Listening to Your Intuition

In the beginning of July, I received an email from a fan named Kerri. Immediately, I thought of my childhood best friend with the same name, even spelled the same way! I knew it wasn’t the same girl I once counted as a sister, but my heart began pounding out of my chest, and I didn’t ‘think’ . . . maybe I need to find her today? I KNEW! Granted, I’d tried many times to search for her online but to no avail. I hadn’t had any contact with her since I married in 1998. Her last name was different. I had no idea where she lived. Make a looong story short, I paid one of those stalker sites a dollar that EVENTUALLY led me to finding my long-lost friend that day. Her mom, who might as well have been my mom from fourth to eighth grade, died the day before, too young at the age of 57. Was the immediacy I felt at the need to find her THAT particular day a coincidence?

Kerri and I reunited at her mom's memorial

Kerri and I reunited at her mom’s memorial

So what does this have to with writing?

On July 23rd, I received an email with my first round of edits for the last novel in my 18 Things trilogy. She had this to say about my ending:

“Then the epilogue happens. I’ve never been so angry and confused and bipolar in my emotions as what this ending gave to me. NOT in a good way. I edited this AS I READ IT for the first time. That was my immediate, instinctual reaction. If this were a finished, completed MS that I’d picked up and were reading to review for enjoyment, the rating/review would not be positive.”

krystal and me

My editor and me at the UtopYA2014 conference ❤

*deep breaths*

Between a family drama and health problems, I had to let this one simmer a couple of weeks because I wasn’t sure how to respond. But when I finally returned to her comments, I realized she was right. Sometimes the gruffest critiques can be the best. They make you evaluate what YOU really want as an author and go from there (a wise CP reminded me of that). And I realized the ending I, THE AUTHOR, wanted all along, wasn’t the right one . . . neither was the one my editor hoped for. Like my first two books, it may be an ending that hardly anyone expects. I know I didn’t!

But like my 14yo daughter said, “Well, Mom, you pulled total surprise endings in your first two books . . . don’t you think it’s only fitting your characters do the same thing to you for the final book?”

Still, I was flipping out . . . BUT THIS WASN’T WHAT I PLANNED?! WHAT DO I DO?!?! I should note that I never ‘planned’ to write an epilogue either. My characters had already surprised me with an extra I didn’t expect. But this time around, I was leaning toward cutting the epilogue completely, and the final chapter was one I hadn’t thought of until mulling things over after my editor’s email.

I was at a crossroads. And like so many other times in life, I followed my intuition. Never would I have ‘planned’ my ending this way, but I know . . . not think, not hope, not pray . . . I KNOW it’s the right one. Funny thing was, when I went back and examined some things in 18 Truths, it’s like my subconscious knew this ending was coming all along. Just took me a while to catch on!

Do you find yourself immediately listening to that little voice nudging inside of you, or does it take a few wrong tries before you realize your intuition was somehow right all along?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month, so feel free to join us if you need support or would like to give some encouragement! We’ve been going for three years strong now!

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Are Two Better Than One?

Four years ago, I got the chance to attend RWA Nationals after the venue moved from Nashville to Orlando due to unfortunate flooding. To save money, I planned on staying with a friend who lived forty minutes away from the Disney Swan & Dolphin Hotel, where the conference was held. Then I discovered Marisa Cleveland, a buddy who I’d met three months earlier at my local RWA chapter meeting, had a room in the hotel all to herself. Being the Reigning Queen of Awkward Situations, I crashed her room & took the couch. Little did I know Marisa was a natural introvert & too terrified of me to say no.

Risa & me at RWA Nationals

Risa & me at RWA Nationals

That’s how a beautiful friendship was born 🙂 Now that I’m done with writing my 18 Things trilogy, I’m forcing her into another situation that seems just as counterintuitive to sharing your hotel room with a stranger. Cowriting a novel! Authors are known for being control-freak Jedi masters of our fictional universes. That’s why when I attended utopYA2014, I made sure I attended the panel with Melissa Pearl & the mom and son author duo C.A. Kunz. Here are some of my notes in case, like me, you think cowriting could be a fun, refreshing process that yields a unique story.

TIPS:

Pick someone who is at similar points in terms of both their craft and career & treat each other as equals.

Be honest if there’s something you don’t like. We take criticism personally, but that has to take a back burner in the interest of writing the best story possible.

Make sure you know the other person’s writing style well so the reader doesn’t feel pulled out of the story with two very different tones-different than having two distinct voices, which can work very well because that can be attributed to the characters.

CHALLENGES:

If one person is waiting to hear back for next chapter, but their co-author is too busy and is left waiting when they are ready to move on with the story, it can cause friction. Make sure to set up a writing schedule & stick to it!  Equal commitment & a compatible writing pace is a must. Also helpful are similar tastes. For instance, do you bond over the same books, movies, music, and celebrities (like drool swoon-worthy Theo James)? That’s a good start.

 

Seriously, Jamie? This is getting ridiculous. I will let you touch my bicep if you leave me alone.

Seriously, Jamie? This is getting ridiculous. I will let you touch my bicep if you leave me alone.

Good idea to pick a person who has a final say in different areas, like grammar, fine-tuning of the plot, and research details. It’s like a choose your own adventure story! If you get stuck, have a bowl with worst case scenarios and pull one out & have that happen to your character.

If you are discussing something serious with the book, do it in person or Skype so your partner doesn’t misread what you’re saying. Email, text, or phone call at least once a day to ensure continuity and the development of a solid story arc, especially as you work toward the finale.

Have you ever thought about working with a partner? What do you think the pros and cons would be?

P.S. Speaking on Cons, I didn’t get the coveted tickets for the “Open At the Close” event at LeakyCon in Orlando on July 30th since they sold out in 5 minutes. If you dress up as a creepy/scary clown in your spare time, or know someone who does, please message me. I’m looking to hire one to chase a ticket holder around until they fork over their pass. Thanks for your help in this matter.

scary clown

 

Tidbits From UtopYA Con 2014

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They say knowledge is power. I learned so much at UtopYA Con that every Wednesday this month I’ll be posting about it. Today, I’ll recap a few things our keynote speakers said.

First up is Sylvia Day with “What I Wish I’d Known Then.” She said writers make bad business decisions because they are afraid, seeking validation, or because they haven’t done their due diligence. Um, yes, yes, and yessss!!! Don’t be afraid to be a publishing whore & try everything! Also, don’t let deadlines dictate the quality of your books. Readers will wait for a good book, but they will drop you like a hot potato for a bad book. And read everything- things you don’t even think you’ll like. Finally, Dream Big & Plan Smart!

On Saturday, we heard from Gennifer Albin, who spoke on Empowering Female Writers & Readers. Her message revolved around a blog post she did on Hope (which you should read. WARNING: grab a box of tissues). Some thoughts that stuck for me during her speech:

Dreams don’t always fit in convenient boxes during life allotted stages. Art isn’t always meant to be created in quiet moments alone. There will always be naysayers- often these are the ones who should be offering us support. But use your words when you feel crippled.

I’ve been holding onto her words about hope. Sales for my sequel, 18 Truths, have been way down. I crunched some numbers & discovered I sold 1,582 ebooks of 18 Things the first year it was out. Since 18 Truths came out in January, I’ve sold 210 ecopies 😦 At this point, I’m wondering why do I even publish the last novel in the trilogy, 18 Thoughts, if nobody is going to read the darn book?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Sign up if you’re looking to offer some encouragement or need to be encouraged.

Some peeps at UtopYA-recognize anyone you know?

Some peeps at UtopYA-recognize anyone you know?