as an author. My dream is to be releasing two books a year, minimum. My books are longer (65k – 90k) so I can’t keep up with the authors that put a 40k book out every three months. I’m okay with that. I pretty much can’t write shorter novels. They just explode everywhere and end up as trilogies. Which means I could for sure use more writing time. I just need someone to crack the whip behind me and say, “Write, slave!” whenever I click on Facebook or YouTube.

Me: If I didn't have a day job (and I wasn't easily distracted by shiny objects and pretty handbags) I'd be all all over that whip, Jo! We could have side by side work areas and both get more writing done than we do now. However, I'm pretty sure that I could never be full-time writer. I like people too much to spend all of my free time in solitary confinement.
* * *
Such good food for thought, don't you think? I love powwowing with other authors and picking their brains about writer issues we all face. In the end, I don't think there's a right or wrong way answer about publishing or full-time writing. You have to develop a publishing plan and a writing schedule that work for you and meet your goals.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Traditional vs Self-Publishing and Full-time vs Part-time writing! Leave me a comment below!

If you'd like to learn more about Jo Ann Schneider, her books, and the other projects she has in the works, follow the link to her website, or click on the links below. Happy hunting!

(YA Fiction/Humor)
(YA SciFi/Fantasy)
(YA Fiction/Distopian)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What Doesn't Kill You

Okay, usually I'm not a whiny pants. I usually suck it up and try to get on with my life. My mother has always lived with the mantra: 
Seriously. But occasionally life sends you a curve ball and you either make time for it or you get smacked in the head and risk brain damage.

Anyway, I'm the kind of girl who thinks everything is all right. Except when I spend the better part of two years feeling like I'm suffering from a nasty cold. Doesn't make a girl feel like a princess when she's always honking her hooter or sneezing so loud that small children are terrified. Not cool. When the problems persisted, I finally spoke up. Like all my friends, the doctor said, "Sounds like allergies." 900 injections later it turns out that I am allergic to trees, weeds, grass, mold, and dust. Awesome.

Also, I spoke up about the numbness in my hands. And Ta-Da! After another horrible test, I was diagnosed with severe Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Even better. However, my wonderful massage therapist has been working with me to minimize the damage until I can receive surgery in the next couple of weeks.

As obnoxious as it is to find out that you're allergic to your life and that your craft is in jeopardy, it's better to find out that you can recover from it. No matter whether your passion is writing, art, mommying, or anything else, you will be more effective if you take time for yourself and your health.

These are my top To-Dos:

  • Drink water. Keep your brain and body hydrated or they don't work as well as they should.
  • Exercise. Even if it's something low impact like walking around the block. Or chasing your kids around the park. (And hey, my pool is open all summer. Come on over.)
  • Visit the doctor regularly. Ask questions about anything out of the ordinary. (Believe me, finding out that you have 20 allergies and carpal tunnel in the same two week period isn't fun. It's better to investigate things before they become serious.)
  • Search out holistic remedies. They're typically cheaper and more comfortable than traditional medicine. So why not?
  • Play. You may not think it's important, but your brain needs time to unwind too. I am at my most creative when I take time for myself. Laughter may not be the best medicine, but it certainly doesn't hurt!

What do you do to protect your health? I'd love to know. Leave me a comment! Meanwhile, I'll be all allergy-drugged-up and chilling at the pool! Enjoy!

Also. my Happy Birthday Giveaway is still going on. Enter to win a signed copy of Becoming Beauty or an Amazon Gift Card. Good luck!