Vegas 2019

Last week, I attended the 20booksto50K conference in Las Vegas.

For me, the conference was a chance to enjoy sunshine, the companionship of other indie writers, and perhaps more importantly, to figure out why I met none of my production goals this year.

In January, I left my day job (yes, again) so that I could write full-time. But as spring turned to summer, I hadn’t written the three books in my cozy mystery series that I planned to, and my attempt to write a fourth book in my Celebration House series was also failing. Ugh.

So, I hopped on a plane (a challenge, as I hate to fly) and headed south. Over the next three days, I heard some of the most successful indie authors share their ups and downs of writing. Because there are going to be downs. There are going to be set backs. A writer’s career isn’t a straight arrow pointed up and to the right, as I learned. It’s more of an up, down, up, down pattern. For ALL of us, not just me.

Kevin J. Anderson, one of the most successful science-fiction writers, talked about the challenges he encountered in his career, including when one of the big publishers closed, and he had to find a day job. He’s teaching creative writing at a college near him. Mark Dawson, a seven-figure indie author, discussed his experiences with a traditional publisher, and the motivation it provided for him to pursue indie publishing instead. One of my favorite moments was when Michael Anderle, arguably one of the most successful science fiction/fantasy author today, shared a poem written by a young man about how fellow creatives threw him a rope to pull himself up from the dredges of depression. Powerful stuff.

I’m home now and happy to say, writing again. I’m drafting my next cozy mystery, Death Goes Spelunking, and revising the first version of a contemporary romance, The Courtship of Merle Walker. I think for me, the answer is to set short, succinct goals, like writing an hour every day. And remembering there will be ups and downs on this path. The important thing is to continue taking the next step. And the next.

Thanks for reading!

My family joined me in Las Vegas. My son, Jack, crosses the Vegas version of Abbey Road.

Just finish the book. Again.

For years, this quote hung above my desk:

  • 95% of people talk about writing a book,
  • 30% of people start writing a book,
  • 3% finish it.

It will be one year ago next month that I started this blog. While many things have changed, one thing has not: I struggle with the habit of completion.

My second novel, Bone Girl, will be published in less than two months. It’s with my beta readers now, then it will go to my editor, Maudeen Wachsmith.

A month later, I intend to self-publish my third novel, A Year with Geno. There’s only one small problem with this grand plan: the book isn’t finished.

Here’s why. I’ve come to the parts of the book that aren’t any fun to write. Like a picky eater, I now stare down at my literary plate, and all I see are lima beans, beets and fried liver. Yech…

I drafted a calendar-style spreadsheet with all of the scenes on it. According to the spreadsheet, I have five (I just counted them) scenes left to write. That’s all. Five! Figuring they are each 1,000 words, I only have 5,000 words left to draft and then I can begin revisions. Please note: I started writing this book in 2007. I originally dreamed up the idea for A Year with Geno in 2002.

But in order to finish the book, I have to write these five scenes. And rewrite them. And polish them. I just don’t want to.

I think I know why I’m so reluctant to write these remaining sections. Too much depends on them. I want A Year with Geno to give the readers a taste, a whiff of life in Alaska, and I don’t know that I’ve done that in the preceding 63,000 words. Yep. 63K. This is the longest book I’ve written.

Also, I have so many doubts: is the romance between the two main characters plausible? Did I create enough sexual tension to keep readers turning pages? Did I show how important the main character’s friends are to her? Ugh! So many questions and so few certainties.

Except this one: if I want the life I dream about – writing full-time – I need to finish this book. No excuses. No buts, maybes or should-ofs. Finish the book. It’s just that simple. And that difficult.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: why I am choosing to self-publish.