Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Advantages of Uncertainty

When nothing is sure, everything is possible ~ Margaret Drabble

I love the positive spin this perspective places on uncertainty, which is a state of being most of us otherwise dread.

This reminder seems especially apt at the end of a rough week in the publishing industry (and for several of my friends). Another small press (Samhain Publishing) is going to be closing its doors soon. Like many publishers, it and its authors are seeing diminishing sales as the tide of new, cheap books swells, making it hard for any book to find an audience.

Technology has been a double-edged sword in publishing (much like in the music industry). On the one hand, it has expanded avenues for many writers, especially those lucky enough to get in at the beginning of the digital book market. Subscription services can be a boon to voracious readers (much like Netflix is for those who like television and movies). But these changes have also destabilized the market, pushing all publishers to scurry around to catch up to the changes (and try, if in vain, to predict them). In many cases, it has shifted the burden of the marketing and promotion of books (traditionally, the publisher’s job) to the author. And with so many books going live every day at rock bottom prices, it may even be devaluing books, which makes the economics of publishing unsustainable for many authors.

Yes, with all of this bad news, it is easy to be pessimistic. To abhor change and the uncertainty it creates.

But I also know that publishing is neither the first, last, nor most important industry to be affected by technology. Every sector of our economy gets hits, periodically, with uncertainty and must adapt and swim with the tide. Adopting a mindset that welcomes uncertainty instead of fearing or lamenting it seems to be a good place for anyone to start.

While I’ve been very blessed so far in my publishing journey, I know that nothing lasts forever. That more changes are sure to come. And that I cannot expect my good fortune to go on indefinitely. That undoubtedly I will hit roadblocks, and some may throw me far off-course.

However, I also cannot allow myself to dwell in a negative space. To fear that inevitable disappointment that is lurking around some corner. To worry about things beyond my control, or yearn for something that is no longer fact.

I can control the quality of my work. I can support other authors by promoting them to my friends and fans. I can have a voice within Romance Writers of America if I choose to vote or to serve. I can speak openly with my agent and publisher about my concerns, my goals, and my support needs in order to garner a “team” mentality in this otherwise very solo journey. Those are the things I can do to exercise a bit of control on these uncharted waters of the ever-changing publishing industry.

And when fear sets in, I need to remember Ms. Drabble’s quote. Change, while scary, can present opportunities. Sometimes the status quo is broken, and innovation opens the floodgates for new and improved ways of doing things. Thus, the best thing I can do is stay positive, informed, and keep working so that I am prepared when those opportunities present themselves.

That’s my plan. Wish me luck! And if you have any advice about how to approach uncertainty, please share!

xo-Jamie

Big Love in Utah

No, this isn’t a post about the former HBO series, or Mormonism, or polygamy. This is a post about the benefits of extended family vacations. My immediate family takes two per year (one ski trip with my husband’s family, and one beach trip with mine). I’ve just finished zipping up the last suitcase to prepare for our flight home after spending a week in Alta, Utah with my husband’s family (the littlest ones were already in bed before this photo was taken). IMG_7121

Three generations (19 people in all) came from California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to live under one roof. We skied, played games, held daily “inspections” of the kids’ rooms (a contest with prizes–and, shockingly, my son and his cousin won), and caught up on a myriad of the past year’s trials and tribulations.IMG_7123

For some, this type of vacation may sound like a nightmare. Granted, it was not particularly restful, and the volume reached a feverish pitch around the dinner table. But the minor moments of discomfort were far outweighed by the many benefits of being together.

The kids (teens included) actually put down their devices for tremendous chunks of time and skied, played chess, Scrabble, and Guesstures, and hung out conversing with the adults (gasp) in front of the fire. The eldest generation reminisced about the decades of experiences in Alta. We were all treated to fabulous meals by the staff, forcing some of us with pickier palates–gently clears throat–to try new dishes. Kids learned to manage roommate issues. Differing parenting styles had to bend in order to avoid conflict among the nine kids. Abundant exercise and inspirational views filled all the senses. Heck, I even got a bunch of snuggles from my teen daughter (who has never been the snuggling sort).

As always, at the end of this week, I feel renewed kinship with my husband’s entire family, all of whom are unique, accomplished, and fun-loving individuals. I’m also thankful to Dan and Dusty (who run the house) for helping me with more research on competitive snowboarding and backcountry skiing. Finally, I’m grateful that we all are leaving this beautiful yet potentially dangerous mountain range without injury! FullSizeRender(28)

If you’ve never organized a major family trip (or reunion weekend), I highly recommend it. There may be a stray tear or argument, but your heart will be bigger when you leave.

xo-Jamie

Ask Me Anything Vlogs

I’ve been having fun answering reader questions in my “Ask Me Anything” vlog series. I post these on my YouTube channel and Facebook author page, but to the extent you don’t follow those outlets, I’ve decided to post the first six here. Hope you find them a little bit interesting. Enjoy!

On second careers:

On husband jealousy:

On writer process:

On favorite authors:

On favorite characters:

On choosing a setting:

 

That’s it for now, folks. Keep the questions coming and have a great week!

xo-Jamie