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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: Ann Rice

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The Internet is overflowing with all kinds of “guidance.” Often, we have to learn by trial and error. What’s sound and what’s a shill? Being a Fort Worthian, I’ve learned that comedian Will Rogers nailed it when he said, “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

Assuming y’all can delay any plans for peeing on the literary electric fence, I’m here to (hopefully) shorten your learning curve in regards to going pro as an author.

Choose Company Wisely

Mirroring is built into the human brain. Great writers are exemplary at mirroring. This his how these authors can create characters so real they might just have a heartbeat. That’s the good news.

Maybe you find your mannerisms, body language, pace of speech or even your accent changes depending on the group you’re in. It takes all of three minutes in NYC for me to sound like I’m a native (Mom being from NY probably compounds this). Yet, put me on a plane to LA? Within the hour, I sound like I’m from Orange County.

While mirroring is great for socialization and writing, we must be careful. Attitudes, negativity, and belief systems can stick like a BP oil spill on a sea turtle.

Original image courtesy of NOAA via Flickr Creative Commons.
Original image courtesy of NOAA via Flickr Creative Commons.

I’m an extremely loyal person. For years, I refused to let go of certain childhood friends even though they consistently made epically DUMB life decisions. I kept believing I could “help.” What happened? EPIC STUPIDITY rubbed off on ME. I had to break away. I wouldn’t change them, they were changing ME (and not for the better).

If you’re a natural giver? Takers and users can smell generosity like blood in the water. This is why learning to set firm boundaries is vital. Ditch complainers. Lose the lazy. Psychic vampires will not stop until we are emotionally drained and dead. Avoid those who live off excuses.

Conversely, seek out excellence. Search for those who work more than talk about work. Choose friends who give generously with no strings attached.

Remember, character is contagious.

Be a Finisher

No unfinished book ever became a NYTBS. Finish first. Refine later. If we’re trying to shape facets into a diamond not yet dug out of the ground, we’re wasting valuable energy for no payoff. The more we projects we finish (even the crappy stuff) the more we learn, the faster and more efficiently we work. Confidence comes from work, from finishing.

Write What You Love

We can’t predict trends. My POV? I’m convinced a part of every writer’s soul dies every time someone mentions the awesomeness of Fifty Shades of Grey. But, thing is? The book was finished. Our writing can’t catch fire in the collective consciousness of our audience if NO ONE CAN READ IT.

Ann Rice was told time and time again that no one wanted to read a book from the perspective of a vampire. She ignored the naysayers and persisted because she was passionate. Interview With a Vampire became a super success and is largely responsible for creating the vampire craze of the past thirty years.

Tom Clancy invented the techno-thriller because he wrote what he loved.

These authors didn’t write to trends, they created them.

Slow and Steady

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.
Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

There are no real “overnight successes.” Shortcuts are a lie and there are those who profit off selling them. WANA ways are not overnight tactics to build a strong platform. I believe in relationships and roots. Many author-bloggers give up after a couple months because they aren’t as big as Guy Kawasaki. I blogged a YEAR AND A HALF before anyone other than the man-part enlargement bots cared.

Then suddenly….

If we look to authors who seem to blaze in from nowhere like comet, it’s easy to believe the “instant success lie.” Yet, look closer and most of those writers were at it for years or decades and no one cared.

Stephen King wrote from the time he was a kid. He had so many rejections with Carrie that he finally tossed the manuscript in the trash. It was his wife who rescued it and told him to keep on. Carrie was the work that launched him out of obscurity and into the stratosphere. It’s how he became the legend we admire today.

This isn’t to discourage you. But if you’ve been at this a while and feel like you’re stuck? You probably aren’t. We grow roots before shoots 😉 .

Dreams are Still WORK

With greater success comes increased responsibility. When we’re new, we might think, “I’ll be happy when…” When I finish the book. When I land an agent. When I get a book deal. When my book is on Amazon and selling enough to write full time.

Yeah. Not reality.

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Be happy during all of it, because a new level only means a new devil. This is why yesterday’s post emphasized ignoring feelings (because most are pathological liars). This is why learning self-discipline and how to be self-motivated is so crucial to becoming successful.

In the beginning, we don’t have a paycheck to validate our blood, sweat and hard work. We can’t point to a book on display. We can’t even count on friends and family to be supportive (and outside validation can be a dangerous addiction).

Yet, even when we DO get to the point where we’ve written and sold books or even made a best-seller list, each work is a brand new battle. We also have new jobs piled onto the writing like taxes, running a business, travel, branding, etc.

I’m blessed to know many NYTBSAs and while all are grateful for “making it”, each new book is nerve-shattering. Can this book do as well? Better? Will it tank? Expectations are much higher, so obscurity can have benefits.

Kids don’t want to go play and take a nap. They want to make their own decisions. Adults would sell a kidney for a nap, three months of vacation and a DAY of making NO decisions.

Same in writing 😉 .

What are your thoughts? Have you had to change friends or writing groups because they were affecting you negatively? Have you had to let go of friends or even family members? What ways do you seek inspiration? Are you getting better at working even when you don’t “feel” like it? Are toxic people contaminating the muse? Remember, it is better to be respected than popular.

I love hearing from you! And here is some fun for FRIDAY! Warning, it’s PG-13.

To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Back to School!

Upcoming Classes: NEW!!! Going Pro Series

 Going Pro Craft is CLOSED, but with the bundle you will get the recoding and notes in On-Demand format, then Going Pro SocialMedia/Branding September 6th TOMORROW, Going Pro Business September 10th, Going Pro All the Way! (ALL THREE). Use WANA15 for $15 off individual classes.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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SHARKNADO is a phenomena that is taking the world by storm. I mean, how can it get better? SHARKS AND TORNADOES! Tonight, SyFy is re-airing the show and we will be holding a #myWANA #Sharknado party on Twitter so we can all share in the goofy fun, because sometimes stories are so BAD they are AWESOME.

But what can writers learn from Sharknado?

Belief is Already Suspended

One mistake new writers make is they feel the need to EXPLAIN, to make an idea PLAUSIBLE. Here’s the thing. The second someone actually decides to give our stories a chance? Belief is already suspended. The Force was better before it was explained. Metachlorians ruined Star Wars. An entire generation had already fallen in love with Star Wars and accepted The Force. We didn’t need to know what it was or what caused it.

Really.

Don’t feel the need to break down your idea and make it real. It just has to be “real enough.” Sort of like global warming causing a hurricane so powerful it hurls man-eating sharks at the residents of Los Angeles. We don’t need more than that.

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Not All Good Stories Have to Be Literature

A lot of times, we feel we need to write the next Great American Novel in order to be “real writers.” Yet, fiction serves many purposes, and one of those purposes is to purely entertain. We live in a serious world and are bombarded by reality all the time. Escape and sheer fun are valuable.

Yes, we all know we should be eating organic greens and grilled chicken for longterm health, but what would life be like without funnel cakes, deep-fried Twinkies, or chocolate-covered bacon? That stuff is bad for us yet OH SO GOOD. It’s a vacation from being responsible.

Same with Sharknado. It’s pure laughable brain candy.

Yes, some fiction is meant to highlight injustice and change the world. Yet, a lot of it is just a way readers can unplug and have fun. Fun is food for the soul, so never underestimate that.

Via Tumblr
Via Tumblr

We Can’t Predict What Readers Will Fall in Love With

I just returned from NYC and the traditional publishing business looks to what has sold in the past to try and predict what will sell in the future. They are a business and they have to turn a profit. Numbers are what they look to in order to maximize the chances of publishing a hit (or avoiding something people won’t buy).

Sorry, but people have already had too many vampire books.

I met Anne Rice when in NYC and oddly enough, she was strongly discouraged from writing about vampires when she began her writing career. She was told no one would buy a book called Interview with a Vampire. Fellow writers mocked her and told her what a stupid idea it was and that vampires weren’t “real” writing.

Yet, she believed in the story she wanted to tell.

Vampires had long been portrayed as the villain, and Rice wanted to explore what it would be like to BE the monster. What was the vampire’s point of view? When she was writing this story, Rice had no idea that her initial works would create a passion for vampires (and other creatures of the night) that would not only be turned into movies, but that would inspire countless other works about vampires for generations to come.

This is one of the reasons I LOVE the new paradigm. Instead of relying on bean-counters running numbers to predict the human heart, we can just put our work out there and allow chemistry to ignite if it’s meant to be.

This is why it is so critical to just write the story you want to tell. Forget trends. Don’t stop writing your apocalypse book because agents say “no one wants to buy/read another apocalypse book.” There are no new stories. I could toss out the idea of sharks and tornadoes and my version would be different from yours. The telling is what makes it different. So maybe audiences don’t want another chick-lit book…but they might just fall in love with YOURS.

Sharknado proves how utterly predictable audiences can be. Sometimes the right story meets the right timing and magic ignites. So just keep writing. For more about writing and Sharknado, I HIGHLY recommend New York Times Best-Selling Author Jennie Crusie’s post Carpe Sharknado.

And what better antagonist than SHARKS IN A TORNADO? Wish I would have thought of that.

What are your thoughts? What are some other things we can learn from Sharknado (other than “taste” apparently has no bottom limit)? Are you as excited about Sharknado as I am? Have you seen it? Is it craptastic?

Here is some more about Sharknado. It airs tonight at 7/6 CST. Hope to see you at the #MyWANA #Sharknado party!

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE.

NEXT FRIDAY I will be teaching an on-line course about ANTAGONISTS. Your SHARKNADO is the beating heart of your story. The better the antagonist, the better the story and I am here to help.

At the end of July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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