Be Yourself? Which self?

“Just be yourself.” I’ve been given that suggestion hundreds of times, and it was particularly unwelcome coming from my waitress who I suspected had indulged in a few too many free shots at the bar.

In a way, it was my own fault. I’d broken one of my cardinal rules and shared a piece of personal information with this complete stranger. Once she knew I was apprehensive about meeting my fellow diners, she proceeded to offer a steady stream of unwanted advice until they arrived. This morning I’m still miffed that my oblivious husband tipped her 20%.

But bad restaurant experiences aside, that is a horrible piece of advice. Pretty much anything you do or say is yourself. Some sides of you are more likeable, or more fully developed, or more integrated into the whole you, but if it is coming out of your mouth without an intent to lie, it is you.

The problem is that we are all complex creatures. I have a squeamish side that gets nauseous at little things. I also have a this-is-an-emergency side that steps in and deals with the grossest of injuries if need be. I’m not faking either one. I’m not a simple person, and neither are you.

So when people tell me to be myself, my answer is “which self?” I’ve got at least dozen different genuine responses in my head to anything you have to say. Some may lead to a budding friendship, others to hostility. Over time you might get to know most of those sides of me, but which one do I let you see first?

This dilemma of defining the real me has recently spilled over into my writing, or more accurately into the marketing of my books. I love my book titles and my book covers. They are the real me. However, I’ve been told by those I respect that neither titles nor covers are helping me sell books.

After quite a bit of reflection, I’ve decided that being effective is also the real me. I’m practical and I like to achieve my goals. My goal is to find more readers. So, the real me is renaming my books and has sought out a professional to provide covers that will be a lot more like the one shown here. (It is for someone elses book about an appearance changer.)

What will those new names be? I’m having a lot of fun deciding on them. What will the new covers really look like? I can’t wait to find out. I’ll be sharing some of both here over the next few months, and if all goes according to plan a new crime novel about a gay genius who can change his appearance will be released in early January 2019.

The real me can’t wait.

 

Making a New Plan

I love planning.

I recognize that not everyone is wired this way. Some of you folks out there get the most joy out of your life when circumstances let you wake up and do whatever seems best to you at that moment. I think that is terrific, even though it doesn’t work so well for me because I just love to make lists.

c3 FINAL ecopyToday is a special day as it is the first of the month. That means that I get to make my plan for writing for the month of September. Figuring out how and when I am going to find the time to indulge in my most favorite activity brings me no end of joy. When I do this, I feel like I am somehow outwitting the gods of practicality, who rule the mundane world. They have decreed that doing my laundry and paying my bills will fill all my free hours and no time will be left for what I love.  I make my little list, looking for pockets of time I can claim as my own, and delight in the fact that THEY ARE WRONG. I’ve proven them wrong for 32 months in a row now and I intend to keep right on doing so.

This first of this particular month, however, is even better than most. I have finished my fourth novel, c3, and it will be out on Kindle by the end of the year. Each book has been a challenge to get into for its own reasons, and this one was no exception. Once I became immersed in it, though, it took over and now I am sad to leave its world. I already love its newly designed cover, once again expertly done by Jennifer Fitzgerald at motherspider.com.

I will spend September moving c3 along to my first group of beta readers, and making minor changes as they get back to me. This will be fun. I enjoy getting feedback on my stories and tweaking them to make them better.

The activity that really excites me, however, is that I will also begin research and planning for my fifth novel d4. Because c3 and d4 overlap in time, and tell the tales of two sisters having simultaneous adventures far from home, I have had the plot of d4 in the back of my mind as I finished c3. I already know that it involves subjects that fascinate me, and I can’t wait to start researching.

There is an old and frankly kind of stupid expression that goes “whatever blows your skirt up” and I probably don’t even want to know where it came from. The fact is that nothing seems to blow my skirt up more than planning to start a new book. It’s enough to make me want to dance for joy.

#SFWApro