We Begin With Steampunk…

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Choosing to use my own name for the SF and Fantasy work means that sometimes I’ll be writing blogs as Susan Kovacs Author Page and sometimes here as Susan Wachowski, but know that’s me, open and honest as usual, on both sides.  But the websites, blogs, podcasts and infomercials for writers, well they all tell me I should have a separate identity for each genre.  That way I won’t confuse readers of my cozy mysteries set in fictional Sunset Lake, WI, with talk of my Steampunk, Space Opera, and Fantasy. Amazon “Also Reads” list would just not be as helpful to a reader if it mixes too many genres. Separate identities will help me sell books, they say.  But I figure, once you follow an author, once you get to their blog and on their sign up list, that is when the curtain comes down and you and I can just get on with reading what we want, how we want.

I made my choice for my actual name, Susan Wachowski for my SF, Steampunk, and Fantasy. Has a certain ring, the family name.  Chicago area and Wachowski go together like Keanu and Matrix, right? You ask for more information and you’ll only get a wicked smile, and need the secret password to be told any Wachowski tales.

Back to today!

Today was the first time I got to see my name, Susan Wachowski, printed on a digital cover on my Kindle.  No no no, nothing is out for sale, yet, but I thought I would cheer up my mom and send her a copy, with cover and all, of our latest Steampunk short story. My co-author, N.L. Bach, Nan for short, took time out of her busy day and made up a quick cover and file that I could then email to my mom’s Kindle device.  It will be the first, but I do hope not the last, of the things she will read that I have written.  The short story is for our mailing list, an incentive so to speak, or we might put it out for sale. Not sure of our exact plan yet, but we will decide all that soon. For now, we made it, we did the edits, and I cannot stop gushing, blushing, and seeking my blanket fort.

My mom has read my stuff since I was a kid and wrote my first SF short story in what…2nd grade? 3rd grade?  She’s also read my poetry, well some of it anyway, and all sorts of bizarreness since then.  I am over 50 now, and I have accumulated a lot in my bottom drawer, but since I started on novels, and hadn’t finished any, there wasn’t anything I could show her done. Tonight I get to show her how to find that email for her Kindle, and she’ll open it just like all the other authors she reads, and jump into the adventures of Esme and Kinzy in our Steampunk world. It’s a giddy happy feeling that I can present this to Mom!  One step closer to being a published author.

Working with a co-author like Nan has been amazing.  We each have different strengths.  She’s published (Coffee & Crime Mysteries), and I am, well, I published some poetry and magazine articles, but they don’t quite count the same to me.  No published novels anyway.  I am predominantly a short story writer and poet.  When Nan and I finished the first draft of our first Steampunk novel and realized we would not have it for sale in time for Geneva Steam where we’d agreed to be panelists for 2019, we needed a new plan.

What’s a breaking Steampunk author to do?  We decided to take the con’s theme and write a short story with our characters.  I offered to take point on writing it, Nan came up with the base, and then I started writing.  We pushed ahead, Nan present on my shoulder the whole time making suggestions for Victorian dialogue and description. Then it was done.

The Edit Situation began.

I have no idea how other writing partners work, but Nan and I know we don’t write the same, or edit the same.  This worked out just fine as our two characters are very different.  I play with a Half-Elf. Yea, it’s that kinda story. Nan’s character is a real Lady.  We kept making plans to get together, then had to cancel for weather, for sickness, for family things and family sickness. We barely saw one another. When I wanted to slack off, Nan kicked me in FB chat.  When she wanted to slack off, I went in and showered the Google Docs with comments and things she had to resolve or discuss with me.  Push and Pull, we should be called.

We learned a heckuva lot about our edit styles.  We prefer to be in the same room, so we can discuss aloud and not type messages with aching cold fingers into FB chat or Google docs chat. We learned with the story, as we learned with the novel, that as long as one of us could toss out a base to build on, the other could tweak and build something better, back and forth, Push and Pull, until, omg we loved it.

The story is done, thanks to the sharp eyes of the Hivemind crew, and I am sending this new short story to my mom, with Nan’s assistance and love. My mom “adopted” Nan about 2 years ago.  I think Nan is trying to edge me out as favorite daughter.  But in the end, my mom needs the boost in happiness levels right now, and I want to place it before her on a digital platter and say…here mom.  We wrote something cool.  I hope you like it.

And then crawl into that blanket fort (Nan started it, I just built an addition, plus I had the correct password–cheesecake.).

Because this precipice that is the publishing Grand Canyon–putting our work out there, for sale, so we can pay some bills and write more–is the scariest feeling. What if no one likes it?  What if my writer friend for Geneva Steam doesn’t like it? What if my mom doesn’t like it?!

See the rising trauma of publishing? Self publishing especially. There’s no one else I can plop this in front of and say hey, all yours now, do the publishing things.  Nope, I am learning to do it all.  Working with cover artists, writing blurbs, marketing materials, edits, pressing buttons and making format choices.  It’s just Nan and I, working our way through all the things. We have each other. And a dang good writer’s group.

We started our book in the middle of National Novel Writing Month last year (2018).  It’s now February and we’re going into the third pass of edits on the novel. We have book 2 and 3 on the horizon. We have a plan and each other. Push and Pull.

So if our work sucks once you get a chance to read it, just don’t tell us. Don’t buy our work on Amazon, or through our websites.  Don’t even bother leaving a review.  (sobs) But if our work is entertaining and takes you, even for just a few moments, to a world full of wonder and humor, then, yea, tell us a LOT.  Leave reviews to make us weep, because seriously, beginning authors don’t make much for all the hours and months and years we have spent getting this out there.  Tell your friends, come see us at conventions. Be there for the authors you love and give them the energy to keep working.

Long blog there, but the gist is that I am about to show Mom the first thing I will hit the Publish button on. Her daughters just hope she’s proud of us, because we are all kids looking for validation from those we love.  And cookies. I need to make some cookies to have in our blanket fort…

Let the Susan Wachowski Author Blog …begin.

P.S. – MOM LOVED IT!

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