I #Failed | Good – Now Go Fail Again – A #Writer’s Tale

Yeah so…I think I’m ready

Ready for what you may ask if you care…

Ready to get back down to the business of writing something worthy of your read.

Something worthy of myself and my abilities. You see, as a writer…especially a writer with a day job, family, other obligations etc. etc. and a husband who likes to talk…A LOT, (yeah I know what you’re thinking, most women would be ecstatic) I get distracted beyond measure.

To be honest…no, to be truthful, I’ve allowed myself to become distracted…repeatedly for over two years. I craved it. I went on a quest for distraction.

I’ve sworn to myself almost daily that I would write. I do in fact write quite a bit for my day job in sales and marketing but that’s content and copywriting. It’s creative in a different way. Yes, I’m telling stories about a product or products to sell them but I’ve neglected the most important product I have…myself.

For three years, I was immersed in writing books, editing books, choosing covers, designing covers, publishing and marketing my books. Once I went independent there was no going back…or so I thought. Today, I realized I’ve failed myself. I’ve failed my readers. Looking back, my doubts that I’d ever succeed as a writer crept slowly in like the sunset and it stayed dark. Not North pole dark or Alaska or something where you know in a month or two the sun will rise again. I’m talking eternal night.

If you read anything on my blog, especially this week, you’ll see I went on an adventure. A real life adventure and was out there in the real world doing real world stuff with real people. What I’ve discovered is I have been in a terrible rut and although I enjoyed my adventure tremendously for the most part, I was terribly uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt restrained, stressed and even weary at times because I created this monster. The monster being me. The monster who has so much crammed into her brain all the time now with no outlet that I find it nearly impossible to relate to anyone outside of my closest circle. I can’t even open up my feelings anymore unless I’m about to explode. I feel backed into a corner and yet I crave the corner and press further and further into it until that’s all there is.

It all started when I finished my last book. It was collaboration that was beyond wonderful yet beyond excruciatingly painful at the same time. The whole process of rewriting a book in my own voice caused changes in my creativity that I could not have foreseen for it was immediately after the book was closed on that endeavor that I became stagnant. This was worse than writer’s block, this was flat lining.

I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t feel it anymore. My insatiable hunger to pour out my very heart and soul into words became a tangible need to avoid it at all costs. I tried…I really tried. I’d sit for hours in front of a blank screen. One of my dearest writer friends / a real friend, encouraged me and did her level best to lift me up and turn the lights back on in my brain but all I could do was write a few chapters, tear them apart, write them again and them slam my laptop closed.

It hurt. I cried. I ate…way too much. I felt alone and lost and worst of all, a complete and utter failure.

Seven books. I wrote and published seven books in the span of three years. Obviously I had stories to tell. They have pretty great reviews and some have won awards so I must have been doing something right. I spent more money than I made, on marketing, and even gave away thousands of kindle copies just to get my name out there. I’m no different than any other independent author in that respect and I know that. I’m just an example of that quote, “The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before the miracle happens…don’t give up.”

After three years of nonstop writing and publishing…no miracle. I let go.

I felt like no matter what I did, I was never going to reach the level of success I wanted. Not fame or fortune, although money wouldn’t hurt but I wanted that best seller status. I wanted to see my books out there…everywhere…

That’s where I fucked up.

Then this quote hit me hard…

But first, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t quit…

I GAVE UP.

I started because of the voice in my head that evolved into a story about a little boy with special gifts who kept nagging me to tell his tale.

I started because for 48 years of my life, or at least as far back as I could recall, I always wanted to be a writer. I knew there were stories I needed to tell. I knew I could make it happen and all I had to do was sit down and write.

Of course there was a whole lot more to it than that but I didn’t know and I didn’t care and I knew failure at that time wasn’t an option. All I could think about from the time I woke up in the morning until the time I went to bed at night was writing. I chomped at the bit all day until I could get on this old keyboard and tell you all about my imaginary friends. I was excited and alive inside…

Alive inside.

Alive on the page.

Alive in my heart and in my mind and filled with dreams and goals and stories.

Somehow they all became clouded and the voices stopped. There was no cataclysmic event. There was no physical or emotional turmoil. There were changes of course in the real world but nothing outside myself caused this. This was an internal failure. A break down of the spirit and joy writing had given me because it became so much about business and promotion and selling and numbers and fear and doubt…and failure.

Well, today, I started hearing the voices again. I started feeling deep inside a spark of desire and hunger.

I started shaking off the pressure of finishing both my book series’ and perhaps finishing one of the other novels I was writing that are stand alone’s and pitching them to agents. I got ideas for a few other books as well and hurriedly jotted them down, as we do so I didn’t lose them.

Failure is a fact of life.

We go where we have to go, inside of ourselves and sometimes, a fishing trip or just shutting out the noise of day to day life can open a window in your mind and allow you to see yourself even in the dark.

I withdrew not only from the world but from myself because I was disappointed in my failure to achieve the goals I thought I wanted. Now I see what I wanted wasn’t the truth of it. I had to fail. I had to go through this darkness to understand I had lost that part of myself in the process that gave me the gift and the desire to write in the first place.

Did I say I’ve read A Song of Ice and Fire THREE times in the past year? Yes, all of the books in the series. I’m obsessed with George R.R. Martin’s writing and even listen to the audiobooks on my commute. I’ve been studying that master for a year. Inside and out I’ve studied him and I still don’t know half of his genius but nothing will stop me from trying to achieve it. So at least the last year hasn’t been a total literary loss. I’ve been studying and absorbing the craft as much as I can.

Now, I need to go forward.

This will be a process. This will be a rebirth of sorts for me but I’m no longer in the dark. The sky is lighter and the sun is just below the horizon.

Fuck money. Fuck best seller status. Fuck all of it. I just need to write and write often and well.

If the miracle happens so be it.

The real miracle is just knowing I have an outlet for this ballooning information and imagination inside of me that has reached critical mass. Inspiration is everywhere now. Pictures. Sounds. Music. Nature. Sleep. It’s everywhere.

I’ll not force it ever again. I won’t guilt or pressure myself to write. That’s a poison I won’t swallow. There is something that keeps playing in my mind now though. It’s a quote from the Game of Thrones television show. It’s an exchange between two of my favorite characters: Jon Snow and Ser Davos Seaworth.

 

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I’m Not An #Expert on Anything – I’m a #Writer – No Rules Required

For my blog stop, I’ve chosen a previous blog which I felt is timeless and that expresses who I am as a writer, completely. 

I hope you enjoy it!

quote-advice-to-a-new-writer-there-are-no-rules-in-this-profession-do-what-is-good-for-you-anne-rice-122-70-88

And that’s good enough for me.

I tell stories. I have a few awards so I suppose that means I don’t suck at writing. However, even with six novels and a novella to my credit, as well as hundreds of blog posts, I do not nor would I ever call myself an expert in anything. Nor would I dare to offer advice on the best way to do this or that, simply based on my own experience. I worked hard and I wrote from my heart, soul and gut. I was published. I went from being a writer to an author in the span of less than a year. How did I do it?

I wrote. I focused on my goals and did it my own way. That’s exactly how you should do it too; regardless of what your own way is. Just please, the only rule I stand by 100% is EDITING. If you are transitioning from writer to author and actually publishing a novel, pay someone to edit for you. Please, for all our sake’s.

Every situation is different. I’ve made mistakes but I’ve learned from each and every one; some bigger lessons than others. Regardless of what writing technique you use or formula you choose to follow, if you don’t approach that formula with a positive attitude and maintain the ground rules firmly at the heart of it with honesty and humility, you can really end up unhappy with the results of your work. Try it your own way first! Experiment! You may be creating a formula that only works for you and that’s perfect!

Every time I begin a new project that will hopefully evolve into a novel, my knees knock, my mouth waters, my heart races and hands tremble. That my friends is fear – fear I’ll write fifty thousand words and suddenly decide I’m unhappy with the story. Fear that my loyal readers will not like the behavior of my characters and even my main character. Fear that a beloved character may die a horrible death and my readers will wish the same for me…figuratively of course.

NEWS FLASH: Readers will love your story and readers will hate your story and it really has nothing to do with you. How they feel is about their own taste and that’s fine. 🙂 That’s how it should be! 

  • Do you outline your book?
  • What kind outline? Detailed or more like a guideline? 
  • Do you just let your characters lead the way and pray they aren’t taking you down the rabbit hole?

I would never presume to tell anyone what is right and what is wrong with how they approach a project. Doing what you are comfortable with and what you see as a plan and system you can live with and work well with is to me, far more important than following some text book guideline laid down by someone or someones who think they are the expert.

I’m not an expert on anything – I’m a writer. I ONLY want to be a writer when I write. I don’t want to offer you advice, let you cry on my shoulder and most importantly, I won’t tell you how you should do anything. My experience is mine. Go get yours. Don’t be be afraid to spread your wings and fly!

“On giving writers advice, offering “rules.” I’m asked a lot about this, and people bring great lists of rules for writers to the page all the time. What do I think? I can’t say it loud enough. There are NO RULES for all writers! And never let anyone tell you that there are. Writers are individuals; we each do it in our own way. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not a “real” writer because you don’t follow their rules! I can’t tell you how much harm was done to me early in life by others judging me in that way. I was told in college I wasn’t a “real” writer because I composed on a typewriter; I was condemned later on in damn near apocalyptic terms for “not writing every day.” “Real writers” are those who become “real writers.” That’s all there is to it. And again, we each do it in our own way. For me, stubbornness has been as important as any talent I might possess. I ultimately ignored the people who condemned me, ridiculed me and sought to discourage me. I laughed or cried over it in secret; and went right on writing what I wanted to write, the way I wanted to write it. I knew of no other way to become the writer of my dreams. If you want to be a writer, go for it. Critics are a dime a dozen, and people who would love to see you fail are everywhere. Just keep on going; keep doing what works for you. Keep believing in yourself.” ANNE RICE

I’d listen to this woman before I’d listen to anyone else. She’s 100% right.

Why Six of My Books are #Free on #Kindle Until 7-8-16!

A few weeks ago I was feeling a little low because my life had gotten a bit out of control and I had too many things going on that required my complete attention. To be honest, this has been going on much longer than I cared to acknowledge but that’s how life goes.

I was in a slump. Unable to read or write much of anything and the only light I could see at the end of the tunnel was a train coming. Then it hit me; writer’s block combined with disappointment in my sales due to my lack of interest in my own life and happiness. Book reviews had tapered off. I’d become lax in my marketing and I couldn’t decide which direction I wanted to go.

I’d held on so tightly to all of my books for three years and feared without an agent and a major publishing company, I’d never sell enough books to achieve the level of success I need and want in order to finally quit my day job and write full time…my ultimate dream.

In the throws of all of this brain scramble, my original plan came roaring back to the surface like a wave crashing over me. My original dream while I was writing Fireflies was just to be read. I just wanted people to read my books and hopefully enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them. It was never about getting rich quick (thank goodness right?) or overnight fame. At its core, this journey has been about sharing my work with the world and finding readers who’d want to join me on this voyage.

“Give them away.”

That was the voice I heard. Since I started giving them all away yesterday, I have already received some wonderful feedback from people who have started reading the books. As of this writing, I have given away a grand total of 6,444 books. I am not naive enough to believe that all of these downloads will be read and even fewer of those will be reviewed. However, had I not opened the gates and invited so far almost 6,500 people in to try out my books, my odds of ever reaching these people would have been near ZERO.

Here we are into day 2. We have until Friday midnight to reach as many readers as I can. I’d love it if you would assist me with either sharing this blog post anyway you can and/or downloading my books and hopefully, reading one of them. 🙂

Thanks so much for your time!

Free Book Giveaway 2016

 

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author

Owl

  1. Unless you’re already famous for something else; rock star, movie actor, professional athlete—you most likely will not sell a million copies of your book—your first book let’s say. For Joe Shmo and P.S. Bartlett and many other authors, being successful takes a good deal of time, good marketing and a great support base. If you’re hoping to get rich quick by being a writer, you may want to get that record deal or Lakers contract first.

  2. You have to have either a very good memory or be incredibly organized. Between scheduling writing time, writing your blog, tweeting, running contests, Facebook pages, email addresses, writing your book and not to mention holding down a full time job, keeping house, cooking, cleaning and keeping your significant other from leaving you due to you forgetting not only their birthday but their name, you may have time to pee and walk the cat—I mean dog.

  3. It can be a very lonely career. Writers need a lot of solitary time to write. I’ll admit, I’ve been writing and someone will come into the room and most often they will ask that all too important question, “Are you writing?” but occasionally the matter is important to them. Forgive them because they don’t realize you’re right in the middle of taking down an army of giant trolls and when you read back over what you wrote later, try not to get upset with them when your troll has forgotten to do their homework and needs an excuse note for their teacher or they’ve set the kitchen on fire.

  4. People want your swag. If you’re not an author and you’re reading this, no, they do not want your lovely new curtains, they want goodies that show off your books. There is a bit of an investment involved but it’s oh so worth when your fans want something special to go with their books. Bookmarks, buttons, charms and t-shirts make great swag but always remember your fans love your books and they are going to want some swag so you better have it ready.

  5. Getting published is as easy as 1, 2, 3 (and other fairy tales). There are literally millions of books on Amazon alone—go look if you don’t believe me. Looks pretty simple doesn’t it? (I’ll be right back I’m rolling on the floor laughing). Even if you become frustrated with the process of querying agents and publishers and decide to self-publish your book, there are plenty of really nice and friendly people waiting in line to take your money and help you do just that—choose wisely. Do background checks if you have to but please be careful.

  6. Depending on which genre you write in, you must do your research. Nero didn’t smoke cigars—neither did pirates. I’ll bet you didn’t know that did you? Okay well even if you claim you did, do you have to be 100% historically accurate? Well yes, you should. Of course you can use your imagination to create new scenarios, for instance Abraham Lincoln as a vampire hunter but if old Abe whips out his iPod or says, “Hey, pass the Grey Poupon,” I’m sorry but your more experienced reader is gonna close the book on you.

  7. I didn’t know authors were zombies. I’ve learned to accomplish more things while half asleep than some people do wide awake—I think. Well I try.Okay I thought I did those things!

  8. Social networking is very important but don’t beg. If you’re a new author, currently writing your first novel or even thinking about it, you better have a Facebook, a Twitter, a Google+ and a blog at the very least or you are already way behind. The irony of all of this is under point number 3. I compare this lifestyle to living like a gopher. In the hole, out of the hole. In the hole, out of the hole. We hide and write and in the next breath, we stick our head out, make a bunch of really cool new friends, say hello to our fans and then run back in our holes. Please, just don’t bombard people with “Over here! Look at me! PLEASE look at me! WILL YOU FREAKING LOOK OVER HERE!!!” Build relationships. Support your fellow writers and above all, don’t steal their golf balls.

  9. Not everyone likes you and once you’re published, they may like you even less. As we strive to write that perfect, wonderful book that of course everyone wants to read and it miraculously gets published and we’re deliriously happy and sharing our happiness with anyone who will listen on every social media site and at every cocktail party or barbeque we attend, there is someone or someones lurking and guess what—they don’t like you, never did and they’ll be mean to you. They’ll give you anonymous bad reviews or say not so nice things about your book—since it is of course the source of your happiness. The answer to this is very simple. Write them into your next novel and kill them. Done.

  10. People will like you and they’ll love your book. The most incredible feeling you get when your book is published and you start receiving feedback from complete strangers as to how good or even great it is will blow you away. Besides the birth of my children and grandchildren, giving birth to my first novel and holding it in my hands for the first time was nothing short of euphoria. Within its pages or gigabytes lies your blood, sweat and tears. It’s an asexual reproduction of your deepest thoughts and your wildest dreams, and you don’t need an epidural or puff puff blow to bring it into the world—however, a little shot of tequila or in my case RumChata to welcome its arrival never hurt anybody.

Lately Nothing Fits

Lately nothing fits

Everything expands and contracts around me

Like a balloon going from hot to cold

Cold to hot

Full to empty

 

Where is the light?

I know it’s hidden there behind the clouds of doubt

Growing roots beneath the surface

the seeds of doubt and the seeds of confidence germinate

side by side

Their roots intermingle and sprout,

both reaching for the light.

 

Whose leaves will roll out  and catch the golden rays?

Whose buds will bloom?

Which will attract the buzzing bees?

To which will the bee fly and pollinate?

Which will shrivel and die and which will drink that light?

 

Lately nothing fits.

Everything is too tight or too loose.

The chair too small.

The bed too hard.

The porridge too hot.

 

The world…too big.

 

Weekend Update – Book Signing Success – No Rest for the Weary

Yesterday I was blessed to finally have my book signing / pirate party / meet and greet for The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge.

I didn’t expect a huge turnout so I only brought 20 books…I sold and signed them all. 🙂

Here are a few pics from the event. I’ll admit it was fun to dress up and play Ivory for the afternoon and I brought along my crew of cousins to lend a hand…fast forward the fabulous foursome about twenty years..lol

 

Yours Truly

Yours Truly

Pirate Party3

Setting up the Room Pirate Style

Pirate Party4

The Crew’s eatin’ good today!

Pirate Party6

All gone. 🙂

Pirate Party7

Major Booty up for grabs!

Pirate Party8

This basket was HUGE! Filled with more treasure than you could shake a dagger at!

Pirate Party9

Another happy winner!

 

My amazingly supportive family and friends. These women are the definition of soul-mates. Can you figure out who’s who of the crew?

These are what you call FRIENDS.

These are what you call FRIENDS.

If I were ever to run away and become a pirate, these are the first three women I’d sign on as crew members. They are amazing beta readers. They organized this book signing down to the decorations and door prizes. They did set up and clean up and worked as cashiers, sold raffle tickets and handled the security…well, they made me feel secure in knowing they always have my back and support my goals 100%.

After the signing, we let the good times keep on rolling and a few of us headed out for the rest of the evening to hear my brother-in-law’s band, Shaky Magoo. I ran into so many old friends I couldn’t keep up with trying to speak to each one individually but I found myself wrapped up in the arms of so many of my old pals I was warm and fuzzy from head to toe all night. Sorry for the fuzzy pics though. I guess how I was feeling spilled over into my iPhone.

Shaky3 Shaky4 Shaky2 Shaky1

Shaky5

My favorite dentist with her arm in the air. It was fun seeing her out of the office. She’s a blast!

Then it was up early this morning for breakfast with this cutie and back to the usual grind of grocery shopping and laundry.

Breakfast

Then, later, a couple of hours with these two cherubs of love and joy.

Twinnies

Not to sound like a whiner but after my usual week of work, babysitting and daily writer dream pursuits…it’s fair to say I’ve had no rest what-so-ever this weekend and there isn’t any in sight.

Nothing new here!

Thanks for stopping by…see you next time!

Tata

Thanks to my friend Bobby Duncan for taking this very nice photo of me last weekend while I was helping my husband DJ a wedding.

 

 

Readers’ Favorite Reviewed The Blue Diamond – The Razor’s Edge

Cover Five Stars

Book Review
Reviewed by Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite

The Blue Diamond (The Razor’s Edge Book One) is a historical romance by P.S. Bartlett. Captain Ivory Shepard’s luck as a pirate nearly runs out when her ship is attacked, and she’s rescued by the handsome, ruthless Captain Carbonale. There’s a reward on Ivory’s head and Captain Carbonale plans to collect it. Ivory doesn’t intend to get hanged, so she plans her escape. She flees to her female cousins who are pirates too. If there is honour among thieves, then Ivory and her cousins are dealing with the most dishonest ones who are willing to double cross them for the loot they have hidden. Ivory is attracted to Captain Carbonale but her distrust for him runs deep, especially when people she’s associated with disappear. She also realises that her cousins have other plans for their future that do not include piracy, and wonders about her own destiny as she constantly tries to battle her way out of being captured.

It’s not often I read stories about female pirates and I am impressed with The Blue Diamond (The Razor’s Edge Book One). P.S. Bartlett writes an entertaining novel that offers great action, adventure and witty dialogue. The personalities of Ivory and her cousins are complex, but I easily connected with them. These are independent, free spirited women with lusty appetites, especially Miranda. Their sense of humour shines through any situation they are placed in. I liked this romantic story which includes some historical data to make it appropriate for that era.

 What an awesome surprise to wake up to this morning!

5star-shiny-web