Friday, February 24, 2012

Adventures in Self Publishing by Arianna Skye

By Arianna Skye:

Just last week, I re-released my first published novel. I did heavy research on what to do and how to get my book back out there. Here's what I did, for anyone who wants to pursue the self-publishing option.

1. Hire a cover artist. I got a totally kick ass cover for less than$200. This included the POD cover as well.

2. Hire an editor. There are tons of freelance editors out there that are willing to edit your manuscript. Prices can vary, but most are pretty reasonable. And I'm serious. YOU NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO EDIT YOUR BOOK (Caps absolutely intended). Even if you are the grammar queen, you should always have a 2nd (or a 3rd) pair of eyes read over and edit your work.

3. Hire someone to format your book. It only cost me $50 dollars to have someone format my eBook, including hyperlinks and a table of contents. However, if you want to do it yourself, Smashwords creator, Mark Coker has a great formatting guide you can follow.

4. Market yourself. Set up blog tours, make a book trailer, tweet or FB the hell out of yourself. Your efforts will not go unnoticed!

5. Get your book out to review sites. This might seem like a lot of work, but there's a great site called Manic Readers. They have a tool called "The Review Depot." You can upload your book and send it to multiple review sites at the same time. You can even check status of the book you submitted as well. Otherwise, don't be afraid to ask around. Use Google to search for sites that review in your genre. Most sites have easy instructions for submitting books for review. Using Manic Readers and Google, it took me less than an hour to submit my book to various sites.

6. Advertising, if you can afford it, is always important. There are several book blogs that have opportunities for you. And most aren't that expensive either.

7. I also suggest getting ISBNS for your books. Some online retailers require that your book have an ISBN. Smashwords gives you a free ISBN if you need it. Createspace, Amazon's print self-published line will also give you a free ISBN for print. However, some other retailers need ISBNs. I ended up buying 10 ISBNs in bulk, so I can assign ISBNs to other projects I complete in the future. Buying the bulk package is a better deal than buying just one individually. Basically it's like you're buying two ISBNs and getting the other eight free. Note, you usually need an ISBN for each version (ie: digital, print, audio, app, etc).

I'll tell you, I've only had this book up for a week at various book sites, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. I've already surpassed my entire year of royalties from my previous publisher.

However, I've also put a bit of money into this venture... so we'll wait and see how it all pans out.

For those interested in checking out WINGS OF DESIRE:

Not your (grand)mother's fairytale...

Rhiannon Kinsley's ready to call the men in white coats when an intriguingly sexy man appears and insists she's a faerie princess. Cerne Silverwing has a duty to save his kingdom. He needs Rhiannon to be his consort and help defeat the Dark Faerie Queen. Can these two discover that their true destiny lies together?

Available now at these fine retailers:

Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
All Romance eBooks

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Come On Over and See Me!

Hey everyone!

I'm over at The Book Wenches review site with a new interview and a give away!

Come over and see me?


(I'm lonely)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"You Don't Want Readers to Admire Your Writing"

I manage to always make time for reading. It’s a little less intimidating than facing a blank page and writing. I get “Writer’s Digest” and sometimes wish it came out twice a month. I’m always antsy for the next issue! My Rachael Ray mag gets lost in the pile while I quickly devour Writer’s Digest.

Yesterday I was reading an article, when one of the points smacked me over the head. I love when that happens. Instead of forgetting everything I read after a couple of weeks, I know this tidbit will stick. Here’s the quote that sums it up. “Believe it or not, you don’t want readers to admire your writing: You want them to be so engaged in the story itself that they don’t notice the way you use words to shape it.”-Steven James, March/April 2012 issue. Much of the article talked about simplifying your writing and not over doing it with symbols or metaphors, and not “trying too hard”—which also struck me. As a beginner novelist, that’s a likely blindspot for me. Not to mention how much of a turn-off it is when you find a book that’s blatantly “trying too hard.”

It’s about engaging your reader without them realizing HOW you’re doing it. You don’t want them to admire your style of writing or unique similes or powerful writing voice. It’s like hiding all the back stage props, cords, and costumes at the theater . It’s all needed, but you don’t want to draw attention to all those details, even if they are spectacular. This idea translates to the art of acting, and it’s something I’ve noticed in movies and TV shows. When I catch myself critiquing the actor/actress and thinking more about their abilities, it’s a signal that I've found a bad actor. They’re simply a poor actor or they’re over-the-top and trying too hard. It distracts me from the story. When I’m so engrossed in the plot, I barely notice the actor, and instead the actor is a subtle piece that contributes to the story. I’m so eager to watch the story play itself out, that sometimes I even forget it’s “just a movie.” Try it sometime. Test it out. Then test it on your own writing.

Since I’ve started writing more in recent months, I’ve also become a more observant reader- on purpose. There’s an objective “me” that is always present over my shoulder (I picture the angel and devil, except it’s a “mini me”). Even when I’m suddenly captured by a page-turner, I force myself to stop and flip back a few pages to understand HOW the author did it. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t. What bores me. And what keeps me reading (I’m a very picky reader).

I’ve found that being an avid and active reader is invaluable to a writer. After being the nerdiest of bookworms since age six, I’d have to say it’s been just as valuable as any formal education I’ve had. Now I can add this tip to my treasure chest of writer’s knowledge: Simplicity, subtlety, and don’t “try too hard.”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Women in Writing, A Woman's Rant

I don't know if you are as outraged as I am by what's going on lately with women's rights and contraceptives, but I can't believe there's a movement to take us back to the middle ages of the 1950 and before. I was a young mother then and belonged to a Child's Study Group. We had a speaker one night, two I should say, two nurses who came and spoke on an 'acceptable' topic but quickly moved to their particular cause. Contraceptives for women. Yes, Virginia, there were contraceptives back then, birth-control pills. They were just new, but women could not be told about them. If they asked, then they could be informed they were available.

But if they didn't know, how could they ask?

This was especially outrageous to these two women who were way ahead of current thinking at that time, because this impacted the women they dealt with daily, poor women, especially migrant workers who came to Michigan to harvest crops and lived in tiny little shacks with their whole families with no heat, no hot water, only the basic things such as beds, stoves and eating tables. In too many cases, they had more children than their income could support. These children were doomed from the start to be exactly what their parents were and so the cycle went on. These nurses saw first hand, the horrible conditions migrant workers and their families endured. And they saw contraceptives as a way to reverse some of their problems.

Of course the lucky women of our child study group were also outraged at the way the government was manipulating something so important to women and their lives. Well, it's come to that again. An all male panel is sitting to determine the issues about contraceptives and I'm aghast that anyone would contemplate taking us back to such a choiceless era as we once endured. Women are angry and they should be.

How does this relate to writing? I'm an old gal and I've been around for a long time, I remember back in the late eighties when journalists wrote about women who penned romance. Besides the outright snickering and snide remarks, some columnists actually suggested that these books were bad for our society because they raised women's expectations in the bedroom. Can you imagine? The real crutch of their objections were fueled by their fear for their manhood. Aside from the fact that God took a man's rib to build a better model, we've done nothing to take away from them. For centuries women have been docile, obedient, accepting of the world the men decreed, but no more.
I remember at a book conference back in the nineties when a social worker told me that they used romance books to show battered women how loving relationships were supposed to be, to show them that men were supposed to be loving and supportive and never beat a women. I was so impressed with that concept, my pride in what I was doing was greatly increased, so when I picked up a paper and read some of those tongue-in-cheek articles about romance books, I was even more outraged. Outraged should be the title of this article, I suppose, but we should all be feeling it right now, even our guys who love us and our daughters.

The writing industry and especially the erotic market has been very responsible in presenting relationships as something between two equally consenting adults and so it should be. That means the woman has choices in that relationships and nothing should come between her and her rights. Next time I sit down at the computer to write about men and women and their coming together as equals, I'll be reminded to make clear what rights and choices women have in our society and why we're better for them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

11 Ways to use Pinterest to Market Your Writing

 Ways to use Pinterest to Market Your Writing

Perfect Baby
“What?”, you say.  “Isn’t Pinterest where I go to check out perfect babies, the latest nail polish craze and kick-ass decorating ideas?”
Latest Nail Polish Craze

Yes, yes, it is, but it’s so much more.  Pinterest is an awesome marketing tool, and you should be using it.

Did you know it already has five million users, and that a million and a half visit each day?  Did you know that in January 2012, Pinterest drove more traffic to websites than LinkedIn, Google Plus, Reddit and YouTube combined?

Your writing career (You, Inc) should take advantage of this phenomenally beautiful site and its users (mostly women, I’ll bet, and a good share of them readers).  Here are eleven tips to get you started on this great marketing tool.

1. Sign up.  It’s easy and painless.  Use your business name or pseudonym as your profile name.  Add your website URL in your profile, too, and make sure to fill in the “About” section so users can get to know you.
2. Connect your account with your Facebook and Twitter accounts.  This adds social media icons (the FB icon and Twitter blue bird) under your profile picture (your picture can be a book cover, hint, hint) that link to your Facebook and Twitter profiles.  And when you pin, be sure to check the Twitter box to automatically feed the pin to your Twitter account.
3. Pin lots of stuff, steadily, to maximize exposure, and pin from lots of different sources.  Variety is important.
4. Tag other Pinterest users in your pins by using @username in your descriptions.  This allows you to network with other professionals in your field.
5. Comment on other people’s pins.  This is an underutilized feature which will expose you to other users.
6. Pin videos.  Grab an amusing or thought-provoking video from YouTube and share.  Or - brilliant idea! - pin your book trailer.
7. Use Pinterest’s embed option to publish pins to your blog posts.
8. Use images in every blog post so your post can be shared on Pinterest.
9. Add a Pin it! Button to the footer of your blog posts so your readers can share it on Pinterest.  Pin your own posts, but don’t be “that person” who overdoes it and turns off people.
10.       Add prices to your pins but typing $ followed by the price in the pin’s description.  When you add prices, the pin might be featured in the “Gifts” section.
11.       When adding a description to your pin, use keywords so other pinners will find your images and boards when they search.  A good description will stay with an image as it gets repinned.

For 45 more ways to market your writing on Pinterest, go to the site from which I blatantly stole these tips.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


FYI, I'm having right hand surgery Mar 8th. So will miss Mar. Meeting. It's just out-patient & I know & trust the Surgeon. But there will be some recovery time.
Lois Ann Woltjer (L.A.)

Writing Tools – Tech vs. Non-Tech

I still consider myself a newbie at this writing fiction thing, so I'm still discovering what tools work best for me and what tools are out there in the tech world. So I figured I'd share what I've learned so far.

Non-Tech Tools

My favorite non-tech tools are these little spiral bound notebooks that I get from tech conferences. Some of them have pages with perforated edges, making them easy to remove when desired. Couple those with my plethora of ringed binders that I've accumulated over the years – most sized like a Franklin Classic daily planner – that are perfect fits for the notebook pages. I can jot down notes wherever I am, no power required. The con with this tool is that I have notes for my various books kind of scattered about my house, trucks, and various laptop bags. This necessitates an organizing binge every few months as I look for a note that I know I have somewhere around that's relevant to the scene I'm currently working on.

Other favorite non-tech tools include some really nice notebooks that are similar to the Moleskin ones you see in Target now. And Post-It notes. I feel in love with Post-It notes when they first came out and were only available in yellow. I can jot a quick note down and stick it pretty much anywhere, but then I loop back around to the same issue I run into with notebooks in general.

White boards are a favorite among every IT geek I know. They're great for jotting down lists of things you need to work on and organize your thoughts. Problem is, once erased, your information is lost.

Tech Tools

I love my BlackBerry. In the IT world that makes me a bit of a dinosaur, but I don't care. I really love the keyboard on my BlackBerry and can effectively make notes and lists with just one hand. My favorite app on my phone is it's MemoPad. I have several notes in there already and better yet, BlackBerry devices come with the Desktop Manager software that allows me to backup ALL of the data from my BlackBerry to my PC. And I can transfer it to another BlackBerry device if I wish.

On my Windows 7 boxes, and my SUSE Linux boxes, I love the StickyNotes apps. StickyNotes showed up first in the Linux world and I fell in love immediately. How cool to be able to pull up a virtual StickyNote, jot down some info, and place it somewhere on your screen, or close the app but not lose the data. In Windows 7, not only can you drag the notes around on the screen, stack them on top of each, but you can change the colors. This helps me keep track of notes for my different book series. For instance, Jess gets Purple, Collie gets Green, The Scot gets Yellow, Merie gets Pink, and my blog post notes get White.

The only problem with the StickyNotes on Windows 7 is that most backup solutions won't copy it because it doesn't reside in the Documents folder, and many users have no idea where the little data file is stored. That means, if you're machine has to be re-imaged (i.e. Windows has to be installed from scratch) you may lose that data. The good news is that all of your StickyNotes is in one little file and it can simply be copied to an external drive, USB stick, or CD; take your pick. The file name is StickyNotes.snt and it sits in the c:\Users\curentusername\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft (where currentusername is who you log in as).

iPads and other tablets have a plethora of freebie notepad type applications. I don't use my iPad often for writing as the virtual keyboard and I have some “issues”. There is the default notepad that comes with the iPad which works fine, but I also like Bamboo Paper. The caveat on Bamboo Paper is that it's designed for right handed writers, not “lefties”. There are a ton of free and paid for apps out there and it really comes down to personal preferences. Check out the reviews and be prepared to try out several ones to find the one you want. But rest assured, you can find a nice freebie somewhere.

For my actual word processor, I prefer LibreOffice. It has a very simple interface, can read mutliple formats and has a word count formula that closely matches NaNoWriMo. It can also export into a multitude of formats, including PDF. Better yet, it's free.

Several of the GRRWG members are using Scrivener, and others are using WriteWay (hope I have that name correct). Scrivner provides you with a organizational tool that can help you organize your novel while keeping track of your various notes and research pieces. I just checked and you can currently pick it up for $40 USD. Or, you can run the free trial and see if you really like it first. Scrivner is also available for Mac OS/X. I'm currently running the trial on Windows.

There are several websites available out there for writers, such as, that allow you to post your writing to the world at large. I haven't used my account since I started my blog. I find it's just too much to keep track of.

Speaking of too much to keep track of, I found this nice freebie site a year or two ago that lets you keep track of your agent letters, who you've contacted, read reviews on agents that you may be considering, and offer reviews on agents you've contacted. The site is free to use and quite simple to get around. There are other free sites out there as well. Do a little research to find one that may fit your style.

One last thing to check into is Kaspersky's ONE Universal Security package. For the cost of one license you can cover up to 5 devices, including smartphones, Windows PCs, Macs, and Android Tablets. Considering how much hacking is going on these days, it's a good idea to have all of your devices covered. I use this at home to protect our phones and multitude of PCs. Now if they'd just cover my iPad.

So, there's my $5 worth of my favorite tools. Hope this helps someone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Writing to Write

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to write on a regular basis. I started a new blogging project. There have been moments I do NOT want to write; yet I make myself. The ending result includes smiling at the completion and feeling accomplished. Then I turn around and write again because constantly writing is becoming a habit with time.

My short words of wisdom to people who are trying to advance their writing skills:
* make yourself write even if you don't want to write
* don't critique as you write, just do it
* get a writing partner as it makes all the difference in meeting deadlines and goals
* if you are struggling with formatting your writing, buy software if needed:
- Final Draft is great for scriptwriting
- Scrivener is perfect for novels
* join a writing group; it makes writing enjoyable
* don't set unrealistic goals
* and be creative while having fun writing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

My favorite movies are romantic comedies (and that is what I try to write. I hope others find them funny as well.) There's the excitement of love, quirky characters and great one-liners.

Here are some of my favorite lines from my favorite romantic comedies. Take a guess at which movies they are from. I'll post the answers this evening.

1. "Well I really wouldn't care to scratch your surface, Mr. Kralik, because I know exactly what I'd find. Instead of a heart, a hand-bag. Instead of a soul, a suitcase. And instead of an intellect, a cigarette lighter... which doesn't work."

2. "A hundred and fifty-two stitches from his nose job. The number of his souvenir shot glasses that he's collected in his travels."

3. "Perhaps Mr. Collins has a cousin."

4. "It's beltacular."

5. "You killed our love fern."

6. "And he's a Christian."

7. "When people tell me they are happy, my ass begins to twitch."

Happy guessing! Hope you have a wonderful day. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Writer's Address

By Brynn Paulin

Okay...Abe Lincoln will probably haunt me forever but here goes--the oddity that goes through my brain when I'm burning the midnight oil to finish a book:

Four months and seven days ago... this author brought forth on this computer, a new manuscript, conceived in haste, and dedicated to the proposition that all characters deserve a happily ever after.

We are now engaged in a great writing debacle, testing whether such a manuscript so conceived and so difficult, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of Brynn’s mind. We have come to dedicate a portion of her brain, as a final resting place for those plots that have perished so that the story might live. It is altogether fitting and necessary that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot forget—we cannot let go—of these plots. These quirky ideas, viable and weird, who struggled here, have made their mark, far above Brynn’s power to add or detract. The world might little note nor long remember what is written here, but the faithful readers will never forget.

For it is charged to this writer, rather, to be dedicated to completing unfinished work and random plots that thus far have barely advanced. It is rather her task to be here dedicated to the great effort remaining before her—that from these hastily conceived ideas she take increased care to the cause for which she gives a full measure of her devotion—that she be highly resolve that these books shall not be written in vain—that this work, from Brynn’s brain, shall have a fresh perspective—and that ideas romantic, by the romantic, for the romantic, shall not perish from the shelves.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reading and Writing

I doubt that I would ever have become a writer if I hadn’t first been a reader. From an early age, I learned to escape into the written word, living in my imagination, taking the ride offered by someone else’s pen.

How limited and dull my life would be if I didn’t have a love of reading. Suppose I’d never really learned to read – suppose it had become a struggle and therefore a chore. That’s why I volunteer thirty minutes a week with the Grand Rapids Schools of Hope tutoring program.

The big picture is that I listened to our Heart of West Michigan United Way volunteer describe the future prison-building plans as based on an area’s current third-grade reading level. Shocking, but it makes sense. Kids who struggle to read in third grade aren’t going to improve their school performance in subsequent years. Imagine a boy or girl who can’t make the grade (literally) and think how they feel about school. If it were me, I’d be looking for, planning for and waiting to escape. Jobs for high-school dropouts with literacy problems aren’t well-paying, if they exist at all. You get the picture.

This is my second year as a volunteer. For a very small time invested, (2 hours initial training and 30 minutes a week) my rewards are rich. Last year, my student was a third grader who wrote me a note after each reading session and hugged me good-bye. She told me about being the youngest child in her mom’s family and the oldest in her dad’s because her dad’s girlfriend just had a baby. I put two and two together and figured (rightly or wrongly) that this didn’t provide a stable environment. Even as a single mother, I spent hours reading with my son, literally from the day he was born. Reading, studies and a stable environment are a priority in our home. I didn’t sense she had this herself.

My current student is a fourth grader. We’ve gotten to know each other over the last couple months and she’s an enthusiastic reader. Last week she came in wearing glasses (new for her) and beaded bracelets and necklaces. The jewelry was a gift for her “friend-a-versary” – a celebration with her best friend. She told me that her friends help her keep her light, that when she’s feeling down, her friends keep her up. All this from a ten year old.

I see the light in her eyes when she adds new learned words to her banner on the wall. In order to get added, the word must be spelled correctly six times and written in a sentence. I love to watch her walk around the room, checking out the other banners, sometimes counting their words and comparing her own. She doesn’t get discouraged by this comparison – I see her strengthen her own resolve.

The highlight was this past week when she had to use the word “valuable” in her sentence. “My tutor is valuable.”

Yeah. I did almost start crying. At the same time, my heart was so full of joy at the impact of my thirty minutes a week. Watching a child develop and grow – seeing a young girl reach for her goals and achieve them – does it get any better?

Readers and writers. I’m keeping my eyes on this girl. We may likely find her gracing bookshelves and best-seller lists in the future. And that’s just so much better than being a statistic for future prison-building.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Building the Writing Muscle

by Suzanne Graham

When I haven't been writing for a while, my writing muscle gets weak and flabby. (A lot like my abs.) After an extended period of non-productivity, I sit down at my keyboard and struggle to get the words out. My under-used writing muscle screams for a break. "Really," it says, "I'll perform much better with another cup of tea. Or better yet, do you have any chocolate in the house?"

Those first few days (or weeks) of getting back into writing shape are painful and seem to produce such little results - just a fraction of the word count that I can produce when my writing muscle is strong and in shape.

My goal this year as a writer is to produce more than I did in 2011, and I was off to a good start in January...until I got bronchitis. But then I got back on track with my writing the following week...and then I got the flu. Then it was several large home improvement projects before our annual Super Bowl party.

Now, here it is February 10, and I feel like I'm back to my flabby writing self. But the good news is that my writing muscle is the easiest muscle for me to improve and see changes quickly. (My abs certainly don't show me results as fast...if ever.) The words accumulate on the page, even if it's only 500 a day.

So today, I am blessed with good health and a newly improved house, and nothing on my schedule to interrupt my writing workout.

Time to go lift those weights!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My First SALE!!!

by Andrea Dickinson

Oooo! I'm jumping over the moon this month.

I've sold my first contemporary romance, Baltimore Heat!

It will be released April 25.
Just in time for Chicago-North's Spring Fling Conference, so I can participate in the book-signing.

This is a book that I almost didn't write. The initial scene came to me one night as I was trying to get to sleep. I got out of bed and wrote into the wee hours of the morning. Then I put it to the side. I was in the middle of writing another book at the time, and didn't want to get distracted.

Six months later, I considered opening the file, but I wasn't sure I was the correct person to write this story. It's an interracial romance between a white woman and a black man, and an important piece of the story takes place with Marcus's family. I didn't know if I could present his family dynamics authentically. With the encouragement of several writer friends, I completed the story. And now it's going to be published!!! Whoo Hoo!

Here's a little blurb to introduce you to Raquel and Marcus:

At the end of a busy workweek, young businesswoman Raquel Walsh merely wants to shorten the distance between her and the train station while she searches for a taxi. She never expects to find herself lost in a rough Baltimore neighborhood, the victim of a mugging and the unexpected houseguest of the grandmother of a retired, professional basketball player.

Marcus Jones isn’t in the market for a new woman as he nears the end of his self-imposed year of celibacy after his vicious breakup with his last gold-digging girlfriend. Having to play host to a homeless woman for the weekend is messing with his plans, as Raquel distracts him with her curvy, womanly figure and her tendency to land on her face.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Creativity And Its Privileges

Being a creative person has its privileges, let's face it. The fact that we're all creative in one way or another doesn't seem to register with a lot of people who spend their lives in chosen professions that don't require a lot of imagination or creativity, and they count creativity as a process involving the arts, literature, music, etc. without seeing what creativity they bring to their own lives in other areas.

This came home to me a few years ago with my husband. He's an engineer and he must bring his own ideas about designs etc with the added knowledge of load structure etc. to keep the project from collapsing. He has or had because he's retired now, ideas out of his head to create ides and solutions and make sure they worked. His creativity required a great deal more discipline and specificity than most areas. A school teacher is a prime example where she must use creativity to teach young people in a fresh and effective way. The lawyer must get creative in order to do the best job for his client. His failure to a good job can affect his clients freedom or even life and death. I could go on. The point I want to make is that this creativity exits in a box as it were, it's parameters are tight. There are rules in their creativity, certain boundaries that can't be stepped over, even in the name of creativity. The worst example of this kind of control over creativity existed years ago in Russia where art and music and literature had to reflect the politics of their country. Many great artists fled Russia, as they have other oppressed countries, because of these restrictions.

Yet, even under those circumstances, when the artist's very heart and soul was being squashed, and their work discredited, people held them up to a very high esteem. Those creative giants could say or show things within the heart of men, that others could not. Their esteem was deserved.

But what about us, writers here in America? Writing is a 'have to' thing for most of us, but sometimes, we demand more accolades than our work demands. We lean on our rights as creative artists. Do you know who I am? some irate writer might exclaim to a hapless waitress or busboy who hasn't a clue because it's her/his first book and it just isn't making a major impact on their world.

I think we need to thank God for our creative forces, be humble for having them and enjoy the privileges that go with it. What are those creative privileges? We get to do something we love doing and we have an audience for it, which makes us feel empowered enough to keep on. I think that's privilege enough.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

From NaNo to Novella

Tomorrow will be an exciting day for me. My third novella will be available at Astraea Press. Aegean Intrigue is a story I began three years ago during GRRWG's first Winter Nano challenge. The previous summer I had gone on a ten-day trip to Greece, where my daughter had gone for a semester abroad to study writing. Of course, I had to check out the school and her living conditions, so I convinced a friend to travel with me to the island of Paros, in the Aegean sea. We went in May, just when the warm spring made the colors vivid and the air balmy and comfortable, but before the summer crowds arrived.
My daughter mentioned something that stuck in my mind. During the day, we would see local women as they went out on their daily tasks. But in the evenings, the only locals we saw were men. The women we encountered in the restaurants and shops had come from other countries. Robyn told me that Greek women were not outgoing toward strangers, and she and her female classmates found it very sad. I came home and did some reading and found several references to that phenomena. What would it be like to live in that culture? I decided to write a story about two people who had been affected by that in different ways. And Aegean Intrigue was the result.
I came up with Francie, who is half Greek. The men on on her father's side of the family are typical overbearing men who expect total obedience from their wives and are yukky. Her mother's parents are French Canadian, and Grand-pere treats his wife with love and respect. And she's gone to school in California, so she has experienced American views on relationships. She's also had a difficult relationship with a Greek man.
Alex is also half Greek. He has seen his mother treated poorly by his father, and vows he will not be the same. But in a past relationship, he's had a woman take advantage of him, so he's also leery about starting a relationship. Besides, Francie is the main suspect in a case he's investigating.
I threw in a bit of a mystery and some archaeology (I don't know how I come up with these professions that require me to delve into a lot of research, but I seem to be a glutton for punishment) and three years later I have a novella. The story doesn't look much like the first draft, but it's done.
So this year I'm going into the Winter Nano challenge with a new story line. Hopefully I'll have enough material to shape into something I'll be able to submit someday. But if not, I'll have bits and pieces I can use elsewhere. The point is, if I don't write something, I won't have anything to use anywhere! So when we meet on the 11th, come with your laptops and ideas and be prepared to write! We'll have food and beverages, and there will be people who will be able to answer questions. But the best way is to just put words down, and ask later.