Tag Archives: rejection

I don’t give a damn about my bad reputation…or do I?

I’ve been holding out on you.  Sort of.

Before I started writing YA novels I wrote most of a book, a novella at least, of memoir essays about all the horrible jobs I’ve had.  Every couple of months I click on my “Other writing” folder and read through them again.  Most of them are funny and all still make me laugh.  I used to get up to some ridiculous shenanigans in my youth. (Um, like, five years ago.)

There are some reasons why I haven’t published the essays:

1. I didn’t know how to transition from one essay to the next.  There is the common narrative thread of “sucky jobs” that runs throughout, but a block of the essays take place in my teens and another block in my mid-twenties.  Sometimes I’m in Missouri, sometimes Oregon, sometimes California.

2. Some of the essays are funnier than others.  So which is it?  Hilarious tales of my misspent youth, or “there are consequences to acting like a total jackass, kids.”  The tone is off.

3. The book isn’t long enough.  I need to add probably five more essays.  Can I even remember five more good stories?

4.  Should I put something out that is a completely different genre from what I’ve published already?  Will I alienate my current readers and/or gain some new ones?  I like reading memoir essays and paranormal YA novels, but how many other people do? 

5. I’ve already used my real name for the YA stuff, and a variation of that name for the grown-up paranormal writing.  With memoir, I can’t go changing my name for that.  It really, really is me.

6. Let’s just say I started out as a Zellie, moved on to be a Claire, and then had a few Flora years.  These essays are not something a 14-year-old should be reading.

A few of these reasons have worked themselves out in the last couple of days.

I read A Walk in the Snark by Rachel Thompson.  She’s a funny lady and I like her writing style.  Her book is also a good example for transitioning between essays (or in her case blog posts) that have a similar narrative thread (relationships) but are about different people and time periods.  So, I think I’ve got a handle on that.

As it turns out, I could think of five more stories.  In fact, I made a list and I thought of seventeen.

Last night, after I’d finished my Glow writing for the day, I wrote an introduction to the essays and started a new one.  I wrote about 2K on the new essay and will most likely finish it today after I finish the Glow chapter I’ve been working on.

I can check writing more essays off the list.

As for tone, I think the transitions will help even that out.  Also, I played around with the order of the essays last night and if I don’t read them chronologically, I come off as a more balanced person. 🙂

This leaves the genre question, the “outing my bad reputation” question, and to a lesser extent, the name question.  I’d love to hear what you all think about this.  Am I wasting my time putting a book together that I shouldn’t publish?

Cheers.

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One Year

It’s my indieversary!  And stop haterz, self-publishversary just doesn’t sound as good, okay? 🙂

Whatever you want to call it, I’ve been a published writer for a year! A year that started and ended just before my birthday, so, to me, age 35 will always be the year I got my act together and finally started doing what I wanted with my life.

I’d like to thank my readers for buying my books, writing reviews, and helping me realize my dream of making a living from writing.

A big awkward girlie high-five to all the book bloggers who have reviewed my books, interviewed me, spread the word and held contests.  I appreciate the support you’ve given me and I hope you all know how instrumental you are in helping to build my writing career.

To all the writers I’ve become friends with this year, let’s have a convention or something.  And by convention, I mean a big party where we all drink beers, quote Buffy and get to hang out in person.  You guys are the best.  Thanks for showing me the ropes and commiserating and having my back.  Thank you for writing books that don’t suck and feeding my reading habit as well. 🙂

Soooooooo many thanks to Sarah, my BFF. Thanks for the editing and suggestions and chats on FB and all the Busch Light/ Masterpiece Theatre evenings.  If you like what I write, then I know it’s good enough. 🙂

Eleventy-billion hugs and kisses to my sister for lovingly and repeatedly telling me to get off my ass and write a book already.  Thanks for believing in me!

And to my family – my crazy kids, my long-suffering-at-his-horrible-job-so-I-could-make-a-go-of-being-a-writer husband, my fantastically supportive parents – I love and appreciate you all more than you could know!

I don’t really have anything brand spankin’ new to give away right now, but if you all would like an e-copy of Day of Sacrifice Vol. 1-3, simply leave your e-mail in the comments and I’ll send you the Smashwords code.

Thanks to everyone for making my first year as an indie author a fabulous one and here’s to the next year being just as great!

Thx

I seriously need one of those things that you speak into and it types for you.  After pre-Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas, the girl’s birthday parts 1-3, and finishing Rebellion, I have an awesome case of carpal tunnel. 

Dear Toy Manufacturers:  Enough with the impossible tape and 75 twist ties per item in each hard to get into box.  Enough with the miniscule parts that “click” together (only when I stand on top of them) and the picture directions with confusing arrows that don’t actually tell me how or what order to put things together in. 

 I have enough toys in my house to start a daycare.  My kids are very happy with everything they got, but I’m pretty sure they would have been happy with half as much.

Next year we’re going to give our money to Matt Damon and let him build some wells on our behalf in Africa. 🙂

Of course, all my kindle “next page” clicking could be contributing to my owie wrists.  This is the time of year when I read a lot.  As you may have gathered, December stresses me the fuck out, so escaping in a book for several hours each evening is a must.

Last year I got my kindle for Christmas and by the 29th was probably on the second Outlander book.  I straight abandoned my family for a month reading those.  I needed extra escape last year, I was pretty bummed.  I’d rewritten Glimpse and received about 40 rejections at that point.  I was going into 2010 asking myself, “What happens when you write a decent book and you can’t get anyone to read it?”

After I finished the Outlander books I was on the lookout for other things like it-something with romance and adventure that was kind of sci-fi/fantasy.  I didn’t realize this was an actual genre.  I delved into the House of Night books and Vampire Academy.  Great books, but YA and at $10, kind of expensive for e-books. (To her publisher’s credit, the Outlander books are all about $5 for an 1,000 “page” e-book, a more reasonable price I think.)  That’s when I found Kept by Zoe Winters.  It was 99 cents.  Devoured it.  Loved it.  Needed more. 

But who published her books?  I couldn’t figure it out.  I stumbled on e-publishers and submitted Glimpse to a couple of them. Met a great author named Ashlynn Monroe who helped me navigate the submission process.  More rejections, but nicer ones and this time with notes!  Apparently, Glimpse was a YA novel in the making, not a family saga like I’d thought.  Query redo!  More submissions!  More nice rejections with contradictory suggestions!  I started writing Glimmer to get my mind off the madness.  Then, yay! A publisher requested specific rewrites for resubmission…and then turned it down.  By this time I’d figured out that Kept was self-published.  Really?  But self-published books supposedly sucked and Kept most definitely didn’t.

I started reading Zoe’s blog posts (I caught her at a time when she was super rah rah indie and on the internet constantly) and gleaned everything I could from what she was saying.  Damn.  I was inspired.  So, I took my 8 times revised Glimpse and I self-published it as an e-book.  A month later I put out the paperback with Createspace and I waited.

Twelve people bought my book.

I could not effing believe it.

I started posting the blurb on the kindle message boards (only in the appropriate places!!) and got a Goodreads account.  A writer named Jess C Scott and I traded review copies.  This one chick, Amanda Hocking, and I did the same. (How funny to think that there was a time when either of them had to ask for reviews!) V.J. Chambers randomly found my blog and liked Glimpse-I geeked out on her books. I signed up for Twitter and met Susan Bischoff, who knew my roomate from college, Christel, who knew Zoe Winters and Kait Nolan, who knew Claire Farrell, and Belinda Kroll, and Lauralynn Elliott, and Reena Jacobs, and Imogen Rose.  It just keeps spiraling, I’m meeting and reading more awesome authors, like, every freaking day.

So, this December 29th is a lot more hopeful.  I published two novels and a short story this year.  Wrote another short story that will be out next week.  Signed up to be a sponsor in ROW80. Met a ton of wonderful writers and book bloggers that I now consider friends.  Found a community.  And as of this morning, I’ve sold nearly 2,500 books.  Sure, other writers sold more, in some cases A LOT more, but when I think of myself at this time last year, having not sold a single book, 2,500 is a great figure.  (This sentence is dedicated to Sarah for my extreme and probably inappropriate use of commas.)

When my husband gave a long rambling toast at our wedding, my first duty as his wife was to interrupt him and say, “What he’s trying to say people, is, thank you!”

Readers, writers, bloggers: What I’m trying to say people, is, thank you.

Guided by voices

Happy Friday!  I’m a bit sleepy this morning after a late night out with Sarah seeing Burlesque.  It was cheesy perfection!  There are lots of evil glares and sequins and cheeky dance moves.  Christina and Cher were fabulous-both sounded and looked great.  Cher’s face was a little immovable, but she made up for that with mesmerizing glitter eyeshadow that I deeply covet and would have nowhere to wear. I suggested that maybe Sarah and I could Burlesque our faces up for our friend’s Christmas party, but we weren’t sure how well it would go with our sensible corduroys and turtleneck sweaters.  Alas, it might be the kind of thing that only works with a black lace halter dress.

Yesterday on Susan Bischoff’s blog she talked about why her characters have potty mouths.  It was an interesting discussion and I was thinking about talking about the reviews Glimmer has been getting because of the increased cursing and sexual situations from Glimpse, but then Susan said this in the comments: “Plus, I think I’m going to have to give up reading them. (reviews) The criticisms are voices in my head when I’m writing, and the praises are voices in my head when I’m not writing, telling me to hurry up and finish and make sure it measures up. :stresses:”

So, sequels.

Writing the first book in a series is hard, you’re not sure of yourself, you wonder if anyone is going to want to read this thing that you have spent months pouring your heart and soul and brain into.  But you put it out there and hope for the best.  The first book  becomes your proving ground.  “Can I do this thing that I believe I can do?”  And then you get fans (the coolest and weirdest thing) and good reviews (and a few bad reviews) and you think, “I did this thing that I believed I could do.”

Writing the second book is both easier and harder.  You know what works for you and what doesn’t, but now you have expectations to meet that you didn’t have the first time around.  There are actual other people to write the book for besides yourself. You read your reviews and the beta reader comments and you have to decide how to write what you want to write while satisfying as many expectations as you can.  And that, my friends, is effing nerve-wracking. 

This is the spot I’m in with Rebellion right now.  The nerve-wracking “will it meet expectations” spot.  All this feeling is good for is fueling procrastination.  I know I need to write myself out of it.  I had a great writing day the other day and I know another will come, but for some reason I can’t stop looking at the few so-so reviews Glimmer has gotten (which are far less than the number of good reviews its received. Thus proving that I like to make myself crazy.) and thinking “sophomore slump.”  This especially bums me out because I like Glimmer better.  I think my writing improved, the pace improved, I had more fun.

Back to Susan’s quote.  It made me realize something that I hadn’t before.  When people review a book, they’re not talking to me.  It may seem like they are, like they are telling me what to do or asking for what they’d liked to have seen more of, but who they are really talking to is other readers.  When someone reviews a book, all they are really saying is “read this, I liked it” or “don’t read this, I didn’t like it.”  Reviews are great for building your platform and garnering new readers, but they aren’t a blueprint for what you should be writing.  I’m going to try to keep this in mind and get on with the writing.  Thanks for listening to me give myself a pep talk.:)

Did I mention I was tired?

Blog Carnival: Why I’m Indie (and why I now want some cotton candy)

Indie author Chris Kelly is doing something called a blog carnival.  The topic is: Why I’m indie.  I thought I’d give it a go, although at the mention of the word carnival I pretty much wanted to abandon my family for a deep-fried Snickers and the Tilt-a-Whirl. Uh-hum, I digress.

There are a lot of smart reasons to go indie-complete creative control, owning your own rights, not having to share your royalties with seven other people. I went indie for all of these reasons, but they weren’t my primary driving force.  The number one reason I chose to self-publish is because I don’t have one iota of patience.

I hate having to wait for other people to give me the go ahead to do anything.  After a year and nearly 70 rejection letters, I was more than over querying for Glimpse.  I was pissed off, depressed, and sick of doing things the “right” way.  A few months before I came to this conclusion I’d received a Kindle.  I’d only read things by traditionally published authors on it and it was getting a little spendy, so I thought I’d check out stuff by Kerry Allen and Zoe Winters.  Well, me likey, and the cost of all their works together was less than one traditionally published book. I didn’t realize that they were indie at the time, I just thought that their stuff was only published in e-book form.  I searched to find their e-pub’s and, what is this?  THIS IS SELF-PUBLISHED?!?  That was the point where my frustration plus their inspiration made me say, “Eff this noise, I’m going indie.”

I love it.  Glimpse was released as an e-book in April, followed by a print release through Createspace in May.  The next book in the series, Glimmer, is going to be out in both e and print November 1.  That’s right, two full-length novels released in one year.  For a writer without any patience, that is the sweetest thing.  At this point, I can’t even imagine letting another person steer my writing career.  There’s no going back for me, self publishing makes me super happy.  And to never have to write a query letter again? Bliss.

Independent woman

*Added to previous post: I just read this great post about Alex’s campaign to support indie authors.  Check it out and give his blog some love!

J.E. Johnson interviewed me for her blog: http://oescienne.com/blog/2010/07/20/drive-thru-interview-with-author-stacey-wallace-benefiel/

She does what she calls “Drive-by interviews” and posts a new one with a different author each day.  Pretty cool.  She’s a writer herself and will be the next author interview on this here blog.  Check back for it.

I answered some more questions for an interview with indie books blog this morning.  One of the questions was, why did you decide to go indie?  Not to sound hippy dippy (although I live in Oregon and I am currently wearing my UnityCreatesStrength Haiti t-shirt, so what do you expect?) but I just got sick of the system, man.  The whole traditional publishing system is set up to make authors scrape and scramble for years and years with only the smallest hope of ever getting an agent, nevermind actually getting your book published.  Being indie ain’t easy, but the work I have to do to write, edit, and market a book is all for myself and not for the ten other people who make money off of me.  (Damn.  I should have written that in the interview!  I gave a much tamer answer.  Guess all the protein I had for breakfast finally kicked in and elevated my rage.)  At any rate, I’m stoked to be indie and will not go back to groveling for agent/publisher approval.  So there.

I’m hoping to bust out another Glimmer scene this afternoon.  Right now, the kids and I are waiting for our neighbor to bring her boys down for a playdate.  The house has been pre-trashed by my children, so I won’t feel the usual remorse over having my clean house destroyed. 🙂  With the kitchen demo starting next week, I gotta admit, I’m being lax on the housework.  Everything’s going to be covered in sheet rock and grout dust for a month anyway, why keep up?

Have a swell day everyone.  Power to the people! (That’s the bacon talking.)

The odds are in my favor.

I got a couple of things going for me:

1. I’ve eaten an ungodly amount of blue cheese stuffed olives this week and have still managed to lose 6 lbs.

2. I remembered all of my lines tonight in my “one night only” appearance as Tmolus the Mountain God in King Midas.

3.  Tomorrow is the City of Beaverton picnic in the park by my house and there will be free vittles, so that’s one less meal I have to prepare.

4. I only have 3 more scenes left to write in Glimmer. (Typing that just astounds me.  How the bejesus did I manage to write another whole novel?)

5. I’m having some cool chicks over for taco salad and a Runaways viewing party on Thursday.  Mulletcitas!

6. My family is kick ass.

7. Kitchen demo starts next week!  Destruction is fun.

What I don’t have going for me:

1. Y’all, I bombed my transcription final.  I had to complete 8 reports and they stopped grading after 4 because I’d already exceeded the number of points I was allowed to miss.  I’ve got an ass ton of studying to do in my future.

2.  I miss ice cream and toast. 

3. Glimpse isn’t selling and I can’t figure out why.  I’ve been doing a lot of interviews and getting good reviews.  As per usual I probably just need to chill and be patient-you all know how awesome I am at that. 🙂  Help me out by spreading the word about Glimpse, if you can.

I feel a lot better now.  Seven good things to three not so good things are my kind of odds.

Stay tuned for another interview tomorrow!

Take a chance on me

Sometimes I bust out the old culinary skillz.  It’s been almost 10 years since I was in cooking school, but I still love to cook, even if it’s just breakfast for me and the hubs.  Since we consumed too much wine last afternoon/evening, the order to the day was bacon, eggs with mushrooms, roasted sweet mini peppers, cherry tomatoes and Rogue blue cheese, and English muffins with too much butter.  All was good and all is gone.  (The kids had Cheerios because I hate to see my good cookin’ go to waste-they’re better at trying new things at dinnertime.)

The first two shows of King Midas are over!  It was a super hot day yesterday and I’m quite sunburned.  We had a few snafu’s to deal with right off the bat: One of the actor’s didn’t show up, so I had to play his part and forgot to bring his main prop out onto stage with me-improvisation ensued, the cd player that we use for our sound cues wasn’t working-a result of being tipped on its side one time too often, no doubt, and the actor who plays Pan left his ukulele at home and it is his major prop-in the end he learned how to play the harmonica on the fly and did an excellent job.  It seriously wouldn’t be community theatre if stuff like that didn’t happen often.  We had a great audience for the first show, the one in English.  About 35-40 people were there, a much improved number over last year.  The second show was our Spanish show and it was not well attended. 🙂  All the better, we really needed to practice it again!  Plus, we only have to do it one more time, so whatever.  The other show the NAC is putting on, directed by the guy playing King Midas, apparently had an awesome opening last night as well-260 people showed up for it!  The love of community theatre is growing in my town and I’m stoked.

My writing goal for the week is to add another 800 words to Glimmer everyday.  If I exceed that, awesome, but 800 words daily is a reasonable goal that I can meet.  Especially since I want to be done with Glimmer by mid-August and we have to start remodeling our kitchen soon!

This week is also going to be Glimpse week over at Written Word Review.  An interview will be posted, as well as a giveaway.  First prize is a copy of Glimpse and a character named after you in Glimmer. Second prize is a copy of Glimpse.  Not too shabby.  There will also be another review of Glimpse. 

After the initial not so great review I got, I was a little afraid that they would all be like that, but all the other reviews I’ve received have been great!  I actually just got the coveted, “I would have paid more for this book!” review from a reader on Goodreads, who posted it on Amazon.  Thanks, Jacinda!  The reason a review like that is happy is because, as both an indie and a debut author you want to keep the price low so that people are more willing to check out your work, but some people see low price and think “piece of crap.”  Having a reader (who I in no way know!!!) say that they liked my work and it was affordable is super helpful and will hopefully convince other people to take a chance on me. (takeachancetakeachancetakeachance-Oh, I’m sorry, you don’t have ABBA playing in your head? How about now?)

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, people!  I believe I have to go have an ABBA dance party now.

(Okay, the ABBA station on Pandora is also playing songs from Grease.  Hello, perfect playlist!)

Word count anxiety

There is an adage about writing a story until it’s finished and not worrying about how long or short it is-it’s exactly the length it wants to be.  Well, bullshit.  If that were the case there would be no use for editors.  I am very vigilant about word count.  I take my parameters seriously.  I want my novel’s over 50K and my novellas 30K-but that’s just me and that’s just writing, because unless you’ve written a 120K YA novel, I’m never going to notice what your word count is. 

My word count anxiety stems from my first experience submitting work.  I wanted to enter a YA writing contest and the word count for the piece was 35-40K.  The contest was for a novel length work, so I assumed that’s how long a novel length work was.  Jump to me sending Glimpse out to agents at 37K and getting schooled. “A novel isn’t a novel if it’s under 50K,” is what they all said.  I could practically hear them calling me a dumbass.  So now when I’m writing, I track it.  I have a piece of paper for each of the things I’m working on and I write down my word count every time I’ve written something, with a goal number at the end. 

Here’s my current problem:  I’m discovering that I’m pretty tapped out by 35K.  When I’ve written a story out to its end, for me, that’s apparently how long it wants to be.  This is where I’m at with Glimmer and it’s meant to be a novel, so while I can see where I could add another 8K or so to it, I don’t know where the other 7K is going to come from.  That’s why I decided to write on this other project for a while, because it is supposed to be a novella, so I’m not as afraid of not making it the correct number of words.

I don’t know if I’m always going to have this problem.  I wish I could be easier on myself in this respect, because I know I would most likely relax and get myself together and bang out 15K in a week.  Am I the only writer with this irrational word count fear?  I’d love to have a few comrades in Crazytown to commiserate with. 🙂

Therapy is in session.

Happy first day of Summer and I hope everyone had a loverly Father’s Day yesterday!  My sister made ribs and I’m still picking them out of my teeth-not that I mind.  Ribs is good.

Our unbarbeque on Friday evening was super dang fun.  The neighbors from up the street are hilarious and hanging out with my friend Eric from high school and his family was wonderful-it is always good to have more Missourians in the hood-especially from Columbia, a city that grows smart, overeducated hicks that like indie rock.  Eric and I talked a little about our reputations in high school.  My perception of him wasn’t what he thought most people thought of him and his perception of me was more nerdy than I would give myself credit for.

What I’m getting at is, I think a lot of people from high school thought I’d be a published author long before now.  I was certainly on that track, but through lack of self-confidence, fear, paranoia, laziness, and a few jacked up boyfriends, it took me a while to get here.  For many years I resisted wanting to be a writer because I wanted it so much.  Make sense?  Putting yourself out there is hard and yet, you have to do it or you’re just writing for yourself.  And that’s fine, but c’mon, not the goal most writers want to achieve.  I want you to want to read what I write, although it scares the crap out of me what you’re gonna think about it.  Especially the fact that I can’t explain why I write things the way I do to every person that reads my work.  That’s  me wanting people to like me more than it is wanting them to like my writing-  a difficult thing to master that I think only gets better the more you publish.

I had to be this age to get skin thick enough to almost handle all the rejection that comes with being a writer.  Back in high school, sure I had a lot of promise, but my writing never got rejected, ever.  I may still hold the record for the most pieces published in my school’s lit mag as a matter of fact- don’t know how I’d go about checking that, but as of my last high school reunion, some of my classmates were now the faculty advisors on the lit mag and I still held the title.  (If you feel like I’m bragging, let me point out that I was also a mega theater geek and never got any role that I tried out for in all three years of high school except for a play directed by this guy I was dating.  Theater was my big rejection lesson in high school and to this day why I just don’t care if I get a part or not, I can take it.)  I think the lack of rejection of my writing did a disservice to me because when I got to college and had a teacher who hated my work (incidentally, I also hated hers, so we were not a good fit for critiques at all) I  gave up on writing fiction, stopped being an English major, and ran over to the theatre.  There I was comfortable with my rejection and through writing my own monologues, could be one of the better writers in the class again.

This scenario played out over and over again in my life.  When the writing wasn’t getting approval, I learned to do something else and usually did fairly well.  I worked in a dry cleaners with a guy who was a better writer than I was and went to a better university than I did, so I quit that and went to floral design school and was second in my class.  I met my husband and he was a published writer and I wasn’t, so I went to culinary school and was second in my class.  See the pattern?  Finally at 30 when I went back to finish my college degree (the unfinished part has to do with one of those pesky, mean boyfriends) I did two things I hadn’t done before.  I took special math classes for people who have a hard time with math and made A’s (confidence boost in the millions) and I took a series of creative writing classes from a teacher whose writing I admired and whose criticism was constructive and straightforward.  He was encouraging, but also told me that he could tell I’d skated through a lot of the time and I needed to get my act together and work.

Let me tell you, I’ve never worked harder at writing something than I did at Glimpse, so that’s why if you like it, I’m overjoyed, but if you don’t, I’m not gonna be crushed and stop writing.  That’s what 1993-2003 me would’ve done, but she was young and didn’t have a clue that she’d have more pride in the things that didn’t come easily to her than those that did.

(Cue inspirational music- preferrably from the opening credits of Friday Night Lights, especially the parts where Riggins stands in the rain and Tami dances around in the kitchen.)