It turns out this love letter needs a prologue. So here it is.
I’ve known of MikeTheBlogger since he was born and certain of my siblings babysat him. I don’t think we ever spoke until a couple of years ago. To be honest, the only reason we talked was because a few years before that his mother (unbeknownst to him) gave me a copy of something he wrote. No expectations. Just, here. (But of course she was hoping for validation of her son’s talent. Which she got, only I don’t think I told her that because the words belonged to MikeTheBlogger.)
So, okay. I read his words and, unlike every other piece of writing that comes to me from people who don’t know me in my writing life, I not only got past the first page, I got to the last one.
I read them and I kept thinking, I can’t show this to my agent because it’s not ready yet, but I think she’d be interested if it were. So, not ready to show to agents or editors in that form, but in a couple of drafts it would be.
To my knowledge he didn’t do the drafts I hoped he would.
Then he started blogging and that same voice rolled out. Sharp and bitter, wrapped up in vulnerability. So I talked to him again. By then self-publishing had taken hold, so even though any of the Big 5 would probably buy a project from him, he had options.
But to my knowledge, he didn’t work up anything up that he got out there. Maybe he did, but I believe if he had, he’d have sold something.
Do over. Allow me to speak your language.
Dude, Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell, motherfucker?
Words are a gift for the writer who can put them on the page and make people feel. That’s your gift. And the very best writers are the ones who sit there in despair saying “I suck so fucking bad at this why am I even doing this?”
Because the words are there and they won’t go away.
And that’s where gap theory comes in. (We talked about this at your birthday party. I’m not sure you were sober, but whatever.)
The very best writers transport us, and the readers who are born with writing in their souls know those words are very, very good. And they see all the ways their own words are not. They forget they’re reading the written, re-written, edited, revised, re-revised, complete redo, re-edited copy edited and proofread version.
MikeTheBlogger, your worst words are better than 99.99% of the other words out there. You only see the gap between you and authors you love for their words.
Until you take a piece of dreck first draft work and work on it until you see places where it’s really good, and where you’ve actually written a story, goddamnit-how did that happen?-you won’t learn that your very, very good words belong. In your voice that is not anyone else’s.
There’s no guarantee of outside success in writing words. But if you have words in your heart, you should be writing them.
Surfacing from mad revisions for this:
I got an email today from a fairly large site that does book related stuff. They are very very large and are supposed to provide author services. The email included this:
[A woman’s first name] was able to get 100,000 new readers for her book in those 6 months. Now she has over 80 reviews on Amazon and her book is doing well.
Blah blah blah. Send us money.
Right. Someone who has 100,000 NEW READERS
1. Made a list
2. Has a lot more than 80 Amazon reviews.
I really hate when companies look at authors, see dollar signs and decide to fleece the stupid ones.
Because that statement is a LIE.
The Fork is Out.
My Demon Warlord is done. I’ve sent it to final editing so a December release date is looking pretty darn good.
So, a couple of days ago my 2011 model iMac began misbehaving in a worrisome way. I got the soonest Genius Bar appointment possible and it was still too late. Yesterday it basically died. Yesterday was the same day my replacement phone arrived and with the dead iMac, my phone backup was unavailable. Because of our internet situation here (only recently resolved mostly) I never dared back up to iCloud. Not possible. So… I backed up the phone to my Macbook and for some reason it would only encrypt the backup but without ever asking me to give it a password. NEVER HAPPENED. And it wanted this nonexistent password in order to restore my backup to the new phone.
The workaround is a backup to iCloud. So, OK. Our internet is OK enough to risk it. I started at 7:00PM and at 4:30 this morning it was still going. And at 5:30 it just quit. No error message. No nothing. Just “Your backup could not be completed” or else, no message at all. So I took it to work and tried a backup to a Windows machine. Same thing. Encrypted backup. NO opportunity to give a password. I tried iCloud again. Nope.
Finally, the nice lady at Apple wondered if I had enough space in iCloud. Well, I had no idea how big the phone backup is. Apple doesn’t tell you.
Long story short, the answer is no. Apple just swallows a “you don’t have enough space” error message and misses the upsell opportunity too.
Then I got the extra storage and that took two hours for the phone to believe I had it, and THEN the backup succeeded.
THEN the restore was stuck on “1 hour remaining” for three hours.
I went to my other office where they have super duper internet and started over with the restore and it took 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES!!!!!
This was nothing but a series of error conditions that Apple should be trapping. I have suspicions about the backup though. And since I will be back on the phone with them tomorrow to explain my resolution and complain a bit, I’ll relay the possibility that iPhone encrypted backup process doesn’t work when the drive is already encrypted.
Anyway, My Demon Warlord is going well. I’m doing the final paper read-through so the dead iMac could be worse.
Last night I finished the last of the first pass revisions for My Demon Warlord. Now I’m reading through again. Then a paper read through and then, well. I guess I’ll be done but for additional editing, copyediting, proofreading etc. December is looking good.
Next week the anthology Christmas in Duke Street goes on sale. If you’re interested in a review copy, let me know.
Last week I had dinner with two of my writing buddies, something we do fairly often, but not often enough. Along with much great conversation and enjoyment, we talked about how things were going for us. I mentioned my challenges and how much they’ve impacted my writing schedule— as in I’m way behind on almost everything. One of my friends asked me this: what might happen to my writing time and production if I rented office space somewhere and went there after work to write? Would not the constant interruptions at home be less disruptive since I would have already put in writing time?
My other friend said she’d been thinking the same thing about my situation, and that by the way, the town where the two of us happen to live has an office-sharing business. Right smack downtown.
Are those angels singing?
One of my dinner companions once gave me some very very good advice I did not follow. I wasn’t mentally prepared to take steps she recommended. I knew she was right at the time, and two years later I knew for a fact that every single thing she’d said I should do had been spot on and that had I taken her advice, I’d likely already be in a position to quit the day job. I’ve always felt she would probably never give me that level of deep and targeted advice again, and that I had missed a big opportunity. I promised myself that if she ever gave me advice directed exactly at me and my situation, I would take that advice no matter how scary it felt.
I sat there with my friends knowing they were exactly right and thinking to myself, it’s probably too expensive. How can I do something like that? How would that even work? I would need afternoons and weekends and they probably only offer daytime on weekdays. Which I could not do. I already have a schedule that I adhere to, and it’s—subject to constant interruptions with a dose of distraction.
I also thought, really, what would be the worst case? It’s so expensive I can’t afford it? It is only weekdays during the day? How expensive would it have to be to exceed a rational, sensible, deductible business expense? I arrived at a number that would not break the writing bank, having factored in the benefit of getting more writing done, which is something that leads to more books on sale, which leads to more writing income.
My other friend said that she heard it wasn’t expensive at all. How could that be? I thought.
When I got home I Googled the company and looked at the costs, available hours and the required commitments.
Yes, Those ARE angels singing
They offer space after hours and on weekends. More or less, their space is available 24/7. The after-hours plan is $95 a month, no ongoing commitment required.
So. The day after our dinner, I went there and signed up for the plan that fits my schedule.
I’ve been there every day this week and I get a lot done.
I’ve been really low profile these days, but here’s some book updates and news. I ended up working on multiple projects at the same time, which isn’t always the best thing for me. I can’t really lay things out linearly because they didn’t happen in a straight line. I have personal issues that are taking up more of my writing time, but I have managed to figure out how to adjust to that. The adjustment involves the word “ruthless.” Woo-hoo?
I have a historical novella A Seduction in Winter for the upcoming Christmas anthology Christmas in Duke Street. It was rough going. My initial idea seemed great. I really liked it. But when I sat down to write, a different story showed up and it wasn’t the story I had prepared for. Long story short (Hah! That’s a writer joke!) It took a lot longer to write and then rewrite than I anticipated. Involved at least one night of staying up until 2 AM and getting up at 6 AM to get in the final edits. However, I really like the story. It came out great.
Now I’m back to working on My Demon Warlord which is on track and going well. I am targeting a December release date, which is well beyond what I’d originally hoped.
After that, I’ll start on Sinclair Sisters Book 3, Emily and Bracebridge.
Once all my fast writing was done for A Seduction in Winter, my hands were sore and achy so I’ve started dictating as much as I can. It speeds things up considerably.
And now, back to the writing cave.
Edited to add: If you’re reading this post without attribution, then you’re at a site that scrapes content without credit to the original author. The author of this post is Carolyn Jewel. This is a great book and you should totally buy it while giving a hard side-eye to people who make it look like they did all the hard work of reading, contacting the author, and writing this post.
Preface: Today I have author Luke Williams here with a guest post about his biography of Regency era boxer, Bill Richmond. I read this book and absolutely loved it. I stayed up late reading every night until I finished it. Richmond’s story is fascinating and gripping and it’s beautifully written. I’m giving away a copy to a commenter, rules below.
Luke Williams about his biography of Bill Richmond, Richmond Unchained
It’s a pleasure to have been asked to write a guest post here about my new book Richmond Unchained. Given that most people probably haven’t heard of the remarkable man who is the subject of my book, I figured that some background info would be useful for you all.
Sub-titled The biography of the world’s first black sporting superstar the subject of my book is the life of Bill Richmond, a black man who was born a slave in Staten Island in 1763. Bill’s initially bleak prospects in life were immeasurably enhanced by the altruism of a British soldier named Earl Hugh Percy, who met Bill when he was a teenager, took a shine to him and persuaded his slave owner to free him.
Percy brought Bill back to England and paid for him to be educated. By the 1790s, Bill was leading a respectable existence in London with his wife and children as a literate and trained cabinet-maker. In 1805, though, Bill’s life took a remarkable twist when, despite already being in his forties, he decided to try his hand in the sporting arena. It seemed an act of madness but, within a few short years, Bill was one of the top boxers in the country, at a time when ‘pugilism’ was perhaps the most fashionable spectator sport among both the upper and working classes.
Bill became so famous and feted that he was among a group of boxers enlisted by George IV to act as ushers at the coronation celebrations of 1821 in Westminster, while his skills as a pugilistic and gymnastic tutor saw him mix with the nobility and the literati, William Hazlitt and Lord Byron among them.
I first came across the bare bones of Bill’s life story in the late 1990s. Given his status as the first black sportsman in history to achieve widespread fame, and the Dickensian rags to riches narrative of his life – complete with mystery benefactors and a fair dollop of both glory and tragedy – it astonished me that no one had written a full biography of his life.
From the moment I began carefully researching Bill’s life in 2003, with the intention of eventually writing a book about him, I was convinced that someone else would come along and ‘beat me to the punch’ by writing a rival book. But no one ever did … so when Richmond Unchained was finally published in August of this year it represented the first full-length account of Bill’s life story.
‘Black history’ has traditionally received a raw deal from publishers and mainstream historians in the UK and I think it is crucial, given the wonderful, multicultural and multi-ethnic society that modern-day Britain has become, that the stories of significant figures from black history such as Bill Richmond are now told.
Thankfully, my publishers Amberley agreed, although it is worth pointing out that five other publishers passed on my proposal – one claiming Bill’s story was too ‘niche’, while the other four neglected to even send me the courtesy of a rejection letter.
My main ambition in writing this book has been to ensure that more people learn about Bill Richmond, a truly ground-breaking ‘man of colour’, who succeeded, against all the odds, in winning fame and respect in Georgian England, during an age when slavery was still in operation throughout the British Empire and America.
To these ends, I was also delighted when Shepherd Neame brewery agreed to my proposal to honour Bill in the form of a memorial portrait at their Tom Cribb pub in central London – a location which holds great significance in Bill’s life. (Find out more about this here: billrichmond.blogspot.co.uk)
When Bill’s portrait was unveiled at a recent launch event for Richmond Unchained, in this very same pub, what made the moment even more significant and fitting in my eyes, was the fact that the ‘unveiler’ was Earl George Percy – a direct descendant of Richmond’s benefactor Hugh Percy.
As I stood next to George, with news cameras capturing the moment for television and admirers of Bill Richmond surrounding us, I like to think that Bill would have been proud.
Where to Get Richmond Unchained
I’m giving a copy of the book to one commenter. It’s out in digital format now, print forthcoming. So I can (probably) send you your choice of format. If you’re in the US, it should be pretty easy. If you’re outside the US, it’s a little trickier, but we’ll work it out. I might not be able to get you a digital copy.
Rules: Must be 18 to enter. Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Prize will be awarded to an alternate winner if the winner does not respond to notifications from me.
To enter, leave a comment to this blog post. It would be awesome if you comment about the post, but telling me what color breeches you think Richmond should be wearing is fine. (It’s yellow on the book cover.) Leave your comment by 11:59:59 PM Pacific Time Wednesday September 9, 2015.