Writing is hard. Marketing is even harder – especially when the rigors of marketing force you to look deep inside to find out the reason you write. Why? Because in your marketing pieces, readers (and bookstores and libraries) want to know what drives you to write such dark, puzzling books. You’ve already written the books themselves; now the marketplace wants you to fess up.
While going back over my blogs and Facebook posts for the past year, I discovered a trend: while seemingly appearing open, I keep evading the very reason I created Lena Jones, my orphaned protagonist in the “Desert” books. Yes, Lena came to me in a dream – as I’ve told everyone — but in our dreams we seldom create what wasn’t already there. For instance, during my childhood I was constantly shifted around from family to family, until I got to the point where I didn’t know who I was or where I belonged in the world.
Just like Lena.
And – this will come as a surprise to people who know me as the independent woman I now am – because I felt like such an outsider, I did what a lot of “outsider-feeling” people do: I joined a cult.
I’m not going to name the cult because it isn’t very well known in the first place, and it didn’t turn out to be one of those cults where people wind up dead (as they do in Desert Redemption and other Lena Jones mysteries). It was just a cult that wanted to take over every facet of my life. The cult told me who I could have a relationship with, and who I couldn’t. It told me what I could do with my bankbook, and what I couldn’t. It told me what I could eat, and what I couldn’t. It told me how to exercise, and how often. Why did I allow this? Because when I followed the cult’s rules, for the first time in my lonely life I felt like I belonged.
In the great scheme of things, that was rather a low-level reason for my declaration of independence, but there you are. It was my reason. In a way, that cult was responsible for an important step in my growth as a human being. I’d always wanted to feel like I belonged, and I’d found a place where I could do that. But then – ah, the law of Unintentional Consequences – I discovered that “belonging” wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Every one of the ten Lena Jones books touch on the interpersonal dynamics of cults, and each of them look at one particular aspect of the life: the desire to be loved, the desire to belong, the desire to let others relieve of us of burden of thinking for ourselves. Growing up is hard, which is why some people – including myself – keep putting it off. But it has to be done.
It especially has to be done when you strike out to write a series of books that, regardless of their fictional plots, share a piece of your own life story. And it especially has to be done when the creative part is finished, and it’s time to start marketing. It’s time to stop making up the stories and to start telling the truth.
And my truth is that I’m a lot more like Lena Jones than even my closest friends suspect.
To learn more about the Lena Jones “Desert” books, visit www.bettywebb-mystery.com