Thursday, July 25, 2013

You Might Be BLINDSIDED By This News

I have a confession to make. While I've always been totally cool with TRANSPARENT being a standalone novel, the truth is there's been more to the story in my mind since I wrote it. And you know what? I was okay not writing the rest of it, especially when my publisher didn't express interest in a sequel. Because I've heard how hard it is to write a sequel, and I promised myself I wouldn't ever write one unless I knew I'd get paid for it.

And that's how it was. How I figured it'd always be. The end.

So in January 2013 when I got an email from my UK publisher, Hot Key Books, asking if I'd be interested in writing a sequel to TRANSPARENT...well, let's just say "mind blown" is an accurate descriptor. The crew at Hot Key Books have been some of Fiona's biggest supporters since TRANSPARENT sold in the UK. They said they loved Fiona and her world so much they really wanted to see more if I had it.

I honestly couldn't believe it at first. I've spent so much of my writing career feeling like I was begging people to buy my work—and here a publisher who had already been so kind to me was now asking me to write more for them.

Of course I said YES.

And then I wrote up a detailed synopsis of what I envisioned for the sequel. Hot Key said they loved it and wanted to buy it like now and can I get them a first draft by August? To which I happily and somewhat naively agreed.

Now I finally get to tell you:

Natalie Whipple's BLINDSIDED, the sequel to her debut novel TRANSPARENT, to Sara O'Connor at Hot Key Books by Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown (World English). 

If you've been following me on Twitter, you have probably seen my stressed tweets about a mysterious WIP that I've been laboring over for the last six or so months. Well, that novel is BLINDSIDED! It has lived up to the hard-to-write sequel stereotype, but I am currently editing the first draft I finished up a few weeks ago.

So if you have wished there was a sequel to TRANSPARENT, yay you now have one to read! And if you were happy that it was a standalone, well, you can go along pretending it is. I'm totally fine with that. Though you might miss out on meeting the infamous Spud, just sayin'.

And what's even better? BLINDSIDED will be coming out in January 2014! Yes, just six months away! No waiting a year plus for a sequel here. It will be available in English worldwide, all at the same time, so no one is left behind.

I'm so excited, and I'd like to take a second to thank Hot Key for their faith in Fiona and her stories. It has been such a pleasure to work with them both on TRANSPARENT and now on BLINDSIDED. I couldn't ask for a more enthusiastic team. They make me wish I could move to England and go to all the parties they keep inviting me to.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ivy-Covered ARCs!

There is nothing quite like getting this package, I must admit. At a time when I've been struggling with my validity as a writer, today was a big day of remembering, "Holy crap, yeah I'm a writer!" I feel like I've been dreaming it for so long I'm having trouble accepting it as reality, as if I've made it all up with my wild imagination.

Tada! I was certainly beaming seeing all those pretty ARCs with that pretty cover and whoa my name's on it! I have loved this cover from its inception, but seeing the hard copies took it to another level. It is just so perfect for the book, and I feel so lucky.

Front and back covers—I can't get over the color scheme, and it was so fun to sign a few of these for the very first time. Of course I used a matching teal Sharpie. I always get a kick out of the lofty awesome authors they compare you to on the back of an ARC. With TRANSPARENT I got compared to the lovely Steph Perkins and Richelle Mead. This time, HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW is compared to the formidable Maggie Stiefvater and the TV show Charmed. I find this infinitely entertaining. Sure hope to live up to that!

I really love this book. It's about witches and such, but it's so personal that I probably won't ever be able to read reviews about it. Not because I will be offended or anything, but because I have such a close relationship with it that I don't want to alter it with other opinions. TRANSPARENT was a book born of hardship and down right struggle. HOUSE OF IVY & SORROW was, ironically, born of joy, both joy about my own life and joy in my words.

I'm so happy it's a Real Thing that I can hold now.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Your Relationship With Writing & Publishing

I like to think of my relationship with writing as one of clumsy discovery, frequent doubt, and an alarming amount of "Hail Mary" plays as things miraculously come together. The unknown element is what I love most.

My relationship with publishing is more like having an emotionally abusive boyfriend, who is constantly telling me I look stupid or fat and maybe I should change my clothes or probably my whole face. But then he says one nice thing and I forgive him all wrongdoing. 

These are MY relationships with writing and publishing. Not yours. I want to make this clear because I think sometimes people like to tell writers what their relationships with these two entities should be. You've probably heard stuff like:

"You have to treat writing like a real job or you won't get anywhere." 

"Writing is the best job ever, why treat it like a 'real job' when you don't have to?"

"You shouldn't get down about rejections—toughen up."

"It's okay to feel bad about rejections. It's natural."

"Writing isn't a magical thing. You just put words on the paper and fix them stop whining about writer's block."

"Writing is a creative process, and you can't entirely control it nor should you. Go with the flow."

Let's take a moment to absorb the juxtaposition of all those statements. Because once you do, you might realize that this kind of writing advice is just as varied and subjective as the advice you get on your actual books. 

The truth is, there's no one way to be a writer. 

Back to my relationships with writing and publishing: Are they perfect? Hell. No. Do they evolve? Yes, a little. But the fact of the matter is that they are mine. The way I approach writing and publishing is completely personal, as it is for you and all the other authors out there. Our experiences may overlap a bit or even a lot, but because we're individuals we all experience this profession differently. 

We're all still learning and going through things that are specific only to us. We all have to figure out the best way to deal with this business and the work on our own. For some that may be "butt in chair" and for others it may be "go on a walk and have a think." Both are okay. 

Your relationship with writing or publishing may not be perfect or in some cases not even healthy (we all know mine hasn't always been healthy)—but that is for you to deal with and figure out and come to terms with. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for what you struggle with. This really is a journey, a learning process, and as you go along you'll figure it all out for yourself. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Life Post-Debut.

Tomorrow will be 7 weeks since TRANSPARENT came out. I can't believe it's been that long already, and yet at the same times it feels like forever ago that I was stressing over that very special day when I officially became a published author.

It's all just...weird.

I mean, for the most part it's just the same as it was before. I am still working on the same projects. I still  live in the same place and have the same kids and life. I still struggle with my confidence more than I like. Pretty much everything is the same, save for the fact that anyone can go and purchase my words if they so choose.

But things have changed, too. In little ways. Mostly I've noticed people in my non-writer life treat me differently. People will most often ask me about how my book is doing right off the bat. This is a question I still haven't found the right answer to, and I kind of dread it.

Because I don't know how my book is doing. In fact, I'm too scared to search out any kind of "signs" that it is or isn't selling. "Scared" might be too light of a word—I'm really quite terrified. I hate failing more than anything, and if TRANSPARENT isn't "meeting expectations" I honestly don't know how I'll take that. So I have made a concerted effort to stay in blissful ignorance. I know it can't last forever, but I'm delaying that particular reality for as long as possible.

The other question that scares me is, "What's next? What are you working on now?" I get this one more than ever these days, and I also have no real answers. Because even if I do say what I'm working on, that doesn't mean it will SELL. And I certainly don't want to get people excited about a project that may never see the light of day. I've done that before (hello, Relax, I'm A Ninja). It sucks.

And then there's the new comments like "How's the famous author doing?" or some variation, that kind of blow my mind while also making me squirm. How in the world am I supposed to answer that?

I think what's hardest for me to accept right now is that other people see me as a Real Live Author. This sounds ridiculous, I'm sure, but I'm still trying to get used to the idea myself. I keep thinking at some point it will feel real, and even now that it's here sometimes it still feels like a dream. So when I see other people treating me as official it totally freaks me out.

It's all so new, this author thing.

And this isn't to say that it's been bad or that I in anyway regret publishing my book, but I have been surprised by my own emotions through the whole process. Even now post-debut I am still surprising myself in how I feel about everything. I'm often confused about how I think I should be feeling versus how I actually feel.

I hope in a few months time I'll be better able to understand what I'm feeling, so that I can express it better. For now I'm just calling it Post-Debut Stress and praying it fades soon.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Accepting Your Writing Process

First a reminder! A week from today is the Escape Reality book event at the Provo Library! Bree Despain, Elana Johnson, Jenn Johansson, and I will be talking, giving away prizes, and signing books. So if you can make it on July 9th at 7PM at the Provo Library, I *highly* recommend it. Should be a blast.

Also, I will be giving out five Pop Tart charms. These have been known to start riots, people.

Okay, on to the post!


After writing seriously for about 8 years, I'm quite familiar with my writing process. I'm a pantser. If you don't know what that means, it's basically the dive-into-a-book-blind method. My first drafts are messy and exploratory. I get a lot of things wrong but somehow manage to find the heart of the story. I tend to focus on plot and character in my drafting, and often have to go back to flesh out the world/setting. I always get stuck at the end of Act I. I flounder through the middle until it all clicks and then the ending finally reveals itself. My revisions are usually quite heavy.

I know these things. I can count on them happening every time I write a book.

And yet, sometimes I still wish I could have someone else's process.

Why yes, I get envious of writers who can outline their whole books and know exactly what they'll be writing that day. I wish I had that kind of organization and, more than that, characters who would cooperate. Because I've tried on more than one occasion to outline, and the story never follows it not ever once or even close.

Because I'm a pantser. Whether I want to be or not.

You'd think I'd know better than to resist my own writing process, but I think it's something all writers go through. Writing a book is hard. And I often think, "There has to be a better, faster, more efficient way to do this. There has to be." So I try to do something new that I think might make it easier, and instead it only makes it harder and I end up going back to what I usually do in the first place.

When I accept my process, things actually do go better. Not perfect, but the writing gets done. I don't know why I sometimes forget this—I forget it way too often.

I'm saying all this because for the last 6 freaking months I've been trying to write a book. I usually finish a first draft in about 3 months, so this has been maddening to know that I'm still not done. But looking back, I know why:

I haven't trusted my process.

I've tried to make my draft perfect. I thought I could do this through outlining, and my story resisted it at every turn. I thought if I planned out everything before I got there the writing would be easier, when in fact it just feels stale to me because the discovery process is gone. And because of these things, I've doubted myself and this story and my confidence is severely lacking—I have a hard time writing anything in that state.

Hindsight's 20/20, right? I wish it'd taken me less time to learn the lesson this year, but I think I'm finally getting it again. Much like you can never write a story like someone else, you can never have someone else's process, either. You have to do what works for you, and it may seem hard but really all the ways to write a book are hard in their own right.

Here's to hoping I listen to my own advice come next draft. Because I'd really like to NOT do this again for awhile.