Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What's Up Wednesday & IWSG

Welcome to What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I've been reading Inside Out, a dystopian novel by Maria V. Snyder (author of the Study and Healer fantasy series). I liked it, but it's not my favourite. Still, I'm now reading Storm Glass, the first in her follow up to the Study series, and really enjoying it. Next up: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I've heard good things about this one!



What I'm writing

After finishing my draft and revisions, I was kind of at a loose end. I decided for once to obey the voice of common sense and take a few days off writing. Unfortunately, I forgot how much of a grump I am when not writing... o_O That, coupled with some crappy Other Stuff I had to deal with, plunged me back into the dreaded everything sucks mode and made it really hard to actually get back into writing anything. But then one night (oddly enough, when the clocks in the UK went forward!), I was inspired to start writing my YA post-apocalyptic sequel. So progress is back in full swing! :D

What inspires me 

Realising I haven't forgotten how to write. :P This is my 13th book. It's also a sequel, and after the intense ending of the first book, I was afraid to start the next one in case I couldn't match up to it. But after mentally kicking myself around, I had another look at the outline, and this book has the potential to be even more intense/evil/devastating etc than the first one! Also, I love writing it. It's about an invincible girl, the end of the world, a man who can't die, and an explosive all-out battle with invading monsters from another dimension. Will anyone want to read it? I haven't a clue. But I'm loving it anyway.

What else I've been up to

Working, reading, relaxing-not-relaxing (I am a terrible relaxer. I write novels on the beach, spend sunny days working furiously...ahem.). Raiding my brother's Playstation game collection. :P


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It's also time for IWSG! The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the creation of Ninja Captain Alex, and is a great way for writers to share their worries, support and encouragement.

As I mentioned above, I made the mistake of letting things get to me a bit much over the past week. The publishing game is a rollercoaster, with nice publisher emails followed by rejections followed by requests followed by near-miss rejections which leave me tearing my hair out and this week, I just felt so exhausted. I try not to complain too much about the whole long-game process of publishing, but well, I've been trying to get an agent since 2010. I've made about every stupid mistake it's possible to make along the way, but I've also found an amazing publisher, and I'll never stop being grateful for that. But after so many nice writing, not for me responses to my carefully-targeted queries, the old fear of inadequacy comes back.

I've been querying Beneath the Waves for three months. Is that a long time? I honestly don't know, because it's been different every time I've queried (this is the fourth). I started out writing MG fantasy, and I still love it. But it isn't big in indie publishing, so the agent/trade publisher route's really the only way to go. And that's fine with me. From my experiences over the past year and a half, I know self-publishing isn't the right path for me, but getting an agent is as hard as (maybe even harder than) ever. My first two queried projects didn't get so much as a personalized response. Third time around was Darkness Watching, and that time, I targeted small presses only, because YA urban fantasy/paranormal was (and still is) near-impossible to break into. But this time, I hoped I might have a shot with an agent. 

I've worked so damn hard on Beneath the Waves, rewriting and revising intensively with help from so many great readers, received fantastic feedback from Pitch Wars mentors...and I'm starting to get the sinking feeling that maybe what I write just doesn't appeal to people. Which is completely nonsensical, but the general doom-and-gloom mood over the past week hasn't been helping much. It's like all the worries nesting in Emma's brain decided to come out and have a party. And my next book's YA post-apocalyptic. Can you say, dead genre? ARGH! *headdesk* 

It's at times like these that the old impatience rears its head again. I want to be published NOW! wailed past-Emma as she waited months for a rejection which never actually arrived. Of course, I know a LOT more about publishing and waiting than I did then. I know everything takes time, and that sales take time to build and I'm lucky to have not only published one book but to also have a series on the way - but I can't help but feel sad for my other stories. I want to share Beneath the Waves, Indestructible, all the other stories bouncing around in my head. It's a new age, where we're at sea in endless possibilities - self-publishing, small press, hybrid publishing...sometimes I just wish for a boat so I can find my way out of it! How do I know the best path for each of my books? I don't. I just want people to read them, and hopefully enjoy them. But it's so hard to be heard, so hard to carve a niche in today's wild publishing world.

Don't get me wrong - I'm excited about the opportunities, and grateful for the many, many wonderful people I've already met. Who knows - maybe there are more people out there who'd like to read my strange tales. I've jumped genres from urban fantasy with demons to high fantasy with mer-zombie-vampire-things to explosive post-apocalyptic with an all-out battle between superpowered humans and horrific monsters. Meanwhile, I have two other drafts sitting on my hard drive (one a MG about dragons and clockwork monsters and alternative universes, the other a YA about curses and magic and evil deities). And another trilogy in the planning. What I'm lacking, however, is a crystal ball. I have no idea how any of this is going to play out, and to be honest, it makes me nervous as hell. How am I to know what was the best decision to make, further down the line? It's no wonder it's taken me so long to decide which project to work on next...

All in all, sometimes it might be nice to live in someone else's head for a while, just for peace of mind!

44 comments:

  1. I had to laugh at 'Will anyone want to read it?' 'cause you've got it - who cares! Glad you're having a blast with it :)
    The pub. business is a rollercoaster. Seriously, I'm beginning to wonder if anything ever runs smoothly. I find reading about others rocky experiences is inspiring - not everyone is an immediate success. Actually, most not. When it hits, you'll be glad you didn't stop.

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    1. Absolutely :) Thanks for commenting!

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  2. I don't think we'll ever get used to this rollercoaster! It will continue, but as long as you stick with it, you will persevere. Do what you love. (I would love to spend my sunny days inside writing too!)

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    1. Yep! Always the way. Good job I love writing too much to stop!

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  3. Roll on, lucky 13! Best of luck with the sequel. :)

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  4. If it's any help, from what I've gleaned over the past few years trying to understand the way publishing works, 3 months is not really a long time to be querying. I've read about people who have queried the same novel over the course of a year or more. I think knowing when you've queried enough depends on the kind of feedback you're getting. If you've queried 100 agents and you get a form rejection with them all, either your query sucks, or your novel isn't right for the market. If you're getting requests for pages, and then rejections, your query's probably fine, but your novel may still not be quite there. If the general consensus seems to be the novel's great, just "not for me," then your options are: a) put the novel in a drawer and query something else, or b) self-publish. Agents are very savvy, but they are constrained to take on what they think they can sell. They have been known to make mistakes, and are often the first to admit they've passed on projects believing the market wasn't right for them, only to be proven wrong when the novel eventually found a publisher (even self-published).

    I'm with you in trying to go the traditional route and getting an agent. But if you believe in this novel as much as it seems you do, then don't be quick to dismiss self-publishing. These days it's a perfectly respectable option. If your novel is well-written, has been beta read, and perhaps even professionally edited, then why not? You may be right, and despite what the industry says, there's a huge market just waiting for your novel. :)

    Have a wonder week, Emma!

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    1. I've been trying to figure out if there's a pattern to all this, but it's difficult! I'm either getting the form response or "it's not for me", except for one agent who asked to see my next project and another who said the genre's hard to sell to publishers... I'd never give up on the book altogether, but my problem with self-publishing is the costs. I'd want to do a good job, but I'm not really in a financial position to - which is why I love working with small press publishers. I'm happy to go that route for my book if no agent wants to take a chance on it, but I really want representation for at least one of my projects!

      Thanks for commenting! :)

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  5. Your 13th book idea sounds awesome.

    I've been working on a MG fantasy, but since I suspect I'll be self-publishing, I'm concerned that MG and self-publishing don't mix. So I've moved my MC up to high school, although my story won't have the darker tone most YA seems to have.

    I've enjoyed the Puppet Spell so far, so I'm sure other people want to read your stories.

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    1. Thanks! :) I know what you mean about MG and self publishing - it's so hard to find the audience without a presence in bookshops or libraries.

      So glad to hear you enjoyed The Puppet Spell! :)

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  6. I've had way too many everything sucks days in recent months, so I can sort of relate. Good that you're on an upswing now with your writing, though!

    I read INSIDE OUT and OUTSIDE IN a few years back. I liked them all right, but there were some issues there as well. My WiP has some similarities to these books, so I have to be very careful to differentiate mine. One thing I did like was that it was a duology. I think so many trilogies could be hacked back to a duology instead, thus doing away with the whole saggy middle book problem.

    Hope you have a great week, Emma!

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    1. That's why my post-apocalyptic series is duology - it's too long for one book, but I didn't want to stretch it too far. :)

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  7. The taking time off after finishing a draft or a revision piece of advice is always hard for me to follow as well.

    The publishing roller coaster, not exactly Space Mountain huh? Sending hugs. I agree, the moments of elation, followed by rejection, followed by "liked it but didn't love it" comments, followed by wanting to be professional and recognize the reason for all these things, can easily result in a crisis of faith. We just have to process, absorb, and then move forward, until we get there!

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    1. Lol! If only it were like Space Mountain. :P Yep - perserverence is everything!

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  8. I'm a total grump when I'm not writing too. It's amazing how that little thing can make such a difference.

    You need to check out Andrew Leon at Strange Pegs today. He was talking about audiences and I'm behind him 100%. Yours is out there, and it may even be strong, but the difficult part is finding it. There are some niches that are difficult for publishers to reach.

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    1. Maybe it's a writing thing. I'll be sure to check out that post! :)

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  9. Don't give up on your genre. People still read it. And there are other paths besides getting an agent, such as finding a publisher directly.

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    1. Thanks for commenting! :) I have amazing publishers, but its always good to explore all the options. I just have to decide the best path for each project!

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  10. I really want the traditional route too and you're right finding an agent is so hard and at times soul destroying. I was lucky enough to find an agent interested only to be disappointing a few months down the line. Then I found a respected publisher and things progressed through the stages but after 10 months it ended in "We do really like it but sorry not this time for us." Followed by another who liked a different project of mine but in the end decided it wasn't right for them either. And so it continues ... I keep telling myself I must be doing something right to generate interest but it is a long and sometimes lonely road to travel to find the perfect match. So I guess what I'm saying is don't give up the dream, stay strong and write what you want to write. You never know what might just be around the next corner.

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    1. Oh no, that must be so frustrating! :( I think you can take the interest as a good sign, definitely, and I'm happy with some of the responses I've had (especially the ones inviting me to send in future projects). Here's hoping there are good things waiting for us on the journey! :)

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  11. There are always other options. I'd be afraid to self-publish as well.

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    1. Definitely! I've found the small press option works fine for me, but maybe not so much for my MG books - it's different for each project! :)

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  12. Ha! Be careful which other mind you try to live in. Others could be even crazier ;)

    I think we all feel the same at times. Sometimes impatient, sometime hopeless, sometimes hopeFUL. Can't wait to read more from you!

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    1. Haha, I guess it's an inevitable part of being a writer! I can't wait to read your latest MS! :)

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  13. I've been meaning to read that duology, but I'm still taking a break from dystopia for the time-being. I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually, though. :)

    Good luck with the sequel!

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    1. I got burned out on dystopia for a while after reading so many last year, but it's pretty different from the others! Thanks! :)

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  14. That does sound like a good story! Glad you found out you can still write ;)
    Good luck with your querying! You'll get there :)

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    1. Thanks! :) I know perserverence is everything, and I definitely don't plan to give up!

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  15. I feel you on your angst regarding the publishing roller coaster. The last few months have definitely been similar for me. Hoping you getting some really great news in the near future! Have a great week, Emma!

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    1. So much sympathy! Here's hoping for some good news for both of us! :)

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  16. Thirteen novels. Really? Wow. And you look about 12. Don't suppose you can send me some of that creativity via cyberspace. I'm in awe. Which means I'm totally impressed. So, remember that while you may not be excited by how prolific you are, some of us are. Kudos.

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    1. 12? I'm taking that as a compliment, haha. Definitely fits my mental age... ;) Thanks for your kind words! :)

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  17. I get grumpy when I take writing breaks too, and I always worry that I'll be rusty when I jump back into the process again. I'm happy to hear you're enjoying you current writing project so much, although I guess that'll make it even harder to take breaks, right? ;)

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    1. Same here - I'm always relieved to find the words are still there! And yep - no break for me. :P

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  18. I understand how you feel. It's hard to wait and it's even harder to get rejections. I'm querying my third novel and it's going better this time than before, but just because I've gotten more positive feedback in the first month doesn't mean anything. Now I'm waiting to hear back on fulls/partials that are out.

    Breaking into the industry is rough, but if we keep trying it's bound to happen eventually, right? That's what I keep telling myself at least. I'm working on a dark fantasy YA right now, which I'll query next if this project doesn't work. Which is...not so great because it's not a hot genre either :/ But you gotta write what you want to write, right?

    Good luck! I hope it goes great for you and that you get an agent this time around, and then an amazing book deal even quicker.

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    1. *hugs* Definitely write what you love! You've done well to get full/partial requests, so here's hoping this is your time! :)

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  19. I am definitely a much happier person when I'm writing too! Good luck this week with all the things!

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  20. Hang in there, Emma! "Roller Coaster" isn't quite the right word... what would a roller coaster x10 be? A super-manic-twister-coaster? But in the end it will all be worth it and I have no doubt you'll reach your goals. Look how far you've already come - 13 novels? Wow! Amazing. You are amazing. :)

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    1. Haha, it's definitely a twisty, bumpy ride! I just hope it's worth it. Thanks so much! :)

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  21. I hate taking writing breaks, but sometimes it's the only way to save my sanity. It's a rollercoaster ride, indeed. I've queried 6 stories and was about ready to throw in the towel. I had some really helpful and personalized rejections with book 2, but nothing since. The only way to succeed at anything though is to keep moving forward. I've been worrying about picking the wrong project, too, but if nothing comes from it, at least I always learn something valuable...at least I have so far. :)

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    1. Six?! It's a tough game, isn't it? But you're absolutely right - moving forward is the key! And you'll definitely learn from the experience along the way. :)

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  22. "It's about an invincible girl, the end of the world, a man who can't die, and an explosive all-out battle with invading monsters from another dimension."

    I'd read that!

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    1. Yay! :) I'm determined this book's going to make it to readers either way, so I hope I get to share it soon!

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