Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"My Kingdom for a Sorceress" Fairy Tale on Wattpad

Hi again!

I'm almost done uploading my "Rising" series to Wattpad, and tonight I uploaded the first chapter of my never-published, lighthearted fairy tale story--the Story That Almost Wasn't from my previous blog post.

If you're interested in reading the first chapter or following along as I post updates, the story is here: My Kingdom for a Sorceress.

What it's about:

Prince Wenceslas would much rather be at home in his castle than wandering the world looking for enchanted princesses. Unfortunately, he has less than a month to fulfill a "gift" set upon him at birth by a drunken fairy godmother. If he can't rescue a princess--any princess--from a spell and marry her by his seventeenth birthday, he'll prick his finger on a glass coffin and fall into an eternal sleep that can only be broken by true love's kiss.

Given that he doesn't have a true love, his options seem pretty limited. Marrying a stranger can't be worse than sleeping forever-or so he thinks until he meets Arrow, a club-wielding sorceress whose magic constantly goes awry. She convinces him that he doesn't have to let any magic, fairy godmother or otherwise, run his life.

Wenceslas sets out with Arrow to look for a princess he might actually want to marry. A magic forest, a witch who collects frog princes, and love potions are only a few of the things standing in his way, but Wenceslas soon finds that what hinders him most isn't any's his own heart.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Story That Almost Wasn't...and how my agenting/publishing for business journey came to an end

My books are no longer published for sale, but I have begun posting them on Wattpad. 
This is the story I’ve waited almost a year to tell, a story of how my writing journey got to where it is now.
It’s the story of why I left my amazing agent at the beginning of this year and why I unpublished my books, and why I’m now uploading them to Wattpad so people can read them.
It’s a story of a book that almost wasn’t.
This book that almost wasn’t was a fairy tale book, originally titled My Kingdom for a Newt and now titled My Kingdom for a Sorceress. I wrote it in three months in 2011, and it was one of the easiest books I’ve ever written—it just poured out of my brain. I was in the midst of writing the latter half of the “Rising” series, which was a story that dealt with a lot of trauma, so I think my brain was like “let’s write something FUN!” and oh, it was.
In spring of 2012, I decided to start looking for agents for it. I got two positive responses for it—the first agent told me that it had more of a Middle Grade voice, and if she were to consider it, I would have to age the characters down and tweak the story.
I had written the story as a YA romance. If you think about all the fairy tales you’ve read, romance is often a key element, and this one was no exception. In fact, the character’s main quest centered around a curse he had to break that said he had to break the spell on an enchanted princess and marry her before his seventeenth birthday.
I told this agent that if I were to rewrite the book as MG, I would really feel like I’d lose my characters—who I’d intended them to be—and that for now, I was going to refrain from doing that. She was very awesome about it and said if I ever wrote a MG book that was similar, she’d love to see it.
A short time later, I got a call from another agent. She was interested in the book, but she said the same thing as the first agent: I’d have to write it for Middle Grade.
Having now heard this from two agents, I thought hard about it. I talked to my husband about it, to brainstorm and see if it was possible to tweak the story. And I decided to try for it. I decided I could sacrifice this book to maybe reach big publishers that I couldn’t get without an agent.
I rewrote. And I ended up signing with the first agent, a super, fantastic, talented representative. She was helpful and encouraging, she kept me informed on everything, and she was always honest.
The book was sent out to ten different publishers. Some of them really liked it but already had too many fairy tale stories. Some didn’t connect with the narrator. For one reason or another, none of them took it. My agent sent out the book to ten new publishers—same story. We decided to put it on the back burner while I finished up my next book.
And it wasn’t until after all those rejections came in that I realized that I was relieved. I was relieved it hadn’t sold. Because it had taken all of that for me to realize that I really, really missed the YA characters I’d created. They were sort of the same in the MG story—but they were also quite different, and I missed the story I’d originally created.
But I tried to ignore that, because I had another book to go to my agent, and what kind of author is relieved when a book didn’t sell? Especially when that book was on the back burner but still might sell in the future? It was to the point, though, that I couldn’t even open the file to look at the story because it made me sad.
Over the next couple of years, I struggled a lot with my writing. I rewrote and rewrote my next book, a YA fantasy, to try to make it marketable and publishable. I wrestled with some horrible anxiety. I had spans of time where I just couldn’t write. I had no motivation, or no ideas, or some combination, and writing business stuff triggered various anxieties, and it was just all around not pleasant. I couldn’t even read books. Words were just…ugh. I didn’t want to see words, no matter how wonderful or exciting the stories might have been.
Finally, in December of last year, right after Christmas, I got to the point where I started reading for fun again, and I was enjoying it. I was excited about that, and I figured I’d spend January just reading.
Then, in January, I got an email from my agent. She wanted to send my YA fantasy book out to a second round of publishers—the first round hadn’t panned out. One of the things that some of the publishers in the first round had said was that they hadn’t felt the world-building was deep enough, so my agent asked if I wanted to work on the world-building a bit before she sent out the next round of submissions. I said sure—but then I had no idea where to even start. I had been over this book so many times and rewritten it drastically, and it was at that point where the whole story felt disjointed and the words were like…‘what even are these?’ I did some brainstorming with one of my writing buddies, and she made some suggestions that gave me an ‘aha!’ moment. I got super excited to go write a new beginning to this book. I wrote four new chapters over the next week or so, then sent it back to my agent.
My agent didn’t like it, and she laid out why, in kindness and honesty, and I was like, okay, at least I know it didn’t work…and then I just broke down and cried. And cried some more. And it was because, I think, I’d become miserable with my writing, with what it had become. I was putting so much pressure on myself to write something marketable. No amount of me (or anyone else) telling me to just write what I loved and if it sold, fine, and if it didn’t, fine, made any difference. My love and passion for writing, for my characters, had drained out of me, only to come out in random spurts. And when I did write something I was happy with, it didn’t work for the person who had to try to sell it. And I was so very, very tired. I had already been questioning myself for months and months and months as to whether I really wanted this—if I really wanted to be in the publishing world, writing as a business.
I finally emailed my agent about this very thing. It was a very long email. I had started writing it to her multiple times over all those previous months of debating and writing stress, and I always deleted it, because I told myself—my agent is amazing, I am so fortunate to have her, so many people would love to be her client, I can’t let her down, she has worked so hard, I have this incredible opportunity so how could I let that go to waste?
But this time, I sent the email. And my agent sent me back an incredibly encouraging, kind, thoughtful email that only proved, again, how amazing she is.
That email led to me finally being able to let go. To let go of the feverish race I was running against myself. To realize that it was okay not to want this now, and that letting go of it now didn’t mean I’d never come back to it in the future. (It didn’t mean I would, either.)
I wrestled with some other stuff on the "feeling like I let someonedown/feeling like a failure" front, but I got through it.
That’s how I left my agent. And she is still so wonderful, and all of her clients are so fortunate to have her.
After my agency contract ended, I finally opened the file to my original YA fairy tale, now titled My Kingdom for a Sorceress. I read it, and I was so happy with it. Ridiculously happy. I read it to my pre-teen kids, and I had a blast listening to their laughter.
It wasn’t until July of this year that I made the decision to unpublish the books I had self-published, and to close out all of my business accounts completely.
It wasn’t until this fall that I started writing again. Slowly, very slowly—sometimes I feel I’m going at a snail’s pace. I feel like I’m trying to learn how to write again—how to write because I love it, and how to convince myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s a first draft. It’s not supposed to be perfect.
And it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I finally decided to start posting my stories on Wattpad, so anyone could read them, just for fun, if they wanted to—so I can share my words without putting pressure on myself, without dealing with the business aspect of publishing.
This is my current writing journey. Sometimes, I’ve felt that I just went backwards—that I spent several years working on a book that’s still a mess—but I think I learned a lot about me, my writing, and my purpose and joy in writing.
(I haven’t started posting my fairy tale story that almost wasn’t. I’m currently posting my Rising series in four different parts. If you are on Wattpad and would like to connect, or if you’re at all interested in seeing my stories as I post them, you can find me here: Laura on Wattpad.)
My blog, very obviously, fell by the wayside over the last couple of years. I had zero energy to expend on it.
I hope anyone still reading is doing magnificently. ^_^