There’s a Reason I’ve Been Mostly Quiet…

It has to do with the fact that I’ve been busy getting my novel ready for release.

Can we say “YAY” or SQUEE? Or sympathize and pray for my soul? 🙂

Yes, I’ve decided to publish FINDING CADENCE myself and I’ll go into the reasons why in a later post (I keep saying I’m going to do that, but my notes keep getting larger and larger and I might have to chop my one post into three more manageable ones), but today I will tell you a little about my book by using the world-famous Chuck Wendig’s Ten Questions About [Fill in the Title]. I hope he won’t be mad that I lifted his device from his web site, but I figure if an author can’t answer the ten questions, he/she should probably find another line of work.

So without further ado, I’ll get on it.

1. Tell us about yourself; who are you?

Wife, mother, business owner. I MAKE time to write. I began writing as soon as my mother put a pencil in my hand. (Cliche, I know. She regretted it, especially after I was expelled from Catholic school for…writing.) I enjoyed some local success in high school, some journalistic endeavors in college, 100 pages of a first novel (still in my basement – somewhere).  Then came life and I figured eating and putting a roof over my head was more important than art. Marriage, babies, when the babies went to college, I started writing again. It’s a full circle.

2. Give the 140 character pitch.

Recent widow learns ugly truths about her husband, her best friend and herself. She overcomes financial and personal hurdles to find peace.

3. Where does the story come from?

While obviously the story is fiction, you may pull threads of it from my life. I drew much on what has happened to me, my time in Michigan, Colorado, and my love for San Francisco. How music has played an important role in my life. There are parallels with the son in the story and my own son, both classically trained pianists, both attended the San Francisco Conservatory, both with a soft spot for Rachmaninoff. The list goes on and on, but remember…this is fiction.

4. How is this a story only you could have written?

See #3. Plus I’ve felt that ultimate betrayal in the way Cadie experiences it – enough of a blow where it leaves you incapable of functioning. I wanted to get that across, as well as the healing.

5. What was the hardest thing about writing FINDING CADENCE?

There were many. The first one, getting to “The End.” It took two years. After that, cutting and editing. My first draft was 175K words. It took some convincing for me to see I didn’t need all the words. After that, editing became a matter of tightening.

6. What did you learn by writing this book?

Everything! This was my first completed novel and I made all the rookie mistakes you can think of. I took classes, I bought reference books. Somehow I turned a mindless stream of consciousness blob into a story with an arc, a reveal, and everything!

7. What do you love most about this book?

It’s cohesive and makes sense. It’s a book about adversity and hope. I love how it’s finished (finally!) and I can move on to other projects.

8. What don’t you like about it?

Dare I say it? I don’t know if it’s “literary” enough. I know it shouldn’t matter, I should write my best story and let it go. I went for literary with this one, and don’t know if I succeeded.

9. A favorite paragraph from the story (the fourth paragraph):

Carter, consistently late, would be later still because of the storm. A fine pinot, first a glass, then more, kept me company. Hours of waiting on my husband turned my annoyance to vexation. Outside, my wind chime collection banged hard against the garage wall, the once soothing tinkles replaced with dissonant clatter. I remember thinking, if Jackson were here he could name the pitches of each steel and copper rod, contralto A flats clanging against high C sharps. Behind the discordant score, the wind’s relentless, anguished caterwaul vying for attention.

10. What’s next for you as a storyteller?

I have two completed manuscripts to edit and query. One is Virtually Yours Forever, the sequel to my first novel, and a YA tentatively titled Acorns and Oaks. There are other 100 page starters that beg to be completed too. I’ll be busy, no doubt.

Advertisements

NaNoWriMo 2013: I Failed, But I Prioritized

I wish I could say I completed the 2013 NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words written easily and under my belt, but it was not to be…

*sigh*

Oh, I had good intentions. I started out with a bang. I knew the story I wanted to tell. I racked up a worthy word count within the first week – even exceeding the minimum daily count. But something else happened.

One, I really wanted to finish my edit of Finding Cadence. NO, I REALLY WANTED TO FINISH IT, ASAP. This is a story that must come out, somehow. I’m not getting any younger, and this novel has languished in various stages of disrepair since 2007.

After you’ve stripped and layered a manuscript for nine months (funny, that gestational metaphor), after you’ve taken classes specifically for this MS, after you’ve deleted and inserted, sweated, re-inserted what you deleted two weeks before, ran the thing through SmartEdit a couple of times, and let two editors and a couple of BETA readers have a go, there was only one thing in my sights: Finishing this sucker.

This is where I tell you that 2013 NaNo was a bust. Yes, I’m an abject failure this year. I had to suspend my new story – which is going to be great by the way, once I get going again – to polish my old (very old) story.

I had to make a gut-wrenching decision, one that didn’t come easily. I decided to prioritize.

I fretted over it for days. I like to write while the fire is hot, because there is nothing more motivating than passion. I had a burning desire to begin the new story, but I had a bigger urge to finish the old. That’s because by hook or crook, if I have to crawl over shards of broken glass, I’m going to get this story out of the edit stage of its life and into the final production stage of its life.

This is a huge move for me. After years of cobbling together a writing schedule, I realized I can’t flit from one work in progress to another. Maybe other writers can do it, but I can’t. My novels are so different from each other, i.e. they don’t fit into a single genre, that I have to concentrate on one at a time. It’s too hard to get into the serious-literary-thoughtful voice after you’ve been playing in the sassy-fun-romantic voice.

So I spent the last three weeks of November working on Cadence, jiggering the developments, the ending, the arc. I took that baby apart and put it together. I somehow eliminated 6K words. (I might have to add a few somewhere, but I’m not so concerned about it; I think this incarnation is as tight as it can be.) Then I shipped it off for more eyes to view.

I’m going to take a couple of days off, just vegging and clearing my head, before I start working on another first draft in sore need of editing. And when I have the time, I’ll add to the new story, but my main priority is to get what I’ve already finished (two manuscripts!) whipped into shape before I finish NaNo 2013.

Sometimes you have to prioritize. It hurts. But sometimes you must. Believe me. A finished result will lessen the hurt.

Review Watching: Dangerous Waters, Don’t Go Near

I keep my Twitter-feed open while I work at my day job. You never know what might pop up. Most Tweets are mundane (like my own regarding my craving for horseradish), some are hilarious (Texts from Last Night, or my daughter’s arcane musings as a hipster in San Francisco), but mostly I use Twitter as a writing reference. Lots of good articles on these Internets, you know.

Oh. And I *discreetly* stalk agents and authors.

So this Tweet recently pops up. Truer words have never been spoken.

Amy Boggs@notjustanyboggs 7m A reminder not to respond to reviews. Once your book leaves your hands, it’s no longer solely yours. You can’t control how readers react.

Thinking about reviews is a timely subject. While on my quick trip to Colorado, I finished two novels, one by an author-friend, the other a random novel I picked up at Barnes and Noble, one with a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge on the cover. (I’m such a sucker for these covers. Authors should slap a photo of the Golden Gate on every cover, no matter what the genre, and I’d buy the book. Yeah. Math for Dummies with a photo of the Bridge on it-priceless.)

Once home from my voyage, I did the Goodreads thing and logged that I’d read the books and also gave my reviews. I rarely have time for words, but I make use of the star ratings. While there, I scrolled down to read the reviews of other readers.

Okay, so I’m clueless, or perhaps just too busy to peruse the entirety of the Goodreads web site. Or maybe I never noticed that readers were writing such comprehensive reviews. Tons of readers, dozens of reviews.

Each book had both huge fans who wrote glowingly of great story lines and meaningful social situations, and those non-fans who panned the book in question, saying that the characters were shallow or the proof-reading was flawed, or something else didn’t appeal. Blah, blah, blah. While it’s interesting to read what others think, their opinions will not sway my opinion of the author or the book.

(It’s actually amusing. Like reading the comment section of the Huff-Po Political Page.)

In fact, I have purchased books because they’ve gotten bad reviews. Largest case in point: Fifty Shades of Gray, although I’ve also purchased other books simply because someone else hated it. I guess I need to see for myself. Besides, every book is worth something, even if it’s horribly written. The author obviously put in time, effort, and energy into producing a novel. To me, even a self-published e-book is worth a spin, if you have the time to read it.

I know my own book and my past articles have reviews. I’ve read them, but I don’t take them to heart. Like Ms. Boggs says, once your work leaves your hands, it’s no longer your baby. It’s sprouted wings and belongs to the masses. If every sharp word from a reviewer causes a pang, perhaps you should consider a different calling than writing. As authors, you certainly don’t want to get dragged into a shouting match with a person who has penned a bad review on your baby. Smile, take a deep breath, and walk away. Silence is golden.

That’s my wise word to the author. For readers, I would weigh each book review carefully. What appeals to one person might not appeal to you, and vice versa. Don’t judge a book by its review.

Watching reviews is like watching the white waters of a swollen river. It might be pretty, but you don’t want to go near. If you’re a writer, write something else; if you’re a reader, pick up a book.

 

The Upside to Writing

I will divert myself from lamenting of the woes and trauma associated with writing and trying to get published. Writing is a lot like golf: too many things to think about. Swing, conditions, clubs, stance, reach, etc. Just when you get one thing right, something else falls to the wayside and you’re back to square one. Yada, yada, yada.

Let’s not forget one thing, however; there is an upside to writing.

I’m basking in mine at the moment. 🙂

My friend, Edie, wanted to read VIRTUALLY YOURS, but she’s not very Internet savvy and doesn’t have her own eReader, instead occasionally borrowing one from her friend. On a completely random note having ABSOLUTELY nothing whatsoever to do with this post, HERE is her son. (He’s a hottie.) Edie didn’t want to burden her friend by asking her to buy the book on Amazon ($3.59! Now on sale!). It’s only in ebook format, but I just so happened to have a few review copies in the back of my car, leftovers from when I had sent them to a few book bloggers, so I gave Edie one.

It’s taken her a few days to read, but 20 pages in, she texted me and said how much she loved it. Then halfway through, she called me and wanted to be friends with all of the Virtual Moms. (I’d explained to her that I based this book on a real online group I belong to.) Then came another text wanting to know what was up with Ashe. (It’s a spoiler, so I’m not going to say.)

I saw her at my jewelry class yesterday, and she finally made it through the Big Reveal. “I thought **** was ****! And she remarked how similar the Virtual Mom relationships were like her longtime girlfriends she has known for 30 years. Last night, I received a text saying she finished, she loved it, and when was the sequel coming out.

This morning, I received a short voice mail from her, thanking me for allowing her to read my review copy, and that she can’t stop thinking about the characters, they are so real and interesting. Where the story will take them, where will they be, what will happen in the future.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to bring her a blurb the next time I see her. VIRTUALLY YOURS FOREVER, covers all of that and more. Now I am wondering if I should consider writing yet another novel based on these characters. Perhaps, from the kids’ points of view? The possibilities are boundless.

Listen, I know I may never grace the New York Times Best Seller’s List. I might never win awards for my writing. But the glow a writer gets from just ONE satisfied reader provides enough motivation for me to slog on through the mundane or the bad times. The next time I feel writer’s block coming on (rarely these days, but it can happen), I’m going to refer back to this week, remembering Edie singing my praises.

Writing and Finding Your Inner Artist

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been, the editing of Finding Cadence has taken up a lion’s share of my time. Update: I’m still on the second part, although I’m very close to nailing it down, and will then go on to the third part, which will be more like a second edit since it’s so full of new plot twists and characters. The ending is also new.

In the meantime, I’ve finally figured out the RWA PRO loop. I’ve been PRO for over a year, but Yahoo! forums make me want to sell all of my modern devices and go live in a forest somewhere, a forest without electricity. For one, I can’t get into my Yahoo! mail, because my password changed (!) and my attempts to recover are futile. Even when I got into the mail, 90% of it was junk, and I’d spend an hour or so deleting the junk. Somehow, the Yahoo! loop mail now gets transferred to my regular email account. How that happens, please do not ask me. I’m woefully terrible on the computer.

The main topic for the PROs this week was sales, going indie, and more sales. Small house vs. Big House vs. indie, self-pub vs. helped self-pub, etc. The upside of this rather depressing exchange is that selling 100 books is actually not a bad thing (I mention this because that’s just about what I’ve sold). Many, many authors sell that or less. Many, many PRO authors.

I’ve said before that I just don’t get into sales. I have a product, but I’m not going to push it. My lackadaisical attitude probably stems from the fact that when I want to buy something, I despise getting “sold.” Not to decry salesmen (although the used car salesmen are rather slimy-I can say that because there are some in my family) many of whom are great people, but that’s just not me. I’m similarly that way with my jewelry. If people are interested, cool, if not, cool too. In this world, there is art for everyone. I won’t be offended if you don’t like mine.

I might mention VIRTUALLY YOURS every once in a while (currently ranked 519,148 HA!), but I don’t spam my Facebook or Twitter feed with impassioned pleas to buy. I don’t have a “real” author web site, although someday I might, when there is more than one book available. Perhaps if I begged, or invested in blog tours, or passed out freebies, or stood on my head, I could sell more than 100 books.

But…I do not use my creative side to make money (obviously). Being in the business of making money rather sucks. You have to push, sell (a little bit), cut corners, stay within budget, and worry, worry, worry. Oh, we need to make money, and I do it in my day job, but it’s not what I live to do. I’m an artist; I live to create.

Coincidentally, I’m taking another Savvy Author class, this one on The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She looks at writing as what it is: art.

Unlike a job, though, being an artist requires a certain amount of freedom. You must free yourself from all sorts of conflicts (anger, shame) inside yourself. This makes perfect sense to me, and is how I generally look at living, as though it’s a spiritual journey. A person full of fear, loathing, angst, and doubt cannot possibly make the best art. Of course, trying and trying again, perfecting the art, as well as the artist, is the whole point.

And this week, I was also directed by Book Baby to this post by Michael Larsen of the San Francisco Writers Conference and the Larsen Pomada Literary Agency. Creating Your Literary Ecosystem-I liked it! The ten “P’s” of writing. I was so impressed, I printed it out to keep near my computer when I write.

You see, I might never be a best-selling author, but I will truly be the best artist I can be.

🙂