Tag Archives: writing career

The Weekend is Mine!

Yay Friday! Casey here, hoping your week went well.

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Labor day trip to Kringle Candle, Bernardston, MA

Recently, I had an attitude adjustment. Every blog about writing or by writers, eventually, touches on the topic of professionalism and treating writing as a job.

I am not going to dispute that wisdom. If you’re in it for the long haul and you want to be published (or stay published), then you have to realize that writing isn’t sitting around waiting to be struck by genius. There comes a time in every writer’s day, month, year (take your pick) when you have to do the deed. You know, sit at your computer and write stuff – whether you feel like it or not.

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Someday owls will rule the world!

Kind of like being an employee at a day job. I have a full time job. I also consider writing a job and when I am actively working on a story, I do it after the paid job.

Which brings me to the attitude adjustment. For the last few weeks, I’ve written my 2,000 – 3,000 words a day from Monday – Friday (after my day job ends) and I’ve taken the weekends off!

And by off, I mean, I don’t even turn my laptop on. For the last several years, my trusty laptop has been on 364 days of the year. The only day it got off was Christmas day because family comes over.

So far, it’s been therapeutic. I don’t feel all – “Ugh, I have to write today.” I admit, I’ve been getting a little grouchy about writing. Like it was a ball and chain. Until I realized that even with my day job, I take time off and I sure don’t feel guilty about it. Why should writing be different than any other profession?

Who wouldn't want to pet this cute cat??
Who wouldn’t want to pet this cute cat??

That doesn’t mean I won’t write on the weekend. I will. But it’s also nice to know that I don’t have to feel guilty for taking a day trip with my family or grocery shopping so we can eat all week. Or read a book. Or just veg and pet my cat.

BTW- Mystic Hero is over the 55,000 words mark, well on it’s way to first draft completion in the next week or two. Yay!

See? It’s all about attitude. If you find yourself in a rut or so stressed out you can’t think straight it might be time for an adjustment!

Anyone else feel the need to take time away? How do you veg?

Stages of a Writer Career by Vivienne Lynge

Good Morning Scriblers!  Happy Saturday – Vivienne Lynge here.  As something between an apprentice and a journeyman, I wanted to explore the stages in a successful writer’s career as I understand them from my current place.   Let’s assume a writer’s career follows the decades of life. 

Your first “decade” is all about aspirations – dreaming of writing, wondering if you have it in you to do it and perhaps even taking those first steps and writing some stuff.  When you look back on this stuff later on, you might cringe at its naivety, but you see some deeply-buried raw talent. 

From “age” 10-20 it’s about honing your skills, learning a bit of writing craft, exploring your genre options and reading – a lot of reading.  What’s out there, what works, why does it work?  Dissecting and studying the work of others and beginning to develop your voice. 

In your “20′s”, you’re starting to gain confidence in your writing skills – taking some risks and putting yourself out there.  You meet like minded people and go to a local writer’s conference or two.  You’re learning about the business of writing and publishing.

As you move into your 30′s, you begin to take things seriously.  You’re developing a career plan, networking, joining a professional writing group, going to bigger and probably better conferences.  And writing, always writing.  Maybe you are on the contest circuit – pitting yourself against others to see where you land.  You are actively seeking publication and perhaps representation by an agent.  You feel like you are on the cusp of something.

Ahhh, the 40′s – the decade when you finally feel like you’ve arrived.  You’ve got a contract and a couple/few books out there.  You’re a midlist author!  Wahooooo!  You are speaking at conferences, offering your experiences to newb’s in their 20′s, just starting out.  Maybe you are starting to feel some love from your publisher.  You might be getting recognition from some of the big contests, the Edgar, the Rita, a Newberry award.

The 50′s dawn – you are doing well!  You see your name on that most sought after list of all – the New York Times Bestseller list!  Could there be a movie deal in your future?  Better yet – HBO is considering your series for their next show, now that True Blood has run it’s course and Charlaine Harris hasn’t started a new series.  You are a frontlist author.  Nice job!

The golden years – from your 60′s onward, you write what you want, when you want.  You’ve gotten the rights back to your backlist, you are Indie Publishing them and laughing all the way to the bank.  You are a veteran author now.  Maybe you headline at conferences and give keynote speeches.  You’ve got a line a mile long at the occasional book signing and are firmly established in the zeitgeist. 

So, where am I in this writer’s life?  I’m in my 30′s.  I’m on the cusp of something – I can feel it.  It’s exciting!  Where are you?  Are you happy with your “age”?  What steps do you need to take to get to the place you want to be?

Wallowing and Other Coping Mechanisms

Yay! It’s Friday. Casey here.

A common misconception amongst non-writers (and new writers) is that once you’ve been agented, published or signed a book deal, you will never face rejection again.

Pig at OSV
Professional wallower.

Well, I’m here to say, “Not true. You can and will receive rejections. Again and again.” While, I recently sold a book, two more were rejected. That’s how it goes.

It’s inevitable. And the sting of the most recent rejection can be just as strong as that first one.

First off, know that you’re not alone. I know every single one of the Scribes has felt the same pain. Sometimes, the same book that resulted in a book deal was rejected by many other publishers. J.K. Rowling. Need I say more??

Casey’s tips for handling rejection:

1. Wallow. Yes, that’s right. Feel bad about it. At least for a little while. Depending on the tone of the rejection, my wallowing can last anywhere from 15 minutes to the entire day. Then, I brush myself off and keep going. Anytime I start dwelling means I have to work on my next book. Onward and upward, I say!!

2. Don’t take it personally. So hard to do. I won’t lie. Some writers get mad and defensive. Others assume they suck as writers. Most land somewhere in between.

3. Be professional (see above). Writing is a profession. Thank the agent or editor for their time. DO NOT, under any circumstances, argue with them, demand a more detailed reason or be rude. All that will do is label you as an amateur and possibly get you a “reputation”. Don’t be that writer.

4. If you received more specific feedback, put it away and come back to it when you can look it with a calm, reasoned mind. Then decide if you want to make changes or submit elsewhere as is. It goes without saying that if you are getting the same comment over and over ( and I don’t mean – this isn’t right for us or any of the other standard dismissals), then you may need to make changes.

5. Don’t throw in the towel. Keep writing and keep learning. Honestly, that should never stop. If you think you don’t have more to learn, then remember – Pride goeth before the fall. Just sayin’.

And finally, focus on the future. In my case, MYSTIC STORM is coming out the end of May 2013!! And here’s the cover:

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Share and share alike! I know we all have rejections lurking in our past.

Writer Impossible

Happy Friday and welcome to the Scribes. Casey here!

Recently, my family has become infatuated with watching Food Network’s Restaurant Impossible. I know the show has been on for about four seasons now, but we had never seen it until I stumbled upon one afternoon. I was supposed to be plotting one of the three stories doing combat in my brain, but, hey – I didn’t feel like it!

Mystic Ink and Scar
MYSTIC INK at Mystic Pizza

After watching about a dozen episodes, several themes played out over and over again.  Such as:

Owners who micromanage to the point they do everything and don’t let their employees do their jobs.

Owners who let their staff walk all over them.

Owners who have no idea how much they are spending or what it costs to do business.

And, sadly, writers are often guilty of the same things. (Okay, micromanaging is mostly our job!).

Here’s what I’ve learned from Chef Robert Irvine:

1. Be honest. Denial does you no good. If you’re not up front about a problem, you can’t fix it. So if you aren’t writing like you want to, it’s time to assess your habits, document your day and determine how you can work more effectively.

2. Work smarter, not harder. I’ve encountered this philosophy in my corporate day job. I’ve witnessed first hand the belief that if you work 90 hours a week, that somehow you’re doing a good job. In my experience, that’s not true. Not if it means you end up burned out and unhappy. That is not a good long-term strategy. Working smarter means using your time effectively and delegating/outsourcing tasks when it make sense to do so.

3. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Bad writing can be fixed as long as you’re willing to learn new tricks. And you are willing to throw away the old and bring in the new.

4. Outsource. Robert doesn’t do everything by himself. He has a trusted builder and a designer (and I am sure a host of others you don’t see on camera) to help him out. Writers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help or hire professionals when warranted.

5. Backbone. Get one. As writers, it’s our job to manage our careers and be our ownWillow champion. It doesn’t matter if you have an agent or not. No one can look out for you better than you. Like it or not, we are all small business owners and we all have to be savvy, especially now, with restrictive, rights grabbing contracts and other pitfalls.

And finally, Chef Robert’s most important lesson – do the best you can, every day.

Well, what do you think? Any lessons learned to share with us?

What’s Luck Got to Do With it?

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

I recently had a thought-provoking conversation with my friend Susannah Hardy. We were discussing writing careers and the role of luck and it got me thinking about a blog IMG_0994post I wrote as part of my promotional tour for Mystic Ink.

So, how important to a writing career is luck  vs. hard work?  I’ll share my view in a moment.

See you at the end of the post.

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Lightning Never Strikes Twice . . .  or Does It? By Casey Wyatt

While perusing the news headlines looking for inspiration, I ran across the story of a Virginia woman who won the lottery twice. On the same day. Each ticket was worth $1 million dollars.

Wow, I thought, she is one lucky lady. How often does that ever happen? Who is ever fortunate enough to receive such a windfall in one fell swoop?

Then I realized I was that lucky too.

Sure, I’ve never won large sums of money, but I did manage to go from unpublished author to published author in the same year. Not once, but twice.

Unlike the lucky lottery lady, I won’t be rolling in dough anytime soon, but I did accomplish an important life goal. Like most writers, I started off with a dream of publication and no clue how to achieve it. After many years of dabbling and spinning my wheels, I took charge and learned how to finish a book.

Once I completed my first manuscript, I faced the daunting trio of critiques, contests, and submission, followed by praise, sometimes not so glowing feedback, and dreaded rejections. I took classes, participated in NaNoWrimo, joined RWA, started a blog, joined various social media, and pitched to editors in person.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

As I pondered my writing journey, I started thinking, because that’s what writers do – we’re professional thinkers – how much success is luck? And how much is hard work?

On the hard work front – I had to write the books, learn craft, create the queries, learn more craft, write synopses and actually submit the books.  I also had to research the right publishers and determine who would be interested in said books.

On luck’s side – the editor had to be someone who loved my story, had capacity for it on their schedule, and wanted to buy it.

It may seem like hard work outweighs luck, but I think they are complimentary rather than at odds. You need both on your side.

Of course publication is only one goal on my roadmap of life. I’ll never, ever finish learning. I will receive glowing reviews and some not so great ones. I will still get rejected. And I continue to get up each day, put my pants on one leg at time, work my NDJ (necessary day job), and take care of my family.

Who needs the lottery? All in all, my life is pretty sweet as it is.

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Hi. Me again.

Since I wrote this post, I’ve sold another manuscript (Mystic Storm) and I’ve also had plenty more agent and editor rejections :(.

Back to the original question I posed at the beginning of this post – how important is luck in a writing career vs. hard work?

My two cents: While luck can be an important factor in success (because timing is everything), if you don’t put in the hard work (finish the book, then submit it) then you can’t take advantage of Lady Luck when she comes calling.

Now it’s your turn – What role has hard work and/or luck played in your life?

Blazing a Trail by Frankie Roberston

Welcome to another Friday at the 7 Scribes. Casey here. Today, Frankie Roberston is my returning as my guest and she’s sharing her self-publication journey with her latest book BLAZING A TRAIL.

Take it away, Frankie!

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http://www.dreamstime.com/-image8529767Thanks for inviting me to guest post, Casey!

When I started thinking about self-publishing way back in 2010, I had a lot of questions.

Should I find an all-in-one author service, or hire separate vendors?

How much would all this cost?

Could I really make any money at this?

Would self-publishing destroy any hope of respect for my writing?

I didn’t know anything about it, but I knew a few people who were convinced that the long predicted transformation from paper to digital books was finally about to become a popular reality, so I started learning. The more I learned, the more I realized I didn’t know, but I finally reached a point where I had to leap in and start swimming. Within a year of publishing a novel with a small press, I had also self-published three novels and a novelette. It was exhilarating, but I was still learning and muddling through as best I could.

I didn’t intend to set myself up as some kind of expert when I began blogging about my self-publishing journey. I was just sharing my experience, and my experience was that I was finding several college courses’ worth of information out on the web, posted by people who had already blazed a trail before me. People who often didn’t agree with each other about the best way to deliver stories to the readers.

I figured there were probably some other people as overwhelmed as I was, so I began posting about how I made my choices between divergent paths. At the urging of various readers, those posts (much revised) became BLAZING A TRAIL: Your Self Publishing Journey. I also included a bunch of interviews with other Indie authors, because I love reading about how other Indies are getting the job done. My way is far from being the only way, and I wanted readers to know that, too.

One thing many of the authors I interviewed agreed on is that one of the primary pleasures of self-publishing is the greater control we have over our careers. We decide about our covers, our editing, our release dates, and our promotions. Self-publishing is a lot of work, and it’s not for everyone, but as several authors said, being an Indie author is a lot of fun, too.

Now that I’ve learned a lot about self-publishing, I’m struck by a powerful truth: there is still so much more to learn. I’ll never feel like I “know it all.” Even the people I’ve learned from have changed their minds about various aspects of the industry as the publishing environment has changed. None of us can afford to stop learning, because the possibilities and opportunities keep changing. New data is coming to light every week. That avalanche of conflicting information can be overwhelming to the beginner. What I tried to do with BLAZING A TRAIL is to offer my experience as a guide for making decisions about the self-publishing process, to draw a rough map and point readers toward the best practices today.

Thanks for letting me share this part of my journey with you! I hope you’ll join me over on FrankieRobertson.com, where I’ll keep writing about what I learn on my self-publishing journey.

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For anyone interested in a copy of BLAZING A TRAIL –  http://www.amazon.com/BLAZING-TRAIL-Publishing-Journey-ebook/dp/B00BVUWONO

Scribesters, if you have questions for Frankie, ask away. Don’t be shy!

The Buck Stops Here

Yay! It’s Friday again! Hope you’re having a good one! Casey here.

TrumanHarry Truman famously had a sign on his desk that read – “the buck stops here.” I’ve always loved that phrase.

It’s the ultimate mark of true leadership, taking responsibility for an action, even if you personally didn’t cause it. Like a good captain, you go down with the ship and are responsible for your subordinates behavior. Not an easy thing to do.

I’ve been in this position, not as U.S. president, but as a mother, a manager, even president of my sorority chapter in college. In my day job, I’ve sworn off having responsibility for others. Too much stress, too little reward. Obviously, as a mom, I can’t do that, but lucky for me, my sons are well-behaved.

However, I can’t totally abdicate my leadership role as an author because there’s only one captain at the helm of the good ship SS Writer - me.

Often times, when I attend my monthly RWA chapter meetings, I hear a common complaint – “I need more time to write.” Or “I need someone to motivate me to write.”

I’ve addressed adding more time, so this time I’m switching to motivation. And I’m not going to go easy on you. There’s a reason Suze calls me “the whip cracker.”

First rule, when it comes to motivation – you are in control of you. No one else.IMG_2073

To use myself as an example, if I’m sitting at my computer staring into space or web surfing or avoiding writing, the first person I chastise is me. Sound harsh? You bet!

But it’s also great news. That means you can take charge and do the work.

Casey’s Whip Cracking Tips:

1. Recognize that you are procrastinating and cut it out!

2. Determine why you’re procrastinating. Maybe you’re stuck at a certain point in the plot. My advice, either skip that spot and come back to it later or plow ahead and write something (and fix it later if you don’t like it). I can tell you this from personal (and recent experience), waiting for inspiration to strike isn’t going to work!

Knight
Don’t make me send this guy . . .

3. Enlist the aid of a friend. I know I just said, no one can make you do the work, but it can help to spend time with others. Even if to cheer you up!

4. Join a writing sprint – CTRWA has them all them time on our Facebook fan page!! All writers are welcome, not just chapter members.

5. Use the carrot and the stick approach. Try to reward yourself for meeting your goal (avoid using food, otherwise you’ll be stressed about your weight too). And, sorry, but if that doesn’t work, you have to suck it up and just do it (hear the whip snap?)

My final tip, realize that tomorrow is another day. Believe it or not, there are days (and sometimes weeks) where productive work won’t get done. That’s not an excuse to slack off, but do recognize that sometimes life throws curve balls.

Now, go forth and be productive! Or I’ll find you with my whip! *snap*

What are your favorite whip cracking techniques?And do they work for you?