Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Rough Road to Publication

"To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author."
~Charles Caleb Colton

Remember I mentioned the Samhain First Line Blog Contest going on right now? Well, the first week of entries, 273 people posted! If you're interested, go check it out. Some of those lines are just terrific. I wouldn't want to be the editors who have to choose the next round winners, though. Man, first lines are tough. You're supposed to tempt, tease, interest, promise, and mystify all in one little line. No wonder I have such a tough time writing them!!

So I'm about halfway through the second round of edits for One Night in Boston, though there aren't that many this time, so it isn't taking nearly as long as the first round. I'm really starting to get excited because my electronic release date for this novel is July 24, a little over a month away! Maybe I'll try to find one of those clicker timelines that counts down the days and post it on my sidebar. Anyone have any good links for those?

OK, I'm off to my local RWA chapter meeting this AM followed by their annual luncheon during which I will probably be turning over problematic sentences and plot points inside my head as I long to get back to my edits...

Friday, June 08, 2007


I am so glad to get to the end of this week! With one hot HS graduation (my nephew's, not my own school's...that's still 2 weeks away) and one teachers' union election out of the way (yes, I was elected if I don't have enough to do!!), I cannot wait for 3:30 this afternoon, when my friends and I will be sitting down to a frosty drink at Happy Hour. T-minus 9.5 hours and counting...

In the meantime, here's the Friday Feast. What has your week been like??

Appetizer: What do you consider to be the ultimate snack food?
Xtra Cheddar Goldfish, hands-down. (I was going to say chocolate but it has too many calories to be considered "ultimate," which to my mind means I could eat it anytime. Of course, I can eat chocolate anytime, so maybe I should change my answer.)

Soup: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as highest), about how popular is your last name?
My maiden/legal last name = 10. My married/pen name = 2.

Salad: Who is your all-time favorite sitcom character, and why?
This is a tough one. I'm going to cheat and say the ensemble cast of Seinfeld. I still think that's one of the best-written shows of all time.

Main Course: Do you shop online? If so, name some sites you like to browse for goodies.
Sometimes, mostly Amazon and Ebay. Victoria's Secret and Newport News, once in a great while, if they're having good sales. Hate the shipping costs of online shopping, though!

Dessert: Fill in the blank: I think ___________ should be ___________.
I think Barack Obama should be elected the next US president. (Note: I don't think he will be because I'm not sure the country is ready for a minority leader. Still, a girl can hope.)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Quickie

"Men and women can never be friends because the sex thing always gets in the way."

~Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally

Everyone enjoys a quickie once in a while, right? :)

Well, here's a quickie for you today, an unconventional author's website:

Click Here To Be Entertained

I'm busy with the second round of edits for One Night in Boston, so I have nothing else remotely interesting to offer you. Still, that website should make you smile...

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Welcome to Writers' Wednesday!

Today, we have a guest blog by bunnygirl on fiction blogging. Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Fiction blogging is one of those vaguely disreputable activities a "real" writer isn't supposed to do. After all, anyone can do it, and some of what's out there is pretty bad. There's no glory. You don't get paid, there's no end product to hold in your hands,and you can count on not getting reviewed in the New York Times.So why do it? And what the heck is fiction blogging,anyway?

There are two kinds of fiction blogs I've come across. One is the "fake" blog, which might advertise itself as a fake (Diary of a Killer, Under Odysseus, Diana's Diary), or it might seem like a real blog (PlainLayne).

Fake blogs that pretend to be real can backfire, as Odin Solis found out when he was outed as the author of PlainLayne, which took fiction to a whole new level, crossing over into reality and making the readers part of the story and becoming something more akin to performance art. (Note: I don't recommend doing this. Always include an Author's Note or Disclaimer in your fiction blog!)

The advantage to writing as a fictional character is that it's a fun way to explore your character and his or her world. When I set out to write Diana's Diary, it was to get a better grasp on the interim period between the second and third books of my trilogy, and also to delve more deeply into the mind of one of my favorite characters.

Once I gave "Diana" her blog and set her on a 1,500 mile journey through a post-apocalyptic America, I couldn't hold her back. She led me to places I never imagined and introduced me to people who I still can't believe came out of my own head. It was a creative burst like no other I've ever had, and I still mourn the late nights of sitting down to write with no idea what was going to happen next, as eager for the next chapter as my readers.

The other type of fiction blog is a modern version of the serial novel. A writer might be posting relatively new work, or something he or she has been sitting on for years. It might be first person, but is just as likely to be third person. No attempt is made to give the impression that the characters themselves are the bloggers. In this tradition, we have The Legacy of Tsazcuth and The Mexican Year (much of which has been taken down,unfortunately).

Why post a work of fiction in blog format? The reasons against it are clear: once you've put more than about three chapters online, you're publishing house poison. You're giving your work away for free and your chances of ever getting paid for it have dropped like a rock. You could password-protect your blog and restrict access, but then you kill your chances of gaining a following.

So why do it? Well, it's instant gratification. Instead of querying for months or even years, then waiting another year or more for your novel to make it to the bookshelf, you can post your fiction tonight. You can get readers right away and develop a following. (Under Odysseus sells logo-printed items via Café Press.) You can edit at will and add pictures, like I did. There is no one to tell you your work of fiction is too long or too short, and it doesn't matter if there is a "market" for it. The blogosphere is a place where you can give free rein to your creative muse.

Want to give it a try? Start by checking out this list of blogger laws you should know. Next, remember that although Blogger and Wordpress have made blogging simple, there may still be technical matters you need to address, especially if you decide to include pictures in your blog, or want a particular look that isn't available on an existing template. A basic knowledge of HTML and Photoshop is a huge plus, and the web is full of resources that can help.

Finally, consider your long-term commitment. Can you see this thing through to completion? Blogging can be a big time commitment, and if you've chosen to write as your character, your job is doubly hard because you can't just jump in as the author and say, "Oh, btw,I'm going on hiatus."

I made the mistake with the first diary of Diana's Diary of committing to daily posting. This turned into a nightmare as her journey stretched from a few weeks to five months, and as the author, I had no graceful way to give her an out. So unless you've already finished the work you intend to post, I don't recommend daily postings. But you should commit to a regular schedule, so your readers will keep coming back.

I'm no prophet, and fiction blogging could just be a passing fad, like so many others. But I consider it in many ways the modern successor to the serial novel of Dickens' day. With so many people doing their reading online instead of in print (witness the death of print newspapers vs their online versions), this is a medium that could have a bright future ahead of it.

If nothing else, it's a chance to get your name out there, if you choose to blog under your real or pen name. It's also an opportunity to exercise your creativity, write the book you want to write, format it the way you envision, and not have to answer to an agent's or publisher's vision of current market whims.

To heck with the market! Create your own reality!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Two Recommended Reads

Update on my Spring Reading Thing progress: I finished Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.

It's a really well-written, poignant memoir about a guy who falls in love, gets married at 25, and loses his wife at 31. (This isn't a surprise, if you're planning on reading the book; her death is mentioned from the start). You don't see a lot of books written from the young widower POV, and since he's also a writer for Rolling Stone, he has a great way with words. Here are 2 of my favorite quotes from the book:

When I started feeling morbid and empty, I felt like I was turning into a different person from the guy she fell in love with. I had no voice to talk with because she was my whole language. Without her to talk to, there was nothing to say.


I hated living in a man's house, with a man's refrigerator and a man's bathroom. A man-woman bathroom only takes a couple of weeks to become a man's bathroom when the woman is no longer there...I missed the feminine touch, not just hers, but mine. I missed being half-girl, half-boy, part of a whole. Now that I was male in a male environment, it was harder to manifest her physical chick presence, no matter how many of her MAC lipsticks I set out on the coffee table in a basket like so many M&Ms.

In between the sadness, though, there are lots of stories of how they met, how they fell in love, how music brought them together, how he survived it all. And one cool element is that every chapter is headed by a picture of a mix tape he actually made in such-and-such a year.

Let me tell you, it made me appreciate my hubby and my marriage that much more!! Definitely a recommended read.


And second, I'm thrilled to announce the release of The Write Ingredients by Lori Foster. It's a cookbook compiled of yummy recipes from a variety of authors, and the proceeds will go to supporting our US troops. Even better, I'm one of the authors! Now, I won't tell you which recipe is mine, so you'll have to buy the book and see. But I will say that it's a completely foolproof, easy appetizer/light lunch treat that gets rave reveiws every time I make it.

So support your favorite budding Samhain author (um...that would be me...) as well as the troops (who really shouldn't be there any longer ~ can we bring them home already??) and purchase Lori's book!

For more information, visit Lori Foster’s website!

Monday, June 04, 2007

I've Been Tagged Again

A couple of weeks ago, Clover tagged me with the "8 Things About Me" meme, and though I already played once, I figured what the heck. I'll play again. So here, for your Monday viewing pleasure, are 8 new things you might not know about me:

1. I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 years old.

2. So...when hubby and I moved into our new home last year, the first thing we bought for the living room (before any of the furniture, even) was a baby grand piano. It sat there amid the scaffolding and paint supplies for a month before we finished the rest of the room!

3. I do not have a green thumb. In fact, I really don't enjoy gardening. I've tried to do some planting and landscaping this spring but it's more of a hassle, with all the upkeep, than anything else.

4. My favorite color is red, though most of my work clothes are black (hey, it's easier to match in the morning!).

5. At 5'7", I am the shortest person in my immediate family.

6. I have traveled to 41 of the 50 states.

7. My husband and I own lake property in upstate NY and have already started planning our retirement home there even though neither one of us can retire for another 20+ years.

8. I still have a scar on my left knee from when I was in 8th grade, running the hurdles on a cinder track, and I wiped out BIG TIME. Took off so much skin there was nothing to stitch together.

I'm opting not to tag anyone since I think this meme has been around cyber-world for awhile. but if you want to play, let me know! And thanks for the tag, Clover ~ it's always fun to play!!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Two Things I Learned From My Editors This Week

"I'm a writer first and an editor second... or maybe third or even fourth. Successful editing requires a very specific set of skills, and I don't claim to have all of them at my command."
~Lynn Abbey

A little background first:

1. I've been writing for about 6 years. I completed 4 novels and sent all of them out to agents and editors at some point. I collected 100+ rejection letters along the way. Then I decided to explore e-publishers, and within 2 months last winter, I had contract offers for 2 of my novels from 2 different publishers. Samhain Publishing Ltd. will be publishing One Night in Boston, and The Wild Rose Press will be publishing Lost in Paradise. Both of these novels are long enough that they will be released in print about 6-9 months after their electronic debut.

2. Anyway, what this means is that I've been trying to prepare 2 novels for publication at about the same time. I don't really recommend it, but that's the way things happen, so...

3. I've had the very interesting experience of working with 2 editors, and they are both kind and helpful but point out very different things in my manuscripts, which has been great. I'm able to transfer their comments to both the novels.

Drum roll...

These are the 2 areas that I've learned I have to work on:

1. I over-use internal dialogue.

2. I over-use commas to string together lengthy phrases in many of my sentences.

Regarding the first area, my editor from TWRP highlighted a lot of areas she wanted me to change from 1st person to 3rd person. At first I resisted, but I did begin to understand what she was saying. I didn't change all of them, but I tackled probably 50-60%. Here's an example:

Ash rolled over in bed. I should have told him how I felt. I shouldn't have let him go without telling him how he's changed me. Now what do I do?

The revision reads: Ash rolled over in bed. She should have told him how she felt. She shouldn't have let him go without telling him how he'd changed her. Now what was she supposed to do?

My editor's reasoning was that while internal thought can be good, even powerful in places, if over-used it can actually become a distraction to the reader. Well, OK. So that's my first piece of advice to: use it, but not too often.

Regarding the second area, my editor from SP wanted me to look at sentences that were too long and awkwardly phrased because I'd used commas (correctly, but still...) to join a lot of thoughts together. Here's an example:

From the womb, it seemed, Jack had been groomed for it. The Major bloodline, well grounded in Boston, demanded it. Everything he’d done since leaving home at eighteen, every step he’d taken and every goal he’d set, with the exception of one grave mistake of the heart back in his youth, had led him to this point.

Too wordy? Maybe a little. Here's the revision:

From the womb, Jack had been groomed for it. The Major bloodline, well grounded in Boston, demanded it. Everything he’d done since leaving home at eighteen, every step he’d taken and every goal he’d set, had led him to this point.

Because I make reference to his broken heart later on, I don't really need that extra clause here. So that's my second piece of advice: don't string together too many clauses and phrases in a sentence if you can help it.

I do think my writing/my editing has gotten better just over the past few weeks, in looking at these areas. I'm not losing my voice, though; there are some sentences I didn't change even if they violated the above recommendations. Some you have to stick to no matter what, I think.

What have you learned through writing and editing??