Bite Somebody · Publishing

Bite Somebody is three, but I’ve lost my joy

Three years ago this morning, I woke up as a published author. Bite Somebody had been set free upon the world. It was my first full-length novel picked up by an actual publishing house. People could buy a paperback copy of the book on Amazon. People could say, “Sign my book,” and they did. I had thrilling launch parties and big book signings.

Those months surrounding Bite Somebody‘s release were some of the most intense, exciting months of my life because I had achieved my earliest, biggest childhood dream: publish a book!

I have continued to publish since. Bite Somebody Else came out in 2017. Magazines and anthologies galore have picked up my short stories and novellas. I entered the LGBTQ writing community like the Kool-Aid man with The Escape Trilogy from 2018-2019. I currently have three additional books under contract, and I’m self-publishing one this summer as an experiment.

How does it feel that Bite Somebody is three? It feels good, especially with the audiobook on the way.

How do I feel about writing? Honestly, the business side has taken the fun out of creating.

I recently got a super painful rejection letter from an agent about how much he loved my newest manuscript … but how it was too weird, too quirky, to fit into the mainstream market.

I get it—and I don’t. I realize I’m weird and quirky, and my work (Bite Somebody included) encompasses that. However, isn’t it good to be different? Isn’t it important to press back against the mainstream (and Hollywood sequel after sequel after remake, remake) and create something unique?

No. That’s what the mainstream publishing industry would say. NO.

Stay in your box!

Write for the market!

Whatever you do, don’t go off the beaten path!

Lately, writing fan fiction is where I am freest to create. I can do whatever I want on Archive of Our Own. There, I write without ego, without pressure, and without fear because I’m not trying to sell anything. I’m not worried about marketability or eventual promo or my idiotic image. No, when I write fan fiction, I create for the joy of creating—because I do love writing … I just don’t much like what comes after:

The agent and publisher search and looking to someone else for affirmation.

The social media. The publicity.

The worry that no one will read my book anyway.

Will I make enough money to pay my bills?

Does anyone care?

Then, of course, the self-loathing when a bad review rolls in …

Since the release of Bite Somebody three years ago, I’ve learned a lot about this “business.” I’ve grown as a writer and as a person. Despite my success, my mental health is currently the worst it’s been since long before Bite Somebody saw the light of day. Part of that is due to life circumstances, but I’m also disillusioned with being a professional writer.

Once upon a time, long, long ago …

I achieved my professional dream of publishing a book, but since then, I’ve only wanted more … more … bigger … better! I am killing myself with work, but it’s not the writing aspect; it’s all the other industry shit: the envy, the competition, the constant rejection and hard work that leads nowhere. All of this makes me want to stop writing altogether and just bartend the rest of my life. (I’m a great bartender, okay?)

Then, I remember fan fiction and the joy of creating something simple and beautiful that was never intended to be judged by the faceless gatekeepers of “publishing.” I remember the peace I feel when I write for me, not for anyone else, and when I write with no fear of rejection.

I speak at writers’ conventions—about necessary evils like social media and marketing—but I always try to remind attendees: “Write for you. Not for the New York Times Bestseller List. Not for oodles of cash. Write for you.”

Ha, I’m the one who has forgotten this simple advice as I have spent the past three years trying to scrape my way into the mainstream. Find an agent! Be interesting online! Start a Facebook group! Do your newsletter! Make more money! Keep working and working … until you forget you’re a writer and become a monster of “onto the next, onto the next, onto the next!”

Being an indie author has brought me great joy, but I’m sad I no longer remember the innocent enthusiasm of Bite Somebody‘s birthday. I look at pictures, but the memory of that initial excitement eludes me. I wish I could find it again, but I don’t know if I ever will.

Writing. I used to love writing. I think I can again, as long as I put myself in the fan fiction mindset and write for me. In recent weeks, I’ve said I want to give up writing—until I received a frankly adorable, frantic call from an amazing author friend in Germany, no less, telling me that wasn’t an option.

I am a writer, but that part of me has been buried beneath the weight of social media, promo, Twitter pitch contests, failure, rejection, failure …

It’s time to stop stressing about what the world thinks and write for me. I want to write for fun again. So what if people don’t like my work? It’s for me, not them. I write to exorcise my own demons and create characters I want to be around, quirky and then some.

I mean, for those of you who have read Bite Somebody, the character of Imogene is about as quirky as you can get—but an editor at World Weaver Press loved her anyway. (Thanks, Trysh!) I could use more Imogene in my life. She doesn’t give a shit what people think and laughs in the face of judgment (while rocking out to fantastic 80s tunes, of course).

I seek to find the joy in creating again, the fun in writing. How about you? Has adulthood stolen the innocent thrill of make-believe? Let’s find it again.

Uncategorized

Let’s go to Paris for my birthday!

Well, I’m not literally going to Paris for my birthday BUT Paris is what I want for my birthday. Not making sense? Check it …

I started a GoFundMe to help me get to Paris in March 2020. This is all about book nerds, literary history, and creativity, centered around the famed bookshop, Shakespeare and Co.

ALL THE DETAILS! CLICK THE BUTTON:

With this trip, I hope to remind people of all ages that life is never stagnant. There is always space for change and opportunities to try something stupidly spectacular. There are new people to meet, books to read, and words yet to be written if only we stop being afraid and just do.

Help celebrate my birthday and send this crazy writer to Paris by donating to my GoFundMe. Thanks, lots of love, and boy voyage, mes amours.

PS: I’m currently re-learning French, and the best word ever is “epoustouflant,” which means “breathtaking.” It’s so much fun to say! SAY IT!

writers life

Convention harassment and unwelcome God-talk

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I attended a convention this past weekend as a featured author and had a great time—mostly. Saturday night, after doing a Bite Somebody reading, a man approached me to tell me he already thought I was hot, but wasn’t it so cool that I was funny, too? I laughed it off. He followed me to my signing and continued to flirt, which is fine. I’m an expert at flirtation (as my husband knows). It’s part of my romance author shtick.

Later, after I’d been basically working all day as an author—panels, book signings, readings, et cetera—I had the chance to attend an after-party with a bunch of geeks like me. The guy from earlier was there, and he was annoying me, being overly flirtatious, so (tired as I was), I told him to “Fuck off.”

The next morning, he approached me asking for an apology, saying I’d really upset him by telling him to “fuck off.” So shocked by his asking, I relented and said I was sorry. We made up or something, but the onus was on me to apologize, and in a moment of confusion, I did.

Later, the guy asked for a selfies with me, and I obliged, his hand wrapped too tightly around my ribcage.

Even later, he requested my friendship on Facebook. It’s my fault that I accepted, but I didn’t know what else to do. I usually accept these things. Networking and all.

Then, later-later, this dude commented on my mental health blog, telling me Jesus was the answer to our problems. And this is  why “Christians” get a bad rap.

I’m a Christian who writes erotica and who attends church on Sunday. I’m kinda slutty and drink too much and cuss so abundantly a nun might go deaf, but I’m still a Christian.

In hindsight, how dare this guy ask me to apologize to him? How dare he say Jesus will save me? I admit, I could have responded differently when he asked for my apologies. I didn’t have to give in. I didn’t need to accept his Facebook friend request (which I have since deleted). Now, I don’t need to approve his comment on my blog.

In other words …

I know Jesus. I know the Bible, too, and even if I’m on the liberal side, I like to think I respect people. I was offended Saturday night when I was harassed on the basis of being both pretty and funny. I was offended when I had to apologize for being pissed at said harassment. I’m even more pissed right now as I’m told Jesus is the answer to my mental illness issues when I damn well know there’s a bit more to it, and nothing—not even religion—is easy.

Let us not forget: that Jesus guy had a pretty hard time. He was a rebel, living on the outskirts of society, offending people and flipping literal and metaphorical tables. If there had been leather jackets in Jerusalem, he would have worn one. Probably would have had tattoos and piercings, too, all right?

I don’t want to apologize for who I am and how I act, especially if you piss me off first. I’m polite, but maybe I was too polite this weekend.

Indeed, I am a radical, too-polite, dirty-minded Christian girl who can love both God and sex. I’m exhausted today … but I learned my lesson. As an author and woman, I don’t have to be nice to everyone at events just because I’m generally a nice person. I can be angry and rude when it’s called for, and so can you. Stand up for who you are. Let’s be radical together.

Mental Health · Uncategorized

Successfully Mad: My new mental health blog

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I’ve been riding the crazy train since I was fourteen, ebbing and flowing on tides of happiness, depression, and anxiety. Many writers can probably say the same. Hell, engineers can say the same. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.

I didn’t talk openly about my mental health (or lack thereof) until Robin Williams committed suicide. I realized that if someone as “happy” as him could do such a thing, maybe there were other people struggling in silence, too. I first started writing about my personal demons; then, I gave a big speech at the University of Arizona’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Yeah, I was terrified, but since then, I’ve spoken a lot IN PUBLIC (arrrgggguhh) about mental illness: its causes and its treatments. Last November, I had a pretty nasty relapse. My mental health was the worst it had been in years. The depression, anxiety, and overwhelming fear wouldn’t stop, negatively affecting my work, my sleep, and my relationships

Sorta scared of medication, I sought therapy instead, and my therapist suggested I start a mental health blog … so I did.

Successfully Mad: Accepting Yourself and Your Mental Illness is now up and running. There, I do my best to write honestly about what I’m going through in an attempt to exorcise my own demons and maybe help other people, too.

Mental illness is a solitary disease, but it’s important to realize you are not alone. I’m just as messed up as you, I promise. There are plenty of us out there going through similar battles with body image, self confidence, paranoia, and severe melancholy. Let’s remove the stigma and talk about it.

If you’re up for a journey, come visit me HERE at Successfully Mad and subscribe in the sidebar. (You can learn more about my mental health speech there, too, and learn a bit about my background.) I’m going to try to be brave, so be brave with me.

Whatever you’re going through, have a hug through the internet. You’re not alone, and we’re gonna get through all this nasty shit together.

Bite Somebody · Enchanted Series · Escape Trilogy · Sara Dobie Bauer · writers life · Writing

Am I on fire or just burning out?

Photo by Chris Loomis.

Best friend, writer, and editor Trysh Thompson has been warning me for months about “burnout.” When a creative person creates too much, we crash.

Over the past three months, I wrote the final 30K word segment of the Escape Trilogy. I wrote the Bite Somebody screenplay.  I wrote a 10K word Sherlock fan fiction. I have so far celebrated the release of parts one and two of the Enchanted Series in January and February (the third coming in April). And as of Friday, I rewrote an entire 55K novel called We Still Live over the span of 18 days … and then, had to attend a three-day geek convention to promote my work.

Monday night, after sending We Still Live to my famed first readers, I panicked. Dunno why really. Would you like a taste of my hysterical text messages?

“The more I think about it, the more I think my rewrite sucks and I’m kind of having a panic attack and should just be a stripper because I’m a horrible writer. Jesus, what’s wrong with me? Seriously, I feel sick.”

“I’m in crisis. Can’t even read right now without fixating on how every writer is apparently better than me. Feeling highly talentless and impostery right now.”

Photo by J. Dell.

Yeah, that is just a smidgen of what my closest friends have been dealing with. But is this burnout, or is this basically what happens in the mind of every writer, everywhere?

Do you know what I did yesterday? (I hope not, because if you do know, you’re a stalker.) I went to a fancy lunch place with my friend Ingrid, had a total vocal-vomit fest, and downed two, yes TWO, huge IPAs before dragging her to a dive bar for round three. I fell asleep last night listening to my favorite Debussy, Chopin, and Puccini tunes because the idea of picking up a book made me sick. Words have become the enemy.

So is this burnout? I have no idea. I just know it’s unlike me, especially as I prepare my line edits for the Escape Trilogy to be released by NineStar Press this July.

My brain is a fuzz ball of angst and confusion, maybe partially due to the beers of afternoons past. Or perhaps it’s time to step away and not write for a couple days? See what happens. Will the muse return, or will I spend eternity staring at walls?

When “career stuff” is going well, we assume we’ll feel a sense of peace, but let’s face it: the better the “career stuff,” the busier we are. I’m not complaining about the early success of 2018, but I will say I am overwhelmed and probably need to step away from creative writing for a little while.

Luckily, the famous (infamous) Bite Somebody Pilgrimage to Longboat Key, Florida, is in two weeks. There, I can unwind and think about nothing but cocktail hour. I think I’m ready. In the meantime, take a look at your own job and make sure you’re not burning the proverbial two-sided candle. It’s hell on the bar tab.

Bite Somebody · Bite Somebody Else · Public Relations · Publishing · Sara Dobie Bauer · writers life · Writing

The Best Part of Being a Writer

I’ve spent the past month (longer) preparing for the release of Bite Somebody Else. Last year, it was the same story for my debut, Bite Somebody. I can now say I have successfully launched two novels into the world with the help of my publishing house World Weaver Press and my editor Trysh Thompson. What have I learned?

Launching the book is literally the hardest part of the authoring process.

Sure, it’s fun doing interviews because we all like talking about ourselves (or, in my case, expounding over why Benedict Cumberbatch is my muse). It’s fun doing book signings, especially when you get to rub elbows with author friends and people who’ve known you since you were a fetus. The positive reviews are fabulous. The social media explosion is, frankly, alarming. It’s all very magical, and yet, it’s the most draining, terrifying, and stressful experience of my life because I am a writer and all I want to do most days is write.

You see the conundrum.

In order to be a successful writer, one must take part in book signings (in public AHHH), guest blogs, retweets, advertising campaigns, interviews (on video AHHH), and more and more until you think you’re going to go quite mad. As a population, most of us writer folks are introverts, so this is daunting as hell. But we do it because promotion is one of the biggest parts of being a writer—and the most difficult.

The week of my final Bite Somebody Else signing, I realized I hadn’t written anything creative in a very long time. I was losing my mind. I saw some romance publishers were looking for erotic novellas, so I started writing. I wrote, and I felt sane again. In fact, I felt amazing. I realized writing is the best part of being a writer. Sounds obvious, right? It wasn’t until now.

See, I’ve been writing for years. I always figured the best part of being a writer would be the ego boost of a book launch and the excitement of meeting fans face to face (which is great, don’t get me wrong). I thought that publishing a book would bring me all sorts of joy—and it has—but not the kind of joy I feel when I’m hunched over my computer all alone, laughing at my own jokes.

Writing is a solitary thing. Writers are solitary people. Expecting us to be promoters and social butterflies is ludicrous, but we do it because we have to. The world we live in requires writers to not just craft sentences but craft personas. We need to be out there on social media and at conventions, and we do it—because we must. However, at the end of the day, the thing that brings me the most joy is writing words that become sentences that become paragraphs.

Having now launched two novels, I’ve come to realize the things I always thought would make me happy—fortune and fame—won’t make me happy. Am I rich and famous right now? No, but I’ve had a taste of both at book signings and on release day. It feels good to be appreciated, but compliments sometimes make me want to hide. Ask my editor Trysh: the only thing that keeps me standing and smiling at book conventions is beer. Once I’m allowed to stop smiling, I hide in my hotel room.

I just want to write. I want to sit on my ass every day and tell stories—even if those stories never get published. There is something so fulfilling about creation. (In fact, I’m pretty sure creation feels a lot better than birth.) Writing is the best part of being a writer. What a relief to remember.

Bite Somebody · Public Relations · Publishing · Writing

Rust City 2016: Why do we go to book conferences?

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Last Thursday, I told my husband I was terrified. I had to drive up to Detroit for the very first Rust City Book Con, and I did not want to go. I wanted, in fact, to curl into a tiny ball and cry all weekend. Instead, I had a four hour drive, followed by three days of panels, workshops, and socializing.

Jake, ever patient, said, “You’re going to have fun.”

Of course, he was right. I arrived at Rust City Friday morning, one workshop already under way. The organizer met me barefoot and with a smile, which made me think, “Okay, if Jackie’s barefoot, I’m going to be all right.” (Don’t ask me why this was so comforting, but it was.) Then, fellow author Cali helped me carry stuff up to my hotel room. I’d made a friend.

I sat in on some panels that morning and learned fantastic things about character motivation and the industry. I laughed with other audience members. During the long lunch, I had a beer and was invited to join a table of women with whom I immediately fit. I could cuss and say silly things, and they laughed. They actually LAUGHED.

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Pin the fangs on Bela!

Over the course of the weekend, I sat on some panels of my own. I gave an 8 AM workshop on planning the novel. I did a book signing. A fan ran up and called me “Ms. Bauer,” which made me giggle because no one calls me that. I organized a “Pin the Teeth on Bela Lugosi” game, because why not? I sold some books, but mostly, I guess I networked.

As authors, why do we go to book conferences? Since Rust City was my first as an official author person (thanks to Bite Somebody), I wasn’t sure going in. Now, I think I’m getting an idea as to why conferences are necessary.

It’s not for the money. I did not come close to breaking even, when you consider travel costs, conference costs, and oh, beer costs. Although I learned a few things, the conference was not about education for me, as most of the topics discussed were things I already knew.

Networking? Yes. I think we go to book conferences to network. I was lucky enough to have breakfast with one lovely lady who plans to refer me to her agent. I met authors who think like me, write like me. I have a cornucopia of new Facebook and Twitter pals, and yes, I found a few new readers.

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Roselynn and me

However, maybe just maybe, we authors go to book conferences to feel not so alone. Yes, as writers, we are “high-functioning introverts.” New soul mate Roselynn had a shirt that said, “I’m Done Peopling Today.” I get it; I hid in my hotel room as often as was appropriate.

Despite our general tilt toward the anti-social, though, we need each other because we need to talk about writing. We need to talk about books we love. We need to talk about rejection and how much it can suck being an author, even once you’ve been published.

It’s wonderful to meet our readers, but it’s wonderful to meet other authors, too, and commiserate. And for those of us who write about sex, how nice to have our jokes actually land.

I made the mistake of leaving Rust City Saturday night. I had a lovely, wonderful dinner with old Detroit friends, until a lady at the table behind us complained about me saying “orgasm” in public. Funny how empty it feels when you’re no longer surrounded by “your people.”

I drove home yesterday completely exhausted and “done peopling.” I have a stack of new books to read. I have new friends across the country to keep in touch with. For my first book con as a published author, I’ll call this one a win, not because I made any money but because I felt the love. I laughed. I connected. That’s what Rust City Book Con was really about.

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