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Authoring Writing Advice Writing Life

Getting to that *next* novel

A friend’s social media post recently observed that the abundance of writing advice online (and at convention panels, and in writing workshops) focuses on New Writers. Writers who are working on their first book. Writers wholly unfamiliar with publishing. There isn’t much for writers who are working on their third book, or their eighth.

And the question was posed: what advice would you (where you means writers of multiple books) offer to writers who have gotten beyond their first. The thoughts I had were bigger than a comment, so they’re here!

First, why is this so? Welp. My cynical take: the money is in pushing products & resources to those who haven’t made any personal connections or located professional mentors or tracked down their own resources. Less-cynical me is willing to acknowledge that there are a lot more New Writers than ones who are typing away at book 4 or 5. And most writers who’ve stuck it out that long have collected colleagues and bookmarked resources and developed a lot of tricks they like.

And my answer to the questiion was this: my words of wisdom to writers seeking guidance wouldn’t change between book 1 and book 8.

  • There is no One True Way To Write Your Book
  • There is no One True Path to successfully publishing a book.
  • There is no One True Definition Of Success

I can break down that a bit more, though, and right now that feels like a good reflection post to share while I await the release of book 8 and work on book 1 in a new series.

We now interrupt this post for an advertisement! Do you love fantastic fiction? Do you enjoy stories full of emotional depth, high-stakes conflict, and mysterious superpowers? You need to pre-order your copy of The Sharp Edge of Yesterday today.
B&N link
AMAZON link
–> or order it by name from your friendly local independent bookstore!
–> or recommend a purchase to your local public library!

Ahem. Back to writing advice for writers who’ve already written that First Book all the Internet Advice Experts focus on.

One. The tricks you taught yourself to remain motived through writing FirstBookEver won’t necessarily help you get through Book 2. Or book 5. Motivation is a fickle thing, and the creation of art is an ever-changing pursuit of an ever-changing goal.

Two. There is no International Agency of Writer Certification. No one will ever send you an official Writer Diploma, not when you graduate from writing to having a book published, not after three books, not after seventeen thousand short story sales. Once your words have been read by an audience–even if that audience is you and you alone–you are a writer. All other levels of accreditation, legitimacy, and worldly success are just additional layers. And remember–we inhabit a late-stage capitalist hellscape. It’s a tough fight to define legitimacy and professionalism in non-financial terms, but it’s a battle worth fighting. Professional writing associations set their membership bars based on economics, period.

Two point five. Success isn’t a set of moving goal posts. That’s bullshit. Every damned goal achieved is success. Period. Setting new goals after achieving a goal is one form of growth. So is shifting focus and working on something else. Which brings us to the next point.

Three. You are allowed to change your mind. You’re allowed to stop writing a first book or a fifth one. You’re allowed to stop writing a series. You’re allowed to stop writing at all–for a day, for a month, for years, forever. You’re allowed to turn your back on publishing after querying one book, or self-publishing three, or selling seventeen thousand short stories to magazines. You’re still a writer even you never pursue publication at all & only write in your private notebooks or on fanfic sites, or in letters to your besties. But that’s a different post.)
The point is, you decide what to write, how to write it, when to write it, and what to do with it when you’re done. YOU AND ONLY YOU.

(CAVEAT: the above paragraph is true unless you have signed a contract obligating you to write a given thing within a given time frame for financial remuneration. I mean, that’s a legal commitment.)

Four. The feeling that the next piece of writing isn’t “good enough” won’t ever go away. Wrestling with insecurity is a popular hobby for many creatives. Impostor syndrome is a popular term with gigantic amounts of advice written on overcoming it, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. The classic form is fear of being exposed as a fraud–feeling like you’ll be kicked out of the cool-kids club as soon as people realize you don’t belong. I rarely feel like that. Okay, never. I just don’t feel like a fraud, ever. But! I often feel un-respected in the company of experienced, talented, and business-focused professionals. That’s a VERY different kind of insecurity, but it’s rooted in the same fear of not-good-enough. (It’s an insecurity rooted in and fueled by the pro-club’s finance-focused membership requirements, but that’s another different post.) My defiant answer, even when my on insecurity whispers “not-goodenough” is this: “FFS, WHAT DOES GOOD ENOUGH EVEN MEAN? Good enough for whom?”

Five: You should never expect the publishing landscape for the next book to look the way it did for the last one. Publishing is still in a state of massive flux fifteen (or so) years after electronic self-publishing began disrupting it. Marketing strategies and social media change even faster. One year, email newsletters are The Route To Commercial Success. The next year, it’s Twitter followers. The year after that, it’s all about Bookstagram. The one thing that never changes: everything changes.

Six: Everything except writing the next book is a distraction from writing the next book. BUT ALSO. Some non-writing distractions are IMPORTANT, and some will remind you why you’re putting all the effort into writing that next book. Never underestimate the power of connecting with other people who get excited about the worlds and people you write.

I think that’s all the rambling thoughts I have for now. Remember, there’s a new book for you waiting for you to pre-order it right now! Moms with superpowers, potential apocalypse, and gardening tips!

Here are those links for Sharp Edge again:
B&N link
AMAZON link
–> or order it by name from your friendly local independent bookstore
–> or recommend a purchase to your local public library

Until later!

Categories
other things Whimsy Writing Life

A Monday List

In no particular order, what’s going on in my head:

  1. I’m through Late Eclipses in my reread of the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, and I need to say (once again, this isn’t the first time) this author is a genius and if you love fae stories or urban fantasy or both, you really, REALLY should give this series a try. It’s immensely complex but totally accessible, and there are rich layers of story and history that build and build, but the hints and foreshadoing are all there from the very beginning. Absofucklutely amazing.
  2. My Twitter feed now provides me with a cat, a bird, a possum, a wholesome meme, and a fox every hour, plus one Aziraphale meme and a silly gender description per day. This makes the rest of my online life in 2020 more bearable.
  3. Black lives matter, trans lives matter, the United States Postal Service deserves to be freed from its obscenely punitive business restrictions, the US presidential election is 77 days away, and Covid-19 is running rampant through the American population.
  4. #3 is the reason I need my hourly fox fix and visit from BirdBot. Yeah. I should add a few more happybots to dilute the doom.
  5. 2020 is the kind of year when Iowa can essentially get hit by a hurricane and not make the headlines anywhere else.
  6. I am 1/3 of the way through the final revisions on Sharp Edge of Yesterday by chapter count, but it’s closer to halfway through by pages. (87 of ~210 pages) I should probably take a closer look at that. The shit has hit the fan (AKA I’ve hit the first rising action) and the plot complications are piling up. Good times.
  7. Our new old house is getting a shiny new skin REALLY soon now. Fingers crossed the last 3 windows to get finished & the weather holds. Then it will take 2 weeks(ish) to replace the upstairs windows, add eaves & adequate ventilation to the roof, do a redesign on the gutter & downspout system, and button it up with pretty new siding. ALSO VERY EXCITING. YES.

That’s all for now. More when I think of it. Until later!

Say buh-bye to the worn black shingles and faded yellow metal siding. Riviera Dusk vinyl coming in, with a nice Barkwood shingle roof.
Categories
1. Storysculpting Authoring Detours Promotion Whimsy Writing Life

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY!

Today is the one-year release anniversary for Rough Passages.  Never has a book been more aptly named, for oh, so many reasons. Read on to get the details.

3 years ago today: I was struggling with a novel I eventually set aside, building my author website, & coping with various health troubles. Barely treading water, creatively.

2 years ago today: I was struggling with Spouseman’s major health troubles, working on a frustrating short story, and coping with the aftermath of painful dental surgery. Ugh.

1 year ago today: still mostly struggling, and I let down a lot of people, but support from friends, fellow authors, & readers kept me going. Rough Passages happened because of that support. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I went on to finish the story-that-turned-into-a-Rough-Passages follow-up novel, and THIS year? This year, that follow-up is in revisions, I’ve completed 2 new short stories, and I’m 3/4 done with a novel draft in a different, brand-new series.

It’s a happy day indeed.

Here’s my pretty baby:

Super-powered grandmas, doomed teens, and monster Marines.

A buy link in case you want one: get Rough Passages here

Categories
Promotion Writing Life

I learned a new Kindle thing.

I am soooooooo late to the party with this one, but I’m happy about learning it, so I’m sharing my joy. Let’s start with the basics. Do you:

  • own a Kindle?
  • Use Amazon Prime?
  • Enjoy books published by independent and/or small press authors?
  • Like to support indie authors but don’t have a big entertainment budget?

DID YOU KNOW: if you answered yes to all those questions,  there’s a program that’s perfect for you? It’s called the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL).

You can download 1 free read per month straight to your Kindle, for free, AND the author gets a per-page-read payment. That’s right. You pick from a ton of great Kindle books (like, say, one of MY titles) read it for free on your Kindle, AND the author gets money.

Everyone wins, right? You can support an author you like every month with it just by reading a book. Seems too good to be true, but IT IS TRUE!

The main catch seems to be that the title has to also be in Kindle Unlimited, but hey, there are a LOT of those. Including my sorta-romances and the big single-edition version of the Stories of the Restoration. Just saying.

Do you want to know how it works?  I did, so I hunted down details.  There’s an official how-to video on this Amazon page How to Borrow a Kindle Book through KOLL. That was enough to get me started. I brought up the Kindle store on my Kindle, looked up a book by title & author, and one touch later, it was downloading. Yay, reading!

Want to know more? Here’s a site with more information and a nice comparison of  this KOLL program and Kindle Unlimited: Some useful details about KOLL.  It’s a little out of date–there’s now Prime Borrowing to complicate matters, for one thing–but it has a bunch of basics.

Categories
Authoring other things Promotion Writing Life

Obligatory Gift Idea Reminder Post

One week to Christmas. Remember the ease of giving readable gifts this season! (See visual below for two good examples)
They are great books, but don’t take my word for it. You can read 4 & 5-star verified-purchase reviews on Amazon: http://ift.tt/2nAqbm9 and on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36425571.
Ebooks. Paperbacks. Audios. Pick your format, there’s something for everyone. No, really.
(Sorry, no sweeping political intrigue sagas, no grimdark grit, no bloody horror. Just good, solid characters, thrills, and surprises.)

(Editing to add the review below because wow. As a lifelong X-Men fan, I’m torn. I feel I should somehow defend their iconic goodness but am too busy melting from the power of the complimentary comparison.)