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?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aT_htzkOzHE&list=RDaT_htzkOzHE

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.

 

I’m Over it Already — The List

In keeping with my more honest, oh-what-the-heck-attitude, I thought I would list a few of the things I am tired of reading/hearing about involving books currently popular in the market. This is not a slam on any particular books or authors, it’s just the stuff that I am OVER ALREADY.

In no particular order, books where:

  • Every character (except maybe a villain or two) is gorgeous and physically perfect in every possible way. (And we are told how gorgeous and perfect they are continuously).
  • The protagonist is a thief/assassin/con artist. (Enough with this trope already!!)
  • The villain turns out to be the protagonist’s father/mother/uncle/long lost cousin on their stepdad’s side.
  • The protagonist starts off as a poor, ignored, “nothing,” but really… They are the long-lost prince or princess. (Or emperor, or mightiest warrior, or most-est powerful of all powerful sorcerers).
  • Sexual acts are described ad nauseum, but ONLY using the oddest, purple prose euphemisms.
  • Love interests pause in the middle of highly dangerous or traumatic events to … you know, do those euphemistic things.
  • Characters fall madly in love in zero to sixty seconds. (Usually based only on the “gorgeousness”).
  • The setting is supposed to be “exotic” but it reads more like a rehash of books from the late 1800s and early 1900s, where the protagonist, “suffering” under the “white man’s burden” brings “enlightenment” and “progress” to the “backward natives.”
  • The story is based on cultures the author obviously does not understand deeply, if at all.
  • At least one of the male leads is so DANGEROUS! and DARK! But despite being willing to kill any and all other characters, he somehow wants to protect the female protagonist (even if that means killing any and all other characters).
  • Female characters hate each other for no other reason than that they are both female (and somehow, thus in competition for every guy they see).
  • No one has a disability or, if they do, it is “magically cured”. (Or it turns out this disability really unleashes their “secret power.”)
  • Any POC or LGBTQ characters feel like they were inserted into the story just to meet some quota (and thus, tend to have no storyline of their own and/or get killed off quickly).
  • Anyone CLAIMS anyone else.
  • Characters have MATES. (You know, unless they are wolves. Then it’s okay).
  • Any growling occurs. (Again, unless it’s wolves…)

I guess I’d better stop there… Okay, so what are some of your pet peeves in popular books? And what new and different tropes would you like to see?

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!

CROWN OF ICE Release Day!

 

Today — Tuesday, May 9th — the second edition of CROWN OF ICE comes out, now published by Snowy Wings Publishing!

There’s not only a gorgeous new cover and formatting, but also some revised content.

Right now, the eBook is available to download for free if you can access Kindle Unlimited — only $2.99 otherwise.  The paperback is $8.99.

Buy your copy here:  Amazon

 

 

 

 

Snow Queen Thyra Winther is immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.

Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. She kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time melting away she needs all the help she can steal.

A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles.

Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s love, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could prove her ultimate undoing.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” CROWN OF ICE is set in a nineteenth-century Scandinavia where magic is as real, as dangerous, and as powerful, as war and love.

 

 

#CoverReveal for CROWN OF ICE & SCEPTER OF FIRE frm @SnowyWingsPub

Welcome to the cover reveal for the first two books in my Mirror of Immortality series — CROWN OF ICE and SCEPTER OF FIRE. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, the series is set in a nineteenth-century Scandinavia where magic is as real, as dangerous, and as powerful, as war and love.

Both books will be published by Snowy Wings Publishing in May — CROWN on May 9th and SCEPTER on May 23rd.

The covers were designed by Deranged Doctor Design. I love these covers so much!  They perfectly capture the tone of each book while also working as a series.

So, without further ado, here are the covers…

Snow Queen Thyra Winther is immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.

Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. She kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time melting away she needs all the help she can steal.

A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles.

Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s love, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could prove her ultimate undoing.

Preorder eBook on Amazon!

She’s the ugly duckling in a family of swans. But Varna Lund is determined to live a life that matters.

Ridiculed by the young men of her village, Varna vows she’ll become the finest healer in the land. The skills she’s learned from her ancient mentor prove vital when she encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who deserted the battlefield to carry an injured friend to safety. Aided by her sister Gerda, she cares for the soldiers in secret.

When betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, Varna encounters her former mentor—now revealed as the sorcerer, Sten Rask. Seeking an enchanted mirror that offers unlimited power, Rask appears determined to seduce Varna to his side.

To protect their country, Varna and her companions form an alliance with a former Snow Queen, a scholar, and an enchantress. But when Rask tempts her with beauty and power, Varna’s heart becomes a battlefield. Caught between loyalty to her companions and a man whose kisses ignite a fire on her lips, Varna must choose—embrace her own desires, or fight for a society that’s always spurned her.

Preorder eBook on Amazon!

You can also add both books to your Goodreads TBR now!

CROWN OF ICE

SCEPTER OF FIRE

 

 

Welcome to 2017 — The Year of BOOKS!

I am dubbing 2017 “The Year of Books” because I will be releasing at least 4 books in 2017!

THE LIGHT FROM OTHER SUNS will release in March, and its sequel, THE DARK OF OTHER SKIES in April from White Tulip Press. These are Book One and Book Two in THE OTHERS scifi trilogy.

CROWN OF ICE (2nd, revised ed.) will be published by Snowy Wings Publishing in early May, and its sequel, SCEPTER OF FIRE, in late May. These are Book One and Book Two in THE MIRROR OF IMMORTALITY fantasy trilogy.

I may also release a new version of FACSIMILE in late 2017 or early 2018, so stay tuned for more information on that.

Of course, I plan to write more books as well — including the third book in THE OTHERS trilogy, THE ECHO OF OTHER EARTHS, and the third book in THE MIRROR OF IMMORTALITY series, ORB OF LIGHT. My goal is to release both of those books in 2018.

I have a few more writing projects planned as well — including completing my YA Fantasy, THE DIAMOND THIMBLE, and perhaps another cozy mystery under my penname, Victoria Gilbert.

So, for me, 2017 will definitely be a year for the books!

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! Here’s to much joy and success in the next year!

 

 

SNOWY WINGS DECEMBER CHALLENGE!

Each day, I will post something based on a question.

It could be a tidbit about me, or my writing.

Or a picture, or a memory, or any number of things.

So get ready to follow along on the adventure!

You can also check out my fellow authors’ posts on FB and Twitter by following the hashtag #SnowyWingsChallenge .

snowy-banner

To find out more about this new publishing co-op, please check THIS LINK.

If you want to JOIN IN THE FUN — here are the questions!  Just use the #SnowyWingsChallenge to post your answers on FB and Twitter.

snowy-wings-challenge

 

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: http://lindseyduga.com/

Richard Taylor Pearson: http://www.richardtpearson.com/

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):

THE LIGHT FROM OTHER SUNS — Book One in THE OTHERS trilogy:

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

CROWN OF ICE — Book One in THE MIRROR OF IMMORTALITY series:

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).

THE DARK OF OTHER SKIES — Book Two in THE OTHERS trilogy:

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

SCEPTER OF FIRE —  Book Two in THE MIRROR OF IMMORTALITY series:

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.