Happiness Forever in Waiting: A Writing Update

GrumpyI expect never to be happy in my writing.

Never happy with a final draft of a book, never happy about the success (or non-success) of any work, and all together grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Yup, that’s my dwarf… at least as a writer. Usually, I would consider myself somewhere between Dopey and Doc as an actual person. Of course, Doc can play the organ. I can’t, even though my grandparents had one while I was growing up. It didn’t have birds and all that wooden trickery, but it did have great buttons with options for fun noises…. Okay, I lost my train of thought.

Happiness! Lack of it in writing!

This is all not a bad thing really in my opinion (I have even wrote about this before on this site as a writing lesson here). I’ve trained my brain to always consider the next step, to accept when something is done and immediately begin to think what needs to happen next. Happiness would probably just delay everything else. It is frankly too distracting. Continue reading

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Hey writers! Do you need an editor?

RockyYou ever see the movie Rocky?

Of course, we all have!

And one of the things that make the movie so personal for so many people is that Rocky Balboa is the everyman making good, chasing his dreams. And while the other movies later on turn him into something akin to a Captain America taking on all of Russia and Mr. T, in this first movie he was like us… except with a lot more muscle.

So why am I bringing this up? Do you remember his coach Mickey? He was played by the tough Burgess Meredith, and the character was honest, always pushing him forward. He in many ways symbolizes the kind of coach we wish we all had in our corner. Yeah, he could be gruff but he believed in Rocky and supported his dream. Rocky would never have gotten as far as he did if it wasn’t for Mickey.

Okay, this may sound like I am rambling… but there is a point.

Writers and my fellow daydreamers of future New York Times Bestseller Lists, I can now be your Mickey! Continue reading

Free on Kindle- Editor Rebecca Dickson’s New Book on Writing!

Rebecca DicksonI had the pleasure of having Rebecca Tsaros Dickson edit my new novel Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare. It was a great experience and I am very happy with the result of that work. It is a crazy book and we both had a lot of fun.

Becky has a new writing manual out entitled The Definitive Guide to Writing on Your Terms, Using Your Own, Honest-to-God, Gut-Wrenching Voice and for a limited time it is a free eBook on Kindle! You can check it out here.

The Necessary Humbling of Editing

Dunce CapA lot of fantasies, daydreams, and rainbows cloud the world of writing. It’s not surprising; actually completely natural since we spend so much of our time making up stories as writers, why wouldn’t we have stories about the stories?

Have you ever seen that scene in a TV show or movie in which a writer finishes a book or script? The writer may raise his hands in triumph over an old typewriter or do a little dance; then we as viewers are then jumped forward in time to their inevitable success.

We don’t see the struggle over getting the book out, finding an audience, working with an agent or publisher or, more importantly, editing. And, let’s be honest, editing is not as exciting as the victory dance of a finished book or the sparks of coming up with ideas around a first draft.

Like I said, it’s a fantasy, people. I have even been known to say to writers that much of the art around true writing happens in the editing. It is there a work is “finetuned,” perfected into a final piece. This year, I worked with a series of different editors. First for, my novel A Jane Austen Daydream (which was published by Madison Street Publishing) and then for my novel  Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare.

So why do I love editing so much? Well, because I learned about its importance the hard way. Yes, I have an editing and writing horror story, and I am about to share it. Be prepared, this is about to haunt you like a poltergeist… a writing poltergeist. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Wrestling the Proof Copy into Submission

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverA proof copy of your novel is a beautifully constructed illusion.

Oh, it feels like your book, it could even be argued that it smells like your book, but when you open it up… Wait! I forgot that comma! What happened to that word in that sentence? I know I didn’t mean that!

The illusion is shattered like a mirror and by the time you have gone through the entire book your hands are riddled with little scratches and nicks, and the mirror is nothing like it used to look like. It’s all funky now and so is the reflection staring back at you.

Okay… okay… I know that is dramatic, but that is how I felt going through the proof copy of my new novel MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE.

One of the wonderful little surprises I had with deciding to work with CreateSpace is this option for a proof copy. Yes, they give you the option to look at the proof online for free, but I wanted to hold it.

See, I’ve never gotten into the whole Kindle thing. I just can’t get lost in a story via a screen like I do with paper. Maybe that makes me old fashioned (and, wow, I feel too young to have that feeling about anything), but it just feels more real. On paper is how I discovered all of my favorite books! We share a history, paper and me; and I want my new book to be part of that as well. Continue reading

Book Giveaway, Author Interview, Review and Hello to My 602 Blog Followers! A Friday Writing Roundup.

Typing dudeHi Everyone.

I love days like this! The sun is shining, the grass is green and my ego is the size of Manhattan for today I have reached 602 blog followers!

This is a big deal for me, my writing and this crazy author dream I’ve had since I was child. Thank you so much! I hope you continue to enjoy my writing!

This has also been a fun week for my new novel A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM, recently published by Madison Street Publishing (Out now and under ten dollars!).

  • Through May 12 there is a book giveaway going on at English Historical Authors. To enter you simply need to visit this link and enter a comment. One lucky person will win a print copy of my latest surprising novel.
  • This week I also had the opportunity to have a fun interview with the website Austen Hill. Kelly, who runs the site, also reviewed my book on Wednesday. A review that still makes me blush. You can read the interview here and the book review here.
  • A Jane Austen DaydreamA JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM is still being sold exclusively via amazon.com where you can find it in print now for ONLY $9.85 and as an eBook for just $3.99. I hope you will consider buying it via this link. (You can also learn more about the book, see reviews, and read an excerpt on the DAYDREAM page on this site here).

On a side note, I am currently locking down my book MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE (I gave an update on this book I am self-publishing here). Yesterday, I ordered a proof copy of the book which I should have next week. I can not wait to see it and, more importantly, share it with you.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend, is enjoying A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM, and continue to enjoy my little verbal adventures (posts).

Thank you so much for reading!

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Curse All These Fonts!

fontI am haunted by fonts.  While the characters in MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE are haunted by ghosts and other demonic surprises, I am haunted by the way an “a” can curve, and what each letter may or may not say about my story.

Yes, I have lost days, weeks, debating with myself the right kind of font to use for the book I am self-publishing. It has gotten so bad that some of the fonts are starting to take on personalities for me. For example:

  • Times New Roman is the preppy know-it-all in school. The one you would swear at under your breath when they get a better grade than you.
  • Verdana thinks it is mysterious (it is not).
  • Palatino would dot its i’s with hearts if it could. It is that overly cute.
  • Calibri… well… it is just dumb.
  • Arial is a pampering old grandmother with stale hard candy in a dusty bowl.  Yes, the best intentions are there, but you don’t want to eat them. Ew.

I’ve changed my manuscript again and again trying to find the one that best captures my book. Now the book is a Victorian period mystery (of course, that is not without including the experimental twists in it), so a font that feels a little dated would be nice. Yet, I don’t want to go too much in that regards. I don’t want to drive readers away as if they can feel the dust on the font and story. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Next Steps and a Vision

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, coverA good cover artist can give an author an amazing gift.

This is not about sales, audience, branding, or marketing (I’ve talked about that already in previous posts and that’s all good); this is much, much more personal.

This gift can be sharp like a knife, and it can cut right into you, your brain and your heart, in a way you would never expect nor be prepared for. That happened for me and my cover artist.

See, what my marvelous cover artist did for me was she introduced me to my characters visually for the first time. For the very first time I could see them.

There they are, right there. They could almost wave at me…

Like I said, it is an amazing gift, and I will always be so very thankful of my cover artist for it. Her name is Brina Williamson and I am in awe. (Do yourself a favor and check out her website here now to see more examples of her work and what she could do for your own books.)

For the first time, one of my creations stepped out of the home of my imagination, becoming more than a description on a piece of paper. And, to be honest, I’m one of those writers that lean towards less is more in character descriptions, hoping that my reader will fill in the gaps, making the story more personal for them (an old writing trick, take note); but Brina asked for notes from me on the characters… and… well… there they are.

I’ve seen my stories performed at readings (many times in classroom settings with fellow writers), I’ve heard my characters recreated in audiobooks and in full cast radio dramatizations (you can hear The Dante Experience here), and that was all fun… but visual is new for me. And I have such a hard time looking away from it, it’s addicting.

I’m going to say it for a third time; that image is an amazing gift and when I saw it I am not ashamed to admit I had to wipe away tears. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Finding Inspiration in a Cover Artist

Grim ReaperIn today’s overly-congested world of writers, you need something to stand out, something to capture the eye.

As much as I would love to say it needs to be all in your story… well… that is not enough anymore. Because, frankly, readers might make a decision before even getting to the point that your characters can breath a faint hello.

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, author pages on amazon.com, etc., every little bit helps. But another part, a big part, has to be that the cover captures the eye. The cover needs to buy you a few seconds of consideration; enough to draw the eye to the description and then to your story.  This is true for traditionally published books, indie books, and self-published authors as well. Yes, it is one of the overarching and common struggles that they all share.

Another way to understand what I am saying is that the market is senior prom. You remember senior prom, right? Well, at this prom you want to wear the powdered-blue suit from the 1970’s.

Why?

Because everyone will remember that you did… and they will remember it for years after. Continue reading

My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Calling All Cover Artists!

brush tipsWe’ve all heard the expression not to judge a book by its cover.

IT’S BULL!

We all do it!

A cover is the first line of communication between an author and their audience. It’s the opening shot at a race. It is what convinces a reader to pick it up and read the description (or in today’s world, scroll down the page). Frankly, a cover can make or break a book on the market and we as writers have to care. We have to care a lot!

Right now I have almost 15,000 twitter followers, most of them are my fellow writers, and each time I get the e-mail saying I have a new follower, I will usually visit their website quickly or check them out on amazon. And, I hate to admit this, a cover has been known to influence how I feel about their work before investigating further. See, if a work has a cover that is a generic one from a self-publisher or is obviously created out of stock footage on Photoshop (without any flair to it)… well… there ya go.

I know how unfair this is!

To sit down and write any work (and then have the guts to get it out into the harsh world of sales and reviews) a writer has to care some. No one simply falls into writing a book. Only Paul McCartney can wake up humming Yesterday; we authors are not that lucky. Yes, we may wake up with Yesterday (or with “Scrambled Eggs” as was the original title), but it takes months and months before our song is ready for a performance. Continue reading