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Shiloh Walker

Deadline Hell and Writer Life

A few years ago, when I’d first gotten on twitter, I recall reading a tweet from a big name author.  We’ll just call her BNA.

She’d posted something along the lines of…

FINALLY! Finished my book.  Beat the deadline and now…I can take a fricking bath and relax…

I didn’t think much of it, although, admittedly, I kind of rolled my eyes.  I typically beat deadlines by several months (or at that point, I had) and I take a long hot soak whenever I want.  Ahhh…the arrogance of youth. (Or somebody who hadn’t quite gotten used to heavy deadlines…)

While I rolled my eyes at what I perceived was overly dramatic, some of her followers took some potshots. She had a lot–still does.  She got harassed like crazy for that simple tweet.  A bunch of people were like…

What…you don’t take baths when you’re working?

For some reason, that rubbed me wrong although I didn’t say anything about it.

But I get what she was saying now.

For the past few months, I’ve been working under deadlines that have all but obliterated my ‘relax’ time.  I force myself to squeeze it in and I still take time off on the weekends.  My family is more important than any book and I’m not going to work and never see them, but the health problems I’ve been having have just eaten away at my life, making me run late, ask for extra time, taking away time that I would usually put in on side projects or…yanno…read.  Take long baths. Relax.

Even when I try to relax, it doesn’t happen.

There’s this weird thing with being a writer–and I think it’s something that a lot of creatives deal with the same thing–but you don’t leave your job. Ever.  When I was in nursing, once I punched out, I was done.  I didn’t have to work again until I got back to work the next day. But when you’re a writer, you don’t get to ‘punch out’ of the story. It’s always there.  Your brain is constantly working at some angle or a character and it doesn’t ever shut down. There is always another story looking to be discovered or created, more characters waiting. The writing is always spinning something around around and your brain just doesn’t stop.

You’ve got a brain that’s constantly humming along at 70 mph, even when you sleep. It’s…interesting.

When you’re on deadline, it ramps up to 100mph, 120…140…200…O.O. And sometimes, you feel like this might actually happen if you have even one more thing to do…

writer life

Sitting in that bath tub sounds like a simple thing, but while we’re doing it, the story is already inside our head, eating us up and for all I know, if I sit down long enough to relax, some crucial piece will slip away.

Then my head might really explode. It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re stuck in deadline hell.  Most things outside the basic necessities fade away-everybody’s basic necessities differ.  Mine are family, food, church, sleep…and sleep honestly is low on the totem pole. So is food half the time.

But beyond those four? Eesh. I might forget to take a shower if I wasn’t afraid my husband might kick me out of the bed.

An epic sort of weekend

I almost sold out of books. But if you’d like a signed copy, Turn The Page has these…

epic weekend, stock at TTP

I signed with this lady. Do you recognize her?

signing

If not, look at the books in front of her or click on this picture.  This is like… a romance writer’s dream.

And if that wasn’t enough…this lady bought my book and had me sign it to her. Cuz she likes me. Like…seriously.

Eloisa James

That’s Eloisa Frickin James…and she likes my books.  She had me sign it to her. Seriously

I just wanna swoon from all the happy.

When you get offered a contract…

getting published

Sometimes I get asked what’s the first thing a writer should do when they get offered a contract.

Besides dance. I mean, c’mon…you got offered a contract.  That’s cool, right?

Of course it is.

But after you get done dancing, if you don’t have an agent and have no desire to get one, find an attorney who specializes in contracts, preferably publishing contracts.  They exist. Contracts are getting more and more convuluted and they were never simple to begin with.

Typically, you can get a contract reviewed for about $250 and while that sounds painful, you’d rather spend that $250 than spend years wishing you hadn’t gotten it reviewed.

Once you get it reviewed, talk to the pubs about whatever suggested changes the lawyer suggested and there should be be some things.  The contract is a business agreement between you and the pub and while most of them are fair enough, the contract is going to be written to benefit the publisher more than you. The lawyer (or your agent) is there to make sure you get it to where it benefits you as much as possible.

And you might end up having the lawyer tell you to run like hell. If you do…run like hell. There are other publishers. There is self-publishing. Don’t get screwed over in your determination to get published. The internet is full of stories of authors who wished they’d paid better attention to those contracts.

One place to consider checking out for possibly sketchy publishers… Writer Beware.

No rest for the wicked

I finished up a side project and edits all within the past week.  My brain is tired.

The MartianI haven’t had a day off in over two months.  If it’s not writing, then it’s editing.

I decided today that I’d take a day off.

The monster and I went out to breakfast and then to see The Martian.  It was excellent.  Also, we went somewhere that had pumpkin french toast. That was also excellent.

Then we went to find him a tuxedo or a suit.  Used, mind you.

Why?  Well, he’s going to be Lurch for Halloween. His sisters will be Wednesday…(s). From the Addams family.

Later, I plan on going to church, then having a glass of scotch and vegging out. Tomorrow, I will dive back into work and probably start on Ruined, the next Wrecked book and work on Kit, and another short story and probably some side projects that have been keeping me busy.

Sometimes, though, have you to let your brain rest. I’m also planning on watching more of The Walking Dead (I’m a late comer there and I love it) and maybe snuggling up with my guy.

FYI, if you haven’t seen The Martian…go see it.

Trainwrecks, Writers and Storytellers

My kids and I were talking about writers and books and trainwrecks the other day.  Trainwrecks as in the kind of books that we sometimes find ourselves reading that we keep asking ourselves…why am I reading this….

Specifically, my kids and I got to talking about trainwrecks.

Let me explain what a trainwreck is…They are the books that riddled with plotholes or characters that just don’t make sense.  In romance, sometimes the hero is a total ass.  I don’t mean alphahole.  I mean an ass.  The heroine is BEYOND TSTL.  There are things tripping us up every other line.

And yet…these books can sell.  And sometimes, we love them.  It’s confusing.  I told my kids that I think I had the answer to this figureed out and it’s pretty simple.

I think, basically, there are three kinds of writers.  Now there are going to some variations and ‘subsets’, so to speak of these writers, but these are the ‘core’ types of writers.  Maybe the ‘archetypes’ of the writers out there.

You’ve got trainwrecks, writers and storytellers.

trainwrecks

The trainwrecks are the ones who can produce trashy crack.  It’s the why am I reading this…type of book. You can’t put it down.  You might want to, you might not.  Maybe it’s a ride on a rickety roller coaster and you’re loving it.  Or maybe it’s just a trainwreck and you want to look away and can’t.

You might even be one of those people who love trainwrecks.

The point is, that a trainwreck book is one that you know is flawed like hell but you can’t stop reading it.  Whether or not you’ll read another book by that author? Who knows.  Some trainwreck authors only have a few books in them and then they just…disappear. Some keep putting out trainwrecks and sometimes the writing improves, other times it doesn’t…the characters don’t grow, the stories don’t evolve.

You love them…until you don’t.

These writers don’t know much of anything about the craft of writing. Which is fine, because we all gotta start somewhere and we tend to start out crawling.

Of course, the key here is that you gotta start to walk at some point.

They never learn to walk, per se. They don’t try to grow their craft.

Writers

Writers probably make up the biggest group.  They can tell a story.  That story may hold your interest, but you may or may not go back and buy more from them.

More, they tend to improve over time.

Some may be bigger names, some of them may be smaller names…some may never even get published.

But they try to grow. They either consciously or unconsciously work to improve and their stories get better.

Storytellers

These are the magicmakers.  In my book, these are the people like Lynn Viehl, Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh and some of my newest favorites… Peter Clines and Marc Greaney.

They have it down and a lot of them just come by it naturally.  That doesn’t mean they don’t work at it, because they absolutely do, but I think there is an inborn gift for storytelling that some people just have.

They have it…and they work.  If you have that talent and then you push yourself, you create a story that is just magic.

Storytellers have that cracktastic appeal that a lot of the trainwreckers do, but they also understand the craft of writing and they work to improve.

They left crawling and walking behind a long time ago–they were probably born to fly.

These are the storytellers.

So… that was the dinner conversation a few days ago.  And that was one of the more normal ones.  You should hear us when we talk about things like… what if everything was made of strawberries…

RT Wrap up

Honestly, I dunno how thorough this will be because my brain is mush from RT.  I do remember some things…

 

I stalked Larissa.  I saw copies of Reaver.  Dear Larissa…why don’t I have Reaver? (I thought I saw Revenant but it was Reaver)

I had beignets and cafe au lait and regular coffee will never taste the same.

Again, why don’t I have Reaver?    ETA: Sad sigh. The REV threw me.  I want REVENANT and I thought I saw it.

I saw Ilona & Gordon Andrews and I heard after I’d gone there were BURN FOR ME samplers, so I was sad.

My ankle, which I’d hurt a while back, was killing me by day 2, and I limped off and on (more on than off as the con went on).

Again, why don’t I have Reaver?  (ETA: FYI, I still think I should have Revenant.)

I saw Nalini Singh and she has the prettiest damn pink purse, which I want.

Nalini, why don’t we have Bluebell yet?

We had an epic and awesome social media panel and FYI, Jaye Wells really knows how her stuff, so if we ever do this, I’m volunteering her as moderator.  I also threw stuff at people.  It was chocolate, though.  People seemed to like it and the room was almost full.

I stalked David Morrell and got my husband a signed copy of one of his books–that’s the dude who created RAMBO, guys… RAMBO!

I’m still hung up on Reaver (that hot R angel) & Bluebell. why…..

I ate more food than what seems humanly possible.

There is too much alcohol available and too much yummy food and I crashed my first ever party…because Cara McKenna made me.  Megan Mulry and Anne Calhoun and Jeffe Kennedy and Sasha (twitter, @Caribbeanaccent) had rented this house and I kid you not, it was like this epic bordello that was just a little too much and tried to be fancy and elegant, but went over the line in the best possible way and it was awesome.  Cara dragged me in and I said I was crashing but I’d leave if they’d just let me pee and they said no, I could stay.  The caterer redefined barbecue.  I think angels sang when I took my first bite.

Then there was the street performer.  She all but turned the world inside out with her violin and I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anybody play so beautifully.

I also had beignets…I mentioned that right?  Drool.  I haggled at the French Market and I met a bunch of lovely new readers and I signed quite a few books at the bookfair.

For me, I had fun.  There was an issue with a couple of booksellers, but that was the booksellers, and I ranted in private with a member of the RT staff.  I met lots of lovely readers, which really, is the point of the signing.  I hate that so many had to wait so long.  I had to bail early because of my flight.  But I had a ball.

Altogether, RT 2014 was lovely.

Now… my favorite pic…

New Orelans | Pic is mine