Welcome to my first installment of Who's Who Wednesday. Twice a month, I'll introduce you to some of the great people I've met through writing. I'll ask the same five questions and let you know how we're connected. Connections are an essential part of staying strong on the path to publishing. Having people who understand what you're going through and have been through it themselves is a huge support when you're feeling unsure, need a boost, or want to share something awesome. I'm very lucky to have so many great writing friends and I hope that I'm able to give back even a portion of the support others have given to me.
This week's Who's Who is Lindsey Duga. Lindsey is not only a fellow agency mate (Literary Counsel), but also a fellow Entangled Publishing House author. I'm currently reading one of Lindsey's manuscripts right now and I can tell you, she has a wicked way with words. Her world building actually pulls you right inside of the story. Lindsey was kind enough to take part in the release party I had for More than Friends and through that, I learned that she is also a very talented artist! Check out the drawing she did for my main character, Gabby, from More than Friends. You can learn more about Lindsey through the interview below and by visiting her at her website. Thanks for being my first, Lindsey ;)
Who's Who with Lindsey Duga
What you write:
I enjoy writing both Young Adult and Middle Grade, and with the exception of strictly contemporary, I write all subgenres. I’ve written fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fiction. I’m even hoping to explore historical fiction in both YA and MG in the future.
What I really love doing recently is crossing genres. For instance, I have a middle grade book that is technically sci-fi, but could just as easily be categorized as a mystery or a sports book since the world, plot, and characters have aspects of all three.
I’ve never tried to write for adults because, frankly, the thought terrifies me. Apart from the occasional thriller and high-fantasy, I don’t read many adult novels, but I read TONS of young adult and middle grade books. And of course, what I read influences what I write and how I write it.
So. Many. Things. Being a huge NERD, I derive almost all my stories from a random mash-up of books, cartoons, TV series, movies, video games, and comics.
I could literally go on and on about what show has given me an idea for what story, but instead I’ll try and be concise and just list them out:
Favorite writing snack and beverage:
I don’t usually eat when I’m writing unless it’s candy or something I can easily pop in my mouth and forget about. All of my favorite snacks make my fingers messy—not great for typing on a keyboard.
Almost all my writing sessions start with a cup of tea. Lots and lots of tea. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I make sure at least half the tea in my cabinet has caffeine. Some of my favorite tea blends are: African Autumn, Jade Citrus Mint, Youthberry & Indonesian Gold, Ginger Lemon Mint, Turkish Apple, and Japanese Cherry.
My all time favorite drink while writing is a Starbuck’s Green Tea Frappuccino made with soy milk. I get one every Sunday at Barnes and Nobles when I’m writing or editing. Because they’re $5, I only allow myself one a week. I look forward to it as much as I do writing—it’s like my special treat for making it through the week.
Hardest thing about writing:
There are a lot of things about writing that are difficult, like developmental edits where you worry about one change affecting almost everything else in the book, or pushing through the block you’re having just so you can finally finish that first draft. But I’d say the hardest thing is that writing is, by nature, a solitary activity.
Don’t get me wrong, I love putting in my earphones and banging away at my keyboard with zero human interaction for like three hours…if I’m on a roll. But if I’m not? Well, it helps to overcome that writer’s block, or talk about your edits, or your book cover, or your marketing plan, with someone who understands where you’re coming from. It’s hard to want to go on and on about your book when you might not have anyone available to listen or help you. Which, of course, is why critique partners and beta readers are so critical. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them. If only just so I can randomly text them and say, “I’m obsessing over my new character. He needs a name. HALP.” And they’re there with a list of names we can go through together. After all, it’s FUN to talk about your story, and it’s hard when there’s no one there to help.
What you’re working on now:
Typically I have two projects that I work on at a time: one that I’m editing and one that I’m drafting.
The one I’m editing is another middle grade book and that crosses genres. It’s about a brother and sister team who are phantoms sent from the Netherworld to steal artwork in post-Victorian London. So it’s a little bit historical, fantasy, paranormal, with a touch of horror.
I’m drafting a YA paranormal romance dealing with nature spirits set in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. I’m only a quarter of the way through, and have a very rough outline, so by the time my draft is done, it could be a completely different book.
…And separate of these independent projects I’m also working with my editor, Lydia Sharp, on my debut novel that’s coming out Summer 2018 with Entangled Teen. My book is a YA Fantasy in which a princess, trained to use her kiss as only a magic-enhancing weapon, must fight evil alongside a prince who is determined to prove that love isn’t just a fairytale.
If you’re interested how this book came to publication, you can check out my blog post about it here.
Also, follow me on twitter and instagram!
Thanks for having me, Jody!
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Lindsey. I look forward to reading your debut from Entangled.
When I started writing, I thought it would go like this:
1. Write a book
2. Sign with agent
3. Agent sells book immediately
4. Stay humble despite success
Yeah. That's not exactly how it goes. Well, not for me anyway. But I'm sure that works out for some people. For most of us, there are several more steps involved-- including a lot of rewriting, editing, handling rejection, trying again, etc. But the most surprising part for me is how often I have to reach out to others because in today's digital world, you are not just an author. Not if you want your books to be read. My original intention on Twitter and Facebook was to connect and get to know people. Fortunately, I've managed that part but it doesn't mean that I like what came next...realizing that I needed to ask for help.
Because, let's be honest, everyone is busy. Despite being on the computer OFTEN, a writer will tell you that it isn't just to write. It's to market, promote, research, edit, learn, read, make connections...there is so much more than writing involved when you work toward publishing a book.
So, my journey looked a little more like this:
1. Write a book
2. Get book rejected several times
3. Try again with a new book
4. Repeat step 2
5. Repeat step 3
6. Get an agent
7. Get a previous manuscript accepted by a publishing house
8. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit. Edit.
9. Get ready to promote
10. Try not to be annoying
This is where I'm at. I have three books coming out in the next two months. Two in February and one in March. One is co-authored, a follow up to the Christian romantic suspense I wrote with Kara Leigh Miller. It's called Jaded Love and will be out February 23rd.
Falling for Home is a story I wrote a while back, that I was particularly fond of. It was requested by agents but it wasn't the one that landed me an agent. Still, I found a home for it with Penner Publishing. This releases February 9th.
The March release is called Damaged and also found it's home at Penner Publishing.
With three books coming out so close together, I'd really like to not have people dread seeing or hearing my name. I'd rather have people think things like, "Wow, her book is really good. I should read another" than "$%##, if she tweets/posts/says one more thing about her books I'm going to virtually slap her." I'm sure you can see why I'd favor one over the other.
It was important that I not inundate people with requests and favors but to some extent, I had to. If I don't tell you about my books and you don't tell others...they're just going to be stories my mom and best friend have read. But I cannot have three back to back Facebook parties as promotion. On top of being just too much, I think it would lessen the impact; become redundant or tedious.
But one is alright. If I could plan one successfully and get some other (cooler) authors to pitch in. And therein lies one of the hardest things: asking people you "know" and are "friends" with to help you. Think how hard it is (for some people) to ask for help in real life. A friend of mine recently broke her elbow. I found out almost two weeks later and felt horrible. I asked why she didn't call? Why didn't she ask for help? Because she knew we were busy and didn't want to ask. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO ASK. Though I hope helping me promote my books and get readers isn't as bad as a broken elbow, it's still hard to put yourself out there. Even if you'd do the same for them, it's hard to make that request on someone's time (more if you're asking them to giveaway one of their books).
One little instant message or email after another, I started to ask writers I engage with on Twitter and Facebook if they'd help. My nerves didn't lessen each time I asked. It didn't get easier and my response every single time was something along the lines of "OH MY GOODNESS? SERIOUSLY? YOU'LL HELP ME?" I stopped short of saying WHY would you help me because I didn't want them to rethink it.
But here's what I think. They're helping me in some sense because it will promote their own books-- they'll touch base with readers, tell us about their releases, and maybe do a giveaway which ups their own fan base. I really don't think it's the biggest part though. I think that these people are just kick-ass, over the top awesome. They're nice and they're kind and they're giving because THEY'VE BEEN HERE. I have received countless messages from other authors, answering my questions, helping me, and guiding me. I have laughed with, chatted with, and commiserated with some truly incredible people. People I've never met. Might never get to meet. But these people have had a huge impact on my writing life because they are or were there when I needed them. I can't tell you how much this matters and not just because I don't want to have a Facebook party where I'm all by myself, but because it's a lifeline.
It's not easy to keep going some days (with writing I mean). The waiting involved in this industry is HARD. It makes me think of the book by Dr. Seuss, "Oh the Places you will go". Publishing can feel like The Waiting Place. And it's always nicer to have someone by your side who knows how hard the waiting and wondering can be. Someone who, when you need them to, steps up and says, sure I'll help you. Someone who knows what a celebration it should be that you wrote a book and SOMEONE IS GOING TO PUBLISH IT.
I asked several authors if they'd be willing to join in on the party. MANY said yes or that they'd try. I don't even know why, but instead of questioning why they're willing to take time out of their busy schedules, I'm going to just be extremely grateful. I think the best way to show that is to give back what's meant so much to me. Time. Acceptance. Kind words. Support. It's really hard to put yourself out there, but you don't have to do it alone. Every step of this journey requires bravery. Writing the book. Looking for agents or publishers. Revising. Getting critique partners. Interacting. Asking for help. All of it. But like so many other things in life, it can surprise you and be even more than you hoped for.
If you're around on February 9th, 2016 between 6 pm and 9 pm, come by my release party for Falling for Home on Facebook. You don't even have to dress up and you won't be able to see that I'm in my pajamas. Best kind of party. I am extremely thrilled to say I'll be joined by Amanda Heger, Kara Leigh Miller, Jennifer Blackwood, Shannyn Schroeder, Dawn Ius, Kelly Siskind, Harper St. George, A.J. Pine, Joanne Macgregor, and possibly Carly Phillips and Karma Brown. There'll be some great giveaways and lots of chatting about books, romance, and writing.