Sunday, July 19, 2015

I LOVE When People Say My Book is Scaring Them and Other Confessions

I have sat down to start reading, Cyn Balog's Touched at least six different times since I'm picked it up from the library last week.  A perfectly good book, I assume, gripping, well written and exciting. A perfect two day distraction and yet life keeps tearing me away.  I haven't gotten to page two, even though I have every intention to.

One of the six times that I tried to start reading I got on Facebook instead where I scrolled to this gem,

And I was having a full circle moment, Oprah calls them Aha moments according to my mom, but basically, Harlow 3 was released last week, and I have been promoting it. Writing and selling books is nothing like another product.  It's a very long game. I mean just think about it, once you sell a book you still have to wait for the person to read it and then wait for them to tell someone that they did so, and then hope that they liked it and that's really the most effective way to advertise a book.  You need a fandom.  So releasing a book is always excitement meets self esteem roller coaster for me.  I go through the jubilation of selling a book, to the despair that they may hate it or worse never even read it.

But then after reading Junot Diaz's quote I understand that I will not stop writing and more importantly I don't write for fame and fandoms.  Especially when I have moments in life where I can't even start reading a book.  In short it's not personal.  This led to a few other things that I need to confess...

Even though I don't write because I hope someone will read it, it feels really good when someone does.  There are times when someone will say that my writing was scary and I am elated!  My words evoked emotions, and not just any emotion, but fear an emotion that resonates.  I didn't write Harlow to be scary, but then again there is a lot of scary stuff in there.  A young woman battling her way to answers, both internal and external. That's scary and it makes you have to ask yourself, why?  The very idea that my ramblings made someone do that makes me feel like I don't care if one more person ever reads my work.  (See what I mean about the self-esteem roller coaster?)

That's was my weekend, and I'm going to publish this and then read Touched.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SXSW: Is Cheating on Your Work a Real Thing? Shannon Barczak & Val Day-Sanchez Hash It Out

After a brief break, Shannon and I are back with our joint articles!!!  I missed her deeply and so this week when I emailed her it was kismet, as it so often is with the two of us.  We each had a few ideas for a topic to blog about and they were very similar (seriously I think she lives in my head, weird and a tad creepy I know, if I haven't lost you yet, read on I promise it gets better/less weird).  We decided to talk about something that we're both going through, juggling multiple writing projects.

I know that both Shannon and I, like most writers perhaps, have written the majority of their lives.  However they don't get to pursue it full time, it's a hobby until it make you money right?  That's the society a lot of us grew up in?  Writing is something we love but could never dedicate the time to it that it truly deserved.  A little over 5 years ago I decided to do just that.  I was lucky to have the opportunity that was becoming a stay-at-home mom to an infant. It provided a work schedule all of its own doing but I got to write again and after I finished my manuscript I was determined to publish it.  And when I told people about it, it was described as a "once and lifetime experience." But then, I had started a trilogy, I had never planned on once.  I didn't let myself, I completely ripped the option from the table.  I was going to be a full-time writer.  And so in the beginning I could never conceive of multiple projects I was just so happy to be able to write. To make sense of my life; what it had been, what it was becoming that I was still feeling lucky.

Then Harlow was released.  Others were reading about her. The second book, when I asked for it, was hard-coming so I changed my life's course again.  And when things had worked themselves out, I wrote the second book in three months, with ease.  But it had come clamoring through me, a mind of its own, I had no time to doubt. I wrote as if no one would ever see it.

Book 3 began the same way because we were going home, me and my characters knew who they were and what they wanted so again I didn't ask for it, it appeared on the page, every line, every sentence.  Even when I edited, it finished my thoughts.

As Book three was seemingly flowing through my fingers Lucas Saavadra had showed up, said without much bossiness but full of confidence, that he was the protagonist of my first standalone novel.  How could I deny it?  I was going to write a book that I had no idea about except this singular character???  The moment I ignored it, went to back Book 3 to edit or complete it.  (An emotional wreck because it was over). I would have these conversations with Lucas and every time I tried to write it...It was garbage, nonsensical first draft ugliness.

I can't be surprised that is how the entire project went.  So when I was finally publishing Harlow 3 Threshold was coming to a close.  But there lies the question.  Is it fair?

Are you cheating on your work?  I'll let you know after I edit Threshold next week...

Because I think it's freakin awesome we both put out books this Month Both On Amazon:


Here's what Shannon had to say:

It's always difficult to brainstorm for articles with Val. We always have so many ideas and we are always on the same page that it is hard to pick just one. I have had several questions running through my mind lately and I recently asked one to a Facebook group for Indie Authors. It was fairly simple, but the answers I received were astounding.
I wanted to know what other authors thought about editing one book and writing another book at the same time. It turned into an extremely interesting forum because the more responses I got, the more insight I gained into the mind of fellow writers.
I almost had to laugh because it started to feel like a pissing contest. I had a few that answered right away and one of them them mirrored my thoughts that it almost feels like your cheating on one book if you write another.
I mentioned that I also think it's important to take time in between each project and I was almost scoffed at, but not in an unfriendly way. The conversations were cordial, supportive and helpful, but again, I couldn't help feel that everyone was trying to one up another.
One woman has four different books in various stages of production. She wrote that if you want to publish several books in a year then you have to work all the time. There were several other individuals that made similar statements.
I had an uncomfortable thought though, and it is one that I did not share because I did not want to seem rude, but if you're focused on so many different books that you're writing, can you really be churning out decent stories at such a fast pace?
Now, I have to be honest, I can't imagine writing three or four different stories at once. When I write, I become deeply involved with my characters and their situations. The thought of even trying to disassociate myself from one book to another is impossible for me.
If I do have an idea for another story then I make notes so I can reference it later, but I have never even attempted to try and start another book when I am writing.
One man mentioned that it is possible to edit one book and write another at the same time, but it requires discipline and I agree. I think it easier to do that when you are writing a series and I have done it before with The Fae Witch Series.
I also vowed not to do that again, but here I am starting on book two of The Hidden Realm Series, The Fairyland Queen, while I wait for The Fairy Door to come back from my editor.
I have to be honest at the end of the discussion thread I almost felt an amateur loser, but then I realized something. We are all in the same boat. We're all Indie authors trying to make our way in this tough world and we have to be on top of our game all the time.
We are the writer, the publisher, the promoter, and all those different hats have to be presented, as well as, articulated whenever we have that chance.
I do believe that each person that responded wanted me to know that it was possible to do several different aspects of writing at once, but I also feel that they were in a way promoting their abilities.
I was envious of the lot, I must say. There are some truly talented authors out there, but at the end of the day I need to do what's best for me.
I tip my cap off to those that can achieve so much in a short amount of time. I know that I will never be able to write three or four different books at once. When I start something I need to finish it before I can move forward.
I have no interest in creating and writing several different characters, and stories because I feel that my characters deserve my full attention. Their story is important and one I must tell with every attention to detail, as well as, with my heart.
I've accepted that I will never be the kind of writer that publishes seven or eight books a year. I'm honest with the fact that I suck at promoting, and I have no interest in a Pulitzer.
I write for me. The stories I tell are what I want to read. Writing is not about making money, it's about being able to express your creativity. I wish I could be more driven, but I can't and frankly I don't want too.
Again, I applaud you authors who are cranking books out left and right. I am amazed by the way some of you can compartmentalize different stories and characters at once.

Writing is my passion and if it ever started to feel like noose around my neck then I would probably stop publishing my stories. I know that the lure of fame and fortune can cloud your judgment as you type and edit furiously, but isn't the process of writing enough to make your soul enriched with a deep sense of creative joy?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I promised you all a big announcement and here it is:  The covers for the Harlow Whittaker Trilogy have been redesigned by the very talented and funny Whytnie McDonald!  The old covers will always been something that is close to my heart because they were the first images that were on the first two books that I ever published so that is still quite a big deal.  The new covers are epic and tell a story all of their own so if you ask which I like more it's like asking me to choose between my two children.  I love them each but I'm very excited to introduce you to the new cover artist Whytnie, who I forced to answer interview questions.  Sidenote:  As a writer I love blogging, it allows me express myself in a more honest and freeing way without characters and plot and all that good stuff, but I realize artist get that sort of satisfaction from drawing or painting so Whytnie thank you for obliging and allowing us a little peak into your process.

My Questions will appear in black while Whyt's responses will be in green

Tell us a little about yourself.  Did you always want to be an artist?  What brought you to drawing/creating?  Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. I moved to Southeast New Mexico about five years ago.  I am married with two ferrets and a cat. Think I was always destined to be an artist. I started drawing at age 3 and haven’t stopped yet. 

What is your favorite medium?   My favorite medium will always be pencil, but in the last few years I’ve been really getting into digital painting. I paint on the iPad using a nomad brush and art apps Artrage and Procreate.

Who/what has it influenced your art?  My biggest influence growing up was my grandma. She always pushed me to do my best and to pursue my passion for art. She passed away when I was fifteen but I will never forget everything she did to encourage my love for art.

What is your favorite piece you have created, and why?  One of my favorite pieces I have ever done is a portrait of my aunt and uncle. He passed away about a year and a half ago. I did the drawing as a tribute, which was displayed at his funeral service. Drawing that was my final way of saying goodbye and paying respects to a great uncle, whom I was close to.  

Tell us a bit about how you came to draw the covers.  Where did your idea for the covers originate?  I came up with the book cover ideas after reading the books, and learning about the main characters. The first cover is of Harlow Whittaker. I keep her appearance aloof so that my depiction of what she looks like wouldn’t be imposed on the reader. The theme is dark since she travels to different places in her sleep. Second cover is of the Archers who protect Harlow through her journey. The last book is the villains, the shadow reapers, dark creatures with snake eyes, wearing a tattered robe.

What inspires you?  What inspires me? I would have to say people and life.

Can you describe your process?  Do you just sit down and draw whatever you want or do you have a set routine? I don’t really have a set routine for drawing. Whenever I feel inspired I draw. I do draw every day. 

What is your dream for your artwork?  My dream is to turn my passion into a career. Getting my work into a gallery is defiantly a goal of mine.

To see more of Whytnie McDonald's work check her out on Instagram, @boss1688

Look for the final installment of the Trilogy Coming THIS WEEK!