May 3, Houston: The big one -- the Inprint reading -- occurs at the Alley Theatre on Monday, May 3. Do not miss it or you'll be sorry. I'm not kidding -- I'm going to say the craziest, most intellectual yet hilarious stuff I can think of, and I'll be sharing the stage with the ultra sexy Oscar Casares, too.
June 24, Houston: I'm one of the peeps scheduled to read at Poison Pen, at Houston's famous Poison Girl bar. Besides me, everyone there will be ultra, *super* sexy. Come see me and drink!
June 26, Washington, DC: I'll be reading at the American Library Association conference. Come on down.
My other blog: Go read my the Houston Chronicle parenting blog (or my ChronMomBlog, as I like to call it) and make sure my kids won't resent me more than other kids resent their own parents.
Buy my new novel, Lone Star Legend. Already did? Well, buy a few more for your friends, then. :)
Monday, December 06, 2004I'm not clever and I can't lie.
There are rules in place for people who have books and who also have Web sites. The first is: You're not supposed to complain or whine, unless you do so charmingly, and unless the subject of your discomfort is your writer's block or your late nights spent conquering it.
It's too late for me to observe decorum. I've had this site since before I had my book, and I've always told y'all the ugly truth on it. So, now I have to tell y'all the truth about what's going on with me and my writing. You'll either think that, unlike the other writers online, I'm pathetic, or else you'll simply continue to enjoy this site for its humiliating candor.
Last week a friend emailed to tell me about her vacation. I wrote back and the beginning of my reply email went something like this:
Don't feel bad. I'm trying to lose weight, too. Also, I am totally broke this year, so, yeah, let's get together for lunch instead of trading gifts.Then, even though she hadn't asked, "So, what's going on with your writing?" I assumed she was dying to know. So I said:
I'm trying not to stress over the marketing of the first book.Then, next thing I knew, my email to my friend was suddenly filled with full-on drama:
But I am stressing, just a little, because I thought I'd be planning a book tour itinerary for the first part of 2005 by now, but I'm not, because I'm broke, because I'm still not getting child support even though I paid a bunch of money to a lawyer to threaten the deadbeat with jail if he didn't pay. On the one hand, I'm beating myself up for not getting out and pushing the book way harder than I've already pushed it. Then again... What? I'm supposed to work this [deleted] day job, be the sole provider for my kids, work on the second book I desperately need to publish for the sake of financial survival in 2005, AND be the ONLY PERSON trying to make sure my first book gets sold?? What the heck? How am I supposed to do that? And my publisher just told me that NO ONE is going to review my book, since they sent the review copies out so late. And none of the bookstores want to carry a book that hasn't been reviewed, apparently. And I'm starting to realize that having a book published is not at all the happy, life-changing, FAIRY TALE EPISODE I thought it would be - all it is, is a foot in the door for my potential second book, which I have to write NOW even though I have NO TIME, because it's the only conceivable way I'm ever going to make enough extra money to LIVE. So, basically, I'm sitting here broke, awash in the latest realization that I'm NEVER GOING TO QUIT MY DAY JOB, EVER, because I'm a stupid loser who can't even make the most of an opportunity that others would kill to have. So, MERRY EFFING CHRISTMAS TO ME. Oh, and, if ONE MORE PERSON at my job walks up to me and simpers, "I guess you'll be quitting any day now, now that you have a book," I'm going to scream, then throw my water cup against the wall, then jump out the window, then land in the big fountain twenty stories below, then scream again with the water from the fountain pounding on my head, then roll out onto the grass, than just lie there crumpled up like a snotty Kleenex and cry. In that order.So, after hitting Send on that one, I felt a little bit sad. I stood up and told my coworkers, "I'll be right back." I went to the office of my friend Julio, who is my friend because we share an interest in literature, and because he has an office. I told him, "I just realized that I'm a failure as a writer and that I'm never going to make any money and that I'm going to die penniless and alone after choking to death on sugar-free candy bar."
And he had perverse words of comfort. He said that, with that statement of mine, all the successful writers in the world were opening their big magical door and telling me, "Come join our club."
Which was a creative way of saying, "Everyone has to start somewhere, and some day you'll look back on this and fondly romanticize the way you struggled before you made it big."
And that's a nice, romantic thing for your friends to think about you when you're an as-yet not extremely successful writer. And you hope they're right, and you get back to work on your next book, and you continue to live your life.
The Other True Thing About Publishing Your First Book
When you have a book published, if you're anything like me at all (God help you), then you'll have to stop talking to all your friends.
Why? Well, because... First, your friends will either buy your book right off the bat, or they won't. If they don't, you don't want to call them to get together for lunch, because you're scared that they're scared that you just want to nag them to buy your book. And you don't want to do that (more than twice). So you don't do anything. And while you're waiting for those friends to call and say, "I got your book! Can't wait to read it," you have plenty of time to stay up at night, wondering if those people are really your friends at all, or if they've always secretly hated you and only talk to you because you never got the hint and stopped calling them. And you try not to think about that stuff. You try to concentrate on marketing your book to people you've never met, instead.
On the other hand, you also can't call your friends who have bought your book. Why? Because you're scared that they're scared that you'll just be calling to solicit their opinion of it. And you won't be. I mean, of course you'll want to know what they thought of it. You wouldn't be human if you didn't. But you also want to hang out with your friends, because you enjoy their company. But, the longer you don't call and they don't call, you'll start to worry more and more that they hated your book and don't want to tell you and so you'll never see them again. And you try, really hard, not to think about that stuff. You try to concentrate on finishing your second book, instead.
On the third and final hand, you have your friends who ran out and bought your book, and hurried up and read your book, and then immediately called you and told you that they loved your book. And those friends make you feel really happy. At first. Eventually, though, you'll have to stop calling those friends, too. Why? Because you'll feel horrible about boring them with your incessant panicking about the friends who haven't yet bought or given their opinions of your book.
So, there it is. The experience of having your first book published in a long, rambling nutshell.
Am I miserable and insane? Yes.
Would I prefer to go back in time and NOT publish a book? No. Jeez - are you crazy? No freaking way. 6:37 AM #
GOD, I could have written EXACTLY what you did, except that I'm ALSO swamped with work on my second book, and I'm ALSO broke, and I'm ALSO busy at my !^##%@# day job, and blah blah blah. But you're right...I wouldn't trade it for anything either. Too bad you aren't in Denver; we could get together and drink sugar-free vanilla lattes and bitch.
# posted by Tina : 10:26 AM
I'm one of those who promised to buy one of your books, and I'm very eager to. Unfortunately, I have to wait until I get my Christmas bonus because funds have been especially scarce lately. I guess it's because I've been spending money on my grandson. I've even had to put off getting more of my facial moisturizer, and my forehead is dramatically pruning up. It's disturbing.
I read someone else's copy of the first chapter of your book, and it was great. I can hardly wait to read the whole thing.
You'll know when I get it because I'll ask you to sign it.
Allow yourself to revel in the reality that you have a published book - - not a self-published book, either. It's happening! It's really happening! Then write every chance you get on book two, calmly confident that you have begun a sure journey to ultimate success as a writer. Having to have patience will only make you better at your craft.
# posted by Stevie : 2:11 PM
Aw Gwen, your not a looser! What can I say to you that'll make you feel better?
I'm working on being a writer too, but I am only writing short stories, that no one seems to be interested in.You've gotten further then I have.
I have read in WD magezine, that some time the first book dosen't get the attention that it needs. So you will have to take matters into your own hands. So what does that mean? In a word self promotion!
I know easier said then done!
From what I understand, you'll have to call around and set-up your own interviews, and send in your book to those who review books. Anything and everything to bring attention to yourself and your book. Also call and make appointments with every book store with in an hour or two driving radious(of your home), for a book signing. And make sure they have your book for the signing.
With not a lot of time on your hands, that's gonna be tricky. Maybe you could do it on weekends?
Good luck Gwen!
# posted by Janice : 6:38 PM
I own two copies of your book and let me just say it rules. Oh, and you can call me anytime. It won't be weird.
# posted by Datty : 11:15 PM
Tina: You are my sister-in-arms. We will fight the good fight together.
Tutu: Please don't spend your Christmas bonus on my book. Get the face lotion, instead.
Jan: Thank you. That's very good advice.
Datty: It's six thirty AM. I'm calling you right now.
Just kidding. Ha.
# posted by Gwen : 6:34 AM
Hey...i'm more than halfway done with your book...is that good enough for you..hehe...i've just been busy and have not had as much time to read lately. Anyway, so far your book cracks me up. I can just picture you saying all those things....Um, are you letting your children read it??
# posted by MissCathee : 8:58 PM
Soon you will of done readings and book signings all over Texas. You're raking in tons of money and you want to expand your market so you come to LA and I get to meet you :)
# posted by Vicki : 3:53 AM
i just stumbled into ur site tonight and
ur book sounds VERY interesting and i wish i could read it! but i'm in australia and don't really have the funds to buy a book online...
oh well, i guess i'll find a way to read it eventually
p.s. at school my teacher taught us that being a great writer has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with marketing... (oh she was a fun one... always liked to shatter our dreams like that~!)
# posted by Leo Rising : 7:46 AM
Just thought I tell you that, I just ordered your book from Barnes and nobles. There not selling your book for very much, just a little more then ten dollars.
Hey everybody! buy Gwen's book! it's not much, and we can show her how much we love her, by buying her book!
# posted by Janice : 8:04 PM
# posted by Gwen : 8:29 AM
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