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The Day After

clean upThe anatomy of book writing:

1. You have an idea.

2. You write it down…adding with it, a plot, a problem, a climax, and a conclusion. All in a neat and tidy bow. Ha-ha.

3. You have it edited. And revise it. And revise it, and revise it. Then you write it one more time. Edit it again.

4. Pick out a cover for it. Write a blasted blurb that summarizes 260 pages, down into a lengthy paragraph.

5. Send it out to beta readers, so they can let you know what’s not working with it. You revise a little more. Send it to a proofreader.

6. Schedule blog tours. Send it to bloggers for reviews.

7. Release day! It goes live. Post on every venue you’ve got, and pray it does well. Then it hits you…people are going to be reading this. This. The thing I’ve worked on for a year. What if they don’t like it? What if I get bad reviews, telling me how it sucked? Fear….

8. Then it’s the day after…today, in fact! I just got off Twitter, where a lovely “twitter friend” tweeted me about reading my book. And how she can’t put it down. And then there’s the friends I went to high school with, and they’re posting how they’re glued and can’t wait to get home and finish it.

9. A smile gets stuck right on the front of my face. (where else could it get stuck, you ask?) Point is, I’m overjoyed by the comments I’m receiving about this book child of mine. The one I sent out into the world, via Amazon. Overjoyed that people are liking it. Now, I’m no dummy. I know there will be some that don’t. And that’s fine. I don’t like every book I read. It’s what we call individual taste. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the quality or word choice…it’s just not our cup of tea. So far, I’m loving that everyone who’s contacted me, is enjoying this cup of tea. Go Amy!

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Day Ten of My Book Dream

Woman-reading-bookDay Ten: I received the paperback version of my book in the mail. Otherwise known as the “proof”. I have to inspect it of any errors before offering it for print to customers. All in all it was in pretty good shape. I am changing the color in the title, but nothing major.

Many authors describe their books as their babies. In a way, they are. You go through some type of birthing process during the writing phase. An idea germinates, a plot thickens, there is a climatic moment, and then it completes itself….it resolves into a finished story. And for a while now, it’s been over for me. The editing was finished, the pre-order was live, but the actual baby still sat somewhere out in space. In digital form….until yesterday.

I received a texted picture, from my boyfriend, of the package that had arrived while I was at work. Could it be? It wasn’t due for another day. But alas, when I got home we all stood around, watching the opening of the box. Well, actually only a few children showed. The others were napping off the day of school.

Slowly, I pulled out the crumpled paper that was stuffed on top…and there is was. My baby. The one, for the past 2 years, I only recognized by a data file trapped on my computer screen. Now it was in tangible form. I could fan the pages, smell the print, run my finger across the cover. It was day 10! Actually seven hundred something from the beginning, but nonetheless, it was my moment. Something completed. I was happy. A smile found its way to my face and I held it with complete and utter satisfaction. I know that as years go by, it will more than likely not be the best thing I’ve ever written. (I’m banking on the whole ‘as we grow, we get better’ kind of thing to take place). But, it was my first. A sweet memory, indeed.

“Welcome, Amy. You are finally here!”

Waking Amy Digital

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Deadlines and What they do to Me

DEADLINEI officially have deadlines. For so long I’ve written on my own timetable. Edited when I felt like it, developed characters when I took walks, and proofread only on days I had time. Now it seems it’s going to change.

As I look at the 300 page manuscript glaring back at me, I laugh. Not the Joker kind of laugh, but a timid little mouse laugh. Edged with a sense of denial. “Yeah, that thing’s due soon, but whatever … I’ve got time.”          Three weeks later I’m looking at the computer monitor with Scotch-taped open eyes, a huge Mocha Frappuccino, and shaky fingers … the clock chiming, 1:00 a.m.  Why do I do this? It’s seriously something wrong with the wiring in my head. My daughter gets a school assignment for two weeks out, and it’s finished that night before the ink is dry on the instructions.

Maybe I feel like I’m holding the work for later. Letting the idea marinade that it’s something to be done. Maybe I do my best when a gun is cocked to my head. Who knows. As I type this very blog, I glance over to my massive pile of paper and deny it’s there … ticking like a bomb. Whatever, I’ll get to it. Right after I fill the birdfeeders and water my plants. Then I know I’ll be ready:)

On a most happy note, I just signed a contract with a new publisher for another book. It’s due out next summer and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Having my work in the hands of readers is unlike anything. Of course, if they’re mean in reviews, I’ll hide under a rock. But I’ll cross that denial bridge when I come to it. For now, it’s a dreamy-eyed notion that I’m going to be published again. It’s just the beginning!!!!

jump

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Rain outside, Rain in my head

rainI live in Virginia, and although we dodged the Hurricane, we’ve been getting a lot of rain. I’m pretty sure that’s why I’ve been a little more sluggish than usual. Hence, the rain in my head title!

So the workshop I was so gung-ho on? Well, I slowly became lazy and stopped participating. I mean, come on! I couldn’t hang in there for a few more weeks? Evidently not. In my defense I had a few things going on. Work, writing, editing, my other job, painting a new room in the house… the poor, long list goes on. Fear not, I intend to print out all the lectures and read them with great concern. I will prevail with giving more meat to my characters in my books.

Last week I committed myself to self-publishing my YA novel. I never set out to write young adult, but I had this story haunt me at all hours of the day and night. Tapping on my brain, sending me dialogue through the inner speakers of my mind. I couldn’t take it. One day I sat down and began writing Lacy’s story. It had to be written. Otherwise I’d get no rest. So I’ve handed it over to a very experienced editor in this genre. She will read it, shape it, take the knife to a couple areas, probably, then return it to me in better shape than I handed her. Hopefully.

Then I will take the path of the unknown and publish it for reader consumption. Not really sure how it will play out, but I’m up for the challenge. I didn’t really seek a publisher for this because I don’t intend to write many more young adults. But who knows, another sad little character might take up space in my head until I write her story, too. Now to think of a new pen name, since it’s YA. It’s so much fun getting the chance to name yourself again!

If you’re getting rain, stay dry. If it’s sunny and beautiful where you live, consider yourself blessed. Actually, consider yourself blessed either way. But for some reason, I think my backyard is holding in one large burp from all the water its taken in:)

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Workshop Anyone?

WORKSHOPSeptember. The month the children go back to school, the month flowers seem as if they can’t go one day more smiling and blooming, and the month I thought I’d participate in a workshop. I’m usually the type that likes to saunter into a strange environment, find the seat at the front, and sharpen my pencil for some really good, mind-blowing note taking. Not this time. This time it was online. Online? How would I get anything out of it, I asked no one not listening. Still I signed up and introduced myself, as best I could, on the internet…wearing my pajamas! No one knew…right?

What can I say? It’s absolutely wonderful. I’m all about learning. You can think you know all there is to know about…say, bird watching. Then sign up for a class on it and learn at least ten new nuggets. Not that I, in any way, know all there is to writing. But for my one particular book I thought I had it figured out. Turns out it’s all wrong. Well maybe not every page, but the beginning sure enough is. This story stays stuck on the forefront of my brain. I loved writing it. It found me one day. Actually one night. I dreamed about the plot and then sat down at my computer for the next three months and bled away. But something is wrong with it. It staggers along, not getting enough oxygen, blabbering in my thoughts, reaching out for help. Lucky for me I believe my workshop is revealing the hiccups. Thank goodness:)

I had my best friend read the first two chapters, as always. She rarely finishes any of my books because I don’t send her more, but she never could get trapped in the pages of this one. Said my writing was different…aloof. Hmm…but it seemed right when I wrote it. So I stepped back for nine months, let it breathe, and am now taking a class for its malady, and I think I’ll have it licked!!! Happy dance for me. I’m so excited to be pushed and to be challenged with the way I thought it was right. Here’s a quick snapshot of my characters:

Meet Claire. She’s from Queens, New York. Raised by a loving mother (her only relative in the world), but never had more than hand-me-downs to wear and a lanky body that grew before she did. She’s just graduated from college, having lost her mother to multiple sclerosis in her last semester, and is now visiting (for the last time) the summer cottage of a family she spent time with growing up.

Claire-Danes-claire-danes-32910440-1920-1200

Now meet Colin. He’s the son of a wealthy entrepreneur. He attended college in London and hasn’t been back to the beach house for five years. Hasn’t seen Claire or the beautiful woman she’s become. This is the last summer before his father burdens him with the responsibility of taking over the family business. It’s also the summer he falls for Claire, the wrong girl for him by all of his father’s accounts. The girl who will challenge his thinking about what he really wants to do with his life.

COLIN

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“Are You My Agent?” A Writer’s Perspective on Querying

catSo, you’ve just finished eighty or so thousand words, or as Hemingway described it, you sat down at your typewriter and bled them out. It took you months, maybe even years to get just the right tone, pacing, and dialogue. And, now you’re ready to get someone’s opinion about how they sound on paper.

You choose someone kind at first. This manuscript is, after all, your little bundle of joy. You remember when it began as just a few pages, then stretched into chapters, before the labor pains came of conflicts, climax, and resolution. Now, who would you entrust with something so dear to your heart to tell you it was the most magnificent thing they’ve read, perhaps since Wuthering Heights. Of course, your mom and Aunt Frieda! And, wouldn’t you know it, they do love it. After four thumbs up, you think you can take it to press. But, wait, maybe your mom and Aunt Frieda aren’t enough. Maybe you need a few more beta testers. Ones that aren’t biologically linked to you. So, you find a few people at your work. Throw them a copy and tell them to hold nothing back. You wait. A few grueling weeks after you checking in daily on their progress and they give you word that it’s a great story. Fine. Just what you wanted to hear. Now to the next step; Querytracker. A writer’s best resource for finding an agent.

You locate the site, do your research, and find the second top five agents you’d want to query. You know to reserve the first five for whatever you have to change with the comments of the second best five. So, you do your research, write and re-write your query, add in a few sprinkles of personality that you aren’t indeed a robot, and send it over. Now, it’s time to burn up the refresh button on your computer and/or phone. You unsubscribe to all the retail sites, just so your phone doesn’t ‘ding’ for false positive results of a query response, and wait. And, wait.

Finally, you get it. Actually, you don’t even have to open the email. You see enough of the message on the screen not to have to injure yourself any further with opening it up full page…”Not for me.”

“Not for me?” That’s it? What exactly was it? The premise, the character description, the name of the hero that would eventually save the day? What is not for them?

You wait…there’s another query response. “…it’s a subjective business, and I just didn’t like it.” Okay, it didn’t exactly say that, but that’s what I read into it. And, I appreciate it. Yeah, it is a subjective business. Not everyone likes things that other people like. So, you didn’t like it. It’s a little better than “not for me.”

So, you don’t hear anything from the other three agents and you get to work on re-writing your query and/or your first five pages of your manuscript. You send out the fresh words to five more lucky contestants. But, wait, you want to up the ante. It’s becoming less personal and more like a crap shoot. Anyway, you want more feedback…so, you send it to ten more. And, wait.

Finally, a winner! Not actually that someone wants you under contract, but someone takes the time and writes exactly what your problem is. Hallelujah!  Now, you’ve got something. They tell you that you’re telling and not showing enough, or that you try and explain too much. Now, you can work with that. And, you do. You go right to work and spend the next few weeks re-tweaking the first fifty pages. You even pay a freelance editor to double check your work.

You pick a few more agents, hoping that you could reel back the other submissions and change them first, and send out the new and improved. Afterwards, it might be that you get a partial or two with the changes. Something that keeps the ventilator pumping air into your lungs. But, nothing else. It goes no further.

In the end, you feel you did things by the book. You wrote a manuscript that passed the likes of both friends and strangers alike, you researched the market, formulated the right agent for your genre, and read up on the etiquette for querying. After all, it’s something of a mafia. You can’t ever email them back about the rejection, ask questions about improving, and you can’t re-query when you’ve made the appropriate changes.

So, you push the blue-eyed, blushing baby, that everyone gushed over and told you would go to the best seller’s list, back into the drawer and sharpen your pen for the next one. You continue to write because you have to. But, still you wonder…am I the Anne Frank of my genre and someone will one day see the injustice. Or, am I the American Idol contestant that should’ve stayed singing in the shower and not come to auditions.