It's the most wonderful time of year...or is it? Christmas Eve is a night of mystery and magic, but not always in ways we expect. Things lurk in the shadows and they're not the least bit jolly or merry. Let's just say some presents are better left unopened. ‘Tis the season to be screaming along with our thirteen tales of holiday horrors. Ghosts. Monsters. Demons. And more!
This Christmas, be careful what you wish for...
Not only do I get to reveal the awesome cover for the next Leap Books anthology, "Fright before Christmas: 13 Tales of Christmas Horrors," I have the BOOK TRAILER and a link to a GIVEAWAY! I'm so excited for the release of this imaginative anthology of scary middle grade stories by some incredible authors (including yours truly!). You can get yours now during the ebook PREORDER SALE (see below for details), and still have plenty of spending money left over for your holiday gift list. I'll also share details for release of the PRINT book once those are available.
In my last It’s a Writer Thing post, I wrote about the day I finished my first book and the thought process I had when I made my deeply misguided decision to query way too soon, which of course resulted in a bunch of rejections. The worst part of this story is, I did my homework. I read all the articles that outlined what I should do, then I ignored them.
What the hell was I thinking? I'll tell you EXACTLY what I was thinking. Since I’m a visual person, I decided to represent this graphically. Here goes.
Alas, queries ensued.
My guess is this is another writer thing, so if anyone out there has been there, I’d love to hear about it; and if your experience was different, I’d love to hear about that too.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I wanted was encouragement that I could write. Not just as a fun hobby, but for real. Even if they said I had a huge amount to learn (which I did and still do), I would have just loved a, Keep it up. You’re on to something here.
There I was, on the tail end of a year of drafting. I was staring down the dark, unknown territories of another two years of rewrites, and I wanted some freakin’ guidance, someone to let me know that my past and future effort would be worth it. But what did I get instead? Agent rejections. Luckily, I got wise around that time and figured out what I really needed was a critique group, which I found (although that comes with its own treacherous waters to navigate).
Funny thing is, one of the first people who cheered me on to really go for it hadn’t even read any of my stuff. This dear friend was one of the few people I told about my endeavors in those early days, and one day, she slipped a note into a card; it said, “You can do it! You can write!” She simply believed in me. She’s gone now, and I’m heartbroken to say that I lost her note. I wish more than anything that I had it back, but I’ll never forget her words.
I know now that the only way we’ll ever fail is if we stop trying. As long as we keep working, we’ll keep getting better, and eventually, we’ll start to get those yes’s.
Our stories are worth that extra time and extra effort to make them as good as they can be. So to anyone out there who isn’t sure if it will be worth it: You can do it! You can write!
Although my serious writing days began about five years ago, I feel like the world’s most perpetual newbie. The number of writing-related things I have to Google each day is embarrassing. This last year has been the biggest whirlwind yet. Not only have I enjoyed my first successes (i.e, those holy s**t! moments when you realize it can really happen to you), I’ve also learned more than in the previous four years combined. About the craft and myself as a writer. About the business of being a professional author. And, how much I still have to learn.
The best part, I’m excited about it all the time.
Problem is, I fear my husband is getting tired of my long-winded dinnertime musings about all the knowledge I’ve gained and all the realizations I’ve had. He’s got incredible patience, but everyone had a breaking point. So, in order to preserve his sanity, I decided to start a new, regular feature on my blog where I can journal about these things and let him finally get a chance to talk about his day over our evening meal. My dear fellow writers, readers, and lovers of all things bookish and word-related, if these musings are interesting, helpful, or at least entertaining (even if that’s only of the schadenfreude variety), even better.
So, here’s my first post: On finishing the first novel and the phenomenon of premature querying.
About a month ago, I finished drafting my fifth novel, and for some reason, I keep thinking back to the day I finished my first. That day was one of the most incredible of my life. I’m not a big crier, but I kind of bawled a little. I just couldn’t believe I actually did it. It took a whole year with some weeks full of daily work, which were followed by weeks of zero productivity. I had no idea how to plot, so I pantsed the whole thing, writing whatever I had in my head, then waiting for the next bit to come to me before I hit it again.
When I finished it, I did what every first-time-novelist does. I thought my book was awesome, and I queried that baby with very little editing.
Cue the regret and red face of chagrin.
But I guess I should be kind to myself about it. Premature querying seems to be a right of passage, a total writer thing. To quote my good friend, Cristina Dos Santos, “Nothing is ever wasted or lost in this journey.”
I remember the swirl of emotions and my decision process like it was yesterday. There were definitely some thoughts like, Who wouldn’t want to read this book? It rocks!
But my predominant thought, What if this was just fluke? This book better get published because I may never be able to do that again.
I know now that I was wrong on both counts; after a few years of revisions, novel #1 became share-worthy, and I learned that I can definitely, without a doubt, do that again. My confidence grew once I understood that it’s not just the idea of being an author that fuels me, it’s that I actually love to write. I love everything about it, even when I hate everything about it. I can’t imagine not doing it.
That first book represents the first milepost for me. I’m in it for the long haul.
Jessica Bayliss Blogs about reading, writing, & other fun stuff