Living Authorly Post 18: Ups and Downs

Hey. It’s been a while since I have done one of these posts, largely because I’ve been working really hard on books and promotions and that sort of thing. I’ve started putting out a monthly newsletter, and doing a post a month. AND I’ve started a page called Fantastic History where lots of writers of, well, fantasy that is historical, have been kind enough to write really awesome articles.


At this time last year, I was feeling really good about my writing career. The Vessel of Ra was about to come out, and my agent and I were talking about our next project. We’d settled on my middle grade series. This year the story is entirely different. My book did not sell enough copies for my publisher to buy a sequel, and my agent and I parted ways amicably because she didn’t connect with the middle grade book. Mind, I’d highly recommend her as an agent, and I’ve an open invite to submit again in the future if I haven’t partnered with someone else. But you don’t want an agent who doesn’t have enthusiasm about your stuff. Nope, you don’t.

The reason I mention all this isn’t to bemoan my fate. No, the reason I mention it is because authors need to know this sort of thing happens. Being an author is not linear. As a less experienced writer, I had imagined my writing career to be more akin to my teaching career, and once you achieved a next step, you’d keep going up. Writing has a lot of slippage. It’s hard to reconcile yourself to that, and it’s one of the reasons I am glad I am an intrinsic writer, mostly in it for the art and the projects I love. It’s also one of the reasons I’m grateful for my work in teaching, as it supplies a very different type of career movement

Let me be clear. I’m still writing. I am still working on finding a new agent for the middle grade project. I plan to self-publish the Klaereon books, which I love, and write other books which may be more commercially viable. I am not finished because my writing circumstances have changed. I am still writing, and as my very wise ex-agent, now friend told me, as long as you write, you are a writer. No one can take that away from you.

I will admit there was a moment last month when I realized I might be the only person in the world who ever wanted my books. It felt bleak. But, then, I realized that even if that is true, which I think it is really not (hey, at least my husband wants to read my books! And I know many of you do too, so it was an illusion), the act of writing, even if it were for only myself, is enough. This is a hard place to get to. I won’t stay here psychologically. I’ll have to make the journey back here periodically.

None of this means I stop trying. It means I have to change my definition of what success looks like as a writer. And what that means right now is I keep writing, keep sending, and keep doing my thing.


This month, my novella The Ground is Full of Teeth comes out from Paper Golem Press in their Alembical 4 volume. This is a departure from The Vessel of Ra. Written in 2016, it is autobiographical, a Southern Iowa Gothic werewolf novella. Yes, I will let you decide which parts are biographical. It’s very arty, and well, it’s a horror novel for adults. I would like to encourage you to get on Amazon and order it.

Right now I’m finishing Abigail Rath Versus Mad Science because it’s close to done, and Abigail Rath Versus Blood-Sucking Fiends has fulls out with a couple of agents. I already mentioned my self-pubbing of the Klaereon books. My goal is to write what I want, same as always, and try to publish it as I can. I know many authors go hybrid, and I suspect as publishing continues to evolve, all these skills are good to have.


With all this in mind, I know I need to write more. I made some choices last April to free up time to write and now that I’m starting with agents and publisher again, as well as adding self-pub to the mix, well…I thought I needed more time to write books with my agent and publisher, but now I need to write for my art and my sake. So I am a classroom teacher again, having shed the administrative piece of my job, and I have turned our catch all room into a lovely writer’s studio, which I will post pictures of. I’ll be spending a lot of time here. Yes, I’m writing here now. There will be pictures soon.


I hope this post helps you, especially if you find yourself in a place like I find myself. It’s not you, and it’s not them. It’s about money and opinion, and sheer dumb luck. But for the author, at least this author, it’s always got to be about telling the story I want to tell, living in my imagination, and finding that sweet spot. And then putting it out there somehow and moving on. Remember, your writing has value, and the only way you’re no longer an author is if you stop. Don’t stop.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “Living Authorly Post 18: Ups and Downs”

  1. I’m very sorry to hear about this, Cath. Unfortunately, the best writers aren’t always the immediately popular ones. Your stuff is good. Very good. I’m glad to hear yhat we haven’t seen the last of thd Klaereon scrolls!

  2. Thank you, Beth. 😀

    I honestly believe (and understand) that publishing is largely about commercial endeavor. Publishers don’t support writers whose books don’t sell well. It’s bad business. At the same time, we authors write what we want, and sometimes, as in my case, the genre isn’t necessarily what people want to buy. It is what I want to write, so I will write it. Perhaps someday my writing and publishing will find an intersection. Until then, I’ll just keep my head down and/or live in my head.

    Hope your own writing is going well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.