Hola peeps! Que pasa?! I hope everyone is having a magical day. Speaking of magical…I think it describes my special guest to a T. I first met Ms. Jennifer Sights at Cosplacon in July 2014. She and her special someone (^_^) were selling copies of her book at a table in the Vender’s room. I was drawn to it because I saw Samurai Dan talking to her a few hours before and my mind was jumbled in an amazed and fearful mess that I was so close to another real author and how I felt so unworthy. I introduced myself, timid, but her fella was so bright and supportive of her that I was able to talk freely before Jennifer arrived at her table. We chatted lightly and she just SCREAMED cool! Her attire, her hair, her smile, her manners…she truly was a sight and I felt like a child in comparison dressed as Sailor V or in a Sushi shirt with Glecon ears. I was nervous, honestly, that I would not be up to par with her during the writing panel I had with Dan that Saturday, where Jennifer was our special guest. She was so kind and through it, I had a lot of fun. ^.^ It was nice to have another female to tag-team the comical Dan Coglan with! 😉 Jennifer has been so sweet to be since, answering my nagging author questions and agreeing do this guest post for me along with more in the future. To be so successful as a self-published writer is incredible and her fans truly adore her. I hope one day, I can be as cool, refreshing, and inspirational to others as she is to me (plus, her Disney inspired outfits are DARLING). Enough gushing! Truly, she is an amazing author and I recommend her works (I purchased “Divided” at the con and she was grand and signed it). Now, on to the wise words of Ms. Jennifer Sights!
Hey everyone! I want to thank Morgan for sharing her blog space with me today! I met her this summer at Cosplacon and sat on a panel with her, and am so happy to be partnering with her again! If you don’t know me, I’m Jennifer Sights. I’ve published 3 novels and am working on my fourth.
Dealing with Doubt.
I’ve learned a lot about writing and publishing over the years, and today I want to talk about perhaps the most dangerous part of the writing process there is – doubt.
Doubt can kill any project if you let it. It’s almost killed 2 of mine. I almost didn’t get my writing career started because of doubt – I don’t even know how many rounds of editing I put Divided through before I finally said “Enough! It’s time to let this book out into the world!” But once I made that decision, the rest of the publishing process was fairly easy. The entire process for Ravaged was also fairly easy. (As easy as writing can ever be, anyway.) So when I started writing Burning Darkness, I was surprised at what a huge struggle it was. I first had the idea for the story over 5 years ago. I was listening to the song “Perfect Surface” by Sinfinis. The first line of the song is, “I don’t want to wake up.” It was one of those stories that hit me hard and in living color. I could SEE it – a girl wakes up, trapped in an abandoned insane asylum, strapped to the hospital bed. She has no idea why she’s there, and there’s no one who can tell her what’s going on. She first has to figure out how to escape, and then try to discover who left her there and why. I’ve been fascinated by the mental health system and its history for ages. I immersed myself in books and movies – both nonfiction and horror – to set my mental mood for writing this story. It percolated in my brain for a few years, but I knew it had to come out. I finally set about writing it for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2010. It was a colossal failure. Aside from the research I’d done, I didn’t do any planning for the story itself. I had no idea what the plot really was, just the premise. It quickly derailed and turned into something that will never, ever see the light of day. At 30,000 words in, I gave up. This story still needed to be written. It sat in the back of my head for a few more years, and I decided to give it another go for NaNoWriMo 2012. This time I planned the story. I made a loose outline so I knew the beginning, middle, and end. I created a playlist of the creepiest music I could find (Mothman Prophecies and Silent Hill soundtracks mostly.) I was ready. That planning paid off. By the end of November I had a rough draft of a story that, while it needed a LOT of work, I didn’t hate. But by this point, I was deep into preparing Divided for publication, so it once again got set aside. Another year went by before it was time for Burning Darkness to make its way into the world. I created a schedule for every phase it needed to go through to reach publication. I edited it a couple times then sent it to beta readers. This is when doubt began to creep in. It wasn’t “psychological” enough. It wasn’t “thriller” enough. It was a good story, but was it scary? I didn’t think so. And I was aiming for a story that would get into your head and make you peer around corners before proceeding at night. I continued on with my preparation, but all the while kept looking for ways to make it creepier. I came up blank. My story consultant gave some great feedback, but provided no suggestions on how to intensify the atmosphere of the story. As the publication date neared, I doubted the quality of the book more and more. I was terrified it was going to be a flop. I envisioned getting loads of 1 star reviews from people calling me a fraud and saying the book was nowhere near the “psychological” or “thriller” as I claimed it to be. I almost didn’t publish Burning Darkness. But I forced myself to move ahead. I’d banged my head against the keyboard searching for ideas to make it better, and still came up empty. Maybe I should just get it out there and be done with the story once and for all, and let the reviews come, no matter how bad they might be. It’s natural for authors to have at a flop once in a while, right? I sent the manuscript to my dad, who owns a Kindle Fire, and asked him to load it up and tell me if the formatting looked right. That’s all I wanted, but he proceeded to read the story and give me feedback. “It reminds me of Stephen King. Is that what you were going for?” YES! Yes it was! Finally, my doubt started to ease. Just a little. Because it’s my dad – he’s kind of biased, I think. But still, that was some of the best praise I could hope for, biased or not. So I let Burning Darkness out into the world. The reviews started coming in. And guess what? They were all great! Burning Darkness was, in fact, both “psychological” enough and “thriller” enough. Powering through the doubt, ignoring it, and telling it to bugger off had proved to be the right approach. Here’s my favorite review so far: I REALLY DON’T KNOW HOW TO RATE THIS BOOK BECAUSE IT SCARED TO SH– OUT OF ME IT IS SO MIND BENDING AND DARK. IF YOU LIKE THIS TYPE OF THING THIS IS YOUR BOOK AND ENJOY BEING SCARED EVEN AFTER YOU’VE FINISHED BECAUSE IT STAYS WITH YOU AND HAUNTS YOU. Yes, Burning Darkness had turned out exactly how I’d envisioned it.
Jennifer Sights is the author of the Elena Ronen, Private Investigator series and the psychological thriller Burning Darkness. She is also a writing coach at www.DominateYourDream.com. She has been writing since she was a kid, but veered off track for college and a more traditional office job. Thanks to National Novel Writing Month, she has found her way back to her true love of writing, and losing herself for hours at a time working on various stories.
Jennifer lives in St. Louis, MO, with her black lab mix, Tiberius. When she isn’t writing or reading she loves riding her motorcycle, learning about the mysterious side of our world, going to concerts, and traveling. She loves to hear from readers. You can find her at www.JenniferSights.com.