Is It Time To Pack Yet?

- by Vonna Harper

I’m writing this on a late July morning, one of the few truly summer-like days we’ve had in the Northwest this weird year. It was one hell of a rainy winter. Darn near the rainiest on record. And of course along with downpour upon downpour comes cold. More than enough cold thank you very much. Our family has a cabin not far from Crater Lake and according to my cross-country skiing son, in Feb. the snow covered the peak.

Does anyone wonder why I’ve had Florida dreams since last year’s Ninc conference and why I kept staring at this picture I took on Sanibel Island several years ago? 

Oh yes, 2010’s Blow Your Mind Conference! What I took home from it has more than kept me sane and focused during the isolation that’s inherent in this business. I didn’t realize it at the time, but during those four (I cut out Sat. afternoon to spend time with my sister-in-law who lives in Tampa) days shaped and framed everything I’ve done career-wise since then. 

Let me rephrase that. I was at a point in my career where I knew I could continue making money doing what I was (erotica). At the same time I felt trapped.   I’ve been in this business over 30 years and believe I know my strengths and weaknesses. I’m not going to set the literary world on fire. There’s no Great American Novel in me. What I am is a journeyman writer, a midlist pro. Throughout those 30 years I did everything I could to keep my fingers on the pulse of what publishers wanted, the trends, the hot and not. Erotica is hot (in more ways than one). In order for me to continue to pay those pesky bills, that’s where I needed to position myself.

Oh yeah? A year ago I believed that. I marched to that tune. Not any longer and there’s a #1 reason for that–what I learned while at Brainstorming On The Beach. It’s impossible to pinpoint when the light bulb came on. It was the whole Future focus, realizing that times they-are-achanging and I can steer my own ship.  As I heard several times, the Big publishers are ocean liners slow to turn into new currents while small particularly epublishers are speedboats. Because I was already writing for three epublishers I knew the truth of that statement. 

But hold on, wait a minute! What’s this I’m hearing in the workshops and at the bar? I can have my own boat? Just my size. I can either go it alone or join the growing flotilla. Some people had already built their boats and were heading out into the ocean. Others, like me, had yet to build a paddle but really, really want to. I took notes. I made lists. I stayed up half the night talking to my roommate. Instead of reading or napping on the flight home, I started prioritizing. Somehow, some way I was going to become captain of my own rowboat. Hmm. Maybe I’ll even get a motor. (In my case that motor turned out to be www.ebooksbacklist.com )  

While meeting deadlines and marching to the tune I’d always marched to, I began taking tiny steps, becoming more confident along the way. Much of my growing confidence came from networking with some of the incredible people I met during the conference. I lovelovelove the intimacy of a Ninc conference, knowing I’m surrounded by others who speak my language and have the same scars. At Brainstorming, editors are colleagues, not ‘them’. I haven’t been in awe of any editor, publisher, or agent for awhile but chatting with Deb Werksman, Carolyn Pittis, and Angela James brought home the reality of their jobs.  Listening to them talk about those jobs got me to thinking–maybe I can do what they do, at least up to a point. What I have going for me is I only need to work with one writer, me, while they–well, you know.

 I’m now published on Kindle, Smashwords and the other electronic outlets and making plans to add more titles. That’s truly the world’s shortest synopsis for what I’ve been up to thanks to the kick in the butt I received at the Tradewind Island Resorts. The argument could be made that last year gave me direction for the rest of my writing life, but are you kidding! For my sanity, I need to be in Florida in Oct. I need the shot in the arm that will last for twelve months. 

See you there.

Vella Munn

3 comments

  1. I agree, last years Brainstorming at the Beach was the most informative conference I’ve ever been too.

    I’m just as eager to hit the beach, learn some more, and be inspired again this year as you are.

  2. I couldn’t agree more! I had already put a toe in the water with one book just a week before the conference. I came home with a plan and more enthusiasm for this whole crazy busy than I’ve had in a VERY long time. It’s been a great year so far, but I’m ready for another boost in information and energy. And, well, after a really HOT July I’m looking forward to swimming in the gulf or sipping a fabulous Golden Margarita at the Tiki Bar. :-)

  3. Great post! And as the roommate you stayed up late talking to, I can verify the conversations were career-changing. Looking forward to a repeat performance this year, roomie.

    Lynda