Did twitter get me a book deal?

Next in our publishing origin stories is C.L. Polk’s journey. Be sure to check out Robin Lovett’s story from earlier!

Did twitter get me a book deal? Well, not exactly. But it helped…

Step one: I wrote a book.

Seriously, this is step one. You cannot use twitter to help you until you’ve done this part. I wrote a book. I revised the book. I edited the book. It took a little over a year to do this step, because I interrupted my process by writing a book length fanfic for the fun of it. And then I was ready for… Continue reading

It’s never too early to plan your direction

In September of this year, I signed an agent. I’m giddy. This is a major milestone in my career, the goal I set for myself in February 2016, and I did it in seven months. I celebrated. I have a beautiful fountain pen as a congratulatory gift from friends. I watched all my plans for the last quarter of 2016 get upended and now I am on a different path.

I feel trepidation, because I don’t know where I’m going. I mean there I was, hoping for an agent (and putting in the work to get one) and dreaming about getting a deal on my fantasy novel, WITCHMARK. I worked hard on that story, revising it and revising it again during FicFest with Michelle Hazen. I had sent it out to agents, and I was just at the point where there was nothing left to do but wait.

But while I was waiting for that to come back, I wrote IRL. It’s a contemporary romance about a game designer and an actor cast as the character she’s designing. I don’t think I could have written something more opposite day if I *tried.* And now I don’t know what I’m gonna do with this book, or where it belongs .

I wasn’t thinking about my career direction. I was going in all directions, free to pursue this or that, like the college student enrolled in general studies to discover what ignites her interest. But getting an agent has brought me back down to earth. The game has changed, and I’m now wondering, “Where do I want to go from here?”

So many questions, so many decisions. I’m thinking about what I want to write, what sort of deadline schedule I want, where I stand on the continuum of “commercial” and “artistic” and finally, finally I’m starting to understand why thinking about your brand matters. I thought I had time to think about that later.Well, later is here.

One question I’m pondering is, “Whose writing career do you want?” It’s a hard question! Because of course my path is going to be unique to me, and so I don’t really want to copy any one writer’s career exactly. But I am thinking about my influences and how they shaped the way I tell stories – do they have insight on the way I move forward? Writing is a long game and it doesn’t end with this one book. Now I have to write more, and what I write will shape my brand and build my audience.

The only thing I know for sure is future books will have kissing. How could they not?


A Simple Plan (shame if something happened to it…)

What goals do you have for the autumn season? According to my bullet journal, mine are simple:

  • Don’t touch the MS for Project Arcade until Oct. 1!
    Research methods for revising novels (Sep 30)
    Read Story Genius
    Re-Read 2k-10k
    Google search for blog posts (Fiction University)
    Play Dragon Age: Inquisition for background and feel for Project Arcade (no deadline)
    Make a revision plan for Project Arcade (Oct 4)
    Ask 3 people to be critical readers for Project Arcade (October 15)
    Make it up to 50 queries submitted for WITCHMARK (october 15)
    Revise Project Arcade, round 1 (November 15)
    Revise and edit Project Arcade, round 2 (December 15)
    Plan Winter 2017 goals (December 22)
    Reading Break (December 31)

This is pretty much in order. It also focuses exclusively on stuff I can control. For example, I wrote “query more agents to a goal of 50” because I can do that myself. “Find an agent to represent me” depends on other people.

I also have a lot of freedom with my plan. I have set deadlines, but they’re just for me, as I’m not under contract for anything. I am super comfortable with my deadlines, and if nothing happens to disrupt my plan, I’m going to have a contemporary romance ready to query when publishing re-opens in January.

The only problem is if something happens to wreck my beautiful plan, like say getting a response on WITCHMARK that means I have to hold off on Project Arcade. Then I’ll have to do it over, but honestly, that would be a nice problem to have.

How do you plan ahead for writing?

The Danger of Plot Bunnies

I don’t trust plot bunnies.

A long time ago, I was trying to write an early Victorian/late Regency romance about two sisters (of six sisters, for the sake of series potential and the nod to Jane Austen.) Elder Beatrice was trying to make a good marriage in all the usual places in the London Season, and younger Alice was impersonating her twin brother in order to prevent the property from going to an uncle while gambling to keep them in funds.

One day the inspiration wasn’t all that hot, but I had the itch to write anyway. I asked for a writing prompt from a friend who asked me to write about a particular fanfic pairing and coffee. That two word prompt sprawled into a 120k fanfic about a piano prodigy who leaves the shelter of his religious cult to study music and falls in love with his roommate, a cellist with an anxiety disorder and an obsession with rope bondage. (I’m not joking.) it’s a huge mess narratively but my most popular story, with close to 50k hits on Ao3.

Beatrice and Alice never even made it to Almack’s.

My plotbunnies have an evil sense of timing. They wait until my manuscript feels like that roommate who leaves their discarded clothes on the bathroom floor and drinks milk straight from the carton. That’s when I usually get an idea, a shiny enticing neat idea that’s so much better than that slobby idea that leaves dirty socks on the floor.

Here’s the dilemma. If I follow the bunny, I leave partial manuscripts behind. But when I scribble them down and leave them in the bunny folder, the idea doesn’t have the life it had when it was tempting me away from a manuscript that wasn’t all wine and roses.

I can’t afford to linger with the idea that tries to tempt me away from finishing a book. But I’ve never had another story like the one I wrote when I threw away my orderly plan and ran off with the idea that came when I was struggling. When that plotbunny comes, I am so tempted. I wish they would behave a little better and wait their turn instead of flashing those big soulful eyes in the middle of a project.

~ C.L. Polk