Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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September 25, 2023

Warning: Author’s Risks May Lead to Fresh Adventures

by Kris Maze

When writers take risks, it's a chance to infuse fresh energy into their craft. Whether it's experimenting with new writing methods or exploring innovative ways to connect with readers, embracing change can invigorate your work.

Nearly a decade ago, I made a deliberate choice to pursue my dream of becoming a published author by taking risks. I sought wisdom from experienced writers, publishers, agents, and editors through articles, conferences, and classes. This in itself was a risk, considering I was already pushing my limits of time and energy as a full-time teacher with a family.

Trying something new can be challenging, but it's never dull. In this blog post, I'll share the adventures and lessons I gained from these risks as a writer.

My Author Adventure

I followed blogs and watched YouTube videos on writing, craft, and marketing. I invested in small courses that honed the finer nuances of crafting compelling stories.

I joined local writing groups and made weekly visits to libraries for in-depth discussions about novels. I immersed myself in the writer's community.

I pushed through the arduous process of completing the first draft of a YA thriller novel and diligently sought beta readers. Their feedback was invaluable, prompting me to embark on a comprehensive rewrite. One which still sits on a dusty closet shelf.

I hustled to find an agent, sending out queries to publishers while scouring the internet for any opportunities that aligned with my manuscript, tracked under #MSWL. In the end, what I collected was a folder full of rejection emails.

I scoured contest listings and submitted to every competition that vaguely seemed to match the essence of my story. Looking back, I realize the importance of thoroughly researching the compatibility between my work and the publishing entity with more precision. And for those contest judges and organizers of those days, I apologize for my light indiscretions and literary version of spam. Sorry about that!

I went to conferences. Conferences that required getting onto a plane and traveling to some exotic locale called LA in California, far from my small community. There, I had the privilege of meeting fellow writer-people. Some of us banded together to form a writing accountability group that continues to this day, hosting weekly calls that offer support and insights into the ever-evolving world of publishing.

My Publishing Adventure

I found a small publisher who discovered my story through one of the many contests I entered and offered me a publishing contract. My book hit the market in the summer of 2020, but unfortunately, my well-laid plans for in-person promotions fell flat.

I didn't let setbacks deter me. Instead, I reclaimed the rights to my work and reimagined my story within a niche I intimately understood, thanks to my decades of work in education.

I made the decision to invest in editing, formatting, and proofreading services, to polish my manuscripts.

I sought guidance from exceptional writing teachers and coaches, tirelessly honing my skills and expanding my knowledge.

I undertook a website overhaul, introducing user-friendly store interfaces and a sleek, modern look. In the digital age, I understood the need to stay current.

Throughout this journey, I leaned on my trusty accountability groups, celebrating our collective successes and offering a supportive ear when we faced challenges. Together, we strengthened our resolve and pressed further into our writing goals.

My Speaking Adventure

During this past summer, a realization struck me - a connection existed between my journey as an author and the unfulfilled aspirations of other creative educators like me. I researched within my professional niche, identifying opportunities for conference presentations.

I submitted applications to speak, creating sessions designed to cater to the needs I once had as an attendee. I focused on four regional organizations and presented my proposals, hoping for the best, but not really expecting a response. This wasn't my first time submitting proposals, but it's the first time I've felt confident in the message I have to share. Despite several personal constraints, such as tight schedules and life pressures, I seized the opportunity and took the risk.

As summer transitioned to fall and I resumed my responsibilities in education, acceptance emails began to arrive. One came in mid-September, followed by two more in the subsequent week. At the time of this post's publication, I am arranging logistics for three out of the four proposals, including all the minutia of making accommodations and ensuring microphone accessibility at various venues along the U.S. West Coast.

WITS Tips for Speaking Engagements

During these developments, I've taken calculated risks and found immense satisfaction in imparting the knowledge I've accumulated during this journey to my fellow Teacher-Authors, but I'd like to clarify that my intent here isn't to provide a blueprint for delivering exceptional presentations or securing speaking engagements. Instead, my aim is to share my experience of growth, hoping it may inspire and encourage fellow writers to take risks in their author journeys.

Writers in The Storm Blog has many resources on public speaking. Here are a few posts full of valuable advice.

Writers Helping Writers: Presenting to Writing Groups

How to Talk Publicly About Writing

How to Engage Kids: The ABC’s of Author Talks at Schools

Public Speaking in a Foreign Land

Nine Keys to Being Media Ready

Going Mobile? You Need a Mobile Media Kit

Being a Cool Cat While Making Presentations

Final Thoughts on Taking Risks

Risks can be an author’s friend and an impetus for growth. I’ve been a fan of taking calculated risks for some time, and besides helping my author presence grow, I have learned far more than if I had only made safe decisions that kept me comfortable.

I'm also keenly aware that I took another risk in this post as my grammar and spell-checking software screamed that I've begun nearly every paragraph with the word ‘I’, a faux pas in writing for so many reasons.

But as writers, we know when to override the rules and make our own path. Sometimes it is the difference between being stuck or finishing your novel. Dreading a social media event or having fun promoting your work. If your author’s dreams are stalling or losing luster, consider making some changes. How are you going to break your writing-career-mold and take a risk today?

I hope you are enjoying a writing-win in your words. Please share a success story you’ve had recently with our readers and encourage each other on your author journeys.

About Kris

Kris Maze

Kris Maze is an author, writing coach, and teacher. She has worked in education for many years and writes for various publications, including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and the award-winning blog Writers in the Storm where she is also a host. You can find her horror stories and young adult writing on her website. Keep up with future projects and events by subscribing to her newsletter. And other writing work HERE.

A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors.

And occasionally, she makes homemade mac-n-cheese as comfort food for others.

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13 comments on “Warning: Author’s Risks May Lead to Fresh Adventures”

  1. Hi Kris!

    I am right there with you regarding the importance of taking risks. It's not easy to dive head first out of one's comfort zone, but that's where growth comes.

    Sometimes I think that when opportunities present themselves, we do well to give it a try even if the thought of it is unnerving. You never know who you might meet and what may be learned along the journey.

    Wonderful post, thanks!

    1. Yes,and Ellen, you have taken risks too.
      Living abroad and most recently taking on a poetry contest are things I haven't tried recently.

      Thanks for the comment.

    1. I agree, Denise. Putting your words into the world reveals a little about who we are and how we think.

      But it's a vulnerability that's so worth it, knowing that those words can evoke all sorts of emotions and thinking in others which in turn can impact, educate, entertain, and heal people.

  2. One of the biggest risks I took was starting my own publishing house. I learn so much from the books I've published and the authors I have worked with. It is a ton of work, but I wouldn't trade a moment of it! It was so risky, but so rewarding!

    1. Lisa, it is admirable to take on that level of entrepreneurship with a publishing business, on top of all the other work you do with and for writers. Kudos!

  3. Kris, I've grown from every risk I've ever taken as both a writer and an instructor. You've got to do stuff that scares you, or that feels uncomfortable, if you want to reach up to that next level.

    Your post reminds me of a talk I watched on Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development. I might have to do another post on it all....

    And BANG UP job on all your website work - I just went prowling your links and you have grown at a rapid rate while I've been busy with cancer. I'm so proud of you!!

    1. Thanks, Jenny! And I have learned a lot of those skills from your insights and blogging coaching.

      The Zone of Proximal Development is a fascinating topic - like how to get into it and stay there when you need to. I'd love to hear more about it. Productivity and creativity tips are some of my favorite posts to write and read. 🙂

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