Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Lid for Every Pot

I might have mentioned I finally threw away all those old rejections I had filed away when I cleaned my desk. Though cleaning my desk is a form of procrastination, it's something I always do when I finish a project before I move onto the next. But this time I went deep into the stacks and files.

I have some thick and battered manila folders where I'd carefully stored rejections. When I received them my email, I used to run off a copy. I told myself it was a good way to keep track of editor and agent names as well as keep their words of advice and encouragement close. As I tossed them into the trash, some were over five years old, I reread the ones that weren't just form rejection letters. And laughed.

Some editors and agents were kind enough to remark on my work. Let me give an example for the very first romance novel I shopped around, The Greater Good. One editor told me the world building was wonderful and my characters lovable, but my writing needed to be tighter. Another editor told me my writing showed talent and a strong voice, but she found my world building needed work. If I had combined all the praise I'd been given on the book into one letter, it was the perfect novel. If I combined all the criticism, the was nothing right about the manuscript. Fortunately, New Concepts Publishing, thought the book worthwhile taking a chance on.

Reading through the rejections reminded me of a lesson I learned back when I received my first contract. Tell a good story, edit your work to as perfect as you can make it, and you'll find a way to get it published. Yes, my contracts are with small indie presses, but I like them. I love the personal contact. I love the way they teach me more about the industry. Recently, I found another small press who is taking on my newest epic fantasy series. As my grandmother used to say, 'There's a lid for every pot.'

Perhaps the 'lid' for your work is to self-publishing. I'm involved in that also with my first fantasy series that I took back my rights for from a small publisher that wasn't helping my career along. It was the right path for me.

So have you found a 'lid' for your writing? Do you think the state of the industry provides more opportunity to new writers now than in years past? Have you learned anything from your rejections? Ever get conflicting rejections?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Procrastinate to Productivity

Productive procrastination sounds like an oxymoron. But I think I did some of it this past weekend. I have my excuses for not moving onto the rough draft of Book #4 of The Futhark Chronicles.

Number one is my relentless efforts to get Beneath the Mountain up on Smashwords. The site is incredibly busy. I get to a certain point in the process and I get that little spinning symbol and the old lie, 'one moment please.'  I think it is called Smashwords because so many people smash their computers or something else when they're trying to use it. I had a little trouble with this when I published my first book there but my second one was smooth as silk without a single wait.

Number two is my need to promote book #3, Beneath the Mountain to mega-heights to make up for the income I'll lose when I retire next summer. I tell myself that is a very important full time need. Here's today's effort toward my retirement. BUY!

Number three is the need to check my email every hour or so to see if my romance publisher has responded to my latest submission of the first book in a new futuristic romance series.  I checked at least once while I wrote this post.

Number four is my efforts to get to know my fellow authors at Crescent Moon Press, the publisher who has contracted the first book in my newest epic fantasy series. Lots of new websites and blogs to check out.

So those aren't terrible things to spend time on. But I also did even more useful procrastination stuff this weekend. I cleaned up my desk, shuffling the mess into neat piles. I made little stacks of things that went together. I filled up my trash can with some 'stuff' that had piled up with my intention to use it or file it at some point.  Later this week, I'll dive into each stack of things I think I have a use for and do some more productive procrastination.

Do you procrastinate? If not, are you really human or are you one of those robots word verification warns up about? Is your procrastination productive or just for fun? Care to give me a little sympathy for my Smashwords debacle?

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I have the first book of an epic fantasy sitting on a shelf in my office. Its working title is Seasons of War. I'll probably dust it off next summer. The book is divided into four parts, one for each season of the year. I've been thinking about seasons.

My daughter is always saying how much she loves fall. I have mixed feelings about fall. I always hate for summer to end, but in years past I always had my children's sport activities to look forward to. I loved watching my boys play football, my third son running cross-country and my daughter play field hockey. But it also meant school started and I would have to go back to work. This year, fall is giving me mixed emotions again.

I'm looking forward to starting this last year of my teaching career. The pillars of public education are changing and quickly. Some of it is good, some of it is really, really bad. The school I work at is a great school,  doing well on all the standardized tests and preparing students for the next level. I'm proud to have been part of it. But I'd rather stay at home and write. I'm  not completely done with sports as my oldest son is now coaching the high school team and I always attend a lot of events to support my students. Kids notice when their teachers are there. It matters to them. But next fall, I'll be home writing.

This fall is also when my last child, my mini-me daughter, heads way off to college. Seven hours will separate us. Ouch.

But back to my first paragraph. The seasonal weather pays a big part in that book. In medieval times, a harsh winter could bring a war to a frozen halt. Weather and the change of seasons can be an important device for setting the emotion and raising the tension or suspense in a scene.

Have you ever read a novel where it never rains, never snows and all the days are set in the perfect temperate climate? Do most novels seem to take place in summer? What seasons do you use in your writing? What season is your personal favorite time of year?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Links All Over

I'm sure some authors have all their work with one publisher, but many are like me with multiple publishers or venues featuring their books. Along with multiple publishers come numerous 'author' pages.

Hopefully, if you're published, you have an author's page on Amazon. That page should have all your works carried by Amazon. I have my fantasy books and my romance novels on that page.

Smashwords lets you have an author's page and easy connect to all your work, though those of us who use Smashwords to self-publish suffer our share of frustrations with that platform.

I'm lucky enough to have the wonderful romance publisher, New Concepts Publishing, have an extensive author page for me on their site.

Crescent Moon Press has contracted the first book in my next epic fantasy series, and though it's months away, they already have set an author page for me.

Again, like most of you, I have a facebook presence, twitter, goodreads and even a neglected author's den persona. And many of these places make it possible to link to each other and to our blog or website. Links everywhere. Our name everywhere. It's difficult to keep up with all of them, but it is great to have all those connections to so many places and people in the business of writing and reading.

And just to add a few, my friend, Stephen Tremp, is busy finishing up his third novel and is offering his first book free on Kindle until Thursday night. You will really enjoy Breakthrough.Breakthrough

Another writer I've met in the blogosphere, Donna Martin, is having a contest to celebrate her blog anniversary. She's done an amazing job building a large following in a short period of time.

Are you linked up all over? Do you have a sure count of how many author pages you have on different sites?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beneath the Mountain Available Now!

Beneath the Mountain, Book #3 of The Futhark Chronicles, is available for sale on Kindle. At only $2.99, it's a real steal for nearly 400 pages of epic fantasy.
Available Now at Kindle

Beneath the Mountains continues the battle in the kingdom of Futhark. Marshal Cage Stone and his brother, King Jonared have pushed the demons out of the city of Futhark and regained the throne from the usurper. But they both know the peace is fragile and the demon solution is only temporary. Cage picks up the first hints of the evil power behind the plagues of illnesses and violence spreading throughout the city and into the countryside. He races to capture the demon lord before Keeper Sabelline Shelton embarks on a desperate mission to forever close off the opening to the underworld beneath the mountains towering over the city. Sabelline and Cage both believe going beneath the mountain will be a trip of no return.

The first book of this series, The Keepers of Sulbreth, Book #1, is now available everywhere for only .99 and the second book, Beyond the Gate, Book #2, is now only $1.99. 

There is one more book in this epic fantasy series, tentatively titled, The Heir of Futhark, is already completed in a rough draft. I'll be polishing it and getting it ready for my friend and editor, Gina. Since we're both teachers, the school year will slow us down a little. And I can't release a book without giving credit to my artist, Gayle Bower.

In a shameless bid for some free promotion, I hope some of my blogger friends will mention my new release.  Thanks for reading my blurb.

Is your TBR shelf full? I'm slowly working my shelf of paper books down, but I have a bunch on my eReader. I'll catch up on those during my lunch time at school and while riding bike as I rehab after my knee surgery.

Friday, August 17, 2012

First Day of the Last Year

Yesterday I attended an inservice day at school. I may have mentioned I'm retiring from my teaching job at the end of this school year. One day down and 189 days to go. Not that I'm counting. As I worked on my desk in my office, I looked at my familiar pencil cup, the old metal desk I've used for over thirty years and the big, old heavy laptop issued to me by the school. Would I miss it?

I'll miss the students. I love teenagers. They have so much in front of them, so many things to experience, so many paths to chose from, and bright hopes for the future. But I won't miss that desk, or that laptop, or those inservice days. I won't miss the decisions made by politicians that leave programs unfunded and punish schools that need the money the most. Oops, no politics on this blog.

I won't miss getting up early in the mornings. I won't miss going out in the cold. I won't miss duties like study hall coverage or hall monitoring. I only miss teaching those kids.

Next year at this time, I will feel like a full time writer. I currently can finish about two books per year with each book having 80K to 120K words. How many will I be able to write when I'm done with the day job? Will I have the discipline to write twice that many? Three times? Will I spend some of those extra hours doing some effective promotion?

I hope so. I hope the next twelve months is when my career gets really rolling instead of going forward with fits and sputters.

If you didn't have a day job, would you have the discipline to write full time, forty hours per week? Have you had the opportunity to try that? Did it work for you? Would you even want to do it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Creating a Deadline

Successful people set goals. In my day job as a teacher, I encourage perseverance in everything, as well as having a target for your efforts. In writing, giving yourself a deadline can motivate you to sit your behind in front of the computer and get the work done.

The writers' group I used to belong had a clever contest a couple of times per year. I don't recall the exact name but it fifty words for fifty days in a row. Now most of us type out more words when we take the time to write. The theory behind the fifty words is once you make yourself type at least that many, you're more than likely to keep going until the number is hundreds or even thousands of words. Going fifty days in a row helps form the habit of writing every day. Doing it all together offers lots of encouragement and signing on makes public your acceptance of the challenge. The prize was always something simple like a magnet.
Art work by
Gayle Bower

I've noticed many blog hops and blog fests that encourage similar things. Setting a goal or creating a deadline for yourself works. If you're working with a publisher, someone else will be setting a deadline for you. I have both types of deadlines. I still have a week to meet my last self-imposed deadline. During the next week, I'll be self publishing Beneath the Mountain, Book #3 in The Futhark Chronicles. 

Do you have deadlines or goals you've set for yourself? Do you meet your deadlines or do you need an outside entity like an editor to set it for you?

Monday, August 13, 2012


When a reader sits down with a fantasy or science fiction  novel, they can only enjoy if they can imagine it could be real. In my next epic fantasy series, I want my readers to believe in dragons. In my last fantasy series, I needed my readers to believe in elves, demons and magic. In the more recent science fiction novels I read, I accepted space travel and wormholes as future possibilities. The books are much more enjoyable when we can suspend reality for a little while.

But how far can a writer go before you can't accept the magic or science? Does it stretch my imagination too far to believe a person can fly? Is it too much to imagine aliens wanting our polluted planets? I guess it depends. I know enough science to be dangerous so if I read something that is scientifically implausible, I might stop reading. A vampire that sparkles in sunlight might be too outrageous for me to connect to. However, if the characters are complex enough, the plot riveting enough, it helps me suspend reality easier.

Now there are some silly things we're expected to believe. Does anyone think Superman is unrecognizable because he puts on black-rimmed glasses? Do we really think Tarzan can find a convenient vine to move across the roof of the jungle?

What movie or book as asked you to suspend reality in a way you couldn't quite accept? Anything more blatant than Clark Kent?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Not So Fun, But Getting Lots Done

Wow, has the past week been productive. My niece designed a great cover for Book #3 in The Futhark Chronicles. I have the edits done on Beneath the Mountain. I intend to have it Amazon and Smashwords before the end of the month.
Original Art work
Gayle Bower

I participated in two blog fests and met some great bloggers as well as visited lots of old friends.

I sent a query to my romance publisher, New Concepts today for the 81K futuristic romance I finished a few days ago. Yesterday I polished up my synopsis for it.

Today I'll be working on my blurbs for Stephen Tremp's blurb critiquing exercise on Wednesday. I need three of those pesky things by the end of them month. I had to send one in for First Dragon already but I know I can improve it with a little help from my blog friends.

On the home front, I'm almost done crocheting my daughter's college blanket. I made one for all my boys and they still use them on their beds. This one has taken me a long time because I had so much writing to do.

Then just to make sure I sit around to write and crochet, I had some knee surgery last Friday. I may have mentioned how hard I've been working out for the last year. About a month ago, those downhills started to really hurt my knee. Doc cleaned it out for me so I'm limping around, trying to stay off of it so it heals. Perfect excuse to sit, write, read and crochet.

So what's the best excuse you ever had to sit still and work on a project? Are you participating in some of the cool blog fests going around? Is everyone at your house ready for the start of school?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

It is the month for very clever blogfests. You can still visit Christina Raines for her Childhood Monster blogfest fun. Lots of interesting stories and I met some even more interesting new bloggers

But today is brand new. Jeremy Bates, author of the suspense novel, White Lies, is currently on my TBR pile. Jeremy has put together The Dog Days of Summer Blogfest in which we are supposed to answer three questions.

1. Describe your favorite summer activity so far.

Tough pick for me so I'm mentioning two. In June my husband and I celebrated our anniversary by visiting our college age son who is doing an internship at a resort in the Poconos. We stayed two days and had great fun. The next week, my daughter and I traveled the seven hours to Boston for her three day orientation at Boston University. Beautiful city and hours in the car with my baby girl. What's not to love?

2. What activities do you plan before the summer ends?

I had three writing goals this summer and expect to meet them all by the end of August. I found a publishing home for my second epic fantasy series. I will have the third book in my first epic fantasy series on Amazon and everywhere else before September first. And I have completed a romance novel for my romance publisher. On a personal front, my oldest son bought his own home so I'm painting cleaning, rearranging and thinking about downsizing in the future.

3. If you could have the ultimate, dream vacation, what would it be?

Big question, but the answer is simple for me. I have two stepsons, married and in their own homes and four children of my own. All six kids were active in sports and all kinds of other things when growing up. As some of you know when you have multiple children, it's very difficult to schedule vacations without someone missing something. It's been years since we've all vacationed together. My dream is to somehow have everyone workout how we could spend a week together somewhere. All of us together.

Thank you, Jeremy for putting this together. I hope the days haven't been too doggy for everyone though I know large parts of the world are unusually dry and hot. Please visit some of the other participants and tells us how your summer is going.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Childhood Monster?

Today, Christine Rains hosts 'What Was Your Childhood Monster?' blogfest. What a super idea. Visit her blog and find links to all sort of childhood nightmares. This will also help celebrate the release of Christine's book, Fearless.

I grew up in a big family. I didn't have a bedroom to myself until my junior year in high school and being one of the youngest children, I always shared a room with an older sister. So I seldom had to face my monsters alone. Now we also lived on a farm out in the country, surrounded by fields that were surrounded by woods. Though I never saw one, I was scared to death of BEARS. I was sure they could somehow climb up the windows to my second story bedroom and burst through the glass in the middle of the night. I would stare at those dark windows until I fell asleep. I didn't believe in ghosts, vampires, demons or any kind of hobgoblin, only those durn bears.

Now that I'm grown and moved from that part of the state, the bears have made a comeback. My brother, who was also afraid of bears as a child, shot a bear in his back yard. It was during hunting season when the large black boar strolled into his yard while his young boys were playing outside. Talk about nightmares coming true.

Now if you want to hear about more childhood monsters, perhaps more creative than mine, visit Christine's blog and follow some links. Did something special frighten you as child? Does that monster appear anywhere in your writing?

Monday, August 6, 2012

First Monday Health Tip

As writers, we joke around all the time about gulping mugs of coffee, tea or indulging in wine during our toils. Sometimes we probably exaggerate, but I usually do put away three to five cups of coffee per day. I also drink a lot of water during those hours. During the summer I drink a full 12 ounces before I go running. Then in the first hour after I return, I'll drink twice that much or more on those ninety plus degree days. After seven in the evening I usually only have water though on weekends I might have an alcoholic beverage.

So what's my point. Drink more fluids. Most people have heard the recommendation to drink eight glasses of water per day. Well, it doesn't have to be water, but the Mayo Clinic agrees you need at least 8 eight ounce servings of fluids per day. More is better. If you mix in some caffeine like with tea or coffee, up your fluid intake because caffeine acts as a diuretic. Your body needs all that fluid to function correctly and replace that lost by normal body processes.

Don't forget to visit Spunk on a Stick and vote for the most supportive blogger. So are you getting your eight or more glasses of fluids per day? Do you have to think about doing it or do you get enough without thinking about it?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

IWSG: Dancing to the Beat

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh's great idea I'm here once again to share some insecurities. Yes, it's the first Wednesday of the month and dozens of Insecure Writers will Support this Group. If you haven't been part of this bloggy group before, you are surely welcome to join in.

I'll start with my great news first and then explain how if fits into the group angst. I've been searching for a small independent publisher for the first book in my second epic fantasy series. As of a few days ago, First Dragon, Book #1 of The Morbunda Saga, has a contract. Crescent Moon Press Inc., offered me a contract I'm comfortable with and I'm thrilled to work with them. More about the book in a later post.

Those of you who read my blog know I've been flying through my WIP, over 40K written, as of this morning. Whether it's part of my personality or my upbringing, I like to work on one thing at a time. When I'm deep into a new book, I don't want to stop and check my email, look at facebook or even write a post for my blog. I'm trying to do better and have with my blog, but I've let lots of other things go.

Now I have lots of irons in the fire. I feel like I must finish this WIP. I have the third book in my self-pubbed epic fantasy series, Beneath the Mountain, on hold while I wait for my cover art, and I expect to be working on edits for First Dragon soon as Crescent Moon works pretty fast. Too many things going on for my single-minded writing process. Yet I know other people can work on multiple books at one time. Other authors keep up with all their promotion stuff and still produce loads of new material. I like to work on one thing, get it done, then move on to the next.

So my big insecurity is moving out of my comfort zone. I need to learn to juggle and manage my time between many projects. Does anyone else have this problem? Have you ever worked on more than one book at a time?