Monday, December 31, 2012

Seeking Feedback!

Okay all... here's a draft of the blurb for KILLING MOMZILLAS... thoughts?

Moo is getting married. Estela vows to do everything she can to give her best friend the perfect wedding. Of course, Paulina Hart, Moo’s overbearing, controlling, and evil mother, has sunk her Momzilla talons into the wedding details and is shredding everything! To keep Moo’s dream day from chaos and ruin, Estela takes a more hands-on role in wedding planning. At this point, she has successfully tackled a stalker and a serial killer. Facing a sulfur-breathing, cream cashmere skirt-suit wearing, demon with evil clown red hair—no problem.

Estela learns quickly that pulling off a hitch-free, Momzilla-free wedding while simultaneously dealing with a forced partnership with a sex-crazed dominatrix, a trip to meet her biological father and half-siblings, and a quickly changing friendship, is pretty difficult. Putting all of her focus on Moo is forcing Estela’s other relationships, including the details of her own wedding, to the backburner. When things start falling apart at the seams, Estela realizes that she has to do something to mend the cracks in her life before she loses not only Moo, but Caleb too.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Killing Momzillas

Editing is going very well now for KM3. I think it'll be ready in a few more weeks. There are still a lot of balls in the air. I need to write a blurb/summary, finish my Nook edit, get feedback from my beta reader and do any additional edits, and finalize the cover. I'm excited that things are coming to an end for this edit. Okay... let me get back to it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

52 pages left!

Definite progress is being made! Hip-hip-hooray!

Killing Momzilla's is almost here...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Okay... let's get serious

I have a few days off next week (Thanksgiving) and I plan to edit the crap out of KM3 (so I can send it to my beta reader). I feel like I should set a deadline for posting to Amazon and B&N, but that might backfire on me. Anyway... I'm about to get serious on this project, I promise!

I re-posted "My Darling Bunny." See above!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Yikes... now it's November!

So... not much is happening.

I missed daylight savings this morning, so instead of gaining an hour of sleep, I'm gaining an hour or two of work (I am editing!!!). I'm about seven pages from the halfway point of KM3. I guess that's a good sign? The last few weeks I've been working a lot of overtime at work, so that cuts into my editing time. I hope with the upcoming holidays I'll be able to plow through edits, but only time will tell.

In non-writerly things, I saw Wicked this weekend and a Dracula ballet. Both were excellent--I feel like I'm well rooted in culture for at least a little while. Probably until I watch Real Housewives of Atlanta :)

Back to writerly things... it's NaNoWriMo... I've been debating on whether or not I want to participate this year. I'm four days behind at this point. I think it could be really great in jump starting my writing (instead of editing), however I worry that I'm not going to complete it. I guess trying could be a good thing? Is anyone participating? Have you done it before? Gah... not sure what to do.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I cant believe it's October

This is me, lost and waiting for the muse to strike again.
So... this month isn't really any better than last month in terms of editing. I've been given more responsibilities at work, which asks for a little overtime. So, my editing time is cut... for now. I worry that I'm falling into a slump. A block. The last block kept me from really producing for several years. I don't really think I'm at that point yet, but I'm definitely cloudy right now. So, not a good progress report for those waiting for KM3. I'm still not even halfway through.

I think part of this slump is because I'm stressed out. They're giving me more responsibility at work, but at the same time I'm losing my job sometime in February (contract wasn't renewed). It's stressful having to look for a new job, and to not know where I want to live (ie, stay in Maryland, move to Boston?) I've never been good dealing with uncertainty.

You'd think I'd fall back into something comforting like writing, but that hasn't happened. I'm still thinking a lot about the trilogy that I started, THE SPIRIT KEEPER. It's strange, I almost want to write book III more than book II, but then I've never written out of order like that. I know that I should take a break and do something else, but I don't even want to write at the moment.

I need to get excited about my KM and writing and editing again. I need a spark of something... I'm not sure what.

This funk needs to pass.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Okay... Not Making Progress

September is not being good to me! Well, besides my birthday and a fun trip to NYC it's not being good to me.

I haven't edited in weeks. I'm almost to page 140 (still over 200 to go). Maybe I just need to take a break (for the rest of September) and refocus on everything starting October 1. I love editing so I don't want to think that I'm really burned out, but maybe I am. Maybe I should write something... *sigh*

Thanks to all who are reading KM1 and 2! Don't forget to leave reviews :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Making Progress

So, I'm about 100 pages into my first edit of KM3. I spent several hours at Barnes and Noble yesterday. I take my laptop without the charger and work until the battery is almost dead. It's usually a good jump start to consistent editing. And since today is Labor Day and I don't have to go to work, I expect to pound through at least 20 more pages. After this edit it's on to a Nook edit, a beta reader edit, and hopefully publication! I'm not sure when this will happen, but the last one took me a couple months so I'm sure this will be the same (if not faster). The later books in the series have less overall work to do (I still want to go back to KM1... I didn't do a Nook edit with that one, hence the typos). With this book it seems to be more about fixing wordy/repetitive sentences. I do think that Estela was a bit of a cry baby in this book (if my memory serves). I've already stumbled across her crying a couple times, but I think they're legitimate reasons. Since she's supposed to be growing with each book, I'm going have to really look at all these sections. We'll see though. Sometimes it's hard to see your characters when you're so close to them.

Sales for KM2 are pretty much on target with the first book, I think. It's getting good traffic with Barnes and Noble's Pubit! platform. Smashwords... not so much. More people use Nook or Kindle, I suppose. I'm not saying that I'll stop using Smashwords all together, but it doesn't seem like a lot of people use it (unless books are free). I'll probably still post my books there (since it distributes to several other platforms)... I just wish there was a little more traffic.

I'm eagerly awaiting more feedback on KM2. My sister says it's better than KM1, which is good. They should all be a little bit better than the last. That's my goal.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

B&N has Killing Monsters!!

KILLING MONSTERS is now available directly through Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately, I screwed up and uploaded the wrong cover. I've fixed this, but it may take a day or so to fix (hopefully not that long!). Oops.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

KM2 Cover!

I'm so excited about my new book cover (thanks for your help Esther S!!!). I feel like it works well with KM1 and I'm excited and happy with it overall. Covers are tricky beasts. I thought about going a different way (compared to KM1), but in the end I felt that continuity was far more important. The covers will change if I ever decide to go paperback, which I might one day--depending on how well they do digitally. Maybe I'll be able to use the proceeds from the ebooks to fund a paperback venture. Maybe one day they'll be picked up by a traditional publisher (a la Amanda Hocking). No matter what, as ebooks (my first ebooks), I'm extremely happy.

KILLING MONSTERS will be available on Amazon in 6-12 hours. I'll be posting it to Smashwords as well (in a day or so). I'm also began my edit of KILLING MOMZILLAS, which is going much better than my initial edit of KM2. I'm not having to change the opening as much. My hope is that with book 3 and 4 it's smooth sailing, but I'm sure it'll be hard work. I'm just glad to be working again to be honest. I always have this uncomfortable "in between projects" time where I struggle so much it's like I've lost my purpose. It's strange. I don't like it. Happy to be working again. Happier still to be getting KM2 out for people to enjoy (fingers crossed).

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Killing Monsters!

So, here's a draft of the blurb for KM2. I'm always looking for feedback so lay it on me and I'll consider everything! :)

DRAFT 1

When the choice was to either track down and bust a serial killer or have sex with her boyfriend, Estela would rather butt in to an FBI investigation than take a chance at another failed tryst in the sheets—or hay. Although she’s madly in love with Caleb and is having fun trying, she just can’t bring herself to seal the deal, and, quite frankly, feels a bit deformed.

Perhaps being stalked, terrorized, and assaulted by a man who proclaimed his undying love for her and then shot her uncle in the neck, has left her with a little PTSD. Or maybe she’s just not ready for sex. (At twenty-six, going on twenty-seven, she really should be ready!) Either way, Estela is sure that she can identify a serial killer just by looking at him. So, when the deaths of several women connected to Christian Waller, the fiancĂ© of Estela’s friend Olive, begin, Estela is sure that he’s the culprit and that Olive may be next.

Teaming up with Moo for a little Moostela Investigation, Estela sets off to bring Christian down hoping to avoid an end where she’s staring down the barrel of gun held by another psychopath. 

UPDATE:

DRAFT 2
If you have black, demon-like eyes, you must be a serial killer, so says Estela Ramos who just survived the overwhelming experience of being stalked and terrorized by a man declaring his undying love. She knew Dr. Pervo was creepy from the start and is now positive that she can identify a murderer just by looking at him.

But perhaps being loved so devotedly by a crazy person has left Estela with a little PTSD. When given the choice to either have sex with her boyfriend or track down and bust a serial killer, Estela would rather butt in to an FBI investigation. Although she’s madly in love with Caleb and has fun trying, she just can’t bring herself to seal the deal, and, quite frankly, feels a bit deformed. Why take a chance at another failed tryst in the sheets—or hay—when there is a serial killer afoot?

When several young women connected to Christian Waller, the fiancĂ© of her friend Olive, are murdered, Estela is certain that Christian’s the culprit and that Olive, pregnant with his triplets, may be the next victim. Estela just has to prove it, which is hard when no one takes her seriously.

Teaming up with Moo for a little Moostela Investigation, Estela sets off to bring Christian down while avoiding an ending that has her staring down the barrel of gun held by another psychopath.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

*sigh*

I've spent all night messing around on the internet (hence my blog layout updates). I don't know why I'm stalling with this edit. Sometimes everything just seems so overwhelming. At least I get in a little editing during my breaks at work.

In other news... dang! people are sure taking advantage of a free ebook! :) Over 80 downloads in just over 24 hours. I hope people leave reviews.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Get KM1 for Free (until Aug 1)

Hi everyone!

I've put KM1 up on Smashwords for FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE. Of course, this is only for a limited time. I would have done the same with Amazon, but they won't let me.

Cheers and happy reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh Procrastination!

Man... I'm starting to feel lazy. Basically, I'm procrastinating big time. I come home and spent too much time trying to figure out Twitter, checking out facebook, and Perezhilton.com. This is a sad thing, especially since I'm basically in the last stages of my edit of KILLING MONSTERS. I've edited about 72 pages on my Nook, which is good progress, I suppose. I edit during my break at work and I try to do the same at the gym. This works when I'm on the stationary bike, but it's a little harder on the elliptical. Plus, if there's something more interesting on TV I'm going to watch it. Kinda like how I'm watching Chopped right now. I'm sure that I'll find my rhythm with it soon. There's always an awkward lag time in between stages of editing for me.

In other news, I just finished DESTINED, the final book in the WINGS series by Aprilynne Pike. That series was incredible. It really was. She's the kind of writer that I hope that I am (or could be). The series was really well plotted/conceived/executed. There was no awkward "second book" curse. At the very end of DESTINED, after an author's note, we were given "The Last Word" a letter from one character to another. It kinda blew my mind. It really evoked a lot of emotion. I didn't cry, but my chest felt warm. The letter was heart wrenching. It wasn't a part of the story in the sense that it comes to us in the afterward (basically), but it really is lovely. I would say that it was smart move for her not to end the book with the letter, and not because it paints anything but a "happily ever after" feeling, but because it just wouldn't have worked, in my opinion. Across the series I wasn't as drawn in to the character as I wanted to be, so maybe that's why, or maybe there just wasn't enough of a similar emotion (as the letter) throughout the series. But it's absolutely perfect in the way she introduces it to us. I'm so jealous. Can't wait to read more from her.

Next up on my reading list (after I finish editing KM2 on my Nook): SIZE 12 AND READY TO ROCK (by Meg Cabot) or SHADOW OF NIGHT (by Deborah Harkness). I'm equally excited about both. I need to read more books and watch less TV... but with the Olympics starting soon, that's definitely not going to happen!

Twitter: @tatiana_writes

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Killing Monsters Update

I'm now 35 pages away from my initial edit of KILLING MONSTERS. Yay! I'm still not comfortable with the idea of stating when it will be available as I'm going to have a beta reader go through it, plus I'll be doing a "Nook edit" (which is basically when I put it on my nook and read it again), and I've asked a friend to help me out with the cover. So... still a lot of players involved, still a lot of work to do. My goal for this book is to be free of typos. Fingers crossed... it's very likely that something small will slip through, but I'm taking my time. I need to take my time because with KM1, I rushed it a little.

Sales are still somewhat slow, a few trickle in from day to day. I'm researching ways to maximize my sales. I probably should have offered KM1 as a free ebook, in retrospect. I do plan on offering it free for a few weeks before (and probably during the release) of KM2. I still don't know what price I'm going to put KILLING MONSTERS. Maybe I'll have a better idea after I finish reading the article that I linked above.

Wanna help me out with promotion? If you bought through Amazon, go back to my page and (1) leave a review!!! (please!!!) and (2) agree with the tags (found under Tags Customers Associate with this Product). Add tags if you want. The more people "agree with tags" the more likely the book will be placed in one of the tagged categories. Reviews are the most helpful though--thank you so much to the people who have left them on both amazon.com and amazon.co.uk!

All right... we're heading to the finish line!

As a side note: I just finished reading A STARTER BOYFRIEND. That one (as one of the final books I wrote while posting to FictrionPress) isn't in bad shape--a few typos here and there. I may end up working on it for a few weeks and then uploading it. So, get excited! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Now What?

The sales/sample downloads for KILLING MEMORIES have definitely slowed down this past week. Publishing it is pretty easy (for the most part, despite the multiple edits and reposts), but now that it's slowed down (stopped really), I need to figure out how to market it. Where do I go to find more readers? E-publishing doesn't really come with a handbook, you know, and I'm feeling a little lost. I've thought about posting something new on FictionPress (but then I don't have anything new besides my new supernatural YA novel (THE SPIRIT KEEPER) and I'm not sure if I want to post that, although getting more feedback would be nice). FictionPress was a great place to develop a readership. I think it hurt me when I stopped actively using the website. I didn't necessarily stop because of the plagiarism issues, it was mostly that I was going to school or working, etc, and didn't have time to write new stuff and post it.

I've been thinking about editing MY DARLING BUNNY and posting that as a free ebook. Maybe even CHEMICAL GAMES. I haven't re-read either in a while, so I'm not sure how much work they need. Probably a lot considering everything I ever posted on FictionPress was a first draft.

I feel so consumed by editing. Don't get me wrong, I actually love it, but it gets hard at times. Especially when I want to write something new but my brain is like "NO, FINISH THIS FIRST!" Well, with three more KM books and HOSTILE KISSES I feel like I'm never going to be done editing! And "editing" isn't just about cleaning up typos... it's revising sentences, taking things out, adding things in, putting more detail.... it's basically re-writing in a lot of ways.

It took me like a week to re-write the first chapter of KILLING MONSTERS (that was actually really hard). I really hope the books take less time to edit as I go along. I think they will as the writing got stronger as I progressed in the KM series (in my opinion). I'm reading KM4 now and Estela still makes me laugh out loud. I forget some of the things I have her do. Like in this novel, she get's caught eavesdropping on Vanessa Winwright (Moo's modeling agency) and to cover, she runs across the room, sticks her arm into a salt water fish tank and tries to grab at the fish because they're "so pretty, I had to touch one."

HAHAHAHAHA... honestly, what was I thinking!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Working... slowly

The edit for KILLING MONSTERS is going very slow. Not on purpose either... I'm not trying to take my time. It's just that the first chapter had to be redone, which took forever, and I've been super distracted. I have faith that my editing speed will pick up, but it's difficult sometimes. I have moments when I think the writing is good and other times when I'm like "holy crap this is bad." I'm not going to give a date for uploading it. When I do that, I feel rushed. I felt a little rushed book I, only because I realized kinda late that it was going to need another edit (which turned into two edits and some helpful feedback from a couple readers). I want to make sure that the novel is as clean as possible before posting it. No more typos like in KILLING MEMORIES (typos that people called "grammar mistakes," which was an incorrect term 90% of the time). Anyway, my goal is to not have any mistakes in book II, which will likely not happen. I wish I had something to post in between the novels, but I don't have anything that's "finished." Well, except for THE SPIRIT KEEPER and even that may not be finished.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Typos.

Needless to say, I'm horrified by the typos people have been finding. I'm going to fix them, but I wish they weren't there. Thanks advance to Sarah and Tina for helping me out!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

So... Funny Story

I just realized that I wrote a 4th Es and Moo book, which comes after KILLING MOMZILLAS. I might be missing a chapter of it, but I'm going to read it through and see. I can't believe I forgot about this book. I had it filed under KILLING MODELS, which is the title for KM4, but I thought that it was the title of book II. It's funny, the entire time I was reading KM2, I was like "Wow, this title really doesn't fit this story AT ALL!" Now I understand why! [sorry if that was confusing!]

Book II is called: KILLING MONSTERS.

Oops.

Well, at least I have that straight now. Which means... that I need to update my Smashwords and Amazon files. I'll do that later...

Thanks to everyone who has purchase KM1! Sorry for the little typos and missing words that I've been alerted about. That was my biggest fear about posting it. I think I'll give myself more time for a beta reader for KM2. I don't want to set a deadline yet for publication of Book II. I'm going to start working on it in a day or so and will keep plugging away. The only good thing about it is that I don't need to switch the first half from present to past tense like I did with KM1. That should save A LOT of time.

Friday, June 1, 2012

First Reader Makes First Purchase



My sister (right) bought the first copy of KILLING MEMORIES. [I'm on the left.... sorry for looking so manly and busted!]

I'm not really sure what to do with myself now. Probably should start editing something else. I think it's safe to say that THE SPIRIT KEEPER trilogy is on hold for now. I'll definitely finish it, but it need 100% of my focus and it seems like the next logical step is to start editing KILLING MODELS. Anyway... I'm happy to have the book up and available (and by my set deadline).

You can find it on Smashwords and Amazon.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Holy Crap... This Is Happening

It's almost 2am and I just finished the second edit of KILLING MEMORIES. I also just posted the first chapter to FictionPress (CLICK HERE). At this point... there are probably little mistakes still, but I'm just gonna let them happen for now. If there are glaring mistakes then I'll deal with them when they come.

My next step is to format for Kindle. I'm not sure WHEN I'll be uploading the book today, but I'm pretty sure it'll happen before 11:59pm EST. :)

Oh and the computer that I created the covers on decided to die... so the cover will be one of the four that I posted. Not sure which one yet...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Checklist update

Wow, it's only Saturday and I've gotten so much done:
  1. Designed a cover. (I didn't know how I felt about it at first, but it's definitely growing on me, especially for what I have to work with regarding my designing skills and software programs. This should work for now and if the book explodes maybe then I can hire someone.) Check it out above.
  2. Wrote a blurb. (Thank god I saved what I had originally posted on FictionPress... I ended up tweaking that a little bit and I think it works--of course suggestions are always welcome).
What still needs to be done:
  1. Finish editing (about 127 pages left, doable in 6 days I think--hopefully in the next two if I can keep pushing on).
  2. Figure out how to start up Amazon and Smashwords accounts.
  3. Format the book for Amazon (this I feel is going to be tedious).
  4. Figure out what Smashwords will need (and if it'll distribute to a variety
Okay, let me get back to it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Prepublishing Checklist

So, I have declared June 1st as the day I release KILLING MEMORIES to the world (said in a super hero voice). I kind of regret that... just a little because while going back to review the first chapter (one of two that changed considerably) I found a lot of little mistakes, which forced me to press on. I'm now about halfway through the second edit, which I have about 8 days to finish along with a few other things on my list:
  1. Purchase the cover photo (I have made a decision)
  2. Writing up a blurb/summary (this is proving to be difficult)
  3. Develop an Amazon account (as well as Smashwords)
  4. Design the cover (I'm doing it myself this time)
Plus my parents are coming to visit at the end of the month, which will take up some of this prep time. So, there's a little update for ya. Keep your fingers crossed that I can uphold my June 1st release. I want to be known as the reliable writer.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Almost Done!

I'm quickly approaching the finish line (for editing anyway) on KILLING MEMORIES. About 35 pages left (plus a re-read of chapter one, which changed quite a bit from the first draft). I'm excited that it's almost done, but I still have a few things that I'm kind of worried about.

1. The cover.
2. The title.

Writer's Digest just did an excellent article on e-book publishing (their June issue). I was hoping for a detailed paragraph regarding cover do's and don'ts, but they basically say "hire someone." Well, I don't make enough money to hire anyone, so I'm sure my covers will be less than exciting, whatever I decide to do. While I do like the image of the little man with flowers between the woman's legs, I still want to books to have similar look. But, I don't want to be boring either. So, yes... this process is going to take more thought and consideration than I hoped it would.

And on a scarier conundrum... I'm not really sure that the title really fits the first book (or the other books for that matter). I've read the first three books and I'm almost done with Hostile Kisses. And if I'm really honest with myself, the titles (except for Hostile Kisses) don't really work. They're catchy in that I can call it the KM series and readers from FictionPress know them as that, but.... I don't know if I can come up with something else. This is something that  I really need to focus on in the next few weeks.

If all goes well, I think I may be able to have the ebook ready by June 1.

Fingers crossed! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Still Editing

My progress on KILLING MEMORIES is pretty steady. I'm pretty sure I've increased it by a few pages (not to bad, actually) and I'm more than halfway through. I'm probably not going to finish it by May 1st, perhaps by June 1st. I can promise within the next three months. Can someone say Summer Blockbuster!?!? (haha, totally joking... well, just a little bit)

How cute/perfect is this option for "Hostile Kisses"?

Whenever I edit I worry that I'm taking out too much of Estela's quirkiness, and then I read something (I'm currently re-reading KM3: KILLING MOMZILLAS) and laugh out loud at how dumb she is. I'm glad that I can make myself laugh. That's gotta say something. One thing that I noticed about Estela that I may fix (especially in KM3)... she's kind of a cry baby. LOL. I mean it's been over four years since I wrote these books... maybe I was a cry baby back then. I probably won't alter her sensitivity and insecurities too much (maybe just cut 1-2 scenes), but I will edit so that she grows as a character and gains some confidence. I'm about 60 pages from the end of book III, so we'll see if I accomplished character growth with the first draft.

http://deborahharkness.com/
In other news. I mentioned that I was reading A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES in my last post. Well, I finished it and I really did love it. The writer is a historian so the book is STUFFED with history. I like history, but to be honest most of the time it goes in one ear and out the other. What I appreciate about this book is how much "fact" (about witches/demons/vampires mixed in with actual human history) she weaves in. It brings a sense of authority to the writing. Deborah Harkness knows what the heck she's talking about. The book has ebbs and flows, meaning that it goes in and out of the plot line. Sometimes we're just living in the moment with Diana (witch) and Matthew (vampire) and other times there are moments where the characters are like "but we really should focus on that manuscript that everyone wants!" I don't know that this is a bad thing. I'd have to read the novel again to see if the "ebbing" moments enhanced the story at all. Not that it matters really. The next book in the trilogy is SHADOW OF NIGHT (due July 2012). I'm excited for it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Warning To FictionPress Users

In the past week, I've had two separate people ask to buy the rights for "Chemical Games." I feel like I need to warn people against agreeing to sell the rights to their work to random strangers. If I had agreed to sell my rights, they could take my story and do whatever they wanted with it (including publishing it and making a great deal more than what they offered me). It's flattering to have someone offer money, but it's not smart to take it. In doing so, I'd just be giving away everything that I worked really hard for. So, I just wanted to give people a warning to really know what they're giving up if they agree to sell. Especially if you feel confident in your work and your ability to be published either traditionally or in ebook format. Because once you sell your rights, you can never publish that work as your own. The owner of the copyright can though.

A few red flags went up for me when I had two different people ask (or maybe they were the same person). I feel like folks are trolling FictionPress looking for work to buy up and sell off. I could be wrong about all of this, but the warning bells definitely went off. So... wanted to pass that on. 

In other news, I'm reading A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES now. It's actually really good. I like the scientific/historic aspects of the creation of witches, vampires, and daemons. It's a long one--I'm not even half way through yet. I don't know why I get so daunted by big books. Probably because it's heavy and cumbersome. That being said, I'm still a paperback/hardback girl at heart. My Nook doesn't get much use, unless I'm reading my own stuff. But I still can't bring myself to buy e-books over $5.

I'm almost halfway through my edit of KILLING MEMORIES. And since I shared possible covers with you before, I'll post a few more here. So, I'm leaning more toward the top graphic. I think it shows trust, which is kinda what the first book is about: Estela trusting herself and Caleb enough to break through bad memories of the past. The bottom one is more fun (and fits in with Dr. Pervo perfectly). The only problem is that I want all three books to have a similar look to them and the bottom image is pretty much the only one like it (and Estela is Hispanic so the pale legs wouldn't really work out). Also, it's really hard to find vector (I think that's what the silhouette graphic is called) image with plus-sized women (or ethic women for that mater). Anyway... thoughts on these?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So... yea

It's been a while since I've posted... I really should be better about it, but sometimes I'm just forgetful or feel like there's nothing really to write about. So a few updates:
  • I'm about 90 pages into my edit of KILLING MEMORIES. I think it's going well, for the most part. I've been changing the tense from present to past (since the other books were past). That's taking up a lot of time. I think I've found possible book covers as well. I've been looking into royalty-free images on shutterstock.com. It's incredibly difficult to figure out what a good cover would be for the KM series. I need more creative people to do that. Here a couple examples of what I'm thinking... a kinda funky background with basic text (title and name would go int hat center circle). I don't know if it's eye popping enough, but this is kinda what I'm thinking. Thoughts? I just don't know that it really screams "Estela and Moo," but it's way too hard to figure it out how match a cover and a novel. I don't feel smart enough. Anyway... editing is going okay, I suppose. Slow and steady. We'll see if I can get it done by May. If not then, definitely summer.
  • I haven't worked on THE SPIRIT KEEPER since my final edit a few weeks ago. Part of me feels guilty about this. I feel that I should be pounding ahead, writing books II and III. Instead, I've been thinking about an entirely different novel to write. I'm not sure what that means. Well, I do. I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of the project AND by the idea that it might never go anywhere (always at the back of my mind).
  • I just finished THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy. They're easily the best YA books that I've read in a long time. I think it might have depressed me actually, how good they are. I put off reading them for a really long time because I just had a feeling that I knew how good they were going to be. Sometimes, as a writer, reading a really good book is the key to depression. I don't know if I should read something crappy to feel better about myself or if I should just keep on pushing on. I was indifferent about the movie until I read the books. Now I'm excited to see the movie.
  • The last few days have been... blah. I've been on this "get healthy" kick and I've just slammed into the wall. The mountain seems insurmountable. Can you hear the little violins? Seesh.
I guess that's all for my updates! Hope everyone's well.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Finished: Edit #8

I just finished the eighth edit of THE SPIRIT KEEPER. It's now 540 pages (174,590 words, which is about 100,000 words over the average YA novel length). I did cut some with this edit... maybe 5 or 6 pages. I personally think that the length works for the story I'm telling in this book. I wouldn't care at all if I already had an agent. The big issue is finding someone who won't pass on it because it's too long. At this point, I can't find anything else to cut so it's either going to stay at this length or an editor/agent will need to tell me what doesn't need to be there. Oh well... it's done, for now. I can only hope at this point that my main character, Evelyn, is more likeable/interesting. I like her.

My next project is to start editing KILLING MEMORIES. Lord, I hope I don't make it longer. I'm going into it with the mindset of just cleaning it up, but who knows what will happen. The good thing is that I re-read it a few months ago and it's not horrible, like I thought it would be. [I thought so because I wrote the first half not really knowing where it was going and then outlined the second half, and rushed the ending.] My goal is to have it up as an ebook by May, so I'm glad that I finished up the edit today because now I'm free to work on it. Although, I should start working on the next book in my SPIRIT KEEPER trilogy (and I should submit it some more). Maybe I'll try to multitask.

Anyway, it's so beautiful in Maryland right now (although it's supposed to be like 80 degrees later this week and I think it's too early for those temps!) I had a few friends in town this weekend and we went to see the cherry blossoms, a beautiful D.C. staple. Japan gave the trees to the United States as a gift and this year is the centennial birthday (I guess that's what it's called). They bloomed early this year because of the crazy nice weather we're having. Happy Spring everyone!

Cherry Blossom tree along the Tidal Basin, Washington D.C. Across the way is the Jefferson Monument.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Switch up

Sometimes I just need to change things up. This layout is a little more "subdued" I suppose. I'm kinda feeling it at the moment. Give it a few more months. I've got about 330 pages left to edit (out of 530) of THE SPIRIT KEEPER. As always I'm battling with length, but only because it's really hard to break in to publishing with a longer book, unless you're a celebrity.

Anyway, going to see The Lorax with my sister tomorrow. Should be good!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Passing of a Great

Today one of the co-writers of The Berenstain Bears passed away. RIP Jan Berenstain.


I have a stack of 20-30 Berenstain Bear books that I've saved from my childhood. They were my ultimate favorite books in that "learning how to read" stage or life, and if I'm being completely honest, even now. I mean, there's nothing more nostaglic for me than seeing a Berenstain Bear book at the store. Last Christmas I bought my niece two of my favorites: "Too Much Junk Food" and "Go Out For The Team" (or was it "Get the Gimmies"). When I think about writers who inspired me to write and tell stories, I really do think it stems with Stan and Jan Berenstain. These were the first books that I could read to myself. The first books that I was completely lost in.

So, it's sad that she's passed and I wanted to take a moment to remember her. She was 88 years old. I can only hope that I live to be that age and that I'm still writing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A little at a time....

So, I managed to edit 127 pages of THE SPIRIT KEEPER this weekend. I'd probably get through a little more if I had tomorrow off like most people (it's President's Day). But, of all the holidays not to have, I guess it makes sense. Anyway, I came to a bit of a stand-still with ARABELLE WILD (which means it's time for me to outline the rest of the novella), so I packed up my computer and spent three hours at Barnes and Noble working on edit #7 (or is it 8?). This edit is going well, or as well as it could go. I add a little. I take a little away. This time around I'm focusing on Evelyn, and really looking for things that could come out all together. Unfortunately, after 127 pages, I really haven't cut that much. In fact, this draft is longer than the last. I don't know why I worry about length so much, probably because I'm trying to break into the YA scene and a lot of books right now run like 150-200 pages shorter than where I'm at. I guess I'll just worry about that if I start getting feedback about length (if I get feedback at all). Might as well not jump the gun.

Anyway, just wanted to post a little blurb about where I'm at.

On another note, I came up for bed and found that my lovely cat had puked all over my blanket. I thought hairballs were supposed to come in easy matted chunks not projectile vomit and stomach juices. Gross, I know. What's grosser... sticking my finger in it. I don't know why I feel like that's important to share, but there you go. Enjoy, as I did.

Too bad he's so damn cute. Can't be mad for long.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Let me tell you a little story...

Still no news (I've got about 5 query letters out at the moment). Some of the agencies have a longer turn around time than the first few rejections that I received. I'm okay with waiting for these to come in. I need a break from the entire process. Is it sad that it's only two weeks in? :c/ Last week really sucked. I felt in a funk for days. I'm doing MUCH better now. And after receiving more feedback (thanks again Jammi!!!) I've decided that I need to do another edit of THE SPIRIT KEEPER before it's ready for more submissions. I had a feeling that it needed one more edit, but in my mind that was just to tighten up some of the writing (clean up the sentences). I've learned that I have a bigger issue on my hands: Making my main character more likeable (something that you HAVE to do when you get feedback from multiple sources that she's just not doing it for them).

The biggest issue is that I don't seem to show enough emotion/inner thoughts, etc. She comes off disconnected from things that are happening to her. Now, I see her totally differently then my readers did. After the first set of comments I was like "okay, I can fix that." Six edits later, the second set of comments come in and are virtually identical, and I was like "WTF am I doing wrong?" I think in a lot of ways I'm still too close to Evelyn (main character) to really see her closely. This is definitely why you need readers that you trust to give it to you straight. I thought I was seeing things so objectively! :) But no, I'm still too close to her.

But I think I have a game plan of how to attack the situation. And it involves the first rule of writing: show don't tell.

Here's an awesome link from Ilona Andrews's blog (thanks again Jammi). It has a lot of great examples in it, some of which I feel like I already do, and then new ways to think about this sometimes frustrating writing rule. For example, I never really considered that there might be a downside to too much showing. Something the blog post said that really suck with me is the following:
Use both showing and telling, each in moderation. Don’t try to make your book into a movie. It’s not; it’s a book, a written narrative.
(Check out the blog to see what she means about not turning your book into a movie, it's pretty interesting). I feel like I both show and tell, but for some reason Evelyn's personality isn't coming through. The reasons for this could be endless. I think it's because I know her so well that I don't give some of the details (that are in my head) to the readers.

This isn't the first time I've gotten this kind of feedback. In my MFA workshops "show don't tell" was fancied up to "trust the reader." One classmate in particular was always like "I want you to trust me to get it." A few others were like "there's too much telling in this." Now, to be fair to myself, it was my very first workshop story, written about seven hours before class. [I was the person to volunteer to bring in the first story for our workshop. I didn't give myself enough time, and unfortunately I think the first impression of my skills was pretty poor and lingered over my head. The second story I turned in my prof was like "wow, do you realize how much you've improved in such a short time?" I just kinda smiled and nodded, but I had more time to work it and knew my abilities were far more than that first story. Plus I worked hard on the second story because I was determined not to have such a negative workshop again. And I don't feel like I did.] Anyway, the point is that I've gotten feedback about showing and not telling before. Many times.

I wonder what it'll take to stick so that my first draft could be my last. Maybe that's just a pipe dream.

From my years in school I learned that my first drafts tend to be full of telling details. I think this is because I go with what Stephen King says to do: write the first draft with your heart. A lot of other people say this too, but his book On Writing was the first one to really connect with me. It's an excellent writing how-to book. The first half is his autobiography (which is inspirational on it's own) and the second half is a "writing toolbox."

Here's another great example that I discovered today:
Creating and editing are two different driving forces behind writing.  Creating is like running forward through a wide field: you don’t look back, you just go in whatever direction makes you happy.  You see only the field and the possibilities.  Editing is like looking at that field from a Goodyear blimp and pondering where in the the world that fool down below is going. ~ Illona Andrews
I love, love, LOVE this quote. When I'm writing a first draft, I am a total fool. And it's FUN to be foolish. It's crazy fun!

When I'm working on a first draft--especially if I'm excited about it--I just write and write. Some wild idea might come into my head and I just go with it. For example, in the very first draft of THE SPIRIT KEEPER (then called SURRENDER) I had a chicken (named Tessa) who was basically a character with personality and everything (she's has since been edited down). Here's how the creative process for Tessa the chicken went: Writing, writing, writing, and now we're on a farm, writing, writing, writing, and there's a big barn and a fancy chicken coop, writing, writing, writing, and there is a big chicken, a leader of all the other chickens, writing, writing, writing, Tessa is her name, writing, writing, writing, Evelyn puts Tessa in her bike basket and they ride around the farm, writing, writing writing [BOOM sudden realization]: Tessa is the special pet of one of the angels! YES! AMAZING CHICKEN! SHE'S AWESOME! She has super powers!!!! (Not really, but it felt that way).

*sigh* so much fun. That is the joy of the first draft.

I've been writing ARABELLE WILD this last week and it's been going very well. I'm glad that I started to write on it again (especially during my submission-rejection-funk) because it reminded me that even though the submission process is really hard and stressful, writing is fun. So in this first draft, I'm writing fast and furious. I don't think about sentences or showing vs. telling. I just go, go, go, and it's fun. And easy. It's the editing that's the hard part; it makes writing difficult, heart breaking, and rewarding.

But let me tell you... Tessa was one super bird. After my sister (who will always be my very first reader) read the novel we chatted about it and the conversation turned to places/things that could be cut and I was like "Tessa or Buddy?" (buddy is a friendly little demon). She said she liked Buddy more so he stayed in and Tessa became a sliver of the awesomeness that she was. In the end, it was a good edit.

But anyway... show versus tell might be the biggest battle of my writing life.

Monday, January 30, 2012

No news is not good news... in this case anyway

At this point I've sent out seven query letters (three of them were a no, and I'm pretty sure one more is a no). The agency was like "if we don't contact you in six weeks, it's a no." Well, going by how quick some of the others get back to me, I kind of have to figure that it's a no. Some say that "if you don't hear from us at all, it's a no," which I think is lame. While I don't really like form rejection letters, they do make the process faster. Anyway, there are 50 agents on this list of mine, some of which I've already trimmed out as not being a close enough match to what I and they are looking for. I may look into the new publishing books that came out (2012 Guide to Literary Agents) to see if I can find more. Maybe.


Rejections take a lot out of me. It's not like I'm taking it personally (that the "nos" mean I'm a horrible writer who should just stop trying). [If I have confidence in one thing in my life, it's my ability to tell a story.] But each rejection puts me further away from the dream that I have to publish. So far, submitting for my novel has been far different than short stories. The rejections come MUCH faster. With short stories it always took about three months to hear back; by then I'd had enough time to process and trick myself into thinking that maybe my story was on some "maybe" pile and ultimately not selected. With these email queries "no thanks" comes like machine gun fire. There's really no time to process it. So I need to get used to that. It's making this a really difficult process. Each rejection I get makes me think "Well, maybe it really isn't going to happen for me and I need to deal with that now and move on. What's plan B?"

I want to give kudos to all those authors who do submit to 100+ agents. I don't know that I have the heart for that. Plus, I grow a bit restless and feel like after so many it's time to set it aside and move on. But who's to say that agent 51 is the one who says yes. This game has definitely messed with my emotions the last few days.


So, in hope to rise out of this funk, I've decided to do some work on ARABELLE WILD. Why? First, because the characters have popped into my head a lot lately (I think I have "Downton Abbey" to thank, even though the era isn't the same). Second, because I'm having a hard time starting book 2 of my SPIRIT KEEPER series. I've been planning and outlining, but I just don't feel it at the moment. So, I need to take a bit of a break from it all together and switch my mind over to something else. And I'll admit, it's kinda nice to do something else. Maybe this is what my brain needs to get it together and reconnect with the joy of writing. 'Cause right now, I just want to curl up in bed and lay there quietly for a couple days. It'll pass, but being in the crush of it is definitely draining.

I suppose the good news is that it's 9pm and I haven't gotten a rejection email yet, which is good 'cause today was pretty ho-hum.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

One down...

Well, it took less than 24 hours to hear back from Agent 1. The response: a form rejection letter. Here, I'll share it with you all:
Thank you for your query. Unfortunately, your manuscript doesn't sound like something that’s right for us. We wish you the best of success in placing your work elsewhere.

Pretty standard, actually. I have like 70 of these for my short stories.

So, before everyone says it: I know that there will be a lot of rejections. That's kind of a given right? We can move on from that. .....wait that might have seemed a little harsh or snappy..... Don't get me wrong, I know the intention behind the sentiment is 100% sincere, but sometimes I wonder if some people say it because they think my publishing expectations are unrealistic. To be fair, I do have big dreams. HUGE DREAMS. I've been putting "I'm going to be a published writer" vibes into the universe since I was nine. But deep down I know what the deal is. Did I want to be the first ever writer who was accepted by the first agent they ever submitted to? Sure. I mean, can you imagine how awesome that would have been?!?!? But did I really think that was going to happen: No.

So I hope that whoever reads this (and who might have mentioned something about how hard it is to make it) isn't offended or anything. I've heard this from so many people throughout the entire time I've been submitting (not just this latest submission, but back with short stories as well) and now I'm like AHHHH! For example, I called my mom to tell her about the rejection and she was like "Okay...." and then "Well, you know that....." And I was like "NO, STOP! DON'T SAY IT! I KNOW!"

Thank you for letting me vent for a moment (and this could be the sting of rejection talking).

I've already sent out the second query letter and I may send a third later tonight. I thought submitting right away would help with the sting of the first rejection and I think it has... at least for the moment. In my experience it usually takes a day or so for it to really sink in (and then usually I feel pretty crappy). I know that I'll keep moving on from this point and if no one wants to represent my novel, I guess it'll make a good e-book. I just want to give traditional publishing 100% effort before I look into self publishing. I just hope that eventually I'll get more feedback than just a form rejection letter.

So, moving on to something more positive. I started brainstorming book 2 today. Tomorrow's goal: to actually start writing. I think moving forward that way will really help me with the submission process because even as the rejections come in, I'll still be moving forward. Hopefully in the end I'll have a solid trilogy. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tuesday.

So, I've decided that this coming Tuesday, I'm going to make my first attempt at submitting my novel. At this point, I've picked and picked at it (at the first five pages, the synopses, and even the query letter), and now I'm just stalling. I've talked about this whole process being overwhelming, well, I think in a lot of ways I'm just scared. Scared of rejection... scared of success. I don't know. One thing I do know: I'm getting restless. I'm ready to test the waters. I don't think there's any tried and true method for submitting to agents. But I figure Thursday and Fridays may be bad days because they're so close to the weekend and Monday could be equally bad (depending on what happens during the weekend). So, Tuesday feels good. Or Wednesday, but then that's stalling too. I think I'm ready. I hope I am anyway. We'll see I suppose.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

E-Book Covers and Cookbooks

Now that I'm seriously considering turning my early FictionPress stories into e-books (or even self-published books), I'm starting to think about book covers. A beautiful/engaging cover can really push a hardcover or paperback. Is the same true for e-books? At the moment, I'm really unsure of what I should do for KILLING MEMORIES. Fancy text on a solid background? Some kind of photograph? I did a sketch of Moo and Estela, but I'm not a great drawer (sadly) and it just seems impossible to get what I'm thinking to come out of my hands. I wish I was an artist. Painters, sketchers, watercolorists, whatevers... I'm so in awe of such talent. I wish I had a small sliver of it, but I don't. All of my creativity is with words.

I haven't  bought a lot of e-books myself so I'm not sure what people are drawn to. Price? An awesome cover? The synopsis/blurb? All three probably. I just don't know where to start. Thoughts?

So, I ended up completely cleaning up my FictionPress profile and stories. It seems just a little pointless to have a bunch of unfinished stories on there. So now it's just "Chemical Games" and "My Darling Bunny." Hopefully I can add a new (and permanent) story soon. I'm so tempted to start posting chapters of ARABELLE WILD and that maybe reader feedback will spark me into finishing it. But I don't want it to end up like GEORGIA SWIMMER or THE JADE BRACELET. I sometimes think about how good (even though it was really bad) I had it being unemployed for nine months after graduate school. I could write so much then. And I swear, I'm letting valuable writing team get eaten away by my disgusting TV habit. I. Love. T.V. I do miss the times when I could write all day long and really produce. Oh well, I'll have to adapt.

I just bought a new lamp. It's got two pull cords that turn on the light bulbs. It had such an old-timey feel to it, which I liked. It seemed like the perfect fit for my writing desk. Now I just need to get myself off the couch and seated at the desk. The portability of this new laptop really has it's downfalls.

Costco had this for half the price.
And to continue the randomness of this post... I just bought a really awesome cookbook called EVERYDAY FOOD: LIGHT (from Martha Stewart's kitchen, no less). I was looking something that had meals under 500 calories (I'm in a pretty good "get healthy mode" at the moment). The best thing about this cookbook, besides a lot of delicious looking recipes, is that there is a color picture on each page. I have to have pictures in my cookbook. I'm a decent cook, but I still like the visual to know how it's supposed to look (even if most of the foods are professionally photographed, fancied up, and possibly not even cooked). I'm really excited to make a few of these recipes. As a cooking side note: The Food Network magazine is pretty awesome too.

A journey toward healthiness and a journey toward publishing are kind of the same: hard, frustrating, hopeful, and tiring.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oh facebook...

So, I didn't feel like managing both a facebook profile and a facebook page for myself, so I tried to "convert" my profile page (which is supposed to upload all of your friends as people who "like" you) to a fanpage, but I think some (possibly 30 people) were cut. So, that was a dumb decision, but hopefully it'll be better in the long run. It probably would have been okay had I not created a page to start with, because I ended up with two pages, one of which I had to delete (including all of the people who "liked" that). I don't know if it all balances out, but my attempt at simplification seems to have blown up in my face. Pages are so boring... I need to spice mine up.

In other news, I think I've brainstormed a title change for SURRENDER. Because even though it will likely change later in the process (especially if an agent/publisher is interest), I can't go forward with the submission process with a title that really doesn't have a lot to do with the story anymore. Therefore, I'm leaning toward SPIRIT KEEPER or THE SPIRIT KEEPER. I can't decide how much weight "the" holds--does it change the meaning with or without it? Does it sound better with or without it? So many possibilities. At this point, I'm about 85% happy with this new idea. I do worry that the title will give away a little too much, but when I think about it I think there's enough mystery build up in the novel to keep the title from killing suspense. Titles are tricky--especially when the book won't be a stand-alone. But who says that l I have to confirm to the "Twilight," "New Moon," "Eclipse," and "Breaking Dawn" trend? Maybe my goal should be to fight it? I do wonder how often titles are changed by publishers/editors from what the author originally intended. If I cared more about the Twilight series I'd go look to see if it was Meyer's original title.

At any rate... THE SPIRIT KEEPER.

It definitely feels right. Well... better.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hostile Kisses

I will be removing HOSTILE KISSES from FictionPress sometime next Saturday, January 14. Just an FYI! :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

So much to do.....

It's official, I probably won't be doing much new writing until I feel like I've got a few things finalized with SURRENDER. I'm getting close to being done with the synopsis, I hope. They query letter is another beast that I'm slowly tackling. I'm starting to understand why it's taken me so long to actually take these steps toward getting my novels published. This is a lot of work. It's stressful, sometimes heart crushing... I don't know, the list goes on (fill it with negative words). Just when I think I'm done with something and get feedback it's like "nope, not yet." I can't even imagine what I'll feel when/if I'm successful at finding an agent who wants to represent me and they want me to make more changes. Will it ever be 100 percent? This is a very difficult process. I'm determined not to throw in the towel, although it's tempting at times.

Today I spent a little time looking at the agent list that I compiled months ago. I'm always shocked at how overwhelmed I get when I work on different elements of the submission process. First paring 510 pages down to 10 (the synopsis and I need to cut those 10 to one page). Now the big issue is finding something about my top 15 agents to personalize the query letter. Each publishing book that I read suggests that writers find a way to connect to the agent--make them feel special. I understand this completely (on agent I'm looking at says that they get 10,000+ queries a year!), but it's difficult. So far my reasons for querying are: 1) they represent diverse projects (I won't always write YA), 2) they're looking for writers who want to develop their skills and the agent-writer relationship (check, I totally want this too), and 3) I really liked one of the authors they already represent. Who knows if the last one is a valid "connection" or not.

I think when it comes down to it, I need to trust my instincts. If I feel it's as close to final as I can get it, then I just need to go with it and not try to get a second opinion. Another issue is that I want all of this to happen tomorrow... that definitely isn't realistic.

I guess I'm just having a hard day with this process. And I still don't like the title.

I'm overwhelmed for sure.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

I am determined to make great things happen this year! It's bright and sunny so that must mean that things are off to a good start. A few goals that I'd like to see happen:

1. Send off query letters and samples for SURRENDER by Feb 1.
2. Edit KILLING MEMORIES and turn it into an ebook.
3. Finish a draft of book 2 in the FALLEN GUARDIAN SERIES.
4. Finish another small project.

A lot, but I think I can do it. I'll probably add more to the list as the year goes on, but it's good to set a few goals to start with.

Happy New year everyone!