I retired from teaching many years ago. Shortly before I retired I was getting my hair done in the beauty parlor and commenting to the beautician about how wonderful it would feel to retire. A woman who happened to be standing near us spoke up. “Oh, honey,” she said, “you don’t want to retire. You’ll be so bored with nothing to so all day.”
I don’t recall how I answered her. It was probably something to the effect that I didn’t plan on being bored. I’m sure I wasn’t as polite as I could have been. I hate being called “honey” by someone I don’t even know. But whenever I’ve since thought of that woman I’ve felt pity. How sad, to have nothing to do all day. Bored I have never been.
So what do I do all day?
Well, of course, as soon as I retired I began writing in earnest, spending most of my days sitting at the computer. I also spent a good bit of time researching markets for my writing. I was just getting started then, and I knew I had a lot to learn, so I also spent time reading books on writing. I took a noncredit creative writing course at what was then St. Petersburg Junior College. (It’s now St. Petersburg College, a 4-year institution.) I attended writing workshops and started going to science fiction conventions. The cons are great fun, but the best part was, and still is, the opportunity to meet and talk to published writers. (Now I can say, other published writers.)
As I wasn’t at that time making much money (okay, any money) from my writing, I applied to teach Spanish at SPJC as an adjunct. I taught evening classes, usually just one a semester, on a few occasions two, just enough to supplement my teacher’s pension. Of course that took more time than just the two or three hours per week spent teaching the class. I had lessons to plan and papers to grade. Although I enjoyed the teaching, I found myself resenting the time it took from my writing.
Writing is a talent, yes, to some degree, but it is mostly a skill that must be learned. Like any skill, it involves practice. It means writing stories, sending them out, accumulating rejections but refusing to give up, recognizing that the rejections mean you haven’t yet acquired sufficient skill. It takes years of hard work to become an overnight success. It may also take a few lucky breaks.
I’ve written previously about how I got my first novel published by Tor, a major publisher. I won’t repeat that story here. I will say that, flush with that success, I thought I had it made! The novel did well. I no longer had to teach classes. I went on to sell my second and third novel. I finished my fourth, was proud of it, sent it to my editor at Tor, and he loved it.
I learned the hard way that the sales department, not the editor, has the final say on whether to publish or to reject a manuscript. I discovered that the second book had not done as well as my first, and sales of the third were also disappointing. So the sales staff said no to the fourth book. Then my wonderful editor left Tor.
Of course I was discouraged and disheartened by this turn of events, but I didn’t—couldn’t—quit writing. I had already written a prequel to the trilogy published by Tor, and I found a small press willing to publish it. I also wrote a sequel to that, which was published by the same small press. These books were all part of what I call my Arucadi Series, for the name of the country where these fantasy novels take place. But I felt the need to branch out. I wrote a science fiction trilogy, and sent it to the same small press (Double Dragon), which published it. I wrote the novel that became Seduction of the Scepter and got it accepted and published by a different small press. It did quite well. But I still had that fourth book, the book that followed the fantasy trilogy published by Tor. Knowing that no one was going to pick up the fourth book of a series, I decided to self-publish.
I’ve discovered that I like self-publishing. It no longer has the bad name it once had. It’s easy to do through Amazon’s CreateSpace. And it gives me far more control over cover art, interior styling, presentation, and pricing. So I don’t view it as a step down, but rather as a step up. The one drawback is that the author must do a great deal of promotion—no relying on a publisher to do it for you. I’ve had to learn how to promote my work, how to market. It’s been a big learning curve for me, and I’m still struggling with all the nuances and ins and outs of it.
So what do I do all day? I write blogs like this one. I write a newsletter. I post to my Facebook Author page (not as often as I should), I work on the novel in progress. I wrote letters to get my rights back to the three books Tor published, got them, and will be reissuing the books starting early next year. They’ll have new covers, and I spend time working with the cover artist to get just the right art work for them. I’m reformatting them—editing as I do so to tighten and clarify. Right now I’m editing and reformatting Mistress of the Wind, the first book of the Arucadi series. I’ll do Bringers of Magic next. Those were published by Double Dragon, and I don’t yet have the rights back to them, but I will have in November and December of this year. As soon as the rights revert, I’ll be ready to reissue the updated versions. Those will be followed by two self-published books, A Mix of Magics, published previously, and another I’m currently working on, and then the three books originally published by Tor, followed by that 4th book, redone. I’m also working on a novel to follow that one.
Does all this work pay off? Well, it’s starting to. I’m reaching more people with my newsletter and this blog, so more people are learning about my work. And …
Ta-da! I will celebrate the publication of my newest novel with an on-line launch party on June 28 at 7:00 p.m.! And you’re invited!
The novel is (as I’ve previously announced) The Twisted Towers. It’s an epic fantasy, currently a stand-alone, not related to the Arucadi books. (I may decide to do a sequel at a later time.)
Here’s the cover:
Here’s what some Beta readers are saying about it:
The Twisted Towers is an exciting, delightfully engrossing read, with fully realized and fascinating characters, a plot that grabs hold and won’t let go, and a satisfyingly “Oh WOW!” conclusion! You will plunge into this world of unexpected heroes and boo-hiss villains, high adventure and edge-of-your-seat wide-eyed action, and not want to leave – take a deep breath and JUMP! —Jean Brown, Beta reader and reviewer
Sabin delivers a breath of fresh air to the fantasy genre with a twisted plot that mirrors the winding setting her compelling characters trek through. A heart-pounding ride from beginning to end. –M. L.Desir, author of Forbidden
The Twisted Towers’ many characters lead readers on a fascinating journey through the pages to the very end. Sabin’s mesmerizing vocabulary, details of daring escapades, and thoughtful differences between the old ways of a conquered kingdom and the new ways of the conquering Empire will give readers something to think about. –Diane Sawyer, author of The Telltale Treasure
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