Turning Down a Contract by Kristina M. Serrano

Turning Down a Contract by Kristina M. Serrano

I bring to you a guest blogger named Kristina M. Serrano, who so graciously decided to take my offer up on what it’s like to have to turn down a contract despite high hopes and expectations. Enjoy!

It’s so, so hard. It really is. But sometimes, it’s necessary. You can envision it: book signings, interviews, sharing a story from your heart and soul with the world. The power is in your hands. All you have to do is sign.
And yet, you don’t.

Almost two weeks ago, I was offered a contract for SLOW ECHOES by a small publisher, but after seeking counsel from several knowledgeable sources in the writing/publishing industry and thinking long and hard, I turned it down.
The days it took me to make my decision were torturous. “Published” and “contract” rang through my thoughts, taunting, seducing. I’d waited years for those words, and they were finally here. I could finally act on that detailed marketing plan I’d whipped up ages ago. I could tell all of my friends and family I was finally an author, a novelist, not just aspiring. I could share my characters with the world. Almost. Almost… A signature away…

And then a polite e-mail of thanks and decline.

Aside from feeling like I’d flushed an accomplished dream down the toilet, the hardest part about walking away from the contract was how sweet the publisher/editor was and how strongly the publisher/editor felt about my book.
So why did I turn it down? Well, one, different publishers prefer different policies in their contracts, and I felt there were too many clauses that didn’t appeal to me to negotiate. Also, while the publisher’s in-person marketing plan was awesome (attending multiple events promoting their books throughout the year), it wasn’t coupled with a strong online presence, which is important to me and the failure or success of sales for any book.

Basically, it just wasn’t the right fit, to me, for SLOW ECHOES. If anything, this experience taught me that the publishing industry is subjective in more ways than one. If agents and editors reject fantastic books because “they’re just not the right fit,” authors should feel comfortable rejecting a contract from an accomplished publisher that is “just not the right fit.”
My faith has gotten me this far, and I’m confident it will carry me even further as I reassess my writing and publishing goals and continue the querying process.

Another important thing this has taught me: DON’T RUSH. I have been rushing since I was eighteen, and I’m twenty-three now, almost twenty-four. A lot of non-writers think books are born overnight and, however innocently, prod you with “you’re STILL not published?” It’s hard, I know (believe me), but take a deep breath, don’t be afraid to make difficult decisions, do what’s best for you as a writer and your precious book(s), and be proud of yourself! Publishing is definitely not a race against the clock. It’s a waiting game of patience and the right timing.

A successful author I know told me to enjoy the writing process before publication, because that’s when things REALLY get hectic. And that’s what I plan to do. Read great books. Have a ball writing. Dream of landing the right agent and/or publisher and attending my first book signing while researching and querying.
But, my, I’m getting ahead of myself again. Patience, dear child. Patience.

Kristina M. Serrano is an aspiring YA fantasy and paranormal romance novelist, singer, homeschool/college graduate, and ex cowgirl who has been thrown five times. To read more about her and her writing, visit her website (http://kristinamserrano.wix.com/author) where you can also find links to her Twitter and Facebook pages.

How I Overcame Writer’s Doubt

How I Overcame Writer’s Doubt

For a few weeks I struggled with trying to overcome doubt in my ability as a writer. The Stars Are Infinite, in a sense, was rejected a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t say rejected, necessarily, but I don’t know any other way to phrase it, because it is going to come out, and it is going to receive a contract once I complete the necessary edits; however, the initial blow had shaken my faith in myself as a writer. It was a misguided blow on my part, of course. Even so, I had a lot of confidence in my writing because of When Stars Die and some feedback from ‘I Am the Bell Jar,’ published in 2013: A Stellar Collection. It’s great to have confidence; however, once you’re published and then you’re rejected, that rejection stings 10x harder than if you had never been published.

When you’re published, you have the expectation that you’re going to be published again. After all, fans of your books are counting on it. So for a bit I struggled with all these questions: Is When Stars Die going to be my only book ever? What if I just got lucky with it? What if every book I write from here on out sucks? What if my writing actually is crap? Why am I doing this? And so on and so forth. Any writer who has EVER struggled with self-doubt knows the exact questions I’m speaking of.

How did I regain my confidence?

I completed the edits of the first fifteen chapters my publisher did, and those edits alone crammed brevity into my mind. They weren’t difficult to do. I also considered that I was perhaps OVERCONFIDENT in those chapters. I wrote them when I was 20, and while I did have professional edits on them, I was still 20 when I wrote them. I wrote When Stars Die when I was 21, and completed it, revisions and all, at 22. So it was 2 years after The Stars Are Infinite that When Stars Die was basically born. When I went back into TSAI, I didn’t touch the first fifteen chapters that much. Just did some edits here and there, added some stuff, and that was it. However, with the remainder of the book, I had to write it all over again, so it can’t even rightly be called a re-write. Even when I did write those chapters, I ended up re-writing much of them. I probably spent more time editing the latter half than the former half, just because I know more now than I did when I was 20. I wrote the first 15 chapters at the age of 20, and the rest of the book at 23. I spent 5 months doing intense edits of the rest of the book–7 if you count January and February. That’s 3 years of improvement since beginning TSAI. Arguably I should have spent equal time with both, but I get discombobulated at times.

A common writing error is for writers to spend more time on the first half than the last half. I did the reverse. I think this happened because I wanted–and still want–TSAI to be a million times better than WSD, and those chapters leading up to the climax, and the chapters that fall thereafter, are crucial.

That was my error.

I regained my confidence when I completed those edits, and the edits my personal assistant did for me–I am SUPER indebted to her. When I stepped away from All Shattered Ones, the book I was hoping to finish before getting TSAI back, I realized that if I were a crap writer, I wouldn’t have any idea where to begin with revisions in regards to ASO. I do. I know exactly what I’m going to do to better ASO, to make it cleaner, more crisp–cleaning up metaphor overkill, for one. And re-structuring a few things in the plot, of course.

I also fully regained my confidence when I was able to proofread for a previous client. I learn a lot by editing other people’s manuscripts, and I learned a lot from proofreading this client’s manuscript. I learn what I can do to better my own manuscripts, pretty much. Proofreading this manuscript also instilled brevity within me. Now I’m going through TSAI and cutting unnecessary, lengthy sentences, or just breaking up those sentences. I’m also going to–and sigh–read my book out loud, or have my Kindle do it for me at least. I didn’t do that with When Stars Die. The book was just that easy.

I have also accepted that it is going to take more than a year for me to create a book I am satisfied with.

Also, as strange as it sounds, my confidence in ballet directly correlates to my confidence in writing. If I can freaking do ballet, I can sure as heck get another novel published. I mean, I’m at grade IV, and I’ve only been dancing ballet for 2 1/2 years (arguably, I should be in grade V, but the Cecchetti method is different from my last school’s). And…drum roll please…my boss pretty much implied I’m going to get hired on at Southern Siding, which means I will receive more commission–I’m going through a temp agency for them currently.

Ultimately, I think good things happening outside of your writing life can actually improve the quality of your writing life. After all, we need lives outside of writing, and we need good ones at that. All this goodness going on for me has shifted my perspective, and has thus put a positive spin on how I feel about my own writing.

Have you ever lost your confidence in your own writing? If so, how did you regain it?

Guest Blog: My Writing Path

Guest Blog: My Writing Path

Today I have Ms. Joey Paul as a guest blogger. Remember that if you want to write a guest post for me, drop a line at thedancingwriter@gmail.com. There are no limitations to what you’d like to blog about. Here we go!

Every writer will tell you that there is a moment when they realise that the talent they have is something that can not be locked away inside of them. They’ll tell you that there was a time, be it circumstances or by design, when they realised that they had a story that had to be told. Or maybe a few stories. Every writer starts somewhere and I’m going to tell you where I started.

When I was five years old, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up: I wanted to be a doctor, a pediatrician, to be exact. I wanted to work in medicine because I grew up in hospitals and doctor’s offices. I was diagnosed with asthma when I was eighteen months old, which then turned into Type One Brittle Asthma when I was seven. I was determined that that was my career, my chosen path, and nothing was going to sway me from that path. I worked diligently all the way through school, got the grades I needed, and after my GCSEs, I went to college to do A-levels so that I could go to university and then medical school.

Now, as I’m sat here writing this, you know that something happened that steered me from my chosen path. When I was thirteen, I wrote stories with my friends and even planned what I would do with the thousands in royalties I would earn from these stories. I never planned for it to become my job, but life has a funny way of changing things that you thought were set in stone.

My health deteriorated while I was in my first term at college. I ended up dropping out at seventeen and going to work in various jobs until at nineteen, my health went completely down the drain, and I was diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalopathy (M.E), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the US. I ended up off sick from work for three months, and then finally being medically retired from my job. A few short months later, and I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and a handful of other conditions. I was told that I would never work a conventional job again.

I was living with my best friend, claiming benefits and facing a life of no career, no prospects, and lots of spare time on my hands. This was 2001, and I spent the time whilst learning to cope with all these conditions, flicking through books, playing on the internet, and reaching out to people in similar situations. It was then that I found a copy of one of the stories I’d written at thirteen. I cringed as I read through the “chapters” and the poor storyline. I knew that if I was going to be stuck inside and not work, then I was going to do something with my life.

I spent the next four months pulling apart every chapter of that story, writing and re-writing it so that it was unrecognisable. Once that was done, I started a new one. I wrote a story that had been sitting in my head for years. It took me ten days, and then when I was done with that, I realised I did have something I could do. I could write. So, I pulled up publishing information and started looking for a way to get my books to the point of publication. I didn’t manage it until 2005, when my first book was released.

By that point, I had written one more and had a fourth started. I found my time lost to worlds I had made though imagination and typing. I kept going and although I can’t say that I spent every moment I had writing, I was usually thinking about it. My health conditions meant that I wasn’t always well enough to write, and eventually after a long flare I found myself unable to hold a pen and write more than a few words, a sentence at most. That was when I turned to typing the books. When my publishing contract fell through, I went independent. I created the Bug Books logo and finally released my second book in 2011. My third and fourth followed six months later.

Today I have six books available through the Bug Books label. I employ a graphic artist, an editor, various proof readers and I am writing books eleven and twelve side by side. My health dictates so much of what I can and can not do. I am unable to walk more than a few steps and I use a wheelchair outside of the house. Some days, I don’t make it out of bed for more than a couple of hours. But I still write. The words may not make it onto the screen, but in my head, I’m always writing, always thinking of new places to take my characters and new ways to explore different worlds and new journeys.

I’ve seen ghosts, traveled back in time. I’ve solved various murders, and even plotted a few of them myself. I’ve brought to life a number of characters and I have to say that I love every minute of it. It may not have been the path I chose for myself at five, but it’s a damn good path to be on at thirty-one. I write because I love it. I love creating, I love the beginning, the middle, and the end. I love everything there is to be about writing and I can’t see myself ever doing anything else. I’ve always said that when I run out of stories, then I will lay down my keyboard, but until then, I’ll write on!

Bio: “Joey is a 31 year old disabled writer and part time student studying towards a degree in Health and Social Care. She loves to write and is at the moment working on her eleventh and twelfth books, as well as preparing her seventh book for publication. She started writing when she was medically retired from her job at the age of 19. Her first book was released in 2005, and after a brief time away, her second one was released in 2011 by Bug Books, her own personal indie label.
Joey suffers from a number of chronic conditions, including Fibromyalgia and M.E, and although these have an impact on her day to day life, she doesn’t let them stop her from doing what she wants. She enjoys reading books in the crime/mystery & romance genre, though will occasionally dip into young adult dystopia books as well. She passes the time when she’s not writing by writing about writing, strumming on an Ukulele or doing some cross-stitch. She also enjoys watching TV shows such as NCIS, NCIS: LA & CASTLE. Due to her conditions, she has both good and bad days: the good are spent writing, and the bad are spent thinking up new plots and doing more writing. She says she will continue to write until she has run out of stories to tell, which, if you know Joey, may be a very long time!”

Website: http://www.joeypaulonline.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BugBooks
Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B007FXH8LE
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/BugBooks