This post will, most likely, turn into another one of those rambling posts that I tend to do now and again. Please forgive said ramblings and typos. If you want to skim to the important confession (about Fable of Happiness’s release), please skip to the last point below.
The purpose of this post is to shed a little light on the myths that I thought would either get easier or disappear the longer I wrote. To prove that, even with 30 plus books out, I’m still learning. Daily. About myself, my writing habits, my brain storming, and slowly, stubbornly, trying to accept my idiosyncrasies.
- Eventually, I will call myself a writer when someone asks what I do. Instead of gasping in panic, not knowing how to reply.
I can honestly say that, even after 7 years of being published (and many, many more years prior to that of writing), I still struggle when asked by a stranger what I do. Some days, it feels like a lie. I mean, how can I tell them what my CAREER is when writing to me is FUN? I feel like I’m fibbing when I say that I’m a writer. No, seriously. I am. I get to sit in my pyjamas, enter fantastical worlds, and munch on biscuits all afternoon. It’s my job, I promise.
Maybe, one day, I’ll get used to saying, ‘I’m an author. I write books. I’ve been doing it for almost a decade.’ Maybe.
2. Writing will get easier the more you do it.
Nope, wrong. In my opinion, it’s all in the book you’re currently writing. Some books, some characters, will literally possess your mind, body, and soul. Their fingers are on the keyboard, their thoughts are in your mind, their voices are in your ears. You’re just a vessel and writing for 8 hours can go by in a blink without a bathroom break, a drink, or any acknowledgement to the hubby, who may or may not, have popped in, shared an entire conversation, then disappeared and you didn’t even notice.
Other books are painful.
They don’t want to be told. The original idea you had, that you were super excited to pen, is now a concept covered in shadow, complications, and try as you might, it never gets clearer. I’m slowly learning that those books should be set aside, because no matter how many drafts you do, if you don’t have that magic at the very beginning, it’s all downhill (or at least, a painful struggle) to complete.
3. Some books that you love won’t do well and some books you hate will fly high.
I’ve kept no secrets that some of my work I’m not a fan of, and sometimes, those books hit lists and accolades that I never see coming. Other times, books that I LOVE might not find their audience. I do believe that the books you feel the most magic for will find the most success. However, there is always an exception to this rule.
4. Once you find a genre you’re good at and LOVE to write in, you won’t have any desire to write in another.
I ADORE dark romance. I always have–even when I was 13 and shouldn’t be reading such naughty stuff. I can spend seven months, writing seven books in the same dark world, and enjoy every single word I type. I renounce all other genres. This is MY genre.
And then…something switches.
All of a sudden, my brain wants to write something ELSE. Coming of age, history, fantasy, or tragedy. Sometimes, I give in to that hunger. Sometimes, I do my best to ignore it. Most of the time, I have a thousand plots in my head all vying for some keyboard action.
5. You read most in the genre you write in.
Completely false, in my experience at least. Like I stated above, I’m DARK ROMANCE all the way through (when I’m not dreaming of other things lol). My soul is cast in chaos and love wrapped up in pain. However, when I decompress with a book, I read in all other genres BUT dark romance. I read rom com, regency, and recently devoured a fantasy series (City of Brass) that was as good as other fantasy that I love by Laini Taylor, Jean M Auel, and Terry Goodkind. I’m a sucker for HUGE sagas. I love star-crossed and magical. Very different to what I write, essentially. However, there are similarities in the length part, I guess. 🙂
6. The more you write, the less you’ll delete.
I read somewhere that the more you write, the more you find your voice which then makes it easier to write which leads to less deletion.
I have to disagree again. I find my voice has changed in the past 7 years. It subtly changes with each book. It changes with each character I write. It changes with or without my permission.
I’ve written millions upon MILLIONS of words by this point. But it also hasn’t saved me from deleting. For example, my latest book, Fable of Happiness, has had two drafts so far of 20,000 words each. Both have been deleted in their entirety because the sparkle was missing, that magic was dormant, and I struggled to connect with the characters tale. I have more to say on this below.
7. Eventually, you’ll be so proficient you can plan your releases years ahead. Set up preorders and be organised.
Nope. Not for me, at least.
Every time I try to plan ahead, it bites me in the ass. Book plots that I dreamed up two years ago are no longer relevant or of interest to me. Ideas that sprang to mind two days ago have evolved into something so bright and impatient that I have no choice to write them. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t put preorders up until I have the first draft of a book. That way, I know if the story is worth telling and if I’m going to commit or not. This is the main reason why I’ve never done a collab with someone, written new tales for boxed sets, or been a part of the many wonderful writing experiences (such as writing in another author’s world etc.) Not from lack of amazing invitations (ever so grateful), but because I can’t write a book that hasn’t come bulldozing into my head and slapped me black and blue into writing it. If I don’t have that violent desire to tell a tale, I suck as a writer. There, I admit it 🙂
And that confession leads me to my main point of this blog post.
Fable of Happiness.
I should’ve learned not to:
Mention the title
Hint at the cover
Put up preorders
Do any teasers
UNTIL the first draft was done.
Because after 40,000 words and two drafts, I’m deleting everything and starting again. What I’ve written so far, sucks. And I don’t want it to suck. Which means, the title, cover, blurb, and teasers may not be relevant anymore. Whatever you’ve read about Fable of Happiness, please forget it. Delete it from your mind. Pretend you never heard of it.
I’m PROBABLY going to keep the title (still debating).
The blurb is 100% changing. The genre I didn’t hint at and I’m not going to as that has changed too. All in all, I’m starting from scratch and…guess what?
I’m. IN. LOVE.
I’m genuinely head over heels with this new plot.
Two days ago, I was resigned to forcing a story my brain no longer wanted to write into a book that I’d already announced. Now, I have a mind FULL of new characters. An entirely new tale unfolded in an instant. I’ve got that spark. That magic. I know the beginning, middle, and end. I know the emotions, the hardships, the torture, and the temptation.
I already know this new world far better than any of the 40,000 words I’ve wasted.
I’m dying to scream this story from the roof tops. I desperately want to introduce you to these new characters. I want to demand my cover designer to tweak my cover to honour this new hero and heroine.
However, I’m not going to.
I’m going to go quiet on this book.
I’m not going to speak another word about Fable of Happiness until I have at least 50% of the draft done and I know, undoubtedly, that this is the tale I’m publishing.
I’m disappearing into my writing cave to spend time in this new world.
The good thing is, I never set a release date (as I had a sneaking suspicion I might run into issues after coming out of a 7 book series like Goddess Isles). So, I don’t have to push back any promises. The tentative preorders will remain up until I know if the title is changing. However, once I release the cover and blurb for this new version, if you don’t like it, all preorders are able to be cancelled at a later date.
And the best news is? I get to keep my promise to you: to deliver as fantastic a book as I can. I don’t have to settle for a story I don’t like. It’s frustrating that I had to relearn this lesson (that I shouldn’t hint at a book that I’m not feeling) but alas, I’ve gone and done it. The good news is..I’ve finally gotten the memo.
Stay silent on books until they’re on paper. Got it 🙂
I don’t want to push on with the two original drafts of Fable of Happiness when I know there is a story out there that I’m in love with. I might have made these drafts work and found a way to complete. However, The Body painter taught me that I can’t force a book I’m not feeling.
The Body Painter had approximately 6 or 7 drafts. To be honest, it was probably more like 9 or 10. I forget as I shoved it aside to write The Boy & His Ribbon (another story that snatched me around the throat and demanded I write it).
The Body Painter was a nightmare. I scratched and started from ground up so many times, just waiting for that magic to reappear. But it never did. Each draft, I struggled to fully get to know the characters and I wasn’t invested in the storyline and I think it showed.
I would’ve cancelled that book if I hadn’t shared the cover, the blurb, and promised it to so many people.
I almost made the same mistake with Fable of Happiness. Luckily, this time, I kept most of the content to myself. It’s still a mystery with a faceless cover and empty blurb, so…all you need to know is I’m now MADLY IN LOVE WITH IT and I can’t WAIT to give you a book that has magic, my heart, and a story that I hope is heart-breaking, intoxicating, and is worthy of your time reading it.
Thank you once again for being on this journey with me as I continue to evolve, adapt, and grow as a writer. Thank you for putting up with me changing my mind and trusting me to deliver the best book I can—even if it means a few deletions and delays along the way.
In the meantime, happy reading. Stay safe. And I’ll be giving ALL the information on this book as soon as I’ve got this delicious new world on paper.
6 thoughts on “Things I should have learned after 7 years of being published.”
Take your time, your books are ALWAYS worth the wait
I’ve read most of your books Pepper including the Indebted Series. I LOVED the Body Painter. Also the Boy and His Ribbon.
I’m even more excited for this new book now that I’ve read how passionate you are about it. I’d much rather you take your time and publish something amazing than half ass it just to get it out. I respect you for caring so much. I can only imagine the discipline it takes to write the kind of series you write so take your time and enjoy the process. We’re a fairly patient bunch of readers I think!
Never Fear Pepper! You have ALWAYS delivered books that give me a book hangover after each one. Even the Body Painter. I loved it! You do what you need to, to make you happy, and do what works. Did that make sense? I’m sure your readers will patiently wait while you work your magic.
Your die hard fans will remain die hard fans!
Yes, we crave your books like an addiction. What a wonderful one it is. We are loyal and will wait for you to enter your fantastic fantasies to later become ours.
Really what choice do we have? Still we always come back for more! Yes, we get a bit anxious for your next release. That’s a good thing…Goddess Isles was worth every moment’s wait. I am in awe of how you can slide from different books that can seem so completely different like this series from The Boy and his ribbon and the Girl and her Ren for example and you seem to do so very fluidly (I am sure you and your husband could tell a different view). Thank you on my behalf for just the anticipation of your next book release as always.
I enjoy my Pepper Winters ‘fix’ with each release.
I pray for your health, friends, families, other readers that we all get to enjoy a lot more in the future.
Stay safe, happy holidays to all. 😷
Hi Pepper, just wanted to say, I thought the Body Painter was incredible. The fact that you showed men are also victims of rape, domestic abuse, and all things women can be victims of too, was amazing. Too many still believe men can’t possibly be victims. And if they do come forward, they’re suspected of being coercive controllers, liars, and the “real” perpetrators. It’s no wonder the suicide rate for men is double that of women. I, as a female, was the victim of rape and domestic abuse, and know someone, a male, who was also a victim. Our stories are so similar, but the reaction from others, is completely different. The fact that you addressed this in your book, made me love you even more. (As an author). I think The Body Painter should be a point of reference to all those who don’t believe men can be victims. It really touched me, so please don’t think it was awful. It was inspiring. Thank you for tackling subjects others find to hard. Stay safe.