The Things They Don’t Tell You

As far as I know, there is no definitive manual on how to be an author. There are hundreds of books about the craft of writing and dozens of places to go for advice on how to write a good query letter and synopsis. You can take a course on everything from nailing that first line to marketing your backlist. But there are still surprises. There are aspects of being an author that you’ll only figure out after you’ve been doing it for a while.

It’s like raising a kid. You’ve heard a rumor you might be up at three in the morning cleaning pink vomit off the carpet on the stairs, but you didn’t think it’d happen until it does. There wasn’t really supposed to be pink vomit, was there? Not when no one had eaten anything pink.

This is my list of things I sort of (definitely) wish someone had told me.

Continue reading “The Things They Don’t Tell You”

Publishing is a Journey

Last month I promised my newsletter subscribers a story. Here it is…

Publishing is a journey that requires a lot of patience. Books have to be written and revised, submitted, accepted (hopefully), revised again, edited to within an inch of their precious lives, and then, finally, made available for purchase. For me, on average, eight to eighteen months can pass between typing “The End” and seeing my book in readers’ hands.

Then there are the books that take a more circuitous route to publication.

Shortly after my first book came out, I submitted a second book to my publisher, one I thought was much, much better than the first. They declined it. I was understandably hurt, but not truly devastated, as I was still new to publishing, and figured that because my first book hadn’t been that big a seller, the publisher might not have much confidence in me. Besides, I had a backup plan. Jenn and I were writing something fun.

In the spring of 2014, Jenn and I sent a manuscript and series pitch to Carina Press, which they accepted, and you all got to meet Felix and Zed in the five books of the Chaos Station series. Buoyed by the success of our ragtag crew and their rust bucket of a ship, I submitted a book of my own to our publisher, only to have it declined. This time I was a little more devastated because I LOVED the book I’d submitted. So I contracted a freelance editor, revised it, and sent it to Dreamspinner Press. They snapped it up, and you all got to meet Max and Jake in Block and Strike, which will forever be the book of my heart.

A few months after the release of Block and Strike, I submitted a proposal for a three book series called This Time Forever. I’d already written the first book, Building Forever, and I loved, loved, loved it (I love all my books). Although science fiction will always be my first love, I adore sweet contemporary romances that take ordinary people and challenge them to find love. In every way, Building Forever felt like a natural follow up to what I’d started in Block and Strike—more opposites attract, more family dynamics, more struggles with identity and purpose, and more sweet romance. The book and series were declined.

Enter the darkest period of my publishing career to date. Rejection happens for all sorts of reasons, many of which are beyond an author’s control—or scope. But it still hurts. And the more you love a book, the worse it feels. But despite my propensity for flailing and entirely useless panicking, I’m actually a very optimistic person. When things start to darken, I’m the first to look for a new source of light. So I did a lot of soul searching and then sketched out three options.

One was to self-publish, two was to send the proposal to another publisher, and three was to seek representation with an agent. After talking all three options over with family and friends, I decided to go with option two and sent my manuscript and proposal to Riptide Publishing. They loved the book. Tweeted about it the day they got the proposal and called me with an offer seven days later. I was absolutely elated, as I had previously considered Riptide Publishing beyond my reach. I had the idea my writing might not be good enough, and that my audience might not be big enough.

While hammering out the details of my contract with them, I mentioned that I was currently writing more science fiction (To See the Sun) and they literally contracted that on the spot. Then March happened.

I was horrified by the revelation of what had been going on behind the scenes at Riptide and once again had to consider the direction of my career, and the fate of a book (and series) that I felt was my next big step. After much back and forth, I decided to honor my contracts and stay with Riptide. You can read my post regarding that decision here.

So here we are—over two years after Charlie first spoke to me through a mouthful of Cheez-Its—on the eve of the publication of Building Forever. I’m enormously proud of this book, and I hope you all enjoy meeting and spending time with Simon and Charlie as much as I did, and that you go on to meet Frank and Tom in Renewing Forever (November 12), and find it in your hearts to give Brian a chance in Chasing Forever (December 11) as he pursues my wounded hero, Mal.

I’m not entirely sure what’s up next for me, but getting these three books out into the world has been an incredible accomplishment! I feel like these are my best books to date and I’m proud of the fact I was able to knuckle down and write each one despite various challenges. I’ve been exhausted and many, many times I’ve felt like quitting. But over and again, when the darkness threatened to descend, I kept looking for a window… and kept finding one.

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that my husband and I just bought a bagel shop. So far, the upside of the venture (and there is only one right now) is that I’ve been so busy learning how to clean the bagel kettle and baking oven that I barely have time to fret over the ratings and rankings of my books. Although I’m exhausted in a different sense, this has been a really cool development. I’ve been trying for five years now to care less. I want to love my books—as they are—and be able to release them to others who may or may not love them, and to be happy with that. Now, I’m too tired to worry about it for the most part.

This is not the end of my writing career, however, only a much needed slow down as I come off of editing four books back to back and promoting five to publication in the space of five months. Next up I’m treating myself to a book I’ve been thinking about for three years. I’ll be returning to my first love, science fiction, and combining it with elements that pop up in nearly every book I write: a journey to self, unexpected attraction, and lots of adventure.

Given the pattern established in my career, I’m understandably nervous about submitting another book to my current publisher (:D), but I do have an outline for a follow up to To See the Sun, and plans to publish it sometime next year by any means necessary.

And, of course, I have more contemporary ideas brewing. Obviously I’m going to have to write a romance set in a bagel shop at some point…

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope I’ve inspired other writers to keep going, and readers to keep reading. ❤

Building Forever

BuildingForever_3DcoverCharlie King is doing fine. Sure, he’s a widower raising a teenage daughter who just got her first boyfriend, his book series isn’t writing itself, and he has a crush on his new neighbor — the guy next door. But everything’s just fine.

Simon Lynley is doing better. He moved to Bethlehem to fall out of love and rebuild his career. An affair with his neighbor isn’t part of the plan, but the attraction between them is too hard to ignore.

But when Simon’s ex follows him to Pennsylvania seeking reconciliation, and Charlie’s life starts to feel like a video on repeat, everything comes apart. Charlie worries that he’s failing as a father, and Simon is a distraction he can’t afford. Meanwhile Simon doesn’t know if he could survive being left again, and he hasn’t come all this way to make the same mistakes. But despite their fears, it’s only together that they’ll find the strength to slay old foes and build the forever they’ve been waiting for.

Preorder Building Forever at Riptide Publishing for early access—meaning you can start reading at midnight tonight (EST). The book will be available everywhere else on Monday.

Reading Challenge Update (January)

On the twenty-fifth of January I noticed I had read twenty-five books in twenty-five days. Not all of them were the size of War and Peace. One was a graphic novel, another a comic. Still, I had absorbed twenty-five separate stories in as many days. I’m not sure if I’ve ever done that before. Part of the reason I read so much was that I had been suffering from tendinitis in my right elbow for about two months. Typing became very difficult. Gaming near impossible. Holding my Kindle hurt. Even scrolling through pictures of gorgeous (shirtless) men on tumblr caused me pain. I don’t use this blog to air my medical laundry. I’d rather write about my inspirations and joys, about reading and writing. This injury affected both, however. I moped a bit. I became frustrated about missing deadlines I had set for myself and obligations I hoped to meet. I may have vented to friends and family. Then I found something else to do with my time: read.

As a result, I’ve been publishing a lot of reviews. I have about seven more lurking in my drafts folder. (I typed them out a couple of hundred words at a time and took a lot of stretching breaks.) I’ve missed writing more personal posts, but I needed to save my bouts of typing for what I considered work: writing fiction and writing about fiction. Now that my elbow has settled down, I hope to ramble a bit more often.

What? It’s my blog…

So, where am I up to with my Reading Challenges? I’m three books in. I challenged myself to read about sixteen books for 2014. I’ll probably read about 116, but the sixteen extra are special. They’re books that I, personally, would like to read. Twelve of them are from my overstuffed ‘To Be Read’ shelf. My ‘To Be Read’ shelf is not virtual. It’s a bookcase holding, at last count, 217 books. I have a further 65 books parked on my Kindle. My mountain of books is an old problem, one I’ve written about before, and the reason I decided to participate in a number of challenges this year.

The three books I read in January count toward three separate challenges. For the TBR challenge, I read Revelation (Rai-Kirah, #2) by Carol Berg and From This Day Forward by John Brunner. My review of From This Day Forward also served as my entry for Vintage Science Fiction Month and I cross posted it to the Sci Fi Experience Review Site. I added quite a few links there throughout the month, actually, including my third challenge read, A Darkling Sea by James Cambias.

I really enjoyed all three books, as my reviews will indicate. I also enjoyed the sense of accomplishment I gained from making a good dent in my challenge list. As a meticulous list keeper, I love being able to tick boxes and declare things done!

Seeing as this is a somewhat newsy ramble, I’ll continue on with some updates about what else I’ve been writing, elbow permitting. I completed a short story that gave me fits. I had intended to submit it to the Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest. Issues with my elbow and a whole lot of snow prevented me from getting a good handle on it until too late, however. I write best early in the morning, which is difficult when school is delayed and/or cancelled. I also tend to write best when I can lose myself for two to three hours and emerge on top of a pile of three to four thousand words. It’s like rolling down a hill. The longer I sit there, the more momentum I gain. As a habit, it has good points and bad, the most obvious fault being that I sit still for too long. Probably how I buggered up my elbow. It’s great for keeping a scene coherent, however, and there’s nothing quite so satisfying as being able to post a 10k word count at the end of the week. I love statistics almost as much as I love lists.

Anyway, I didn’t get the story finished in time, so I decided to re-purpose it with the intent of submitting it to Lightspeed for their Women Destroy Science Fiction issue. Two weeks was enough time to finish the story, but not enough to wrestle it into shape. My characters have lives of their own and Captain Kim Erkens had a different idea where the story should go than I did. Had I consulted my original notes more regularly, I would have seen that she was actually being true to my very first idea. Snow days and holidays have done more than mess up my schedule. I need to work on being more adaptable, too.

Anyway, the story is finished, but needs serious editing. Still, it’s another story sitting in my folder of possibilities and it’s not the only one. I have a novel there that needs an overhaul. It’s set in the same world as my novella, Less Than Perfect. I have another novel in there that I wrote with a friend. It’s a dark fantasy set in an entirely new world and I’m really excited about the project.  We’re just about done with our second serious edit and about to send it out to a round of beta readers. In the meantime, we’ve started a new project which grew out of our love for a pair of characters we’ve role played together for a couple of years. Two days in, we’re two chapters down. Success like that has been enough to soothe the frustration of not being able to meet some of my other deadlines.

There will be other opportunities and there will always be other stories. That’s part of the wonder of being a writer, really.