Wednesday, July 29, 2015

One year of Dependent: Seven Lessons Learned

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It's DEPENDENT's anniversary! Exactly one year ago today, I was holding my breath as DEPENDENT went out into the big, big world to find it's fate.

Wow, have I learned a lot.

I've learned about the publishing process, I've learned about book launches, I've learned about reader reviews and royalties and radio interviews. I've learned about publicity and pitching. I've learned about myself as an author, as a military spouse, and as a female in the military community.

Has it been an easy year? No.

Has it been a good year? Definitely.

I get a lot of questions that start with 'how', when talking to new authors. How do I finish? How do I find an agent? How do I get my work published? I'll admit, it's not an easy world to work in. So for those wonderful people who have come to me with their questions, who've asked for advice, and who've given me good, honest criticism, I thought today I'd share with you a few of my lessons learned. I don't think I'll ever consider myself an expert. But I've got more experience than here goes.

Lesson #1:  The publishing world is unpredictable. 
Cross country moves don't
generally mix well with
book launches...

I wish I could find a crystal ball to tell me how a book idea is going to fare. What topic is going to work and what is not. How many people are going to show up at a book signing. Who is going to want my book. What a contract is going to look like.

But there is no crystal ball. I can't tell anyone what will work, because what is cool today may not be cool when you finish your final draft. The odds of writing a book that turns into a phenomenon are pretty slim.

Write what you love to write.

Lesson #2: A book launch is for you, your friends, and your family.

 in 2012
Unless you've got the support of a huge publicity team and gazillions of dollars, plan your book launch so that your friends can come. DEPENDENT was launched in a big city, in a huge store...just after my family and I moved across the continent in an epic military move. We had to pick a launch date long before the military plans solidified, and it just worked out that it was after the move took place. As it was my second launch (TREASURE IN THE FLAME launched in 2012), I thought I'd roll with things and see how it turned out.

Although DEPENDENT's launch was a success, it could have been so much more. I really, truly missed the support of my close friends and family. I hope to plan my next launch (when it happens) either later on in our next military post (when we've made some friends), or closer to my home base.

It's so much easier to publicize something when you have the advantage of local word-of-mouth. And your success is the success of those you love. Plan your launch so they can be there.

Lesson #3: Publicity is so important.

If people don't know about the book, they won't buy it. I've been very, very fortunate to have a great team, but I couldn't have had the success I've had without my #1 PR hubby. He's had my back since day one, which was INCREDIBLY important with this book. If you've read DEPENDENT you know why.

Lesson #4: Always be prepared to do a radio interview.

One of the disadvantages to having a switched-on #1 PR GUY is the random radio interview...the one that happens while your driving, unprepared, home from the grocery store. Thank heavens for wide shoulders on Ontario back roads--lots of room to pull off and try to collect your thoughts. And thank heavens they can't see what you're wearing on radio.

Yeah. That happened.

Lesson #5: Not everyone will love you.

This one I was prepared for. I knew that DEPENDENT would not be the book for everyone. And I was right. But writing a book that people feel strongly about--either positively or negatively--is a good thing.

Lesson #6: Don't engage the trolls.

Engaging with haters never ends well. Thankfully I knew this before I started. Sure, I love a good debate, but I'll let the people who read my work stick up for me. Trolls generally are looking to stir the pot, whatever the cost. And the more you engage with them, the more vindictive they get. Don't even justify them with a response. At all. I talked about it a little bit in 15 Seconds, this past May.

Lesson #7: Don't ever, EVER give up.

The writing world is FULL of disappointment. Rejection is part of the package. Agents, editors, readers...there are lots of 'NO's' in this career. And there are many, many moments over the past few years where I've considered dropping it all.

But I won't.

I have three really cool manuscripts finished and ready to go. I've got a couple more on the way. And I'm most certainly not done with this adventure.

Thanks for sharing the journey with me.


Want to read more? Walk down memory lane?

Check out Posting Phase Eight to remember the insanity around DEPENDENT's launch.

Or try Launch Week Recap to hear about my first launch!


Comment below and I'll enter your name into a draw for a signed copy of DEPENDENT, A NOVEL! Draw will take place Wednesday August 5th!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Take Each Day

I've been trying REALLY hard to work on a manuscript that's been languishing on my laptop.

Really. Hard.

I want to finish this manuscript so I can get it off to you wonderful readers. But for some reason it's just not flowing out of me. Not that I've got the dreaded writer's block--I'm still picking away at it, but I'm not writing the 2000+ words a day that I'd hoped for.

Just needs a hot coffee and a good book
I pull it up faithfully in the morning, write a paragraph, feel all keen and motivated and READY TO ROCK... and then I open up a social media site. Big mistake. Or a kid gets up and asks for a drive to something. Or I need to go to work. Or the flowers need to be watered (by hand and sparingly...we're on water restrictions), or the laundry needs to be done or I need to make coffee or buy groceries or look at this lovely garden idea on Pinterest or let the dog out or read this book or watch this Netflix show (Why, oh why did I let my daughter convince me to watch my first ever episode of Glee???), or go for a walk or pick up that kid I dropped off or check out a house for our potential new posting...


You get the idea.

The manuscript is still languishing.

But, I refuse to let myself fall into the pit of despair for being such a failure with this manuscript. Why?

Because it's summer. Sweet, sweet, summer. Because my kids have jobs or are putting out their very first resumes to get a job, and I want to support that initiative. My flowers are beautiful. I've created this lovely little floral patio and it makes me HAPPY. So does coffee. I've watched far more Glee than I care to admit, but I've spent hours snuggling with my teenaged girls and singing show tunes while doing so. I've read many books, and in my chosen second career we can call that research. And yes, I even managed to not completely destroy my son's million dollar car while zooming around some fictional town on Grand Theft Auto (well, I might of scratched it a bit, but he assures me that he has insurance. And I didn't kill anyone, so that's good...right?) He laughed, and I laughed, and it was a great moment.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the PUSH, that we forget to take each day as it's given to us. And with working two careers, raising three teens and helping to run a military household, that's often hard to do.

The good thing is that my manuscript is not going anywhere. I've got a couple with my lovely agents already, one of which is just going out on submission. Another story is brewing in my head. And where do I get my ideas for new stories?

By living, of course.

I'll write a few hundred words later...but now? I think there's some Glee calling my name.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Life on the Salish Sea

For those of you who may have missed it, about two years ago I wrote a young adult fiction manuscript about a silkie, a mythical creature who supposedly sheds her skin and drags her victims below the waves to the unknown. My story has a few twists on the classic mythology with Sam the mysterious teenage boy down the beach, but it still revolves around seals and the ocean. The manuscript, entitled SKIN, is with my wonderful agents at Literary Counsel, and I am working (slowly...) on a sequel.

You also may or may not know that last year we moved from central Canada to the Pacific Coast to Vancouver Island, right on the body of water known as the Salish Sea. On the very first day we arrived, we saw a harbour seal outside of our hotel. The next day we saw two. And now pretty much every time we go by the water, at least one little dark-eyed head pops up to say hello. They are so thoughtful and inquisitive, but still shy enough to give you just a look or two before they move on. They look kind of like golden retrievers, but with big, sharp claws. I love them, and I'm constantly reminded of SKIN when I see them.
A porpoise on our starboard beam 

Yesterday my family and I were sailing. Before we went out we saw a fat seal, who popped up on the wharf and hung out for a bit. We called him Dave. We took the boat, went out for a few hours, and were followed by porpoises and a few other seals. It was a wonderful day of fresh air and family time.

When we came back Dave appeared to have a very affectionate friend, whom we called Davette. We giggled a bit at how close they were. Dave (or Davette?) truly appeared to be climbing on top of the other's back. Yeah. My thoughts went there too.

The kids popped up to the car, and I ran back to the boat to do something just before we left. I heard a splash and looked around, and there was this little face checking me out, not two feet away.

I thought it was Davette, but on a second look, Davette was REALLY small. Then Davette flipped over and I saw something umbilical cord still attached! Davette was a Baby Davie! Just out! Brand new! Then momma popped up and Davie wanted to play and snuggle. This was all literally right at my feet.

Davie and mom

I even got some (very poor quality) video:

Of course there was no one around to share this amazing sight with...but my handy dandy iPhone had to suffice. 

Perhaps it's time to get back to that sequel? Hmmm...Could Sam have a little brother? 

So much to write little time.