Author Archives: Colette Black

The Hypocritical Oath

Hello, my name is Colette, and I’m a hypocrite. Oh, did you think the title of this post was a misprint? Nope, it’s the beginning of a support-group meeting. I may be the only member, but if you feel that your situation applies, you’re welcome to join.

Now, most of us are hypocrites at some time or another, but my declaration pertains to our theme for this month, motivation in writing. I’m writing this post about motivation, and yet I’ve hardly written two words this entire summer. I keep thinking, when __(blank)__ happens in my life then I’ll make the time to write. Honestly, me telling anyone how to stay motivated right now is just plain hypocrisy. Instead, I’ll tell you some of the stupid, bogus reasons I haven’t been writing and what I’m going to do about it. That is my hypocritical oath, in order to be less of a hypocrite. Maybe, in the process, you’ll discover some of your own roadblocks and get ideas on ways to hurdle them.

  1.  Rejection amid Expectation: Rejection is part of the game. I used to save my rejection letters as symbols of pride. If I was getting rejected then I was writing and submitting which meant I was still improving. However, a while back I had a submission rejected that I had considered a sure thing. All of my fellow writers had given me awesome feedback and I’d even received glowing praise from a well-known author who was related to the project. About the same time, a professional sale I’d made fell through and the publisher didn’t respond to my inquiries. To top it off, my marketing efforts for my current books fell completely flat. It was too much. Rejection I could take, but not from such heights of expectation. I’ve been trying to convince myself ever since, and I’m still working on it, that “success” and/or “rejection” is not the name of MY game. I write because I enjoy it. I hope that as I work on 2 and 3, that I’ll gain more confidence.
  2. Family/work Obigations: I quit my job so I’d have more time to spend with my ailing mother, to take her to Dr. appointments, and to work on helping a daughter with severe anxiety and another of my children with chronic migraines. My mother is doing much better than she was, my daughter is in school again, driving, and handling her anxiety, and they finally diagnosed my other daughter with a rare condition–chiari malformation. Surgery will be upcoming and should finally give her relief. And yet I still find obligations to fill my time. I have a solution that has worked in the past. I will schedule my writing time and treat it like an appointment. I even put it in my calendar…which, I am doing, right now. Done. Scheduled for Mon, Wed, Fri afternoons, we’ll start with one hour blocks, and go from there. Schedules can have power. At least, I hope so.
  3. Mental Illness: They say that 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of mental illness such as anxiety and/or depression. I think it may be higher than that and from my experience, the statistics are higher among creative thinkers. I went to a panel on the subject at a conference and was impressed by the number of people who showed up to talk about the issue. It’s as real as any other condition–diabetes, chiari malformation, etc.–and needs to often be treated medically before it can be tackled with cognitive therapy. For me, even though I treat my depression, lately it’s been taking over The oxymoron of depression is that as I need more help, I resist getting that help more and more. Realizing in a moment of clarity that something must be done and then acting on that moment is a challenge. Since it’s after office hours, making that phone call just went on my to-do list. It will happen first thing tomorrow, though. Promise.

I know I’m not alone with some of these challenges, and I know that there are other obstacles for many of you. Please share. I tend to overshare. I know that and sometimes it gets me in trouble, but sometimes I’ve received and/or given help that wouldn’t have otherwise happened. And I’d like to give a special thank you to my writing group. Through all of this, they’ve kept my fingers coming back to the keyboard at least once/week with their constructive criticism and personal dedication. I wish that kind of support for all of us so that we can keep treading water until we start swimming again.

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net

 

Wouldn’t it be cool if…?

One of the funnest elements of a story can be setting. One of the most dangerous questions we can ask ourselves starts with, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?”

Here’s my story:

In putting together my Mankind’s Redemption series, I placed my characters in far away star systems and then had

to ask myself, “How did they get there?” Time travel? For colonization, not likely. Generation ships? Most likely. Easy-peasy, right? But then, for every cool element I added to their world, to the aliens’ worlds, to every scenario, I had to ask myself the traditional reporter questions of what, when, why, how, and where. It got complicated, fast. The Mwalgi species dwell on a hot, toxic planet that lacks water and what they have is largely contaminated. Cool, right? Even more amazing, it orbits a red dwarf sun with a sister-dwarf-sun in a binary orbit. So their suns orbit

around a central point, swinging each other around. Cool, but complicated, and it added a lot more research. I learned a lesson. Sometimes these amazing, interesting settings are worth it, and sometimes you might want to consider what you’re getting yourself into. Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Probably. It is cool, but I might have toned everything down just a little bit so I could spend more time writing and a little less time on plausibility and research. Just an FYI, this series is a Galactic Fantasy so I have some wiggle room in the possible but highly unlikely sector. For hard sci-fi, you have to really know your science and accuracy is key.

When I started my next series, Legends of Power, I set it in Kentucky. I went there, took pictures, did research, and restricted most of my “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” questions to the magic system. I spent almost as much time researching reality as I had in researching scientific possibility. Hmm, not what I expected. Was it worth it? Absolutely, and if you ever get to Bowling Green, KY, I highly recommend Chaney’s Dairy Barn. Best ice cream I’ve ever had! (And some really cute cows.)

In The Number Prophecy, I set the books in a world with similarities to our own but significant differences in history, geology, religion, and sociology. So much fun! I get to explore so many aspects of humanity. Did I research any less? A little less on the physical setting, but so much more on all of the other aspects of my world and it’s people.

The moral of my story? No matter what you do there must be research. Everything is cool, from the craziest settings in your imagination–I’m thinking of a world where metal flyswatters hit you in the face every time you have an idea–to the most mundane, adorable, town in the midwest. Embrace it, enjoy it, and let the setting live as much as your characters. Give it equal, or possibly, even more attention that your protagonist. An interesting setting is the backdrop of interesting characters, interesting plots, and interesting conflicts. Put in the time to make it breathe and never be afraid to ask “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Just make sure you’re prepared with a good answer.

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. Author of the Mankind’s Redemption Series, The Number Prophecy series, and the new Legends of Power series, Colette writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net

 

 

Conclusion

We’ve heard from multiple small publishers, authors who love them and authors who have had less than stellar experiences with them. After a month of opinions and personal stories, I’ve come to a conclusion: small publishers can help us, they can hurt us, but it’s up to us to recognize the advantages and the risks. In short, be careful.

Personally, my experience with Brick Cave Media has been good so far. They took a weight off my shoulders by taking care of the publishing process in a way that didn’t require my up-front capital, just a shared belief in the quality of my book. They’re helping with the marketing of my novel and we have the same goals. It’s a win-win and I enjoy working with them. I still have my own publishing company that I will continue to manage for my other series. That gives me full autonomy over those titles.

Regardless of what paths you, our readers, choose to follow, I wish you the best. I hope this month’s focus on small presses, pros and cons, has been helpful in some way to your career goals. As always, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell us your own opinions and experiences.

Watch for tomorrow’s post, our interview with a Fictorians author.

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. Author of the Mankind’s Redemption Series, The Number Prophecy series, and the new Legends of Power series, Colette writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net

 

Are Small Publishers a Small Price?

When it comes to publishing, opinions vary by wide margins. Some say traditional publishing is the only way to get noticed, to come out with a quality book, and to have a chance at a wide readership. Others say traditional publishing is a scam, they use their authors, and only the top sellers get anything out of the relationship. For some, indie publishing is the only way to go. The writer has full autonomy of their work; able to make the covers, formatting, and editing quality the way they think it should be done. Yet, I’ve seen some authors and readers turn their noses up at indie publishing, saying it floods the market with sub-par books and the writers are wannabe hacks who couldn’t cut it in “real” publishing.

And then we come to small publishers. Are small publishers a middle-ground or a scam? Because the books are vetted by non-partial book enthusiasts, does that lend them more credibility? Are they run by publishing novices who don’t really know what they’re doing? Do they have the power to increase marketing and exposure or is it just self-publishing where the author does more work and never sees royalties? Are authors risking their novels/career/time because the small publishers always fold within five years? Are authors increasing productivity because a small publisher takes care finding and working with editors, cover artists, and formatting?

In short, what does it cost us to use a small publisher and what are the rewards? This is the question we’ll be asking this month. Read each day for views from the authors and the publishers. Our fictorians and multiple guests are going to be writing about personal experience and personal views. As always, we’d love to hear your comments. Keep the conversation civil and discard any preconceptions. Let the debate begin:

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. Author of the Mankind’s Redemption Series, The Number Prophecy series, and the new Legends of Power series, Colette writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net