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June 2019
A Message from Kristin Nelson

Quash That Imposter Syndrome

Kristin Nelson

On Sunday here at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, the faculty and organizers boarded Discovery for a breakfast harbor tour and took in Gull Island, frolicking sea otters, and the rugged, volcanic mountain scenery. 

Writers attending the conference could also come along. When I introduced myself to a fellow cruiser and asked if she was a writer, I could tell she was reluctant to say yes. I could almost see all her questions hanging in the air. Could she truly claim to be a writer if she had just begun the journey? Could she claim to be a writer if no one she wasn’t related to had ever read her writing? Could she only claim to be a writer if something she had written had been bought for publication? When does a person get to claim the title, the identity, for his/her/their own? When does a writer stop feeling like an imposter?

Well, you’ll have to ask a bunch of writers about that last question. The answer might be never, but I personally hope that’s not the case. I’m certainly no expert, but I can tell you this: There are no written rules that dictate when you you can declare yourself a writer. No guidebook that says, “After X-number of publications of works at least X-number of words each, earning you at least X-number of dollars, you can now bestow upon yourself the title of writer,” or some such. Writers write. Regularly. If that describes you, then wherever you are in this journey, you are a writer. 

Own it. No apology or feelings of imposter-dom necessary.

Recent News
Think Like an Agent

Practicing Self-Care in the Face of Rejection

By Danielle Burby

When I was first looking for a job in publishing, I was fresh out of college and had a sparkling, perfect, carefully curated resume filled with everything a potential employer in this industry could want. I’d started interning in publishing the summer after my freshman year and had continued to land competitive internships in the field every year after that while waitressing at night and on weekends to make money. I had joined relevant clubs in college, taken classes that demonstrated a longstanding and dedicated interest in books and the craft of writing, used my school’s alumni network to build industry connections, and maintained a strong GPA. In short, I was the ideal candidate.

And yet.

I landed interview after interview after interview and was repeatedly told it had come down to me and one other candidate, that I had been absolutely perfect and charming and qualified, but that they had gone with the other person in the end. Agencies and publishers were knocking down my door to offer me unpaid internships, but I was having an impossible time finding someone who would offer me a salary. I worked at a farmer’s market and got a second part-time job in education, and I continued to intern at agencies even though I was beyond tired of giving away my free labor. I was used to my hard work paying off, and this seemingly endless slog to land a job was utterly demoralizing. When I finally did land a position as an assistant at an agency, I’d been looking for nine long, agonizing, months. I was overjoyed and so incredibly relieved, but also exhausted and surprised by how much harder it had been to get my foot in the door than I had expected it to be. It wasn’t easy to keep my hopes and spirits up through those rejections.

The fact is, it doesn’t matter what side of publishing you’re on; this is a difficult and competitive industry that requires a combination of patience, hard work, talent, good timing, and luck. You will face rejection. There’s no way around it. Even authors who are apparent overnight successes have had to work hard over time and have been rejected again and again. It only takes one yes, but, in the meantime, how can you stay centered through the inevitable no’s?

  1. Remember what is in your control and what isn’t. You can control the development of your craft and the quality of your manuscript. You can’t control a reader’s reactions to said manuscript. Whether the reader is a friend, an agent, an editor, or someone who bought your book from their local indie, that reader will have opinions, and they may or may not like your work. Focus on the praise you get and try not to linger on the rejections and criticisms. But, most of all, constantly push yourself to improve your craft. The stronger your writing is, the more you will hear yes.
  2. Start working on the next project. It is easy to get wrapped up in refreshing your inbox and counting down the days until you hear back from an agent or editor, but staring at your inbox won’t make anyone read faster and will only stress you out. It is much better for your stress levels and more productive for your future if you shift focus to the next book you want to write. If you get an offer, you’re going to have to write another book to follow up the first. If you don’t get an offer, you’ll have to write another book to try again. Either way, you have to write another book, so why not start now?
  3. Cultivate non-book hobbies. Yes, ideally, you should be widely read in your genre and stay up on the latest books and the hottest authors and have an awareness of the bestseller lists and improve your craft…but, if you let it, the business of books can consume all your free time and energy. Don’t let it! Whether it is hiking or pottery or playing with your dog, make a concerted effort to do other things for yourself that have nothing to do with books. It is good for your mental health. Plus, your writing will be more interesting if you are out there having experiences!
  4. Develop friendships with other writers. Your spouse and yoga buddies lend a sympathetic ear, but they probably don’t know exactly what it feels like to pour your heart and soul out in 75,000 words and hold it up to a stranger for their brutal scrutiny. Other writers, on the other hand? They are all too familiar with that extreme vulnerability that is, more often than not, met with a no thank you. This is your commiseration tribe that will lift you up when you are down. Find them and support each other.
  5. Nourish your passion. Yes, this is a business and a career, but it is one that is artistically driven. It is easy to get burnt out when you face a series of rejections. It is easy to get down on yourself and lose connection with the reason you write, but, fundamentally, you have undertaken this rollercoaster of an endeavor because you have a fire in you. You have something important to say with your writing. You are an artist. It is vital for you to stay connected with that part of yourself because that is where the art lives. Keeping your passion in sharp focus is important when you are running the marathon that is publishing—it will help you push through the harder moments so you can find your success.
Kristin's Book Club

The 2019-2020 Reading Line Up

If you’re a long-time reader of our newsletter, you know that my book club is pretty relaxed. We don’t necessarily adhere to a monthly schedule. Summer tends to be busiest for everyone, so we try to meet just once and save the bulk of our meetings for the cold Sundays of fall, winter, and early spring.

Which means May is when we are often voting on our next selections. This year was no exception. If you like to read along, here is our lineup for the next year. 

EDUCATED by Tara Westover (memoir) – A young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

CIRCE by Madeline Miller (fiction) – A novel recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right.

THE MYSTERY OF EXPLODING TEETH: AND OTHER CURIOSITIES FROM THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE by Thomas Morris (nonfiction) – Humorous collection of stories about bizarre medical treatments and cases offers a unique portrait of a bygone era in all its jaw-dropping weirdness.

LESS by Andrew Sean Greer (fiction) – A struggling novelist travels the world to avoid an awkward wedding in this hilarious novel.

INHERITANCE: A MEMOIR OF GENEALOGY, PATERNITY, AND LOVE by Dani Shapiro – A staggering family secret is uncovered by a genealogy test.

CONVENIENCE STORE WOMAN by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori (fiction) – The incomparable story of Keiko Furukura, a thirty-six-year-old Tokyo resident who has been working at the Hiiromachi “Smile Mart” for the past eighteen years.

THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean (nonfiction) – A dazzling love letter to a beloved institution and an investigation into one of its greatest fire mysteries.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens (fiction) – At once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age novel, and a surprising tale of possible murder.

ONCE UPON A RIVER by Diane Setterfield (fiction) – A richly imagined, powerful new novel about the wrenching disappearance of three little girls

New Releases

The Queen Con

by Meghan Scott Molin

What’s a comic book writer’s life without a real-life archnemesis?

MG Martin thought she’d turned the last page on the dangerous Golden Arrow case. The bad guys are behind bars, and the rest is up to her detective boyfriend, Matteo Kildaire. But when Golden Arrow impersonators start popping up all over Los Angeles, the writer in MG can’t help but be intrigued. Are they impostors, or has the original Golden Arrow returned for another story arc?

A reemergence of drug crime has left the LAPD baffled, and golden arrows are once again being left at crime scenes. Matteo asks MG if she’ll resume consulting on all things geek, and she jumps at the opportunity. No need to mention that she may also do some sleuthing, with her friends’ help, right?

It’s rumored that the Golden Arrow will make a guest appearance at an exclusive queen party, and MG, Lawrence, and Ryan go undercover to sniff out the truth. But the sting goes sideways in a deadly way, and it’s up to their little crew to prove that the Golden Arrow might actually be the supervillain they’re chasing. Because looks can be deceiving, and every good writer knows the sequel is where the real plot twist happens…

Buy It Here:

       

Nadya Skylung and the Masked Kidnapper

by Jeff Seymour

In this middle-grade sequel to Nadya Skylung and the Cloudship Rescue, author Jeff Seymour and bestselling illustrator Brett Helquist deliver another breathtaking fantasy adventure, starring an extraordinary heroine and set in an unforgettable world where ships can fly.

Nadya Skylung paid a high price when she defeated the pirates on the cloudship Remora:

She lost her leg. But has she lost her nerve too?

When Nadya and the rest of the crew of the cloudship Orion reach the port of Far Agondy, they have a lot to do, including a visit to Machinist Gossner’s workshop to have a prosthetic made for Nadya.

But though the pirates are far away across the Cloud Sea, Nadya and her friends are still not safe. A gang leader called Silvermask is kidnapping skylung and cloudling children in Far Agondy.

When Nadya’s friend Aaron is abducted, Nayda will stop at nothing to save him and the other missing kids, and put a stop to Silvermask once and for all.

Buy It Here:

       

Bad Axe County

by John Galligan

Dennis Lehane meets Megan Miranda in this tense, atmospheric thriller about the first female sheriff in rural Bad Axe County, Wisconsin, as she searches for a missing girl, battles local drug dealers, and seeks the truth about the death of her parents twenty years ago—all as a winter storm rages in her embattled community.

Fifteen years ago, Heidi White’s parents were shot to death on their Bad Axe County farm. The police declared it a murder-suicide and closed the case. But that night, Heidi found the one clue she knew could lead to the truth—if only the investigators would listen.

Now Heidi White is Heidi Kick, wife of local baseball legend Harley Kick and mother of three small children. She’s also the interim sheriff in Bad Axe. Half the county wants Heidi elected but the other half will do anything to keep her out of law enforcement. And as a deadly ice storm makes it way to Bad Axe, tensions rise and long-buried secrets climb to the surface.

As freezing rain washes out roads and rivers flood their banks, Heidi finds herself on the trail of a missing teenaged girl. Clues lead her down twisted paths to backwoods stag parties, derelict dairy farms, and the local salvage yard—where the body of a different teenage girl has been carefully hidden for a decade.

As the storm rages on, Heidi realizes that someone is planting clues for her to find, leading her to some unpleasant truths that point to the local baseball team and a legendary game her husband pitched years ago. With a murder to solve, a missing girl to save, and a monster to bring to justice, Heidi is on the cusp of shaking her community to its core—and finding out what really happened the night her parents died.

Buy It Here:

       

This is Home

by Lisa Duffy

From the author of book club favorite The Salt House comes a deeply affecting novel about a teenage girl finding her voice and the military wife who moves in downstairs, united in their search for the true meaning of home.

Sixteen-year-old Libby Winters lives in Paradise, a seaside town north of Boston that rarely lives up to its name. After the death of her mother, she lives with her father, Bent, in the middle apartment of their triple decker home—Bent’s two sisters, Lucy and Desiree, live on the top floor. A former soldier turned policeman, Bent often works nights, leaving Libby under her aunts’ care. Shuffling back and forth between apartments—and the wildly different natures of her family—has Libby wishing for nothing more than a home of her very own.

Quinn Ellis is at a crossroads. When her husband John, who has served two tours in Iraq, goes missing back at home, suffering from PTSD he refuses to address, Quinn finds herself living in the first-floor apartment of the Winters house.

Bent had served as her husband’s former platoon leader, a man John refers to as his brother, and despite Bent’s efforts to make her feel welcome, Quinn has yet to unpack a single box.

For Libby, the new tenant downstairs is an unwelcome guest, another body filling up her already crowded house. But soon enough, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom, when Libby and Quinn stretch and redefine their definition of family and home.

With gorgeous prose and a cast of characters that feel wholly real and lovably flawed, This Is Home is a nuanced and moving novel of finding where we belong.

Buy It Here:

       
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