Category Archives: Published

Guest Post: Write Whatever the Hell You Want by Lindsay Fischer


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Green Chameleon

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Green Chameleon

Right this second I’m lying on my love seat. It’s 85 degrees beyond my walls, with land-locked, staggering humidity. Frankly, I’ve never had any desire to be in a sauna. I’ve never rushed to one at the gym, never enjoyed the times I’ve been convinced to go in and sit in my own sweat, and I don’t anticipate this ever changing, which is why I’m inside right now, a blanket tossed over my legs while my bulldog, Frank, snores away the afternoon.

I’ve been writing more lately but that’s not saying much. More is a subjective term I’m tossing out to make it appear I’ve been useful. Just last month I barely let my fingers dance, my creativity abbreviated by life’s circumstances. Now, I’m pushing, resisting the urge to say I’m waiting for inspiration or some other garbage excuse for why I’m not doing what actually fills up my soul.

Last night I wrote a blog about what it meant to be real. It was my third attempt at a blog I was asked to write in early May. In truth, the first two sucked. They were both disingenuous attempts to appease a new audience, something I fight like hell not to do with my words, but when a new person wants my words on their page – well – I sometimes forget that my biggest strength as a writer is my voice.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in what we should be doing. Are my metaphors up to snuff? Have I sufficiently combined both long and short sentences to avoid monotony? Are my darlings dead?

So easy, in fact, it’s really difficult to keep your voice intact when you’re trying to write the next great American anything. I mean, honestly, why do we have to believe our writing is worthy of such praise anyway? Can’t we just let it be what it is and reach who it’s supposed to?

When I started writing my first (and only, right now) memoir, I convinced myself I needed to prove I could write a damn-good book to my former colleagues, my former students, my haters. Instead of writing in a stylistically complimentary way, I did what I thought I *should* do, and it took me 6 months to remove my head from my ass.

And I doubt I ever really “proved my prose.”Lindsay - Self Sabotage

That’s when I realized something:

My talent isn’t in using elevated language or literary devices. It’s in speaking to my audience as if they are sitting on this couch with me, fuming at the thought of having their bangs plastered to their foreheads the second they step outside, certain their upper lips will sweat instantly, too. They hear which words are emphasized because I’m serving up stories like a sermon. They trust me because I’m honest, and that, my friends, needs no fluffing.

My truth, my realness, and my unapologetic stance on just being me is what sells me, not only as a writer, but I’m fairly certain it’s what brings amazing people into my life, too.

Instead of sitting still and telling myself I can’t get good enough words out, I’m talking about it, writing this post like it’s exactly what’s meant to come from me today. No other words matter, no other projects take precedence.

We all deserve to find our strengths as writers and play to them. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn and grow through writing more, but if your fear of being inadequate freezes up production then it’s time to go back to your roots and remember why you fell in love with writing in the first place.

For me? It was catharsis: a chance to purge emotion and connect with others who understand.

Self-sabotage is the old friend we haven’t let go of because they’ve been around too long. You might know it doesn’t serve you but you can’t cut ties because you’re bonded. Trust me on this, that shit is toxic and turns you away from the things you love most.

Divorce it.

Dig deep.

Write whatever the hell you want.

_________________________________________________________________

Lindsay Fischer HeadshotAfter surviving domestic violence (and three years of trauma therapy), Lindsay Fischer saw an opportunity to use her voice against abuse, blogging as Sarafina Bianco since 2009. She revealed her identity in 2015 when her memoir, The House on Sunset, was released, and she now speaks on behalf of trauma survivors on national stages.

Website: http://www.survivorswillbheard.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/linsfischer

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/survivorswillbeheard

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Filed under Blogging, Guest Post, Life, Literary, Literature, Published, Writing

Guest Post: This is the Reason Writing Your Story Helps You Thrive by Rachel Thompson


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Milada Vigerova

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Milada Vigerova

I tell people right away that I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, but I didn’t used to. I held that shame and fear of judgment in tightly for years, a filmy veil of anxiety separating me from everyone else. I didn’t feel I could really get close to friends or even lovers, always holding back this ugly secret. If anyone saw the real me, the tainted, used me, they wouldn’t want to pursue any kind of relationship.

It’s a common mindset after trauma – to be in victim mode and not even realize it. Total nonsense, of course, because I’m awesome. Ha! But this is what shame tells you, one of many horrific stories we learn to believe.

Therapy and meds helped me a lot to overcome those lies, but the damage is incredibly deep, it never truly leaves us. I moved from victim to survivor, but it took a lot of work, and if I’m totally honest with you right now, I still argue with myself sometimes; I minimize, or tell myself that it could’ve been worse, which is just so incredibly fucked up. How much worse would it have to be? I was only 11 when a man stole away my childhood…and then he came back for more.

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Cathryn Lavery

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Cathryn Lavery

Eventually, I found the courage to write and share my story, despite the voices in my head telling me to shut the hell up, that nobody would care to read about yet another victim, that talking about something that happened 30-plus years ago would be seen by total strangers as a pathetic bid for attention (when truly, who cares? It’s my story, dammit, and I matter).

I moved beyond surviving into thriving. Writing, no publishing, my story, became such a huge part of my recovery, I truly had no idea the impact on so many others and myself.

That’s where I changed my paradigm and fooled that wretched little voice: I made friends with Shame. She’s been with me longer than almost anyone, and she has a lot to say, too. So, I let her speak, and Broken Pieces was born. I released it in 2013 and it’s still #1 on Amazon’s Women’s Poetry list, #2 on Women Authors, and Top 20 in all of Memoirs, which blows me away.

It’s won gosh, like 10 awards, but more importantly gave rise to a huge community of survivors, and that means more to me than anything else! #SexAbuseChat (every Tuesday at 6pm pst/9pm est) on Twitter with survivor and licensed therapist Bobbi Parish, the #NoMoreShame Project Anthologies (published by the Gravity Imprint of Booktrope), and a 100+ person strong private survivor support group I moderate on Facebook are all the result of that first book. So is the Gravity Imprint!

Broken Places followed in 2015, with more amazing reviews, awards, and top rankings. I’m writing the final Broken book now, Broken People, for a Winter release from Booktrope. Apparently, Shame still has more to say.

I’m still just as busy as ever with writing, business, publishing, my advocacy work for other survivors, and most importantly, being a mom. Beyond surviving, I’m now thriving, though with occasional triggers, I stumble my way back.

My kids vaguely know something bad happened when I was younger – my son will be 11 in September. He’s very protective of his mama, and I love that about him. I’m raising him to be respectful of all women, including his almost-17-year-old sister with whom he bickers constantly over the Xbox and Squeakers, our girl cat. He has a lot of females in the house to learn from!

The lessons are there, though, and that’s what matters; I tell them both often, “you get what you give, and you give what you get.” Give mad, get mad; give compassion, get compassion. Him: Give money, get money? Me: Welcome to Capitalism (and book marketing).

I survived, and now I thrive, because I give what I get.

**********************************************

Rachel-Thompson1Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope.

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live Twitter chat, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish. She is also the director of the Gravity Imprint for Booktrope, bringing stories of trauma and recovery (fiction and nonfiction) to life. Read more about the Gravity authors and their books here.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Twitter (Business): @BadRedheadMedia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Facebook Broken Pieces Fan Page:https://www.facebook.com/BrokenPiecesByRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619475.Rachel_Thompson
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: 
http://eepurl.com/koN8r

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Filed under Anxiety, Blogging, Booktrope, Depression, Gravity Imprint, Guest Post, Life, Literary, Mental Health, Published, Survivors, Writing

Why Would You Want to Leave Your Publisher?


Photo source: Unsplash.com/Alejandro Escamilla

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Alejandro Escamilla

Trigger Warning: If you’re an author and you’ve separated from your publisher (whomever that may be) for reasons that don’t include them bilking you out of your royalties or author copies or deliberately derailing your career as an author (or, because like me, you wanted to see your book IN PRINT), I’m asking the hard (er…nosy) question: WHY?

(The “trigger warning” is there in case this is still a sore subject with you, so you won’t send me anthrax through the mail or some such in revenge for my “confrontational” post.)

 

Something has been stuck in my craw for several months and I’d like to get it out.

I signed with my publisher, Booktrope, more than 2 years ago. I find myself still happy here. But in those 2 years, other authors – some of whom I consider friends – have decided to leave Booktrope and self-publish. To the best of my knowledge (because this is what some of them gave as their reason), most – if not all – left because of disagreements with their team and/or the management, or because they weren’t selling as many books as they felt they SHOULD be selling. I’ve had both of these issues (not disagreement with management, but with members of my team) at Booktrope, but for me, it’s about the bigger picture: I’m here 1) because I want to see my book(s) in print, 2) to network with readers and other publishing peeps, worldwide 3) learn as much about the publishing world as I can, 4) make enough money to help pay for the gas needed to continue visiting bookstores.

I know something about publishing and self-publishing. I was involved with “desktop” publishing for several years, interned with a publisher for my MA and when I was ready to reveal my book baby to the world, researched self-publishing, while submitting to more than a dozen agents, all of whom rejected my queries, though some offered great advice. While I became good over the years at handling rejection (thanks to years of live theatre auditions, most of which roles went to other auditionees…auditioners?…I digress…), it still isn’t my favorite experience. Especially since I’ve read some of the drivel that’s out there (represented by some of those same agents) and wonder how in the world agents think those authors’ stuff is better than mine! Yes, those books sell, but ONLY because agents’ and publishers’ paychecks (*cough* advances *cough*) are at risk. If those authors had to do their OWN marketing, how popular do you think their books would be compared with our books? And some of OUR books are on International Bestsellers or #1 lists!

Please buy my book!My book’s first home was Northampton House Press, a small press started by my mentors. It was ebook only and I had to provide the cover design, something I knew nothing about.

Sure, I can throw images together into a collage, but I’m not a designer. And I knew how I DIDN’T want the cover to look. I was fortunate to find a newbie designer through deviantart.com and we agreed on a fee that was well within my budget. But my book would never see print because I couldn’t afford to pay for print copies and my sales weren’t exceptional enough for NHP to take a chance on print pub. I had to do ALL my own marketing. (WHERE TO START?!) And despite an undergrad background in mass communication (which includes advertising/marketing and working on a university newspaper), I suck at selling myself. Too much anxiety. And I couldn’t afford a publicist. Ironically enough, I have NO problem promoting or selling other authors’ books. Just my own. Go figure.

My contract with NHP allowed me to seek print publication elsewhere, and Booktrope’s hybrid publishing model was my book’s savior. Best of all, I got a cover designer, and book/project manager and my book IN PRINT AT NO UPFRONT COST to me!! I didn’t care that there was no advance with the contract. I’m not in this business to get rich, but because of my love for the written word and a desire to share that love and my words with others. (It’s an ego thing, you see. *shrugs*) I much preferred – and still prefer – the promise of higher royalties weighed against an advance that my book(s) may never earn out. THAT would be a MORE anxiety-ridden scenario for me.

So, I got a beautiful professionally designed cover AND a marketer who knows what she’s doing. SUCH a load off my back! I CAN market myself, but I need guidance and assistance. For all of my smarts, I don’t know everything (*gasp!* I know, right?!) and sometimes suffer from information overload. Tell me to search out ways to market my book(s) and I may miss something or my brain short-circuit because of SO MANY opportunities. HOW DO YOU KNOW which is/are the right one(s)?! I can afford only so much trial and error. Give me an outline of strategies, THAT I can follow, and breathe a sigh of relief. Speaking of which, Gravity Imprint‘s Melissa Flickinger (Book/Project Manager) & Rachel Thompson (Fearless Leader & Marketing Guru) are always quick to inform we in the Gravity realm of marketing opportunities. 🙂 (A little plug here for Rachel’s Marketing Challenge!)

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Negative Space

Photo Source: Unsplash.com/Negative Space

So, knowing the cost of all this stuff, WHY, in the name of all that’s holy, do people WANT to self-pub??!! Do they dislike Booktrope THAT much?? Yes, as a self-published author you have almost limitless freedom, but Booktrope’s hybrid model in which you get to PICK your own book/project manager, editor, proofreader and cover designer (unless you’re part of an imprint like Gravity, then you have a shortlist to choose from – but it’s an awesome shortlist!), and you don’t have to worry about their fees BECAUSE THEY GET PAID IN ROYALTIES. Please tell me, where are you going to find a better deal than this? Yes, I offer freelance editing, and several current and former Booktropians have hired me on the side. I have NO problem with this, as it’s extra – ADVANCE!! – mulah in my pocket. But again I ask you, WHY?

As an author, I’m on my 2nd editor, my 2nd BM/PM, and have been through 3 cover designers (at least one who quit without so much as a by-your-leave). And I knew NOTHING going in, other than this awesome publisher was – somehow – going to help me realize my dream of seeing my manuscript in print. I learned as I went and gladly share my knowledge with other newbie authors. When I’ve had an issue with someone – either on my own team or as an editor/proofreader on another author’s team – we’ve either worked it out, or I’ve left the team once the project was finished (I’ve only done this once in 2 years). NOTHING has happened to induce such anxiety and depression that I would choose to leave Booktrope entirely. The management has always been helpful and supportive of/for/to me.

And you know what? I don’t plan to leave Booktrope. Ever. You guys are stuck with me. I’m going to be like white (er…or brown) on rice. Like feathers on birds, and armpit hair…maybe not that one…well, you get the picture. This company is THE BOMB! and has been awesome (I think I use that word too much…) to and for me. My editor resume is growing, my Twitter feed has exploded, my blog and review portfolios are gaining momentum, I’ve made great friends and contacts, I’m part of a kickin’ imprint (Gravity) which I absolutely love and support wholeheartedly, and my royalties are growing.

The grass is plenty green on this side of the fence. So somebody please tell me: WHY would you want to leave?!

…I hope we’re still friends…Have a cookie…

 

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Filed under Blogging, Booktrope, Gravity Imprint, Literary, Musings, Published, Thankful, Writing