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"Bad Publicity is Good Publicity"

January 9, 2010

Famous quote by Donald Trump.  Considering he’s had his share of good and bad publicity throughout his career I think I’ll take that statement as a truism.

Yesterday was an amazingly nerve wracking day. Actually the whole week was hell.  I blogged almost every single day, I scheduled more doctor appointments for next week (let’s not dwell on that though), pushed the new Wicked Writers blog every chance I could, and I spent countless hours on the phone with Supriya calming her, encouraging her and just plain old listening to her.

She took the biggest leap in her writing career this week in THREE years and I’m incredibly proud of her.  If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be where I am and my book would not exist.  Did she have any idea last January what force of personality was driving behind my calm hazel green eyes?  I doubt it or she would have run screaming from the car.

The main character in my book is incredibly manipulative and highly intelligent.  While I would like to say I have those traits it would be fairer to report that I imagine I have those traits and sometimes things go exactly as I plan.  All along I’ve been trying to give Supriya the kick in the pants she needed to get her work “out there”.  To get her to take chances and to get her showing off her true potential.

I’m of the firm believer that the worst that can ever happen when trying something is you can fail and once you accept that and the fact that such a failure won’t kill you, just bruise your pride a bit, that you can do anything in life.

I stand by every decision I’ve made so far – even the ones that back-fired on me and didn’t go according to my plan.  I may not do everything right, I may make mistakes, but I’m out there trying and that’s more than most people can say. I’ve literally had dozens of people write to me privately in the past eight months telling me how my story has inspired them to pursue their dreams.  I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievable it is to receive something like that. It reinforces that I’m doing some things right and implies I’ve helped a few people too. Unreal!

Me – little ‘ole fake pen-name, pretty picture I’m now 15 pounds heavier than, going throw a hell of a year with medical tests and multiple life-changing diagnoses, wrote a book to distract myself – ME.

I can’t say I’ve always had a dream to write.  I can’t claim it has been my life-long ambition to have a book in print with my name on it (hell, it’s not even my real name).  I’ve never taken a writing course beyond one in college (which had a kick-butt female ninja assassin in one short story that got a B, hey, we’re talking ’89 here).  But one friend made me believe.

Supriya made me believe in myself and that my idea was a good one.  Never once did she say “First-person present-tense is the way we learned to write in high school, switch it to past tense.”  But I can tell you a least two dozen writers and judges (and even a few agents) in contests have told me that or something close to it this past year.  She believed in my book and she made me believe in it too.

She has been plagued this whole week and questioning me on topics I’ve answered before and have forgotten my witty answers on. (I’m blaming the Lyme’s, it’s shitty for your memory and I’m still being treated.) What she needs is for me to listen and support her, so that’s what I’ve done.

The people who’ve done that for me lately, besides Supriya, have been my facebook supporters.  What started as a way to see if my book had potential has snow balled into an incredible group of people pulling for me and traveling on this scary journey every step of the way with me. My eventual success will not be my own – it will be because of them. (oh – and on an aside here, I’m sorry for all my anxious song twitter and status updates yesterday, what started as a twenty minute wait went on hours longer than I thought.)

The best writing books from authors tell you never to discount your readers.  And I’d like to think I never have.  Their opinions matter to me – some of them helped choose the character names in the book, some helped devise the ending chapter with me, some helped my to flesh out my scene with the killer more, some entered a cover contest, some tried their hand at penning the tag line, a large group of them became my private readers reading the rough drafts of chapters mere days after I typed them – and in thanks to some of the most vocal supporters I even changed minor character names in the story to match their names.

This latest contest I’m in has been a grueling one – but it has taught me a lot.  Dorchester is incredibly smart to have done things they way they have – I can see that even if I think it’s been hard to be a part of.  It’s taught me to be more careful with what I write and type on the internet than ever before. It’s taught me that the actions I take to re-pay supporters and friends can backfire on me when the people watching me want to bring me down.

I never thought that people on my FB fan page would be spying on me or be there if they didn’t truly want to support me but this contest revealed that is not the case.  I’m kind of glad the wool has been taken off my eyes early on.  I won’t make the same mistakes and I’ll be on the look out for my words being used against me and posted in a public forum from here on out.

Most of my fellow entrants in the Dorchester contest have a huge advantage over me – experience.  They have been writing for years, have developed thick skins and have established relationships with other writers in a close knit support group.  I’m starting to get those last two things but the first one won’t be a reality until my third book is done.

What do I have that my fellow entrants don’t have?  Well, to list that here would be arrogant and inflammatory, especially since I don’t know them well enough to have a laundry list – BUT – one thing I do have is a great big bunch of people ready to buy my book the moment it hits the shelves from a real publisher.

And seriously?  Why do people feel the need to question rules and split hairs so much?  What it comes down to is one simple fact:  Publishing is a business and publishers are in it to make money. A handful of manuscripts out doesn’t hurt their sales – it helps them.  Building a buzz and thanking friends is positive energy. Saving screen shots and ordering a copy of my MS for “evidence” is funny as all hell.

Either Dorchester buys my book or they don’t, it’s as simple as that.  I sincerely hope they do, but if they don’t another publisher will and life will go on. Whether I’m out of the contest or in it to win it doesn’t change things. In the big picture it’s water under the bridge and since I can’t change what’s been done the only thing I can do is move forward – which is what I intend to do.

To my friends who had my back on this debacle – THANK YOU!  To the ones who hide behind fake names and remain “unregistered,” I wish you a better 2010 than I had in 2009 (and if you truly knew how crappy my year was you’d know that was a great wish) and I hope you enjoy my MS! You never know, you may be holding onto what could become a collector’s item one day (hey, a girl can dream, right?).

And yes, bad publicity may still be good publicity, but it’s been a hard 24 hours to say the least.

C.J.

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