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Look Who’s Been Sitting in My Chair! AKA The House Swap

Jenny

Remember how in January I went on my first vacay in thirteen years? Well, when it rains it pours. This summer, thanks to the miracle of house swapping, we’re going away again. We’ll be living in France, while another family will be sleeping in our beds and eating our porridge.

It sounds chi-chi to say, “Living in France.” In fact, I was going to title this newsletter Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho, It’s Off to France We Go, but it sounded too obnoxious. Even though, full disclosure, this is an economical way to travel, free place to stay, free car. Still, this whole taking vacations thing has prompted an identity crisis in me, and it’s one that might be particular to writers.

Writing is not typically a business that brings in a lot of money. Well, wait, that’s not precisely true. Typically (or historically) 10% of the authors at any given publishing house bankrolled the 90% whose books didn’t sell as well, or didn’t sell as well yet. These economics have changed somewhat, but the star system in this and a handful of other industries (acting, music, sports) has not. Those at the top earn tons of money. They get rich and live lives that induce dreams. They are the blockbuster authors, the household names.

Jenny at Atlanta Writers Conference

But how do you become one? Last month I gave a workshop at the Atlanta Writers Conference about building your unique author brand.

Here are some numbers & legends: Steve Berry says it can take five or six books to break out. For Lee Child, the eighth Reacher hit the NYT. For C.J. Box, it was the eleventh Joe Pickett.

Here's a way to begin developing your brand—or analyze your fave author's:

Excellent Sheep

It doesn’t happen overnight. There are a lot of years when you may not get to go on vacation, or you’ll worry about sending your kids to college, or have to make do with a yellow bathroom from the 1960’s. Wait, that's me. And yes, I realize that as privations go, they’re not that bad. Though some do see college as a necessity these days. (Me, I see it as a bubble about to burst. You may disagree, but read this book before you do).

There Was a Bear in Our Back Meadow

Bear Cub

Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes it eats you, sometimes it’s just super cute to look at. Look at those wittle ears! How I love living in wild places. Maybe that’s why I keep setting my books in them.

Back to this whole name brand—vacation—identity crisis. I guess I'm wrangling with who I'm meant to be as an author, the point of this consuming passion.

Do we feel success building? If we write enough good books, is it guaranteed to happen? Likely to? Why do some writers toil in obscurity their whole careers while others flash bright and briefly, only to disappear from the scene, and still others build lasting careers and are designated royalty, like the Queen of Suspense and the King of Horror?

These are some of the questions I’ll explore the next time I give my workshop on branding.

Author Spotlight

Gold Digger Among Us

This month Eden Monroe is in the Spotlight! If I were working with Eden on brand, I would talk about overarching themes of triumphing over greed and corruption in humanity.

I wrote my first short story at eight – Eskimos flying to the moon. Written with a dull pencil on foolscap paper, it long ago faded away. My first poem was written on the john. That’s right, small “j”. The swirling frost patterns on the bathroom window reminded me of fairies and castles and hence the poem Castle Magic was born That poem is gone too, torn up by a teacher who told me to get my head out of the clouds. So here I am, many moons and castles later – still writing, only no one tears up my work now. Okay sometimes I do if I haven’t got it right, but I finally got there.

My first novel was Dare To Inherit: One year, two choices, three women, several million dollars – and the clock is ticking.

My second is Gold Digger Among Us: Surviving greed and vengeance amid the rekindling of an unfinished love affair, the Tanners are locked on the horns of a dangerous power play.

And onward I go, pen in hand. Oh, and my head is still in the clouds. I like it here.

 

I Binge-Watched a TV Show for the First Time

Dead to Me

I am pretty unhip and uncool. I’d rather eat cupcakes than drink cocktails. I spend many days dressed in jammies and it’s a big deal when the makeup comes out. When I met the proposed star of the proposed film of my book, all I kept thinking was, You’re glamorous and I only recently got out of my jammies.

But this month I did something totally cool—I binge-watched a Netflix series! OK, I really only watched three episodes back-to-back, and the rest of them like any self-respecting member of the generation that remembers five channels and no remotes would do. But it was a phenomenal show. I highly recommend watching it, whether millennial binge-style or old-school.

Next Time You Hear from Me I’ll Be at ThrillerFest!

ThrillerFest Panel

Here are 5 great reasons to go to ThrillerFest, whether you’re a writer, reader, or both:

Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,

Jenny

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