Monday, January 8, 2018

COVER REVEAL: The Vengeance Code

Cover Copy: 

She’s a nobody in the bunker, struggling to survive.

He’s the heir to a fortune, determined to follow in his mother’s fatal footsteps.

Only she knows her father was murdered, his code stolen.

His father’s virtual reality program kills people.

Linix can’t possibly trust the heir of the man who destroyed her family. And Cache can’t accept a position in an industry that kills its customers. But when the only thing more dangerous than the games is not playing them, they’ll have to figure out how to win. Together.

Hi! I figure I just give you the cover first, and if you wanna read more you can. Isn't it AMAZING? My cover artist is the best, and I feel like she only gets better for every book we do together. So a massive thank you to Michelle Argyle (Melissa Williams Design) for rocking THE VENGEANCE CODE cover. 

You guys perhaps have a few questions, the first one being: Natalie, why are you using a pen name?

I'm glad you asked, friends. For me personally, taking this pen name is a fresh start. My own name on books has been amazing, but there's a lot well. Secondly, I didn't feel my name fit in the genre I plan to now focus on: Science Fiction. I don't want to say it was too girly, but well, it was. This one isn't necessarily male, but also not so female either. And it also looked really odd to me when we put "Natalie Whipple" on the cover. It didn't fit. Nat McKenzie is like the cool version of me, and the last name is my grandmother's maiden and chosen with purpose. You will see this name on all my impending sci-fi (Yes, there is so much more to come.).

Another question you may be asking: Where did this book come from and why haven't we heard much of it?

Well, after facing a lot of rejection in publishing (this book included, having failed in submissions), I began to hold any project I loved very close to my chest. I didn't want to be hurt, and I feared sharing even the smallest pieces of my work because it felt like no one cared...and that was what hurt the most. 

But! THE VENGEANCE CODE was originally a NaNoWriMo project. I wrote the first draft in Nov 2014, which I can hardly believe. It was titled "Punk Gamer Book." And for awhile I called it after its setting, "Bunker 8." It's bred from my love of pro League of Legends, conspiracy theories of secret government bunkers, corporate Kdramas, and a fascination with flawed and evolving technology. So really a whole kitchen sink. Like usual.

The first seeds of the book grew from my curiosity in developing virtual reality tech. So many stories start in a place where VR has been perfected and works flawlessly. I wanted to take a different approach and place it in a broken state, where the program caused something I call "Virtual Phantom Pain" to its users...and this pain, turns out, eventually kills people. But instead of fixing it, the powers that be decide to use that to control the population in their Bunker. The creator refuses to go along, is murdered, and no one is the wiser.

It's a story of trying to right wrongs against impossible odds, of being trapped in a scenario everyone hates but doesn't think can be fixed, and finding the determination to face it all head on. Plus video games and stuff. 

Finally, and most importantly: Where and when can I get my hands on THE VENGEANCE CODE? Cuz I need it now.

THE VENGEANCE CODE will be available for purchase in March! Online at most book retailers in both Ebook and Paperback! I am hoping for a mid-March release date, but I'm still in edits so we shall see. Not too long a wait! You guys will be just fine.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Upcoming: The Vengeance Code

Way back during NaNo 2014, I wrote a book. It was a super ME book. (Do I write anything else?) It had an underground bunker where people used "Total Submersion Virtual Reality" to escape their tiny world. But there was one problem—this virtual reality tech wasn't perfected and caused people pain on re-entry to the real world. Pain that eventually killed. There was virtual reality pro-gaming. And a girl determined to avenge her father, who was murdered and his VR tech stolen. And a boy heir to a said VT Tech company he didn't know was stolen.

It was sticky and odd and had a huge cast and all the other things I write. I loved it. I believed for a long time maybe publishing would love it, too. But, well, I'm me. And for some reason my style and traditional publishing...anyway.

This year has been a year of trying to figure out what I really want from my writing and my life. I've explored attempt after attempt to sell again to traditional publishers, trying to convince myself this would make me happy again if I'd just get that validation. I took a period of time to consider just quitting writing entirely (that lasted a few horribly cranky months). And I finally came to the conclusion that I need to keep doing what I love—even if I'm moving into more of a "hobby mode" than a "money-making success" mode.

So I'm publishing that weirdo NaNo book I wrote in 2014 and spent years editing only to watch it fail on sub like so many others. It's now called THE VENGEANCE CODE, and there will be at least two more in the series.

Expect a cover reveal in early January! (And it is an AMAZING cover. I cannot wait to show it off.) And a release date in mid-March! (So soon...)

Monday, November 27, 2017

A New Little Venture

If you've followed this blog at all, it's no secret that I draw. I've been drawing since I was a kid and once had big dreams of being a comic artist or illustrator or even a concept artist for video games.

None of those actually happened, since I chose writing over my art in college, but I haven't stopped pulling out the sketchbook for a bit of relaxation time with pencil and paper. Especially when I started my pursuit of writing as a career, I clung to my art as a safe space and a "hobby" of a creative outlet. I was adamant I wouldn't turn both of my loves into jobs, since being a professional writer ended up taking a lot of the magic out of words for me.

But recently, as I've shied away from writing a bit and found myself in a confusing space where I don't know my next move...I've been drawing a lot. I shared some of those during Inktober and they always get a positive response. Some even said they wished they could buy my artwork.

While I was skeptical of that sincerity (people say they'll buy creative work all the time and...they don't), for the first time in ever I felt like maybe I could sell my art work. Not that I had any expectation of selling much at all, but I felt like it wouldn't be a bad idea if I could find a simple way to share, if someone wanted, without much effort or attempts at marketing.

When Shannon Messenger pointed me to Society6, a place where I could upload my art and people could buy prints and other items without my having to deal with shipping, I knew I'd found my little happy medium between sharing and not caring too much.

So this is my little post to say that, yes, you can buy some of my pieces there now. And I will be adding more as time goes by. There is also a permanent link in my blog's tabs, should you ever want to come back to my Society6 page.

Friday, November 17, 2017

For The Lady Who Said She Loved My Blog

Last night I did a rare thing—I had a book signing. I can't remember the last time I did one that wasn't tied to a conference. It's possibly been two years, maybe a little more.

I was so nervous. There were five authors at the event, so I didn't have to carry it myself luckily, but I still had so many regrets about saying I'd do the signing. You see, my mind gets to me easily. "No one will come to see you." "Everyone has forgotten you even exist." "Who has even read your books besides family and a few friends?"

My brain is so mean. I know this, having had social anxiety my whole life, but it's still hard for me to push away all those awful things it tells me. I start to believe them quietly and slowly over time. I don't even realize how much these negative thought cycles have gotten to me until something snaps me out of them.

That happened last night.

First, right when I got to the event, I saw a dear friend I hadn't seen in over a decade. She had been a huge part of my life in college as one of my colleagues at the magazine I wrote for. She had always brightened my days there, taught me more about life, and embraced me just how I was. So her smile as the first thing of the night wiped away my anxieties in an instant. She told me she was so proud and that I was a writer and an author no matter how I felt at the time.

That would have been enough for the night to be worth it, but then the signing bit came around and there was a sweet woman who'd bought all my books but one and was there to snag that last one she did have, SIDEKICK. I didn't know there was anyone who was that excited about my writing that they had ALL of my books! I mean, my mom does, but you know what I mean. It was so awesome to hear her talk about how much she enjoys my quirky style. She said she wait as long as it takes for my next book, even if I needed a really long break. And here I had thought I was already forgotten.

And then there was a sweet woman who had read all of my ninja books and seeing her excitement for them made me feel like I hadn't wasted my time and money to indie publish them. My brain sometimes tells me that lie. Okay, it tells me that lie a lot. So hearing that she had gobbled them all up one after the other filled my heart.

She also told me that, even though I hadn't written in a while, that she loved my blog! This little blog. What's funny is that I've thought about writing a post so many times, but my mind would always say, "No one wants to hear from you. No one cares about your blog. People don't read blogs anymore." But today I'm ignoring those thoughts and writing for the sweet lady and anyone else who might still be here with me.

I had forgotten that book signings aren't just for readers to connect to their favorite authors. A lot of times, they help me as the writer. Even if it's just one person who comes and tells me how much one thing I said meant for always makes me feel stronger, it always makes me feels like maybe what I've done and what I do now isn't a waste of time.

So thanks to everyone who came last night and made me smile and reminded me that my stories have found eyes and hearts that care about them like I do.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Merit Of Pure Enjoyment

We live in a hyper-critical time. You can find reviews for everything. Like seriously, everything. It used to be that books and plays and movies and restaurants got reviews, sure. But now it's gone full on crazy. You can review literally anything, when you think about it.

We've seen the Sugar Free 5lb Haribo Gummy Bears reviews. There are reviews for tools and towels and toys. There are reviews for convenience stores! Reviews for TOURIST LOCATIONS. I saw this post on Facebook about bad reviews of places like the Eiffel Tower and the St. Louis Arch and was like, "Really? I need to know what Jim Whoever thinks of the Eiffel Tower before I go to freaking Paris and see it myself???"

It's ridiculous, guys.

Our culture seems to be obsessed with "helpful criticism." Okay, sometimes it's just plain critical or even rude. Often when I'm online, I wonder why no one can just ENJOY something for once. It's always a "This movie would have been good if..." or "That game ruined the genre" or "That book is a great example of why publishing is stupid."

If I mention I'm watching or reading something, often I get a "How is it? Does it get better after this point cuz I stopped cuz ugh." People give live reactions as they watch a Netflix series...often not positive reactions because they aren't nearly as funny. People give out grades for a recent movie they saw, as if their opinion is law.

Why can't we just enjoy things?

I killed my own love of reading with hyper-criticism. I used to read a lot. Now, I can barely open a book without bringing a ton of baggage to the experience. Which sucks. I want to enjoy books again, but I spent so much time analyzing them and trying to unlock their "secrets to success" that now I am a giant ball of judgy.

People told me it would make me a better writer, to analyze all this stuff. Maybe it did. But at what cost? Do I really have to lose my love of consuming stories to tell them well?

I don't know the answers to this, but I made some decisions after this sad loss in my life. I decided there were going to be some story mediums that I WOULD NOT criticize. I would suspend my disbelief, embrace whatever the creators gave me, and find the entertainment in it all. I chose Kdramas and Anime for my safe and happy places.

You know what I learned by doing this? I learned you can embrace flaws and enjoy a story AND learn from it. We are so concerned with removing all flaws from our creative work, but in embracing those flaws I am starting to see why people are drawn to certain kinds of stories and mediums.

Spoiler: It has nothing to do with that story being perfect.

We as authors tend to want to craft the "perfect story," as if that is a possible thing to do. We also might think that if we achieve it, we will be more successful in some form. But I'm learning that's not true. I'm learning that people who love certain stories love them both for the great bits and the major flaws. Why? Because they suspend their disbelief and just roll with what is put before them. They embrace it. They know this is a tired amnesia plot—but they don't mind because they're having fun and that plot promises a great finish of remembering and likely kissing.

As I've spent my time exploring the merits of just enjoying something, I've learned or, perhaps, relearned, that stories are fun and amazing and rejuvenating. We often criticize them into the ground and look at them through not rose-colored glasses, but something more like dingy, sooty goggles.

Maybe take those goggles off for a bit and put on the glasses again. Turns out it doesn't hurt to enjoy stuff for a change.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Coping With Writer Stress: For The Veteran (Part 4)

If you've made it this far in the series, I applaud you. I know it's been long, maybe not so entertaining, but this topic is important. You must know that, meaning you have a higher chance of avoiding these dangerous pitfalls. The less stress you have, the better! For life in general and especially here.

Today we'll be tackling stress management for the Veteran writers. I admit I'm not entirely a Veteran, since I've only been published since 2013, but as I watch my own career change and I observe what others are going through, I hope I can offer some insight into what lies ahead.

I remember going to a signing with two incredibly insightful Veteran authors—Sara Zarr and Gayle Forman—and listening to them talking about the evolution of their careers. Sara said something to the effect of "the first five years as a published author are the worst, and then you kind of settle in."

I really hope that's true. I'm in year four here, and I can feel that a bit. The rejections don't gut me like they used to. My failures to remain traditionally published don't haunt me as much. The harsh business doesn't get to me, make me angry at its unfairness like before. I don't feel as helpless, as if I've accepted my fate in ways.

Basically I'm saying it gets better, stress-wise, for Veterans. At least in some ways.

That isn't to say there are no major stressors. There are still many, but it seems they are more episodic.

Sources Of Stress For The Veteran
• Trying to STAY published. I think this is the one that, so far, has given me the biggest source of stress. Mostly because I have failed to do it, but I have seen in my friends that every new project they causes them stress. The more you sell, the more you realize just how damn lucky you've been because you see other authors aren't so lucky. It's like reapplying for your job every time you write a novel. And yes, a lot of those reapplications get rejected! No one wants to be that author that can't get published again, but some will end up in that category and knowing that alone is a source of stress.

• The feeling that you can never change where you "ended up" in publishing. When you end up as a "mid-lister" or a "bottom-lister" in my case...well, it feels like you are sentenced to a life of obscurity. You'll never be successful. Never be financially secure. Never be recognized. Or whatever never you want to use. It can get easy to label yourself and lose hope in your work ever doing anything of note. All of this is in your head—you totally can write a book that changes this, you just don't know which it'll be—but it can be stressful to love something and feel like you can't succeed at it the way you want to.

• OR. You can actually be successful, a big bestseller, and feel incredible pressure to continue to deliver. People underestimate the stress of success in this business. It can wreak havoc on stress levels. Sure, you have a "next book" more likely than most authors, but people EXPECT things of that book. Publishers expect it to sell better than the last. Readers expect to have their minds blows and are disappointed if it doesn't meet their ideals. You can feel like you're at the mercy of strangers who want you to write exactly what they want, not what YOU want. And that is very unpleasant for most creative folk.

• Travel and events while on deadline. A lot of the time, Veterans have to be drafting the next book WHILE they are promoting the one just published. Whatever writing routine they established? Ha. Throw that out the window. You now have to learn how to write on a plane, in a hotel, driving to events, sneaking it in at the conference green room, whatever snippet of time you can snag. That can be hard for even a Veteran. It's exhausting to travel, the last thing you want to do is use your brain to create, but you don't have a choice when that next deadline is looming and not even half the book is written.

• Okay, deadlines in general are stressful. Currently, I miss them because having deadlines means you have a job. But that doesn't mean they aren't stressful, especially when the book isn't coming out of you as expected. If you realize you have to rewrite it all halfway into the draft? You don't just get extra time. The deadline is still set. Yeah, extensions happen, but every author I've met who has had to extend a deadline feels awful about it and hello more stress.

• The comparison game doesn't end. If you haven't figured out how to curb that jealousy and comparison monster as a debut, it certainly has PLENTY to feed on as you continue to author. You can compare yourself into the ground. Sometimes on my worst days I still do this and I know better! It kills you. Don't do it. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

• Life. Eventually, life is gonna get in the way of writing. You write long enough, and some crisis or hard times will make writing nearly impossible. The first time it happens you may feel guilty. Your routine! You're not doing it! Or you might think people will forget you because you can't be online marketing or you can't be publishing at the same pace. Okay, they may forget you. But it's not so big a deal...or at least I tell myself that. But life outside of writing is also important, and it's okay to step back and take care of things and NOT write.

Results Of Veteran Stress
More than ever, it really comes down to the person. Some writers figure out how to deal with their stress and have it mostly figured out by the time they've published a few books. Others? Not so much.  The not-so-much group tends to have to figure out stress management in this phase of their career.

Either their health will catch up to them and force them to slow down, or their career will do that for them (meaning it'll slow down and what now?). Or both. I fall into this category. I sort of attempted to reduce stress as an Aspiring Writer and Debut, but not really. I was putting band-aids on a gaping wound that was bleeding out. But I figured if I could just put band-aids on I'd be fine. I treated the symptoms instead of solving to ultimate problem, which was the unending stress I put myself under.

And then my body fell apart.

Not only did I hit the worst depression since the one that got me on medication, but I got shingles, then strep four times in three months, leading to a tonsillectomy. Not six month later I lost a pregnancy and was hospitalized for the ensuing infection. Four months later I was diagnosed with Latent Autoimmune Diabetes (some call it Type 1.5). Three hospitalizations in a year, when I have been generally healthy my whole life. I THINK my body was trying to tell me that I hadn't slowed down at all. I was more stressed than ever before all this.

Oddly enough, being forced to put my writing career on hold—because I couldn't physically write or market or do anything really I was so exhausted all the time—helped me realize I had been pushing myself too hard. My stress levels began to go down as I accepted that work would just have to wait until I got better...whenever that would be...IF I would ever be better...

My health had to come first. And in putting it first, taking one day at a time, the stress of the last decade finally began to wane. There's so much still left that it's hard for me to face writing still. I just don't want to be stressed! Hopefully at some point I'll find my way back into consistent writing, maybe even get lucky enough to publish again, but right now I still have to take it one day at a time.

Ways To Reduce Veteran Stress
Sometimes there's no escape for the Veteran, I admit that. When you're on tour? That's high stress with traveling and being "on" and it will drain you. When you're on a tight deadline? You're gonna be under stress and you can't just take a month off to find center.

It becomes about "self-care" as a lot of people label it now. That means a lot of different things depending on the person, and that's what the veteran needs to find. If it's holing up in your house and not going on the internet until the manuscript is written, then that's what you gotta do because it's the least stressful for you. OR, if those Twitter breaks make the burden less stressful because you miss people, then do it.

You have to find small ways to cope when your schedule is unavoidably stressful. It could be lunch at your favorite place while you write. It could be meditation in the hotel before/after your event. Or maybe sneaking some gaming in after a particularly hard chapter. Rewards. Tiny breaks. Music you love. Gosh, the list can be endless because it'd personal to every writer.

And when you DO have time to NOT write? Take it! That whole "you have to write everyday" thing sort of goes out the window when you are a Veteran. If you don't have an immediate deadline or event, that is the time to freaking unwind! That's when you take a month and stare into space or go on vacation or drown yourself in Netflix or get to that place called "outside." And you most definitely DO NOT feel guilty about it. That just ruins it and makes it stressful. You savor that time, because you are refilling your batteries and you can't keep writing without those.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Coping With Writer Stress: For The Debut (Part 3)

Congratulations! You've gotten that agent, said agent has sold your book, and you're set to debut in 1-2 years! Or, you've finished prepping that indie book, had it edited and designed and formatted, and you're ready to hit "publish" and see what happens next.

Welcome to being a published author and all the new stresses that come with it!

Not to say that being published is all bad, but as I said in Part 2, even good things can be stressful because they add more tasks to your life and you have to figure out how to get them all in. This is especially true as you start your path down the Published Author Road.

If you haven't prepped as an aspiring author to handle the stress, debuting may put you over the edge. The stress can be so overwhelming. I've seen friends' bodies melt down under debut stress (mine included). I've seen authors get hives right before launch, Bell's palsy (where one side of your face become paralyzed), shingles, horrible colds, intense bouts of anxiety or depression or both, panic attacks, or even just crying "for no reason" they are so stressed out.

Let's review the added stressors for the Debut.

Sources Of Debut Stress
Please note that these are added ON TOP OF what is listed for the Aspiring Writer. You have to keep doing all those Aspiring Writer things because they're really just writer things. The stress of creating, editing, and submitting a novel never goes away.

• Pressure to do well. You feel it about four hours after you get that call/email that you have an offer from an editor (or a couple editors, or a slew of them!). Or you've just hit "publish" on your Indie title and now you have to sell it to readers. It's hard to put in words just what it feels like, but it's sorta like you want to impress people and somehow prove that you were worth the investment. Except much of this is out of your control but you don't know it yet. You honestly think you can make your book successful and you WILL do it.

• Realization of the Publisher's "Author Monetary Ranking System." That's not a real name, it's just what I'm calling it. They don't really rank just feels like it. Because you will start hearing stuff—this author at your publishing house got five times your advance and is a lead title, that author went to auction and for a six figure deal, that other author is getting rushed publication because their house is so excited about their book, etc. and so forth. You might start to think, "Why didn't I get that? Do they think my book sucks? Is my book going to FAIL?" Enter stress monster.

• The strong urge to compare. Speaking of comparing your book deal to others (or lack of a book deal at all because you went Indie), there's about a billion things you can start comparing when you are a debut. Covers, print runs, marketing plans, who's going on tour and who isn't, swag, contests, reviews, blurbs, conference appearances, signing audience sizes, how many bloggers are talking about your book, and the list goes on. You can fall into this and begin to think that your work will never be seen or how in the world do you stand out in all the noise? It can get ugly fast if you aren't careful, and this kind of toxicity can stress you out and kill your creativity especially.

• Taking criticism you can't fix. Once it's published, you can't go back and change it. Then you get a one-star review—and you're naive enough to read it though most authors will tell you not to—and it guts you. Of course you pretend it didn't, but the words repeat over and over in your mind. That person HATED your book. And they flamed it. With gifs, even. And lots of swear words. Other people will read that review and might not read your book because of it. And there's literally nothing you can do.

• Marketing. On top of writing books, you are now expected to talk about those books and sell them as much as possible. Some people are super good at this and aren't stressed at all. Others, like me, dread this and melt their brains over how they could possible talk about their work without sounding like a conceited idiot. It's hard to know how stressful it'll be for you until you get here.

• The sheer busyness that will crash on you. Because you're supposed to be WRITING ANOTHER BOOK during all this! While you're distracted with interviews and promotions and contests, you're also supposed to write that sequel or the next book. Oh, and live the rest of your life that isn't writing.

• The feeling you have to best yourself. It feels like a miracle that you even pulled off the first published book—now the next one has to be even MORE awesome and MORE everything. And how did you even write a book in the first place? You can't write another one that good. People are bound to be disappointed in you, right? Cue negative thought spiral while watching Netflix.

Results Of These New Stressors
Mayhem. I mean, I wish I could say that debut is a perfectly graceful time for some writers, but from what I've seen everyone is a tense ball of terror and stress. It doesn't matter what kind of publishing you pursue—it's NEW and your FIRST TIME and thus it is a frenetic, joyful, awful, confusing, hilariously clumsy time.

Yes, you ARE going to make too big a deal out of stuff. You are probably going to be jealous of at least one author and probably more. You will have doubts about if your book will ever be read. You will feel like crap over a review. You might not handle any of this well.

I think that's where the stress gets even more compounded—Debuts are usually trying really hard to be the PERFECT Debut. They don't want to be THAT Debut, the one I just described that is a mess and crying and stressing and losing their mind over all this. And in trying to hide all this stress and pretend it's not there...

Well, you're gonna make it worse.

There's an interesting phenomena in humans. We think that if we stuff the emotions down that they will eventually go away. Spoiler: That is never true. If you're pretending you're not jealous of anyone, if you're pretending you feel like your publisher loves you the most, if you're pretending that those means reviews don't cut...eventually all those bottled up emotions are going to burst.

And then what might have been a small outburst three months ago becomes a huge outburst instead. For some reason you're yelling at your mom for reading said bad review and bringing it up and WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO CARE STOP TALKING ABOUT IT. Not that I've done that...Or your friend or spouse or kids get the outburst instead of your mom. And after you feel really bad and why can't you control yourself?

So you double down on hiding the stress because you need to be the Perfect Debut and this is certainly not Perfect Debut behavior. You're supposed to be better than this.

Reducing Debut Stress
With the pressure to be the Perfect Debut being probably the overarching stress, I think the biggest way to reduce stress if to talk it out. Find a safe space, safe people, who you can TALK to about all this stuff. Maybe it's another writer, maybe a friend who isn't a writer, maybe a spouse or a parent or a sibling. But find someone.

Because just talking about all these feelings helps reduce stress. Notice a lot of debut stress doesn't necessarily come from outside, but instead from inside. Yes, there are additional activities to add to the schedule, but really mentality takes a big role in this. Some do better at staying positive and hopeful than others, some death spiral into doubt and despair long before the book even comes out (that would be me).

So find someone. Say these though thoughts OUT LOUD. Say you're jealous of so and so even though they're the nicest person, but you wish you had that book deal. Say you're scared everyone will hate your book. Say you have a sneaking suspicion none of these interviews you're doing will actually help sell your book.

And then pick up and move on, feeling a bit lighter.

The wait can be long for traditionally published debuts (not as long for Indie, but that fast pace comes with it's own stressors!), so don't forget to slow down! Debuts were just recently Aspiring Writers who had control over when to send out queries and when to write a new project and get it critiqued. Now? You have to wait for your editor. And they can take months before you see that first edit and another few months before the next. It can feel stressful to have nothing to do all of the sudden!

So have things prepared. Projects you can do as you wait—they don't have to be writing but they can be. But be prepared to "sit on your hands" with writing and maybe do something different. Don't feel guilty about it! Take it as a reward, a break now that you've sold a novel.

Another important thing to do as a debut is to cut stuff. Debuts tend to think maybe they have to do everything to promote their book, or they have to go to everything, or they have to always be online replying to every comment. Where Aspiring Writers have to learn to fit the basic writing tasks into their life, debuts need to remember to KEEP the basic writing tasks as a priority. The rest doesn't matter nearly as much.

It's more important to write the next book than to hold a contest for your arc. It's more important to edit your sequel than to do a Q&A. It's more important to love writing than to let that love die because you have to sell those words.

Take a deep breath. Turn off the internet (even me). And never forget why you got into this mess to begin with. The words should always come first.