Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting Ready to Publish!

It’s very surreal talking about publishing my book this weekend. I checked and I finished the very first draft way back on December 4, 2008. That’s two years people! Madness. I remember when I was first writing this book and starting to pay serious attention to the business of writing novels and rewriting and found out that the average writer took 1-3 years to finish a book. When I first heard that I thought that was ridiculous. Just not possible. But now here I am 2 years later and finally ready to publish.

The book has gone through 5 rounds of rewriting and now the final draft is so much different from that first draft I was so proud of. It’s so much stronger and it makes so much more sense. It’s not an easy thing to separate yourself from your work and look at it objectively. It took me getting through the first drafts of book 2 and 3 and 3/4ths through book 4 before I could come back to book 1 and rip it to shreds and paste it back together again, all the stronger for the scar tissue.

The book will be up on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and Smashwords by Sunday night and I've already started a Facebook Fan page, which was a little weird.

Here's hoping!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Know Why Wednesday

“You know what? I can get a couple of my brother’s loser ass friends to go over to Mason’s apartment, knock on the door and when he opens it wham! They’ll junk-punch him all up in his man business and he’ll fall to the floor whaling and crying ‘Why?’ and then we’ll say ‘You know why!’”

I had a girls day last Friday, where I met a few friends and we had lunch and then went to the spa to get ridiculously overpriced pedicures (not something we do often, actually probably only once a year, wait, why am I explaining myself to you?). And over lunch my friend, Heather, told me about a blog her friend writes that she follows occasionally and every so often she has “Throat Punch Thursdays” where she publicly flogs people who deserve to be punched in the throat. After I mopped up the soda I spewed all over the table laughing I said “That is brilliant! I want to do something like that!” So I present to you: “You Know Why Wednesdays” where we will lament about people who deserve to be junk-punched, as inspired by the above quote from “What Happens in Vegas.”

The first person that deserves a junk-punch is the guy who holds their wives/girlfriends/girl they hope to sleep with’s purse. Yes, occasionally I’ll ask my husband to hold my purse while I put on my coat. Or maybe I’m trying on something that I don’t need to go into the dressing room and I ask him to hold my purse for those 30 seconds. I’m talking about the poor va-jay-jay-whipped man who agrees to take said purse for an undetermined amount of time and eventually slips the straps onto his shoulder. No. No no no. It is so emasculating and you look like an idiot with that leopard print slouch bad slung on your manly shoulder. Look ladies I get it, our purses get heavy, but that’s our own damn fault. Do you really need lotion, perfume, hair product, a novel and an extra pair of shoes in that thing? No, damnit. You don’t. If I’m going to a concert with my husband my husband becomes my purse, I strategically hide my makeup, ID, cellphone and keys amongst his many pockets that my cute outfit lacks. This is the solution. He doesn’t want to hold your purse but you fight dirtier and longer than he does so he won’t argue with you. But damnit men, you should fight back about this one! If you don’t you deserve to get junk-punched! And you know why!

The next person who deserves a junk-punch is the person who insists on their significant other sitting next to them in a booth when no one else will be joining them. This shit pisses me off. No one at the restaurant wants to see you canoodling, nuzzling, feeding each other and eventually making out. We're here to eat assholes! Sit across from each other like normal people damnit! And for the love of God if you're over the age of 16 and doing this you deserve two junk-punches for that bullshit.

And our final victim must be the person who says, "Eh, I dont need a shower, half a bottle of cologne/perfume will do just fine!" Fuck you asshole. Thanks to you I can no longer breathe and now that I walked through your cloud of stink I will smell like your nasty ass for the next four hours. And for fucksake do not do this and go to a restaurant! Because of your deluge of CK1 or Patchouli Oil I cannot enjoy my food because you reek so bad all I can taste is you! If you notice people leaving an area you just walked into covering their mouths and noses, stop looking around for the cause, it's you asshole!

Thank you for joining me on this first installment of "You Know Why Wednesday!" Go junk-punch someone, they probably deserve it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Importance of a Good Crit Partner

So of course you have plenty of friends and family all clamoring to read your masterpiece. And you tell them, "Please, tell me if you see anything wrong." Or "Please, tell me what you really think of it. No, really, I want an honest opinion." And you really mean it. But what do they tell you when they finally read it? It's amazing! It's so good! I really liked it!

Ok. Great.

What did you like? You ask, and they stare at you blank faced and blinking.

It's awesome to get support and the occasional ego boost from friends and family but that’s about as helpful as them telling you what you should be writing about instead. It's not helpful. Not at all. Obviously they don’t want to hurt your feelings and we all get that, sure. But what they don’t get is that by not telling you what they thought was wrong with your book - where in your book, about day walking vampires, you suddenly started talking about the awesome four foot tall rabbit passing out coupons in front of the grocery store didn’t seem to have anything to do with the actual plot about day walking vampires - they are in fact hurting you.

I have had about four people read my first manuscript. Two were friends and two were family members. Two of them pointed out typos for me. The other two just told me how awesome it was. They were wrong. Now, some two years later, I know just how much that first/second/third draft sucked. And it sucked hard. Like rotten green eggs you left in the fridge for six months sucked. And that's okay. It’s my first completed book. Of course it sucked. But no one would tell me it sucked. No one would point out the inconsistencies in the story. No one would tell me about the holes in my plot I forgot to plug. No one would tell me where my main character came off like a righteous bitch they wouldn’t spit on if she were on fire. All of those, while tough to hear, would've been helpful.

Now, randomly, I met this awesome chick, Cassie. Cassie seemed like a nice, quiet chick when I met her - at a friend's bachelorette party I was throwing - but I didn’t know much about her aside from our matching hair color. But that alone should've told me how awesome Cassie is. Then I found out that she had a Master of Letters in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature. Dude. Hold the phone. Now personally I only have a BA in Creative writing. And yeah, Shakespeare and Ren Lit have nothing to do with current day magic and witches, which my books are about, but she managed to get a masters in some of the most daunting genres of literature. GOLDMINE!

So of course as soon as I found this out I emailed her, begging her to read my book, and if she enjoyed it, to read the next three in the series. She too is working on a crafty project with Shakespeare so I offered a crit trade with her. I asked her to give me my honest opinion and not care that I have feelings and just be brutal. I asked her to look out for typos and grammar mistakes and the annoying dyslexic mistake for me.

And she did. She found so many structural, grammatical and dyslexic mistakes I lost count. And she was reading the 4th draft! We can’t do everything on our own people!

Cassie also gave me her real opinion. Occasionally I'd get the comment [Love this description!] or [HAHAHAHA!] where I'd hoped people would laugh. And trust me; I clung to those little bits of praise like a coke junkie licking a mirror. But these bits meant so much more to me than "I really liked it!" because Cassie actually told me where the book sucked. Now of course she was overly nice about it, "Now I mean this in the nicest way possible but..." and I'd tell her not to justify a criticism, just lash out and hurt me! Never mind my huddled mass in the corner, crying and cutting myself. I’d get over it eventually. And she eventually got the hang of it. Furthermore, and probably most importantly, she helped me fix a red herring problem in the plot.

Now, just a month after I emailed her the MS with high hopes, I actually like my book. I don’t know how many times I told my husband that I was sorry for wasting time and money on prepping this for e-self-publishing but now I'm not sorry. All because I found a real crit partner. Seriously people, go find one, or two or five. You need them, we all do. They are invaluable.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Cocktail

Today the awesome Chuck Wendig proposed a 500 word challege to tell a story inspired by a cocktail. This is what I came up with:

Irish Gold

The elevator doors binged open. I stepped on to the black and white marble floor, heels clicking, nearly sparking in the reflection. The slot machines whirled, fake money clinked into the metal receptacles, yet only spitting out vouchers. He’d said to meet him at the bar, but there were five bars here. I flicked my bangs out of my eyes, pushing on sides of my too short skirt. It had seemed like a good idea when I was standing in front of the mirror.

I closed my eyes for a moment and tuned out the gamblers and smokers. I turned my head to the side, focusing on the men in the nearby bar. Seeking through the mélange of leaches and lushes I finally heard the unmistakable whine of Jimmy.

Making my way through the maze of blackjack tables until I finally came up behind him. He was ogling the waitress, a hand slipping out to graze her thigh as she reached across the bar. I hit him over the head with my clutch before she had a chance to.

“Thanks there doll,” she winked at me before spinning away.

“Pig of a human,” I sneered at Jimmy, sliding onto the barstool, careful to keep my knees together.

“Being human doesn’t make me a pig,” he whined. I spun in my seat, kicking him in the shin. “Damnit!” he swore, rubbing his leg. “Besides, I’m only half human.”

“Do you have it or not?”

“I said I have it, didn’t I?”

“That doesn’t mean anything.”

“Well, I do.”

“Then hand it over.”

“Not until I get what’s coming to me.” He crossed his arms over his chest, bunching up the cheap suit jacket.

“Fine, what’s your price?”

“I want to be rich,” he lifted his hands in front of him, “So rich women will throw themselves at me.”

“Original,” I closed my eyes, taking a moment to saddle my temper. “Stop drooling.” I pulled out a black and white casino chip worth one hundred dollars, handing it to him.

“Is this a joke?” he demanded.

“Go over to the roulette table, place it on seven, let it ride twice, then zero, then seven again. That should get you plenty of money.” As I spoke Jimmy hastily wrote down my instructions on a cocktail napkin.

“That’s it?” he asked, cheeks flushed, eyes glassy.

“Well there is the small matter of the…” I held out my hand.

“Right, here!” Jimmy handed me the four leaf clover. If he hadn’t been half troll he would never have found it. I opened the locket on my chain and set it inside, breathing easier. It was pretty embarrassing being the first fairy caught by a troll.

I watched Jimmy scramble to the roulette table, placing the bets as I instructed. Before the dealer could give him his winnings for the last bet security swarmed over him, confiscating the black and white chip, slipping open the back, revealing the computer components inside.

“Got what’s coming to you.”

Cocktail Recipe
Irish Gold
•2 parts Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
•2 parts ginger ale
•1/2 part peach schnapps
•splash of orange juice
•lime for garnish
1. Build the whiskey, schnapps and juice in a Collins glass filled with ice.
2. Top with ginger ale.
3. Garnish with a lime.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I hate to write

Washing the dishes is more fun than writing. Sweeping is more fun that writing. Straightening the house, putting away the piles of paper that somehow accumulated over the week, tossing shoes back into the appropriate closets are all more fun than writing. Cutting the first blooms of spring and arranging them in just the right vase is more fun that writing. Walking the dog and cleaning up after him is more fun than writing. Anything is better than writing.

That’s the big dark secret; writers hate to write. Today I have done everything I just listed in an effort to avoid sitting here and getting to work on the edits my awesome new friend, Cassie, has given me. They were simple yet insightful and I am trying my damnedest not to get to them. Even writing the blog entry is an effort to avoid it. I know it has to be done, but I’m still waiting for her line edits so I know, even when I get the major plot edits taken care of there is still more to come.

Now I’ve made a major life decision about the future of my books. I’ve decided to self-publish through e-books. Thanks to the e-reader boom the stigma of self-publishing is slowly dying. I have tried for over a year now to get published through the traditional route. Now I didn’t take that as the cosmos telling me that my books are shite. Unfortunately my story is a paranormal young adult story and that’s a huge business right now. It’s unfortunate because there are literally thousands of other writers all submitting in that same genre, so my query is getting lost among the slush. I know that’s not special, but I really really really want to be published. I really really really want people to read my books.

I have always dreamt of walking into my local book store and seeing my book on the shelf. I’ve always dreamt of my first book signing, even if only a handful of people showed up, I would love those few people for the rest of my life. By self-publishing I’m probably giving up on those dreams. And that’s okay. It’s a means to my first dream; people reading my books and enjoying them. I think my stories are unique and fun and I want to give other people the same escape some of my favorite authors have given me.

But I’m terrified. That’s why my house looks awesome right now and I wouldn’t be embarrassed for any of my neighbors to drop by unexpectedly. If I go through with this and it bombs I’ll have to give up on this precious baby of mine and start a new project and be back at square one. Now my lovely new friend, Cassie, tells me she would definitely be interested in reading book 2 to see where the story goes and see if she likes it more than book 1. She liked book 1, maybe not loved, but she liked it. And since Cassie isn’t my mom, my husband or a close friend, she’s not lying to me. I’ll take like. Like is good. Like will get you to read book 2 and possibly book 3 and god-willing, book 4 and 5. But like I said, I’m terrified.

Everyone was talking, blogging and tweeting about the self-published writer who went ballistic over her neutral review last week. Sadly, I read the review and it was honest and good. The dude told his readers that her story was good and you would keep turning the pages, the only thing wrong was the fact that she clearly hadn’t proofed her own work or had a 2nd part proof it for her. The main glaring problem was typos and awkward phrasing. Seriously? And she freaked out over that? That’s on her, totally. Which is clearly why she lost it. The defense mechanism kicked in and the off switch was clearly broken. I am my fourth draft of book 1 and I still find typos, you better believe I search for them and ask all my beta readers to look for them too. But if that’s the worst a blogger can say about your book, be grateful. I pray I get such a nice review for my first book because that’s how I’m going to have to get my book out there, with bloggers. And I’ll send them all flowers and chocolate if they like my book as much.

Anyway, this is 750 words long, that’s enough procrastinating on my part. I have to get back to this wretched book and finish it. Damnit.