Thursday, March 20, 2014

8 Inspired Openings and Publishing Success: On Thick Skin, Perseverance, and Vacuuming Alligators By Clara Kensie

Today we have our very own Clara Kensie, who does the Question of The Week on Sundays! Clara is the first ever serialized author for Harlequin Teen, and her YA Romantic Thriller series RUN TO YOU has been blowing up the blogoshphere. The first book (consisting of Part One: First Sight, Part Two: Second Glance, and Part Three: Third Charm) is available now. Keep your eye out for Book 2 (Part Four: Fourth Shadow, Part Five, Fifth Touch, and Part Six: Sixth Sense), coming in July!

Publishing Success: On Thick Skin, Perseverance, and Vacuuming Alligators
By Clara Kensie

This is my mascot:

Yep. My mascot an alligator with a vacuum cleaner. My Vacuuming Alligator is the screen saver on my computer, so I see him several times a day. Every time I see him, he motivates me and gives me strength.

You are probably wondering why the Vacuuming Alligator is my mascot. What do I find so motivating about an alligator and a vacuum cleaner?

Let’s talk about the alligator part first.

Writers are sensitive people. Our emotions run deep. That’s a good thing: we are better writers because of it. But the problem is, our writing is examined, critiqued, judged, and much of the time, it is rejected. An early piece of advice most aspiring authors receive is to develop a thick skin. Protecting our fragile emotions against criticism and rejection is vital to succeed in this field. When you hear the phrase “thick skin,” you may picture a rhinoceros, or maybe a suit of armor. Me? I picture an alligator.

I conjure that alligator in my mind every time I get feedback from my critique partners. Every time I get revision notes back from my editor. Every time I read a review of my books. When I picture that alligator with its thick skin, it gives me courage to read the feedback, the revision notes, the reviews (I’m happy to say that I’ve gotten only excellent reviews so far, but I still have to picture that alligator in my mind before I have enough courage to read them). A thick skin allows me to read the feedback/notes/reviews objectively and not take criticism personally. If I were to slide down a spiral of discouragement and despair every time I received criticism, I would have quit writing a long time ago. I certainly would never have been published.

Now let’s discuss why my alligator has a vacuum cleaner.

Did you know the guy who invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner made 5126 prototypes before he finally made one that worked? That really resonated with me, for two reasons: perseverance and distance.

My first draft of RUN TO YOU was awful. I had no idea what I was doing. That Dyson guy inspired me to persevere and do whatever it took to fix it, including seeking out the toughest critique partners I could find, and welcoming their harsh feedback (which I was able to accept because of my thick skin). I looked at it this way: What if I wasn’t a writer—what if I invented vacuum cleaners? If I designed a vacuum cleaner that didn’t work, I would learn why it wasn’t working, so I could go back in and fix it. Same thing with writing. I kept that Dyson prototype number in my head: 5126. Even if it took 5126 revisions, I would persevere until I got RUN TO YOU right. Note: it did not take me 5126 revisions (although sometimes it felt like it).

While I write each draft of my manuscripts, I open myself up to all the feels. But when I send my manuscripts for feedback from beta readers or revision notes from my editor, I adjust my way of thinking. My manuscripts are now products that I’m sending out to be analyzed, so I can find out what’s not working, and then I can go back in and fix it. Thinking of my manuscripts as products helps me distance myself from them, so I can figure out how to perfect them. Once I absorb the feedback, I open myself up again to all the feels, and go back in to fix the manuscript.

So there you have it: my personal mascot, the Vacuuming Alligator. I’m happy to share him, so whenever you need to thicken your skin to accept critique, or need motivation for perseverance, or need to distance yourself from your manuscript so you can analyze it, feel free to use the Vacuuming Alligator as your own mascot.

About The Author

Clara Kensie grew up near Chicago, reading every book she could find and using her diary to write stories about a girl with psychic powers who solved mysteries. She purposely did not hide her diary, hoping someone would read it and assume she was writing about herself. Since then, she's swapped her diary for a computer and admits her characters are fictional, but otherwise she hasn't changed one bit.

Today Clara is the author of dark fiction for young adults. Her super-romantic psychic thriller RUN TO YOU is the first serialized novel from Harlequin Teen.

Her favorite foods are guacamole and cookie dough. But not together. That would be gross.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

About The Books

The first serialized novel from Harlequin Teen
All three parts of Book One are available NOW

RUN TO YOU Part One: First Sight
Part One in the riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Sarah Spencer has a secret: her real name is Tessa Carson, and to stay alive, she can tell no one the truth about her psychically gifted family and the danger they are running from. As the new girl in the latest of countless schools, she also runs from her attraction to Tristan Walker—after all, she can’t even tell him her real name. But Tristan won’t be put off by a few secrets. Not even dangerous ones that might rip Tessa from his arms before they even kiss…

RUN TO YOU Part Two: Second Glance
Part Two in the riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Tessa Carson has unlocked her heart and her secrets to Tristan Walker—but Tristan has secrets of his own, and his might just mean the end of Tessa’s family. Unaware, Tessa embraces falling in love and being herself for the first time since she was attacked when she was only eight years old. But secrets can’t be run from forever, and sometimes love is too good to be true…

RUN TO YOU Part Three: Third Charm
Part Three in the riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Betrayed, heartbroken, and determined to save her family, Tessa Carson refuses to give in to Tristan Walker’s pleas for forgiveness. But her own awakening psychic gift won’t let her rest until she uncovers the truth about her family and her past. And Tristan is the only one who can help her sift through the secrets to find the truth hidden in all the lies

Tessa and Tristan’s story continues in the heart-pounding sequel:

Part Four: Fourth Shadow
Part Five: Fifth Touch
Part Six: Sixth Sense
(available for pre-order now; releasing July 2014)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


  1. I hadn't thought of that. As a writer you need to "feel" the feelings to write effectively. After that a writer needs to readjust the feeling-thinking as the finished product goes out into the world.

    Great advice.

  2. Love the vacuuming alligator. A good reminder that books require a lot of revisions *sigh* ;)

  3. I love this image! Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Great analogy -- a vacuuming alligator. Love it. Thanks for posting this.

  5. Clara, this is AWESOME! I didn't realize it took the Dyson guy that many tries. What if he'd given up after 5125?

    Now...if that vacuum could also clean up crappy first drafts, I'd hire that alligator in a flash.

  6. I have to admit, I was curious about the vacuuming alligator. But your analogy makes perfect sense. I'll keep it in mind as inspiration and encouragement as I work through my latest MS rewrite :-)

  7. I'm still working on my thick skin, lol. Yay!! I'm so glad you've had such a success with your books!! It gives me hope.

  8. Haha! Okay, now I get the alligator with the vacuum bit. I had to come see for myself. That really works!!! Keep on vacuuming!


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