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It’s kind of an ugly word for me.  It makes me feel fenced in and constrained.  I immediately want to kick down the stall and race for the mountains again! 

Don’t draw a line in the sand and tell me not to cross it, because @#%&* that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  The surest way to get me to do something is to tell me it’s impossible.  My great strength — and weakness — is accepting a challenge, no matter how…er…challenging. 

Write a complete first draft (50K) in two weeks?  Sure, no problem!  Write a novella and polish it for submission in a month?  Right on!  Hear about a new anthology call, or, God help me, a CONTEST!?!  Yeehaw, sign me up!  Write a zombie romance?  (See my story in Bump in the Night anthology).  Guilty as charged. 

But I’m at the place in my writing career where I can’t afford to be distracted.  I need to build momentum.  I have a full-time job and I can’t dedicate hours, weeks, months to projects that aren’t going to build my writing in the direction I want to go.  I can write fast at times, sure, but I can’t write ten full-length novels a year.  I just can’t.

So I applied an important new layer to my decision-making process yesterday about what I’m going to work on this month and going forward.

First, I made a list of every single project or task I have on my list, including website maintenance, promo, works in production, etc.  I separated the to-dos into logical groups and created a separate list for just current DRAFTING projects.  If I’ve jotted a line or two about this project somewhere — or made a mental note about what the next book might be — then I wrote it down, no matter how nebulous.  I grouped those projects into logical series, target markets, etc. 

Then I made a note beside each project:  does this fit within my brand?

After crossing everything off the list that doesn’t target my brand, it was easy (snort, cough) to rank the projects and decide what I need to do going forward.  Not every book I’ve already written fits within the brand I’m shooting for, so logically, it doesn’t make sense to keep follow-up books on the to-do list, right?  Easier said than done, but I did it.  I’ve got hours and hours (weeks, months, even years in some cases!) invested in these projects.  That’s the freedom — and cost — of writing for small presses.  I have so much flexibility I could really write anything I want, which I absolutely love!   But throwing in a YA story, for example, or a cool demonic thriller (yes, I have notes for both of these and many many more), isn’t going to help build my writing career right now.

I consoled myself with the argument that I’m saying “not now” not “never.”  I might also be able to take the original work and twist it so it does fit within my brand going forward.  Or, I can always expand my brand down the road — but I have to be focused now.  With the many genres that I like to write in, it may not seem like I really have a brand at all on the surface.  I’ve accepted the fact that I’m never going to be able to say I’m writing in a SINGLE genre.  I might as well stop writing all together than limit myself that way. 

So I’m going to have to work really hard to tie my work together, and I can’t afford any distractions, no matter how bright and shiny they seem.  I know my target, my goal, and I have to concentrate my will to get there.

It might seem ridiculous for me to struggle so much to find my “place” but I’ve accepted (cough, snort) that this is just part of my unique journey.  It’s part of who I am, what brought me this far, and it’s something I’m always going to have to struggle with, like an addiction or obsession.  I have to protect my work — most especially from myself! — and that means I can’t get distracted.  Or if I fall off the wagon, I have to identify it quickly and race to jump back on before I lose too much time spinning my wheels on crap that shouldn’t bother or interest me.  And yes, before I’ve even posted this blog entry, I’ve considered deleting it and changing my mind entirely.  *grits teeth against temptation*

After some hard decisions, this is the list I’m concentrating on this year.  Obviously I won’t be able to get all this done any time soon, and I’m going to be adding things to this list (I can’t help it – it’s my nature), but I’ll have to ask myself the brand question before it gets added.  Priorities will shift up and down as contracts come and go.

Upcoming projects in the pipeline include: 

  • Lady Wyre’s sequel, Deathright, Seven Crows, and Venom in the Jane Austen Space Opera world.  With significant work (e.g. throw out everything except the original premise and twist THAT), I can possibly slide Arcana into this world.  Yes, I’ve been sitting on all that research and work for years now but it’s such a cool idea, I can’t give up on it.  
  • Mal’s book Mine to Break and a possible Mama story for The Connaghers
  • Phantom (working title), a new contemporary erotic series, followed by Camelot (still extremely nebulous since I don’t even have Phantom completely plotted yet!)
  • Given in Fire, a Keldari novella.  (The Keldari dragons fit my brand before I even knew what my brand was.) 
  • I’d love to write Charon’s book, and he’d definitely fit within my brand!  *winks to Sis*  
  • another extremely nebulous project I’ll simply call Rain (in Golden’s world) 
  • two new projects in unrelated worlds/series:  a post-apocalyptic (untitled) and Faced.  Both will have to fit within my brand or they’ll get filed.

12 thoughts on “Branding

  1. It’s hard to mourn some of the projects you’ve had to file away when you’ve got so many cool ones you’re working on. Although, I’d probably read your grocery list at this point. And YAY Charon gets a book! :mrgreen: I’m terribly fascinated with all your “nebulous” projects, OF COURSE. It’s all about the mystique.

  2. I understand why it’s important but the whole idea of branding kinda gives me hives. It sounds like you have a really clear vision on where you want to go though. That’s awesome.

  3. Eee eee eeee! Ahem. Sorry. I mean, how lovely that Charon might be getting a book this year, but I’ll completely understand if you can’t fit him in.

    *chokes on excitement*

  4. If Phantom and Camelot are the modern erotic retellings I think they are, I am now VERY impatient for you to write these.

  5. SJ, mourn is a good word – but aftr all the angst, I find I’m not really upset about anything I filed right now. There’s only one “big” story in the bunch and it’s not ready anyway. Hugs, no grocery list, I promise!

  6. Eleri, it gives me hives too! Totally. It’s taken me 7+ years to finally figure out what I want to concentrate on!

  7. I knew you’d like that Sis! It might not be any time soon, but I would really like to give Charon his due!

  8. Lianna, you’d be right. *winks* I would like more stories like that to retell but these are my two favorites.

  9. I didn’t see the third book in the Shanhasson trilogy mentioned (The Return to Shanhasson.) Is that concluding story no longer in the mix?

  10. Sandra, these are only my current works-in-progress. Return to Shanhasson IS done, editor revisions are in progress, and we should have it out in the next month or so. *crossing fingers and toes* Vicki (Yours to Take) and Golden are both in “production”, either already contracted or soon to be submitted, so I didn’t list them either.

  11. P.S. And the Shanhasson series TOTALLY fits my brand and where I’m going next!

  12. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by joelysue, Susan Boyle Star. Susan Boyle Star said: Branding: It’s kind of an ugly word for me.  It makes me feel fenced in and constrained.  I immediately want to … […]

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