About This Blog

This blog is about my books (of course), but it's also about writing in general and the editing process. I love the puzzle of a novel, and I'm happy to share anything I know about editing and revising. Any questions? Leave them in the comment box or send me an email, and I'll address them as quickly as I can.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Invisibility. It's Such a Drag.

Don't you think? Well, thanks to Amazon's free promotions, for the next 48 hours Laryn Rising will be blessedly visible as a free book on Amazon. I really don't know how readers find books on promotion. It's like this big, magical mystery that completely evades me. If I were to go on Amazon right now and try to find my book listed as free-for-today, I would be lucky to find it.

Yet there are all these Amazon wizards out there who will not only find it, but download it. And they'll do it at all hours of the day and night. It's crazy, they're crazy, and I love them.

I've had a lot of people ask me lately about marketing my book, and how my sales are going. When I tell them that I'm getting ready to run another free promotion on Laryn Rising they always look at me a little funny and say, "Free? Why would you want to give it away for free? What can you possibly get out of that?"

I can totally understand why someone would ask this question - especially when you tell them that you hope to give away not just a few books, or a few hundred books, but a few thousand books. Seriously, the more the merrier! And the reason? Because out of every 500 people who download my book for free, about 450 of them will put it in their kindle archives with all the other (hundreds) of books they regularly download for free (because remember, these people are the Free Book Wizards who do this all the time) and hopefully they'll get to my book someday. Statistically speaking, only about twenty of them will actually buy it and read it right away, and should all twenty of those wonderful people recommend it to five people (even if they tell them that it is the most amazing and life-changing book they have ever read), only a few will actually remember the name of the book once the conversation is over - and even fewer will take the time to find it and buy it while the recommendation is fresh in their head.

If you do the math you'll quickly realize that you have to give away a LOT of books to get any sort of immediate return in your sales. I think most of us know that generally we read a book because someone we know read it and recommended it to us. Even if you hear about a book that sounds interesting, aren't you way more likely to buy it if one of your friends says, "Yeah, I read that book and it was amazing!"? So if you consider the fact that virtually NO ONE will ever hear about my book unless they stumble onto it through a random amazon search or hear about it from a friend who read it, my future sales depend on these free promotions - and on the people who read my book and pass it on.

So yes, it is with great relish and anticipation that I offer my book - FOR FREE - to the world for the next 48 hours. So if you know anyone who got a new Kindle or Ipad for Christmas (I'm not on the Nook at the moment) then by all means tell them to get my book while it's free! Then tell them that if they're super awesome they'll read it (starting tomorrow), review it (probably the next day, because obviously they won't be able to put it down), and share it with everyone they see for the next week. (Or month.)

Oh, and if you want to read my first author interview, check it out here on my sister's hilarious blog (but be warned, it can be rather addicting once found - particularly if you enjoy comic realism) and find out all sorts of things you'll never learn about my book anywhere else (because only my sister would ask those questions).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Consider Me Reformed!

For pretty much my whole life (as in up to this minute) I have been a happy-go-lucky reader of books. I read a book, and if I love it I probably tell my friends to read it - if I remember - but other than that I simply move on and find another book. Happily. Completely oblivious to the plight of the poor author who is desperately hoping that I will do something to promote the book that I loved so much.

It's true. Until I became the desperate author, I never really thought about the fact that reviewing a book on amazon, pinning a book on pinterest, sharing it on facebook, emailing a link to my friends, or even simply being a member of goodreads might actually help promote a book that deserves promotion. Now, however, now I get it. Big time. Basically, because my book is not in bookstores (yet), not sitting around on someone's coffee table or even on their bookshelf (because there is no paperback available - yet), unless someone happens to put in one of the searches on amazon that brings my book up, they will never know it exists.

Therefore, they will never be able to buy it. Even if they would want to should they have come across it.

Isn't that tragic? And so incredibly fatalistic! Gah! It practically gives me hives just thinking about how hard it is to get my book out there. Seriously. And so, I am now going to make a public vow that from this moment forward I will pay more attention. If I read a book that I love, I will check the reviews - and if there aren't more than 200, I will write one. I will then check the publisher, and if it is an indie book I will pin it, share it (somewhere), and add it to my shelf on Goodreads.

And while I'm on the subject, I would like to thank all those (especially all those who don't know me personally) who have done any of these things for my book! It is so exciting to find it pinned, or shared, or to have someone tell me that they read it because a friend sent them an email with the link and a big fat recommendation. These things almost always lead to someone else somewhere finding my book, and that has to happen if it is ever going to get anywhere.

(Or if I'm ever going to be able to buy my husband the truck that I promised him. The same future/imaginary truck that made him suddenly much-more-supportive-of-his-author-wife's-authoring, if you get my drift.)

Basically, what I'm saying is that without awesome people willing to help promote my book, there may not be anymore of them. (Let's face it, my husband is an awesome guy, but he only has so much patience.) So thank you again to anyone who has done anything to spread the word about Laryn Rising. I will be forever indebted.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In Which I Contemplate Taking Up Pictography

Thanks to my new method for revising and my amazing new proofreader, I have passed another milestone when it come to Book Two in my Chronicles of Nequam series.

I am now ready to read the whole blasted thing out loud.

I kind of hate this part, but unfortunately, I think it's way too valuable a step for me to skip. (After all, I need to see how the characters' lines will sound when they make a major motion picture out of it, right? Hey, it could happen...) For those of you who have never written, then rewritten, and rewritten, and rewritten, think of it this way:

Imagine a book. A good book. Even a book that you really really love. Now, imagine that you are stranded in a cell with that book - and nothing else. So you read it. Then you read it again. And again, and again. Somewhere in here you take to carving pictographs on the wall with your fingernails, because the sight of the book makes you feel just a little bit crazy. Then you read it again - out loud.

Essentially, this is the basic process for revising a book.

I will say that the task isn't nearly as daunting as I first thought it would be. When I decided to read Laryn Rising out loud I looked at some books on cd and figured it would take about thirteen hours. I think it took more like fifteen, but still that's really only the equivalent of sitting at a desk for two regular work days. It took me more than two sittings, of course, because of irritating things like work, and laundry, and children who want to eat Every. Single. Day. (Wouldn't it be awesome if humans were more like pythons and only required a meal every five to fourteen days? I fantasize about such things...) (And please note that I do love my children. And I do feed them. Most of the time. If there were just more hours in a day!)

Book Two is about 20,000 words longer than Laryn Rising, which means it will take me longer to get through, but I'm trying to feel geared up for the challenge. It would probably be easier to face if I hadn't JUST finished going through it, but it's either work on Book Two or start trying to format Laryn Rising for printing. Since we know how I feel about anything involving the word 'formatting' (see previous post) we can safely assume that at this point I'm still hoping the Formatting Fairy will visit my house one night and do it for me.

I admit it's unlikely, but as miracles have been known to happen I will continue to put that off for now. After all, it's only fair to give the Formatting Fairy as much time as possible to get to my project, right?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Dilemma

I have so much to do - but I can't decide what to work on first.

First, there is Laryn Rising. Sales of the e-book are going great, but I need to get a paperback version out there. Unfortunately that means getting the whole cover designed and formatted, and getting the interior book design done. In an idea world, I would simply shell out scads of money to have both of these things professionally done.

Newsflash: This is not, and never has been, an ideal world.

Newsflash #2: I do not have scads of money.

And so, I am forced to do as much as I can the hard/do-it-yourself way. I do have my limitations, however, and there is probably no way I could do the cover design and format without losing my sanity completely (and having it turn out disastrously). Therefore, I will be paying my amazing cover artist to do that part for me - but as that requires coming up with money, I'm trying to be optimistic about when I'll get that done. The interior design I will attempt to do myself. By 'myself' I of course mean that my sister will probably end up doing 9/10ths of it for me due to my complete inadequacies in all areas of life involving the words 'computer formatting', but out of a sense of duty I will be sitting next to her and sweating over the whole project (and over the fact that she could suddenly drop dead and leave me to figure out my mail chimp, website, next book, and all other things involving 'formatting' by myself). Conclusion: Laryn Rising is still classified under the 'Not Done' project heading, and is therefore still putting demands on my time and energy.

Second, there is Book Two, which I believe will be called Finding Shemballah. (Any thoughts on this would be appreciated, btw.) This book is complete, and all developmental editing has been finished. This leaves me with the tedious clean-up work, which will require going through the blasted thing at least three more times myself, and then sending it on to my amazing proofreader (whom I just discovered amongst my very own family members. Who knew! If anyone wants her services, she's up for hire...) There's also my cover to stress over (see my pinterest page for progress) and the map. How did I forget the map! Of course writing about Plymouth required me to draw a map, but it didn't occur to me until the other day that I now need to find some professional map-drawing-person to 'professionalize' it for the book. Where are these professional map-drawing people? Does anyone know where they hang out? (Preferably one who loves working for free, and isn't interested in scads of money...)

And then there's Book Three. Prequel to books one and two, and set in Plymouth one hundred years prior to the Fed girls' arrival. I. Must. Write. This. Book. It's kind of non-negotiable - yet it's driving me crazy. I finally decided to set it aside and start a completely unrelated project. Inspiration hit, and I sat down and plotted an entire novel out in no time. I was all set to start it when I came back to Earth and realized that I need Book Three. Why? Because I can't wait to write books four and five of The Nequam Chronicles, and neither will be possible unless I finish this prequel.

At least now I know how I found the time to write the first two books. It seems that while there is time in my life to sit and work on one major project, things become much more complicated when I start layering them all over each other. I used to wonder why author's wanted to go away to quiet mountain retreats to write when it was so easy to sit in your kitchen and hammer it out... Now all I can think about is a quiet little shack someplace, with no phone, no one wanting dinner (why do they insist on eating every day!) and no laundry. I can only imagine what I could do with five days of such an existence. Of course, I'd have to bring my sister, or half the stuff would never happen...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


It's done! I thought it would never happen, but my book is finally available on Amazon! Now all I need is for everyone in the world to go there and buy it.

That's not too much to ask, is it?

Either way, it feels SO GOOD to have that finished and be able to move on to the next thing. Unfortunatily, the 'next thing' is called Facebook, and I'm trying to make friends with it. I have lots of friends on it, but with it? That's something else entirely. At this point I have to have my sister Laura standing by as my facebook support person, and it's a good thing she's there because I definitely need the support.

And has everyone seen my cover? If not, here it is:

Isn't it fabulous? I can say that because I didn't make it. Olivia did - and it's a good thing. Any and all of my attempts at even coming up with a concept were in serious need of her professional opinion. Anyone who knows me at all, knows that art isn't really my thing. I love looking at it and appreciating it, but creating it? Not such a good idea for yours truly. Now I just hope that everyone else loves it as much as I do (and that it makes every person in the world need to buy it).

I also need to thank all the people on Facebook who have helped spread the word about Laryn Rising. I sold ten copies in the first twelve hours, and for a first book from no one in particular, I'm feeling pretty excited about that! I also have three reviews, which is really a key thing in getting people to notice and buy my book, so thank you to my first three reviewers! And if anyone else out there wants to give me a review, they can feel free to do so at any time...

Well, now it's on to the next things - which would be getting Book Two out the door, and completing my first draft of Book Three. About Book Two, I'm considering the title Finding Shemballah. Any comments or opinions would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, September 6, 2013

And Then There Was August

I actually wrote today. Amazing, isn't it? I know it's something one must naturally assume that an author does, but for me this has not been the norm. In the first place, it was August. That might not mean anything to anyone else, but believe me when I tell you that it is a very valid contributor to my state of non-writing. You see, I have these four children-ish people living in my house with me, and by the month of August they are like natives clamoring for their last hoorahs of summer. Between this and my own clamoring for we-must-get-this-house-put-back-together-before-we-all-return-to-school, there is already a limited amount of time.

Enter reason number two: Football. Have I mentioned that three of these young persons happen to be male, and that each of them has a major penchant for destroying the opposition? If I didn't love watching my boys hit and score so much (yes, I admit I'm that mother in the bleachers who has to jump to her feet and scream every time one of her babies takes someone out) I would probably rebel against what football does to my life. Three boys, three different age groups, three different football programs. All. We. Do. Is. Football. Games three to four days a week (including Saturday) and multiple practices on all remaining days but Sunday.

And the final contributing factor to my month of not writing is the absence of my husband who is currently working out of town, and is therefore unable to help me with anything. Bedtime, mornings, dinner, laundry, the running around of the children, etc. He is more than willing to help when he's around, but alas and alack, he is currently completely unavailable.

Really though, I think most writers are like me. No one is paying us to sit at the computer for multiple hours a day in the hopes that we will produce something wonderful. Instead we are struggling to cram a little writing time into the sandwich that is life with a family, job, and laundry. Sometimes it's really hard (like in August), but am I the only person who's noticed that when inspiration strikes it's like more hours magically appear on the clock? For instance, I started the sequel to Laryn Rising on February 15, 2012, and I finished it on May 5th. 2012. And that was after taking two weeks off to gear up for the ending (which terrified me to even think about, btw. Seriously, endings are just so much pressure!) That original draft was 220,000 words long (never fear, my initial writes are always WAYYY longer than the end product, and it's at least 50,000 words shorter now) which means that during that time I was writing an average of 2,785 words per day. How did I do that? I really can't say because that brief period of time is still like a hazy fog of staying up all night typing as furiously as possible. Even though I know I was working almost every day, the only thing I remember doing from February to May is sitting at my computer in my robe (because it was either really late at night or it was Saturday) shushing my children and begging them to please clean the house. And feed themselves. I think that was when my mother bought me the sign for my laundry room that reads "Laundry today, or naked tomorrow"...

So I guess I just need to buckle down and write until I hit that magical spot in my current project where it all starts coming together and inspiration isn't so hard to come by. I've written three books and it's happened all three times, so I know I'll get there - I just need to keep writing.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What Am I Thinking?

Remember how I keep saying I'm going to publish Laryn Rising any minute? The goal has been September 1st for quite some time.

Newsflash: That is today. Needless to say, my book is not quite ready due to a little thing called cover art (which could come through ANY MINUTE!) and I've been waiting around with my revised, copy-edited, totally-perfected final version, just waiting to go. And apparently I've been waiting around too long, because I was suddenly struck with a kind-of significant addition/revision that I now feel compelled to make. Could it complicate things? Possibly. Could it cause me to have to reread the entire second half of the book AGAIN in order to make sure the new addition fits in seamlessly? Definitely. Could I lose my mind if I actually have to go over all of that for the seven millionth time? Very possibly. So why am I going to do it?

Because this is such a no-brainer that I really can't believe I didn't see it in the original write. Seriously. I have this issue with this character that has been a problem since the first major shift in my original plotline. I have spent many hours trying to come up with a way to resolve this issue with no success, while all the time the answer was so obvious! So now I have to do it. There simply is no choice, because if I don't I'll always know that I should have. *sigh*

And so, the moral of this story is that sometimes being forced to step back and ruminate over something you think is perfectas good as you can make it can be a good thing. I've done quite a bit of freelance editing, and one thing I have learned is that while there is definitely such a thing as over-thinking, there is also a time and place for re-thinking. The trick is deciphering between the two. Every author knows that there are an infinite number of ways to write a story. At any point in any plot, you could turn your book over to someone else and more than likely it would end up looking a lot different than your version. An editor, for example, constantly has to examine the difference between structural suggestions and opinion suggestions - otherwise the editor is simply trying to create their own version of the author's story. It can be a hard call to make, and I think every editor - and consequently every author - has dealt with some frustration in drawing this line.

For me, I have a simple little rule I use to help me decide when to rewrite/revise, and when to step away and call it good enough. If the scene/chapter/story is already working but I'm agonizing over whether or not it's 'good enough', I ask myself this question: Will changing it make it better? Or will it simply be a different version of the same? Often times the answer is obvious - as with this current change that I'm about to institute. It will tie off a loose end, pull together two threads that need another connection in the story, and it will add a definite level of intensity and emotion to a pinnacle moment in my main character's personal evolution. It is a vertical change that will definitely make the scene/book better.

The scene in question has to do with my character receiving some critical information that changes the course of the entire story. Currently she gets the info from a group of nameless women in an overheard conversation. The transfer of this info has always been a fairly week point, but up until my grand inspiration it seemed as good as anything else. Were I to consider changing it so that she was in a different location, or heard it from a different group of fairly neutral people, the change would be lateral - and therefore kind of pointless. But now the bearer of the said tidings will be my character's nemesis rather than some neutral party, which gives me confidence that this move will be vertical - not lateral.

In this particular instance the answer to my question was very clear, but sometimes that is not the case. Sometimes you really can't tell what changes a revision/addition will bring about without sitting down and trying out your idea. In this case I think it's good to remember that just because you're considering a change - and even taking a stab at it - it doesn't mean you have to commit yourself. In every manuscript I have worked on I have made at least one major change to my story line at some point... And I've attempted several more, only to decide that what I had in the first place was better.

I could probably go on for about four more pages on the subject of how-to-tell-where-a-revision-will-take you, (which I consider a kind of fascinating subject) but, as that is not the topic of this particular post, I will spare you. For now. Suffice it to say that I'm thrilled with this latest burst of inspiration, I have no doubt it will make my book better than it was, and I am now officially glad that my book wasn't ready to go out because otherwise I'd have felt like it was too late to make the change - although I'd never have thought I'd be happy to be revising this late in the game...

Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Self-Publishing is Just Like Having a Baby...

I have decided that self-publishing is something like giving birth. To be more specific, launching your infant book out into the wide world of readers and accepting the fact that you now have to market, blog, facebook, track progress, and (somehow) find time to keep writing, is very similar to transitioning from baby-in-belly to screaming, eating, pooping infant that constantly deprives you of sleep and demands every ounce of your energy.

See the correlation?

I have four children, and with each pregnancy came that moment (usually about a week out from my due date) where I'd say, "Wait a minute. Why am I complaining about being huge and pregnant again? Isn't having Junior safely contained and hooked up to an automatic feeding tube way more convenient than the alternative?

On the other hand, there's this insatiable need to be done with it; a desire to actually examine your grand creation. After all, babies may take a lot of work, but the payoff is kind of amazing. And it's so exciting to think about being able to actually touch the fruits of your labor (no pun intended, I swear).

It's just like self-publishing. I have all these hopes for what my book might be/do/accomplish, yet the thought of being solely responsible for what happens to it once I put it out there is kind of overwhelming. There. Is. So. Much. To. Do. According to everything that everyone says, if you want anyone anywhere to ever actually find your book and read it you have to have an account on every social network, blog bi-weekly, produce novellas and short stories, provide a constant stream of special offers, coupons, and promotions, network with other authors, guest blog, join writing communities, and a million other things.

The risk you take in not doing any/all/enough of these things? Failure. Your book may not be found by anyone. It may never sell beyond the scope of your closest family and friends. All that time spent writing, revising, revising, and revising will be wasted because no one will even know that you—or your book—exists. (By the way, did I forget to mention the all-important website? The must have for any author? The thing that I know nothing about and am totally clueless and incapable of creating on my own? All I can say is that it's a good thing my sister is willing to do the website grunt work for me, or it would simply never happen. )

But it is happening. The website is coming together, the cover art is almost ready, the book is ready for formatting, and in a very short time I will find out if I have what it takes to get my book out there and whether or not readers will do that mysterious and amazing thing that is 'recommend it to their friends' after they've read it. In the meantime, cheers to all the other first-time indie authors out there who are sweating bullets over all the work they've set for themselves. May all your hours in front of the computer pay off, and may you somehow manage to find the time to write the next thing amidst all the hullabaloo of promotion.