Words from an Author

Originally posted 06/10/11 upon hearing Ms Catherynne Valente’s book reached the NY Times Bestseller’s list 

In honor of Ms Catherynne M. Valente’s book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, I decided to re-post the advice she had given me almost two years ago about being a writer. Congratulations Cat! As I said before, where you are now, is where I want to be in the near future:

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


Some of this story is in my FAQ on my website. Some of it is on my blog. 

I started blogging in 2001. I’ve been at it a long time. I started publishing professionally in 2004, when I was 25. The two feed each other. I worked hard to create an online presence long before I ever wrote a book–I joined communities on LJ, I made friends and linked to them, I posted about topics people wanted to read. It’s always hard to predict what will and will not hit with a blog–but the key is not having it just be a showcase for your writing if you’re not already known for your writing. You have to build a readership who feel like you’re interesting and fun, not just someone selling you something. It’s very hard to build a site just based on fiction without a corresponding publishing career. The Fairyland project is successful because I’ve been publishing for five years with big presses, my books have won awards, I’ve toured nationally, I go to conventions and appear on panels. I’ve made friends in the industry. It’s all a lot of hard work–but if I hadn’t been publishing, no one would care about my free online novel, I promise. Certainly Boingboing and such wouldn’t have picked it up.

So my advice is to keep writing–and do all those things, too. Build a blog based on non fiction and social networking, and then ease your fiction into it. (this is much easier on LJ where you can join communities and be part of a big conversation.)

I’ve preservered because I love writing and believe in my work, and because at times it’s all I’ve had. But in the end, my career has been easier than a lot of people’s–I’m 30, I’ve published a dozen books. That’s not normal. It doesn’t always work like that–in fact it almost never does. 

The other thing I did was write so differently than everyone else out there that people had to notice it. I made myself indispensable, by being the only one offering my kind of books. Don’t lose faith. just think outside the box of posting fiction online and waiting for people to notice. Instead, do something noticeable, then post your fiction. Online books are a dime a dozen–you have to make yourself an interesting draw, and then people will come. You might also consider Clarion or Viable Paradise, and workshop your stories with some top authors. 

I hope this has helped,

I’ve read the book and it’s quite charming. I intend on keeping in my library and giving it to my sister’s children when they get older…so they can know that good fiction still exists for them. Hopefully one day they will be able to read something their aunt wrote, just for them. *sigh*

Girls Life Mag: Breaking Up With Friends

Girl Talk

How to survive a best friend break up

It’s tough. You and your best friend had a huge fight and you think there’s no way to come back from it. This has happened to many of us, me included, but I’ve learned that although it may be a long winding road, you can come out of a situation like this feeling better than ever.

Step 1: Clear the negative energy
The number-one thing you need to do after a BBF break-up is to take some time to calm down. Only when you’ve gained some clarity can you truly begin to move on. Go for a walk or a jog, pick up a novel or belt out your fave tunes. Do whatever you need to get some breathing room.
Step 2: Assess the situation
Now that you’re calm and ready to focus, look back at the fight and how it all played out. Was this a spat that your friendship could bounce back from, or did somebody cross a line? If whatever happened now cause you to look at your friend in a different light, you really need to think hard before making any decisions.
Step 3: Making choices
Sometimes we want to keep bad friends in our lives because they’re been there forever and it’s all we really know. You need to decide if this is a person that you want to keep in your circle. Try making a pros and cons list of how your BFF has treated you for the entire time you’ve known her. Once you’ve considered every happy and horrid thing in your relationship closet, it’s time to ask yourself if you want to patch things up. Remember, this isn’t a choice between being besties or breaking up. You can downgrade her from numero uno confidant to just a friend.
Step 3: Cutting ties
If you’ve decided it’s time to say ta-ta, understand, first, that there’s no turning back. Ready? Okay, girlie, here’s what you need to do: Distance yourself. Don’t initiate convos, don’t invite her to hang out. If she wants to chat, be civil, but don’t go blabbing all yours secrets like everything is back to normal.
Step 4: Dealing with confrontation
Sometimes, friends mutually split up by simply going off in their separate ways. Other times, one friend fights to regain the relationship. If your ex-BFF wants to know why you’ve been distant, be calm and lay out the sitch. Explain that you think it’s best if the two of you hang out with other people, that your relationship has changed and you’re ready to move on. If she gets upset, choose to walk away. Don’t start hollering in the halls, okay hunnie?
What’s your next move?
Your next move is to clear the air between any of your mutual friends. Let them know the current state of things between you and the ex-BFF. Don’t be bitter about it or demand that your buddies pick sides. There’s no reason you have to find a whole new group just ‘cause you don’t along with one chica anymore.
One more thing…
Don’t think about it. Stick to your decision and focus on the elimination of unwanted drama when things get rough. Talk to other friends—those who aren’t besties with your ex—and your parents. Feeling lonely? Spend more time with other friends, and join new activities to meet fresh faces. Invite girls over for a sleepover or out shopping. And if you happen to cross paths with your former friend? Be cordial and act like a lady. She’ll take her cues from you.
Tell us, babes: How do you deal with BFF break-ups?
BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE ON 5/3/2011 5:31:00 PM
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