Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Struggling With Validation

~Readers who loved the sly fun, humor, and romance, of Ripping the Bodice will be blown away by the sensuality and lushness of Champagne.~

My guest is Erotic Romance author, Inara LaVey.

I admit I have some interesting friends, and have met many fascinating authors Over Coffee, but not many with multiple personalities. When I asked Dana Fredsti if she’d like to be a guest Over Coffee, I wasn’t expecting her equally sexy alter ego to jump into the fray and demand her turn on my blog. Inara is saucy, sly, chocked full of humor. She can also be a demanding wench. I like that about her. :-)

Inara’s topic is one that many writers, published and unpublished, struggle with—validation. What does it take to make a writer feel validated? Is it when you finish a novel or two? When you start getting partial or full requests? Snag a good agent who believes in you? Getting a contract? Selling X number of books? All are forms of validation.

I have a friend, who has finished at least six novels that I know of, and she said, not long ago, So when does the validation come? Am I wasting my time? Do I need the huge advance check and the mansion?

We all struggle with validation on some level or another. We'll let Dana and Inara discuss their struggles:

The last two years have been busy for me as a writer. Both of me. See, I write under two different names: Inara LaVey for my spicy romances and my real name (Dana Fredsti) for almost everything else (I say ‘almost’ because, for several reasons I won’t go into here, I also co-wrote a non-fiction book called Secret Seductions under the one time pen name Roxanne Colville). My co-author and long time friend Cynthia Gentry also brought me in to co-write another non-fiction book, What Women Really Want In Bed, for which I got my first substantial advance. It was a ‘nice’ advance, as they say in the publishing biz. Certainly more than I’d gotten in the past.

What else? I promoted my mystery Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon with blog tours, book signings at stores and libraries, and a fun Northwest coastal Thelma and Louise type tour with fellow mystery writer Jess Lourey (Murder by the Month series). I published two short stories and two novels for Ravenous Romance (my latest RR novel, Champagne, was released this month, woot!) and I’m currently working on my third, as well as the sequel to Murder for Hire.

I have a multiple book contract with Ravenous, including a zombie novel (Dana and Inara both do love the zombies). One of my RR titles, Ripping the Bodice is part of the Escape to Romance package on Home Shopping Network and they’ve been selling really well. The recently released Hungry For Your Love, an anthology of zombie related romance in which I have a story, just had the print rights bought by St. Martin’s Press.

All of these things are good things and when I look at the list of what I’ve accomplished and/or been a part of, I can see I haven’t exactly been sitting back, waiting for the world to hand me my goals on a silver platter. And yet somehow I still wake up wondering when the world is going to discover I’m just a big old fake.

I’ve tried to figure out what my problem is. Why I haven’t been able to just enjoy my successes without constantly questioning my validity as a ‘real’ writer?

Logic and emotions definitely refuse to meet in the middle here. Maybe it’s because I don’t have an agent. Maybe it’s because, despite my best intentions, there are nights I sit with my laptop for the requisite two or three hours, but sometimes no real writing comes out of it. I dunno.

Maybe it’s because when I wrote Ripping the Bodice, I had epic writing sessions of three to four thousand words a day. Now the old goal of five hundred words a day seems paltry. And if you were to tell me you were writing a consistent five hundred words a day, I’d say you were doing a great job. And I’d be perfectly sincere. I’d also tell you it’s okay if some nights you just needed to take a break and watch, So You Think You Can Dance, instead of write. Everyone needs a break. I just can’t seem to cut myself the same slack. I’m constantly comparing myself to my fellow writers and always coming up short. And frankly, I’m irritating the hell out of myself. :-)

How about you? I’d love to hear about other writers and their own struggle with validation, be it from readers, authors, publishers, agents… or themselves.

By the way, if you have any suggestions to get one’s inner critic to just shut the hell up, I’d love to hear that too! Mine’s been a real whiny bitch lately and my muse is on strike until I treat her with the love and respect she says she deserves.

Blurb for Champagne:
  • Jeanette Wilson is an American girl on the trip of a lifetime to the wine regions of France. Unfortunately, she's trapped with her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend Darryl, a self-absorbed, self-aggrandizing, self-styled wine expert bent on swirling, sniffing, sipping, swishing, chewing, swallowing and occasionally spitting his way through the wineries of France. Between his endless lectures and insufferable putdowns, her insignificant other is quickly turning her dream vacation into a nightmare.

    But things change for Jeanette once they come to the zenith of their French road-trip, the Champagne house of Chateau Roux-Dubois. Their hosts, Amaury and Marie-Elise Roux-Dubois, turn out to be both charming and attractive, and go out of their way to extend a warm welcome to her. And they make it very clear that it is she, not Daryl, who is their special guest, particularly when the striking Marie-Elise takes Jeanette down to the wine cellar for a very personal tour, followed by an unusual French lesson from Amaury.

  • When she and Daryl are invited to stay and participate in the harvest festival, Jeanette finds herself caught up in a ménage a trios with the Roux-Dubois, both intent on teaching her many things…

Inara LaVey is the erotica-writing nom de plume of a San Francisco mystery writer and former B-movie actress who has lived many of the experiences she writes about in her sensuous fiction. She has traveled throughout Europe, and worked in the uncharted wilds of Hollywood as a screenwriter, a script doctor, an award-winning documentary producer, a stunt woman (her background is in theatrical sword-fighting), and actress in more than one cult classic.

Along with her best friend, she created a mystery-oriented theatrical troupe in San Diego, which formed the basis for her Murder for Hire mysteries. She's written numerous published articles, essays and shorts, and is active in the Northern California chapter of Sisters in Crime.

She has a deep passion for all things feline, and for many years has worked with her beloved tigers, leopards, jaguars and other exotic cats at an exotic feline conservation center.

Another love is the sea; she adores living by the beach, surfing, strolling the strand and beach-combing. Her many friends know she can always be tempted by bad movies or good wine, preferably combined. When she is not hard at work writing or preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse, she can be found doting on her cats or sword fighting with her Irish lover.
  • MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon (James A. Rock Inc, Yellowback Mysteries Imprint) RIPPING THE BODICE (Ravenous Romance, as Inara LaVey) Member, Sisters in Crime (National & NorCal Chapters) Events Coordinator, SinC NorCal

    Vist with Inara/Dana: Zhadi's Den