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Monday, August 24, 2015

In Pursuit of a Creative Life


I love watching Project Runway, but if you saw me in real life on most days, you would realize that I don't really care about fashion. What I love about that show is being able to watch people take raw material and create something new. The drama and pressure of challenges that result in sometimes stunning conceptions, executions, and final products is what keeps me running home on Thursday evenings to tune in year after year.

It's about watching creative people live a creative life--and many of the struggles that creative desire brings. Whether we are drawn to write, sew, paint, sing, act, dance, carve, name your art, often there is a great personal struggle involved in doing these things. Both internal and external.

Here are just a few reasons why we either don't start or stop creating:

Having time
Having a place
Quieting the critic in our own head
Quieting the critic in your own house
Persevering through the "beginner stage"
No monetary pay off for time invested
No professional validation has ever been extended

Oftentimes, the struggles overwhelm the desire to create and can snuff it out all together. Or more likely, cause us to shove that desire down, deep down into a place inside us where it will maybe fester and possibly make us very unhappy people. (I often wonder if some of our harshest, most cynical critics have unpursued creative inclinations of their own.)

Recently, Project Runway has been airing an AARP commercial with Tim Gunn and a gentleman named Chris Donovan. Chris was the winner of a contest sponsored by AARP and Lifetime. He received critical feedback from Tim Gunn for his shoe designs. You can see some of Chris's work here. In the commercial, we see Chris and Tim examining some of the unique shoes Chris has designed. In the ad, Chris explains how he has worked at a phone company for most of his life, then at 55 he quit his day job to pursue his creative passion--shoe design.

Now if you are thinking, "Well, I can't quit my day job to pursue xyz. I have a family to support!" I hear you, I can't quit my day job either. Even if I could I'm not sure I would because, even though it is at times ridiculously stressful, I happen to really enjoy my career in education. My point is not that Chris took a risk and jumped from his day job and into his passion (that's really fodder for an entirely different blog post) it's that Chris is actively pursuing his creative life despite not experiencing creative success or recognition until later in life (thank you to the AARP and Lifetime for pointing out that as-of-yet-unrealized-dreams don't have to die at 29, ahem.)

Let's face it, most of us will always struggle with those internal and external barriers between us and our work, whatever our individual media may be. I believe that if we find personal joy, fulfillment, and a meaningful challenge in working through our creations, finding the time, finding the place, finding the self confidence to face the blank canvas is totally worth more than any monetary pay off you may never see from commercial success.

If we hold our center to be the act of creation, our creative life is about the active engagement with our media. That is where the real joy resides. The outcomes (acceptance or rejection) elicit emotions of their own, but in an ideal creative existence, should not interfere with the joy found in the original process of building our works.        




Sunday, August 23, 2015

A.G. Henley, The Gatherer

http://www.amazon.com/Gatherer-Brilliant-Darkness-Story-ebook/dp/B0134GW6SU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440335320&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gatherer

A.G. Henley is one of the authors (along with myself) who will be contributing to a young adult anthology of short stories next spring. But right now, she has a new young adult novella out! Please check it out.
 
THE GATHERER: A BRILLIANT DARKNESS STORY

Alev is proud to be a Fire Sister, one of a fierce group of women who live in a flaming mountain compound called the Cloister. The Sisters live without men, so Alev Gathers young girls to replenish their numbers. After she plucks young Kaiya from the remote village of Koolkuna, the girl’s father follows them into the wilderness. Alev keeps him at bay, but over time she suspects that this man, at least, isn’t the monster she was taught all men are.

When Kaiya's father manages to reach the Cloister, the Sisters want to put him to death. Alev can look the other way, or she can heed the growing whispers of her heart to help the girl and her father escape. But to defy the Fire Sisters is to revoke the only life and family Alev has ever known—and to face certain death herself.

THE GATHERER is an exciting 50-page prequel novella in the young adult fantasy Brilliant Darkness series. The first novel, THE SCOURGE, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Two novels and two short stories are currently available. The final novel in the series, THE FIRE SISTERS, releases September 25, 2015.

Recommended series reading order:
THE SCOURGE
THE KEEPER: A BRILLIANT DARKNESS STORY
THE DEFIANCE
THE GATHERER: A BRILLIANT DARKNESS STORY
THE FIRE SISTERS (coming September 2015)

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AND enter my Goodreads Giveaway for a copy of Midheaven:


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Midheaven by Rebecca  Taylor

Midheaven

by Rebecca Taylor

Giveaway ends September 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Friday, July 17, 2015

Goodreads Giveaway--Midheaven

I'm running a Goodreads Giveaway for Midheaven.

There are two signed copies and it is open to international entrants!

Click here:


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Midheaven by Rebecca  Taylor

Midheaven

by Rebecca Taylor

Giveaway ends September 15, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wattpad and Harlequin Teaming Up For "So You Think You Can Write" Contest

https://a.wattpad.com/image/harlequin.jpg 

So I just received a message from Gav at Wattpad announcing that Wattpad and Harlequin are teaming up for the next "So You Think You Can Write" Contest. The winner will be eligible for a two book contract with Harlequin (I'm sure there are many rules, so read ALL the fine print carefully!) 

The submission time is from July 2, 2015 through September 21, 2015 so if you are interested, you can learn more here. I love Wattpad and Harlequin but, as with any contest, make sure you know what you are getting into (i.e, READ ALL THE RULES) and know what your rights are before entering (because what if you win?!)

Good Luck!!



Monday, July 6, 2015

Publishing Question: Should I Use Wattpad?

"Hello Rebecca,

Thanks for your offer to help me out with Wattpad! My first novel, xxxxxxxxxxxx is in it's (hopefully) final stages of drafting/editing/ and polishing and I was wondering if posting a chapter or two on Wattpad would be helpful.

I'm honestly not sure what kind of publishing route I'm hoping to take with this book, but I know a lot of agents and small publishing houses won't take submissions that are published elsewhere.

Any advice or suggestions would be helpful. I'm really new to all of this and there is so much conflicting information out there on the subject.
"

Hi xxxxxx!
So great to hear from you. So, if you think you will want to approach traditional publishing, I would NOT put your work up on Wattpad first. While I realize that there are the “Wattpad Winners” out there that have landed a pub contract after gaining millions of reads, this is FAR from the norm and highly unlikely. I would query agents first and exhaust that route (assuming you want trad pub); then small press (if that would also suffice); and THEN consider Wattpad if you think you would like to self publish.

The problem is that many agents won’t even look at something that has been “already published” on Wattpad. Not all, for sure, but you’re going to limit your potential agent pool and also never really be sure exactly which ones do and don’t frown on this sort of thing. It should be said that of course some [agents] troll Wattpad for material, but really, not many.

If you have exhausted yourself on the traditional road and/or decide to self publish anyway, Wattpad can be a useful tool for building a reading audience (all the while realizing that these readers do not necessarily translate into “sales” but some of them can if you release your book in a serial way (i.e., one chapter per week with links to buy options for those that don’t want to wait for the updates) and engage with readers in the comments (something I’m trying to get better at :-)

Furthermore, I’m not really sure how much the “sample chapter” approach works for a one off title with no pre-existing audience. I know some of the larger publishers have tried it with some of their writers, but these writers have an existing fan base. You have to consider that the Wattpad audience are readers looking for free books, not necessarily free chapters of books they will have to buy to finish. Unless they already love your published work, you’re not likely to build up much of a following with only a couple chapters.

So in your specific case, I would not put a book up on Wattpad that you are hoping to find an agent/traditional publisher for. However, if you have anything else, maybe some shorter works that you won’t ever try to traditionally publish, those could help you build an audience without jeopardizing your chances with the big boys for your completed book.

Long winded enough? :-)

Great to hear from you!

Best,

Rebecca

(Do you have a writing, reading, or publishing question you'd like me to answer? If so, email me at rebecca (at) rrtaylor (dot) com. I'll only post it here, anonymously, with your permission.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reader Question: Why Do I Write?

I have an active relationship with my readers and try to respond to every one of their questions and comments about my books and/or writing in general. One of the most recent that a subscriber to my mailing list asked was: "Why do you write?"

I think there must be a ton of reasons why people gravitate towards writing books. There are also all sorts of judgments that get placed on those reasons, as if some reasons could be more worthy than others. But here are mine, starting with why I don't. 

I don't write because I hope to be famous some day...because I honestly think that being famous must suck--seriously suck. I'm a pretty private person. I realize this might seem like a contradiction to my actions seeing as I do more than the average person when it comes to putting myself out there for the public to see (teaching, signings, facebook, twitter, blogs, wattpad, goodreads, mailing list) but if you want anyone to read your books, and I do, these are really the essentials unless you're a well known writer with a huge fan base buying your books shelved in the giant box stores (and, um...I'm not.) So while I do quite a bit on social media, I'm still in the real world showing up at Target looking like I'm on my way to or from the gym. Who wants to be recognized while looking like that?

I don't write because I hope to be rich some day. Now I do think being rich would have some amazing side effects on my life (I would travel all the time and everywhere) but I'm smart enough to realize that this is a highly unlikely thing to ever happen. And yet, I write anyway.

I don't write because I hope to feel more important or more accomplished...seriously. I have enough responsibility between being a parent and working in special education to ever doubt myself in those arenas. Furthermore, once you realize how many people HAVE written a book, or multiple books even, this particular milestone starts to feel a little, "me too!"

So, it's not about being rich, famous, or important. What is it? Because I spend a ridiculous amount of time pursuing a writing career for these things to not matter.

I write because I enjoy it. I enjoy thinking up characters, settings, conflicts, and then working to piece them all together--like a puzzle really.

I also write because I have always been a huge readers--I LOVE BOOKS. I love the experiences I have with other writers through their work. I have cherished being on the receiving end of those experiences and I want to be on the giving side as well. I swear to all that is holy, when I read a comment, email, or review that says something like, "OMG, I loved this book!" my heart melts. Not because I think it means I'm an extra special writer (because I'm not) but because the book I thought of, created, and sent out into the world gave another reader an experience that they treasured.

The same experience that I'm always hunting for as a reader.

That is why I write.

Do you have any questions for me? Send them to: rebecca (at) rrtaylor (dot) com or just put them in the comment section below.

Are you on my mailing list yet? I give away a free copy of Ascendant to every person that signs up. You will be entered in my gift card giveaways every month and will be among the first to know when I have a new book, event, or special going on. Sign up here No spam, EVER. Spam is evil.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

It's Here--Midheaven is on Sale

That's right! Finally you can get book 2 in the Ascendant Trilogy.


It's officially on sale in Kindle and Nook at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes and Noble, just click your preferred link above.

For my paperback lovers, that's going to take just a weee bit longer (uploading files, and getting proofs takes more time) but I'm thinking those will probably be available next week.

All my newsletter subscribers found out yesterday. If you would like to be "in the know" you can sign up here .

Happy reading!

Hugs,

Rebecca
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