Tag Archives: writing

“Impostor Syndrome” and What To Do About It

by Kassandra Lamb

Today I’m guest posting over on Jami Gold’s site on the subject of Impostor Syndrome in writers. But there are nuggets of truth in the post for everyone on the topic of believing in the quality of one’s work, filtering feedback, and letting the good stuff in to bolster our self-esteem.

Why Writers Feel Like Impostors Sometimes (and What to Do About It)

“Impostor Syndrome”—it’s the bane of a writer’s existence. Am I really a writer? Am I really any good at this writing thing?

Even after we’ve produced several books and they’re selling, we may still encounter those moments of fear—Am I a fraud? Have I just fooled everyone?

Why is writing (or any creative endeavor) so prone to impostor syndrome?

1.  “Good” is subjective. No matter how great our talent, some people will love our work, and some will hate it. (Just look at the bad reviews on many of the classics.)

2.  We are too close to our work to judge it accurately.

3.  We feel things more intensely than others might. That’s what fuels our creativity, and also our self-doubt.

4.  Our stories, poems, etc. are our children. Criticism of them is a knife in the heart.

5.  Any insecurities we have about our worth as a person will feed into insecurities about our work. Criticism will seem harsher than it was intended to be; praise will be seen as people just being kind.

created via imgflip.com

What to Do About It: 

First, are you a writer?

If you write, you are a writer! Claim that title. You have a right to it. (Or to sculptor, painter, or even teacher, architect…whatever the case may be.)

Whether or not you are a good writer is something else. Being good at something almost always involves three things: natural talent, training, and practice.

Talent is the subjective, innate component. (I’ll come back to that.) But the training and the practice you can make happen. Take craft classes. Find a good critique group, editor, beta readers, etc. who can help you hone your skills.

And then write. A lot.

How do you know if you’ve got the talent?

When you are first starting out, have lots of people read your writing and give you feedback.

Then pay close attention to that feedback. This does NOT mean that you BELIEVE all the feedback you get, but pay close attention to it.

First, who is giving it? Do they have their own agenda (such as making themselves seem important), or are they sincerely trying to help?

Do they know what they are talking about? Do they normally read your genre? Are they writers themselves or editors? (They don’t have to be, and just because they are doesn’t mean everything they say is correct.)

I intentionally have at least one beta reader who is not primarily a mystery reader (currently my daughter-in-law, romance writer G.G. Andrew). This gives me…READ MORE

To Write or Not To Write Short

by Kassandra Lamb

Someday is Here! book cover

I’m guest posting today over on Janice Hardy’s wonderful site for authors: Fiction University. So thrilled to have this opportunity!

I’m talking about the pros and cons of writing short stories/novellas vs. full-length novels. Please hop on over and check it out!

To Write or Not To Write Short:

Short stories, novellas, novels—what’s the best route to go as a fiction writer? Are there advantages to writing short?

This is a more complicated question than it may seem to be on the surface. There are several factors to consider:

● The definition of a short story vs. a novella
● The appeal of writing short for the author
● How readers feel about short stories and novellas vs. full-length novels
● The benefits of shorts for authors
● The bottom line: how much can you make off of shorts?

In order to give you more than just my take on writing short, I surveyed several authors from various genres. I’ve included their experiences along with my own… Read More

The Power of Group Support

by Kassandra Lamb

I’m in the middle of a two-week stint of fast-drafting. What is fast-drafting, you might ask?

A bunch of authors get together and make a commitment to themselves and each other that they will write X number of words per day for a certain period of time. Each author sets their own goals but they’re not supposed to let anything interfere with making it happen.

I’m going for 3,000 words a day, an ambitious but not unreasonable goal. I’m normally lucky if I write 3-4,000 new words per week. Mainly because too many other things come up that need my time and attention, or at the very least, they break my train of thought.

(public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

(public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

But having made this commitment to the group, I have been able, for the most part, to give myself permission to ignore most of those other demands (fire or blood, I will probably respond to 😉 ).

And it’s amazing how much the cheering section of the group can do for one’s motivation.

Each day we report in on our progress and everybody comments with Woohoo’s and Yay’s if we make our goal, or even if we don’t but we at least get some new words on the page. If we hit a snag, the group will rally around and offer support and advice to get us unstuck.

The last time I did this, it was just a one-day affair, with 30 to 60-minute “sprints.” It happened to land on a day when I had many other distractions and obligations. I wasn’t able to participate in all of the sprints. And yet I cranked out over 6,000 words that day. During one 60-minute sprint alone, I wrote 3,000 words.

I’m not real sure why the group support makes such a difference. It’s really a bit of a mystery. It all remains positive. If you fail to make your goal for the day, nobody gives you a hard time. Indeed, the group will commiserate. And somehow that makes one that much more determined to write more the next day.

It’s amazing. Truly this kind of group effort gives meaning to the saying:

The whole is greater than the parts!

It reminds me of when I worked with a group called Women Build. They were an all-female crew that built houses for Habitat for Humanity. There were a few young, strong women in the group but most of us were middle-aged or older. Nonetheless, we managed to hang drywall and sand floors and shingle roofs. A dozen or so of us would show up at the building site each Saturday morning, and together we’d somehow get things done that none of us would dream of doing by ourselves. In less than a year, we had built a house!

How about you? Have you ever found you could do something as part of a group that you’d never have accomplished all on your own?

This fast-drafting session was organized, by the way, by my sister mp author, K.B. Owen. Check out her post if you’d like to know more about why fast-drafting with a group is so successful for authors. I especially like Elizabeth Anne Mitchell’s comment about outrunning one’s inner critic. 🙂

If you are an aspiring writer, you might want to check out my new guidebook for newbie authors.

It’s just 99 cents for a limited time! (Goes up to $2.99 soon.)

a SomedayIsHere FINAL (1)Someday Is Here! by Kassandra Lamb

This easy-to-read, how-to guide is full of both practical advice and emotional support. Psychotherapist turned successful mystery writer, Kassandra Lamb takes novice writers by the hand and walks with them on their journey, pointing out pitfalls along the way, some of which she discovered through tumbled-head-first-into-them experience.

From the decisions to be made before setting pen to paper to whether to submit to agents or self-publish, from the basics of writing craft to the nuts and bolts of copyrighting and ISBNs, from promotion strategies to the perseverance needed to make your writing business a success, this overview of the writing and publishing process is a must-read for new authors who aren’t sure what they’re getting themselves into.

AVAILABLE NOW ON (just $0.99): AMAZON US AMAZON UK AMAZON CA APPLE KOBO B&N

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 😉 )

Chasing Your Dreams!

by Kassandra Lamb

We all have dreams, and we all believe that we want our dreams to come true.

So what stops us? Many people will say that life gets in the way. I can certainly relate to that. While I was busy making other dreams come true–marriage, raising a child, becoming a psychotherapist–my dream of being a writer simmered on the back burner for a very long time.

But other things can get in the way as well. The biggie is fear of failure.

Epic_fail pub domain wiki

(public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

The bigger the dream, the more we may fear that we won’t be able to achieve it, so why even try? The mild ache we feel when we think about our unfulfilled dream is nothing compared to the heartbreak we will experience if we try and fail.

I don’t have all the answers for overcoming this fear. But I think the most important step in that direction is realizing that a failure does not define who you are or your worth. To try and fail means you are brave. To not try…uh, not so brave.

Also, we’re not going to be great at everything we do. Your achievements do not define your worth; your inner self does. Are you kind, compassionate, hard-working, responsible? Then you are a worthy human being even if you’re not great at everything you try. (See my two posts on recovering from perfectionism for more on this.)

And if we don’t try, how will we ever know if we’re great at it or not?

The other fear that gets in people’s way, usually on a subconscious level, is fear of success.

Yes, you heard me right. Fear of Success. This is what that fear sounds like as it whispers in your ear:

So what if you do finish this first book and people like it? Then they’ll expect you to write another one, just as good or better. What if the first one’s a fluke? What if you only have one good book in you?

People can sometimes fear that they won’t be able to sustain success. And/or they may fear that others will develop certain expectations of them that they won’t be able to continue to fulfill.

This fear is more common when others have pushed us to pursue our dream. They may have inadvertently put undue pressure on us, made us feel that we would be letting them down if we don’t succeed.

Think about this for a moment. If you are successful at your first stab at something, how likely is it that you won’t be able to do it again? I get better at things with practice. Don’t you?

And even if you can only do it once. Isn’t that better than never pursuing your dream at all?

Yet another thing that can slow us down is not knowing the steps needed to get to our dream. We may have a vague idea of the first step or two, but after that it’s all a fog.

Steps to Nowhere (photo by Evelyn Simak, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

Steps to Nowhere (photo by Evelyn Simak, CC-BY-SA 2.0 Wikimedia Commons)

What I discovered with writing though is that the fog clears as you take the next step, and then the next. So you don’t have to see the whole path, just the next step or two in front of you.

My other dreams seemed obtainable so I pursued them, but the one about becoming a fiction writer–that always seemed out of reach. I absolutely hate having other people control my fate. I just couldn’t imagine myself making the rounds of agents and publishers, begging someone to give my literary baby a chance to live. So I never really tried. I wrote the beginnings of about five books over the years, but never got past chapter five or six in any of them.

Then I attended a workshop on e-publishing, and everything changed. I didn’t know all the steps but here was a path that would allow me to take control of my dream.

Whether or not it happened would depend on whether I could please my readers, not whether an agent or publisher thought my book was saleable. It’s taken six years to get here, but I now have eight books and three novellas published, with two more on the way. (To make the process easier for today’s new writers, I’ve spelled out the steps in the guidebook below.)

Whatever your dream is, don’t let fear stop you. Research what the first steps would be to make it happen. It might not be as hard as it looked, all foggy from the outside looking in. You may discover a path that you feel confident you can handle.

And as the saying goes: Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

How about you? Do you have a dream you’ve never really pursued? Is this the year to make it happen?

If your dream has been to become a fiction writer, I now have a short, easy-to-read guidebook out for new writers. My goal is to show the path to making your dream come true, while helping you avoid the pain of some of the pitfalls and potholes I stumbled into during the last six years.

It’s just 99 cents for a limited time! (Goes up to $2.99 soon.)

a SomedayIsHere FINAL (1)Someday Is Here! by Kassandra Lamb

This easy-to-read, how-to guide is full of both practical advice and emotional support. Psychotherapist turned successful mystery writer, Kassandra Lamb takes novice writers by the hand and walks with them on their journey, pointing out pitfalls along the way, some of which she discovered through tumbled-head-first-into-them experience.

From the decisions to be made before setting pen to paper to whether to submit to agents or self-publish, from the basics of writing craft to the nuts and bolts of copyrighting and ISBNs, from promotion strategies to the perseverance needed to make your writing business a success, this overview of the writing and publishing process is a must-read for new authors who aren’t sure what they’re getting themselves into.

AVAILABLE NOW ON (just $0.99):   AMAZON US    AMAZON UK    AMAZON CA    APPLE    KOBO    B&N

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington mystery series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Central Florida.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

8 Ways For an Introvert to Enjoy a Convention

by Vinnie Hansen

As authors, we often attend conventions. Probably you have done so as well in the course of your career.

After several Left Coast Crime Conventions and one Killer Nashville Convention, as a painful introvert, I finally have the hang of how to enjoy these events. This is the wisdom I’ve gleaned:

The Willamette River in Portland

The Willamette River in Portland, Oregon

1.  See the venue. On my trip to Nashville, exhausted as I was, I caught a hotel shuttle to the downtown strip at night and walked place to place until I heard music that appealed to me—The Don Kelley band at Robert’s.

At the recent Left Coast Crime, the sun was shining when I arrived in Portland. Knowing the weather wouldn’t hold, I seized the moment and walked to Powell’s Books. These were unforgettable experiences. In both cases I went with another person I didn’t know well. I feel bonded to them through the shared activity, which brings me to tip #2.

My new friend, Cindy Brown, author of MacDeath

My new friend, Cindy Brown, author of MacDeath

2.  Attend the convention alone. If you go with a good friend or spouse, you’ll spend too much time together. It’s natural, especially for a shy person like me. A huge benefit of a conference is meeting other writers and making new friends. Which brings me to tip #3.

3.  Park the idea that the conference is mainly about selling books. All writers want book sales, but that’s my point. Attendees can develop marketing fatigue. They tire of people thrusting books in their faces. Calm down. Let people get to know you. Share yourself. Then maybe they’ll buy your book. But . . .

Vinnie's bookmark
4.  Be prepared. Take bookmarks and/or cards and have them handy. Tuck some in the conference lanyard pocket. I kick myself for every time I had interest in my book and was not able to hand the person my info.

5.  Promote others. If you like someone else’s book, give it a plug. It builds friendships and good karma.

6.  Get involved. I’ve asked for and been lucky to receive panel assignments at all the conventions I’ve attended. I’ve made lasting connections with my panel mates. But volunteering is another way to form bonds. I don’t regret a minute of the hour I spent “manning” the Sisters in Crime table in Portland, or the time I spent helping Robin Burcell heft around boxes of books in Monterey.

Lovely, Dark & Deep: What Makes a Literary Mystery panel with authors John Addiego, Jennifer Bosworth, Deborah Reed, Susanna Calkins and Vinnie Hansen

Lovely, Dark & Deep: What Makes a Literary Mystery panel with authors John Addiego, Jennifer Bosworth, Deborah Reed, Susanna Calkins and me (far right)

7.  Observe your surroundings. As writers, isn’t that imperative? I met people who holed up in their rooms to make their word counts and I admire their discipline. But what do we write about if we don’t observe what’s around us?

judge with a fluffy white catThe Portland DoubleTree had a Cat Fanciers Show right next door. For the nominal fee of four dollars, I discovered a fascinating foreign world and gained a wealth of information.

8.  Take photos. They are so important for follow-up Facebook posts or blogs like this one. And, at my age, they really help me to remember all those people I met!

These simple practices have transformed my convention experience from intimidating to stimulating.

Have you had to attend conventions for your job? How do you feel about them?

OneToughCookieComing soon! The re-release of One Tough Cookie, A Carol Sabala Mystery, under the misterio press imprint. So stay tuned.

Posted by Vinnie Hansen. Vinnie is a retired English teacher and award-winning author. Her cozy noir mystery series, the Carol Sabala mysteries, is set in Santa Cruz, California.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

The Tipping Point and the Serenity Prayer

by Kassandra Lamb

This is the time of year when we set new goals, and/or recommit to old ones. Well-known blogger Jami Gold recently pointed out that some goals we have control over, and others we don’t. It’s important to realize the difference. Otherwise failing to achieve the we-can’t-control-this goals can be very discouraging.

This post is aimed mainly at my fellow authors, but I think it has relevance for everyone. For each of us in our work life, there are goals we can achieve via our hard work, and there are goals that we don’t have direct control over.

woman sitting on the side of a hill

Sometimes it just seems so hard to keep climbing (photo by Vaikoovery CC BY 3.0 Wikimedia Commons)

And in most people’s careers, there is some goal that marks the beginning of true success–the point where you may still be climbing the ladder but the climb gets easier, and you become more confident you will eventually reach your ultimate career goals.

We’ll be much more able to climb to that “tipping point” with our sanity intact if we can differentiate between the controllable and not so controllable goals and outcomes along the way.

The Part I Couldn’t Control
For authors, the goal that is most out of our control is whether or not people buy our books. We can do things to control the quality of our stories–take craft classes, hire good editors, etc.–but a good story doesn’t guarantee sales.

When I first got serious about my writing, I suffered from a common ailment amongst writers–Write It and They Will Buy syndrome.

Hmm, not that easy. It isn’t enough to be talented at what you do (although that is an essential first step). Often, others have to notice what we are doing in order for us to receive the rewards we are hoping for.

So how to put yourself out there to be noticed without coming across as obnoxious?

The Part I Could Control
For authors, we are told to engage with people on social media and “build a platform.” So I did that. Another piece of advice was to get lots of stories out there in front of the public. Not a problem. I was already writing a series, and publishing two or more books a year.

Yet another idea was to do giveaways to get readers hooked and get some reviews for your books. So I did that. Doing blog tours and guest posts on other people’s blogs was also a good idea, I was told. Did that too.

Once you have enough books out in a series, yet another strategy is to make the first book permanently free. So I did that.

There's a reason why it's called The Serenity Prayer--because that's the tough part, accepting what we can't control (photo by Jerry "Woody" CC-BY-SA 2.0)

There’s a reason why it’s called The Serenity Prayer–because that’s the tough part, accepting what we can’t control (image by Jerry “Woody” CC-BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The Other Part I Couldn’t Control
Each time I did these things, I saw a bump in sales. But nothing to knock your socks off.

It was getting harder and harder to keep my spirits up. I told myself to think of it as a hobby (even though I’m quite serious about it). I would be writing anyway, because I love it. So if sales never took off, so be it. (Fortunately I have a pension; most writers don’t.)

That helped provide the serenity to cope better, but it didn’t solve the problem of sluggish sales.

Then I started hearing authors talking about their tipping point. That at some point something happened that tipped them over the edge, visibility-wise, and their sales were off and running. In each of these cases, there were components the author could control and some they couldn’t.

For some, it was getting reviewed by a book blogger with a large following (could submit to the blogger; no guarantee they would read the book and like it). For others, it was having their books associated with those of a big-name author in the “People Who Bought This Also Bought” box on Amazon (sometimes via a giveaway; often dumb luck). For one of our misterio press authors, it was investing in an expensive ad on BookBub, one of the best e-mail subscription websites for promoting books.

Several authors said that their sales turned a corner when they had published three books in their series. Others said it took five books before they experienced their tipping point.

Book 7 in my series was published last fall. Sales were okay but still less than stellar. I was starting to get discouraged again.

Then I bit the bullet and submitted that perma-free first book to BookBub–again something I could control, but not whether or not the book was accepted (they are picky and in high demand) nor whether the ad was successful. The book was accepted, which reassured me that the problem wasn’t my writing. I gulped a little when I paid the invoice for the ad, and then I started praying.

screen shot of perma-free first book

90 reviews and counting; still #5 in free psychological suspense category

The results were a bit slow to show up–a huge number of downloads of the free book, but only a medium-sized bump in sales of the others. That first book started getting a whole lot of reviews though, the vast majority of them good to great.

I was about to resign myself to this booby prize of more good reviews when things started happening. Sales of Book 2 in the series took off, and then Book 3, etc. I could track readers’ progress through the series. With the first book now high on the free lists at Amazon, thousands of downloads continued each week, and the other books are still selling well.

The climb gets easier after the tipping point  (photo by Derek Harper CC-BY-SA 2.0)

The climb gets easier after the tipping point (photo by Derek Harper CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Hallelujah, I have reached my tipping point!!

So to everyone, but especially to my fellow authors who may still be struggling along, I say don’t give up!

Keep trying different things that you can control, until something happens to propel you past that tipping point.

How about you? Are you clear about which of your goals you have control over and which you don’t? Have you reached the tipping point in your career?

 

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week, usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )

10 Inspiring Pinterest Boards for Mystery Writers (and fans of all things creepy and mysterious)

by Kirsten Weiss

Pinterest is a visual way for people to document their likes and dislikes, post what inspires them, or just hoard recipes for squash casseroles. For writers, who spend a lot of time in the world of words, it can be a refreshing change from other social media sites.

Lately, I’ve been turning more and more to Pinterest – both for inspiration and for world building. These Pinterest boards were chosen based on quality (admittedly subjective) and quantity, but here are my top 10 mystery writing faves, in no particular order.

1)  Faerytaleish: For fae-lovers and mystery writers whose mysteries take a paranormal bent? (Check out the steampunk cat!)

Photo Credit: country_boy_shane via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: country_boy_shane via Compfight cc

2) Crime History: Real crimes. Real criminals. Real creepy.

3)  Neo Noir: Tough girls, odd girls, surreal girls. If you’re looking for inspiration for a noir heroine, this might be the spot.

4)  Noir: Haunting, mostly black and white images.

5)  For My Inspiration: Edgy and imaginative, these images and quotes provoke laughter and intrigue.

6)  Gothic: A board for mystery writers (and other Gothic fans) who favor the creepy classics.

7)  Writers and Writing: A wheel of emotions, inspiration from successful writers, and other writerly goodies.

8)  Writing: A board of writing prompts, tips, and inspiration.

9)  Writing Prompts: Just the prompts, ma’am.

10)  Writing Quotes and Inspiration: Because sometimes, we need a pithy quote to get us writing again!

Kirsten Weiss is the author of Steam and Sensibility, a steampunk novel of suspense, and the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective and The Elemental Detective. She uses Pinterest for research and world building.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

Please follow us so you don’t miss out on any of the interesting stuff, or the fun! (We do not lend, sell nor otherwise bend, spindle or mutilate followers’ e-mail addresses. 🙂 )