Actually, there’s a lot more than just five, but in the interest of keeping this short I’ve narrowed it down.
First, I learned that everybody and their aunt thinks it’s the coolest thing that you wrote a book. Friends and acquaintances treat you like a local celebrity. I almost started to believe it! I was like “Do you know who I am?” And the mail lady was like, “Yeah, I’ve been delivering your mail for about ten years.” You’re inundated with emails from strangers who loved your book and can’t wait for you to write your next novel. When you write the second one, people are still fascinated by it. Mostly people who don’t know you very well. Your friends are getting sick of hearing how cool people think you are when they know you for the nerd you actually are. By the third one, everyone calms down and they realize you’re not really a celebrity and resume treating you like the everyday, normal person that you are. In the end, you’re left with a small base of loyal fans who you will love forever.
Second, I learned that marketing is not easy and people who choose to go into that profession must be a glutton for punishment. The big wigs don’t pay trillions of dollars in marketing research for nothing! There’s a science to it that I’m struggling to understand. I thought, “Great, I wrote a book, got great reviews, and now people are talking about it. I’ll just sit back and let my novel be read by thousands!” It turns out that’s not how it works! Who knew? There’s nothing that makes you feel so small and insignificant as tooting your own horn to the sound of silence. It’s very awkward, and I think I’m doing it wrong. I’ve read marketing books, I’ve joined support groups for indie authors, and I’ve had some success. But it’s two steps forward, and one step back.
Third, I learned this is an emotional roller coaster ride unlike any I’ve ever taken! And I have three children! One day, things are in a slump and I’m telling my family that I’m going to take a year off and re-evaluate my choices. I’m going to try to improve my writing and give it a go another time. Then someone tags their friend on Facebook in the comments of one of my promotional posts saying “Jane Doe, this is that incredible book I was telling you about!” After I read that, I’m in my kitchen like “KIDS! Momma’s back on!” Then sales slow down and post interaction on Facebook comes to a halt, and I’m back to “I don’t know guys, maybe I’m going down the wrong path.” Then a friend does me a solid and promotes my book on her page, and someone I’ve never met comments “Oh! I’ve heard of her book. They were talking about it in a Facebook book group. They said good things.” I got that wide, toothy, creepy-clown grin on my face, turned to my kids and I’m like “People are talking about me!” Can you believe it? People were talking about my book! Then I wondered if she maybe mixed me up with somebody else. Then I was back to doubting myself. Today I’m good though. For now.
Fourth, I learned that you absolutely must have a Facebook account. Zuckerberg basically owns me. He’s got what I need, and I can’t shake that soul-less eyed, twerpy kid. I’m pretty sure his cocky-ass knows it, too. After a long love/hate relationship with Facebook, I spontaneously and quietly deleted my account. I felt free of my chains. I wanted to make a shirt that said: “Suck it Zuck.” I walked away and never looked back, for six months. I had no regrets over the deletion. I spent my newfound free time with my kids, enjoyed my summer, and continued writing novels and other short stories. Then it came time to tell everyone about my upcoming book. Do you know where everyone is? Freaking Facebook. Yeah. I tried to release the book without being on the social platform, but sales were pretty much non-existent. After rejoining the social media monster again, sales rapidly picked up. It was bittersweet. But what is the point of putting all of myself into writing a novel if nobody knows it exists?
Fifth, I’ve learned what it means to truly find your passion. Books have made such a difference in my life. The temporary escape and emotional distraction they offer literally saved my life once. It is a blessing to be able to provide this beneficial opportunity to others through the creation of my novels. I enjoy helping people relax and unwind. I love knowing that for a moment in time, I was able to entertain someone by taking them into their imagination. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do!
My latest novel, Vital Spark, is a vampire romance set in New Orleans. I’ve been a fan of mythical vampires since long before Twilight oversaturated the market. In all the novels I’ve read, I never really questioned what it was that made the vampires so appealing.
Obviously they are written as gorgeous, so there’s that. Then there’s the idea of superhuman strength and speed, which creates a situation that would make anyone feel safe and protected, and that’s a nice feeling. Some people are a sucker for a tortured soul, which could also explain some of the facination. A lot of us can relate to having that “darker side” of ourselves. We bury it and struggle to keep it contained, but we all have our inner demons.
Then I got to thinking, what is it that most people fear? Death. And also aging, because that seems to lead to death. But with just a little bite, a vampire can give you the gift of immortality and eternal youth. The older I get, the more I realize there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for eternal youth. Maybe not botox though, I’ve seen some pictures. But I have to do something because it’s not going to be pretty you guys…
A vampire can ease your biggest fears. Can you imagine what you would do if you knew you couldn’t die? I’d eat two pounds of bacon for breakfast every morning. And a stick of butter covered in sugar.
I always say it would suck to live forever. At some point, I’ll want to move on to the next realm so I can start haunting people or whatever. But I can bet that on my deathbed, I’ll be screaming for Dracula.
What do you think? Would immortality be a blessing or a curse?
No, not coming up with the idea. That part is fun and easy. I can come up with a million story ideas, and every now and then, one of them is actually pretty good!
The next part is turning that good idea into at least sixty-thousand words. If you know me, you know that I can talk for days…months, even! It’s entirely possible that one day I’ll get started, and never actually stop. So this part is not the most difficult part of being a writer for me. Sure there are times when scene A doesn’t connect so easily to scene B, but eventually, a bridge is built and everything flows together.
Then there’s the re-write. It’s a little boring, in my opinion, because the novelty of getting your story written has passed, and now you’re left cleaning up your mess. And I can leave one, big, hot mess. It’s a lot of work, but not the hardest part, for me.
Editing is a nightmare, I’ve made no attempt at hiding the fact that I detest editing. Even saying the word “edit” makes me throw up in my mouth. But I can push through and do my best.
Then there’s the part where I have to come up with a title for my novel. This part is only slightly worse than a root canal, but still not the most difficult part of being a writer.
After all that and a little more, it turns out the hardest part of being a writer, at least for me, is the marketing! Nobody warned me how hard it would be.
First of all, I’m just a drop in the ocean over here! I’m barely noticeable in a room of ten, much less a sea of millions. It’s hard to stand out against a backdrop of so many fantastic writers.
Second, I’ve been conditioned to be humble and not brag. A popular saying when I was growing up was “nobody likes a show-off” and that lesson really stuck. So I’m supposed to be over here saying things like “Check out my awesome new book, I guarantee you’ll love it!” or “I really outdid myself this time, you have to read this!” or “Get your copy of the best book ever written!” But inside my head it’s more like “Check this out if you want!” or “This one might be pretty good and if you think you might like to give it a chance that would be super!” or “I feel really bad asking you to buy this, I wish I could give it to you for free just in case you think it sucks.” But according to my husband, that’s just bad marketing, and he’s a Virgo so he thinks he knows everything and, frustratingly enough, he’s usually right.
And lastly, I grew up in the Catholic school system, where (back then) from a very young age we were conditioned to believe that everything we did was a sin, and all of our choices are wrong and shameful. I hear it’s a lot different these days, however, I did not escape without my fair share of guilt issues. So anytime I ask someone to “like” and “share” anything promoting my book, I get heart palpitations over the fact that I’m asking them for something. Like, no one owes me anything, what right do I have to bother them with my personal business? And Lord forbid they don’t “like” or “share” because then I just know I’ve crossed a line and must hang my selfish head in shame.
Who knew promoting yourself was such a hard thing to do? It feels uncomfortable and unnatural, and I wish it wasn’t a part of being a writer. Maybe after my fifty-seventh novel, it’ll be less painful.
Thank you for letting me be honest!
My favorite part of writing a novel is creating the first draft. With reckless abandon, I can type out anything I want, no matter how stupid it might be, because I know the first draft will never be seen by anyone but me. I can unleash the creative monster in me and then reign in the insanity little by little with each rewrite.
I’m not a fan of editing. Like, at all. While I’m very particular about “your” and “you’re,” “there” and “their,” or “to and too,” everything else pretty much goes to hell in a handbasket. I’m fairly decent at making crap up, but grammar and punctuation are not my strengths, and as an indie author, I don’t have thousands of dollars to pay a real actual editor. (Which reminds me, how much are kidneys going for on the black market? Asking for a friend…)
But figuring out a title for my novel is, by far, my least favorite part of being a writer. Now, I’ve done some difficult things in my life. I’ve squeezed some rather large-headed babies out of my teeny tiny girl-parts. I’ve been through a divorce and I was a single mom for a bit. I had to leave my newborn in intensive care for just over a month. I’m a Marine Mom, I’ve had teeth pulled, and I survived Catholic school. I’ve even watched about thirty minutes of The Royal Tenenbaums, and believe me, that was extraordinarily difficult. But every time I need to come up with a title that sums up a novel I’ve written, it’s just too hard.
So here is a list of five things I would rather do than title my novels.
- Vaginally deliver a giant, breech porcupine.
- Solve an algebra problem. Sober.
- Lick a U.S. dollar bill.
- Get an enema.
- Get kicked in the face by a donkey wearing baseball cleats.
What do you hate most about your job?
I’ve always searched any topic without a second thought while writing my novels. Because who wouldn’t search “how long would it take to bleed out if your wrists were slit and you’re hanging upside down?” (A little odd for a romance author, sure, but I needed to know.)
It wasn’t until I searched “what kind of explosives would most effectively blow up a church” that I realized I might be red flagged by almost every U.S. federal agency. For the record, the church in my novel was abandoned, save for a vampire meeting that was taking place.
So I took a moment to review my search history. Here are a few things that might look bad if someone didn’t know I write fiction.
– Best blade to effectively decapitate a head
– Amount of explosives needed to blow up a brick building
– Where can you buy detonation cord (Quick shout out to the ATF- in case you’re watching!)
– Are feral pigs dangerous
– Can you ride an alligator (This one was just for my own curiosity.)
– How much blood can a person lose before they die
– Does a severed human arm float in water
– Can a vampire have babies with a human
It’s amazing, the things you learn while writing a story. I know a lot about airboats and how to drive them. I’m not sure what to do with that. I know what to do in the event of an alligator attack. I’m not sure why an alligator would be hanging around the Midwest, but you never know.
When I die, I’ll need someone to clear my search history for me. On second thought, leave it there. It’ll be more fun that way.
What’s the oddest thing in your search history that you’re willing to admit? Share in the comments!
In WORLDS APART, our main character, Therran, has a cat that sort of “came with the house.” The mischevious cat, Artemis, of mysterious origins, is no ordinary kitty.
Meet my cat, the real-life Artemis, who was the inspiration for one of the most lovable characters in WORLDS APART, available March 1st.
As a romance author and hopeless romantic, it comes as a shock to some people that I
don’t like loathe Valentine’s Day. But wait! Hear me out.
So, I love love. And I don’t like too many regulations. As a compulsive rule-follower, too many rules are hard to keep up with and it stresses me out.
Valentine’s Day, which in my opinion should have no authority in our lives whatsoever, regulates how and when someone should love their significant other. For example, you should love your other by buying them diamonds, chocolates, flowers, and of course, the master indicator of love…the greeting card. Also, you should do it on February 14th. Every. Single. Year.
Come on, really?! Who decided that’s how you show love on this pretend holiday? If you want to show your love, do it whenever you want, and with your own personal flair. Not the generic flowers and chocolate crap. (Unless the generic flowers and chocolate crap is your own personal flair, then please accept my apologies.) My husband and I show our love by snuggling on the couch, having a meaningful talk while collapsing in an exhausted heap of tired parents, in the middle of the active conversation we are having. But we do that all the time, so February 14th means nothing to us.
According to the National Retail Federation, spending this Valentine’s Day is expected to hit 19.6 billion dollars. What if I’m broke, and can’t afford diamonds? I have a pantry stocked full of chocolate, you know, in case of an apocalypse, so I don’t need any more of that nonsense. And while flowers are undeniably beautiful, in reality, I just have an overpriced glass of rotting plant in the center of my table, and the newly acquired chore of watering it as I watch it slowly die. Nothing says “love” like more responsibility, am I right?!
What about those who can’t be with their loved ones on this day, or who don’t have a romantic partner for the occasion? This commercialized, fake holiday just worsens feelings of inadequacy, loss, and depression.
Or what if I’m just crabby on Valentine’s Day, or something happens and my husband and I get into some kind of argument? It’s, like, ten times worse if it happens on this specific day, because of the unrealistic expectation that everything concerning love is magically perfect on February 14th. Suddenly, I’ve convinced myself that I’m a failure at love, when in fact I’m not, I’m just PMSing.
Real love is ugly, messy, and hard, and sometimes it hurts. It’s also beautiful, fulfilling, and can leave you breathless. None of that changes because someone (Hallmark) says love, somehow, should be extra special on this calendar date. It’s too much pressure. Love just is what it is, regardless of how you want it to be.
So I found a picture of little me, developing a passion for writing while rockin’ the 80’s fashion. You can see from my technique that I was destined for great things.
So apparently artificial intelligence took a shot at writing romance, and the hilarious results indicate that metal brains will not be taking over my writing genre anytime soon.
Check out this article written by Elle O’Brien, filled with the most “romantic” titles robots could come up with.