Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels.
Kristen Lamb’s Blog: WANA-We Are Not Alone
Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels.
Kristen Lamb’s Blog: WANA-We Are Not Alone
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!).
Last 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 but 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.
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*
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!)
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.
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?
Touty shout out of the day (and in the future, I’ll be shouting out lots of people here—not just writers):
Writer 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.
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:
Today’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.
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
My break between novels is over as of yesterday, and I will be working my wittle arse to the bone–wait, is that the right analogy/imagery? Huhn, well, that’s how it’ll feel once said arse sits upon said brown leather chair (or on warm days, on rocker or cushioned iron chair on the p’och–that’s porch for all you non-southern/appalachian types) for hours and hours and danged hours upon danged more hours! I have to remember to: eat, stand and walk around, actually look at GMR and acknowledge him instead of going “uh huh, hmmm, uh huh” when he speaks, and to remember that GMR doesn’t know who Laura is or any of the other characters, so when I excitedly ramble about so and so and such and such and GMR goes “who are you talking about?” I have to remember he’s not in my chaotic pea-head (thank gawd!, for that’s a danged ole scary place to be–ungh!). This new book will have supernatural elements (previous novels touched on it, but this one will dive full-tilt into the supernatural–at least that’s the plan :-D – lawd) and I am ready to unleash the crazy-dawgs (that’s dogs for . . . well, you know the rest).
The final Graces Saga book. Family Graces, will be out this spring and I’ll post more about that later–you all know I don’t do the yappity do dah day about my books, unless I have news to share.
So this morning for Linky Love day (and I laughed when a new twitter friend mis-read and thought I wrote “Kinky Love Day” last week – haw!), I want to talk once again about Writer Unboxed. If you are a writer, or a reader, or in publishing/books, then this is the place to be. Writer Unboxed is growing–as I said on Writer Unboxed’s Facebook Page, “I feel all snuggly-poo that I’ve been here from the start,” and they now have over a thousand members–and quickly growing, y’all!
The WU Blog is an eclectic mix of this that and the other for readers, writers, industry peoples (publishing, books, agents, literature, etc etc etc), and tons of support and information to help us in our publishing, writing, reading, et cetera, lives. The WU newsletter is out and if you haven’t signed up, oh do think to do so–I am reading through the first issue and it’s chock-full of gooey goodstuff. I just can’t say enough good things about Writer Unboxed.
And, I was surprised to have a mention in the very first WU Newsletter for my “Monday Classroom” series–teehee–thank you wonderful WU Guru Vaughn Roycroft for that mention. I love writing my blawg posts for Monday Classroom, and hope I continue to delight and astound–okay, maybe not *laughing* – I just appreciate all yallses danged ole support and I hope my lil tidbits help you in your writing journeys.
Now, ya’ll go do the day–do it Strong! do it Happy! do it with Gratitude! Remember–dreams ain’t nothing without some good old fashioned hard work to help them come true. And while I’m on that subject–sometimes we have to take our dreams, turn them upside down, shake the hell-far (that’s hell-fire for you non-southern/appalachian peoples) out of them to see if maybe, just maybe, something we never expected falls out of the dream’s deep deep pockets, way down deep in the very corners where lint usually resides. Dreams can often offer lint-covered surprises, if you are open to giving them a big ole shake and then brush off that lint to see what shiny thing emerges.
Oh, I am late with my linky love this morning. But all because of good wonderful things. First, I have received back my manuscript from my editor for the third Graces book in the trilogy (Family Graces) and she didn’t maul me! She didn’t slaughter me! She loved the book! Yay! I am so relieved. However, I do have some little things here and there to fix, so I will be hunkering down for that.
Then! in other good news: Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books has offered me a contract on what will be my sixth book (one of those was a novella)! To be released next September 2013. I am so excited. More later, for there’s lots to be done before I talk too much about this book; however, it’s a little different. It’ll have some supernatural elements (though my stuff kind of touches on that anyway).
So, I’m quickly posting some links and then I have to run run run –
First, I am a guest at Lines of Beauty. She has reposted something I wrote here because she liked it and wanted her readers to enjoy. I hope you will stop by and say hello to her – visit her blog, give her some love! (My “Professor Kat” photo is up and it makes me laugh).
I know I have linked to Writer Unboxed before, but they continue to have wonderful informative posts. Today Jane Friedman has 5 Attitudes Toward Publishing You Should Avoid – there seems to be some trouble with the link today but I hope you will keep trying, or go by the Writer Unboxed site on Facebook (see below).
I like to stop by Publishing Pulse, Query Tracker, where there is a round up of links. There’s a little of this, that, and the other in publishing news.
I’m seeing Pinterest (Pinterest is an online pinboard) all over the place and I have the “go ahead” to do my own Pinterest site, but I’m hesitating – one more thing to do. However, I am going to check it out. Are any of you doing it? and if so, what do you think?
And because it makes me laugh and smile and miss my Lil Boop . . . a day at the park with Granny Kat . . .
And Soco Falls in Cherokee Reservation
I have two posts to direct you to this morning on Writer Unboxed. If you haven’t been to this group yet, or joined us on Facebook, then please do check them out – writers, readers, agents, professionals of this and that and the other, something for all. First, the post Community – What’s In It For Me? by Vaughn Roycroft, where he writes of community in this thang called social networking, and beyond. I make no secret I adore Vaughn.
And next on Writer Unboxed, Surviving the Publishing Industry’s Looking Glass by Christopher Harris, ESPN and sports journalist for Yahoo sports and ESPN the magazine, among others, about his journey to self-publishing his book, despite his “platform.” You know, Platform? The thing we writers are told we must have? Well, seems even when you have one that doesn’t guarantee you a contract.
And because I love to read/watch Science, biology, etc: Nine Stubborn Brain Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science
And because those who know me know I have crushes on Physicists, and scientists, and sometimes genius mathematicians, I hope you all visit/watch Nova scienceNOW. And, I also make no secret of my love of Neil deGrasse Tyson. *Grin*
Update – Now Live!: Vine Leaves Literary Journal. Now, you may wonder why I’d talk about another literary journal when I am Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal – it’s the same concept/reason/idea behind why I write/talk about other authors more than I do my own books – I love promoting/discussing/crowing about new, and old and in between, ideas, places, people!
The Huffington Post, for which I frequently stop by for book/publishing news (and they have more to peruse), now has Huffington Post Book Club. I’m excited to see what they’ll be doing – and of course, I have the wish they’ll choose one of my books, even if that wish is far-fetched (but, see Threadbare Gypsy Soul – brick walls were made to break though, right? Right! If I don’t dream, then what’s the point?)
I love visiting other bloggers and don’t always have the chance to do so as often as I like. I’ve been linking to bloggers, a few at a time. If you stop by, feel free to tell them Kat sent you! *smiling* Today’s offerings are:
The wonderful and supportive of other writers – Kimberly Brock: “What She Would Have Said, Tales of a Storyteller. She will have her debut out this year! Exciting! The River Witch, a women’s fiction novel. to be released by Bell Bridge Books in late May 2012. A fellow BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books Author.
Threadbare Gypsy Soul – Beautiful, poignant, and thought-provoking.
And though some may see him as naughty and fraught with f-word bombs and all the like, I love reading this blog – I’m a new
reader so I’m just exploring myself. “Terribleminds” by Chuck Wendig, a novelist, screenwriter, and freelance penmonkey.
No Reason Whatsoever: Cathryn Louis She writes, “In Louisiana (where I’m from), we tend to speak a little differently. Instead of saying we’re doing something because ‘I want to’, you’re more likely to hear ‘oh, no reason’, ‘just because’ or my favorite ‘no reason whatsoever’. Or sometimes it’s ‘no earthly reason whatsoever’. . >”
women’s fiction writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels. If that title doesn’t make you want to go by there, then do it because Amy is smart and funny and she has wonderful guests to her blog.
And we’re having a nice discussion, via FB, e-mail, below, in the “letter” I “sent” to Indie Booksellers. Join in if you like.