Remiss

My book, Bento Box, came out on the last day of June.

And I have not stopped since then.

I have been trying to get the word out. Arranging readings, sending .mobi files to possible reviewers, I’ve been doing everything to drum up more interest.

In the midst of this, I took on a big project in its own right. I have started up a Kickstarter campaign. My father is a weekend warrior, a man who has a day job and a weekend calling. He is a nature photographer, and a damn good one too. I’m trying to get enough pre-orders together to publish a book of his work. I’ve published two of my own, I at least have a little experience at it now.

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1816539246/from-the-big-horns-to-the-black-hills

If you love beautiful wildlife photography, you will love it.

And someday I will get back to regular postings. Someday.

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Bento Box is out!

My novel is out! Pre-sales at Amazon can be found here for Bento Box.

I am exhausted. The hours have been long. Also, this is only for e-book sales, as I am still getting the formatting ready for print copies. I want to crack open the bubbly, but it must wait for the print book release.

Mostly because I don’t have any in the house tonight, and I’m too tired to go shopping.

I hope you all enjoy it, it was a kick to write!

Spring is a verb and a noun

The irony of a blog is, when you have lots to say, you’re too busy to write it up, and when you’re slow, you don’t know what to write. That said, I’m busy, but I’m not able to work on my novel so I thought a blog post is in order.

I have a second short story called “Bits & Pieces” that will be published by Luna Quarterly in June. I’ll have more about that later, right now I’m still signing paperwork. It’s lovely to have been chosen.

Another thing coming up is that I may be featured in a podcast, but until I get something a little more concrete I won’t post any details yet. I am so excited about the possibility!

In the lineup, I’m also going out with my developer editor; this time not to talk about my book, but to talk about ALL THE BOOKS. I want to discuss the best path to learn how to be an editor myself. I think it will help me develop my craft, but also will help me to help others who are learning how hard it is to sit and write something good.

My friends are growing right alongside me. We have a great core writer’s group and an extended writer’s group who are proving to be just as on point as our original trio. To see everyone’s feedback improve stories that are already great. It takes time but it’s like watching a garden in spring. One day the ground is bare; the next its green.

There’s been a lot of personal growth coming in to play with this challenge, which was a bonus round I wasn’t expecting. It’s harder to encapsulate personal growth in a blog post without sounding like an after school special or a crystal lovin’ sun worshiper, so those are things I hope to show in my work instead.

My next challenge is Norwescon, which will be when four author panelists will read my draft and give me pointers. I’m both excited and terrified. I figure as long as I remember to breathe, I’ll be fine. After all, if I’m going to be a writer, I need strangers to read my work all the time!

The Saga of the Editor Search, Part 2

…continued from previous post

Unexpected Turn

When I sent my inquiry letter to my referral of a referral of a referral of a referral, I knew things were getting out of hand. I had solid leads. An editor from Seattle asked for 2 chapters. I had a ballpark estimate from Tammy. Then, I got another suggestion. Leigh came in towards the end of my search, recommended by a fellow writer IIRC. She was local, and in a fun turn of events, had taught a class I’d attended a couple of years prior… an editing class, as it were. I remember thinking that I’d be excited to have her as an editor. I didn’t want to let that be the reason I decided to do it, though. I sent her an inquiry letter, like everyone else.

She got back to me relatively quickly, and wanted to meet by the end of the week. I thought, that was a good argument for a local editor. You can have face-to-face meetings when it mattered. We met and exchanged pleasantries. Then we got down to cases. She was professional. She was focused. She edited speculative fiction. Her rates are per hour, and she said it wouldn’t exceed 30 hours to do what I was asking. At it’s most expensive, she came in about $100 more for the project than Tammy, but what that $100 gets me is face to face meetings, an opportunity to ask questions after her report, and a speculative fiction editor.

When I asked Tammy if she edited speculative fiction, she answered, “Not often.. but isn’t that better, that I can ask questions that a genre editor wouldn’t even consider?”

My personal answer to that question is no. It is the voice of experience; it was purchased at the expense of $400 and a trunk novel that will probably not see the light of day.

When I went out to coffee with Leigh, I had a vibe that I could work with her, that she would be tough on me but only to improve my novel.

 

Conclusions

I believe I summed up my experience to a fellow writer nicely when I said, “I can’t believe I’m going to pay this woman a grand to tell me how much my novel sucks.”

Yes, I do struggle with feeling like I am throwing good money after bad. Despite the fact that I learned a lot and seriously improved my writing with my initial experience with a professional editor, because that novel isn’t online, bringing in revenue, it feels… well, like a failure. Doubtless there are several optimists out there who would argue that it’s not a failure if it got me to publish my third novel. When my third novel is up online, perhaps I will feel differently.

I’m also paying *more* than the first time… but developmental editing is expensive. Having price shopped around, I would definitely say what I’m paying is industry average. Not long after signing with Leigh, I found an article that talked about “What does it cost to self-publish?” Four authors were asked, and the only one who paid a significant amount on editing is the only one I’d heard of.

When I asked my husband what he thought of paying this much for editing my book, his answer was, “Well, do you want to be a writer, or do you need to be a writer?”

Lastly, I’ll just say that there are other ways to do this – other ways to get editing, other ways to get your book published. I’m just sharing what I went through because I had to make sense of my experience anyway, may as well share it too.

Writing Comes from Within. Like the Spleen.

Writing is a superpower. It’s a tricky superpower, though. There are tons of people who can write. There are significantly less people who want to write. There are even fewer people who will write.

I’m a writer, so naturally I think that everyone is. It has taken me years to accept that what seems effortless to me doesn’t to others. And to tell the truth, it’s not effortless for me, either.              

The truth is, everyone is inundated with great ideas for stories. A thought strikes them, and they ponder it for a moment before moving on.

Or, if you’re like me, you get caught up in the thoughts and suddenly find yourself hip deep in scattered chapters.

Editing, on the other hand, is the (one might say joyless) task of creating order out of chaos. Of realizing that your main character wakes up in a new time and shrugs it off effortlessly, when it should be at least a momentary concern. Or that your villain is the most boring character in the story. It’s finding the weakness and weeding it out. It’s criticism. It’s killing your (ideological) children. Editing is hell.

Now I run into the dilemma of being hip deep in my first professional editing session, and looking at my Ideas folder. It’s the shiny place where I record all of my infant ideas. The ideas gleam like gold, beckoning me away from the doldrums of deciding whether or not I can save the damsel in a way that will make sense to my readers.

I am choosing virtue. Partially because I’m paying for it, but also because I want this novel to be so much more than my first novel was. I want to show growth, and build an audience that can see there’s improvement, and want to know more.

The writing in me is so purely chaotic, so unrefined, so beautiful, it’s hard to exert this discipline. I’m not a patient person, and the winnowing out of ideas and refining of sentences is anathema to my previous way of writing.

However, my previous way of writing never got me published, either. So, at least for now, I’m going to rein in my imagination and keep on the harder path.

Arrested Development

When I was a kid, I had talent and was a promising young author. I won awards. I still have them.
When I was a teenager, I stopped writing. I had too much other shit to do. Becoming a person, for starters, and balancing a life I had jumped into without thinking things through; an alcoholic husband and a cross-country move later, and I was in a whole new world, where everything was shiny and dramatic.
I never completely gave it up. I played in Mushes and Muds, which were the text-based version of video games (and.. I totally dated myself.) I would start stories, get four chapters in, and twirl off to another adventure.
Do you know what happens when you don’t exercise your talent? When you take it for granted that it will always be around? It atrophies.
I had no training, no discipline, and I was writing at a high school senior grade education. (I’ve had college training, but not in English.) I was frustrated. I didn’t want to write anymore. I abandoned my talent to the wolves.
Fortunately, my talent learned how to climb up on the wolves’ backs and ride ‘em. It found a spear and howled and refused to die.
When my life swirled out of my crazy twenties and into my slightly-more-settled thirties, my talent was ready and waiting. When I opened the door to look for it, it bowled me over and took off running. There was no negotiation, no slow integration. Getting back into writing was like being flung into the sea.
I wasn’t prepared for how fast my ability grew, trying to make up for lost time. I am still in no way a polished professional, but I never wanted to be a polished professional. I want to drag people along for the ride, and have everyone enjoy themselves. I’m a writer; I don’t rise above life and watch at a distance. I experience it and share it.
I have a friend who is finding her own voice. She didn’t stop writing for as long as I did, but she’s rediscovering her inner fire, and watching that makes me smile.
I have another friend who is working on his first finished manuscript. He figured if I could do it, he could do it. He could have done it before me, but he didn’t believe it until he saw it.
My point is, it’s never too late. You can’t kill your talent through neglect, although you can atrophy it. Don’t let the fact that you haven’t done it in a while stop you. Talent, the given abilities that we possess, do not possess an expiration date. Talent is a gift, and it is given to us to be used. Talent differentiates us in a positive way. Feed it, nurture it. It is a piece of yourself, and it deserves attention.

info blast

I have been invited to do a guest post for Jennifer Brozek’s blog. It will be posted on Jan 28th to this site: here

I’m really excited about my next project. I’m putting together a newsletter. Mostly it will be a vehicle to send out free short stories written by me, but it will also be a forum to keep people informed with book release dates and humorous anecdotes about my son, the walking sound byte. If you would like to get in on this action, feel free!

I submitted my debut novel to a contest for debut novels. The winnings are 25k as a grant to speed a writer on their way to a full time career. Oddly, that is the number I came up with that I would need to get my career started. Let’s hope serendipitous contest is serendipitous.

My second novel is in full swing editing mode. I’m learning a lot about the process. My editor projects a six month turn around time. I’d like to have it done by then, so I can publish it within a year from my first book.

Starting February first, I have challenged myself to post a Tweet a day. I know that several people tweet multiple times a day, but I’m not one of them. So, I figure set the first challenge, achieve it, and then work on taking over the world of Twitter.

If this post seems disjointed and strange, blame my cold. I do.