Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter = No Production

Right now, I work from home. It's a nice place to be, because I can find many ways to sneak in writing during my day. Winters around here are pretty slow. So you'd think that would mean a lot more writing in the winter, wouldn't you?

But no. That always seems to be my LEAST productive time of year. Right around November stuff starts to drop off...and then I don't usually get back into it seriously until about April or May.

At first, I thought it was the cold. My old office wasn't heated and had no door. I used a space heater, but without a door, well, it stayed pretty cold. Especially in January! Brr....

I have my new office space upstairs where it is easy to heat with the same space heater. No more frozen fingers. But yet my production is the same. Slim to none.

I'm still contemplating exactly which book idea I want to pursue. My first thought is to wait until my editing begins, hoping that gives some insight as to where my weaknesses as a writer might lie. You know, learn from my mistakes, rather than repeat them in something new.

I should be hearing from my editor soon. I'm anxious about that. I want to think she loves the book even more now that I made some of the changes she wanted. But some of me wonders if this isn't one huge colossal mistake. If my editor won't email me and say, "You know, we've actually changed our minds...we don't want to publish this after all."

Meanwhile, I want to work on something new. I really do. But that creative side of my brain seems to have stalled right now. Ugh.

Friday, January 23, 2009

There's been a change...

This will be just a short post...my editor informed me the other day that my release date has shifted forward to April 28th. There was a shuffling in the schedule.

I'm not all that concerned about it. Just gives us more time to work on the edits...also gives me more time to get used to the idea!

Gotta figure out the promo thing. Even a few weeks of extra time is a bonus, as far as I am concerned.

So reset you countdown clocks to April 28th!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What's next?

Sure, I guess I should be promoting the heck out of my book that hasn't been released yet. But here I am looking ahead to what comes next.

My first desire had been to find an agent and be published with one of the big dogs in NY. And I still would love to move in that direction because heaven knows the idea of writing for a living and not having to do anything else would be heavenly. (not that you can't make money with the smaller epublishers...you can...but the idea of perhaps hitting it big and getting some large advance is a pretty nice dream)

When I got the offer from Samhain I knew this would be a step in a long journey. A way to improve my writing with the help of a real, live editor who liked my stuff. But after I signed that contract I started to think about how best to handle the next step. Do I write another book with Samhain in mind? or do I take what I've learned, write another book, and go for the NY deal once more?

I have a series idea. Something that's been stewing in my head for about a year. I've added bits of detail over the months. Created a complex set of characters and started to think about the plot for the first book. Because heaven knows if you want a series to go for a long time, you need a lot of characters to work with. Plus, it just makes the world you've created feel that much richer.

When I mentioned that I had a sci fi idea in mind, my editor perked up. When sci fi books come through submissions at Samhain the editors fight over them. Apparently, this is a hot genre with few good stories?

I can see why, though. Women and sci fi....yes, there are plenty of us female sci fi fans out there, but not nearly as many as I'd like to think. Not sure why that is. I've been a huge Star Trek, Star Wars, (put your sci fi tv show or movie here) fan for years. And I'm no basement-dwelling geekoid with a million cats surrounding me. I'm your average normal married chick with kids.

I think I like the possibilities presented in sci fi. Space exploration scares the heck out of me...the lack of oxygen, the huge giant vacuum right outside the safety of the spaceship, the unknown.

Unlike paranormal stuff, which to me is completely made up, science fiction could possibly be true! There could be alien races out there we know nothing about, and worm holes, and fantastic devices that will be invented (isn't there a book or a website somewhere that details the things in Star Trek which came true?).

My science fiction idea is not outer space based. It's planet Earth based. I suppose it does have the potential for some outer space stuff...but I will admit, I am not scientific enough to pull that off. I would probably write science fiction that deals more with the characters and their actions vs. creating super cool futuristic alien gadgets.

There are a couple of female sci fi authors whom I look to for hope in the genre: Linnea Sinclair and Ann Aguirre. They've done quite well bringing female voices to the very male-dominated science fiction realm. And they are bringing something I think is lacking in science fiction...a real FEMALE perspective. Linnea Sinclair is known for blending romance with science fiction. Which is totally cool!

Anyway, I'm not quite ready to tackle my idea. I feel I need to do more research in order to get a grasp on my plot. And then what I will do with the book is an unknown at this point.

Any female fans of sci fi out there?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The countdown begins...

My editor got back to me pretty quickly...she said we will begin work on the book on the 23rd of January. In about a week. I'm praying she likes what I did with it.

So strange how you finish a book, edit it, and think you pretty much have it done. But when I went over the book this time, I found a few places where it was difficult to tell who was talking and a few other tricky descriptions that needed some help.

Besides adding in extra romance stuff, I fixed the places where I saw problems Surprisingly, I ended up adding about 3,000 words and quite a few extra pages. Which is weird because I did cut some significant text as well.

I have a feeling the book will be even longer when all is said and done. I write pretty cleanly, as in, I'm not extremely wordy on every page. The action moves quickly, there's a lot of dialogue, so there might be some more fleshing out to do in order to make the book even stronger.

I'll give you the inside scoop once I get started. Oh, and I'll let you know if I burst into tears when I see all the comments she's made.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Editing Hell

My editor, Sasha, asked me to add some more romance to my book. Originally, the romance was only a minor part of the story. The focus was more on the suspense elements. However, she thought that it would find a wider audience if I could make the romance a more central aspect of the story.

I knew this was possible. There were a few moments in the original where I chose very specifically how I would handle the scenes with romance. And I knew with some work, I could give her what she wanted.

First, I printed out the whole thing. Then, I handwrote any changes I wanted to make...crossing out things I could cut and writing in new stuff or just making notes for myself. That took about a week of work on and off. This week I did the actual typing up of all changes into the manuscript.

It was tough.

The hardest part I had was not altering much of the suspense story that was already there. Some of the emotional parts had to be tweaked in order to fit. In fact, I'm not quite sure if it 100% works. But that is my editor's job. To tell me what works and what doesn't. To help me shape the story into something better.

She had told me right before New Year's Eve that we would likely start editing within 'two to three weeks.' I'm right in that window now and expect to hear from her any day now.

I just emailed her my 'finished' edit so we'll see what she says. It's a bit nervewracking. I've worked with critique partners before, had writer friends give me their thoughts, etc. But this is one step higher for me. An actual editor telling me about the good and bad in my book. Hopefully, there's more good than bad.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

So what about print?

I know electronic books are a new thing for many...including my friends and family! And some people will always prefer to hold a book in their hands rather than hold an ereader.

So be not afraid, readers! My book will be out in print...you just need a bit of patience.

The official guidelines dictate that my book should be in print in July. I'm sure this is not set in stone, but it gives me a good approximation to go by.

So where you can buy the print version when it is available?

Samhain Publishing sells the print version directly from their online bookstore:


It will also be available through Amazon or at your nearest Borders bookstore. I don't know if Borders carries every single one of Samhain's titles, but even if they don't have it on the shelf, you should be able to order it.

The electronic version is much cheaper than print...I mean, you don't have to pay for the printing or warehousing of any books! And since Samhain does POD (POD = print on demand) printing it's a bit more expensive than those large print runs that the big publishing houses are able to do.

Looking at the print books I've seen on their site, I'm guessing the print version will cost anywhere between $11 and $14. Whereas the print version has already been priced at $5.50! So, it might behoove you to get yourself an ereader or download the Stanza app for your iPhone before April 7th!

Also, if you even care, I receive more royalties on the electronic version. A LOT more.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Now comes the hard part

My editor, Sasha Knight, requested that I do some pre-editing before we begin the 'real' edits in a week or two. For the last week I've been diligently going through my pages, scratching out and adding things with my blue pen, and seriously hoping I'm doing what she wants.

My book is mostly suspense with a tinge of a romance between the two main characters. A romance that my editor wants me to pump up...and I do agree with her there. I do. I think it would add more dimension to the two main characters and heighten the emotions even more that run through the book. But it sure ain't easy.

Now that I know this book is going to be published, I'm a much harsher critic of my writing. Each time I sit down to edit, I find myself critical of EVERYTHING on that page. Not just the romance part.

It's tough.

The good part about this, though, is that it does make me look at my work more closely. And whenever you start to seriously work on your own writing, improvements take hold. Ideas about how to make that next book better.

I can imagine when I get down to the 'real' editing that it will be even tougher. I want to make this book the absolute best it can be before it gets into the hands of the readers. So I'm willing to work hard at it.

I want to be finished with this pre-edit by Monday. That's my goal. I'm feeling okay about it right now. But when I take that stack of printed out papers and start to type up my changes, I'll let you know how that's going....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A little bit about e-readers

Since I've announced my book's release, family and friends have been curious...what exactly is an electronic book? How do you read it?

This post is here to enlighten those who are new to the idea of e-books and how much fun and how convenient they can be.

An electronic book is just what it sounds like, a book that looks exactly like a print book, only you don't hold it in your hands or have it shipped to your house from some Amazon warehouse. When you purchase an electronic book, you are given a file to download to your computer (or your reading device--more on that later). There are many different file formats, but one universal format is PDF. The electronic book would include the cover art and the copyright page and any other additional info besides the book itself...just like any print book.

If you purchase a PDF version of an electronic book, you can read it right on your computer or you might be able to convert it into the proper format for your e-reader.

There are a number of different e-readers. I'm not going to list them all here, however. Just a few. The price for an e-reader starts at a little over $200 and goes up from there. Many of them use what is called 'eInk' technology. This technology is nothing like reading off a computer screen. It is not backlit. You can read from an eInk reader in full sunlight. And it's very easy on the eyes...in fact, it's almost like reading from a real printed page.

Amazon Kindle

The Kindle reader has been in the news as of late because Oprah decided to give them away to her audience a few weeks ago. Kindle is sold only through Amazon. Amazon has its own Kindle bookstore where you can wirelessly download books to your device (and newspapers/magazines) from just about anywhere. They have their own proprietary file format for the Kindle, but you can pay 10 cents per file to have other files converted into Kindle format...so if you purchased electronic books in the past in PDF form, you could convert them cheaply into a readable format for your Kindle. A big advantage of the Kindle is the wireless downloading. One of the disadvantages is cost. The Kindle costs about $350 and is currently on backorder until February, I think.

Sony Reader

This is another popular eReader that has been around for a few years. It's made by Sony. The price for this one is $299. It comes in a variety of colors, and has the same cool features as the Kindle with the exception of the wireless downloading. They also have an offer right now where you can download 100 books for free with the purchase of your Reader. Pretty good deal.

Stanza on the iPhone

This last one is not an official 'eReader' per se, but I've heard so much about it in the last couple of months, I wanted to add it here. There are a bunch of free 'apps' you can download to your iPhone that are available through iTunes. Stanza is an eReader application, and since it was uploaded to the Apple site, there have been more than a MILLION downloads in 2008! Also, I read that book sales for Stanza have now surpassed those for Amazon's Kindle. Wow! So if you have an iPhone or the iPod Touch, you may want to try that.

A few other advantages to using an eReader:

1) You can enlarge the text. So, if you need reading glasses, you won't have to wear them using an eReader. Just increase the font size and off you go. No need to buy one of those "large-print" versions.

2) You can carry a lot more books on your eReader than you can in your suitcase or briefcase. If you do a lot of business traveling, wouldn't it be nice to download a bunch of books and take them with you wherever you go?

3) Empty off those bookshelves. No more dusty paperbacks littering your bookshelf. No need to donate those books you don't want to the library or sell at a garage sale.

4) Sometimes the electronic version is much cheaper than print. This is more true for electronic publishers like Samhain than for the big traditional publishers like St. Martin's Press or Random House.

My book comes out in electronic form on April 7th. If you want to be the first to read it, start checking out some of your options. Otherwise, be patient for the print release!

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Article Was Accepted!

When I signed my contract with Samhain, I was asked to join several Yahoo Groups...some were 'business' in nature and others were ones where I can interact with readers and other Samhain writers. In one of the groups, there was a call for any author interested to write an article for their monthly newsletter called The Samhellion. If your article is accepted, you get a free 'ad' in the newsletter.

So, I thought, why not? I can whip something together, can't I?

The theme for January's newsletter was goals and/or resolutions for 2009....and it could be anything from a short story to a recipe. Since I am the big time breakfast maker, I thought: RECIPE!

And thus my article for how to make the perfect buttermilk biscuit was born. I wrote it in less than 10 minutes, emailed it off to the editor, and soon after got an acceptance email.


I'm guessing they really needed content. :-)

The funny/sad thing is that I will not have any cover art or even a Samhain-approved & edited blurb for my book for the free ad. However, the editor was totally cool with holding off my free ad until the February newsletter...and by then I should have a cover to advertise! Whoo-hoo!

I think the January issue comes out on the 15th, so make sure to read up on biscuit-making!

- K J

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Road to Publication...

You read these stories all the time. An author talks about all her many rejections, the books under the bed, the 'almost' moments. Yes, I have them too. All authors do. I have not met an author yet who didn't have quite a few rejections stacked up in her email inbox or in her mailbox.

But I suppose it's always nice to read one more, because it gives that unpublished author some hope and the reader some insight into the whole process.

Go back to 2002. I read online about this 'event' called the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). And how this group of aspiring writers had banded together to encourage each other to try writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. At this point in my life, I'd written lots of descriptive paragraphs and a couple of short stories. I even had about 40 pages of some weird YA fantasy novel written, stashed away on a floppy disk somewhere.

But I'd never tried to write a whole book. In fact, I almost believed I couldn't. I didn't think I had an idea for a whole book in my head.

See, I'm not one of those writers who wakes up with characters and voices and snippets of dialogue in her head. I have more of an 'open your mind and see what spills out' kind of creativity. And the more I use it, the more ideas seem to be in there. Strange thing indeed.

So, I joined the NaNoWriMo that year. Wrote about 37K of a story that had no outline or plot really. And once the month was over, I left my book half finished and lingering on my computer.

Jump ahead to 2004. My husband and I decided to leave the state we were living in and move to the mountains. Rural, quiet. I worked from home. The kids went to school, and, without a commute and a daily job to slog through, I had a lot of free time. I pulled out that old book and made myself finish it (there's a bit more detail to that story, but then this post would be even longer). The book was really quite awful. I remember querying a couple of agents. Most rejected me flat out. The one poor soul who requested the book was very kind about what parts he found good.

But by the time I was in the middle of that process, I'd started another novel. More women's fiction-y than anything else. It took me about a year to finish that one. Did more querying. Got more agent requests for the thing. Ended up with nothing.

Of course, in the middle of querying this 2nd book I saw all the flaws and problems. Knew it needed a big old edit. And was too sick of the book to try to fix it.

I wrote a few more books that also went nowhere. My idea was to find an agent and get that NY contract with a big publishing house. But along the way I met other authors online and learned about the world of epublishers. How you can query your book directly to an editor and don't have to worry about the agent liking your book first.

So I kept that idea in the back of my mind. Always trying for the agent first...but this time around with my book, The Ninth Curse, I was getting frustrated with the kinds of responses I was getting from agents. They all seemed to like my writing style and my voice, but would get caught up on one dumb thing or other in that first 2 or 3 chapters. And I'd get the reject.

As part of my plan, I'd decided to sub this book to Samhain, as I knew they were publishing similar books. My agent hunt had about run its course, and I was convinced this book was GOOD. Thank goodness my editor at Samhain, Sasha Knight, agreed. Within a month of my subbing the book, she'd sent me an email offering me a contract.

The following week, she contacted me to let me know that a spot had opened up in the schedule, and instead of waiting about 9 months for publication, I would have my book up on their site by APRIL. Yikes!

So here I am today. With many many rejections. Several books that went nowhere. And a contract in hand! It does happen. You can survive an avalanche of rejections and 'under the bed' books and come out stronger and better and published.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Welcome to my blog!

This is my very first post in my blog. This is where I will post random author-like things about my book(s), editing, and the whole process of getting published.

Please stop by tomorrow, when I've had some sleep and maybe a few cups of coffee, and I'll tell you about how I got here. Every author has an interesting journey. Hope you find mine worth reading about.

- K J