With Guest Blogger Laurie Alice Eakes
|Photo Credit: Crestock/norbert9|
In classical times, the laurel wreath was given to athletes as a symbol victory. Since then, the word laurels has come to mean a reaching a victory, an accomplishment in one’s life. For us authors, that usually means getting “The Call”, that longed for, hoped for, often despaired of moment when you know your carefully crafted words are going to become a book people can buy.
But what happens when you try to rest on those laurels?
“Nothing wilts faster than laurels that have been rested upon.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Almost four and a half years ago, I began my Seekerville post entitled “Risky Business” like this:
“When we’re children, we think we can do anything—fly, become rock stars, have all the power in the world once we’re adults. Then we become adults and our wings fall off, we’re too shy to get behind a microphone, let alone in front of a crowd and sing, and we realize that being an adult only means more responsibilities and an understanding of how little power we have. We tell ourselves that dreams are only for those who sleep and sleeping gets no one anywhere. In short, we become averse to taking risks.”
And I included this famous quote:
“Twenty Years from now You will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the things that you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
explore. Dream. Discover.”
Since I had just seen my sixth book published, my first mainstream, I was more giving advice to new writers than myself. Yet over the subsequent four plus years, I have come to realize that, as authors, we never stop taking risks, for if we do, we fade into the background, which is not where a writer wants to reside. Nope. The only thing we want to do with backgrounds is that which effects our characters—but that’s another post on craft.
Here I’m talking about not simply (OK, not so simply) taking the risks of admitting to others you want to be a writer, writing a manuscript, sending it into the world to seek its fortune. I’m talking about maintaining that edge, about not resting on your laurels, but keeping them fresh.
“Resting on your laurels is as dangerous as resting when you are walking in the snow. You doze off and die in your sleep.”
I should have known better. I grew up in Michigan and learned the risks of cold. I learned to love the cold, but it’s like the sea—beautiful, fun, and dangerous. Yet I paused to rest. Okay, I was a little arrogant. After all, I’d gotten contracts for thirteen books in a thirteen month period.
Except things didn’t quite work out that way. I ended up canceling the contracts on three of those books for reasons with which I won’t bore you, but which did turn out well in the end. I was a writing fool for months, years. I finaled in some important contests.
And I stopped paying attention to the market. After all, I had a lot of contracts. I even got a few more, one with my dream publisher writing the sort of books I’d dreamed of writing.
And I was dozing off in the cold world of changing times, technology, and market forces.
The world for historical novels was dwindling. Too many books, backlist titles, were available cheap and even free. Interest in a time period I’d staked my career on was dwindling further . . .
Like the clump of snow that dowsed the fire of the man who had used his last match in that Jack London story, my fire was extinguished. I’d rested on my laurels to keep getting me contracts, and they, like the mint I can’t grow, had died, dried up, and blown away. I could use a lot of excuses like having to move twice in one year, and I mean move hundreds of miles. My mother’s chemo failed and she went into hospice and subsequently died, losing me my biggest fan. Life was just difficult.
That cold snowball down the back of my neck also woke me up. Life would always be difficult. I was either going to do this job or find another career.
And that has necessitated looking back, reading my own words about this being a risky business, and taking steps to change my attitude and my career trajectory.
“A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are for.”
Risk 1: When my agent, a wonderful professional who stood by me when I thought I would never succeed and sold a lot of books for me, and I disagreed on what I wanted to do next, I had to let her go. That hurt personally as well as professionally.
Risk 2: I had to approach other agents. I picked the two I had always admired and respected the most besides my own. Both offered to represent me.
Risk 3: Choosing which one. I’d made so many mistakes this frightened me a little. (I have no doubt in my heart that I made the right decision, which is not a dis to the other.)
Risk 4: My lovely agent and I persuaded Harper Collins Christian Publishing to let me write a contemporary women’s fiction/romance for the third book in my contract instead of another Regency. The Mountain Midwife comes out in December. The heroine is a descendant of the hero and heroine in my third historical midwife book Choices of the Heart.
“I like to be able to present myself in two or three different ways because I've never really wanted to rest on my laurels and be something that people expected.”
In another month, Laurie Alice Eakes will celebrate ten years since she received “The Call”. Her twenty-first book, A Stranger’s Secret, A Cliffs of Cornwall Novel Bk#2, released in April. One day, she hopes to say her one hundred and twenty-first novel just released.
When she isn’t researching and writing, she’s reading, spending time with her husband, going for walks if the temperature isn’t too hot in Texas for her northern blood, and finding creative ways to get out of housework and/or cooking.
You can find her on Twitter @LaurieAEakes, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/laurieeakes or read excerpts from her books at http://www.lauriealiceeakes.com
Missy, here. Laurie Alice will be giving away a copy of A Stranger's Secret today! Please leave a comment letting us know you'd like to be entered.
As a grieving young widow, Morwenna only wants a quiet life for herself and her son. Until a man washes ashore, entangling her in a web of mystery that could threaten all she holds dear.
Lady Morwenna Trelawny Penvenan indulged in her fair share of dalliances in her youth, but now that she's the widowed mother to the heir of the Penvenan title, she's desperate to polish her reputation. When she's accused of deliberately luring ships to crash on the rocks to steal the cargo, Morwenna begins an investigation to uncover the real culprits and stumbles across an unconscious man lying in the sea's foam—a man wearing a medallion with the Trelawny crest around his neck.
The medallion is a mystery to David Chastain, a boat builder from Somerset. All David knows is that his father was found dead in Cornwall with the medallion in his possession after lying and stealing his family's money. And he knows the widow who rescued him is impossibly beautiful—and likely the siren who caused the shipwreck in the first place—as well as the hand behind whoever is trying to murder David.
As Morwenna nurses David back to health and tries to learn how he landed on her beach, suspicion and pride keep their growing attraction at bay. But can they join together to save Morwenna's name and estate and David’s life? Can they acknowledge the love they are both trying to deny?