IWSG: Falling Behind

InsecureWritersSupportGroupThe IWSG posts the first Wednesday of each month. Click here to find a full list of participants, and to join!

This month I’m insecure about not meeting my self-imposed deadlines.

I started June with a plan to finish Brynnde by the end of it. Alas, it was not to be. There was so much to do leading up to the end of the school year (x3 kids), and now summer has set in and . . . I’m trying to let go of my concerns about writing and just enjoy the now, the summer, the kids, the activities, but it’s difficult sometimes.

And then when I do get time to sit and write I find I’m stymied. Ugh. I’m lucky to eke out a couple paragraphs. It’s like I’ve dried up in the summer heat.

I really wanted Brynnde to be done for the conferences I’m attending, one of which is mid-August, the other not until October. It’s not the worst thing if it’s not done for August, but I have an author’s table at the October conference and would really, really like to have the book ready for that. Especially since I don’t know if Changers will be in print yet at that point. (Cross your fingers that it is!)

So that’s what I’m struggling with at the moment.

IWSG Question of the Month: What’s the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

Someone once told me how glad they were that I hadn’t written a simple “happily ever after” when two characters got together, that I showed the real struggles of managing a relationship rather than glossing over it. (I had written a series of stories in which the characters came together, and the series extended past the HEA point and had the characters negotiating that new relationship.) The reader liked that it felt real to life as well as true to the characters involved. That compliment has stayed with me over the past few years.

Another nice thing someone said wasn’t about my writing per se, but I was talking to an editor at Tor who was asking me about Changers—specific, world-building questions—and told me she was impressed I was able to answer them all. “You’ve thought it through,” she said. “There’s no worse answer than ‘that’s just how it is in this world.'” So I was glad to pass that “test”!

The Question of the Month can be found in the IWSG newsletter.

IWSG: Writing the Sequel

InsecureWritersSupportGroup The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts the first Wednesday of every month.

I’ve done it now. My YA fantasy novel Changers: Manifesting Destiny is due out from Evernight Teen some time this summer. (It’s in editing now, and I’m also waiting to see the cover.) Thing is, it’s ostensibly the first in a trilogy. Which means I’m on the hook for two more books.

I’ve outlined what needs to happen in the second book (Changers: The Great Divide), and I’ve begun writing it, but . . . It feels so much weightier to write a sequel. There’s more riding on it, and I keep asking myself whether it’s good enough, which strangely was not a question I asked myself while writing the first book.

What’s keeping me sane right now is having a second, unrelated project—a Regency romance—going at the same time. Yes, it’s more work, but it somehow actually helps relieve the pressure a bit.

So what causes me to seize up when writing a sequel? I do this, too, when writing new Sherlock Holmes stories, and I think it’s the pressure to “live up to” the others. Whatever that means. It’s such an amorphous, subjective thing. But there’s an expectation—one I put on myself more than anything others put on me—and it paralyzes me a bit.

Still, I must trudge forward. Don’t want too much time to pass between books. Of course, if the first book doesn’t do well, maybe there will be no call for a sequel. But that’s another worry for another IWSG.

Meanwhile, please do check out my short story “Aptera,” which was published today on Aurora Wolf. It’s a contemporary tale of mythological sirens. Read it here.

IWSG: Silence

InsecureWritersSupportGroup Right now I’m waiting to hear. About a lot of things. From a few different people. And I find that very unnerving.

I’m waiting to hear from the conference organizer about my presentation in October. She’s certainly busy, and there’s plenty of time, but I’m the type of person who likes things to be set and settled. Feeling up in the air makes me insecure.

And I’m waiting to hear from the publisher about Changers. Again, I’m sure I’m in a queue somewhere, and at least I’ve had some back and forth with the marketing person. (There’s a marketing person! Hurrah!) This is more about being excited; the anticipation has me on the edge of my seat. But at the same time, the longer I go without hearing from anyone, the more I fear I’ve been forgotten, fallen through the cracks.

In truth, I know I have personal issues with feeling ignored or overlooked. That’s on me. And it’s also really tough for me when I’ve done all I can and now the ball is in someone else’s court. Aside from nagging and making a nuisance of myself (and I try not to), there’s not much for me to do but wait.

In the meantime, I try to be productive by working on other projects. But this limbo is like Damocles’ sword; I find it difficult to focus on anything else while it hangs over me. But I’ll try to get some writing done anyway.

Learn more about the Insecure Writers’ Support Group—and join—by clicking here.

IWSG: Like, In Front of People?

InsecureWritersSupportGroupThe Insecure Writers Support Group was formed for authors to share their doubts and fears about writing and allow fellow authors to support and encourage them. They post the first Wednesday of each month. Learn more and sign up here.

The good news: I’ve been asked to present at the InD’Scribe conference in October! My very first time as a writing conference presenter rather than just an attendee. I’m naturally very excited! But also a little terrified.

I have plenty of time to plan, and I’ve already begun making notes. And I’ve taught classes before; I used to teach Shakespeare at a summer camp. Of course, back then my students were ages 9 to 14, so . . . This is a little different. These are my peers. And I’m going to be getting up in front of them and speaking as if what I have to say is interesting, even important or valuable.

I hope it is.

IWSG: Failure

InsecureWritersSupportGroup So my dread lately has been . . . failure. Specifically, the failure of my latest novel. It came out on January 15, and has had ups and downs in the Amazon rankings. (I can’t see the data, nor do I have any info on other platforms, so I can only go by the Amazon rank.) I mean, I can’t really say it’s a “failure” so much as not the break-out hit I wanted it to be. Which still feels like a failure to me.

I’m hugely disappointed. I know, objectively, that the book may yet find its audience, and I do have a big blog tour coming up in April that I hope will help. But as things stand, my publisher has told me it’s unlikely Peter will go into print, and so a lot of my plans have gone up in smoke. My big debut turned out not to be very big. (I call Peter a debut because it’s my first traditionally published book versus self-published.)

All the doubts are there, eating at me. Am I not a good writer? If I’d published it myself, could I have done better (my husband is a marketer and has done well by my other books)? But I did really want the experience of being published by someone other than myself. So at least I can say I’ve done that.

My writing group assures me my most recent manuscript—a YA fantasy called Changers, hopefully first in a trilogy—is far more commercial and should do well. Peter is decidedly a niche market novel. I get that. But despite all the sound logic and reasoning, I can’t help but be disappointed anyway.

Maybe Peter will find its feet somewhere down the line. I know I can’t dwell. Need to move on to the next thing. But it’s difficult to let go of something you worked so hard on, watch it sink. It’s quite depressing. So I’m taking a little time off to regroup. Don’t know how long just yet. An indefinite hiatus. But I’ll keep posting here, so do check back! I’ve started an author interview series; drop me a note if you’d like to be interviewed! And if you’d like to check out Peter, the Tirgearr Publishing site has a page featuring all the links to various e-formats. There’s an excerpt and several reviews there, too. I can at least take comfort in the fact the book has been generally well reviewed by the few who’ve read it. Maybe someday it’ll be considered one of those classics that was ahead of its time. Well, a girl can dream.

IWSG: Out of My Hands

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time to explore what’s making me insecure as a writer. And it’s all the usual stuff. Yesterday I received three rejections, which wasn’t fun. Two last week, too. And now I’m in the middle of a massive rewrite and worried it still won’t be good enough by the time I’m finished. But that’s normal for most writers, I think. We all pour effort into our work and then worry our best still isn’t good enough. (Or are we worried it’s still somehow not our best? Hmm.)

But the thing I’m most insecure about is my latest release, The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. It has decent reviews on Amazon and has been bouncing up and down in the rankings there. But I usually self-publish and can see the sales numbers. Peter is my first book to be published by, well, a publisher. So I have no real idea how well it is or isn’t doing.

The publisher has told me if Peter does well enough, they’ll consider a print run. I really want that to happen; I’ve already been invited to a couple bookstores to do signings if/when I have books to sign. So not knowing how well Peter is selling is a bit frustrating. It feels like so much hinges on it! I guess I’ll have a better idea after the first quarter.

Then again, I also don’t know what counts for “well” per this particular publisher. I don’t know their metric for success.

It’s out of my hands. That’s what I need to learn to live with. All this energy should be put into my current projects. Focus. I need to focus on what I can do. It’s the difference between treading water and actually swimming. Gotta swim.

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Find more about Insecure Writers Support Group here.

IWSG: Loss for Words

InsecureWritersSupportGroupIt’s IWSG day again, the first of 2016! (Click here for info on IWSG. And here’s what I’m insecure about: not having anything to say.

I want to blog, but I honestly feel like I’ve got nothing much to talk about (except maybe my book coming out, but I don’t want to keep saying that over and over because I know it will bore people). I find myself thinking, I should post something today, but I can’t think of anything to post. In fact, I’m super glad today is IWSG, because it gives me something to write about!

What do people want to know and read about? I have no idea. And that’s pretty bad for an author, right? For someone who is supposed to keep people entertained through words? But then again, I’ve never been one to try and write to the public. I write what I want to write and hope a few people find it worth reading.

So is the problem really that I can’t find anything I want to write about? Hmm. Yes, that actually seems possible.

Which means the next question is: How do you figure out what you want to write [about]?

How do people choose blog topics?

I’d love to hear how some of you decide what to write and post on your blogs and sites!

IWSG: Pending

IWSG stands for “Insecure Writers Support Group” and posts on the first Wednesday of each month. Visit all the participants here.

First off, please let me take a moment to wish my husband a very happy birthday!

Now on to the main event.

This month I’m feeling insecure about my pending release. This is because my publisher was supposed to give me materials to send reviewers last month but they haven’t yet. So I had lined up reviewers, had told them they’d have stuff to look at in November, and now . . . I don’t know when it will happen.

Pre-orders are also supposed to go up any day now. My publisher had originally told me November for that, too, but when I inquired they then told me it would be more like 4–6 weeks prior to release. (Release date is 15 January.) I hope it’s closer to six. I mean, those two weeks can make a big difference to sales.

So yeah. I’m feeling insecure about potentially losing reviewers I worked hard to get and losing sales because my pre-orders aren’t up yet. On the whole my publisher has been lovely, really, but these last couple hurdles have me very frustrated.

It’s a learning curve, I suppose. I used to work in publishing, but now I’m on the other side of it. And I’ve done some self-publishing, but now I’m navigating what it means to work with a small publisher. I really am grateful for the opportunity and experience. Just need to take a few deep breaths and get through it.

Another thing I’m starting to be nervous about: I’m making HUGE edits to Changers. That always makes me nervous because I worry I’m actually making it worse rather than better.

Meanwhile, don’t forget:

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IWSG: ALL THE THINGS!

(You can visit other Insecure Writers by clicking on the IWSG link on the sidebar.)

What am I insecure about these days? A lot of things! Peter is due out in a few short months, and so of course I’m worried about reviews and how well it will do. I’m also worried about being able to write a sequel. I’ve dabbled with it a bit, have a couple pages written and a vague notion of the plot, but it’s all still very amorphous, like a cloud with no clear shape.

I’m insecure about finding a place for Changers, and about writing more Sherlock Holmes stories. Can I keep three series going? (The Holmes stories, the Peter Stoller series, and the Changers series?)

And I’m insecure about how I will come off in a recent podcast interview I did. Like, I’m excited for having done it and simultaneously worried I’ll sound like an idiot or a nut job or something. Sigh.

The more I have going on, the more paralyzed I begin to feel. It means I have to be (gasp!) disciplined and have to (double gasp!) prioritize. I never had any trouble with it when I worked in publishing because we had set deadlines. But when you’re working for yourself, unless you have a publisher breathing fire on your neck . . . And if you do, never complain about it—you’re lucky.

I know I’m capable. I can do it. I just need to organize myself. And some encouragement wouldn’t hurt either. I heard from a reader this week, and it was just lovely that she took the time to say she’s been enjoying my Sherlock Holmes stories. Stuff like that makes me want to keep going, even when I’m feeling insecure and stuck.

IWSG: Edits!

I received an email from my editor at Tirgearr this morning saying she’ll be sending me edits for Peter either late next week or early the week after that. Eep!

After working on Peter for so long, I of course want to think it’s very clean. Nearly perfect, right? But I’m also a reasonable, logical person (at least some of the time), so I know there will be stuff to fix. Maybe even a lot.

I’m really kind of scared.

It’s like handing your baby over to a surgeon and not being sure what will come back. Lots of stitches? Only a few scars?

And having been an editor so long myself, you’d think I’d have more insight or whatever, but it’s very different being on this side of things.

So that’s what I’m insecure about at the moment. That and the revisions I’ll need to do on Changers. My critique group will be tearing that manuscript apart in the coming weeks as well.

My Hallowe’en horror story: having my work ripped to shreds!