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Writing Journey: Journal Entry 76

June 21, 2022

Week 89

Emotional State: Feeding my Inner Troll


I’ve been slogging through edits for the cozy mystery in an attempt to get it ready for a July release. However, I’ve hit a snag. And I don’t know how much I care.

I wrote my first book the way I wanted it to be, and I’ve hit some snags in how to market it. It’s urban fantasy without the slaying and laying (no sex). It isn’t a YA book, but it features YA themes. It’s more about Seraphina’s journey than anything else and it’s been really tricky nailing down the audience and messaging for it. I don’t want to make that same mistake with cozy.

And this is where the dilemma lies.

Cozy mysteries have a distinct structure and pattern. It’s why readers like them – they know what they’re getting – and it’s not just the lack of swearing, gore, and overall sweetness feel of them. It’s how the mystery is laid out that matters, along with the other parts. I’ve got two problems I’m trying to correct.

Because I’m publishing on Kindle Vella first, and because the first three installments are free and the hook to pulling the reader in, they need to be action-packed, introduce the characters, be set in a small setting (village, inn, etc.), and feature the genre clearly. Here’s my problem. The set up for the story is that she’s not in the cozy village when it starts and I’m not sure how to get her there any faster with the character arc I have planned.

I’ve cut a LOT of the original chapters I wrote to get us there faster, but it’s still not quite enough. We don’t get into the village until Chapter 4 and even then, she’s just visiting, not yet living there. But I hope what I have is enough to convince the reader to go to the next step – paying for the next installment.

The balance of the story is also off. I have way too much in the second act, where she’s meeting people and investigating the murder. Acts 3 & 4 are shorter than they should be. I’m not sure if they are too short or if I just like a quick slide into showing the murderer. My problem is that I don’t want to move anything to the third act because what comes before sets up the third act. And I have no idea what to add to the fourth act to make it longer.

I’ve edited and cut and edited and cut. The other problem is the main character, Jenna. She’s not consistent – which I can fix. But I am not as sure on her personality as I’d like to be at this point. Is she snarky? Warm and funny even if she feels like she’s not? I also changed her age from 36 to 42 and am having trouble working that in, even though it’s much closer to my current age than the original age I gave her. Why I can’t write a 42-year-old MC is beyond me, but maybe that says more about my mindset than anything else.

I know I can fix it and create a good book, but my inner troll is chewing on my confidence more than I’d like.

I’ve also just changed her internal conflict, but I think it works a lot better anyway, so that one I can roll with. All this to say, I’m not sure if I can rework this in the time I’ve given myself to do so and get it all published in time. My logs are jamming, so to speak, and it’s stressing me out. Add on more work and more freelance jobs, trying to do more around the house and hobbies, and well… I’m overwhelmed.

And that leads to my dilemma. Do I write to market and shove it into the buckets, or do I write it the way I want and hope for the best? I know that my cozy is closer to the market than my urban fantasy/contemporary fantasy/fake YA book, but is it close enough? And do I care if it isn’t?

This leads to the crux of the issue. Somewhere along the way, I allowed my doubts and lack of sales on The Deep Space Between to get a louder voice in my head than I thought or than it should. I know I don’t want to struggle as hard with marketing the cozy as I have with my first book. And I don’t think I’ll have to. Maybe. But I also know that I’m writing my books for readers to enjoy, so if they can’t find it, how can they enjoy it?

And if it doesn’t meet their genre expectations, have I failed in my objective? I don’t have the answer to that question yet, but I need to find it soon. Or my troll will eat even more of my confidence than I can afford for him to do.

And he’s HUNGRY.

Ps: Here’s the placeholder cover, in case anyone is interested. I made it myself, so be kind.