Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What is success?

So, the new book is out there. It doesn't belong to me anymore, it belongs to the readers who find it and take from it what they will.

I'm not going to lie - release days and the days around it are tough. I always feel anxious, and some disappointment because I'm not one of those authors who sells thousands of copies the first week. I try to constantly remind myself that sales are only one measure of success. The fact is, I've been in this business for almost ten years now. I'm still here.

That is successful.

Every year for the past few years, my income has steadily increased.

That is successful.

I now have 7 YA novels published and 8 MG novels published, with two more coming out next year. 15, soon to be 17, books.

That IS successful.

I have readers who get excited about every new book I publish (and I appreciate you SO much). There aren't thousands, but they are out there, and they send me notes and emails and tweets and they remind me that what I do matters to someone.

And isn't that the greatest thing we can do, really? To do work that matters to someone -- that makes a difference?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Upcoming Events

It's time for me to start spreading the word about the events I'll be doing in August. If you're in the area, I would love to see you!

Thursday, August 6, 2015 7:00 p.m. Clackamas Barnes & Noble
Young Adult Author Panel and Signing with April Henry and Kris Dinnison. I'll be signing my new novel for teens, ALL WE HAVE IS NOW.

Sunday, August 9, 2015 3:00 p.m. University Book StoreSeattle, Washington
I'll be doing a panel with some other Young Adult authors, and signing my new novel for teens, ALL WE HAVE IS NOW.

Saturday, August 22, 2015 (12:00-2:00 p.m.)Powell's BooksBeaverton, Oregon
SMART Author Fair - This is an event in support of SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) with a variety of YA, MG and children's authors in attendance signing books.


Interested in having me come visit your school, library, book festival, etc? Please drop me an e-mail at lisaschroederbooks(at)gmail(dot)com. I'm scheduling now for the 2015-2016 year!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What does it take to finish a book?

When you start writing a book, it's really fun.

"Ooooh, I get to pick out names!"
"What cool setting should I choose?"
"OMG, my characters can be intelligent and witty and everything else I wish I could be!"

So you go along for a while, having fun, and then, you realize, you don't know what happens next. Your once chatty characters are suddenly silent as a sea bass.

You nudge and prod.


You write, delete, write, delete, and then stare out the window a while. You get up and do laundry, because of course, it needs to be done RIGHT NOW.

When you come back, you stare out the window some more. The tree in the front yard tells you that maybe what you need is a beautiful notebook to scribble ideas in, and surely that will help. Four hours later, and seven notebooks purchased from Etsy, because it's hard to choose and maybe you'll be so inspired you'll need more than one or two or three, you turn back to your document and stare at it.

"Snacks!" you think. "I just need a snack."

The carrots and hummus don't quite cut it, so you bring the bag of chocolate covered pretzels to your desk and as you eat one, two, three, twenty-three, thirty-nine, the characters are still not telling you what you need to know, dammit.

"I picked the wrong names," you think. So you go back to the baby name site and skip around for a couple of hours, and end up deciding to stick with the ones you originally picked.

And now the day is done and so you close the document and decide tomorrow is a new day and surely the words will come.

Except they don't.

But when the notebooks arrive, then you open one of them and scribble some thoughts and ideas, and you jar things a little bit, thankfully, and you're able to squeak out a couple of paragraphs. The only thing is, they suck. So you delete them. And then you read back through the pages you wrote when were all excited, and you decide those suck too, and as you throw the stupid notebooks across the room, you decide you are not cut out for a writer, and who the heck were you to think otherwise?

Writing a book is fun until it isn't. And then it just becomes work like so many other things in life. There is one thing above all else you must have to be a writer. I would argue it's more important than imagination or talent or a hundred other qualities it's great to have.

And that thing is grit.

They talked about grit at my son's college orientation this past week. That when it comes down to it, a student has to have sheer grit to get up, go to class, write the papers, study for exams and hang in there term after term after term.

And the same could be said about writing page after page after page. Yes, you need a plot. And yes, you should have an understanding of story structure as you write. Your characters should be interesting and three-dimensional. Your dialogue should be realistic (basically, nothing like season 2 of True Detective). But a lot of that you could fix during revisions if you need to as long as you get the bare bones of the story down. And in order for *that* to happen, we are back to grit.

Don't understand grit? How about determination? Or maybe stick-to-itness.

In other words, don't give up!

Every book I write, there comes a point, sometimes more than once, when I think the idea is the worst idea in the history of the world, a third grader could do a better job writing than I could, and I want to throw my notebooks across the room and eat my weight in chocolate covered pretzels. So I might take a break. Go for a walk. Watch a movie. Take a bath. Breathe. Tell myself it's okay and the only way out is through.

Honestly, for me, I hate *not* finishing so much, that that thing alone is pretty much what keeps me going. Once I've started and I have an idea that really does seem like a good one, I want to see it through. I want to see where the story takes me. Again and again I remind myself, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks as I write the first draft. It's not for anyone else but ME. This takes some of the pressure off, and that's really, really important.

Yes, I love notebooks. And I love good snacks. And I do think staring out the window is crucial to the creative process. But at the end of the day, what gets the words written? You have to be tenacious about it. You can't let your fears, your insecurities, your desire to clean and organize your pantry get the best of you.

I'm about to start writing a new book. I'm excited. A teensy bit terrified. But one thing I've learned that really helps to see it through it so keep a list of all of the things that excite me about the project. A love list, if you will. My love list for ALL WE HAVE IS NOW looks like this:

the city of Portland
a kiss at sunrise
the power of love
twin girls and a sweet dog
the Enchanted Forest

So make your list. In fancy notebooks or not. Then write. Eat snacks, but not too many. And write some more. All the way to the end.

That's how you finish a book.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Inside the mind of an author 3 weeks before release day

How do authors often feel three weeks before a book is released?

Let me count the ways.

Terrified. Because what if people hate it?

Stressed out. Because what if no one buys it, and your publisher is disappointed?

Cranky. Because promoting a book is not all that fun.

Okay, so maybe I don't know for certain that's how other authors feel. I just know how I feel. 

J.K., you ever feel terrified, stressed out and cranky before a book's release?

Maybe she did. Who knows? Waiting to see how fans reacted to the last book in the series probably wasn't a ton of fun. Although, pretty sure she didn't have to worry too much about disappointing her publisher, right? :)