The Burn Out

I’ve written close to half a million words this year. Three complete manuscripts. A dozen or so InstaShorties. A handful of false starts on novel ideas I lost interest in.

I’ve pushed myself creatively and professionally, going well outside my comfort zone.

When I started the year, I thought my path forward was self-publishing. I didn’t see a home for my writing or books in the traditional space. Well, that’s not entirely the reason. The main reason was self-doubt and not believing my words were good enough. But I’ve written that post a few times already and frankly, I’m tired of it myself.

Querying agents and researching the traditional publishing world was something I used to dread. It seemed too daunting to even try but once I did, I realized it was doable. I still found it intimidating but I could do it. I could write and revise a query. I could take my outline and make it a synopsis. I could live with rejection and learn to grow from it.

The hardest part now is the burnout. I’ve got three manuscripts sitting on a shelf. Two of which I love and one I want to overhaul completely. Like, it might as well be a brand new book. I’ve started a new project, but it’s kind of fallen to the wayside as I wait and see where things in play pan out.

In the past when I hit the burnout stage, I stopped writing altogether. I didn’t even want to think about my books or words. But after the disciplines I’ve put into place this year, the burnout has me antsy. I am constantly thinking about my WIP and the characters, wondering when the words will start flowing again. I know they will.

Maybe that’s the difference. I’ve proven to myself that rejection can’t and won’t stop me. I have more than one idea. I can write more than one book. I can do this.

I just need a little space to breathe for a moment.

One Yes

One yes. That’s all we need. A million rejections won’t matter when that one yes comes through.

When you’re knee-deep in a huge pile of no’s, it’s hard to see above it. It’s overwhelming. But it’s temporary. And hard.

This is where I’m learning to find grace and patience. Those two things are harder than rejection because they come from me. I can control them. How I respond to silence and rejection is 100% on me. The last year has taught me a lot when it comes to this. The initial gut and physical reaction haven’t changed. There is still a slight fluttering in my heart. My stomach knots and a brief bit of anxiety creeps in.

What has changed is the mental and emotional response that follows. I’ve learned how to process these responses in a much healthier way. I can see the reason in the no and understand it much better.

Now, I’m grateful for the rejection. It’s taught me so much about myself and this process. It’s also given me some hard lessons in perseverance.

Most importantly? A million rejections don’t define my value or talent. That’s all on me.

Lie Baby Lie

Lie Baby Lie was one of my favorite books to write. I loved both Reese and Caroline. They’re two beautifully flawed women who are unlikely friends.

It was also the first book that I wrote without knowing the title. For me, I almost always have a title the instant I start writing. It comes to me right along with the character or opening scene. I spent weeks agonizing over the title. Ultimately, I landed on and loved Lie Baby Lie. It just fit so perfectly.

Lie Baby Lie (February 2019)
Caroline has a one track mind. She wants a baby, and she’s willing to do anything to get what she wants. Her husband promised her she’d have her wish. When a secret from his past threatens to ruin Caroline’s plans, she takes matters into her own hands. His lies soon become her own web of lies and deceit.

Reese is desperate for a child too, but years of infertility and loss have jaded her. Secrets and lies have become second nature. The secrets she’s kept from her daughter. The lies to her husband about pregnancy tests. Reese hides behind these lies, protecting her family from truths that could hurt them and her.

Their lives are woven together in a way neither women understand. An unlikely, fragile friendship is born. Can it withstand the secrets and lies?

Available on Amazon in paperback or on Kindle

Writing & Marketing as an Indie Author

The hardest part of being an author is sucking it up and being you’re own hype man. Sure writing and editing are hard too, but having to sell yourself with confidence when you used it all pouring yourself into your books? That’s like function on two hours of sleep without a drop of coffee.

As an independently published author, 100% of the marketing is on me. Should be easy considering I am a marketer by trade, but it’s not. Self-promoting is difficult. It feels icky.

But it’s necessary.

I write because I want to share stories about every day people whose lives are like our own. I want readers to see themselves on the pages. I want you to relate.

A friend recently challenged me to share and promote my books. I resisted and argued. She didn’t back down, and I eventually saw her point.

Over the next few days, I’m going to be sharing a bit about each of my books. Why I write them and what I hope the readers connect to.

I hope you come along for the ride and fall in love with the women on these pages just as much as I did.

A Writer is a Writer

I write, therefore I am a writer.

Can we talk about imposter syndrome for a minute? I struggle with this in nearly ever facet of my life. As a mother. As a wife. As a marketer. As a writer.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted to be a writer. It didn’t matter that I wrote nearly every day. Now that I’ve completed eight manuscripts and birthed three into the self-publishing world, I still say “I want to be a writer.”

I am a writer. I put words on paper. I form sentences. I create stories. Sure it doesn’t pay the bills, nor is it my full-time job. How does that make me any less of a writer? Is it money that solidifies the definition? Awards? Recognition? An agent? Five-star reviews?

Being a writer is more than that. While, yes, I would love to have every single one of those things listed above, they are not what define a writer.

By definition, a writer is a person who uses written words in various styles and techniques to communicate their ideas.

This is what I do. I am a writer. A writer is a writer no matter what your imposter syndrome or the keyboard warriors have to say.

Your words matter.
Your writing maters.
You matter.
You’re a writer.

You can what-of or but your way into any excuse as to why this isn’t true, but it is true. You are a writer. I am a writer.

I Don’t Know How You Do It

This year, I’ve completed four manuscripts. Four. This is a record for me.

I also have one that I should be done drafting in a few weeks. So far, I’ve loved every single one of the stories and characters. Okay, I loved them all after a brief cooling off period.

People always want to know how I have time to write this much. The simple truth is that I don’t have time. I make the time. Before work. During my lunch break. After the kids go to bed. In the early morning hours before the rest of the house wakes up. Another truth? I hate this question. I hate the assumption that there is something mystical about my time management. My husband will tell you there is not. He’ll tell you about laundry left unfolded or the dishes I never touch. He’ll probably complain about my nose being buried in Google Docs on my phone while he drives.

This is my dream, and it’s my passion. I owe it to my dreams and craft to keep writing. When I stop, I feel lost. I’m not myself when I’m not writing.

I wrote Happily Ever Never in January and February of 2017. It typically takes me 30-45 days to complete a 80K-90K manuscript draft. I am the type that has to hammer out a draft or the story will die in my Google Drive. It also helps that I am a mad-crazy plotter. Every story I write starts with either character sketches or an outline. Lately, the outline and writing have led to character sketches.

After I wrote Happily Ever Never, I walked away from it. I didn’t write much more than blog posts from February 2017 until late summer 2018. The itch struck me and I started forcing myself to find the time. I did the same thing with reading. I had to do it for myself. I owed it to myself.

If there’s something you want, you have to work for it. You can’t just wish it.

Believing in My Voice

My greatest struggle as a writer is believing that the words I write matter or that they are good enough.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, yet I lived in denial that I was a “real writer.” When I talked about my books, I’d always add “but I self-published” as if that made them or me lesser than other writers.

When I was in high school, someone close to me (who will remain nameless and unidentifiable) told me that my kindergarten art was better than my writing. Those words hurt and they stuck with me. Every word I wrote and refused to share was tainted by that statement. Even now, twenty years later, the sting of what they said is just as painful.

My self-doubt grew from there. People close to me that don’t or won’t read my writing or books because they prefer books that “tell stories” as if they stories I told weren’t important or creative enough. For years I took this feedback personally, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t still bother me.

As a reader, I know and understand that not every book is for every reader. We all connect to different stories and characters. But when it comes from the people that should be in your corner, the rejection digs a little deeper.

Earlier this year, I read an early manuscript of a local author. It was her second book and I’d loved her first, so I was eager to dive in. I devoured it in a night. It was that good. She asked if there was anything she could do to thank me. It took a while to build the courage to ask, but I asked her to read my third release and share her feedback. One of the questions I asked was “do you think this is as good as other published books.” What I was asking her was if I was good enough. Could she see something in me that I couldn’t.

She did.

The simple “Yes, you’re books are good enough” from one person changed my mindset. Around this time, I also connected with a Bookstagrammer who would become not only a friend but also a critique partner. She might also be my first “fan,” but she is definitely one of my biggest supporters and cheerleaders.

I didn’t want to be a writer, I was a writer. I am a writer. That was all it took. Sure I still have doubts and rejection will always sting, but the power that lies in believing in yourself makes all the difference. Anytime I start to doubt myself or my talent, I often come back to her email and her words of encouragement and confidence that she’s since shared.

Her words combined with the support from my critique partner have pushed me forward and given me the courage to put myself out there. These two women, who are also both amazing writers, helped me find my voice. Their belief in me has made all the difference.

I am a writer. My words matter. My stories are worth telling.

Thank you Rea and Leah for believing in me and reading my words. In Leah’s case, reading them over and over and over while pointing out typos with her Takis.

Lessons in Imposter Syndrome

I’m up early this Saturday morning for a writer’s conference where I’ll pitch my latest manuscript, Work Like a Mother, to two literary agents.

This book (Lie Baby Lie) taught me a lesson in writing and publishing. I used to succumb to imposter syndrome when it’s came to my writing. I wasn’t good enough to be on bookstore shelves with my favorite authors. My writing and stories didn’t measure up.

It took a few good friends and readers to show me I was. Not just good enough, but that I was worth the risk. My love for writing and storytelling is worth taking a chance and hearing a millions no’s.

After self-publishing my first three novels, I am ready to face those piles of rejections for agents and editors. No is hard to hear. Very, very hard to hear. It can be demeaning and damaging, but it can also help us grow and improve.

My initial goal this year was to self-publish 4 books. Lie Baby Lie was the first I release in 2019 and might be the last of the year. I won’t hit my self-publishing goal and that’s okay. I have a bigger goal. I will get a literary agent—it may not be this year, but it will happen. My books will one day be on the shelf next to the my favorite authors.

I owe this confidence and belief in my writing to a few amazing people I’ve met on Bookstagram. I’ve given them shoutouts before, but they deserve a million more. @thebooksocialite @thewineingreader @reafrey @oils_and_spoils @torrie_reads

Protecting Your Creativity & Hearing Feedback

As a writer, critique partners and beta readers are a crucial part of the process. Critique partners ask the important, hard questions. They point out inconsistencies or plot holes. They also serve as checks and balances against the writer’s ego.

Trust is the most critical aspect of any critique relationship. Trust that the feedback is coming from a place of support and with good intentions. As writers, we are often emotionally tied to our work and sharing it is a vulnerable process. It’s hard to put yourself and your work out into the world. When feedback comes from a voice you trust, it’s easier to hear.

In addition to personal trust, it’s important to find critique partners that understand your genre and readers. If your critique partner or beta readers aren’t well-versed in your genre and similar novels, their feedback could be good, but not relatable.

One other thing I’ve identified as important when working with critique partners is to find people in a similar head space. When you can connect to writing beyond your current work, that helps. You can build rapport as you discuss things outside of critiques.

Critique groups are an entirely different beast. Having participated in very few of these, I’ve found them to not be helpful. The mob mentality can take over quickly, leading to the group being a chorus of echos after one person comments on something they may or may not have seen or even considered. Groups are great for getting a variety of ideas, but I’ve found them to be more harmful than helpful.

As I’ve embarked on a journey to make writing a career (eventually), I’ve started seeking out more critique partners and advice. While on this journey, I’ve heard some pretty hurtful comments that didn’t actually help my process. They hurt it. Thankfully, I have a core group of readers and writers that I trust that can talk me off of the ledge when I need it.

At the end of the day, as hard as it can be to hear that your baby isn’t as cute as you think she is, it is necessary. Every writer wants to get better. But we have to be careful with feedback—it’s easy to crave, but tough to swallow—you ultimately need to trust your gut. If the feedback feels wrong, consider why it feels wrong. If the feedback consistently feels wrong, move on. Find partners and readers you trust.

Now, I’m off to take my own advice,

Just Write

As a writer, I’m constantly questioning my words. What are words? What are sentences? Does Stephen King really never use adverbs in his books or daily conversations?

One of the hardest things for me to accept is that sometimes the words I put down on paper (or, Google Drive, because 2019), aren’t the greatest. I don’t know that I’ll ever be the type of writer that makes people discuss my prose or verbose language. I’d rather let the story lead the discussion. I want my words to be accessible. And, selfishly, I want readers to devour a book in one sitting. Hard to do that when they have to ask Siri what pontificate means.

But there are times I write words and sentences that make me want to burn it all day. Sometimes I do. That’s what editing is for. Write it out. Set it aside. Edit. Edit. Edit.

We rarely hit perfection on the first try. Hell, we rarely ever hit it. And that’s okay. Life isn’t perfect and neither is fiction.

The minute writing stops being fun is the moment I lose my passion. I don’t ever want to get to that point. I get frustrated and annoyed. I re-read a chapter and wonder if I even understand language. But I never want those doubts or fears to stop me from doing what I love.

Writers: just write the words. You can edit them later. Get it out, if even its nonsense now, it won’t be after you edit and revision.