I originally wrote this as a long Tweet thread a couple days ago, and I got so much feedback from other writers says they’ve struggled with this/something similar that I decided to post it here. So, here it is. Skip if you’re not interested in writing stuff or the publishing business.
This week, I was on my phone scrolling through Twitter (thus cheating on my Cold Turkey laptop internet blocker) & came across a thread with an author talking about her exhaustion versus her expectations. I don’t remember the author or everything from the thread, but I recall the author said she pushed herself with writing until her health finally deteriorated enough to force her to slow down. I could REALLY relate, hence this very long post.
Lots of personal info coming up, so apologies for TMI. However, I want other writers to know if they’re struggling with exhaustion-vs-expectations that they’re not alone. Here’s what happened to me & it didn’t matter that I’d already had several bestsellers by this point. A lot of writers (myself included) tend to think “If I just get to ___ milestone, I won’t stress anymore!” but that doesn’t happen.
Okay, until 2012, I thought if I didn’t write at the same pace as More Prolific Authors, I was a failure. That was simply how I considered it. After all, if these authors could write 2, 3, 4, or 5 books a year, then I should be able to do that too, right?
WRONG. But I tried. I frequently spent 12 hour days at my keyboard, not letting myself leave even if words weren’t coming. I also frequently didn’t take weekends off. If I did, I felt so guilty that it was difficult to even enjoy spending time with my family or doing non-work things.
The reason why is I kept thinking if I only tried HARDER, it would get easier to write more. But it didn’t. It got more difficult instead. Then, I’d get so depressed seeing other authors talk about 3K, 5K, or even 7K+ word count days when I was barely topping 2K after ten hours.
I worried constantly that I wasn’t a “real” writer like they were. All of this starting taking a toll on my relationships and my health. It started with night terrors. Several times, I’d literally wake up screaming while flailing as if I were being attacked. It scared the HELL out of my husband, as you can imagine. It scared me, too.
But it still didn’t get me to slow down. I kept thinking I HAD to continue this way or I’d lose the career that meant so much to me. It wasn’t until a couple years later, when I went to the ER with severe chest pains I thought was a heart attack, that I actually, truly thought “What am I doing?”
When I was waiting for test results to see if I might die immediately, I didn’t care if I ever wrote again. I only cared about spending more time with my husband and my family. It took something that scary for me to reset my priorities.
It wasn’t a heart attack, thank God. Or a pulmonary embolism, which it could have been from the ridiculously long hours I’d spent in chairs, not getting up b/c Must! Write! More! It turned out to be costochondritis, which is typically caused by car accidents, other injuries or lifting too many heavy things. I’d apparently given it to myself from sheer stress.
Now, I still care about my writing and my career because it’s my dream come true and the only thing I want to professionally do. But I’m not willing to harm myself for it any longer. Yes, I still sigh in envy when I see authors I admire writing so much faster than me, but I’ve stopped punish myself over it.
I know now that it doesn’t mean I’m a “failure” or “lazy” or “ungrateful” or not a “real” writer or any of the other things I told myself when I was trying to self-berate into faster productivity. It only means that some people write faster. And that’s okay, personally and professionally. Publishing IS competitive, but it’s not a winner-take-all game. There’s room for many kinds of authors, including slower ones like me.
This doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally burn the midnight oil to meet a deadline. It doesn’t also mean you won’t work weekends sometimes. But those things should be occasional and not the long-term norm. Not only are health issues a real concern, creative burn-out and writer’s block are common symptoms of overworking, too.
As with everything in this biz, other writers’ mileage may vary. I’ve met authors who write every single day with no ill effects at all. And good for them, really! But just because they can doesn’t mean that all authors can. Or should. Hey, some people can summit Mount Everest, too, but that doesn’t mean everyone should strap on a backpack and try it ;))
So, if you’ve duct-taped yourself to your laptop because you think you have to produce at levels that you’re simply not capable of, take it from me – cut yourself free. It’s not worth it and it probably won’t help you reach those goals, anyway. Do your best, then be okay with whatever that turns out to be. Hugs to you!
Mirrored from Frost Light.
Hi, all. I was supposed to be at Apollycon this weekend, but I have to cancel. Yes, this is very last minute and I want to apologize to the readers who’d been planning to see me, the great staff at Apollycon, its host Jennifer Armentrout, the book seller that ordered all my books, and anyone else I’m forgetting.
As some of you know, my father nearly died last week (I blogged about it here.) We thought it was a “fluke” because the doctors and hospital basically said that when discharging him over the weekend. However, I found out late last night that he had two similar episodes yesterday. Now, he’s in the hospital again and doctors are planning some kind of heart surgery. Heart surgery is never a casual thing, but it’s especially serious considering my father’s health (as I blogged about last week, in 2014, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to have half his renal system removed. He was then diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2015, yet has been able to keep that at bay with periodic treatments. In 2016, he had a triple bypass after the doctors discovered massive arterial blockages. After that surgery, his lungs failed and he nearly died. He recovered from that to have a major internal bleeding incident a couple months later that almost killed him. He then recovered from that only to have a mild stroke, fall out of bed and break his neck a couple months after that. Then a tooth extraction turned septic a couple months ago and he nearly died from that. Then last week’s near-death incident, and now this.)
I hate to cancel an event last minute, but as hopefully all of you can understand, I don’t want to be several states away during this time. Any prayers and good vibes that you can spare for my dad would be appreciated, as they would for my sister Jeanne, who lives with him as his primary caregiver. Here they are below. Thank you.
Mirrored from Frost Light.
I can't believe it's already Friday, and I'm not saying that in my usual "yay, Friday!" way. This has been a week of significant ups and downs. For starters, I got a migraine on Sunday that only showed signs of letting up by Wednesday morning. This isn't terribly unusual; I have a long history of migraines and sometimes they last for days. Yes, I've been to a doctor (a few.) Yes, I have tried lots of different remedies from prescriptions to naturopathic to holistic treatments to specific trigger-point massage to aromatherapy. Those things can help, but they don't cure my migraines. I must have inherited them from the maternal part of my lineage since my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother all suffered from migraines, too. On the bright side, they're supposed to get better after menopause, so that's one thing I have to look forward to after "the change" when it happens.
Bu that's why, when I woke up on Wednesday and didn't have a blasting headache, I was happy the migraine had finally left me. Between the pain involved and the meds for them, I hadn't been able to get any new writing done Monday or Tuesday. I was therefore hoping for a very productive remainder of the week on the writing front. And then the phone rang. It was one of my sisters, crying, to say that my other sister had found our Dad slumped over in his bathroom, unresponsive. When the paramedics got there, they said he was no longer breathing and it was "very bad." This is exactly how my mother died a little over two years ago. During the next fifteen minutes between that first call and the one that came after it, I was sure my father was dead. "Not breathing" and "very bad" are usually terms you hear from a paramedic right before "I'm sorry, he's gone." As you can imagine, I burst into tears from grief, which caused my migraine to instantly return. Then came the unbelievably happy news I hadn't been expecting - the paramedics had gotten Dad breathing again, so he was still alive and being taken to the hospital.
He's in stable condition now, thank God, and I swear, my father must be part cat because he apparently has nine lives. In 2014, he was diagnosed with cancer and had to have half his renal system removed. He was then diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2015, yet has been able to keep that at bay with periodic treatments. In 2016, he had a triple bypass after the doctors discovered massive arterial blockages. After that surgery, his lungs failed and he nearly died. He recovered from that to have a major internal bleeding incident a couple months later that almost killed him. He then recovered from that only to have a mild stroke, fall out of bed and break his neck a couple months after that. Then a tooth extraction turned septic a couple months ago and he nearly died from that. Now this. Seeing a pattern? *falls over from stress and worry*
Even with the very happy news that Dad wasn't dead, my migraine decided to stick around for another two days. It's finally gone today *knocks wood* but I had other family issues with another relative filling my time, plus trying to get my neglected inbox in order, plus other business stuff, so my word count this week is still zero (sorry, dear long-suffering editor!) Still, I'm not planning a funeral like I thought I'd be, and that is the most important thing. I can't tell you what it means to be able to talk to my father and tell him that I love him when I thought I wouldn't ever get the chance to again.
Finally, let me end this post with one of the cutest things I saw this week: the story of an unlikely friendship between a baby hippo and a baby rhino. If you need a smile, watch this.
This baby hippo’s best friend is a baby rhino, and he loves her more than anything in the world 💛 pic.twitter.com/p3KcZCJE1c
— The Dodo (@dodo) March 15, 2018
I will also be posting the first chapter on my blog. To whet your appetite for that, here is what BFF Ilona Andrews Tweeted after reading it:
I got to read the first chapter of Ian's book and you didn't. Nyah-nyah! Laughed for a full minute over the opening line and the skillful use of four letter words. @Jeaniene_Frost
— Ilona Andrews (@ilona_andrews) February 28, 2018
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: "Wow, how many times does Jeaniene use the F-word in the first chapter?"
That's not the four-letter word she's talking about. *grins* I leave it to your imagination to guess which one it is.
Until then, hope you have a good one!
We interrupt this blog for a Proud Fur-Mommy moment: my fur-baby, Gypsy, turned fourteen this past week. She has been a joy and a blessing to me and my husband every single day of those fourteen years. If I had my way, she’d be with us for another fourteen. Here she is, licking the frosting off her cake instead of posing. Hey, I can’t criticize those priorities – she’s mommy’s little girl ;).
Mirrored from Frost Light.
In this thrilling new Night Rebel series set in New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress world, sexy and ruthless vampire Ian finally meets his match!
The Rule Breaker
Master vampire Ian is unrepentant, shameless...and every shade of wicked. He's made one too many enemies in his two centuries of existence, including Dagon, a demon who now lays claim to his soul. Ian's only chance to escape Dagon is to join forces with a Law Guardian, but he's never been able to abide by the rules for long.
The Law Maker
Veritas' normal role is police, judge and jury to reprobates like Ian. But she has her own ax to grind with Dagon, so if she can use Ian as bait...well, all's fair in law and war. As they scour supernatural hotspots to perfect their trap, Veritas soon realizes Ian's devil-may-care, roguish image hides something much more powerful. And Ian discovers that Veritas has shocking secrets of her own. As they're drawn to each other with a passion as intense as their peril, either love or justice will prevail. But each will have devastating consequences...
Available October 30th, 2018. Pre-order: Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, iBooks, BooksAMillion, Kobo
Note: the mass market edition is not yet available for pre-order on Amazon, but it will be coming soon. There is also a hardcover edition, for those interested, but that will only be available online and not in stores.
Finally, audio readers, the audio edition WILL be available for preorder, but the links aren't up yet. As soon as they are, I'll update my website. And yes, the audio edition will release the same day as the paperback/ebook.
I briefly mentioned this one in my 2017 wrap-up post, but since today is the release day, I'm mentioning it again. First, some backstory. Several months ago, my agent sent me an email asking if I'd read a debut author's book for the potential of a "blurb" which means a promotional endorsement. Now, you don't know this, but my agent sent that request with a decline already written up since (1) I usually don't read over half of what I'm sent because I don't have the time and (2) of the half that I read, I don't get through most of them because I am the pickiest author EVER when it comes to handing out promotional endorsements. Not only do I have to love the book to give it an official "blurb," it also can't hit any of my personal auto-reject tropes, and there are many. No, I'm not listing them because it's my baggage as a reader and I don't want to imply that books that have one or more of these tropes are "bad." They're not. They're just not my cup of tea.
You might be getting an idea of how few books I blurb with all these disclaimers, and you'd be right. It's maybe one a year at most. On top of all this, I got into a reading slump last year where even favorite authors of mine couldn't hold my attention for an entire book. So, although I agreed to read THE LAST WOLF because it had been a while since I'd said yes to my agent about this sort of thing, I was convinced that it would get a reject from me. I even started it with the oh-so-ambitious intention of reading one chapter so I could tell my agent that hey, I'd tried.
Cue me starting the book with that terrible attitude...and then reading for hours, until my husband went to bed with a muttered "Guess you're really enjoying that book."
I was. I finished it in two sittings, which is damn near a record for me of late. THE LAST WOLF is about - you guessed it - werewolves, but it's done in a way that felt fresh and unique even though werewolves are not a new topic. When I finished it, I immediately sent an email to my agent that said "I LOVED this! It's so much better than the werewolf story I wrote. I'll send you a quote once I get over being so envious of the author!"
I'm glad I get to write this post because by comparison, my quote sounds pretty dry and unexcited. I don't know why publishers won't print first reactions on covers. Mine would have been something like "Squee! I loved this book! Seriously, you gotta try it!" Guess they don't consider that professional enough ;).
All that said, here are the details for THE LAST WOLF by Maria Vale, which is one sale today. As you can tell, I really recommend it. I'm not alone in my admiration, either: Amazon picked it as one of their best books of the month and Booklist gave it a starred review.
For three days out of thirty, when the moon is full and her law is iron, the Great North Pack must be wild.
If she returns to her Pack, the stranger will die. But if she stays…
Silver Nilsdottir is at the bottom of her Pack's social order, with little chance for a decent mate and a better life. Until the day a stranger stumbles into their territory, wounded and beaten, and Silver decides to risk everything on Tiberius Leveraux. But Tiberius isn't all he seems, and in the fragile balance of the Pack and wild, he may tip the destiny of all wolves…
The Legend of All Wolves, book one.
Order: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, IndieBound
See Jeaniene, chat about your favorite characters, ask questions, and get your books/ebook covers/whatever signed at these 2018 events!
Appollycon in Arlington, Virginia on March 23rd and 24th. In addition to the Titan signing on Friday and the mass group signing on Saturday, if you’re a Titan pass holder, you can also see me at 10:00 on the Adult Paranormal, Fantasy and Urban Fantasy panel.
Avon Kiss Con
Details to come.
Mirrored from Frost Light.
It feels like everyone has done a "Best of 2017" list, so I decided that, even though it's officially 2018 now, I'd chime in with mine. With that in mind, here are some of my favorite reads during 2017. There aren't many titles because I found myself in a reading slump this past year. I would start books that were perfectly good, but I just couldn't summon the enthusiasm to keep reading. I've been a book lover since I was ten, so this sucked, to be blunt. I'm happy to say that my reading slump seems to be over now, so I am eyeing my To Be Read pile with happy anticipation instead of dread.
That disclaimer aside, here are my favorite reads from 2017:
Stillhouse Lake & Killman Creek by Rachel Caine
The Last Wolf by Maria Vale
The first five novels of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews
The Scarlett Falls series by Melinda Leigh
And here are some of my favorite new TV shows from 2017. You'll note that they range from sweet, quirky and heartwarming (Kevin Probably Saves The World) to over-the-top violent with a side of the fantastical deranged (Happy!). Side note: those two descriptions pretty much sums up my mood swings for the year, heh.
That disclaimer aside, here are my favorite new TV shows of 2017:
Kevin Probably Saves The World
People of Earth
Now, it's back to work for me, which in this case is plugging away at Shades of Wicked, the first Night Rebel (Ian and Veritas) novel. No pre-order links yet, but once I have them I'll post them everywhere. Of course, it wouldn't surprise me if readers find those first. You guys usually beat my publisher to the punch when it comes to telling me about those. Either way, happy New Year to you! Hope 2018 brings a lot of good things your way :).