Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Reflect, Regroup


I cross off two more publishers on my white board. That leaves five actively reviewing my manuscript, with another five still in radio-silence. The publisher I’m really hoping to score is still on the active list. Now to find a four-leaf clover I can wish on–wait, that’s a falling star.

I should be writing some profound post on, well, writing. I finished and revised my synopsis (whew!) and promotional plan for my agent to send off to the publisher that asked for them. A synopsis I’ve done before, but this was my first promo plan (aka marketing plan). In my promo plan I listed my audience (adult mystery readers who like a little romance, suspense, and aviation), my street team (my fan-tab-u-lous writing sisters), the usual suspects (readings/signings at local libraries, bookstores, etc), and my web presence (blog, FB author page, Goodreads, Twitter, blog tours, etc).

I realized a few things as I put the plan together. First, I need to develop my “brand”. I’m looking at the websites of authors I know and the way they’ve branded themselves. I mean, I know my brand needs to work for me as an author, not for a particular book I’ve written, so I’ll need to do some serious brainstorming. It’s just that I could be writing instead (and procrastinating on the whole “branding” thing).

Second, so much of the promo stuff depends on having an actual book to release. You know, so I’ve got cover art, a release date, something to put in my newsletter (which is another thing I need to put together, along with every other first-time-published or waiting-to-be-published novelist, it seems). Hell, a title (because you know no matter what you call the book, the publisher may change it, especially when you think you have the perfect title). So, pretty tough to jump in early without more.

Third, I need to get more involved with local mystery writer organizations like the Twin Cities chapter of Sisters In Crime, as in attend a few meetings at the very least (one meeting a month seems reasonable, but I wish it wasn’t in Minneapolis; I’m not big on city driving). In the same vein, I should probably spend some time at Once Upon a Crime, an independent bookstore in Minneapolis known for supporting local mystery writers.

There’s probably a few more places like that where I should probably start showing up, so when it’s my turn, they sorta know me. And that doesn’t include all the other venues, like libraries, other writer/reader events, B&N, etc.

Hoo boy. Again the fleeting thought: What the hell have I gotten myself into? Do I really want to do this? I mean, REALLY want to do this? Because this is a LOT of work that isn’t actually writing. Somewhere in the back of my head I knew there was a lot more to building readership than shouting out to all my FB friends (and I don’t have all that many) and blog followers. Seeing the list on paper makes it more real. And more scary.

Then I think about how much I’ve put into this journey, or how long I’ve been on this journey. I spoke with an old high school classmate this week, whom I haven’t talked to for almost 20 years (no, following on FB does not count as “talking”). We talked a little about my book (I’d asked her to beta-read for me since she’s an English teacher, but she had other things going on at the time), and she reminded me about the books I wrote in elementary school.

*head slap* Oh, yeah. That’s right. Holy crap. That’s what, a really long time ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

I have to keep going, because if I don’t, it’d be like climbing to the way top of the highest and longest slide in the world, looking down at the run, and climbing back down. Remember when you did that as a kid, got to the top of the slide, got scared, and climbed back down? Because once you jump on and let go of the ladder handles, there’s no turning back or getting off except by putting your sneakers flat against the slippery part to stop–with the possibility of tumbling head over teakettle to the bottom–and climb off.

Persistence. That’s the difference between so many writers who don’t get there, and those that do. I’m sure you know writers who have an enviable way with words, but who stopped trying or don’t try to go beyond creative fiction assignments or lovely blog posts. Then there are the writers who struggle, read every book on writing they can get, attend conferences, andย practice. They stack up enough rejections to wallpaper a room. Still, they write another book. And another.


They keep going, because they can’t stop. Won’t stop. The writer starts getting positive responses. Agents request the full manuscript. And one day an agent sends an email critiquing the writer’s full manuscript, requests a revise and resubmit, and suggests the writer call if she wants to talk about the manuscript. And on that call the writer discusses the agent’s notes, suggests changes, and gets energized. They discuss a timetable for revisions. The agent compliments the writer on her professionalism.

The agent says she wants to rep the book.

The writer does a happy dance! Then gets to work doing the revisions the agent requested.

Hmm, I guess this post was sort of about writing after all. I spent last weekend working on my synopsis and promo plan, so this weekend is time to dig into the second draft of my WIP. Finally getting back to the things that started this whole wild ride: those stories that keep tumbling around in my head, mucking up the works until I get them out (that’s how I justify the CRS (Can’t Remember Shi*) ๐Ÿ˜€ )

For my US friends, have a wonderful, safe Memorial Day weekend.


Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, four chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

16 thoughts on “Reflect, Regroup

  1. You just described the slog of authorship – the time-consuming work of promotion that actually cuts deeply into writing time. And what’s one of the very best ways to sell your book? Write more books. It’s a conundrum that we all face whether traditionally published or self-published. Julie, there is no slide; there is only the ladder, and there are many ways to climb the rungs, fast or slow, traditional or indie, low or high on promotion, etc. Every choice has its advantages and disadvantages, and each of us needs to decide our route and how it will fit into our lives, a decision that can be changed at will, too. Keep looking up. You have a great book (I know because I read it!) and all will work out in a way that best works for you. โค

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Diana! I knew going in it’d be a slog. I feel now that I’ve climbed some of that ladder, but boy, there sure are a lot of rungs ahead of me. It’s daunting, looking at that ladder stretching away. I’ll get there–if I just keep moving on without thinking about it too long, because when I do that, it’s like a brain pause, and it takes a bit to kick out of it. I’m trying to dig in now, and I can tell I’ve been away too long. So, focus on writing now and less on the murky waters ahead–until I get there.

      I’m thankful I’ve “met” so many wonderful authors like you! Thank you for the encouragement ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s nice to see someone else go through this to give the rest of us an idea of what we’re hopefully one day in for so it won’t come as a total culture shock, of sorts. Sorry about the five being crossed off, but it sounds like you still have a positive attitude about the whole thing, so way to go you! And you did the synopsis and the marketing plan–woohoo! So, you’re in or near the cities, eh? Should I tell you now that I’ll be there summer 2018 for my husband’s family reunion? There’s a cat I may have to pet the fur off while I’m out that way…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Betsy! As for the promo plan, that was a little surprising. A synopsis is a pretty common thing; I needed to do it at some point. Even my agent was kinda surprised they asked for both a synopsis and a promo plan. Usually they don’t want that until later. But, I’ve got it done, now, so if another publisher asks for it in the future, my agent has it.

      Woot! You’ll be in MN next year? I live about an hour and a half or so from the Twin Cities, depending on where you’re at. I work in one of the southwestern suburbs. That would be sooo cool if we could meet up. Where will you be in the metro area? I’ll make sure to deprive my cat of any petting for a week beforehand so she’ll REALLY love you ๐Ÿ˜€


      • Haha! About the cat. Poor thing. Uh, as to where? Not entirely sure. Really close to the cities, though, I know that much. The hubs isn’t here for me to ask. I wish you were a bit closer! I hope Kitty does well in car rides! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kitty and car rides don’t go together very well, but who knows, by next year maybe we’ll decide to get another cat who will be more tolerable–er, I mean, tolerant of car rides ๐Ÿ˜€ Let me know where you’ll be next year ๐Ÿ™‚


      • The sad thing is, we won’t have a car, but will be dependent on the relatives to cart our sorry… you get the idea. ๐Ÿ™‚ We’ll be staying with my SIL in Minneapolis proper, apparently. And I’m told meals will be hosted with a different SIL in Rosemount, if that means anything to you.
        Kit-tttty…. My desktop background image is now of a box full of kittens. I may have a problem, but my daughters are enablers. They love it too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve got a SIL who lives in Rosemount.

        Yes, kittens are soooo cute! Then they grow up … kinda like kids ๐Ÿ™‚


      • Maybe it will be time to pay your SIL a visit. How wild that we both do!
        Just like kids, I know. But at least they’re easier to take care of when they’re older. Kids, I mean. Maybe cats too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I like that you addressed how far you’ve come. There have been several times over the last five years when the deadlines, promotions, marketing, blogging, etc., etc.—and of course writing!–became overwhelming and I was ready to toss in the towel. Three things kept me from doing it: all the effort I’d put into the progress I made, I knew I’d kick myself if I did, and I knew I’d never be able to wash my hands of writing. It’s an obsession and disease, and as you said, can be very scary when you commit to making it a priority in your life.

    Hang in there. Keep writing and keep planning promo. The latter never goes away, and we couldn’t live without the former! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mae! It is scary, and exciting in a way. But more scary, I think. And yes, we can’t live without writing! I’ve been getting grumpy since I haven’t written for a while (outside of my revisions and the synopsis). Finally getting back into the story. It’s taking a bit to sink into it again, but my mind is whirring with new scenes already ๐Ÿ˜€ Have a great Memorial Day!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That was fun, rambling through writing stuff with you. I do this too, often, trying to figure out what else I can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh yes, Julie, this post was about writing…and tackling one of its most vital aspects! Early on I realised that writing a book might actually be the easy part of writing and the work required for promotion / sales is phenomenal. It all seems so daunting but your thoughts are clear what needs to be done and I’m sure you have wonderful support from many here. I wish you best of luck and in between enjoy the actual writing as you work on the second draft of your WP! ๐Ÿ˜€โค๏ธ

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you, Annika, writing the book sure seems like the easiest part of this whole adventure! The amount of energy it’ll take to do all the promo stuff–geesh! Now, if I could clone myself and have *them* go out and do all the promotional stuff so I can stay home and write, I’d be set!

      Have a great week, Annika!

      Liked by 1 person

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