So I figured I’d pop online and answer a question that was posed in a comment on another page at the blog–about my production schedule. But before I do that I have to say that when I read the comment, first thing I thought (and chuckled about) was… ohmiword, this is Lukyos (a character in a fantasy book I’ve been brewing for a few years now) popping on to ask me when I’m going to get my BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard) groove thing on to get his story done.
Then I sobered up and with a smile, sent a psychic hug to the wonderful person who posed the question, because it was exactly what I needed to hear at that time. So here goes… me and my update…
When I first started my self publishing adventure, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what I had to offer readers–okay so I knew that I had whacked stories in my mind of characters who make me laugh, but who’d have thunk that other people would have enjoyed my crazy stories that I’ve penned over the years? Then I published the first book and I received wonderful feedback–in emails, critiques, reviews on Amazon, posts to the blog, conversations in person at conferences, on facebook, over twitter… it was absolutely wonderful! And scary. Scary because now I had to get up off my butt and transform myself into a professional author who could compete with the fantabulous authors that traditional publishers bring to the marketplace.
As if that weren’t enough…I was terrified of my new found situation because I had been plagued with a real case of writers block. 12 years (or so) of it. During that long bout with writers block, I created worlds and stories and characters that kept me company. Yeah, they were my salvation and every single one of those characters lived with me in my mind to help get through the difficult years that I had before me. Those difficult years where I couldn’t tap into my voice to give life to the characters and bring them to the page–that was my writers block. The inability to connect with my writing voice. What caused it, you might wonder? Life and a lot of learning curves. See during that 12 years I went through a lot of ups and downs–good times and bad where I had to process through a lot of the stuff that was happening and had happened in my life. Things like the birth of my miracle (and light of my life) daughter, grieve five miscarriages, a divorce, a total change in lifestyle as a single parent who went back to school, working, moving, living and last year… being laid off from a job that I both loved to go to and loved to hate. Then this year I lost my best friend… the one who’d been through the hardest of times with me and was always there for me… my Lily-pup. She was 12.5 years old and the bestest-bestest friend in my whole wide world. She passed at the end of April and… I swear she still comes to visit and terrorize the cats.
Coming to grips with everything and letting the pain go was hard–harder than I ever imagined or wanted to imagine. But I did it–at least I believe I did, because now I truly feel like a new person–one who has her voice back. How do I know that I have my voice back? Well, remember when I posted an update a few weeks ago about my progress through Lucien’s book? I had sent the manuscript out to my “editorial staff”? The point of sending it out was not because I needed help constructing the plot, but because I needed feedback on the emergence of my new voice.
For those who aren’t familiar with what’s meant by an author’s voice here’s my interpretation… voice is like an author’s flavor. It’s how they convey the story… the words they use, the cadence, the pacing, then tone… it’s like the difference between being Chef Mike (aka, the microwave) and Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen. Voice is the connection that readers use to connect with a story. Voice is the magic wand that can make or break a great story. See no matter how great a story is…if the writer doesn’t have a voice that readers can connect with… the story won’t go anywhere. Voice isn’t technical… it’s raw talent. You can hear a voice from any writer through any form of communication–for example, years ago (before the block) I frequented a writers forum that had published and pre-published authors on it. I made friends with a published author–a kick ass Harlequin author with a generous spirit who shared a lot of useful technical info with me. Around the same time, I submitted Emily’s Affair for a contest… it placed in the contest, but right before I found that out, I received an email from the published author friend to ask me if I had submitted a piece of work to the contest. I told her I did and she responded saying… I thought so, because I recognized your voice in the story from your emails and forum posts. (Can you say I was delighted? Yep, sure was. Because having a recognizable voice is the difference between being a wanna-be and a best selling author, IMHO–lol.)
So when I lost my voice and couldn’t reconnect to it to write the stories the way they were meant to be written… it was pure, undiluted hell. Then I unlocked the door inside me and rediscovered my voice… it’d changed–grown and evolved. My cadence and vocabulary were different. I’d grown as a person and seen more dark times than good (at least that’s what it felt like)… so had I lost my ability to be light and effervescent? Had I lost my connection to humor? Was I too jaded, cynical, and snarky now to go back and revamp any of my old stories that were written when I was younger, more naive, and innocent?
According to the feedback I received from the published editorial staff… nope, voice was still there. Maturer, yes. Snarkier, yes. But light and effervescent? In a new way. I took some time to study the feedback and look at the potentials… this new voice gave me an avenue to express the male characters in my stories in a new way that I never could have done years ago. I mean, oh-mi-word, Lucien in is book… he is such a dog. A rake. I love rakes, true… but I am SOOOO looking forward to his fall. You just don’t know. The lengths he goes to… ugh, they drive me crazy and insane, but I love it. I mean LOVE IT.
And it works with the old dialogue to boot. Which is great. Because that means that my voice in the original sense and the current one was the same… I didn’t realize it. But back in the day I laid the groundwork for what I’m doing now. Which is just freaking cool. And a HUGE weight off my shoulders.
So what does this mean to my readers? And my production schedule? It means that I need support and nagging and wonderful emails, posts, comments, tweets, FB posts… whatever you got, that keep my spirits up while I’m chugging through Lucien’s book. Because this book is my final exam. It’s the book that shows me I can merge the two and rework the old stories and make the new ones work and… complete this book, then I’m golden to rework all the others. All 20+ of them–LOL–and the new ones.
Lucien’s book is at 58,581 words… only 3 new scenes need to be added. And I’m almost through the middle with revisions. We can do this… and I want it done this week. So nag me… push me… cheer me on… tell me how much you want to read Marilyn’s story and the insane hell she’s gonna put Trace through and the surprises she has in store for that series… because it’s good and I really like it and… oh crap, I’ve got to run. I have an appointment in 40 minutes and I need to take a shower, then make it to the appointment, then back home to get to work… okay on that note… I’m off!
Take care and… if I don’t get Lucien done by the end of this week (Saturday by midnight EDT), then I’m posting the revamped (ugly draft of the first chapter). And a scene every other day until it’s published… oh and for those readers of the blog… as soon as I get that bugger posted to Amazon, I’ll put it up for free (for a day or so) for my faithful readers… that’s the least I can do for my biggest supporters.
Until next time…