Finding the time to write

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeHello! Welcome to yet another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post ūüôā Today’s topic is “How do you find the time to write in your busy day?” Visit the Main Page and hop around to all the other great posts on this topic! And if you are an insecure writer yourself, join the hop! It’s fun and very supportive.

I have to admit to not writing much lately. Part of it has been due to busy days. Summer vacation for my kids means no real breaks for me. Not that I’m complaining, really. I spent my summer camping, going to the beach, and doing all kinds of fun stuff with my two favorite people in the world: my babies ‚̧

But another reason for my not finding time to write has just been lack of drive to do so. I’ve found myself wondering why I even do it. Why create things not many people are interested in reading? No matter how much I love my work, and no matter how much I try to “write for myself,” I have to admit it often feels pointless.

My most “successful” story so far is¬†Bound, a m/m Romance about a man in a wheelchair and his return to mild BDSM. It’s a free story, which is why I put the quotes around successful. I still consider it a success, because people have enjoyed it and I’m proud of it, but it’s not a money maker. It wasn’t written to be a money maker, though, it was written as part of a free anthology. So there is no disappointment in its lack of earnings, only pride in its popularity.¬†If I could re-create that feeling with my other books‚ÄĒthat distance from the “commercial” market‚ÄĒthen maybe I could regain some of the joy in writing. If anyone knows the trick to this, please, please tell me! In the meantime, I’m fighting the worry that what I write is not marketable (because it usually isn’t) and that has been a real hindrance to my desire to make time for writing.

I’m hoping to start a new job soon, though, only part time but I hope it might give some structure to my days and maybe that will get me writing again. The kids are back in school ūüė¶ and the summer is nearly over, so the beach is less of a distraction, too. I’m confident I can make some time for writing again.

What about you? Have you managed to make a writing schedule? Or do you write in small bits, whenever you can spare a moment? Do you struggle to find time to write, or do you make it a priority? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below¬†(click on the title of this post if you’re on my main page & comments are not visible) and tell me about your writing.

What was your first writing?

Hello! Welcome to another Insecure Writer’s Support Group post ūüôā It seems these are all I post, lately… Sorry about that. I will try to get more active in posting to this blog.Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

This week’s IWSG question is: “What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?”

My first piece of writing was an erotic short story I called “guilty pleasures.” It was pretty awful. I kept thinking about it, though, and I couldn’t stop writing it. The weird thing was that even though it was a very smutty piece of writing, I didn’t really feel very aroused about it. (Sorry if that is TMI.) It just came to me as a powerful little story and so I wrote it down. I’d never written any fiction, at least not seriously, before.¬†But this story I did feel kind of serious about, and I published it myself on Amazon, because I could. ūüôā

I never told anyone about it, although I had to tell my husband. I had to explain what I was doing on the computer so much! LOL!¬†When I sold my first copy, I was sure he had bought it. I confronted him, and he reminded me that he didn’t even know my pen name. That feeling of knowing that a complete stranger was reading the crazy (and embarrassing) words I’d written was probably the weirdest emotion I’d ever experienced.¬†casual man acting as a fortune teller

I went on to write two follow-up novellas, and one of them was essentially a m/m romance. That one (honest desires) sold quite a bit, and that success led me to focus more on m/m stuff. But my heart still beats strongest for menage stories. ‚̧

I unpublished¬†Guilty Pleasures¬†a while later. (Though I did leave it out there for much too long. If you bought the first version: I’m so, so sorry.) Last year I revised it and re-published it under my “new” erotica name, AC Bishop. So if you want to read it, you can now find it here. No one ever buys it anymore. It is a very dirty fairy-tale type story, m/m/f menage,¬†a little on the kinky side. I probably should be way more embarrassed than I am about it!

Anyway, what about you? What was the first thing you ever “seriously” wrote? What happened to it? I’d love to hear! ūüôā

The best reviews

Hi! This is a post for the insecure writer’s support group. Join us! Visit the main page here to browse the other postings and sign up.¬†Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

Today’s question is:¬†“What is the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?”¬†

What an awesome thing to consider. ūüôā I don’t often think about the positive responses my writing garners, and I really should.

The things I treasure most are the e-mails readers have sent me. Mainly because they are unsolicited (as opposed to a review on a book blog or an ARC review, which I’ve outright asked for) and so I feel much more strongly about those little encouraging notes, even if they are short or vague, because I know they represent a genuine appreciation for my work. Those are probably the best things anyone has ever said about my writing, really. If you are a reader who has written me, or another author, thank you. ‚̧ You are fantastic.

The best line from a review I ever received publicly was this one:

 It’s hard to say why I gave it five stars, other than I just really enjoyed it completely in a way I rarely do.

I know that doesn’t seem the most glowing recommendation, and indeed I have better lines (even from that review there are more positive lines) but this one little sentence was the most flattering thing to me. Maybe because this person is a reviewer who reads a lot of books in my genre, maybe because it was unsolicited, maybe because this line is just so honest and simple and real. I don’t know. But when I need to feel better about myself, I pull up this review, and that¬†one line always¬†makes me feel best.

How about you? What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your work? I’d love to hear from you ūüôā

This month’s insecurity: Am I annoying???

I probably am. Ugh, yes, I am definitely annoying.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis is an insecure writer’s support group post, please join us if you are an insecure writer! Visit the main page here to sign up or read the other participant’s posts. This is a blog hop ūüôā

So I’ve been thinking lately about all the people in my life who’ve gotten to know me, and then bailed out. All the failed or faded friendships. All the internet “blocks” and de-friendings. I know I should not dwell on that, I should instead focus on those wonderful, patient, and kind souls who actually like me and have stuck around, but I can’t help it!

I obsess over what I did to make them dislike me so, what wrong things I said. Was it one thing? Or just my personality in general? I wish I knew, so I could improve myself, or even just apologize. Maybe their reasons are dumb, and I won’t feel so bad! I don’t know.

If I AM annoying, how could I tell? Is there like a maximum number of enemies you can have and still be a decent person? How many de-friendings is normal?

It does have a negative impact on my writing, because I start to wonder if my poor social skills are translating into my character’s interactions. Are my characters just as dorky as I am? Is my dialogue obnoxious?

I’d love to hear if anyone else worries about this stuff. Also if anyone has tips or advice about limiting this particular kind of social anxiety. Comment below! (You might have to click the blog title to open this post again & comment)

What is my work worth?

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeHi! This is a post for the insecure Writer’s Support Group, we post the first Wednesday of each month to air our writerly insecurities. Join us! Or just hop around and read our posts, and feel less alone in your own insecurities. ‚̧

Usually I try to keep my IWSG posts fairly short (I think it is a group rule actually) but this one will be a little longer. Sorry! I haven’t posted to this blog in almost a month, and I’ve got a few extra¬†words to say.

So let me start at the beginning… My favorite genre, the genre I read and write in most, is Gay Romance, or m/m Romance. And in m/m, the drama level is generally higher than normal for some reason. I’ve learned to deal. It does suck me in sometimes, though! The latest drama storm has a few centers.¬†One is about the way readers will “read and return” e-books to amazon, or pirate our work, or just demand lower prices. Overall, this sucks. But let me break down the layers of suckage:

Layer¬†1: Amazon lets people return a digital book, no questions asked, within 7 days of purchase. In some ways, this practice is good for me as an author. It means buying my books is a zero-risk decision. Don’t like my book? Send it back. So people can feel free to click that “buy” button without worry. The trouble is, it is SUPER easy to keep on reading for free by returning. Even if Amazon catches on and cuts you off, you can just make a new account and keep on scamming. I have very few returns, so I don’t personally have a big problem with this Amazon policy, but it does hurt some authors, and I will¬†back them up before I back up Amazon.

Layer¬†2: Pirates. There always will be thieves, we can’t stop that. But book thieves are an odd breed, who somehow think they are doing us authors a favor when they¬†steal our books. As if we get some kind of power or boost just by being read. Uh, no. I’m not Lord Voldemort, and simply saying my name (or reading my words) does not pay my mortgage. Pirates don’t help authors. That is a lie they tell themselves because they know damn well they are doing something wrong. It might help them sleep better, but it is still a lie. Yet I can’t stop pirates, I am powerless against them, so I guess I should not waste my energy worrying about them.

Layer¬†3: Readers want lower prices, would prefer all books be free or .99. And oh yes also they’d like¬†books to all be¬†over 200 pages, please, otherwise it’s not really “worth it.” I will admit I have a lot of sympathy for the price issues. As a reader I also balk at books over $5. Romance readers are THE BEST readers, and I’m not just saying that because I am one (okay maybe that’s why) but because we read a lot. Most of us can happily tear through a novel¬†a night. And at $5 or more per book, well, that means we can easily spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars each year on¬†our reading habits. That’s…nuts. So we constantly search the current free lists, subscribe to bookbub, and whine about “overpriced” books. I get it. I’m with you. BUT: I also write and self-publish, which takes a lot of time and money, and when people tell me that my art isn’t worth as much as a cup of coffee, it hurts. And it also means I have to write less, because if writing isn’t paying the bills, then more¬†of my time has to get diverted to a job that brings in real money.

So all that is one part of the drama. Another¬†is about an author who is really a group of authors. I guess someone noticed that an author was popping books out at a crazy pace, and those books were all making rank, and they got suspicious. It might sound distrustful or mean but I do understand their worry. With the abundance of plagiarists and scammers out there, especially (it seems) in m/m Romance, their suspicions were reasonable. (And how sad is that? ūüė¶ ) The author responded by admitting they are actually a group of authors working together to produce books quickly, and that explained that.¬†But it left me with an odd feeling. I don’t begrudge this author-group their success, still¬†I don’t like what it means: that a single author’s chances of “making it” are slim. Amazon’s algorithms reward new releases and readers reward quantity.¬†But even the most prolific of us can rarely get more than three books out in a year. How can we compete with “authors”¬†who can put out one or two a month?

All these things devalue writing. Treating books¬†as less valuable than almost anything else you can buy sucks. (Seriously what can you buy for $3 nowadays besides an e-book??? And how many of those things will entertain you for hours? Make you laugh, cry, think, feel??? Let me know when you think of something.) ¬†Expecting¬†authors to be like¬†machines, who need to pump out product at impossible rates while still interacting with readers and posting blogs and tweeting and instagramming and whatever else also sucks. These expectations, combined with Amazon’s algorithms and policies which shower¬†the top earners with more exposure while keeping the unknowns unknown, make it a minor miracle anyone can earn even a hobby income from publishing these days.

It all leaves me wondering: what is my work worth?

Is it only worth what people will pay for it (so, basically, nothing)? Or is it priceless, as art, with an intangible value beyond dollars and cents? Is it worth your time? Is it worth mine? Is it worth less if people don’t like it, and more if my star-rating average is higher? I have no idea.

What I will say is a giant THANK YOU to those who buy, read, and review books. Not just my books, all books. You are keeping authors in business, literally. You are awesome! I love you.

I also love my fellow authors who constantly try to produce great books, who share their tips and tricks, who dive in to author/reader communities even though it can sometimes be a crazy jungle of feelings and opinions, filled with innumerable dangers. You also are awesome! Thank you for being part of my community.

I want to keep producing quality, carefully crafted books. I want to earn some money by doing that. I also want readers (and society at large) to appreciate the diverse beauty and multi-faceted¬†influence of fiction. I wish I knew how to help these things happen. Any ideas? I’m listening.

camp NaNoWriMo!

This is a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Join us! We blog the first Wednesday of every month. Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

It’s April 6. Camp NaNoWriMo is not going well for me, as per usual. I don’t really mind. I never actually “win” but I do usually have at least three quarters of a workable draft, and it’s still very possible I’ll have that at the end of this month, if I can get on track.

Well, looking outside my window it sure doesn’t seem like April! There is currently a thick (5+inches!!) cover of snow, and it’s barely 25 degrees. Maybe my writing mojo is as confused as mother nature? LOL

But no, I know what is going on. I have this story that I’ve been planning in my head for a very long time. It’s a series, which is a step outside my comfort zone as I’ve¬†pretty much¬†always written stand-alones. But it’s paranormal, which should be good for me (that’s my favorite!) Still,¬†I’m faltering.

If you follow this blog you might remember that a few months ago I did a survey of reader preferences (male/male, male/female, or menage) in Romance. I’m so thankful to everyone who responded! But I’m still as unsure as ever.

Here’s why: I LOVE writing male/male pairings. I don’t think I¬†could actually write an entire romance without some male/male Romance. But I feel lately as if I have been striking out with my m/m readership. So I’m thinking maybe it would be better to start fresh? Maybe a new pen name, and a new genre/niche would bring more readers to my work?¬†Or (here’s the insecure part) maybe it isn’t the type¬†of romantic pairing that keeps people from enjoying my stories. Maybe it is just my writing style which is unpopular. ūüė¶ ¬†You see the self-doubt spiral which has interfered with my happy writing time?!

It’s the same old question, isn’t it? Do I write for pleasure, or profit? Do I write for myself, or do I¬†seek validation from others?¬†Someone said once that we should “write the most marketable stories of your¬†heart” and I think that is fantastic advice. If only I knew what marketable was… ūüėČ I really have no idea what will sell or why. I can’t tell you how many hours I have spent studying the Amazon sales charts and Goodreads reviews, trying to crack the code of why people buy certain things and why they don’t buy other things. Needless to say, I¬†still know nothing.

Well, not nothing. I know a good deal of an author’s success comes down to marketing. Pouring money on something, assuming it is a decent story, is a good tactic. Another thing I do know is that certain tropes and styles are always popular (“bad boys,” shifters, millionaires, etc.) Lots of authors have made names for themselves by hitting those sweet spots hard. I think luck (or great timing) has an impact, too. Being friends with “big name” authors in your genre is another sure-fire route to sales. But how to twist the stories of my heart into something marketable? No clue.

So now I’m about a week into NaNo, where I had hoped and planned to produce a solid draft of “book one” in my new series, and I’m only like 5000 words in. Boo. ūüė¶ Can’t do much more¬†without nailing down my lead couples, though. World-building only¬†goes so far (about 5000 words, apparently. LOL)

Do I just make it a m/m Romance, and take the chance I am wasting my time on something very few people will buy? Do I write a m/f story in the hopes that it will sell better? Do I go back to my erotica/ménage roots and write something fun and sexy and at least enjoy myself while writing? One thing I did learn from my survey and from the time I have spent online in reader groups is that many m/m readers do not want any lady-bits in their m/m romances. So it is sort of an either/or proposition, and that is what is messing with my planning.

Any advice? Have you ever dealt with a similar situation? Any and all feedback appreciated!

insecure writer’s support post

This is a post for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Join us! We blog the first Wednesday of every month. Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

It’s April 5. Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started on the 1st. I don’t think it will come as any surprise that I have already fallen off pace. My track record with NaNo is pretty dismal. I have a whiny post all ready to go about that,¬†which I’ll probably post in the morning, but…

Okay I’ll admit right now I’ve had a glass of wine. My kids are in bed and I’m scrolling through my blog feed (avoiding working on the iwsg post lol) and I have to say I’m kind of freaking out a little. Does it seem to anyone else that things are getting more hostile? In the world in general, I mean, and especially the US I guess? Like very divisive. Tensions are high, even in online communities arguments are blowing up too fast. And what is with all these laws about “religious freedom”? I can’t even believe half the things¬†I’m seeing! Am I the only one who is alarmed here? How about how Trump is seriously in contention still. AND the rest of them.¬†What the actual fuck, is all I¬†can say.

Okay I know talking about politics is not advised for Authors and I shouldn’t be saying anything. I’m supposed to be neutral, better for sales. But honestly? I write gay and bisexual Romance. If you’re going to be backing a candidate who would reverse marriage equality if given the chance, or who would have signed or voted for any of these recent anti-LGBT legislations, I really don’t care about losing you as a reader. No offense.

Then again,¬†maybe this isn’t about any one candidate or belief, but more about a general swelling of an “us vs. them” mentality. If the nightly news was the prologue to a dystopian novel I’d be expecting world war three¬†to unfold any minute now. Things are getting freaky out there!¬†I feel like even just six months ago things were a little less heated.¬†I mean, am I imagining it? Or has anyone else noticed this, too? I’d LOVE someone to talk me down lol

*sorry if this is too political for the iwsg hop, but it IS an insecurity, technically*