I decided to write a novel after I read a lot of disappointing fiction while I was unemployed and had too much time on my hands (insert Hollywood visions of monthly calendar pages blowing away in fake wind here.) I also think I have a pretty good sense of humor, like to make up stories, and was well, unemployed. So I could start a novel or sit at the bar. Since the unemployment thingy didn't really lend itself toward expensive cocktails, I bought a refurbished laptop from a single dad, his 2 boys and a Labrador Retriever, and began tapping away.
I also conned myself into writing for seemingly practicle reasons. I was unemployed. Even after I found a job, I was pretty sure I'd be digging myself out of some kind of debt. Having no knowledge whatsoever about the publishing industry, it seemed like a completely rational idea that selling a novel would be a pretty good part time job. Well, at least it would beat a part time job being part of the Pooper-Scooper-Patrol.
So, in order to create a book that was sellable, before I set down to invent any characters or plots, I set out to figure what other folks would like. Who are the people who read a lot? What are some current trends? What would I buy? And, of course, write about what's familiar. That's when I realized that while living and working in Lancaster, PA (pronounced PEE-AY by the natives) there are a lot of things I've learned to take for granted, that might be great fun for new readers (virtual tourists, in my mind) visiting my neck of the woods for a fun read. I'm also a foodie wannabe, as my chef husband will attest. And I love to entertain. And, I do have somewhat of a catering disorder...hmm....
So, I made up Mina Kitchen, a 40's something single gal with a 20-something pound orange tabby cat with white mitts and one slightly crossed blue eye. Mina is short for Wilhelmina. She's named after a great-grandmother Mina's never met and plans to thank in the hereafter by prodding a heavenly fork in her virtual side. Not because of inheriting her weird name, or even weirder nickname. It’s mostly because of inheriting her oddball catering disorder.
Her work buddies, Bauser, a techno-geek IT guy and Norman, who's pretty much a genious software engineer, stick by her, even after she loses her job at Executive Enterprises for Job Intuitive Technologies, otherwise known as E.E.J.I.T. So does Vito Spaghetti, her strange neighbor who has an obvious Swiffer addiction, as well as being a dry-cleaning junkie. And Trixie, her RN buddy who works late night ER shifts. And her Aunt Muriel, the polo pony crowd, and the senior gang at St. Bart's Episcopal. It's not quite the cast of "War and Peace" but I can assure you, Mina's never lonely. Well, at least not in KITCHEN ADDICTION! As for the sequel....[SPOILER ALERT]...
I'm finding out that being a newbie author is a lot like moving across country when your car breaks down. That is to say, using the telephone directory to find a reputable car mechanic is not an ideal situation. What to do? Close my eyes, point my finger at a phone number on the page and hope? Or, shove myself out of my comfort zone, confide in strangers who might be my new neighbor/dentist/school teacher - or sociopath - while I sit on the side of the road? In my case, I'm doing both.
Why indie? I could have submitted queries and hopped (limped?) along the traditional writing route. I also could stare at my naval until I'm 90. Suffice it to say, I'm not overly inclinded to be patient. Also, while researching traditional publishing v. independent publishing, it appears that even with traditional publishers, most of the marketing, promotions, publicity and overall leg work is on me. So why would I want to work more, for less? As far as I'm concerned, at least monetarily speaking, more is better.
Then there's my neurotic fear of my personal inner theme songs having a meltdown. Yes, I have theme songs play inside my head while I do stuff. Hey, it's free entertainment. Right now the newbie indie author theme song is along the lines of "Rocky's Theme" (underdog new writer #winning). My fear is that somewhere along the traditional pound-your-head-against-the-wall-newbie-author route the "#winning" theme song will spin into Melanie Safka's "Look What They've Done to my Song."
So while the newbie author in me is sensible enough to seek out professional criticism (ie. I hired an editor); the insecure new novelist cringes about facing a Vito Spaghetti used-car-salesman publishing house type, "Sweetie, Cookie, Baby, you gotta write like everyone else or no one will buy your book."
Speaking of Vito Spaghetti, I can use his name in vain. He's my character and I hope you have fun meeting him in the debut novel KITCHEN ADDICTION! And, now that we're talking about marketing...I like marketing. I like meeting new people. I like thinking outside the box and developing new promotions. What I don't like is promoting myself. Now, here's where the beauty of being an author comes in: I'm not promoting myself - I'm promoting my book and my new family of characters who happen to live inside my head. Which is getting crowded. Which is why I'm working on the sequel to KITCHEN ADDICTION! And, as it happens, thanks to putting my nose to the grindstone to finish KITCHEN ADDICTION!, as well as courtesy of the internet, I've found out that I really DO enjoy writing. Especially as I get to play with my imaginary friends.
How has the internet helped me write? I've probably written more personal essays, thoughts,opinions, one-liners and jokes through emails and Twitter and Facebook posts than I ever would have done by snail mail years ago. I just wouldn't have considered that my thoughts were important enough to put down on actual paper. But virtual paper? Without killing trees? Done. As a note: I've read about the horrors of writer's block. It now leaves me completely baffled as I apparently have writer's diarrhea. Answer an email. Post a comment on a blog. Write a grocery list. Post on Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes you just need a jump start.
Now that we're back to talking about cars... I probably will need a new one in the not too distant future. Don't get me wrong; I love Sophie (yes, my car's name is Sophie). But since I don't expect to win the lottery soon, a second source of modest income from my indie novels wouldn't be a bad thing (remember the "more is better" thingy? insert here). And writing, in my book (get it?) sure beats flippin' burgers. Unless of course, you're a chef, like my husband, and the burgers are your own. :)