Welcome to We Write Fantasy, a blog written by fantasy authors for authors and our lovely readers. The idea for WWF came about while a group of like-minded Fantasy Avengers teamed up to create a safe place we could both hang out and share insight on writing. Since most of us write in the fantasy genre, you’ll find a lot of our posts have a slightly magical bent to them. We hope you enjoy, share and follow! Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!
Jenn’s Post a.k.a Writing Summed Up
2017 began with a lot of excitement and good intentions for me, writing-wise. Last year I published the sequel to my dark fantasy retelling of Beauty & the Beast and December 2016 was a mad-cap race of online tours and mailing swag. As the general buzz or a new release wore down, I began working on the next installment. With Scarred Beauty so fresh in my mind, I did not want to waste time before diving into Bound. So, I wrote and I plotted and planned and things seemed to make sense. Words were flowing, easy-peasy.
But then the New Year came and all these other ideas began to sprout up in my mind. Every year I try to think of a writer’s game plan. I pick projects to focus on and others to keep on the back burner. Bound Beauty has been at the forefront of my mind, but for some reason I floundered with my outline. I started working here and there on these other projects. Only a couple of months later, I woke up one day and realized I had five separate manuscripts I was working on and oh my Lord that’s just too much.
I might maybe have been using these other projects as an excuse to jump around and not fix the problems I was having with Bound Beauty. Guilty. But these other projects, like Tamn: Heaven’s Edge #3 + New Silver Hollow + (top secret stuff & thangs) were still very important to me to work on. So I decided it was high time I wrote up a “Modus Operandi” for 2017.
I can’t begin to tell you how writing out all my writing problems helped everything become clearer. Listing what is most important as well as what can and needs to be worked on first made a huge difference. I filled up a few pages with lists of all the books I wanted to write this year, but then applied better reasoning, with reality constraints in mind. After all, I’m no Stephen King and don’t get paid enough to publish all of these at once. But this doesn’t mean I can’t make goals and write. I wrote out a lot of gibberish in fact, wrote myself in circles. It all came down to this: Finish what you’ve started.
Modus Operandi in figurative hand, I felt confident I could tackle my writing goals for the rest of 2017. I kept up with my writing log and actually made progress once I stuck to working on Tamn, Silver Hollow and Bound. But I still wasn’t making the tracks I needed to meet my self-imposed deadlines.
This was a puzzle for me, because when I started out, I could work on multiple manuscripts at a time, no problem. In fact, I thrived best when I had the pressure of multiple works and worlds in motion. I wasn’t too clued in on the fact my life has drastically changed since I started publishing.
How has it changed, you might ask? Quite simply, I began my writing dream as an early-twenties single college drop-out, forced to move back home like so many of my generation. Within a span of five years, I found the one, married and moved to a different city and had a baby. Now at twenty-nine I am thankfully able to work from home while raising my kid. But therein lies the real difference. I have a kid, I work from home and there are only so many hours in a day. How many I’m able to spare for writing actual words varies depending on the day’s priorities.
Looking back, I guess 2017 has become the year I woke up to reality in many ways. No longer can I afford to write all hours into the night and sleep part of the morning away, not if I want to feel human when my son wakes me up at 7 a.m. Also since I am still happily married, I can’t just ignore my husband every night once we finally put the kid to sleep. I work, I write and I do my best to spend time with the people I love.
Once I understood this, I was able to compartmentalize my writing like I do my life. Instead of working on three books at once, I focused on Bound Beauty. After several months away from it, I realized my problem wasn’t the outline, but the fact I was writing an extended ending to Scarred Beauty. This is how the Extended Edition was born and Bound Beauty was pushed back to 2018. After publishing the new extended Scarred Beauty, I began to seriously study marketing trends.
In the past, I thought I could just publish a book and let it soar on wings of glory. I didn’t realize how much work goes into each release. Publishing your book isn’t good enough. You have to constantly watch marketing trends. Sort of like the stock exchange. And much like stocks, genres have their highs and their lows. Publishing houses tank, and adapt and Indie Authors like me struggle to keep up. As an Indie it’s not enough to publish or even do the occasional promo and online tour. You have to be a little aggressive, but not obnoxious about your books. You have to change your tactics to read a broader audience and if you want to survive past a few years, be willing to accept failure. Failure abounds in this community, books that launch only to fizzle and putter out. I have several books that were well received but never quite took off.
Because I had similar struggles with my Beauty and the Beast retelling, I considered ending the series with Bound Beauty. Part of me wondered if I should bother finishing the series first or writing books that would appeal to readers. Because by almost pure accident, I wrote a fairy tale retelling series at a time when their popularity was dying out. I blame the movies in part, because new versions of Snow White and company were popping up everywhere. Eventually people would want a change. But I’m stubborn, and even if a million other authors were writing retelling’s, they aren’t my retelling. My Beauty series is more Gothic Fantasy Romance with an epic feel. It’s more the legend behind the fairy tale than magical rainbows.
I decided to recover Craving Beauty and slide it on into the Gothic genre in July. About the same time, I placed the first in series free and signed up to advertise the fact in half a dozen different newsletters. Much to my surprise and delight, the numbers rose and soared and for the first time, I felt like I was reaching people with the series. The little success gave me the motivation I needed.
Determined to actually finish something before the new year, I dropped my other projects to write Tamn, my third YA Sci-Fi with JayHenge Publishing. Once I focused completely on that project and world, I found plenty of inspiration. I found new love working on the Heaven’s Edge series again. Simultaneously, I decided to publish an adult contemporary romance I had been sitting on for a year. I sent She Walks in Moonlight over to an editing service that does multiple run-through’s and worked on both cover and interior with fellow writing partner in crime, Melissa Wright. It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it (and stop, for the love of God, stop trying to multi-task everything.)
By the time NaNoWriMo rolled around, I had two more releases under my belt and had come back around to Bound Beauty, the elusive third volume in my Wylder Tales series. I wrote words and finally wrote an outline that makes sense and may even lead to a fourth volume.
I also returned to my first love, Silver Hollow. But I’ve already name dropped so many books today, I won’t go into too much detail on this rewrite. For now, suffice to say, I came away from 2017 with a little more humility and fresh perspective. Life for me and mine was pretty tough and relentless between health issues and accidents. Goes to show how you can plan out your books, map out your schedule, but life is defined by its unpredictability.
What I plan to focus on this year is completing my novels, one book at a time, while planning ahead for sequels and publishing. After all, as “they” say, marketing begins long before you actually publish your book. Consistency is the most valuable trait an author can possess. For 2018 I’d like to claim that trait and endeavor to be the best I can be. Don’t try to be anyone else but you, because that’s the only way you’ll find true success and happiness.
I wanted to encourage you today, whether you’re a writer or not. Make a modus operandi for your life. Pretty sure I should make a couple more of these, one for “Mommy Rules” so I try to be the best I can be each new day with my kid. Whatever your mission or work, take some time and write out the things you should and could be focusing on. We all need a little help keeping our priorities straight. Now that I’ve rediscovered mine and shared them, feel free to bug me whenever you want about a project. It’ll just spur me on to work harder and faster. All this said, I’m off to continue my day job as M.O.M again.
Happy Writing, Reading, Creating!