Writing Process

Careers, Spotlights, & Dreams

Growing up, my dream was to be a singer. I went to college on a vocal performance scholarship but quickly realized I disliked the constant competition and auditioning. I saw that pinning my hopes and dreams on someone else’s opinion was a quick path to not being able to put food on the table.

So halfway through my freshman year, I dropped my vocal performance major with little idea what I wanted to do with my life. I took career assessments to see where my skills and interests met up. I’d taken these tests in the past, and I’ve taken them since. One thing I can say, I’m fairly consistent. What I always got was actor, artist, writer, singer, dancer, teacher, counselor, psychologist, and editor.

Never once in my life did I want to be a teacher, so I did not shift over to music education. I ended up on the path to being a Marriage and Family Therapist.

In our new city and state, I took a very part-time job as a teacher because that was the only job available. The next year I worked as a home visitor, doing in-home sessions with families, which was my focus in grad school. It was a good fit. My final year in that job, I was pregnant with my daughter.

My kiddo was born mid-July, and I had planned on going back to work in the fall. That didn’t happen because kiddo needed multiple operations. She was in the PICU for two months, the NICU for several more, and when she wasn’t in ICU, she was out on the pediatric floor. In the end, she was in and out of the hospital for over a year.

When I first learned of kiddo’s diagnoses and called my employer to tell them I couldn’t come back to work until October, I was told I no longer had a job…with a brand new baby, who ended up being a million dollar baby in a matter of months.

In January I took another teaching job, 2 evenings a week in towns 15 and 30 miles from home. My new boss allowed me to bring kiddo with me on the job. I was teaching parents of infants-preschoolers, after all, so she ended up being one of the kids enrolled in the class while I did my parent education in the room next door. It was a pretty sweet deal.

The next school year, they asked me back for more classes. I doubled my hours, and a month later, I was hired by another school district. Eventually, kiddo and I were going to eight classes a week and putting a solid 400 miles on the car each week.

Then we moved from our small town back to the city, so my mileage increased again. Kiddo was a great traveler and we had lots of fun driving, but we live in Minnesota. Snowy roads, much of the time, and our drives were at prime deer feeding times. I worried about accidents. The last thing I wanted to do was risk my daughter’s life for a job I never wanted in the first place.

I looked into doing family therapy again, but that would’ve meant working full time. Kiddo sometimes needed me at the drop of a hat, so I ended up letting that idea go, promising myself I’d come back to it once kiddo’s life was more stable.

The following school year I was hired in my city. Kiddo went to preschool and eventually elementary school. I started writing for fun. And I worked as a parent educator just a few miles from home.

Again, I never wanted to be a teacher, but I taught for sixteen years so I could have a schedule similar to my kid’s. A few years ago, I quit teaching to take a stab at being a full-time author. That meant inviting in all those things that had me running away from being a singer. It meant “performing” but in a very different way.

At least when I was singing, I had proof that I was skilled, something to fall back on. Musical professionals told me I had what it took to make it, which was reinforced with awards, scholarships, and honors.

I had none of that when it came to writing, but I took the leap. I submitted my first book to my publisher and then another. They kept signing me, so I figured I was doing something right. What, I’m not exactly sure. I’m still not sure five years later, but I keep busking for change by putting out more books.

In order for books to sell, they must first be noticed. To be noticed, I have to get reviewers to read them. Or give a few away. Or write an amazing tagline and pay for a fantastic cover to encourage people to click BUY. I need people talking about my books so other people will give them a chance.

It’s not as easy as singing on the street corner and grabbing the attention of passersby. There’s no applause after I type The End. No one is there to tell me I did a good job. Yes, there are reviews, but those are not written for authors; they’re for potential readers. And I do my best to avoid them, even good reviews. Especially bad ones. They can put me off my writing game for weeks because self-doubt too easily creeps in.

Writing is a very lonely job, very different from singing and teaching. I’m unable to see where I’m hitting my mark or where I’m totally losing someone. I don’t know if my stories have left someone with a book hangover or if they read The End, shrug, and then move on to another book, never thinking about my characters again.

I want to give people book hangovers. I don’t know if I do because I’m sitting behind a keyboard and a screen, blind to how my stories affect people.

Being so isolated makes me miss the stage. It makes me miss teaching. But only in a nostalgic way. I’m done living in the spotlight. See, it’s the spotlight part of writing I don’t like; the marketing is hell on my soul.

And I’ve come to see a pattern emerge.

😁 Write > Edit > Rewrite > Edit > Format > Proof > Finalize

🙂 Publish

Marketing 🔆 😑 😒 😔 ❓

After I hit publish, there is always a huge let-down. The act of being done is disappointing, partly because of the huge build up to publication day. *Cue sad trumpet* Then the marketing begins. The spotlight shines in my eyes, blinding me to the story I wrote and making me look, instead, to the audience.

And as a writer, if I’m too focused on the audience, I’ll lose sight of why I wrote the story in the first place. If I’m paying too much attention to what readers think, that changes how I write my next story.

It also makes me play to the person in Row 3, Seat 17 or the group in Section C rather than to the entire auditorium. I end up pinning my hopes and dreams and self-worth on someone else’s opinion.

And that’s no way to write.

So today, for old time’s sake, I’m going to get in the car with my kiddo and drive. We’re going to talk and look at the beautiful, snowy landscape slipping by. We’re going to talk about the story she’s currently writing and listen to her favorite songs. We’re going to do mother/daughter things.

And that whole time, I’m going to be thinking about how grateful I am that I get to write. I work from home, have a flexible schedule, and can call the shots, like taking an afternoon drive to the Mississippi River and back.

I love to write and I’m going to keep on with it, likely for many years to come. Someday I’m going to figure out how to get through the week after a book release without wanting to hide under a rock. Maybe I’ll master that with my next book. Maybe it will take another eighteen. Who knows?

But today I drive.

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Writing Process, Writing Resources

Visual Organization for the Writer

A little over a year ago I repainted my office. I call the room my writing studio around home because office sounds far too stuffy and expectation-ridden. The room was a hideous mustard color when we moved in, and I painted it a light pink, going for a pink-and-brown theme. It was a stressful room that was never conducive to writing, only to increased anxiety. I needed a change, but as many things in my house, projects get started but take a long time to get completed.

10553426_673784026050707_780962798164803465_nI wrote about the color scheme for the room on Facebook, which I wanted to be light and relaxing but not too cold. I went with a light, warm blue, bought espresso-stained furniture, and my accent color is orange. I eventually realized my writing studio was painted to match the Chicago Manuel of Style, 16th Edition. So there’s that. Haha.

10696308_689840441111732_6983726702932986973_nI have glass bulletin boards on my wall to jot down information I need to keep straight about my characters. This is what it looked like while I was working on Silver Scars. Now I have four characters on my boards, but I’ve used them sparingly. I don’t have a ton of space, so I’ve been hoarding the space I have rather than using it for its intended purpose.

Well, that has changed. While my closet doors have several quick reference writing guide stuck to them, I’ve had a very naked wall since before I painted. I used to have a bulletin board where I posted character inspiration and fun memories, but it was easily overwhelmed and filled quickly.

I finally hung two large bulletin boards on one wall and am considering putting my old one on another wall. For a visual organizer like me, this is a must have. I can now look up and see the birth order of Jude’s siblings, even though I haven’t written about any of them aside from sixteen year old Henry. I can glance at my Lay vs. Lie chart and not have to slow down when writing to hunt down the correct word. I can get inspired by art and settings and good times I’ve had with friends.

When my daughter walked in the studio yesterday, her reaction was, “Wow! It looks so professional in here.” Which was the whole purpose of creating a writing studio in the first place: this is my profession.

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Writing Process

What’s Your Writing Personality?

Helping Writers Become Authors posted a fascinating article on writing personalities, strengths and weaknesses of each, and some help on how to manage these styles.

From the descriptions, I’m a melancholic writer, prone to perfectionism, idealism, and insecurity. Yep. Pretty much explains me.

What’s Your Writing Personality? – Helping Writers Become Authors.

Read and then come back and tell what you think.

Thanks, Writing Challenges, Writing Process

Beta Reader Appreciation + Questions

BETA_capital_and_smallIt wasn’t so long ago that I utilized every single beta or pre-reader I was brave enough to ask to read my stories before I even considered submitting to my publisher. Recently things have changed.

But wait, perhaps I should go back a little further.

The first fictional story I shared with anyone was fan fiction (FF). For those of you who don’t know what that is, FF are stories based on already published books, movies, TV shows, or even real people in the media, called Real Person Fic. The FF community I initially belonged to was a very supportive one. Like, crazy supportive, and I’m still friends with a lot of people from that community. In fact, there are a group of us who chat nearly everyday. We encourage, support, and cheerlead each other, and most of us barely knew each other during our fan fiction days. Now that we are all publishing original fiction (OF), it’s crazy how much I miss the old days, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

So I came from a community of writers and readers who would practically clamor to beta or pre-read a story, and I moved into the world of OF, where I’m scared to ask for readers. It’s a different experience, for some reason. Some of it is because many of my old readers are busy with their own work, editing, or else have no interest in reading outside of their FF worlds. Finding a great beta is hard too, but I think that’s an entirely different blog post I’ll need to write in the future.

I’m scared of showing my rough work to people too, but that’s not all.

JanuaryAd_Elisa_NorthStarLast year when I wrote North Star, I asked several people to pre-read. Because I had 3 large books released very close together as well as a YA adaptation of Spark and then a novella to boot, I felt like I was taking advantage. I had so many more words to read, so I quit asking for help. For Flare, book 3 of North Star, I did something crazy: I submitted my work to my publisher w/o anyone reading it first. Only after it was out of my hands, did I ask anyone to read it. Talk about nerve wracking, but I felt I needed to know if I could still get published that way.

Since then, I’ve written 2 short stories, both which have been seen by new eyes.

I value those new eyes and am beyond grateful for people who are willing to give me their honest opinion of my work. It’s hard to let go of a story I’m not entirely sure about yet and to give someone permission to rip it to shreds, but I need to do that so I can make it better in the end.

For those of you who have beta read, what is your experience? Do you feel used or are you glad to do this?

For writers, what is your experience? How do you find readers that are not only willing, but also helpful? Do you give betas specific instructions or do you let them do what they want?

Authors, Writing Challenges, Writing Process

Open Project(s)

I’m writing a novella, and I have a short story that I have waiting in the wings. But first I need to finish this novella. I am one of those writers who needs things completed before they can move on, and it drives me a little (a lot) nuts.

So, today I will be scheming how to finish this story up. I got to a place where I thought I was done, but then realized I really wasn’t. So I need to write a few new scenes and the new ending today so I can work on my short story.

Am I the only author out there who can’t move on to new projects until the old ones are completed? If you were ever like me, please tell me how you got past this? I wish I could have 15 projects going at once.

Help!

Writing Challenges, Writing Process

Writing Challenges – Getting Started

I have a new project or five in my head. I know the characters very well already. I know the plot points that will turn and move the story forward. I know the setting, the year the stories take place, the tone, even the secondary characters.

So what is keeping me from starting?

I just said my least favorite word: start. How the hell do I start this book? What’s the opening scene? How do I not get bogged down in everything I just talked about in the first paragraph and instead, write a compelling opening?

If I weren’t a linear writer (for the most part), I’d just start in the middle and go, but I can’t do that.

What are the hardest parts for you when writing? Do you find opening scenes as challenging as I do? And what on earth do you do to get over that hump?

Book Release, GLBT, Inspiring, LGBT, Social Issues, Writing Process

Are You Ready for Flare?

JanuaryAd_Elisa_NorthStarThe full North Star Trilogy will be released in 36 hours when Flare is out. Have you read Spark? Is Fusion still burning in your mind?

You still have time!

Hugo and Kevin knew they should be together all the way back in high school, but life took them in very different directions. When they have a chance to continue their relationship, life’s circumstances have other plans for them. But they know they are meant to be, so they fight for each other, and they will fight for the family they want to nurture together, even if the world around them doesn’t quite understand their “alternative” family and tries their best to keep them apart.

GLBT, Interviews & Reviews, LGBT, Thanks, Writing Process

Vote Today for the Finalists!!!

This might look like yesterday’s post, but it’s so different. Yesterday the voting at Mrs. Condit Reads was preliminary voting. This time around it is the Author of the Month Finalist!!!! So thank you for tugging Posy Robert’s fusion into the new poll. XOXO

So, if you have a few moments to grab your devices, whichever ones you fancy, would you be so kind as to vote for Posy Robert’s Fusion or any other book that jumps up and grabs you. Winners will be announced Jan 9th.

❤ Thank you!

Author-of-the-Month-Finalist

Inspiring, My Novels, Writing Process

I Thought I Knew

I thought I knew everything about these characters after working with them for so long. At the very least, I thought I knew the parts of them they were willing to share, things I wasn’t even willing to blatantly share with readers because when Kevin whispered the secrets about how much his father’s emotional abuse hurt him, I knew I needed to stay quiet about the details.

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But tonight as I finished up my third edits with my publisher on Flare, book 3 of North Star, I had an epiphany. Yes, it was that big. My heart nearly beat its way out of my chest as I excitedly told my husband my realization.

You see, I have never been happy with how I had finished the last few paragraphs of Flare. I’ve tried to fix them for months, but the last three days, I worked and re-worked about a half page. I wrote and rewrote, never satisfied, so I sent the offending bits to Con Riley and Jay Northcote, two great friends and the only people I’m willing to ever show my work in the raw.

blenheim-boys-bow-tie

Then this evening as I reworked the last line of the book yet again, cutting more words, I finally heard them sing. Not that they were amazing words, by any stretch of the imagination, but that they tugged tight all those strings I had interwoven for months and months. One sentence took Hugo from a person who reacts to things around him and transformed him so readers can see how he is now consciously in charge of his life.*

*I realize I’m probably more able to see this than any of my readers will, but like I said, I’ve had Hugo and Kevin whispering secrets about themselves for ages.