Friday, February 28, 2014

The Writing Life: "The Expectant Author"

Recently I read a comment by my friend and fellow author, Candace Calvert, that the impending release of a new book is something like the birth of a baby. I've asked Candace to expand on that aspect of the writing life. So, here's Candace:

In the weeks preceding a book release, I sometimes joke that I’m practicing my Lamaze breathing, likening the process to a birth. I’ll say something like, “. . . at least I don’t get stretch marks.” These giddy-anxious quips—via Twitter and Facebook in today’s world—tend to get a chuckle from readers, and a knowing nod from fellow authors. Because “having a book” does indeed require labor.

Whether it’s a first book or fiftieth, it’s an experience that is at once unique, emotional, and nerve wracking. And, in those last weeks before release, very much like becoming a parent. For male and female authors, alike.  Because:

It’s been a long haul from your “twinkle in the eye” idea stage, to typing THE END.  Appropriately, my book deadlines span a 9-month period.

Your book is given a release date, much like a baby’s due date. It appears online in countless places.

Regardless, readers (and family) will forever ask, “Is that book ever going to be released?” Personally, I consider this impatience encouraging. And I’m grateful no one has yet to pat my stomach when they ask.

You must prepare for the book release. Website updates, blog rolls, ARC (Advanced Review Copies) sent to early readers, newsletter announcement, launch party prep . . .
Life doesn’t come to a screeching halt because you’re “expecting.” A book is in production for many months (multiple edits, cover art, sales and marketing plans) and the author must move on to the next project. The deadline for my next book (2015) is the very same date as the official release date for this current book. Authors of a book series may be juggling several books at once, draft stage, edit stage, and release promotion stage—much like being expectant while caring for toddlers!

Your book might release earlier or later than expected. Though books are assigned time “slots” by a publisher, stuff happens. Release dates may be delayed or moved up. Though I’ve never experienced a delay, I can now predict that some online book sites will “scoop” the release date by as much as two weeks. When Critical Care, my first medical novel, began shipping via Amazon weeks early, I panicked.  I was suddenly the mother to a “preemie”—crib wasn’t ready, onesies weren’t pre-laundered, house was wreck, and . . . To this day, I still smile at the reaction of my wonderful (and wise) Tyndale House marketing specialist, Babette:
“Relax, deep breath, Candace. We have everything in place. And . . . congratulations!”

Your story is out there, for all to see. And review. This where giddy-pride meets angst. Fortunately, newborns aren’t subject to star reviews from Amazon: “Cute Face but So Boring.” Even as an author’s skin thickens, there are many instances in which reader connection brings true blessing—and reminds us of why we answered this crazy and wonderful calling.

And, lastly, there are stretch marks.  With each completed manuscript, a writer learns and grows creatively in the process. Perhaps we risk digging deeper emotionally with our characters;  choose an “edgier” subject matter; maybe explore a very different genre. Writers (and readers) can attest to the fact that early work is often quite different when compared to later work.  We streeeeetch.

As I write this, my newest medical drama, Life Support, is popping up as “In Stock” via online sites in the US and abroad, arriving on bookstore shelves, and making its way into the hands of readers. And into my own hands as well. I’m happy, I’m anxious, and the thrill never gets old. My new baby.  Deep breath. Give it a little smack on the back cover . . . Welcome to the world!

Important Announcement: Candace has very graciously offered a signed copy of Life Support to a randomly chosen commenter about this blog. So comment away, but don't forget to include your email address so we can contact the winner. (Use this format, to foil web crawlers: Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com). Note: The contest is now closed. Feel free to comment, but they will not be included in the random selection process. Check this blog on Friday, March 7, for the name of the winner. Thanks everyone. RLM

Fellow authors: How have you “stretched” with your newest work?
Readers:  Do you ever re-read a series book while waiting for a favorite author’s newest story to be “born”?


Susan said...

I get streched every time I write - but I also do editing of other manuscripts and I think it is there that I learn the most as I see where they can improve their writing it highlights my own blind spots with mind. Congratulations on the new book Candace! I love your stories and look forward to this one. silygoos at gmail dot com.

Between the Pages with Katrina said...

If there is a series I am reading, yes. I love to hear release dates so I can go back and 're-read the previous book/books. So naturally the first book gets read numerous times. The second read, to me, is as great as the first read. The difference is I take time to really savor the story. I am also a mood reader, meaning I am in the mood for a certain type of story or I want to visit characters again. Thank you for sharing.

Kelly said...

Yes, I do re-read to catch myself up for the new arrival. I am an avid reader so it is fun to revisit my friends (and sometimes foes)in the stories I have read and then see where they are now when the next book arrives. Great interview and thank you for sharing. Congratulations Candace!
stardustindy at yahoo dot com.

CandaceCalvert said...

Richard: again, I so appreciate your hosting me here--and supply the pickles and ice cream. :-)
SUSAN: Interesting how editing others' work helps you see yours in a clearer light--awesome.
KATRINA: "Mood Reader"--I love that concept, and can relate. Thanks for stopping by!
KELLY: I'm always so honored by the re-reads. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Delightful. "A little smack on the back cover"--witty, once again. I am anticipating reading happiness with Life Support.
huletthouse at mchsi dot com

Lori Weller said...

I love reading series. I get something new everytime I re-read them. I always re-read prior to release of a new book in series. It allows me to become reacquainted with the characters. Thanks for the great interview.
ldwrncpn at comcast dot com

Quiltedchicken said...

Yes, I re-read books especially when the next in the series is coming out soon. I like to re-visit the characters and places and it also helps me to remember little things I may have missed or forgotten since the last read. I enjoy this blog. Very glad to read about the "birth of your children." quilted chicken at g mail dot com

Richard Mabry said...

Candace, thanks for this interesting comparison. And good luck with the launch of Life Support.

Melanie said...

I actually started rereading Opening Moves (prequel to The Patrick Bowers Files), but had to put it aside for now. I'll finish rereading it and the rest of the series in time for the release of Checkmate. :)

*Not an entry*

Jackie Smith said...

I love medical fiction; have read all of Richard's and am so anxious to read yours, Candace.
Thanks for the giveaway.

I rarely re-read a book, but I do skim through comments about Book 1 on Amazon...if I am about to read Book 2 in a series.
jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

Jackie Smith said...

I love medical fiction; have read all of Richard's and am so anxious to read yours, Candace.
Thanks for the giveaway.

I rarely re-read a book, but I do skim through comments about Book 1 on Amazon...if I am about to read Book 2 in a series.
jacsmi75 at gmail dot com

Sarah Hamaker said...

This illustration was very apt, as copies of my first book (a nonfiction one) arrived on our doorstep the very day I gave birth to our fourth child. I even had a story about the coincidence published in this year's Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for Writers!

CandaceCalvert said...

That's so cool, SARAH! Congratulations on all of it, including your Chicken Soup story. My first published work was an inspirational story in Chicken Soup for the Nurse's soul. :-)

Anonymous said...

Yes I definitely re-read series, especially when a new book is coming out!! I'm such a re-reader, some people ask me why, and I ask them if they re-watch movies . . . you know the ending but it's the journey that is worth reading over and over!!


Richard Mabry said...

Got to chime in after Amber's comment. I have half a wall of bookcases in our home containing books I've read and will re-read many more times. Amber's got it right--even if you know the destination, the journey is what separates good writing from mediocre.

Bonnie Roof said...

Hi, Candace and Richard!!

Loved the analogy, Candace, and learning a little more about the process involved in getting those wonderful books written and published. Thanks for the post and thanks for using your God-given talent to write books that inspire us!!

I would love to reread previous books in the series that I love, however, my to-be-read pile of books usually consume my time!!


Kelli Jo said...

I'm very excited to read Candace's new book! Love her work. I'm not a huge re-reader - but I do re-read the Harry Potter series every year. :)

Seasons of Life said...

I enjoy reading books that are in a series. I must admit, I don't always get them at release date. I am a very impatient reader! Once I am done with a book, I want to read the next one right away! I do reread lots of my books! I am excited to see so many others that responded here do to. I get something different out of it each time I read it. Love you blog!


J Smith said...

The only time I will reread a series is if it's been many years since I finished it, and then, only if I were also unable to read the last book in that series. I really don't get the same thrill rereading a book, much like rewatching a movie, except with a movie, you can sometimes pick up on things you missed the first go-through.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks to all of you who led a comment. The contest is now closed. We'll randomly select a winner, notify them via email, and post their name on Friday's Random Jottings post.

Richard Mabry said...

That should be "left" a comment. (Blasted autocorrect)

J Smith said...

Thanks, Richard.
Also, I forgot to leave my email, just in case: pudy68 @ gmail dot com. A friend of mine stopped by to use my computer and I couldn't get back to my post in time to add it underneath (sorry!!)