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.
January 1st, 2014 at 1:43 pm · Link
Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. It is always great to see how one of my absolute favorite writers thinks through the process of writing–something I really would love to do at some point. Love all the books from this year and prior and I’m really looking forward to what’s to come. Thank you for sharing your imagination and worlds with us.
January 1st, 2014 at 2:10 pm · Link
Amanda, you’re very welcome! And THANK YOU! I couldn’t do this without the support of readers like you.
I hope you’ll make 2014 the year you take the leap into writing!
January 1st, 2014 at 2:28 pm · Link
Excellent post. You went through quite a bit this year and you were damned successful :)! I love your drive and resolution. I know that 2014 we be another winner for you to.
Love Wizard and the glass of wine. I had whine to get mine last night. Hubs kept trying to give me beer – I am a wine person and he knows it :). We just had cheese/meats/veggie/cracker trays and a couple dips I made. No dinner. I never cook on New Year’s Eve. I cook all day New Year’s. In fact I have to get back into the kitchen.
Have a wonderful day!
January 1st, 2014 at 3:01 pm · Link
Great year-end post, Jen! I love that you recognize that you can be jealous AND still be supportive. And I’m so glad you decided to self-publish. I love The Plus One Chronicles! And I’m super thrilled (and super jealous :wink:) that a German publisher picked your stories up. Yay!
This year was an incredible year for me personally, and totally blew chunks professionally – but that’s on me. I’m still working out what this year will bring for me. I don’t know exactly what’ll happen, but I do know sitting around waiting for something to happen hasn’t done me a damn bit of good. Bleh. Hurray for you making things happen! =o)
January 1st, 2014 at 3:04 pm · Link
Considering the personal issues in addition to everything else, you’ve had an amazing year! Boy, I hear you on the jealousy. It’s hard to get around but good friends understand. I’m glad you’ll continue self-publishing. I still have hopes for a continuation of the Wing Slayers because I’m all selfish like that! I’d still love to have Ram and Linc’s stories just for a bit a closure.
2013 was a hard year in many ways, and I found my career going a direction I didn’t anticipate. It also saw a dream come true for me–with the introduction of a series near and dear to my heart and publication of a book I’ve believed in for years. It hasn’t met the reception I hoped but I don’t care. I STILL believe in it–and the characters and will continue to create in that world, along with others.
I still have one of those “bogie” radar blips on my horizon that can change things with a phone call/email, but that’s okay. I’m ready for it, either way, and it’s planned into my 2014 calendar.
Thank you, Jen, for another year of laughs, insights, and friendship. You’re one of the good ones! Happy 2014!
January 1st, 2014 at 5:43 pm · Link
Viki, I don’t care for beer either. Wizard wants me to try it–not going to happen Not cooking on New Years Eve is smart. For us, Wizard agreed to do dishes so I didn’t mind cooking at all. But we’re doing an easy dinner tonight.
Hope Spunk decided to make friends with Pee Wee today.
And thank you for your lovely thoughts. It was a really interesting year, and I still credit BLB’s bravery and ability to adjust to a new reality for giving me the kick in the backside I needed. And of course, all of the support I get here on the blog!
January 1st, 2014 at 5:53 pm · Link
B.E., I’d much rather be honest about professional jealousy. I was screaming excited for Laura (just ask Wizard, LOL!) and yet I felt those pangs. That’s real and honest and demonstrates that humans are emotionally complex characters And incidentally, characters with complex emotions are more interesting to write and read about too.
I’ve been jealous of your new and more peaceful lifestyle so there’s that, LOL!
2013 was a year of change for you in your personal life. Now that you’re settled, make 2014 your year of change professionally! You can do this, and what’s more, you deserve all the success you can create! Go for it!
January 1st, 2014 at 6:07 pm · Link
Silver, thanks! The year was incredible and at times, beyond frustrating. But good friends helped through the tough times and doubled the fun during good times
Unexpected directions often turns out to be a great thing! You are successful in getting your beloved series up, and give it time, it might get traction with the holidays coming to an end. It’s much more difficult to gain visibility now in self publishing.
In another area, I’m holding my breath and crossing my fingers for you–you know why
Wing Slayers–I don’t know. I want to finish BUT there was a series of promises that kept turning into heartache for me on that series. I finally had to move forward which is what I did. Having said that–I would like to finish the stories if I can carve out the time and creative energy.
January 1st, 2014 at 6:15 pm · Link
I loved all your books this year and the previous years. I can’t wait to see what you will have me to read this year. *hint,hint* I also love hearing about you and Wizard. You guys remind me of me and my Hubster.
My goal this year is to finish SUMMERS EDGE, the follow up to ROUGH EDGES, and publish it with EC or self publish. That’s the only goal I have. I really could add more to the mix, but I think for now, that’s enough. I’ve had so many fans want Summer and Tony’s story…and it’s off to a good start, I just gotta hammer it out. After almost 4 years, it’s long overdo.
January 1st, 2014 at 6:51 pm · Link
Ashlynn, aw thanks! I love hearing that Wizard and I are like you and your hubby. That means we’re not as weird as our kids claim!
Finish SUMMER’S EDGE and then you can think about your next project. One goal at a time is called “working smart.”