HAPPY NEW YEAR! I wish you all a Happy and Successful 2014!
I started to write this blog late yesterday afternoon but Wizard came home from work early and I got side tracked by the glass of wine he held in front of my face I hope you all had a fun and safe New Year’s Eve! We stayed home and made our traditional steak and lobster, along with a spinach salad, fresh-baked bread and some wine. After all the non-stop holiday craziness from Thanksgiving on, we were ready for a quiet night.
I’m not doing New Years Resolutions, they always look the same: Get in better shape, learn to write faster, try to be more patient especially while driving…it’s always the same things. Instead I’m going to list a few things that I learned career-wise in 2013.
CHOOSING TO SELF PUBLISH: I didn’t shop the Plus One Chronicles anywhere, I didn’t even show it to my agent. This story was important to me and while publishers can be awesome to work with, in this case, I had a vision that I feared they might want to water down. I had no idea, not a clue, that the books would do as well as they did. What also surprised me is how much I love self publishing. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t quite grasp exactly how much long hours and sheer perseverance it would require of me. But now I have a pretty good idea and I plan to continue self publishing with a new series I’m beyond excited about in 2014. However, that said, I’m always going to keep an open mind. If a publisher offered me a good deal, I’d probably take it and be thrilled.
EDITING: I still, and will always, need a good editor. I found one of the best editors I’ve worked with in my entire career for The Plus One Chronicles. She’s not cheap but worth every penny. Editing is a rare combination of skill and talent that is critical to developing a book to its fullest potential. Sasha (my editor) always stayed true to my vision while pushing me hard to not only choose every word carefully, but to develop my characters to the point where she’d say things like, “This doesn’t sound like Sloane” on a piece of dialogue. On POSSESSION her revision letter started with, “This book needs some extra loving,” which meant, I’m going to work your butt off to make this book shine because right now it’s not good enough. I went into full-blown, stomach churning, bile spewing, panic. But I took that book apart and fixed it to the best of my ability. And I am grateful to Sasha that she didn’t pull her punches. We have a very professional relationship–she respects my vision, and I respect her edits. I don’t get angry at her edits, even in the rare case that if I didn’t agree with them.
GOALS: I learned that setting clear concise goals is important to keep me focused. My goals were to write Kat and Sloane’s story in three books, write the Once A Marine Series, and my overall goal this year was to reach new readers. That’s it. I didn’t aim for lists. There is a way to aim for lists, and I chose not to do that because I’d put too much pressure and expectations on myself. I know myself well enough to understand the disappointment would get in the way of my writing. When I ended up hitting a few lists (not the USA Today and NYT), I was stunned and over-the-moon excited, but it was more of a happy accident than a goal. And this leads me to my next one:
PROFESSIONAL JEALOUSY: It’s real, it happens, we’re all human. We can’t always control what we feel, but we can control how we react. An example is my good friend, Laura, she’s hit both the USA Today and New York Times this year. Here’s how I felt: THRILLED! Laura and I’ve known each other for years and years, we’re critique partners, and I know exactly how talented she is, and how hard she works–and here’s the best part–Laura’s one of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet. Shes’ also incredibly supportive of me, and many other authors. I knew she was going to hit the NYT before she did. But was I jealous? Sure. However I refused to let that dim my happiness for her, I celebrated with her and had a blast. We were texting constantly and soon the jealously faded. (By the way, Laura knows all this, we talk about this stuff straight up.) Feeling jealous or envious is normal. The mark of our character though is how we react. I want to be happy for other people’s successes and so I will be.
SOCIAL MEDIA and BRANDING: This is something I’m still learning. It’s a guilt that dogs me, I should be interacting more on social media, creating a stronger online persona and branding myself. Except I would rather write And the thought of branding myself sounds…painful So…I’ll keep trying. Although I love my Lyon FB page–that one is fun, plus I love doing giveaways there when I have the time and resources.
DEADLINES AND PRESSURE: Stomach burning, insomnia producing, sweat popping pressure can force a book out of me. I don’t like it, in fact, I hate it. But I can do it. I’m hoping that knowing I can do it will calm that insane level of anxiety I dealt with this year. But it won’t–the root of that anxiety is that I care DEEPLY about my readers and worry about disappointing them.
EXPECTED THE UNEXPECTED: Like the offer from the German publisher to buy the translation rights to The Plus One Chronicles. I was gobsmacked. The books will be released in Germany late 2014. But the unexpected will also bring more work that takes time away from writing. I’m learning to be flexible and accept that there will be many nights where I must work. I have to sacrifice things like reading and TV. That’s okay though Insomnia gives me a chance to catch up on reading!
READERS: I love my readers! It’s readers that have given me the best job in the world.
Okay that was a long LONG post! If you made it this far, chime in with anything you want. Maybe something you’ve learned this year, or comments on something I’ve learned, or just tell me anything you feel like sharing.