Sometimes the Answer is NO

I’m a fan of Lindsey Stirling, and one of the songs (Where Do We Go?) from her recent album BRAVE ENOUGH expresses something I’ve recently learned the hard way. Especially this line:  “Where do we go? When our prayers are answered, but the answer is no?”

When I began writing seriously — only five years ago, although it feels longer — I wrote an adult science fiction novel. I finished that novel and its sequel, and even queried a bit, although my efforts went nowhere. But that was okay. I was learning, and I can see now why it didn’t work out. (For one thing I couldn’t write a decent query letter back then to save my life).

So I decided to try something different and wrote a Young Adult fantasy novel, which became CROWN OF ICE.

This book DID get me an agent and a book deal (with a smallish publisher, but still a deal). So I thought — okay, here we go. I had several ideas for other YA books. One, a scifi — FACSIMILE — was also published. Eventually my publisher asked for CROWN to become a trilogy, so I wrote SCEPTER OF FIRE and planned out the third book, ORB OF LIGHT.

But… Things happened and my publisher and I parted ways. (Long story, not going into that). So I thought: Well, I have these two completed books, CROWN and SCEPTER, so maybe I should self-publish them. I mean, there they were, ready to go, so why not? I didn’t expect mega-sales, but I thought they might do okay. You know, make me a little extra pocket change each month. But more importantly, I thought — at least people will be able to read them. Because, above all, I just wanted a lot more people to read them.

I revamped the books (some revision, as well as new covers, edits, & formatting) and did some work on promo and such and released the books via an author co-op this spring.

And… They have not sold well. They’ve barely sold at all. Despite having great co-op support, beautiful covers, good editing & formatting, etc.

Now you could chalk this up to my ineptitude with marketing, and perhaps that is partially to blame. But I have also recently (re)studied the market and have come to the conclusion that it is NOT just my lack of advertising — which frankly, I can’t afford to do to the extent necessary at this point, time-wise as well as money-wise, but I digress.

No, there is another reason. A reason that has nothing to do with the quality of the books, but does have to do with their themes, plots, style, etc.

The truth is — my fantasy books are simply NOT what most readers want right now.

That does NOT mean the readers are wrong. They have every right to want what they want. But it does mean that I must acknowledge something that is very hard to accept:

The answer is NO.

Yes, I have moved on from this — switching to a new penname and genre quite successfully. And maybe my new genre is where I should have been all along.

But, despite that new adventure, it’s painful to realize that my fantasy (and scifi) books — which I still love — are not going to  be read by many people, or have any impact, or matter to anyone, anywhere, much at all.  It’s hard to give up on those books, even though I don’t really have time now to do anything else. Maybe I will come back to them someday. I don’t know. All I know is — for now I must mourn them and move on. I can’t keep beating my head on that wall; not if I want to achieve anything in other writing endeavors.

So, for now, the answer is no.  I must respect that and realize that the world owes me nothing. Publishing owes me nothing. Readers owe me nothing. I must accept the no in this area, and pursue different goals instead.

So, other authors — if you feel lost, stuck, depressed, or anything similar in relation to your writing, it’s perfectly okay to feel that way. It’s also okay to keep fighting to get your current books out there. But — it’s also okay if you feel it’s time to step away from all the “no’s” and experiment with new age groups, genres, styles, or whatever. Maybe it’s time to shut out the voices that call you a “quitter” and tell you “if you just try harder” or “if you just do this…” Perhaps it’s time to give yourself a new beginning and see where that leads.

Change can make great things happen. It’s happened to me. And though I’ll always be a little sad about the fate of my SFF books, I know I need to appreciate the lessons I’ve learned from them and move on.

Bottom line: sometimes the answer is NO. Life isn’t “fair” and we can’t always “fix it.” But if we are honest with ourselves, maybe we can find a new path. Maybe the one that leads, eventually, to where we fit, to where we should be. To YES.


And the Truth Will Set You Free

Those who know me well understand just how stubborn I can be. I don’t like to give up or admit defeat. I hate admitting failure.  I’m convinced if I just try hard enough, I can make things work. My mantra is — “Just one more try, and I’ll fix it!”

But sometimes you have to admit the truth. Things don’t always work out, and your skills, talent, intelligence, persistence, etc. are no match for reality.

This is me and self-publishing.

Now, just let me say that I greatly admire those who are successful at self-publishing. I think it is a perfectly valid option for authors, and believe those who work diligently to do well with it deserve all the success in the world. I also respect everyone working hard to learn the ins-and-outs of self-pub. and improving their efforts every day. My proverbial hat (I don’t wear hats, LOL) is off to you all.

But as for me — self-publishing is not a good fit, and I admit that I am terrible at it. Oh, I can write good books, and even produce professional quality eBooks and paperbacks — with the help of my great editors and designers, I mean — but I suck at the promotional aspects of self-publishing.

And, as I have come to learn — thanks to my own experiences, but also due to advice from some very savvy authors — self-publishing is ALL ABOUT the promotion.

This makes sense, if you think about it. Perhaps a few years back, when the market wasn’t so flooded with books (many of them GREAT books too) you could put out a self-pub. book and it would sell decently with minimal advertising and promotion. Not anymore. Now you must truly approach this like a small business and invest a tremendous amount of time and effort (not to mention money, although the time and effort is a bigger thing) into the process.

The problem is — I never wanted to run a small business. I loathe marketing. I don’t like selling things to people, and never have. Which is one reason I went into a service career in an academic setting, of course!

So where does that leave me? Well, I can still write books and sell them via the traditional markets (which I am doing under a penname). Yes, I must do some promotion and so on to support my publisher’s efforts. But I really don’t mind being active on social media, attending conferences, managing a website and a blog, doing guest posts, sitting on author panels, speaking or signing at bookstores, etc. I have no problem promoting my books as an author. But… I do NOT enjoy (nor am I good at) being the ONLY marketer for my books. I hate creating ad campaigns and monitoring them and tweaking keywords and constantly setting up giveaways and promotions and… Well, you catch my drift. I am delighted to SUPPORT the marketing of my books. I just don’t want to have to do it ALL.

I mean, life is short, and I’m not so young anymore, and I refuse to waste time on things that make me frustrated and angry. I also hate spending most of my precious time on tasks I find completely unfulfilling and tremendously annoying.

So — while I fully intend to finish out any series that I have started in self-pub — after those are complete I will only self-pub “hobby” books. That is to say, if I self-publish, it will be to release any books I just want to put out in the world for fun, not for profit or even author visibility.  I don’t  think there’s anything wrong with this, just like I see no problem with people painting, singing, etc. as an avocation rather than a profession. The more art the better!

But, as for what I consider professional self-publishing — I’ve been struggling with this for some time now, and finally decided that I must release myself from a prison where I’ve locked away my joy.

I have to admit — it feels good to admit the truth, and fly free!

My CP’s Websites and Why You Should FOLLOW THEM!

I have two critique partners, known in the business as “CPs.”

Fortunately for me, these are two extremely talented authors who will read my manuscripts and “tell it like it is,” for which I am ever grateful.

I also get to read THEIR manuscripts, which is a true pleasure, believe me!

So anyway, you should check them out if like great writing and storytelling!

Lindsey Duga:

Richard Taylor Pearson:

Check out their websites.  Buy Richard’s marvelous book, THE ROLE. Keep Lindsey’s wonderful book in mind — it releases in 2018!

You won’t be sorry to follow these two great authors and read their work — I guarantee it!

2017 To Be the “Year of Books”!

I have finally worked out a publication schedule for next year, which will see several of my books being released via either White Tulip Press or Snowy Wings Publishing.

The schedule right now (click on book titles for more info. on each book):


Science Fiction, will be published via White Tulip Press on March 8, 2017.


Fantasy, will be published via Snowy Wings Publishing in April or May of 2017 (exact date TBD).  (This book was originally published in 2014, but this is a new edition with a brand new cover, new formatting, and some revisions).


Science Fiction,  will be published via White Tulip Press in June or July of 2017 (exact date TBD).


Fantasy, will be published via Snowy Wings Publishing in August or September of 2017 (exact date TBD).


What’s Going On

So, what in the world am I up to these days?

Why, quite a bit, as it turns out.

For starters, I am working toward releasing my adult scifi trilogy, THE OTHERS, in late 2016 and in 2017.  (Written under my penname, V. E. Lemp).  This is a trilogy of books: THE LIGHT FROM OTHER SUNS, THE DARK OF OTHER SKIES, and THE ECHO OF OTHER EARTHS. You can read more about these books here: THE OTHERS

Press Logo finalI am venturing into self-publishing for these books, which is daunting. But I have assembled a fabulous team of people to aid me in this venture — editor, Annie Cosby; illustrator, Anne Drury; Cover Designer/Interior Formatter, VBartles Design; and publicist Rowe Copeland.  So I am definitely NOT doing this alone!  I have even established my own self-pub imprint, White Tulip Press, which you can read more about here: WHITE TULIP PRESS

I plan to release the first book, THE LIGHT FROM OTHER SUNS, this November!

In keeping with my new status as a “hybrid” author, my wonderful agent has begun submitting my YA Fantasy, SCEPTER OF FIRE, to publishers, and we hope to find a new home for it (and the the other related books) soon.  Read more about this series here: SCEPTER OF FIRE

On the writing front, I have two manuscripts to work on — two quite different ones, as it turns out. There is THE DIAMOND THIMBLE, which is well underway (I am already 1/3 of the way through a first draft on this one). This is a YA Fantasy about a young costume designer and a traveling theatre troupe. You can read more about it here:  THE DIAMOND THIMBLE

The other manuscript is something completely different — a cozy mystery featuring a librarian protagonist.  I’ve just started working on this one, although it is completely outlined. The working title is CATALOG OF DEATH.

So, despite the changes in my author life, I am still very much engaged in writing and publishing!  Stay tuned for more news as it happens, and thanks for your interest and support.



Everything Must Change

800px-Old_book_-_Basking_Ridge_Historical_SocietyI suppose it’s time to announce a big change in my author life —

I am no longer associated with Month9Books, my former publisher. In fact, all my rights have reverted to me at this point (except for FACSIMILE, which just released and will officially revert to me next March).


Of course, there are still copies of the published books in stock, and those will still be sold for a bit, but after that, those editions will go out of print.

So, SCEPTER OF FIRE, which was scheduled to release  this fall, will NOT be published by Month9Books in October. Please ignore what you might see on Amazon, B&N, etc. — it takes a while to get those preorder listings down, or so I am told.

It is sad, but for the best.  My wonderful agent will eventually look for new publishing homes for the CROWN series as well as for the planned sequels and the other works I’m currently writing.  I may also branch out into self-publishing a couple of titles, since I would like to try that avenue and see how it goes. (A lot of authors think the “hybrid” route — some books with traditional publishers and some self-published — is the way to go now).

So, a change — but not the end of my writing career!