THE END. And book 2 is off to my editor

I did it. I finished my second novel, book 2 of the Deadglass Trilogy. I love these characters and this world, but can I say that 11 months is too long to spend working on a single book? These last two months have been great in forcing me to make dedicated time to write; there is nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing. For my next book, the 3rd and final novel of the Deadglass Trilogy, I plan to spend the first month PLOTTING, the next three months writing, and an easy two final months to edit. I’ve been a panster, but it would be so much easier to plot. Recently author Rachel Aaron wrote an excellent piece on how she writes 10k a day (10K EVERY DAY??!?!!?!?!) based on knowing exactly where the scene is going and what needs to happen first. Since I wasted a lot of time writing scenes that got thrown out with Hearts of Shadow, I really, really want to try her method of how to plot a novel in 5 steps.

Do you plot? Do you have a method that works wonders for recovering pantsers? I’m going to use Cherry Adair’s plotting board too. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, my editor sent me my very first copyedits for the short story Hearts of Fire that will debut as an ebook in July 2012. It’s a prequel to Hearts of Darkness. Copyedits make it all seem more real. I expect Hearts of Darkness copyedits in a few weeks too. Busy, busy December.

I still need a shiny new blog design, but who has the time? 😉

Thor and Writing

I’m switching it up this week, obviously, as yesterday I wrote about a fabulous book you should buy and today I’m talking about writing. Rules are made to be broken and all. Last night Mr. Kira and I went on a hot date to see Thor. I love comic book movies, especially when they are well done. The Shadow and The Phantom were favorites when I was a kid. I’m not a fan of the Sin City type movies, which are visually appealing until they turn gruesome. Thor was excellent. They had a challenge keeping the characters in their silly costumes without making it too farcical. Here are the top three reasons Thor worked:

1. The Hero’s Journey:

Classic story arc, with Thor showing remarkable transformation from egotistical, rash boy to wise, humble warrior. He won the audience’s support by showing loyalty to his friends and family early on (His Save-the-Cat moment). I should start doing point-by-point plots of movies like this.

2. Complex Villain:

No Snidely Whiplash here. The villain had hopes and dreams that the audience could connect to, and suffered betrayal and loss of identity that we could sympathize with. I know he comes back in the sequel (The Avengers) because we saw him in the teaser at the end of the credits. I hope he gets redeemed, because I still want him to have his HEA.

3. Well Motivated:

The inhabitants of earth (Jane & co) acknowledged the silliness of certain situations, behaviors and costumes and questioned their actions. They had motivations to make taking in a delusional, violent man somewhat believable. I didn’t get the sense that the characters were engaging in TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) moments.

The eye candy didn’t hurt either. 😉

Have you seen Thor? What did you think?

Writing Getaway to PDX and Afternoon Tea

Last Wednesday to celebrate my first sale and to get a much needed writing retreat, my Critique Partner and I took the train to Portland (Oregon) and back. We got up super early to take the 7:30 am train, which took about 3 and a half hours. Sleepiness impeded my writing ability, and the coffee on the train was crap, but I still wrote around 2,000 words on the first leg of the journey.

The weather in Portland was overcast, but dry, which in the Pacific Northwest is considered fairly decent weather. We walked to Powell’s–a book mecca for those of you unfamiliar with the place. The romance section has been moved into the cafe area, so while we had a snack and wrote we had a fine view of the shelves our books will someday grace. I forgot to take a picture.

Powell’s, unfortunately, does not have a nursing facility for the public, so we had to leave in search of greener pastures. Nordstroms came to my rescue. This was my very first day away from the baby, but as we are still nursing I had to find a place to pump. Nursing in public I don’t have a problem with; pumping in public is another story. Mooooooo!

We walked to the historic Heathman Hotel where we had a celebratory afternoon tea. My CP and I are huge afternoon tea aficionados. We take every opportunity to celebrate with afternoon tea: birthdays, page goals, contest wins, rejections, and just because. Our favorite place in Seattle is the Queen Mary Tea Room. This was my first trip to the Heathman. The ambiance was very English with dark wooden paneling, a giant open fireplace, and a large ornate chandelier. Tea was excellent, and we ate ourselves silly. The scones, in particular, were scrumptious. I had a vegetarian selection and English Breakfast tea. I should have written down the menu options. They included cucumber sandwiches, homemade marshmallow, and chocolate cake.

 

We wrote some more, and walked back to the train station, where we, you guessed it, wrote more. All in all I wrote 5,000 words, which I think is a record for me. It was a fabulous time.

Getting down and dirty on the internet

What every aspiring author wants to know: Marketing!

This is a topic that strikes fear in the hearts of many an author. We tend to be introverted, skittish creatures. Marketing feels like whoring ourselves on the internet, tarnishing our “art”, exposing our vulnerable creative core.

But it’s necessary, unless one wants to write for oneself. An author craves an audience. If the audience doesn’t know about it, they can’t fall hopelessly in love with one’s story.

At the request of the marketing department at my esteemed publisher, I have set myself up on the requisite social networking sites. We are all told as aspiring authors to build a platform before we get the call. Get your name out there! Network like your butt’s on fire! Promote your author brand!!!

I would like to issue a statement: I am not a brand. Author Maureen Johnson said it much better than I could in her Manifesto. Please read it. It’s funny. But most importantly, it reminds us of what we all forget about the internet: it is made up of people. You and me and my mother and dentist and third cousin once removed. I don’t want to hear sell, sell, sell anymore. I dislike being sold to. I will not try to sell to you. If you pick up a copy of my book because it looks interesting, yay! If you decide it’s hopelessly wonderful and share it with all your friends, yay! If you check it out of the library, yay! I love creating the Hearts of Darkness world, dragging my characters through their most hopeless soul’s night, finding redemption and love along the way.

I hope, of course, that you like the trilogy as much as I do. But all I have control over is the words I put on the page. It would be easy to get sidetracked into networking, building a social platform, and evangelizing on the internet. Whole months go by without writing, just blogging, commenting, tweeting, and “liking” away. I’ve been there. I blogged a lot. I pretended I was “working.” My word count on my manuscript stayed stagnant.

Finally, I took to heart the words of the most esteemed grand dame of romance editing, Kate Duffy: “Get off the internet and write.”

It was amazing how all the distractions lifted away, forcing me to face the dragon of my own blank page. We fought. I won. No one else can write your story for you. You can’t sell a story you haven’t finished writing.

So it is with great hesitation that I once again join the ranks of the socially networked to market my book. I will not let myself get carried away this time. Writing comes first, marketing a distant second. My focus is joining a community of readers.

Here is my new blogging schedule that I hope I’ll stick to:

On Manic Mondays I will talk about WRITING.

On Wacky Wednesdays I will talk about READING.

On Fractious Fridays I will answer four QUESTIONS. (Please send me your burning questions about life, the universe, and beyond.)

Let’s get this ball rolling!

Hot off the press!! August 2012

Well, new to me anyway. Hearts of Darkness, book 1 in my to-be-titled trilogy, will be released from Kensington in August 2012, earlier than I was anticipating. Mark your calendars!

I’m hard at work on book 2, Hearts of Shadow. For some reason, I’m excited by the prospect of rewriting book 1 more than I am about facing down the blank page of book 2. Why is that? Why is the blank page so terrifying? There is a quote widely attributed to La Nora that goes something like, “a page of crap is easier to fix than a blank page.” I think I need to write that in big letters over my desk. It’s just that my internal editor is so loud.

It might help if I had a desk. I do, buried somewhere underneath all those papers and books. A professional organizer came out this week to consult about my office. Until recently, I didn’t have any place but the dining room table to write on. After painting the garage and setting Mr. Kira up in it, I got to claim his old office. It’s a nice space with a bathroom and a sliding glass door to the back yard. The problem is that all my craft supplies are in bins and need to be organized, my filing system is half-assed and carries over onto the desk, and the cat has peed on the carpet. It also lacks character. I simply cannot be inspired in a room that lacks character. The horror!

The to do list, I’m afraid, is long and dreary and involves copious hours of me not-writing in order to prepare to write. Am I procrastinating under the guise of preparing to write? Perhaps. But perhaps I will also be more productive in a comfortable room painted a robin’s egg blue, with a large cork board plotting board on the wall over a clean desk, that smells like tea and chocolate and certainly not cat pee.

I’ve also been embracing Scrivener. My organization woes are solved. Ze Book hasn’t plotted itself YET, but I have high hopes.

One Upon a Time…

…there was a girl who liked to make up stories (who doesn’t?). She was ship wrecked on deserted islands and built tree houses out of vines in the deep jungle (equipped with mysterious and environmentally friendly hot-holes in the jungle floor to cook on), tracked international jewel thieves for the FBI (and sometimes the reverse), and led troops to battle the forces of darkness in petty fiefdoms high above the clouds. She thought, sometimes, about writing these grand adventures down on paper, but there were always too many princes to save from fire breathing dragons.

After too many years fighting briars down multiple wrong paths–*cougheconomicscough*–she found an enchanted tome (AKA Outlander) that transported her to far away Scotland with dashing and dreamy men in kilts. “This!” she thought to herself. She signed up for her first writing conference and set forth to do battle with the blank page.

The right path is not smooth. It has rocks and wicked witches and trolls under the bridge. It has giants that tried to stomp on her dream and alluring fairies who tried to lure her toward some other shiny, sparkly item. She fought on. Hurdle after hurdle. Rejection after rejection. Motivated by red-haired fairy godmothers in orange feather boas who shouted “FINISH THE DAMN BOOK!”

So she did. She pitched it at the next Emerald City Writers Conference and waited. And waited. And won some writing contests. And sent out queries and manuscripts to interested editors and agents. And waited some more.

Sometimes she thought writing was the easy part.

But then finally she got THE CALL, slew the dragon, and rescued the prince.

Now comes the hard part. Welcome to my shiny new blog. This is the story of a newby author. Hold on to your top hats, ladies. Here there be monsters.