On perseverance … and whether it’s worth it to “keep writing”

So Facebook has this new “Memories” thing where it will show you your posts from the past on that same date.  (There’s also an app called Timehop that does the same thing, and is a little more comprehensive.) The other day, I stumbled across this post that I put up on April 14, 2009 Six years ago.

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Six years ago.

SIX YEARS AGO.

What’s even more eye-opening is that the book I was querying? It wasn’t Storm. It was A Wicked Little Rhythm, a book about the son of Apollo being banished from his home and setting up a music store in downtown Baltimore, only to be framed for a murder … well, that book is in the vaults for later. It never sold, and now that I’m six books past it, I can see all its flaws, and I understand why it didn’t sell.

I like to look at my life in five year chunks. Anytime I begin to feel frustrated about where I am, I like to look back at what my life was like five years ago, just so I can see how things have changed.

Five years ago, I had one child, and we weren’t sure we wanted any more. We’ve since had TWO more.

Five years ago, I had an agent, but I didn’t have a book contract. I’ve since sold EIGHT BOOKS. And I have a new agent.

It makes me excited to think about what the next five years have in store for me and my family. Five years isn’t a lot of time, if you really think about it.

Has it been quick? No way.

Have I taken a few bullets to the vest? Yes. Have I gotten up, dusted myself off, and kept going? Yes.

Has it been worth it?

YES.

Keep writing.

 

 

Guess what? I have a new book deal!

I am so, so, SO excited to be able to announce the following, from Publishers Marketplace:

STORM author Brigid Kemmerer’s LETTERS TO THE DARK, pitched as a grittier version of YOU’VE GOT MAIL for teens, in which a girl copes with her mother’s death by leaving her letters at the cemetery, until a boy intercepts them and starts writing back, and soon the two find themselves falling for a stranger–except they’re actually classmates who loathe one another, to Mary Kate Castellani at Bloomsbury Children’s, in a two-book deal, by Mandy Hubbard at D4EO Literary Agency (World).

 

I think I’m going to let Zac Efron show you how I feel about this:

Actually, that gif doesn’t really capture an emotion. It’s just awesome. Is hotness an emotion?

*cough*

ANYWAY. I am so excited to be working with Mary Kate and Bloomsbury, and I can’t wait for all of you to read this book. I don’t have many details yet about official release dates, cover, etc., but stay tuned.

While you’re waiting, be sure to check out my next release from Kensington, THICKER THAN WATER, which comes out in January 2016. Have you seen the absolutely amazing cover? 

Because I love you all…here’s the cover for Thicker than Water

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! I hope you’re all having a nice Saturday. I’ve been thinking of doing a big cover reveal for my next book, but this time, I really just want to be able to share it with you all myself, because I think you’re all so fabulous. If you were here, I’d buy you a coffee and tell you how amazing you are straight to your face.

My next book, Thicker than Water, comes out in January 2016. I am so in love with the cover, I can’t even tell you.

But first, here’s what it’s about:

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect. 

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years.

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

Okay, so that’s the story. Are you ready for the badass cover?

Here it is! You can click the image to go to Goodreads and add it to your “to read” shelf!

thicker than water

 

What do you think?

Is Michael Merrick your ultimate hero? He needs your help!

Hey, guys! How is everyone?

Guess what? Michael Merrick is in a tournament for the Ultimate Kensington Hero! He needs your help!

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Click on one of the images above, or go here to vote for Michael, to show everyone that he’s the Ultimate Hero!

In honor of the contest, Sacrifice is on sale all over the place. Check with your favorite e-book seller to find Michael Merrick’s story for less than $3.

Release Day Question: What’s next for the Merrick brothers? Is this the end of the series?

Every Friday (or on the occasional release day *cough*), I’ll answer a reader question (anonymously). I’m open to anything (it doesn’t have to be writing or book related), so don’t hesitate to send in a question. Email to brigidmary@gmail.com or use the Contact tab.

Q: What’s next for the Merrick brothers? Is Sacrifice really the last book in the series? Is this the end? I want closure! Are you writing more books? Are ya?

A:

This is such a hard question to answer.

First of all, I need to take a minute. I need to thank you. To thank all of you. I was going to do a video blog, but it’s 4:45am, my hair is wet from the shower, and there’s a good chance my happy sobbing would wake the baby.

Besides, I’m a writer. I’m more comfortable talking to you from behind the keyboard. (That said, if you want to see me cry, you should probably come to the Sacrifice Launch Party on Saturday.)

Where was I?

THANK YOU. Storm came out in April of 2012. In just over two years, I’ve published five books, three novellas, and through those books, I’ve met some of the most amazing people on the planet. YOU GUYS. If you’re reading this post, I mean you. I never imagined the amount of emails I would receive or the number of amazing gif-filled reviews I would get, or the people I would meet, or the Facebook friends and Twitter buddies I would have. I have dozens of friends on Facebook and Twitter that I’ve never met in person, but now we talk about kids and dogs and life and share recipes and I know them JUST BECAUSE I WROTE A BOOK. Do you know how special that is? Do you know how amazing you all are? You are a part of my dream, people. You helped make this happen.

Okay, now I’m crying. These are ugly tears. Seriously, now. I made the right decision in not doing a video.

Besides which, you’re all probably like QUIT WITH THE CRYING AND TELL US ABOUT THE MERRICKS, WOMAN.

Here are the most frequent questions I’ve been getting:

1) So is this the end of the series?

I don’t know.

That’s an ambiguous answer, I know, but I can’t say a whole lot about what’s next. (Yet.) I am currently not contracted for any further books in the Elemental series, but I can cryptically say that this probably will not be the last of what you hear from the Merricks. I can also say that my next book for Kensington / Allen & Unwin is about sexy empaths and a small town where women keep dying. (We’re still working on titles.) The book will be a solid blend of family issues and the paranormal. I’m hopeful you’ll love Thomas and Charlotte just as much as you’ve loved the Elemental boys.

2) Do you want to write more books in the Elemental series?

Yes. 

But there are only so many hours in the day. I want to write other things, too, and I don’t want the Elemental Series to turn into crap that felt forced just because I didn’t have the opportunity to be creative with other stories. Yes, the series is open ended right now. I did that deliberately so I can come back to it in the future.Right now I just don’t know when that will be. I’d love to tell Tyler’s story. And Irish’s. And Adam’s. And … and … and … and …

3) How could you do that to __________?!?!?!?!??!????!!!!

Come on. How could I not? 

Okay, my husband just woke up, came out here and asked how long I’ve been up, and I burst into tears.

You guys.

YOU GUYS.

I love you all. So much.

Thank you. Thank you for everything.

Now someone bring me some tissues, ‘kay?

 

~~

 

 

SACRIFICE LAUNCH PARTY! (And some other upcoming signings…)

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Hey, guys! Who wants to come to the Sacrifice Launch Party?

YOU KNOW YOU DO.

As always, I’ll be giving away gift cards, reading from a new project, and dancing in the aisles of the Barnes & Noble while they blast Iggy Azalea from the loudspeakers.

(Only one of those isn’t true.)

The launch party will be Saturday, October 4, at 2pm, at Barnes & Noble in Ellicott City, MD. 

Click here to join the event on Facebook.

Here is the official event page on Barnes & Noble’s website.

 

(This is the same location where all the previous launch parties have been held.)

I have some other signings coming up in the near future (including Las Vegas in mid-October, and Alexandria, VA in early December), so stay tuned!

 

 

 

WINNERS of the signed Elemental series!! (Check here if you entered)

Remember when I said I was writing that contest post at like 2:30am? Well, I neglected to mention that you guys should probably tell me whether you’re in the USA or elsewhere (though some of you did!), so I just picked two winners at random. If I end up with two in the US or two international winners, I’ll pick one more.

Drum roll, please…

The winners of a full set of the Elemental Series, all signed, are:

Maddie Waugh

and

Chelle818

Unfortunately neither of you filled out the comment form with an email address (which is fine!), but I have no way to contact you directly. Please email me at brigidmary@gmail.com with your mailing address, and I’ll get the books right out to you. Congratulations!

If you guys haven’t noticed, Storm is currently free in the US across almost all e-book platforms, and it’s the iBooks “Book of the Week.” Additionally, all the books and novellas leading up to Sacrifice are at a steep discount, and available for less than $3 each. If you’ve missed any books in the series, or if you have a friend you want to surprise with a cheap present, here’s your chance! 🙂

Feel free to grab the following banner for your blog. Thanks for spreading the word, everyone!

 

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A little bit about Sacrifice. (And a chance to win the whole series, signed!)

Here’s a little story. (You can skip to the end for the contest if you want.) SacrificeCover

So last year, around May, my husband and I talked about having another baby. Nothing happened, and we figured, “Whew, dodged that bullet, we’re so busy that we don’t really want another baby right now. What were we thinking?”

Fast forward to June 29 of last year, when I was standing alone in my bathroom at 11pm, staring at two pink lines. My husband and kids were all at the beach, but I’d driven home because I had to go to ALA the next morning, and I had a 6am flight to catch. (I did not sleep at all that night. If you met me at ALA and you thought I was vaguely nuts, now you know why.)

Now, if you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook or if you know me in real life, you may know that I used to do the majority of my writing in the middle of the night. I would get the kids to bed, start writing around 9pm, go to bed around 1am, then get up at 5:30(ish) and start the day. I couldn’t do that every night, of course, but a couple nights a week, no problem. E_Sacrifice_CVR[IMG]

Guess what pregnancy does? It makes you tired. Especially when you already have two young children. Especially when you have a day job. Especially when you’re promoting books that have already been published. First baby? People pamper you. I remember a girl in my office would come around and rub my shoulders. People would offer to make me tea or bring me lunch so I wouldn’t have to get up. Third baby? People wonder if you know how to use birth control. (That’s not a complaint. It’s just reality. It affects the baby, too. I mean, with my first, he got a clean blanket every time I laid him on the floor. Zach gets put straight down on the carpet half the time. :-D)

For some reason, I thought this pregnancy wouldn’t be a challenge when combined with the writing. I’ve done it before (I was pregnant with Sam while writing Spark, and I wrote Elemental in the first month after he was born), but that was before Storm was even published, when all my writing activities were solely focused on actually writing, and nothing promotional.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Writing Sacrifice kicked my ass. My editor and I had a few inside jokes about how we never should have chosen this title, because it was really a little too close to the truth. It doesn’t help that I started the book several times and kept scrapping it, because it just wasn’t right. Michael Merrick wouldn’t cry in every chapter! Michael Merrick wouldn’t say that! Ugh, I have to delete this scene because Michael Merrick isn’t a frigging moron!

Then the baby was born early. That meant I was writing Sacrifice like this:

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Or like this:

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Or like this:

Zach Sleeping Mommy Writing

 

They say that when you’re nursing a newborn, you should sleep when the baby sleeps. I couldn’t do that because I was writing when the baby was sleeping. I think I put Michael Merrick through hell just because I felt like I was going through it myself. (“You think a little smoke inhalation is bad, Michael? Try picking up a screaming 35lb. toddler while wearing a newborn in a sling. TRY IT.”)

I finished Sacrifice through the eternal patience of my amazing editor and my amazing agent. There were tears involved. A lot of them. But I got it done.   In looking back, I wouldn’t give up one minute of the experience. It was the biggest challenge I’ve faced in quite a while, and I’m proud of myself for getting it done. Baby Zach is by far my most cuddly, snuggly, happy baby, which helps. I’ve been up since 2:30am (it’s 5am now) because his belly was upset, and I can’t even be irritated with him, because I just love him so much. I don’t mind the missed sleep or the spit up down my shirt or the fact that I’m going to be a zombie by lunchtime. I love how one day I’ll be able to show him those pictures and show him the book and say, “You were a big part of this.” Part of being a parent is the sacrifice, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So here’s the contest. I’ll give away a signed copy of THE ENTIRE SERIES to two winners: one in the USA, and one international. All you have to do is leave a comment about what sacrifice might mean to you. There are no wrong answers. This contest is open to everyone on the planet, even if you’ve won something from me before.  The contest will be open until Wednesday, September 10, at 9am Baltimore time.  

Good luck!

Signings and book festivals and book recommendations, oh my!

Hi, guys! I was going to do a Reader Question Friday post today, but those take me a while, and I’ve been trying to spend my laptop time actually writing books instead of blogging. But I’ve missed you all! If you’ve sent me a message and you’re waiting for a response, I do still have some emails pending.

Upcoming signing/appearance:SacrificeCover

If you’re in the Maryland area, I’ll be at the Frederick Book Festival next Saturday, June 27, 2014. I’m presenting on a panel with Jodi Meadows, Lea Nolan, Elizabeth Kirke, and Julie Lindsay at 1pm, and signing books afterward. The festival is free, so if you’re in the area, stop by! I have ARCs for Sacrifice, and I’ll bring a few with me. If you ask for one, I’m happy to give you one! Don’t be shy! First come, first served! Don’t worry if you don’t live locally. I’ll be doing a few contests for ARCs in the next few weeks…

Book recommendations:

I recently read the following books and really enjoyed them. Check them out:

These Gentle Wounds by Helene Dunbar (Contemporary YA, somewhat dark)

Five years after an unspeakable tragedy that changed him forever, Gordie Allen has made a new home with his half-brother Kevin. Their arrangement works since Kevin is the only person who can protect Gordie at school and keep him focused on getting his life back on track.

But just when it seems like things are becoming normal, Gordie’s biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there’s nothing to stop Gordie from falling into a tailspin that could cost him everything—including his relationship with Sarah, the first girl he’s trusted with the truth. With his world spinning out of control, the only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.

Split by Mel Bossa (Contemporary Adult Fiction with LGBT Themes, this book was AWESOME)

Quiet and imaginative, Derek O’Reilly spends a lot of time watching a movie in his head. His fiancé Nathan, aka “Mr. Alpha”, wonders why Derek hasn’t taken any interest in their wedding planning. Aunt Fran—his spiritual guru—would like to know when her guilt-tripping nephew became some kind of kept boy. One evening, she drops Derek’s childhood journal on his lap, forcing him to remember the name he’s been trying to forget since he was eleven years old. Nicolai Lund.

Nick was Derek’s neighbor—and first love.

Weeks before Derek’s engagement party, a chance meeting with Nick catapults Derek into the past. Nick could flood Derek’s stale existence like a blond tidal wave, but Nick isn’t that sixteen-year-old rebel anymore. He’s a man hardened by invisible scars.

As Derek reads through his diary, Nick and Derek’s powerful relationship sways between past and present, sweeping over their emotional landscape, revealing what they were, still are, and might yet be to each other.

Alienated by Melissa Landers (Paranormal YA, very fun, reminded me of the show Star-Crossed)

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara’s classmates get swept up by anti-L’eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn’t safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara’s locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she’s fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer Armentrout (Paranormal YA, fun and sexy)

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (Contemporary YA dealing with rape in a non-“issue book” way)

Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy “Sid” Murphy was a cheerleader (at the bottom of the pyramid, but still…), a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy, Dax Windsor, she’s thrilled; but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can’t remember any of it.

Back home and unable to relate to her old friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the A/V room with only Corey “The Living Stoner” Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect… or so she thinks.

Witty and poignant, Colleen Clayton’s stunning debut is a story about moving on after the unthinkable happens.

45 Pounds (More or Less) by Kelly Barson (Contemporary YA, LOVED this book, very relatable)

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of infomercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

Speechless by Hannah Harrington (Contemporary YA, another one I loved)

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

 

Being an author is AMAZING! Except when it’s not. Expectations vs. reality for the debut author.

A few years ago I was on a panel with several other authors, and a teacher in the audience stood up to ask a question. It was something like, “We have several students who want to be published authors, but they’re frustrated at the amount of work and time that it takes. What would you say to them?”

And another author on the panel jokingly said something like, “I’d tell them to do something else and enjoy a long and happy life.”

It was funny and it made people laugh.

It was also kind of true.

Another story. I recently received an email from a young writer who’d gotten some feedback about his work and he was looking to pay for editorial services to help him make it better. I let him know where to find some editors, as well as giving him some advice on how to clean up the manuscript himself. He admitted that he wasn’t any good at self-editing and didn’t want to put in the time.

If this were a movie, you’d hear the screech of a record needle right about here.

Regardless of whether you publish traditionally or on your own, it generally stands to reason that writing and self-editing the book is the easy part. When you write, it’s just you and the story. When you edit your own work, all the changes are your own. You are 100% in control. If you’re not under contract, you don’t even have to worry about time limits. You can write on Tuesday night or wait until Saturday. You can write five words or five hundred or five thousand. Doesn’t matter.

When you’re publishing professionally (in the traditional sense), you have an agent who will have his/her own thoughts about your work, and you’ll have to make changes. You’ll then have an editor who will have his/her own thoughts, and AGAIN, you’ll have to make changes. Then you’ll get to copyedits, and you’ll have to make changes AGAIN. This is not a complaint, it’s just reality. I’ve said before that a book is not a child, but it makes for an easy analogy. It’s like raising a child for five years and suddenly having a bunch of people swoop in and offer commentary on your parenting. “Oh, he doesn’t know how to place a napkin on his lap before eating? We’ll have to fix that.”

Here’s the thing: all this input on your work is great. We all have the same goal: to make the book as good as it can be. I love working with my editor and my agent. I can’t emphasize that enough. My point is that it’s more WORK, and sometimes it’s hard to move beyond the knee-jerk reaction of HOW DARE YOU CRITICIZE MY PERFECT CHILD *cough* I mean STORY. Beyond that, sometimes these changes need to be made really fast. It’s not uncommon to need a substantial rewrite to be done in a matter of weeks, if not days.

But let’s get beyond the editing part of it. I think everyone realizes that the writing and editing are going to be part of the game, right? When you get right down to it, that’s what you’re signing up for. You might not be ready for the amount of work involved, but that’s not a slap in the face, really. You knew you were going to be in for something when you first set out to be a published author.

What took me by surprise was the amount of promotion required. Before selling my first novel, I was already active on Twitter and Facebook and I blogged somewhat regularly. But when your first book is released, you need to do blog tours and interviews and guest posts. I cannot say how grateful I am to the multitudes of book bloggers who have read and reviewed my books and helped get the word out there, especially those of you who have participated in or organized blog tours. Again, none of this post is a complaint. I’m talking about expectations versus reality. It’s one thing to answer a blog interview for someone who wants to help you spread the word about your books, and entirely another to gracefully field yet another email that says, “If you want to send me all the books in your series via snail mail, I’ll think about reading and reviewing them on Amazon.” (Yes, really.) Or an email that says, “I offered a full set of your signed books as a contest to go along with my review. Here’s where to send them.” (When the reviewer has never even asked if this is OK.) Or the numerous emails that say, “I found you on Goodreads and your books look really interesting. Can you send me a free copy?” (None of these are direct quotes, and they’re so frequent that I’m not singling out ANYONE.)

All of this promotion takes a ton of time and money. I don’t get free books, and any postage costs come out of my own pocket. (I spent almost a thousand dollars in postage last year. Before you roll your eyes, wait until we get to the part about financial realities.) Writing guest posts or character interviews takes a ton of time, and that’s after you actually think of something interesting to say. I spent a long time (three hours) writing a specifically requested guest post on why I added a gay character to the Elemental series. When the post went live, I retweeted it, only to get smacked in the face by a response asking why I thought I deserved special attention for writing a gay character.

Again, NOT A COMPLAINT. REALITY.

And that brings me to my next point: you’re doing all this promotion in the public eye. In this day and age, people have no hesitation expressing their thoughts on the internet. (Hi, I’m doing it right now.) They have no hesitation telling you exactly what they think of your work. Hell, people have no problem criticizing my TWEETS, much less an entire book. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but it’s one thing to believe that, and entirely another to read something online that’s absolutely trashing your book. To stick with the child analogy, it’s the difference between knowing your son isn’t going to be liked by everyone he meets and overhearing someone actually saying, “That kid is a real asshole.” I will always stand by the belief that all reviewers are entitled to say whatever they want. Once a book is published, it’s out of my hands and it’s out there for the reader. That doesn’t mean the commentary doesn’t hurt sometimes. Especially when it’s directly emailed to me, along the lines of a recent message that told me I was killing my career by pushing my political agenda in my books. (And here I thought I was telling a story. Go figure.)

Right from the start, you’ve got to make a decision: you can read reviews and acknowledge that there’s nothing you can do about them (What are you going to do, change someone’s mind by protesting? Come on.) or you can completely ignore reviews and pretend they don’t exist.

While we’re talking about social media, it’s both a blessing and a curse. I love (LOVE!!) being able to communicate with readers and other writers. I have made so many friends on Twitter and Facebook that I’ve lost count. At the same time, it can be really, really, REALLY discouraging to go from glee over a five figure advance — and then five minutes later seeing someone post that they got a six figure deal. Or that they hit the New York Times Bestseller list. Or that they’re going to be a featured speaker at a conference that you can’t even afford to attend. Or how about feeling proud that you got the kids to bed and wrote 1,000 words before falling asleep on the laptop, then seeing someone tweet that they wrote 10,000 words today?

You run into this in all walks of life (like when you buy your first home and think it’s stunning, but then six months later, your college roommate buys a home that costs twice as much). But when you’re a writer on social media, you see this all day long. I love seeing people celebrate their victories, so this isn’t a dig at those people AT ALL. I’m sure people see some of my tweets/posts and feel the same way. Again, this post is all about the reality of being a published author. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about being a writer was “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” So true. If Twitter and Facebook is starting to get you down, step away from the computer. There was a recent article about how you shouldn’t be “that writer” on Facebook who talks about her successes. That’s bullshit. Talk about your success. Better advice would be to not be that writer who lets someone else’s success tear her down. Books are not vacuum cleaners. If someone buys a book by another author, it doesn’t mean they can’t buy yours. If someone writes 10,000 words a day, that doesn’t mean that your 1,000 words suck. If social media is getting you down, TURN IT OFF.

Money. I’ve talked about the financial realities of being a writer before, here. (All links in this article open in a new window.) Jessica Spotswood did a fantastic post about managing expectations here. (Definitely worth a read if you think the six-figure book deal is the answer to all your prayers.) I just had my third baby. Combined with my amazing stepson, I have four kids. I also have a full time job aside from writing. I don’t watch a lot of television (Though I’ve been watching a lot of Property Brothers while nursing the baby. Hot twins AND home renovations? Sign me up.) and I don’t have much of a social life. This morning I realized that I went to Target yesterday wearing the SAME CLOTHES I HAD WORN TO BED THE NIGHT BEFORE. (Look, a nursing tank and yoga pants are totally day-or-night wear.)

Wait. I lost track of my point. OH.

People ask me all the time why I haven’t quit my day job.

This is a really frustrating question. I’m not shy at all, and I’ll happily tell anyone anything they want to know about anything. But how do you answer in a way that doesn’t make you feel like shit? Because the bottom line is basically, “I can’t afford to.” While I absolutely love my day job (really!), I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’d love the opportunity to be home with my kids. Anyone would. Being asked over and over (and over) again why I still can’t do that just drives home the point that I’m not successful enough (YET!). When you get asked this question enough, especially when you’re basically working two full time jobs, you start to wonder if this is all worth it.

And what’s funny is that you’ll get people wondering why you’re not making enough money, and then on the flip side, you’ll have people who will treat your writing career as a hobby. People ask me all the time if I’m still writing books. Do people walk up to doctors and ask if they’re still dabbling in medicine? I was floored when, in a public venue, in front of fifty people, one person said, “On top of her day job, did you know Brigid is also a published author?” (which made me feel great!) and before I could say anything, someone else brutally mocked that I write paranormal romance for teens. That quickly, just cut off at the knees. I wasn’t there in a writing capacity, so I wasn’t prepared to defend myself. It was years ago, but I’ll never forget how that felt.

At the beginning of the publishing journey, so much is in your control. Get a query rejection? You can send another one. Go through enough queries and decide you want to self-publish? Go for it. But once you’re out there, it’s not just about your story. It’s like poker. You can be a great poker player, but you can’t control the cards, and you can’t control the other players. Luck is part of the game, and sometimes that can be awesome, and sometimes that can be truly terrible. I always say that you have to be a little bit arrogant to succeed in publishing. Not a lot — no one will like you — but a little.

Is it worth it? It’s hard to say. I hope that’s not a downer, because it’s absolute honesty. I recently told my husband that one day my kids are going to be teenagers, and I don’t want to look back at ten years of sleepless nights and weekends spent at Starbucks and wonder why I didn’t give up earlier. At the same time, I’ve invested years of my life already. Why give up now, when things are starting to go really well, and I have such a wonderful legion of readers out there?

Anonymous commenting is always allowed, so I hope some other authors out there will weigh in with their experiences. What do you guys think?

Is it worth it?

If you could go back and do it over again, would you?