Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why Writers Should be Honest with Publishers

I'm an introvert, and I used to work in retail. Back then, I was a shy introvert too. But because I needed the job, I lied on my application and during the interview when they asked, "Are you a people-person?" I gave them a big fat, "YES, I AM. I'm so friendly and outgoing and I love working with people! Woo!"

Which was all fine until I got the job. I faked the people-person thing for a couple days, until my batteries dropped to zero, I cried myself to sleep (not really...maybe), and dragged myself back into work as a zombie. It's exhausting trying to be someone you're not.

Eventually, my boss had to remind me to smile and say hi and ask the customers if they needed help. I'm sure by now they realized I wasn't the people-person I said I was, but they kept me because I was a hard working and, ironically, didn't waste time talking to my coworkers like everyone else. (They told me this.) So my personality wasn't everything they wanted, but it still benefited them.

Not me, though. I was dying inside. That sounds dramatic, doesn't it? But any introvert who has tried to fake an extrovert personality and lifestyle knows I'm not being dramatic. It's suffocation.

I learned from my lies, quit the job, and accepted that it's for my own good and for the good of those around me if I accept who I am.

That is until I got an email from a publisher I had queried, asking me what my expectations are from a publisher. My immediate thought was, "What answer are they looking for?" I mulled that over for a while before I realized I was making the same mistake I made with the retail job.

If I lied to a publisher just to get the offer, that wouldn't be a good deal for either one of us. So I sent an honest response, and I'm so glad I did. Maybe my response will show them I'm a good fit and maybe it won't. If it doesn't, that's okay. I can't be in such a rush to make my publishing dream come true that I actually spoil it.

So if you get that question, be honest with yourself and with the publisher. I mean, do your homework so you understand how the industry works. Your expectations need to be realistic. But be honest. Our time will come with the right publisher fit for us.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Pitch Wars - donate to something great!

I've been involved with Pitch Wars since it first started, only missing one year as a mentor in the five years. And it's on again this year.

All the mentors donate their time. But unfortunately, the costs of running an event like this behind the scenes has grown along with the competition.

To help ease the costs, you can make a donation! Find out more about how to donate here.

Here's some reasons why I would encourage you to donate to this amazeballs competition:

  • Pitch Wars has a better success rate than querying.
  • Pitch Wars connects writers! Even if a writer doesn't get into Pitch Wars they find new people to connect with on social media, and many end up with new beta readers/CP partners. 
  • Pitch Wars helps writers grow! Being paired with a industry professional (author/editor) helps authors go to the next level with their work. 
  • Pitch Wars makes friendships happen: I have made amazing friends through Pitch Wars, and I don't think it's done connecting me to new friends yet. 
  • Pitch Wars makes mentors! If you look through the mentor list you will find authors who were once mentees, or where entrants who didn't get picked. The personal growth doesn't with being a mentee. 
  • If you are entering Pitch Wars, you will get additional mentors to submit to if you donate $20 or more. (Please note, PW is not a game of chance. Mentors choose their mentee on merit).

Friday, June 10, 2016

Emotional Balance

Perhaps it's just me (but I think not), but there is a lot of panic and rush from writers in the book building world. Panic over being good enough, rushing to finish a book to send it to the query trenches or on sub, distress about another author getting a sale before you do, the worry over why your editor/agent hasn't sent you your edits yet or updated you on where you're at... It's an endless list.

And this is where I want to say 'stop'. As writers, we have a tendency to obsess, and we really, really need to stop that. It's not good for our writing, our business, our sanity, our health or our happiness. Period.

I see so many writers who just want to "be published" that they have lost the reason why they love to write. I have heard countless writers say "if they don't get an agent with this book, they'll stop writing." My question to them: is that why you started writing? Just to be published? If so, then more power to you. But for most of us, we started writing because we love it. We can't not write. If that was how you started, then take a huge, big, leaping step back and really evaluate not just where you are in your writing career, but where you are emotionally.

Forget the old adage of the passion being gone makes bad writing. We all know that. However, writing without passion makes for a bad emotional balance. Writers should take time to write what they love. Have you ever thought of writing something that's not (*gasp, shock, horror*) ever going to be something you want to try and publish? If not, why not?

I believe that every writer, hobbyist or career, should always make a little space to write something purely for their heart, and purely for them, and to hell with the publishing of it. I'm a career author, so I work with that in mind. But I do stop and smell the roses, too. I hope you can as well!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Writing Through the Stresses of Life

Despite today’s title, I’m not sure how much advice I have to offer on this topic, but this is where I’ve been this year—stressed. But it’s been a sneaky stress. By that, I mean I haven’t necessarily felt stressed in my head, but I’ve seen the effects of stress. Tired. Crazy dreams. Lack of motivation. 
I’ve spent the last year apart from my husband, Brian. No, not a separation. He’s been away at school, and I chose not to move. Moving didn’t make sense. Not when we intended to return to the same place when he graduated. Instead, the kids and I remained in our home of the last eight years and took vacations to visit Brian. But what I didn’t realize was how great of an effect that separation would have. My kids are older. They contribute quite a bit to our household—cooking one night a week each, doing daily chores to help keep up the house, etc. I’m not tethered to them like when they were young. I can take four or more hours to myself, either in the house or away from it, with the expectation that they won’t need me.
In many ways, this past year has actually been good. I’ve enjoyed my somewhat independence. I’ve enjoyed spending extra time with the kids playing games and exploring new TV series. (We recently got into I Love Lucy, which has been fun to watch and to discuss.) But as the year went on, my ability to give attention to writing waned. Something about being the sole parent, whether the kids needed my constant attention or not, drained me. Not having another parent or adult around to reassure me that taking time to myself was okay left me feeling a little guilty when I did. 

So I’m confessing I haven’t written through my stresses this year. I’ve critiqued. I’ve judged contests. I’ve done edits for my publisher. But my creativity has been shot. No new writing. No edits to complete a manuscript for pitching. 
That doesn’t mean my year has been wasted. I’ve been learning. I’ve read a ton—like probably around 100 books since Christmas. I’ve judged contests, which has increased my skills with critiquing. The scoresheets have helped me focus on necessary elements, digging deeper than, “The writing is great! I loved the characters!” Because that’s been an area of struggle for me. I like to enjoy what I’m reading, so I choose not to analyze too deeply. But I’m a better critique partner (and judge) when I do.
So even though this year hasn’t been productive as far as producing content goes, I’m not ending this year-away-from-my-husband without success. I won a major writing contest and I signed my first contract. I’ve critiqued and (hopefully!) judged soon-to-be-published manuscripts. This is how I’ve written through the stresses of life—keeping my mind and my presence in the writing world, even if my creativity has taken an extended vacation.

Do you have any advice for me? Any ways you have fought through stress to write successfully?