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What About That Career, eh?

I want to talk a little about career stuff and how being a writer has been and might be going forward for me. This is some deep random thought bullshit getting into things that likely most of you don’t care about, so I totally understand if you look at the wall of text and nope out now. If you are reading this looking for news about Harper’s Tale or Bad Moon on the Rise, the only news is the same old which is Kira’s book is coming in October as scheduled (pre-orders are up!) and Harper’s book will come whenever I finish it but likely this year also (and if you can’t wait to read the first three chapters, you can join my Patreon here where they are posted).

This post is going to cover a few things. First, looking back on the phases of my writing career so far and why/how each evolved and changed. Second, I’m going to talk a bit about what I hope for going forward, and why that might look a lot different than the past. If I was a good essayist, which I am not, I would conclude with something pithy but brilliant, insightful and wise that gives hope for the future while showing that I’ve learned valuable lessons of the past, but I don’t (spoilers: only bad metaphors and maybe a kitten end this post) so there’s no feel good intelligent philosophical cookie waiting if you read through this, sorry.

I’ve been a full time writer for 11 and a half years, and I’ve been thinking a lot now that I finished 20sided about what my career has looked like and what it might look like in the future. The world, to put it mildly, has changed a lot in the last decade, and that includes the landscape and world of publishing. I’m a hybrid author, which means that some of my work is self-published and some is published by larger publishers who publish multiple authors (we call this traditional publishing usually, and I will in this post). This post isn’t about changes in publishing, either, other than how those changes and how publishing in general works might affect my career (at least as much as I can predict).

My career has definitely gone through phases, and I think it is important to talk about those to understand what might happen going forward.

Phase 1 was figuring out not even what I wanted to write but how to write at a level I felt like anyone would want to read. Most of this phase nobody saw (and it started before I quit my job to be a writer, so a lot more than 11 years ago). I started with short stories partially cause I was told that was how people broke into publishing (you write short stories first, get some publications under your belt, and then someone might want to buy a novel from you. I won’t go into how this advice wasn’t maybe the best and was kinda outdated even when I started, cause that’s a whole other blog post probably). The other reason I started with short stories is that they are very forgiving in terms of time investment vs craft exploration and learning. Short stories are not forgiving at all when it comes to if they are working or not, and that very rigidity in some ways makes it easier to learn while doing them, at least for me. When a novel isn’t working, sometimes it is the part you are working on, sometimes it is the opening or whatever, and sometimes it is because of stuff you haven’t written yet, and it can often be rough to diagnose on the fly, especially if you are six months in and thousands of words deep in the mire. With a short story, the most you’ll be tossing away is a few thousand words at a time if things aren’t working. They were a great learning vehicle for me, other than the tiny little detail where writing short stories didn’t really teach me a whole lot about writing novels.

In many ways, Phase 1 lasted up until about 2014, so the first five years of me being full time (and a bunch of years before that, though I did write a few novels in this time as well). Phase 1 was turning into Phase 2 by 2014, probably the mix of those phases was 2011-2014, where I was still trying to get as many short stories done and published as I could, but also writing a novel here and there and still hoping for traditional publishing to somehow magically give me the money and acclaim I sought. My goals at this point were very simple: I wanted to be rich and I wanted to learn how to consistently write books that readers couldn’t put down and I figured that if I could master that second part, it would likely lead to the first. My ultimate goals was “Forbes list of most-earning Authors” but “consistently make six figures a year” was the smaller goal. Which a lot of people laughed at or shook their heads and tried to tell me wasn’t likely, but unlikely isn’t the same as impossible, and fortunately for me, I didn’t listen. Six figures a year seemed impossible as I headed into 2014 drowning in medical bills, on bed rest, and struggling with physical and mental health. I had already begun to have a sort of “you need to make a change because things aren’t working” epiphany in 2013, before I got sick, but there’s nothing like facing rock bottom to drive home that as lofty as my goals were, I wasn’t doing things that would work to get me closer to them.

I think at this point most peeps reading this know how that story goes. I decided to focus on novels, and to focus on self-publishing, which I’d been doing for years but with irregular output and a habit of writing something, and then writing something entirely different. So phase 2: just pick a thing and stick to it, was born. I’ve said this before, but 20sided came about because I made a list of all the things I loved to read about and then I figured out how to cram almost all that list (sorry, spaceships, no room!) into a single series. Turns out, somewhere along the way I had started more or less consistently writing books that people didn’t want to put down, and that I was right about how that would work out for me.

Phase 2 of my career has been focused on that one series almost entirely (I have a thriller pen name also, but almost nobody reads those books so we’ll just ignore all that haha). Finishing it, getting subrights sales like audio and translations sold, the unexpected but super cool print-only rights deal with a major US publishing house, etc. Twenty-Sided Sorceress got me to my six figure income goal (though getting there and staying there are different things, publishing income is a rollercoaster forever it seems, at least at my level) and brought me an audience that I’d been working for and trying to build for years. Book 10 is done, the series is wrapped up (ok, I know, Harper’s Tale, but it’s in progress and likely done and out in the next few months), and while I’m writing a spin-off novel in the same world right now, that’s part of what I want to talk about here.

Because we get the crux, what brought on all these thoughts about careers and phases etc.

I love Urban Fantasy. I love reading it, I love writing it, I’ve loved being able to play in Jade’s world and cram in references to every nerdy thing that has saved my life or helped shape who I am as a person, and I’ve loved sharing that world and those characters with other people. But I don’t think I can write nothing but Urban Fantasy, and nothing but Jade’s world forever (though I definitely have some plans for more in the world and maybe with Jade eventually). I’ve lived and breathed that series for six years.

I think I’m done for now, which are the scariest words to write ever, because I know that is what my audience wants and what keeps a roof over my family’s head and allows me to keep my immigration status in my new country etc. Which is probably why I buried them down here after a giant wall of text.  But I’ve been writing UF and Jade and almost nothing else for so many years that I feel like I need a real break, and that brings us to where we are now.

So what does this mean? It means I’ve been asking myself two really important questions: Who am I now as a writer and who do I want to be?

On the practical side, I will definitely honor commitments and Kira’s book and Harper’s book will both be released, because I’ve promised them and I’m already writing them and frankly Kira especially is a joy to write and I am excited to share her with readers. I have three more books in Six-gun Shifters planned out with lovely Gene Mollica covers already shot and paid for, but the decision of if I write them or not and how quickly will rest a lot on the combination of reader demand and my own desire to do so. I can say with moderate certainty that I won’t be writing more than one a year at the most. I want to deliver books that I feel good about and though that isn’t always the most financially sound decision in terms of speed of release, it is something I’ve always stuck to and I’m not going to start compromising on now.

But we have those two important questions. My focus is novels, and has been for a while. I miss short fiction, and I might do more of it for my Patreon, though I also hope to get back to finishing projects like Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division via Patreon in the near-ish future. But for the moment, longer work than short stories is where both my brain and the market in terms of “pays enough to keep lights on” are at.

As a writer right now, I am a primarily a novelist who writes Urban Fantasy for self-publishing. But I think I have more in me and I know that there is a larger world of publishing possibility out there.  I want to write bigger books (Kira’s first book will be almost twice the length the average 20sided novel, for example, so hopefully y’all like longer works) not just in word count but in scale. I want to write more epic fantasy, and I want to incorporate more romance elements. I think doing those things will be a fun stretch and challenge not just for my world-building skills but for my writing skills in general. I don’t want to stagnate or stay comfortable. I still have a giant list of things I love to read about and I think there’s room for that list to translate into more books, new work and a new-ish genre, or at least sub-genre. (Fantasy is my first and truest love and I’m sticking with it)

Obviously I want to keep paying my rent, but I think that fear of failure is how people (and careers) shrink instead of grow. I took a huge leap in 2009 when I quit my job to be a writer. I’ve taken other scary leaps in terms of what I chose to write or by jumping both feet into self-publishing and survivorship bias or no, those leaps worked out for me. My 2020 motto was BE MORE and while 2020 has been an unpredictable dumpsterfire of epic proportions for everyone, I feel like there’s still time for me to fulfill that.

So what is Phase 3? I have a trilogy idea that has kept me up at night, filled my dreams with scenes, and so far filled more than thirty pages of notes. It’s a scary project, with a bigger scope and more characters than anything I’ve ever successfully written. It’s epic fantasy with a heavy romantic component (multiple romances!) and going to require a lot from me as a writer in both time and (hopefully!) skills. I’m planning to give this project to my agent upon completion (of the first book anyway) and to take the huge risk that is traditional publishing. It might not sell. It might sell and then not sell to readers. It might not be the big series I feel it is with the scope and power to ignite a readership into fandom. With something new there is always risk. But I’ve always believed that without risk and trying new things, it is hard to grow. I am not the end stage of whatever writer me I envisioned. I’ve hit “career midlist writer making a living” goals but I still have the “Forbes list” stars in my eyes and while I know that reaching for the moon is often a fool’s errand, I’m aching to keep trying to fly.

Because some people get to go to the moon, so why not me?

I hope you’ll come with me on this new phase, this new journey, however it shakes out.  I promise I’ll keep writing stories that you won’t want to put down. I’m ready to take a bigger risk and to change and evolve, to stretch my writing wings a little further.

I’m ready to be more.

 

if you made it this far, here, have a kitten!

Two Releases!

Ok, they aren’t quite NEW releases, they are more re-releases in new formats, but  worth announcing I think.

First up is a fantasy novelette that is a retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon.  This first appeared in the anthology Once Upon a Quest, but now you can get it in its own ebook.

When her twin brother sacrifices his freedom to save their starving family, Lina embarks on a quest through a magical forest to save her twin and restore their family.

You can read West of the Moon for less than a dollar! Get it for Kindle HERE. Or for B&N Nook HERE. Or iBooks/Apple HERE. Or Kobo HERE.

The second not-exactly-new release is a complete volume collecting all six Gryphonpike Chronicles novellas. Now you can read the adventures of the cursed elf, Killer, and her ragtag band of adventuring friends. It’s out now in ebook and trade paperback (which makes a great gift for anyone over age 10, by the way).

Get the completed Gryphonpike Chronicles for Kindle/Paperback HERE. or for your choice of Nook/B&N or iBooks or Kobo by clicking HERE.

Happy reading!

 

That’s Right. Balancing the Scales is Here!

The wait is over! For real!

Read the final book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series:

Get it on Kindle Here.

Get it at iBooks/Apple Here.

Get it at Google Play Here.

Get it at Kobo Here.

Get it at B&N/Nook Here

And if you are sad that this is the final book, don’t be! There is still Harper’s Tale coming at some point this year, plus the next Urban Fantasy series I’m working on is already on pre-order for October and will be featuring Alek’s sister Kira! So you don’t have to leave Jade’s world just yet.  If you want to pre-order Bad Moon on the Rise (Six-gun Shifters book 1) go HERE for Kindle and HERE for iBooks or Kobo or B&N.

Happy Reading!

Happy New Year & Update!

I sent a very long-winded email to my newsletter, but I’ll post a shorter version here:  I went through a lot of personal stuff in 2019 including finally facing and working on recovering from my life-long eating disorder (I’m still in recovery, it’s a process, but it is getting easier and I feel more “me” than I have in a long, long time).  This meant that in 2019 I did a lot of work that was beneath the surface of what people see, both personally and professionally.  I have a lot of novels mostly drafted and so the good news is that in 2020, you all are going to see the results of that labor.  Plus I have some new systems in place that should help me be more consistent with my writing going forward (the biggest of these is a new office *outside* the home!).

Book 10 is a bit progressed from the last update but still needs a little work, however I’m somewhat comfortable saying end of this month or sometime early Feb for it given what is left to do. So we’ll open the new year with a new book soon(tm)!

The other cool news is that I have a release date and pre-order links for the NEXT thing, which is a spin-off series featuring Alek’s sister Kira. You might remember her from Thicker than Blood, but you’ll never forget her after you read Bad Moon on the Rise, coming in October this year.  Here’s the pre-order links:  For Kindle click HERE.  For everywhere else click HERE.  And here’s the amazing cover, shot and designed by Gene Mollica:

As you can see, these books will be a bit different from Jade’s story, but no less kick-ass I promise (actually more ass-kicking cause Kira doesn’t really see violence as a problem since she’s an apex predator and all).  Kira’s books will also be about twice as long as Jade’s, though I’m planning the series to run three or four books, depending how it shakes out, so if you prefer meatier reads get ready (they’ll still be fast-paced, this is me we are talking about after all).

And in final news, if you liked Avarice, I’m posting chapters of the sequel, Wrath, on my Patreon since my followers chose it. There are also sneak previews of things (like the first chapter of Harper’s Tale!) and full short stories posted there.  Come join us and check it out!

I wish you all a happy New Year!

Holidays 2019 Update

Long time since an update, I know. There just hasn’t been much new to say other than “still working on book 10” so…

That said, there’s good news! I have to finish up final editing and maybe tweak a couple more scenes, then it has to get copy-edited, one more proofing pass, then formatting, and we’ll be across the finish line on book 10.  I don’t know if I can get all that done before December (especially since some depends on schedules of others like editor/formatter etc and they have holiday plans I’m sure) but the book is nearly here and we’ll probably squeak it into 2019 so I can close out the decade with a finished series for you all.

In other writing news, I’ll be at Dutch ComicCon this weekend as an author guest (site has both Dutch and English options if you want to take a look).  Here is the website: https://www.dutchcomiccon.com/

Also, my Patreon is up and running and the patrons chose Wrath: Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division Book 2 as the project so the first chapter is live to read right now! There will be at least a chapter every month (and of course, the final version will be available as ebook and print once we wrap it up on Patreon). If you want to read along and possibly get some extra things like sneak previews of upcoming books, short stories, and a chance to vote on things from new projects to character names, click HERE and come join!

Thank you all again for your patience while I figured out this final Twenty-Sided novel and dealt with a lot of life stuff this year.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and winter season. It’s going to be a great new year in 2020 and I’m excited about the post-20sided projects I have to share with you (that I’ll talk about after I get book 10 out, cause first things first).

 

Thank you!

Thank you for five amazing years since Justice Calling was first released!  I know y’all are waiting patiently (for the most part haha) for book 10 and it is truly coming in August (soonTM right?), but today is the 5th anniversary of Justice Calling and I figured that was worth celebrating.

I was on bed rest and half dead when I wrote Justice Calling and Murder of Crows and they were the books of my heart. I never dreamed I’d sell over a half a million copies of this series or get to meet the awesome people I’ve met, get to wake up to sweet reader emails and encouragement and knowing that people love Jade & friends as much as I love them. Readers make a writer’s career possible, and I am so grateful for you all, and that you love these little books that are small pieces of my heart in so many ways.

Here’s to five more years, and to finishing this series the way it deserves hopefully.

(and if you want to know what happened to June and July, well, tell my husband to not give me pneumonia next time he gets sick and we’ll talk. I know writers with health issue make for frustrating release schedules and blown deadlines, but trust me when I say we hate it as much as you do. But we’re human, not word machines, and life happens, sorry.)

Thank you all! Update with new book soon(tm).

June Update: No Book Yet

Y’all are likely getting as tired of reading the bookless monthly updates as I am of writing them, but I had a shit May plagued with a terrible cold and the stress of finding a new place to live, so yeah. Things didn’t go to plan (do they ever?).

I am traveling to see my family next week for the first time in a year but other than that, my life is devoted to book 10 being done as soon as I can without compromising my vision of the story. I won’t go into how the sausage is made too much, but I changed a major event in book 10 a couple months ago which meant having to re-draft the bulk of the book, so if you are wondering how it could be almost done in Jan and not done in June, that’s how. You can’t really change something in a novel without re-drafting to make sure the change fits with the whole  (well, I can’t anyway). So please, don’t be too disappointed, the book is coming, and I even skipped hanging out with kittens to work on it this weekend so you know that’s much I love y’all. 🙂

Also, as a bonus for the Patreon followers (which you can be, too! for as little as a dollar!), I posted the first chapter of Harper’s Tale (which is coming probably Oct or Nov this year). So if you want to read it, join the Patreon and enjoy! https://www.patreon.com/anniebellet

Book 10 is still coming, promise

Hey, sorry for the silence. I’ve been dealing with same old same old back injury stuff plus some crazy family stuff that came up (that I might talk about publicly eventually but am not ready to do so yet, sorry).  That combined with me tearing apart book 10 and redrafting it cause I’m mega-paranoid about getting the grand finale of Jade’s story perfect has meant delay after delay.

But the good news is I had the final late night epiphany moment (for me, writing books is full of these moments, ha, but there is usually at least one big one each book where everything my conscious and subconscious brain has been working on comes into focus and I feel like I can finally put the words down in a way that does it justice) and I am full steam ahead on final chapters and edits.

I won’t give an exact date cause some stuff (like copy edits etc) depends on other people’s timelines etc but I think I can confidently say March.  Which I know I confidently said January and we all see how that went, oops, but life happens and I am grateful that people are understanding that authors are human.  This book will be worth the wait, in my totally biased opinion.

And again, before anyone panics that 20sided is ending, Harper’s Tale: Tribes is next on my list to finish and there will be an epilogue novella later this year that revisits Jade combined with a prologue/intro novella for Kira, Alek’s sister, who will be getting her own series in 2020. (I’ll do a separate post about those after Harper’s book comes out, complete with the amazing Gene Mollica cover art I’ve been sitting on and unable to share for nearly two years).

So thank you all for your continued understanding and patience.

May News and Update

Hey, quick update. Books 9 and 10 are still coming, I promise. I’m just having the most epic episode of House in terms of trying to figure out what’s going on with my stupid back injury and am currently stumping every doctor and specialist I see (apparently it’s also related/possible made worse by the terrible case of plantar fasciitis I have, sigh). So the writing and editing have been very slow going. I’m also prepping for a huge move (moving 4,991 miles!) which isn’t helping. Once I’m moved, we’re going to make some modifications to my new office which should allow me to work with less pain, but we can’t do much before that since we’re currently getting rid of 90% of our things.

My goal is to have both books released before the move on June 30th, so hopefully I’ll be updating twice at some point in June with a “yay book” post instead of “screw this pain” post.

I thank you all for your continued patience. It sucks to be so far behind my writing schedule (The next projects after 20sided are so cool and I want to share them and I can’t yet because I need to focus on 20sided, grr) and I know it sucks to have to wait so long for books. Thanks for being here and understanding that sometimes life happens while we’re making plans.

 

2017 Wrap-up

Quick update:

I hurt my back while traveling at the end of August and instead of getting better it got worse until it has severely impacted my ability to do anything, sorry.  I am seeing yet another doctor in December, and I think we’ve finally figured out what is wrong, but it is going to take 4-6 weeks to know if treatment/physical therapy is working and likely many more weeks of physical therapy before I’m back to some semblance of normal.

So… writing is going slowly. If you’ve ever been in a lot of pain, you know how unpleasant and difficult it is to do even the most basic tasks, much less keep track of complicated tasks, characters, time-lines, etc.  As always, I won’t release a book I’m not 100% satisfied with.

That said… Book 9 is almost done (but not edited etc yet) and I’ve already written some parts of book 10 (it follows closely on book 9’s events). So my plan at the moment is to finish both books before the end of the year, and then release them in January fairly close together (depending on edit time needed etc).

I’ve got a lot of plans for next year, but of course my health is always the limitation on my life plans. It sucks, but it’s my reality and I’m trying to work through it as best I can. My hope is that I can stay illness and injury free next year and bring you all a lot of kick-ass books because this book-a-year pace makes me sad. I have far too many ideas to get out before I die and I want to write them all NOW, damnit.

The TLDR: bad news- I’m hurt and work is going slowly due to that, sorry.  Good news- books 9 and 10 should release in the same month so you won’t have to wait nearly a year for the end of Jade Crow’s story.

 

(also, I’m planning a novella epilogue for Jade and another novella prequel for Kira’s series. I’ll be doing a cover reveal for Kira’s series in February as well and trust me, these covers are knock-your-socks-off awesome)