Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Author Interview: Stella Deleuze

That lovely woman you see to the right is author Stella Deleuze. Today, we're celebrating the release of her newest book, Candlelight Sinner! She was good enough to answer questions I threw at her and now we all get a sneak peek inside her mind. Are you excited? I'm excited!

First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!

No, thank you. I love your blog. Even though I haven't had time to visit often recently, I know I'll always find something interesting to read. Short, sharp and spot on. :-)

As a sequel to No Wings Attached, was it easier or more difficult to write Candlelight Sinner? Why?

More difficult. It's my first series and I didn't know how difficult it is to write one until I was actually confronted with writing it. The fine line between info-dumping and giving short references to the first book, as well as having to introduce the characters to the new readers without boring the old ones was a challenge. It picks up on the first book's story, yet works as a stand alone novel. I also had quite a gap between the books, which made it a little hard in the beginning to get back into the characters' heads. I always planned to have two, but after I spent so much time editing and polishing No Wings Attached, I just needed a break. When the characters called and my readers asked for the sequel, I began writing it. Despite the small difficulties, I loved the process as it's taking the characters on another level and the paranormal story forward.

Both novels have such great titles. How did you decide on Candlelight Sinner? Were there other titles you considered?

Thank you. Gosh. That's a rather sensitive topic. I love strong titles. No Wings Attached (No Strings Attached), as well as Candlelight Sinner (Candlelight Dinner) took me a while. The actual title of No Wings Attached came to me just before I went to bed; struck me like lightning. So for the sequel I wanted to have a funny word-play again, but it was a painful journey to find it. I went through all sorts of titles, as I want it to reflect on the story, rather than just being pretty on the outside. To find something you could adapt isn't quite as easy as it seems. I'm perfectly happy with the result, though.

"Wish consultant" sounds like a modern language job title for a genie. I love it. Where did the idea for that description come from?

To be honest I didn't think of it until I decided to self-publish. I first had angel of wishes, but it was regularly misunderstood as 'angel' or the book being religious, which it's not. At all. And agents, I suppose, refused it immediately just reading 'angel' as it's overdone. So I had to come up with a solution for that dilemma. Never really thought about the genie-reference if I'm honest, but I quite like that.

What was your favorite part of writing Candlelight Sinner?

Without a doubt the fight-scenes and the witty banter between Celia and Tom and her and her friends. She's like me: a bit on the cheeky side, never really short of a come back. The fights were interesting, because with the exception of a few small episodes in the first book, I never really wrote supernatural/paranormal scenes. I loved it. 

Who is your favorite character from the book? Why?

Sam. Hands down. He's what lets a girl's heart beat faster: he's got the raw sex-appeal, the charisma, the aura of danger around him. He's damn fit and my Beta readers confirmed he's their favourite man, too. Though Tom's rather gorgeous, as well. Both men combined would be the perfect mix.

Are you normally a fan of romantic comedies with a paranormal twist? What inspired No Wings Attached and Candlelight Sinner?

As far as I know there are no real paranormal romantic comedies out there. Most are romantic comedies, which I adore. Yes, I admit being a fan. I used to watch Charmed when I was younger and loved it. I loved Angel, Buffy and anything the like. But that's often referred to as paranormal or fantasy. It's probably what inspired the books. Although more by accident. The original theme is: angel of wishes falls in love (forbidden) with his client and then things get worse... The sequel has developed from the paranormal theme, though it's still not overpowering the romantic comedy/chick lit theme.

How did you find a cover artist? What direction, if any, did you give when it came to cover design?

Oh, one of my pet hates: cover art. I'm very very lucky to have a very very patient friend who created a few covers for No Wings Attached. It went through so many I was almost ready to have a white cover with a black font and nothing else. This book gave me grief. I had an exact idea, but as I don't know anything about cover art, it didn't work out. Candlelight Sinner, on the other hand, was super easy. I simply adore that cover. It's warm, it's strong and it's just amazing. Sessha Batto is amazingly talented and I owe her a lot.
When readers get hooked on your work, what else can we look forward to from Stella Deleuze?

My aim is to write two books this year; one horror thriller and one I'm calling a sob story. Both powerful books that will be completely different to what I've written so far, but certainly stick with a reader for a while. I'm also working on a themed cook book and I'm editing my literary fiction novel, which I will probably release at some point if I can't find a suitable home (agent/publisher) for it. For those who love my writing: fear not, I've plenty of ideas. But be prepared: I love to surprise.

See? She's awesome!

Stella blogs over at Words by Stella Deleuze.

No Wings Attached is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Candlelight Sinner is available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Blog Posts, To-Do Lists, New Computers

It's Monday! You know what that means? You should go buy Stella Deleuze's Candlelight Sinner.

It also means that I have a random-ish post for you. And on the day of, too! How exciting for us all.

Tomorrow, I will be posting an author interview with Stella Deleuze. Be warned: she is adorable, intelligent, and funny. If you haven't noticed already, this blog is a fangirl-friendly zone, so feel free to squee over her as you see fit.

I finally buckled down this weekend and started breaking my to-do list into smaller, more manageable chunks based entirely on answering the question, "What do I have to accomplish to make me happy today?" Being "happy" for me is pretty much entirely reliant on being "productive" so that's a valid question. I managed to accomplish all of my to-do list yesterday and I'm on top of today's list, too.

One thing on today's to-do list that I'm not really looking forward to is calling Amazon. My Kindle has stopped working and I am kind of beside myself over it. I don't want to buy a new one. I like the one I have. If we can't get it fixed, though, I will end up buying a new one. It's silly that I've become so reliant on such a meaningless piece of technology, but I really, really love my Kindle. It makes reading so much easier. It gives me portable access to books like Candlelight Sinner and Morgan's Choice and it makes it easy for me to carry around The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Gone with the Wind.

I have mostly gotten my new computer set up the way I want it. I have all the programs I think I need and I've even started working on it (this post and the last one were written from it, I've written over 2,000 words of One Good Cowboy on it). It's strange adjusting to a full-size keyboard and to a screen on which I can actually see my entire blog and website, but it's working out well so far.

Do you want to see my new desktop image? Of course you do! It's Tim Armstrong. (At least until I commission the painting of Wes Janson and Hobbie Klivian from Kelsey McCarthy.) This photo is, apparently, from the 2007 KROQ Weenie Roast.

That sound you heard was me sighing happily.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Blog Roundup: January 23 - 29, 2012

Chuck Wendig is a busy man but he still found time to post 25 Things Writers Should Know About Agents this week.

Greta van der Rol posted this thoughtful and thought-provoking post about "over-engineering writing." I swear, sometimes it's like she lives in my brain. This has been on my mind a lot lately, when I've been obsessing over my own work and obsessing over structure and plot and blah blah blah to the point that I couldn't even enjoy one of my favorite TV shows. I may have to make "letting go and just doing" a February resolution...

Sierra Godfrey guest posted over at Roni Loren's blog about web space for authors. Sierra seems so smart and level-headed and she really lays out the basics of blog vs. website. Roni also posted her Fill-Me-In Friday post.

Avery Olive consolidated the information about Goodreads policy changes over in her Rescue Your Goodreads Book post.

James Killick wrote about how professionals generate story ideas.

Over at Keystrokes and Word Counts, you can read about the perks of writing partners and the usefulness of Twitter.

I am a plotter, so Paperback Writer's 10 Things to Help You Outline Your Novel was a good post for me.

Agent Kristin at Pub Rants wrote about focus and how important it is to a beginning writer.

Stella Deleuze posted about her experience with KDP Select.

Paul Dorset talked about his thoughts on KDP Select, too.

Written Words hosted Stephen Legault who talked about the importance of having a plan.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

SitRep Saturday: One Good Cowboy and Other Projects

This week, I managed to write a few thousand words of the action draft of One Good Cowboy. Astounding progress? No. Not at all. But it is progress and I'm not forcing anything. That's what is most important. It's coming along well. It feels more and more like the first short interlude of a much longer story, which I like, and I'm even more certain now than I was before that it's going to give me the chance to write one good gay romance. Ty and Heather both feel like good characters and their story is sweet and funny. To me, anyway. We'll see what readers think when I finally finish it.

I also bought a new laptop. I've spent the majority of my working hours today doing things like backing up my files, downloading programs, and setting up my preferences so the system looks and feels the way I like. This is very exciting for me. I've been working on netbooks for the last three years. I know I'll still use the netbook for work sometimes, but it's just really nice to have a larger screen and a more powerful machine. Today, I downloaded GIMP and Scribus and Thunderbird. The process has inspired a blog post, so in addition to the new workstation, I got a post idea, too!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Author Interview: A. M. Belrose

Yesterday, I reviewed A. M. Belrose's Witch in Wolf's Clothing. Today, I'm sharing the interview she was gracious enough to give. Enjoy! I certainly did.

What inspired Witch in Wolf's Clothing?

Everyone got sick of me insisting that I could write a romance novel, and told me to put my money where my mouth was. Less generally, I'm sort of an obnoxious romantic at heart, but don't get the chance to write it often. The romance in the book is the sort that I enjoy indulging in, sarcastic, passionate, more settled than stormy. I not so secretly want everyone to be an old married couple.
I'm very much a fan of urban fantasy, so it was easy to decide on that direction for the story. One of my inspirations is Tanya Huff, and how she makes old tropes interesting with vivid characters. So magic and werewolves it was! Much of the foundation of the characters and plot were decided in a conversation with my partner, as much as my writing ends up being, so sometimes I honestly can't tell where 'this would be awesome' ends and 'I dare you to make this work' begins. In the end it usually all falls out fairly well.

How did you approach the research and decide on the mythology for your witches and werewolves?

Here I hide my face and admit that 'somewhat casually' is the best I can make this sound. Everything I know about wolves I learned from "White Fang" in the fourth grade and a fascination with documentaries, but being something of a raving mythology nerd at least gave me a foundation in European folklore and mythology along the lines of the Norse ulfhednar, etc. I made the conscious decision to play a bit fast and lose with the berserker, uncontrollable animal aspect that usually accompanies werewolves. For one thing, I'm not the sort who sees the appeal in a love interest who turns rabidly aggressive on a strict schedule. I also wanted the feral antagonist of the story to have more punch, instead of all werewolves running around eating all your children all the time.

As far as the witches go, I'm contrary. I wanted a main character who simultaneously was and wasn't powerful. One of the scariest things in the world is fire, but Autumn is kind of shit at it. She has to learn and adapt. I chose elemental powers over a more traditional witchcraft lore because the story is a novella; traditional lore can get tricky, and invites a lot of complications. It's also a little more thoughtful than Autumn tends to be.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Autumn, through and through, which is always great for a POV character. There's some enjoyment to be had in writing characters you want to chuck off a cliff, but that's generally not a great vibe for sex scenes. She's very casual, a little bit caustic, and knows where she stands in the world. In a lot of ways confident characters are easiest to write; you don't have to figure out how they're second guessing themselves. It's just a clear path from how mad you made her to how hard she's going to hit you.

Is romance a genre you intend to explore further?

The urge comes and goes. The deep dark secret of my authorhood is that I'm a lesbian, so writing straight scenes doesn't come naturally to me. I had to keep pestering people to make sure that Harper sounded sufficiently attractive, and that all bits were functioning properly. While I enjoyed writing the romance, the physical aspects of the relationship were often the hardest to write and the slowest to be finished. On the other hand, I like to think that I pulled it off with some success, thanks to a few tips here and there from the peanut gallery. I don't leave characters behind easily, so there has been some mental tugging at a sequel.

What made you decide to self-publish?

Harlequin didn't want it! It's a novella because I submitted it to their ebook department. I'd heard of Kindle Direct Publishing before, and it seemed a better fate than letting this finished story sit around my harddrive collecting dust. I write to share stories, not hoard them. I did use the time between rejection and self-publishing to seek more opinions from dedicated fantasy readers, and clean the story up a little.

How did you find your cover artist?

I had the fabulous, nepotistic luck to be friends with her.

What direction, if any, did you give her?

'Here is what the characters look like, here are a couple of pivotal scenes, go wild.' I really have no artistic sensibilities at all, so i wanted her to do what she thought was best from a design stand point. I'm incredibly happy with the result, so it was probably better that I didn't fuss.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline that we can look forward to?

Like I said, I have been batting around ideas for a sequel. Right now, I'm working on a YA urban fantasy with a large horror influence, which I consider a break from all the sex scenes. I tend to bat around projects and like to switch between two or three, so that I don't get bored or blocked. If "Witch" does get a sequel, it will be novel-length, focused on part of the extended Von Brandt family.

Witch in Wolf's Clothing is available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.

Kelsey McCarthy is available for book cover commission.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Review: Witch in Wolf's Clothing by A. M. Belrose

Witch in Wolf's Clothing by A. M. Belrose is an urban fantasy/romance novella with comedic and action/adventure elements.

It's really good.

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for werewolf men (I rooted for Richard during Anita Blake's wavering between Jean-Claude the Vampire and Richard the Werewolf, I was team Jacob the brief time I tried to enjoy Twilight, and Blood and Chocolate remains one of my favorite young-adult fantasy novels) and this author is a friend of a friend. The mutual friend in question is the cover artist.

Initially, I bought the book because it seemed like something I would enjoy and because I wanted to support a friend's friend. I was not disappointed.

First of all, just look at that cover. Look at the hair, at the colors, at the woman. It's beautiful, it's eye-grabbing, and--best of all--it's entirely unique. I love the way the Autumn looks other-worldly with the shadows on her face and the shape of her ears, I love the lift and twist of her hair, and I absolutely love the fire wolf. It's such a beautiful representation of the story.

Here is the book's official synopsis:

"When you live in a small town long enough you learn all the rules, meet all the boys, and participate in all the bar brawls. Autumn is content enough to work at the general store in Stoneriver, leaving all firefighting and smoke inhalation to her sister. But she has to step up, as a fire witch and a fighter, when her niece comes to her with tales of a werewolf who doesn't run with the full moon. The local pack has suddenly made Autumn Von Brandt their unhappy business.

Harper O'Malley is second-in-command of the Stoneriver pack, and sick of an alpha who doesn't know his ass from his elbow. Autumn is his chance to shake up the pecking order. As a bonus, she's beautiful, powerful, and doesn't seem to mind that wet dog smell."

The synopsis does an excellent job of telling you what you need to know and, like the cover, represents the story really well.

Autumn is the star of this book and she's the sort of funny, honest person I thoroughly enjoy in real life. If you're a reader who shies away from romances because you think heroines are too fluffy or flighty, this book is for you. Autumn is intelligent, independent, and confident. I was particularly interested in her hero persona. She's not the strongest fire witch. She's not the matriarch of their family. But she is a fighter, and she is loyal, and she does do what she has to do. Granted, she puts herself in the position to do what she has to do, but in that way she reminded me a lot of Princess Leia and Scarlett O'Hara.

Harper is Autumn's love interest. He's the beta male in the local werewolf pack and, all around, just a decent guy. I really liked that this story was about two completely normal people (well, more than two, but I'll get to that in a minute) who happen to have some supernatural in their lives. He's intelligent, very sexy, and--my favorite!--cautious. I appreciated the way he went about dealing with the pack's leadership problems.

There are some very hot sex scenes in this novella. I must confess, though, that I mostly skimmed them. They were good, but I actually wasn't interested in the sex as much as I was interested in the non-sexual interactions. Friends who know me well might be reading this review with their mouths hanging open. The mystery, the conflict, and the resolution in this story are just that fascinating.

Each of the major supporting characters--the alpha male, the rogue wolf, Autumn's sister, and Autumn's niece--are strong and well-rounded enough that I didn't feel they were props. (I would actually be quite interested in any of them as main characters.) Each of them added to the story and helped move it along.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a quick, interesting read, anyone who likes paranormal romance, anyone who likes strong heroines and decent heroes, and anyone who likes werewolves and witches. This was definitely a solid four-star debut effort from a writer I hope to see more from in the future.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Progress Report, Coming Up

I am making slow and steady progress on One Good Cowboy. I'm filling in the action now and once that's done, I'll be able to go back and start drafting. This story is giving me so much trouble! Oh, well. I think it'll be a nice, fun, sweet, funny romance once I'm done. I hope!

My sister is out of town for the week (well, out of country--she took off to London on her own for a few days) so I have the time to catch up on a ton of work. I did yesterday's blog roundup post almost on time this week! And today's post is on time! I still have a lot of housework and of course the writing, but this should be a good blogging week. 

This week, I'll be posting my review of A. M. Belrose's Witch in Wolf's Clothing and an author interview! Expect to see those tomorrow and Wednesday.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blog Roundup: January 16 - 22, 2012

Chuck Wendig offered up 25 Things Writers Should Start Doing last week. He also discussed the proposed American legislation SOPA and PIPA and what it means for writers. (For those interested, the EU is doing something similar to SOPA and PIPA with ACTA.)

Greta van der Rol wrote an interesting post about creativity.

Roni Loren hosted a guest post by Suzanne Johnson about her writing process. She also hosted a guest post by Stephanie Haefner who talked about why she chose to publish with a small press.

J. A. Konrath posted this thought-provoking article about the myth of the bestseller. (For what it's worth, check out his posts over the last week. He made $100,000 from his self-published titles in three weeks.)

Laura E. Bradford wrote about fear and how it affects writers. She also wrote about why she's putting her book on KDP Select.

Imran Siddiq posted about processing ritual.

Scott Morgan guest posted over at Rob on Writing about the 5 Things Writers Should Do (When They Want To Suck).

Aimee Salter's posts on self-editing are here: #2, #3.

Sierra Godfrey posted her Google Reader Roundup.

Sirra posted Writing Descriptions in Creative Writing.

There's a post about getting through the editing process over at Starving Novelist.

Stella Deleuze posted (a rant, I think) about why she hates third-person omniscient POV.

Over at Written Words, you can read about one blogger's opinion about Apple's Author and iBooks2 (the first I'd heard about it, wow).

Saturday, January 21, 2012

SitRep Saturday: "Do that again. But better."

One Good Cowboy has gotten a complete rewrite. In fact, I just might end up writing a blog post on my approach to it. I was really struggling--as I'm sure any of you regular readers can tell--so I scrapped everything I'd written so far (all twelve thousand words) and started over.

With dialogue.

I have all of the dialogue for the story written and I'm going in now to fill in the action parts. Once that's done, I'll start drafting, then editing. I'm still hoping to have it finished by the end of the month, but I'm not pushing it. I will, however, finish this story. I really like these characters and I really want to share the story. It feels like the start of something much bigger, too, so I want to see where it's going to take me.

Writing is hard. Sometimes it's frustrating. But it's worth it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On Writing: Be a Reader

"If there's a book you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

You're a reader, right? If you're a writer, I certainly hope you are. Repeat after me: If I want to read it, I have to write it. That's how it works in fanfiction and that's how it works in the world of professional fiction. I imagine that's how it works in non-fiction, too, since Mark Coker had to write the Smashwords Style Guide. Whatever you're writing can be improved by simply making sure you write something you want to read.

After all, if you don't want to read it, why should anyone else?

Write the story you want to read.
I like quick romances, short horrors, and really involved science fiction. Sometimes I like character-driven urban fantasy. Oh, and I like zombies. I really, really like zombies. So those are the stories I try to write. Except for science fiction. I'm not very good at that. Yet.

Write the characters, situations, dialogue, and plots you want to read.
I have a soft spot for mouthy, selfish heroines like Scarlett O'Hara. I also like strong men who don't speak much. Oh, and funny guys like Wes Janson. Those are the characters I enjoy writing. I think we all can tell by now that I thoroughly enjoy writing sex scenes. I'm actually not a fan of dialogue, but I don't write anything I don't believe is as close to reality as I can get. I'll confess here to really liking dark, twisted plots and the simple ones that showcase characterization.

Write to elicit the emotions you want to feel or to make your readers feel.
My favorite way to feel when I read is to be mildly disgusted and fascinated at the same time. My second favorite is to be amused. For a long time, I didn't write anything that I didn't believe would create the first combination of emotions in my reader. I've since backed off, but I won't abandon it. Whatever it is I want to feel is what I try to make my reader feel.

Write to make the point you want to read.
For me, one of the easiest ways to stay focused on a story is to keep in mind the point I want to make. The point could be something simple, like "Get over yourself." Whatever it is, I want to tell a story and make a point. I guess by now you can tell that I use my writing as much to learn about myself as anything else. I like for the work I read to make me think and to teach me something new, even if it's supposed to be just mindless entertainment.

Write the summary that appeals to you.
I do not like summaries or synopses that feature questions. I try not to use them. I like for my summaries to provide as much information in as small a space as possible, so those are the ones I try to write.

Use yourself as your very first test audience.
If I don't like my story, I don't expect anyone else to, either. I'm my first critical reader.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Self-Publishing: What To Do With Reviews

Reviews are great no matter what kind of review they are. A review means that you connected with your reader on some level and they feel the need to tell other readers about their experience, whether good, bad, or ugly. I think any writer should be grateful for any review they receive.

But there have been too many examples of writers getting too personally involved with readers. I've pulled this example out before and I'll do it again: take a look at the comments section of Big Al's review of Jacqueline Howett's The Greek Seaman. This is a prime example of how not to behave. Anne Rice and Nora Roberts are both guilty of unprofessional behavior, and look at how long they've been involved in the publishing industry. It can happen to anyone.

Being conscious of your professional image is important, most especially to self-published authors. That consciousness extends to what we should do with reviews.

Positive Reviews
Bask in that warm glow of approval. In your marketing, point other readers in the direction of one or two of those reviews. Be grateful for your readers.

Critical Reviews (Positive or Negative)
Process the information. Determine the validity of the points. Make changes or ignore as necessary (remember, you're the writer; you have to feel good about your own work). Be grateful for your readers.

Negative Reviews
Remember that everyone has a different opinion and, unless the reviewer actually does attack you personally, a negative review isn't a personal attack. Determine if the review has any points you can use; if so, great, if not, ignore. Be grateful for your readers.

I don't think authors should engage with their readers without a direct invitation. Our work should stand for itself and we need to understand that once it's out there, it's open to criticism and that readers are entitled to their opinions and their privacy. Our readers deserve respect and they deserve their space in which to hold their discussions with other readers and leave their reviews for other readers free from author interference.

I also don't think that authors should discuss reviews publicly. Privately, have at it, say whatever you want--that's your private life. But I think a good policy is to just back off and let the work, the readers, and the reviews speak for themselves.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Rewriting, Shopping, Coming Up

I'm almost done rewriting One Good Cowboy. Well, I'm almost done with the action draft part of the rewriting. I think the story I'm going to end up with is much better than the story I had. I'm making progress, but it's so weird to be hacking it apart and piecing it back together. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein or something.

Over the weekend, I went window shopping. I plan to buy a new laptop in a couple of weeks and the online offerings have been quite dismal since so few models are available for APO shipping. I feel like I lucked out, though, because the exchange on post has a laptop that fits all of my needs for only $9 over the low end of my budget. That is so exciting. Now I can't wait to make the purchase!

This week I really am going to get up that blog post about writing like a reader. I have a few other subjects waiting in draft mode here in Blogger and in a notebook, but I'm not sure which ones I'm going to pick. I might steal an idea from Chuck Wendig and write about creating a best practices list. Who knows? Not me. I'm living dangerously this week.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blog Roundup: January 9 - 15, 2012

Chuck Wendig had two good posts this week: 25 Things Writers Should Know About Finding Their Voice and How to Self-Publish So It Benefits Readers.

Roni Loren's blog is a veritable treasure trove of good posts. This guest post is 5 Narrative Mistakes You Can Fix Now, this post is about the etiquette of guest blogging, and this is her Fill-Me-In-Friday post.

Laura E. Bradford offered these resources and recommendations for new writers.

Imran Siddiq wrote about his process and included a pretty specific timeline.

James Killick posted about How to Make Good Writing Great.

Over at Keystrokes and Word Counts, it looks like a new post series is starting. The first seems to be Adventures in Promoland: Giveaways.

Paperback Writer shared this interesting post, Collecting Characters.

Agent Kristin over at Pub Rants wrote about the need to keep an eye on conversation in your story.

R. S. Guthrie posted about taking the plunge, joining the Dark Side, and signing up for KDP Select.

It looks like Aimee Salter is starting a new post series, too, this one on self-editing. The first post is here.

Sierra Godfrey posted her Google Reader Roundup.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SitRep Saturday: Rewriting, Deadlines, Blogging, Zombies

One Good Cowboy needs some rewrites and a lot more attention to detail. I was pretty upset with myself, but I'm not going to rush this story. My characters are turning out to be more interesting than I initially thought they would be so I'm going to give them a chance to do their thing. My (ambitious) deadline of January 17 has been pushed way back to January 31. I'm still secretly hopeful that I'll have it done in the next week or so, but I won't hold my breath and I won't stress.

I've sent off my questions to author A. M. Belrose and I've started making my notes on my review of her book. I will at least have that done soonish!

As for zombies, I think you should expect to see them from me in the near future. I love zombies and in rewriting a (joke) ending for Cowboy, I had an idea for an anti-Valentine's story that made me laugh like a crazy lady. Anything that makes me laugh like that is totally worth pursuing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Just For Fun Friday: 10 Things to Make You Feel Good

Today, I offer a break from the professional in order to share the personal. If you've read my tweets this week you already know that I've had a pretty crappy time of it over the last five days. It's just the little things, like having an incredibly unusual case of the Mondays followed by a whole slew of tiny little annoyances that snowballed into something awful and resulted in me refusing to do anything productive at all. Ever have one of those weeks? Of course you have. We all have. 

In the last few years, I've had to cope with things like my husband's year-long deployment and postpartum depression. What I've learned is that the little things can suck, but they can not-suck, too. In fact, the little things can make your day and remind you that it's all going to be okay.

So here are some of the little things that help me remember that it's all going to be okay.

1. "The World Is Just Awesome" Discovery Channel commercial. (Version 1)

2. "The World Is Just Awesome" Discovery Channel commercial. (Version 2)

3. Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars (2008)

4. Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars (2009)

5. Boba Fett Dancing

6. Pictures of Tim Armstrong from Rancid

7. Mike Rowe and Geoducks


Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Sales Question and Plans for Writing and Blogging

Every few days, I get a surge in sales. This happened when Cowboy was first starting to take off and it slowed during the holiday season, but I've noticed that since the first of the year, sales will be steady for a few days and then I'll see a daily surge of roughly an extra 30% or so. Does anyone else see this? My assumption, based on the time that passes and the original numbers as I watched them, is that readers are telling their friends. I don't know. I don't dwell because thinking too much about it would make me crazy (for example, if I think about how much I want to know why readers return books, I start feeling like I'm going to die of curiosity), but it does make me curious.

This week, I plan (read: desperately hope) to finish One Good Cowboy. I have a couple of blog posts on editing and one on writing like a reader waiting in draft mode.

A. M. Belrose, the lovely author of Witch in Wolf's Clothing, has graciously agreed to an author interview, so I need to work up questions for her and send them off. Expect to see an interview and a book review sometime in the next few weeks. (But by all means, go buy her book if you're interested, it's worth it.) I have another guest post lined up for the coming weeks, another one by graphic designer and artist Kelsey McCarthy. She's going to help me with a week all about book covers and design.

Basically what I'm saying is that though this week looks kind of bleak, the month of January as a whole is pretty exciting.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Blog Roundup: January 2 - 8, 2012

Chuck Wendig shared 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing.

Greta van der Rol wrote about how writers can use every experience they have and how research supplements what you know.

Roni Loren has a nice link roundup post called Fill-Me-In Friday.

This week, I discovered A Writer's Notes. It's a pretty good blog, definitely worth adding to your blogroll.

Fonts and Fiction had an interesting post on where new writers begin.

Keystrokes and Word Counts had two good posts last week, one on serialized writing and one on choices writers would make if we could.

Sirra offered "3 Types of Dialogues and 2 Types of Tags."

On the same day, Stella Deleuze wrote about the "minefield" of e-book pricing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

SitRep Saturday: Cowboys and Sex Writers

I've made little progress on One Good Cowboy this week, mostly because I was having a very difficult time focusing. I'm up to about 60% through the final edit, but still, that is hardly the 100% I hoped to have completed.

At least I was somewhat productive while I was slacking. I have February's story titled, summarized, and action-drafted. When I'm not working on editing Cowboy, I'm working on the new one. I've even gone to look at cover images.

So not the best progress, but progress nonetheless.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On Writing: Questions to Ask Yourself During Editing

Yes, I know it's not All About Editing week anymore. But I'm editing again, so it's on my mind again, which means you lovely readers get yet another post on the subject. This time, I want to talk about the questions you should ask yourself as you're reading your work and editing it.

The subject for this post first occurred to me when I was editing Please, Sir and working on a particular scene. Paige is standing in her boyfriend's childhood home, in the foyer, and there are pictures on the wall. Originally, there were photos of her boyfriend's father. That just didn't make sense. I needed a certain reaction moments later, when Paige meets John, that just wouldn't have happened if she had seen pictures of him. Logic. Sometimes I have it.

Does this make sense?
My number one question. If you ask nothing else, ask this. Does this make sense? As I mentioned before, it made no sense for Paige to see a photo of John and then react as though she hadn't. If the answer is "no," things need to change. If the answer is "maybe," you should probably try to figure out why it isn't "yes." And if the answer is "yes," can you explain why that is?

Does this help or hurt the story?
A protagonist moves the story. There are various other definitions, but that's the one that helps me the most when it comes to identification. For me, words are also the protagonist. Each word should help move the story forward. (Or backward, whatever; I love Tarantino as much as the next cinema fan.) Every word, every sentence, every paragraph, every scene should move the story. It should help. It should help tell (by showing, but you knew that) the story. If it doesn't move things along, it hinders. It hurts. Hurting is bad. Pain means that something is wrong. So, you know, fix that or something.

Is this the right word?
If you've checked out the word usage tag here on my blog, you probably already know that I'm a big fan of the "use the right word" piece of writing advice. Not just because I have a literary lady-boner for Mark Twain, either. The right word makes all the difference. Are you using the right ones?

Why does this story need to be told? (What's the point?)
Maybe you're really good at asking this question before you even start writing. If that's the case... Okay, you can't see me, but I'm totally making faces at you. For the rest of us, a good time to ask this question is during editing. Why are you telling this story? Why does it need to be shared? The answer doesn't have to be epic and life-changing. It could be something as simple as, "Because I wish I could have read it without having to write it." If you can't come up with a reason--for real; if you ask yourself this question in a fit of insecurity and frustration, the results won't be accurate--then it's time to reevaluate what you're saying and why you feel the need to share the story with people.

Each and every piece you shove out into the world should be your very best. Taking the time to edit, to examine your work and your choices and your motivations, is vital to the process of making it the best.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On Writing in the New Year: Resolutions

Making resolutions isn't something I only do once a year, but the first of January always gives me special occasion to reexamine the previous year's goals and resolutions and to make new ones for the coming year.

Eight months of 2011 were devoted to learning about the publishing industry, learning about self-publishing, and fumbling my way around blogging, Tweeting, and releasing the first few books. I'm coming into 2012 with a little bit of knowledge and experience--and that's only good enough to point me in the direction of more knowledge and more experience.

So here they are, my 2012 Resolutions:

  • I will finish every story I start, even if I don't share it. 
  • I will take risks, try new things, and avoid The Rut.
  • I will finish the vampire novel.
  • I will do my very best to offer readers something new every month.
  • I will do my very best to blog consistently and offer quality content.
  • I will seek out more guest posters.
  • I will read one book a month (because a writer who does not read isn't much of a writer).
  • I will learn more about publishing, self-publishing, promotion, marketing. 
  • I will remember to check my email, Twitter, and Facebook regularly. 
  • I will more actively market my work.

This is going to be an exciting year.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Miscellany: Welcome to the New Year

Yesterday, I sat down and listed the projects I have planned for this year. There are eight. Three short stories, three short story collections, and two novels. That number might actually be nine because there might be a third novel, it all depends on how I manage my time. This number doesn't include the half-dozen ideas I have scribbled in notebooks and on dry-erase boards, it only includes the stories I have already outlined, action-drafted, or drafted. Will I be busy? Yes, I think so.

I'm still in the process of editing One Good Cowboy. Finding the time has been a little bit difficult, but things are getting back to normal soon (husband is going back to work, visiting sister is starting to venture out on her own), so I'm optimistic that it can be finished this week.

Over the weekend, I rang in the new year with a cranky one-year-old who refused to fall asleep until she saw her daddy. Yesterday and today, I lost the two most important cards in my life (my ID and my debit card) and I have not been able to find them yet. We suspect the cranky one-year-old threw them away without anyone noticing. So... not the best start to the new year. But I'm not pessimistic!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blog Roundup: December 26, 2011 - January 1, 2012

Chuck Wendig thanked his readers and shared his blog's top 25 posts of 2011.

Greta van der Rol shared her experience with an "autocritter." If you've never used one (and I'd never even heard of them before that post), it's an informative article.

Roni Loren shared The 10 Commandments of a Successful Author.

I missed this post when it originally went up, but J. A. Konrath shared his resolutions for new writers. He also interviewed his cover artist.

James Killick wrote about 4 ways your protagonist can learn the truth.

Stella Deleuze posted her tip of the week: how to do a major re-write.

The Sharp Angle posted a query critique.