To celebrate the two year anniversary of the publication of my debut novel Into the Night, I’m giving away a signed copy through a Goodreads Giveaway, which is available now for you to sign up for a chance to win. Click here to enter. The Kindle edition of Into the Night will also go on sale for $0.99 from December 1-9 on Amazon.
A lot has happened since my launch day two years ago and so I wanted to reflect back a little in this time of celebration. So here are three lessons that I’ve learned:
Every time I write, I learn. Writing the first draft and then the second draft and on and on until I had the final, copy-edited version of Into the Night was a frustrating, exhausting, exhilarating process. Each round of feedback from my editor Laura Ownbey was so incredibly helpful in re-imagining my world and characters so they could become better. As I wrote the sequel in the Selina Baker series Wake in Darkness (currently seeking a home!), I found it easier to expand the world and everyone in it. I surrounded myself with the story and my characters and learned how to be a stronger and more competent writer. In my current project, I’m learning how to blend historical fact with folklore and trying to build a world readers want to sink into as well.
Failure and disappointment is part of the game. There are lots of writers who print out every rejection letter they get from agents and literary magazines. They’re proud of them. I don’t go quite that far, although I’ve reached the point where I accept rejection and learn to look past it and on to the future. I keep submitting my short stories and working on my books because I know that I will find the right home for them eventually. In the last few months I’ve had two short stories accepted for publication, which is such a great feeling! When Wake in Darkness found itself suddenly homeless, it was hard to say the least, but my dedication to Selina and her world means that it will come out sometime, if not in the immediate future.
Community is everything. I’m lucky right now to be in an M.F.A. program where I’m surrounded by talented and caring writers. I have workshop classes dedicated exclusively to discussing our work and making it better. Outside of class, however, I’ve found my niche of fellow writers who support me even more. We group text or talk over coffee, chatting about what’s happening in our books and what’s kicking our butt in our books. They have taken the role of my professional editor from Into the Night, and have helped me to continue pushing and building my world and refining my craft. Find your people, people. It makes all the difference.
Experience the world. Whether you read a wide variety of authors from around the globe, or whether you travel yourself, I can’t emphasize this point enough. I’m at my most creatively stifled when I sit at home doing nothing but despairing over not feeling like writing. But when I go to the theater or a concert, or pick up a new book, inspiration hits. My newest short story that will be out in March 2017 with The Northern Virginia Review is about a man at a racetrack. I didn’t seek out a racetrack and say hey, what about that for a topic? I went to a festival that happened to be at a racetrack, and when I needed to pop inside to use the restroom, I stumbled on the betting floor. I immediately started taking notes and came back later armed with a pad of paper. Inspiration can be as strange sometimes as literally walking through the wrong door. My new manuscript is about the Russian Revolution of 1905. I went to St. Petersburg this summer with some friends and it totally changed my story just being there, walking along the same canals as Raskolnikov did in Crime and Punishment. I’m going back this winter to freeze my butt off, just as my characters did.
Over the next year or two or ten, I’m going to keep re-visting these lessons and adding to them. You can only become a better writer if you continually open yourself up to improving yourself and your craft.
Thanks for celebrating two years with me, and good luck in the Goodreads Giveaway!
Goodreads Book Giveaway