An Author’s Sacrifice

Right now I’m in one of those steady, happy routines. Nothing huge is going on (at least not writing related) and I’m working on a new book, promoting Honey Butter, cooking, reading, and enjoying the coming of fall.

There are always new challenges, of course, one of which is balancing both promotion and writing. I’ve been managing homeschool and writing for a long time, (Plus, when you’re homeschooled your work only takes about as long as you want it to) but adding promotion has taken some getting used too. This is partly because it’s not in any way predictable. Sometimes it means replying to emails or writing informational blog posts. Sometimes it means googling ‘book review blogs’ and sifting through the results or going to award websites and reading through their submission guidelines.

My current writing projects are going pretty well. I’m hoping to finish the first draft of the new fantasy book I’m writing over the next few months. And I’m seventy-five percent done with the book of poems I’m writing.

But away, let’s get to the point of this blog post.

I envy my readers. Not in a bad way, but more of a wistful ‘oh well’ way.

The reason for this is that I can never read my book, and they can. I don’t mean that I am literally unable to read the words, but I can never really read it. I’ve analyzed this story to the breaking point, I always know what’s going to happen next, I’m pretty sure that if I tried I could recite some passages from memory.

I will never be surprised by the plot twist, never caught off guard by something a character says, never wonder ‘what happens next?’. I will never be able to sit down and experience it the way a normal reader would because I’m not the reader.

I guess that’s just the sacrifice an author has to make to bring a story to life. But you know what’s great? Actually, there are several great things;

  1. Other people can experience it.

Dear readers; never take for granted your ability to read and truly experience a book, because the author of that book cannot. This is crazy to think about, but it’s true. Think of all your favorite authors and their amazing books, then realize; they can’t read that amazing book the same way you can! But to give the world a story, and to give you a story, makes it totally worth it.

2. There is more than one author in the world.

Even if I can’t read my own book, there are millions of books out there, and new ones keep on coming. I have a forest of pages before me, all of them ready to explore…

Well, those are my disorganized musings for the day, and I hope you found them interesting. With all the promotion work I’ve been doing, hopefully, there will be some reviews and interviews coming out before too much longer. When they do come out I’ll set up a page here so you can read them if you want. In the meantime…

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

Release Party Recap

This post is a bit overdue,  but I wanted to give you guys a quick recap of the book release party. It was amazing!

The night before the party, my mom and I made a cake that looked like the paint card on the cover of my book.

The afternoon of the book signing, we pulled all the snacks and supplies together, got everyone into the car, and drove to King City Books. We did a little setting up, and then people started coming.

The rest of the evening passed in a flash. At least thirty people showed up! And honestly, I can not thank them enough, the support was amazing! My mom and I were worried we would run out of cake, but actually, we ran out of books! We sold out of Honey Butter copies about halfway through the event.

It’s fun, and kind of weird, to sign your books for people. I practiced my signature a lot before the event.

Fall is almost here. Leaves change color, the air cools. It’s the season for apples and pumpkins and soup and baked things. I think my next book might take place in fall. I’ve started working on it recently, and it’s very refreshing to start something new. I love Honey Butter; it’s a sweet story and will always be important to me,  but I’m a fantasy writer at heart. I’m ready to write about magic and forests and adventure. I haven’t been working too seriously or with a goal in mind, on my next book, but I have been writing it, and that’s always a step in the right direction.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

Published at Last . . .

Well… Honey Butter is published.
I guess when you boil that down it means two main things:

 

  1.  You can read it.
  2. I can start a new story.

Both of which are equally hard to wrap my brain around.

If you love reading then you know it’s not just understanding what the words on the page mean. It’s immersing yourself in an entirely new world. Becoming friends with characters that make you laugh, wince, and cry just like real life friends. It’s seeing things a totally new way. A way that makes you think long and hard about the world around you. A good book isn’t just words on a page. In the words of Ray Bradbury:

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

A good book does that. Whether or not my book is a good book I am not in the place to judge. That’s your, the reader’s,  job. But now that it’s published, the readers can do their job. And if my book is good, will it ‘stitch the patches of the universe together’?

It’s a terrifying and wonderful thought. That something you wrote could do something or impact someone in this world. Whether it actually will or not you can’t really know. All you can do is keep writing, which brings us to the second thing.

What am I going to write next?

As strange as it may sound, I’ve never been able to ask myself this question before. Until now I’ve always written until I got sick of the story I was writing, and by that time I had another story idea I was burning to write. So there’s never been any question what I was going to write next. Now I’m faced with the choice between two or three story ideas that I’ve had for a while. So while I’m deciding on those maybe right now it would be best to take a break from writing and promote my book. Now that my first book is published a lot will be going on around here…

 

Keep an eye out for giveaways and events! If you subscribe to my newsletter then you’ll get notified whenever a new one pops up. (What? You knew I’d be putting that in here somewhere.)

If you would like to buy a copy of Honey Butter I would be very grateful. Below are the links to places where you can buy it.

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Kindle

Thanks so much to everyone who helped and encouraged me along this journey! And, as always…

KEEP WRITING!

See you soon!
– Millie

Own Your Words: How to Deal with Being Embarrassed by Your Old Writing

Hey, guys! So. I’m doing something a little different this time. Updates on my book will be in the next post, but for now, enjoy! I hope my advice helps you out!

Rejection is a big topic in the writing world.

Getting over the fear of your writing being rejected. Rejected by your friends, family, publishers, critics, etcetera. But I think there’s another kind of rejection not touched on quite as much. And that’s being rejected by yourself.

I’m not really talking about what you’re writing now. We know our writing isn’t perfect when we write it, but as authors, we usually get over it. We have to if we ever want someone else to read it. But that’s a different topic.
What I’m talking about are past writings. Past stories, books, and poetry.

Because obviously, whether you are twelve or twenty-one, your writing improves over time. And before long, what you wrote a year ago seems pretty terrible compared to what you’re writing now. And when you get to the point when your past writing feels terrible, often authors start a writing re-call.
If you posted that old story online: You take it down.
If you self-published it: you take it down.
If you gave a copy to a friend: you get it back and throw it away.
If it’s a draft: You completely re-write it.
Sometimes, if it’s really old, you might delete it entirely. (Do NOT do this. Ever. Seriously, you will regret it.)

Inside, you are cringing with embarrassment, and hoping that no one you showed your story to will remember it.

I’m not saying that this isn’t a valid feeling, it is. I’ve felt it too. But if writing is your passion, and especially if you want to make it your profession someday, then there’s something you need to consider.

Every author ever feels this way. And I’m not just talking teen writers and self-publishers. I mean everyone.
I once asked a traditionally published author I know: “Do you ever feel embarrassed by your book?”
His answer: “Yep. Every single day.”
And I’m willing to bet he’s not the only one.

Think of all your favorite authors’ names. J K Rowling, Kate Dicamillo, J R R Tolkien, C S Lewis, and Shakespeare. I bet that they all looked back on their books, the ones you love, the ones you read over and over again, and cringe.
Actually, I don’t need to bet. I know. Here’s what Stephen King said about re-reading one of his older books.

“…As a result, I was not surprised to find a high degree of pretension in Roland’s debut appearance (not to mention what seemed like thousands of unnecessary adverbs).”

But what would have happened if they started a writing re-call? Can you imagine “Harry Potter” or “The Lord of the Rings” Disappearing from the market because the author was too embarrassed?

But I’m not as good a writer as them! You might be saying.
Okay, maybe you’re not. I think we can agree that very few of us could match their writing quality. But when it comes to embarrassment, writing quality doesn’t matter; all writers go through the same struggle, no matter how good their books are.

And please don’t say that nobody really cares about your writing. They do. Even if only three people ever read your books, those are three intricate, unique, wonderful individuals, with lives as complicated as your own. And they chose your story out of millions.

Don’t deny your readers the gift of your imagination because you’re too embarrassed by your story. You are your worst critic, and will always judge yourself the harshest.

Here’s something else that the author I know said.

“Millie, someday you realize, you’re going to feel embarrassed about your writing. You may even think it’s terrible. I don’t think of it that way, I think it’s really good. But you probably will, because it’s a sign you’re getting better at writing. Just remember, at some point in life, you have to own your words. You have to acknowledge that ‘this is what I believed at the time, this is what I said at the time, this was my best at the time, and I’m okay with that.’”

But my story is really bad! You might be saying.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever take your writing down. (My policy is that original writing stays, but I can do what I want with fan fiction.) But here’s another piece of advice from Mr. King, also talking about re-reading one of his old books.

“In any case, I didn’t want to muzzle or even really change the way this story is told; for all its faults, it has its own special charms, it seems to me. To change it too completely would have been to repudiate the person who first wrote of the gunslinger in the late spring and early summer of 1970, and that I did not want to do.”

So. Be true to your former self, and don’t scorn them. Own your words. It may be hard (just like owning this overly dramatic sentence will be for me) but we’ve got to do it.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

Book Recommendations

Hello there!

Looking for something to read? Well, I have few recommendations for you! These following books are some of my favorites. I hope you enjoy!

Spilling Ink – By Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter (Nonfiction)
Summary: After receiving letters from fans asking for writing advice, accomplished authors Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter joined together to create this guidebook for young writers. The authors mix inspirational anecdotes with practical guidance on how to find a voice, develop characters and plot, make revisions, and overcome writer’s block. Fun writing prompts will help young writers jump-start their own projects, and encouragement throughout will keep them at work.

A Little Princess – By Francis  Hodgson Burnett
Summary: Sara Crewe, falls upon hard times at an English boarding school when her father suddenly dies. Left penniless and at the mercy of a vindictive headmistress, Sara manages — despite a multitude of adversities — to maintain her optimistic outlook and usual goodness, qualities that do not go unnoticed by a mysterious benefactor who eventually transforms her life.

The Mysterious Benedict Society – By Trenton Lee Stewart
Summery: “Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?”
When this peculiar ad appears in the newspaper, dozens of children enroll to take a series of mysterious, mind-bending tests. (And you, dear reader, can test your wits right alongside them.) But in the end just four very special children will succeed. Their challenge: to go on a secret mission that only the most intelligent and resourceful children could complete. To accomplish it they will have to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.
As our heroes face physical and mental trials beyond their wildest imaginations, they have no choice but to turn to each other for support. But with their newfound friendship at stake, will they be able to pass the most important test of all?
Welcome to the Mysterious Benedict Society.

The Penderwicks – By Jeanne Birdsall
Summary: Meet the Penderwicks, four different sisters with one special bond. There’s responsible, practical Rosalind; stubborn, feisty Skye; dreamy, artistic Jane; and shy little sister Batty, who won’t go anywhere without her butterfly wings.
When the girls and their doting father head off for their summer holiday, they’re in for a surprise.  Instead of the tumbledown cottage they expected, they find themselves on a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon the girls are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the most wonderful discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.

Flora and Ulysses – By Kate DiCamillo
Summary: It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences.
The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie