Coming Into Focus

Have you ever figured out where to take your writing and wondered why you didn’t see this angle before?

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It’s easy to flounder in the publishing world. It seems that the Big 5 and bajillions of agents are hidden behind a fortress of blurbs, synopsis, and opening lines. Finding your voice can be exceptionally confusing.

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Genre hopping is probably one of the main ailments a writer can come down with. As a pro genre-hopper I can say that bouncing around only hurts your forward momentum when it comes to author success. Sure we all want to pretend that we’re Neil Gaiman, but even he struggled in the beginning.

Focusing on your strengths and following the acceptances toward more readers and better sales is what brings rewards. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the pleasures of writing different kinds of stories. Some self-publishers find it easier to get their name out there by writing in as many genres as possible.

But if you’re looking to gain exposure the old fashioned way, you have to recognize that everyone is writing and trying to get published but less and less people are reading. Literacy rates are higher than they have ever been in history and yet, all we’ve gotten is flooded markets and an excess of billboards.

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Sounds very discouraging.

To avoid the slip into the pit of despair, you have to work on your craft. Most of the writers I’ve met who think they’re the greatest writer who ever lived are the ones making common mistakes. Never forget to grow. Always listen to editors. Absorb and shift when your career takes off in one area, even if it’s not the one you had expected.

My children’s books always sell well. As do my non-fiction pieces. But I spent a great deal of time playing with modern, lit, and speculative fiction. (Horror always gets a pass; every writer has their horror stories whether or not they get published)

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My speculative fiction is often too imaginative for adults…duh. I’m a giant 5 year old. I finally gave in and started tailoring old ideas for middle grade and children’s stories and they’re flourishing. I always praise children as the best audience. Writing for kids is my favorite part of what I do.

The non-fiction comes naturally. I don’t really consider it writing, it’s really just writing down memories, or taking information that’s already out there and putting it together to make sense of certain issues or ideas in the world. And again, my best non-fiction comes from silly stories of when I was a kid, or parenting blunders. Haha

So why did I fight for so long to try and compete with the world of adult speculative fiction?

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There are many reasons why an author fights for certain stories. I could write a book on that alone. Maybe I will…someday. But what really pushed me away from my natural talent was something my x-husband said.

We were hiking right before my 1st children’s book, my first book ever, was released. I was freaking out about how it would do and what it would mean for me and my writing career. I said something about the woes of being a writer and after being very quiet, he just kind of exploded, shouting: It’s just a children’s book! You’re not a REAL writer.

After that, I spent a lot of time trying to prove that I was indeed a real writer. But anyone who has a working knowledge of my philosophy on my own work is that I often belittle myself. I often write and say: I’m not a real author.

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To be fair to my x, I had been jabbering on and on for quite some time and he always tried to be supportive. He was also “the writer” when I met him, not me. I was a singer. It never occurred to me that my success might cause him a little grief. It wasn’t until we separated that I even considered it part of why things went south.

And I feel bad.

I feel bad that he never tried when I worked so hard to push him to finish and submit SOMETHING.

But I refuse to feel bad about my work any longer.

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My fiancé has been with me through a lot of the fallout, and he doesn’t fit that “I can’t handle my woman’s success” stereotype. If anything, I think he considers my successes “Our” successes, which has always been my philosophy.  I’m sure of it as I sit down and write it all out. (This is a big part of why I’m throwing aside my fear of getting married again haha)

After 6 years of pro writing, publishing, having a column for a little while, articles, books, and fan mail, I finally feel like a REAL writer. (Winning a New Apple Award helps too haha)

I don’t get writer’s block.

I don’t write every day.

I don’t have a set schedule for writing or a specific place where the magic happens.

I break rules every damn day.

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My acceptance ratio is at 11% and my stories and pieces are better than they have ever been.

There is always room for improvement, but I’m more dedicated than ever. And all of this has led me to begin work on a new middle grade sci-fi story. It’s for an anthology submission, but if it grows large enough, I’m going to get it published as a standalone.

Adult sci-fi and fantasy has become too political for my blood, but that’s the great thing about writing for children. They just want to listen and learn. Even when you think they’re not paying attention, they are.

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They’re one of the few hopes an author has left in this world. (Don’t worry I won’t break out my Whitney Houston Impression…yet!)

Writing is an art, publishing is a business, mixing the two is dangerous, but it’s not impossible.

 

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