Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jumping in with Both Feet

I've just recovered from a severe case of not seeing the forest for the trees. And it was a bad one. (dang. I just stopped typing to listen to my girls eat lunch and got another story idea)

Here's the thing: I have let finalizing and polishing my book for printing through WriteWise blind me to the big picture--placing the book with a publisher. I've let opportunities slip by because I forgot part of my contract includes their acting as a liaison or agent on my behalf to PLACE THE BOOK. Good grief; that's a huge forest to lose sight of.

This point was brought home to me Thursday when I attended UVU's Book Academy for Readers and Writers. Fantastic stuff. I wish they had it monthly. My WriteWise Book Producer, Karen, was on the panel of publishers for our open Q&A and she spoke about our cookbook author Nancy Miles. She's fantastic at self marketing and has taken local Costco stores by storm. (I mean it--at her last book signing she sold 60 copies!!!)

Oops. Seriously. I've been trying to clean something else up to submit to the local publishers in Utah when all along I already had something to send them.

So here I go. Jumping in with both feet. I'm sending out submission packets this week.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I'm sorry my fellow Authors

I can't get to everyone I want to at each author conference. I see someone and think "I need to say hi" and then they vanish to another class or area or have to leave and I never get the chance.

Today I'm thinking of Heather Moore. I'm sorry, Heather. I walked right by your table when you were signing books and should have said hello. I wanted to get my books signed before time ran out and before the lines got crazy, but when I was done you had gone (it was 20 min after the signings had ended so I'm not surprised). I'm not ignoring you on purpose, I promise. I had the same problem at the LUW conference where I saw you and smiled but didn't stop and say hi.

Let's face it; I'm still coming out of my shell. I have some shining moments at these things where I'm talkative and friendly and other moments where I don't talk to anyone at all. And the conference schedules have me running from one thing to the next. I want to soak it all in and there's just not enough time.

I'm battling years and years of antisocial behavior. Like many authors, I'm an introverted person and don't like to open up. It's been a fight for me, and each time I talk to someone at a conference or other gathering is another step I'm taking to overcome. It's not easy. My goal has always been that none of you knows the inner struggle I go through each time I open my mouth. It's hard to talk about our own weaknesses or shortcomings.

But Heather's a fantastic author and wonderful person, and I don't want her to think I don't like her. I won one of her books, Abinadi, during her contest giveaway this summer, and joined her blog tour for Alma. (hint, I got Alma in the mail before I opened up Abinadi, so I've chosen to read them out of order to provide the perspective of reading Alma first) You rock, Heather!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ok, I get it...

I know; I'm a softy. I understand now.

I'm waaaaay too nice to my characters. Though I've heard it often, that we really need to make situations look hopeless for our characters from time to time, I hadn't connected that I wasn't doing that.

Take our favorite boy wizard, for example. How often, during your reads, did you wonder if this poor kid could EVER catch a break? Now be honest, didn't that keep you reading? You wanted to know if he ever got his happy ending--ever. I mean, he struggled to find a happy memory when one solitary happy memory would save his life.

Don't get me wrong--bad things do happen to my characters. They face initial conflict, they struggle and they do have to grow or overcome in some other way. But I dole out hopeless situations very sparingly. Fortunately, I think, The Peasant Queen gets herself into lots of hopeless situations.

I wonder why we, as people, are generally interested in the tragic. Literary heroes throughout history face trial after terrifying trial to reach their goal. And it keeps us reading. If we read a book that sounds too much like real life how interesting can it be? If you can look at a character and say, "Yeah, that's just like my day" why on earth would we want to read that? Now, if it starts out like your day but then moves in a completely different direction that might be all right. I know I don't read books to read about someone like me. I want to read about someone better than me.

Enough is enough. No more MS Nice Author. Let's do some damage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Get to be an Author this Weekend!!!

It's a crazy, crazy week. And a short one. And all because the LUW's Author Roundup is Friday and Saturday. But, the up side is I get to be an author this weekend!

As it turns out, this comes at no small sacrifice. If my kids make their play audition today I will miss both their performances, since they both happen Saturday. Our local bookstore, The Purple Cow, is having Brandon Mull and Lisa Mangum out Saturday for an Author day. EVERYTHING is happening this weekend. Sacrifices must be made.

Truth is, I'm a major homebody. I'd rather hang out here, see my kids perform and support my local bookstore than drive for hours, stay at a hotel and eat out. Especially lately, since I haven't felt much like an author. My novel's taking the snail's track to publication and finding time to write has been about as evasive as a technicolor unicorn.

But the author conventions are useful. We get to recharge, connect with others in the same boat and learn how to better our craft. This is vital to an author. We're by nature rather solitary creatures, but we need to poke our heads out of our burrows occasionally and see what's going on out there in the world of writing. Otherwise we'll always be "trying to get published."

So, I'm going. A little reluctantly, but I'm going. Fortunately I know I'll have a great time.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday Already??!

I'm feeling less optimistic about the week now that it's Thursday. It's been a really rough day all the way around, and I'd either like a do-over or just go to bed and let today be over.

I did get a clean bill of health from my physical therapist, today--that was a bright spot. Cleared to exercise. I really, really want to get back to my walking and pilates. If I had pool access then it would be awesome. I miss swimming so much.

And still, I haven't touched the reading I have to do or written that thing for church. My delightful characters have decided to change the rules on me. In sorting out this trilogy, I've come to the realization I will have to write the third book BEFORE I can finish the edits on the second book. Sigh.

See, for months now I've been working--or trying to work--on two different books. Both argue in my mind for equal treatment. The problem is, I try to get started and never seem to make any progress. One is the second book in my trilogy, which I wrote out last year, and the second is a YA contemporary fiction based on real events. In the meantime, little whispers from the third book of my trilogy seep through.

The other night I gave up. I thought about it and thought about it and decided I'm just going to have to write out the third book before I can finish the second book. And the floodgates opened. Suddenly I was ignited, like fire, with inspiration and tore through about 1000 words before I could stop myself. Like a good little girl I went to bed because I have to get up early for work every day, and still spent about 10 or so minutes in bed putting notes into my notebook.

It's so exciting. Not only is it the completion of over two decades of thought and plotting, but it's the culmination of the story--the completion of the story of these particular families and what they do to each other over three generations. Not to mention the villain. He's the best of the worst--clever, creative, deceptive and conniving. His plots are so intricate he's struck twice at the heart of my heroine before she even realizes where the hits are coming from. And, unlike my previous bad guys in the series, he's not motivated by a twisted love or loyalty--he's just hurting people for the sheer joy of it.

Now I've gotten all excited again and I'm going to have to stop and pull up the book file. :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Readings and Writings

I'm so excited to face this week with three fabulous books to read. I'm feeling a time crunch in more ways than one, but sometimes that's when I do my best work. I love to read, and I love to read new things almost as much as I enjoy curling up with an old favorite.

I also have writing to do this week, of course. One is a project for church (I'm part of the team for the ward newsletter) and the others are personal. I call them personal because, until I edit them for publication, they are personal. It has been said that we should write for ourselves, and to that end the projects are mine until I choose to send them out.

It's been hard to get back into writing. Not much happened while the kids were home from school this summer. Now that they're back in classes, I'm still finding my schedule incompatible with lengthy writing blocks. Because I can sit at the computer and write for hours, it's difficult for me to write effectively in 5 or 10 minute blocks. It is easier, though, when the project speaks to me, so that's what I've decided to focus on.

And reading always helps. I love to see what other authors do with their voice.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

20 Years?!

Birthdays make me introspective. I guess that's true for most people, once we get old enough to stop trying to guess what gifts we're getting each year. Big markers always make me stop and think, too.

In September of 1989, a 14 year old Freshman sat down at her first lunch in high school and wished herself somewhere--anywhere--else. Nothing to do. No one to talk to. So how does she pass the time without looking like a friendless geek? She started writing.

Twenty years and several drafts later that story the girl wrote is perched on the cusp of publication, waiting at this moment for the final read through to be completed. It's taken so long the story of publication is an epic in and of itself, probably worthy of being told. High school, graduation, jobs, marriage, children, etc. It happens to all of us but the highs and lows can be gut-wrenching.

I can't claim I did nothing but write for 20 years, so I don't say this book took me 20 years to finish. The original draft--which I still have--took a year and ten months. Not bad, all things considered. I toyed with it for a few years off and on but then ten years ago, after the twins were born, the writing stopped for about 7 or 8 years.

But still, it's been a long road and the story is still worthy of being told. And it's going to knock your socks off, when it has the chance.