Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blog Roundup: July 25 - 31, 2011

From Sirra's blog this week, there was a third installment of her #writetip tweets. (You can find the first and second installments here and here, respectively.) They're all very good tips, but I like the personal touches she adds with the #stabby and #StrokeJob hashtags.

Heather Adkins posted this week at her blog about formatting your ebook for Smashwords. It's in five parts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) but seems to be well worth it. At the very least, it's one more resource at your disposal.

Chuck Wendig posted on writers and rock stars. It, like pretty much everything else the man seems to have ever written, is NSFW, and, of course, worth it. Just don't drink anything while you read his blog. I mean it. You should also probably read the most recent installment of his "25 Things" series.

Imran Siddiq posted Twitter tips! They're pretty good tips. The "tweet regularly" and "interact" tips apply to any social networking, I think. I also think there's some merit in his "follow selectively" tip. I do follow what, for me, is a really high number of people. And I will continue to follow more, I'm sure, when I find people who interest me or who offer something I find useful. Twitter is a great place to get information and meet fellow indie authors.

Victoria Schwab is so adorable that sometimes it hurts. Her first book comes out in a couple of weeks, and she's doing a giveaway on her blog to celebrate. I love her enthusiasm. It's hard not to be completely thrilled for her (and to really want her book!) when I read one of her posts or tweets.

I slacked on my reading this week since I've been spending so much time editing the stories for Cass. When I wasn't editing, I was working on drafting blog posts. Excuses, excuses. Still, the above posts are the ones that stuck out for me.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

SitRep Saturday: Cass Gets Her Kicks & My Website

This week, I finalized the drafts for the first two stories for Cass Gets Her Kicks, "Galena, KS" and "Vega, TX." The first story is already with the beta readers--one beta has even sent it back--and the second will go out tonight. I also started work editing "Santa Rosa, NM," which is the third of four stories in the anthology.

Right now, I'm hoping to have it finished and up for sale at Smashwords and Amazon by August 15. I'm not holding my breath, but it's a goal.

I made some changes to the website: new header image, change of color scheme, edited biography, links to my Facebook fan page and my Twitter profile, and a "coming soon" page for Cass Gets Her Kicks featuring the cover art and the "back cover" synopsis.

It has been a productive week!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Writing: Common Homophones

A homophone is a word that sounds the same as another word, but does not mean the same. The English language is just full of these. They're dangerous. They're sneaky. They can make even the smartest person look like a boob.

I'm positive that we've all been there. I know I have: I'm tired or not paying attention, and I use your instead of you're. Then, when I go back to read what I've written, I want to die of shame. (Maybe that's extreme. But I'm sure you get what I mean.) Spell check isn't going to catch this, but your readers certainly will. What I do, as described in tip number four of this post, is run a search for the words I tend to abuse when I'm done with what I'm writing. This may not always be practical, but it certainly cuts down on my mistakes. 

We probably all know the most common ones. Facebook is full of your friends, family, coworkers, and classmates who misuse them all the time. 


Affect can be a verb that means "to have an impact on something" or a noun that means "influencing behavior or action." Effect is a verb that means "to cause change" or a noun that means "the consequence" or "the state of becoming operative." When you affect something, there are effects. 


Its is possessive. It's is a contraction of "it is." It's its own worst enemy.


Peace means "tranquility or quiet" while piece means "part of a whole." You won't have peace of mind until you give her a piece of your mind.


Than is for comparison, while then is for order of events. Then she smiled brighter than the sun.


Their is possessive. There is a place indicator. They're is a contraction of "they are." They're going to be there for their party.


To indicates direction or intention. Too means "also." I want to go too!


Your is possessive. You're is a contraction of "you are." You're going to get your comeuppance. 


Whose is possessive. Who's is a contraction of "who is." Who's going to know whose it is?

The definitions provided are simplified; the links should take you to more explicit and in-depth definitions. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Miscellany

There is a blog post on homophones in the works. It might be too big for one post (I have kind of a short attention span) so it might end up as two, but it is in the works. It should be up tomorrow or Wednesday... I hope.

I am almost done editing the third of five pages of "Galena." It. Is. Taking. Forever. I'm the sort of writer who hates sending anything to a beta unless I feel like it's ready to be public. While this particular neurosis has served me very well in the past by making the work of my beta readers and editors relatively easy, the actual work that goes into it can get pretty stressful and intense. I know it will all be worth it.

Quick blogroll: Sirra the Editor posted Fundamental Advice For Every Writer and it should probably be required reading for anyone who hopes to make a living with their words; she also has this post about How Not To React To Negative Reviews and while I can't be certain that she was referring to the incident at BigAl's Books and Pals blog when he reviewed Jacqueline Howett's The Greek Seaman, it does exemplify her point; Stella Deleuze has this post on dialogue and this post on her policy of giving reviews, the first of which is very useful advice (especially if you're like me and hate dialogue) and the second of which is thought-provoking; and, finally, Chuck Wendig (who you may or may not realize I kind of have a writer's crush on) posted a new Search Term Bingo entry, and it's funny enough to make you shoot your drink out of your nose, so I suggest not drinking anything that might hurt.

While researching the romance and erotica market, I came across this site which has a ton of information on publishers, the market in general, and sales. I also came across this site, which hurts my eyes to read and has some posts I didn't really "get" but seemed kind of useful nonetheless. If you're looking for romance/erotica-specific stock photography, Razzle Dazzle Stock has a pretty decent collection and reasonable prices. They even have premade covers!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

SitRep Saturday: Cass Gets Her Kicks

I spent most of the week working on Cass Gets Her Kicks. All four stories are drafted, I am pretty sure I have a book cover, and I've written up the summary and the acknowledgments.

Here's the book cover I think I'm going with:

And here's the "back cover" summary I worked up:
"Cass Reed had always dreamed of crossing America on Historic Route 66. Recently divorced and determined to make a new life for herself far away from her ex-husband and his pregnant mistress, she set out for Los Angeles in a lovingly-restored vintage car.
After a long, boring drive from Chicago, she stops in Galena, Kansas at a roadside motel and promptly finds the nearest bar. There Cass meets the young mechanic, Gavin, who shows her that some men are very good at following orders and that the Magic Fingers still have their uses.
Still relishing the memory of Gavin, Cass stops next in Vega, Texas. She visits another local bar on impulse, where she meets cowboys Joe and Miguel who are only too happy to give Cass a night to remember.
The drive out of Vega does little to arouse her interests, so Cass makes a stop in Santa Rosa, New Mexico to do laundry and break up the monotony. In a laundromat, she meets Felicia, who invites her out to her grandfather's ranch for a swim in a private lake and an afternoon that expands her horizons.
Finally, in Flagstaff, Arizona, Cass stops early. After a full afternoon at the local spa, she books a room at a famous motel and heads to the cocktail lounge for drinks. There she meets Angela and her husband Kevin who invite Cass to celebrate Kevin's birthday with them. In a red room on the third floor, she learns that exhibitionism and teamwork are keys to a happy birthday.
Each erotic short was written to be read and fully enjoyed in half an hour or less. The stories contained in this short anthology are sexually explicit and intended only for mature audiences."
I'm sure it'll undergo a couple of edits before I settle on the final wording, but I still feel pretty accomplished.

Today, I hope to have the first revision of "Galena" done and sent off to a beta reader.

I also worked a little bit on Strawberry Moon this week. I've settled on a POV and a more specific genre for the novel. As soon as I'm done with Cass Gets Her Kicks, I'll be going back to Strawberry Moon to start hacking it apart and sewing it back together.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Funny Friday:

This comic makes me laugh. If you haven't seen it yet, spend a few hours looking through the old panels. It'll be worth it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Writing: Use Your Words

Words are the tools of (what I want to be) my trade. Sometimes, tools get a little rusty, though. The edges dull, the handles break, the dog buries them in the yard. When this happens, I like to refer back to some simple tips on word usage. I'm going to share my favorites with you. 

1. Use the right word.

There are two excellent quotes from Mark Twain to the effect of this tip. The first comes from "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses" and states: "Use the right word, not its second cousin." The second is more illustrative. "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Don't use a word that you don't mean, and only use a word if you do mean it.

2. Look it up.

Even those of us with decent vocabularies can benefit from the use of a dictionary. Make sure the word you're using means what you think it means, and make sure that it makes sense in context. If you don't know how to use a word correctly, don't use it at all. (Unless it's the right word. Then you need to learn it.)

3. Keep it simple.

Clear and concise writing is the goal. You want to communicate your ideas effectively, "effectively" meaning "so the reader understands what I'm getting at." They won't understand if you don't use clear language. Don't overdo it. The reader won't think less of you for using language they understand.

4. Check yourself.

There are so many commonly misused and misspelled words in the English language that it's a wonder any of us manage to communicate with each other at all. I like to keep a list of those words at hand, and when I'm done with whatever I've written, I do a search for each of those words to be sure I've used the word I was supposed to use. I make mistakes. We all do. That's why beta readers and editors are writers' BFFs. But developing your own checks and balances makes their jobs easier.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Rec: The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

When I was a teenager, I was into the whole vampires/werewolves thing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was one of my favorite shows. I never really grew out of this phase. This is why I decided to download The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto. I did it partly for research and partly because it was described in several places as "like" Buffy, and the author is pretty fun on Twitter. Plus, it was only $0.99, so it seemed like I couldn't lose.

What I liked about The Book of Lost Souls:

  • The characters. Ivy is immensely likable, as are her best friends, Raven and Shayde. Don't let the names put you off, this is not some Mary-Sue filled author wankfest. Ivy's and Shayde's names are plot points, and really good ones at that. (No, I'm not going to spoil it.) The supporting characters are great, too. Raven's brother, Gareth, and Shayde's brother, Bane; Gareth's pet, Spike; the demon, Nick; and Ivy's pet Beezlepup, Devlin. 
  • Vlad the Impaler and Bloody Elizabeth. If you heard a fangirl squeal, that was me. I will confess to always wondering what would happen if the two of them got together, and they really didn't disappoint. 
  • Treating magic and monsters like they were special, but not unusual. Does that make sense? A lot of times, an author makes too big a deal out of magic and magical abilities when it wouldn't make any sense for the characters to make a big deal about it because it's just normal to them. Ivy and her friends all have specific talents, but if those magical talents were removed and replaced with more mundane skills, the story would have worked just as well. I really like that. The characters felt real and relatable to me. 
  • The story. It was a really good balance of self-absorbed adolescent concerns and more selfless adult concerns. Ivy is worried about boys, but she's worried about her mother, the Regulars (people in town without magical abilities), and her friends. It progressed well, there were plenty of twists (more than once I kept reading when I shouldn't have, just because I wanted to know what happened next), and the ending was satisfying. Everything made sense and there weren't any holes that I noticed.
  • The relationships. Ivy's relationship with each of her friends, her relationship with her mother, and the relationships between the other characters felt real and believable. I really liked that. I also liked that not everything was Ivy-centric. My favorite relationship revelation came near the end. I won't spoil it, but I had been rooting for it and suspecting it all along, and when it was revealed, I couldn't stop grinning.  
  • The tone. This might be the best part. The author at no point talks down to her reader. It's a young adult novel featuring sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds, which means a younger audience is going to read it, and at no point did it seem like the author was trying to talk down to her readers. It also wasn't too old, either. It was very age appropriate. That brings me to the one thing I dislike. 
What I disliked:
  • As far as I can tell, it isn't available in paperback. This bums me out because I've already started my daughter's book collection, and this is a book I really want for her. Ivy is an excellent role model.
I definitely recommend this book. It would be a perfect beach or poolside read. It would also be a perfect cemetery-in-October read. 

It's also available on Nook if you have one of those instead of a Kindle. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Miscellany

Expect to see a couple of posts about word use in the near future. I'm working on them now, though they're currently in one massive post, so I'll be splitting it up. It might even get split into three posts, I'm not sure yet. Anyway, I went to review some word use rules, and I thought, "If I could use the refresher, chances are, so could other people." I even learned a few new things!

I am finally making some real progress on "Invitation to Eden" and I am so happy. Here's the unedited beginning of the story:
"The heat of the Louisiana summer pressed down on Celeste as she lay in bed. She stared up at the ceiling, where the ugly words her mother had spoken seemed to float like angry ghosts. They haunted her. Angeline's voice played over and over, confirming what Celeste had always suspected. She counted the days until her eighteenth birthday, when the law would free her parents of the burden of her, and she found the time between the present and that far-off day to be unbearable. There had to be another way to escape."
The story still needs a lot of work, but that opening paragraph is a hell of a lot better than it was just yesterday.

Did you see this? Justin Timberlake is going to the Marine Corps Ball with a Marine who asked him out via YouTube. That is so cool.

As soon as I finish The Book of Lost Souls (which I'm hoping is soon, because things have just gotten seriously interesting), I plan to post a review. Even before I do that, you should all buy it and read it, though. Seriously. It's so much fun. It really does have a Buffy the Vampire Slayer feel to it. I loved Buffy. Anyway, I was reading a little but this morning, and I kept thinking that I can't wait for my daughter to be old enough to enjoy it.

If you're looking for royalty-free stock photography, you should check out Dreamstime. I've found a ton of great free images there, and the prices for the paid photos are very reasonable.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Least Favorite Part of Writing

Eight years ago, give or take, I wrote a short story called "Invitation to Eden" and I posted it on under what I thought was going to be my penname. I received several constructively critical reviews, and I saved them. I even had it beta-read once. I like the story. Well, I like the premise and some of the imagery and I like the ending and I like the idea of the characters. The story itself needs work.

I want to put some shorts up on the website to offer a sample of my writing for potential readers. So I thought, hey, why not this story? It's a fairly decent example of my fantasy writing. So I pulled it up and started working on it.

Last night, I ended up scrapping over half of the story, changing the backstory, action-drafting the parts I scrapped, and changing the dialogue considerably. I got so frustrated with it.

This is my least favorite part of writing. It's the part where I look at whatever I've written and I hate it with every fiber of my being. I want to destroy it, bury it, and deny all knowledge of the fact that it ever existed.

It isn't just "Invitation to Eden," either. I went through this with Strawberry Moon for a while. I've gone through this with every piece I've ever written. At one point, it's always not good enough, doesn't make sense, is awkward, is uncomfortable, is boring, is stupid. I know that I'm not alone in this. Every writer I've ever talked to for any length of time has expressed feeling like this. It's nice to know I'm not alone, and it's nice to know that once I'm over it and the story is finished that it will--most likely--be well-received (most of my work has been in the past), but that doesn't change how awful it feels when I'm here. This really is my least favorite part of the writing process.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

SitRep Saturday: Strawberry Moon, Cass Gets Her Kicks, and Invitation to Eden

My dad is working on a cover for Strawberry Moon and I haven't done much to the manuscript. I know, I know, bad Ellie. I've been focusing on other projects.

For instance, I completed the action drafts of the last couple of stories in Cass Gets Her Kicks: "Santa Rosa" and "Flagstaff." I also started drafting the second story, "Vega." (The first story has already been drafted and is waiting for revisions and edits.)

I also have most of the rewriting done for a short called "Invitation to Eden" that I intend to put up on the website. I printed it out this afternoon to start the revising and editing process. I also have the theme worked out and have a clear idea of the message of the story, which always makes writing easier for me. I started looking at stock photos to use for story art.

There's even a blog post in the works about words and word choice. It won't be a long one, but it will be a post!

Even though I didn't make any progress on the novel this week, I am making progress with my writing. I just have to keep plugging along.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On Writing: My Favorite Tips

For many years, I wrote slash fanfiction. I even won a couple of “steamiest writer” awards for my work. In college, I had professors in three different disciplines suggest that I give up my archaeology studies, switch my major to English, and devote myself full time to becoming a novelist. I'm not sure they'll ever know just how much those votes of confidence meant to me. I'm not perfect, and I'm not professionally field tested, but I like to think that I'm a reasonably decent writer.

I search writing tips online about once a month, just to see if there's something new I can use, or something old that is suddenly relevant. Following is a list of the tips I keep in mind every time I write.

1. Write what you like.

This isn't a tip as much as it is my number one rule. First and foremost, I write what I like. I operate under the assumption that if I don't like it, no one else will. This is partly because I don't believe that my tastes are unique and partly because I believe that if I'm not passionate about my work, there's no reason for anyone else to even be interested. I tend not to worry about "readability" until I get to the final revision, and even then, I've been known to say, "Meh, if they don't like it, they don't have to read it." Don't get me wrong, I do think about my audience. But I don't think about my audience first. I write for myself before I write for anyone else. It's a selfish way of doing things, but in my experience, it's the most effective.

2. You're not totally sane and that's okay.

The latest--and longest-lasting--incarnation of my muse is named Tim. He smokes, he drinks, he really likes sex, and he can be kind of an asshole sometimes. Tim and I have had explosive arguments and not spoken to each other for days. I've written pages and pages that will never see the light of day just so Tim and I could do things like haul zombies around in a cattle truck, discuss why kissing is intimate, and fight over the fact that I can sometimes be a coward when it comes to my writing. Two different health care professionals have also officially described me as "sane" and "remarkably well-adjusted." All of the writers I know have muses, and all of the writers I know have gotten into it with their muses. It's okay. It's like having an imaginary friend, and your ability to use your imagination to create an inspiring friend is what's going to help you create a world and characters people want to read about.

3. If it's not working, try something else.

When I write, I'm a plotter. I've read this way of writing described as “boring,” and I'll agree, sometimes it can be. But I benefit immensely from having a specific goal and a plan to achieve that goal. However, sometimes, it just doesn't work. Some stories require a way of doing things that is different from your normal routine, and you have to be flexible enough to accommodate them. If you're not, you get stuck. I don't know about you, but I hate writer's block.

4. Create the mood with music or video.

Background music can help you get into the right frame of mind for your story, especially if you have only a specific and very limited time in which to write. It depends entirely on the piece, of course, but for many years, I had a "Writing Playlist" saved in my media player. Over the last few months, the computers and our iPod containing all of our music have crashed, so I've lost them, but I'm slowly easing back into it. I listen to Charlie Parker a lot these days. Movies help in a different way. I like coming up from my writing for a breather to be met with something visually interesting and creative. My two favorite movies for this? Top Gun and A Few Good Men. They're the perfect balance of interesting without the risk of me being too drawn in to get anything done on my own.

5. Write what you know, learn what you don't.

You should absolutely write about what you're an expert on. Use some big event in your life, some key emotion you're intimately acquainted with, and run with it. Your passion makes for compelling storytelling. But sometimes, a story calls for expertise you don't have. That's when you learn what you don't know. Google is your friend! The library is your friend! Online communities like LiveJournal's little_details can also be invaluable resources. The world is, quite literally, at your fingertips thanks to the Internet. If you want to be able to write with authority, you need the authority of knowledge. Or, you know, you need to be really good at faking it.

6. Think about it.

Sometimes, when I get a bit overwhelmed by something in the story, I pause every sentence (or few) to close my eyes and think about what I'm writing. I really imagine the scene, the characters, the moment. I focus on each detail at a time. I then write slowly. It can be a huge help to really think, in detail, about what you want to show and then write it slowly. You may even notice a detail that you hadn't previously considered, maybe even a detail no one else has considered, either.

7. Act it out. 

This is especially useful if what I'm trying to write is action-heavy, like dogfights and hand-to-hand combat. Sure, I might end up all alone in the middle of my living room fighting an invisible opponent (or myself) and looking crazy, but it helps a lot more than you might expect. When you sit back down to write, you'll have better spatial awareness and be better able to describe what's going on.

I'm sure that I'll be making more posts about this topic in the future because this is by no means a definitive list, but these are my favorites.   

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday Miscellany: I don't wanna!

I'm just going to start this post by saying that I don't really want to be making it. I don't feel like I have anything terribly interesting to say. But I'm doing it, anyway, because I really need to get better at blogging, and I need to work on creating more original content, and, hell, my blog is so much prettier now that I want something new to pretend to look at so I can admire the colors a little more today.

Over the weekend, I did a lot of housework and a lot of writing. I mean, a lot of housework. I let it go for way too long. The thing is, I write so much better when my house is clean. (I should mention here that it's not like they were nominating me for "Hoarders," but it just wasn't clean enough.) Want evidence? I'm done with the last two action-drafts of the stories for Cass Gets Her Kicks. I finished the final action draft today, during Lilly's nap. Next up, of course, is drafting. But most of my action draft is actual draft, anyway, so I'm not too worried.

I'm really, really excited about this project. I do my best work within six thousand words. Doing well is going to give me confidence to do well in the novel.

Today, I redesigned the website and changed the scheme here on the blog to match it. I need to do the same thing to my Twitter, you know, for the sake of continuity. What do you think? It's still DIY, but I do plan to hire a professional eventually. I'm just prioritizing right now. I also haven't added any Easter eggs yet, but I will. I love when my favorite sites have a little something extra, so I need to get on that.

I also need to get on editing some stories to put up. I do plan to post the first Cass Reed story there--behind appropriate "Adults Only" warnings--when it's ready to go. I still have to work on a story called "Invitation to Eden." It needs serious work, but at its core, it's solid.

My dad is a professional photographer. We discussed it tonight, and I will be helping him get his photos out there. Poor old man, he's hopeless when it comes to social networking. I'll keep you posted on this as I complete each step.

Unfortunately, I haven't read anything useful or visited any websites worth writing home about over the last few days. It looks like this entry is just filler. Sorry for that!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

SitRep Saturday: Strawberry Moon and Cass Gets Her Kicks

First, an update on Strawberry Moon: I'm still working typing up the revised manuscript and re-writing entire sections as I go. I haven't yet finished with chapter one, but that's because it needed serious help, and I only just figured out how to close it up. Awkward and useless dialogue was awkward and useless. On the plus side, all of my characters have more defined voices and motivation, I've slashed roughly ten pages of useless crap, and so far, it's much leaner and easier to read. I have also been reconsidering the title. I like it, it fits, but I'm not sure it's the best title I can come up with. I'll keep you posted.

In other news, Cass Gets Her Kicks. I've mentioned it before, but there has been some serious progress in just the last couple of days. Let me tell you about it, though.

So as you're probably aware, I'm kind of busy all day, every day, and not just with the writing. I usually manage to get half an hour at a time all to my very own self, and sometimes, I want to blow those thirty minutes on something to read. The problem is that I don't want to start a story, get into it, have to set it aside, and then waste the first precious few minutes of my next break trying to remember what happened. I want to just start reading and get a complete story in thirty minutes.

Short stories! They're perfect! Except most of them are longer than the 4,000 - 6,000 words I can comfortably read in half an hour. So fanfic, maybe? But do you know how hard it is to find good, self-contained fanfiction in the specified word count? And fanfic doesn't come on my Kindle. What I really want is short stories in that word count range that I can read on my Kindle in the bath (or in the car, or in the doctor's office). I've been looking! The closest I've come so far is a couple of Delilah Devlin singles that, frankly, are still too long.

There's a quote floating around from Toni Morrison about how if there's a book you really want to read and you can't find it, you should write it yourself. Well, I really want these stories. I don't mind if they're the same character over and over, but I don't want to have to try to keep up with the plot of a novel. I'm also much, much more comfortable with writing short stories; I've been writing as an amateur for ten years now, and if I do say so myself, I'm pretty good at it. So I'm writing them.

This is where Cass Gets Her Kicks comes in. I enjoy smut. I enjoy reading it, and I enjoy writing it--and I'm really good at writing it. That's what it is. I'll save the summaries and stuff for when it's closer to done, but the plan now is that it will be four stories, each in the 4,000 - 6,000 word range, featuring the same female character in similar situations. So far, I've drafted the first story and action-drafted the second. The third is in the plotting stage; the nicest thing about shorts is that they're super easy to plot, action-draft, and then draft and edit. I also know what's going to happen in the fourth. I know what the overall goals are, I know what needs to be done to reach these goals. I'm really, really excited about this project.

And not to put the cart before the horse or whatever, but if this works out as well as I hope it will, I plan to do something similar with another character--Father Jack--who really wants to be written but so far hasn't offered himself to any real novel ideas.

I'm still working on Strawberry Moon and making slow, steady progress, but progress with Cass Gets Her Kicks is much more tangible results already.

Speaking of tangible results and progress! I have here three different cover ideas for Cass and I would love to get some feedback on them. I had a friend help me narrow it down to just one set of options (there was an option that was the closeup of the yellow lines on a blacktop, one that was a US Highway sign, and one that featured the taillights of a classic car) and now I'd like to know what others think/what they like/what they dislike. So if you could take just a moment to look at them and leave me a comment here, on Twitter, or on Facebook, I would really appreciate it!

Version 1

Version 2

Version 3

Oh, yeah! And in order to keep my YA stuff separate from my more adult stuff, I'm planning to use the penname "Ellie Davis." Ellie because it's a phonetically-spelled contraction of "L. Le(e)" so it's close enough to L. Leona for my liking. 

That's what I've been up to this week!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Web Wednesday: Blogs

You have probably seen me mention that I am addicted to Chuck Wendig's blog. (Embarrassing or lol-worthy typo alert: I wrote his last name as "Wendigo" the first few times.) What's not to love? It's funny, well-written and immensely informative. His post "25 Things You Should Know About Writing A Novel" really helped me settle things when it came to Strawberry Moon, and his most recent 25 Things post--"25 Things You Should Know About Dialogue"--tackles my second least favorite thing in writing. I check this blog daily, because there's always something new and interesting to learn.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a science-fiction, fantasy, romance, and mystery writer. She's prolific, she's intelligent, and she has remarkable insight. Her blog, Business Rusch, is very good. She touches frequently on how self-publishing is affecting the publishing industry and she has a lot of interesting things to say. "A Lawsuit Waiting to Happen" is one of my favorites, but that's mostly because I currently live in Germany and I've noticed the differences she uses to illustrate her point, and I find them hilarious.

Sirra is a freelance editor/translator based in Hawaii. I discovered her blog entirely by accident the other day on Twitter; someone retweeted her. I liked reading her take on what kind of work goes into translating the written word, and her post on the #writetip tag made me smile. She's an editor, and she isn't afraid to share her opinion, so her words seem incredibly valuable to me.

Rik Davnall is kind of in the same place I am. He's going the self-publishing route and he's blogging about it. It's the Future, Stupid is chronicling his journey. He even has posts on outlining (I am a plotter writer, rarely a pantser, so it's always interesting for me to see how other writers write) and on Amazon vs. Other Sellers and how his marketing strategy is shaping up.

I am always on the lookout for blogs, articles, and even tweets to learn as much about self-publishing and self-marketing as possible. It may be because I'm a writer, but I don't find writers talking about writing the least bit dreary. Everyone has a different approach, different techniques, and I feel like I can benefit from knowing as much as possible. Reading about other writers and their process has cut my writer's block back to a mere rare occurrence, and it has given me so many ideas and so many tips about how to accomplish my goals.

To be frank, I'm approaching self-publishing in the way I have approached joining a new fandom in the past: I'm watching and I'm listening, and sometimes, I ask questions discreetly. By the time I feel comfortable with my knowledge, I will be ready to jump in. And if I do my research right, well, I shouldn't make too much of a splash if I don't want to.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Miscellany

I am one scene away from finishing the rewrite of chapter one of Strawberry Moon. This is incredibly exciting for me. My characters have clearer voices, my dialogue is much less awkward, I've eliminated most of the information dumps, and I've managed to (mostly) control my adjectives. This is definitely not the final draft, but it's getting there!

Over the weekend, I did a lot of thinking, and I have decided to take a page from Kristine Kathryn Rusch's book and use separate pennames for my young adult work and for my adult work. The problem I'm having now is coming up with a new one. I have a handful of lovely options, so I'm just trying to make a decision.

The reason that is important is because I finally have a collective working title for the erotica shorts I'm plotting. I am pretty sure I've mentioned that I had the action draft of a smut story done and that I was working on the draft of it. I've been calling the short "Galena" and intend to write one to three more shorts featuring the same female character in a series of sexual situations. A chat with a friend the other day led to some development of her character, so the series has gotten a bit more involved than I had originally planned, but I'm not unhappy with where I think it's going. Anyway, the collective working title is Cass Gets Her Kicks. Now, I just have to finish writing it.

The funny site I mentioned in this blog post is now defunct. I'm bummed about this because it was really funny, but I think we can all agree that copyrights are a pretty big deal.

Chuck Wendig is trying to push more copies of his writing advice book Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey, so he's whoring himself out to do it offering some incentives. They're pretty good incentives.

I am still reading Michelle Muto's The Book of Lost Souls, and I am still loving it to pieces. I keep catching myself wishing it was last summer and I had a ton of free time on my hands to do nothing but read. I would have finished it by now, I would know how things end with Nick and Ivy, and I could be pestering her to finish the next one already. (She said she's working on it.) Of course, the book wasn't out last summer, so those wishes don't really do me any good.

And with that, I'm going to end this blog entry.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

SitRep Saturday: Strawberry Moon

I finished the hardcopy revisions this week! Ugh, the novel is a mess. It's just a mess. But that's okay! Because I am making progress!

A few days ago, I sat down with a list of details that needed to be researched, and I researched them. I now know when Jessica's commencement ceremony was, what days Amy was in Istanbul, when Jess got to the Inn, and when the novel starts. I have a rough history of my fictional Maine fishing town--Millay Harbor is based on the town of Castine, Maine. I know when the full moon was in June 2008, which means I know how many days I have between when Amy gets back from Istanbul until the climax of the conflict. Knowing that, I was able to create a daily timeline, which is going to help so much in the re-write.

Which I have already started, by the way. I'm on page two in the new file (imaginatively titled "StrawberryMoonRevised") and page four in the hardcopy. I'm editing as I go, considering my notes, and I have to say, I feel like I'm making real progress.

Now, I have a better idea of who these characters are, what drives them, and what role they play in the story.

I definitely did not make my June 30 deadline, as is painfully obvious, but as long as I keep working just as hard, I feel like this should be completed soon. I'm hoping to finish the re-write in the next two weeks and get the "final" draft out to my test readers.