When I entered BROKEN CHORDS into this competition, I had zero expectations. Let's just say I've entered a couple book contests in my day. But, my book took an honorable mention! What a fabulous surprise! As this is a horror novella, I'm extra proud as genre fiction can sometimes get lost in the mix, and I love this book so much. (I know I'm a little biased.)
And don't forget, if you're in the Palm Beach, FL area on February 18th, come see me, four other debut authors, and the legendary R. L. Stine at Palm Beach Peril where we'll be doing a panel presentation followed by a book signing (my FIRST book signing! Squee!) I hope to see you there. Find out more about this event HERE.
Sometimes, in the life of a book, the publisher decides to go back to the drawing board on the cover concept, even if the book hasn't been released yet. And that's what happened to my book, TEN AFTER CLOSING. I loved my old cover, but I LOVE my new cover. The artist is Kevin Tong, and he's FABULOUS!
So, here it is, the new cover for TEN AFTER CLOSING.
Pre-Order TEN AFTER CLOSING: http://bit.ly/TACBAYLS
Holy MOLY, I'm going to be on an author panel next month. And it's with R. L. Stine. I DEVOURED Fear Street books when I was a YA reader, and I still have a couple of my favorites on my shelf. I can't believe I'll get to meet one of the authors that inspired my writing and be part of a pane discussion with him and four other debut authors!
For more info, check out the Palm Beach Library Group page for the event. And I hope to see you there! I'll have swag, a special giveaway, and a TEASER for my upcoming release, TEN AFTER CLOSING.
Happy New Year, Wonderful Writers! I took a break from posting during December so I could focus on writing/editing and also enjoy the holidays. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season and are ready for a new year of writing, reading, and moving forward toward your goals.
The start of a new year is a time when I always stop and think about where I am and how I got here. I often reflect on my path to my first career as a psychologist and all the things I accomplished. My favorite way to do this is to reflect on all the things that I’ve done/achieved or are happening now that weren’t part of my life 1 year ago.
For writing, for example, one year ago, I didn’t have the book deal for my debut novel, TEN AFTER CLOSING. I sit here writing this post on January 8th, and the offer came the evening of January 9th. It’s hard to put myself back to what it felt like to be in that place, waiting to see if my first experience with submission would go well or end in disappointment. Out of all my writing challenges, the hardest time was the interim between my agent telling me we had very strong interest on my book and the day the offer came.
When I first started writing, which was late 2010, I started as a hobby. I literally had a conversation with myself about how I needed a new hobby, and I thought it would be fun to see if I could write a novel. I finished my first one about a year later, and I already knew I wanted to pursue a career in writing. (You can read my post about how I queried pretty much as soon as I finished that book, even though it was not even close to ready, right here. LOL!) I didn’t start
long as necessary to reach whatever success is waiting for me. But back then, it just felt so daunting.
And here I am, ready to do the math. So, how long did it take me?
- Fall 2010: Started writing November, I think)
- Summer 2011: Told a dear friend I was writing, and she wrote me a note with my favorite inspirational phrase
which will sound familiar if you follow my posts): You can do it! You can write!
- December, 2011: 1) First book done (but not fully revised; I finished revisions in summer 2015. Starting with book three, my revisions started taking way less time, but my first two books were a hot mess and I still had SO
much to learn.) 2) First (highly misguided) queries sent.
- January, 2012: Asked a writer, who was a friend of a friend, for some info/resources, and found my first critique
group through SCBWI.
- July, 2013: Connected with my writing group! (YAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!!!)
- November, 2013: Second book done (but not fully revised; I finished revisions in Feb. 2016).
(Here’s where things heat up because I started plotting.)
- August, 2014: wrote first short story. I won’t break down all my stories on this time line, but between then and
mid-2016, I wrote nine.
- November, 2014: First attempt at NaNo. Third book done.
- December, 2014: 1) First short story accepted AND 2) this is when I began my website and social media presence.
- January, 2015: Actually started getting requests on my queries.
- March, 2015: My first short story was published. (Hooray!)
- April, 2015: BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT is out!
- May, 2015: BREATHLESS IS OUT!
- June, 2015: Fourth book
- July, 2015: Offer from a small press on book number four.
- August, 2015: 1) Fifth book (TEN AFTER CLOSING). 2) Heard an audio book recording of my story for BEWARE THE LITTLE WHITE RABBIT (Happy tears. A lot.)
- September, 2015: Revise and Resubmit! (AHH!) But no offer.
- November, 2015: Sixth book done (BROKEN CHORDS) AND FRIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is out!
- January, 2016: Seventh book
- February, 2016: 1) Found out Three World Press was closing so bye-bye BREATHLESS and book number 4. (Sad tears. A lot.) 2) Offer on BROKEN CHORDS (Holy moly!!!). 3) Accepted into Pitch2Publication (So much excitement, I thought I might die.).
- May, 2016: I GOT AN OFFER FROM A DREAM AGENT!!!! And we went on submission (GAH!).
- August, 2016: Eighth book
- November, 2016: Ninth book
- January, 2017: We got an offer on TEN AFTER CLOSING (Hooray!!!!!!!)
- February, 2017: Tenth book
- May, 2017: Self-published BREATHLESS.
- July, 2017: Eleventh book
- October, 2017: BROKEN CHORDS is out. (AHH!!!!!!)
- November, 2017: Twelfth book
- June, 2018: TEN AFTER CLOSING will be out.
I’ve never written this out before, and I’m sort of sitting here, letting it sink in. Mind=blown.
So, as you can see, between my first words on that first blank page and:
- First ‘yes’ on anything: just over 4 years
- First book contract: 5.5 years,
- Agent offer: 5.5 years, 7 books, and 9 short stories
- Contract on TEN AFTER CLOSING: 6.5 years, 9 books, and 9 short stories
- The release of my book BROKEN CHORDS: 7 years, 11 books, & 9 short stories
- The release of my book TEN AFTER CLOSING: almost 8 years, 12+ books (I’m not sure what my drafting schedule will be this
If someone had told me, the day I started my first book, that it would take more than 5 years to get an agent and almost 8 for my first official novel to come out, I doubt I would have been like, “Yeah. Sign me up for THAT, please.” I would maybe have curled up into a ball and cried. I might never have started.
BUT, when I think about the ride getting here, it DOESN’T FEEL THAT LONG!
This has been the most exciting seven years of my life. There were so many milestones along the way. Meeting new people, learning new things, small successes. Yes, there was a lot of stress, waiting, and the challenge of so many rejections. If I put all my rejections into this time line, we’d have AT LEAST 120 additional bullets. AT LEAST. But still, it’s been an amazing seven years. It’s been more fulfilling, rewarding, and FUN than I would have ever imagined.
I love writing, and I can’t even picture what my life would be like today if I hadn’t had that conversation with myself about needing a new hobby (or if I picked something other than fiction like, say, knitting. Hmm… Yeah. That would have been different, but I’d probably have a lot of cool sweaters and blankets by now.)
So, no matter where you are on your writing journey, I wish you success, but more than anything, I hope you are having FUN! And remember, the only way to fail, is to stop before you reach your goals.
You can do it! You can write!
Hello, Wonderful Writers!
It’s NaNoWriMo time! If you’re a writer and you’re reading this, you probably know what NaNoWriMo is. If not, here goes: November is National Novel Writers’ Month, and each year, all November long, writers all over the world commit to completing the first draft of a manuscript, usually 50-thousand words long, though some of us commit to longer works. The web community around NaNo is super fun, and if you’re a writer who isn’t familiar with it yet, definitely check it out.
I’ve been doing NaNo for a few years now, and I spent the last couple weeks of October getting my next WIP all plotted and set up in Scrivener so I was able to jump in and start writing on November 1st. This process, which is something I do for all new MSs, got me thinking about plotting versus pantsing.
I know this is one of the hottest debates writers can have, and I’m not here to try to lure anyone over to the side of the Jedis (*cough plotter cough*). Seriously, though, as a die-hard plotter, I wanted to share a perspective that has been on my mind for some time. Plotters are pantsers who do their pantsing before they sit down to start a draft.
So, for my plotting friends out there, next time someone asks you the dreaded question, just tell them you’re both. Because plotters are just pantsers who do the pantsing before they sit down in front of that blank page.
Good luck to all of you doing NaNoWriMo 2017. I hope you all “win!” See you on the other side.
And, as always, I will end with the motto spoken to me by my dear friend, who has been gone for over four years now (which I actually can’t believe): You can do it! You can write!
Here's a little sneak peek for you.
Jeb’s voice ebbed and flowed, his fear growing and sending out seedlings of dread to take root in my own chest. He must have woken the entire camp by now. I fumbled open my tent flap, stumbled outside, and zipped it shut with trembling hands. When I turned around, I knew immediately why no one put a stop to Jeb’s calls.
He wasn’t in the normal world anymore.
Neither was I.
Despite not asking for it, something twisted and bitter in this universe had bestowed it anyway. We’d been transported to the astral plane. The world was bathed in dark beauty, like velvety gauze or some tranquil digital camera filter, making everything hazy and wavery with dim blue-white light. I could actually see the air – or matter or ether or whatever it was--that made up the world around me. When I waved my hand, contrails showed its swishing progress long after I’d ceased movement. Like, whatever I was made of in this form could interact with the very construction material holding this universe together. Or, maybe whatever I was made of in this form was the very construction material of this universe.
“Oh God,” I whispered.
That meant, behind me, within the tent I’d just fled, my body lay prone. Not in sleep, and not a trance. Not dead, but not really alive either.
An empty shell.
I stared at the dark green vinyl before finally getting up the nerve to look inside. My body lay on my air mattress, curled up as if I were merely sleeping. My chest rose and fell as my organs responded to signals from the most primitive part of my brain, which kept the basic functions of human life online even though the system user had abandoned the controls.
I breathed in time with my body. I wasn’t sure if I was really moving air around in my spectral form, but the reflex to carry out the action was strong, and it still felt soothing when I blew what might be nothing out of lungs that probably weren’t there anyway. I took another deep, fake breath and closed my eyes. My brain attempted to point out the ridiculousness of this – how I still felt normal even though I was nothing but a ghost now. A spasm of laughter escaped my throat, but I swallowed it down. If I let my mind think too hard about things like where? and what? and how?, I’d crack. Game over.
Instead, I chanted Jeb’s mantra: “Just go with it.” Then I turned to face the astral plane.
BROKEN CHORDS launches with Leap Books in TWO days! In honor of the release, I'm holding a giveaway for a free copy and some swag.
Happy September, Wonderful Writers!
Before I get started, a HUGE thanks to Amber Gregg for hosting my It's a Writer Thing series on her lovely site.
It’s been a whirlwind this summer, what with my first time as a Pitch Wars mentor and all the work I’ve been doing on my own books. I finished my second manuscript for the year in August, which was my 11th book in total. Holy moly! But, finishing my latest MS got me thinking about productivity.
I acknowledge that I’m a fast writer, but I owe my productivity to something more important: I practice finishing books.
There's so much to learn.
flirting with us from across the coffee house. Keeping us up at night. So how can we be blamed for jumping ship on the current work in progress? I get it. I love all my new ideas, and boy do I have a to-be-written-list burning a hole in my brain. But let’s not forget what comes after the tough middles: the alluring endings! They deserve to be written. We owe it to them not to lose steam halfway through.
But if we let new ideas seduce us, we’ll never learn our process for finishing. I will repeat that and turn it into a statement: All writers need to learn their own process for finishing books. Here’s why.
Think like a marathon runner.
And it must be practiced. The preparation is part physical but it’s also hugely mental. As a result of this mental Cross Fit, something very important happens: They learn what to expect.
Why is that important?
When they get back out there next time, and when it gets tough, they have figured out what to look out for in their bodies, how to harness their bodies’ power, and how to focus their brains.
They have a Not-Quitting Process. A Finishing Process. They can say to themselves: This is just like last time, and last time I got it done. I can do that again.
Writers need that too.
We need to practice starting, middling (Is middling a verb? Well it is now!), and finishing. And we need to do it with more than one book. Inevitably, the current WIP will start to feel boring. The shine will be off. Maybe we’ll write ourselves into a corner or a whole maze of corners. And, lo and behold, there’s Shiny New Idea winking at us all sultry and pretty. But, like a marathon runner who can predict his rhythms during a race, we need to predict ours when it comes to the marathon of writing a book.
you they were running a marathon today and they’d never trained a day in their life, you’d be like whaaa…? And if they couldn’t do it, you’d be like: “Uh, buddy, you’ve never done this before. Go easy on yourself.” So, why beat yourself up for not finishing a manuscript when that’s a skill that takes learning, too? Don’t beat yourself up; practice.
The learning process, the stamina-building is normal, natural, and necessary.
Therefore, my biggest motto is: Finish what you start. Everything you start. Then, one day when you’re all successful professional authors and you have deadlines or an editor waiting for an option book, your game will be in place. You’ll be able to say, Yes, I can get that to you INSERT YOUR DEADLINE DATE HERE. I’ve got a process. I’ve done this before. Deep breath. Here goes.
Jessica Bayliss Blogs about reading, writing, & other fun stuff