Pick Yourself Up — Guest Barbara Early

Welcome, Barbara Early! This is Sherry, and I’m so excited about Barbara’s new Vintage Toyshop Mystery series! Thanks for joining us today!

barbaraeupdated-coverBarbara: Now that I’m writing a series set in a vintage toyshop, I find myself using a lot of toy and game analogies. I was recently tasked with making a board game analogy to the writing business.

Now, I wish it were more like Candy Land, skipping from one sweet place to the next, until you arrive safely at the Candy Castle.

And although there’s a lot of being sent back to the start, the writing game doesn’t resemble Sorry. At least when those setbacks happen, it’s not usually caused by fellow writers, who tend to be a fairly supportive group.

Nor does it most resemble Monopoly, where one person gets rich and the rest go bankrupt. Although…

chutesBut the crazy ups and downs of the writing game, to me, most resemble…Chutes and Ladders.

I must confess, it was never my favorite game.

Oh, the ladders are okay. Exhilarating, even. Sometimes the writing life feels like you’re just slogging along, and all of a sudden, you get a big break: An agent asks for a partial. Or maybe offers representation. Or that first book deal. And you go climbing up the ladder, clicking your heels on every rung, so that everyone can hear you. You are on your way up!

I remember feeling that way when I got my first series deal—for the Bridal Bouquet Shop mysteries (written as Beverly Allen). After all those frustrating years of writing and rewriting and learning the craft, climbing those steps felt like the validation of all that effort. And it was followed by a few more ladders. Good reviews. Fan mail. They even put a label that said “national bestselling author” above my name on the bottom of the books.

And then the floor caved in, and down I went. See, for every ladder, there’s a chute. Theoretically, you know they can happen and probably will. But there’s little you can do to prepare yourself for the long ride down, and even less you can do to prevent it from happening. By the time my series was up for renewal, there were a lot of hushed whispers about market saturation and cutbacks. I wasn’t the only author left, sitting at the bottom of that long chute, wondering what, if anything, was coming next.

Sometimes you want to just flip over the board, send all the playing pieces flying, and walk away.

But since I’m an adult, at least according to my birth certificate, temper tantrums and dips into the pool of self-pity are rather frowned upon. And it’s nearly impossible for a writer to give up writing. Here’s a little fun advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUsRGuZb6k

So what do you do, Readers? You pick yourself up. Start something new. Redefine yourself, yet again?

And you never know. Maybe you’ll come across a ladder one more time.

barbara-early-2-copyBio: The first book in Barbara Early’s Vintage Toyshop Mystery series, DEATH OF A TOY SOLDIER, released on October 11th. She also wrote the Bridal Bouquet Shop Mysteries (as Beverly Allen).

Barbara Early earned an engineering degree, but after four years of doing nothing but math, developed a sudden allergy to the subject and decided to choose another occupation. Before she settled on murdering fictional people,
she was a secretary, a school teacher, a pastor’s wife, and an amateur puppeteer. She and her husband live in her native Western New York State, where she enjoys cooking, crafts, classic movies and campy seventies
television, board games, and posting pictures of her four cats on Facebook. barbaraearly.com


24 Thoughts

  1. Life’s like that sometimes, isn’t it? So glad you found another ladder to click your heels up on, Barbara – this time all the way to the top and staying there, by all appearances! Thanks for joining the Wickeds for a day.

  2. The Bridal Bouquet Shop series was one of my favorites, and I was sad to see it end. I can’t wait to read Death of a Toy Soldier and meet Liz McCall. Best of luck with the new series!

  3. Barbara, you picked the perfect analogy. If we are aware that a chute could happen along the path, we might not be so stunned. But we should also be comforted that there will also be ladders awaiting us too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. I enjoyed that game too as a kid — and it’s an absolutely true analogy of the writing career “guts, glory, and some grim reality” up and down-ness. Looks like you’re on a ladder, so tap your way and skip the next chute! Love the book, love the characters!

    1. Thanks, Barbara. May your chutes be small, your ladders tall, and the spinner be kind to you. How’s that for a new take on an Irish Blessing?

  5. That really is a great analogy. And yes, I loved Chutes and Ladders as a kid.

    I’m glad you went in search of another ladder because I loved Death of a Toy Soldier and I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

  6. Why was I expecting you to choose Clue?!
    Chutes and Ladders is a much more apt analogy to the ups and downs of writing and publishing.
    Congrats on the new series, Barbara. I think this one’s going to be a long ladder!

  7. I did like Candyland better than Chutes and Ladders but you chose a good analogy for life as, sigh, an adult.

    As much as I hate the chutes, I do live the climb up the ladder!

    Looking forward to the new book- I believe it’s maybe #3 on the TBR!

  8. Awesome! Just awesome! What a fantastic guest post today. Barb Early rocks! And that witty fun writing you just read is why she was able to find another ladder and climb back up. We will see her way up on the tippy top one day and we’ll wave and thank her for never giving up.

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