IWSG: April 2019

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.

As I type this, we’re facing a weekend of moving house. That pretty much has all my energy and attention at the moment. But I did start working on a really old piece of writing that I dug up, and I’m enjoying that. I don’t intend to publishing (I don’t think); for the first time in a long time I’m just writing for me, for the pleasure of it.

I recently made a decision to quit pursuing an agent or publishers. And I may not self-publish anymore either, simply because the trials are too great: fighting piracy, trying to market, and all for so very little return. I know many self-published authors are supposedly raking it in (those are the stories one hears about, though I doubt they’re the norm), so I don’t know if I’m just bad at writing or don’t write what people want to read. Either way, I’ve mostly ceased to enjoy it. But this older piece… I’m having fun playing with it. So I’ll keep doing that for as long as it amuses me.

Question of the Month: If you could use a wish to help you write just one scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be?

I don’t know. I guess I won’t know until I reach that point. Once I got stuck, that’s when I’d want to put that wish to use.

IWSG: March 2019

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.

What am I insecure about these days? Well, I have surgery tomorrow, though I feel oddly calm about it. I think I’m more stressed about our move, which will take place the first week of April. In the meantime, very little writing is getting done, so I’m insecure about that, too—I feel like I’m falling behind on my goals.

Question of the Month: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

I guess I’ve always written from the protagonist’s point of view, though I’m sure it would be fun to write from the villain’s. But I think I stick with the protagonist because to get inside the villain’s head would be to give too much away. I want the reader to wonder, along with the protagonist, what that villain is up to…

IWSG: February 2019

What am I insecure about these days? Getting any writing done thanks to general upheaval. 1. We’re (hopefully) selling our house and (hopefully) moving. 2. My doctor says I need surgery. 3. I’m working with a nutritionist and so am on a new diet… that I hate… I’m overwhelmed and exhausted, and writing has fallen by the wayside.

ETA: We did sell our house, and we have bought a new one! Now all my insecurities can be about the actual move!

Question of the Month: Besides writing, what other creative outlets do you have?

I guess it depends on what you consider “creative.” Sometimes when I can’t find words, I go throw paint on a canvas. Just abstract, you know, because I can’t actually paint. I also love to sing. We do family karaoke nights regularly. But I also really enjoy puzzles and big LEGO kits… Do those count?

Have you read Faebourne yet? If not, pick it up on Kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited!) or in paperback!

IWSG: January 2019

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.

Question of the Month: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

I love being asked about my writing, and I can’t think of any questions that annoy me or that I don’t like to answer. If anything, I wish more people would ask me about my work… Maybe I just like to talk about myself!

I suppose there are offensive questions, but that’s usually based on how the question is asked. I get accusatory-sounding questions about why I make characters gay, for example. “Why did you have to make them gay?” Look, I know that’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but sometimes as I’m writing a character, I come to understand things about him or her. I don’t plan it; my characters grow organically as I write. A lot of mine happen to be gay.

When I first started writing The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller, I had planned for Peter to be a womanizer. Alas, he had different ideas, and it was Jules who stepped up to chase the girls. (I still have ideas forming in the back of my mind for a book about Jules.) When I was writing Faebourne, I had planned for George and Edward to get together, but… If you read the book, you see how that went.

That’s another thing I do get tired of hearing: “Oh, but you should be in charge of your characters and make them do what you say!” I find that creates stilted characters that are bound by plot. When reading, I can always tell when a writer was determined to stick to their outline because the characters don’t seem to breathe or act of their own accord. They do things that seem out of character or don’t make sense, and it’s usually because the author forced them.

It takes me a long time to write a draft because I’m a bit like Michelangelo, chipping away at the stone block and seeing the story take shape. I have a general sense of the story and what’s going to happen, but my outlines are very loose and free flowing. After that arduous draft, however, the refinement takes far less time. This is why it takes me about a year to write and publish a book: ~9 months of drafting and ~3 months of rewriting and editing.

Still, as long as people are respectful, I don’t mind answering whatever questions they may have.

IWSG: December 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.

Question of the Month: What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

I have a home office known as Little London due to its decor. Amidst the prodigious clutter on my desk you will find my laptop, a cold drink of some kind (Dr Pepper, iced chai, or water), Kero-chan (from Cardcaptor Sakura), Kylo Ren (in two forms: a POP! figurine and a tsum tsum), and a Dalek.

I actually made a video of Little London once:

IWSG: November 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.

Still a bit nervous about my upcoming presentation at our public library next week. I’ve got my notes written and my PowerPoint presentation done, so I’m as prepared as I can be. Don’t know if I’m afraid a lot of people will be there or that no one will show up. At least a handful of my writing group members say they plan to attend, so I’ll have support!

Question of the Month: How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

I’m not even sure I understand this question. I *think* it’s asking whether my creativity as a writer has spilled into the rest of my life? I’ve always been a problem solver, so for me, it’s writing that draws from my natural creativity—my stories are puzzles to be solved via creative means. I put characters into situations and then have to get them back out. The most fun is when my subconscious has planted all the seeds and I don’t even realize it until I’m writing the resolution and everything falls into place.

And ICYMI: Faebourne is now available on Amazon Kindle and in paperback! (Well, the paperback is pre-order, but it comes out next Monday, so it won’t be a long wait to hold it in your hands!) If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, you can even read Faebourne for FREE!

When mild-mannered Duncan Oliver is abducted by the Milne brothers and taken to their legendary home of Faebourne, his unexciting life becomes much more interesting. Adelia Milne has been cursed, and Duncan is her chosen champion to break the spell. Duncan may not be a hero, but he is a gentleman, and he refuses to leave a lady in distress. He becomes determined to take on the quest on Miss Milne’s behalf.

Meanwhile, an unlikely rescue team forms in the pairing of Duncan’s best friend George and valet Davies. As they set out for Faebourne—and also perchance to learn more about Davies’ obscured family history—what begins as an unequal partnership quickly blooms into friendship… and possibly something more.

Read the first chapter here.

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.