IWSG: October 2018

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

I’m a mess these days when it comes to writing. I go from being hopeful and optimistic to plunging into the depths of despair and being sure no one will ever want to read my work.

By the way, look at the post below this one to enter to win a copy of my forthcoming book Faebourne. You can also read the first chapter via “Sample Chapters” on the sidebar.

Question of the Month: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Major life events usually disrupt my writing. Even minor life events can do that. This past summer, not only were the kids home but my husband was on sabbatical. We did some traveling and a lot of outings, which was a lot of fun. We made wonderful memories. But I got almost no writing done for three months.

As for writing helping me through things, sure. I sometimes write in a stream-of-consciousness way in order to figure out how I feel or what I think about something. It’s a good way to drill down and get to the roots of problems or ideas.

IWSG: Publishing Paths

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

This month I’m insecure about the fact I entered Pitch Wars for the first time ever and have so far not received any requests for more pages. Between that and the fact that I keep being told by agents I’ve queried that my writing is “really good,” “engaging,” “flows well” . . . yet somehow no one wants to represent or publish it . . . I don’t know what to think or do. Which leads somewhat indirectly to this month’s question:

What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

As of now, I have eight books on the market. Two were published by small publishers, the others I self-published. I’ll be self-publishing Faebourne too.

For some manuscripts, I do try to get an agent. If I think the book might be commercial enough, I do an extensive round of querying. If, however, I know it’s too niche, or if it’s something I know I can sell on my own (like Sherlock Holmes or Regency romance), I self-publish.

I guess a part of me still hopes to someday be published by a bigger house. I don’t know why. A lingering desire for legitimacy? For someone to say I’m good enough? Hence the most recent heartbreaking year of queries. For this particular manuscript I’ve sent out 134 queries, and at the moment I’m waiting for answers on 3 of them. The rest were rejections or no responses. And now I’m hoping maybe, just maybe, a Pitch Wars mentor might see something good in my work. But that appears to be a no as well.

It’s tough to stay confident in your writing when no one else seems to believe it’s worth their time or effort.

Yet my Sherlock Holmes books and Brynnde sell well. So at least a few people like and read my work. And I have hopes Faebourne will follow in Brynnde‘s footsteps. All signs point to me continuing to self-publish because I come out ahead on those books. (Mostly due to my husband who handles the marketing.)

In short, my publishing path is something I determine on a book-by-book basis. If I think there’s a chance an agent might like the manuscript, I do some querying. Otherwise, I self-publish. I don’t really bother with the smaller publishers any more because I haven’t had much luck with them. I’m better off having full control of my ability to price and market, and in determining which format(s) to produce, etc. I’m sure there are some great small publishers out there that actually do market and won’t just churn out a ton of books and hope they sell, but I’ve ceased looking for them. If a publisher wants me to do the marketing for them, well, I might as well put the book out myself and keep more of the profits.

So this manuscript I’m shopping, well . . . First I have to get Faebourne out, and then I’ll decide what to do with it. Scrap it. Overhaul it. Or eventually put my faith in it and self-publish. Its fate remains to be determined.

IWSG: Pitfalls

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Right now I’m insecure about 1. finishing this novel, and 2. giving a presentation at the local library this coming November. I know that’s a long time away yet, but I’ll be talking about writing and publishing for NaNoWriMo participants, which is why this month’s question is quite appropriate:

What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

There are so many! For one, don’t read too many how-to books on writing. You’ll get so worried about doing it wrong that you won’t do it at all. Also, don’t start querying the moment you finish your draft. You think you’re done—you so want to be, because you’ve been working so hard for so long—but you aren’t, not nearly. Much revision will be required! Don’t believe your baby has been born ready to walk and talk because it hasn’t. You’ve still got to raise it. Finally, be super selective about who you query. Do your research. It’s so exciting to get that nibble—or better yet, an offer! But not all [agents, publishers, offers] are created equal. So don’t celebrate until you’re sure.

IWSG: Writing Goals

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month (except tomorrow is a holiday, so we’re posting a day early). Read more posts and/or join in here.

I’m still fretting over finishing Faebourne.

Question of the Month: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

Well, ideally I’d be producing more than one title per year, since generating new content seems to be the one solid way of making any money as a writer these days. And I’d like to make money—well, more than I do now. I should probably set a concrete number; they say that’s the best way to set a goal and therefore be satisfied when you finally hit it. I think it’s so very important for authors do set their own, personal definitions of success, else it’s easy to always feel like a failure. Having concrete, quantifiable goals helps you feel successful in the long run.

I’ll start modestly. I’d like to:

  • Make three figures per month consistently
  • Be asked to speak or sit on a panel at least once a year
  • Publish at least two things per year

So many other authors already do these things (and much more) . . . But as they say, comparison is the thief of joy. I can only hope to do better than myself, not as well as or better than anyone else.

I think when I started, I had no specific goals except to get my work out there. And you know what? I was happier when I didn’t have set expectations. But I don’t think I can avoid having expectations at this point, and hopes. Unfortunately, these often lead to disappointment. And I find myself less enthusiastic about writing the more pressure there is to produce and perform. Hmm. Maybe I should go back to having no goals after all. Or, rather, maybe my goal should be to just write for the fun of it again.

IWSG: Deadline!

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

This month I’m mostly insecure about finishing this project in time for the August 7 release date!

Question of the Month: What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

Oh, I’d say they’re equally difficult but not at the same time. I either have the title and the names become a challenge, or I have the characters and can’t think of a title. It never seems to be that both are easy or both are hard. I wonder why that is?

IWSG: Spring Fever

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Still hammering away at Faebourne! Looking down the barrel at that August 7th pub date . . . Also nervous but excited to have started doing Facebook videos. So if you have any questions you’d like answered, ask away and I’ll answer in my next video!

Question of the Month: It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Spring lights a fire under me in terms of writing because I realize that the kids will be out of school soon and my chances to write will become smaller. At the same time, I find myself wanting to be out in the warm weather (when we have it). Why not write outside? For whatever reason I find that nearly impossible. The glare on my screen or off the paper in particular makes it difficult for me. And I have to sit in the sun; for me, that’s the point of being outside to begin with. So writing in spring usually ends up being a kind of internal tug-of-war. A real need to sit down and get some work done versus a restlessness and desire to be out and about.

IWSG: Pileup on the Writing Turnpike

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

I have a lot to be insecure about these days. 1. I need to finish Faebourne because it has a set pub date of August 7. (Also a gorgeous cover!) 2. After seeking advice, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to shelve Hamlette and write an entirely different Shakespeare book (if I want to continue doing the Shakespeare thing, which I think I do, though I feel less sure than before). That’s really a tough one—I put all that time and energy into Hamlette and now it feels like a waste. 3. Changers 2? Maybe?

Question of the Month: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

Um, sometimes I don’t. That’s probably the wrong answer, but it’s the truth. I’ve never had anything good come out of trying to force it, though. Instead of fiction, I’ll write in my journal or something. Get the emotions out. I find that clarifying as an exercise. If I can figure out what’s really bothering me, I can then make a plan of action to start to feel better.

IWSG: Celebrating

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

Right now I’m caught between the desire to land an agent or [reputable] publisher and the option to self-publish. This is mostly due to my own impatience, but it also comes in part from feedback I received from an agent at the San Francisco Writers Conference. My current manuscript is a YA contemporary update of Hamlet, and the agent said that’s already overdone. That I should go choose a lesser known Shakespeare play to rework instead. She said I could then sit on my current manuscript so I’d have it if whatever fresher thing I wrote took off, or that I could self-publish it. The gist was: it’s good to have another manuscript banked. At the same time, there are no guarantees. And it wouldn’t necessarily work against me to publish it myself since they wouldn’t technically be a series.

Well. I’ve got a couple agencies still reading the manuscript, so maybe not all hope is lost. But if everyone passes . . . I don’t know what I’ll do. At least I’ve outlined a couple more Shakespeare books to write as well.

Question of the Month: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?

Depends on the achievement. If I land a contract (or agent, or option, though those things have then fallen through), we usually go out to eat. If I just finish a draft or something, I don’t do much of anything special. Maybe eat a cookie or something.

IWSG: Genre Love

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

I’m insecure about no one wanting my words. I’m tired of being invisible. People keep telling me to “take a break,” but I haven’t written in over a month. Never mind a break, I think I’m flat-out broken.

Question of the Month: What do you love about the genre you write most often?

I’m not sure I have a genre I write most often. I write a lot of different things, and none of them any more than the rest. Well, let’s say it’s an even split between mystery and fantasy (but there’s more historical romance coming!). But really, no matter what I’m writing, I love two things: (a) the characters, and (b) the world building.

I’m a character writer, no question. I really do fall a little bit in love with each of mine. As for world building, I just love the craft. There’s something so satisfying about creating a whole world—even if it’s not a fantasy world. Even if it’s just another time period or a made-up town, I enjoy the work immensely.

IWSG: Schedules

It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

This month—year—I’m mostly insecure about whether I’ll be able to finish all my projects! Which is why the question about scheduling is so apropos.

Question of the Month: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Answer: not enough!

I work from home, ostensibly as a full-time author. But with three kids in school, I really find my time split amongst errands, appointments, school functions, chores . . . It’s very easy to let the writing time slip away. That’s why this year I hope to rededicate myself to my work. Ideally, appointments and errands will be kept to just a couple days per week and the other three weekdays will be writing days. That’s not always possible, but it’s what I try to do.

I write on weekends, too. Usually one weekend day is a family day and the other is a writing day. Again, not always possible, but that’s the goal.

This year I’d like to pre-schedule anything I self-publish. Alas, I don’t know what will be finished or when! If Hamlette doesn’t find a home by April, I’ll publish it in May or June. I hope to have Faebourne done in time for a fall release. Somewhere in there, I’d like to get Changers 2 to my publisher as well. Ack! I’m feeling overwhelmed already!