Today I'm working on my latest project, finishing up what will hopefully be the last round of edits, and working on the query letter I'll be sending out to agents. It's exciting! But it didn't happen by magic (unfortunately). Several big changes took place to get to this point:
1. I gave up social media
In January, Guarding Reese was released as part of the Wings of the Wicked box set. As required of participants, I stayed glued to my computer/phone in every spare minute, making graphics and posting, posting, posting in hopes of getting on the USA Today Bestseller list. And we DID IT! That was such a cool day! But after so many months of living that social media life, I needed a break. I knew it would damage my sales, my relationships with bloggers, and every aspect of my self-publishing life, but I had to do it for me, y'all. I just couldn't devote my energy to Facebook or Twitter or even this blog.
2. I took a long look at the stories I write
Last year, I came to the heart-wrenching realization that no agent was going to pick up my fantasy romance project House of Birds and Beasts. I was so excited about sending out partials and fulls, getting those requests from agents, and even reading their feedback. But at the end of the day, it was a pass from all of them. So I took a step back and I let myself look at my work from a different angle. And they were right. It had some major flaws, and unfortunately, they were beyond me to fix them.
3. I made a fresh start
Rather than put my baby into the woodchipper and hope something better came out, I started over. I used the feedback from agents and outlined a new story. It had the same characters (though some changes in their backgrounds), the same majick system, and the same conflict. But I started in a different place, I introduced the characters and conflict in a different way, and I didn't tip-toe around the major themes of the story. It took a TON of work, but I created something new out of the ashes of a story I love, and somehow, I love the new one even more.
4. I kept making fresh starts
In my self-publishing life, I am a USA Today Bestselling Author with thousands of amazing readers (who I so, so, sooooo appreciate!). But I didn't want to rest on my laurels. I didn't want readers who knew me to tell me what I wanted to hear simply because they are amazing people. So I created new accounts on critique sites and let my work speak for itself. I asked for super honest feedback, and boy did I get it! And while some truths are harder to swallow than others, I know my story is better because of it.
5. I dove back in
I'm doing it! Right now! After a six-month hiatus from all things self-publishing, I'm dipping my toes back in the water. I'm a little broken and bruised, but I'm here. It feels a bit like starting over, and in many ways I guess it is. But my stories deserve an author that will help them find their place in the world and in the hearts of my amazing readers, so I'm doing my best to rise to the challenge. So expect to see more of me out and about on the interwebs!
What's coming next:
I'm hoping to put the final touches on Of Majick and Memories in the next few weeks (days?) and have it ready for beta reading. It's been scoured over by some amazingly talented and supportive authors and will hopefully appeal to my amazing readers. Interested in beta reading? Send me an email (or PM or DM or whatevs)! I'm looking for super honest, super critical feedback.
A thank you:
As a small and not remotely equivalent token of my appreciation for all my wonderful readers, I'm posting the first page of Of Majick and Memories for your perusal. Hopefully it was worth the wait!
With her crooked hand resting in her lap and the inhuman screams swirling overhead, Raelin shoveled down her watery gruel as fast as she could manage. Her hazel eyes tracked the fat overseer as he moved through the torchlit keep, slaves chained to each wall and pillar. Like every morning, he unlocked the slaves one by one and handed them over to his slave tenders to be yanked toward the market streets above. There was the sickly man with only three hairs, the listless woman, then the man who never stopped crying. The overseer ignored their moans of complaint, oblivious to their uneaten gruel now staining the sand of their underground keep.
Raelin had no intention of starting the day on an empty stomach—not that this miserable soup really counted as food. Still, she downed it in great gulps like a whale in a swarm. Her mouth was still working down the last few bites when the overseer reached her. He wrapped a grubby hand around her too-thin arm, all but launching her toward the only exit. She managed to snap, “Get off me!”
The overseer spun, beady eyes narrow even as his mouth fell open in disbelief. No slave would dare…
She saw his hand fly back, knew that look, that arch all too well, but when she drew back, she ran into a stone wall of a man. Raelin fought off a smile as a strong hand caught the overseer’s strike mid-air. “I got this one, boss,” he said, his voice calm.
Unable to retreat, Raelin squared her shoulders and stood tall.
“Get her to her post,” the overseer growled, shuffling off to the next slave still hunched over his bowl.
“I don’t need you to interfere,” she told the slave tender behind her. “If I remember correctly, I’ve told you that before. Every time I’m here, in fact.”
“And if I remember correctly,” Inigo said, mimicking her tone, “I’ve told you not to mess with him. He’s not one to deal with your shit.”
Raelin turned and painted on a girlish smile. “Not like you?”
Inigo rolled his eyes and unlocked her manacles. “No, not like me. Ready to go?”