Monday, August 22, 2011

Introducing R.A. Evans - One of Our Awesome Conference Speakers

I'd like to introduce R.A. Evans to everyone. He graduated from my alma mater, Grand Valley State University. By day, he's a marketing and public relations whiz. By night, he writes creepy fiction laced with blood and dark humor.

He'll be presenting a workshop at the I've Always Wanted to Write a Book conference on October 23, 2011 on "How the Genre You Write Matters as Much as the Story." I, for one, can't wait to hear his presentation!

His novel, Asylum Lake, is a good old-​fashioned hor­ror novel — acces­si­ble, creepy and emi­nently read­able. It tells of a writer, Brady Tan­ner, return­ing to his home-​town of Bed­lam Falls, Michi­gan. Brady’s recov­er­ing from the loss of his wife and is try­ing to pick up the pieces of his life. Well, he’s come to the wrong place!

Bed­lam Falls is a town that’s wit­nessed some ter­ri­ble events over the years. And over it all looms the specter of the shut­tered asy­lum. Read­ers learn more about the grue­some inci­dents that have beset the town by way of flash­back — related through three gen­er­a­tions of the Tanner fam­ily, all of who have been con­sumed, in one way or another, by the town’s sin­is­ter secrets. As the story unfolds read­ers learn why the asy­lum and its denizens con­tinue to cast a shadow over the town. And why Brady Tan­ner is now being tar­geted by a sin­is­ter supernatural force.

So pick up your copy now! It's available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Schuler Books.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You, Inc.

This blog started out a lot differently.  Originally, it was: “Your writing as a business”, and I had a laundry list of things you should do.  But one of the major no-no’s of writing is telling, not showing, so I’m going to show you what I’m doing (or attempting) for the way I treat my writing as a business.
I’m in a different stage of life than most of our members.  My kids are grown, and I have buckets of free time to write.  I also have a bad case of procrastination and referenceitis.  I can spend hours doing anything but writing, and in order to kick start myself, I’ve formed a corporation - Cheryl, Inc.  You won’t find it registered with the state or on a domain, but it’s very real.
Cheryl, Inc has an agenda.  There are things to do, and goals and timelines.  Cheryl, Inc. has one employee who holds the positions of CEO, CFO, Marketing Director and Chief of Communications.  Her salary is zero, and sometimes she grumbles, but she still shows up for work and tackles her lists.
Cheryl, Inc. has a brand.  “Romantic comedies set in alternate realities.”  It’s specific, so her readers know what to expect with each book, but it gives her leeway to write about elves, fairy godmothers, vampire slayers or aliens (all of which she has done).
Cheryl, Inc. has a timetable.  “The Apprentice Fairy Godmother” was self-published at the end of July.  An ebook reissue of “What Do You Say to a Naked Elf?” will be published in September.  It’s sequel, tentatively titled “Roberts Rules of Disorder" will be published in November.  “Tall, Dark and Slayer”, by Champagne Books, in January.  And so on.  A book approximately every other month.
Cheryl, Inc. uses social media.  She has a blog and Facebook account and Tweets under her alternate persona, writerslikeme.  She follows over a dozen industry-related blogs, but needs to work on leaving comments to be recognized.  She realizes you can’t win readers by hitting them over the head with “Buy my book", but by building a relationship.  (Read “Tribes” by Seth Godin (or anything by him) to learn about marketing relationships and how to target them).
Cheryl, Inc. embraces her tiny business status.  In the words of (marketing for businesses without marketing departments; a fun, great website to follow):
I am building a business.  I am building a company.  It’s a small company, but it’s a company, and it’s mine.
Are you building your company?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This Writing "thing" is Hard Work!

The nice thing about my slot for this blog is it usually falls after our monthly meeting. So this month I get to write about all the stuff I learned that I'm doing "wrong".

This month's topic was a question and answer session with lots of really great questions that I've had myself. Things like "does it hurt your chances with an editor (or publisher) to self-publish an eBook?", and who holds the copyrights, how much it costs to get your own copyright, traditional publishing vs. eBook-only publishing and on into writing styles.

As our fearless President and others spoke about new writers and their first chapters, I realized that my first book in the Jess Barker series is probably all wrong. Apparently we're not to use flash-backs in the first chapter (strike 1) and we should keep some of the back story a mystery to scatter about the book (strike 2) and point of view is a big deal as is editing (strike 3 - I'm terrible at editing my own stuff). Oh, and a plot should really be hammered out at some point (strike 4!) and grammar is a must! (strike 5). I never did learn my comma rules or how to diagram a sentence, sorry Ms. Bush!

I warned Andrea about all of this as she's volunteered to read my first book and offer me some suggestions. And I still have to re-write my Synopsis for Tanya to give another once over for me, although I'm sure she won't mind if it takes a few months as she's busy getting ready for something way more fun - her wedding!! I'm also looking for a critique group that is willing to put up with my main character's swearing, LGBT themes, and other various screwed up 'quirk-ery' (yes, I know that's NOT a word but I like better than the alternatives) traits, and at the same time I worry about wasting everyone's time. Lucky for me Andrea's okay with all that Jess has going on - so far. I'm sure she'd like it better if there were some steamy sex scenes, but none of that is in the first couple of books. At least none that I know of at the moment. I never know as my characters take off on occasion in directions that I never anticipated.

We also came up with new terms of "plotser" and "plantser" for the combination style of plotting and pants'ing writing. I'm definitely a pantser as I never make any plans for my characters, they have their own definitive agendas. Outlines were not one of my skill sets in school either. (I'd cheat and do them after I wrote the report/story/assignment.)

I'm also beginning to panic about the two titles I put in for our ROAR contest and how I'm ever going to get the rest of Collie's story banged out in time to get some real editing done. My summer is going way too fast, and is far too busy at the moment for me to get much writing done. I did learn, however, that it may not just be me whose characters "talk" to them. Mine can get pretty demanding though, and that's when I have to write just to clear some space in my head for all the technology related stuff that I need to hold onto for my paying work.

All in all, this writing thing is hard work and I'm a horrible procrastinator who's been sewing, studying and gardening in my precious few free moments lately to ultimately avoid what I know must be done: put on my big girl panties, turn on the laptop, and hunker down for a long writing spell followed by some hard core editing. I guess I really don't have to sleep every night.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Novel Idea

by Tanya Eby

All last month I missed my blog posting. I'd like to say I had a really good reason for it. A reason like "I was so busy working on my new novel that I just couldn't stop!" or "I was busy filling out all the paperwork for a publishing contract!" but the truth was closer to "I was watching a marathon of 'Chopped' episodes while eating Cheetos and complaining that I'll never fit into the wedding dress I bought."

Yep. That's closer to the truth.

Ah well. I took a month off from writing. I did. And I'm okay with that. Why? Because everyone needs a vacation, even a Type-A writer like me. (I think I'm probably a Type-B personality, except with writing. In writing, I'm all Rambo edges and Wall Street Stock Investor cruelty. I don't know why.)

So I took that vacation.

Now I'm having a little trouble getting started again. I'm still trying to rewrite my 4th book "Foodies Rush In", but I've gotten discouraged with the lack of response from agents (though eight or so have read the first 50 pages). I upped the conflict in the book, and it's better now, and it's sitting with two editors from a major publishing house, but I just feel like I've lost my mojo for this story. I want to move on.

I especially want to move on because I have a novel idea. That phrase makes me smile, because it is an idea for a novel and it is an idea that feels fresh and new to me. Oh, the potential of a new project! Characters to discover! Plots to develop!

Writing is like forming all these new relationships. Poor "Foodies Rush In", though. I feel bad for her. If she doesn't wrap herself in plastic wrap and show me some boobies soon, then I'm moving on. This new novel is so tempting...that I can't wait to get started.

Instead of getting started, I thought I'd blog instead. Just delaying the satisfaction, I guess.

And still hoping that "Foodies" still has some twinkle for me. She used to, I just lost a little faith in her.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sliding in here

Okay, so I'm a day late with my post, but since I didn't see Sharon's up yet, I decided to slide in here. Anyone have a problem with that...? Anyone? Anyone here?

Well, assuming someone's reading this, I'll continue.

Having written a number of menage a trois erotic romance novels and even some with menage a quatre, I have decided to scale back my love relationships in my next novel. So I started to think about the kind of love story I'd like to write.

You know how once you pick a movie from Netflix they give you recommendations based on it? Well, I don't remember what started the recommendations, maybe having watched the entire series of The L-Word with my hubby, but I found myself with lots of lesbian movie choices. After watching several, I decided I wanted to write a lesbian erotic romance story, but first I needed to clear it with my publisher.

For whatever reason, F/F erotic romance isn't nearly as popular as M/M among heterosexual women, but it seems to be growing. At least that was what the Executive Editor said when I asked if I could submit an F/F story.

My theory about this growth is that M/M is no longer pushing the boundaries of kink for most heterosexual women who read it on a regular basis. I think women are looking for the new taboo, and what could be more taboo for a heterosexual woman than imagining herself loving another woman?

So my lesbian romance is nearly finished. I will be submitting it to a new line of shortie short stories at my publisher. I'll let you know what my editor thinks.

FYI - If you're looking for some great lesbian movies, I recommend:
The Gymnast
A Marine Story
Elena Undone

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bit of Complication Mixed with Happiness

I can't tell you how many paragraphs I've written thinking I'm going to stick with this topic for the blog. Yet, I change the topic. So this is the sentence I've decided I'm keeping because it allows for change.

There is so much on my mind. I have more than enough words to write with ideas flowing quickly and not the ability to type fast enough. But not all the ideas flow together. So, I suppose I'll start with the most prominent thought at the moment.

Life is difficult. The older I get the more I'm realizing life will never be easy- as there is always something that causes a complication for most adults. Yet, the adults that stay positive, focused, and strong, they seem to get through any situation. I admire those people, and I hope to be like them.

I've finally taken the rose-tinted-glasses off and accepted that this is one of the hardest times in my life. I'm working on improving my health. I'm also trying to get back in shape- as being down and out for 10 months does have its setbacks. I'm in transition trying to meet new friends while staying close to family. I'm also tired of feeling alone but don't know where to begin to meet people. I'm accepting the fact that a relationship I valued is officially over- not by choice- and it is time to move on. And I don't want to work more than 1 job. So, maybe there are options to consider. Can any of you relate to having hardships like this? If so, how did you overcome everything to become the strong individual you are today?

Now that I am starting to accept there are hardships, I would say it is time to start doing something about it. I have a few ideas on what to do. First thing first, understand everything comes with small steps. Make a plan, go slow, and work towards the final goal.

However, I'm struggling with meeting people. How do you meet people? I'm hoping to meet young adults- professionals in their late 20's or early 30's. I'm no longer in college. Most people at my place of work are married. And though I'm involved in a gym and go to a coffee shop occasionally, I haven't been able to meet any friends. Have any ideas on how to improve your social circle?

These are things I have been thinking about as of late. I write about it because I figured you might have some advice to help with meeting people and becoming successful. You are all writers, living the dream, with wonderful friends and family, while mastering your personal goals. Have any helpful tips? :)

Staying positive and wanting to end with a fun story, I must tell you about this past weekend. I finished a camping trip at Sterling State Park in Monroe, MI with my family. I realize I have been blessed with a wonderful family! I can't tell you how much I love my brother, sister-in-law, nephews and niece along with the family friends. Plus, the outdoors, nature trails, and the sun are great... however, a little sun can go a long way. And, I'll take a tent over a pop-up-camper any day- as using a tent is the real way to go camping. And don't forget, ALL technology must stay at home: no cell phones, computers, or electronic games. If you haven't tried it, I would recommend it. Being in fresh air, with lots of exercise, nature surrounding you, and swimming in Lake Erie, it is wonderful. Then, end the evening with a campfire and stars twinkling above. Oh it is beautiful! Even when the rain hits, there is something magical about the whole event. A little swimming, a little relaxing, and then a little sleeping, how it heals the soul. Vacation equals priceless.

Happy thoughts and happy writing! :) Next blog, I'll probably share a small portion of one of the stories I'm working on. Until then, I hope all is going well for you, and I can't wait to see you all soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cats, Bats, and Deadlines

It's that time again and I had absolutely no idea what to write about. I could've stolen one of my posts from one of my other blogs and posted it here, but then reality struck and I wasn't stumped for an idea anymore.

I went to bed early (anything before midnight, is early in my book) at like 11:30, because the words were starting to run together on the screen, which is rarely a good sign. At 1am, a very nice, black and gray flying rodent decided that I needed to be visited. Now, I don't mind bats - OUTSIDE or in a cage or someplace NOT in MY house and certainly not in my bedroom.

After much flapping around it found its way into the living room - on the other side of the house. I turned every light in the house on except Bug's, who's bedroom door was closed, and made my way out to the living room. The living room and office ceiling fans were on, the lights weren't. Ducking and dodging the bat as it zoomed its way around my ceiling and head is so not my idea of fun.

My cat, Tuarwen, decided that the bat was either a new friend to play with or food. While in mid-flight, kitty jumps about 4-6 feet up (old house with like 10-12 foot ceilings) and snags it and pounces it to the floor - there is much squealing from the bat. It escapes and flies some more. It's kind of like a game of tag or tackle football. Tuarwen sits and waits and pounces when the bat gets close enough. The third time she gets it, it flies up and disappears.

With the light on, Tuarwen is staring at the bookcase looking for it. I see what looks like a bookmark. But no, it's the bat. It did land on the Harry Potter books, so maybe it wanted to read about witches. I tossed a towel over it and a book, and went to get a container. It found a hidy-hole behind the books and I decided it could stay there until morning.

Two games of spider solitaire and staring at my current work-in-progress, which is under deadline, and I decide writing is not a good thing then, because the flying fur-ball will most likely end up in the book and I don't want to write about them.

In the morning the bat goes nicely into the container, which has holes in the lid. I call the veterinarian and the nature center. Nature center doesn't want it and says to let it go and the recording for the DNR says to call back during normal business hours. Now, I want to know if it has rabies, because it was playing with the cat - by the way the mouth is really tiny - creepy, but tiny. The vet doesn't want it. I certainly don't want it. Bug wants to see it and pet it. We took pictures and let it go on the university campus, which admittedly is less than a mile from my house, by it's still NOT my house.

The bat is free and Tuarwen got to see the vet tech and get a rabies shot, even though she's up to date on her vaccinations. Now we get to watch her for the next 45 days and if she gets sick, we have to go back to the vet.

The work-in-progress - I'm working on it. I'll make it - as long as there are no more late night visitors.

In the meantime, read and enjoy the sweltering days of summer.


Friday, August 5, 2011

The Anatomy of a Book Cover

My third Mitch Malone Mystery called A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES is out but it could have been delayed a long time because of issues with the front cover. For some reason the cover was a real deal breaker. Let me know what you think of the process Oak Tree Books uses to create the final cover.

First, my publisher asks for a written idea from me of what I think the cover should look like. (Please realize that each publisher has their own way of creating covers and this might not be the same for others.) After that, I will get a website to look at. It will have anywhere from six to twenty photos using my words. For this cover, I wanted photos of a bluff and a river running below it. That is what I picked as the key issue in the book.

After looking at the photos, I sent her my two favorites with the reasons why I liked them. My books are set in Grand River, a fictional Grand Rapids and many of the rivers don’t look like Michigan. After that I was sent two covers and I comment on them. They have the photo I liked best but the designs are different. I again send my comments and wait.
Usually at this point the cover has some small tweaks and is done. For A CASE OF HOMETOWN BLUES, we weren’t done. I got another email from my publisher asking me to look at another cover. She didn’t like what was done and only realized that maybe the cover shouldn’t be of the bluff where the climax takes place but of the town which really works against my crime beat reporter Mitch Malone.
After a few minutes of surprise, I realized she was right and the book revolved around Mitch’s hometown and needed to be featured on the cover. With that agreed on, we were ready to go to print, only a week later than planned! What do you think of the covers? Which would you have chosen? Would you match up this synopsis with the cover?

When Pulitzer-nominated reporter Mitch Malone's editor presses him for a favor, Malone breaks his vow to never return to his hometown. It seemed simple enough--lead a seminar for Flatville, MI's newspaper, keep a low profile and get back to the city post haste. But memories of his parents' death swarm him, and, to avoid solitude, he stops for a beer. In the crowded bar, Mitch is dismayed to see many of his former classmates--including the still-lovely Homecoming Queen, Trudy. Once the object of his teenage crush, Trudy joins Mitch. He quickly realizes she is upset and inebriated. Always the gentleman, Mitch sees her safely home, and returns to his B&B, still trying to shake memories of his parents' sad demise. The next day, he is stunned to learn Trudy was murdered and he is the prime suspect. The locals treat the murder charge as a slam dunk, and Mitch realizes he must track down the real killer to keep his butt out of jail. As he investigates, facts he thought he knew about his family unravel, and danger ratchets up. Can Mitch discover the truth that will allow his parents to rest in peace, or will he be resting with them?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How do you get your sparks flying?

I watched a delightful romantic comedy today called My Girlfriend's Boyfriend. The hero is an unpublished writer who has just been given the final death blow to his writing dream...until he meets the heroine at a cafe. She provides the inspiration and passion to propel his work into the publishable reign.

It was a cute and clever (you'll never see the twist coming) look into a writer's life, and really highlighted how passion in a writer's personal life can influence his/her art.

So my question to you is, what happens when you lose or forget that passionate feeling? How do you bring it back to your consciousness? Do you watch movies, read books, remember your first date with your loved one? Or do you go out and seek that passion in a new relationship?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Keeping Up With Your Characters

This blog was written by Temple Hogan, posted by someone else.

Nothing is more gratifying than to have a fan who loves your book and even more loves your characters so they become real. They even remember the secondary characters! So it’s disconcerting when you’re talking to a fan and they refer to a character that you can’t remember. You see the disappointment in their expressions. You can see them thinking but this person (character) is so important to me, why is it no longer important to the writer who created him? Well, here is my answer.
Creating a character is a heady process. You live with this fictional person for months, you go to bed and get up with him and brush your teeth with him. The is ever in your mind. You’re finding out every secret, every thought, every flaw that character possesses and you’re deciding his fate. Is he good enough, strong enough to be the leading man, does he possess enough courage to see the story through to the end. Will the reader love him or find him too aggressive, too passive. As a writer, you begin to know the shape of his body, the way he smells, the husky rumble of his voice. And the heroine? Oh-la-la! She takes you over. You’re no longer a writer hunched over a key board trying to bring this story along, you become the heroine with no aching knees or torn ligaments, no tired feet, no dishes in the sink or toilets to be scrubbed. You don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner or if your son forgot his homework of if the dog just chewed up your favorite pair of designer shoes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Challenges

I don't consider myself a "techie" but I do spend a lot of time on my laptop. Aside from writing, that is. My kids tease me because I know more about their friends than they do because of the time I spend on facebook. And I have my online games. Scrabble, Solitaire, Boggle, and Wheel of Fortune are my current favorites. Each one soaks up a lot of time that I probably should spend writing. But I read somewhere that doing these word games helps sharpen my brain power and could keep me from getting Alzheimer's eventually. So I guess I could argue that this time is actually "preventative therapy"!

After getting the nod from Astraea Press, I've been working on promotion. I ordered (online, of course) bookmarks and magnets to hand out to people. I figured out how to set up a fan page on facebook. And then I decided to set up a website. I have a daughter and a grandson who both have experience doing that, so I wasn't worried. I figured I could get a nice site with a minimal amount of money. So I bought the domain name, and then shopped around for hosting. It turns out the company I bought my promotional materials from offered it, and I could have my site match my business cards and bookmarks, so I chose them. I got my webmistress to come over by bribing her with a nice dinner, and we got started. But we ran into a glitch, and Customer Service wasn't open on Sundays. So I had to call them the following day.

On my first opportunity the following Monday, I made my phone call. I found out I had to follow a two-step process involving "domain pointing". So I made another phone call. Five minutes later I had a live site! I went back to Vista Print, found their Web Builder, and started working. Fifteen minutes later I had a website with five pages! I sent the link to my daughter at work, who was duly impressed.

So my point is, you never know what you're capable of until you try it! I never thought I'd be able to set up my own website, but I did. Eventually, when I get rich and famous, I'll be able to pay someone to design and maintain something that really advertises my many, many books. But for now, I've got something that's easy for me to keep updated. I think it reflects who I am and the materials I produce. And I'm not out a lot of money! It's amazing what you can do. Like I told my daughter, as long as there's a help button and a customer service rep, I can handle this.

What new challenge have you tried lately?