Friday, December 16, 2011

The Easy and The Hard

Since my last post things have been up and down and all over the map. After the tragedy of losing Trey I spent many weeks not being myself at all. It wasn't until I thought maybe another dog in the house would help that I searched animal shelters and classifieds until I found this little guy.

Winston is a Wire-hair Fox Terrier and he has restored balance to my life.

So that was an up. Then just before Thanksgiving and while my husband was on a plane home from Germany, I got really sick...again. I'll compare it to earlier this year when I'd had to get my gallbladder removed except that I no longer had a gallbladder. So after pretending for a good 12 hours that I only had a bad flu bug, my husband finally gets home and I give him a hug and weepingly ask him to take to to the emergency room. After the nice nurses had given me a bed and some morphine, I sent my jetlagged husband home and waited for the results which I hoped had nothing to do with my missing gallbladder. The findings: my appendix needed to come out now!!

I know, I know. Two unrelated surgeries in one year. Both within a week of a major holiday. I'm a little concerned about what my body is planning for Christmas.

So that was the down. A few days later we hopped in the car as a family and drove to California to have Thanksgiving dinner with my Grandmother. It was a wonderful time to see family I hadn't seen for a long time, even if it was in a partially drug-induced haze. What a great upper.

While all this was happening, I was doing my best to continue with my writing. It's almost 2012, the year that R.A.G.E. will be released and I still feel like it's not even close to being ready. My editor suggested that my book wasn't beginning in the right place and that I should write a chapter about what happens before my current beginning. I thought this was funny at first because I'd deleted the first chapter over a year ago in order to start the novel in the middle of the action. What I learned was that people need a reason to care that the main character is being chased or shot at before you can do any of those things to them.

The trouble was, that chapter I'd deleted hadn't benefited from the massive amounts of writing knowledge I'd collected after it had been sent to be quietly buried in the file graveyard lovingly entitled "trashed writing". It was really no good. I had to start from scratch.

This was actually fun on many levels. I really got to examine my main characters as people would who were meeting them for the first time. I even surprised myself by writing in tiny snippets of backstory that had hitherto not existed, helping to round out characters I already thought were rounded.

And so the massive edits continue although I'm sneaking time when I can to work on the third and final book in my 12th Dimension series. My intention is to have all three books written before the first one comes out.

I'll leave you with this quote I borrowed from a friend. I want everyone to think of it every time you write a sentence, read a book, or even look at a book across the way in some big box store.

Easy reading is damn hard writing. --Nathaniel Hawthorne

And so it is.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What I Do About Loss

It's been a rough month or so. It all started when my little schnauzer, Trey, was following me up the stairs, you know like velcro dogs do. I turned around and gave him a quick scratch under the chin like he likes. That's when I noticed two little lumps on his neck. I felt them for a moment, muttering under my breath, "well that doesn't feel right," and then went about my day. The next day I called the vet and to make a long, painful story short, it was determined that Trey had lymphoma, a very aggressive form of cancer.

It went from oh-that-doesn't-feel-right, to three weeks later taking him for the last time to the Vet for a quiet push across the Rainbow Bridge.

As you can imagine, the grief of losing one of my best friends has taken its toll on everything else in my life. I found myself completely unable to do any writing. Sitting down at my computer would just remind me of the fuzzy foot rest I always had at my feet and the random pictures in my computer containing a face or tail or leg of Trey, always in the background, always part of the family.

So I threw myself into some art projects. My sister-in-law, Brittany, replaced all of the old, wooden windows in her house a few months ago. While visiting her one day, I saw that she'd taken some of the old windows and hung them on her walls. They looked awesome and rustic and I asked if she had any more. Yup.

So I took these...

and turned them into these...

I still have one more window to fill and currently have a watercolor in the works starring my youngest son as a toddler staring out the window with his gray, fuzzy friend, Mr. Trey-Trey.

The thing is, a few days ago I was finally able to open my laptop and continue the mountains of work I'd been neglecting. I guess time does heal wounds, or at least numbs them enough to help us continue on. And cathartic art projects help too.

I have Trey's collar hanging above my desk and I'm still prone to weeping if I sit and think too long about his soft ears or his waggling tail (there may or may not be tears wetting my keyboard right now), but at least I'm able to get back to work and do things like signing my three book contract *damp grin* and editing, editing editing.

P.S. Since things have been generally sucky, I did finally manage to get the free book MONARCH out to the respective winner but I did it without any fanfare (I haven't been in the mood for fanfare). In fact I simply drew the name out of a hat (a black fedora I borrowed from my long-haired preteen), contacted the winner and sent it to them in the mail. Sorry, folks, the contest is over. There was a lucky winner who is now happily caressing their not so new, well-loved copy. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MONARCH by Michelle Argyle--book review

I met Michelle at a baby shower for a mutual friend a few months ago and instantly hit it off. She writes thrillers, I write thrillers. She’s very savvy in regards to the publishing industry and is fantastic at marketing her work. In a word, Michelle is brilliant. And did I mention that she designed her cover? Oh yeah, baby!

So naturally, when I had the opportunity to read and review her debut novel MONARCH, I was super excited.

Nick’s life as a VIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lillian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long . . .

Monarch is a fast, interesting read. The characters are complex, the plotline compelling and the monarch butterfly symbolism created a great thread to tie everything together.

I’ll admit though that I had trouble getting into this novel. As you know, I write thrillers. I love thrillers and everything about them so when I picked up Monarch expecting the super-duper speed and action of a thriller I’m afraid I was disappointed. I couldn’t pin it down for the longest time. Why couldn’t I get into this book like I had so many thrillers before? Well it took a long time to pin it down but I finally figured it out while listening to an episode of Writing Excuses by the phenomenal Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells and friends about making promises to your readers.

Authors make a promise to a reader by the book blurb, the opening chapter, the title, the cover and multiple things in between the covers that the writer must deliver on or risk disappointing their readers. However the very first promise we make is through our book genre.

Monarch is marketed as a thriller and technically has all the earmarks of a thriller. CIA Agent, guns, life threatening situations, dead bodies. However, the real genre of the novel doesn’t technically exist.

This is a book about relationships, thus when it didn't thrill me like a thriller...well there was my problem. Anyone know the genre name for relationship books? I don't. Don’t say romance because it’s not the same, and there’s way too much angst and fighting in this book to be considered Chiclit.

So we have guy meets girl, girl meets guy. Guy likes girl, girl likes guy. Guy betrays girl, girl betrays guy, like, hate, will we, won’t we, etc. etc. This is what the book is about. The balance of thriller vs. relationship leans way too much on the relationship side for this to be considered a thriller. I understand the need to be able to place it somewhere on a shelf, but will someone please create a relationship genre for these books so they don’t get overlooked or lost in the wrong-ish genre category?

I don’t say any of this in anyway to trash on MONARCH. I love Michelle and appreciate all the work she’s put into making this novel the best it can be . . . Michelle Argyle style. As a relationship book it works very well and does have its share of thrilling moments. However if you’re looking for a thriller and are expecting one, you will be disappointed as a whole. Read it for what it is, rather than what it’s marketed as and I think you will find it quite enjoyable.

I have an advanced reading copy available to one lucky commenter. Yes, it’s the same one I read so it might have some telltale signs of wear since I love to cuddle my books to death . . . erm, so with that little disclaimer, comment anyway, yo.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reading Your Work Outloud

It's no secret that authors get close to their work. Really close. Dangerously close. So close in fact that criticism can hurt as badly as if someone were criticizing your child or threatening to do them harm.

Don't get me wrong, it's good to love your work. You are your manuscript's best advocate and if you don't love it there is simply no hope that anyone else will either. The problems come when you get so close to your work that your refuse, or are physically unable, to see the faults that are staring you every time you go through it.

Let's face it. You know every word, sentence and paragraph you've written and you know exactly why you wrote it and the importance it is to the manuscript. So why would you even consider taking it out? "Killing your darlings," as they say.

I recently discovered just how close I was to R.A.G.E. and just how hard it was for me to kill anything.

I work on my novel a lot. I consider writing a job in fact and put the necessary amount of time into it. So it came as no surprise the other day when my almost 12 y/o son came to me and wondered when he would be able to read this work I never seem to step away from.

Now R.A.G.E. is an adult book but it does have some cool aspects that a 12 y/o would like such as power over electricity and lots of guns and grenades and such. I'm also in the middle of a heavy edit and I thought, "Hey why not read it out loud to him?" I could bleep out a few choice words while I was reading and it would be fun. This way I could catch all those things your eyes pass right over when you're reading in your head as well as spending some quality time with my son and my manuscript.

I've read my book out loud to myself before so I was unprepared for the way I would view my own manuscript while reading aloud to SOMEONE ELSE who has no idea what the story is about.

And you know what I found? Way too much exposition.

I kept wanting the story to move along. Get to the dialogue. Get to the next relevant item. I began yelling at my main character to stop thinking about stuff so much and just get on with it already!

I couldn't believe the change in my perception of my work. It was though I was viewing it from my son's eyes. And then it hit me. I could actually distance myself from my work. It would take my son's help but I could do it. Today I went back through the chapter I read him last night and edited out a lot of the extraneous exposition.

It's amazing what a new perspective can give your work. How do you distance yourself from your manuscript?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Importance of Invisible Writing

So you’ve just finished your novel. No, not just any novel, the Great American Novel. No, your magnum opus! This novel has been designed to make people perk up and listen. You had a theme and you stuck to it and now everyone will be talking about it. The word will go out and awareness will be raised for those trees in the Amazon rain forest, those civil rights issues in the south, the sea turtles off the Eastern seaboard facing extinction, the sexism across the country.

Well, I hate to tell you this but if you’ve just finished writing a novel under this mindset, you have a problem. Notice I said novel, not nonfiction. The trouble is people read novels to be entertained. They want to be taken away with a cast of characters. They want to see what they see and feel what they feel. They want to be brought into the emotions of another person and learn their story and savor the conclusion. No one wants to be preached to. That’s what textbooks are for.

We’ve heard it time and time again: The story must be king.

When anything in your novel bounces the reader out of the story and takes them away from the vividness of those characters and settings, I’m afraid to tell you that your writing is showing through. You worked hard on those words but in actuality, no one wants to see them. They just want to be told a story.

Now unfortunately this doesn’t just apply to those larger themes mentioned above. This applies on a much smaller scale. You may have that novel where nothing is more important that the conflict and the characters. And yet your readers are constantly being pulled out of the story for some reason or another and forced to examine the actual words you’ve put on the page.

I’m talking of course about the technicalities of writing. I recently read two books back to back. One, an absolutely fantastic work where the only thing that took me out of the book was the use of OK vs. okay (okay, I admit, I really like “okay” better. OK looks like it’s being yelled). On the other hand, the other book was so full of passive writing, telling vs. showing, adverbs and other bothersome things you may think are not so important, that there were times where I would go for pages only seeing the words and never being drawn into the story at all. I spent more time mentally editing sentences than I did actually reading the stupid thing.

I’m sure someone is yelling at me at this point that not all readers see or even know about these silly writing rules. I agree. Most readers don’t know about them. They simply read the book with a vague sense of annoyance. They’re never drawn fully into the story and they probably don’t even know why.

Writing rules are in place for a reason. They allow us to smooth down those sharp edges into a silky piece of work. People will read it and walk away talking about your characters as though they are real people. They’ll make fan pages for the fantasy world you’ve created and sport t-shirts with your brilliant magic system brought to life.

The only people who appreciate purple prose are the ones who write it. You will never be able to sell the importance of your theme to a group of people if they can’t get into your novel. People will never get to know your characters unless you can make them seem like something other than words on a page.

So here’s the kicker. You know your characters better than anyone. You can go to any page of your Work in Progress and see their faces and feel their emotions and see their thoughts. To you they are real because you created them. You saw them before they were those words on the page. So how do you know if you’ve actually made your writing invisible?

1. Alpha readers. Beta readers. Writing groups. Editors. I can’t stress enough how you need an outside opinion on your work. Someone honest who won’t tell you what you want to hear. Allow them to tell you when they can’t stay connected to parts of the story. Or when that word keeps jumping out at them. Or when they’ve had to read the same sentence five times to discern the meaning.

2. Learn those all-important rules. Active vs. passive writing. Limited adverbs. Varying word choice, point of view, etc, etc, etc. Don’t just learn them, embrace them. Make them become as natural as typing. The rules are in place for a reason. They are formulaic devices honed over the years by people much more brilliant than ourselves to pull the story forward and make the words sink quietly into the background.

3. You know if you’ve themed your writing. It’s good to have a theme. It’s better to have a story where readers feel for the characters plight and worry about said characters surviving in that doomed rain forest in the Amazon.

Make the story the King.

So let’s be honest here. Is your writing invisible?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I was talking to a fellow writer the other day who is struggling a bit with her first draft. She’s an amazing writer but sometimes has a hard time putting down that crappy first draft because she’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist. No matter how many people say, “Just write it. It’s a first draft, it’s supposed to suck!” she just hates leaving behind any ugly sentence structures, even the slightest bland-ish character, or stilted dialogue and therefore doesn’t always feel excited about getting back to the work.

We came to the conclusion that what she needed was a payoff. And not just any payoff—a daily, paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence payoff.

So what’s a payoff? Something that excites us about the sometimes not-so-beautiful work-in-progress that brings us back to it day after day, month after month until it can be completed and therefore edited to perfection.

I hadn’t actually thought about it until this conversation and I realized that I have a payoff in place for myself. Sometimes I’ll find myself writing some beautiful prose that I wouldn’t mind reading again and marveling at my brilliance, but most often it’s simply the dialogue.

I love dialogue with all my heart. I like writing conversations and arguments. I love the act of communication and how it can drive a scene either by characters learning more about each other or miscommunication that leads to blows (I like the blows a lot. Ask anyone.). I like speaking dialogue I’m considering for a scene to myself in the mirror while I get ready in the morning (don’t judge, you do it too...erm, maybe) and therefore even in my first drafts, my dialogue tends to shine. Everything else is an atrocious lump but, hey, I have fancy dialogue.

That’s my payoff. I don’t move onto another scene if I feel that the dialogue is even a little off. So the next day, after letting my mind be filled with other (more important) things, I’m still excited to come back and see what my characters said to each other, and what they might say next.

What’s your payoff to keep you writing?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm guest posting at another blog today!!

As the title states, I'm doing my very first ever guest post on another blog today. This is super cool on many levels, the first of which is I adore the author of this blog (Michelle Argyle). I have even been privileged to obtain an advanced reading copy of her novel MONARCH and will be reviewing it right here in October.

My guest post is pretty much the same post as this one I did last week but I added one more tip concerning the "Starting Syndrome".

Go check it out when you get the chance and spend some time browsing Michelle's blog as well. You won't be sorry.

The Innocent Flower

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Character Motivations

I’ve recently finished the second draft of the second book in my 12th Dimension series (RISK). The first draft was too horrible to be seen by any eyes save my own and one other person. That one other person (thanks Kate!) was able to read it and point out holes the size of Belgium and therefore put poor RISK onto the second draft track. So when the second draft was complete it went out to my other Alpha readers for their evaluation.

Now reading this manuscript was no small task, as I understand. I’m sure it was a sight easier than what poor Kate had to read but there were still problems with the manuscript that no public reader should ever have to witness. My biggest problem: character motivations.

I am a discovery writer so by nature I write wonderfully from point A to point B. I create darn good action sequences (usually involving a lot of electricity and firearms) and my dialogue (IMHO) rocks. However, since I am the aforementioned discovery writer, I don’t always know what my characters want at the moment I’m writing that slam-bang action sequence. I usually don’t even know what my characters want until I’ve written “the end” and then had a group of Alpha readers read the manuscript and we stay up until two in the morning hashing over what the devil my characters want.

This doesn’t mean they are completely directionless. I’m pretty good at the small motivations, i.e. Rose doesn’t want to be shot by that guy so she hides behind that rock and volts him the second she gets a chance. I’m not even too bad with motivations that span several chapters, i.e. Thurmond sees that Rose is in trouble and will go to the ends of the earth (or Arches National Park) to find her and help her out. The place I really struggle is the manuscript-spanning motivations, i.e. Rose is sad at the beginning of the manuscript and has to do something deliberate over the course to 100 thousand + words to make her not sad anymore.

The trouble with not knowing character motivations is that you have characters who are for the most part reactive. Someone does this and so they need to do that. They are not able to drive the story. They don’t engender the same trust as you would give a character who, I don’t know, has a plan and you get to see them implement it. Don’t you just love a character you can trust will always get out of the situation? For example, Dr. Who is fantastic at this. You know his motivation (save Earth, or the girl or both) and so you can trust that no matter how bad things get he has a plan to get everyone out of it.

That doesn’t mean that characters can’t have moments of directionlessness (I know that’s not a word, the red underline is screaming at me), but they should be few and far between. They should be that low point right before the character turns things around and gets back on their motivation horse.

As my editor told me recently, “Just remember that the character must want something ‘even if it's a glass of water.’ (Kurt Vonneghut, Jr.)”

So tell me, discovery writers and outline writers alike, do you ever have problems with your character’s motivations?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Things I now know about writing

May I just start by saying my editor, Sheryl, is brilliant. I received my first edits from her this week which only went to show me how much I didn't know. It never fails--feel like you know everything about a subject and the universe will make sure you discover that you don't.

So I open the edited document and my first reaction was, "HOLY BLOOD RED PENCIL, BATMAN!"

Now I'll have to admit this didn't shake me up like it would have a year ago, or if I'd received the same information by someone a bit less trustworthy. I was delighted, not only that I hadn't self-published (not that I'm opposed to self-publishing but in R.A.G.E.'s case I would have just been shooting myself in the foot), but that at last I had been handed the tools by a brilliant professional (have I mentioned that yet? Brilliant, I tell you) to give R.A.G.E. the greatest chance out there in the big, scary world.

So after my original reaction and then my secondary reaction and perhaps a couple more reactions, (NONE of which involved any tears or welling about the eyes of any kind) I planted myself in front of my computer and went about learning what I probably should have already known.

Now I'm going to pass it along to you. Chances are you already know all this and you are welcome to roll your eyes at me and go find something more interesting to do. If you don't, however, go ahead and apply these techniques to your own work and you'll be surprised how much it tightens the writing.

1. The "ING" trap. This is what my editor calls it and you can read all about it here.

In my manuscript I'd call if more of a disease. Once I started it just seemed to spread. This is when (usually in an attempt to start your sentence with something other than he/she/ I/my or your character's name) you instead start with the verb. Example from R.A.G.E. "Trembling fingers touched my neck, searching for comfort from my dad." Urgh! Okay, this sentence is horrendous in many ways but let me fix it really quick so I can copy and paste it in my manuscript. How about. "My trembling fingers touched my neck, searching for the pendant that always gave me comfort from my father." Not great, but better, and it doesn't start with an "ing" word. Click on the link for more detailed info with examples and how to fix them. I understand it but I'm not sure I can explain it well enough.

2. ‘there is/there are' and ‘it is/it was' constructions. An example from my own work. "It was my leg, of all things, that hurt the worst." I mean seriously isn't it just better to write something like, "My leg, of all things, hurt the worst." I went and did a "find" (but not replace because you're going to have to use your brain to fix these ones) of all the "it was"'s. Amazing! And tightened. Done. You can read all about it here.

3. And last (at least for the moment until I receive more edits) The watching syndrome. Check for detailed info here.

This has to do with your character seeing things, hearing things and feeling things. Yes, we should have our characters using their five senses but it should be invisible. Here's an example from RISK this time, because I already went back and fixed the ones in R.A.G.E.: "I heard Max click a magazine into the M203 and start peppering bullets into the darkness." So much easier just to say, "Max clicked a magazine into the M203 and started peppering bullets into the darkness." Yes? Nod your head if you agree...did you just nod? And how about (also from RISK): "I saw the man lunging across the bed toward me, hands outstretched." How about instead: "The man lunged across the bed toward me, hands outstretched." Easy peasy and so much better.

I love all these little things in the editing phase and watching R.A.G.E. come together. Go ahead and read the other writing tips on the Shelfstealers website. You'll be happy you did and your manuscript as well as future (or current) editors will thank you.

My editor said, and I'm going to quote her because she's...(come on, you already know what I'm going to say because, admit it, you're clicking over to your own manuscripts right now and applying these things)...brilliant. She said, "when we eliminate some of the weaknesses in our writing, other weaknesses that were hiding, rise to the surface. I liken it to the sculptor's or wood-carver's process: carve away the awkward bits to reveal the grain, and then work with that grain to bring out its richness."

With those words I'm going to work on my sculpture...erm manuscript.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Joys of Easter and Gallbladder Surgery

You know how busy weeks usually start. Weeks before this alleged busy week you simply scratch in a single activity on a calendar. Little did you know, that while you are living the days up until that single activity, the activity has been quietly and militaristically recruiting under the sly. Now suddenly at the beginning of the week you look at your calendar, remembering scratching in that single activity only to see twelve others also scratched in (No way is that your handwriting!) and voila! The busy week hath birthed.

Well such a busy week appeared on my calendar early last week. It started out innocently enough with friends over for lunch on Tuesday before blossoming into a full fledged 9-year-old birthday party, soccer/hip-hop/football practice and Easter weekend. Now lest you scoff at this week and say you've seen worse let me add one more:

Wednesday night (the day before the birthday party) this poor mother found herself in such pain that she couldn't even begin to imagine laying down and sleeping that night, much less throwing a birthday party for nine squealing 9-y/olds. A late night visit to the ER and a friendly visit from Mr. Morphine and suddenly, that heavily laden table that was my week suddenly became someone else's heavily laden table.

I will admit right here and right now to a bright sappy look that must have crossed my face as the sleepy ER Doc told me that I needed emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. There may or may not have been tears of gratitude and an attempted sloppy kiss (remember the morphine) that had mostly to do with the fact that I wasn't dying anymore--although there might have been a secondary moment where I saw my busy week suddenly (and with no need for guilt on my part) become someone else's. I got to spend the next two days in relative peace and quiet at the hospital playing "You know you're a writer when... 1. You analyze every pain and put it into a descriptive sentence. 2. The drug-induced dream becomes your new favorite idea for a book 3. That thing the nurse just said about your dressing is not only poetic but inspirational and must be written down(remember the morphine)."

So today is Easter Sunday. I've been out of the hospital since Friday (although in a narcotic haze that tends to amplify not only the dog barking two miles away, but the child crying right in my ear) and all I can think to say is how grateful I am.

First: The birthday party was a success in that, even though I wasn't able to make the Barbie Cake my 9 y/o wanted, or draw the picture for pin-the-crown-on-the-princess, she and her squealing little friends had a wonderful time (thanks to a resourceful husband and a copy of Tangled) proven by the huge smile I got from her when I saw her later that night in the hospital.

Second: The doctors were able to not only quickly diagnose my problem but also get me into surgery quickly, thus successfully curing the mystery illness I've had for the last couple of years.

Third: I have the most wonderful family, friends and neighbors. From the phone calls, text messages and dinners brought over for my family, I feel so cherished and taken care of. Even today, Easter Sunday, we were surprised by the most amazing Easter ham with all the accessories and even a get well card.

And last: My husband, Brett, who did the work of both a dad and a mom-with-a-super-busy-week. It's hard for me to take time just for myself and he managed to make me feel completely comfortable and secure that my children are being well taken care of so that I have been able to sleep and heal.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Writer's Group Givin' Nothin' But Love

I may or may not have mentioned in past posts some very important people in my life. My writer's group (aka Once Upon a Keyboard), are what I would consider the Godparents on my novel. And yes, they give me nothing but love.

Now before you scream foul, and whisper behind your hands that only positive feedback is the worst thing a novel can have (unless it's been written by a supreme being and therefore has no flaws...and I guarantee that's not the case with R.A.G.E.), let me expound.

My writer's group are some of the most positive people I know (sure), with nothing but great ideas backed by intelligence, deeply grounded personal opinions, and the type of affection for their poor, flailing Godchild that tends to bring out the criticism.

Yes...I said criticism. From the beginning there has been a lot of pats on the back, lots of praise and lots of that hard-to-take-but-necessary-if-Godchild-has-any-chance-of-surviving criticism.

Example: even with R.A.G.E. out with the professional editors for Shelfstealers, I still handed it back around to my Keyboardians for last chance critiques. And you know what they found? Mistakes!! *gasp* I know, how embarrassing! Some were small easy fixes. However, I know of at least one case a major mistake was pointed out. It had to do with the dialogue of my Main Character that, it was agreed on, made her sound too childish. The problem was presented to me in the best way possible (i.e. with hesitation, downcast eyes, and a nerve of steel) and it took a good twenty minutes for fellow Keyboardian Terra Luft, to get her point across. Once I understood what she was trying to say, I responded in the best way possible (with a bit of welling about the eyes, a growl of frustration, and a resolve to ignore her). However, when I didn't sleep well that night, (thinking psuedo cuss words at aforementioned Terra Luft that my MC said too much of) I went back and looked at R.A.G.E. again with fresh eyes.

It was true, my writer's group loved me enough to anger me into taking a drastic action that succeeded in making my Main Character sound like an adult rather than a teenybopper. Bullet dodged.

Have I mentioned how much I love my writer's group? They took me out to dinner the other night to celebrate the publishing contract and also gave me the best gift a writer/reader could ask for--a gift card to Barnes and Noble. :) So here in front of the fifty six followers I have, I would just publicly like to thank the Godparents of R.A.G.E.

Keyboardians, you guys are amazing. Thanks for showing the love!

Do you have a group willing to say the hard stuff? How's that going for you?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shelf Stealers

As I said in my last post, here I am with all sorts of links and stuff to my publisher. I still blush when I say publisher because it sounds to me like I'm all full of myself that I could actually have a publisher *pinch, pinch*. A publisher for my novel that will be published. My novel that you will be able to hold in your hands or read on your Kindle thanks to my publisher. Published....

Now that I've gotten that out of my system let me introduce you to the folks who have made this post possible:

Shelf Stealers

Shelf Stealers is a new publishing company with the right kind of plan to make it in this changing industry. With their focus on e-books and audiobooks they intend on growing with the increasing demand for electronic reading. However, along with that, they are still intent on making paper books available for paper snobs (like me) but keeping the costs down to a minimum.

However, that's not all. With the industry in such flux, they also have a slew of new ideas they are bringing to the table in order to draw more readers. One is their Clear Eyes program designed to bring free audio books to the blind, and the second is their Watch Our Writers. This one is still in the works but basically, you can watch your favorite author work on his or her next project. You can hear their thought process and see what the Shelf Stealers editors have to say as they go along. You will also be able to buy the book a chapter at a time before it comes out. To me, as the author, that sounds like some very satisfying work although it could prove stressful during those moments of self-flogging and writer's block. As as a reader, I would find it intriguing to see another author's process.

Shelf Stealers is actively searching for great books right now and aren't afraid to take on debut authors (like me), authors with small audiences and even self-published authors as long as it is quality writing. They will even give you feedback on your submission with a feedback form. If you're interested in submitting to them, look over all the info they have on their awesome site and then go to the submissions page.

Oh and just for fun, check out my real live author profile on the Shelf Stealers website here.

You tell me: what do you think about the Watch Our Writer's program? As a writer, would you want to participate? As a reader, would you want to follow the authors journey?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Publishing and Reality

So much has happened writing-wise in the last few months, I've been procrastinating doing a blog post because I knew it would be huge and therefore no one would read it. So the more I procrastinated, the huger it got in my mind until I started avoiding blogger altogether in order to not have it staring accusingly at me. Anyway, here goes the huge blog post of doom which I will attempt to abbreviate so you have time for some dinner tonight and hopefully a little sleep.

First of all, let me just trumpet the fact that after laboring for over a year on the sequel to R.A.G.E., I finally managed to pound out THE END on the first draft (RISK). Whew! For a time there I never thought I'd find out how it ends (the curse of being a discovery writer). It still has an exorbitant amount of rewriting (I can't even mention editing yet because that's more about fine tuning to me and it's not to that point) as well as finally reaching the eyes of my writer's group and beta readers. I did allow one person to read it (Thanks Kate, you rock!) since with her encouragement (i.e. making a deadline for herself as well as me and forcing me to stick to it) was the dang thing even finished at all. All hail the birth of RISK.

So after the completion of aforementioned rough draft, I put on my editing hat and delved into other people's manuscripts, the first being likewise aforementioned Kate's second draft of her wonderful YA fantasy THAYER. I love seeing other peoples world building, creativity and the amazingly (blasted adverb but I'm leaving it because I can) hard work this author in particular put into her novel.

The second book I edited, was my father's third book in his Cedar Post series (FLYPAPER) due to come out sometime in the next couple of months. Can I tell you how much I absolutely adore hearing my father's voice through the pages. He lives on the other side of the country and I got to listen to him tell me a story for hours and hours every day for a couple of weeks. Such joy. If you're interested in his other novels and hope to anticipate the third, he just put THE CEDAR POST and TEARS OF JOY on kindle. You can also go here to get a hard copy and prepare yourself for the much anticipated FLYPAPER.

Now come the third thing which is of great importance (to me) so I hope you haven't zoned out on my monstrous blog post yet because this is where it is getting really exciting (again, to me). After watching my father go through his publishing process and after going through many years of querying with a few hopeful moments but more than a lot of rejection, I decided to bite the bullet and self publish my book. I got on amazon and jumped through all their hoops (i.e. formatting the manuscript, battling with adobe illustrator to make a book cover etc.). So the other day I got to the point where R.A.G.E. was as good as I could get it and I ordered my proof copy. (Yay! Still waiting for it.)

Two days later I was going through and cleaning out my google reader(which involved over a thousand blog posts I'd neglected to read while avoiding blogger's stink eye), clicking on the occasional post that interested me and I happened on one touting a new publisher asking for submissions. So naturally I clicked on over to them, loved their website, immediately filled out their submission form and promptly forgot about them. After X number of rejections you stop getting your hopes up on every one.

Well wouldn't you believe it but an hour later I received a personal email from the founder saying she'd gotten my submission, liked it at a glance and was sending it over to her editors. Yipee. (with no exclamation points because remember me talking about not getting my hopes up?) So a couple of hours later I got a very quick email the send my heart right into my throat.

The founder said there were two votes in my favor and they were still waiting on a third and that they hoped I'd like to work with them.

Well since my heart was in my throat it didn't have any room to beat so I may or may not (I must maintain my dignity) have started hyperventilating and wept real life tears. My children did their best to console me as it was apparent to them I had received the worlds worst news.

I'd love to go on and on but in the interest of saving me the embarrassment of watching someone react really badly to really good news (and my daughter has a doctors appointment I need to leave for right now) let me just say that I am now a part of a publishing company and am not getting any sleep at night because I'm so excited.

I'm not putting in any names right now because there's all sorts of stuff that has to be signed and finalized and honestly I'm still waiting for things to fall apart because are dreams really supposed to come true? Aren't they just suppose to stay dreams to you always have something to reach for?

Don't worry, I'll post lot's of info and links and all sorts of stuff when reality hits. Now go get some sleep--for me if nothing else since I probably won't be sleeping again tonight.