Writer Wednesday!!!!

This one isn't going to be nearly as much fun as last week... Sorry. Last week was kind of special. It was also kind of me at the end of two HUGE finished projects and just back from the brink of losing my mind. :)

I am going to answer a bunch of questions though. These are all inquiries that I seem to get a lot and I figured maybe there were other writers out there that had these same thoughts but hadn't asked them yet.

The reason I started this segment on my blog was because I receive quite a few emails/messages from aspiring writers. I would love to spend time with each beginner and help you refine your craft and get you acclimated to this crazy world. But I just don't have the time. So, while I will eventually get back to your question, I hope this can be a resource for while you wait, or if you haven't emailed me personally but still have lots of questions!

And the thing is, this job is just one giant question. I don't have all the answers. Or maybe even the right answers. All I can tell you is what works for me and what I've learned through my experience.

Plus I fail a lot. And that always seems to help me get right to the bottom of things. If you learn by mistakes, I have a lifetime of knowledge!

Did I sell you on my expertise?? Ha! That's probably a good thing.

Anyway. These are just four common questions I get.

1. What is the difference between a novella series and a regular series. And how long is a typical novella?

A novella is typically 20,000 words. And a novella series, is a progression of 20,000 word stories that make up a greater plot line.

So, if you look at my books for example, my full-length books are generally between 105,000 words and 115,000 words. My novellas are 20,000 words. See the huge difference?

The real definition of a novella is somewhere between 15,000 words and 40,000 words. Anything over 45,000 words is considered a full-length novel. And anything under 15,000 words is considered a short story.

Does that make sense?

I hope so!

2. How do you come up with story ideas?

This is a great question! And I really wish I had the answer. ;)

Just kidding. I do. Kind of. But I don't think it's going to help you.

My story ideas come from everywhere. I am just a really inspire-able person. I hear a song and think of a story. I watch a movie and think of a story. Sometimes I just hear a name and the story is there. My husband came up with the idea for L&D. Or the very broad inkling of an idea. And it was only through his persistence, that I came up with a plot for it.

Mainly, what starts as a thought, turns into a daydream, which turns into pages and pages of brainstorming in a notebook, and that eventually turns into a first chapter.

Once I've written the first chapter, I decide whether or not it can become a full-length story. Sometimes nothing happens with it. Sometimes, I become obsessed with the story and don't stop writing it until the end. It just depends.

If you want to be a writer, but you're struggling with coming up with a unique story idea, I have two pieces of advice for you.

First, you don't have to have an original idea to write a book. Sure, we all fall in love with something completely different than what's already out there. Or sometimes we don't. Sometimes a "different" story is so far out of our comfort zone that we just can't get into it.

Trends happen for a reason. You don't have to have a completely original idea to write a book. Just an idea. Once the idea is there, the originality will come out in your style of writing and the plot twists you give your characters.

Our creativity is specific to us alone. I could give an entire room full of people the same plot idea and make everyone write out their story. Not two stories would ever be alike. Sure, some might be similar, but there would be enough differences that they would tell two completely unique stories.

So, don't waste your time thinking up a story that's never been done before. That is the impossible part. And don't be ashamed if you're writing a story that has been told a hundred times before. Write the story you want to write, but more importantly write the story you want to read. Do that, and it will be original in its own right.

Second, there is no rush to publish your first book. Usually, the first book is complete and utter crap. It's like the warm-up to all the others. You are discovering who you are as a writer. You're refining your style, seeking out your voice and practicing the epic task of writing hundreds of thousands of words.

It takes work to get good. Just like anything else. And you want that first book to work out all the kinks and flaws of your skill.

Sure, every book is a learning experience and with every new novel I pen, I become a better writer. But the first book is the biggest learning curve. You learn so much.

Plus, there's this beautiful thing called editing. And that can't happen until the book is finished.

So give up the idea that your first book has to be perfect, and just write something. Anything! Books happen one word at a time and you can't get to those last final thoughts unless you start at the beginning.

3. How did you get people to find your books?

I know you want an easy answer for this one. You want me to tell you some secret marketing tip that will help your book explode on all venues. You want me to give you the perfect tool to get your book on top of all searches, in every bestseller category and on the big lists.

But I can't do that.

For one, I've never gotten there myself. And for two, that doesn't exist.

The best advice I can give you, is to tell you that there is no secret or special tool. There isn't even an advertising technique that will accomplish what you want it to.

The best thing you can do is work hard. And by work hard, I mean work your freaking ass off.

Reckless went for free all those years ago and I had a ton of downloads immediately. And that was awesome. And the best thing that could have happened for me and that series. But that hasn't given me a three-and-a-half-year, full-time career. Those free books don't continue to sell my books today.

And let's not forget the work it took to write that book in the first place. Or the two-and-a-half years I tried to get anybody somebody to ready it.

This job is hard work. This job is so much hard work, sometimes you'll cry about it and sometimes you'll grow an ulcer. It's long nights and early mornings and giving up social events and a clean house. It's dedication and time and growth.

When I explain my job to people in my life, that haven't read anything of mine or understand the publishing world at all, I can sometimes feel them waiting for the key phrase... the phrase we hope every successful person says (Not that I'm all that successful, but it's true across the board.).

We want to hear people say, "I just got lucky."

And I'll tell you why. If we hear someone else say they got lucky, that means we could get lucky too. That could also happen to us. Or, if we're particularly negative, that means we will never be that lucky and we can blame our failure on that line of reasoning.

The truth is, I didn't get lucky. I worked hard. Really, really, really hard. And I won't stop working hard until... well, probably until I die. That's the kind of dedication it takes to succeed.

And I'm not the only one. When you look at successful business people, or professional athletes or rock stars. Nobody accidentally got rich or famous. Nobody stumbled into the spotlight and started raking in the big bucks just because it was suddenly in front of them.

They worked hard. And they didn't stop working hard until they got what they wanted. And then they kept working hard to keep it.

This industry and every other industry out there, rewards the amount of time and sacrifice you put into it. And although that might be a little disappointing, it's actually great news!!!!

That means anyone can make it! That means anyone can get on a bestseller list and rock the charts and make this a career.

Sure, it's going to take blood, sweat and tears. You're going to be honest with yourself and listen to really harsh criticism. Sometimes it means working until you cry every single day and only being mildly successful. But it can happen. And if this is your dream, then mild success is worth all that work.

And if it doesn't happen with the book you want it to. Set that book aside and write a better book. And keep writing better books until it does.

This isn't easy. It will never be easy. But it is possible. And that's the only amount of hope you need to pursue your dreams.

4. How do you handle negative reviews?

By not reading them.


The truth is, I don't read a lot of my reviews. And I know there are authors out there that read every single one. But I find that draining. And with an artistic/creative job, being drained is the number one productivity-killer I face.

When I release a book/novella, I let myself read every single review for the first three days. Or until they reach a certain number of reviews. (Depending on the book or series, I have different expectations for each one.)

I have found that in those first three days, I get the widest scope of opinions. I will usually get great ones that make me beam with pride and I'll get enough negative ones that make me want to crawl into a hole in the ground and live out my remaining days there in the rock and dirt.

I let myself deal with all of those opinions, rediscover how happy or unhappy I am with the book, adjust my expectations and goals for the next one and then move on.

I do this for several reasons...

First, I don't want to live my life dependent on someone else's opinion of me. Which can so easily happen if I'm reading reviews every single day. I need to be true to myself and the stories I want to create. Does that mean I never listen to other's opinions? No. Not at all. But I have a group of beta readers that I trust implicitly. They are sometimes painfully honest with me and I seek them out for that reason. I absolutely trust my editor and her opinion. She's brilliant and that benefits me. And I have a gut feeling for how the book is going to go over and I really try to listen to my instincts over my pride.

Letting reader's influence my writing style or plot would be self-destructive and I would never write the story that I truly want to tell.

Second, I don't have time for it. Reading reviews on every single book takes away from the time you should be writing that second book. And writing it better. Like I said, this job is all hard work and dedication, so you have to prioritize how you're going to spend your time and invest in the pieces that are going to grow you as a writer.

Crying into a tub of Ben and Jerry's because one person thinks a fourth grader could do a better job of constructing a story is not beneficial to your career.

It happens. Don't get me wrong. I'm usually the first to self-medicate with frozen dairy. But minimizing those outbursts, helps me stay healthy as a person.

And on the other side, reading all the good reviews only bloats my ego and gives me a false perception of myself. Counter to what I want to believe, I am not God's gift to literature. Not everything I write is gold. More like the opposite. I have a long way to go and if I want to stay in this industry, I better not forget that.

By the way, this is one of the hardest things I have to do. And it takes an extremely concentrated amount of self-control.

I don't always win at this.

So don't feel bad if you can't help yourself. But, there is a huge amount of freedom in restricting yourself. I promise.

Also. To readers. Every review is important. And I am so grateful that you take the time out of your day to write reviews and assign them to my books. Even negative reviews are beneficial to any book. As a reader and consumer, I base my book purchases and actually any purchases I make, off reviews. They are the best form of advertising out there. So keep it up!!!

Okay! That's all I have for now! :) Hope you're having an awesome Wednesday!!!!


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