Perfect scenario. Except none of us had ever been to Palm Springs, but no fear -- we had our "google map." What could go wrong?
Ever see the movie "Rat Race?" If you want a good laugh I suggest you check it out. One scene in particular, the actors stop for directions for a short cut, and a crazy Kathy Bates tries to convince them to buy a squirrel. Of course they didn't pay attention to "the signs" and should have bought at least one squirrel.
Well, according to our trusty "map" we should have been able to take a shorter route just outside of Vegas, which would shave an hour off our already 6-1/2 hour drive. Except there were NO signs that said "Palm Springs." Anywhere. Ever. Best kept secret in California. After passing our quarter inch=so many miles mark, we figured we missed the turn off somehow, so we took the next exit -- Cima, California (awesome fudge & kettle corn) -- which will get you to Palm Springs . . . if you buy a squirrel.
"Yes, just down this road," the cherub-faced clerk said in broken English. "You'll see the signs." This was the standard directions the duration of what turned into an 8 hour drive. Two-lane highway, large potholes, drifting sand, and countless, stomach-dropping dips [see pic above]. Lots of "flash flooding area" signs -- but no signs ever appeared saying "Palm Springs. "And let me tell you Grim, California, is where "Breaking Bad" had to have been filmed, although we did see a desert tortoise along the side of the road. He was probably looking for Palm Springs, as well.
Every wrong turn through areas they'd never find a body with, I kid you not, a vulture following us, our mantra soon became "should have bought a squirrel."
Finally, I figured out how to use my GPS option on my not-so-smart phone, and umpteen data usage minutes later, we arrived at our destination -- almost 3 hours later than "Google" represented. Talk about an adventure. Oh wait. It didn't end. The hotel, while beautiful in appearance, only enhanced our experience. But that's another blog. Let's just say that if the ceiling in your bathroom starts to sag with a huge bubble, run. I'll never leave anything on the floor in a hotel again.
As for the conference? Awesome presenters. I did some major fangirling with Catherine Bybee, whose story to publication should be made into a movie. Rubbed elbows with the likes of Anne Perry, Tina Folsom, Kathryn LeVeque, Rachel Van Dyken, Rebecca Foster, and many others. And then there were the male models. Fancied myself a certain pirate -- aye matey!
What did I learn? That this writing gig isn't easy and there is no "overnight" wonders. Lots of hard work, sweat and tears, heartache, and then you go to bed and get up the next day to start it all over. A rough road. But, the key is not to give up. Keep your ass in the chair and fingers on the keyboard. Ignore the nay-sayers, don't read reviews, and focus on getting the next book out as soon as possible. Be visible on the virtual bookshelf.
Also at the conference, mixed opinions were shared on whether to keep your eggs in one basket, or diversify -- Amazon exclusively, or published in other market places. The Amazon Gods know authors depend on them and , *insert warning*, they are already toying with royalty reductions in foreign markets. So if Amazon is the only one buttering your bread, you may be forced to take the crumbs they offer.
On the other hand, if you are spread out on other platforms, you risk not getting the exposure Amazon gives (let's face it, if you're looking for a book, you will go to Amazon first) and possibly garner less royalties, due to smaller sales. KOBO is gaining in strength, offering Amazon a run for the money in the foreign market, especially in Canada. Do your research and choose what works for you.
Pen names and writing in multiple genres? The main consensus is to stay with one name, yours or a pseudonym, but be very clear on your websites and in your marketing, what your books contain. If you write adult and young adult (as I do) you need to make sure your fans know what they're getting when they purchase your books. Market separately. The only exception is Erotica, where you may want to use a separate pen name, website, etc. if you write in other genres as well.
I love writing conferences, retreats, and seminars -- anywhere I can shelve my real life problems for a bit and mingle with those who truly understand that "voices in your head" exist. It's a time set aside just for me [and my talky characters, who come to life in these settings], wherein I can recharge my author batteries and renew the passion for writing I crave worse than chocolate.
This last conference, specifically targeted to self-published authors, was the shot in the arm I needed, because the sky never seems to quit falling in my life, and I stood on a publishing ledge, ready to "end it all." True story. My author shingle swayed in the breeze on one last nail. Now, gratefully, I'm back in the chair, my virtual young characters alive inside my again, chattering away with new stories. Granted, I'm not as prolific as I desire, but I'm writing again, and whether I put out six books a year, or one, at least I'm where I feel "at home" once again.
So, the lesson here? Don't give up. Do what you can, as much as you can, and DO NOT compare yourself to others. Pat yourself on the back often. You're working on your dream and if you're writing, you've already accomplished more than those who say "I wish" because you are already "there."
Oh, and if someone asks if you want to buy a squirrel? Ask for two, just to be on the safe side.
Thanks for stopping by. As always, be kind in thought and deed.