Monday, September 16, 2013

What do you like to do with your spare time? Can it become a career?

I learned from another author's website that today is National Collect Rocks day.  This is significant in our house because son #3 is in his senior year in college studying to be a geologist.  He doesn't just study rocks, he loves them with a passion.  While on vacation, when we'd stop at scenic overlooks so  husband and daughter could snap pics of the coast of Lake Superior , he was taking pictures in the opposite direction, of the rock wall on the other side of the road, while raving about the striations and what it told him about the geology of the region.  To each their own.

What is it that I like to do with my spare time?  I write stories.  I've always got characters talking in my head.  When I was a kid I thought everyone did.  Only recently did I discover that most people don't have imaginary people acting out scenes in their head for their amusement.  I used to watch movies and TV shows, and imagine a role for myself in the ones I enjoyed.  These days that's called fan-fiction, which allows you to write in someone else's world, as long as you don't make any money off of a world and characters you didn't create. (Unless you change their names and make them older to disguise them--then feel free to make a bazillion dollars and sell the movie rights.)

When I first started writing my stories down, I got rejected many times.  I shopped a few stories to every publisher I could find on-line, and tried not to get discouraged.  Maybe I'm just not a good-enough writer, I thought, and I almost gave up my dream.  Then came that wonderful day when I got a contract via e-mail, telling me that an indie pub was willing to give me a chance!  I was so excited!  I began to plan how I'd quit my second job to free up more time to write, and I'd use the royalties to help with the bills.  Yeah...right.

But I still love writing the stories my brain creates to amuse me.  And I've found that once I finish a story-arc, those characters stop talking to me, and another set begins to yell at me, to get my attention  so I'll write about them next.  I get the feeling that they want me to write their story so they can stop living in just my mind, and move into their readers' minds as well...the only kind of independent existence they can have.

I've always enjoyed watching spy movies and TV shows: The Man From UNCLE, The Girl From UNCLE, Mission Impossible (love the show, the movies not so much), Honey West, The Avengers, It Takes a Thief, Remington Steele, James Bond, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, RED, and for laughs, Get Smart and Austin Powers. I've played in those worlds in my mind for years.  The only thing I didn't like was that often the heroic agent was usually a man, and the heroine was  a victim somehow needing to be protected and/or rescued.  Since I like to star in my creations, that meant I wanted to write about alpha-female agents who could kick ass with the best of them.  The only thing they weren't allowed to do was to fall in love, because that endangered them, their mission, and the object of their affection. 

My first spy novel was Secret Love

Sheena has spent 12 years saving the world, one assignment at a time.  She enjoys the work, but is getting bored.  She tries her usual cure; a new man. But something about this one is different. What starts out as a red-hot affair with a famous Native American action movie star becomes serious when she develops real feelings. And in her world, even having feelings is dangerous.  Indulging them by falling in love can be deadly.

Those characters were so much fun, I had to include them in the sequel, Undercover Lovers. 
Ameena has never been able to forget what she endured on her last assignment before she left the agency.  She was the only female agent to live through what The Executioner did to his victims, but she still bears the scars, both physical and psychological.  When he escapes from his prison cell, her ex-handler brings two agents with him to tell her that one or the other will be her shadow until her torturer is caught again...only this time he will allow her to kill him.  Having kept herself too busy for romance, she is caught off-guard by the sudden insertion into her life of two gorgeous men, one who actively pursues her and one whom she finds more attractive for his shyness.  Will she live long enough to make a choice?  And is that the end of the story...or the beginning? 

I'm not sure I'm done writing about these characters yet, but I was thrilled when my publisher informed me that as of October 1, 2013, instead of having to buy both eBooks, you'll be able to save money and buy a 2-For-1 edition!
I'll be sending out the link for this just as soon as it's available. Obviously with two men pursuing the heroine in the second novel, the heat level is doubled!  But these are romances, so there is always a HEA for my heroines.

Now as for the question I raised in the title, has this become my career?  I'd like it to be, but for now it's a very expensive hobby, both in time and money.  I love the writing part, but the promotions part is exhausting, and I always feel that if I only did more, I'd reach more readers.  Sometimes I break down and spend money to advertise, but I'm working two jobs to pay the bills, not to buy ads in romance publications.  Once all of the kids are out of college, we'll see. In the meantime, I welcome this chance to save readers money and entice them to read my stories. 


Tina Donahue said...

Like you, I can't recall a time when I wasn't writing. It came as naturally to me as breathing.

Congrats on your latest releases, Fiona. May you burn up the net with your sales. :)

Fiona McGier said...

Thanks, Tina. I got called to sub today and worked my night job as well, so I just got home. I've got emails to catch up on, and edits to do for the book coming out in November. Sleep? Who needs it?

Fiona McGier said...

Any the new series I'm working on has spies in it as well. I guess I just like playing in their world. Life-threatening situations make you more appreciative of the pleasures of life.

Willa Edwards said...

I totally agree with you Fiona, I've always been writing too. I didn't realize until much older, that everyone that liked to read didn't have asperation to be a writer.

I also thought I'd make a ton writing, but its still a work in progress for me. Luckily I have time to find more readers and work on my craft.

I can't imagine having a passion for rocks though. To each their own, but I just can't see myself being interested in them.

Fiona McGier said...

That son has always had a more scientific mind. When he's interested in studying something, he's laser-focused. When he's not interested, he stares off into space. As a 2-year old he wanted to be an entomologist and study bugs. Even adults didn't know what that cute little boy was saying, but he was totally serious.

So when he announced that after considering many other majors (including English--"Son, do we really need 2 under-employed English majors in the family?")he said he was going to be a geologist, we happily told he he'd have to grow some facial hair and take to wearing cargo shorts with woolen socks and heavy boots. He's okay with that, so he's good.