Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When I Make It Big...

It's my pleasure to have Diana Castilleja, author of Aiza Clan Shifter series, as my guest today. Diana writes paranormal, romantic suspense, and erotica as Diana DeRicci.

Diana discusses how writing has evolved over the last decade, as well as some well thought out advice about the writing process, our attitude towards rejections, and knowing the market we're for which we're writing.

I can say "I knew me when". Yep. I knew me when I didn't know a thing. Still don't know much, but I fake it pretty well now. After five years of near solid writing, how can I say I don't know much? Pretty easily. The written word is always changing, the publishing market is as fluid as the tides and this is one career and industry that is in constant flux to stay in tune with the reading voracious. But I've always loved a challenge.

That's one of the best things about being an author, in any genre. There never ceases to be opportunities to learn, from any starting point at any level. Creative exploration starts with you. An idea, a spark, a smile, a storm, a tragedy. Song writers, sculptors, painters and authors, just to list a few, are the behind the scenes creators of your favorite band's songs, the abstract art that is as breathtaking as it is confusing, and the best selling books that you buy the second they hit the shelves. (Yep, I totally do that.) Except what a lot of people don't understand about the creative industries is that overnight success everyone hears of and longs for? That success can take anywhere from a couple years to fifteen or more. A lot can be learned, shared, dissected and rebuilt in that time period. Think how much music has changed in the last thirty years. Or just the last ten. Writing has evolved also.

It will continue to evolve, and I'm not discussing the procurement of the product--just the content, the way we read, the way we speak and interpret the written word. That has changed exponentially in the last few decades. So when I reach the point that I'm on one of those nice lists (I love to dream big), I can say I knew me when, and hopefully won't forget how I got there, or the hard work.

One of the other wonderful things about being an author is the chain of support that can be found. There’s very little about this “job” that can be called fun. It’s long hours, working alone, being self-motivated and needing to trust in yourself when sometimes no one else will. Understand that not every snip of advice will suit you, and no, you don’t have to try to fit them all into a mish-mash writing style for yourself. Time develops those traits. Every word written or typed is another word toward cementing what will eventually be the basis of your style and voice. I’ve heard said it’s best to consider your first million words on the job training. Less or more depends on what you do with those words. I did find that to be mostly true. My own style didn’t solidify into something I was really happy with until after the four year mark. And it’s still evolving.

I’m asked often what my advice would be for new writers just starting out.

There’s the basics:

  • Learn your craft, the skill of writing correctly without losing your innate flair and voice. Remember, the story you write, can only be told by you. Also understand that all the ‘rules’ out there, aren’t in stone. Write the story the way you would want to read it. Only written words can be corrected and improved. A blank page is fodder for the crayon box.

  • Realize rejection, while tough, isn’t personal. It truly, really isn’t. Your story with all its wonderful twists and characters, is one of probably a hundred different story lines the agent, editor or publisher has looked at just that week when they finally reach yours. There’s places all over the web that discuss the most common rejections and why they happen. Everyone gets rejected. It’s part of the business. You’re not failing because you receive rejections. You’re succeeding because you are pushing forward, because you are driving yourself for more. Be proud.

  • Understand the market you’re writing for. Sounds simple enough, huh? Not exactly. Your market is going to change probably close to yearly as your style, voice and talent improve, as new authors arrive on the scene and mold the current reading selections, and favorites inspire whole new worlds. Sometimes the best thing you can do is generalize your story and let the publisher et al decide where to place it. Remember, this is a very fluid industry. Trends change on a nearly quarterly cycle with publishing. Aim for your genre and learn where your writing fits best. It’s not a reason to panic.

  • Lastly, glaciers move faster than any facet of the publishing industry. Different methods are faster (ebook/small press) or slower (New York) but it all still takes time. The best way to combat that impatience sitting on your shoulder? Write your next story. You might just discover something new that hadn’t appeared in the previous one. A new tangent, a new skill, a new idea. That’s what makes writing so rewarding, at least for me.

So when I make it big, I can say I knew me when, because I’ve already experienced a lot of this, and know I have a lot more rolling down that hill to smack into me at any given moment. Is that impending trouble enough to make me stop writing? Honestly, no. I have locked up with writer’s block, for a whole year once. I refuse to let that happen again, but I can’t see myself willingly tossing in the towel and never writing a tortured hero or a messed-up heroine again. I’d probably drive my family insane if I did. I’m sure they’d be grateful if I didn’t.

Do you see rejections as failures?
How have you evolved as a writer?

With more than half a dozen ebooks currently to her credit and her first print book released in 2008 to rave reviews, Diana Castilleja has kept busy since she started writing professionally in late 2004.

Diana currently resides in central Texas with her husband and son. When not focusing her energy on her family and her writing, she loves to travel and haunt bookstores. She's lived in several states across the south and midwest, as well as traveling to Mexico. With moving every year or changing schools since the fourth grade to her sophomore year, she learned reading was a fast escape. The freedom to read about anything and everything has fueled her adult imagination. She is most likely currently sitting at her desk, having it out with her keyboard writing her next book.

Diana's Castilleja's Website

Diana DeRicci Sizzle That Satisfies

Crowning A Warrior King: Life has been calm and quiet for Aran for almost seven years since moving into Banter. She is a prosperous business owner, has friends, and helps those in need without question. Yet a delivery of a mysterious jewel encrusted box changes all of that for her in an instant.

Not only is the mysterious box enchanted, revealing someone knows of her deepest secrets, it imprisons a man unlike any other. Bold, fearsome, strong. A warrior from a place she's never heard of, a land she's never known. And the most glaring fact to his arrival is she is the only one with the knowledge to set him free, with a magic he cannot trust.

Rordan must return to the kingdom of Eglandor to stop the wicked sorceress who has imprisoned him, deliver the throne to King Tah-lel's appointed heir, and fulfill his destiny with the woman from another time, another world. And there's only so much time to do it all with the King's health failing and an uprising from within only waiting for the moment to claim the throne.

To purchase this book in print, please visit Barnes & Noble or any print bookseller. For a signed copy, please visit this order page to make a secure purchase direct from the author.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome Diana, To OVER COFFEE. There's plenty of coffee and homemade breakfast goodies on the breakfast bar.

I have to say, I like your *advice*. Very practical. I had to laugh over several points you made. I can tell you've worked hard on those points too. I like your expression that GLACIERS move faster than any facet of publishing....

Diana Castilleja said...

Thanks for having me Sia! It was a pleasure. Honestly, I don't think it can be said enough, this industry is insane! But that's why writers fit so well.

A person who has a voice talking in our heads and demanding their own time is usually considered schizophrenic. However, if we write what they say, we're called writers.

I'll be tagging along today so any readers, feel free to jump in!

Judi Fennell said...

Advice that resonates with me: "Write your next story. You might just discover something new that hadn’t appeared in the previous one." and "Remember, the story you write, can only be told by you. Also understand that all the ‘rules’ out there, aren’t in stone. Write the story the way you would want to read it."

I did that with In Over Her Head, the 3rd book in my fairytale series and it was the one that sold. It also sparked it's own Mer (people) series - which also sold.

You have to be true to yourself, but with an eye on the market, but not writing TO the market.

Nice posting Sia and Diana.

Diana Castilleja said...

Thank you Judi! There is no else who can tell your story like you can. I honestly believe that.

Kat Sheridan said...

Diana, nice to meet you! What outstanding advice! I love your combination of telling absolute truths and mixing it with humor. I especially liked the advice on rejections (which so far, is all I'm getting!) But yes, write the next book. Your books and web site look great, and I'm going to have to explore them further!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Diana, I'm flying home today so I will bit scarce. But I wanted you to know that I truly enjoyed your article.

Jessa Slade said...

Great post! I admit, I do take rejection as personal. I can't help it. It sure doesn't feel like moving forward; it feels like a brick to the head, and then a couple more bricks sitting on your chest, and then a mountain of bricks at your feet that you have to climb over.

The difference between insanity and hope is sometimes murky at best. Luckily there are posts like this to remind me why I do it! (Er, because we ARE insane :) and we love it.)

Safe travels, Sia!

Dana Fredsti said...

"Lastly, glaciers move faster than any facet of the publishing industry."

Absolutely classic quote! Great advice all around, Diana.

Dana Fredsti said...

And Sia, safe travels! I' over the food here for you... yes....that's it!....

Diana Castilleja said...

Thank you Dana and Jessa for stopping by! It looks like one of my earlier comments didn't post. :( Now I can't remember what I said.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Diana, it happens to me too.

I'm home and I will have your article up tomorrow too.

Dana, thanks so much for watching over the food...lmao!

Tara S Nichols said...

Very good advice Diana. I agree with everything you said. I have to remind myself over and over why I really write.


Diana Castilleja said...

Thank you for having me Sia! Thank you Tara for coming by. :) I'm always asking myself why I do this. One of these days, I'll remember to write down the reason. LOL

Diane said...

Sounds really good! Thanks for sharing. :O)