Your Interest in Pinterest

Hey, readers!

I finally got around to finishing my Pinterest board for The Hundredth Queen. I also unlocked the privacy setting on my board for The Fire Queen. But beware! Some of the images are spoilery. I hope you enjoy them!

Happy reading,

Em

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Dangling Carrots & Lofty Ladders

Recently in a class I was asked what success means to me. Everyone else scribbled down their thoughts while I sat there dumbfounded. I couldn’t figure out at what point I would consider myself “successful.”

Earlier that day, I was speaking to a friend about how it’s unnerving to set goals that depend so much on factors beyond our control. Anyone in the publishing industry knows that luck and timing account for more than a fair amount. Book covers, marketing, release dates, trade reviews, advances, invitations to conferences, etc. I realized as I sat with the question “What does success mean to me?” that success is ever-moving. It is a dangling carrot that motivates us to work harder and persist, no matter where we are on our personal journey. Fame. Fortune. Rubbing elbows with important people. Notoriety. Independence, creative or financial. One person’s perspective on what success looks like will change to the next, and our interpretation will change as we taste nibbles of it.

In essence, success is something we chase, not something we achieve.

The intent of our heart, the reason we’re sacrificing and toiling for that carrot, and our motive for consecrating our time and talents, must bring us personal joy or contentment. Otherwise the success we experience will feel like just another step on a lofty ladder to a higher rung of achievement. We must be driven by the carrot hanging out of our reach, ambitious enough to strive for it, and satisfied by what will feel like minor advances. Or at some point, we will stop fighting for our dreams.

So for me, success is finding a way to be grateful and happy with where I am today, while always keeping one eye firmly on that carrot.

Invest in Beautiful Minds

I bought a beautiful watercolor painting for my office while I was at an art festival earlier this month. While walking around the festival, every booth had notices informing people not take photos. Why? Because in the digital age, their picture could be put online and that artist’s work (which is proprietary) would be out to the masses to download, click, print out, and share at will.

Why is this a bad thing? Wouldn’t the artist sell more art if more buzz was created by showing the image? Well, maybe. But since there is no way to quantify how many impending sales versus the potential loss in sales would occur, it’s best to buy the art from the creator.

The buying of books is more complicated. We can loan them, borrow them from the library, and even download them illegally (probably don’t do the last one). When we love a story, it’s natural to want to share it with others. And for avid readers, buying every book they read adds up to a hefty bill. For me, libraries are heaven on earth, and who doesn’t love to get a second opinion from a friend on a book they can’t stop thinking about? Still, there’s a reason I’m not posting pictures on Instagram and Facebook of the new piece of artwork I bought that I love, love, love. I respect the artist and will not violate or infringe upon his right to be compensated for his work. This is his livelihood. I would never want to take money out of his pocket.

Yet authors are asked on almost a daily basis to share their work for free. Imagine if I had walked up to that painter and told him I wanted to take a picture of his work so I could print out an enhanced copy and hang it on my wall. Isn’t that essentially the same thing as asking an author to give you their book? Yes, books are given away to build buzz for the title and promote the writer. I think that’s part of why this is a gray area. Authors you’ll encounter will sing the praises of libraries and librarians and be happy to direct you to their publicist for an advanced reader’s copy. But I think there is a misconception that we have boxes and boxes of our own books to give away on demand. Authors are given very few personal copies from their publisher. Chances are the ones you see us giving away we paid for. Yes, we bought our own work to give to you! That’s how much we want you to have access to our stories. But we cannot give away our books to everyone, and honestly, you shouldn’t ask us to.

Did you know that in traditional publishing most authors make 10% on hardbacks, 8% on paperbacks, and 15% on ebooks? These rates vary, but not by much. We also give 15% of our total royalties to our literary agent. I don’t math well, but for those of you who do, you can see that besides outliers like JK Rowling and Stephen King who sell millions of copies, authors aren’t rolling in dough.

In short, buy art and books directly from their creators or a reputable marketplace as often as you can. Support the imagination mill and help the authors you love keep writing as long as possible. We appreciate it.

Q&A: How do I find time to write?

More and more lately I’m asked, “How do you write and care for your four kids?” This is probably the question I’m asked the most, so here’s my reply.

First, I understand that this inquiry is not meant as an insult or judgement (most of the time). People genuinely want to hear how I find time to care for my home and children and complete my work. Any author-mom will tell you it’s a lot to juggle. I’m not gonna lie. But my answer is always the same.

“I make time for what’s important to me.”

We all have priorities. For me, crossing the important items off my to-do list usually means going without things I like to do to make time for what I love. Most days I go without reading a book, baking desserts, visiting friends, and so on, to write. I stay up late, wake up early, drink too much Diet Coke, and multi-task as often as possible. My family and faith will always be at the top of my list. My home is less tidy than it used to be and meals are less elaborate, but no one goes without clean clothes or starves. I have an amazing husband who has never once implied I stop writing and who cares for our home in equal measure. Our kids are pretty awesome, too. Even so, I carve out the time to write, because like anything else that gets accomplished in my day, it’s important to me. And I’m happier for it.

We can often tell what matters most to someone by what they spend their time and money on. What we choose to do each day with our time and means indicates to others our measure of commitment, passion, and determination to our endeavors, whatever they may be. In fact, some days our willingness to sacrifice our time is all we have left to give to our dreams. We put in the hours and do the work. We keep at it and don’t give up. I pray my children will learn to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to something they love to do.

From now on, when people ask me how I find time to write and care for my kids, this will be my reply: “I make time for what’s important to me. How do you find time for what matters to you?” Hopefully they’ll understand that my writing does not conflict with my duties as a mother but adds to my joy.

Finally, I know my circumstances are not the same for everyone. My workplace is in my home, both as a mom and an author. But a lot of busy author-moms also work outside the home. Hats off to you, ladies. Keep it up.