Overwhelmed Author Syndrome — It’s Catching! Three Debut Authors Chime In

exploding_headNow that four months have passed since KILMOON published, I can look back with a smile. Oh, that wasn’t SO bad. Yeah, it was stressful, and my head felt like it was about to explode … But hey, I survived.

Apparently, I’m in the process of relegating Overwhelmed Author Syndrome (OAS) to a conveniently fuzzy memory almost as if I’d had a book baby epidural or something.

In this crazy debutante year (which is ending in a month, sniffle), I’ve met so many authors, and whether debuter or old-hand, all of us get crazed before publication. I thought I’d ask three debuting author buddies (I’m excited for them!) who are in the middle of their exploding heads and overwhelmed author syndromes about how well they are coping right now.

expeditionindigoebookcoverStacy Allen, author of EXPEDITION INDIGO (Aug 18, 2014), the first in the Riley Cooper romantic suspense series, that #1 NYT bestseller Steve Berry says “tingles with heaping doses of adrenalin”!

I am drinking a lot of coffee! Seriously, one thing that I would do differently is find a place I can work from. Right now I have my dining room table covered with giveaway stuff, raffle baskets, etc. My kitchen island is covered with party invites, postcard mailing stuff, and ARCs with letters. We have gone out to eat two nights in a row (which is not my favorite thing), and I am having a hard time just keeping up with my house!

I am only doing what is ABSOLUTELY necessary – feeding the cat and making coffee. You can’t even see my kitchen sink. My house has never been filthier. You would be proud.

Hah! She says “you would be proud” because I’m so not Martha Stewart, but normally she is. Goes to show that in the midst of OAS, even those tasks we’re obsessive about go by the wayside for sanity’s sake!

Feathers-Cover-190x300Cynthia Lott, author of THE FEATHERS (Aug 15, 2014), a crime thriller suffused with the supernatural, that Bram Stoker Award winner Benjamin Kane Ethridge says is “equal parts addictive and dark”!

Yes, crazy is a good way of describing it. I had to take a break from OAS and marketing last weekend and spent the whole time with my boyfriend in Orlando … I didn’t want to even think about this book. HAH! But I couldn’t escape it and honestly felt a burst of renewed energy when at a wine store, the owner asked about my feather tattoo, and I told her about my debut novel. Her response was, “Oh wow. That’s the next book on my reading list.” That felt SO good. My feather tattoo is apparently a good marketing tool! I came back to Atlanta with renewed energy and my advice is this: Go at your own pace, don’t compare yourself to what other authors are doing, appreciate all the little steps you’re taking and always, always be gracious.

When it comes to coping mechanisms, she says: I have a glass of wine and watch shows on Antenna TV like Sanford & Son. Truly … it’s relaxing and gets my mind off of everything.

Ah, yes, booze. A recurring theme this week on The Ball. We can all agree on booze, right?

Cover coming soon!
Cover coming soon!

Cindy Brown, author of MACDEATH (Jan, 2015), the first in the Ivy Meadows Theater Mysteries, that NYT bestseller April Henry says made her “laugh out loud”!

Two things are helping me. One is creating schedules with boundaries. For example, I decided I can only manage one hour of social media stuff per day, so before lunch I do a half-hour and before I break for the evening, I do another half-hour. I sometimes even set a timer since it’s easy to get sucked in.

The other thing that is working for me is asking and accepting help from friends, the folks at Henery Press, and writing compatriots. People have helped me set up my website, figure out social media stuff (I’m such a neophyte), learn Scrivener, and shorten my research time (I love the crimescene writer listserv for this reason). They have also helped me keep on track by writing with me (sound familiar?) and reminding me to breathe.

Totally sounds familiar, Cindy! (Cindy and I meet on Saturday mornings for writing sessions at our favorite tea house.)

So there we have it, straight from the stressed-out trenches — three overwhelmed authors and how they’re surviving. Thanks for joining me today, lovely crime-writing ladies!

What’s your go-to coping mechanism when you’re feeling overwhelmed? I’ll admit to a fondness for Sex and the City reruns.

The following two tabs change content below.
Lisa Alber is the author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (March 2014). Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging at Lisa Alber's Words at Play round out her distractions. Visit her at www.lisaalber.com.

This article has 22 Comments

  1. Funny you should write about this topic now- I just started a blog hop which will ratchet up the social networking obligations all month. I actually kind of enjoy doing it, but with the day job and actual writing to be done, it gets overwhelming. Then, take on a pseudonym and double all of your accounts. That’s really fun, trying to outwit FB and Goodreads and all the interconnected tentacles of networking. I had to buy a new laptop just to keep my desktop from exploding! My coping mechanism is a microbrew (yup, booze) and trashy shows like Torchwood or Primeval.

    1. Alexis, welcome, oh maven! That’s true — you have to negotiate two authorial personalities! I have enough trouble with just my one!

      I’ll go check out your (Alexis) page — check out the blog hop. I’ve been watching Dominion — pretty trashy too.

  2. Oh Lisa I love the Exploding head graphic! It is priceless. I am sure we will all look back and laugh about it. I definitely am learning valuable lessons, and for my second book I will improve my processes! Thank you for highlighting my book and my madness. xoxox

    1. My pleasure in all ways, Stacy dearest! It’s great to be on the other side of the process, that’s for sure. And, I can tell you are coping with OAS wonderfully. I have to admit, I’d love to see your filthy house. Tee hee hee. 🙂

  3. Lisa,
    Thank you for introducing me to three new authors. I just returned from my first writing conference and am still absorbing everything I’ve learned.

    Love the TV show SATC though not a big fan of the movie. Sounds silly but I go for the Disney film :Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews when I feel stressed out. I also drink Earl Grey tea. If the weather is nice, I walk to the library or if it’s warm enough, I swim.

    1. Hi Diana! You reminded me that I own the BBC production of Pride & Prejudice (with Colin Firth!) — that’s one of my go-tos when I’m stressed out.

      Playing with my dog helps me a lot too. 🙂

  4. Lisa,
    Thank you for introducing me to three new authors. I just returned from my first writing conference and am still absorbing everything I’ve learned.

    Love the TV show SATC though not a big fan of the movie. Sounds silly but I go for the Disney film :Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews when I feel stressed out. I also drink Earl Grey tea. If the weather is nice, I walk to the library or if it’s warm enough, I swim.

  5. This is all such good advice…they seem to have things much more together than we do! Thanks for sharing, Lisa.

    I especially loved this from Cynthia: “Go at your own pace, don’t compare yourself to what other authors are doing, appreciate all the little steps you’re taking and always, always be gracious.”

  6. Lisa, (and all), I totally forgot to put my coping mechanisms: I listen to music, write charming notes to people (Thank you, Carolyn See (see her book on The Writing Life, and yes, this is a set of prins inside another set of prins) who says we need to write a minimum of two charming notes a day), and I play Candy Crush, Words with Friends and Cubistry, usually when I am winding down at night. Something mindless like Candy Crush really helps, and I only play for about 5 minutes, but it is just enough. I am avoiding alcohol for at least two more weeks, cause I am still under the delusion that I can lose a lb or two before my August 18th Launch! Tee Hee.

    1. You’re hilarious, Stacy! You look fantastic … and I’m amazed that you can resist the wine these days! I’ve got to check out Candy Crush.

      You write the best charming notes. 🙂

  7. Writing at a tea house! Brilliant! The ones I know of around Seattle require things like reservations and would probably not appreciate someone hauling out a laptop. :-\

    1. Oh that’s a bummer — I’m surprised Seattle doesn’t have any down-to-Earth tea houses. The one I go to is cute because it has a collection of unique teacups and you can choose the one you want to use. 🙂

  8. Wow, is your year really almost up? It’s been wonderful following along to see all you’ve accomplished, Lisa 🙂

    I go back and forth between Overwhelmed Author Syndrome and calmly having fun. Luckily it’s more of the latter!

Comments are closed.