Posts Tagged ‘author’s life’

What is a trunk novel? The Story of The Martlet

So after posting about The War Ender’s Apprentice last week, I got a few questions and specifically the one I am going to answer is What is a trunk novel? (Or more specifically: why the hell did you keep a decent novel in your back pocket in the days of self publishing?)

The definitions of a trunk novel are: 1) a non-publishable novel the author finished early in their writing career (2) a novel they never sold.

The original The Martlet novel was both. It was inspired by a short story I wrote while I was waiting to hear back from publishers about Other Systems back in 2011. I sent it to a literary magazine who rejected it, but gave me a long feedback letter. They loved it, but felt like it was part of a novel. Specifically they loved the idea of the central character: a person who stops wars before they get started and they loved the relationships that I showed. So I sat down and wrote the novel using my drafting process.

Roark

Original Character Sketch of Lord Roark 

I originally thought this was a swashbuckling adventure book with mass market appeal so I sent it out to publishers. The rejections started piling up from big and small publishers–including 48Fourteen who published Other Systems. Only one small publishing company showed any interest, but I hesitated and the opportunity was gone.

I sent The Martlet to beta readers, the overall feedback I got was that everyone loved the characters, but felt the A plot and B plot was overly complicated. Thinking there was something wrong with the beginning, I wrote a new beginning. And I tried to smooth out the A Plot, by adding shorter adventures so the characters could solve things while continuing to work on the big plot which takes years. (Yep, I literally made it even more episodic!)

SIDE NOTE: if The Martlet was my only project I might have come to the conclusion to break up the novel earlier, but during this time, I also finished the third book in Faminelands, the final episodes of Out for Souls and Cookies, I wrote and 48Fourteen published The Light Side of the Moon, I wrote and self-published The Grove, and I spent six months collaborating with Jennifer Brozek on the graphic novel version of her short story The Prince of Artemis V for which we’re shopping for a publisher right now

However, The Martlet kept calling. Between projects, I’d work on it. Try to see if I could clean up the prose or add a chapter here or there. I added a frame story at one point. I sent it to other beta readers.

I couldn’t turn away from the central cast of characters, especially Roark. I wanted to publish it so it would stop haunting me, yet I knew I would regret publishing it too early.

With every project under my belt, I learn another lesson and The Martlet was now screaming at a fever pitch in the back of my mind. So I started fresh. Now I don’t want to give too much away, but I noticed there was no inciting incident which starts Roark on his path, because it happened when he was much younger than he is in the original novel.

These two points are from Roark’s Background:

Age 13 – 19: During Roark’s apprenticeship, he sees his master [Alana] pulled two ways. Her Martlet vows and her War Ender vows. Personally, he is tired of her do-gooding, when she is breaking laws to do it. 

Age 16: Alana rescues Eohan from a slave ship due to “one of her more idiotic” visions.

This is from Eohan’s Background:

Age 18: Alana rescues [Eohan] from a slave ship. Though unsure about Alana’s methods and Roark’s instincts, the young men become friends.

I started asking myself about other things readers would want to know, like why/how were Eohan and Kian enslaved. If slavery exists: what does that mean for the societies in this book? And where do the War Ender’s come in? Why would a society stop wars, but turn a blind eye to the atrocity of slavery?

Now if these pieces were additions to a novel, The Martlet would become another longer work. As an author and artist, I am always trying to challenge myself. If the problem is that it’s episodic, then I should turn it into interconnected episodes!

What might be a good novel might become a series of epic novellas!

The War Ender's Apprentice copyNow that The War Ender’s Apprentice is out, I have a little more to do with The Assassin’s Twisted Path before I send it to the editor in early January.

Long story short: Though I tend to be a “let’s get it done” type author, sometimes just getting it done isn’t the answer. I needed time to explore the work and discover it’s potential. I’m glad I took that time.

If anyone is pushing you to publish a work, you know isn’t ready, don’t listen. Stick it aside, and work on another project.  Or stick it out and figure out what’s wrong.

Advertisements

Common Author Questions Episode #3: How Do You Pack for Cons?

In this episode of Common Author Questions,I answer Nikki F’s question: How do you pack for a con? I go over how to estimate sales, how to pack product and other topics about tabling a convention.

As promised in the video, I am adding links to more information about running a table at a convention that I blogged about on my ZB Publications Blog:
This is a list of every item I bring.
https://zbpublications.wordpress.com/…
And this post is all about the importance of checklists so I don’t forget to do anything important before the convention.
https://zbpublications.wordpress.com/…

Common Author Question Time: I’d like to be an author, but I can’t deal with speaking to groups…

(Note: Sorry that some of you might have gotten an email about this post early. That was a mistake. Now its live and it has a video attached!)  Common Author Question Time is about questions I get all the time when I am out and about at speaking engagements and conventions.


Okay, this time the question is technically not a question, but a statement. “I’d like to be an author, but I can’t deal with speaking to groups…” “Or to strangers.” “Or in public”

IMG_1816.jpg

I always reply, “I’m actually rather shy. It’s something I had to learn.”

There are two basic answers for this. Sometimes they will say nicely, “You don’t show it.”

And I’ll answer with “Thanks, I’ve worked hard to overcome it. So many of us, authors, suffer from self doubt.” After that we may have a nice conversation.

The other answer is not quite as nice. Sometimes they answer: “You’re not shy, I’m shy.” “Or I’m a true introvert, you can’t understand.”

At that point, I’m thinking, “Dude, its not a contest.” I say something to the effect: “Being a public speaker is part of the job. So is accounting, understanding basic copyright laws, understanding contracts, marketing and a host of other non-creative activities that I have learned how to do.”

Sometimes they go away, sometimes they keep telling me why I am wrong and they can’t do it. Sigh. So I made this 12 minute video speaking about how to overcome it.

The highlights of the video are:

If you are on panels: Have a few things prepared to your topic. Keep smiling. Respect the other panelists.

If you are tabling: You should know your introduction and book pitch from top to bottom and have a few basic answers prepared to common questions about your project such as:

  • genre and age categories adult content issues
  • your inspiration
  • Your biography
  • when did you know you wanted to be an author

And armed with that knowledge you are ready to conquer the world!

Does anyone else have tips to get over convention fright?


The Grove Cover_blogsized If you like sorcerers deciding the fate of humanity, garden gnomes and ancient sleeping gods, check out my latest book.

 

Common Author Question: What does it feel like to hold your book in your hand?

 

Short Answer: Good. If you like rollercoasters.

Long Answer: My emotions go up and down and up again. Then down again.

When I hold my book the first time, I always feel giddy anticipation. I feel I could skip down the street. I want to spin on the sandy beach and frolic with my dogs.

I feel even more excitement as I send it to the Library of Congress and Copyright Office and put aside a copy for my own library. I feel pride. This thing that I have created over the course of eighteen months has grown into a book.

I start sending out review copies and making marketing materials.  No matter how sublime I thought my prose is, no matter how much I love the illustrations, a tiny hole grows in my heart. My art has left my personal sphere and has grown into a product.

I am thrilled when my first reviews start coming in. It doesn’t matter if the reader loves it or hates it. I’m skipping with joy. Someone is reading this thing I am created. (I will admit, however, that during Other Systems and The Light Side of the Moon my feelings went up and down with every review. Now I am happy to get ANY review.)

The night before the release date, my heart races as I write any last minute blog posts and schedule Facebook Posts. For The Grove’s release I was able to sleep, because Ibooks and Barnes&Noble went live around 10:30 pm PST. That is not always the case. (When The Light Side of the Moon came out, I was in a panic because no one had it on its actual release date.)

Then my book is no longer mine at all. At this moment, it is the world’s book. Readers will read it and make it their own. In the morning, because of the social media push I feel happy and excited. I have done it! I have created a world for people to enjoy! Woot!

I do my best to not check out sales every couple hours. I try not to check if I have any more reviews.Though there is social media stuff and I have a to-do list of small emails and jobs I must finish, I am not as productive as I normally am. I know though I have done the best I can, my words no longer matter, only the reader’s perception of my words. I feel a sense of loss, melancholy and listlessness.  But that too passes.

My first live event for The Grove is September 28th. Every time I think about it I get giddy again. Like I said it’s a roller coaster.

I know there are other authors out there, did I miss anything? How do you feel when you release a book? Comment below!

 

Writer’s Fashion: Do clothes make the author?

What do writer’s wear each day?

Casual, Business, or all out fancy pants?

I have heard of authors who found that getting dressed helps them get more work accomplished. Charles Dickens fastidiousness was especially well documented.  In this blog post by Noelle Sterne, she refers to the importance of “being dressed for action.” She points out getting dressed is a helpful ritual for the creative process. She found being sloppy put writing on the bottom of her list.

IMG_1241

Pre-walk Tycho. Note his expectant gaze for adventure. Rosie is running around so I can’t get a photo with both of them in it.

IMG_0064

Rosie and Tycho postwalk.

Being sloppy don’t effect me in such a way. Mostly because I have another ritual. I make breakfast, drive my husband to work, take my dogs to the park for an hour. Then it is time to kick off my shoes, because I don’t wear shoes at home and make a cup of coffee. Most of the time, I wear exactly what I wore to the park: my old ripped jeans or yoga pants and t-shirts. Exchange the jeans for shorts if its warm. Add a sweater if it’s cold. I tend to wear my hair in a pony tail or a loose bun.

Then the pups take a lie down and I get to work immediately for five or six uninterrupted hours.

Now for weekends, I have a convention or other author appearance, I have a few nice shirts, non-ripped jeans, and one casual dress and a few jackets of charisma. Hey, I live is Seattle and Seattle is causal.

IMG_1875

One of my jackets of charisma.

Here are a few authors who were kind enough to speak about what they wear when they write.

Dan Thompson said:  “If I’m writing at home I have to be barefoot when I write. Socks annoy me and make me frustrated. Barefoot allows me to curl up on my chair and write without feeling restricted.” 

Another lover of freedom in movement is Christina Thompson: At home I wear sweats and a t-shirt. I usually don’t wear a bra…too confining. My other quirk is I brush my teeth before I start. It helps me focus more on the writing and less on wanting snacks.

(I totally understand the snack issue, that’s why I always make breakfast before I get to work! 🙂 )

RL King has nearly the opposite feeling. “I have to wear my shoes. If I don’t wear them, I tend to relax, and I consider writing a job. It is a fun job, but it is still a job.”

Anna's sweater

AnnaLee’s Sweater

AnnaLee Zenkner has a ritual outfit.  “I wear this sweater that I found at a value village when I was a teenager and I still wear it. It’s an old man sweater that obviously got shrunk in the wash… But it shrunk into my perfect intellectual girl sweater and I will never give it up. Why? I call it my “professor sweater” I wear it to think, ease drop, observe, sip scotch or coffee and create obnoxious opinionated characters.”

Adam Watson of Darkslinger Comics: “Whatever I am wearing or not wearing that day. I have never needed any special clothing requirements.”

And apparently nothing stops David Boop: “I have worn everything from a three piece suit to my birthday suit, because I write whenever I have the energy, the opportunity and the equipment available to do so. I have written at a desk, in bed, on the toilet, in a car, on the light rail, in noisy or quiet situations. When you need to write, nothing should come between you and your craft.”

What do you wear when you are writing? Do you have any rituals that help your creative process?

Happy New Year: Setting Goals that You Will Actually Achieve!

happynewyear

Many people write goals or resolutions during the new year, and one of the most important thing I have discovered in the past decade, is how important setting clear achievable goals are for my career. So I decided to write about my process. I create my author goals by using the SMART goals system conceived by a business psychologist, George Doran.  SMART stands for

S – Specific. Set goals with specific outcomes. 

– Measurable. Set that you can track or measure. 

A – Achievable. Set realistic goals that you’re prepared to pursue. 

R – Relevant. Set goals that matter to you, that will have a positive effect in your life.

T – Time-bound. Give yourself a deadline or as I do, use an event as a deadline. I most often use a convention and work backwards.

BIGGEST MISTAKE: Don’t set goals which are out of your power to achieve. 

Don’t say: Write 5,000 word short story for [Awe-inspiring lit mag] and be published by [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by June 2016.

Why? Because [Awe Inspiring lit mag]’s Editors are not within your power. They may not need or want what you are selling.

So Step 1: Set Smart Goal

SMART GOAL:  Write, edit, and submit 5,000 word short story to [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by May 1, 2016.

Step 2: Figure out calendar. This will help you measure progress and break it down into manageable steps. For the goal above: this is how I’d do it.

Day 1: Brainstorm Short Story Ideas

Day 2: Decide upon idea

Day 3-15: First Draft Deadline (I don’t worry about my word count in my first draft, but if you do, then break it up into smaller segments.)

Day 20: Read Aloud, Make changes. Fill plot holes.

Day 21-60: Wait (Note: Work on another idea while you wait.)

Day 60-70: 1st Rewrite/Polish

Day 71ish: Send through Critique Group, Beta Readers ETC.

Day 100: Consider Critique and make changes

Day 101-120: Final Rewrite

Day 121-131: Rest manuscript. Research markets, and decide first market you are going to send it to. Write query letter. Whatever you need to do to prepare yourself)

Day 132-140: Final Grammar Edit

Day 141: Submit short story

Special Note: You may be a faster author than I am. You need to set the calendar for what you can do, not what anyone else can do. As you can see it takes me about 141 days to get a short story in marketable condition, but it takes me about a year for a novel. Why? Because the steps I need to take are nearly the same. Some people write short stories because they are fast, but they are not fast for me. So when I write a novel, this is how I create my timeline:

Day 1: Write out Big Idea, Themes, Basic Characters Bios, a few scenes and outline.

Day 2: Put each scene on a 3 x 5 cards

Day 3 – 45ish: First Draft Each day I write out the scenes from 2 or 3 cards. I go crazy fast in the beginning, because I need some words on the page to cement me to the project.

Day 46: Rest

Day 47-107ish: Second Draft I reread manuscript and go scene by scene. Rewriting. Researching. Adding details. Sometimes the characters tell me to change things here.

Day 108 – 137: Wait. Stories are like wine or cheese. They need to age. Work on another idea or consider publication options.

Day 138 – 199: 3rd Draft. Find plot holes and fill them.

Day 199 – 210: 4th Draft. First Grammar Edit and Polish

Day 211-270ish: Give manuscript to First Readers. Wait again! Work on another idea right now or begin considering publication options.

Day 271 -275: Consider Critiques. Look for common themes within suggestions.

Day 276 – 306: 5th Draft. Find more plot holes and fill them.

Day 307 – 321: 6th Draft. Second Grammar Edit and Polish

And I have a marketable novel! Woot. But I’m not done yet…

Day 325: Either send it out to markets
OR
Begin the road self publishing and I write a calendar for everything I need to do to for that.

So that’s how I do it, how do you set goals? Any goals you’d like to share?

 

5 Ways to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

At WorldCon 2015, I was talking to a young aspiring author when I realized she wanted advice from me, because as she said, “You’re a real author.”

Crap. Other people at WorldCon who were real authors. Not me.

IMG_0480

When Imposter Syndrome strikes, i just want to hide my face like Rosie.

Now just so folks understand on that day: I had two novels published by 48Fourteen, I had sold a short story, and had self published 4 graphic novels, and a comic book series—but I didn’t consider myself a “real” author.  I was selling books that I wrote at my dealer’s room table—but I didn’t consider myself a “real” author. I was an imposter and I knew if other people discovered this, I would be a laughing stock.

IMG_0684.jpgSo here are the five ways, I deal with it:

I stopped comparing myself to other people.  If I compare myself to Stephen King, Tanya Huff, or David Brin or [Insert your favorite author’s name here] it’s easy to fall into the trap of “my work sucks compared to their work.” Or more insidiously, “I can’t write dialogue like….”

If I compare myself to their sales, I could really feel bad. So I don’t. Worse, it’s not only big name authors. Sometimes I find myself feeling bitter against early career authors like me. “How did they get so many Facebook Followers,” I’ll ask.

The only person I am up against is ME. I want each book to be better. In other words, I am not here to live the life of another person, I only can be the best me.

So if you find yourself comparing yourself to outers, turn off Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Do not read biographies of successful authors if they drive you crazy.

1b) I don’t let anyone else compare me to others either. When family and friends have advised me by pointing out another author’s work or sales, I have learned to say, “I am working on being my bestself, not a second class [Insert name here].”

2) I had to get over “I must be perfect” thinking.

Vernor Vinge described this well in The Children of the Sky: “Sometimes, sitting here in the dark, slowly slowly creating strategy, she wondered if she was only fooling herself to think her plans were clever.”

I was shocked to learn that as soon as I published Faminelands: The Carp’s Eye, people considered me “an expert.” I learned how to write and publish comics by doing Faminelands.

When I feel I must be perfect, I remind myself the best football teams (Go Seahawks!) inevitably lose the Superbowl. CEOs sometimes make the wrong call for their companies. And. I will make mistakes. If you are doing it, you are the expert, just like me.

So let go of your ideas of perfection.

3) I had to accept that I had some role in my successes and failures. It sounds strange, but its easy to forget that I worked to get where I am. Yes, I had support of my loving family. Yes, I am white, generally healthy, heterosexual, and middle class so I have some privileges that not everyone has. I admit that. However, I also jumped on opportunities when they came my way. I wrote my damn books. I called bookstores, I went to conventions, and worked on my shyness. I never gave up, even when I was knocked down.

IMG_0598.jpg

Heres’s my books at Barnes&Noble, but sometimes I doubt I’m a real author.

4) I work it out. Literally. I refuse to let Imposter Syndrome stop me from working, because of this, Impostor Syndrome cannot damage me. Because I consistently take action, I have nine years of empirical evidence that with each book, I learn something new. 

5) Learn to say, “Shut up, Brain, it’s just Impostor Syndrome again.” Trust me, naming feelings actually settles the feelings of insecurity.

So that’s my advice. Please share your stories and other advice in the comments!

Novel News Network

Bringing you news on my favorite novels.

The Eclectic World of Christina

Author Christina Thompson

Elan Mudrow

Smidgens

James Harrington's Blog of Geek and Writing

All Things Writing and Geek, in one neat little blog!

Ajoobacats Blog

Non-profit prolific reader, reviewer and blogger of books and occasionally life

World of Horror

A cozy cottage for writers and book lovers

abooknation

Book reviews, recommendations and more

Corey D. Truax

Author | Editor | Father of Thor | Veteran | Military Spouse

Horror Novel Reviews

Honesty in the Terror

Heartstring Eulogies

Conjured by Sarah Doughty

Wanderess Bibliophile

“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.”

Three Unwise Men

A con in a podcast

poetryshack

This site is totally poetry...

MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape

A little about me, a lot about books, and a dash of something else

Planetary Defense Command

Defending the planet from bad science fiction

A Narcissist Writes Letters, To Himself

A Hopefully Formerly Depressed Human Vows To Practice Self-Approval

chandleur

Bagatelle