Channel your rage onto the page

Every writer has hit the emotional bottom “IRL” before, whether it’s the day after a break up, a death, a scandal, a failure, or a presidential election. We may live in a world of make-believe most of the time, but us writers are people to. We hurt, we cry, we laugh, we love. And we do all of these things while attempting to balance along that precarious edge that is fiction writing (or non-fiction, don’t want to leave y’all out).

So, how do we write when we can barely function in life, due to its ups and downs and constant challenges? We write through it, that’s what we do. We channel that energy into our work. Sometimes literally, by creating a character just to kill them in a horrendous bloodbath. Or we throw a ‘happily ever after’ love story at another character. But…how? Perhaps writing is like therapy, a chance to be sad, be angry, be delirious, be hopeful, be madly in love, be homicidal, etc…in an environment that won’t gain us a shiny new set of metal bracelets that only come off with a key.

Author friends of America (and especially my NaNo comrades) and everywhere else in the World, I’m challenging you to do this today. This week. This month. The remainder of this year, and into the next. Channel today’s rage or sorrow, your love or fear, and put it down onto the page. Torture your babies with it, because this is what makes good fiction. And right now, I do believe the world needs more good fiction.

We use what we have, or what we are going through, and write it into our little worlds for the delight of others. This is how we cope with life, and this is how we cope with the voices in our heads. And today, that’s what I’ll be doing. Will you join me?

 

Is there a difference between the ‘writer’ and the ‘author’?

It used to be that when someone new asked me, ‘So, what do you do?’ there was a panic switch in my brain that flipped back and forth for a split second before I picked one of my two usual answers:

I write books.

See what I did? I dodged my internal struggle between which term to use – writer or author. But, I am both, right? When the conversation turns into, ‘Oh, have you written something I might know?’ I resist the urge to ask them, ‘I have no idea, can you read?’ Instead, I explain that I write mostly Fantasy, though I write in several genres really. And if they ask who I’m published with, I answer, ‘I’m self-published.’ *holds breath* Then I have to watch their face contort in and out of odd expressions as they go blank listening to the book titles I list off at their request, and the convo I was equal parts loathing but excited for, quickly dissipates into a lackluster attempt for one of us to find something more interesting to do; anything other than staring at each other.

Usually a random stranger doesn’t know who I am. I’m okay with that being slightly introverted myself, because it means I can go to Target with my unwashed hair in a bun, no makeup on, and a tank top that shows my bra straps, while dragging along my two reluctant children behind me without much judgement.

But I’ve found that the conversation goes a bit differently when I use the word ‘author’ right upfront and worry about the self-publishing part later. Often times, it goes more like this:

Unsuspecting Stranger: So, what do you do?

Me: Oh, I’m a published author. *big smile*

Them: Really? That’s cool! What’s the name of your book?

Me: Well, I have three series, adding up to about ten books! (Lists off my series titles)

Them: Wow. What genre are they?

Me: Mostly Fantasy, but there’s YA, Adult Dystopian, Science Fiction, Action and Adventure, some Romance, a little Paranormal and Horror, etc…something for everyone, really. *winks*

Them: Interesting, where can I find them?

Me: On your Kindle, Nook, iPad or smart phone, where the first books of my first two series are free. The prints can be ordered off of Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Oh, and there’s the audiobooks on Audible, too!

Them: Thanks! I’ll have to check them out. *big smile*

Me: Please do! *really big smile*

Obviously, the conversation above has about one hundred possible variations, but you get the gist – for some reason, people are more interested to engage in a conversation about what I do, when I say I’m an author, not just a writer. And if I mention I am published, bonus points. But if I start the conversation off with the fact that I do it myself, they lose interest quickly.

But, why? An author IS a writer. A published author ALSO is a writer. So a writer can be all of those things. And being self-published means I do most of that work myself. It doesn’t change the fact that I still write books and they are still published in reputable places. But there can be a bit of a divide between the terms in the literary world, none the less. Check out the definitions below of each title:

WriterdefinitionAuthordefinitionPublisherdefinition

Thank you Dictionary.com for the above. For me, I personally think that the words ‘writer’ and ‘author’ are basically the same thing. Of course, publishers are not all writers, but us Indie Authors typically are also publishers. I think for a lot of people we meet along the way, this can be confusing, especially if we have that ‘I haven’t slept well in three months because I’m working on a book, and I missed my coffee this am, so don’t speak to me’ kind of demeanor while out and about. I can count on one hand the number of people who have wanted to genuinely know more about being self-published, and less about the big publishing name I’m not behind. So, to be fair, they are out there. 😉

Perhaps, the issue is not which term we use, but how we explain it. Here’s my opinion: everyone who has ever written anything of their own is a writer in a sense, an author is typically a writer who not only writes but has their work out for the public to see or buy, be that in magazines, blogs, books, etc… There’s going to be exceptions to this, of course. And a publisher is someone who sells books.

So, what are Indies supposed to say when asked what we do for a living?

Whatever we want, that’s what. 

Just kidding. Kinda. If only that would work every time. *wink* I think the easiest answer to this is to practice on your own the best 5-10 second answer you can give with a genuine smile on your face, leaving yourself willfully and eagerly open to further discussion. The term ‘writer’ might sound too broad to be interesting, the term ‘author’ may sound a bit more professional but also intimidating, and the term ‘self-published’ might scare people away, most likely because they don’t understand what it means. But if you learn which term best suits you, and make yourself and your work sound interesting right off the bat, it can turn a stranger into a reader. And that’s what makes the writer and the reader happy in the end, right?

Getting Donations for Writing Full-Time…YAY or NAY?

Ahhh, it’s Tuesday, and a very humid and breezy day for me in San Diego. But if that brings real rain (sprinkles don’t count) I won’t have to do a naked rain dance in the backyard. For that I’m sure my neighbors will be grateful.

While my son is playing with his dinosaur matching card game and watching the movie Dinosaur (easy to spot the theme of the day, isn’t it? lol) I thought I’d bring up something that made a few waves on Facebook throughout my writing community yesterday. I should start by admitting I’m not really ‘on’ FB much anymore. I pop in weekly – my self-allotted schedule – to check messages on my author page and personal wall, but for the most part, my posts are scheduled and shared to FB right here from my site. Which means I don’t see all the happenings or drama of the FB world. But my writing bestie sent me a message yesterday with only these words: You’re missing the drama on FB today.

Hmm. Normally, I’d shrug and move on…drama isn’t my thing. But curiosity got the best of me. I guessed it was writing related as most of our mutual friends on FB are writers or editors or cover designers. And yep, it was writing related. Kinda. I’m not going to post the specifics, because that would be rude and uncouth of me, since I don’t know the person directly involved, however the topic itself bothers me, and being a writer, I found it sort of incumbent to chat about it. I’m no expert on Author Etiquette, but I’ve had my own ups and downs and obviously seen what has worked and what has not for many others.

The most basic info you need to understand what happened can all be wrapped up in one sentence:

A struggling self-published author is promoting a Go Fund Me campaign asking for $12,000 dollars to support a ‘full-time’ writing schedule.

Obviously, a slew of authors found this surprising, irritating and even offensive. And the topic went viral within my extended online writing community. Here’s why I think this particular campaign bothered so many other writers:

  • Anyone can write, but not every writer can write well, and even less will actually publish their work (for various reasons). How a writer promotes their titles and themselves has an impact on their income potential.
  • Writing is a creative occupation, a way of life really, that hardly follows a strict 9-5 schedule, but rather a 24/7 thought process of never ending plot twists, messy character arguments and loads of self-doubt. Writing ‘full-time’ is different for everyone, and honestly, most published writers squeeze their writing in among other daily obligations, like family, friends, school, and yeah, other full-time jobs.
  • Most writers don’t actually get paid to write. Unless they’ve landed a publishing contract of substance that drops a 5-6 figure advance in their bank account (incredibly rare) that can feed them, their families, and pay their bills, etc…they rely on their royalty income from previously published works to make a living, and if that is not enough, they do what the rest of the world does for income – work another job. Writers are people, too. We all must survive and that means sometimes we have to walk away from the computer or notepad to make extra money. Such is life.
  • Asking for help is, in my opinion, a taboo subject. It shouldn’t be, but there are ways to ask for help with tact. I’ve always thought funding campaigns were a way for those in dire need to get help after something truly awful has happened, or something remarkable needs attention. Like a natural disaster that took the home and belongings of a family of six and now needs to relocate, a special needs child who wants to grow up and be president and wants nothing but the funds to get him/her to the Nation’s capital to see the White House in person, a talented Scientist trying to get a new patent off the ground, or like what happened to an author friend of mine recently – the sudden loss of her husband and main financial supporter for her family (one Autistic child and one awaiting a transplant – this is a ‘real’ family in need and the link to their Give Forward campaign will be included at the bottom of this post). Till recently, I didn’t realize how many people actually start up such campaigns to simply make life easier on themselves. Life is not easy for any of us, right? But we all do need help from time to time which is okay, though for most of us, it’s hard to ask for it outside immediate family.
  • Assuming that someone else will pay your bills while you pursue your passion is not a luxury most have. I’ll be blunt. Campaigning online to make this happen takes a bit of brazen disregard for the struggles other artists have made to make achieving their goals possible. Sometimes the struggle produces a better result, or a more intrinsic feeling of accomplishment. I love me some Tay-Tay (thanks Dwayne Johnson) but if Taylor Swift had been with the same boyfriend since she was sixteen, would she write such great female angst ridden love songs full of bring-it-on girl power? If JK Rowling hadn’t spent her extra time writing Harry Potter notes out on a paper napkin, would we find her as remarkable a writer and relatable a person as we do? For creative types, the struggle is real. And almost necessary. It feeds the creativity we need for good stories.

To conclude this Thought of the Day, I would never go online and publicly bash this author for a request for financial support, because it takes a nasty amount of energy, plus, I know what it’s like to be broke. My husband and I have gotten loans and asked from help from my inlaws in the past when we needed it. It takes a lot of balls to tell someone you need help with your finances. But on the flip-side, I totally get why other writers would be/and are peeved about the concept behind this. Because it’s happening a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. This particular case is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that I’ve seen someone use a place like Go Fund Me to support their writing. When it comes down to it, writing is a passion and getting paid for your work at all is in itself a remarkable thing. I cried the first time I made enough money to pay the water bill. And last year my writing helped me buy a new car – my first ever. But it hasn’t all been roses and rainbows. I work hard for my passion, as it should be.

My advice is to embrace the struggle. If a writer’s dream is to get published and make writing their full-time career, then it’s not just about publishing as many books as they can in a short amount of time and telling people to buy them. There must be substance and quality involved in the work, copious amounts of effort spent on not just writing, but networking and marketing too. And patience. It takes time to find dedicated readers who love your work and even more time to keep them. A positive attitude will go a long way in this industry. It will take you all the way if you give your best and put in the work to make it happen. I know this for a fact, because I’ve seen it. And I’m on that path. It’s totally possible.


If you want more info about Karli Rush’s Give Forward Campaign check out the link and please share it with your friends. This is one of the ways that funding campaigns can make a difference – by helping an amazing woman in true need, going through a hard time in life. I wish her the best, and even if you can’t afford to donate, you can check out her WEBSITE today, and maybe even find something new to read! Every dollar helps. XOXO

Happy Tuesday!

Goodbye June, Hello July!

Readers…

What’s on your TBR list this month? Hopefully something fun to go with your summer breaks, be them weekends or vacation days! Don’t forget to sneak a TMDBook in there, if you need to catch up. *wink*

Writers…

What’s on your schedule for July? Mine is SO full! Audio books in production, Station 4, editing and formatting for the Station books, print formatting and redesigning a cover. Phew…that’s a mouthful. But it can be done. Hope your month is a productive one, friends!

goodbye-june-hello-july

Wednesday Plans…

I hope y’all will be around Wednesday for a follow up to the hilariously controversial and ridiculously popular How To Be A Jerk Reviewer blog post that knocked all other posts on this site from their little pedestals and quickly jumped its way to the Highest Viewed title on the blog – of all time. The Jerk Reviewer post (which I’ll of course be sharing again today and tomorrow as a refresher) was really meant to make fun of the reviewing industry and all the changes it’s gone through since the explosion of technology, mainly, in my case, self-publishing. But I’m glad y’all liked it, found it funny, related in some way, or choked on your coffee while reading it, then shared it with hundreds of writer friends on Facebook and Twitter so they could choke on their coffees, too.

I love Writer Tip Wednesdays even if I don’t throw up a tip weekly, because even though I’m currently working on my 11th book (totally bragging here and not counting my published short stories), I’ve still got a lot to learn about writing, publishing and this industry in general. I’m okay with that, because let’s face it, things will continue to change and those of us writers who don’t go with the ebb and flow will get lost in the process. I don’t want to be one of those people. Seriously. It’s a legitimate fear…being lost in the writing world. It can be a dark place if you’re on your own. *shudders*

Anyway. SO, how do I follow the Jerk Reviewer post with something equally as fun and entertaining? Um, talk about myself, of course, because I am totally okay with poking fun at my own writing. It’s harder for me to do that to others. Bad Karma and all. Wednesday I’m going to highlight some of my favorite negative reviews on MY books, and go into detail about what went wrong in those reviews. And I won’t lie, I’ll probably be wearing a straight-jacket by the end, because even though I don’t have a TON of critical or negative reviews, there’s more than a handful of them. I mean, there’s definitely enough for me to post about here. Generally I follow the ‘DO NOT READ’ policy for 1 star reviews. I’m going to break that rule just for y’all. There might be copious amounts of chocolate and wine consumption going on in the background this week from my end, just warning you. But it will be worth it because if you can’t laugh at yourself, you aren’t living hard enough.

See ya Wednesday!