R for Recovery

RI feel like I have been getting over this sickness forever. The road to recovery is sometimes longer than the actual sickness it seems! April, in general, has been a rough month health-wise, and I am very much looking forward to feeling 100% better and getting back to work on my many projects.

First up is assignment writing. I began the first one today and am hoping to blitz it over the weekend so that I can get back to revision (that would have been a good blog post, maybe another time). Now is really when the year starts to get intense for me and I’m filled with some nervous energy about these assignments. The first one is always the hardest in that you’re unfamiliar with your marker, and with the subject matter, opening results is as intense as opening an email from a publisher/agent/market (though those are more likely to contain rejections than passes lol).

Anyway, I am going to do my very best to catch up with the A-Z! I’ve enjoyed it so far, even though it’s been harder than I’d have liked with the health stuff going on. I’d like to finish off the month anyway, even if the posts end up being shorter than normal.

How are you all doing this month? Anything come at you out of the blue? I hope you’ve all managed to stay healthy anyway.

Questions?

QCan you believe we’re over halfway through the month? No, me either.

Q is one of those letters I struggled to think of something to write about for. Quirky? Quiet? Both things that are important to me, but everything seemed kind of obvious, so I’m going to throw this one back to you  - any questions for me? Ask, and… well, I’ll try to do my best to answer ;-)

Publishing plans

PSince I spoke about options in my last post, I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk a little about publishing, and my plans for it. It’s all still very much in the formative stage because I’m knee deep in my last year of study at the moment and find it hard to balance the two of them, but at least planning helps keep me focused on the future and provides ample opportunity to daydream about the months and years to come!

And I cannot wait to be done with study so that I can launch into my writing career.

At present, I’m working on editing mostly, and am submitting my novel Sun-Touched to publishers, sans agent. I wanted to try this first because these days there are quite a few publishers that have open submissions periods throughout the year, and it felt like a good book to take advantage of those opportunities with. I’ve considered trying to find an agent with it, but at this point I’ve got assignments looming and I think I’ll put that stress on the back-burner. I don’t want to add more stress to my life, and from past experience, querying agents can be all consuming. We’ll leave that til I’ve got less going on ;-)

So why am I looking at a publisher for Sun-Touched? Well, first up, it’s science fiction, and I’m not yet convinced that science fiction sells all that well when self published (please, if you have some information that differs from this, I’d love to hear it!). Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about it – all my readers have loved it, and this has given me confidence that it could sell well. Thirdly, honestly, I would have to say because it’s what I’ve wanted all along and I guess I see it as kind of a challenge – not so much as that they are ‘gate keepers’ or anything, but a personal challenge, a ‘can I do this?’ kind of thing. I want to know if I can, and in order to find that out, I have to try. If I can’t find a publisher keen to take it, I will definitely self-publish it, because I believe in the novel.

Aside from this I have a series of works, novellas and novels, based on the west coast of New Zealand, that I’m planning on self publishing beginning at the end of the year. I’ve written 3 novellas already, and the first novel is a work in progress. There are about 7 stories lined up for the main story-line, as well as ideas for other stories set in the same world (one of the novellas already written is outside of that main storyline and will hopefully be released at Christmas!). I’m hoping to get most of the editing and work done on the novellas throughout this year alongside my study, as well as the full first draft of the novel. Covers are already in progress with my wonderful designer friend, Leigh, and I’m feeling really positive about where everything is at.

I know a lot of people would be chomping at the bit to get published, rather than having these things sitting around, but not me. Self publishing  has been on my mind for quite some time now, and I always knew that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. For me (and just me, we’re all different) this means having multiple works lined up. I didn’t want to release one thing because it was ready and then have to scramble for something to follow up with. It makes the most sense for me to write a series, and roll them out on a reasonably regular schedule, which is why I’ve been stockpiling the series to date.

And why am I planning to self publish these? Well, first up, they are paranormal romance/urban fantasy, and this seems to be a genre that does pretty well when self published. Secondly, I’ve had awesome feedback about the series and I think it could do well. Thirdly, much like my reason for trying a publisher with Sun-Touched, I want to see if I can do it. Self publishing provides a whole new set of challenges, and I’m really keen to try my hand at them. I love the idea of having control over these books, and that any success I have will be down to the effort I’ve put into it.

So, when it comes down to it, I guess you can say that my decisions regarding how I want to publish come down to challenging myself, having an awesome product, and looking for the best way to publish each type of work. I don’t think there is a one size fits all for publishing, nor do I believe that you have to stick with one path – do whatever works for you, find your happiness, make your own definition of success and go for that.

Sorry that you’re getting a few posts today – I ended up succumbing to the vomiting bug as well, which knocked me off track again, but this time I had actually had a plan for what I wanted to write about, so I decided to go ahead and write the posts! 

Options, options, options

Back when I first started thinking about publishing there weren’t all that many options. You wrote a novel, polished the crap out of it and then queried agents. If you were really lucky, you found one, and then they’d submit it to editors/publishers and maybe you’d get lucky and get a contract. It was a long shot, especially for someone living all the way over here in New Zealand, far from the offices of literary agents.

At least even back then you could query SOME by email. If that hadn’t been the case I wouldn’t have sent my first MS off far too early, but that’s a mistake I think many writers have to make.

It was a pretty disheartening time in some ways. I try to be as realistic as possible, and even then there was a lot of information about your chances at getting through the entire process and landing a book deal, but I never let the odds stop me from writing and hoping that one day it would be me.

Of course, now the publishing landscape has changed to the point where there are many more options than I ever knew there could be. Not all the things I learned back then stand true now, and being published doesn’t seem such a far distant goal when at any point you can make the decision to do so yourself and bypass the agents and publishers.

Which isn’t to say that you should do it at the first opportunity, or at all necessarily, I think it’s still important to do the learning, put in the time and effort to become a good writer before you publish. And to look at all the options and weigh them up before making decisions. There is a lot of research involved in this, and it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but ask your friends, find some reputable blogs, look critically at information, and then follow your gut – most importantly though, be honest with yourself.

I’ve seen writers make all kinds of choices – traditional publishing, self publishing, big publisher, small, with an agent, without, a combination of these things, and other things entirely (print, digital, audio… so many options!) – and the ones who are happiest are the ones who’ve looked at the publishing industry, and then looked inside themselves and really been honest about what they want before pursuing their dreams of being published. About what they want and what they are prepared to do to get it.

If it’s your dream to publish with one of the big publishers, then keep working towards it. If it’s your dream to have full control over your works and stay true to your vision of the story, then self publish. If you really want to have a publisher, but want a smaller, more personal experience, go for a small press. If you want everything, all of it, then hey, do the hybrid thing – but don’t change YOUR dreams because someone else tells you they are silly. There are options for everyone these days, so follow your dreams and pick the options that will help you get there.

 

L, M, N… no worries

Well, my A-Z went a bit off track. L was lost in space, and M went missing in a malaise created by sickness and aches and pains (not all of them mine, thankfully).

So now it’s N, and time to get back on track! No worries!

Life is a bit like this sometimes right? And it’s far better to roll with the punches than get caught up feeling stressed about all the things you wanted to do and then didn’t manage.

Personally, I’m just pleased that we’re past this vomiting bug (well, unless me or the eldest gets sick… *crosses fingers that doesn’t happen*) and that things are looking up again. I’ve been getting some writing and study done today and it feels good to have a head clear enough to do so.

Gotta make the most of the good days, and not worry too hard on the bad ones.

Now, I better get my thinking cap on for O! Any suggestions?

Kill me now!

As a writer there are so very many mistakes you can make, sometimes you don’t even realize them until after the fact, but without fail every time you discover you’ve done it there is that moment where you want to hide under a rock and beg your writer friends to just kill you then and there because you might never recover from the shame.

(Trust me, you will. We all make mistakes and that’s part of learning.)

I’ve made many in my time.

I’ve forgotten to attach stories.

I’ve sent stories to the wrong markets.

I’ve queried a novel LONG before either it, or I, was ready. (I feel a lot of sympathy for those poor agents who had to read my submission).

Most memorably, I managed to somehow rename my assignment as my novella and submitted that instead of the novella I’d spent months working on for that particular market… The only silver lining was that I ALSO managed to submit my assignment to my lecturer, and I got an excellent grade on it*.

The thing is that all of these things are surmountable. You can make mistakes, as long as you work to fix those errors – find a better way of tracking your submissions, of organizing all your pieces, triple check what you are sending against what is required. Despite this, you can still make mistakes because we all have bad days, but you want to do the best you can as much as possible.

Many markets are actually pretty forgiving (the time I forgot to attach a story, they let me know and I was able to send it in), and I think most places can tell the difference between when you’ve simply missed something in the guidelines and when you’re blatantly disregarding them.

We’re all only human right?

Get out from under that rock, tell your friends to console you, not kill you, and then get back to work.

*I’ve made a deal with myself never to go in for deadlines that occur at similar dates as assignments to prevent that from happening again!

Juggling

Most days I wear many hats – mother, wife, teacher, writer, editor, student, crit partner, house cleaner. The list could go on, but I think you get the point.

On the majority of days I get quite a kick out of juggling so many things. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than making a plan and having it all unfold beautifully, although I’m also quite fond of the days where things don’t go to plan and I have to make back up plans on the fly to fit everything in. That can be incredibly satisfying.

But there are so many variables in my life that some days even trying to formulate a plan to begin with feels like a joke, and I have to laugh hysterically at my attempts to control the chaos. Depending on my mood, which is pretty variable in itself, I crave or cower from that chaos. Some days, I drop a ball. Some days they are all over the place, flying wildly, my limbs tangling as I try to keep everything in the air. And other days I drop them all.

And that’s okay. That’s really just life. As long as the next day I can get back up, pick up even one of those balls I’m trying to juggle and toss it back up, well then I’m doing just fine :-)