Posts Tagged ‘author’

The Grove Blog Tour!

So in celebration of the release of The Grove, I’m going on a Blog Tour!

Between September 26th and October 21st, I will be doing interviews, guest posts, and other fun stuff. At different stops, you can win prizes such as a copy of my Official The Grove Coloring Book: Pacific Coast Oddities Museum Wildlife Coloring Book! I hope you check out some of the blog stops.

September 26 – Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours – Kick Off
September 27 – Books, Dreams, Life – Excerpt
September 28 – A Life Through Books – Interview
September 29 – Steamy Side – Excerpt
September 30 – Novel News Network – Excerpt
October 1 – Chosen By You Book Club – Excerpt
October 2 – Satin’s Bookish Corner – Excerpt
October 3 – My Reading Addiction – Interview
October 4 – Mello and June – Guest Post
October 5 – Silver Dagger Scriptorium – Review
October 6 – Jazzy’s Book Reviews – Excerpt
October 7 – Evermore Books – Guest Post
October 8 – Mary’s Cup of Tea – Review
October 10 – On a Reading Bender – Excerpt
October 11 – Authors That Rock – Review
October 12 – Just Us Book Blog – Excerpt
October 13 – Texas Book Nook – Review
October 17 – J Bronder Book Reviews – Review
October 18 – The Indie Express – Review
October 21 – RABT Reviews – Wrap Up
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Common Author Question: What does it feel like to hold your book in your hand?

 

Short Answer: Good. If you like rollercoasters.

Long Answer: My emotions go up and down and up again. Then down again.

When I hold my book the first time, I always feel giddy anticipation. I feel I could skip down the street. I want to spin on the sandy beach and frolic with my dogs.

I feel even more excitement as I send it to the Library of Congress and Copyright Office and put aside a copy for my own library. I feel pride. This thing that I have created over the course of eighteen months has grown into a book.

I start sending out review copies and making marketing materials.  No matter how sublime I thought my prose is, no matter how much I love the illustrations, a tiny hole grows in my heart. My art has left my personal sphere and has grown into a product.

I am thrilled when my first reviews start coming in. It doesn’t matter if the reader loves it or hates it. I’m skipping with joy. Someone is reading this thing I am created. (I will admit, however, that during Other Systems and The Light Side of the Moon my feelings went up and down with every review. Now I am happy to get ANY review.)

The night before the release date, my heart races as I write any last minute blog posts and schedule Facebook Posts. For The Grove’s release I was able to sleep, because Ibooks and Barnes&Noble went live around 10:30 pm PST. That is not always the case. (When The Light Side of the Moon came out, I was in a panic because no one had it on its actual release date.)

Then my book is no longer mine at all. At this moment, it is the world’s book. Readers will read it and make it their own. In the morning, because of the social media push I feel happy and excited. I have done it! I have created a world for people to enjoy! Woot!

I do my best to not check out sales every couple hours. I try not to check if I have any more reviews.Though there is social media stuff and I have a to-do list of small emails and jobs I must finish, I am not as productive as I normally am. I know though I have done the best I can, my words no longer matter, only the reader’s perception of my words. I feel a sense of loss, melancholy and listlessness.  But that too passes.

My first live event for The Grove is September 28th. Every time I think about it I get giddy again. Like I said it’s a roller coaster.

I know there are other authors out there, did I miss anything? How do you feel when you release a book? Comment below!

 

A hiker creates a fake forest

The Grove Cover_blogsizedOn Friday, I talked about how I built a fake town called Sitka’s Quay for The Grove. Today, I’ll discuss how I created the Grove for The Grove. As I said, one of my first decisions, I make when writing a story is if I should make up the setting, or set it in a real place. But there are also a few different things to consider if one is building a place where no humans live than creating a town.

As many of my fans and friends know, I am an avid hiker so I’ve been to many trails near the Ocean, in the mountains and forests. I have lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life and I have done some volunteer trail maintenance. Trails are designed both to work with the environment, is dependent upon who owns the land and how that landowner wants the land to be used and with the people who uses them. Since when I am writing I want it to feel real…

When I envisioned the Grove, I wanted most of the trails to be family strolls, not hard wilderness hiking. The reason? It’s logical.

The landscape was inspired by Hug’s Point State Park, CapeLookout State Park, Ecola State Park, OR and Kalaloch Beaches, WA (which I’ll go into more depth in an upcoming blog post about inspirations.)

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Kalaloch Beach 4 Trail

Sitka’s Quay is two miles north, so its not going to be wilderness hiking. Like many places on the Oregon Coast its right off of Highway 101. Part of the Grove, is covered by the brackish Lake Elsie which would expand during the winter and contract during summer. This area would be covered in boardwalk.  The main trails basically circles the forest and then leads down to a beach. It would be fairly accessible. People would walk their dogs there or go fishing in the lake.

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Tycho surrounded by ferns, salal and blackberries

Also though there is some hills and cliff faces off the beach, realistically this would only be a couple 100 feet over sea level even at the highest point

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Trees would be Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Cedars. Smaller plants would include Oregon grape, thickets of salal, wild lilies, and ferns.

I describe it thus in Chapter 1, Scene 3:

blogteaserforest.jpg

That being said, not everything remained the same, I originally named the Grove, Sutter’s Grove for Sutter Kane the writer whose work opened doors to another dimension from In the Mouth of Madness. However in the dialogue everyone called it “the Grove” and I ended up removing the three times it was referred to Sutter’s Grove in narration by draft 3.

So that’s how I created the Grove within The Grove. Let’s talk worldbuilding! What are some of your favorite things to create? How often do you change things?
The Grove is available for Kindle at Amazon and it will be coming on September 13th in Paperback and everywhere else.

Question Time: What’s It Like to Work with Editors

Over the course of my career, the most common question is:

Does it hurt when they change (or cut up) your baby? 

By baby, the person asking mean my novels.  Since people call it my baby, I’ll use the same analogy. I’ve heard it said it takes a village to raise a child. And it takes at least a few people to turn my great super fab-u-rific idea into a book people actually want to read, that connects the readers emotions.
Still, I never have liked the metaphor that my story is my baby. (Get real, my dogs are my babies)
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A better metaphor is that my stories are swords.

Swords must be sharpened, tempered and honed and with them, I want to stab at your emotional wellbeing. I want the reader to cry with Abby. I want the reader to go on an uplifting adventure with Ellie. That is what an editor does. They sharpen. They hone. They polish.

Wait, it sounds like working with an editor is hard?

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Editing is hard, but it is worth it, because the end product is ultimately my vision.  Not my fab-u-rific idea.
As many of my readers know, I’ve had two books published by 48Fourteen and I’ve self published. Being an author takes a special mix of megalomania, tenacity, and self-doubt.
So lets quickly look at the megalomania and tenacity.  I write for me. I write what I want to read. I want to explore my super cool fun ideas.  I need to believe in myself. I need to believe that  must be tenacious enough that I am willing to rewrite my super cool words six or seven times to get it right. I do the work when it stops being fun. I need to be willing to laugh in the face of rejection.

Now to counteract all that, I also must know my limitations or it will never be a book. A piece of my vision isn’t about me. It’s about the book: I want to create books that people want to pick up. That they are excited to read. And while I think I have at least a few neat ideas, and am a decent book designer due to my background in art, I can’t do it all alone.

Working with an editor is hard, but is an essential step in book creation.
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Can’t an editor make me change my baby?

Maybe. Do you have a backbone?
There is a myth that an editor can carve up your story willy-nilly until you won’t even recognize it. No they can’t. Read a freaking contract. Most are not allowed to make major changes to your work without your approval.
When an editor suggests major changes, ask yourself: Why is the editor suggesting X? Does X solve an underlying issue. Does X agree with my vision of the novel?

But what happens if I disagree with my editor?

I’d say its your book. You must make the call. You have choices. Always. I’ve never gotten in so deep that my only option was to walk away from a book contact. However if that is your choice, then walk.  After all, why would you want someone to publish your book if they don’t believe in it?

So you’ve gotten lucky?

Probably.

On Saying: No…

When it was suggested for Other Systems that I completely change Harden’s character – aka drop his age and make him a love interest. Or rewrite the book with a love interest for Abby. NOTE: Other Systems’ editor did not suggest this, the acquisitions editor did. I was freaking out inside, but I said no. Harden’s a mentor. And realistically Abby didn’t need a love interest in this book. I couldn’t make this change, because I wasn’t being true to the heart of this novel.
(FYI: This was the first time it happened and on my debut novel, so I worried that I might lose my contract or I was being a diva. I didn’t lose my contract. Of course, I made other changes so I guess I wasn’t really being a diva either.)

On Saying: No, but what about…

In almost all my books, sometimes the editor suggests something and while I don’t agree with the suggestion, I realize the problem with the scene, then rewrite it my way and with my ideas. I have never gotten so much as harsh email for doing this.
In The Light Side of the Moon, I was told to cut the android scenes, because its a long, fairly slow paced novel and the acquisitions editor didn’t care about the android characters at all. When I rewrote the book, I did not cut them, instead I made her care. I made everyone care about them. And they are everyone’s favorite characters.

On Saying: Huh?

Finally, I have been flat out confused about what an editor is saying.
Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. During Other Systems, there was a few scenes I rewrote at least 3 times because I didn’t understand what my editor was saying. He kept repeating “Slow down this scene” in different ways. Finally I brought it to my writing group and people said, “It’s okay, but it needs more tension.” So I added more tension–which slowed down the scene and it was now deemed solid. Thank you writing group!
But honestly, most of the time, all I’m thinking is:  Damn how could I be so blind to that repetitive writing tick..OR how many different ways did I mean to spell that word. Opps!  
The Grove Cover_blogsizedSeriously in almost every chapter of The Grove which I sent to my editor, people were glancing at their phones and over their shoulders. (Especially over their shoulders!) I was too close to the story. I couldn’t see it.
My editor Denise DeSio did. She took my fairly awesome story, and honed it until it was sharp. That’s what I paid her for. I didn’t agree with everything she suggested. I don’t have to.
Then a proof reader was hired. She polished my sentences until they shined. These edits were all grammatical and spelling.

Does anyone else have any good stories or tips about working with editors? 

My RadCon Schedule

RadCon “The big Con with the Small Con feel” is a Science-Fiction Convention held annually in Pasco, Washington. They cater to all genres within the SciFi community and have a variety of panels, gaming, films, artist alley and more.

Note: This year I will just be attending on Saturday.

 

Sat Feb 13 10:00:am Sat Feb 13 11:00:am Evaluating Writing Critiques
2203 So you’ve had a manuscript critiqued and you’re trying to decipher the feedback. Some people say one thing. Some people have quote rules. How do you tell the good advice from the bad? This panel will discuss how to keep the advice that benefits your writing while ignoring the bad.
Bruce Taylor Elizabeth Guizzetti Mark Ferrari S. A. Bolich Shannon Page Tom Gondolfi

 

Sat Feb 13 3:00:pm Sat Feb 13 4:00:pm Webcomic Construction
2201 Webcomics can look easy to do, but jumping in blind can sometimes result in cramped pages, aborted plots, difficult file sizes, and a lot of frustration. This is for the people who want a webcomic, but are stuck on where to begin. Meg James will discuss tips for planning, scripting, and other technical aspects of creating your webcomic.
Elizabeth Guizzetti Kenneth Siefring L James Meg James

 

Sat Feb 13 6:00:pm Sat Feb 13 6:30:pm Elizabeth Guizzetti
Reading (2211) Elizabeth Guizzetti reads from The Light Side of the Moon
Elizabeth Guizzetti

Writer’s Fashion: Do clothes make the author?

What do writer’s wear each day?

Casual, Business, or all out fancy pants?

I have heard of authors who found that getting dressed helps them get more work accomplished. Charles Dickens fastidiousness was especially well documented.  In this blog post by Noelle Sterne, she refers to the importance of “being dressed for action.” She points out getting dressed is a helpful ritual for the creative process. She found being sloppy put writing on the bottom of her list.

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Pre-walk Tycho. Note his expectant gaze for adventure. Rosie is running around so I can’t get a photo with both of them in it.

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Rosie and Tycho postwalk.

Being sloppy don’t effect me in such a way. Mostly because I have another ritual. I make breakfast, drive my husband to work, take my dogs to the park for an hour. Then it is time to kick off my shoes, because I don’t wear shoes at home and make a cup of coffee. Most of the time, I wear exactly what I wore to the park: my old ripped jeans or yoga pants and t-shirts. Exchange the jeans for shorts if its warm. Add a sweater if it’s cold. I tend to wear my hair in a pony tail or a loose bun.

Then the pups take a lie down and I get to work immediately for five or six uninterrupted hours.

Now for weekends, I have a convention or other author appearance, I have a few nice shirts, non-ripped jeans, and one casual dress and a few jackets of charisma. Hey, I live is Seattle and Seattle is causal.

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One of my jackets of charisma.

Here are a few authors who were kind enough to speak about what they wear when they write.

Dan Thompson said:  “If I’m writing at home I have to be barefoot when I write. Socks annoy me and make me frustrated. Barefoot allows me to curl up on my chair and write without feeling restricted.” 

Another lover of freedom in movement is Christina Thompson: At home I wear sweats and a t-shirt. I usually don’t wear a bra…too confining. My other quirk is I brush my teeth before I start. It helps me focus more on the writing and less on wanting snacks.

(I totally understand the snack issue, that’s why I always make breakfast before I get to work! 🙂 )

RL King has nearly the opposite feeling. “I have to wear my shoes. If I don’t wear them, I tend to relax, and I consider writing a job. It is a fun job, but it is still a job.”

Anna's sweater

AnnaLee’s Sweater

AnnaLee Zenkner has a ritual outfit.  “I wear this sweater that I found at a value village when I was a teenager and I still wear it. It’s an old man sweater that obviously got shrunk in the wash… But it shrunk into my perfect intellectual girl sweater and I will never give it up. Why? I call it my “professor sweater” I wear it to think, ease drop, observe, sip scotch or coffee and create obnoxious opinionated characters.”

Adam Watson of Darkslinger Comics: “Whatever I am wearing or not wearing that day. I have never needed any special clothing requirements.”

And apparently nothing stops David Boop: “I have worn everything from a three piece suit to my birthday suit, because I write whenever I have the energy, the opportunity and the equipment available to do so. I have written at a desk, in bed, on the toilet, in a car, on the light rail, in noisy or quiet situations. When you need to write, nothing should come between you and your craft.”

What do you wear when you are writing? Do you have any rituals that help your creative process?

Happy New Year: Setting Goals that You Will Actually Achieve!

happynewyear

Many people write goals or resolutions during the new year, and one of the most important thing I have discovered in the past decade, is how important setting clear achievable goals are for my career. So I decided to write about my process. I create my author goals by using the SMART goals system conceived by a business psychologist, George Doran.  SMART stands for

S – Specific. Set goals with specific outcomes. 

– Measurable. Set that you can track or measure. 

A – Achievable. Set realistic goals that you’re prepared to pursue. 

R – Relevant. Set goals that matter to you, that will have a positive effect in your life.

T – Time-bound. Give yourself a deadline or as I do, use an event as a deadline. I most often use a convention and work backwards.

BIGGEST MISTAKE: Don’t set goals which are out of your power to achieve. 

Don’t say: Write 5,000 word short story for [Awe-inspiring lit mag] and be published by [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by June 2016.

Why? Because [Awe Inspiring lit mag]’s Editors are not within your power. They may not need or want what you are selling.

So Step 1: Set Smart Goal

SMART GOAL:  Write, edit, and submit 5,000 word short story to [Awe-inspiring lit mag] by May 1, 2016.

Step 2: Figure out calendar. This will help you measure progress and break it down into manageable steps. For the goal above: this is how I’d do it.

Day 1: Brainstorm Short Story Ideas

Day 2: Decide upon idea

Day 3-15: First Draft Deadline (I don’t worry about my word count in my first draft, but if you do, then break it up into smaller segments.)

Day 20: Read Aloud, Make changes. Fill plot holes.

Day 21-60: Wait (Note: Work on another idea while you wait.)

Day 60-70: 1st Rewrite/Polish

Day 71ish: Send through Critique Group, Beta Readers ETC.

Day 100: Consider Critique and make changes

Day 101-120: Final Rewrite

Day 121-131: Rest manuscript. Research markets, and decide first market you are going to send it to. Write query letter. Whatever you need to do to prepare yourself)

Day 132-140: Final Grammar Edit

Day 141: Submit short story

Special Note: You may be a faster author than I am. You need to set the calendar for what you can do, not what anyone else can do. As you can see it takes me about 141 days to get a short story in marketable condition, but it takes me about a year for a novel. Why? Because the steps I need to take are nearly the same. Some people write short stories because they are fast, but they are not fast for me. So when I write a novel, this is how I create my timeline:

Day 1: Write out Big Idea, Themes, Basic Characters Bios, a few scenes and outline.

Day 2: Put each scene on a 3 x 5 cards

Day 3 – 45ish: First Draft Each day I write out the scenes from 2 or 3 cards. I go crazy fast in the beginning, because I need some words on the page to cement me to the project.

Day 46: Rest

Day 47-107ish: Second Draft I reread manuscript and go scene by scene. Rewriting. Researching. Adding details. Sometimes the characters tell me to change things here.

Day 108 – 137: Wait. Stories are like wine or cheese. They need to age. Work on another idea or consider publication options.

Day 138 – 199: 3rd Draft. Find plot holes and fill them.

Day 199 – 210: 4th Draft. First Grammar Edit and Polish

Day 211-270ish: Give manuscript to First Readers. Wait again! Work on another idea right now or begin considering publication options.

Day 271 -275: Consider Critiques. Look for common themes within suggestions.

Day 276 – 306: 5th Draft. Find more plot holes and fill them.

Day 307 – 321: 6th Draft. Second Grammar Edit and Polish

And I have a marketable novel! Woot. But I’m not done yet…

Day 325: Either send it out to markets
OR
Begin the road self publishing and I write a calendar for everything I need to do to for that.

So that’s how I do it, how do you set goals? Any goals you’d like to share?

 

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