Onwards and upwards

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For those of you who have been following this blog, you will not be shocked by the fact that I am going to talk about writing, again. My first book, The Waking Hours, although self-published, has been doing well compared to the abysmal report I read on Google about anticipated sales. If their collected data is correct, and self-published books only average 250 book sales in the first year, I will be doing backflips after posting this latest entry. I am just shy of 500 book sales in ten weeks and that makes my heart happy.

The road to get to that number has come with its own set of challenges. Writing, editing, and marketing are all individual career paths for a reason – it is extremely difficult to perform all three tasks at the same time, and I have been feeling the stress of successfully acting out those three functions simultaneously, but I am still keeping my head above water, for now.

I have certainly obtained a great deal of knowledge and some new skills along the way, and in the grand scheme of things, I have discovered that I do not mind doing interviews. Initially, this was an enormous shock to my system, but the more I thought about how passionate I am about writing, and sharing the stories I have created, the more it made sense that I would want to share my journey with others and have those people ask questions about my process.

Last night, I did a Zoom call with my local library along with a handful of guests and, for the first time in my life, I was not nervous about public speaking. Sure, the participants were not directly in front of me, but I was answering questions about something that has become an extension of me. Although I had done a few trial runs through the questions and voiced my responses to the squirrels on my front lawn, my responses during the Q&A session sounded nothing like what I had rehearsed, but were, in fact, more linear to the truth in my head.

I can only hope I am afforded more opportunities to talk about my writing in a public forum. I am finally comfortable in my writer’s skin, and I have faith that my journey will continue onwards and upwards.

Your rejection is my motivation

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When I was thinking about writing this post, a well-known song by Elton John came into my head, but the words morphed into something my writer brain could comprehend – “Rejection Seems to be the Hardest Word”. If you replace the word sad in Elton’s song with the word rejection, this could be the anthem for anyone who has written a novel and sent their words out into the world, only to receive an email response with the fateful line, ‘it’s not what I’m looking for”, or, “I just couldn’t connect with the story, but best of luck’.

Writing is hard. Ernest Hemingway described it best when he said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Over the last four years, I have completed almost three novels and self-published one of those stories, and I can tell you, no truer words have ever been spoken. A forensics team could analyze my laptop and find copious amounts of blood spatter and chronologically date those samples to match the past four years of my writing.

The idea of writing a novel is romantic. Composing a story that has characters with depth, a storyline that is exciting and has enough twist and turns to keep the reader engaged is terrifying. Every plot twist is subject to days of overthinking the idea. Characters constantly interrupt your train of thought to ask you to tell the story their way. And every great idea you have for your book on Tuesday night, sounds like absolute rubbish on Wednesday morning. Welcome to writing.

When I first began to query agents, I went into the process like every new writer does, fresh faced and full of hope that I had just written the next best seller. But the melting pot of reality takes you piece by piece until you vaguely resemble the hopeful person you were when you spent days putting together the perfect pitch. Some make it over the hurdles to the finish line, but most do not.

This is not where my story ends, but where it begins. Those rejections were my motivation to keep going and find other ways to share my words. One, two, even fifty agents opinions do not have the power to tell me my book is not good enough. The words I read in their email responses, if I even got one, were that my story was not a good fit for them. It did not mean my story would not connect with readers, and through self-publishing, that connection has been established and well-received.

I can only dream as I move further into what I hope will be my writing career to keep the faith I have in my writing, and always believe my writing voice will have ears that are eager to listen to the stories I have to tell.

It’s time for a good book

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Hey everyone….it’s “I Read Canadian” day today. I’m Canadian and I have a book you can read called The Waking Hours that can be purchased on your Amazon account!! Show your support by purchasing the book and, once you have read it, please leave a review on Amazon.

Self-publishing has been a great experience so far, and now I am balancing the marketing and self-promotion of The Waking Hours while editing One Eleven and writing Dark Room. I may need to make a bit of time to learn how to clone myself!

The hard work has just begun

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If you had told me six months ago, I would be where I am in my life right now, I would have said you were extremely optimistic, misguided but optimistic. But here I am, four weeks after self-publishing my first novel, The Waking Hours, and my life could not be further off the track I thought I was on.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote this post about the signs I had been seeing everywhere, especially the number 111. Since One Eleven is the title of my second book, due to be published on May 2nd, I was very encouraged each time that number popped up in whatever way it chose to present itself.

Before I sent my first book into the world, I had done some investigating to find out what to expect in terms of book sales. The information was discouraging. Research shows the average self-published book sells 250 copies a year, and potentially up to 1,000 copies in its lifetime. I am thrilled by the fact I have already sold more than 250 copies in the first month, but now the real work begins. Don’t get me wrong, writing a book is no easy feat, but being responsible for my own marketing and PR is the new mountain I have to climb, and I am now looking for the proper equipment to start at the bottom and work my way to the top.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some big boots to fill. Wish me luck!

PS: since I am responsible for marketing myself, please head over to Amazon and purchase a copy of The Waking Hours – available in Kindle or paperback format.

A brief look into my writing world

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The concept of writing a novel is romantic. When I first began to jot down ideas for The Waking Hours, it was more of a whimsical impulse than a promise to construct complex characters who would eventually write the bulk of the story themselves. I soon became nothing more than a conduit for their voices, and my creative process was redefined.

Twenty years after its inception, The Waking Hours is now breathing a life of its own. But that life did not come without several obstacles and a few hard truths. Writing fiction still holds the allure of feeling like Cinderella at the Ball, but self-publishing fiction is the Wicked Stepmother who you know to be problematic, but you do not realize how much of a pain in the ass she can be.

There are many facets to self-publishing that throw themselves into your path, causing you to stumble a few times on the way to the finish line. If I look back at my first attempt, I can truthfully tell you it resembled me starting at the finish line and running backwards, pushing through the stream of runners as I sped towards the starting gun.

I did self-publish my first novel on Amazon a few days ago, and I feel an overwhelming sense of pride in my achievement. I took an idea, I transformed that idea into a book, and I learned how to edit and properly format that book to sell it to the public. That, to me, is a giant checkmark in the win column. The fact that I am receiving great reviews is much more than just icing on a cake, it is the engagement ring after a twenty-year courtship.

My second book will be published on May 2nd and I am honestly looking forward to going through the same process, but this time I will start from the beginning and race towards the finish line like everyone else.

Lao Tzu says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” At least this time around, I will be going in the right direction.

Pulling the trigger

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There are many days I feel like a child who is distracted by shiny things. Yesterday was one of those days.

I had a great chat with my friend, and mentor, Neil. He has been instrumental in keeping me motivated and inspired to follow this crazy journey of writing novels. I knew I had a monumental day ahead, as the 238 pages of my first novel needed to be screened for one final edit before I self-publish on January 11th. But during my conversation with Neil about book number three, my mind took the next exit into creativity and the editing sat on the side of the road with a flat tire.

He had given me a few tasks, and asked that they be hand-written. My pen could not keep up with the ideas my brain was sending. I quickly realized how long it had been since I had actually written anything with a pen, and I struggled to remember how to hold the pen properly. After a few trial runs, it all came flooding back.

Since I spent my Monday afternoon being an author, I had to spend all of today being an editor. I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 am and spent nine consecutive, grueling hours going through my first novel with a fine-toothed comb. By mid-afternoon, I was ready to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. BUT, The Waking Hours has been submitted to Amazon for approval and I am now drinking wine, and shitting my pants. They really should make pills for this!

The signs are everywhere

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I have been so absent from this blog because I have been so present in my novel writing and editing that I have not been able to process any other words, until now.

I am a big believer in signs. If you are willing to see them, they are everywhere. As many of you already know, my first novel, The Waking Hours, will be self-published on January 11th, 2021. (1/11) My second novel, titled One Eleven, is scheduled to be published 111 days later on May 2nd, 2021. For the past few months, I have noticed the number 111 at many different times and in many different ways.

Almost every day, I happen to glance at a clock or look at my phone at precisely 1:11 pm. And no, I am not glancing repeatedly until the seconds pass. It happened again today, and when my best friend in Calgary received the email I sent to her earlier today, the delivery time was 11:11 am, her time. The last time I ran to the grocery store, my Odometer was happy to show me I had driven 11.1 kilometers. And as I played a Turbo table of online Texas Hold ‘Em, the person to the right of me was called Shady1111, and the person to the left of me made a bad bet and was left with 1,111 dollars in chips. I was flanked by 1111.

To say I think these things are a good omen for me in 2021 is an egregious understatement. Although self-publishing a book is a frankly nauseating experience, my nerves are not as electrically charged as they had been. The acid that now percolates in my stomach is much more of a simmer as opposed to the rolling boil it had been at the end of the horrific year formally known as 2020.

I entered 2021 with a great sense of hope and a new confidence in myself. I took a short respite from my books to create an author website where I can post updates, and readers can learn more about the future books in the series. I do not know what the universe has planned for me this year, but I am happy to climb on board to see where the ride takes me.

You can find my new site at http://www.susanmnairn.ca

Oh, how the words have flowed

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Back in July, my world changed for the better. I know that may seem unbelievable since 2020 has been so devastating in so many ways, but a chance conversation overheard by a keen set of ears has changed the trajectory of my belief in my writing and its potential in the fiction market.

That keen set of ears has since become my mentor, and my friend. We scheduled weekly Zoom meetings so he could get updates on the progress of my writing in book number two, and he held me accountable to a proper schedule I may not have kept otherwise. We had agreed on the date of November 30th as the day I would finish the book. As much as I wanted to hold up my end of the agreement, my characters chose to have a temper tantrum and November 30th came and went with no end in sight for my story. I could hear the quote by Douglas Adams in my head – “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”

I was determined to finish my second novel and promised my friend the book would be done by December 5th. My characters must have been motivated by my uncompromising determination and the words began to flow again. On the day the story was meant to be finished, I wrote 5,700 words between the hours of 11:00 am and 6:00 pm, an average of 815 words an hour! My reward for being a conduit for the voices in my head was being able to write the two words authors love – THE END.

After giving my brain a much-needed rest, I am now in the editing phase, which is also known as the pull-your-hair-out phase. My goal is to have book number two sent to Beta readers to bring them some holiday serial-killing cheer, and to have book number one ready to be introduced to the Amazon world on January 11th. I am hoping Santa will fill my stocking with a heaping dose of courage (and some new underwear). Wish me luck!!