Seed Story of Liz Long
Occupation: Social Media Strategist for LeisureMedia360
Current City You Reside: Roanoke, VA
Favorite Quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – EleanorRoosevelt
Often times what we want to do and achieving great things is simply putting your mind to it and getting to work. In just her 20s, Liz has written and published 5 books. Something that started as a childhood dream, has become a reality, here’s her story.
“There are times when I feel like it’s been a whirlwind adventure, and then other days where I feel like it’s taken me years to get where I am. I suppose in a way it has, given I’ve been aiming for these goals since I was a kid. I’m a writer by nature (and profession), so to ease into fiction is something of a dream come true.”
When it comes to making a dream possible, often times, it’s not based on convenience. Working a full-time job, handling freelance projects and writing full-length novels means Liz is one busy lady! “I’m lucky to have support both near and far – for example, I can always bribe my husband with video games in exchange for a few hours of writing.”
“I lived in Nashville when I wrote the first chapter; I’d been laid off and had played around with the idea of finally writing a book. I had this idea (that wouldn’t go away) of a girl who could control fire. When I thought about how someone like that would hide in plain sight, the circus became an obvious choice and it sort of snowballed from there. When I moved back to VA, writing took a backseat for a while, but long story short, the book never strayed far from my mind. I felt like I owed it to myself to tell the story that I’d want to read.”
So, what happens after four years of writing? The adventure of writing a book is not quite over…next step: Getting published.
“When I finally had the manuscript ready, I queried to many, many agents. I got nothing but rejections, but oddly enough, at least three or four of them basically said, “Interesting concept, unique premise, strong narrator – but we don’t have a specific shelf for this type of book.” It wasn’t YA, nor was it strict fantasy, so it’s hard to place according to standard bookstore genres. I finally got fed up with those responses and looked into self-publishing. I’m happy to say I’ve never looked back and I will crow all day long about self-publishing. Done right, you can be just as successful as traditionally published authors and I love having the control over all facets of the process.”
” I remember getting the proof copy and how stunned I was to finally see it in print. An ebook is awesome, but there’s something about that paperback that made it real for me. I probably cradled it the entire night, lovingly flipping through the pages to make sure they weren’t blank like some big joke I’d played on myself. Even though it’s now battered and bloody from edits, I still have that first proof on my desk as a reminder to never give up.”
It’s not necessarily the end of a journey that changes us, but all the stuff in between – the rolls of ups and downs. For Liz, it was her confidence that changed the most.
“I’ve never really had a “problem” with self esteem (I love having my own personal drumbeat), but there’s something about building a world and characters that people love that really motivates me to push myself. I’ve dabbled in a lot of things career-wise (radio, photography, marketing) and writing fiction sort of feels like home to me. (Never mind that my perfect job involves staying at home in pajamas with my dog all day.) It also helps that my full time job has made me an expert in my field, so I’ve been able to blend marketing and writing so that I can help others. I teach social media classes and give talks about writing, and that also helps with confidence, knowing you’re helping others with their own dreams and goals. I’d also add that signings and events (such as UtopYA) and people have enriched my life so much more in the last couple of years. I’ve met many incredible people along the way; not only the writers who inspire me, but the readers who encourage me to work on the next book or other writers looking for advice.
Combined, it all makes me feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to do and there’s nothing more confident than that.”
Every journey has lessons along the way, if you pause for a moment, you can find many. Those lessons are what helps us grow and become who we are today and tomorrow…and the next day.
“I remember spending an entire Sunday afternoon with friends and it wasn’t until like three hours later that they discovered I was a fiction author. They were so mad I didn’t lead with that – because, in their words, “how many people actually write a book!” I used to kind of duck my head and say, “well, I write fantasy” as though that made it lesser than other kinds of fiction. That’s RIDICULOUS and I’m mad at myself for ever doing that now. I write books for the same reason I read them – to escape from reality. I might not be into sparkly vampires, but it got people reading – all writers benefit from that sort of thing because it makes people pick up more books. Plus, thanks to e-readers, now you can read your naughty romance books out in public without a single blush to your cheeks. And that’s okay! If it’s what you enjoy, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Liz’s advice for those who have dreams of writing?
“Write what you want to read.” That’s the motto that inspired me to write my first book and it’s one that stays with me each time I start a new novel. There are plenty of readers out there like me who are looking for snarky, flawed heroines with lots of action, just a touch of romance, and twists you never saw coming. It’s just a matter of putting it out there in the world for others to read.
Bonus advice: It doesn’t matter how you publish – if you’re going to put a book out into the world and expect any sort of positive response, the first thing you need to do is get an editor, one you trust and has your back. Those people are like gold. They will find your typos and grammatical issues, tell you when something isn’t working, and make your book that much better.”
Today is a new day. Go out there and write. Do. Find your way. Make something happen. Like take a gander over at Liz’s blog! Then…go make steps towards a new journey!