Becoming a Professional-- It's a Little Weird

Feb 25, 2014

I was lucky enough over the last two weeks to have two opportunities to teach some of the things I know about writing to a live audience. And let me tell you-- it's a little weird.

On the Queries panel with the lovely Peggy Eddleman
I actually LOVE teaching. I've taught preschool and I currently teach the adult Sunday school at my church. I also love to share what I know about writing to the world of the internets (whether or not that's a good thing depends on if I actually know what I'm talking about...). But for the first time, I sat on a panel at Life, the Universe, and Everything SFF symposium with other authors, introduced myself as an author, and taught/gave advice to a whole room full of eager writers. It was really cool, and really fun. And also weird.

Why is that, you may ask? Because all of a sudden, there was a table between me and other writers.

I'm still learning, too, after all. I went to some of the same panels and classes the other writers went to. But this year, some people saw me a little differently after seeing me on a panel. I was the professional, the Author-with-a-capital-A. Which I am, I suppose. I write professionally now, as in I get paid for it, as in I teach about it on the other side of the table.
I look so short next to Elana Johnson, Michael Jensen,
and David Powers King!

But in a lot of ways, I'm not any different than I was at last years' conference. I'm still writing books. I'm still learning about writing them. I'm still having confidence crises. I'm still making my husband roll
his eyes when I buy jewelry that reminds me of my book as a kind of talisman to wear while I write. So it felt a little weird to me to have people see me as the pro. I'm still just me. And I realized it's kind of the same with the authors I idolize-- they're still people, and they're still writers. Like me.

So, my friends, I guess what I'm saying is that not as much changes after getting a book deal as you might think. We're all the same on the inside-- we're all writers. I am curious, though-- which authors do you idolize, even if just a bit? Right now, I personally have a writer crush on Maggie Stiefvater. Go read The Scorpio Races, ya'll! It's brilliant. 

P.S. Did you know my first story I ever published was at age 16? And that, believe it or not, I'm still proud of that piece of crap? I wrote all about it here!

A Cover Reveal, A Kindle Giveaway, and The One and Only Time I was Tempted to Steal a Book

Feb 14, 2014

Today is Chantele Sedgwick's cover reveal of her YA contemporary fantasy, NOT YOUR AVERAGE HAPPY ENDING! I LOVE the covers for her books-- this one is a perfect complement to the first book!


Here it is!

"When Ash Summerland left the Academy of Magical Beings, he was sure he’d put his troubles behind him. But when his girlfriend, Kendall, is almost killed by an old enemy over something he knows little about, Ash is forced to confront the demons of his past if he wants to save his and Kendall’s future.
With his fairy magic fading and his djinn magic more powerful than ever, Ash isn’t sure he can stop the evil from closing in around him. Although Kendall is the only thing keeping him from going over the edge, if he can’t learn to balance out his magic and find a way to defeat his enemies once and for all, both his world, and the girl he loves will be lost forever." Coming March 3, 2014 from Crescent Moon Press.

In other news, today is the launch of the Fall Fourteeners, a fabulous group of YA authors debuting this fall, and we're holding a big, fat giveaway! We want to share our favorite ebooks--and a shiny new Kindle to read them on--with a lucky winner! So head on over and enter to win.

And finally, if you're interested in finding out about the one and only time I was tempted to steal a book (hint: it was worth over $3,000!), you can check out my first post at the Fearless Fifteeners! No, I'm not debuting in 2015, but the lovely Fifteeners made room for me in their ranks, and I'm happy to be part of another group of stellar authors!

Happy Love Day, friends, and see you next week!

Finding your voice after the publishing panic

Feb 6, 2014

So there's something I've heard before about getting published. It's that, once you get your first book deal (or second or third, I don't know how long it goes on, maybe forever for some people and maybe it never happens to others), there's a panic. There's a pressure. Suddenly, somebody wants something you wrote, and now they will want more-- and so you have to write more. And you have to write more better and faster. And you stare at the document full of a dozen story ideas you've had over the last few years, and you panic.

None of them are good enough. You are not good enough. You can't do this. People expect you to, there's a timeline, a deadline, and you have to deliver, and you don't know if you can. What if people hate your first book? Worse, what if people hate your second book, which means your first was just a fluke, which means you're a hack and you should just hide because you're writing that first draft of that second book right now and you already know it sucks and it's taking too long and you don't want anyone to read it, anyway.

It's kind of paralyzing. You spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself. You analyze everything you write to make sure it's done "the right way." You want to be original, but not too out there, and you don't know if you're doing that, or if you're doing anything right at all. Because the thing is, getting a book deal didn't suddenly make you a better writer than you were before. You've written a book before, but you've never written this book before, and it's hard as hell.

It all comes down to this: now that you have an audience, you stop listening to yourself.

But hopefully, you get to the point where you realize you've stopped listening. Maybe it takes you a week or a month or a year, but once you realize you've stopped listening, it's actually pretty easy to start again. You turn off Twitter with its helpful but overwhelming tweets on how to write EVERYTHING. You turn off Facebook with its wonderful friends who can't wait to read your book. You'll turn them back on again, because you love those things and those people. You appreciate them, and you need them. But not right now.

Right now, you need silence and you need a blank page. You need to look at that new story and find yourself inside it. That's the story you were missing-- the one that belongs to you, not to the people you think you have to impress in the future. This is what agents and editors mean when they tell you to write what you love, not to the trends. Let the story be what it will be, and let it be yours.

Shut the door. Forget the world. And write the book.

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