October 14, 2011

Thank You!...And Goodnight.

Thank you to all of those friends who've submitted their MSS to be critiqued by me. I truly appreciate your support in starting this new adventure.

And I'm excited to announce that on October 15th, 2011, SPJ Editing will go live!

This is a scary - and busy - time for me. Starting your own business brings excitement and jitters. There are so many things that need to be done before tomorrow and little time to do it.

Things are crazier than ever. Not only am I revising and querying two manuscripts, I'm writing and still going to school as well. Add a full-time job on top of it and I've got no time to blog!

So, it is with a sad realization that
The Las Vegas Writer blog must retire.

Not just because of the new business venture, but because of school and writing as well. I've met a lot great people through the blogosphere, made friends, but I don't think it's fair to keep stringing you along with a post every now and then and no comments on your blogs.

The site will stay active in order to keep the collection of Resources up, but there will be no more posts as of October 15, 2011. I updated the About Me page to reflect what I will be taking on in the future and hope you'll stay in contact! I'm glad to have connected with each and every one of you.

Keep writing!

October 6, 2011

Call for Critiques!

As many of you know, I am currently studying for my bachelors degree in English Literature to start a career in editing. Well, it seems getting the degree is going to take a while. There are many different reasons, but mostly because Nevada State is a small college and class availability is joke.

But I'm tired of waiting for something that will probably take another year.

I have been applying to e-publishers in hopes of getting my foot in the editorial door, but like querying, it takes time. During this waiting process, I need to build a portfolio and gain more experience.

So I am starting my own business!

My editing services will officially available in a couple weeks with the launch of my professional website :)

During this waiting time, I am calling for another round of critiques! I will, to the best of my ability, be able to give you insight into your first chapter while helping you correct copy edits and ready your submission for agents. This will hopefully help you in your writing career and me in my editing career.

If you are interested in taking part of this free editing session, please email me at the address below with a query letter and your first chapter attached as a .doc file.

Send submissions to: critiquesubmissions[at]yahoo[dot]com

Thank you for your support!

October 2, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome back for Six Sentence Sunday! Now that major revisions are finished for BLEED FOR ME, I'm having some fun with a short story. May turn into a novella. Haven't decided. Let's take a look at CAUGHT WITHOUT PANTIES.



Trey Ashton has just been arrested for prostitution by sexy Officer Jesse Cane. They have a past and now, she's having a staring contest with her John in the cell across from her. Jesse has come in to give her back something she lost.


"These belong to you?” he asked as he came around the corner. Jesse held up something made of pink lace and black ribbon. “Got ‘em out of his pocket.”

            “And you thought I’d want them back after he touched them?” Trey smiled as best as she could out of sarcasm. “No thank you.”

October 1, 2011

I'm Back!

Wow it feels good to be back from hiatus!

As you may know, I was having a lot of trouble with these WIP revisions, but the hardest part is over! Yep, I rewrote the ENTIRE novel starting in April of this year. That's only what? 5 months? You can laugh. I didn't get serious about it until the beginning of August. So technically, it would be about 3 months of actual work. It was the worst three months of my writing life though. I will never write another novel in 3 months because then I have to spend close to 6 rewriting it.

During my hiatus, I not only finished the revisions, I spent some time writing a couple of awesome articles, which will appear up here shortly, arranging some interviews for you guys and investing in my career as an editor. That means I've been apply as a copy/content editor to publishing houses. Yep, I'm getting all official.

So what now you ask? Well, there's a few things.

First, I need to get back to networking with all of you! I've been so neglectful and I'm sorry for that. I promise to try very hard to get back in touch with you, but I'm sure every writer goes through hard times just like I did. So when it happens to you, I won't hold it against you ;)

In October, I'm starting what will hopefully be the last round of revisions on LET ME OUT. Critiques just came back from 4 lovely ladies today and it's time to jump in and get the book back on the market. When I say back on the market, I mean querying. This will be the last round of queries this book sees. If I don't have any hits, self-publishing it is. During my hiatus, I've researched stock photos for a self-publishing cover. I haven't found the perfect picture yet, but I have a very good idea of what it would turn out like if it gets to that point. This is my baby and IT WILL SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY!

In November, I'll be final drafting BLEED FOR ME (I need to write 30,000 words I cut from the MS) and then send it out to the critique group at the end of the month. That's only about 1,000 words a day. I'm hoping it won't be as nasty as it sounds because I have the plotline, subplot line, characters, etc exactly the way I want them. They're just at the bare bones right now. I need to fill it in a little without over doing it. During these last revisions, LET ME OUT will be out for copy edits with the last member of my critique group and I'll be getting ready for December!

Which includes another break. It's the holidays. I'll have finals and I'm traveling, so writing will be on the back burner. However, querying will be a priority for LET ME OUT and I'll be stewing on what my next revision or WIP project will be.

Yeah, I have another book to revise that I wrote last year. It's my first Paranormal Romantic Suspense. (Say that 3 times fast). I can't decide if I want to go ahead and start revisions or move on to the next book in the series, which has three chapters written. December will be plenty of time to decide.  Don't you think?
That's the rest of my year. What does yours look like?

September 22, 2011

Hiatus

Good morning!

I wasn't planning on having to do this, but I need to go on hiatus. I'm sure you've noticed my absence on your blogs and lack of posting here so I think it would be best for everyone if I took a break and came back fully refreshed and ready to blog/network on October 1st.


I really want to get this round of revisions finished for BLEED FOR ME and so I must focus. I will miss you all and will [hopefully] have some great material and good news when I come back :)

Keep writing. Stay safe.

September 20, 2011

Who Inspires You?

My very first inspiration came from Stephenie Meyer. She made writing a novel look easy by writing her very first in three months. After that she got an agent and then a publisher and continued to herself a success with the Twilight Saga.

So when I was 21, I decided I'd try it. Four manuscripts later, I've found that this isn't the case.

Writing a novel is not easy.


I also found out that I needed continued inspiration. Ms. Meyer did not keep me going. So who inspires me now?

The very first would have to be The Piedmont Writer (a.k.a Anne Gallagher). Many of you follow her blog and probably get inspiration from her. She is down to earth and persists at everything she starts. I am in awe by her WIP list and her determination to make it in this business. Just by looking at her WIP list I get motivated and inspired to keep going. When times are tough, I turn to her blog. It's simple. It's elegant. But it's full of information and advice.

My second choice would have to be the lovely ladies in my writing group. They offer words of encouragement when I don't deserve it and tell me to keep chugging along. They even help with plotting and making me realize that "No, you're character really would not do that." You ladies are awesome.

Third, my inspiration comes from you: my followers. You keep my head on straight and help me work out my frustration with my WIPs. you let me vent, make me laugh and sometimes even cry with how great you all are.

I have so many people I am inspired by, it's a wonder why I've stopped writing this week ;)

So thank you. You inspire me!

September 14, 2011

WIP Report

(sigh)





What to say about my work in progress. Quite honestly, it's been Hell. I have rewritten the entire novel, cut over thirty percent of it, added characters, cut characters, changed their appearances and more. After all this, I am down to the last three chapters of the novel and have nowhere to go.

I'm stuck.

I know what I want my characters to do, how I want the story to end, but I am just the author. I have no control over my characters and it seems they are finished with me.

My deadline is October 1st. Self-imposed of course, but LET ME OUT will be back from the critique group that day and I need to start revisions on that and get it out to agents. I need my characters to get back in the game. I need to finish this book. I need to put this stress behind me.

What helps you when you're stuck?

September 11, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Revisions for BLEED FOR ME are winding down and things are getting very stressful/exciting for my characters!

 

Torrhent has just survive through the worst attack on her life and has convinced herself she's better off dead in order to save others.


She turned to face him, talking to his back. “Thank you. For everything.” For keeping me alive, she kept to herself. “I hope you get your sister back.”

Taigen didn’t move and Torrhent forced her feet forward. It was another four hundred miles until New York, but there had to be a police station somewhere along the way.

September 8, 2011

Stay in the Game

The publishing industry is constantly evolving and we as writers are expected to do our research to stay in the game. That research includes the publishing routes writers take upon themselves.


Self-publishing is a very personal choice. No one has the right to tell you how to publish your book, but do you know what you’re getting into by leaving a traditional publisher on the sidelines?

If you’re considering self-publishing, you have to research and you have to be meticulous. Otherwise, without the tools a traditional publisher or an agent offers (editing, copyediting, marketing, legal guidance, etc.), you may look like a fool. Your dedication to succeed is the deciding factor. Self-publishing is a great resource for new or advanced writers to get their work into the world. Without the stress and disappointment of finding an agent or waiting years for your book to hit shelves, you can take your career into your own hands. But there are a few things to consider before you take that final step.


Interviews from four authors will give you insight into the following questions when comparing a traditional publisher to self-publishing:


* How long does it take for my book to become available to readers?


* What are my royalty rates?


* What level of self-promotion is involved to sell my book?


* What level of editing is required to self-publish my book?


* How does self-publishing help already-published authors?


Sherri A. Dub, self-published author of her paranormal romance, Goddess Cottage, chose to take her career into her own hands because the slushpile was taking too long. She states, “I knew my book was ready, as it was requested, in full, by a major publishing house, but they chose to praise it and pass” (Dub Interview). This led Dub to utilize BookBaby.com and pay $219.00 for an ISBN number, a cover and to format her novel. Dub’s novel was made available on iBooks, Sony, Nook & Kindle on April 21, 2011 at $1.99 with a second novel, The Witch Ball, and a third novel, following suit later in the year. However, there are no royalty figures available as of yet for Dub as it can take between 60-70 days in order to receive payment from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Sony. The writer spends a good chunk of free time, when she isn’t writing, promoting her first novel. “I do daily promotional work on Twitter, Goodreads.com and Facebook” (Dub interview), she states and lists Twitter as her greatest resource, reporting over one thousand followers. Dub feels she is doing well with over one hundred downloads of her novel and advises, “If you have a large writing group of peers who are encouraging you to do this and you have honed your craft, then I say go for it” (Dub interview). Even with this amount of success, Dub is still on the hunt for an agent and looks forward to pitching herself at future writing conferences. Sherri A. Dub can be reached through her website: www.sheropatra.com


Romance writer Sherri Smith, writing as R.M. Sotera, has numerous novellas traditionally published electronically. Her decision to self-publish came after she realized she had to evolve as the industry evolved. “In all honesty, it appears that building a name for oneself through E-Publishing and Self-Publishing is a good step in securing the ultimate goal of a traditional publishing—if this is an author’s goal” (Smith interview). Smith continues to query agents in the hope that one of her manuscripts will catch an agent’s eye, but is currently succeeding electronically through eXtasy Books and Evernight Publishing. Smith reveals that even though she has gone through a traditional publisher for her work, the release date for her novellas, after the contract is signed, is only two to three months. According to Smith, e-published authors can be paid monthly, quarterly and semi-annually, depending on the publisher, but Smith reports that $55.00 is the most she’s made in one month through this route. The writer attributes the amount of money she personally makes to promotion. “I’m sure I could do better if I had the time needed for promotion, but with my full-time job and allotting writing time in my schedule, online promotion is a big problem for me” (Smith interview). Smith is one of the authors who have considered self-publishing, eager to get her name out there as any author is, but she goes on to state, “At this time it isn’t feasible because I don’t feel that I have the time to put the amount of leg-work needed into self promotion” (Smith interview). She can be contacted through her website: www.rmsotera.com






Self-published author and self-publishing guru Kris Tualla is another one of those authors who tried the traditional publishing route, but found that her books were not what the publishing houses were looking for. The main reason: her Norwegian heroes weren’t Scottish. Thousands of writers are praised for their writing capability, but hit the “your book isn’t sellable” wall. Tualla’s answer: self-publishing. Spending over ten hours a day promoting her books while writing three to six hours on her next manuscripts, this writer has published her books both in print and electronically. Tualla pulls in about $75.00 a month with her books, spending between $4.88-$5.00 on the print-on-demands and absolutely nothing for her e-books. How’d she do it? CreateSpace from Amazon. With offers like free membership, flexible royalty models, free CreateSpace ISBN, and a print-on-demand option, CreateSpace is the “juggernaut” of self-publishing (Tuall interview) and perfect fit for Tualla. With an art degree in her background, Tualla created her brilliant cover designs herself. By studying traditional covers for those key elements, this writer took every aspect of her career into her own hands, but warned writers that, “No writer can edit themselves” (Tualla interview). Because of this, Tualla uses four separate readers for plot consistency, characterization, GMC and setting while using a completely different set of readers for copyediting. Before even considering releasing her manuscripts to the masses, the writer buys her own book for one last edit, folding down the corners of every page that has a missed mistake. Her first rule before self-publishing: create a well-written product (Tualla interview). Currently in the works with a traditional publisher for her sixth, seventh and eight novels (a trilogy), Tualla offers a 5-day self-publishing intensive for members of www.savvyauthors.com who want to learn the ins and outs of self-publishing. She can be reached through her website: www.kristualla.com.


And lastly, our very own multi-published crime author Robert S. Levinson has nine novels published to date. Taking six months to find an agent and a year to land a publisher, Levinson takes the brunt of his promotion upon himself, even with publishers Forge and Star/Gale at his back. This author reports that it generally takes between twelve and sixteen months for his novels to become available to the public and receives industry standard royalties of the cover price.


But how can self-publishing help already-published authors?


Even though Levinson still writes and submits to his publishers, he has taken his backlist (those books no longer available) and self-published them electronically on Amazon’s Kindle and other e-book outlets along with authors such as Carolyn Jewel, Kevin J. Anderson and L.L. Bartlett. Websites such as Smashwords and CreateSpace are helping traditionally published authors keep their titles available after the publisher has given back the rights to them. Once the author has those rights, it’s fair game.


If you’re still not sure self-publishing is right for you, consider one last route before uploading that file. Jessica Faust of BookEnds Literary Agency is just one of the thousands of literary agents who have opened their own e-publishing house. Beyond the Page Publishing is out to help both agented and unagented authors to publish electronically. They offer expert editing services, cover design, distribution through major e-book sellers, copyright application, pricing consultations, and marketing guidance. What the agent gets in return: 15% commission from your sales. All you have to do is submit your query to info@beyondthepagepub.com. Beyond the Page is a traditional publisher. However, they are strictly electronic. Other companies such as Carina Press and Sapphire Blue Publishing follow the same line and since they are strictly electronic, the guidelines are a little more relaxed and you’ll see sales a lot sooner than with a traditional publisher.


Whether you’re a new author or a veteran, writers all over the world are working to stay in the game by self-publishing. Either you can take your career into your own hands or wait another year to see your book on the shelf. The choice is up to you.

September 6, 2011

Change of Plans

I'm always trying to find better ways to keep organized, especially if it comes to my writing. A while ago, I did a post on the way I do outlines. Shown here:

You can see these because they've changed....a lot.

There is a lot going on in this WORD document, which I was completely fine with until I started planning out my story board. Comments are great, but without being able to make each comment a different color, I was getting confused on what needed to be worked on and which scenes were important to the story. 

Now, I've discovered Platonium!

Not really, but you'll see what I mean with this picture:


Sorry - had to black out my scene descriptions since this is a WIP :(

By using Excel, I was able to include a lot more information in my outline than in Word. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE WORD. I use it for everything, but when it comes to organizing my writing, I'm converting to Excel.

In this spreadsheet I've listed:

1. Chapter #
2. Status of chapter (Revision 1 = First round of major revisions, Revision 2, etc)
3. Pages of chapter
4. Word count in chapter
5. Scene number within chapter
6. Scene description
7. A column asking how the scene moves the plot forward (haven't filled that in yet)
8. Timeline (what day of the week the scene takes place on)

And then some color coding. The colors are where my story board takes hold. Blue is set up for the main plot turning points. Red for subplot turning points and yellow for those scenes that I need to clear up a timeline for. There seems to be A LOT of stuff happening in one day and I don't think it would be believable. There's only so much one person can handle.

What do you think? Do you utilize technology for your notes and outlines or are you old school? What are some ways you keep your information organized?

September 4, 2011

In Which I Reveal My New Pen Name!!!

...Drumroll Please...


Ta-Da! What do you think?

This decision was a hard one to make. It took a long time to pick a name that kept a piece of me and told readers that I write suspense. I'm excited to start new and make some amazing stories!

September 3, 2011

Write a Post, Help a Dog

 NOTE: This post is an exact copy of the Piedmont Writer's post today

I never post on Saturday but I found this on The Eagle's Aerial Perspective blog this morning.





Pedigree is resurrecting its insanely successful Write a Post, Help a Dog program. In 2010, 391 bloggers wrote about the program and with each post, Pedigree donated 20 pounds of its Healthy Longevity dog food to shelter animals. In all, 7,820 pounds of food was donated to two shelters renowned for their care of senior dogs: Muttville Senior Dog Rescue in San Francisco and Castaway Critters in Harrisburg, Pa.

How you can help in 2011

Simply spread the word about Write a Post, Help a Dog 2011 and once again Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of food for each blogger's post. Here's all you need to include in your post:

The Write a Post, Help a Dog program is aimed at raising awareness and food for the more than four million dogs that wind up in shelters and breed rescues each year.
For each blog post mentioning the Pedigree Foundation from now until midnight ET on September 3, Pedigree will donate 20 pounds of its new dry Pedigree recipe food for dogs -- its best recipe ever -- to a shelter, because every dog deserves leading nutrition.

The Pedigree Foundation -- a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization is committed to helping dogs by providing grants to shelters and rescues and encouraging dog adoption. This year the Foundation has already raised more than $376,570 against its goal of $1.5 million to carry out its work to fund grants that not only help shelters operate, but to further shelter innovations.
The Pedigree Foundation depends on charitable contributions from individuals to carry out its mission to help dogs find loving homes. In addition to writing a blog post, here's how you can help:

Donate online at http://pedigreefoundation.org/donate.aspx
Apply for a shelter grant from the Pedigree Foundation by completing a form at www.pedigreefoundation.org
Purchase Dogs Rule Gear at www.dogsrulegear.com where the proceeds go to the Pedigree Foundation to help loving dogs find a home. SPECIAL OFFER: Get 10 percent off Dogs Rule Gear by using the promo code BlogPaws10 from August 22 - September 30.


Now, the deadline for this is TONIGHT, and the link is at The Eagle's Aerial Perspective blog. So please go there, link up, copy and paste, or blog what you can to help this fabulous cause.

September 1, 2011

Let's Take a Poll to Pick My New Name

*********My new name has been chosen and will be revealed this upcoming Sunday!*********


Ok, stalkers. I need your help. I don't write under my real name, at least not my real last name. Why? Because I don't like it. (I love you, husband!). So I've been using my mother's maiden name, McIntyre. However, my writing has nothing to do with Scotland, Scottish people, Scottish accents, Scottish traditions, etc. NOTHING.

I need a last name that says I write suspense. I want it short and catchy. I want people to remember it and I want to like it :)

Therefore, I am hosting a poll. PLEASE participate in the poll to the right of this post. There you will find the names I've dwindled my long list down to. If you have a name you'd think I like, please comment in this post. I appreciate your input and will even award prizes :)

August 29, 2011

I'm Still Learning

I'm one of those people who believe there is no one way to write a novel. Some people write by the seat of their pants, some outline and plot in great detail. I do both. For me, it depends on the project.



It's impossible for me to write a novel the same way twice. I've written four complete manuscripts so far and I've changed everything about my craft with each one. The first book I wrote in scenes from the middle out, the second in whole chapters from beginning to end. The third wasn't written in any sort of chronological order whatsoever and the fourth I powered through with 1,000 words a day.

My point is, I still haven't found what works for me when it comes to writing a novel. I'm still learning. Every day I learn something else, but what I have to keep in mind is that one way of doing things is not going to work for every project. My characters are not the same, my plot isn't the same and my skill level grows with each page.

So even when I get frustrated that I can't settle on doing something one way and sticking to it, I think I'm a little grateful. I wouldn't grow as a writer if I wasn't willing to try a little bit of everything.

August 28, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Welcome back for Six Sentence Sunday! Be sure to check out other Sixers after reading mine!



Check out my current WIP, BLEED FOR ME. Torrhent and Taigen are on the run and laying low in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. The bullet mentioned is an old wound.


His suspicion had reached an all-time high.

The cold desert air bit into the bullet in his chest, but he pushed himself forward, ignoring the pain. Something had woken him a half hour ago and forced him from the warm embrace of his charge. Now, he knew why.
Slowly, Taigen withdrew the gun from the back of his pants, taking aim.
He had no reason to fire. Yet.

August 26, 2011

Block Yourself

I'm on a deadline, one that I made myself, but still a deadline. I'm determined to finish these major revisions on the WIP by the end of this year. As long as I block out my calender, I think I can do it.

So that's what I did. I blocked out a calender for this novel. I also made one for LET ME OUT that is with the critique group. With these tools, I just might keep myself motivated to finish!

Take a look:

Yellow is Round 1 of revisions (where I'm currently rewriting the entire plotline)
Green is Round 2 of revisions (where I will make sure tension, flow and holes are pulled together)
Pink is when I send it to the critique group

I'm a very visual person when it comes to keeping goals. I love to track and color code.

What helps you keep updated with your goals?

August 22, 2011

Creating My Craft Binder

The craft binder is coming along nicely. But...I ran out of sheet protectors and I have about another 50 pages that will go in there.

Step 1 to Creating My Craft Binder: Find articles and take notes on how to craft a successful novel. I also have notes from previous semesters about studying novels, poetry, and short stories.



Step 2 to Creating My Craft Binder: Organize all the articles and writing notes I've collected over the last four years. Categories include: Characterization, Plotting, Dialogue, Revisions, GMC, etc.

Step 3 to Creating My Craft Binder: Put the articles and notes into sheet protectors.




Step 4 to Creating My Craft Binder: Make a kick-ass cover design!



I've made my binder to keep organized and quick-reference important parts and worksheets for writing my novels. Many people remember these important parts throughout their career, but I have really bad memory and I love filling out worksheets :)


Have you made your craft binder yet?

August 21, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

From the current WIP I'm revising: BLEED THIS WAY. Check out other Sixers while you're at it!



Torrhent and Taigen are on the run from the FBI and the antagonist's assassins. In Taigen's opinion, the last place they'd look is a cop's house, but he hasn't told Torrhent the entire truth. The two are hiding behind the front door as LAPD shows up to investigate the stolen truck in the driveway.


Reaching behind him, Marcus fumbled for his wallet and flashed his credentials. “I’m Agent Marcus Grant of ATF.”

Torrhent bolted to her feet.

Taigen wrenched around to hold her in place, pushing her back against the wall. He clamped a hand down over her mouth to keep her from screaming, but wasn’t sure he could hold her in place for long. His face was inches away from hers, her breath warm on his hand.

August 17, 2011

Meet My Muse

I've never been able to picture my muse. For the past four years, I didn't even think I had one. I've always used celebrity pictures for inspiration for characters, but I realized one keeps coming back.

He's been in my dreams (and day dreams! :) ). He's been a hero in my novels and even a secondary character. I'm always thinking of new ways to bring him back into the story or start a new one with him as the star. Now, I know why.

He's my muse.



He frequently comes in from the heat all grimy and in need of a shower, just having fought his way back into my good graces. He doesn't have a name. He has an amazing accent and a bit of a "I'll-kick-your-ass-if-you-touch-my-woman" attitude. There is nothing that he can't do and nothing that will stop him from getting what he wants.




And he cleans up nicely too.

August 15, 2011

Cut the Fat

I have cut over 90 pages from my current WIP... and I'm only at Chapter 5.


I fear it's only going to get worse.

I have to be honest. At first, I cringed at the thought of rewriting the entire book. I even stopped writing because I am one of those people who has to finish a project I start before moving on. My entire brain shut down, my muse abandoned me and I tried not to think about it. Then I realized, I had to cut all the bad writing in order to bring back my inspiration. I had to cut the fat.

I still cringe when I cut a giant chunk of the book out, but after fixing so many pages, after making my book 10x better, I realize that I have grown as a writer. And that's what counts.

How do you deal with cutting the fat from your manuscript?

August 14, 2011

Six Sentence Sunday

Good morning, peeps! Yes, I know, I am actually on schedule for today's post. I'm trying really hard to keep posting, but some things always get in the way.

This Sunday, I am participating in Six Sentence Sunday! This little snippet is from the book I'm currently rewriting. Revisions are going well now that I've finished the hardest part: the first three chapters. Everything is moving more smoothly and the suspense is killing me!



Enjoy the first six lines of the book and please leave comments if you feel I can improve them in any way :) Thanks!


            Monday’s escape had made headlines.
Torrhent Lynd eyed the convenience store cashier as she moved toward the bathroom, keeping her face averted in case his eyes moved from her picture on the television to her. She pushed her body inside the dark room quickly with her supplies. With only one stall, a sink and a garbage can, the bathroom offered what she needed, but took any remaining dignity she might have had left.

The voice of a female cop filtered through the thin door from the television. Dangerous...armed...FBI.

A murderer.

August 13, 2011

Like A Virgin

“If you wish to be a writer, write!” - Epictetus
So you want to write a novel. It’s always been a goal of yours and you have an amazing idea that readers will eat up. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done as thousands of writers have learned, but you have to begin somewhere. Before you write that first line though, ask yourself:
Why? What is your reason for wanting to write your book? Motivation is central for every writer to discover for themselves. Why are you writing? If it’s to be published, you’ve chosen the wrong career. Writing for the market (the trends) is going to end in disappointment. Trends come and go and readers are looking for the next best thing. By the time you finish your novel, the market may have moved on and you will be left with a novel that agents have seen enough of. Write for you. Your passion will be noticed, and respected, if you write a story you are in love with.
Do you have the time to invest hundreds of hours on one project? Oh yes, my friend. HUNDREDS of hours will be spent, not only to write that first draft, but to revise it as many times as you need to before submitting the manuscript. It will be hard. It will be time consuming and take more patience than you have at the moment. If you are serious about writing and have children, school, work or other obligations, you’ll want to make a writing schedule. Even fifteen minutes a day is progress and sometimes you will even need to force yourself to do it. It won’t be easy. You will get frustrated and you’ll need to power through.
Can you accept that writing might not pay your bills? Chances are you aren’t Stephen King. You’re not Nora Roberts and your novel won’t be a New York Times Bestseller right out of the gate. The truth is, most writers have a day job and advances aren’t as large as they used to be. The industry is changing. It’s going digital, but it’s also impossible to know whether books will be digital or some print will be left in the next decade. Costs are down and profits are up concerning digital books (e-books). Royalties are rising for authors, however, advances are shrinking or not being offered at all. In an industry, and an economy, that’s always changing, have a backup plan. This is not to discourage you, in fact, it’s to motivate you to push harder. If you want writing to be your life, make it so. Go back to school for your English degree, attend conferences, join a writers group, check out freelance work. While you’re waiting for those royalties, invest in your education and keep your day job.
Are you ready to be a professional? Just as with every industry, publishing is a business. So treat it as such. Maria Conner once advised in the Romance Writers Report, “Become a professional writer: meet deadlines, educate yourself about the market, network, refine and apply your skills, complete and market projects.” You may not be published, but getting into the swing of things is going to help you in the long run. Build healthy habits such as setting a writing schedule, meeting deadlines, getting dressed to write even if it’s in your own home and researching. Treat your writing as a job.
Do you know where to start? You might think this is the easiest part of writing your novel. You already know what your characters look like and maybe a basic (or detailed) plotline, but there are a couple more items to consider.
First, you need to ask yourself if you are going to have a prologue. Now days, prologues aren’t that popular. They usually consist of backstory, which is a giant NO-NO to start your book. If you find yourself writing nothing but memories, set up or flashbacks in a prologue or first chapter, cut them out and put them someplace else if they are that important to the plot.
Second, what is your first suspenseful scene? Make that your beginning. Sometimes it won’t happen until 50 pages in, but you want to drop your main character (MC) in the middle of the action to reach out and grab your reader (or agent) so they will never want to stop reading. You will want to do this for every novel you write. It does not have to be a shoot-em-up scene, but your MC will be involved and the stakes will be crystal clear to keep your reader interested.
Are you willing to learn? I learn something new about my style of writing and my craft every day. I am not right all of the time and my willingness to try new things has made me a better writer and taken me one step closer to being published.
You must admit to yourself that you are going to make mistakes. How else will you learn to be a better writer without making a few? The best and fastest way to make your writing better is to submit your manuscript and query letter through critique groups. BETA readers are great to start with, but in order to make your novel shine, group input is crucial. However, you MUST remember not to take their suggestions personal because that’s exactly what a critique group does: they give suggestions.
Do you have tough skin? I’m sorry, but nobody thinks you’re serious about writing. You can tell family and friends how much it means to you, that you must write because you can’t not write, but they won’t care. They will view it as a hobby that you’ll give up soon or a phase. These realizations are going to hurt, but that’s when you need to suck it up and make new friends. Writer friends. Writer friends think you’re serious and they’ll give you support every step of the way. Find a local writers group or friends on the blogosphere. They will be more than willing to encourage you to keep going and to lift you over the next hurdle.
The next hurdle being the agent. Agents are a wonderful guide through the publishing world. That is their job. They help you negotiate contracts, they pitch your book to editors and publishers and they give advice. Sure you can do it alone with some publishers, but you probably don’t know much about contracts or haven’t made the effort to study the industry.
You need an agent, but what you need tough skin for is rejection.
It will happen many, many times and with every book you pitch. It’s just a fact. However, you must realize, and this took me a while to learn, that at rejection is not personal. It’s just good business. It may seem as a personal attack, but it really isn’t! This person/agent has never met you before, they haven’t read your book and they have another thousand query letters to slosh through. You are just a letter that didn’t keep them interested. It hurts, I know. I’ve cried many times throughout the process, but if you are not willing to go through rejection, you are not ready to be a writer. What you must do, especially after rejection twenty, is to dedicate yourself more. Revise the query letter, send it out to other writers for critiquing and submit. Rinse and repeat again, and again, and again until there is an agent out there who can support you. The worst that can happen is an agent or publisher saying, “No”. Resilience is one of the most important traits of a writer. In her novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood wrote, “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Thousands of individuals such as yourself have dreamed of writing a novel, leaving a legacy and a mark on the world. You can educate yourself, research the market, dress as a professional and attend conferences, but the best way to ensure your success is to write your book. What are you waiting for?

August 7, 2011

Where I Go to Get Inspired

I've been on vacation to celebrate the end of this semester. Woot! I actually have time (until the end of August that is) to work on revisions. And I plan to work hard, but I had to restart my brain. Here's where I've been...









And my favorite picture this trip...it's of me.




My brain was so fried from school, work and revisions that the peace and quiet of Bryce Canyon was almost prescribed. I didn't think about work, school (I still had a final paper due) or even bills while I was there. It was truly a place to be inspired and to reboot.

Where do you go to reboot?

July 27, 2011

Hell. Hell. Hell.

Yes, I'm still in Revision Hell with my third novel. I've never had such a hard time writing. It could be because of school. It could be because of work. Or even lack of motivation/inspiration. The entire novel is being rewritten.

That is sad in itself so I feel like this:


But I am making the manuscript better. I am taking one more step toward publication. I am making pages, even if they are just revisions. I made it all the way to Chapter 8, but realized I had to start over again because I wasn't happy with the way certain scenes were arranged and the way I had written them. So now, I'm in Chapter 2 :)

It's slow, but sure. One day I will finish these revisions and my critique group will see it. One day I will submit to agents and publishers.

Where are you with your summer writing? Making progress?

July 25, 2011

Self-Publishing Intensive

If you are considering self-publishing because the slushpile to too big or your work just isn't what the industry is looking for, self-published author and success story Kris Tualla is offering a 5-day intensive to teach you the ins and outs of self-publishing.

Visit http://www.savvyauthors.com/ to register for this intensive that starts on August 16th or click here to be taken directly to the page.

July 19, 2011

Shall I Compare Thee to Traditional Publishing?

If you can't tell, I've been studying Shakespeare. A lot. :) But that's not what this post is about. Today I want to talk about Self-Publishing and E-Publishing.


Let me just make one point here. Self-Publishing and E-Publishing are not the same thing.

Self-Publishing means you have gone to the extra mile, after pitching your book to traditional publishers, and have taken it upon your self to publish your book without an agent or traditional publisher. In other words, you are not published, but your book is for sale. 

E-publishing is a type of publishing. This road can be taken through traditional publishers or through Self-Publishing, but your book is in electronic form. You can have both print and electronic versions of your book, print-on-demand or strictly electronic formatting

What I want to discuss today is a combination of the two.

My second novel, LET ME OUT, is with my critique group. I have queried the hell out of this book, but probably not as much as other writers have done with their books. I've been asked for 2 partials. In the end, both agents rejected the book. This could be for a number of reasons, as we all know, but I am still really passionate about this book and I want to see it available to the masses.

That brings me to the meat of my post.

Once the group is through with the manuscript, I will query one more round. If I haven't yielded any results by the end of the year, I am going to self-publish. I thought my decision would be a lot harder to make, but after a great RWA meeting this last weekend, it's official. My book will be available for others to read come hell or highwater.

I will have to self-promote like crazy. I will have to manage a full-time job, school and selling my book all at one time, but I'm going to do it.

What is the hardest decision you've had to make in your writing career? Are you considering self-publishing? 

July 17, 2011

Building Your World

World-building is key in fiction, especially within the genres of Paranormal, Futuristic, Sci-fi and Fantasy. Now, I'm not a writer of those genres, but many people are and you can see how the same rules apply across all genres.

This set of information came from my RWA meeting yesterday and I was surprised by how much I didn't know about building a world. All of my novels are set in contemporary United States, but as I read over the rules of world-building, I was able to apply all of them even to my genre.

World-building builds your plot if you think about it. The world you build dictates who is in it, therefore, creates your characters (especially their past) and their actions. The world also dictates who or what is your antagonist. If your first step to writing your novel is world-building, you will be able to answer the who, what, when and where. Once you figure that out, your plot will materialize right behind it.

Let's jump into the rules of building your world:

1. Know your own world inside and out.
2. Know the genre of your world.
3. Read the top authors - historical and contemporary.
4. Create a theme - 25 words or less that will be a tag-line you can stick to throughout the novel.
5. Intimately know your characters.
6. Know the GMC for each character.
7. Suspend disbelief - your world will be based on some type of fact whether it is Sci-fi (based on science), Futuristic (the contemporary world flung into the future), Fantasy or Paranormal. Make your readers believe it is possible for this world to exist. Remember, however, you cannot suspend the rules of physics if you want to suspend your readers disbelief.
8. Keep your rules straight throughout the entire novel
9. Make a bible. A notebook or file that will help you remember, and keep straight, all of the rules you've laid out.

These are also a few questions to keep in mind when you begin to build your world:

1. Do your characters fit in this world?
2. What is your conflict? Is it a person, thing or event?
3. What are the rules?
4. What is the environment like?
5. What is going on in this world you've built?

Do you start world-building before you write a single word of your MS? What helps you to build a world?

July 14, 2011

Critique Techniques

One of the members of my critique group found this awesome post by Heather Hummel, multi-published author. Check it out here.

I'm starting my first critique tonight for my very first critique group. I'm nervous. I'm excited. I hope I do a good job and they won't kick me out! Wish me luck :)

July 12, 2011

The Craft

The Craft of Writing will be my career (as long as I can help it!) and so there is a lot I do and a lot of places I go in order to learn more. Through the past year, I've attended almost all of my RWA meetings, joined a critique group and researched the hell out of getting published.

To make the story short: I have a lot of handouts and notes.

Since this Craft will be my life's work and I have such a horrible memory, I keep them all. Right now, however, they are all in an ugly, blue, floppy folder. This floppy folder:


I have a mix of things like articles on dialogue to basic and advanced character charts in here. They are not organized and they are not accessible unless I want to go through hundreds of pages to find the information I want.

Solution: The Craft Binder.  [Dramatic music...]


This is just the beginning. It will be pretty. It will be colorful. It will be organized.

It will be my bible.

Organized sections thus far will include: Plotting, Character development/GMC, Setting/World-building, Query, Synopsis, Formatting and Critiquing. By organizing my notes, handouts and research, I will be able to stay on top of my craft and help other writers out with advice. Yay me :)

How do you handle the onslaught of information you gather from friends, organization and family about this Craft? Willing to share ideas?

July 10, 2011

Take Your Time



My first novel took me three months to write. My second, six months. The third took even less. And what am I discovering? The less time I take to write the first draft, the more I have to revise. The same goes for query letters and synopsis.

I currently have two books to edit and seven to write. I'm anxious to finish the book I'm revising now. I want to start submitting it to BETA readers, write the synopsis and send out the query. I want to move on, but I know that if I rush, I will make mistakes. I will be forced to work on the MS far longer than if I'd taken my time and I will lose my passion for it.

I've always been told to finish the first draft quickly. Rush through it then go back and edit. This has worked for me in the past, but I'm not sure it has worked well. Some authors, such as Laurell K Hamilton, (seriously, if you don't read her blog go now. She shares a lot of her writing techniques) edit while they write, go back a few pages the next day, edit them again and then move on with the draft. This seems to work well for her and I'm now considering editing while I draft in order to limit my frustration as she does.

Perhaps I would not be so anxious/frustrated to get my books out if I wasn't so sick of editing them over and over.

What makes you anxious about your work? Do you edit as you draft?

July 7, 2011

Recycling

Not that kind of recycling, but you should to that too. I'm talking about recycling those scenes that don't make it into your final MS.

Laurell K. Hamilton is famous for this with her Anita Blake series. If she writes a fantastic scene and it doesn't fit perfectly into the book she's working on, she saves it for the next book.

I'm just now discovering this tactic. One of the main problems with the MS I'm currently revising is that I didn't know what scene to use for Chapter 1. Of course, I needed a suspensful scene, one that kept the reader wanting more, but I had a lot of those (in my opinion). So, I decided to trash my original (my MC was waking up under an overpass - don't do this by the way) and write an entirely new one. Rhianna's Russian Roulette song was my inspiration.

I made a scene in which my MC is playing Russian Roulette. It's short, not even two pages, but is packed with suspense, emotion and a hell of a lot of fear. I thought it was perfect...until the more I read it, the more I hated it in this book.

The scene just didn't fit. I couldn't explain why. My MC is desperate for money. She'll do anything to get it and Russian Roulette is a way to make fast cash. But Russian Roulette wasn't for my MC. It didn't feel as if it could be real. So I chopped it.

I don't know about you, but I keep all scenes that don't make it into the book in a separate file for each MS. Just in case I change my mind. And luckily for me, this scene, which is a great scene, will end up making an appearance as the hook in a totally different book. All I need to do is change my character's name.

Do you recycle your deleted scenes? Or are they too dear to use for another project?

July 3, 2011

Rediscovering My Passion

I've taken a break from my third novel, BLEED IT OUT, for about 2 months now. This is the book I realized I had to rewrite from beginning to end. With this realization, I honestly considered giving up writing. Not only was this book getting a MAJOR makeover, my second novel was not getting any requests from agents, school was overwhelming me and my muse had abandoned me.

I almost quit.

And then...

This weekend I took at look at my Pinterest board for this book. I had lost my passion for the book. I knew that, but I couldn't figure out why until today.

It's because of her (red frame).


Meet Torrhent Lynd, my main character and the loss of my motivation. I'm not sure why, but the woman in the picture rubs me the wrong way. When I first wrote the book, Torrhent was seventeen. But now, she is twenty-four, a grown woman, and this picture does not show a woman. I'd based Torrhent's appearance off of this picture for the entire novel, but what I was seeing in my mind and the words on the page weren't matching up.

So I set out to find another Torrhent and some more inspiration. I spent nearly two hours redesigning my board and getting my notes in order to start on the book again. Here's the new board:


My new Torrhent is in red, I'm adding another character to spice up the conflict (in blue) and found a different photo for my second MC, Taigen Banvard. There is a lot changing with this book, but just by changing out a picture of my MC, I began to see a whole new vision for the book and seeing myself finishing it.

How do you get your passion back?

July 1, 2011

Pay Me to Critique - or Not

For those of you who don't already know, I'm in school for my bachelors degree in English Lit to start a career in editing. Next year, I apply to grad school. Yep, I want to work for a publishing house some day. At least, that's the goal. So this post by the amazing Cassandra Marshall, writer, literary intern and freelance editor, was very informative.


Let's say you've been critiquing other writer's manuscripts and you love it so much that you want to get paid for it. Did you know that you would need a business license and look into income taxes? What about the amount of money you'd actually get paid for this work?

Are you able to give writers advice to help them grow and sharpen their craft? Are you willing to continue your education by keeping up on the market, reading the trends (about 25 books at a time according to Cassandra), and taking courses AFTER you've already gone to school for your MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)?

If you haven't read Cassandra's post and you're interested in making editing your career (like me :) ), check it out over at her blog.

Are there any of you out there wanting to turn your critiques into jobs?

June 30, 2011

The Writer's Oath

I promise solemnly
to write as often
and as much as I
can, to respect my
writing self and to
nurture the writing
of others.
                  
                   - Gail Levine

June 26, 2011

The Break Continues

So sorry not to post lately, but now that I'm finally down with these two upper level classes for school, I'm taking it easy :) See you around the end of the week!

June 21, 2011

My First Personal Rejection

Well, I've done it. I've received a request off the most amazing query letter I've written for LET ME OUT. I've sent that version of the query to three agents and I got one request. Before you say, "Yay!" listen to this story.

The request came through last Wednesday. So I spent all day perfecting my first five pages to send to the agent. I had them perfect. I was ready to send. But I was doing this on my work computer, which I can't get my email on, and so I needed to take the file and transfer it to my computer. Hello, flash drive. The file transferred effortlessly, but when I plugged the flash drive into my laptop...something was wrong.

I've seen it before and I almost started to cry. ".docx" format LOVES to corrupt itself. And yes, the file was corrupted. I couldn't open it on my laptop or on my computer, and my IT Dept. couldn't do anything for me.

Those perfect 5 pages were gone.

So I started again, writing down everything I could remember about the changes I'd made. Two days went by and I still hadn't replied to the agent request. On Friday, I had done as much as I could. The pages didn't have that perfection they'd had before, but they worked and I needed to get them to the agent.

I sent them off.

And I heard back today.

I received my first personal rejection. The pages didn't pull her in as much as she hoped they would.

What that means: my query does it's job, but my pages don't. What I'm going to do about it: find a critique group.

I've already run the MS through BETA readers, but now I'm looking for that group dynamic.

Do you use a critique group? What are some of your pros and cons to using one?

June 19, 2011

Pinterest

Anne Claire's post over at A Novel Idea led me to Pinterest.com yesterday. Why do you ask? Because of this!




These are my character's for the third book, BLEED IT OUT! And they're all in one place. This is just my board, the only one for right now, but I plan to make a board for each WIP so I can refer to them often and not have to open dozens of files on my laptop to get the photos I want.

This website could be a great tool for writers. You don't have to only put your characters up there. You can use it for setting, motivational photos, inspirational...anything you want! There's also a social factor where you can become friends with other users.

How to start:

1. Go to www.pinterest.com
2. Request an invite
3. Wait less than a day to be invited to join. (It's a brand new site, they probably don't have a lot of room just yet, but they're working on it.)
4. Join with your Facebook or Twitter account.

5. Start pinning!

June 14, 2011

Half the Year in Review


Remember all of those resolutions you promised to meet this year? I only had two: to query my second novel, LET ME OUT and focus on my career. I queried in March, but I’m finding it’s a continuous process. I’ve received answers to 75% of my queries and when one comes back rejected, I send out another. So I can’t really say that I’ve accomplished my goal yet, but I have focused 100% on my career.


This year I…
Wrote 3 articles that have been published in numerous newsletters all over the US for Romance Writers of America (my first publishing credits).
Worked on my bachelors degree in English Literature (because that’s never-ending it seems).
Submitted one of those articles to Writer’s Digest for their October 2011 issue (have not heard back yet, but I’m proud I did it).
Became co-editor of The March of Crime, newsletter of Southern California Mystery Writers of America chapter (because I don’t have enough to do!).
Started revisions on my third novel, BLEED IT OUT (which is still kicking my ass, thank you).

How are your resolutions coming along? What were your goals? Have you met them already?