Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cover Art III

I think this might be it, shy of a few corrections. Can't make up my mind if I should send it off to a pro or not. Would be nice to save the money, but only if this cover is good enough.

Here it is:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Book Cover Art II

So there's no way I'm getting permission for the first image, which I will probably take down after a while, so I've been busy creating this second one. The critics in the family like it, so that's good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Cover Art

It's a bit tricky, figuring all this publishing stuff out, but this is a cover I did myself, using a photo editing thing I got off the internet for free. It's really hard for me to figure out, but fortunately, I have teenagers! Woot!  They can figure these programs out easy peasy. So, I hope the folks I direct to the page will help me make it better! Here goes nothing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Decisions, options and choices

I've been reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the Business Rusch Publishing Series about the state of publishing right now and I'm reading a lot of other things that indicate a vast game change in other blogs and forums. Here's the link and I recommend everyone who has anything to do with publishing or agenting or writing should read this series.

One thing I've noticed on the writing forums I frequent - people get upset about this topic - Independent Publishing, we're going to call it, since self-publishing is apparently to degrading a term. They get downright mad about it. There's a tremendous amount of back and forth over claims that your way will ruin your writing career and my way is the traditional way. Gotta love Tevya but...

Tradition ain't all it's cracked up to be.

To the folks who fear this brave new world I say - don't do it then. Your choice, but please stop bashing the people who read about Amanda Hocking and think well why the heck not?

She's not the only one either. The success stories are starting to pile up - particularly with midlist writers who already have a following. The sales are real.

I wouldn't believe a lot of this stuff about agents diving into publishing their clients if I hadn't seen it myself, and from huge agencies. How they can't see it as a conflict of interest is beyond me, but it surely is. An agent with a publishing business isn't an agent anymore seeking to further the careers of her client list. She's not trying to make the best deal for the author when it's possible for her to make more off the author for herself than submit the author's work to publishers. This is crazy stuff, people.

I'm not 100% certain I'm going to take the plunge myself, especially since I don't have a built in following as a new author. It'll take a massive amount of work and probably more money than I have to publish and then deal with marketing myself. But I'm certainly willing to look into the possibility that doing the on my own, my way, and maintain control over my work just might be the best thing that ever happened.

The industry is changing and writers now have more choices on how they wish to have their work put before the reading public. It's a crazy new world. Take the bull by the horn, or get off on a side street to a safer spot.

Not everyone is going to make it. You surely won't if you don't even try.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


An interesting word that - submission - it means to hand over your work to a complete stranger and see if they like it, and it means something else entirely. I've never been known to submit to anyone and yet here I am, submitting away - to agents at least.

The query letter is as good as I can make it and I'm sending it out via email to a list of agents I've put together who I think want to see this kind of writing. Figuring out that list is a fairly large undertaking, but if you get one or two wrong all they'll do is say no. That's my philosophy now – they can only say no, and maybe just one of them will say yes.

And now the waiting begins. Dealing with the inevitable rejections will be next. If talent and luck come together and persistence really does pay off – by the end of this journey I’ll have an agent and then I’ll have a publisher. The goals are set. Off we go.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Life, editing, and the dreaded Query Letter

I've been remiss in keeping up with this blog writing thing, not that I was managing it all that often to begin with. At best I managed a post a month. I've no idea how people do this on a daily basis and still have a life. More than once a day and they are just blogging fools. Unless of course it's what you do for a living and you somehow make money off of it, or just love it that much, then more power to ya.

I lost my job and you'd think with all that extra time on my hands, I'd have been able to update. But no. Stress has a funny way of killing creativity. There's still stress. I'm still unemployed. Maybe I'm used to the extreme level of it now. I just keep on keeping on, somehow, managing my way down the highway, one foot in front of the other. I remain undefeated. Broke, but hey, the power is still on. So here I am, blabbing away, and I'm blabbing about something I can't do without - and that is writing.

The book is finished. I've edited and tightened as much as I think I can based on beta reader input. It is polished. It is done. Been in the oven and came out smelling like egg, cheese and sausage casserole. Now, it's time to send it out the door. Feed the masses if you will.

There is a fair amount of fear in this process of letting go and moving on to a different project. The grip I've had on this baby has been iron hard, forged of steel, unrelenting. Having someone else read it and like it, even while suggesting improvements broke the grip a little, eased the hard edges. Now after a couple beta readers, some needed confidence in my ability to tell a story, I'm okay with some people not liking it and happy when others do.

That's a milestone actually in the life of a writer - recognizing the strength of your own words. No one else can write like you, in your voice, with your style and cadence. There is a danger of listening to too many outside voices and changing words to suite what they think over what you think. It's one thing if you've got several different people saying this one element does not work. It's another if it's one out of five. The uncertain writer will alter, edit and refit a story based on those multiple suggestions and after all that work wonder why it isn't any better.

In the editing process it's important to keep in mind your own goals. You can't change every other word because someone is skimming. If they don't understand what you are saying, take a look at the work, but if the writing is clear, well then, they just don't understand. And that is okay. Someone else will.

So the editing is done. Any writer might want to hang onto that last step since what's next is so way worse than writing a whole book.

The query letter.

A query letter is the sales pitch to the agent, the new first readers of the industry, meant to get them to read your manuscript over the hundreds of other manuscripts out there. This dastardly letter has to work or you end up in the reject pile.

Some say the query letter is the hardest, most exacting and demanding process in this long road to being published. Pretty accurate. Just when I think I have it, someone comes along and says, well no you don't, there's no voice here, I don't give a crap about your character because this query is only a list of things that happen that tell me nothing about him. What does he do? What does he care about? Ugh!

It's a real pain distilling 83,000 words down to 250. And because the writer is far too close to the work, it's especially difficult to tell if those 250 words tell what needs to be told. The writer knows the story backward and forward. There's a lot going on from Chapter 1 to Chapter 27. Instilling character and detail and a two sentence summary in only 250 words is like trying to sift a single nugget of gold out of a mile-wide riverbed.

The best advice I've gotten so far, the key to writing a good query is to be in the head of your main character with every word. Would he say that? Would the character describe the story that way? Of course, this is easier said than done, but it's good advice. I've gotten a couple good sentences out of that advice so I'm taking it. It cleared up for me where other advice didn't what 'voice' means. Another good bit to think about as you write the next best seller, is writing that query letter. Take notes. Jot down ideas along the way as your craft the story. It might not be a bad idea to write a query letter at the very beginning and go back to it to make sure you're staying on track.

The other best piece of advice I got is to be careful of taking every piece of advice. There's lots of it out there. I don't have a perfectly written query, not by a long shot, but I've seen very good ones completely torn apart by nitpicking. The goal is to get the agent interested enough to read the pages you've sent along. Have faith in your ability to tell your story. Take the advice you can work with. Leave the rest. Query on!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Being read

So I've got a beta reader reading my story - a first for me. I've been looking for readers to give me feedback. I'm too close to the story, to the mechanics of it, to each word on the page to see where it doesn't flow well, or if I've used a particular word too often or if it doesn't make any sense! So many people are afraid to give constructive feedback, but writers need to know that the story is readable. If its interesting to someone else, well that's great. If it's good, if it's enthralling to them - icing on the cake. No, it's an amazing, wonderful, darn right cool experience to have someone read your work and they like it enough to keep going. She likes the characters. She gets them the way I intended for them to be understood. What a relief that is! She doesn't hate my style of description. Awesome.

It's a learning process too - damn, that learning thing keeps happening no matter how much I think I already know. No matter how carefully I think I've read the book for grammatical errors, my beta reader is finding more of them. Not a lot, thank goodness. I learned I'm using the word 'because' too often. I already knew I used 'that' too much and incorrectly, but she's finding them too. I love that she is finding mistakes. Sounds weird but it's what I need - really good mistake finders who aren't afraid to say this is no good here! You didn't put a comma there. This name has been used before somewhere so you need to change it.

Speaking of being read, my son's language arts teacher is allowing him to bring the kindle to school so he can read one of the books that's on it. One day, I hope all the books ever written will be available in electronic form, including the 20 pounds of text books my kids have to lug around. I know there's still the controversy and some writers just won't let it happen, but you know, save the trees people.

I'm re-reading, or trying to re-read one of my favorite books, The Sword of the Lamb, by M.K. Wren, book one of the Phoenix Legacy. Been trying to get my daughter to read it but she's got so much reading to do for school, she can't read for fun. She's writing her own book, or actually has written her own book, finished it and is editing it while she's getting started on the second. Not bad for a 17-year-old. Maybe once she's graduated it'll be easier to find time for reading. Maybe not. I'm not finding much time for it either.

Speaking of time...chores are calling.