Kat Irwin

Round Two

So my last post was well over a year ago… What the hell, right? Let’s just say that life kicked my ass a bit last year. By the time I got myself together, it was pretty much the end of the summer, and I realized I needed to put out something before the year was over. Since I already had an existing set of readers for my Lasniniar series as Jacquelyn Smith, I felt that brand had to take priority.

But what else has been going on since then? Well, here’s the situation:

 

Challenges:

The Day Job Thing

Back when I was at the peak of my writing productivity (as Jacquelyn Smith), I had taken a hiatus to write full time. When it came time to go back to work, I had to figure out how to juggle my day job (working at the local bookstore) with trying to be almost as productive as when I had been writing full time so I wouldn’t lose the momentum I had gained.

Even though I like my job, working in retail means a schedule with little to no pattern. And then there’s the whole Christmas season, which is insane. It starts around October and continues well into January with post-holiday sales and returns. By the time February rolls around, I’m pretty fried.

This means I end up writing in concentrated bursts that last for a few months—long enough for me to maybe start and finish a project if everything goes according to plan, but not much else.

 

Writing in the Real World

Up until this point, I’d only written epic fantasy, which means I could make everything up from scratch. Fiction is a bit of a different story. Writing something that takes place in the real world was a bit intimidating at first. Originally, I researched the hell out of an actual setting I planned to use, but I just ended up second-guessing myself and getting bogged down in the details, so I decided to settle for a fictional real world setting instead (if that makes any sense). That way I can control the environment my characters and story are in without driving myself crazy.

Writing in the real world also means writing real characters. When I’m writing fantasy, various aspects of my own personality get spread out and disguised among a cast of elves, dwarves, and other fantastical creatures. Even though the main character in my thriller writing (Kira Brightwell), is definitely not me, she does share my voice and personality more than any other character I’ve written. (Hey, write what you know!) This has been a bit of a vulnerability hurdle that I’ve had to overcome.

 

Self-Doubt

Tackling a new genre can be intimidating. Every once in a while I find myself wondering what I’m doing trying to write something other than fantasy. This issue tends to snowball with the whole writing in the real world problem. But my fantasy writing has always skewed more toward fast-paced action and quirky dialogue scenes, and I think these are major strengths for my thriller writing.

 

Social Media

Like my main character Kira, I’m a major introvert. I usually justify my absence from social media by thinking of it as time I can’t spend on my writing. While this is true, I also know half the battle of becoming a truly successful author is getting people to find you and your work, which can be tough when you’re hiding in your writing cave all the time.

I think the other thing that holds me back in this area is feeling like I’m not interesting enough to be tweeting or posting all the time. I would rather let my writing speak for me.

 

Game Plan

So what’s the plan? Well, first of all, I’ve taken some time to figure out a long-term plan for my new series, so I feel like I have some direction and know how the ongoing plot thread is going to play out, which has helped my confidence. I’ve also decided on a multiple-book launch strategy. In addition to helping me feel like I can actually write all the way through one of these new books from start to finish, I’m hoping it will be useful to help build momentum with readers by having something else to offer right away when they finish the first book.

Now that I’ve gotten back into the swing of things, the writing is going really well, and I’m actually producing at a faster rate than I ever have before, despite the constraints on my schedule. (I’ve written over 17,500 words in the past week alone!) Here’s a rough outline of the book release plan:

  • Striking Distance (Book 0, Kira’s origin story, novelette length): September release

  • Split Decision (Book 1, novel length): September release, same time as Striking Distance

  • Black and Blue (Book 2, novel length): October release, available for preorder when other 2 titles are released

 

As for social media, I’ll be posting updates here and on Facebook going forward, but I’m not in any hurry to get on Twitter just yet. And if you want to be the first to know about new releases and other cool stuff, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter. 😉

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