Tag Archives: Publishing

Our First Writing Wednesdays

Dear Dark Dreamers,

These last few months I have been a part of a talented group of authors who all have books coming out in 2016. All are either new adult or young adult, and we write in everything from dark urban fantasy to romance to thrillers. These people are as amazing as their upcoming books. Together we are pushing each other to be greater and get more done by blog hopping once a week. Basically every Wednesday, we’ll post what we’ve been doing writing or publishing-wise during the week, anything we’ve learned, and what we hope to get done in the next week. It’s just a fun way to keep on track with writing goals week-to-week and push for more.

This week has been amazingly productive and busy.

1st– For the last few weeks the publisher and I have been working like crazy artistic bees on cover ideas for Book One of The American Scion series, OF SCIONS AND MEN. We’ve decided to push the envelope and not do a traditional style cover. As of the end of last week, we have settled on concept art, and it’s off in the hands of an exceptionally talented artist. I now know who the artist is. I cannot wait to share this amazing idea and work with the rest of you.

2nd– I am hard at work on Book Two of The American Scion series, THE SCIONS OF WRATH. So far I’ve written about 10k words this week. So, it’s going well and my structure is shaping up well. I was having some trouble with chaptering my inciting event chapters. But I lucked out and this week was my critique group’s meeting. Not only did I get some great suggestions, I also seem to have made some fellow writers white-knuckle as they read the events of this chapter. So, yay!

I’ve gotten a lot done, but I’ve got to push for more. Time to crack the whip, and I’ll hope you’ll all join in.

Yes, Readers, may I have another.

Yes, Readers, may I have another.

From now to next Wednesday, I want to get another 10-15k written. Also, I want to get some more marketing ideas under my belt and set up. This is the part I need to learn the most about. It’s a strange new world, and I need to jump in educated but with both feet.

Image courtesy of  Jeroen van Oostrom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Advertisements

Writing Resolution Return

In my last update, I vague posted all of you.

“Make significant progress professionally on my writing. Result: OF SCIONS AND MEN was completed, revised from BETA readers, and completed fully. More on this on another post.”

I’m sorry. I know this is a horrible way to leave things. But I had to wait until everything was certain. Well, now it’s time to stop being vague.

Tell me now or the computer gets it!

Tell me now or the computer gets it!

OF SCIONS AND MEN, the distopian paranormal I’ve been working on for a while, has been picked up by the ever growing and innovating people at Curiosity Quills through the amazing Vicki Leigh. That means this series has a home to grow and evolve.

So, my immediate future will be full of work for these marvelous people. I can’t wait to share the next steps of this adventure, cover reveals, release dates, and the like, with all of you. In the meantime, I am also working on Book 2, THE SCIONS OF WRATH, to keep this coaster going.

Oh, and don’t mind me as I break out into the snoopy happy dance at random times. Just a bit excited.

That's right. We celebrate in costumes around here.

That’s right. We celebrate in costume around here.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Writing in a Bubble

Teaching college level composition and other writing and communication classes I’ve begun to notice a disturbing trend. It’s been there all along, silently driving down people’s ability and desire to write. This stalking predator of words has driven students, young and old alike, into great terrified frenzies of self-doubt over the concept of putting their ideas to paper to share with the world. It drives classrooms to uncomfortable silences filled with the unmistakable desire of fight or flight.

This destroyer of creativity: writing in a bubble.

Image

As it was just recently put to me by a student, the idea is a student can either sit down and write a good paper by themselves the first time, or they are a bad writer. This student shared with me how the idea of a professional writer having to edit and edit their work was so, well, novel.

See, I had recently shared with my class one of my writing projects, a query letter. I showed them my first attempt; they read it and liked it. Then I showed them all my mark ups. They were amazed; there was more red than white on my paper, and I was okay with that. I showed them my next draft and its mark ups. And the next. And the next. Until I finally showed them my strengthened and concise letter. We then discussed the advantages of the last version to the first one they all liked in the beginning.

This made more of an impression than I had even intended. To see their teacher writing and re-writing, and talking to others, and getting feedback, and using the writing process I was teaching them was new. They thought from their high school days and earlier, that if you had to rewrite your work, obviously you were not a good writer and should be relegated to the dunce chair. Thus they were devastated every time they got marks back.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a4/Museum_of_Lincolnshire_Life%2C_Lincoln%2C_England_-_DSCF1724.JPG/256px-Museum_of_Lincolnshire_Life%2C_Lincoln%2C_England_-_DSCF1724.JPG

So, I’ve changed how I talk about this.

Even more than before, I’m stressing how “real writers” don’t need to write in a bubble. They have people look at their work, read their work, give them feedback, and they rewrite not because they aren’t good, but because they know it can be better. And don’t we all just want to show the world our best work as the reflection of the creativity of our soul.

I bring in examples of not only things that can help them and encourage them to work with and talk to one another about their writing (for some reason they thought that was cheating!), but I also show them how the writing world has been set up to do this. Now the classroom is a alive with conversation and sharing.

Perhaps this is one big difference that has been happening lately in the publishing world. With the now big five and even mid to large level publishers, the safety net of not writing in a bubble is built in. There are a slew of people to go over the work, edit it, market it, help with art, give feedback on everything, and protect you on a multitude of legal and creative fronts. But in self-publishing, you have to seek out and create this net, or chance it with writing in a bubble. This is not impossible, but it does take more work. I’ve seen even recent movers and shakers like Curiosity Quills, Spencer Hill and Angry Robot Books taking up arms to protect their authors while making their works even stronger for the commercial world, a feat thought impossible before for those not of the Big 5 ™.

In the end, no matter where we are writing, class, online, publishing, we need to remind ourselves that perfection is not about having to do everything right the first time, or even the seventh, but to end up with the best work we can using the resources around us. We are a writing community, and in the spirit of community, we need to realize, that sometimes it takes a village to raise a book.

Images courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Green Lane /CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Crafting a Lightning Rod: The Truth of Queries & Synopses

Many successful authors explain getting published similarly. They say to get published you must 1) write a stellar novel, 2) get lucky, 3) have lightning strike. With the hundreds of thousands of potentials out there, all hoping for the same bolt of lightning to strike them, it’s nerve wrecking. How can I change my charge from those around me to attract that electricity to my camp?

Big money, No Whammys. Hit me!

Taking this metaphor another level, apocryphally Ben Franklin gave the answer. A key of metal to act as a lightning rod will channel that power directly where we want it. So, we strap ourselves to a homemade lightning rod and brace for the blast that we hope will blow our socks off and change us forever.

But what is this homemade rod to glory? Our rusty metal key is the well-crafted query and synopsis. Those are the small articles we count on to change our overall charge from those around us and bring heaven to earth. Yet every other nut is out during the rainstorm crafting their own homemade rod.

And yes, I’m in the rainstorm too. For the last week I’ve spent time crafting my query until I have ten drafts that I’m reasonably happy with, even if I will never be fully done with it. Working on this, I have researched and studied what the success stories with their blasts have explained about their queries. Also, I’ve studied the weather itself and what agents have said and joked about what makes a query stand out and what makes it a dud. So, for the moment, the head of my key is completed.

Now the tail of the key cries for the same time and talent. Thus for the last few days, I have turned my attention to a synopsis. Why is summarizing 400 pages in 1-2 so difficult? The story is completed. It is all there. No more surprises to discover. So, why does this seem like a tougher task than writing the novel in the first place?

Going back over what I’ve written already, I have one thought on this. It is because I’m being asked to take all the edge and excitement that I’ve spent years crafting into the story out completely leaving only its bleached carcass to finish my lightning rod with. I’m not a science wiz, but I don’t think bone is a very good conductor.

Doing the same research I did for my query, I’ve come across an interesting phenomenon. Almost every agent and editor I’ve seen who’ve blogged or answered questions about synopses nearly unanimously say they hate reading a synopsis. They are boring and tough to get through. Authors who were successful in writing them almost all say they hate writing them because they are boring and tough to get through. So, why do we do this? If everyone hates them, how on earth do they attract any electricity for us?

Finally, doing research, I got a decent answer. They are only to prove the author knows how to craft a story and character development. That’s what is being looked for in a synopsis. That’s why they are important. I was wrong. It isn’t the bare bones we are getting them down to; it is the strong structural design. And that structure had better be strong straight steel. Now that’s a good lightning rod.

So, today and tomorrow I am redoing my synopsis with this new image in mind. I’m looking forward and am incredibly nervous about casting out my homemade lightning rod and standing out in the storm. Here’s a toast in hope of getting the blast of my life.

Picture by: Suvro Datta


Old Dog, Newest Trick

The more I think about it, the more in love with the assignment given by agent Brooks Sherman (@byobrooks) of FinePrint Literary Management in his query contest. The assignment in order to enter was this:

“Write a 100 word short story from the POV of your antagonist/villain.  It can be his/her/its perspective on an event that actually occurs in your story, but that’s not required.  Before, after, or an unseen event are fine, too.”

At first I was daunted by the 100 word limit. Whoa, that’s barely a paragraph. I outlined out a whole scene to show my villain in his full glory, then realized my outline with 67 words. So, time to put my short story writing to the test and condense everything into 100 words and still show my villain. Also, I wanted to get his GMC (Goal Motivation and Conflict) to come out in the short segment as well. After some hard work and repeated and repeated revision I came up with this entry.

“Never partner with an idiot, no matter how good a patsy they’d make. He had to deal with that psycho who was smuggling his brothers and sisters into this putrid hole, nothing like the home in the stars they deserved. The deep stations were theirs; the cattle just didn’t know it yet. Staring at their “meals” hung on the girders, he sneered at the smell of human blood. Once it had been his whole existence. Now he ate higher on the chain. Reassured for another shift, he put on his security uniform and Bio-Com to climb into the station proper. “

The best part about this is that I think he ended up sounding like a hero in his own head. Isn’t that the truth with many complex villains? I wish that I had done this first. This really let me get even deeper inside of him and know him more, as icky as that concept may be. It’s coming across like the elevator pitch for the individual character. It limits the wordiness that can be a battle. I had to stream-line and be extremely specific. And it was a blast to have the finished project.

Goal, Motivation and Conflict is so important to have three dimensional characters, and on common character sheets they are there for the protagonist. They are needed for all the main characters. Even if there is a main POV that the story is from, each character is experiencing their own story at the same time. In order for them to act as they should and not simply be a plot device, GMC is vital to guide their actions.

Let's look under the hood. What's seems to be your issues?

On top of that, this small exercise let me listen in on the character’s voice, even if it was only in his head. This would have made dialogue and actions so much easier to write if I’d had it from the beginning.

So, thank you, Brooks Sherman (@byobrooks) of FinePrint Literary Management and Emma Trevayne of Nailing Shadows to the Wall for hosting this contest. Through your great ideas, a new slot on my character sheets have been filled, and I look forward to the birth of deeper and more realistic characters.

Photo Credit: “Mechanics of People Mind”


Back and Hitting Overdrive

Wow, is it February already? A lot of work and news has happened. The Gothic Blue Book with Antidote for the Soul has been out for public consumption for months. I have even signed a few copies people have brought me. No matter who you are, when someone asks you to sign something you’ve published, a little voice inside you goes “SQUEEEE”. And mine certainly did.

Still Available in print or Kindle. SQUEE

Adding to that, I have also guest lectured classes on the writing process and creating worlds and characters for two separate classes. These were both outstanding experiences that I was much honored to be a part of these young writers’ journeys. Hearing their ideas and answering their questions allowed them to bring new ideas to my writing at the same time that I was trying to help them.  The most fun was hearing all the little details that they’d caught that I didn’t think anyone but me would get. Easter Eggs are fun for everyone.

In other news, I got word back from my wonderful and talented Beta Readers, and as of yesterday, I have applied the notes and finished the last draft of Black Sun. I’m really excited about these changes, and they couldn’t have happened without outstanding Beta Readers. I owe each and every one of them a drink of their choice.

Beyond that, I am gearing up to polish up an eye-catching query letter and synopsis for agents to peruse and, hopefully, fall in love with. In this pursuit, yesterday I was given an outstanding exercise. An agent was holding a contest for people to win a chance for him to go over their query letter. In order to win that opportunity, writers had to post a 100 word scene from the POV of their villain/antagonist. This was an outstanding exercise that I would recommend to every writer. I put an added challenge in mine, and made sure that my villain/anatagonist’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict were identifiable in those short 100 words. Whew, never knew 100 words could go by so fast. I’m already about four times that in this blog post alone. So it was daunting to get a coherent, engaging snippet from my darling villain and also convey his true goals with his reasonable motivation and the thwart to his overall plan. The funny thing is, he ended up sounding in his own POV like he was a hero. But then again, shouldn’t many villains seem themselves in the right? I was so intrigued by this that I’m going to write more on it in my next post.

For now, I am moving forward in as quick a pace as my day job will allow me. Time to get this bad boy packaged up for others in this world to see and l enjoy.


Edjumacation in Our Craft

Last year I took an outstanding course taught by Merry Bondon revising, editing, and critiquing (I got to name the class too: “Zen and the Art of Manuscript Maintenance). The first two classes were full of wonderful tidbits on how to take your drafts from Zero to Hero. From that, I got scene and character worksheets, editing and garbage words lists, story structure and world building layouts. It was outstanding and made the process of revising the rest of my manuscript that much easier. That part of the class was well worth the money spent on it.

And looky, she's got a book all about the craft of writing

BUT that wasn’t the best part of the class. For the remaining four weeks of class we became a dedicated critique group of the first twenty to twenty-five pages of our manuscripts. This part of the class was PRICELESS!

I cannot express how grateful I was for this active feedback from real live readers. Having others not in my head look at my story let me see what I needed to change and what I needed to keep. Also they saw things I hadn’t even realized I’d put in. It was interesting to hear them actively describe the sexual tension I built so well between two characters, when I hadn’t realized there was any sexual tension there at all. My husband is doing this class also with Merry Bond this semester for his work. If you can take a class like this, or find a critique group, DO IT. Your work will be so much better for it.

This semester I am doing another class with Merry. I am taking her class on publishing. As she is a successfully published author, I want to know the tricks and trades of the industry. She is exceptional as a teacher in this as she spends her off time updating on the ever changing world of publishing. In fact, last week she came in with reports of changes that had happened just that week.

This has been greatly eye opening. The world of publishing is changing so rapidly that it’s making authors’ agents’  and even the publishers’ heads spin. Without a class like this, I don’t think I could understand everything nor keep up.

Taking these classes is making me a better author, just as writing classes can make me a better writer. So, thank you, Merry Bond, for your work in creating these different classes, as well as your writing classes. The local writing community appreciates your time and effort. If you are out there, go out and take these type classes. They are worth your time!

P.S. Check out her books as well. You can find them on her site. Click click!


Short Story, Big Package

As many of you wonderful followers know, for the last week I’ve been tirelessly working on my short story “Antidote for the Soul” for Burial Day’s Gothic Blue Book submission. I came up with the idea over a dinner and had an outline within an hour. I could see the big scenes, feel for the characters. I executed more research than I’d done for my last paper and educated myself to match style and substance. It was fully planned out and ready to write.

And write it I did. But every work has its complications and so did this one. The issue for this piece was the requirements. To give you some background, “Gothic Blue Books were abridgements of full-length Gothic novels. The subjects of the books fell into one of two categories; the first being set in a monastery or convent and the second being set in a castle.” For the publisher, the whole short story had to be 3,500 words. My students looked at that and went, “How can you write that much?” I looked at it and said, “How can I tell this entire tale in 3500 words?”

It’s been a task, but fun in its way. We get used to writing styles: novels, novellas, long format fiction, papers. When asked to step into new shoes, we have to start all over again. This piece came out to be a full piece short story, now it was time to abridge. So came out the red pen and scenes and characters got cut. It was like surgery. Merry Bond gave me great advice last week, “you really shouldn’t put in hardly any details, you just want the story, the gruesome, frightening, creepy, wonderful story with just merest touch of ambiance.” Thank you, Merry!

Let's see what the publisher thinks of our little convent.

Now reading the finished product, I like it. The story and most of the mood is still there, even if it was planned to be four times this length.

Beyond it being done, it’s off to the publisher. It’s in their hands now in more ways than one. It would be an honor to be included in their work. Just have to wait and let them read and decide.

Now time to leave planet again and deal with my vampires and werewolves in the deep of space, but I enjoyed my venture Earth side in the darkness of our horrific past.

Image by: Salvatore Vuono