Writing–Errors and Fears

The opportunity for errors abound in life, and of course, that extends to your career. How well you identify and define them, when you identify and define them, has a direct relationship on your ability to resolve the potential problem areas–before they become errors or mistakes that you must live with forevermore.

Unfortunately, we too often zing along, ignoring warning bells (or doing our part to resolve them and then relying on the next person in our personal chain to do their part without verifying that they have) and the window of opportunity to nip a potential challenge in the bud before it becomes a problem is missed.

A couple of examples: You submit your work to an agent, who supposedly is submitting your work. You don’t have anything verifying that, and later learn the agent hasn’t submitted at all. Whose mistake is that?

Well, the agent’s word that the submission is done should be (and often is) sufficient, but it happens too often that it isn’t to assume it. Reputable agents know their word is their bond. But if a formerly reputable agent fails to be honest with you, or fails to do his or her part, who pays the penalty?

The author. And the author loses the time and can’t reclaim it. Considering that the time can be a year or even more, that lost potential is nothing at which to sneeze. In the past year, I’ve been approached by five authors who have been in the center of this challenge.

The moral of this example: Verification is part of your job. Never work with someone you can’t trust. But even the most trustworthy person in the world is capable of human error. Verify. It’s your work, your career and part of your job to monitor the process closely enough that you know what is happening with your work.

Another example is one I’ve seen too often to count. And that is, an author is with a publisher, loses an editor and is struggling with an ill-fitting new editor. The author doesn’t want to leave the publisher but everything s/he is doing is being rejected. S/he can’t please the new editor.

It’s interesting to note that in these cases, the author is well aware of the challenge but so fears being at loose ends when changing houses that s/he willingly bangs his/her head against the proverbial wall, trying to please the new editor (which simply does not happen). Often this attempt to please goes on for an extended time–a year, two years, and sometimes longer. Time during which the writer’s doubt that s/he can produce a publishable manuscript grows and his/her confidence in her writing abilities dwindles.

The moral of this example: do not write to please an editor. Write the stories you must write. The ones that nag you, that wake you up in the middle of the night. The stories that haunt you if you do not write them. Those stories contain the magical element of enthusiasm and interest that permeates a work and infuses it with strength. It can’t be faked, and without it, publishing potential is crippled.

Look at it this way. You’re being rejected anyway. Why not be rejected on a project you’re crazy about versus one you’re writing to please someone else? At least if your beloved project is rejected, you’ve loved it. That can’t be said for the one written to another’s specifications.

There are two things we really need to look at closely in these problem area situations.

1. Warning Bells.
2. Fear.

Regardless of by what name you call those warning bells–intuitive nudges, hunches, gut instincts, divine shoulder taps–they are early-warning indication systems. Ones that sound the alarm when something has tripped it, and to spare ourselves challenges that become mistakes, we need to perk up and pay attention, and then act on them. Even the best alarm system in the world only notifies. It’s up to the person notified to act to prevent loss and/or damage.

Bottom-line advice: Heed your hunches.

Fear is a mean taskmaster. It can cripple, debilitate, destroy. It has as much power as we give it–no more, but no less–and there is but one way to overcome it: courage.

You can run or hide, but fear will find you. You can play ostrich and bury your head in the sand, but when you do, your backside is exposed and up in the air, just a perfect target for getting kicked–and it will.

You’re going to face that fear whether or not you want to do it, so why not face it on your own terms?

It’s impossible to outrun, outwit or otherwise avoid fear (or any other merciless demon) when it’s in your own mind. Accept it. Unless you deal with fear constructively, it remains in you, it grows, and you’ll never be free of it. Enslaved is no way to live.

Bottom-line advice: Recognize fear but embrace courage.

Fear debilitates.
Courage liberates.

Blessings,

Vicki

Vicki Hinze
c 2006

When Does It End–New Release-itis

 

It’s a special day. The day that I have the privilege of seeing my 30th project published (articles aside because I quit counting those after I hit 100).

Before the White Rose is a general market short story I wrote for the love of it. I didn’t write it intending to publish it. But I am thrilled Belle Bridge Books has. In it, three people who are at wit’s end and despairing all take action–and discover something they wished they’d discovered sooner.

For long-time readers, I wrote it as one of my Sunday book projects. Those I write for me, ignoring everything except the story itself. This one I wrote and it continued to nag at me. I wasn’t sure why, and I ignored it as long as I could. But it didn’t stop. So I pulled it out, read it again, and saw something of value in it. That’s when Belle Books got involved.

They’rereissuing many of my earlier works, and added a sampler of the three Seascape novels in Before the White Rose.
It’s a Kindle 99 cent exclusive. I’ve never done one of those in fiction, so I’m eager to see how it does.

Someone asked me this morning on Facebook when you stop getting the adrenaline rush on the day a new project is released. “You’d think it gets old after you’ve done so many,” she said. My response was this.

“If and when it does, and if and when I ever stop being thrilled to pieces about a new release, I’ll let you know. But I have the feeling doing so might frighten you.”

She asked, “Why?”

I responded. “Because as tickled as I still am, I have a feeling that won’t happen until I’m dead.”

Have to chuckle here because I am tickled. I do still feel that same rush I did on holding my first book in my hands. And I hope and pray I never stop feeling it!

The moral of the story (you, of course, knew there’d be one) is that if you’re not thrilled by pleasing aspects of your job, you’re in the wrong job. Look for that in which you find joy. Life is too short to settle for less.

Blessings,

Vicki

 

BEFORE THE WHITE ROSE is an original, general market short story.  Kindle 99 cent exclusive.

Includes bonus material:  Seascape Series Sampler.

That’s the first three chapters on:
Beyond the Misty Shore  (10/1/2011)
Upon A Mystic Tide  (11/1/2011)
Beside a Dreamswept Sea (12/1/2011)

“When is it just about the Writing?”



www.christiansread.com or on WordPress or Facebook. You can also follow Christians Read on Twitter.

Disclosure: Christians Read is a Vicki Hinze Special Project created for the purpose of giving readers and authors of Christian books a place to discuss books, interact, find information, encouragement and inspiration.

Characters & You

Alone: Character/Characterization of Writers and Characters

 

 

 

 


At times, we all feel alone. Whether we’re facing seemingly overwhelming obstacles or feel as if we’re drowning in a shark-infested sea and being swamped by waves of opposition, we feel as if we’re on our own and getting to safe harbor, whatever that might be, is solely up to us. There is no lifeguard, no rescue coming, no help on the horizon. We sink or swim alone.

And we feel . . . abandoned, betrayed, even angry.

Those are human reactions, and not unexpected. But there are other times when we feel alone and we resent it. Times that are celebratory. We seek a goal for a long time and finally achieve it–and have no one to celebrate with us. We experience a life-changing event, and have no one to tell. We have climbed the career ladder and gotten to the rung we sought, and the world doesn’t notice. We devote our lives to accomplishing a purpose, and do it, and look around and we stand alone. Not only is no one there to celebrate, no one notices or cares.

And we feel . . . let down, abandoned, betrayed and even angry.

In mentoring, I run into this a lot. Writers so dedicate themselves to learning the craft, the business, to networking and promoting and marketing and writing and producing that they sacrifice everyday life. Depending on where you start, singleminded devotion for a time might be needed to achieve your goal. The college of seeking to master your chosen path, so to speak.

But that college can become a treadmill that the writer stays on for decades or even a lifetime, and if s/he does, there are going to be problems that spill over into the emotional realm. Why is that?

There’s a strong correlation between physical and emotional. What we experience in one, manifests in the other. You can think yourself sick, exhaust yourself physically and tumble into emotional instability.

During the course of a career on that treadmill, there are many inclines and declines. You’ll know moments of joy so complete you pinch yourself. You’ll also know moments of such profound disappointment and disillusionment that you don’t want to pinch yourself, you want to escape.

Too much of a good thing is like a prison. Doubt it?

Have you ever walked out into the bright sunlight and been blinded by it? Walked from the bright sunlight into a darkened room and been blinded by it? On either side, you can’t see a thing. It renders you immobile–in writer’s terms, frigid. You can’t move because you can’t see–unless you have something else present to counter and restore balance. Something bigger, that resides inside you that acts as an equalizer.

If you’re walking from light into the dark, that something might be memory of where things are positioned. Saying you’re entering your own home. You know the entry has a rug–so you don’t trip. You know that in two steps if you turn left, you need to skirt a table with a vase on it. Or it’s ten steps to the living room. You know what’s where. That gives you the confidence and certainty to walk on. But what if you’re walking into a stranger’s home?

Odds are pretty good you’re going to pause until your eyes adjust. You’re going to have the discipline to hold on until you can assess your surroundings and not trip, walk into a wall, bump the table and knock the vase to the floor where it shatters. What makes you do that–pause, wait, have the discipline to hold-on? The fear of injury, of doing damage, of making a mistake, of misstepping. It’s some emotion driving the physical action.

Whether you’re dealing with a character’s character traits or the character traits of the writer, there’s a direct relation between physical and emotional. As a writer, you might want to jump on the epublishing train, or not. Your decision will be made, consciously or subconsciously, based on both physical circumstances (as they are or as you see them and potential as you see it) and emotional circumstances (as they are or you see them and potential as you see it).

If you have a great working relationship with your publisher and are content with what you’re producing, you’re less inclined to want to change something. But if you’re not content with your current circumstances, you’re more inclined to want to change. Your emotional reaction to your physical circumstance weighs in more heavily.

Let’s say you’re getting on well with your publisher but you suddenly experience artistic differences. The publisher wants more of the same kind of books but you want to write a different type of book. The publisher isn’t interested in that type of book from you. Your emotional reaction to that circumstance well might drive you to seek another or an additional publisher–or to epublish yourself.

Now you might be fearful of doing it, you might assess and deem it a fiscally sound move, but you will go through a process where you weigh the publisher’s reaction–will or won’t they drop you for doing this? Will or won’t they demand exclusive publishing in your next contract? Will or won’t they continue to market and promote at the same level or a higher one? If so, you have one emotional reaction. If not, you have another emotional reaction. You, of course, can choose to go either way. But you’ll endure the process in coming to your decision, weighing the physical and emotional.

As human beings, we all go through this same sort of process, which means our characters should go through it too.

Now one aspect that I’ve neglected thus far other than to allude to it as that something inside you that acts as an equalizer is on par with the physical and the emotional. That is the spiritual.

It’s often neglected overtly but is in truth most powerful. The spiritual aspect of a human being is home to beliefs, motivations, judgments, purpose. It’s the core that stirs together all of the intangible things the writer or the character considers of greatest value and highest import.

This core that is uniquely our own trumps the physical and the emotional. It leads to tackling insurmountable obstacles, into taking risks and doing that which all logic deems impossible. When we’re leaden and weary, it drives us to keep trying. When we’ve been knocked down over and again, it gives us the strength and endurance to get up one more time. When all signs say stop, it’s a pipe dream, a waste of time, it says go, go, do it! It’s what enables a mother to lift a car, a man to dive into raging water to save a stranger, a fireman to run into an inferno building thousands are trying to escape.

The spiritual side of writers and therefore characters is the home of heroes and villains. Like everything else, that of greatest value and most import can be used for good or evil. It is here, in the spiritual realm, that those choices are made and those judgments defining good and evil are housed.

If your characters lack spiritual aspects, they lack essentials that make them not just human but uniquely human and memorable. Something significant is missing. And its that something that ties and binds between writer and character and then between character and reader.

If the writer fails to acknowledge his/her unique spiritual aspects, then s/he is going to experience a lot of moments–some really long ones–where s/he feels s/he is walking around with a big hole in the chest. See, it’s these spiritual aspects that generate the fulfillment and contentment that resides in the heart.

Now let’s put this all together. If your reason for writing is to earn a lot of money, that’s physical. Bluntly put, it’s not enough. If your reason for writing is to be famous, that‘s not enough. Yesterday’s celebrities are forgotten names today. If your reason for writing is seated in purpose, then fulfillment is possible. And by leading yourself from the spiritual aspect, you factor in the emotional and physical. Odds of success are far greater, because you’re addressing all aspects with balanced weight.

When you do that, you engage balance. And with balance engaged, you and your characters are still going to experience inclines and declines, but they won’t do it alone. The force behind the purpose of it all is there with them.

Another human might not be present, but that gut-wrenching sense of loneliness is not.

There is an enormous difference in being lonely and being alone. Many stand in a room surrounded by people they know and feel alone. The challenge for them is they’re looking outward for someone to make that loneliness go away. But the answer to it, to filling it, lies within.

So in your writer’s life and in your characters, be aware of the dimensional aspects of the whole person/character. Understand that balance defines character. Gaps and absences define flaws and conflicts. And plunder the spiritual aspects of your character first, because it’s where the best of the best and the worst of the worst resides.

It’s where you’ll discover how to be alone on those inclines and declines and still be content.

 

Blessings,

 

Vicki

 

What Ignites Inspiration?

WARNING: THIS IS A NO-EDIT ZONE…

Inspiration comes to us all in different ways and it impacts us in different ways. Let’s prove it. Listen to Staff Sgt. Angie Johnson, USAF in this video of ROLLING IN THE DEEP:

What’s your emotional reaction? Note it. Stop and write it down.

Now, what did you react to? The music, the lyrics, Staff Sgt. Angie Johnson’s voice? The group’s environment? The lack of adornment? The BDU–battle dress uniforms–these soldiers are wearing? Write it down.

On the lyrics. What is this song about? What does it speak to you? Is it a song about love lost? About despair? About falling down but getting back up? About the kind of crying that runs so deep inside you, those tears are rolling in the deepest recesses of your soul? Or maybe the lyrics evoke a feeling of frustration and broken dreams, for coming so close to realizing your dreams and missing, of being used or betrayed. Or maybe of being under-appreciated or underestimated.

Or maybe none of those things snagged you. Maybe you related not to yourself or your situation but to the other person in whatever conflict challenge has occurred in your life. Perhaps your’s is a “you blew it reaction” and contains a “Man, when it hits you what you’ve lost, you’re going to regret it–HUGE.”

Yet your reaction might be none of those things. It might be that you homed in on the verse that advises: “throw your soul through every open door.” It also suggests counting your blessings and seeking whatever you most want, addresses sorrow turning to gold and reaping what you sow. Maybe that’s the part that resonated with you.

My points are these:

  1. 1.Whatever your take is, odds are high it is an emotional reaction.
  2. 2.Whatever your emotional reaction is, odds are high it is seated in your personal perception of the whole of this. Music, lyrics, environment–your sensory perceptions–filtered through your current circumstance and your feelings and attitudes toward and about that circumstance.
  3. 3.Any and all aspects and reactions that are honest are valid.
  4. 4.Whatever is tapped in you is very likely rooted in universal emotion. Meaning, emotions that most human beings relate to as individuals. The emotions that spark not sympathy but empathy (love, anger, shame, despair, regret, honesty, fairness, retaliation and on the list goes).
  5. 5.Your reaction and the aspect or attitude you have changes. Listen to this again in a week and you might well have an entirely different reaction–and it too will be seated in emotion but through your own shifted perspective. Why? We change. Our attitudes change. Our emotions change. But you still will react. You just get a different emotional tap.

How does this relate to books?

The exact same thing happens in books. The reader reacts to a universal-emotion tap and sees the story and characters and setting–all aspects of the novel–through that prism. The prism that is influencing whatever is evoked in the reader.

Writers write stories that evoke emotion in them. Readers react to the emotion–but not necessarily in the same way that the writer reacted. Not necessarily on the same emotion but on one relatable to them in their own lives.

So what do we as authors learn from this? What can we take away from it that best serves our work and our readers?

First is an understanding about the universal power of universal emotion–that relatable aspect that creates a bond and a connection.

Second is that a story isn’t always the story for the reader. While we might write a story about betrayal, a reader could perceive that story as one about broken dreams. A response can be personal or professional. It can bring up close and personal the troubles of another–a friend, a child, a parent, a resented stranger who has impacted someone close–or not so close. (Think Casey Anthony. Think Callie Anthony. Think George or Cindy Anthony.) Same story, different reactions. Different relatable aspects.

Does this insight help or hurt the author? The answer to that, in my humble opinion, is up to the author. If s/he writes honestly, plays fair with the reader, tries to be even-handed in both sides of a conflict, then the insight should benefit the author. If not, it’s definitely a hindrance–and worse, a missed opportunity to connect with the reader in a way that is significant to that reader.

Whether through a song, a music video or a book, inspiration comes in many ways and is related in many ways. Some are intentional, some are not but are as a consequence of tapped emotions.

That’s the biggest point. In the end, storytelling, whether through song or book, requires a potent vehicle. That vehicle is emotion.

And carried on that emotion in whatever form is inspiration.

Blessings,

Vicki

P. S. I’m considering combining all of my blogs into one–this one. But out of respect to my readers, some of whom have been with me for over a decade, I want to hear what you have to say about it. Please pause a moment and take the poll. It provides a place for your vote and your comments. Take the BLOG POLL here.

BLOG POLL

Considering changes on my blogs. Please voice your opinion in my BLOG POLL. http://ht.ly/60At2

Niceville Public Library Fundraiser

A Writer’s Fairy Tale: Bare Face, Bare Soul

Traditional or Independent Publishing

WARNING: THIS IS A NO-EDIT ZONE…

The debate hasn’t just started on this subject and it’s far from over. We hear of traditional success stories and independent publishing success stories. In either forum, at this time, we hear many more stories from authors who are struggling.

About five years ago, I wrote a post about my belief that mid-list wasn’t dead, it was morphing. That the new mid-list would be in ebook format and that only when an author reached a certain sales level would that author be put into print.

Just as the world wasn’t ready to receive my “romantic fantasy” (now a genre tagged as paranormal romance) in the early 1980s, it wasn’t ready to receive that mid-list prediction. But just as a the paranormal genre birthed and thrived so too, I believe, will mid-list novels in ebook format.

That isn’t to say that there won’t be some serious bestsellers by authors who elect ebook and shun traditional publishing. There are already and will continue to be more of them. But I still believe publishers will move to ebook for mid-list and only major bestsellers in fiction will be out in print. Another couple years maybe…

I also believe the pressure is on our traditional publishers. One question I hear repeatedly is: “How can traditional publishers stay relevant?”

It’s a fair question and honestly asked. Publishers find themselves in a new world now. One where authors can and are publishing without them. The reasons why vary. Some authors write niche books–ones that appeal to a limited but dedicated audience. This lack of volume makes these book less appealing to traditional publishers, and the authors want to write them anyway and do it then publish themselves.

Some authors have written to the genre/market dictates and haven’t gotten publisher support or pushes to elevate their book’s standing in the market, so they opt out and publish themselves. Some are weary of the submit and reject process–whether it is to a publisher or an agent (or committee of agents at the agency)–revising the book to the point the work has become a work-by-committee and the author no longer recognizes it as the book s/he wanted to write anymore. And for still other writers, they’ve done the math on their specific book sales and determined that publishing traditionally is costing them serious money so they opt out and publish themselves.

There are some authors who feel to be taken seriously they must traditionally publish. However, when those same authors talk to other authors who are independently publishing and discover that they’re out-earning the traditionally published authors who are at the same level in their writing career, they hop off that ladder rung or pause and rethink their position. Some go, some stay with traditional publishing.

Traditional publishers can do things for authors that independent publishers can’t do for themselves. At one time, many things. But as the market changes, that list is dwindling. How much or how successfully it will dwindle, whether or not the list will disappear, is another topic of debate.

Where once authors found an immense stigmatism attached to independent publishing, they’re now using adverbs like “liberating” to describe the writing experience. Some do however resent the time required to market what they publish. Some authors just want to write their books.

I fall into the “I just want to write my books” category. However, let me assure you that it doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally or independently published, you’re not going to just write your books and sell. You might hire someone to handle the other aspects for you, but in either forum, you have obligations and responsibilities and seldom do few of them come with the tag, “Optional.”

These days, traditional or independent publishing is a personal choice. You know there are advantages and disadvantages to either selection, and that regardless of your choice, you are going to have to engage in some level of promotional activities.

If you hate deadlines, don’t care if you are paid an advance (that actually pays in advance of publication) or are weary of the submission process and rewriting of your books, you might do the math and determine independent publishing is for you–or not.

The bottom line at this point is traditional publishing is driven by bottom lines as they’re interpreted by said publishers. Editors don’t have the luxury of buying books they love, they buy books they love AND they can sell. That’s fiscally responsible and wise. Independent publishers bring a lot of different and personal-to-the-author priorities to the table. They weigh the bottom line and add those personal priorities and decide accordingly.

A guess on how publishers stay relevant is content but also execution. If they develop killer marketing and promotion forces that drive sales and if they create an environment that is author-friendly and fiscally friendly, then they will. If they cross-media market, that’s a big perk–one too time-consumptive for an author to do, unless s/he hires a firm who does that specifically. There are ways, IMHO, for publishers to stay relevant. But it’s not going to be in the ways they’ve relevant previously, and they’re aware that authors look at the matter through different eyes. They now have options.

I suspect that many major sellers will elect to opt out of traditional publishing eventually. Some have already, finding in cost-benefit analysis that it behooves them to subcontract editing, cover artists and other production aspects, as well as marketing/promotion.

Now understand that these opinions are predicated on professional level work being done in both traditional and independent forums. Does this mean I believe traditional publishing is doomed?

Of course not. Publishers can be nimble and flexible and creative. Traditional books will be with us for many reasons. But I do expect it to change. It must. Just as independent publishing has and will continue to change.

It’s the nature of all business to change. Stagnant industries die. It’s that simple, and complex.

When you get down to the bottom line, what you find is the answer is in the author’s bottom line. Whether to publish traditionally or independently is a matter of choice. And the reasons for making the choice you, the author, make are as varied as the books authors write. Key is to study your market, study your path, so that you’re making informed choices based on reasonable expectations. This isn’t the place for off-the-cuff decisions. Know what you’re getting into and what is required. Understand that publishing a book is and always has been a craps-shoot. Some books have all the push there is to be had and still tank. Some get zero push and soar. The readers choose.

And that–the readers choosing–is the one constant in all of publishing, traditional or independent.

Blessings,
Vicki Hinze
ⓒ 2011

 

Characters: Coping with Scandal in Novels






FALL BACK AND REGROUP

Leap! Writing and Career and Life



Facebook Accounts for Writers and Other Rookies

WARNING: THIS IS A NO-EDIT ZONE…

Find me on Facebook at vicki.hinze.author.

Novel Impact: Ignoring Unintended Consequences

3 Tips on Contests and Reviews

Author-to-Author Chat: Does Writing Craft Articles Sell Novels?

An informal chat video. Vicki responds to your question: Does writing articles on how-to write, on the craft or business of writing, translate to sales on your books?

Author-to-Author: The Industry

 

 

 

 

Be sure to enter the Facebook contest.  Details at facebook.com/vicki.hinze.author

 

Attn: ACFW Book Club Members

ACFW Book Club is choosing what book to read. Deadly Ties made the list from which they’ll choose. If you’re a member of the book club, would you please consider voting for it?

The link is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/acfwbookclub/surveys?id=2356502

Thanks!

Vicki

LifeWay Interview

Did an interview with LifeWay. You can read it at: LIFEWAY .

Feel free to comment. 🙂

 

Blessings,

 

Vicki

Moments of Grace–Characters

RHINO HIDE

Are You a Candle or a Mirror?

Thank You So Much!

LIBRARY ACTION DAY–SUPPORT YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY

 

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