A Quickie on the Utter Bullshit That is a Writing Career

Good news:

Today, I received my FIRST EVER copy of REAPER in print. It’s fucking gorgeous and beautiful and I am not ashamed to say I snuggled it for a while.

 

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So. Pretty.

 

And after we snuggled and whispered sweet nothings to each other, I thought about the release. THAT’S RIGHT. Other people (hopefully) will be reading this thing. And not only will they be reading it, they’ll have OPINIONS and shit. And while REAPER is awesomesauce with a dash of sarcastilicious (Thanks, Renee), there will be people out there who hate it. Don’t worry, I’ve got whiskey.

And then I thought, HOLY TWAT WAFFLE I have ANOTHER book coming out next year, which only leads to more rejection via review.

Which brings me to my point–

The rejection never stops.

Say it with me.

THE REJECTION NEVER STOPS.

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AHHHHHHHHHHH

 

But seriously, it doesn’t. It starts with query letters, then edits that make you cut out your favorite scenes, and then reviews and THE CYCLE NEVER ENDS.

And the anxiety? I’ve got a new WIP in front of me that I’m completely in love with, but in the dark recesses of my mind there’s a voice. A voice that says it doesn’t matter what I write, because it’ll suck. It all sucks. It’s like the editor voice, but on steroids. Fucker.

It’s taking some time and patience and a tall glass of whiskey and coke in my “I ❤ BEAVER” glass to get through it.

A career in writing, or any of the arts in general, is complete bullshit. But I’ll be DAMNED if I ever stop.

 

 

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It’s Here, and It’s Beautiful – REAPER Cover Reveal

Guys.

Last night I got the best email since signing with Melange Books to publish my book, REAPER.

You remember REAPER – it’s the one I bitched about for months because Renee guilted me into doing NaNoWriMo with her. Yes, in the end she was right, but we won’t tell her that.

If you’ve forgotten (and how DARE you), here’s a blurb to jog your memory:

The Department of Creative Death and Ironic Punishment. This is where writers go when they die.

Oz, an employee of The Department, is mostly content doling out death from his ancient typewriter, until he wins the office lottery. The prize? A new assignment – to return to the world of the living as a Reaper.

At first, Oz sees this new assignment as a blessing. He is given a body and a second chance at life, but then, during a lesson with a surly, seasoned Reaper named Bard, Oz is forced to watch a childhood friend die. Shaken, Oz questions his willingness to do the job he’s won.

With each new lesson, Oz begins to wonder if the job of Reaper is really a prize or a punishment.

Anyway, after months of agonizing over the fate of my first ever big girl publication, I have a cover.

And, guys? I fucking love it. I know you will too.

 

BEHOLD:

 

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25 Universal Truths as Told by the Magus of Existential Nothingness (AKA – Me.)

1. Traditional publishing is a long, long, LONG process.

It’s April. I signed my contract with Melange Books last September. That’s 7 months of waiting and GUESS WHAT? The waiting continues. Am I complaining? Absolutely. Would I change it? Probably not. Like childbirth, once I get to see the long-awaited cover and final edits, all the previous pain will be a distant memory. 

2. And it’s stressful as hell.

Every email is like a bomb waiting to explode. On the bright side, I feel like one of those CSI bomb squad techs every time I open an email and it’s from Amazon or Hulu offering me shit.

3. So is writing.

The longer you stick with this writing thing, the harder it becomes. The funny part is IT’S ALL YOUR OWN FAULT. Simple plots become layered, twisted timelines and complicated back story that are ALL ESSENTIAL but are also a great big pain in the ass. 

4. To combat the stress of writing, you can write.

Seriously. BARD’S CHOICE is getting to be one of the more complicated things I’ve written (see above) and it stresses me out. So, I did what any self-respecting writer does — I ignored it. Well, pushed it away so I could admire it from afar. THEN started YET ANOTHER WIP called LOST AND FOUND. The plan is that it will be an uplifting magical realism novella that I will probably never publish. The “never publish” bit is what makes it fun. This is for me and me only. I may let Renee and Hanna read it but that’s because they’re creative torturers. 

5. A little magic helps.

I’ve tried to write literary fiction. I’ve tried to write “commercial” fiction with no speculative element. I hate them both. Magic is awesome.

6. So does bacon.

This needs no explanation. Bacon helps ALL.

7. When all else fails, find the funny.

I find that when I’m stuck in a writing rut, trying to read books that require me to think or are similar to what I’m trying to write ONLY makes the situation worse. The best way to free up your brain, in my opinion, is to read something purely for entertainment. For me, those are books like ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris, LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED by Jenny Lawson, and pretty much anything by Christopher Moore, Tom Holt, and Susan Jane Gilman.

8. Obsession does cool things.

When you love a subject, character, spell, place, thing, and put it in your book, you adore your work. Adoration keeps the words coming.

9. Most of the time.

BUT, it also makes it THAT much harder to hear constructive criticism as anything but an idiot mucking up your lovely, lovely words. Also, stalking is bad, mmkay?

10. Okay, so, rarely.

Shut up.

11. I can feel you judging me and it hurts.

Writers have feelings too, you know.

12. No it doesn’t. I am a judgement devouring cyborg from the planet Zarfor.

Take me to your leader.

13. And a liar. Sorry.

Not sorry.

14. Know what else is stressful? Queries.

First, you have to write the thing. Then, you tear it apart and write it again. Then there’s the synopsis (kill me, please). THEN you send that bad boy out to a multitude of agents, presses, and editors so they can tell you how much it doesn’t work/you suck/better luck next year, sucka. For those of you who follow me on twitter (@authorkatm) you know I’m querying a MS called SACRIFICIAL LAMB CAKE. I’d tell you how it’s going, but…

15. I need a drink.

But it’s only 9:30am, so I’ll wait. *wink*

16. Things took a dark turn there. Let’s move on.

Keep on keepin’ on and such.

17. Your favorite author, no matter how many books they’ve sold, still freak out about reviews. Except James Patterson.

It makes me feel a thousand times better when I see that titans like Neil Gaiman still worry that their books won’t be received well. Misery loves company and all that. 

18. If your favorite author is James Patterson, I’d like to introduce you to my man-eating couch.

Jealous. So, so jealous.

19. Bunk beds from IKEA are proof that Hell is real.

Two hours, three adults, several cups of coffee, and a multitude of random injuries. You do the math. 

20. Further proof: seven-year-olds.

Seven going on sixteen with an attitude the size of Jupiter. <Insert deity of your choice> help me.

21. Also six-year-olds.

MOMCANIHAVEADRINK MOMCANIHAVESOMEYOGURT MOMCANIWATCHTV MOMCANICOMEINTHEBATHROOMWITHYOU

22. But they’re funny, so it all evens out.

Kaley: You’re old.

Abby: Mom’s not old.

Kaley: ?

Abby: She’s super old. 

Me: I’m 27.

Abby: Super, SUPER old. Like grandma.

23. I seriously thought I would only make it to, like, four on this list.

Hooray for us!

24. Shows how little I know.

NOTHING.

25. Okay, so, slightly more than nothing, which is just the right amount.

There’s always some fun discovery to make. Like, did you know that tangerines go bad? Seriously. When they’re super soft, you shouldn’t eat them. In an unrelated event, my tummy hurts and we’re out of toilet paper. Little help?

Hey! It’s an Update! Because Update!

Yes, I am still here.

For those of you who care, this post will be an update in the Adventures of KatLand. It’s for me as much as for you, This ass-puckering cold has my brain all in a tizzy.

Bullet points are good for untizzying.

– Christmas was pretty great. My daughters were spoiled, my girlfriend pretended to like the Minnesota Wild hat I got her (sweet girl, that one) and I totally fucked up the first batch of cut out cookies because baking is for people that aren’t me. I spent New Years Eve getting drunk, watching Doctor Who, and cursing Stephen Moffatt. So, that was good too.

– SACRIFICIAL LAMB CAKE has hit a wall. There’s a subplot missing (oh, if I only I knew what it was!) and the ending I had planned just isn’t going to cut it. I’ve set it aside for now, with a promise to finish the draft before edits for REAPER come back from the publisher in May. 

– I started another work, THE EVENING HOUSE, but after getting 2k words deep, I decided that one needed more marinating time. Also, I know jack shit about it’s setting – Nevada – so some research is needed.

– Which brings me to an as yet untitled WIP starring Bard, the surly, obnoxious character from REAPER that 99% of my beta readers (and I) fell in love with. It was decided that Bard deserves his own story, and I am determined to give it to him. Basic outlining and world building has begun, but I’m not making any promises about a draft yet. If I get dragged into it, so be it. If my mind makes YET another detour, then that’s fine, too. 

There, see? That wasn’t so painful. I’m already thinking more clearly – 

Ooo! Shiny!

*runs off*

The 25,000 Word Curse and How I’m Learning to Break It

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I’d share a secret with you non-writer types. If you’ve ever tried to scare a writer through “conventional” means, you soon found out that the writer species is so jaded, so obsessed with the unusual, that monsters and beasties of the dark have no outward effect. 

However…

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If you lean in closely, so close that only they can hear what you say and whisper these words: vast middle, you will see their skin prickle and shivers of terror pulse through their body.

As writers, we all have that point in our WIP’s that we feel the wheels begin to slow, the burst of genius flare less frequently, and the words come in useless couplets. Mine, as you may have guessed, begins at around the 25,000 word point.

It never fails.

With my novel, REAPER, once I hit that cursed word count, it was like the power went out in my head. It’s my head, so I knew where everything was (including that freaky bastard that likes to hide in the darkest corners), but without the light, I fumbled through my thoughts in search of the ones I needed. What started as a sprint out of the gate because a slow, agonizing crawl across upturned thumbtacks. It became so disheartening that I abandoned the project to pursue a new shiny idea (which, of course, led straight into the ground and now sits, molding, in my “NO FUCKING CLUE” folder). It took a month before I was able to swallow my anxiety and dive back in. 

Later, I hit the same wall with a WIP called THE BOOKSELLER. And now, with my current and longest-running perpetual WIP, SACRIFICIAL LAMB CAKE, I find myself at 26,327 words with dry mouth and a broken light bulb. 

If I told you that I wasn’t tempted to walk away from it in favor of plotting my NaNoWriMo project, I’d need an army of sexy lady firefighters to put out my pants. Actually, now that I think about it…

No. No fire ladies. Words. (Dammit).

Unlike THE BOOKSELLER, I haven’t completely hit a wall with this one. I know where it’s going and I can see it taking shape with each few excruciating sentences. I know my characters. I know the story. I know that it’s going to be great – if I could just fucking finish it. I’m a sculptor with a tiny hammer hacking away at a mountain of marble. Each time I get angry enough with it to throw it in a fire, I pep talk myself, using REAPER as an example. I wrote it. I polished it. I sold it. I proved to myself that I’m fully capable of creating something fantastic, so now there are no excuses. Only frustration.

Each day, I do something, change something, in order to try to relieve some of that frustration. Below are 5 things I’ve discovered help me get through the writing day. Maybe they’ll help you, too.

1. Realize that no two writers are created equal and that there is NO RULE that says you have to finish in an allotted amount of time. Get a feel for your own pace and keep with it. It will change every day, and that’s perfectly fucking fine.

2. When writing at night stopped doing it for me, I changed up my routine, opting for mornings at a coffee shop. A change of scenery has a HUGE impact on how the brain works. Now that I’m slowing again, I’m looking for a new writing spot to relight that spark.

3. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t write something that day. Granted, if you’re knee deep in a project, it’s unlikely you’ll go the entire day without at least scrawling a note on the palm of your hand while sitting at a red light. BUT, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. There’s no reason to punish yourself for it. You know those times when you can’t for the life of you remember the answer to a question that’s been plaguing you all day and then – BAM – it comes to you at three in the morning? That’s because you stopped bashing it to a pulp and let your subconscious sift through the brain cave. Writing works by the same principle. 

4. Work on something else. I don’t mean abandon the project; I mean allow yourself to explore ideas completely unrelated to what you’re primary focus has been. It’ll allow your subconscious to do the sifting AND you don’t have that guilty feeling for being unproductive. For me, my side project has been hashing out my NaNo book. It’s been fun and I’m looking forward to writing it.

5. Blog about it. Or, if that’s too much like writing for your fragile psyche to handle, email or call a writer friend and vent about it. If there’s a particular plot issue making you homicidal, they’ll work through it with you.

There they are. If you have ideas to add, please do. We could ALL use the help. 

 

NaNoWriMo Version 2.0 (download for update)

Last year about this time, my friend Renee and I decided to conduct an experiment. We would participate in NaNoWriMo so that we could bash it properly and with brain-splattering facts at our disposal. 

Boy did that bite us in the ass.

Renee and I both wrote novels as a result – she “finished” 50k within the required 30 days. I did not. I did, however, manage to finish, demolish, rebuild, polish, and submit a book called REAPER which was picked up by Melange Books early last month (look for it next fall.) 

Don’t misunderstand – the process was ANYTHING but simple. I started with a detailed (kind of) outline, but still found myself rehashing the plot when I was already thousands of words behind. I hated every second of it. The pressure was maddening! It didn’t help that every day greeted me with a feed filled with tweets by other NaNo-ers who COULD NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH FUN IT WAS. They’re all fucking liars. Really. Writing is fun. NaNo is torture.

But guess what. I’m doing it again because deja vu and karma are sleeping together now. And because Renee possesses magical voodoo powers of persuasion.

This time, I’ve got a little less than a month to prepare and I think I’m ready, which of course means I’m not. I’m knee deep in the first draft of another WIP, SACRIFICIAL LAMB CAKE, which needs to at least be close to finished by the time November 1 comes around. Provided there’s no major disaster between now and then… No, I’m not even going to say it. 

Anyway, here’s a very brief synopsis of what I’ll be writing about – I’m calling it THE EVENING HOUSE:

Her name is Blythe Evening. She grew up on the Shoshone Duckworth Reservation in Nevada, but left when she turned eighteen. Being trapped on the Res wasn’t something a free spirit like Blythe was prepared to face. 
 
Years later, her (barely legal) brothel is on the rocks. Sure, according to Nye County law, her establishment is on the up and up. But with mounting registration fees, girls skipping their tax payments, and having to navigate the treacherous waters of having her “unique” girls medically examined on a monthly basis, it’s getting harder and harder to keep her head above water. When officials from the tax collector’s office show up to The Evening House with an official notice to shutdown, Blythe goes to visit an old friend – a shaman by the name of Bud Firehorse – not for guidance (she doesn’t believe in all that mystical, vision quest crap), but for the best whiskey this side of the Rockies. 
 
Drunk, she spills her issues to Bud and he gives her the same advice he’s been giving her for nearly two decades: go on your vision quest. Find your spirit guide. According to him, Blythe’s life has been destined to go downhill since her refusal of her guide’s help. Against her better judgement, she agrees to go on the quest. 
 
Early the next morning, severely hungover and high on the shaman’s special peyote, Blythe wanders the wooded area surrounding the Res. She’s gone for nearly 12 hours when the hunger and peyote deliver a punch to her mind. She collapses and dreams of the Snake guide. 
 
Snake, like all reptile guides, is despondent, violent, and prone to abnormal mood swings. But Snake is also the guide for change. Rebirth. At daybreak the next day, she is collected by Bud and Blythe tells him what she’s seen. He doesn’t seem hopeful.
 
When she returns to The Evening House, Blythe comes across a woman with scaly skin and a forked tongue – it’s her guide, Snake, and she’s here to help… or so she says. It doesn’t take long for Snake to turn Blythe’s life upside down, forcing her to have to not only try to save her business, but also to save Nevada from Snake.
 
Hope you all are as excited as I am. By that I mean take cover.
 
The end is Nye. 
 
(See what I did there?)

I Think I’m Getting… The Fear

Yesterday began what is damn close to being the final edits to REAPER. You remember that one – the book that NaNoWriMo forced out of me like ipecac? The two most competent Beta Readers I know got back to me with some fantastic tweak notes and I’m putting them to good use. After this, it’s final touches and BAM – I’m ready for serious, no holding back submitting.

But then today I had a NERVOUS FUCKING BREAKDOWN.

Out of absolutely nowhere, as I sat down to continue work on the edits was, “Jesus butt-fucking-christ I am a TERRIBLE writer. Who in their write mind would read this garbage? This? THIS is what I’m expecting people to publish?”

And then I cried. I cried for a fucking hour with a Harry Potter movie in the background and gummi bears melting in my hand. It was when the snot ran like a faucet that I had a thought.

I have The Fear.

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The fear that I just might fail. That after all this work (7, possibly 8 long months) on ONE BOOK that’s at SUCH an awkward word count that I STILL don’t know whether to call it a novel or novella, that I’ll get rejected. Rejected like whoa.

Of course I’m going to get rejected. We ALL do. (And if we don’t, we’re fucking LIARS).

So when I do get that first rejection, you can be DAMN SURE I’m going to post that shit loud and proud above my desk.

After the whiskey. Cause whiskey.