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!

It’s pronounced, “Frank-en-shteen”

Image

A few months ago, I had a falling out with a friend. It was a long time in coming, but it was inevitable. Our opinions on the world were simply too disparate to ignore. Now, this friend of mine, he’d done me some very good turns in the past. We were roommates, at a time where I had thought I would have to pack it up and move back to Wyoming. Later, he offered to publish my work, The Corsican.

I owe Early a lot for his selflessness. I was content to leave my book moldering on my hard drive, and he made me pull it out, dust it off, and put it out there for the world to see.

We learned a lot together, mostly about formatting a book after it’s been written. Eventually we pushed it out, and it was successful for a time. It’s a first work, no one knew me, and quite frankly, I priced it too high for a first work. I thought I was being reasonable at the time, but I also didn’t know as much about the publishing world as I do now.

Foresight and a good friend’s advice made certain that I got a contract with my publisher, one that explicitly gave my book rights back to me after a year. In that year, I found that every time Early said something on my Facebook, it started a fight, and I was left dreading his next bout of opinion-sharing. There were other factors too, most of them involving disrespect to my friends. Finally, I had to part ways, lest I be forever tarred with his brush.

After we parted ways, I’ll admit, I didn’t want to deal with my book. Too much was wrapped up in it, for me, and I wanted to just let it go. However, I’d learned so much from the experience, and it seemed a shame not to put my knowledge to good use.

First, I redesigned the cover slightly. I didn’t like the chosen color or font of the title and author slots, so I went in and added a font that better suited a science fiction book. Next, I went in and reformatted my book so I could upload it to Amazon.

And reformatted.

And reformatted.

For days and nights, reformatted.

I now know how Dr. Frankenstein must have felt, working in his lab. Making minute corrections in his creature to see if somehow this particular setting would bring it to life. Trying, failing, trying, failing, until each step forward feels like Sisyphus pushing his rock up the hill. Each time, getting a little further, a fingernails width, just enough to give you enough hope to rise again when the boulder crushes you and rolls back to the beginning point.

I’m not a patient person, but I am a determined person. Turns out you can substitute one for the other. The results, however, are not pretty.

They’re not pretty, but they are effective. I have just released The Corsican to Amazon under my own steam, for a much better price point, with an improved cover.

I hope that it takes off, like the Frankenstein’s Monster that terrorizes the unsuspecting villagers. Regardless, I want to announce that my work is now online, at Amazon. It’s my first book, so I’m very proud of it. I can’t wait to push Bento Box on the shelf next to it. 

No Rest for the Wicked

I am writing my second novel.

In an interesting twist of coincidence, I started both The Corsican and my untitled second work within months of each other, back in 2009. I don’t have specific dates anymore, but I know I started the second story after The Corsican, for NanoWrimo. (For the uninitiated, NanoWrimo is National Novel Writing Month.) I burned through the first draft, until I hit the climax, and then I stopped and thought, “Not so much.”

I have attempted this story more times than I care to admit. Always something changed. Characters developed, aged from high schoolers to twenty-somethings, main characters became supporting cast as more appropriate characters stepped forward, all the time tweaking the story to improve it. As is typical with these kinds of things, it took an outside perspective to put me on the path to correcting what it was that I just wasn’t happy with. The climax of the story, which was always my breaking point before, came easily this time around.

After three years of battling it, the story is flowing. Despite the amount of work I’m still doing for The Corsican, despite having all the other stuff I have to do, I can still sit down and churn out two thousand words in a day. This is just the first draft, though. Once I conclude it, there’s still acres of work that require doing. Editing, rewrites, polishing.

I can’t say this book has been easier to write because I published The Corsican. However, what I can say is that publishing The Corsican let me behind the curtain, to see what happens once the final ‘i’ is dotted and the final ‘t’ is crossed. Publishing has helped me to develop my process. I’ve gained confidence and trust my instincts as a writer. This draft has been easier to write, partially because I’ve become very clear on the characters over the years, partially because my husband is a genius and pointed out the book’s major flaw, and partially because I’ve learned from finishing my first book. It turns out, the best way to have a process for finishing books is to finish a book. The first one is the hardest, but after that you have a course of action.

I won’t be posting about writing a book in a linear fashion on this blog. I have many projects in various levels of completion, and I will share my insights as they come, from whichever project is providing me insight at the time. I welcome questions, and I will try to be clear on which project I mean, for clarity’s sake.

The world is full of stories. I’m glad that I’ve been able to add to the collective.

The proof is in the print

Things are rolling now! I have been bombarded by life changes; new jobs, new schools, new routines, and even new pets. I have truly gone from zero to sixty, and trust me, I feel sixty some days!

Today was a treat for me. I received a box of proofs. In retrospect, one would do, perhaps two, one for myself and one for my publisher, but we splurged. What the hell, it’s my first book, I don’t know what to expect.

This is why I didn’t know to brace myself at the appearance of several editing snarls.

I’ve been reading all my life, since I was four years old. I am as familiar with books as I am with dressing myself or brushing my teeth. At first blush the book is gorgeous, but upon second and third blush, details start adding up to imperfection.

The publisher chose to go with a sidebar title and name in addition to the binding title and name, as well as the title across the top and name at the bottom. Overkill for sure. Not to mention my cover art, drawn by my friend and co-conspirator Heather Gross, loses real estate to this stuff, which is not ideal.

Next, I found two banks of unintended text. Not quite a page worth’s each, but I’ve only flipped through the book. Hardcore combing is reserved for this weekend, when I can devote focused time to the project.

Now, I’m whining and moaning about what isn’t right, but it’s a proof! Ninety percent of it is finished, this is the punch list. I have a copy of my work in my hands, in print, cover, dedication, the works. Someone could write a book report on it someday. Truthfully I’m excited, elated, in a wonderful place. Once these proofs are fixed, I can print copies for my readers, who wait eagerly for my first edition, limited run, autographed copies. I love my readers so.

Of course, next will come ways of wooing the readership at large to read my stories. I have a wide network of friends and appreciate their support. My hope is to get this book to the next tier, where people I do not know get to enjoy my work too.

 

Ch-ch-ch-changes

In the river of life there are long, straight, wide streams to float along, and then sometimes there are white water rapids.

And me without my kayak.

I had the opportunity over this summer to be unemployed. I realize that’s an odd way of putting it, but you can see unemployment as an opportunity or a burden, and I’d already chosen the burden route. I refused to be beaten down again.

This spate of unemployment lasted three months. (Which suggests that the economy is improving, if only to me.) During that time I took a “finished’ manuscript and edited the living hell out of it. I read words that I wrote three years ago, and formulated them into more polished sentences. I kept the superstructure of the piece unchanged, but honed the story so that it sounded less like a collegiate creative writing piece and more like a professional-level novel.

I sent the work off to my publisher, who was in the process of moving offices across the country. I knew that would cut into my turn around time, but I could afford to be patient. After all, I would end up published, which was what I’ve been waiting for all of my life.

Today, I got an email from my publisher. My book officially has an ISBN! This is an obscure but necessary step, taking a lowly Word document and allowing it to metamorphose into a brilliantly beautiful novel! For those who don’t know, the ISBN is the International Standard Book Number, and it’s how retailers can track your sales/inventory/income. Without it, no book store can find your work, or sell your work.

I shook when I read the email. When I saw the numbers. It was real. In less than a week my work will be released on the world, to stand or fall as it will.

Yesterday I was offered an official position as a software support specialist for a local company. I took it, of course. At the end of the day I need to support my family, and while I have high hopes that my book will become an International Best Seller and on the New York Time’s Best Seller list, I also know that it might not be this book that accomplishes that goal.

It will be hard, adjusting to the forty hour a week demands of a ‘real job.’ However, there is one thing that I’ve learned in these three months. I’m a writer, and no matter what my day job is, I’m not going to to give that up.

A journey wrapped up in an expedition inside a quest.

How does one become a writer?

That’s easy.  I believe that inside everyone there is the ability to write.  The trick is, to make it more important than any other thing in your life.  Some people find that to be difficult, and turn to gardening or scuba diving.  For some poor, afflicted individuals, it is not so much a choice as it is a state of being.  I was a writer from the moment I was literate; in Kindergarten, when our assignment was to write a paragraph, I would write a page.  When I was twelve, I remember looking up from my notebook as a shadow fell over me.  It was my father.  He asked me what I was doing.  When I told him I was writing, he said, “It’s summer.  You don’t have an assignment.”  I told him I was writing for fun.  He shook his head and said, “I could never do what you do.”

Which was the first inkling I had that perhaps being a writer wasn’t for everyone.

I took a major hiatus from writing after moving from Wyoming to Washington.  I was a teenager, I had lots of new friends, and discovered LARPing.  (For the uninitiated, it’s Live Action Role Playing.  Or, dressing up as vampires and werewolves and running around looking silly.)  LARPing was great, because now my stories had a new venue.  An appreciative audience who could give me instantaneous feedback.  I was enthralled with this new form, which became an enormous time sink and rolled up improvisational acting, costume design, and good old let’s pretend into a cohesive whole.  At the height of this time, there were 90 players attending Western’s drama club, and I was not only telling stories for those people, I was keeping things organized as well.  No wonder I had no time or energy for my writing!

Eventually I moved to Seattle with several dear friends, but I didn’t leave LARPing, or gaming in general, behind.  We started table top gaming, which was much less interactive than LARPing but still told stories.  I was content.  A little too content, honestly.  I professed to love writing but other than a few false starts here and there, I’d never finished a novel!  I wasn’t even concerned about it.

My husband, Luke, was absolutely concerned about it.  He made a heroic effort to get me back into writing.  I wanted to, but I knew that if I went back down that path, it would mean I had to stop gaming, which was also my social outlet.  I was reluctant to give up my lifestyle that I had gotten so settled into.  It wasn’t until Amanda, Luke’s mother’s partner, took me literally by the hand and asked me to write a story, that I thought about getting back into it.

The dam broke.  I wrote The Corsican inside of a few months.  It wasn’t a great story in my opinion, but it was a good story, and the first novel I had ever completed.  (Yes, I said my published novel was only a good story.  This was 2009, and I hadn’t much editing on it yet.)  Not long after, Nanowrimo rolled around, and I started a new story, A Modern Fae Proposal.  It was quite a jump.  The Corsican was a science fiction adventure story about slave children who are rescued from their captors and taken to a new planet where slavery is not allowed.  A Modern Fae Proposal was pure urban fantasy.

I finished The Corsican in 2009.  Finished was a loose term.  It had a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The characters were solid, and the plot only had a few holes in it.  This is where The Corsican would stay, on my hard drive, gathering spectral dust, until 2012.  That’s when a friend of mine posed the query, “Say, you have a finished manuscript, don’t you?”

Cue panicked resurrection of said work, and an intense editing regimen.

Tune in next time, when I answer the musical question, “What do you know?”  (Mission, by Pucifer)

The Internet is full of cats.

Hello!

I’m test driving my new blog.  It has been suggested that since I am endeavoring to become a full time author, that I should share my experience with the world.  It’s the new way to keep up with the Jones.  It’s a lot less expensive than buying a Mercedes, so I’m giving it a try.  After considerable resistance to the idea.

(By the way, that reminds me.  Amanda, I owe you an apology.  I’m sorry.  I should have listened to you earlier.)

I would like to start by saying something insightful and witty, but I have spent the last 6 weeks on a manuscript polishing binge, and just sent it off to my publisher today.  I haven’t quite been reduced to posting a cat with a heart painted on it, but it was a near thing.  I knew that perhaps I was in too deep when I heard someone use passive voice in everyday conversation, and I saw a cursor pop up, delete the offending language, and type in the correct verb tense.

So, where do I start this tale of an epic journey of a writer through her first novel?  Three years ago, of course, when a wise and wonderful friend turned to me and said, “Tina, I want you to write me a story.  I don’t care what it’s about, I just want you to write it.”

Her words galvanized something in me, and I decided to do just that.  In all fairness, however, my husband deserves a lot of credit for this as well.  He had tried for years to get me to commit myself to my passion, but I refused to listen.  He laid the crucial groundwork that got me to the place where I could hear Amanda’s request and respond to it, but it seems terrifically unfair for him to do a lot of the work and get none of the credit.  Unfortunately for him, he’s married to an artist, and we’re fickle.

I knew what I was going to write within days of Amanda’s request.  It sprang into my mind, fully formed, my Athena of previously considered story lines and already developed characters.  Self, I asked myself, can I do this?

Of course I can, I replied.