Saturday, November 24, 2012

you want to write a book?

I can't even begin to tell you how many emails I get from various people who tell me that they want to write a book. (this also happens in person A LOT. and I do mean, a.lot.) They all ask me the same questions... do I have any advice for them? What should they do? How should they begin? etc, etc.

I honestly NEVER know what to say. Basically, the only thing that comes to my mind is- sit your ass down and start. I don't know what to say beyond that. Writing isn't necessarily something that you plan from start to finish like a meeting with bullet points (although maybe for some writers it is). Things start to evolve as you write... characters take on their own personalities and want to do their own things... where you thought your story was headed may completely change direction. You have to be flexible. You have to be willing to deviate from your plan. You have to let your story grow branches, sprout leaves, become this beautiful tree with roots and depth and strength that you didn't anticipate or plan for.

Writing a book is hard work. It's not easy. It's freaking torture at times. You will want to rip all your hair out. You'll be so in love with your story and your characters one minute, and think it's the most boring, piece of shit story you've ever read the next. There will be times that you'll feel like if you have to read one more word of your story ever again, you will throw your laptop off a bridge. You'll get stuck. You'll have writer's block. You'll get frustrated. You'll be on the most beautiful, flowing roll ever and then something will happen to interrupt you. And no matter how hard you try to get that groove back once the distraction is over, you won't be able to. To write a story, any story, becomes a very personal journey. And that personal journey suddenly becomes extremely public when you hit the publish button.

I know that it seems like everyone and their mother f'n dog is writing a book these days. And they're hitting best seller lists and getting publishing deals, etc. And so I know that there are some of you who want to cash in on that. You think that it's a get rich quick scheme. I'll write a book and then i'll be rolling in the dough! If that's you, please do us all a favor and don't bother. I'm not kidding. Trust me when I tell you that writing and self publishing is NOT a shortcut to fame and fortune. If you want to get rich quick then play the lottery. There is nothing quick about self publishing. And more than likely, you will not get "rich" doing it. At least not right off the bat. You'll be lucky if you make enough money to cover your editor and cover designer.

I started writing because I had a story that wouldn't leave my head. As my time working for someone else neared its end, that story called to me louder and LOUDER. It was all I could think about until I started writing it. And at the time, I honestly thought I just had this one story to tell. And I used to joke around and say, "who the hell just writes ONE book??" But I wrote anyway- because it called to me. And once I started writing that book, it was like I opened this floodgate of creativity within me. Suddenly, I had a whole bunch of ideas for stories I wanted to write! And I feel blessed to have found something I truly enjoy doing. But I followed my heart (NOT dollar signs). And it's led me here.

I think the best advice that I can give to anyone considering writing a book is:
Don't write for the wrong reasons. You should want to write a book because you have a story, or an idea that won't let you go. You feel passionate about the story you want to tell. You're driven to write. Writing feels like a part of you...an extension of who you are.

And if that sounds like you, then I say go for it! Write that book! And good luck!

But if you're one of those people who wants to write for all the wrong reasons, I suggest you look elsewhere. People will see through your intentions.

Being an author is about trudging through the hard times. Writing when you don't think you can write anymore. Pushing through the roadblocks in your story because you're determined to find an outcome. And writing new stories when you've just finished your last one.

We don't write for the money. We write because we're passionate about the stories we tell and we want to connect with people through our words. We love what we do, even when it's frustrating, hard and tear inducing.

We don't write simply because we can.
We write because we simply can't imagine NOT writing.

:)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

the post where i show you my heart

kittens...

I love you. I really do. And I hope you know that everytime I tell you "thank you" or that "I appreciate you"... I really, really mean it.

I want to give you a little background on me so that you can hopefully get a better understanding of just HOW thankful I truly am.  :)

I got fired from my job about two and half years ago. It was funny because at the time I was so convinced that I'd be jobless for probably a whopping whole 2 weeks before someone else scooped me up and I was working my ass off again. And the thing was, at the time, I really needed a break. I can't even begin to talk about what went on in that work environment and what I had to deal with, but to say it was one of the most challenging experiences of my life would be a true understatement.

Anyway, I couldn't have been more wrong about my ability to find a new position with ease. Holy shit, i'd never been here before. I'd never been jobless. I'd never been tossed into an environment that was filled with so many under and over qualified people looking for work all at once. So I bought a laptop and starting writing almost immediately.  But I was still looking for work and applying to numerous jobs daily.

I could barely get an interview- and when I did, I ususally left there in tears because I had just come from a miserable work environment and the last thing I wanted was to be tossed into another one. I didn't want to do something I hated. I wanted to enjoy how and where I spent my days. Life is too short.
Nothing felt right anymore.
All the interviews- THE MERE THOUGHT of working for someone else- it didn't sit well in my guts. It's like I knew somewhere inside me that that wasn't what I was supposed to do anymore. It didn't feel right to work for someone else. It felt like I was taking a step backward when I was handed this gift to move myself forward.

But how do you explain that kind of "logic" to a family who needs your income? 

Thankfully I have a very supportive family.  :)

Not like it would have mattered- I honestly don't think I could have found a job if my life had literally depended on it.  It's HARD out there. It's crazy competitive and the people hiring like to make the decision for you before they've even given you a chance "I think you'll be bored in this position." "You're way too overqualified for this."  "Why would you want to do this job, when you've been doing this sort of job the last 10 years?"

Moving on... 
I couldn't get hired (obviously lol). And I released my first book (in dreams) not knowing really anything about this business. I just knew that I had a story I wanted to tell and no one was going to stop me from telling it. So I did. And then I wrote another. And i'm working my ass off to try to make a name for myself in the Indie/Self Published author world. And it's a lot freaking harder than it looks. There's A LOT of indie authors out there. And sometimes things seem so hit or miss- the moon lines up and the stars align just right for some people and not for others. And it's frustrating because i'm sitting there trying to sell books so i don't feel like such a worthless non-income-bringing-in loser (ahem), but nothing i'm doing is working- and my books are being ripped apart and people are hating them and the comments are freaking mean and they tell me I suck and write like a 12 year old and i'm sure i'm supposed to be offended, but I know some pretty cool 12 year olds out there, so whatever.

But of course that leads to the inevitable question of- am I supposed to be writing books at all?  And if i'm NOT supposed to be writing books, then just exactly what the hell am I supposed to be doing because NOTHING ELSE FEELS RIGHT

Sorry.

I'm calm now.  lol

So I'm writing books, but not really making any money. I'm looking for a job, but I can't freaking get one. 

And what happens next?

We lose our house.  After trying to refinance and get help with the mortgage (all of which the bank said no too)- we were in the middle of a short sale when the house went to auction. The bank didn't stop the auction and I went and watched it get sold to the highest bidder. We had to move a month later. (that was all this past may/june)

And really?  It's okay. I mean, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and i'm perfectly fine with how everything turned out- but that doesn't mean it was horrible and hurtful and really fucking sad to get to this point.  You know?

Holy crap, do I have a point?  Yes, I do.  My point is that if you fast foward to now... right in this moment... right this second... I want you to know that you've made a difference in my life because you're enjoying something that i've written. You're telling your friends and family to buy my book. You're recommending The Perfect Game to friends, strangers, neighbors, in coffee shop lines, on facebook, on twitter, etc.  You're CHANGING my life. 

I'll say it again.

YOU
ARE
CHANGING
MY
LIFE


Let it sink in. 

Please.

Just for a moment.

Or two.


Because I could never be where I am right now (an Amazon best seller, having made the USA Today and Barnes & Noble Best Seller list) without each and every one of you. And I would be lying if I didn't say that I wish this could last forever! Because honestly, I wish it would. :)

But as for now-  you've made my dreams come true. You've rewarded my hard work by believing in me, encouraging me, supporting me, and wanting MORE from me. For the first time since I started this crazy journey, I feel like a success. I feel like i'm doing something right. I feel like i'm right where i'm supposed to be.  And I AM SO THANKFUL for every one of you. Because I feel that way BECAUSE of you.

So, thank you... for every email, every facebook post and every tweet.  Thank you for everytime my book pops into your head to recommend to someone. Thank you for spreading the word about my little book that could. You believe in it, which means you believe in me. 

And that is more inspiring than I can ever put into words.

I appreciate you. 

xo

Friday, November 02, 2012

oh hi there old friend

I hate when it seems like I dust-appear (that's how my son used to say disappear. i've always liked it, so it stuck. lol).

But really, i'm here!  The thing is, I got super excited yesterday when a book idea felt like it literally HIT ME like a 10 ton brick to the back of the head. So excited that I ran to my computer and started typing out the first scene. Which turned into half a chapter. And then I couldn't sleep last night because the characters and the story were in my thoughts, my dreams, my mind.

This is what typically happens when i'm writing something I love. My mind won't rest. I don't have an off switch.

So if it seems like i've ditched you- I'm just in my cave trying to write something worthy of you reading.  Hang in there.  :)

I'm mailing off some Amazon gift cards today, so if you won, be on the lookout!  I still haven't heard from ALL the winners- so please email me your address ASAP so we don't forget! And by "we" I really just mean me.  I totally suck at remembering things and I am so freaking easily distracted.  Like right now, the cutest dog in the entire world is staring at me and he makes me forget about everything except how cute he is. Oooooh, maybe i'll write him into this book?!  Every girl needs a doggy!  lol

See?

I heard that people were having problems trying to find The Perfect Game on Barnes & Noble, and I will agree that when I went there the other day to search, it pulled up nothing. Put in my author name, it also pulled up nothing. But it seems to be working fine now. But just in case, here's the direct link for all you Nookers.
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-perfect-game-j-sterling/1113324003?ean=2940015581737

Have I mentioned that we are freaking NUMBER THIRTEEN on Amazon's Top 100 Best Sellers?!?!?!!  That is SOOOOOOOO freaking cool!  I am so happy! So so happy that you guys read this book, fell in love with the characters and Jack & Cassie's story and then you told everyone you know to read it. It's something i'd always hoped would happen for one of my books-  and now it is. So, THANK YOU
Sincerely. 
I am so happy, appreciative and freaking excited for what this all means for my career!  You guys have made it possible for me to say that without cringing. This IS my career. I am an author. *knock on wood*

I'm terrified every single day that it will end just like that.  Welcome back fear, my old friend.

We'll talk about that more later.

But for now, keep on reading, loving, and telling your friends about the books you enjoy! And then all of us authors can keep writing them.  :) 

PS- let's not forget about our friends over in New York and New Jersey who are having a really rough time right now. Roads are impassible. Gas is hard to get too. The lines for gas are hours long. Power is still out in some places. Food is rotting, water is needed. If you can donate something, anything, here's a link to a list of places for donations like the Red Cross, the Humane Society, etc. We're thinking of you East Coast. And we love you. xo
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/hurricane-sandy--how-to-help.html