Saturday, February 6, 2010

Welcome Lilly Cain

Thank you so much for having me here today! I am still ramped up over my release this month – my debut book Dark Harmony from RedSage Publishing. I am sure everyone here knows or has imagined what that moment is like, seeing your book for sale (noting the little price tag that means YES, you can get paid for having THIS much fun!).

It’s a little different having an e-book release than a paper book, but not a lot. I can still go the “shop” to see it. I can still tell friends where it is for sale, even if I can’t hold it in my hands. But I’m not here to discuss the similarities or the difference between e-book and paper book publishing. Instead I want to talk about the importance of writing The Next Book.

Yes, I am deep into writing the sequel for Dark Harmony. The name isn’t settled, but the basic plot is. Except I am stuck. Or at least I was stuck for almost a month, but I ‘m not any longer. Why? How did this happen? The sequel to Dark Harmony isn’t the second book I have written, or even the third or fourth. I have another line, a dragon shape-shifter series that will be releasing book one, Building Magic, in a few months from Red Sage and a sci-fi series that is still trying to find a home. So why was I having trouble? I think it had to do with fear.

Every writer has it. The little itch between the shoulder blades that says someone is looking at you. Someone, right now, is reading your book. DO they like it? Don’t they? What if they do like it but book two isn’t as good? And so I let myself get caught up in a cycle of putting off writing that sequel. I started something new. I wrote journal entries. I blogged. I twittered and facebooked till I was too tired to write. And so the first quarter of my unfinished book sat there, alone and neglected. The marketing I was doing was important, no qualms there. But I wasn’t writing.

I started to dream about it. It wasn’t a good thing.

Now what did I do to get OUT of the cycle? Pray to the muse? Ignore the problem? Nope. I had a friend tell me I was an idiot. I knew I was, after all. I just needed her to say it. And then, I got out a notepad and sat down and thought about the manuscript that I wanted to write, and what I had written. And I made noted about what I should change, notes about motivation, then notes about what might happen next. It all came pouring out into practically illegible scribbles of ink on my little notepad.

It was the epiphany. Sadly, it was the same epiphany I had a year ago, and a year before that. If you want to be a writer, sit down and write.

All the things we tell ourselves subconsciously about not writing are silly. So when you need a reboot here are five things to get you started again:

1. Have a friend tell you how stupid your fear is.

2. Get out a pen and scribble free notes about the book – anything about the book you want to write. Plot, motivation, description, scenes.

3. If the book you want to write isn’t the book you have to write, for contract reasons, then scribble down the notes about the book you want to write, and then put them down again. Begin again at step one.

4. Pick a scene and begin with description – that is the easiest part. What does it look like/smell like, sound like, taste like? Suddenly you have a word count

5. Write for 30 min. Go, get up stretch for 15 min. Do something, but think about the story. Return to the chair. Write again. POW. You are a storyteller, once you start, you will find the thread again.

6. DO NOT give up

Okay I lied, there were six.

Happy writing!


Dark Harmony – January 2010 –


Janet said...

Good morning, Lilly - and welcome to The Prairies. And congratulations on your debut novel Dark Harmony. How exciting!

I'm so glad you chose to discuss the writing of the next book. I've heard many authors talk about the worry they, too, had about following up a debut novel. And I think your five, no six :), points about writing that second novel apply to writing the first one, as well.

Thanks for reminding us that if we want to be a writer, we need to write. Pretty simple equation. And good luck getting the next book finished and off to your publisher!

Pamela Callow said...

Hi Lilly,

First of all, congrats on the release of Dark Harmony! I love that book.

Great blog post. I know exactly how you felt about writing your sequel. Fear can put up roadblocks but can also put a fire under your butt. As you said, sometimes you just have to tackle the ms, one page at a time!

Can't wait to read Dark Melody! Good luck with it.


Michelle Helliwell said...

What a great article Lilly, and you nailed it. A page full of crap you can edit later is better than no page at all.

From those of us who read Dark Harmony, we are so excited for that sequel. And we'll be cheering you on to get 'er done:)

Lilly Cain said...

Thank you Janet for having me! "If we want to be a writer, we need to write". Exactly! But this is something we all need to be reminded of, again and again.

Hi Pam! Thanks for the congratulations! I also have a novella coming out with Red Sage in another month or two. :) Entitled Building Magic, it is an erotic shape-changer romance, the first in a series featuring a world far different from ours where Dragons fight in a civil war that might end the race if they can't overcome their differences. Only the magic of a budding lady architect from Earth can save them!

Hey Michelle! Thank you - I loved your review of Dark Harmony on your blog - beautiful! :) The sequel is coming along, now that I found my direction again!


Karyn Good said...

Good morning, Lilly. Warm welcome and congratulations on the release of Dark Harmony!

Thanks for the rebooting tips and the reminder to push through and try different techniques to get past those blocked moments, days or months. I'll be sure and come back and reread your post when I need a reminder.

Good luck with the sequel and I'm glad you're back on track with Dark Harmony.

Vince said...

Hi Lilly:

Your post really resonates with my experience. I think the second ‘anything’ after a success creates unusual stress. There’s the sophomore jinx in sports and even F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “There are no second acts in American lives”.

Your six point program works for me but there is something else that I found works amazingly well. Do a full interview with your hero or heroine. Ask any questions you want and demand honest answers. You’d be surprised what is bothering your characters. This may seem strange but it’s kind of strange being a writer in any event. Keep the interviews for potential publicity blog posts after the book is released.

Thanks for the great post.


Anita Mae Draper said...

Welcome to the Prairies, Lilly. Congrats on your first release.

Good post. Simpicity at it's finest... if you want to be a writer, write. Even a child could do it. Well, maybe not a modern child - they seem to be on Facebook just as much as me. :)

Lilly Cain said...

Hi Karen! There are lots of ways to reboot, and I'd love to hear more if you come across any. Let's hope you aren't stuck any time soon!

Great idea Vince! I've tried the interview method before but my characters are sulky creatures. Keeping a decent interview for use later though is a great publicity idea!

Thank you Anita! My kids are surpassing me in the computer arena too - especially the 10 year old. She's wicked...errr I mean wonderful. :)


Anne MacFarlane said...

Lilly, glad you found your writing mojo and kicked some word count ass.

Thanks for the reminder about how silly all those excuses are for why we don't write.

Lilly Cain said...

Thanks Anne - you are one of the ladies that told me I was an idiot - just with more words than others... :)


Julia Smith said...

Lilly - I'm relieved to hear that your sequel is back on track. For purely selfish reasons!

Janet said...

Many thanks for being with us today, Lilly. I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say you've given us wonderful ideas to implement when the muse is absent. The best advice, of course, is to write. Period.

Best of luck with the sales and promotion of Dark Harmony. And we look forward to hearing of the sequel's debut.

Lilly Cain said...

Thanks Julia!

Thanks Janet once again for having me here! It's been lots of fun. :) One last thing for those who are stuck - take a day (no more than three) and READ! Delve into a novel that is completely different than your own and enjoy it. Be inspired by the prose, be amused by the story.

Then, get out a pen, or your laptop, and WRITE. :)


Jana Richards said...

Hi Lilly,
I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to welcome you to the Prairies yesterday. We had a work conference yesterday that gobbled up my day.

Thanks for the reminder to Just Write! Sometimes we get so caught up in everyday life/fear/promotion that we forget about writing. And that fear thing can be a real hazard to a second novel or a sequel. But if we're going to be writers, there is nothing more important.

Thanks for being here.