Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Signing

This is the first draft of the flyer that BYU-Idaho will be putting out into cyber space to the students at the school.  It matches the poster and, coincidentally, my upcoming business cards as far as backgrounds go.  Those of you who are on Facebook have seen what my business card looks like - on the front anyway.

Anyway, it is going to be more than just your usual signing. Not only will there be THREE books featured (usually author's only have one)  It will be vastly unusual because because my daughters, both talented artists, are putting together a trailer presentation.  My oldest daughter finished the line art on COS Book 1 and my youngest is coloring what was drawn.  They are busier than elves on Christmas Eve.

Few people really understand the hours it takes to make one character turn their head, nod, etc.  They get up early (6am), sit down with their bamboo pads hooked into the computers and work away - right now, they've both been working for eight hours.  It will continue until the project is finished.

They are doing an AWESOME job.  The presentation will be available on You Tube as soon as they get it finished and I will post it here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo and David Farland/Wolverton

November is National Writing Month.... the goal was to write  a 50,000 word novel.

Honestly, it isn't that hard to do if you have a really good idea that makes the flame of genius burn.  If you break it down, it's only 1650 or so words a day for 30 days.  If you exclude weekends (and I do) then it's more, but still manageable.     

Once again, I have to thank David because he announced a contest in his newsletter that helped fan the embers of a story in my head.  What he wanted was a short story that, if it won, it would be featured in his upcoming release by EIP (East India Press).  The setting was in the world he'd created.  I read his sample chapters, and began my journey.

I took a few weeks and wrote, re-wrote, let it cool, took an axe to it, rewrote...and knew it was good...but not great.  With that said, my teenage daughter really liked it, and the book David is writing is for Young Adults.  It was a good sign and she gave me the reasons:  it had a little of everything - characters she cared about, danger, romance, action.  Still...for me, there was something missing.  I went back to click on the link so I could re-read the contest rules

After reading, I switched gears and picked up another story I'd been working on - Sky Signs.  No need to stress, I told myself.  March is four months away.  I wondered if I had anything else that would be a good fit for the contest as I re-opened SS to work on it.  After a quick read-through of the prologue, I realized it was about the length the contest was calling for.  I re-wrote it, liked it enough that I had both my supportive daughters read it, then my husband, and we had a vote.  At 3-1, SS got sent in.    

Great, I thought, I'll move on.  But I couldn't.  Why?  Because the story I started in the prologue wasn't finished...I couldn't stop thinking about it and when my husband told me he couldn't stop thinking about it I had to take action. 

Did I mention I'm married to a man that was a non-reader?  This man parked our car on the hill above our sleepy little hamlet and we watched sunsets galore while I talked about SS - course, the story has morphed, but the heart of it is still beating.

So, beginning the 10th of this month, I've been working on SS - as a novel.  I work M-F so I'm only 20,255 words into it and it's still strumming my creative chords.  Yumch! 

Thanks to the contest, I now have a much bigger picture for Sky Signs - and a self-imposed deadline.  I want the final draft to be done by March - at the latest.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kipped 5: Eidt...Edti...oh, Edit

People wonder about the editing of my books. 

In the picture above (first of the nine-books in Chest of Souls series) there are colorful little Post-it flags hanging out all over the place.  These, my friends, are edits and ideas for more books that springboard and spin off from this beginning.

The top flags deal with the Ancients - the Five Creators.  Green is Ammon, pink is Jaydren,  blue is Soline, orange is Vael, and yellow is Revaya.  

On the right side of the book are all kinds of edits/suggestions on storyline, grammar, punctuation and all else that deals with mistakes or possible problems in the book.

On the bottom are suggestions for sequels, things to remember from the main series (books 1-9) and prequels (1-4) sequels 1-(tba).  These flags are courtesy of my oldest daughter who re-read the series multiple times and was very good at catching my errors.

I didn't have the funds to hire an editing team at $3 a page.  I wanted Precision Editing Group to be the ones to do it because I'd met Heather Moore, the owner. I'd still like to employ them, but that remains at some point in the future.

When I realized the staggering cost to hire professionals (about $1,000 a book) I had to look elsewhere.  It is a tender mercy that someone in my family was a (retired) professional editor that had worked at a press on the east coast.  I openly admit that although I believe I know more than the average bear about writing a book, grammar and punctuation are not my forte.  I was smart enough to realize the story was good, but my work had a lot of errors. 

So my number one rule about editing:  Don't trust Word, it isn't the Bible.
It's funny to look back now, but I can see why she thought I was having an affair with semi-colons.  I figured Word knew what it was doing, so I accepted all punctuation suggestions.  When I explained to her why the manuscript had a plethora of semi-colons, we both had a good laugh. 

I would set up my borrowed laptop in her basement and during my time there, I was given one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given as an author.  I got to get a first-hand reaction of a reader for every page.  To fully appreciate this, you'd have to understand that this woman is a voracious reader and (literally) has a genius IQ.  She has a busy life and I knew her investment of time would be substantial.  I decided the least I could do was be a good student and welcome correction by accepting any and all constructive criticism.   

I learned more about punctuation and grammar in the short time we had than in any class I'd ever attended.  When I profusely thanked her for her time and efforts, she laughed and said, I was worried that I'd have to tell you that your writing was nice - as a hobby.  Then she told me something I didn't expect:  Editors are a dime a dozen, but good authors are rare and you are exceptionally good

She helped to polish my grammar and correct punctuation, but refused to make corrections on the story itself with two exceptions that prevented her from enjoying the story.  Other than those two things (which I did correct because of her confusion) she didn't correct anything in the story-line because she knew that the editors of whatever traditional publisher would accept the manuscript would make whatever changes were necessary.  The idea, back then, was to go traditional publishing. 

After I returned home, the task of finding a traditional publisher willing to read my manuscript began.  I stopped counting after 100 rejections and did more research to find out why I was getting nos.  The advent of electronic books was beginning to slap the traditional pub's in the pocketbook.  The traditionals weren't really interested in finding new talent as much as they were in survival.  Still, I got three nods of approval from the traditional market.  I turned them down after doing more research and struck out on my own.

I had been told that once you self-publish, traditional pubs will never look at you.  By now, most everyone out there has heard the news about Amanda Hocking signing with traditional once they realized she was a money maker (over 450,000 of her paranormal ebooks sold).  This sets a precedent and will probably hold true for the future. 

When I decided to self-publish, I knew I had to rethink, not only scrap and then rewrite the story.  An enormous task and so, I did the only thing I could do:  I drafted my family.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kipped 4: Art of conversation

Everyone's heard it:  if you want to be an author you need to read.  This statement should be followed up with because times change and so does the written word.  What we write is dictated by the time in which we live. 

Here's a good example of something that has changed:  the words if and were used to be married.  For instance, "If I were going to do that..." as opposed to "If I was going to do that..." 

We use was in everyday conversation so using were sounds stilted and snooty, but it is correct.  Here's another:  Quote marks - do they belong inside or outside as you end a sentence?  While I was growing up, they were outside, now they're inside - usually

I don't know how many times I've said it, but the education system needs a major overhaul on what they force-feed English students at all levels.  Too many of the authors known as 'masters' are dark and gloomy - the reason they are 'classics' is due to the fact that nothing else was being printed and a large percent of the population was illiterate.  Our kids today are not sheltered the way kids used to be and their lives do not NEED more reality.  Voracious young readers need a break from negativity and they really need true heroes - just saying.  The best-sellers of our day shout that fact loud and clear - HP, Twilight, etc.

I attended a writers conference a few years ago and asked the question whether or not books had to be 70% conversation (something I'd read).  I was very concerned because, frankly, my books at that time were more narrative.  The person I asked was an editor and the answer, then, was no. 

However, more and more books seem to be filled with conversation (the more characters talk, the quicker the pages turn, so there is a psychological effect).

In the end, you decide for yourself.  

And the winners of the Book drawing are:

Patricia German from South Dakota

Stephanie Bondlow from Louisiana

Rebecca Stephen from Indiana 


I will be mailing your chosen books to you this coming week!