Sunday, November 25, 2012

Writing and the Holidays

Okay, I know I neglect this blog way more than I should, but honestly, do you really want to hear from me every single day?

I was thinking about my choice of career and the holidays today. There's both a novella and the second book in the Hunters series in the works as we speak, yet I've been unable to write in weeks. Because the holidays are in full swing I'm currently working a part-time job. This job is extremely exhausting, to the point where I could fall asleep the moment I get home. Unfortunately, between the physical exhaustion, the family obligations, and regular housework, I've had no time to write.

Oh wow. I can see some of you shaking your heads and making faces at me. I'm fully aware there are a lot of writers out there who work full-time jobs and still have time to write. Well, I commend you. I've never been one who had the energy to stay up all night to complete a book, then get up after only a few hours of sleep to start the day again. My brain doesn't function fully without rest. Never has. On top of the constant fatigue, I've been fighting with a stupid cold (my first in 3-4 years), plus trying to care for my special needs kids.

With the holidays being so busy, one has to wonder how anyone has time to breathe, let alone finish a book. I have so much respect for people who are able to finish 3 to 4 books a year while holding down a regular job, caring for their families, and keeping up their house. Where do you people find the energy? Is it something the rest of us can bottle? Any secrets?

Wow, this post really turned into nothing more than a rambling, incoherent thought. But, I'm sure most of you know me well enough by now to follow my thought process.

Have a great week, y'all!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Where do the readers hang out?

Oh, this poor neglected blog. I always have the best of intentions to write at least three times a week. Instead, I'm working on once a month. *sigh* Well, I'm here today. And boy, oh boy, do I have something to talk about.

I read a blog post today about writers and readers. The point was made that the writing industry isolates the readers. It got me thinking about all of my favorite blog stops and websites. The blog in question posted a quote from JA Konrath:

"Here’s the deal: Readers are my customers, not writers. Readers don’t even know who the Big 6 are. They don’t care.

I’m mentioned a lot in the publishing community, which is small, closed, and uninteresting to anyone who isn’t in it. But because we’re in it, and we care about it, we incorrectly assume that because writers know who I am, readers must as well." (Emphasis by the original blogger. Read the full article here.)  

Now, it's only 7:33am, and I've only had one and  a half cups of coffee so bear with me this morning. I'm sure this entire post will be riddled with mistakes and I may rattle on. If we're insulating our readers, how the hell does a newbie like myself reach these lovely people?   We're told, as writers, to have accounts on any and every site out there: Facebook, Myspace, LinkdIn, Goodreads, Google+, Wattpad...the list goes on and on. I've forgotten half of my passwords for these accounts. But are the readers on these sites, or are they only good for networking. Of course, most writers are readers, but a majority of readers aren't writers.

A voracious reader would have no reason to check out my LinkdIn profile. Why would they? Nor would they head over to She Writes to see what I'm up to. Notice I'm not linking these pages to my personal profile. I guess it would be smart to, but other than fellow writers, no one cares.   I have enjoyed getting to know so many people on Facebook, and get the opportunity to chat with authors whom I greatly respect. But, other than hardcore fans, readers aren't going to scour the social network for a new book. They're going to ask their friends for suggestions. They'll go to Amazon and scroll through the first few pages for a good read.   There is so much on the Internet about how to find readers, how to find your particular market. But these sites are almost always geared toward the writers, not the actual readers. Where are these people? Where are they hanging out? And, if you're not Stephen King, or JR Ward, how do the lowly newcomers get the people to come. If you write it, they will come? Nope. Doesn't work that way.    
                                                      If you build it, they will come.

  We spend countless hours researching, traveling to conferences, attending online classes, improving our craft, reading EVERY SINGLE BOOK out there about writing and marketing....they don't help. Okay, they help with our writing, but they don't help us find the people whom would buy our books.   Does anyone know the answer to these questions? Have you found the secret room where the urban fantasy fans, or the paranormal lovers are hanging out? Are they peeking through the windows laughing at us? And, do they care if we're on the radio, or are interviewed on the morning news? Could they care less if we're highlighted on someone's blog? Sure, review blogs are helpful, but how many readers go to them? Are they, too, geared toward the writing world?   Please, if you have an answer to any of these questions, feel free to point the rest of us in the right direction.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Please, give me an idea!!

A good friend whom I met on Facebook recently asked me how I came up with ideas. She was thinking about trying her hand at paranormal writing - a genre she loves to read, but doesn't usually write. She even joked about could I help her come up with an idea. This got me thinking throughout the weekend- How do we come up with our ideas?

I've seen parody videos, I've heard other writer's accounts, but I can only speak on my own behalf. So, please, do not take this as gospel. Here's how it usually works for me:

During a nap, or at night, something will sometimes come to me in a dream. In these instances, I usually dwell on the idea that popped in. One idea I had was so good I shot straight up in bed - which sucked for my equilibrium, as I was still asleep - and grabbed the closest piece of paper and pen. I started to write the book, but decided to focus on the Hunters series for now.

Okay, so how did I come up with the Hunters series? Have you ever watched a news cast about someone who killed a friend or family member? It's always the same thing - "They were such a good person. They loved their family and would do anything for anyone. I just don't know what happened." Well, the husband and I were watching just such a story and I sarcastically replied, "Yeah, great guy. I'm sure he's possessed." That's when the bells chimed in my head. What if?

Think about it - What if someone you loved dearly was suddenly possessed by a demon? What if the only way to save their soul was by terminating their life? Could you do it? Could you thrust a sword into their body to release the demon's hold?

A majority of ideas that come to me are from dreams or what-if moments. My sister, friends, family members, etc have called or emailed me with great ideas. Problem with those is I can't "see" the characters in my head since they didn't represent themselves to me.

There's another issue: You can have a great idea, but there has to be characters to play out the scenes, as well as some great conflict and plot loops! Just because a story sounds good doesn't mean the characters want to act it out for you.

Do you write? Where do your ideas come from? Maybe you pull from the news, or maybe your own life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Laptop and I Have Been Displaced

I'm a classic housewife/stay at home mom. I write full time. Yes, I know how very lucky I am. During the week, after the last kid heads to the bus stop, I prop my laptop on the dining room table, open the blinds and curtains in the dining room, and start pecking away. Well, this week, my husband's on vacation.

What does that have to do with anything? I've been starting out my days in our downstairs living room, stretched out on the couch with my laptop on my lap. I don't want to wake him up at six am; my husband works up to twelve hours a day during the week, so he deserves to sleep in.

Are you wondering what any of this has to do with writing? Or maybe why the hell I'm even bringing it up? Being stretched out on the couch is causing some discomfort. My legs are tight and sore by the end of the day - that's even after constantly getting up to do laundry, vacuum, and do laundry. It got me wondering about other writers' writing habits. You see, there's a place called The Writers Cave on Paige Cuccaro's site. I have spent hours going through the pictures of other authors' writing spaces.

Paige Cuccaro's "Cave"

At one time, when we first moved into this house, I had started hanging posters and arranging things in a certain area that I had designated as my writing space. Well, just like any other home with kids, a television and game system made their way into that space and it became yet another space for the kids. So, I'm currently writing homeless.

Laurell K Hamilton's "Cave"

I'd love to see pics of other writing spaces? Do you actually have an office? Or do you sprawl out wherever you can? Maybe you're like me and just plop your laptop down in the place that looks good for the day. Want to share pics of your writing spaces?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Show Vs Tell - The neverending discussion

Anyone who has ever written a book and had it reviewed by someone other than their dog has been told at one point or the other to show, not tell. For the last few days I was reading a book in the paranormal romance genre. Now, it usually only takes me a day or two to read a novel (depending on what is going on at night, as that's the only time I have to read), but I was constantly pulled from the story. Why? Because instead of showing me what was going on, the author constantly told me.

Ex. "I felt the grass beneath me."
     "I saw him do x, y, z."
     "I heard x, y, z."

How does one show instead of tell?

Let's take the first example above.

"I felt the grass beneath me."

The author has told us what the character felt. But, if the character were allowed to show us what she was feeling, it may look a little like this:

"As I woke, something tickled against my bare skin, the ground was soft beneath me. I opened my eyes to see the stars bright above me."

Sure, that last sentence used a lot more words, and may not have been the best example, but you get the point, right? Let's try another one.

"Tenna was angry." (For those of you who have read She Who Hunts know Tenna can get pissy sometimes)

How does this look?

"Tenna jumped to her feet, stomped across the room, and slammed the door shut behind Jason."

Does the latter say the same as the former? Is it more interesting?

One of my problems with the show/tell thing is when an author "tells" me how a character feels, or sees, or whatever they don't trust me enough to come to the correct conclusion by what is going on in the story. If you tell me a character swipes their hands down their jeans before turning a doorknob, I will conclude that her nerves have caused her hands to sweat. You don't need to tell me "Jane was nervous. Her hands were sweating."

Here are five techniques you can use to avoid telling a reader:

1. Write from POV (point of view)
2. Dialogue is a fabulous way to show me what is going on
3. Use action verbs and picture nouns
4. Be sure to use all your senses. You know, smell, sight, sound, touch, taste (yes, even taste)
5. Write in scenes

Marta V Snyder has a great blog post going further into the five techniques. If you want to read further, feel free to head over and check her post out.

Do you have problems with telling instead of showing? Have you been drug out of a story because the author had a problem telling you everything?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm still here....

Someone recently made a comment that my blog seemed abandoned. Nope - I'm still here. I've had life coming at me from every angle. Everything from the kids constantly fighting during the summer break, to the first day of school, lawyer appointments and doctor appointments.

My recent doctor's appointment revealed that I am fructose intolerant. That means I can't have anything with high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol (or anything ending with an -ol), fruits or veggies that convert to high levels of fructose, etc. That leaves very little to eat.

Okay, that's a minor exaggeration. I can have lean meats, dairy (if I wasn't lactose intolerant, as well), a majority of veggies, some fruits, and even some snacks. The problem is everything in the grocery store contains the "poisons" I can't have. I went through the grocery store with my daughter yesterday and was amazed at just how many "good" foods contain HFCS. And guess what - they don't have to actually put the words High Fructose Corn Syrup on the packaging. They can use different terms and list the food as HFCS-free. You have to learn all the fun little words in the ingrediants.

So, if I can have meats, and veggies, what's the problem? Recipes. That's the problems. Sure, I can make chicken and veggies every night for dinner, but how fun is that? Who wants to eat the same thing every day? Not me. I'm having the hardest time trying to find yummy recipes that don't include some form of high fructose in it. I can't have onions, tomatoes, apples, melons, asparagus, most fruits, any white flour, corn, brown rice, bread, pasta (I did find one in the Gluten free section that didn't have the poison in it), and like I said, I'm also lactose intolerant. I can't imagine how parents deal with kids with these food intolerances. I know it's going to be hard to switch my family over. And no, I'm not going to make different meals for the different members of my family. I'm not a short order cook.

Do you have any food intolerances? Have you found any useful websites or cook books? How did you deal with these inconveniences when you or your loved one was diagnosed?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Have I Invited A Demon Into My House?

While writing She Who Hunts I had an idea in my head, one of those 'what if' moments. I remember watching the news and after a murder had happened the news anchor interviewed a neighbor of the suspect. "He was such a nice guy," the neighbor said. It always seems that after someone commits some heinous crime there is someone in their lives who declare this person was such a wonderful person, the kind of person who would do anything for anyone. But, how the hell did the person just snap and become a serial killer? My first thought-maybe they became possessed.

Now, as I'm working on the second book, I've become almost obsessed with the idea of demon possessions, and evil walking among us. I have to admit there are times when it feels like someone is in the room with me, and not just the characters who are busily chatting it up in my head. Sometimes, when the house is really quiet, and I'm really into a scene, it seriously feels like there's someone standing behind me. I whip around, ready to yell at whatever kid snuck in and was now reading over my shoulder to find an empty room.

Have I possibly brought the demons from She Who Hunts into my own life? Or has the story just become so alive to me that I keep waiting for those things which go bump in the night to tap me on the shoulder? How about you? Ever get so creeped out by something you wrote or read that you checked under your bed before climbing in?

Friday, June 22, 2012

I created you, you brat! Now behave!!!!!

Last night I was busy plotting some aspects of the next book in my Hunters series. I had a character in mind who would be a minor secondary character. What I decided originally was she would be about 40-50 years old. Apparently, this character found this amusing. She decided she's only 17. Okay, fine, you're a blonde goth/punk sassy teen. "Nope, I'm extremely shy, prefer to blend in, and I have mousy brown hair."

How the hell did this happen? I'm the creator. I made her. How is she calling the shots now?

Oh, it gets better. I had planned on her making only a few short appearances, then disappearing. Once again, she spoke up. This time she just busted out laughing. She ain't going nowhere! She has decided she wants to be in a couple of the books. Let me say this again, HOW THE HELL DID THAT HAPPEN?!

All of this seems a little wacky to my non-writer friends and family, but when I posted this little "issue" my writer friends chuckled. Every writer, apparently, has gone through this at one time or another. But, how is this possible? That's what I really want to know. These characters are make believe. Can you imagine if when you were a kid your imaginary friend suddenly decided they were someone else? Talk about causing some major trauma to your adolescent psyche!

I've heard other writers talk about fleshing out their characters, and deciding things for them. But, how much control did they really have? I mean, I write things out, usually on my dry erase board, then transfer the information to some index cards assigned to that specific character. I'm what they call a plotser, as I only plot to a certain point, then let the story develop on its own. But, my characters usually decide who they are with no help from me. Even the names are rarely assigned by me.

Do we writers suffer from a form of multiple personalities, or do we just have extremely overactive imaginations? Is there a pill, and would you take it if there were? *laughs*

Tell me, do you control your characters, or do they have constant control over the reigns?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Too Much Sex?

I have a confession to make - I love to read bad reviews on bestselling authors. Yep. Even those of my favorites, it brings me a little sense of joy to see one and two star reviews. Maybe it just makes me feel better that I don't have all five star reviews. Or maybe, I feel like even those who are in the top of the game have those who dislike their work.

While going through an author's reviews, an author whom I used to love her work, I noticed a trend in the reviews - too much sex. I won't name the author, as I'm not into giving bad reviews (or at least giving out the names), but I will tell you this is a bestselling author who happened to have a great series...until about halfway through the series. It then turned into bestiality fetish erotica. The storyline just disappeared.

Now, obviously, I have nothing against erotica, or really great sex scenes, but this author seemed to have decided as long as someone was having sex she no longer needed a plot for the books. Many of her previous fans have dropped both series and opted to find other new authors.

This whole thing got me thinking; what would it take for your most hardcore fan to turn their back on you?

When we pick up a book, whether this is a new-to-us author or someone we've been reading for years we expect a certain kind of writing. With the author I spoke of above, we expect the character to be stubborn, and almost paranoid that every male is a chauvinist. We also expect gory murder scenes, great plots, a little suspense, and a great crime solving ending. However, in the last half of both series, it seems the author got either bored, or was being pushed too hard to complete too many books in such a small amount of time. I don't know which, and probably will never know.

In a way, it's kind of like certain genres of books or movies; in romances, we expect a happily-ever-after. In suspense, we expect a great who-done-it. In horror, we expect to feel like we should be reading/watching through our fingers. What we don't want is a romantic hero who decides at the very end he doesn't really love the heroine, and wants to now become a celibate monk. We don't want to watch a suspense where you can guess who did it in the first five minutes. And we really don't want characters who had certain opinions about sex and monogamy to suddenly become oversexed sluts with a tendency to screw animals.

I'm sure some of you know which author I've been talking about, but we'll let the name stay anonymous. In the meantime, have you ever stopped reading your favorite author because they suddenly stopped playing by the rules they created? What really turns you off about a book?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why is it your favorite genre?

I write urban fantasy, and have dabbled in paranormal romance. I've also tried my hand with a little erotica. Obviously, these are my favorite genres to read. But, as I lay in bed thinking about a book I'm reading, I got thinking...why? What brought me to these genres? Why not regency romance, or maybe literary fiction? Or maybe even nonfiction books?

The first book I can remember falling in love with (and only wanting to rewrite the ending instead of the whole book) was Charlotte's Web. But, CL, that's not supernatural, or paranormal. Oh, you think it's not? Hellooooo, a talking pig and a writing spider. Have you ever seen that in real life? I know I haven't. (If I had, I may not be so freaking arachnophobic!) The only part of Charlotte's Web I rewrote in my head was the ending; I didn't want Charlotte to die.

As I search my memory of books that stand out in my head, I always go back to Stephen King. I first discovered the master of horror in fifth grade. Yes, you read that right; I read Stephen King in fifth grade. Did it scare me? Yep. Did I love it? Yep. Something clicked inside my head when I read Pet Semetary (I always tried to read books before I saw the movies); I needed more monsters, more horror, more action. Give me a horror flick or action movie over a chick flick any day!

But again, I ask why? Why is it I find things that don't exist (or do they?) to be so intriguing. I think I've come up with the answer - because the rules don't apply! In supernatural, paranormal, horror, etc, the characters don't have to play by the same rules as the rest of us. They can fly, read people's minds, kill the bad guys, rematerialize anywhere they please, and some live forever. Who wouldn't want to lose themselves in that kind of universe, if only for an hour at a time?!

But here's another thought; I don't read Science Fiction. Of course, there are rules in these books which don't apply to the rest of us, yet I find it distracting to try to imagine these technological worlds on top of trying to follow the storyline. I'm sure some SciFi fans feel the same way about the paranormal worlds, so maybe I'm not too weird.

Now it's your turn - Why do you read your favorite genre? Why do you write the genre you do? Was there some major turn of life which brought you over to the "dark" side, or have you always been fascinated with make-believe?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Giveaway Time!

My new book, She Who Hunts, is currently up for grabs! I'm giving away five ebooks to the next five people who comment on this blog!

In other news, the proof for the paperback is in transit. The moment I have approved it and ordered copies I will be hosting a contest and giveaway over on Goodreads.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 7, 2012

I don't belong to your Clique!!!!

This weekend I went out to dinner with a close friend, then went to watch my husband's band. If you saw the two of us together you'd end up scratching your head. My friend is very put together, wears beautiful clothes, her hair is always impeccable, and her makeup is always perfect. She reapplies her lipstick several times a day and checks her powder to make sure her skin is flawless. Me? Yeah, I was wearing a black skirt, t-shirt, two-tone fishnet tights, black sparkly Converse shoes, cat eyes and red lipstick. But we have so much in common and have a blast together (even if we do get looks when we go out).

In high school I had my group of friends I hung out with after school, but was friends with everyone. I didn't restrict myself to one clique. I had friends on the cheerleading team, football and baseball teams, nerds, freaks, etc. I never discriminated.

What's my point, you ask?


I've noticed that with every form of art there is a clique that follows. My youngest sister is a painter and deals with it in school. My husband is a musician (and artist) and he sees it, even among adults. And I'm a writer....Yep, I see it everyday.

On Facebook I have over 1200 friends. Now, I don't "know" all of these people, but interact with 95% of them on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. With the exception of family and friends, these are people in the industry - other authors, editors, agents, publishers, illustrators, book cover artists, etc. When I see a fellow author get a great deal, or even a movie author I'm ecstatic. Why wouldn't I be? I know firsthand how much time it takes to complete a novel, perfect it, find an agent, etc. I know the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into every chapter of your baby. But, I've noticed not everyone is like that.

Sometimes, just like in high school, you come across a person, or group of people, whose jealousy (or maybe just lack of personal life) forces them to bash anyone who may have success. They stalk blogs, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and make snarky comments to anyone who will listen.

I'll be the first to admit I don't comment on people's blogs enough. The truth is, I don't know how to find out these people have a new blog post unless they share it on one of the social sites. I'm not a very tech savvy person. Also, if someone has said what I was thinking, what's the point of going "yeah, what he said." I know every time there's a comment on a blog an alert goes to their email, so I'm sure they don't appreciate the equivalent of a texted "k", or "lol".

I no longer belong to a writer's group, my critique partners are online, people I've me through social networks. I no longer reveal personal information to anyone I don't know on an extremely personal level, and I don't get involved in the bickering on boards. I don't have the time. Between writing, researching, editing, housework, raising three kids, two dogs, chickens, lizards, and cats...oh, and a wonderful husband, I just don't have the time for any added drama. Save the drama for your mama.

How about you? Have you experienced any cliques, or backstabbing in the creative world?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stop giving your friend five star reviews!!!!

I've been thinking a lot about book reviews lately. Every author - especially debut authors - need reviews on their books. Book reviews sell books, as does word of mouth. But, it seems to me more often than not, friends and family of the author are posting reviews, rather than your everyday reader.

I've gone book pages on Amazon and looked through reviews of authors I'm familiar with. One particular book had seven reviews - three five stars, one four stars, and three two stars. The higher stars were from other authors from a writer's forum most of us frequent. The lower three were unknown to me.

This particular situation got me thinking even deeper about reviews; would I want good reviews only because someone knows me, or because they like my work? I think the answer is obvious here.

And here's another question: Can the good reviews on a bad book lend discredibility to the reviewers' work? Will someone realize that Joan Smith - author of Blah, blah blah gave a good review on a bad book and question their talent?
Okay, now that we've delved into this little arena, how about unsolicited reviews? When one reaches out on social networks and begs  asks their "friends" to read and review their work, does this seem desperate, or like someone truly believes in their book and wants to know the opinion of the general public?

What about you? Do you read reviews before buying books? And, if you're a writer, do you seek out reviews from bloggers and book reviewers?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Can Giving A Bad Review Kill Your Writing Career?

I finished a book last night that started out so strong, yet left me...well, wanting. There were a lot of errors - their instead of there, your instead of you're. But, I can always overlook that when the story is strong enough.

Now, I have no intention of naming the book (which I'll explain why later), but the whole thing got me thinking about several issues with writing and publishing.

First of all, what's with the convenient endings? I've read sooooo many books that just...end. What?! Where's the huge climax, the fireworks, the big bang? This particular book started out with so much violence and action I couldn't wait to read the rest. Then, about halfway through, it just slowed down and never picked back up. I was so disappointed by the the last page I could've screamed!

I've been told before that at times my story slows down. Honestly, I do that intentionally to give the reader a breather. But, sometimes I fear I've slowed it down too much. As long as I don't have one of those silly convenient endings I'm satisfied.

Now, on to why I won't name the book...because I have my own books out there. Yep, I've heard horror stories of disgruntled writers giving their reviewer's books bad reviews as revenge. I'd prefer to get a bad review in earnest, not as payback.

I will soon be reading and reviewing books, yet they will not be under my own name. And, no, I will not review your book if you approach me through this site. Okay, maybe I will for some of my beloved followers, but please don't send others here. However, if you want a book review, feel free to head over to All Things Books.

How do you feel about convenient endings? And more importantly, would you leave your name on a review?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You can walk away from an abusive relationship!

I had started writing a clever blog about writing, and after staring at it for two days, I chose to start over. I heard an interview on the radio today with the author of Heroes for My Son, and now Heroes for My Daughter. The host of the radio show said something about Tina Turner, saying "Don't wait 16 years." He then went on to say how some women may have 35cents and a Mobil card in their pocket and may not be able to leave.

This interview got me thinking about my own experience. It's no secret I stayed in an abusive marriage for seven years. And, those who knew me before (and especially years after) I was in that relationship were shocked to discover I stayed with someone who would treat me like that. My first answer is always because I loved him. I was young, and believed love can cure all. I thought he loved me enough.

But, that's obviously not a good enough reason to stay with someone who would hurt you. I'll tell you a little more - When I finally left my ex-husband and filed for a restraining order, I had only been working at my new job for a few months, I had never paid a single bill, and I had no idea how to cook anything other than macaroni and cheese.

I was terrified of being on my own. Not only would I be in charge of every aspect of the home and family, but I would have to learn how to do things most people at my age took for granted. I can remember the gratification I felt the first time I mailed a check to the mortgage company. Granted, it was late because I was broke, but I did it. That was the first milestone for me. From mailing that single piece of paper out I realized I could do it. I could live on my own, support my children, and make sure we had somewhere to live and food in our bellies.

Was it easy? Hell no! I struggled constantly, dropping major weight because there was only enough food for my three kids. We used space heaters during the winter when I couldn't afford to fill the propane tank, and we didn't go out to eat. But, I learned to cook...quite well, actually. My kids grew stronger knowing they were safe. I grew stronger.

Today, I'm married to a wonderful man, someone who supports everything I do, including my dream of becoming a published author.

What does this have to do with writing, you ask? Not a damn thing. But, now you know a little more about me, and why I don't give up...ever!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Too Bee Ore Knot Two Bee...

Yep, all words were spelled correctly. Soooo, why did I put that in my title? Editing.

We all know spell-check can only aid us in our craft so much; the rest is on us lowly humans. This morning there was quite a fun conversation on Facebook started by Al Boudreau. Can you guess the topic? Yep...editing. The question of the morning (sorry, I'm not going to link to his personal FB page) was how to improve the image of Indie/Self-published work through editing.

There were quite a few great suggestions, which is what really got me thinking about this morning's blog. The first one I'll list is self-editing. Now, if you're anything like me you edit as you write, go back through each chapter as you complete it, then go through the book three to four times before releasing it into the world. And, again if you're like me, you miss several glaring mistakes. (I once used 'waste' instead of 'waist'. Kind of changes the whole theme.)

So, how does one go about hiring an editor? There is always the expensive way - search the websites. I don't know about you, but as a starving author I don't have several hundred dollars sitting around in a bank.

Another option is an English student, or even retired teacher. They'll usually work for for way less.

Or what about those editors just starting out? They're always willing to lower their prices in return for testimonial and credits.

If you're not really wanting to pay (or like me don't have an outside job), the next best option is Beta readers. What is a beta reader, you ask? A beta reader is someone, usually another writer or avid reader, who can read through your manuscript and look at it with an unbiased eye. Face it, when you read your own work your eyes will trick you into seeing words that may or may not be there.
A beta reader can not only catch mistakes you may have missed, but they can help with content editing, as well. I made the mistake of not having a content editor with my very first completed novel. Even though I'd belonged to a crit group, and had a couple of friends read through it, no one wanted to tell me a couple of parts were....well, extremely cliched!

How about using a critique group? I do have to say, though, make sure this crit group is willing to rip your work apart in order to make you a better writer. You want to be a part of a group who is willing to say, "Uh, Christy...that's so dumb. You need to change it."
Okay, maybe you don't want someone to be that rough on your work, but you get the point. You need a group who will go through your book with a fine toothed comb to get rid of all the tangles.

Another option, and one I really like, is crit groups on writer's sites. On Absolute Write there is a Share Your Work section for registered members. Don't worry, this site doesn't charge. But, you have to be registered to get the password for a couple of the forum groups. On the SYW thread you can post the first part of your work, chapter by chapter, and they will offer some great critiques.

Hopefully this post was helpful. Do you have some other ideas for perfecting your manuscript? Do you hire an editor with each book?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

At what point do we stop revising?

We all want our books to be perfect. We want every word, every sentence, every paragraph to crafted with utmost originality, the words to be spelled correctly, our grammar flawless. The novel, short story, or poem has to have some form of emotional effect on our readers, or we never feel like we've done our job.

I self-published my first completed novel last year in the Spring. At the time, I was satisfied with the end result. Since then I've pulled the book from the sales sites and began a process of rewriting. I'm quite pleased with the way the novel is going, but I began to wonder...How much is too much? At what point do we stop revising?

I know I'm not the only one who does this; I've seen countless threads on various writing sites where others advise to set the book away for a few weeks and let it marinate. But...I can't seem to make myself do that. I tend to revise each chapter after it's finished, then go back through several times. After that I give it to a few people for critiques, then back to revising again. But, even though I thought I'd done plenty of revising, I'm back to rewriting the whole damn thing.

How many times do you revise and rewrite each of your pieces of work? Do you tend to over write? Do you obsess over your novels or other pieces when you've finally put it away?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Damn Daylight Savings!

I had every intention of writing an insightful, profound blog this morning. Unfortunately, my brain and my fingers have no desire to cooperate. Therefore, you're getting a grab bag of crap.

First, my friend Christi Corbett posted a great blog this week. She felt similar when she wrote it to the way I feel this morning. Check it out here. It's got too funny videos of sh*it writers and non-writers say. Even half asleep I was giggling.

If you're feeling a little naughty head over to my good friend Mindi Ferrari's blog. She never disappoints. But beware, this is an adult blog.

So you're looking for some writing advice; head here, here, and here.

Finally, I leave you with this...

Have a great day, y'all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Looking for some kick a$$ links? Here ya go!

I didn't get much sleep last night, but I wanted to get some writing done before I ran a butt load of errands. Did I write? Not yet. Instead, I spent time on some of my favorite sites. Then I thought, "How selfish of me?! I must share with the others!"

So, without further adieau, here are a few extremely informative sites I've found over the past few years.

Nathan Bransford's blog is chock full of great advice. Mr. Bransford is an agent turned author. While he doesn't sway readers toward any specific form of publishing he definitely gives enough insight to choose what's right for you.

The blog for Ampichellis Ebooks is another one of those "wealth of information" sites. I've had the privilege of corresponding with Mr. Brown on quite a few instances. He's extremely professional, and extremely knowledgable. He's also one of the first few agents who switched hats and went for E-publishing.

If you're ever looking for a group to share your pain, or even some really great basic writing advice, head over to Absolute Write. I tend to spend a lot of time in the Absolute Write Water Cooler. There are so many different threads; literally something for everyone!!!! Plus, there's a spiffy little thread called Share Your Work. Exactly the way it sounds. It's a critique board for those chapters, or maybe just paragraphs you need an unbiased look at.

Once you've completed, or come close to completing, your work of art, you can check out Joe Konrath's blog. I'm sure you've heard of him - the self-published author turned best seller. While he's one of the minority, he has some wonderful information for the newbie.

Now that you're ready to start querying, check out Query Shark for the do's and don'ts of query writing. If you're really brave, and have time to wait, you can send in your own query in hopes of her tearing the thing apart....or complimenting it. (Yeah, don't hold your breath) This site will show you how to format a query, what agents are generally looking for, and what not to write.

You've finished the book, and written the perfect what? Head to Preditors and Editors. This site lists agents, editors, and publishers. It also tells you who you can trust and who to run screaming from. They're on the author's side, and are there to protect us from scammers.

Okay, I think I'll go take a nap now. If I missed any important links feel free to share in the comments. Have a great day, y'all!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My top favorite cliches....

I'm an urban fantasy and paranormal romance author. But, for some reason, my darling muse has decided she would make me obsess over a YA idea - seriously?! This got me thinking about the different types of books, which then fed the research of cliches. Here are a few of my favorites (typed with a dash of sarcasm)...

1. The love triangle - The sweet, kind natured boy wants the shy girl. But, so does the bad boy. Every YA book I've read has a similar love triangle. Gotta tell you, in all my years of life I've never had this type of love triangle. Hell, I don't think I've had any type of love triangle. But, it's fiction, fantasy, make believe. Therefore, we allow it, forgive it...even crave it. Need an example? Bella, Edward, Jacob....'nuff said.

2. YA in general - Okay, not so much a cliche as a hot trend. Adults everywhere are reading YA novels, therefore, authors everywhere are punching them out. Why? Is it like reliving our teen years? Don't know about you but I have no desire to do those years again!

3. Immortal lovers - So these creatures - usually vampires, and almost always male - fall for the shy, sweet girl and pledge their everlasting love. Sooooo, this 100 something year old creature who poses as a teen falls for a teenage girl, who just happens to have the maturity to know she wants to spend the rest of eternity with said boy? Yeeeaaah....I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with my boyfriend at sixteen - until we broke up and I moved on. Need an example? TWILIGHT! Love the books, love the movies, love the concept, but now, every book is doing something similar.

4. Hot guy/Gorgeous girl - Really? Every main guy is studly, hot, and usaually a jock. Of course, we find out later he's actually insanely intelligent and sensitive. The other side is the female...always so beautiful, yet she thinks she's plain. And the females are almost always shy. Enough already! Not all girls are shy and awkward, regardless of age!

5. Unknown, yet useful magical talents - How the hell did you go through life not knowing you could become invisible? Why is it these talents only manifest themselves when extremely useful and convenient?

6. Happily ever after - Yeah, yeah. People want their romances to be happily ever after, or happily for now. Can't we skip the falling-in-love-in-two-days thing? Can we avoid instant attraction, fall in love at first sight, and spend all of eternity together? I've yet to meet a single person who fell in love quickly and actually lasted.

Do you have any hated cliches? Let me know if I missed any crucial ones...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guest Blog: Stacy-Deanne - pubished author

Continuing with the writing by and for writers series, I have Stacy-Deanne with us today. I have long been a fan of Stacy-Deann and feel honored to call her a friend.

I had the privilege of interviewing the unbelievable talented and beautiful Stacy-Deanne:

Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us what kind of novels you write?

My primary genres are crime fiction, mystery and suspense.

When did you know you wanted to write? And how did you decide to write what you do?

I began writing at 19 when I got my first computer. I've always been a mystery and suspense buff so those are the type of stories I have the most interest in. I am a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan and seeing how he is my idol I wanted to follow in his footsteps.

When did you get your first contract for publication?

The end of 2003

Can you tell us, as best you can, how long it took from the time you sent your first query until your first book appeared on shelves? Feel free to go into detail as much as you’d like…

Wow, let me see if I can remember. My first book was published in 2005 but it wasn't the first book I went on submission with. I'd written about eleven books before then and had subbed about half of them. My debut book wasn't even fiction but a compilation biography centering on female musicians. The very first query I ever sent was probably back in 1997 or 1998. I subbed several different novels for years and out of all those earlier novels I've written, only one of those have been published. So as you can see the first book you sub most likely is not the first book that will be published and most times your first book isn't ever published. Since 2005 I've released three more books with my next fifth on the way. I consider all those earlier novels I wrote as practice so I am not sure if I would ever go back to subbing them one day or not.

When you’re not writing, what books do you enjoy reading?

I love to read the same types of books I write. I love mysteries, thrillers, detective stories as well as historical romance.

Do you have a favorite author?

I love mostly the classic authors but two of my favorites are Oscar Wilde and Edgar Allan Poe.

In your opinion, what is one of the biggest mistakes new authors make? And how do you feel about the new craze of self-publishing?

A lot of new writers are too impatient. They don't wanna put in the time and effort it takes to sell a novel. It's true that every road doesn't fit every writer but I feel like too many newbies expect it to be easy these days. I am seeing less and less of people who take time to fix up their craft and work on their writing and more of the people who want instant gratification or who think that all you have to do is write a book, throw it out there and people will buy it. That's an insult to writers who take their craft seriously and the truth is every book isn't worthy of publication. But if you want the rewards you gotta work hard for them. There's no shortcut. As for self-publishing the craze isn't at all new. Self-publishing has been around for generations, except now people are self-publishing ebooks. I have mixed feelings about it. I think it's good for some writers and damaging to those who don't know enough about the business and who expect it to be a quick and easy recipe for success.

Do you have any advice for those of us still trying to break into the publishing industry?

One of the most important things is to learn the business and how publishing works. Also work hard on your craft. Be patient and don't worry about time. If you love writing and are doing it for you then there is no need to rush. You don't wanna regret a decision you rushed into later. Make sure your book is the best it can be. Anyone can write a book but not everyone can write a book that deserves to be published and that people will wanna read. Also welcome positive criticism because it only makes you a better writer. Too many new writers think that their work is perfect and that they don't need any input but that's not realistic.

Again, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to answer these questions.

Thank you for having me!

Where can we find your books and keep up with your news?

My books are available wherever books are sold. Keep up with me by visiting the sites below. My upcoming release, "The Season of Sin" will be released February 2012 (Peace in the Storm Publishing).

Monday, February 13, 2012

Guest Blog: Warren Lapine-Publisher

As a new series, I will be posting guest blogs by other professionals in the industry, as well as some great tips on writing, some awesome links to people like Nathan Bransford, and some of the best books on every aspect of writing, editing, publishing, etc.

Today, I have the privilege of interviewing publishing professional, Warren Lapine of Wilder Publications, Inc. Thank you so much for joining us and answering some often asked questions.

Thank you, Warren Lapine, for joining us, and bringing your publishing expertise.

You’re welcome, I’m always happy to talk about the publishing field.

Can you tell us how long you have been in the publishing business?

April marks twenty years, it seems like it was only last week.

What made you want to enter this industry?

I’ve wanted to be part of the publishing industry since I was a kid. I started writing when I was ten or eleven and I thought about getting into magazines as early as fourteen.

Was there a book in your childhood that made you sit up and pay attention? A book that made you think “I want to work with books when I grow up”?

Yes, Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny shook my world to its core. It made me realize that what I’d been doing since fourth grade was writing and that I wanted to make people feel the way Zelazny’s writing made me feel.

In your experience, what has been some of the wackiest queries? How about the most uniquely interesting?

Oddly enough I haven’t received all that many odd queries. Back when I published magazines I would tell people not to send me queries as I could decide on a story just as fast as I could a query. As a book publisher nothing stands out when I try to remember all the queries I’ve seen. I did get one cover letter, though that still stands out even after all these years. It said, “Dear Mr. Ryan, I am sending you this story in the hopes, of course, that you will consider it for publication in Asimov’s.” I noted in my rejection letter that he had sent the manuscript to one editor, asked that a second editor consider it for a third magazine. When I mentioned this to Darrell Schweitzer (at the time he was the editor of Weird Tales) he told me I’d blown it. I should have said, “I’m sorry Planet Stories has ceased publication,” and signed it Frederick Pohl.

As a publishing professional, what is one of your biggest pet peeves with writers just starting down the road to publication?

I don’t have a lot of pet peeves. People with pet peeves usually don’t last long as editors or publishers. I’ve probably seen more than a million manuscripts, if I had had a lot of pet peeves I imagine I’d have lost my mind by now.

What is the biggest no-no for newcomers in the writing industry?

Writing a rejection letter to a rejection letter or writing an angry letter telling an editor why they are wrong. It may make you feel better, but there is absolutely no way it can do anything to help your career.

Can you give us your best piece of advice to us newbies?

Write. Don’t waste too much time on rewriting. You improve more as a writer when you are writing something new. Going through the same story over and over again actually slows down your progress as a writer.

Thank you so much, again, Mr. Lapine, for allowing us to pick through your brain.

It was a pleasure, thanks for inviting me.

You can find Mr. Lapine at his website or on Facebook.
Stay tuned the rest of the week, not to mention month, for interviews from unbelievably beautiful and talented authors, such as Stacy-Deanne and Tracy Ames.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why aren't writers skinny?

Okay, I get the fact that we don't move around much, being as most of us sit at a computer for anywhere from 2-12 hours a day. I know I've clocked in more on occasion. But, if you are anything like me, you hardly eat.
Anyone else hear the song in their head?

For instance, I'm sitting here writing this blog, starving, and I keep telling myself  'I'll eat after ___', fill in the blank. Right now, I'll eat after I finish with this blog entry. Before that, it was 'I'll eat after I finish answering some emails.'

No, I'm not starving myself, but like so many others, my diet consists of whatever I can pop into my mouth while not losing any momentum on the keyboard. I've eaten bites of salad between paragraphs, grapes get popped into my mouth while typing one-handed, or a banana gets shoved into my mouth...whole. Trust me, my daytime eating habits are not something you want to witness.

Oh, don't look at me like that; you know you do it, too.

So, again I ask - Why aren't writers skinny?

I've heard theories about the writers spread; you know, the same things office workers supposedly get. You sit too much and the derriere takes on its own zip code.

*sigh* Anyone know of a way to virtually workout while writing?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Love me, touch me, kiss me....

I've been on a major romance kick the past week and a half. Maybe it's because Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Or maybe it's because I'll be celebrating my wedding anniversary to my soul mate this month. Regardless of the reason, it has given me a lot of romantic inspiration for my writing. Which, of course, got me thinking about my romance song list.

So, for your listening - and viewing - enjoyment, and in no specific order, here are some of the most romantic songs for which to write to, make love to, or just snuggle to. Enjoy!

Kissing You by Des'Ree. I first heard this song while watching Romeo + Juliet. The the music alone makes me crave hands moving through my hair, fingers brushing down my cheek.

My Love by Sia. Any Twihard knows this song. This is played during the infamous, extremely romantic and sensual make-out scene in Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Can't you picture Edward's hands moving so gently over Bella's face?

Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton. Ahhhh. I can picture every single action as the song plays out. You can feel the way Eric loves his woman in this song.

Can't Take My Eyes Off You  by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. A little indulgent and cute, sure, but I so badly want this song sung to me!

Make A Memory by Bon Jovi. This band can sing just about anything and it makes me think of snuggling...or more!

I'll Be There For You by Bon Jovi. You can't think of romantic and Bon Jovi without this one. *sigh*

I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. The lyrics, the movie, the moments. What woman doesn't want to think their man loves every single thing about them?

What songs bring love to mind? What really makes you crave your significant other's touch, their lips?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

You asked, I answered. This is how I write...

Dozens of people have asked me over the past year how to write a book. Normally, I say...just write. That doesn't always go over well, but I don't always know how to tell someone who's never written a short story how to write a novel. While trying to go to sleep last night, an analogy I heard once on one of the writing boards I stalk started playing through my head. I just added a little to it....

When starting a book, you have to think of Adam and Eve.

Want a bite?

 Yep, that's what I said-Adam and Eve. Everything has to start with the bones. Not everyone does this part the same, but all stories end up the same way - the skeletal form of a novel. Some choose to outline. Some choose to wing it. I'm a little of both. Sometimes I have a fabulous idea, but have to sit down and type out a few things to see if I can make it work. Other times, I outline nothing more than the character or world building. When I write a story I want to know where the characters went to school, their favorite colors, their fave food and drink, why they act the way they do, even if they've ever had an ingrown toe nail. Now, of course a majority of this never makes it into the book, but it helps me get to know the characters better.

Other times, I know what I want to happen, but I'm not sure which order, so I outline the approximate events. A lot of times this will tell me if I even want to include certain events, or eliminate them completely.

The next part is adding the meat. Obviously, we can't walk around as nothing but skeletons. It would cause mass panic, and people would try to hunt us thinking we were zombies.

Gr. I'm a zombie..

This is where after planning what I want to happen, or maybe even after doing the mad dash to get the story out of my head, I'll go back and add details. Maybe I need to add more description of the room which will play a huge part in a scene. Maybe I need to add more description to a fight scene to make it more intense. Or maybe I need to do a little more research about a certain species of creature, or illness someone is inflicted with. The story is now resembling a real novel.

Now, at times, we women (and some men) want perfection. Therefore, we have to go through the book and remove the moles, warts, blemishes, and all imperfections. Beauty marks may look good on a woman, but they don't in a novel. Well, at least not a lot of beauty marks. You don't want to send a novel into the universe covered in zits!
I'm sexy and I know it...

What I mean by imperfections is all those repeat words, the excessive 'that's, and all of those annoying adverbs! Kill them! Kill them all!!!! Okay, not all. But adverbs should be like any seasoning...used in moderation.

There. Hopefully this short description helped someone. How do you write? Do you have some advice for those who are finally sitting down to write the book they've always dreamed of?