People sometimes ask me for advice. I find that funny, considering that I’m basically a chick hanging out in her jammies doing whatever the fuck she wants 90% of the time. (The other 10% is filled with things like cleaning up after the cat has puked on our beige carpet.)
And it happens more often now that my books have popped onto some bestseller lists from time to time. (Holy crap…really?) I’m always more than happy to share whatever I know with anyone who asks, so don’t be shy about asking. Taking a few minutes to answer is the least I can do, plus it gives me an excuse to procrastinate on that 10% list I do so love to avoid.
The obvious advice for writing success is out there, and I certainly wouldn’t be the first one to say, “write a good book, get it professionally edited, get some awesome cover art, and price it attractively.” Hell, I probably wouldn’t even be the first person today to say that, and it’s only 10AM. But the real advice, the stuff that gets you from one page to the next, that’s more full of nuance. I can’t tell you whether you should kill off a character or cut your first five chapters or move your setting to Peoria. Some things only the author can decide, and that’s what makes this a lonely business from time to time.
But I will share some advice I received from my dear friend Talli Roland, given to me when I was lamenting a few weeks back that I was struggling with some plot points in Azuri Fae. I was angsting pretty hard, and the wordcount was growing slowly. The outline was there, the desire was there, but something was missing. She said (I shit you not), “Sounds like you just need to buckle down and write.” Or something along those lines. It’s all a bit fuzzy. Honestly, it made my ears ring. I suppose that’s what they call ‘the ring of truth.’
Of course it reminded me of this WWII British morale-boosting poster put out by the government to keep people from panicking, I suppose, when bombs were dropping all around. Now I know that for most of us, the bombs are metaphorical these days, but still, I know good advice when I hear it, and “Keep Calm and Carry On” has become my new motto for publishing. (And for cleaning up after the cats too.) It’s a slightly more positive version of Hitchhiker’s Guide “Don’t Panic,” because at least it also contains instructions for what to do next, and it’s not so flip and condescending as Nike’s “Just Do It.” (Which always makes me feel like I should be embarrassed for not having been doing it all along.)
Following dear Talli’s advice, I wrote 2900 words the next morning after that phone call, and the next day I wrote 2200, then another 2200, then another 2800, and on like that for the next two weeks until this past Wednesday, when I wrote 4100 words and finished the first draft of Azuri Fae. And you know what? I really like it. Yes, there are some rough spots that will get smoothed out before it goes to my beta readers, and I’m sure they’ll get out their scalpels along with their red pens and keep me honest.
So, these are my two pieces of advice:
#1 Not all motivational posters are shit. Most are, like the other two in that 1939 collection which included “Freedom Is In Peril. Defend It With All Your Might”, which scares the holy bejeebers out of me, and “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory”, which just makes me want to say “My cheerfulness? Piss off.” Unlike those two, “Keep Calm and Carry On” will get you through most any situation.
#2 Get yourself a Talli. I’ll share mine, but don’t wear her out. I’m sure I’m going to need her again on the next book.
And… a programming note… now that I’m finished with my first draft of Azuri Fae, I might actually have the energy to pop my head into the social networks more often.
Thanks for tolerating my erratic blog posting while I’ve been hammering at the keyboard, and thanks especially to everyone who has helped put Blood Faerie on those bestseller lists. It’s truly humbling, and it wouldn’t be there without you.