Once upon a time, there was a writer. At first her imagination blossomed and her ideas flowed, heady and thick. Later her inspiration faded. Stories grew faint. Themes thinned with repetition. Plotlines snarled. Characters stared vacantly at each other, incapable of finding anything to say.
Once upon a time. Once upon a time. Once upon a time there was a princess. A tree. An evil sorcerer. Words dried inside her pen, clogging the ink until the only sound was only the scratch of empty plastic against paper.
Outside the window clouds hang heavy in the sky. Outside the window the temperature sinks toward winter. Outside the window there are groceries to shop for, weeds to pull, and spreadsheets to balance. Inside, the TV babbles its incessant spell, bellies grumble for dinner, laundry wrinkles in untidy piles.
Once upon a time the murderer struck, the lovers quarreled, the spaceship lifted, an owl hooted its lonely call across the velvet night.
The dog sighs at her feet, hoping for a walk. The phone pings at her side, announcing new messages. An ache blooms in her elbow, demanding better ergonomics.
Once upon a time.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
Recently, I have been making lists. A lot of lists. I have lists with things to buy, things to do, things to research, things to decide. Lists organized by type of task, by target date, and by importance. Making lists is an excellent organizational tool and making lists is, by far, my preferred method of procrastination.
Self-Publishing might mean I have total control over the process, but it also means I have a lot to learn. With REWIND and UNLEASHED, my main focus was on making the writing shine. Now, besides the editing part, I have to (get to?) tackle all the other things that go into turning a manuscript into a book. There are tons of helpful guides out there in the cyber world but it’s still pretty overwhelming. I keep stumbling on answers to questions I didn’t know I was supposed to ask, and falling down rabbit holes of research that leave me more confused than enlightened.
I won’t bore you with my lists. I will share what I’ve managed to accomplish, starting with what I originally thought would be my biggest concern when I tackled self-publishing: printing and distribution.
Ironically, it turns out printing and distribution are pretty straightforward. There are choices to make, sure, but there aren’t that many. I’m going with industry Big Dogs and using a hybrid model so I’ll publish with both Amazon and IngramSpark. I’ll do a blog later on costs, but suffice to say that these two companies will create actual paper and e-book versions of RECKLESS, and they will ship them out to either individuals (Amazon) or bookstores (IngramSpark). Not that RECKLESS is likely to be in any bookstores. Bookshelf space is precious, fleeting, and rarely held by self-published titles. My goal in sharing the job with IngramSpark is so that anyone who walks into a bookstore will be able to order my book—and also to not have my entire sales fate tied up in the Amazon algorithm.
In our print-on-demand world, printing is also really fast. Or it will be once I upload the book. Which I can do after I finish editing it. And choosing fonts. And formatting. And having a cover, a blurb for the back of the book, two ISBN numbers (every format—electronic, paper, hardback, audio—gets its own ISBN), a book summary, a tag line . . . see? Lists! I need more lists!
I never planned, nor ever wanted, to self-publish a book. In fact, I admit to being a snob and a bit smug about my status as a traditionally published author. Or I was. All that imploded when the publisher of my first two books (REWIND and UNLEASHED) told me over the summer that they were going to cancel my contract for the final book in the trilogy due to disappointing sales. I’ll spare you the details of my devastation and just say August wasn’t my best month in a year that already ranked pretty low.
After spending a while licking my wounds—and ignoring the whole thing by working on the first draft of a completely different novel—I decided it mattered to me that all three books were out in the world. My fan base may be limited, but I still don’t want to disappoint them, and I really, really want Alex’s story to be complete. Besides, the whole book was actually written, and I had a detailed editorial letter from my very apologetic editor. No new publisher was going to pick up the third book in a trilogy (especially one with unimpressive sales), which meant that the only option for me if I wanted the book to exist was self-publishing.
So here I am, dipping my toe into waters that I never meant to swim, and working very hard not to feel overwhelmed. This blog is both a response to curious friends who have asked me to share what I learn, and a prod to make sure I keep up with my own goals, the primary one being to meet the book’s originally scheduled release date of May 2021. I invite you to tag along, ask questions, offer advice, and/or witness the birth of my newest literary baby, the culmination of the REWIND saga: RECKLESS.
In the pandemic there is pandemonium. Except there isn’t. Mostly there is boredom. Some of us keep working through erratic remote access. Others are left abruptly unemployed. Many of us share awkward conference calls and unflattering video ones. Some scramble through days gone harried, trying to function while keeping six feet apart. We all sit, isolated, scrolling through social media, watching Netflix, and drinking too much wine.
At least that is the story we tell each other.
The truth is more complex. Our boredom is freighted with fear. We wash our hands, prepare meals, eat, and wash our hands again. We don't sleep well. The familiar scenery outside the door simmers with threat. Our plans have evaporated and the future stretches blank and unknown, its edges a hazy horizon. We are locked down with our nearest and dearest, some of whom turn out to be too near and less dear than we’d hoped.
What is left? The confines of our mind are not always a pretty places.
It snowed today. When I woke at 5:30 the porch was speckled with white chips of ice and by 7:00 the entire yard was covered with cold white. Overnight, the last annuals lost their lingering green, leaving behind only empty branches, curled and brown. The house is very quiet. The dog isn’t snoring in Ryan’s bed, the sound of her nails doesn’t clack against the hardwood floor. They’ve grown quickly recently, her nails, as if making up for all the other ways her body is failing.
Scribbles are thoughts, musings, stories, and poems. Scribbles are inconsistently added, quick, short, and (hopefully!) fun.