Friday, August 4, 2017

Can you tell us about a crucial turning point in your career?



Shannon here! And it is officially the first Friday in August! Insanity!

You're all gearing up for a new school year, aren't you? I've already been out with my kids shopping for school supplies and new uniforms. This summer has simply magicked itself away. It's still blazing hot out here in California, but I can almost taste the caramel apples on the wind. And I say, bring it on! Fall is balm to a writer's soul.

Today's summer panel question is an honest look at just how much things can change for an author. This is not a career for those who cannot function without constant stability.


Can you tell us about a crucial turning point in your career?


Shannon Dittemore
I’ve had several, actually, and I’m only three published books into my career. The first, I think, was when my original agent decided he didn’t want to be an agent anymore. He was a nice guy, but his departure saw me pairing up with my current agent, Holly Root. And, while I was grateful for everything my first agent was able to accomplish, Holly is a better fit in so many ways. As I work to make the jump from Christian fiction to general fiction, I'm so grateful to be with an agent who knows the market well.



Stephanie Morrill
When I decided to go for it and write The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Until then, I had been convinced that contemporary YA was all I would ever write. My agent had been trying, but we couldn’t seem to sell a thing. I mentioned a half-baked idea for Lost Girl along with some other YA ideas I had, but none of them sounded like someone she could sell. She suggested I try writing fiction for adults. I sent her ideas for books. She told me they all sounded like YA. She told me that I should take some time and consider if she was the best agent for me, or if I wanted to find someone else. It felt like a, “It’s not you, it’s me,” kind of break-up.

Jill Williamson
There were two that I consider crucial. The first was publishing my first book (By Darkness Hid) with an indie publisher, which was then called Marcher Lord Press. Having a book in print gave me something to promote and a way to gather readers. A year and a half later, that same book won a Christy Award, which is kind of a big deal in the Christian specialty market. Winning that award didn’t skyrocket my sales or anything, but it was like shining a spotlight on me, my book, and Marcher Lord Press, for the entire publishing industry to see. People were saying, “Who is that person who won that award?” And when I went to my annual writers’ conference that summer, I no longer had trouble looking for an agent. The agents came to me. It was a very nice change. LOL


How about you guys? I know most of you aren't headlong into your career yet, but have you hit any obstacles that you can now look at as crucial turning points? 

14 comments:

  1. For me, it was the moment when I realized I could cut characters and it wasn't the end of the world. An early version of the fantasy series I've been working on for years featured something like seventy characters, all of them flat and most of them unnecessary. I had come up with some new and better ones, but that meant I had to get rid of all the ones I'd had before. And it was hard! It really was. But the story is better for it.

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    1. Yikes, that sounds rough.

      I had to rename a character before and that still bothers me. Can't imagine putting a whole character on the chopping block. The sacrifices we writers make...

      -Ann

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    2. Way to kill your darlings, friend.

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    3. It's terrible. I had to get rid of something like 100 characters. O_O NOT recommended.

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    4. Ooh, that sounds painful. That has to hurt. But, keep the characters for future ideas. They might get their own book. Ya never know. :D

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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  2. My first critique group was quite a humbling experience, but worth every bit of discomfort. Suddenly I was armed with knowledge and not just creativity.

    I learned so much within a short space of time, it was like Aladdin and Jasmine on the magic carpet singing "A whole new world."

    -Ann

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    1. Crit groups DO grow you very quickly. I think it's because if you don't grow, you'll die. Hearing that kind of criticism can stifle a writer who's not ready for it. I'm glad you grew.

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  3. I've had a TON of crucial turning points, but one of them was when I submitted a novella to a contest a couple of years ago (it was and still is a horrendous little novella that will never see the light of day again xD). The novella didn't win, obviously, but the process of writing that novella and learning about self editing, beta readers, deadlines, how to handle the stress, and getting a critique from a judge was a huge turning point for me. I learned SO much in the course of a few months, and even though I can't stand that novella now, I still love how much it and the contest taught me.

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

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    1. We all have horrible little novellas somewhere! You're part of a very cool club! And yes, working toward any submission is always a growing, turning point kind of experience. Proud of you.

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  4. Your agent is Holly Root?? That's so cool!! I never realized that you and V.E. Schwab have the same agent!! :D

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  5. A few months ago, I graduated high school with no job prospects--but lots of expenses--on the horizon. I applied for my first ever "big girl" writing job, had an interview, and was hired on the spot. Now I work for a CrossFit company writing multiple articles a month, and I love it!! My debut children's novel (really a short story) was also published this summer. It's been an amazing year writing-wise--beyond my wildest dreams. You CAN make a living writing. =)

    Hailey
    www.haileyhudson.wordpress.com

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    1. Congratulations! That sounds awesome. I understand the feeling of right after high school. I'm still kind of experiencing it. Its encouraging to hear your story. Its inspiring.

      God bless you!

      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    2. That's epic, Hailey! Great job!

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  6. Two years ago I knew exactly what I wanted and didn't want to write.

    - I liked fantasy
    - I liked girl MCs
    - I was not going to write Christian stuff because it would end up corny

    Then, Christmas Day 2015, I got an idea for a Christian Sci-Fi book, with an adult male MC.

    I just started the third draft. :3

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