Thursday, March 27, 2014

Be Kind. It's Simple.

So. I have a rant.

I actually have lots of rants stored up inside me, but this one needs to come out.

This rant is written to any authors who have been published and had any measure of success. More specifically, it's written to those of you who think that, therefore, you can look down on first time, "wannabe," or "lesser known" authors.



Just stop.


Do you remember younger you, who hadn't published a book yet? Do you remember looking up to those authors who were published no matter how well they sold because oh my gosh that's what I want to do with my life too?

Remember that?


My appeal to empathy isn't working because you've forgotten what it was like to not be successful?


Let's appeal to something else. Let's talk about your fanbase. Your devoted readers. These are the people that make you money, remember. You kind of need them to like you. When you're mean and condescending, they are less likely to like reading your stuff. Being kind makes friends. You need friends. They read your books.

It's not a hard concept. In fact, most of my favorite authors engage with "wannabe" authors in a professional, uplifting, and empathetic manner. They encourage. They give advice. They want fledgling writers to follow their dreams. 

Obligatory shoutout to Neil Gaiman, John Green, and JK Rowling goes here.

Or let's talk about how to be a decent human being. Crushing people's dreams? Not decent. Talking down to them because they haven't progressed as far in your career as you have? Not decent. Treating them like lesser people because they haven't honed their talent to your level (which, by the way, you have achieved through experience and the help of experts, something they are lacking but actively trying to get)? Not decent.

Doing anything other than supporting them in their dreams?

Not decent.

I mean, you can totally hate what they've written. Let's be honest. There are some really bad writers out there. Some of them are even published. But there is a distinct difference between thinking the writing itself is awful and treating the writer like an awful person for even trying. If the writing is awful, tell them how to improve. Tell them what they did wrong. If they're really passionate about what they do, they'll only get better, and then they'll thank you rather than hate you.

You get me?

Long story short: Don't put people down for chasing their dreams. Not everyone will be famous. Not everyone will write the next Great American Novel. Not everyone will even pay all their rent bills this month. But are they trying? Yes? Then stop being mean to them. 

Life is about progression. We get better. First-time authors will too. But they'll never get better if you terrorize them and bully them out of pursuing the very thing that gives them hope in their dreams.

End rant.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

How Do You Do This Whole Internet Thing?

So I was really not feeling good this morning. Like not at all.

I stayed home from work, but by about ten o'clock, I was feeling okay. Not well enough to, you know, go anywhere, as my insides still weren't sure if they were fans of gravity shifting. But well enough to get stuff done.

So I figured I'd start doing what my publisher's always talking about. I'd start promoting my work.

I mean, I already do that. I've got this blog plus The Secret Life of Fictional Characters plus a Tumblr that I use all the time and some mean fanfiction that I've got a modest following in. I get by.

But I started doing the Twitter thing. I started following a whole bunch of writing blogs and just watched my feed all day, checking it at various intervals.

And I was legitimately surprised at how new all this was to me. I mean, there was literally a hug community of internet authors out there that followed and supported each other! There were different accounts that I could follow that would give me updates on new agents and what they were looking for. There were accounts dedicated literally to just spreading motivation to writers!

I'm still not sure I'm doing this right. I'm hitting the retweet button a lot, which is kind of what I do on Tumblr where I just reblog everything. I make posts sometimes, and I think I've figured out the hashtags thing.

But then it started getting to be a lot. Like really. A lot. I was following maybe four times the amount of Twitter accounts as I follow Tumblr users, and I'm starting to realize that was probably a bad idea, because the Twitter feed never stops. And I've got a good habit of checking Facebook or Tumblr or this blog when there's a notification, but otherwise, I'm content to let it sit. But this Twitter thing? Seriously, it's like trying to keep up with sugar-addled children with that many notifications! Literally. "Hey. Hey look. Hey look at this thing! LOOK AT ME."

That's what the little notification number on my Twitter tab is doing to me.

I gotta figure out this internet thing, because I feel like getting a Twitter was a really great idea but also incredibly exhausting because this site is so very high maintenance!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

True Love

People think love is this huge, unattainable thing, but it really isn't.

Love, the real thing and not the Hollywood version, is what happens when you and one other person decide that you're going to be best friends forever, but you mean that in an even more beautiful way than ever before.

Love is when friendship crosses over into the bounds of your every waking thought. Love is when another person's welfare consumes your thoughts.

Love is when living together isn't a huge obstacle to overcome and drama stops being a rommate problem.

Love is when your roommate is also your caretaker and guardian.

Love is when you do the dishes because she's had a stressful day at work and can't do them.

Love is when you make him go to bed on time because you can tell he's getting sick.

Love is when you email her while she's at work just to say hi.

Love is when she cries into her shirt for no reason other than that she needs someone to cry into.

Love is when every little thing is an expression of that everlasting friendship and support.

It's not a huge thing. It's a hundred little things.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It's a Really Good Thing I Love What I Do

Everybody hates doing taxes. That's kind of a given.

I mean, literally, we're just sitting on the couch with a bunch of papers trying to make sense of all the ins and outs of things and even if you've got something helpful like an e-filing thing, it's still difficult.

Now compound that with the fact that I like to think I write for a living.

I mean, I don't, but I like to think I do. It's an illusion all writers live under. There's really no hope for us; sorry about that.

But the point is, when you get royalties, you have to report them as if you're basically self-employed. 

Literally, I have to create a business on my taxes. The business is called "Shelby Hailstone Law," just FYI. The address is my house. I make about $100 a year. 

Yeah. Real lucrative business there.

(Actually, that's not too bad, considering I'm mainly e-pubbing, though hopefully that'll change soon. Keep your fingers crossed for me!)

Anyway, point is, it's a whole lot of work and extra money to file the taxes. Just about as much as I make writing the darn things.

So it's a really good thing I like doing what I do.

No, but seriously. I love it.

You can ask my best friend, Deborah, who is so wonderful to sit through all my ramblings. She and I carpool to work together, and just the other day, she had to sit through me rambling about Nicholas Anderson, who is perhaps my favorite character I've ever created and yet I just can't seem to get a good story to settle in around him. It's a problem. It really is. I want him to have an entire series, and every book I've ever tried to write for him is . . . not good enough.

Sad, really.

Maybe I just stink at science fiction?

Okay, I'm getting off topic.

Point is, I absolutely love what I do. I love writing. Anyone who talks to me can tell, because I'm always talking about new ideas, babbling about characters I love, asking people advice so I can learn how to write better. (For example, I tend to rush my endings and need to work on my flow. I also need to get better about giving characters distinct voices if they're not major characters.)

But I love it.

I love when I get the random, uncontrollable urge to write and can't do anything but write.

I love when I get an idea at a ridiculous time in the morning and have to write it down.

I love when I reach for the journal as soon as I wake up because that dream was just too good.

I love when I get a phone call from my baby sister saying she's finished my book and would like more, please.

I love it.

And apparently it's a very good thing I do.