Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sale or Sail? by Christina Lorenzen

In 2014, I received a contract for my first novel, A Husband for Danna. Two years later I had a contract for the follow up story, A Wife for Humphrey. And now, only four years later, I am the author of one novel and seven novellas. Some might say that’s a pretty amazing accomplishment. Me, I’m wondering when I will really succeed.

I think we can all agree that we’re hardest on ourselves, demanding pie in the sky accomplishments with no room for error and little to no self-compassion. My father’s sister, a beloved aunt, has always been my cheerleader. She is forever posting comments on my social media saying ‘you are the hardest working author I know’ and ‘you are absolutely amazing’. Instead of feeling proud, I think to myself “she mustn’t know a lot of other authors’ because I know authors who put out six books a year, every year.

It’s often hard for writers to take stock of what they’ve accomplished or how far they’ve come. This is one tough industry. It seems like there is always an author announcing their latest three book deal, a huge advance or a book becoming a movie to remind us of the things you haven’t accomplished yet. Then there are the sales or lack thereof.

Every author I’ve talked with has winced just a little when the word ‘sales’ comes up. You can have a fabulous cover, a tantalizing blurb and a dozen five star reviews, but where do your eyes go as you check in on your new release on Amazon? Right to the sales rank. And if you have an ounce of control tendencies in your personality, you might even have an app on your phone, Novel Rank, where you can track the sales of your book – every time you look at your phone.

Unless your book is flying off the shelves, or onto kindles, sales numbers can be the thread that leads to the undoing of your writerly confidence. Seeing slow growing numbers, or, worse yet, a single digit number, hour after hour, days after release day, can do more damage to the fragile writer’s ego than those earlier announcements. We can still dream of eventual multiple book contracts, big advances and our stories playing out on a screen, but sales numbers are reality slapping us in the face. They plant the seed of doubt. Maybe I’m not such a great writer. Maybe that five star review from my cousin Anna is her just being nice. Maybe there isn’t a market for the kinds of stories I write. The list goes on and on, usually at three in the morning when you should be sleeping.

While writing the other day, I had typed the word ‘sale’ when I had meant to type ‘sail’. A homophone, I grinned. Yes, I was the geek that loved every English class I could take back in school. I was toying with the completely different meanings of the two words, when it hit me how relevant they were to where I was in my career.

I’d been spending so much time worrying about getting a ‘sale’ that I’d lost the ability to take joy in my writing. When I’d first started writing fiction, I used to leap to get to my keyboard. Or shall I say ‘sail’ to my keyboard. While both words are nouns, their meanings are, in that order, an instance of selling and to voyage upon or across. To sell or to voyage. Then it dawned on me. Was I writing only for the selling or was I writing for the voyage it afforded me? A writing career afforded me a chance to go anywhere I wanted to go. I could be anyone I wanted to be behind the numerous masks of my heroines and heroes. I write for the same reason I read, to escape my ho hum, sometimes trying, every-day life if only for a few hours.

Will my joy as a writer come only from chasing a sale or sailing into an imaginary world? Will I find my joy in a factor I cannot control, a sale, versus the factor I have some control over, the ability to whisk readers away on a voyage? When I chose to find my joy in the ‘sail’, the joy of writing and creating a story, all the questions and doubts ceased. Of course as a career author I want my books to sell. How else will readers read them? But obsessing over a sale, like comparing your achievements to another author’s, kills creativity. I have learned that writing isn’t a quick trip, but a journey, and sometimes a rocky one at that. But if you hold on to the joy that brought you to writing to begin with, you’re so much more likely to enjoy smooth sailing.

How do you hold on to the joy of writing during those bumpy times?

Jessie Daniels moved to Phillips Village for a fresh start. After a bad breakup and her parents selling the family home, she’s ready to put down roots somewhere new. It was love at first sight when she visited Phillips Village and a offer to work with animals at the town shelter are all she needs to make the move. After seven months in town, she’s enjoying living in the apartment in the Phillips House and devoting all her time to the animals who need her. Just as she’s forgetting the incident that led her to break off her engagement, Mark Sherman shows up and disrupts her peaceful single loving life.

Mark Sherman will do whatever it takes to get back in his father’s good graces, after breaking an engagement that cost his father a merger between the company and his ex-fiancĂ©’s family company. He plans on being all business when he goes back to Phillips Village to clean out and sell his grandmother’s cottage. The sweet memories of his childhood summers with his grandmother hit him harder than he expected. He’d also vowed not to get involved with another woman. When a stubborn basset hound finds its way into his truck, he has no choice but to bring along to the house where he’s rented an apartment. When he meets fellow tenant Jessie Daniels, he knows he’s in deep.

Is it the magic he’d always believed surrounded Grandma Lettia’s cottage or the sweet little basset hound that seems to be pulling he and Jessie closer together?

Amazon Buy Link Howls and Hearts

Christina Lorenzen started writing as a young teen, jotting stories in wire ring composition notebooks. Her first typewriter made it faster to get all those stories out of her head and down on paper. Her love of writing has sustained her through a myriad of jobs that included hairdresser, legal secretary, waitress and door-­to-door saleswoman.

Luckily for her, writing proved to be successful and a lot less walking than going door to door. Howls and Hearts is her eighth book. Christina is busy working on her next novel. When she isn't writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her family.

Readers can connect with Christina at:
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