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1. The Six Week Check-in

Many of us are fast approaching the sixth week of school. Many of us consider that the first of countless milestones in our school year. Six weeks in, routines are beginning to solidify,… Continue reading

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2. Writer Wednesday: A New Release Every Two Months?


Now that I'm officially going indie, I can do exciting things like set my own production schedule. Why is this so exciting? Because over the years, I've had to either months between releases or releases stacked so close together it was tough to market my books. No more.

I have 2017 and 2018 mapped out and my release schedule looks like this:
January 
April 
July 
October

That's two months between releases. Will it be tough? Yes! But I think the schedule is going to keep readers happy, and I work better on a schedule so I think I'll be happy too.

Right now, my January 2017 release is so close to being completely finished (and it's only September!). My April release is with my editor, and I'll be polishing up my July release to get that ready for my editor as well. Things are looking good so far. :)

Do you like when authors release books a few months apart?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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3. A History of my Archive in 10 Objects. No.4: Corona 4 typewriter, 1924

Number 4 in this series of 10 Images from my Archives found at my dad's house is my old typewriter... and I mean old typewriter!

Corona Model 4 portable typewriter, 1924 pattern

When I was 16 I discovered the work of the Golden Age illustrators (Rackham, Dulac, Heath-Robinson, Stratton etc). In fact it was a re-discovery really as my mum had kept a couple of compendiums from her childhood that had been illustrated by these artists, but I rarely saw those. It was only in the mid-70's that I began seriously examining children's illustration, Arthur Rackham's work in particular began transporting me to realms of the imagination. Gradually my artwork at school began to take on the iconography of old fashioned ethereal fairy tales, anthropomorphised animals and so on. By the time I reached 6th Form I knew I wanted to be a children's book illustrator, so it was only natural I'd also pursue writing too.

My first attempts at writing children's books had been laughable copies of Enid Blyton adventures, written by hand when I was around 13.... none extended past the first chapter! But by 1977 I was serious, and so managed to persuade my parents to buy me a typewriter.

Of course, what I had in mind was a modern, zippy electric typewriter that I could churn out pages of manuscript. But, ever watchful for a bargain, my mum spotted an ad for something second-hand, and what I ended up with was a Corona 4 manual machine,  released onto the market in 1924. I remember the day we picked this up from a big old house on the private estate, I didn't quite know what to make of it - this wasn't hi-tech! though I fell in love with it's look.



I'd never touched a typewriter before in my life, so the fact the ribbon feed was rusty, you had to bang down the keys so hard it made your fingers ache, or that the 'e' was slightly misaligned didn't bother me, I had no other experience to compare to so just got on with it - it was the only way for me. I felt I was following the route of the great writers, rather than obsolete, it was 'classic'.

While other 18-year olds were discovering pubs, I spent most of my free time typing out my first manuscript In Search of Summer Gold - my one and only attempt at a novel - a long, pretty unpublishable tale of anthropomorphised mice and fairies in the 18th century, a mix of The Wind in the Willows meets The Lord of the Rings, with a good dollop of Brothers Grimm and Peter Pan thrown in for good measure. And of course I illustrated it with highly derivative pen drawings. From a professional level it was not very good and was turned down by two publishers before I eventually shelved it .... but at least it taught me to type!


Later on I used the Corona to type up my degree thesis, and in the early '80's the first issues of the Norwich post-punk fanzine/magazine The Blue Blanket ... banging those keys down with a satisfying smack! smack! smack! as they hit the ribbon, it was the perfect instrument on which to take out frustrations with the world. But thereafter it was retired, and I've never attempted to write a novel again.

It took a battering in the years I used it, 35 years in my dad's loft has not been good to my old stalwart either, but I was very glad to rediscover it there.


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4. Monday Mishmash: 9/26/16


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Only One Week Until After Loving You Releases!  I can't believe October 3rd is almost here! 
  2. Editing  I'm finishing up a client edit this week in time for a new one on October 1st.
  3. Two Work Days With Extended Hours  This week my daughter has student council and chorus after school, so thus begins my longer work hours on Tuesdays AND Wednesdays. 
  4. 2017 Publication Schedule  I'm going to be releasing books every two months in 2017. Stay tuned for more information on that this Wednesday.
  5. Fall!  My favorite season is here! I love the smell of fall, specifically the smell of October. October has been my favorite month all my life. There's something special about it.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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5. Show, Don't Tell

We've all heard the advice to show, don't tell, but how do you do that?

https://nerdychickswrite.com/2016/07/26/brushing-up-on-show-dont-tell-by-marciecolleen1/

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6. Close to the Bone: KA

Hi, folks, I've been writing a series all about  a time in my twenties when I was part of religious cult. Last week I wrote a heart-breaking story from my past about G and his sad demise. This is my version of the Valley of Dry Bones from the Book of Ezekiel. I'm calling it Close to the Bone. This is the final in the series.

Toward the end of the dark days of the cult, I was failing around for purpose. A teacher from college, Dr. Van Riper, ran into me at the supermarket and demanded to know why I had three children instead of writing books for children. I had no answer. She'd told me what to do, and I'd ignored her.

 I was slowly waking up in these days. God's chosen people were now looking like a bunch of uneducated country folk, plus a bunch of kids that had choked on embracing the future after college. That's when I saw the ad in the newspaper about some group called SCBWI.

Fellow-shipping outside the church was forbidden in manipulative, oblique way, but this was business so I figured God would give me a pass. I remember heading to that first meeting and feeling so welcome. There were 8 or 9 women and they were so gracious and kind.  I remember the first conversation  in a long time without having to say praise the Lord or how God was directing me every third word.  I also remember KA. She was a real author and the leader of the SCBWI group. Her first picture book had come out but she talked to me like I was a colleague. Bam, I was in the inner circle.

I can not tell you  how much KA's leadership meant to me. I tried to keep secret from the church my fraternizing with the world.  KA was a Unitarian. That was something I was supposed to fear. Of course, by now, I understood that I was supposed to fear everything, and it was sort of ridiculous and tiring. KA believed in me as a creative person. She never let me feel like I was a little off with my long dresses and three kids in three years. She accepted me just as I was. It was the most Christian thing I'd ever experienced.

I remember being invited to another SCBWI member's house called DC. I had friends outside the church for the first time in almost eight years.  I was hanging out with a group of women, totally normal women with varied backgrounds. It was sort of dizzying. I was supposed to have left the world behind but now I sneaking back into it. Oh, and the big problem? I loved it.

SCBWI became an island of normal in my life. Like Phoenix, I was rising from my ashes. KA tried to convince me to go to Los Angeles for the annual conference. I chickened out but her encouragement planted a seed in me.  KA convinced me to volunteer for events, write letters to editors, and even submit my drawings to the SCBWI Bulletin.  My first credit was as an illustrator in the Bulletin.  I was so proud. I was engaged in the pursuit of liberty.  I had expressed myself.  I made $50.  It was mind-blowing.

When Tim and I decided to move away the place we had known such tragedy, KA continued to encourage me until I left town.  I have no idea if she had any idea of how lost I was, and how much I needed help to become a normal person again.  She never said anything when the sorry story of my entire life was reported in the local newspaper. KA encouraged me creatively, commenting on my work and giving me suggestions, and once she sent me a card stating there would be a day when she said she knew me when.  She bridged the way for me to absolutely normal. I turned into the funky person I had been before all the religious nonsense.  I came to my senses.

Well, this is end of these posts and also time for big news. My blog is moving over to Niume.com.  I hope you consider following me an my content there.  You will receive updates of posts if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or tumbler.

One of those early drawings. I sent to the Bulletin on a notepad paper, a big no-no. Sm bought them anyway.




A quote for your pocket:

My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.

Ezekiel 37: 12b-14

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7. Chalk Lessons

How do you feel about failure?
This summer, we made chalk paint with cornstarch, food coloring, and water. 
Summery delight!
See our driveway canvas?
 Little did we know that a thunderstorm brewed two hours away.
All our chalky wonders washed away overnight.

It's that resonance of art and failure that makes us strong, right?

Do you ever wonder if we can learn as much from our flops
- our sloppy first drafts, our rejections, our imperfections -
as from our neat and tidy successes? 

I have this thing. This fear of ruining a brand new notebook or sketchbook. 
I figure if I'm constantly working at something, then naturally, I'll keep improving. 
And when I look at my old notebooks stuffed with terrible first drafts and awkward brainstorms, 
I get panicky. What if this first page represents who I am through that entire notebook or sketchbook? Can't it at least start out perfect?
Talk about writer's block, eh?
So, I solved it. 

It's my secret to hurdling the fear of failure. (in a notebook.)

I just skip the first page. 

Then I'm set. I have a one-page cushion keeping me from a first-page flop. 
(Really, it means that the second page becomes the first page, but shhh.)

But really, don't we gain something in being brave with each feeble offering of ourselves?
In truth, even if I jump right into the first page of a notebook and ink it up with a scratchy failure, 
actually my "failure" teaches me something, and that becomes growth.
And if that's true, then maybe "failure" isn't so much of a failure. 
Maybe the effort of trying something stretches and grows our skills. 
And actually, that is beauty right there: being brave.
So, go out and be brave, my friends!
Ruin some second pages.
Scribble your heart out.
Make sloppy chalk paint that gets rained on overnight.
Get all muddy and splash around in those glorious flops.

Chalky books!


Journey by Aaron Becker
Quest by Aaron BeckerChalk by Bill Thomson
Art & Max by David Wiesner
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Harold's Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

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8. Show, Don't Tell

Show, don't tell, doesn't mean you should never have narrative in your book.

http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2016/08/the-four-misconceptions-of-show-dont.html

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9. #DVpit is Back on October 5th and 6th!

After the success of the first #DVpit event in April, #DVpit is back for another round of Twitter pitching fun on October 5th and 6th! If you’re unfamiliar with this event, #DVpit is a Twitter pitch contest created to showcase pitches by marginalized voices and help connect them to agents and editors.

While the number of diverse books is increasing, the number of new diverse authors entering the field remains low. Significant barriers remain for authors of color, Native authors, disabled authors, and other marginalized voices. With that in mind, we are excited to share information on this special Twitter event! The information below is cross-posted with permission from literary agent Beth Phelan’s #DVpit website.

#DVpit

A Twitter Pitching Event, Hosted + Moderated by Beth Phelan

October 5, 2016: 8AM – 8PM ET for Children’s and Teen Fiction/Nonfiction
October 6, 2016: 8AM – 8PM ET for Adult Fiction/Nonfiction

#DVpit logo

 

What is #DVpit?


#DVpit is a Twitter event created to showcase pitches about and especially by marginalized voices. This includes (but is not limited to): Native peoples and people of color; people living and/or born/raised in underrepresented cultures and countries; disabled persons; people with illness; people on marginalized ends of the socioeconomic, cultural and/or religious spectrum; people identifying as LGBTQIA+; and more.

The first #DVpit took place on April 19, 2016 and was a national trending hashtag. There have been over 15 authors signed by agents as a direct result of this event so far, with editors from small to mid-size to Big Five publishers requesting to receive the manuscripts at submission stage.

#DVpit was covered by Bustle, Salon, YA Interrobang, and multiple blog sites like Lee & Low Blog and Daily Dahlia.

The event was created and is moderated by Beth Phelan, a literary agent at the Bent Agency.


 

When is the next #DVpit?


#DVpit will occur over two days. Please make sure you are pitching your work on the appropriate day; many of the agents and editors will only tune in on a specific day, to see the pitches in the categories they represent/acquire.

October 5th will be for Children’s & Teen Fiction/Nonfiction (picture books, chapter books, graphic novel, middle grade, young adult).

October 6th will be for Adult Fiction/Nonfiction (all genres, commercial and literary).

The event will run on each day from 8AM ET until 8PM ET using the hashtag #DVpit on both days.


 

What kind of work can you submit?


The participating agents and editors will be looking for a variety of work, including all categories of fiction for adults, teens, and children, as well as nonfiction—as long as they qualify per the description here.

Please only pitch your completed, unpublished manuscripts.


 

How do you submit?


The event will be broken up over two days, one for Children’s & Teen Fiction/Nonfiction (October 5) and the other for Adult Fiction/Nonfiction (October 6). Please make sure that you pitch on the appropriate day.

Your pitch must fit the 140-character max, and must also include the hashtag #DVpit.

Please try to include category and/or genre hashtags as well.

We will trust that your pitch is for a diverse book / you are a diverse author, but if you want a quick way to make the diversity in your work more apparent in your short pitch (and you can fit a few more characters), I also encourage you to include an abbreviation as an easier way to get that information across. Examples: OWN (to suggest #ownvoices), POC, LGBT, DIS (disability), IMM (immigration), etc. These codes are up to you—I’m in no place to judge or police how, or even if, you label your experience. Please remember they are optional. You will *not* be at a disadvantage if you don’t include them! If you do want to add, please make the abbreviation as clear and straightforward as possible for our agents/editors.

Please pitch no more than once per hour. You may use the same pitch, or shake things up by using different pitches for the same project. You may pitch more than one project at a time, as long as they are completed and unpublished.

Please do not tweet-pitch the agents/editors directly!

The event will run from 8:00AM ET until 8:00PM ET, so please only tweet your pitches during that block of time, on the appropriate day.


What happens next?


Agents/editors will “like” your pitch if they’d like to see material from you, so please don’t “like” other authors’ pitches. Please also do not retweet. To show support, you can always reply or quote-tweet with compliments.

Each agent/editor will have their own preferences for receiving submissions, so if you get a “like” from someone, please refer to their Twitter feed to see what they ask for, and how you can contact them.

All of these agents/editors are invested in finding more marginalized voices, so if you’re comfortable with it (and ONLY if you are comfortable with it), I encourage you to self-identify in your query, or just simply let us know that the story and/or character(s) reflect your own experience (or even in your pitch if you have the space and the inclination).

If you see that multiple agents/editors from the same company have “liked” your pitch, please contact them directly for their policy on multiple submissions, or reach out to me and I will be happy to find out for you.

Keep in mind that many agents/editors will get sidetracked with their usual work or unexpected crises and may have to revisit the feed after the event is over. So don’t be surprised if you receive “likes” after the period closes!


Our own Stacy Whitman, publisher of our Tu Books imprint, will be participating again this round. So get those pitches ready for October 5th!

If you need help with your pitch, check out these helpful resources here.

For more information, please visit the #DVpit website.

 

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10. Writer Wednesday: Self-Publishing Costs


With the number of authors moving in the direction of self-publishing, I've decided to share some things you should know before you dive into self-publishing as an option.

First, understand that the costs are all on you. You are the publisher, so you are responsible for editing, cover design, formatting, and promotion. The good news is that you get to make all the decisions and hire the people you want to help you with your book. Let's break down the big costs involved.

Editing:  There are a lot of great editors out there and their rates differ. You have to do your research and find one that's affordable and offering the type of edits you're looking for. Don't skimp on editing though. I'm not just saying that because I'm an editor. I'm saying it because every author (I don't care if you're famous or not) needs an editor.

Cover Design:  Again, there are a ton of designers out there and they all have different prices. Premade covers are also an option, and they are less expensive. The difficult part is finding one that works for your book. Join some Facebook groups for cover design. Designers post covers, sales, and even ask for suggestions for future premades. They're also happy to work with you on custom made covers.

Formatting:  I know a lot of authors who do their own formatting. Print is a pain, but it's not that difficult. You can teach yourself to do it. There are tons of programs to download and convert your file to all the different ebook files, too. Or you can hire a formatter. I hire a formatter for my ebooks and I format my print books myself.

Promotion:  This is the one that makes all our eyes twitch. I have a social media manager, and she's worth way more than her weight in gold. You can hire a publicist or blog tour companies, or you can choose to do the promotional efforts on your own. Just keep in mind they take a lot of time, so plan accordingly. Advertising is available on Facebook, newsletter subscriptions, and book sites. Teaming up with other authors to offer a big giveaway is also great for exposure and it's inexpensive.

Now this is just touching the surface, but I hope it gives you and idea of what to expect when you go into self-publishing. Yes, you will have to put out money, but the good news is that whatever money comes in from sales is all yours. See which efforts work well for you and where you need to focus that money. It took me years, but I taught myself cover design. I'm lucky enough to have a graphic artist for a sister and she bails me out when I can't do something, but you can learn different aspects of this business and lessen costs that way. I've been on both sides of publishing, and I've made it a point to learn every step along the way. The experience has been so valuable.


*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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11. Writer Wednesday: When You Have to Put A Draft On Hold


I used to think there was nothing worse than having to put an unfinished manuscript aside, but I've come to change my mind about this. With my editing schedule, I often have to write in sprints and then put a manuscript away until my next small break between edits. At first I hated this and I'd give up sleep to finish a draft before the next edit landed in my inbox. Not anymore.

I've found that I love returning to an unfinished story. I get fresh ideas about the plot and characters, and knowing I only have half or a quarter of the book left to write is exciting and totally doable on a time restraint. So I'm not stressing anymore. If I have to put a book aside,  I know I'll come back to it.

Do you ever have to put an unfinished draft aside? How do you feel about it?

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post. 

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12. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e September 9, 2016





Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Tips for Writing a Better Picture Book (Kathleen Doherty)
http://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/2016/08/tips-for-writing-better-picture-book-by.html

How to Write 10,000 Words in a Day, and Why You Should Give It a Shot (at least once) (Laura Benedict)
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/09/how-to-write-10000-words-in-a-day-and-why-you-should-give-it-a-shot-at-least-once.html

Is Your Story Structure Working? (Janice Hardy)
https://querytracker.blogspot.com/2016/09/is-your-story-structure-working.html

One Reason You Haven’t Finished Your Book Yet (Jerry Jenkins)
https://feedly.com/i/subscription/feed/http://www.jerryjenkins.com/feed/

Pitch Your Novel Perfectly (Susan Spann)
www.writersinthestormblog.com/2016/09/pitch-your-novel-perfectly/

Writing the Crime Scene: Guns (Repo Kempt)
https://litreactor.com/columns/writing-the-crime-scene-guns

Do You Need An Editor? (Diana Hurwitz)
http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com/2016/09/do-you-need-editor.html

The Top 10 Ways To Annoy Your Twitter Followers (Annie Neugebauer)
https://litreactor.com/columns/when-writers-do-it-wrong-the-top-10-ways-to-annoy-your-twitter-followers

Beware! [When to Research] (Bill Cameron)
http://yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2016/09/beware-bill-cameron.html

Why Plot is Essential to Character (James Scott Bell)
https://killzoneblog.com/2016/09/why-plot-is-essential-to-character.html




If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.


If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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13. September Sketches

Sunday at the Albuquerque Rail Yards Market.
Kuretake Watercolor, Sakura Micron Pen

How has your summer been? For me it went a little too fast. Thankfully here in Albuquerque it's still sunny and warm, but there is definitely a tinge of autumn in the air. Which means it's time to buckle down with a "back-to-school" attitude and get back to my main WIP, Ghazal. I also want to get back into a dedicated sketching schedule that fits in with all my other projects.

Two things that are currently helping me get there are my writer's group summer art journal project and my outings with Urban Sketchers. Starting with my writer's group, because we've been meeting at the Albuquerque Museum we've been able to stay inspired by all the amazing art exhibited throughout the halls and galleries. Several weeks ago we had the idea to set out individually to find a painting or installation that could be the basis of some of our art journal pages. 

For me it was coming across an entire room devoted to the travel sketches of New Mexico-based architect, Antoine Predock. The extensive collection ended with an intricate proposal for a southern branch of the Palace Museum in Taiwan (unfortunately never realized), but I was so taken with the loose and easy style that led up to this final, intricate fantasy that I had to go visit the exhibition three more times over the next month. Predock's example and implied advice to scribble, go for color blocks and bold lines, and to follow what you feel about a place and its landmarks, rather than what you're "supposed to see" was exactly what I've been trying to achieve on my own for the last couple of years.

I kept all of that in mind last Sunday when I went with Urban Sketchers to the Albuquerque Rail Yards Market for two hours of morning sketching:

Albuquerque Rail Yards--abandoned but not forgotten!
Kuretake Watercolor and Sakura Micron Pen

The more I go out with the group the better I'm becoming at relaxing and losing my self-consciousness. I care more about the experience than the results, and consequently I'm drawing more than I ever have before. I love it!

Kuretake Watercolor, Fine-line Sharpie,
Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens

I then wondered how this approach could work with writing and I found it fit perfectly. For instance:
  • Go BOLD. Don't hold back; don't edit, mince your words, or fear critique and censure. Let go and let the words flow. 
  • Similar to a "gesture drawing," capturing the essence of a subject rather than the details, try gesture writing. First thoughts, first attempts, first drafts contain a lot of energy--energy that can transform your voice and writing into something only you could write. 
  • Write hundreds and hundreds of pages. I was impressed at how many sketches Predock had made, many of them simply a few lines in the center of the page, but each was so strong and effective. His examples reminded me to not skimp on materials, ideas, or any step that will express where I completely want to go.
Good ideas for some good writing time! Enjoy the season.
    Tip of the Day: Thinking of editing your work? Whatever you do, please don't kill the sketch. Whether you're sketching towards creating a more polished painting, or freewriting dozens of vignettes and character studies for your novel, screenplay, or short story collection, don't go crazy with the polishing. Yes, weed out awkward phrases, lines, and repetitions, but stay true to what made you fall in love with your ideas in the first place. Stay loose.

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    14. Keeping Your Reader's Interest

    Here are some of the reasons a reader might put down your novel.

    http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/08/09/25-reasons-why-i-stopped-reading-your-book/

    0 Comments on Keeping Your Reader's Interest as of 9/8/2016 10:28:00 AM
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    15. Writer Wednesday: Going Indie

    I recently made a big decision for my writing career. I've decided to go indie. Why now after I've had many books traditionally published? To be honest, I've been burned too many times in this industry. I know as writers we aren't supposed to talk about this, but I'm going to anyway. I've been burned by both publishers. And it hurts. Really hurts. As writers we put our dreams in the hands of others and sometimes that works out great. I've had some really great experiences. Fantastic support and more than I've ever dreamed possible.

    But that isn't always the case. Sometimes your dreams are shattered by the people you thought were going to help you succeed. I will not be naming names because that isn't the point of this post and I choose to focus on those who have helped me succeed and for whom I'm forever grateful. The point of the post is that I finally realized I have to do what's best for me, and right now, that's going indie. I want control over my career. Yes, it's a lot of work. A LOT! But I've worked in this industry long enough that I've been involved in each aspect of publishing, and I believe I'm ready to take on this challenge. And it will be a challenge. I have no doubt about that.

    Does this mean I'll never seek a traditional deal again? Of course not. I've learned not to say "never" because it's like tempting the devil. ;) But for now, I'm going indie and I'm really excited about it.

    What decision have you made lately that was tough but for the betterment of your career?


    *If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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    16. Why I Am Not a Poet


    I have a brief new essay up at The Story Prize Blog, "Why I Am Not a Poet". Here's a taste:
    I care about words, structures, rhythms, resonances, patterns, allusions, borrowings, sentences, images, emotions, voices, dreams, realities, fears, anxieties, failures, yearnings, and much more, but I don't really care about telling stories. The story is a kind of vehicle, or maybe an excuse, or maybe an alibi. The conventions of the story can be followed and forsaken in ways that get me to the other things, the things I care about.

    All of those things I care about are things common to poetry — some more common to poetry than to prose, I'd bet — and that is why I read poetry, but even though I read poetry, I write prose because I just don't know how to do those things unless I'm writing prose.

    (I think I would rather be a poet, but I am not.)

    0 Comments on Why I Am Not a Poet as of 9/6/2016 6:56:00 PM
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    17. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e September 2, 2016





    Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

    The #1 Key to Relatable Characters: Backstory (K.M.Weiland)
    www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/relatable-characters-backstory/

    A Real Book Contract (Contracts/Dealbreakers) (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
    www.kriswrites.com/2016/08/31/business-musings-a-real-book-contract-contractsdealbreakers/

    The Writing Personalities As Crit Partners (Bonnie Randall)
    http://blog.janicehardy.com/2016/08/the-writing-personalities-as-crit.html

    The Art of Giving and Accepting Critiques (Kim English)
    https://querytracker.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-art-of-giving-and-accepting.html

    Should You Pay for a Publicist? (Dorit Sasson)
    https://janefriedman.com/should-you-pay-for-a-publicist/

    Permission to Begin. Courage to Continue. Forgiveness to Try Again (Dan Blank)
    www.writerunboxed.com/2016/08/26/permission-to-begin-courage-to-continue-forgiveness-to-try-again/

    Revising, Revising, and How to Make it Through (Heather Webb)
    www.writerunboxed.com/2016/08/25/revising-revising-revising-what/

    In Defense of Slow, Thoughtful Writing (Stephanie Raffelock)
    www.storyfix.com/defense-slow-thoughtful-writing

    Ten Ways To Create Immediate Character Empathy (Brandilyn Collins)
    www.jerryjenkins.com/create-character-empathy/

    5 Common Plotting Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Writing a Novel (Janice Hardy)
    www.thewritelife.com/5-common-plotting-mistakes/



    If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.


    If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

    Add a Comment
    18. Monday Mishmash 8/29/16


    Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

    Here's what's on my mind today:
    1. First Day of School :(  I'm one of those mothers who cries on the ride home from dropping my daughter off at school on the first day every year. It doesn't matter how old she gets or that I know she has a ton of friends. She's my best bud and I miss her like crazy.
    2. After Loving You Cover Reveal  If you missed the cover reveal for After Loving You this past weekend, here it is! You can preorder your copy today here
    3. Back to My Usual Schedule  Now that school is back in session, my writing/editing schedule is too. The days always feel so long this time of year because I'm not used to working for five and a half hours straight after breaking up my time during the summer.
    4. Editing  My editing schedule is packed from now through January. That's good though because I need to make money, right?
    5. WIP Put on Hold  I've written quite a bit this year, so I don't feel bad that I have to put my current WIP on hold in order to edit for clients. I might work on it slowly (a few thousand words a day), but we'll see.
    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    19. Writer Wednesday: Setbacks


    I feel like this industry has been quite grim lately. Writers are experiencing setbacks all over the place. I'm sure this has always been the case, but it's being publicized more now than ever, and maybe that's a good thing because it shows others that a writer's life isn't all fun and games. It's tough!

    But here's the thing. Setbacks are just that. They set you back a bit, but they aren't the end. I firmly believe that when things come too easily, we take them for granted. But when we have to work hard, we are more likely to appreciate the success we find. 

    So to you writers out there who are feeling down because of setbacks, I challenge you to do this. Push forward and show the industry and the world that you're meant to do this. You are a writer and you WILL write. And remember that you have others like you to lean on. Let's all lift each other up and do what we're meant to do: write books!

    *If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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    20. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e August 19, 2016





    Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:


    7 Things That Are Ruining Amateur Book Reviews (Peter Derk)
    https://litreactor.com/columns/7-things-that-are-ruining-amateur-book-reviews

    Gaining Traction on non-Amazon Vendors -  Part 1 (Angela Quarles)
    http://blog.janicehardy.com/2016/08/going-wide-gaining-traction-on-non.html

    You, Your Agent, and Your Publisher (Mary Keeley)
    www.booksandsuch.com/blog/dont-know-can-hurt/

    Agent Agreements (Contracts/Dealbreakers) (Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
    www.kriswrites.com/2016/08/17/business-musings-agent-agreements-contractsdealbreakers/

    Having Fun With Structural Revision (Gaëtane Burkolter)
    www.writerunboxed.com/2016/08/17/me-and-my-excite-o-meter-having-fun-with-structural-revision/

    8 Ways to Be a Happy Author (Rachelle Gardner)
    www.booksandsuch.com/blog/8-ways-happy-author/

    A Quick Lesson in the Writing Process (Jerry Jenkins)
    www.jerryjenkins.com/quick-lesson-writing-process/

    The Four Misconceptions of "Show Don't Tell" (Martina Boone)
    www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2016/08/the-four-misconceptions-of-show-dont.html

    The Unpublished Writer (Wendy Lawton)
    www.booksandsuch.com/blog/the_unpublished_writer/

    5 Story Opening Clichés That Need to Die (Max Booth III)
    https://litreactor.com/columns/5-story-opening-cliches-that-need-to-die

    How to Find the Right Critique Partner (K.M.Weiland)
    www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/how-to-find-the-right-critique-partner/

    How to Describe a Character (James Scott Bell)
    https://killzoneblog.com/2016/08/how-to-describe-a-character.html


    If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2015, and last week’s list.


    If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

    Add a Comment
    21. Monday Mishmash 8/22/16


    Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

    Here's what's on my mind today:
    1. Drafting  I had no intentions of drafting a new book right now, but you know how it is when you get an idea. This book will be very different for me. Different POV and genre. Eek!
    2. Last Week of Summer Vacation  :( No! My baby is starting fourth grade next Monday. Say it isn't so! She got the teacher she wanted but is sad that her best friends are not in her class. I'm preparing now to hold it together next Monday morning until I'm driving away from her school after drop-off. Send tissues please.
    3. After Loving You Cover Reveal   Friday is my cover reveal. Woo-hoo! Not that I'm excited or anything. ;)
    4. My Mom's Birthday!  Thursday is my mom's birthday. She reads these posts, so feel free to wish her a great day. Love you, Mom!
    5. Reading  With my daughter home, I read a lot of middle grade books over the summer. I do have some adult suspense books waiting for me though, and I'm looking forward to diving into those soon.
    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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    22. Nurturing Our Writing Lives: 5 Ways to Keep Writing

    How can we nurture our own writing lives once the school year begins? 5 ways to help us keep writing.

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    23. Book Review: Not Dark Yet, by Berit Ellingsen

    Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen
    Two Dollar Radio
    ISBN: 978-1937412354
    Fiction, 202 pages

    I don't review a lot of books, but when I do it's because I really want to--I want to share something important and real that I think other writers and readers will enjoy and benefit from. That's why I'm  taking a look today at Not Dark Yet by author Berit Ellingsen, a writer who has enriched my world and inspired me to keep writing, keep striving, keep going, and always take the time to read a good book.

    I first heard about Berit via Twitter, the best source I know for discovering books and authors I wouldn't usually have the chance to learn about. Thanks to so many bookstores disappearing from my neighborhood (three more have just gone bankrupt this past month), social media has become my primary source for literary browsing, and when I read a post about Berit and her collection of short stories: Beneath the Liquid Skin, I had to order the book, prontoNothing in my extensive reading life had prepared me for the power and originality of those stories, so naturally I couldn't wait to read her novel, Not Dark Yet. I don't think anything else I've read before or after can compare with either of these books.

    Berit lives in Norway, and her work reflects a beautiful sense of place, an isolated starkness that is in direct contrast with much of my own experience. Even desert-y Albuquerque doesn't have the sharp, cold lunar feeling I get from her descriptions. Coupled with this strong geographic presence is a staggering sense of precision to every word she writes, an exactness that has me re-reading many of her sentences for the sheer pleasure of it. In many ways I consider her a "writer's writer" and after I finished reading Not Dark Yet I sat down with my journal to examine what it was that made me love this book so much. Here goes:
    • Setting. An unspecified future; a mysterious Nordic city; a world without clear boundaries, countries, or cultures: the world of Not Dark Yet is a mystery. Yet despite the deliberate masking of time and place, I don't think I read a a single description that left me wondering where I was, or what the characters were experiencing. As I read, I felt every needle of rain, every clod of mud, every veil of mist--and I was actually sorry that I couldn't live there--and this was a depiction of a world in chaos and dangerous change! I mean, what kind of skill makes an awful world attractive?
    • Characters. Main character Brandon Minamoto isn't your everyday protagonist (thank goodness). A complex near-loner with a troubled military history, Brandon is torn between the need to form relationships and the need to be true to himself. I sympathized with his plight every step of the way and was heartbroken when I had to say good-bye on the last page.
    • Plot. I hate plot-spoilers of any kind so I won't drop even a single hint, but I was hooked right from the beginning. I HAD to know: WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO BRANDON?? You'll have to read the book to find out, but his story arc kept me glued to my seat.
    • Writing Style. Oh, wow. There is a zen-like simplicity and clarity to Berit's voice and style that I admire immensely. Seemingly matter-of-fact and terse on the surface, each sentence builds toward the next, roiling on your sub-conscious like some menacing monolithic disaster threatening to change everything you know or believe is true. It's rare to come across so much power in a deceptively plain-spoken sentence, and I found myself constantly wondering how she managed to control it.
    • Subject Matter. I hesitate to call Not Dark Yet science fiction, but I can't think of another category that would fit as well. Sci-fi isn't usually my first choice when choosing a book, but when it goes in the direction of also being character-driven literary fiction, I'm a fan. Not Dark Yet is an excellent example of how to blend (and bend) genre distinctions to good advantage, and one I wish more books would emulate.
    • Metaphor. I've always been impressed with Berit's use of metaphor and symbolism. Whether the focus is on food, the weather, or just getting dressed for a holiday--each scene, story event, or snippet of back story is rich with added-value meaning and subtext.
    • Discussion Points. Which brings me to my favorite thing about this book: I could talk about it all day. It's a book that makes me think. Good literature should lead to great (and memorable) conversation, and I can't imagine anyone not having an opinion or strong feelings about what happens to Brandon and the rest of the cast. In other words, it's the perfect book club book--especially if club members enjoy digging deep and aren't afraid to not always agree on social issues, character motivation, or "what would you do?" if placed in Brandon's shoes. Strong stuff.
    So with all that said, I think I have to read the book again. Not Dark Yet is quirky, original, and packed with secrets--the kind you can't wait to unravel and sit with for a long while after. I found the book extremely compelling and one that has stirred my curiosity and desire to learn more, write more, and even try my hand at some fan-art. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy an authentic book of ideas and a serious voyage of self-discovery. Five stars from me--six if I could!

    Tip of the Day: Be sure to check out Berit Ellingsen and her wonderful books. After all, to a writer it's love and reading that makes the world go 'round!

    0 Comments on Book Review: Not Dark Yet, by Berit Ellingsen as of 1/1/1900
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    24. Writer Wednesday: Where It All Begins


    It's my daughter's last week of summer break, and we've been busy formatting her first book and reading. She read three books in two days! I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see her love of the written word. She's even writing news articles--okay, so they're about Monster High dolls, but she's nine. ;) I'm amazed at how well she puts her thoughts to paper and/or screen.

    She reminds me of someone--a little girl who always had a book in her face (hence my awful eyesight). A little girl who wrote poems and short stories and thought they made the best gifts for her family members.

    For some of us, writing is something we've done since we could hold a pencil. But I know that's not the case for everyone, so today I want to hear how you came to be a lover of the written word (as a reader and/or writer).

    How did it begin for you?

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    25. Helping flooded schools in Louisiana


    The devastation brought about by the flooding in Louisiana is almost too much to contemplate. Earlier this week, I heard a school librarian interviewed on NPR, and thought about offering him some books, but then couldn't find the story when I went to the NPR website. This morning a couple of people brought a post to my attention. A middle school was asking for books to replace those they lost - and three of the titles were mine! I just boxed up 15 copies of The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die and 15 copies of The Body in the Woods to send them. Sure, it's a drop in the bucket compared to an ocean of need, but I'm still happy to be doing something. If you would like to help, see: https://lumoslibriblog.wordpress.com or http://www.katemessner.com/rebuilding-school-classroom-libraries-in-louisiana/

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