Writer or Brain Surgeon – YOU decide

Most of us writers are professional whiners. We know how to complain with colorful, compelling alliteration and perfect grammar.

And, truly, we have so much to complain about—low pay, minimal recognition for ridiculous amounts of work, a swamped market, the Big 5 monopoly that rigs the system and controls the best-seller lists. And then there’s the social media grind, endless platform building, the odds, the hours of harvesting the dregs of your heart, only to be dismissed because that genre’s not selling. Thankless work, really.

And whose skin doesn’t crawl when they hear the phrase, “Anybody can get published nowadays.” I read a well-written complaint recently wherein a professional writer said something to the effect of – Continue reading “Writer or Brain Surgeon – YOU decide”

Getting Serious about Writing and YOU

Okay, it’s time to get serious about this writing gig. No more lolligogging about reading books about how to be a better writer. The excrement is about to hit the fan. I have a new book coming out June 6, 2017! We are now in the three-month countdown and I need YOU. (Yes, I’m serious. I’m tired of trying to do this all by myself.)

What? You don’t think there’s any way you can help? I beg to differ.

My first two novels, I’m Not Her and Girl’s Weekend have done well. There were plenty of lovely reviews from lovely people who took the time to read and then write about what they read. A bunch of other awesome people picked my book for their book club and then invited me to come to the meeting! That was super fun and luckily most everyone liked the book (there was this one grumpy lady….but even that was fun).

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Still other amazing people recommended my books or gave them as gifts. So all in all, both books did okay, even cracking the bestselling list on Barnes & Noble’s Nook and gracing the New & Notable section of Apple ibooks (right next to Hamilton!!).

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But this next book? I want it to do more than okay! Here’s what one famous writer (and you’ll have to either subscribe to my newsletter or buy the book to find out who!) said about Practicing Normal: Continue reading “Getting Serious about Writing and YOU”

The Unshiny Parts of My Holiday Season

The holidays aren’t just bad for my weight, they’re also not too great for my writing. At least this year I didn’t set any serious writing goals for December. The great thing about this is that any writing I get done (like this post!) is a bonus. The really hard part is that story ideas, snatches of dialogue, and essays wander aimlessly through my mind and I never have time to grab them and pin them to the page.

The other hard part is that when I’m not creating, I’m not happy. I feel anxious. Luckily, this holiday season I have puppies to distract me. Although right now they more closely resemble moles than puppies. They ‘swim’ around with their stubby useless arms flailing, their eyes shut tight, Their little spock ears are basically horns at this point for all the good they do them.

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Still, they’re puppies. So, you know, who can complain?

Not me. Nope.

A big part of being an author is social media and platform. It’s not the fun, shiny, exciting part, though, it’s the stressful, time-devouring, awkward part. Of course, you can be a writer and never even go near the internet, but if publishing is on your list, platform is paramount and begging for ratings and reviews is a painful reality. Sure, I wish I could just hole up on my hillside and write. But as my mother would tell you, “If wishes were horses beggars would ride.”

So, this month, hoping that the holiday happy and the presence of puppies will counter it, I’m focusing a bit on my platform and social media efforts. These tasks require short bursts of energy – chores like tidying up the website, responding to blog comments, getting involved in passionate debates on Facebook, visiting Linked In to see what the adults are doing, experimenting with the timing of tweets, looking for connections with other authors, and even venturing into new realms like Instagram.

These are tasks that I never seem to have time to tackle, but I’m on it. I’m even making an effort to unearth the Tumblr blog I created several years ago and abandoned. I’ve been reading other blogs, commenting on posts, and last week I spent nearly forty minutes trying to figure out how to change a few things on my Amazon author page (I never did manage it). December is basically spring cleaning time for me as a writer. And who actually likes spring cleaning? Me, neither.

This week’s goal is to apply for a residency somewhere, submit a few pitches to magazines, and seek out an opportunity to guest blog. Oh, and investigate the possibilities of goodreads a bit more, experiment with my blog template, organize my pictures for social media, and finally finish reading The Fire in Fiction (which I started more than a year ago). My list is long and for the most part, boring.

Luckily, I’ve got a silly 13-foot Christmas tree that makes me giggle every time I pass by it on my way to the kitchen to make more tea.

Plus, puppies. Super cute. Always available.

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So I’m slogging through. Hope your holiday season is unraveling/unfolding just as nicely!

p.s. Last week I finally put out my very first NEWSLETTER! That ones been migrating from to-do list to to-do list for over 2 years, so yeah, big accomplishment. If you didn’t recieve it, you better sign up (just in case I ever write another one!). And if you’re interested, you can read it here.

 

The Hard Work of Getting Famous

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Most days I love to write. But some days I don’t love being a writer. Back when I was trying to be a writer, wishing I was a real writer, learning all I could, and writing- writing-writing all day long, it was hard—but it was good.

It’s still good, but it’s hard in a new way. Suddenly I feel this pressure. It’s not a pressure to write—I’m always happy to do that. It’s a pressure to become famous and sell books and build my brand.

I read blogs of writers who have, at least to my mind, made it. They are New York Times or USA Today bestsellers and they make a living at their writing. They speak at conferences, host writing retreats, teach online classes and appear in writing magazines.

Reading about these people and their success always takes me back to high school. My mother made me buy my clothes at JC Penneys and my weight did that adolescent expand and recede thing. I could write or sing my thoughts, but they stuck in my throat in the company of most people and pretty much all adults.

I still feel that way most of the time– as if I could never be  one of the popular kids/NYC Bestsellers. Most days I’m okay with that, because I like my life. But some days I get caught up in this pressure to make it. What does it take? I don’t know, so I study the people who have made it. And it consumes huge swaths of my time.

Take Tuesday. I decided to devote my morning to promoting myself the way all those bestselling writers say you should. I sat down with my cup of tea and contemplated where to begin. The options seem limitless.

I open a few of the famous writer newsletters I subscribe to, and study them.  How clever is that? Look at how well they engage readers! They’re so funny and humble at the same time. I make a list of what I should put in my newsletter (the one I have yet to make happen).

I click to my website editor and read through the help section on newsletters provided by my website host. My eyes glaze over. It makes no sense. I’ll get to it eventually. Just not today. I don’t have time.

So I head to my social media outlets. I follow successful writers on twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook. Wow – they are so pithy and snarky, without offending. The pictures are amazing. The quotes motivating. How do they think of such clever ways to entice people to buy their books?

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What can I post? I haven’t posted all week. I scan through the pictures on my phone. Maybe I should post something inspiring or some kind of writing wisdom instead of another dog picture. I know! I read something last night…

I go in search of that clever line I underlined in the book I was reading last night. The book is upstairs next to the bed, but on the way there, Gracie wants to go out and I remember the laundry in the washing machine. So I hang out the laundry and check on my foster pups. They’re way too cute to just walk by, so I stay and snap a few pictures. Which reminds me of why I got up from my desk in the first place and I go look for that book.

After I’ve agonized over the font for my quote and searched in vain for a picture to accompany it, I realize I’ve wasted most of the morning.

I haven’t written a thing. Ugh.

But this stuff is important, right? This is how I get my name out there. This is how people discover my books. I go back to the blogs, the ones written by writers-who-have-made-it. Engage, engage, engage they all say. I have a few thoughts to add to one post, but after I figure out just what I want to say without sounding stupid or grammatically incorrect, I realize someone else has just commented with basically the same thought. Delete. More time wasted.

I need to do something to push this career forward. So, I work on a pitch to a blogger who I’ve never met, but who is open to guest posts and doing book reviews. I study her blog long enough to be able to make an intelligible comment, re-write my pitch so I don’t sound desperate and press send.

Now what? It’s almost lunchtime. I notice the post-it on my desk – mention Edith’s Heart in newsletter. I really should start my newsletter, but what’s the point in sending the newsletter to so few subscribers. All the succesful people say the key is to build your list. I open my website again. I need to think of some offer to get people to sign up for the newsletter I never send out.

I spend forty minutes shuffling things around on the site, adding events to my calendar and deleting the ones that have happened. I wrestle with the size and placement of a picture for WAY too much time. I look at the form inviting people to subscribe to my non-existent newsletter. It looks fine. Besides, I’m hungry.

I glance at the clock. Lunch time. And I’ve written nothing. But maybe one of this morning’s meager efforts will have reached a new reader. Maybe my cleverly illustrated quote on Facebook will garner a few more followers. And who knows, I haven’t checked twitter lately but maybe I’m closing in on 2500 followers. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Moving the career needle upward. Go me.

As I sit on my porch with my lunch, it occurs to me that when it comes to being a writer, the writing is the easy part.