September 26, 2011

Gestalt Prayer

I do my thing and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you, and I am I,
and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.
If not, it can't be helped. ~ Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, 1969)

September 22, 2011

Sometimes it's the Journey...

...and sometimes, it's the Destination.

I think I'm kind of maybe almost done with Where You Are, though I'll be removing commas and putting them back in all the way to publication date, because that's what writers do. Not all of us, certainly. But I'd bet that for many, many writers, as long as it's in our hands, we're going to tweak it. Even if it doesn't need tweaking, and/or the tweaking is screwing stuff up. Which is why we've got to let go at some point.

My critique partners have weighed in, and I've made revisions based on their input. As soon as my last couple of beta readers get back to me with their feedback (both positive and much-needed "this part is boring" and "wtf is this word - he wouldn't say that" and "you kind of meshed two sentences here... and neither one makes any sense" comments), it's off to the copy editor.

I should probably launch right into edits of the next book, but I decided I need a short break. According to MS Word, I've been working on Where You Are for an average of ten hours a day, seven days a week since mid-June. (Full disclosure: Some of that time I had the document open when I was actually making coffee or scolding a cat or having a heart-to-heart *cough * gossip session *cough-cough* with one of my kids. However, that 70 hours/week doesn't include any writing or edits I did at work. Wait, what? I don't write at work. Psshh.)

Today, I read a few blog posts, and even commented on a couple. (Gasp!) And tonight, I sat next to my husband and I watched television. (Right after he gave me a Why are you downstairs? Am I dying?? look, and I was all, What? It hasn't been that long... and then I remembered it was pretty much the season finale of Glee.) Also, I can't remember how to work the remote.

I felt a little off-kilter. Like I've just emerged from a cave, and it's really bright out here. I think I'll take a few days to enjoy the scenery before I dive into edits on book three. (I can't stay away from it for long. I love doing it too much! Yeah, sometimes the journey is pretty cool, too.)

September 13, 2011

The Different Drummer

I was disturbed by a thread on Twitter today. The discussion involved Traditional publishing versus Indie publishing. I've seen this type of "Us vs Them" conversation before, but it's always been indie authors speaking out against Big Publishing. I've never read anything where indie writers bashed traditional writers. (I've read attempts to lure them to the dark side, yes, but no bashing.)

Which is why I was saddened to see writers who are pursuing traditional publication saying things such as "they're lazy," "they can't take criticism" and "they can't handle rejection" about those who choose to go Indie. What?

I'm not lazy. I'm not even going to go into that further. This is just a fact.

I take criticism in the usual way - as in, sure, blunt criticism can hurt my feelings, and I have to wade through what to absorb and what to throw out when I get it. But I have trusted critique partners and beta readers, and they give me honest feedback, good and bad. When it's negative, I consider the source, the advice, and whether or not it goes against what I feel is right for the story/ character/ genre/ my own personal beliefs. If I hear the same thing from two or more people, I've been known to make changes even against my own leaning, because I trust the source of the criticism.

That leaves "can't handle rejection." Hmm. It's true, I've bypassed agent rejection. And, I suppose, editor rejection and publishing house rejection, because they'll probably never see my stuff. But I'm not bypassing what I consider to be the big one: possible reader rejection. I can bypass agents all I want, but if I put out a book that never sells, where am I?

Indie authors, like traditional authors, deal with rejection every time someone puts a bad review on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads or a personal blog. No one is immune to having their work called "kinda crap," no matter who they are - and 99.9% of readers don't give indie authors a pass on editing, grammar or style just because we didn't get the benefit of an Big Six editor. Why should they? Readers pay good money to read something interesting, not to coddle the writer.

My opinion of all of this: Bitches, please. There's no reason for authors to fight. Yes, Big Publishing has been a bully, and it's getting some overdue comeuppance. However, I don't believe for a second that it's going down. It will evolve, as it should have been doing all along. And hopefully, with lower book prices (thanks to the digital marketplace), all authors capable of making sales to the general public will benefit.

I support great agents, editors and publishers, and of course the authors who climb the mountain of traditional publishing. But I decided that for me, personally, it wasn't worth my time to pursue. It's not unusual for me to sidestep the usual way of doing things. I'm my own different drummer, after all.

“If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

September 10, 2011

Team Everybody

As I'm approaching the release of my second novel, I'm attempting to keep my eyes on the writing/ editing/ revising parts of this process, rather than the reviews of Between the Lines. Reviews are important, but when your WIP is a sequel, they're also scary as hell -- because readers have vastly different opinions when it comes to what should happen next. Authors want readers to connect with the story, and the last thing we want is to disappoint those readers.

I'm a reader. So of course I get this. I've been deeply disappointed with a couple of sequels/trilogy wrap-ups that I've read recently. In one of these, I chose the wrong Team. (For the record, that's never happened to me before. If there's a Team to be chosen, I always choose the right Team! I guess it was bound to happen at some point. Dammit.) I left the third book saying out loud, "What the HELL just happened?!?" I was pissed. I felt cheated. I'd stuck with that story through three entire books and that guy ended up with the girl?

This leaves me horrified, knowing that I'm going to give that same feeling to more than a few readers. It's inescapable.

I've been asked a few times whether I'm Team Reid or Team Graham. I know everyone would like an answer (and I think I've even given the expected one once or twice), but honestly, I can't choose between them. I created them both. However, that doesn't mean they get equal treatment.

If you have siblings, did you ever ask your parents who was the favorite? Most parents respond with, "I don't have a favorite! I love you equally." (Because that's what they tell you to say in the Parent Manual.) But there's no such thing as loving equally in this situation. I knew this as a kid. I know this as a parent. And boy, do I know this as an author.

I can tell you this much, though: disregarding a few minor walk-on appearances, the third book will only feature one of the main characters from the first two. Yes, one. I don't have a favorite, but if I did... well. I'll let you decide for yourself.

September 8, 2011

Stories to Tell

There were many reasons leading up to my decision to to self-publish, and though one reason was a bit of exasperation with the route through traditional publishing, none of my reasons were an abhorrence of traditional publishing. My credit card bill is peppered with Amazon purchases every month (Kindles, hardbacks, paperbacks - both indie and traditional), and two of my critique partners are currently pursuing the traditional means of publication. I applaud their efforts and assist in whatever way I can. If either or both of them ever get a book on a shelf, I will be so excited you will think I wrote it. Both are extremely talented writers with stories to tell, and I want them to get the chance to tell those stories.

That's what my decision was ultimately about: telling the stories.

Having attempted to do everything I could to avoid being a writer, I finally had a story that wouldn't stop telling itself in my head. Between the Lines came out of that bothersome inner narrative.

As I went about my I'm-not-a-writer life, my oldest was embarking on professional training as an actor. When he got into what is arguably one of the best theatre programs in the world, I had to face the fact that way back in 5th grade, when he begged us to let him audition to be Harry Potter, he really meant it. With this new realization came the notion that hey, he might actually end up doing this "acting thing."

It's not like I'd never noticed Young Hollywood before... it's just that all of a sudden that was the world my kid might end up a part of. Front and center, once I'd started paying really close attention to it, was the Twilight cast. I read an interview with Robert Pattinson where he talked about getting the part of Edward Cullen, and how the Twilight fanbase went insane... in a bad way. He was all excited about getting this role, and all of a sudden girls all over the planet were reviling his looks and his acting ability and all sorts of other stuff they had no notion of. He said he had to make himself stop reading anything with his name in it on the Internet because it was so depressing and hurtful. And I thought Oh my god, that could be Zachary.

I wrote my story as Emma because, well, I'm a girl, and that seemed like the thing to do. Reid came into the whole thing later, when his voice in my head wouldn't shut the hell up. In the beginning, the story forming in my head didn't have a triangle or a tug-of-war. It was just two people, trying to relate on a human level while every single move they made was judged, analyzed and scrutinized. If I hadn't had a son with aspirations of acting, I might have never looked at actors this way.

Zach is in LA currently, as I type, in fact, filming that indie movie I told you guys about. Errbody cross your fingers! (Just in case he hits it big, Emma and I are all set to tell him: Do. Not. Google. Yourself.)