State of the Author

Hey guys.

I’m very tired. It’s already shaping up to be A YEAR. I keep turning off the news and social media because I’ve got quite enough going on in my own life, but then I think I should check in and see how things are going and I see like five weeks’ worth of news happening in one 24-hour period.

The birth pangs, they be increasing. I think the water’s about to break.

And yet life trucks on, and we carry on until the Master comes.

For us, that looks like continuing to look for clients to replace the ones I lost last year — nope, haven’t found any yet — and continuing our efforts to get our own place.

As to that, we found a place we love, but it’s priced too high. Like, we’re pretty sure it’s priced above the home’s value. We spent all week in negotiations, but our last offer was declined and the seller refused to budge any more on the price. So we put in a last-ditch offer, which we’re waiting to hear back on. I’m praying that they’ll come down — God can do it, if that’s where he wants us. But if not, then we’ll press on and keep looking.

But we’re very tired.

Oh, but there is some happy news: our chickens have begun laying again after about six months of nothing. Last summer’s extreme heat triggered them to molt early, and they all stopped laying, and by the time they grew their feathers back, it was winter. We thought it was normal for chickens to not lay during the winter, but recently there have been a lot of rumors and controversy about certain brands of chicken feed causing chickens to stop laying. We’ve never fed those brands to our hens, but the fact that people kept saying that chickens should lay at least a few eggs in the winter had us worried we might have unknowingly fed them something that broke them. But then one of our orpingtons started laying again about two weeks ago, and now we’re up to four or five chickens laying regularly. Hopefully the rest of the flock will catch up soon and we’ll be swimming in yummy, fresh, colorful eggs again.

In writing news, my new romance novel is coming out next week, and I just haven’t had the energy to hype it like I’d planned. I started writing the sequel, which I’m hoping to release in the fall. I was getting up at 4:30 AM to work on it without any distractions, and that went well for a couple of weeks, but despite my best efforts, I don’t always fall asleep early enough to make that sustainable. And now, with increased pressure to find a place because our time here is running out, that’s pretty much taking up all my brain capacity. So I’ve accepted that I’m probably not really going to be able to give the next novel my focus until this house hunt and move are behind us.

Somewhere in the middle of it all, I managed to write the first in what’s turning out to be a series of articles on Gnosticism for my Substack newsletter — a subject I think it’s important for us all to understand because of how pervasive it is and how, I believe, it’s going to culminate in the religion of the Antichrist. This is all pretty research heavy, so it’s slow-going, but I’m hoping to dive into part two next week.

I’ve been catching up with Becca Syme in an attempt to get motivated for book marketing. She’s been discussing how the self-publishing gold rush is over, which is actually good news for slower writers like me, because the market is so saturated that the fast-release business model isn’t working like it used to and readers are more willing to try authors who release only one or two books a year. Which takes the pressure off to write faster — pressure I knew I couldn’t live up to, anyway.

In her latest episode, she talks about how in this new market, authors would do better to build “vertical” platforms — more focused on a certain type of platform or content — as opposed to horizontal — spreading out and trying everything to reach everyone. One type of vertical she recommends is an author-focused platform, which is good for authors who don’t write a certain type of book that they could build their platform on, or write all their books in a fantasy world that they can capitalize on to attract fans.

I’ve been mulling this over, and realizing that this is instinctively what I did in the beginning — making my blog and my platform mainly about myself and my life. This came naturally to me, I had fun doing it, and, after all, all of my favorite authors did the same. As a reader, platforms focused on books or world-building actually bore me. I’m all about the human connection. I’ve even followed author blogs of people whose books I’ve never read because I just thought they were cool and I enjoyed reading about their lives — their struggles, their opinions, their triumphs, as well as their writing life.

But I stopped, because all the experts said the personal blog/Livejournal era was over and readers didn’t want to read that stuff and I should figure out who my ideal reader is and what they’re into and blog about that. Which led to many very frustrating years of trying to guess what would draw in said ideal reader, taking a stab at blogging about that regularly, getting frustrated when nobody showed up, getting bored with the subject and burned out, seeing blogging as a massive chore and avoiding it for weeks or months on end, all while seething with guilt about not blogging, only to start the whole cycle over again.

And do you know what I realized even as I wrote that last paragraph? Every single reader who has stuck with this blog all these years and put up with my changes in content focus and my long unannounced hiatuses and what-all are here because they care about me. And I care about you guys. YOU are my people. And that’s my ideal reader.

So going forward, I’m tossing out the rule book and I’m going to go back to blogging like it’s 2003. I’m going to stop treating these personal posts as an aberration whilst promising to write more “focused” or “interesting” content at some point, and I’m going to go back to making them the point.

I probably won’t show up here consistently until after this home search and eventual (please, God) move is behind us, but I feel such a huge weight lifted off knowing I can just show up here and be myself and not have to worry about finding the right topic and SEO keywords to hook my ideal reader, it’s already making me excited to start blogging here regularly again.

And I’ve learned another Very Valuable Lesson about listening to my instincts instead of “experts.” The latter has steered me wrong WAY more often than the former.

Oh, that’s a good question for the comments: what’s the worst expert advice you’ve ever gotten?

If you’re reading this, thank you for being here, and thank you for sticking around through all my foibles. Truly, I love y’all.