Bestselling fantasy author C.L. Wilson is wrapping up her blog tour for THE WINTER KING, her newest fantasy romance. I met Ms. Wilson years ago at a writer’s conference before I was published. We only chatted for a few minutes, but I remember how nice she was. And how terrific her books sounded. So I’m very happy to host her for her last stop where she shares ten of the things she’s learned since she started writing. She’s also offering a tour-wide giveaway: one copy of her book and a winter white rose snow globe pendant (pictured below; U.S. only). Welcome, C.L.!
Ten Things I’ve Learned
Since I Started Writing
by C.L. Wilson
I penned (or, rather, penciled) my first story at age 5-6, completed and submitted my first novel at 21, joined RWA in the late ‘80’s, early 90’s, and sold my first book in 2006 (published in 2007). Since 2007, I’ve hit the USA Today, NY Times, Publisher’s Weekly, had my (former) publisher go bankrupt and close its doors, seen over half of the US bookstores go out of business, and seen the rise of ebooks and self-publishing totally change the publishing landscape, and returned to publishing after three and a half years away to find everything dramatically different than it was in 2011.
10. Never stop reading.
Read a lot. Always. Love of writing stories begins with love of reading stories, so reading is something writers should make time to do every day. And you should read outside your own genre, too. This is important. It’s something I often forget, simply because I love reading the genres I write most of all, but reading outside your own genre is akin to thinking outside the box. You’ll never know what is going to spark that next unique idea, so broadening your reading horizons is a great way to prep your brain for making interesting new leaps and connections! Now, with ebooks, I have an extensive library that is always with me on my cell phone, iPad, and Nook.
9. Build a Circle of (Writer) Friends.
No one understands the ups and downs of being a writer as much as other writers. No one can help you celebrate the successes and get through the downturns like other writers. I have a close, tight-knit circle of writer friends—my BFFs—with whom I share everything. I wouldn’t be published without them. We brainstorm, help each other when we’re stuck, laugh, cry, support each other when our books come out, and generally act as confidant, safety net, cheer squad, commiseration crew, and all-around besties for one another. My life is so much richer for having this circle of friends in it.
8. Learn how long it takes you to write a book BEFORE you sell one.
I wish I’d learned this before I sold, but between the day job, family, and the constant shuffling of priorities, I didn’t know. I still don’t. I’m getting better at it though. One way to estimate is to track your word count every time you write. Figure out about how many words you write per hour on average, and how many hours per week you write on average. That will give you a good idea of how long it will take you to write a rough draft of say, 100,000 words. (or 150,000 in my case!)
7. Learn to call for help when you get stuck. (See Circle of Friends above).
For me, I can get (and have gotten) stuck for weeks, even months at a time, and you can’t afford to do that while under deadline, so you need to set a time limit on the “I can figure this out myself” part of your “writer’s block” and call in reinforcements when needed. A few minutes on the phone with a friend, a few probing questions about plot, character motivation, etc., and even if the friend doesn’t come up with the answer, her questions help you figure it out yourself!
6. Keep learning.
No matter how much you know about writing, about publishing about anything, there’s always something new to learn. Keep asking questions, keep listening, keeping learning about the craft and the industry.
5. Remember, once you’re published, writing is a business, and you are the business owner!
As much as I wish I could just write a book and forget about the rest, that’s not how being a published author works. You need to learn how the publishing business works. You need to learn how to promote your work (and that includes how NOT to promote your work). You need to understand how to read contracts so you know what you’re signing. (Having an agent helps a lot for contracts and negotiations, but at the end of the day, it’s your name on the contract, not hers.) Once you’re published, writing can’t be that thing you do when the muse strikes. It has to be that thing you do even when you have to drag your muse kicking and screaming out of whatever fluffy, warm bed she’s snuggled into to hibernate!
4. Keep the day job!
Contrary to popular opinion, most published authors don’t make enough money from their work to live on. Even being a New York Times bestseller doesn’t guarantee you’re pulling down a six-figure or even a high-five-digit salary (especially these days). And with print publishing, royalties are paid out over the course of three or more years, not months. My college writing professors told me that only approximately 30% of all authors support themselves on their writing. I’m not sure what the statistics are today, but I don’t think things have changed that much.
3. Understand that no matter how great your book is, someone out there is going to hate it.
And they’re going to get on the internet and tell everyone who will listen just how awful your darling masterpiece is. This remains the hardest thing for me. No matter how many books I have published, or how many people love those books and give it rave reviews, having someone who didn’t love one of my books go online to shred that book to bits…well, it hurts. So when I see that someone is about to take a butcher knife to my baby, I turn and walk away. Don’t want to see it. Can’t let that negativity into my creative space. I’m hard enough on myself as it is without piling on other people’s criticism to boot. It does nothing to help my writing and it does a whole lot to hurt it. So, as my son says, Swerve!
Apart from that, there is one other trick I’ve learned to help put bad reviews in perspective. I’ve done it many times. The trick is this: I go to an online bookstore, and pull up one of my all time favorite books (books I think are sheer masterpieces, books that made me swoon, books I’ve read until the pages are falling out). Then I go to the 1 star reviews for that book and I read them. It helps me realize that no matter how perfect a book is, if enough people read it, somewhere out there, someone is going to despise that book as much as I adore it. Makes no sense to me, but they do.
2. Power Hour really works.
Among my Circle of Friends (see above), there are about 5 of us who get together 3-4 hours of every day to write. We conference call each other at pre-determined times and report in our starting word counts. (Cell Phones are GREAT for this – but divvy up who is conferencing whom into the call so you don’t run out of minutes) Then the phone goes off, and we write. During Power Hour, we do not get on Facebook, we do not answer email, we do not text or take phone calls or allow interruptions. We Write. At the end of the hour, we conference call back in to report our ending word counts. You’d be shocked how much we get done. A little friendly competition goes a long way…and so does knowing your friends are counting on you to write with them, even when you’d rather sleep in or read that book that’s calling to you. Plus we get to chat with our Circle of Friends several times a day, every day, and that is worth my weight in international long distance minutes! (which is to say, a LOT!) Those of us used to working 8-12 hours or more a day are making the same daily word count in 3-4 hours with Power Hours. Wow. That leaves us free to spend the rest of the time devoted to my next Lesson I’ve Learned….
1. Make Time for Other Things.
It’s very easy to let a job you love consume you (especially when you work from home). Refilling the well is a vital activity for every creative person. Find things away from writing and your computer that relax you, challenge you, make you happy. Make time for family, friends, and yourself, too! How can you refill the creative well if you’re constantly draining it dry?
Life is meant for living…so live it! And love it! Find your happiness where you can and thank whatever high power you believe in for every glorious new day.
More About The Winter King
Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when Falcon, the prince of Summerlea, stole Wynter’s bride and murdered his young brother, Wynter vows vengeance. Calling upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart, he gathers his armies and marches against Summerlea, crushing their armies and spreading icy winter in his wake.
After three long, bitter years of battle, Summerlea is defeated and Wynter comes to the heart of the kingdom to issue his terms for their surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth of love and melt the Ice Heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.
The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will turn her out in the ice and snow of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters. All the while, Wynter will enjoy the vengeance of knowing the Summer King will suffer each day without his beloved daughter(s), as Wynter suffers each day without his own beloved brother.
The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond.
Blamed as a child for the death of her beloved mother, Khamsin Coruscate, the forgotten princess of Summerlea, has spent her life hidden from the world like an embarrassing secret. Dressed in cast-off gowns and left to her own devices, with only the determination of her loyal nursemaid to ensure she receives the education befitting an Heir to the Summer Throne, Khamsin haunts the abandoned towers and gardens of Summerlea’s royal palace, close to her beloved late mother’s treasures, and waits for the day her father will recognize her as a Princess of the Rose. But though she dreams of the valor and sacrifices of ancient Summerlea heroes and pines for paternal love that will never come, Khamsin is no sweet, gentle, helpless princess-in-a-tower. She is a fiercely passionate creature with a volatile, rebellious temper that is often as reckless and destructive as the dangerous forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.
Together will their stormy personalities be able to meld or will their powers destroy not only their love but the whole world?
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More About C.L. Wilson
Praised for exceptional worldbuilding and lyric prose, C.L. Wilson’s unique blend of action, romance, and richly-imagined fantasy have endeared her books romance and fantasy readers alike. Her critically acclaimed novels have regularly appeared on bestseller lists including the USA Today, the New York Times, and Publisher’s Weekly.
When not torturing her characters mercilessly, C.L. enjoys reading, questing through the wilds of the latest Elder Scrolls game and dreaming of a world where Bluebell’s Nutty Chocolate ice cream is a fat burning food.
She can be found online here:
“A copy of THE WINTER KING, complete with a gorgeous white rose snow globe pendant reminiscent of the book!”
U.S. only. Click here for the Rafflecopter link.
I know I’ve been unbelievably quiet lately, but I’m also a big believer in C.L. Wilson’s #1 piece of advice (this week, I’m spending lots of time with my family) and her #10 (I finished Laurence Gonzales’ LUCY: realized not long after starting it that, despite some superficial similarities, the book and the movie are two different stories… more on that later). Now I’m debating whether my next book should be another in Wilson’s Tairen Soul series or THE WINTER KING… It’s good to have choices! 😀
Hope everyone else is having a terrific August full of everything fun and/or productive: vacations, reading, writing, family, new places imagined or real… Thank you to C.L. Wilson for guest blogging today!