More questions. Yes, it was a large marketing class.
Uraina Z. asks, "How and why did you choose the glow watch to be your logo?"
Purely by accident. Lynn Perkins, one of my cover artists, designed the watch for the spine of the first book. It was so cool I asked permission to use it as the logo for the series. The second book has a different glow watch on the spine in keeping with the cover's color scheme (teal). The third book will have a different one, maybe in red, in keeping with the overall theme of the book.
She also asks, "What was your reaction to your previous book Sojourn winning so many awards? Has it made anything different for you towards the series?
I started with stunned. Then I moved on to thrilled. Then I hit scared to death. Why? At my level in the publishing world, this is like hitting the top of the NY Times list with your first book. It's a real adrenalin rush. The problem is -- what do you go from here? If I had "finaled" for or won a couple of awards, no sweat. But Sojourn was nominated for TEN awards and won seven of those. Now where do you go, Ms. Oliver? How do you top a book like that? I was already freaking about Virtual Evil being as good as Sojourn and then the awards goodies fall in my lap.
Admittedly it's nowhere near as career altering as #1 on one of the big lists, but those awards do impact my work. After a long period of introspection I finally adjusted to the fact that 1) I am a talented writer 2) that I can do that magic again and 3) freaking over this isn't productive.
Fortunately, I have a strong internal "resetting" mode. I adjusted and moved on. It appears that Virtual Evil is just as strong as Sojourn. Does that mean it will win a ton of awards? Most likely not. Good writing is always a must, but timing is key, as well. What was new and unique last year may not even be nominated for an award this year. Such is the way of publishing.
I am, however, still entering the contests. Lightening does strike twice, just not very often.
Brittney S asks, "I noticed on your website it said you have repeatedly married your husband. How many times have you two been married?"
Twice, so far. I figure we'll renew the vows again down the line. The last time was at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica with hummingbirds flying all around. Really nice. And windy. Very windy. Ever try to recite your vows whilst trying to hold a bouquet and keep your skirt down at the same time? I needed more hands.
She also asks, "Did the name of your cat, Odds-Bobkin, come from a character in one of your books?"
No, just from the fact that Bob (he was a Manx) was just damned odd. He turned up on our doorstep and after a number of months actually allowed us to pet him. (He was always the outdoor cat as the inside feline (Midnight) would never tolerant interlopers.) Bobkin remained skittish no matter how decently we treated him. You will note the past tense here. Bob vanished on us this summer, along with a number of other neighborhood cats. There are coyotes in our area, the occasional owl and such. I like to think Bob returned to his original household. If not, then somewhere out there is a little kitten who is odder than anything and answer to the name of Odds-Bobkin. Cats are immediately reborn, you see. They're too cool to do anything else.
Jennifer J. inquires, "What advice do you have for beginning authors?"
Don't go there! I'm just kidding. If you intend to do this as a career, understand that it is just as much of a career as law, medicine or any other profession. There are rules, strata (as in another author is always higher on the food chain than you) and pitfalls. But if you burn to write your stories, then do it. Seek advice from those who know more than you do (which is about everyone when you're starting out). Never assume what you've written is Gospel. It's not. Editing saves your butt. Professional jealousy is a waste of time. Write what you love, not necessarily what you know.
Also understand that publishing, by and large, is still firmly routed in the 19th century. Innovations come slowly, if at all. Book distribution isn't a piece of cake. Even though I have an award-winning series, the books are not easily found in bookstores.
As you move forward in your career, cultivate friendships. I have a number of writer buddies to whom I can bitch, whine, ask advice or just generally b.s. with on a regular basis. They are my "sanity" monitors. If I think I'm going a bit off the dial, I check in with them. They are supportive of my career, but not enablers.
Ultimately, you are the pilot of your career. If you aren't willing to put butt in chair, write that short story or book, you're going nowhere. But if you are, welcome to the club. Now pass me that dictionary, will you?