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The Novelist’s Dilemma (is not a dilemma at all, is it?)

images (4)My posts lately have been rawly honest. Opening up my pea-head and displaying not just the cray-cray but the insecurities I have as a novelist is not easy. I’ve always displayed a more positive outlook because I recognize how lucky I am to do this. I’m extremely grateful for what success I’ve had, and for how I am able to write beautiful words and interesting unique characters—how easily the words (not plots) come to me. But sometimes I over-think things—it’s a character flaw. And I’ve been over-thinking this new book—and my entire career as a novelist.

At different points in a novelist’s career there are decisions to be made that affect the novelist. Consider that it takes months or more to complete a novel all the way through from first draft to final-ready-to-be-published. No one wants to spend that much time on any project only to have to scrap it, or to have it fail. Who would like those odds?  Not I, said the Kat.

There arrives the “what next?” question. What seems an innocuous query is fraught with complication. (Now, following here, excuse me for  mentioning my books and linking to them and their sales on Kindle – indulge me, since I don’t do it often but I should!).

tgraces1743500_553542498076585_1943216434_nsweetieLast night I picked up my copy of “Tender Graces” and began to read it as if I didn’t write it (I recently also read “Sweetie”, and such a warm and tender feeling overcame me. The words were rich and full and lush. The character apparent. The work isn’t perfect—in fact, I can see things I’d change about TG;  it was my very first novel, after all. But I felt the novelist’s love for her work, the language, the setting, place, tone, characters. It all came rushing back to me just how much I love what I do. And how lucky I am to be able to do it. The “Virginia Kate Sagas” (TG, Secret Graces & Family Graces – SG & FG are on sale for under $5 on Kindle, y’all, Sweetie for under $6) and Sweetie are examples of a writer who created out of nothing Secret%20Graces%202012%20-%20screenbut love for this writing life—it shows, and the readers felt it, too—I receive more mail on the Virginia Kate books & Sweetie than any other–I think they get the better reviews, too. Not perfection, but sincerity and truth. I believe in this author. I trust this author. The characters come alive and appear as apparitions in the room.1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_n

With the exception of one of my novels—The Lighting Charmer (and to some extent even that book), which is on sale for .99 cents on Kindle! and sorry for the touting — my published books were written in one way: I sat down and followed my character to see what she, or he, would do. I didn’t think about plots or outlines or “what I should do;” I just wrote. With abandon. Without fear. With love. With hope. These images of my book covers you see here?: I did this. I wrote these books. *Takes a moment to be filled with happy gratitude* family_graces_-_screen

Then the “novelist’s dilemma” smacked me stupid – should I write what I love; how it comes naturally to me? Or should I write what I hope will be more popular? Before you say “don’t fix what ain’t broke—write what you love!” Understand that the novelist profession is not only from the guts of us as artists, but it is also a business. This is not a hobby for me. I count on this as income. I count on this to help pay bills. And that’s where the rubber skids crazily on the road. Because what I love to write, what comes naturally to me, is not “Popular Fiction” that consistently time and again tears up Amazon rankings in the top 100 (though Tender Graces, Sweetie, and yes, even The Lightning Charmer were Amazon Best-Sellers. TG & Sweetie made it to top 100. TG was number 1 on Amazon paid list – The Help was number 2: haw! Yeah, I’ve had my moments!)

someone sent me this screenshot - wish I had one of TG & Sweetie!

someone sent me this screenshot – wish I had one of TG & Sweetie! So-Why am I whining? huh. Stop it, Kat

I fiercely love Virginia Kate and those cast of characters; I adore Sweetie & Melissa. I love Ayron & Laura in Lightning Charmer and I still think that’s my best attempt at a romancy-supernatural-mountain people kind of novel—I think that book would have been even better had I let myself “go” and wrote with the same abandon as I did with my previous novels, warts and all; imperfection and all. Those characters interested me, and still do. They captured my attention and my imagination. Still do.

I was in love. I was so very grateful. What happened to that? I can bet many novelists/authors out there can answer that question with a wry twist to their mouths.

So, the novelist’s dilemma: write what you love and let the money chips fall where they may, or, try to write something “Popular” and . . . and . . . be an unhappy novelist! One who isn’t writing very much. One who writes sad discombobulated blog posts about how she is not writing and feels uninspired.

If a novelist isn’t writing, then what’s the point? If the novelist is unhappy and discombobulated, then she must find out why and remedy it. If the novelist wants to be loved by the masses, then she best not be a novelist. And if Ego is involved—oh, Ego is a terrible snarling drool-faced monster! Kick Ego out the writing room door, y’all—kick it HARD until it never returns.

The answer is clearing the cobwebs in my wonky brain. The path I choose from the paths before me that fork off in fifty-galleven directions is—drum roll, please—the one that makes me happy. Duh. The one that may (or may not!) mean failure in my bank account, but always success in my heart account. As for some “popular” attention and sales? Well, there’s always a chance that will again come. Right? Yes! I’m still alive! I’m still a gifted writer! I can still write write write as much as and as long as I want to.

I’m a woman in her 50s. I’ve paid my life dues. I can bloody well do what the hell I want to. *Fist Pump*

When I am on my “deathbed,” believe me, I won’t be sorry that I didn’t write a huge spectacular best-seller, I will be sorry that I gave up the writing just because I couldn’t write a huge spectacular best seller. Huh. Well now.

Consider: when we are not true to ourselves. When we do not do what we know in our hearts and gizzards is the Right Thing (for us). When we look outward to other novelists’ successes. When we keep checking our bank account to see how much money we have. These things change us, changes the way we think about the writing.

I need an ass-whupin if I don't get back to work!

I need an ass-whoopin if I don’t get back to work!

And the writing will suffer right along with the novelist. The heart is not pierced with love. Something is missing—and it will be apparent to the reader. Oh yes, it will.

So what if I just take this new book and turn it over on its end and shake out its pockets and take a look at what falls out? The lint along with the pocket change and interesting rocks and bones and a leaf and something magical and a supernatural glowy thing and interesting odds and ends and whatnotalls. What if I followed the character around to see what she’s up to, and she’s up to something believe you me. What if I followed to see what her magic is? How it is affecting the town? Why some of the town is suspicious of her? What about that man in the shop: what’s he up to, or is he only in love with her? What are those “Memory Vases?” What is she doing with the vial of blood or the strand of hair—why is she mixing that into her magic paints? What’s she up to? What’s her story? Let me follow her around until I find out! “Black Moon Cove” . . . why is that bomping me upside my head as a “working title” . . . ?

What if I wrote how I did when I was happy with love and excitement?

What if the novelist’s dilemma is really not a dilemma at all? What if we are in control of our own writing lives? Well, dang me!

Yeah. What if?

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Touty shout out of the day (and in the future, I’ll be shouting out lots of people here—not just writers):

download71ebbf88305ed9b9af826593ca46d111Writer Unboxed. A place where writers, editors, agents, and all things writing and writing related are discussed. Go visit. See for yourself. They’re amazingly awesome.

Reviews are none of my business. They are the reader’s business, and their right. My readers can do no wrong.

photoAuthor writes book. Book is published. Book is read. Book is reviewed. Author reads reviews. Author is happy to see some great reviews. Author is devastated to see the bad reviews. Author begins to stew on those bad reviews. Author cannot think of anything but those bad reviews.

In the extreme, the author may comment back to the reader, telling her just how wrong she is to feel the way she feels about the book. Another author quietly sits, reading and re-reading the bad review—looking for a message, a theme, something-anything- that will tell them just where they went wrong and how they can fix it so they never have to feel this way again. And there is the author who laments on social networking how much a review has hurt him, made him feel small, made him question what he is doing and why, and will everyone hurry over and write a good review, and maybe even tell the bad reviewer how they suck for their opinion?–>(Oh, please do not do this, author!)

Author begins to lose sight of just how much it is really none of the author’s business what someone writes about their personal experiences of reading a book.

51dZqZYheqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I stopped reading reviews a long time ago—right after my first book (Tender Graces) came out. Oh, I was reveling in the great 5-star reviews! I was feeling on top of the world when suddenly there amongst those 5-star reviews appeared a 2-star. Oomph! Kicked in the stomach feeling, a sickening crash—dark clouds amass, the world is coming to an end! Or wait a minute. Why would I not expect that to happen? Of course it must happen! I made a decision right there not to read that review or any other future reviews, good or bad, hightailed it out of Amazon, and never looked back.

Because it’s none of my business what a reader writes in a review of my book.

I went back to work. With each new book, I kept my promise to myself not to read reviews, and it has served me well. Kept my sanity—well, most of it. Being an author isn’t the easiest thing as it is—we worry about a lot of Stuff. A whole lot of Stuff. Massive amounts of not so crazy along with really stunningly crazy Stuff. Any Stuff that I can toss out of my worry barrel (I started to write “jar” but we all know it’s a gigantic barrel) is one fewer thing to obsess over. Right? Right! Especially if it is not in my control.

If it is not in our control, why are we still trying to control the uncontrollable?

Some will say we authors must read reviews to learn something about ourselves and our books, but I personally disagree. The review is not for the writer, bmarm bakeryut instead for the reader. If a book is good it will have good reviews, and it will have bad reviews. It will be hated by some readers and it will be loved by others. But guess what? If a book is badly written it will have good reviews and it will have bad reviews. It will be loved and it will be hated. One reader’s filet mignon is another reader’s can of dog food. We cannot all have the same tastes and likes and dislikes. Opinions are what make this world so interesting. Opinions and variations of character and thought and being sparks discussion and lively debate. It’s why there are so many books out there in so many different genres or even the same genre but with different stories and characters and thought and action and place and time and circumstance–so many people with so many different brains to stimulate to please or not to please, whatever the case may be.

We authors need to get out of the way of the readers’ opinions.

Really, an author who cannot handle the really bad review should never go look. It’s personal, but not Personal in the way some authors may experience it. It’s personal to the reader and how the book makes her feel, or how the book makes him experience what is happening in that created world.

The review has nothing to do with Me The Author.

Me The Author is not important. We may think we are, but we are not important at all. When a reader reads our words, they should not be thinking of the author. When they put down the book, then perhaps we come to their mind, we hope fondly; yet, even then, we are an amalgam of the words and characters and language and world we created, along with what the reader imagines us to be. We are not who we think we are to the reader, and that can be a beautiful thing to consider, no matter the outcome. We have reached out and touched another living being, even if they skewer us and grill us to a crusted crisp.

DSC09985My readers can do no wrong.

Readers do not recognize their power—they don’t realize how much we authors really do want to hear from them when they are touched by or enjoy our work. However, if a reader does not like one (or more) of my books, or maybe even hates hates HATES my work, why would I be angry with that reader? They have a right to love or not to love or even to detest my work. They have a right to kiss my book and lovingly set it in a place of honor on their bookshelf, or beside their bed where they can read it again and maybe again.  And, yes,  they have a right to throw my book across the room and scream that it is the biggest pile of dogshit they’ve ever read in their entire lives and they’ll never pick up another of my books again!

When I write a book, my thoughts are on my reader—will she enjoy it? Will he love my words? Will they be swept away by my characters’ stories? I want to please my reader. I want to make them happy. I want them to love me, because I love them. But I can’t write to please everyone—you do know that is impossible, right? To please everyone? Sure, some books are written that go on to make a gazillion bucks, but go to Amazon and look up a very popular book that’s making millions and there you will find readers who think that book sucks, and sucks so bad that they poured gasoline on it and set it on fire then pee’d on it to stop the flames and then stomped on it with dog-crap covered boots then swept up the nasty pile and buried it fifty feet underground where they never have to be reminded how they’ll never get the time back they wasted on that book!

I will always write with all my heart, everything I have, give readers all I got. I will send out my words and hope for the best. It is my gift to my readers. It is a hope to reach other readers. And no matter how they receive that gift, it is their right to express themselves however they want to without my interference.

It is wrong wrong wrong to make readers feel bad for their opinion.

It is not cool at all to correct them for their “wrongness.” It is uncool to try to sway the reader to change their mind and thus change their review. It super uncool to make them feel guilty enough to take down the review. It is super duper uncool and demeaning to the author profession to tell other readers to go defend that author and their work and make sure to tell that bad reviewer how they mightily suck–ATTACK!—-> (No no no do not do this, Author, please do not).

Our characters and words are no longer all ours once we send them out into the world—they are then everyone else’s. And that means sometimes the characters and words will be cherished and loved, and sometimes they will not and will not so bad that there are scorch marks left on the pages.

Welp, suck it up, Author, or get out of the way. 

DSC_0174I get out of the way. I’ve never had readers send me “bad” mail. I’ve never had any reader treat me terribly. I’ve never been attacked by readers. I’ve had very positive experiences. Perhaps there are some reviews on my books that spit in my eye, but why would I care to know about it? That reader will likely not read me again and will find someone else who more fits them. I cannot capture everyone in my literary net and force them or guilt them into loving me. And I should not morph myself into some kind of Every Reader Pleaser.

So you readers out there—I adore you. No matter what. You can do no wrong. Even if you throw my book out the window and vow never to read my words again, you are still required–you are needed–you are wanted. And for those of you who have loved and then hated and then loved me again—thanks for sticking around! For those of you, dear readers, who love all of my work: Why, thank you! I love you, too, and I’m sure I’ll disappoint you at some point—ha! But it won’t be because I give up–I promise to do my very very honest honorable hard-working sincerest best, and that’s all I can do.

So, readers—go on out there and write your reviews! Write your best; write your worst! Just keep reading us. Just keep trying us out. Just keep us alive with your attention. Without you, readers, we are Nothing. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. That’s the truth. You will never do any wrong. The power is in your hands. I hope you will use it wisely and well. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to work and stay out of your way.

Galaxy of Disappointed Disillusionment: you were in love with the writing once . . . .

galaxy nexus wallpaper-WmOIYou were in love with the writing once. A kind of love that churns the belly. The kind of love that wraps around you warm and alive and pulsing. Trusting kind of love. And you think that love will never leave you, nor would you ever leave it.  You think it will be as strong and lively as it is in the beginning of all that began all the way to the what should never ever end because it’s too beautiful to die. Too perfect.

But things begin to change. Subtly at first. Insidiously. Oh, it’s little things here and there that don’t mean much—at least that’s what you tell yourself. But all those tiny things begin to pack together, sticky and mean, tightly, balling up hard and fast, until there before you is what you tell yourself is only a sweet marble you think isn’t so bad—it’ll still fit into your pocket! You can carry it around and won’t feel the weight of it at all. But it grows. And you can’t carry it around anymore. It first settles in the room you always wrote in, but it soon pushes out into the hallway, and into the bedroom, and the kitchen, and the living room, and the entire house becomes filled with it—it pushes against you, insistent to be noticed. It is a Moon,  a Neptune, an entire galaxy right outside your mind’s window. It groans with its own weight.

DSC09985Still, you think you can live with it. You think you can soldier on. You think that everything will be okay if only This Thing would happen, or That Thing will occur. “If Only” becomes raggedy with your use of it, what with your rolling the If Onlies around in your head until they are barely recognizable. Still. You loved! It all had meaning! Didn’t you? Didn’t it? Doubt sets in. Were you loved back? Maybe it was only an altered state of being that led you down into the most pleasurable of senses. Why, before the Galaxy of Disappointed Disillusionment, you’d even allowed yourself to become a little arrogant. Held your head a little higher—after all, you were in The Club. That Club with those heavy heavy gates—the ones that swing open randomly and without sentimentality. You often imagined the gates closing behind you, yet this time you are pushed back to the outside.

You want out anyway, you say. You want out and you don’t know when, or if, you’ll return. You want your space. You want time to think. You want to do other things. Find yourself, you say, wincing at the cliche. You’ll do: Fun things. Other necessary things. Things that don’t require pushing through that galaxy of hard knotted failings and failures and fails.

You soon forget (you say emphatically) what drew you to that love. You don’t remember (you think most apparently) the feeling of joy you had just by opening your laptop and your mind—flutter flutter went the beautiful creation butterflies—how lovely they were! Oh how you hate them now! Hate them!

The heart of you is crushing under the weight of the groaning Galaxy.

Who cares?, you say. I don’t!, you say. And you trippity trip about, laughing gaily on the outside, while on the inside you are slowly terribly dying. The Galaxy suffocates.

imagesOne day, you are alone. Perhaps walking in the woods, or down an aisle at the grocery store, or driving your car aimlessly, or most obviously of course staring at the darkened night ceiling. And a blinding light explodes while millions of hard knotted disappointments and disillusions Supernova. You are blinded for seventy-two hours; burned down to the bone for seventy-two more.

Then the quiet talks to you. You rise, walk through the house, glowing embers dying and ashes flying. Something gives way. A loosening.

You run then, opening windows and doors until every window and every door is wide, and out and out and out on a brilliant wind goes the ashes, and all that is left is You and You.

Something stirs. Something old and ancient. Something you recognize.

Fingers to keys. A letter appears. Another. Another. A word. A sentence. A paragraph. A page. Five pages, sixty pages, one hundred pages plus three.

Love.

Sometimes, you say, all else must be burned away so your new skin can feel anew.

Screen+Shot+2014-02-25+at+12.17.37+PMYour fingertips are alive. Push push push on the keys. It is like music.

You recognize, you say, that you never loved fully before but only with conditions. Love must Be, you say. It is its own and no other.

You say: each hard knot of disappointment must be kneaded and chewed and swallowed and digested and then shat out and flushed away.

A grand love. A passionate love. A true and honest love.

It finds you, grabs you by the beating heart and squeezes the life into you.

Fingers on the keys. Push. Push. Letter by word by paragraph by page.  Five, six, seven, eight, open up the heavy gates.

(. . . and still, as you push the keys, the if onlies and the what ifs and the why can’ts ind the little nooks and crannies of you and settle in. You push the keys and try not to notice the hard knot you couldn’t swallow as it falls to the ground and quivers.)

Thoughts in a writer’s peaheaded brain at 1:30 and change

10417600_10152480426884176_6460205242015283935_nOnce again, I awoke at the magical hour of one thirty plus change. I’ve had some alarming insane writer thoughts, like, “Is one-thirty going to mean something pivotal? like the hour I am to die one day?” Yes, I think things like this. Same as I used to look over at the clock and it would “always” be eleven:eleven, 11:11. I’d think, “Oh no! Why do I keep looking at the clock and it is 11:11, surely disaster is going to happen at 11:11!” Now, never mind that I could look at a clock fifty times a day and it is only 11:11 twice, but!, those four one’s just kept jumping out at me. So, dear readers, I’m sure I awake at other times than one thirty and change; however, I do not get up and look at the clock. So there.

So, I’m awake and lying there (after going to the bathroom and looking at the clock and wandering in the living room and looking out the window, and wandering into the next room and looking out that window) and I thought how writers (or at least this one) can take any little thing and write an entire damn page out of it. You noticed, huh? Well, dang. I answered myself in my head, “So, like what kinds of any little things do you mean?”

And I answered myself back, “Like little things. You know, insignificant nothings and I turn them into significant somethings.”

Myself said, “Oh, you mean, like for instance, peas.”

“Yes, that’s a good one, peas. Those green peas.”

“So, what about peas?”

“Well, peas are pretty boring; I’m not sure what I’ll come up with.”

“I’m sure you’ll find something, since you are, supposedly, awkwardly, maybely, fortuitously, unfortunately, *snicker* a genius writer *snicker*”

My other self is a gawdamned smart ass.

Anyway, I suddenly had an image of very green peas on a bright white plate. They are sitting there waiting to be eaten by a large bald man. (I just added the large bald man, though I didn’t picture him at one-thirty and change. He just appeared this moment! He’s pretty big and mean looking, so I’ll leave him here.) So, the very green peas on the bright white plate are there, waiting to be consumed by Large Bald Man.

this is a Charlie Brown pea-head

this is a Charlie Brown pea-head

One of the peas (and I swear this is exactly what I was thinking last night other than the large bald man who showed up unexpectedly just now), one of the peas decides it does not want to be eaten. It quivers on the plate, because it all of a sudden decides that being scooped up by a fork, shoved in a nasty moist mouth, chewed, verily I say, masticated to with an inch of its green, with hard teeth until it is a nasty green pulpy mess of gunk, and swallowed down the tube, and into the stomach, where the acid and digestive tract juices will render it even more unrecognizable from its cute round shape, then down it goes, still aware that it was just a moment ago still a cute round pea, and horrified that it is now a disgusting mess, it makes its way into the small and large intestines, along with other extremely disgusting gunk, and is deposited into the toilet, where it will be flushed to more unworthy places.

So, that one pea quivering on the plate, rolls and jumps off the plate, onto the table, and then onto the floor, where it cries out “I’m free! I’m free!”

That is where my thoughts of the very green peas on the bright white plate ended. I was then very tired and wanted to sleep without thinking about peas. I thought maybe I was insane and should be knocked unconscious before I did any more harm to my psyche. So, I wandered around the house again, and wrote on an envelope “Green Pea. Digestive Tract. Table.” And, thus satisfied I would remember things not worth remembering, I went back to bed.

photoYou may be wondering what happened to the little pea that could? Maybe it rolled out the door and is hiding in the woods? or maybe a fox ate it? No, no one but the big bald dude likes peas. What do YOU think happened to that sweet pea? I’d like to know myself. But, it’s time to finish this cup of coffee, y’all. *Kat trails off . . . .* Dang.

 

What if writing/publishing were like a “traditional job” . . . ?

DSC_0174If we were to think about our writing life, and publishing life, in the way of a “traditional job,” we may consider things quite differently. You interview and you then “sit by the phone and wait for it to ring” (most things are done online now, but you get the idea), sweating, hoping. Phone rings—you didn’t get the job—DANG IT ALL TO HELLVITICA! That happens again, and again, until finally that phone rings and the answer is Yes! The job is yours! WHOOOP-WHOOOOP! You put on your work clothes and—

I’m set! I’m in the money!

The company offers you “upfront” money. That money will take care of expenses and such until you show them how successful you will be and how much money you will make them, or how much output you provide to make yourself a worthwhile risk. They’ll hold back your salary until you work enough to make up that upfront money. If you work for a huge company and they have reason to believe you’ll make them lots of moola, your advance could be Big. But, if like most of us pea-headed littlers you are more of a risk, advances aren’t going to be big, and some “companies” do not pay advances at all.

I receive advances on my books that are manageable enough to “earn back” quickly. You have to “pay back” that advance—meaning, you have to sell enough books to cover the advance before you begin making royalties. Dream big, but know the realities, y’allses.
DSC_0175I’m going to buy a car and a house and ten gallons of gelato from my trip to Italy. Zippity do dah! Zippity Ay!

Better check your salary again, y’aaaawwwwl! Whether big business or small, the money the company takes in and doles out—including your salary—has to go many different places. Imagine Good Ole Bubba’s Tools & Supplies. Bubba the owner hires you to make tools, and when you make those tools, he sells them. From that money he has to pay rent or mortgage on his building, utilities and other expenses; he has to pay taxes, insurance; he has to buy inventory; he has to pay all of his employees; he has to pay himself. If you provide Bubba with a service, you are only a part of the entire operation of who has to be paid. The money has to be spread around to keep the business afloat.
So, your book is published—print, e-book, ethereal transcription on a moonbeam. Everyone involved receives their cut. Industry standard royalty rate ranges, give or take percentages based on that particular contract, are from around 6 to 15 percent for paperback/hardback and 25 to 40 percent on ebook. So, let’s suppose you earn 10% royalty on each print book you sell, and your book sells for $15.00: 10% of $15.00 = $1.50 per book is your cut—well, not exactly, as you must pay taxes, and “pay back” any expenses you incurred (if any), and for those of you with an agent, take 15% more off the top of that $1.50 before you do anything else. Lawdy be in a bucket!

Takes a whole lotta books to make a living off that, doesn’t it, my beauties? Now, e-books earn a better royalty, and you can plug in the numbers yourself—still, tain’t a goldmine lessen you become a Kindle Millionaire or sumpin’—be realistic about your salary. Royalties can be really good one royalty period and not so good another royalty period. I have had royalties for a year that weren’t as much as just one royalty check earned off the sales of a book promotion. It’s a stressful way to make a living if you are on one income, and finding another income source is most likely a reality.

Dream big, but temper it with the certainties of just how difficult it is to make a good living being an author.

dsc04492My book will be reviewed by: Magazines, Oprah’s Book Club, New York Times Books, et cetera.

You’ve been working hard. You’ve put in your time and then some. You walk by The Big Boss’s office every so often, showing him/her your determined face, your sincere attitude, the nights you’ve stayed late, the weekends you’ve worked, the family time you’ve sacrificed. You’ve gone to meetings and didn’t even fall asleep-haw!—okay, once, but no one was the wiser.

You’ve done everything you can think of to be noticed by The Big Boss. And, well, he/she just doesn’t notice you. He/She has so many other employees who are doing the same thing, and some of them are backed by People who are able to slip into Big Boss’s office and put in a good word, or, some other employee just happens to be in the elevator with The Big Boss when she/he’s in a good mood, or when he/she just happens to be looking for that particular person’s smile or nod or look or good morning. Or somehow, an employee has some buzz going on a project he/she did and it develops legs and ruuuuuuuuuns.

There’s a lot of competition out there. And lotso times, the Big 5 (I believe it’s still five now) published authors garner the most attention, or the authors who’ve already had best sellers or are gaining attention for some other reason, et cetera-oony. It’s a saturated business, folkses. It’s a tough business. The Big Boss is busy, and important, and frankly, doesn’t have time to come to know every little employee out there—no matter how sincere or hardworking, and even, no matter how lovely and captivating and beautiful your work is. Yup. Dang.

My book will be in many bookstores across the land.

Your proposal is done. You’ve worked hard on the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account. It’s all done up in a nice folder, and you are proud of it. Now time to get it to the right hands. There’s two-hundred offices in the building; heck, if you could get even one-hundred or so Boss Peoples to look at your proposal, why, even that would be great; better to have all two-hundred, but, you’ll settle for half. You take your shiny proposal for the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account and make a hundred-fifty copies. You put them on your desk and wait. One person comes by—it’s Ms. Office Fifteen. She’s been a casual acquaintance and you bought her coffee one day. She takes a proposal, then because she likes you, she takes three more.  HOT DAMN! You are on your way! Whooooop Whooooop! Four proposals! The other hundred-forty-six sit. La la la tee dah. *check watch* *tap fingers* *tap toes* *sob a little*

You make the rounds of a few offices: “Will you take my Slim Slamp Piddly Lam account proposal?” And a couple take one, but it ends up under a big stack of other proposals.

Some shake their heads no. They have enough proposals, no more space. You realize you just don’t have time or funds or energy to go to all hundred-forty-six offices, so you place your Slim Slam Piddly Lam account proposals on your desk, again, and hope word will get around—ungh ungh. Your supervisor who works with you on accounts is helping, too, taking half of those proposals and sending out word, newsletters, samples, et cetera. A few more proposals are placed, but nowhere near what you thought.

The truth is: sometimes you and your publishers (agent/editors/publicists, whomever) have to practically beg a bookstore to stock your book—until they tire of begging and stop—even if you are traditionally published by a viable press. Bookstores have limited space and they’re going to stock the “bigger names” –that means bigger in publishers and in authors.

Sadly but true, you can be a champion of brick and mortar bookstores, but when you approach them, they may or may not care. They may or may not stock your book. They may stock one just to be nice. Since you can’t conceivably contact every bookstore there is, there’s no way to have your book noticed by many bookstores—for them, it’s about their budget, and sentimentality usually goes one way: the author may be sentimental about having their books in brick and mortar bookstores but the sentimentality is often not returned—it’s a hard cold world out there in this book business. Make friends with your local bookstore owners and you probably will have success there, at least.

This is why Amazon and Nook and other e-readers have become important to authors—authors feel “heard” and authors are able to see their books on “shelves.” And author’s books are more likely to be read.

Aw, shoot

Aw, shoot

Once I have one book published, I am assured to have more published.

You landed the Shots a Lot account! Oh Happy Days are Near Again! Surely now the next couple of accounts will be Yours! You can kick back and relax now. Or . . . not. Well, dang it all to Dang Town!

With each book, you (or if you have an agent, the agent) still need to convince your publisher/publishing editor to take on your book. Even if the last book was successful. Now, granted, if you’ve had success with your first book or books, the chances are higher; however, you still need to present the book and have it approved.

This means: just as with the first time, you’ll write your novel without knowing whether you will have it published and without knowing whether all your work will be realized in print/e-book. You write regardless of the outcome. You write never knowing where it will take you, or if you will be published, if you will ever make a dime, or if you will only make a dime.

So my lovelies, tell me:
How many jobs would you take knowing these kinds of odds? How many jobs would you take making an unknown salary? How many jobs would you take where you could work your arse off for weeks, months, a year, or more, and Maybe MAYBE be paid, and maybe not? Would you take that job?

You have to love this business and have a crazy amount of faith and hope and daring.

 highway of writing pensI want this crazy-arse roller coaster job—do you?

(pardon this reprint of an earlier post – I have a danged ole Texas cold! I rarely was sick in the mountains, but here? Dang!)

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Touty Plug of the day: (I’m really happy with how the covers to these little sweet stories turned out – beautiful water colors).

three set_edited-best_edited-1

Story Snacks” through “Howling Wolf Press

On your lunch break? Sitting bored in a waiting room? Need just one little simple story before you go to sleep? Shortie short stories are satisfying, and can be read quickly in one little spark of time. Download one of Kathryn Magendie’s very short stories, between 3,000 and 6,000 words, and gobble them up in one gulp—a nice little story-snack.

You are mine and I am yours, dear Reader: how I love you.

002What shall I do with my gift? For I am not quite sure what direction I want to take with a new novel. Unfinished work sits in my computer. For I imploded my life over a year ago–I exploded it–I ripped it asunder–I left my marriage and my life on the mountain. I pummeled myself stupid with one decision after another until I sat dazed for months. Now, now I am ready again.

But I hesitate. Which one? Or a new one? “Listen to your heart, Kathryn,” the cliched voice inside me rages.

Once, years back, I printed out my novel and held its heaviness in my hands, and as I read, I loved Virginia Kate all over again, but I wondered if there were more I could do to her: make her shorter, tighter, smaller, for I’m told readers have a short attention span now and expect things to be more dramatic, to move faster, to have more and more tension and action and –is this you, reader? Are you really like that? Where you expect things to be fed to you so fast, crammed down your throat, where you expect quick-reading works that can be gulped down like fast food, or, do you sometimes enjoy the dinner at a quiet nice restaurant, where each course is served to you gently and with full attention, each course a delicate taste, but with undertones of spice and heat and with the hint of something dramatic to come. Each course comes just a moment after you’ve finished the last one, and in that moment, you savor what you have just completed.

I am smiling at you, smiling with imagining you reading my words and how you would think this is something different, yet something quite familiar that you are reading. Something to take to the back porch, to the beach, to a rocking chair.

I have so much to tell you all, dear readers! So much! My mind won’t be still and there are times when I want to hush it up, to tell my thoughts to stop its mad rushing about! When I think I shall go insane with all the words to tell you.

How do I reach you all? I could put my novels away and concentrate on other things to show you, and then one day, when I am ready, I will come to you, and you will not forget me. I could write what isn’t in my heart to capture the market and perhaps place much needed funds in my bank. But I hesitate. For when I tried that before, it felt so wrong, so alien, so rubbery.

213I have a restless mind. I have a mind full of images — bones of dogs attached to leashes while the old man calls to me to write him, for he is lost, and he needs me to find him, and there is a boy, a dark-haired boy who parts the bushes, parts the thistles, and sees the bones, and a voice comes to him and says, “I am near, too, come find me . . . .”

And there–a group of women, all over sixty, crossing the street, and two of them help one who is weak weaker weakest, while three more are a bit ahead, chatting about anything but their youth, because they do not care about those days any longer, they have stories, so many stories to tell, and as I watch them cross the street, I hear their words, and I hear the inner words of their story and I must tell it! Words slam into me, and I take them in, bam bam bam bam bam slam.

And there is the woman, who wakes up beside her husband, and goes to the bathroom, and as she relieves herself, she stares at the stain of the night’s sex on her panties, and sighs, gets up, washes her hands, washes her faces (yes, faces), and tries not to look in the mirror, but she does, accidentally she looks into the woman in the mirror, and all the days of her life slam into her, and she pushes back her hair, and listens to the loud breathing of her husband, and suddenly, suddenly, unexpectedly, the world tilts and rearranges and she becomes the woman she was meant to be. I think about this woman, and she thinks about me – for she knows I will have to write her story and she waits, staring into that mirror, turning away from that mirror, out of the bathroom, down the hall, out the front door, down the sidewalk, her feet slapping against the cement–where is she going?! I have to find out! Words. Images. Ideas. Characters.

Whispers – is that the wind, or a character speaking to me? Last night, my legs were restless under the covers as I held a book of short stories. I opened it, and read and enjoyed and wondered about the author, what they were doing and thinking and if they knew how beautiful they are, and that at that very moment, I was reading their words and they’d never know me, never know I smiled, and then closed the book with satisfaction, turned out the light, and dreamed of my own words on the page. Deam. Dreamer. Dreamest.

008 I will never again be the same because you, dear readers, have touched me and read me and come to know me through my books. I can never go back to how I was in the days before this happened. I am yours now. I have no choice but to give you more of me. For anything less feels wrong and empty. My life wrong and empty without the words and language. I love this writing, my characters, the idea and reality of you all holding my words and loving my characters, as much as I love my arm, my leg, my tiniest of baby toes.

Stay with me. For I need you.

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51dZqZYheqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Touty plug of the day. My very first published book. Tender Graces, the first in the trilogy. Where I introduce to you my beloved Virginia Kate. It is one of my most popular books, with only Sweetie being just as popular.

Stop! Five “don’ts” when you are feeling vulnerable (and five “do’s”):

All righty then. From the list in the “never say never” post below:

  1. writer's blodkaDon’t drink too much. Okay, allow yourself that one night where you slug down some vodka and dance around the living room to techno trance (for the first 30 minutes) before feeling  sorry for yourself and throwing a mug against a tree and railing against your fates and . . .  and then just don’t . . . don’t allow yourself to drink yourself into a stupor where you curl into a ball in a chair and sob and fall asleep and wake up with your mouth dry and your pea-headed brain full of cotton and then unsteadily climb into your bed where you wake the next day feeling like crap on a stick that’s been beaten against a tree. Don’t. Find another way to cope. For that alcohol habit is not one you want to find yourself embedded in. No scenario has you drinking too much and then going, “Sure am glad I did that! I feel great now! All my problems are SOLVED!” Yeah  . . . no. And especially do not drink and text . . . .
  2. Don’t text whiny self-indulgent messages to anyone but your most trusted BFF (or post Facebook updates). No one wants to read that shit. No one wants to see your dark depressed underbelly. Believe me dangity do, that if you DO text/message/FB update with your whiny ramblings, you will forever regret it. Yes you will. YES YOU WILL! Do whatever is necessary not to bare your darkened squishy brain ramblings to anyone other than that trusted bestie. Later, when you are back to your strong kickass self, you will rather that you had not let people see a side of you that you’d have rather not—you will forever wonder if they now see you differently and not in a completely positive self-respecting I know my worth way. Remember, once again: NO ONE wants to read that shit—not even your BFF, but the contract of BFF’dom says they have to, so they have to suck it up. Only them, and you’d do the same for your BFF.
  3. well, sheee'it

    well, sheee’it

    Don’t further isolate yourself by further isolating yourself. Give yourself a little time–a week? two? three? four? oh oh-five? six? oops . . . seven? erk . . .  to push all the nasties out of your system, and then it’s time to stop wallowing. Get out with friends. Go for a drive. Invite someone(s) over. Workout. Smile at people. Talk to people. Be aware of your surroundings and remember where you once found joy. Remember that things are not all BAD, just different, and if there is some BAD, then remember it will not last forever unless you give the bad POWER—don’t give away your power. Find excitement in that different—isn’t this what you wanted? *Did you think this would be easy?*

  4. However, pertaining to Number 3, don’t spend time with people you don’t give a rat’s big ole ass about or who don’t give a rat’s big old heiny about you, just so you won’t feel alone. Self-Worth! Say it to yourself, in your head and then aloud: I know my worth! I am worthy! Look about your psyche-house until you find your self-worth and self-respect – are they under the bed, all dusty and rusty? Pull them out, dust them off, and let them back onto your life. Say it with me: I am worthy; I know my worth. You do not NEED people or company or that “friend” or that man or that woman or that crowd—be with the ones who give you joy, or are fun to be with/around, or you complement each other’s psyches or whatever. “I am worthy; I know my worth.”
  5. *I Kiss You*

    *I Kiss You*

    Beating yourself up? Don’t. Stop it. Yes, even if you’ve done the above. Give yourself a big fat break for being human. Beating yourself up will only make things worse. Even if you are the one who made the decision to dive into dark terrifying unknowns, who cut ties, who said, “I do not want this anymore,” why are you punishing yourself?  Why are you saying, “Oh well, this is what I get. This is what I deserve for shaking things up.” Nope. Not reality. Be your own BFF for a while. Use this quiet solitude time to discover just what kinds of guts you have. Recognize how you are doing exactly what you wanted and needed and considered for quite some time—and did you really think it was going to be easy? Hell no! Not much worth doing and having and obtaining ever comes “Easy.” Be kind to yourself. Love yourself. Give yourself some credit for Going For It, whatever that is, despite the initial feelings of grief and terror and stark-raving-madness.

DO!

  1. Do find gratitude—every day. Every morning take a deep breath and consider just what you are grateful for. And throughout the day, remind yourself what you are grateful for! Don’t forget to let out that breath. Ha.
  2. flexibility - yeah, it helps . . . uh huh

    exercise outdoors when you can

    Do get out and breathe in some fresh air; and definitely get some exercise. Your body and your brain will love you for it, and you will feel GREAT. I promise you this. If you have never exercised, then take a simple walk, and then another, and then another, and one after that, and another after that, and feel your body grow strong and your brain feel centered.

  3. Do live in the NOW, not some future. Remind yourself throughout the day to calm the voices in your head, stop for a moment, and BE IN THE NOW. What scents are surrounding you? How does your skin feel when you touch it? How do your lungs feel as you fill them with air? Your feet as they connect to the ground? Find the NOW, the present, this very moment in time, and savor it. The future will come soon enough and it’s rarely exactly how you envisioned it.
  4. Do reach out to your BFF(s) and your family. You can allow yourself a few whiny self-indulgent messages to the BFF (and maybe, MAYBE a trusted close family member), but after that, work with your besties and/or family on solutions to how you can transition from Old Life to New Life. There will have to be some grieving of the old life, even if you were ready to move on.  So . . . .
  5. photoDo allow yourself to grieve. If you don’t, then you are only denying what was once an important part of your life, no matter whether it wasn’t all healthy or perfect or wonderful or enlightened, it was still YOUR LIFE. Grieve the old as you step into the new.

 

A Whole Sackful of Crazy-let it out a bit of a time, Kat, and they'be be none the wiser -hahahahahahahaahahahhaNow. Go kickass.

The phrase “I will never . . . .” is a coiled snake ready to bite us on our asses

Snake_strike_coiled_HIHow many times have you used that phrase only to have it come back later and bite the shit out of your ass? Now, that doesn’t mean the biting isn’t going to be a good thing—maybe you needed to be bit on your ass to propel you in to some kind of motion. Maybe you’ve been stagnant, bored but not recognizing that, or meandering around aimlessly, or unhappy with a situation but in denial.

007Maybe you said “never” with the fever and fervor of THIS WILL NEVER EVER CHANGE and have just been bitten on the ass and aren’t sure if that bite will propel you towards something better, or just as good, or towards—THE SCARYASS UNKNOWN! *cue dramatic thunderous slightly dark music*

Or perhaps, my friends, you told someone, “I will never,” and you didn’t really mean it. It isn’t that you lied, it’s just that you could not face up to the truth inside of you—buried there deep, where only the snake biting you on the ass could cause a draining away and revealing of your truths. You said the words because to admit the other words would cause pain and turmoil and disruption and feelings of failure and that SCARYASS UNKNOWN looming. You said them so the other would believe and not be hurt, yes, but also to force yourself to believe so you wouldn’t do the hurting.

We do have our “Nevers” that are iron-clad. For example, “I will never kill another human being,” but then, is that true? If someone were going to fatally harm me or mine, wouldn’t I kill the shit out of them? “I will never jump off the Empire State Building!” Okay, that seems pretty safe. But what if I’m up there and there’s a fire behind me and no escape—I  either have to jump or burn up. I’m jumping! Okay. Well. Huhn. “I will never stop loving my son and granddaughter!” There. That’s a never that holds forever true! But those iron-clad “nevers” are few, even when we think they are not.

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Then . . . .

15111_10152228089399176_116688420_n

Now . . . .

“I will never grow out my hair.” “I will never write erotica.” “I will never sit around crying like a big baby because I’m a tough-ass bitch.” “I will never leave *insert something or someone here*” “I will never give up/give in/give to/give back . . . .”

Oh, my friends. The phrase “I will never . . . .” is the universe’s big laugh at you; it’s the coiled snake ready to bite you on your ass; it’s the swallow those words you spoke because, guess what? Never became “oh shit, it’s happening/happened/going to happen.”

Maybe that snake did surprise you. Or, maybe you sat on that badass snake so it WOULD bite you! Maybe you pretended you didn’t see the snake and just stuck your bared ass right in its face and taunted it while pretending you were going about your business all la tee dah.

So. Little things are easy to talk about first. For instance, I remember clearly and distinctly standing at Hart Theater in Waynesville, North Carolina a couple years ago, talking to a theater friend who’d just cut her hair short, and I said (there’s a metaphor here, isn’t there?), “Yeah. I love mine short and will NEVER go back to longer hair. Ever.” Um. Yeah. Guess what? I not only grew it out, but longer than I ever thought I would have. But that night as I stood there smiling and confident, I really truly believed myself. I honestly thought the words “I will never  . . . .” were true and real and were never to be altered. I thought myself completely  happy with my shorty ole hair. I couldn’t see a day when I wouldn’t be satisfied with that look. Oh how we tempt the fates with our ultimatums and declarations!

SEDUCTION COVE CVR6_edited-1 for amazonOr, I remember standing by my mother, my face all sincere and true: “Nah. Not for me. I’m not going to write trashy erotica stuff! I will never do that. I will stick to what I write.” And then, three months later, on a night when I was full of vodka and bad intent and after I’d smashed a writer’s conference mug against the tree outside my little log house and yelled into the night, “I QUIT! I am NOT WRITING ANOTHER WORD! I AM PISSED OFF AT THE WHOLE BUSINESS! FUCK THIS SHIT!” (the snow hid my shame, until it melted – lawd), I preternaturally-calm opened my word document and wrote Seduction Cove and I laughed a vodka-infused laugh, and of course, I ain’t telling my mom. I also said, “I will NEVER tell anyone I wrote it–I’ll keep Tasha a secret.” Oops; didn’t happen that way. Mom, if you happen by here: I’m sorry. Dang. And now my writing world has altered. Where will I take it next?

011

I will never leave this beautiful place

So, my friends. There have been some changes in my life, and more are coming. I’ve spent the last six months or so (actually, the last two years after my father died—something about a parent dying sets a woman on quests and questionings and searchings)—wading through the molasses of change and discovery and heartache and decisions that changed my life and the life of others and etc etc etc – ET CET ER A!

I will begin a series of posts about my “nevers” and my “soon to comes” and my “already happeneds” – and I hope you’ll learn something from them, or be entertained, or nod or shake your head, or ignore it all—but I need to write it. That’s what I do. I am a writer. I write things out. And when I do not, I bother my friends with my whiny angst, or send texts that are full of self-indulgent whines that I later regret (that’s a post in itself). So write I will.

Some topics—and I will never stray from them (hahaha!) are:

  • What not to do when you are alone and vulnerable
  • When you are the one you says, “I want a separation”
  • When you have said you “never” have writer’s block and suddenly you cannot write
  • When you have to leave a place/an ideal/a way of life that you thought was “forever” because you said “never will I leave this place/ideal/way of life
  • When disappointment in people attacks—when you realize the people you thought would call never do, and the ones you never thought would reach out to you do.
  • When the word “lonely” expands beyond and above what you ever thought it could be
  • When you think you cannot, absolutely cannot, face something—but then you do
  • What happens next?
  • At my age! . . . the prospects of dating and all that jazz (and being called a cougar—? Um, what?)
  • Etc.

I’ll be back soon . . . .

Today at Writer Unboxed: The Isolated Author (by lil ole me)

I am at Writer Unboxed today. If you are not a member, then get ye over there and check it out. Not just for my ramblings today, but for all the kickass offerings there. A wonderful group! They’re on twitter and Facebook, as well.

I was on a panel yesterday in the beautiful city of Hayesville, NC, and was reminded of how much fun blogging and blogs and bloggers can be – I promise to do better here. I do! I do! I do! *grins at you every so sincerely*

At Writer Unboxed today:

_______________________________________

2f95c122-b7f3-4ea9-8afb-ed71deb90477_zps0f985647Today’s guest is Kathryn Magendie, the author of five novels and a novella published through Bell Bridge Books—most recently The Lightning Charmer coming out this month. She’s also the Publishing Editor of The Rose & Thorn (which just recently closed its doors after fifteen years), and former Personal Trainer. She lives in a little log house tucked within a cove in Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina—where all the wild things are.

Of her post today, Kathryn says…

Thoughts of the “isolation” of this job came to me when I realized most every character I write is lonely. Then I recognized that I, me, myself, lil ole Kat Magendie, was deeply, incredibly, sadly, lonely. Well, danged if I didn’t feel right pitiful. I then read other WU posts, other author’s FB updates and Twitter feeds, and realized that feeling of isolation is shared—we’re all at one big banquet table, but the banquet table has partitions so that even though we’re surrounded by people, we’re still eating alone. I allowed myself to feel pitiful for about a week, and then I decided it was time to do something about the isolation. We’re much more than we appear to be, we band of writers, we.

You can find Kathryn on Twitter and Facebook and on her blog. More about her books here.

The “Isolated Author”

We can see the clichéd “isolated author,” one who writes in her fuzzy socks, a bottle of vodka—make that a healthy smoothie, yeah—by her side, creating micro-worlds where tiny-in-our-peahead-but-oh-so-much-bigger-than-life characters frolic and play and bring joy and epiphanies to all the land of readers. Farther pan out and see the writer hunched over her keyboard, ever more pan out and see the study she sits in with books and pens and pencils and chapstick and good luck charms and crumbs littering her keyboard and lap, and farther still to see her little log house, and outward we go ever outward to the Moon. And there we’ll stop a moment and consider just how tiny this author is. Just how inconsequential, miniscule. All the scurrying and living and loving and being around her is muffled and dark because all she experiences is: “tippity tappity tippity tappity tippity tappity *slurp munch* tippity tappity.”

The truth is, the more an author puts herself out there (But of course I mean you guys, too—we’re genderless in the World of Writing), the more isolated she becomes. The more public her life, the more private she must be. It’s an insidious endeavor, one she doesn’t recognize until it is almost too late—when the crazies visit upon her *picture here the Harpies from Jason and the Argonauts, feasting upon the sanity laid out in bounty upon the table until there’s nothing left but scraps of rational thought.*

FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE, CLICK HERE

Ten answers without questions . . . .

Keep your eye on the prize, y'all

1. Well, since you asked—more than I want to admit.

 
2. Yes, I have, and it hurt like the dickens.

 
3. When hell freezes over, you jackass.

 
4. I might, if I have enough vodka tonics racing through my veins—teeheehee. Oh You!

 
 5. Because if I don’t, the voices in my head take over by shouting and jumping up and down and punching me in the brain and playing football with my synapses and it ain’t pretty, and in fact, is rather disturbingly weirdly fascinating.

 
6. I will if you will.

 
7. There is no evidence. You can’t prove it.

 
116-0018. Yes, they are real; they have always been real; they will forevermore be real; they have been real since 5th or 6th grade and they will be real when I die. Everything from the tippity top to the bittity bottom is Real and Mine. Please stop asking.

 
9. A lot more than you think *coy smile*

10. Three big huge earth-shattering ones, but I was alone. *winks*

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