Monday, June 24, 2013

Time Flies

As a writer in the twenty-first century, I’m always looking for non-traditional ways to create and expand my fan base while still trying to explore conventional publishing methods.  One of the ways I’ve been most successful at this is to join an online writing site and post my work for fans to read free of charge. Though I’ll admit I was skeptical of how well this would work, to date I’m up to nearly 7,500 followers with that number growing every day.

Although I make my work available to readers free of charge, I’ve never given up on the dream of mainstream publishing. Since joining this site, I continued to pursue writing contests designed to increase chances of publication. In fact, the grand prize of two of my favorite contests is having your novel published. I also kept doggedly sending out queries to secure a literary agent who could help me realize this dream.

My perseverance paid off when I was able to find an agent for my most recently penned paranormal young adult romance novel. I not only found an agent but an agent with a solid reputation and proven track record. Still, I approached this with cautious optimism. Having been down this road before without much luck, I wasn’t ready to let myself believe this was finally going to be my chance.

A few days ago, while cleaning up my computer and going through some old files, I took notice on the dates of  the correspondence between me and my agent. I was surprised and a little sad to find it was a year ago this month that I signed with him. One year has passed since that first thrill I felt at finding a good agent. Make no mistake, my agent is still good. Maybe the book isn’t as good as we thought. Or maybe I’ve missed the market trend again. Who knows? The editors’ opinions are too varied for me to say with any certainty.

All I can say is that it has been one year this month since I signed that contract in the hopes that things were looking up, and I’ve discovered something that’s all bitter and no sweet. Time flies whether you’re having fun or not! 

Guess that means it’s time to get myself in gear and take the bull by the horns. Stay tuned in coming weeks for more on this topic.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Could I be that Good Someday?

If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you know last night was the season finale which came on the heels of last week’s shocking episode. For the record, I haven’t read the novels nor have I watched the television series. However, my husband is a rabid Game of Thrones fan.  On the strength of the television series, he purchased the entire set of novels and recently started reading them.

The problem with watching the television adaption before reading the books is that he was just one of legions of fans whom I hear were shocked at what took place at a wedding scene last week. At the time my husband was watching last week’s episode, I was in my room working on my latest story. Despite being at opposite ends of the house, I could clearly hear his reaction to the scene, and when it was over, I got an earful about it. My husband asked me how a writer could do that to fans and kill characters they love. I laughed.

I can’t speak for all writers, but I hate to kill my characters. My characters are like my children. I created them and they have value to me. The one and only time I killed the love interest of the protagonist, which was the plan before I even began writing the story, I couldn’t stop crying. I cried so hard at Will’s death scene in Extraordinary Will that I swore I’d never kill another beloved character again. To date, I’ve made good on that promise to myself, but this whole thing has gotten me thinking.

One week later, Game of Thrones fans are still talking about the wedding episode. Videos have been circulated via social media showing the reactions of fans, like my poor husband, who hadn’t gotten that far in the books. The author has made media appearances addressing the readers’ reactions and what they mean to him.

Seeing all of this unfold put me in mind of the Harry Potter mania and made me wonder if I could be that good someday. As a writer, there’s no higher compliment than to have people so emotionally invested in your work and your characters that what you do to those characters evokes visceral reactions. I’d love to have this kind of reaction to my work and know that it means so much to people that they not only can’t stop talking about it but even go so far as to take it as a personal affront when I harm one of the characters.
While thinking about this, and hoping to one day achieve this level of success, I received a message from a young fan who’s read my Unholy Trinity series on Wattpad. Below is the message she sent me, which I didn’t alter in any way.

Trish, I want- no I need you to know how much I love the Unholy Trinity series. Me and my best friend are so obsessed. I have read all of it twice, and me and her will send quotes from the books. We wish so dearly all these characters were real. :D She called dibs on the twins while I called dibs on Simeon We are childish like that but I love all the characters so much, I never want the series to end but I know unfortunately it will. Thank you so much for writing this story because I can't live without it anymore. I re-read all of my favorite chapters so much. I can't express how much I need to thank you for writing this. I am completely and utterly in love with Simeon. Thank you for creating him. Thank you so much.  Also I’m sorry if what I just wrote isn't perfect because English isn't my first language. Thanks again.

This message couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. It gives me hope that I’ve made the right decision to abandon traditional publishing methods in favor of making my work available electronically. More importantly, it gives me hope that the answer to the question is yes. Maybe I could be that good one day.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Time to do This My Way

It was nearly five months ago that I entered this year full of optimism for my writing career. I had a good agent who believed in my latest young adult novel. I’d managed to build a substantial online following that included thousands of fans. The entries were in to my two favorite novel writing contests, and I felt confident about both of them. There was no way this wasn’t going to be my year to do big things.

That plan hit a huge snag in February at the sudden passing of my father. In losing my father, I lost my inspiration for a time. Add to that the fact that during this time, I was notified I hadn’t advanced in one of my two favorite writing contests, and I was a mess questioning my commitment and drive to this second career.

Things seemed to looking up a couple of months after my dad’s passing when I received an email from a publisher responding to a query I’d forgotten I’d sent. The publisher was interested and asked for the whole novel. Feeling somewhat buoyed, I dipped my toe back in the waters of writing and started penning a new novel my fans had been asking me for. My writing career really seemed to be back on track when the publisher offered me a contract which I accepted.

As you know from previous posts, that publisher and I are no longer working together. In the interest of being diplomatic, I called it creative differences though I truly felt the publisher misrepresented themselves. During this time, I’ve never mentioned the publisher’s name. Interestingly enough, I never even mentioned its name when I was asked for a partial and then a full and then ultimately signed. In hindsight, I think it was my sixth sense telling me not to mention it since it probably wouldn’t work out.

Well, I’m a little sad to say my writing career has taken yet another blow. This one, I didn’t see coming. I didn’t advance to the next round of the second writing contest I’d entered. Now before you go thinking my ego is that over inflated, I have a reason for being surprised and saddened. Last year, I made it all the way to the finals with a novel I didn’t think was as good as this one and was told by these same editors I had amazing talent. Guess I missed the mark this year.

After a few days of licking my wounds, I’ve come to a decision. It’s time to take matters into my own hands, redefine success and do what I can to achieve that goal. In this digital age, it doesn’t make sense for writers to rely on publishers to make things happen for them. Yep, you guessed it. I’m joining the ranks of those self-publishing electronic books. Not only will I be able to maintain complete control over the content, but I can reach an even larger audience as more and more readers abandon traditional print books in favor of e-reading devices. In theory, I could even make a little bit of money, which wouldn’t be bad but isn’t what motivates me.

All I want, all I’ve ever wanted, is to tell the stories the way I want to and to give readers stories they love. If I make a little money then that’s what I call a win-win. Someone once said if you’re doing something you love, you never have to work a day in your life. I’m not sure that’s really true for writers. You have to work to make your dreams come true. I’m ready to do that work on my terms. Who’s with me?