This month marks the publication of my fourth and fifth books – one under Stephanie Tyler called Beyond His Control and the other called Unleashing The Storm under Sydney Croft, the pen-name I co-write under with Larissa Ione.
And I’ve learned a few things since getting the call. For one thing, every book is harder to write than the one before it. I recently had an aspiring writer – a solider working on his memoirs from Iraq – ask me if writing ever got any easier.
My words of wisdom were – you get better but it never gets easier.
Or, at least it shouldn’t. And by that, I mean, you have to try to grow with every book you write. I’ll admit that writing Unleashing The Storm with Larissa was the easiest book writing experience ever. Beyond His Control, my 3rd Harlequin Blaze, was the hardest book I’d ever written to that point.
I say that because, having written 3 books and a novella since then, my current book is currently kicking my ass. I know I’ll look back and see that it was a good thing, but right now, I’m calling in chocolate for backup.
But today, I’m not going to talk about the writing side of writing – I’m going to tell you the three important things I’ve learned about what happens when your books begin to hit the shelves.
The first is that total strangers will most likely be far more excited with the fact that you’re a writer than your family will ever be, especially after the bloom is off the rose after the publication of the first book. I have a feeling a large part of this has to do with the fact that the general public doesn’t see me in my pajamas glued to my computer and ignoring everything around me. But there’s no excuse for my extended family. I guess I liken it to the fact that everywhere we go, people seem fascinated by the fact that my husband works for The Weather Channel – it’s like he’s some kind of celebrity, with people confessing, it’s my favorite – I love The Weather Channel to him. And I’m like, dude, he works in sales… and when I call him, he doesn’t even know what the weather is.
So yes, keep in mind that while your family might love and support you, it is the total strangers who will treat you like a rock star. Thank goodness for total strangers.
The second is that, if anyone in your family publishes a book on demand, every member of your family will own copies of that book and only a handful of those same family members will buy yours. And if they do buy it, the few that read it will say things like, your husband’s a lucky man. Which leads me to number three…
The third is that, if you write romance, your family and close friends may, in fact automatically assume that every love scene is autobiographical – even if they involve people who aren’t actually human. And then they will say things like, I had to put it down because I couldn’t stop thinking about you.
Yes, you can stop and have an EWWWWWWWW moment along with me.
I’ve been an avid reader my entire life and never ever once have I confused the author with the characters in the book. In fact, in a recent interview, someone asked me which character was most like me and that question took me hours to answer, because that’s how little my characters are like me.
I guess it could be worse. Recently, a friend of mine (non-writer) said that her cousin published a book. She bought it and read it and found that it was a thinly veiled account of her cousin’s life (in real life, cousin is a traveling salesman and basketball coach, in book, the lead character is traveling salesman and basketball coach.)
But what horrified my friend was that, in the book, the lead character is also a serial killer, murdering people when he goes out on his sales calls and then returning home to live a normal life with his family and coaching the team.
I told my friend she should be worried if her cousin suddenly shows up for a visit – and I told her to tell him that she adored the book.
So really, I guess I can see why in that case, people might confuse you with your characters. But it’s not like I write heroines sitting around in their pajamas typing all day when suddenly there’s a knock on the door and a traveling team of SEALs shows up…
Oh, sorry – got to go…there was just a knock on my door 🙂
**And please note that I love and adore my family and friends, extended and otherwise, and the content of this blog contains nothing I haven’t spoken about with them in person. When I’m not busy with the SEALs…