Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mission Statement

I attempted to write my first mission statement in 2013. 2013 was a huge year for me. I signed with my first agent and signed a contract with an imprint of Harlequin. Writing a mission statement didn't work out. I had no idea to put in it. I think I finally scribbled something down but knew that it didn't matter. There was a reason for that. In the midst of agency offers and contracts, something  more important got overlooked.

I told my CP, Kelly Hashway, that I loved writing books like Peace because I dropped out of law school at 22, and these kind of books (which I now know as romantic suspense) because it felt like it combined both sides of my personality. The more whimsical side, free of anxiety, that only comes out on paper, and the girl who sees the unfairness and danger in the world to the point she's often mislabeled as a pessimist. She told me it probably did. The day went on. Contracts got signed and the conversation was forgotten.

Later that year, Sarah Nego was trying to help me market, and she asked me what was the one element that was the same across all my writing. I had no clue. I had no idea what string could tie my Marlowe fun beach reads to a gritty YA about racism and injustice. After I thought about it, I said "everything happens for a reason." Both Marlowe Girls hint at this, though it's not as much of a punch and those books have a lot of humor. And my Iraq war books attempt to make sense out of something as senseless as war. The characters struggle with their backgrounds and who they are trying to fit into this little community, and in the end, have no regrets because things happen for a reason.

Writing the mission statement was much easier this time, because now I know who I am as a writer.

To use my background in law and government, education and life to bring about stories of life and love complicated by inequities and dangers while showing a theme compatible with my values. For example, “Everything happens for a reason.” To have every story be an improvement in craft. To be a supportive member of the writing community by providing writers with helpful feedback and techniques to make writing and/or marketing easier. To create a well received body of work that opens eyes and offers hope while innovating the art of storytelling and depth of English. To push and expand my creativity by experimenting with form and allowing myself to write whatever my heart desires.

This says some important things: "Well received body of work," notice it doesn't say "To have lots of readers." I'd rather have loyal fans who love my stories so much that they're standing in line for the next one than have a readership of thousands who might be disappointed in my next book.

And this goes hand in hand with something else, "While showing a theme compatible with my values." I write Doris Day romance in a 50 Shades of Gray world. I'm aware of that, and I'm okay with that. This means I have to write an amazing book with something to offer besides romance to have a huge readership. And that's okay. One day I will, until then well received clean romance is good enough for me. Selling out for money or fame wouldn't be good enough for me.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Monday Mishmash

Monday Mishmash is hosted by Kelly Hashway.

  1. Writing Class- So I've signed up on for a class on writing/life balance and so far it's been great. The instructor is a graduate of Seton HIll, where I'm doing my MFA. Keeping track of time has been a major part of the assignment, and it's been eye opening.
  2. Marketing- Keeping track of time, I have learned that marketing has been my demise as a writer. Attempting to market leave me frustrated very quickly to the point that I can't think and it's hard to not just quit writing. This tells me I should quit marketing. The problem is you can't quit marketing completely, so I'm trying to work out a plan that involves some form of marketing I won't find draining.
  3. The Indie Author Survival Guide- I picked up this on Amazon, and it has been very helpful. Don't let the name scare you. I think it could be helpful for authors outside of the indie circuit, and so far there isn't much of the "the man" rhetoric. It's help me see that over the past 5 years, my goals have changed and became more specific.
  4. Mission statement- After realizing my goals have changed, I've written a mission statement. You will see more about this tomorrow.
  5. Branding- Having a mission statement and clearer goals has helped me find my brand. Helping other writers is very important to me, because this community has helped me in every aspect of my life. I want to be known as a writer's writer, but if, you know me very well at all, you know this was always true. I started teaching in a blurb writing workshop in 2012. I've taught this class now more times than I can count. And only one of those sessions came to a close without a student writing me a thank you letter and inquiring about other classes. Teaching these classes helped me to connect to other writers and hopefully gave them a new skill. It cleared a path for me to make money writing without freelance/editing/or being a bestseller. It's true that much of what I write now is lesson plans or instructional, and it does involve some editing, but that didn't change anything. I started blogging in 2010. The first six months were just book reviews (which do help writers), and the reviews focused on what I learned which helped writers two fold. 1. The writer whose book I reviewed obviously got an extra line of press that day. But if I learned from the book other inexperienced writers could learn from my review. Within six months, I'd learned a lot about a quickly changing industry and realized that I knew a lot about writing due to my education. (I have a B.A. in English then studied law for a year with additional in Legal Research and Writing). I started writing informative posts either about craft or the industry. Teaching is as integral to my writing journey as writing is. Now that I know this, I just have to figure out how to make it the backbone of my marketing plan.