Wednesday, 4 June 2014

What's Up Wednesday & IWSG


It's time for 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 the Split Worlds series by Emma Newman, and loving them! Sometimes I can tell by a book's description that it'll be right up my alley, and urban fantasy stories about hidden worlds, sorcerers and faeries are always guaranteed to get my attention! :D

I also read The Darkness of Light by Tammy Farrell - I won a signed copy in a giveaway, and I really enjoyed it! :) It's an awesome historical fantasy set in 6th-century England and based on Irish mythology.

And...my copy of City of Heavenly Fire finally arrived. Eeeek! I was lucky that I didn't run into any spoilers beforehand (kind of been avoiding Tumblr all week because of that!), and could just dive into reading it. And it was amazing! :D

What I'm writing

My YA contemporary fantasy WIP. :) This is a fun project, in the sense that it's probably totally unmarketable. But it's relaxing after finishing my draft and revising my MG fantasy within a week! Speaking of which, my MG book is currently with a bunch of lovely beta readers! *eek*

What inspires me

Worlds and words. ^_^ I love it when I read a bunch of awesome books in a row, even if I do end up feeling vaguely lost and walking around in a book-haze for days afterwards.

What else I've been up to

My boyfriend drove down to visit. :) We saw the new X-Men film, which was fantastic!



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It's 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.

I missed last month's IWSG as I was in lovely sunny Mallorca,  but I think the theme of the past two months has been the same: indecisiveness! I'm at the point where juggling so many projects in different stages means that several times a day, I go through a mini-crisis about what to do with them all. As I ride the publishing rollercoaster of soaring heights and crashing lows, it can be hard to get a bit of perspective on everything!

I talked about this a bit in my last IWSG post, but it sometimes feels like there's too much choice. My goals and plans change every day, and sometimes I wish I could just remove my brain and extract the useful bits floating amongst all the fluff. Except...not, because I don't think I could write with no brain. :P

My dilemma is this: I'm working on, in some form, seven different series. Only one of my series under contract (the Darkworld series) and I have three manuscripts complete and polished outside of that. Obviously, that gives me a lot of options...in theory. But of those manuscripts, one has a trope no editors are buying (or so I'm told), and one's in a dead genre. The other is my MG fantasy book, and I'm tentatively hopeful about it. But would sending that book out into the wild querying world mean giving up my chances with my other manuscripts? I plan on sharing all of my stories one way or another, but it's hard to decide which is the right path for each one. Self-publishing, for instance, is not an investment I can afford to make, certainly not while I'm living the glamorous life of a penniless freelancer and graduate, hermit-ing in her parents' attic and slowly going insane from the craziness inside her own brain. *ahem*

"Interesting". If I had a penny for every time someone called my stories "interesting" or "potentially interesting", I wouldn't need to sell books! But that "interesting" is always inevitably followed by, "but..." or "unfortunately"... It seems to be a recurring pattern. How to rise above "interesting" and become "amazing"? If there's one lesson I've learned over the past year, it's that a solid idea and carefully applied craft doesn't necessarily lead to publication. You can follow all the rules: spend months researching and building the world; write the book; rewrite; revise; get feedback on every aspect of craft from a tight plot to three-dimensional characters to world-building and spend more months revising accordingly; hone every sentence; write a query letter and spend even more time revising and getting feedback and revising again; write an eye-grabbing pitch that has people asking to read the book...

...and it's not enough. The request rate is, well, zero. I'm never sure how much of this I should be sharing, but seeing as I've stopped querying the book in question, I suppose it can't hurt. It's not even the rejections I mind. It's the comparison game. I love success stories! But when I'm drowning in the crashing lows of the publishing rollercoaster, it can be so hard to face even Twitter. (And I love Twitter!) Because there is no "secret formula" to success. Once you've got past the point where you've learned the rules and written several manuscripts (and even published more than one), it literally just seems to be a matter of writing something that an agent "connects with". And it's not always clear what that is. At this point, it's all subjective.

Anyway... the question I keep asking myself is this: am I crazy in focusing on my MG fantasy, even if it means sacrificing all of the work I've put into my other manuscripts? It's not just about the genre and concept, although both are points in its favour. It's also, as I said last week, the most "me" of the books I've written. It's a book I'd love to find on the shelves (and would probably have loved even more when I was the target age!). I love my other manuscripts, and the experience of writing in different genres and styles has taught me a lot about my individual narrative voice. But this one is special. If an agent falls in love with this particular book, I could feel confident that they get "me" as a writer.

Which is why I'm going to do it. It's scary, of course, and it kind of means re-evaluating all my other plans for the rest of the year. But I've spent too long second-guessing myself. If I believe in this project, then it has to be this one - and I've had great feedback so far. Maybe I'm crazy to keep dreaming like this, after so many near-misses, but surely there has to be someone looking for a manuscript like mine!

37 comments:

  1. Oh yay! I'm so glad CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE was good! I was tempted to buy the hardcover at the bookstore the other day, but my other copies are all paperbacks. Bah! So I'll probably have to wait in line for it at the library. Hopefully I won't hear any spoilers!

    I can totally relate on your feelings about querying and the frustration of writing in a genre that's currently being rejected by agents and publishers alike. I hope this next project of yours is the one! :)

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    1. Hope you manage to avoid spoilers! I pre-ordered it as it's out a bit later in the UK, and I was so happy when it arrived early!

      Me, too! Thanks. :)

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  2. Seven different series? *WOW*. I don't think I have it in me to maintain that level of writing. That's so impressive!

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    1. Thanks! :) Most are in the first-draft stage, though, and I try not to keep more than two in my head at a time - that way madness lies! :P

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  3. Congrats on that series. That's wonderful. One thing about publishing today is there are so many choices it makes decisions challenging for writers. Here's wishing you the best in whatever you choose in the end.

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  4. You have to decide your own path according to your own situation, but I caution you about ignoring 'dead genres.'

    I just self-published my debut in Western Historical Romance... you know... the genre that has such a small market, no one's buying the stories anymore. Well, it may be a small group, but the readers are still there. And they're (we're) hungry for good books, because we're now an under-served population. My book shot to #1 on the Kindle Western Romance chart before the week was even out.

    One of many reasons I'm for letting the READERS be the gatekeepers.

    Good luck.
    IWSG #215 until Alex culls the list again.

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    1. Wow, that's amazing! Yes - readers can be the best gatekeepers! But my issue is that from a financial standpoint, I can't afford to invest in self-publishing, especially as I don't write in a category that's doing as well as some other niche genres. Of course, there's always an element of risk, and it's certainly something I'd consider revisiting later!

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  5. So glad you're having fun with your WiP, Emma! Sounds like fun, and it's awesome that it's so inspiring. Have a great week!

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  6. If this is the story that feels most like "you", then you should focus on it with everything you've got. That's when your voice will stand out the most and agents will take notice. And once you become more established as an author, don't assume those earlier works of yours won't be able to make a comeback.

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    1. Exactly my thinking! :) Thank you!

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  7. I keep writing you encouragement and then deleting it because it sounds remarkably like advice. But you sound so enthusiastic about both your YA and your MG books. Have fun with that! Have a great week.

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  8. Oh, I absolutely love that good book haze. I'm a sucker for a good book hangover any day!

    Congrats on such awesome progress on your WiP's. Hope you have an amazing week!

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    1. I do love a book hangover - it means the book was amazing! Thanks! :)

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  9. Ooohhh, you and Miss Cole are both working on relaxing for-fun writing projects right now. It seems like so much fun. I've got a trunked WIP that would make a good for-fun-not-publication project, I might have to dig it out some time when I need to relax...

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    1. I recommend it! It's a great way to recharge your writing without worrying about the commercial side of things.

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  10. I really need to get going on my re-read of the first few books in the Mortal Instruments, so I can continue through to the new one. I'm totally going to get spoiled if I don't hurry! I'm happy to hear that it's good, though. :-) YA contemporary fantasy sounds fantastic and right up my alley. Good luck with this project!

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    1. It's a great ending, I was really happy with it. Thank you! :)

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  11. Book-hazes are awesome. ^_^
    You know, I only know one thing: we gotta try! I never like to set stories aside because there's such a finality to them, but you never have to completely shelve anything. So, yeah, definitely focus on the MG! The other stories will still be there. There are no dead genres, only temporarily taxed ones. Everything comes back around again.

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    1. Very true - I'm hoping I'll be able to bring them out of the archives one day. And you're right, no genre is dead forever!

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  12. I'm so jealous, I really want to read City of Heavenly Fire but I can't really afford it. I might break and buy it anyway, though, but thankfully I haven't come across any reviews gushing over it yet!
    Good luck with your WIP!

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    1. I've been avoiding reviews, and luckily I didn't run into any! Thanks! :)

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  13. I haven't started the second half of the Mortal Instruments series. I liked how City of Glass ended. I know I'll have to get around and read it some time, but blerg. Clary and Jace have been through enough.
    Thanks for sharing! :D

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    1. Yeah, I was skeptical at first, but CoHF is amazing! Thanks! :)

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  14. You have to focus on the one that calls the hardest, because that's the one you'll pour your passion into.
    Which route to take is difficult. So many options now.

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    1. I couldn't agree more! It's hard to choose, but I think I've picked the right project!

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  15. For what they're worth, here are my thoughts on your situation--spoken from the query trenches (which is why I feel compelled to say something, because I'm at a point where I think I relate the most). The #1 thing you need is confidence in your skill as a writer, and that this is what you supposed to be doing with your life. Getting published is such a messy road, you can't plan for it. You have to write what you want to write, and be sure that this is what you were put on this planet to do. It just takes ONE Agent to love ONE of your stories enough to want to represent you, and then ONE Editor who buys it, to launch your traditional publishing career. Once you have that initial success, you can sit with your Agent and go through all these other novels and series, decide which are likely to sell now, which to hold off on, what needs work, what should be shelved, etc. Clearly, I don't say this from experience, but I've read this so many times, both from published authors and from Agents. The tough part is finding that Agent. And it may mean working on the story that is most likely to sell. But that doesn't mean the rest will never be published. Perhaps just not yet. But first and foremost, you have to have confidence in your ability to write stories people want to read. If you have that, then the rest is just working hard, which you're already doing. :)

    That's what I think anyway. All the best to you, Emma. :)

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    1. Yes - I couldn't agree more! That's why I decided to go with this project, because I felt it had the best chance, as well as being the one I was most passionate about. And I've read similar stories, so I guess I'm counting on things working out in that way. Thank you for commenting! :)

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  16. Yay for your WIP being fun, don't listen to the naysayers who might say it's 'unmarketable'. If you love it, it'll show through your words :)

    I still haven't got into the Mortal Instruments - I tried the first book but couldn't really get into the groove of it, unfortunately. Maybe I'll try again when I have the whole series on hand :)

    Have a wonderful week, Emma!

    - Caitie

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    1. Thanks! :) I do love it but it's far from mainstream - I like having a fun project, though!

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  17. "Book haze", haha! That is a perfect description! And a book haze is a nice problem to have, right?! :) I am loving CoHF, too! Have a great week!

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  18. Getting the right manuscript on the right desk at the right time is always a huge lottery. But eventually, it happens - just keep going! Good luck :-)

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  19. If you've got a 'me' book that feels good then go for it! The first book I queried I only got one request and it was a pity request because I'd attended a webinar with the agent. Sometimes it can be hard to put that experience behind and have the confidence to query again. But if you have a book that you love, that is you, it might be a little easier.

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  20. I believe each story has it's time. Things are changing in the publishing world at the time. Put the projets that aren't sparking interest away, and in a few months try again.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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  21. Sounds like you're thinking right! If that's the way your heart and instincts are leading, I'd say follow them. Also - Worlds and Words for what inspires you? YES!! :)

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