True Sentences.

They say to write well, you just need to write one true sentence. 

Actually, let's be real for a moment. Hemingway said that. They just like to repeat him — a lot.

I've been thinking about his statement lately. Probably because I've been trying to find my way back to this space. My one true sentence eluded me for weeks, and then months. I wanted to write, and I did. I'm currently in the midst of sharing some behind-the-scenes-decision making in my Letters from the Creative Underground, and I started writing on my memoir again after an epiphany of direction.

But that didn't explain why I couldn't write here. And really, I'm not quite sure I'll even be able to get out what I need to say. Right now, my one true sentence sounds like a groan in the back of my throat.

So here's the truth: a few years ago I stepped off a train. I did it willingly and with intention. It was not the train meant for me — not then. I needed another one. I knew this intuitively, and so I left. I gathered my things and said my goodbyes and jumped off at the nearest station. 

And now I don't know how to get back on.

.::.

We sat around a table with buckets full of sharpies and boxes full of colored pencils. One of us was coloring. One of us had her computer open. I was the one looking over her shoulder, reading the descriptions.

"That one," I pointed. The description had her written all over it. My eyes would dart to the other descriptions and I would avoid reading them fully, focusing on her.

"You think?" she asked, writing it down in her notebook. 

I would nod, and give my reasoning, the pit in my stomach growing by the minute. It was a familiar feeling by now — one I welcomed like a friend. 

Hello, Missed Opportunity. I didn't think you'd stop by today. 

"I wish you were going!" she said, pointing to another one, the one I was actively avoiding. "I mean....look!" Her eyes grew wide and she'd turn to me, smiling.

I could only grimace and shrug my shoulders. 

"I know. Trust me. I'm more than a little jealous." Then I would smile. "But this is going to be amazing for you. I can't wait to hear about it. I'll just live vicariously through tweets." 

And so I did. I am. And every single moment I am remembering the last time. 

The call came late, around 10pm. For some reason, Russ and I were already in bed. Maybe watching TV? 

"Oh my goodness, Elora. It was amazing. I can't believe you didn't go." 

A brief pause. The tilt of my stomach.

"I know. I should have been there. But we're moving and well....you know."

She laughs. 

"Yeah. I know." (She didn't) "It's okay though." (It wasn't.)

Two months later, I would know how unokay it was, really. And five months later — well five months later the proverbial shit didn't just hit the fan, it got smeared on all of the walls and carpet.

So now, now when things are circling back and there's a cemented feeling of truth and rightness in me being here all over again, I have to admit that I feel a little dizzy and a lot out of place.

Time is weird like that. You make a decision, and it will always come back to you. The truth can serve as a beacon, but it can also brand you. It's heated like that — it leaves a mark. And so in any moment you are both here and there. You are in the decisions you made last decade and you are in this moment of declaration. 

Another true sentence: sometimes, I feel like there is not enough room for this type of flexibility within creativity. Perhaps it's just me. I have the tendency to get so disillusioned that I not only walk away for a spell, I cut it out of my life completely. This is what happened a few years ago. 

I got so tired of the pointed fingers and yelling and what are you going to say about THAT COMMENT?! that I just kind of awkward moonwalked out of the room. 

"See ya never, Christian blogosphere. I'll be over here in the corner with my art journal and scandalous fiction."

So what happens when the sacred starts to blend with your art again? What happens when every creative chord being plucked internally points to spiritual formation and wrestling with the grittiness of faith? 

I can tell you what happens. You stop writing. You stop writing because when you jumped off that train everything about this reality became a foreign land. It's a language I can feel and know, but one I am so hesitant in speaking because it's changed. The verbs don't sound like verbs anymore. The dialect has a different tone. The syntax feels strange on my tongue.

I do not know how to form those sentences anymore. I do not know how to go back when everything I know is pushing me forward.

And maybe that's the entire point. Maybe there needs to be a space where you can push and pull and move and breathe and change your mind and come back again knowing that everything changes, but our core does not. 

Maybe the language feels foreign because I am changing — all of my years and stories pressing into my bones and creating something all together different. Something that will feel familiar to this dusty soul feeling a little left for wear.

A train whistles in the distance. I gather my things, now thick with the dirt of experience and doubt made right again, and smile. 

Maybe the land isn't so foreign after all. 

Letters From the Creative Underground

Writing is more than articulation, it's allowing yourself the space to hear the truth that you have something to share. Letters from the Creative Underground is the fuel you need to remember the truth: you are a writer. You have a story. 

And we desperately need to hear it. 

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Posted on April 15, 2016 .

Why I Raised the Price of My Indie Novels

When it released, Secrets Don't Keep was only 99c. 

It wasn't going to be forever. It was my promotion for the first few weeks after the book released. I posted about it on my Facebook page, and more than one reader responded with shock. 

"Less than a dollar?! Your books are worth so much more than a dollar!" 

I knew this was true. But I also knew the over-saturation of the industry. I knew that in order for my book to get any traction, it just needed to be read. And in order to be read, at that point, it needed to be almost free.

I also lowered the price of my other two novels — Every Shattered Thing and Somewhere Between Water and Sky. So for a few months, you could go and purchase my entire library, books that covered three years of my career as an author, for under three bucks.

In 2015, I made 800 dollars from royalties from my books. That's an average of 65 dollars a month. Because I know my sales, I also can say that getting a payment from KDP that's more than fifty dollars is rare. So that money? A majority of it comes from a free promotion I had for Every Shattered Thing and the release of Secrets Don't Keep.

Here's the thing — I very much do not expect to get rich off of my novels. This is not why I write. However....I'm beginning to take ownership of what my writing is worth. 

When a creative entrepreneur starts talking about prices for whatever she is wanting to offer, you better believe people will be making sure she charges what she's worth. 

Yet as authors, we're encouraged to give our stuff away for free....to build trust. 

"Take my first book! But give me your email address. I want to bore you with requests for reviews."

I'm just not sure that's how I can navigate this space with authenticity. I'm all for teasers. I'll let anyone read a chapter or two to see if they're interested in my novel. I know not everyone will love it — and that's okay. 

But why give everything you've created away for free? I know why: at least, according to the "professionals" — you're giving it away because you expect something in return (a review). Or you're giving it away so you can grow your email list (ew). Or you're giving it away so you can do all of it at once — as well as drop these souls into a sales funnel where they're receiving about twenty emails a week convincing them to sign up for your latest course on how to sale (x) amount of copies of your book! 

Can I be honest here and say this is bullshit?

It took me three years to get Every Shattered Thing out into the world. Combined, these three books took about four and a half years of my creative life. When I'm writing, I'm spending every waking moment completely overwhelmed by these characters. I live and breathe that shed in Stephanie's backyard. I wrote the poems etched into the foundation of the beach house. I dreamed up #elderwild in between bursts of research and brainstorming. With every ounce of who I am as an artist, I believe in these stories.

I realized a few weeks ago I needed to start acting like it. When more and more people start putting up short stories and novellas for $2.99, and when you can purchase a book that you finish in 30 minutes for less than a dollar, it's time to rethink how I approach my own pricing.

Here's the truth, if you want it: For a long while, one of my core desires was radical generosity. I gave everything away. A lot of it really did light me up and help me see the goodness in holding everything with an open hand.

But then people started expecting me to give stuff away for free. I realized, if I didn't offer something, then no one would want to get anything. They'd become so accustomed to me giving my art away that when I started to charge, they ran.

I didn't price my books at 99 cents because I was being generous and wanted as many people as possible to afford my books. I priced my books at 99 cents because I was too tired to play the game. I was too tired to fight the over-saturation. I was too tired to believe my words meant anything compared to another author on any other day. 

Now I know, deep in my core, these books are worth so much more. 

Letters From the Creative Underground

Writing is more than articulation, it's allowing yourself the space to hear the truth that you have something to share. Letters from the Creative Underground is the fuel you need to remember the truth: you are a writer. You have a story. 

And we desperately need to hear it. 

Subscribe

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I won't ever spam you. That's lame. Powered by ConvertKit
Posted on February 13, 2016 and filed under Indie Publishing.

Nine Things You May Not Know About Secrets Don't Keep

  1. Originally, Secrets Don't Keep was going to be a book about high school cheerleaders. I may still write that book, but this one turned into something completely different. This happens often with my books while I'm writing. I'll have a foundation for the plot, but something will just feel as if it's missing. When everything came together, I realized including the high school cheerleading plot point wouldn't work as well as I originally hoped. Which is fine because — there's another book idea. ::wink:: 
  2. I was at a dinner with friends when someone mentioned “secret society” and everything just clicked. I knew I had the missing piece. I went home that evening and wrote the first scene with Kera and Dex in the school library. 
  3. Plot wasn't the only thing that shifted with this book. The setting also changed. Grove originally was in Atlanta, Georgia. When I was researching, I knew it needed to be somewhere else. I considered Providence, Rhonde Island. But, I have another book that will be set in the northeast, so I opted for Asheville — a place I’ve visited once and loved. As soon as I started doing more research I knew it was the right locale.
  4. My husband read the manuscript as I was writing it. It was the first time I had him reading alongside me writing. Nothing made me want to write the best book possible then knowing he would be reading it. He loves the book as much as I do, and that of course makes me love him even more. He is probably the biggest reason I finished because of his “WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!” questions. This book wouldn't have been the same without his help coming up with cuisine that would actually be served at La Boheme's gatherings. 
  5. I seriously thought this book would be a standalone. My betas changed my mind. Kera and Dex's story is far from over.
  6. I got Season’s name from a Cosmopolitan magazine ad.
  7. I was almost finished with the book when I heard an Invisibilia podcast on quantum entanglement that blew my mind and forced me to reconsider the ending I originally planned.
  8. A piece of advice you’ll often hear is to keep your book free of pop culture references that could date it within a certain time period. HOWEVER. I think this is a bunch of nonsense and love filling my stories with as many references as possible. 
  9. That being said, one of my favorite scenes is where I drop BOTH a Harry Potter and a Fast and the Furious reference. I’m not even ashamed. (#ripPaulWalker)
Posted on February 9, 2016 and filed under Indie Publishing.