#UpbeatAuthors: The Road to Publication

The month’s #UpbeatAuthors topic is perseverance. When I think of perseverance, I think about how long it took me to write a book a publisher felt was worthy of publication. I think about other authors, who never gave up, whether it was to sign contracts with traditional publishers, small-press independent publishers, or who decided (sometimes after decades of rejections) to self-publish.

Members of my RWA chapter have come and gone. Several of us stuck around until the industry changed. The others must have been hobbyists, because they surrendered.

A few of my friends haven’t had contracts renewed. Or their lines have closed. Instead of giving up, they’ve sought new ways of getting their work to their readers. Or they’ve decided now is the time for me to reinvent my product the way I want it done. And they are succeeding.

Because they hung in there.

 

 

 

What I Need to Write

There are certain things I need around me when I’m writing.

I’m not talking about scented candles or mood music. I’m talking about other things that I must have when I’m seriously at work.

I need an insulated cup for my cold drink. This one is the one I use on writing retreats.

I need a box of tissues. I don’t know why, but I need a box of tissues everywhere. I’ve started bringing my own on writing retreats.

Lip balm. Again, I have lip balm in all of my purses, computer bags, my desk at home and my desk at day job. I never have to buy it because my sister is always winning it at golf tournaments and passing it on to me. I will confess, though, I tossed the pumpkin spice flavored one. I really gave it fair shot. It was revolting.

Hand cream.  Rubbing hand cream into my fingers also massages them, a must after a long day of typing.

And finally:

A small chunk of labradorite. This was given to me by a witch, who was rubbing it. She handed it to me and said, “You need this. It likes being rubbed.”  Deep within the gray, there is turquoise and gold, some of which you can see in the photo.. Labradorite it supposed to help with creativity. Also, some studies suggest that rubbing a stone will release calming endorphins into the body. All I know is that rubbing it between my thumb and forefinger helps me think.

 

Texture: It’s the Details

My brain has always focused on the details of a scene. The minutia. I remember the wallpaper of my bedroom when I was two. It was tan with cowboys and lassos on it. My grandmother wore my favorite apron the day my parents brought my baby sister home from the hospital: white, with blue tea kettles on it. The kitchen was yellow, and the bassinette was next to the stove.

I think putting the details into a book adds texture. The details reveal character. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a genius at doing this. What I Did for Love is full of texture, and that’s why it’s one of my favorite books. Jennifer Crusie does it in Bite Me.  The books I go back to and re-read  all the time have the little details that appeal to me.

I need to remember to add these things in my own writing.

 

When Writing Comes Together

I’m in the throes of starting a new book. The working title is Night Shift. I’m learning about the characters, both of whom have been in previous books–the hero in three, the heroine in one.  The hero was a minor a character in the first two books. He played a larger role in the third (the fourth Toke Lobo & Pack book, which is pending, TBA). I kept seeing him as Seth Rogen.

Even though one part of my brain kept seeing this, I knew it was wrong. My hero is not a funny guy.

I caught part of the Espy Awards, thought maybe Jake Wood could be the visual.

I thought wrong.

For giggles, I wondered about the guy who plays Jon Snow in A Game of Thrones. Now, for the record, I do not watch this show. I know nothing about this show except some memes I’ve seen on Facebook. So I went to Pinterest and typed in JON SNOW. This is what came up.

Well, if that wasn’t a sign I was on the right track for the hero of Night Shift, I don’t know what was. So I typed in the actor’s name: Kit Harrington.

OMG, this is my character. Jean jacket. T-shirt. Jeans. So that was settled.

I decided to do some reading about the character in the show, just to see what was what–if he was a good guy or a bad guy and so on. Good guy. That works. But he’s called the white wolf? He has a white direwolf as a pet? I was flabbergasted.

But yeah, I think I’m on the right track for the hero of Night Shift.

 

#UpbeatAuthors: Self-Respect

When I become interested in an author, I will read all I can about that person. Many years ago, someone recommended A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf to me. I read it. I liked it. I bought several of her books. Didn’t care for her fiction. I took out volumes of her letters from the library and read them. I purchased A Writer’s Diary, a book with excerpts from her journals as compiled by her husband after her death. There were relatable moments. One might say I studied Virginia Woolf as an author.

A friend of mine was involved in a book discussion group at a local university. When the group was scheduled to discuss Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, my friend invited me to attend with her. We went to the college professor’s home for the discussion. I was young, impressionable, and feeling rather awed that these educated people were including me, with my high school diploma, in their discussion. We drank tea in a room with red “oriental” carpets strewn over shiny wood floors. There may have been Georgia O’Keefe prints on the white walls. I was a little intimidated.

I didn’t say much. After all, who was I?

I now regret not speaking up at the end of the session, when the professor said, “We should all strive to emulate Virginia Woolf.”

As I said to my friend in the car as we drove home, “Why would I want to emulate a woman who committed suicide? Killing myself isn’t my definition of success.”

My friend was shocked. She didn’t realize Woolf had indeed killed herself. She berated me for not speaking out. I confessed my intimidation. She replied: “But you’re right.”

After that night, I didn’t feel quite so belittled for skipping college to get on with life. Not having a degree doesn’t mean I’m ignorant. It merely means I’m self-educated.