Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How Do You Know If You’ve Reached a Career Turning Point? by Cheryl Hollon

JENN McKINLAY: I was lucky enough to have Cheryl Hollon on my panel at Left Coast Crime in 2016 and then at Bouchercon in Toronto our paths crossed again when I couldn't find my way to the signing room and she led me there (see yesterday's post about directions), so I am just delighted to host her here on Jungle Red today. Take it away, Cheryl.

CHERYL HOLLON: Your individual road to publication can be a difficult journey filled with detours, obstructions, and unknown obstacles. How do you tell if you’re making progress? By looking back of course. That’s when you can see that a corner has been turned. For me, establishing a firm habit of writing everyday was the turning point from aspiring writer to published author.

Strangely, it wasn’t the quality of the words or the tightness of the plot that pushed me to a higher level of competence. It was taking a workman’s approach to the physical act of writing every single day without excuses, without fail. I am deep into the revision phase for the fifth book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series, I feel like a professional going about the ordinary business of crafting another compelling tale.

That feeling is the sensation you are looking for – how you achieve that is a personal journey of discovery. Some writers submitted short stories until one was published. Yay! Validation achieved. Others have completed a novel-length manuscript and submitted it to agents as proof. The key was that afterwards, they felt like career writers.

The journey is unique to each writer. Continually strive for improvement and see how it affects your next steps. The funny part is that you can’t tell if you’ve turned a corner until you can look back and see it. When I look back after securing an agent and a publisher, I turned that corner the moment I started writing everyday – just like a job – every single day.

Have you turned a corner? Look back – what do you see?


 About Etched in Tears:

When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.

Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images in his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.


  
Meet the author:

Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind the house, Cheryl and her husband George design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks.


You can visit Cheryl and her books at

Sign up for my newsletter at my Website:   http://www.cherylhollon.com
Follow me on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/cherylhollon
I blog on the 24th of each month at http://www.killercharacters.com/




60 comments:

  1. This is very thought-provoking, Cheryl. I can’t say as I’ve ever thought about evaluating success in an endeavor by looking back, but it sounds like a perfect way of assessing accomplishments.

    Congratulations on your newest book; I’m really looking forward to reading “Etched in Tears” . . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan. We're all conditioned to look forward, looking back can be inspiring.

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  2. I've found that many things in life are like that. The small moments don't seem like a big deal, but you can tell they were when you look back on them later.

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    1. Building a career step by step takes patience and persistence. I'm now working on patience. LOL

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    2. Agreed, Mark. Hindsight is so much clearer.

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  3. Cheryl, first let me say that you have led and lead quite an amazing life, and that's even without the fabulous writing career. I am fascinated by glass making, so I've got to add your series to my TBR list for series reading. I love the clever inclusion of a Dali reference on the cover of Etched in Tears. And, turning corners is indeed a great feeling.

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    1. Hi Kathy, when I was deep into engineering projects, I found solace in the arts as an effective antidote to the stress of project stresses. Delighted to be added to your TBR list.

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  4. I know exactly what you're talking about, Cheryl. When people ask me how I can write three books a year (as others on this blog do, looking at you Jenn and Rhys), I say it's my job. I write every day but Sunday. It's sometimes glorious creative work, and it's sometimes a slog, but it gets done because I treat it as work. Best of luck with the new book!

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    1. Waving Hi! I'm not quite at the three books a year level, but I admire the skills needed. You rock!

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    2. It is work, Edith, but it sure helps if you love what you do! As we do.

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  5. Lord knows, after the news broke yesterday that I - and my baby, BOLO Books - would be receiving the 2018 Raven Award, there was no way I couldn't see it as a turning point in a wonderful journey. That feeling of validation, the realization that all the hard work was worth it, is impossible to describe. It is my hope that everyone gets to have that feeling during their lifetime - and believe me, the feeling is the same regardless of the achievement.

    And then the next day comes (today, for me) and you look back to see that it was the hard work that got you here and you get right back to work moving forward to whatever the next milestone is. So with that, I'm off to edit today's review one last time before it posts. It's an incredible one - possibly my favorite book of the year.

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    1. I saw the news yesterday! Congratulations for such a well-deserved honor. You're in fabulous company.

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    2. Congratulations, Kristopher! Deeply immersed in my own world, I had not yet heard the news. So happy to have made your virtual acquaintance here and to see you receive such wonderful validation!

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    3. Much appreciated, Susan. I love the JRW peeps. It's like a curated gathering of wonderful people every day!

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    4. Yes, you have worked so hard! You are the authentic real deal. And that never comes easy. Hurray!

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    5. Thanks again, Hank. For those words and for everything over the years.

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    6. Congratulations, Kristopher! Your success is proof of Cheryl's premise: that treating publishing (all parts of it!) as a business is the best way to move forward.

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    7. Kristopher, I was so happy to hear the news that you're receiving the Raven! You certainly do work hard at it and deserve the honor. I think it's lovely that the first time we met, and in the early days of BOLO, was at the Jungle Reds' panel/game show at the Bouchercon in Albany. A special connection to the Reds for us. Congratulations, my friend!

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    8. Congratulations, Raven Award Winner Kristopher! Fantastic!!! And now I have to go see what your fave book was!

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    9. Thank Julia, Kathy, Jenn. JRW is such a special place on the interwebs.

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  6. I know many writers say they have put their butt in the chair every day and just write. So the physical act of doing so was part of your journey but the aspect of looking back to see when you reached a milestone/turned a corner is an interesting way of measuring success. Good luck with the revisions to the latest book!

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    1. I am in the habit of writing for one hour before doing anything else (no Internet). That's how important it is to me. After that sprinting hour, then I can take care of everything else knowing that I've done the most important thing first. Thanks for your good wishes.

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  7. Congratulations on your new book, Cheryl. I'm fascinated with art glass, as the friend who once asked, "Do you really NEED another paperweight?" can attest. And I also agree that a conscious decision can mark a turning point. It's that moment when you say, "I can take any job that pays, or I can hold out for the career I really want," then opt to hold out. It's that deliberate choice to take your writing seriously, and let the notion of a career move from pipe dream to path.

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    1. The tricky part of being an aspiring writer is that you don't really know how long that phase may last -- you just have to trust and keep on writing.

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  8. Hi Jenn! Thank you for the warm Jungle Red welcome. I've got my day's writing done and am enjoying a visit to my folks house for Thanksgiving in Ohio. I'm in climate shock going from 85 degrees to 35 degrees. My 90-year-old parents are well and treating my like a ten-year-old as usual. I'm loving it!

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    1. Thanks for popping in, Cheryl, and for joining us today. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Hugs to the parents!

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  9. I think my "corner" was when I had a story accepted for BLOOD ON THE BAYOU, which kicked off a year of three acceptances. Kind of a "Hey, other people besides those I know think I'm an okay writer."

    Mary/Liz

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    1. What a wonderful corner! I'm still unpublished in short stories, but have finally starting writing some terrible ones -- the first step towards writing better ones.

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  10. Thank you so much, dear Cheryl! And it has been a joy to see you succeed! One thing for sure… We’re always raising the bar, so the wonderful things we have accomplished suddenly don’t seem to count after we actually do them. I always try to pat myself on the back after I do my words per day, like you, I hope in a workmanlike way. I think sometimes we forget to celebrate, right? And congratulations!

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    1. Thank you so much for your relentless encouragement over the years. It means the world to me.

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  11. Thanks for this, Cheryl. I've just retired from my job writing about AIs, and eager to start/resume writing fiction, so of course we took a three-week trip and bought a new house. So with all that's going on, I'm going to settle for establishing the pattern of getting my butt in the chair for at least an hour a day, and increase as I get things under control. And you don't have to tell me, I know I never will, but I'll fool myself into thinking I have.

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    1. Sometimes fooling myself is the best approach for reaching the next level. I'm pretty good at it - works for me.

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  12. Toasting you, Cheryl! And here's to TURNING THE CORNER. As I look back, there have been several corners, and sometimes what starts out looking like a step down turns out to be a big step up. Go figure.

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    1. I have given up on figuring it out and started enjoying the journey.

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    2. Agreed, Hallie. I love it when the dead end turns into Diagon Alley :)

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  13. Cheryl, the first time I jumped off a cliff, my knees were knocking and my teeth chattering, I was so scared. But once I stepped out into thin air, something amazing happened--I knew what to do because of the hours of practice--I knew I had the right equipment--I knew people had my back--and it turned out to be an exhilarating experience. Lucky readers--we get to read the books (hurrah, Cheryl!) or the reviews (congrats, Kristopher!)because you not only have the skills, but the commitment to work at something you love!

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    1. One of the delights and/or torments of writing is that there's always more to learn. Ready to step out helps.

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  14. Cheryl, i am always amused by people who think that writing is a little hobby and I dash off a few words when the muse takes me. Like Edith I rarely take a day off. And I can't say that the process gets easier. I'm always in panic mode at the start of a new book... But that's how I work best. You do what produces the best book. Good luck with yours.

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    1. Having a few looming deadlines is good incentive to show up every day. Love that!

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    2. It's hard to believe that there are actually people who believe that writing is just a little hobby! I would guess these people are not readers.

      I'm grateful for all of you writers who persist. Thank you!

      DebRo

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  15. Congrats on the new book, Cheryl! I think one of the challenges, like Hank mentioned, is not moving the goal posts every time you achieve something. Looking back may be a good way to try and counteract that.

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    1. Thanks! Goals are helpful but also easy to put off. Need to think about next year this year. Hmmmmm.

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  16. Can't wait to start the new book, Cheryl. This is such a great post. For years I kept the Christie quote on my quote board - still do. This post is going up too. Consistency is the key. Writers write!

    Rhys, isn't it true. If only readers knew how often that muse had to be kidnapped and held hostage!

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    1. I am thrilled to be on your quote board with my hero. Thanks!

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  17. Excellent perspective about turning corners and such sage advice about writing every day. Once I’m done with my current day job (college teaching) in a few years, I intend to establish a daily writing practice. Ice trued while working full time, but its just too hard to fit it all in. That makes me either smart or pathetic....and I’m going with smart!

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  18. Welcome, Cheryl. I look forward to reading your books. I can think of a number of things I accomplished that I didn't realize I had accomplished until I looked back. Sometimes the detours can result in the greatest satisfaction.

    DebRo

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    1. Detours are a way to determine your resolve. Keeping on keeping on.

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  19. Speaking of art glass, there's a place in Key West called Glass Reunions that I love to browse in and buy. Lucy, you probably know where I'm talking about, don't you?

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    1. That's new to me, I'll check it out the next time I visit. Thanks!

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  20. After one Christmas, I packed up all the holiday stuff and I just kept packing. At the time I thought I was decluttering the small two bedroom apartment I shared with my fiancé. When I moved out in April, all of my stuff was already packed, but honestly, I'd had no thought of leaving when I packed up Christmas. Looking back, however, I realized that deep down I must have known it was time to go.

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  21. Butt in chair, slow and steady wins the race, just do it. All say the same thing: write every day.

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    1. Hi Ramona! Loverly to see you here. One of my secrets is to sign in to your Sprinting Facebook thread every morning for one hour of completely focused - no internet - no distractions writing. Starts my day with a bang! I am grateful.

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