Friday, June 29, 2012

Mini Checklist for Self Published Book

So, I made it through my final edit that will include major rewrites. Yay! Party time! I'm nearly done! Er - maybe not.  While the book itself is going to require only one more read from me before I send it back to my editor to be proof read, yesterday I realized I still have a lot of work to do.

GOODREADS:  In a writer's group I belong to, someone asked if you should put your book up on prior to publication and the answer was yes. I didn't even know I could do this. I went and checked it out. You have to have fifty books on your Goodreads shelf and then you can apply to become a librarian. Once a librarian, you have the ability to add books; thus adding your own book pre-publication. I try always to listen to the advice of people who have done this before, so decided to add my book, and then realized I have some things to do before this step.

COVER ART:  When submitting to Goodreads (or when you publish the book) you will need cover art. This is the first shot you have at grabbing your readers attention, so it needs to be catchy. I know a lot of people who are doing this on their own and if you have the skill, you can save some money. I'm not so skilled, unfortunately. My cover art was done by LFD Designs for Authors at and I've been extremely happy with the outcome.

BLURB:  I wrote a blurb for Always & Forever once, but I didn't really perfect it and decided to worry about it later. Now, it's time to worry. I submitted it to my writer's group and they had great ideas on tightening the writing and cutting information that doesn't need to be included. What I mean by blurb is the short book description that can be found on the back cover of a paperback book or in the product description on-line. This is important to get right, because it's the first sample of your writing potential readers will look when making a decision on whether or not to read your book.

AUTHOR PICTURE AND BIOGRAPHY:  This is tough too. I'm still working on the bio, but I finally found a picture to use. The tough thing about pictures, I'm usually the person who runs the camera. Most shots of me are pictures I took by turning the camera backward and snapping the picture myself! :-) Not a good picture for something professional. I finally found a few decent photos and picked one. Perhaps in the future I will have one professionally done, but for now I think this is fine.

My bio is trickier, I'm not sure what to include. Other authors have suggested people like to know a little personal information about the author, so I'm trying to include some of that. Do people really care that I live happily with my family and our pet cats?  I'm not sure, but I'll probably include that information anyway. I plan to go on Amazon and read other author bios to get a better idea of what to do here.

There is more work ahead once I get my book back from the publisher, but hopefully having all these things done in advance will save me time as I get closer to publication.

Happy writing, my friends. I hope you have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Adventures in Editing ~ What I've Learned

I wanted to give an update on how editing is going for me. Honestly, this has been the hardest week I've ever had writing. Editing, for me at least, is an exercise in patience. I hear some people rave about how much they love editing and it is their favorite part of the process. I wish this were true for me!

My editor, Stephanie Pace, is absolutely fabulous. She did much more work than I paid for. I honestly feel bad about how much she did, never understanding how difficult the job of copy editor must be.  I'm hiring her to do my proof read when I finish the revisions, and I'm very grateful to have found her.

I tried very hard to be a low-maintenance client, only sending in questions once for each set of chapter submissions she sent me, and limiting those questions to things I truly didn't understand. Stephanie was very patient when I did ask questions and tried to incorporate things more into the next batch of edits if she found I had a hard time understanding what she said. I think it is important to work with an editor you trust. If you find one, hold onto him/her!

The perk to self publishing remains in that I don't have to take her advice. Even though I do understand this, it has been a very hard thing for me to implement. I've found some of her ideas do not mesh with the book I intended to write and would change my novel completely. However, a part of me worries if I don't take her advice, I might do something wrong and ruin my chance to make my book the best it can be. This has led to a lot of rewrites, which I then realize are wrong for my novel after changing things.

I think this is where a lot of writers struggle. How do you know when what you've written is good enough? Although ten different people (only one of them a friend/family member) read my book before I sent it to the editor and each expressed their enjoyment in my creation, I'm still left looking at the editor's suggestions and wondering if it's really okay to ignore her advice.

Silly, perhaps, but there it is. So I write, rewrite, hate the new stuff, reread the old version, love that, plug it back in, move on. The reason I keep doing this, however, is because several of the ideas she shared are so great, so mind-blowingly brilliant, I know my book is better for taking that advice.

Perhaps when I have more experience I will be able to objectively look at the editor's advice in the future, accept the changes she suggest that are wonderful, and reject the ones that don't match my vision before I rewrite the scene. For now, I slough through it all, frustrated if the new scene doesn't work, but even more grateful when something she inspired enriches a scene far beyond what I first imagined.

Through it all, my critique partners have been there for me. Thank goodness for them! They have been willing to read through some of the new scenes, tell me what's better, what's worse, what they loved about my book before and wish I wouldn't mess with. It's a great help to me on this frightening journey toward perfecting my novel.

I'm at the half-way point in my revisions and I will be happy when the major rewrites are done.  Then, I'll send Always & Forever off for the proof read and move on to the next book. That's when the fun starts for me. First draft is my favorite part of the writing process. 

Happy writing! I'm wishing you a productive week!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the daddy's of the world! I hope you have a fabulous day and spend lots of time with your family, or spend it on the phone if you are far away from your children.

I wanted to give a shout out to my Poppa Ray today.  As far as father's go, he's tops in my book.  The best part, he chose to be my Poppa.  No compulsion involved.

I had a great childhood, but since my parents divorced when I was three years old, there wasn't always a stable second parent in my life.  Mom, of course, did a wonderful job and my life has really been a terrific blessing, but my biological father lived seventeen hours away, and I rarely had contact with him.  Sometimes, I missed having a father around.

Enter Ray.  Mom had been single for a while, and she and I lived in a small apartment together when I was fourteen.  She went on one date with this jerk who I really hated.  He gave me a slimy feeling, and Mom came home from that date none too pleased with him either.  After that, I worried about her dating but I also didn't want her to be alone.  Needless to say, I became a little wary when she talked about another guy.  However, she often came home from work telling me about the nice complements this man paid her, and she glowed with joy whenever she talked about him.  His best line ever, one gorgeous day he told her, "This day is almost as pretty as you are." Hearing that totally melted her heart.  Because of this, I decided to give him a chance.

I was nervous to meet him, but I shouldn't have been.  I loved Ray from almost the moment I saw him.  He went out of his way to include me, and make sure it was okay with me if he continued seeing my mom.  Truly, they were meant for each other.  It wasn't long before he asked if it was okay for us to all live together.

I don't know how I made it through fourteen years without him.  Seriously, I already thought I was the luckiest kid in the world, and within a matter of weeks I had a man who wanted to be my father, and wanted to spend the rest of his life making my mom happy.  Perhaps for some people this transition would have been hard, but I don't remember ever resenting sharing him with my mom.  I just remember being pleased to finally have a wonderful father.

Poppa Ray used to own a cabin in the mountains, and we spent many a weekend there, merging his family of six kids with my mom's family of six kids. He knew all the great places to go hiking and we went on a lot of day trips to see waterfalls. For my fifteenth birthday he planned a trip to Park City. It was a lot of fun exploring that little town, and I remember we even ate lunch on a second-floor balcony and it was so fun.  Around my sixteenth birthday we went on a trip to Las Vegas.  All sorts of fun things I don't know if Mom and I would have experienced just the two of us.

He also spent a lot of time encouraging me in any dreams I had (and still does to this day). I've shared this before, but I was raised thinking I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I have the most supportive parents I think it is possible to have. Their faith in me is, perhaps, the best gift they ever gave me.

Time marches on, and Poppa Ray morphed to Grandpa Ray.  Then, my kids were the ones who went on hikes in the mountains, spending one week every summer with my parents and their cousins at the cabin--no parents allowed! Poppa Ray always took them on money hunts where they "found" money on a dirt trail. They always came home with so many quarters. I think Poppa was much poorer at the end of the week!  So many good memories!

Parent Person,

I want to thank you for being my Poppa.  All the little notes exchanged back and forth before school and work since we didn't always cross paths, knowing I had a father figure I could count on, and being here for me ever since.  There are no words to express my gratitude and love. Thank you for choosing me as your daughter.

I love you lots and lots! ~ The Cute One!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Adventures in Editing ~ Are We Done Yet?

I promised to do a post about my experience hiring a copy editor for Always & Forever. All in all, I'm very happy I did this.  It has meant quite a bit of work, and I'm not quite at the finish line, even though I thought I was.  Honestly, editing feels like a never-ending battle, but other authors do this all the time.  I'll make it through.

Here are a few things that I plan to check and double check in any future novel:

Point of View Character - Honestly, I'm not certain I've ever heard a rule on how to pick a point of view character.  I simply picked the character I thought worked best and went for it.  My editor explained that the POV character should be chosen based on who in the scene has the most to lose if/when things go wrong.  Unfortunately for me, this rule means there are three scenes in Always & Forever that I've chosen the wrong POV.  Since this is essentially more Lilly's story than Zach's, sometimes I picked Zach when it should have been Lilly.  Let me tell you, changing the POV character is not a little fix.  I'm sloughing through, but I don't want to make this mistake again!

Does Something Change in Each Scene? - Another thing she nailed me on a few times is that my POV character started the scene thinking one thing and ended the scene thinking the same thing.  Although something changed in the scene story wise (and they were important things that needed to happen in the book) she said if something doesn't change for the POV character then I didn't do my job as a writer.  Easy enough fix, really, I just need to tweak a few things, but definitely something to look out for in the future.

Does the Plot Make Sense? - Honestly, this is why you need another person to look at your work.  I think it is too hard to figure this out for yourself and it is important to have someone looking over your shoulder to make sure your plot holds together.

I think I got a lot out of the experience of hiring a copy editor, but honestly, I'm not taking all of her suggestions.  She is, after all, merely a person with an opinion.  I panicked and started changing everything at first, until I remembered that fact.  I think it is a good idea to get a lot of people's opinions, and then make a decision from there.  Lucky for me, I have a great group of critique partners (remember, you can do this for free at if you don't have a group in your area or you prefer to work on-line).  When I had a hard time deciding whether or not to take the editor's advice on certain plot points (and really, this meant almost totally changing my book from what I had envisioned) they were able to tell me what they agreed with about what the editor said, what they disagreed with, and why.  It's really helped me to understand what parts of my book worked, and where I need to work on clarification.

When it comes down to it, part of the reason I'm self publishing is so I don't have to listen to an editor if her vision doesn't agree with mine. One of my critique buddies reminded me, "This isn't an editor at Random House telling you make these changes in order to get a six figure advance."  That really helped me put things into perspective. 

Still, I've gained insight into my characters and into the story I wrote.  There are many, many places in the novel where the editor has reminded me to add more internal thoughts, suggested flashbacks that would help bring things together, and suggested changes to certain scenes that will strengthen the whole of what I have done.  She also made a wonderful suggestion to change one of my secondary character's personalities.  I would never have seen this on my own, but I think it makes the book that much stronger. 

Oh - she also nailed me a few times for telling and not showing...I hate that! But thankfully she caught them, because I thought I had eradicated all those telling problems.

Overall, I'm very pleased with my experience with an editor.  I don't know if a copy editor is 100% necessary if you have a good critique group, but I learned more than I thought I might.  Now, all I need to do is finish implementing the changes I've decided to make and send this baby off to my proof reader! And yes, hiring a proof reader is mandatory if you want to put out the best book possible. 

Happy editing! Have a wonderful weekend! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Super Kitty!!

When my writing buddy Gizmo isn't helping me write, he likes to sleep. 

Of course, he dreams he's Superman!  Have a great Monday!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Facing Chronic Disease - Rheumatoid Arthritis

First of all, I'd like to start by apologizing.  I know I haven't posted in a long time. My life has been rather chaotic lately. Beyond the chaos, I have had a wonderful time throwing a little party for myself, a pity party.

I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis around the end of April. I've kept mostly to myself and shut out the world for a while with the exception of my family and one very good friend (I can't thank them enough for all they do for me). I read a lot of blogs from other people, and that was a mistake.  Let me tell ya, it's dang depressing to hear how horribly tired they are all the time and how much pain they are in.  I'm tired, I have the pain. I already know about all that.

In the midst of this little party I had for myself, my son graduated from high school - yes, I know I'm way to young to have a son graduating high school :-) My children aren't biologically mine, but I've had the pleasure of raising them for the past 14 years. We threw a huge party for him and a lot of family members came. It was great, and I'm so proud of him. He's going off to college in August to become a police officer.  His ultimate goal is to join SWAT, which scares me to death, but I'm really proud at the same time.

Even though I got all the chapters back from my editor a week and a half ago, I couldn't find the motivation to fix anything. I haven't been critiquing any of my friends at, and I recently discovered that it is impossible to hold a hardback book when you are in the middle of an arthritis flare. I was literally in too much pain after reading five pages, and suffered all the next day while trying to type at my day job. That made my pity party even bigger...reading has always been my escape and now it's been denied to me. Perhaps when I get an electronic reader it will be better. The one I want weighs only six ounces so I'm hoping I can easily hold it.

Guilt got the better of me last week, and I decided to reach out to my crit partners and tell them why I haven't been critiquing their work...and to apologize. It's funny, I call them my crit partners, but they have come to mean so much more than that. It reminds me of when I was in band in high's a family of sorts. An odd kind of family, but still a family. I've never met any of them in person, and yet they have become great friends. I love them all and I am so grateful for their support!

I also have a wonderful family.  They've stepped up to the plate, doing more around the house because they know I can't right now. My parents listen to me cry or whatever I need to do, sitting on the phone with me and helping calm me. I have a lot to be thankful for, and the pity party won't work indefinitely.

I'm usually a glass-half-full kind of person, and hearing everyone's support and ideas helped me realize I need to get a move on it. I have a book to edit, I have a life to live. My doctor said with the medication, I will likely have twenty to thirty years before I am unable to type so I need to work on the books I want to write in the meantime.

I will do a blog post soon on my adventures with editing. My copy editor did a wonderful job, and I'm surprised by the amount of information I have learned from her!

For anyone suffering with a chronic disease, I have a little advice--look for actual support groups on your disease, get information that will help you cope and improve your life. I spent weeks reading personal blogs and just depressing myself. All hope isn't lost as long as you have the desire to try. Of course, we are all entitled to the occasional pity party!

For more information on diet and lifestyle changes, gentle exercises that can help, and a place to start looking for a support system if you have been diagnosed with RA, I recommend I've heard water aerobic classes made for arthritis can help out, and I am starting on Tuesday (I think I've adequately explained how much I love the water, so I'm really excited about this).

They always say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well...I love lemonade! Time to get to work and squeeze those lemons!

Have a terrific week, everyone! I'm off to edit my book!