Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Meet My Main Characters Blog Tour

I was invited by J.C. Mells to be part of a Meet my Main Characters Blog Tour. J.C. Mells is author of The Pierced Series. I have fallen absolutely in love with this series and I'm savoring the last two books because I don't want it to end. I recommend her books to everyone. Mells has been kind enough to be interviewed on my blog twice. Check out her books and blog http://www.jcmells.com/meet-my-character-blog-tour/

In this Character Blog Tour I am going to discuss characters from a book I am currently writing. Then I will link to other authors who will discuss his/her characters.
The book I am currently writing is still to be named.
1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
The names of the main characters are Maisie and Edison.
2) When and where is the story set?
It is my first try at a post-apocalyptic novel and takes place in what used to be part of New England.
3) What should we know about him/her?
Maisie has had her heart broken by major losses in her life. She lives in a town and, like every other town during these times, it is isolated and self-reliant. Maisie hundreds of miles surrounding town  with her best friend, dog Mali.
Edison lives alone far from any town. Despite being a hermit and yet seems full of life.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Maisie meets Edison and sparks fly between them. Not only is Edison a Wayward (stranger not from Maisie's town), she has a secret past.
5) What is the personal goal of the character?
Maisie's goal's to keep her town safe. Edison wants to give her heart one more chance.
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
No working title yet.
7) When can we expect the book to be published?
September 2014 (fingers crossed and editing willing).

Other Authors Braving the Tour with me: (In order of who agreed first to go on tour with me)

Product DetailsJAE
My first taste of Jae was reading her book Second Nature.  I was hooked and read many more of her books of lesbian fiction. My favorite still is Something in the Wine. I was honored to Beta Read her upcoming book Departure from the Script. Great book! Keep your eye out for it. We have started a great writing friendship and maybe one day we will even meet! Check out her site and books here. http://jae-fiction.com/books/novels/

Michael Vogel
Mike is a personal friend of mine. We worked in the North Carolina woods together, shared raising an elephant named Lulu and faced near death experience together. As you can imagine, he has some stories about me. He is new to the writing world and is working on his first book. Check him out here http://amishgiant.blogspot.com/

Catherine M. Wilson
Two summers ago I discovered the works of Catherine M. Wilson. She wrote When Women were Warriors. I started reading the novel not knowing it was a trilogy and boy was I happy! She got me hooked with the first book being FREE. Check her out! I contacted her and begged her to write another book. Let's hope we hear that she is writing more!! Check her out here http://www.catherinemwilson.com/my-books.html
About When Women Were Warriors:
Set in the British Isles during the Bronze Age, a time when matrilineal societies predominated and female warriors were not uncommon, When Women Were Warriors tells the story of Tamras, a young woman of the warrior class who leaves home to be fostered in Merin’s house, a fortress guarding the northern border of a rich agricultural valley. There she expects to find a mentor who will teach her the skills she will need to take her place in her community. -Wilson

Lyssa Layne
Author of the Burning Lovesick Series
Love is a FireI met Lyssa threw a site that hooks bloggers up to do guest blogs. I recently hosted her on my blog. Her recent book is Love is a Fire. Check her out here.  http://lyssalayne.wordpress.com/
Layne's description of Love is a Fire:
Dr. Katy Malone has sworn off love after losing those she loves most in her life including her father, a member of the FDNY. She has decided to spend her time focusing on her medical research. Her ex-fiancée, and fellow doctor, isn’t ready to give up on loving her though.
Firefighter Nick Garrity is on a search for the future Mrs. Garrity. As he pushes thirty, with no prospects in sight, he’s afraid he’ll never find her. A devoted member of FDNY, he loves the thrill of his job and the satisfaction it brings him. He strives to teach the proby firefighter the ropes and pass on his passion to him.
When the proby tries to impress the guys on the crew, he ends up in the care of Dr. Katy Malone. One look at Dr. Malone and Nick knows he’s found his future wife, but can he convince her to love again?
Check out these authors sites on 6/23 for their Meet My Characters Blog Posts!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Author of Love is Fire - Guest Post

Lyssa Layne writes about her book Loves is Fire that was released in May. 
“Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn your house down, you can never tell.” –Joan Crawford
Dr. Katy Malone has sworn off love after losing those she loves most in her life including her father, a member of the FDNY. She has decided to spend her time focusing on her medical research. Her ex-fiancé, and fellow doctor, isn’t ready to give up on loving her though.
Firefighter Nick Garrity is on a search for the future Mrs. Garrity. As he pushes thirty, with no prospects in sight, he’s afraid he’ll never find her. A devoted member of FDNY, he loves the thrill of his job and the satisfaction it brings him. He strives to teach the proby firefighter the ropes and pass on his passion to him.
When the proby tries to impress the guys on the crew, he ends up in the care of Dr. Katy Malone. One look at Dr. Malone and Nick knows he’s found his future wife, but can he convince her to love again?
You can purchase Love is a Fire on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
About the Author
Lyssa Layne is first, and foremost, the proud momma to her precious daughter, AR. In addition to working full-time and being a mommy to AR, she is also an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, a runner, blogger, and an infertility survivor.
Having watched one too many medical dramas and being inspired by author Rachelle Ayala, who introduced her to the world of indie writing, Lyssa decided to try her hand at writing a romance story. Her attempt turned into the Burning Lovesick series. You can find Lyssa’s own interests throughout her stories although all stories are fictional.
Words from Lyssa on her writing journey
"What a long strange trip it's been." That's how I can summarize my journey from deciding to write a book to officially publishing it. I started with a simple idea and just started putting it on paper. It was nerve-wracking when I finally let people read my writing. The Internet is nice because there's still anonymity so no one can "laugh" in your face but at the same time, people will tear you apart limb by limb when they don't have to say it to your face. Every time I get a good review, I am on this super high and I go back to re-read my favorite parts of the book. Then I'll get the occasional fellow author who pipes in and tells me everything that's completely wrong with my writing and it's a major blow to the gut. The one, major thing I've learned from this whole process isn't where to place commas or how to write a happily ever after ending, it's that you can't let the negative bring you down. For every one negative comment, I've got ten more positive ones and the positive ones are what I need to focus on. My advice to budding authors is don't give up, take the good with the bad, and as long as you love your story and your characters then readers will too. Best of luck in your writing endeavors!  
You can visit Lyssa’s writing blog at http://www.lyssalayne.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @layne_lyssa or check out her Facebook page at Lyssa Layne 
Don’t forget to add Love is a Fire to your bookshelf on Goodreads!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Writing Better Kissing Scenes

My editor recommended I work on my kissing. No, I did not kiss my editor. My editor suggested that I improve my writing scenes about kissing. To clarify, my kissing skills do not need any improvement, but I agree that my writing skills regarding kissing scenes could use some gloss. Here's to hoping my fictional kissing catch-up to my real life ones.

Tips for Great Kissing Scenes:
  • Strong Characters: First & most importantly build strong characters and have a strong plot. Two strangers or flat characters kissing is not as powerful as a relationship marinated in lust.
  • Sexual Tension should start immediately.
  • Setting the Scene & Mood: What is happening before the kiss. Are the characters alone? Are they in a crowd? Is it night or day? Are they in an open field or in an elevator? Happy occasion? Scary? Victory kiss?
  • Get them Close: Find a way to get characters physically close to each other. Come running to each other? Lean in to each other while sitting on the couch?
  • Use the five senses.
  • Use Emotions: What are the characters feeling in them moment or about the other characters?
  • Observations: Describe what others notice about each other?
  • Parts of the Kiss: Lips, tongue, teeth, bodies, eyes, face, hands, breath, voice
  • End: Find a way to end the kiss. Someone interrupts them? Run out of time? Change their minds about the kiss? Take their intimacy further? The elevator door opens? It starts raining?
  • Exaggerated Awareness: Another concept to keep in mind is a concept discussed by Sandra Brown called Exaggerated Awareness. A strength and necessity of successful romance writing is to have the readers experience the main characters as having a strong connection. The two are destined to be together and with nobody else. This should be conveyed with every look, touch and interaction.   
  • Kiss that Matches the Character: Match the kiss to the personality of funny, quiet, dominant, etc.
Below are some links regarding writing kissing scenes:




Saturday, May 17, 2014

42 Days

It's been 42 days since I published Love's Autograph on Amazon. During those 42 days my writing mind has undergone huge transformation. My writing mind, writer's perspective and faith has transformed.

The number 42 is my favorite number because it was my high school basketball number. I also love that Douglas Adams wrote, "The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42."

What has been so great the last 42 days?
  • People were actually buying my book. I only sold less than a hundred of Trail Swap.
  • Correlated to people buying books, I was actually making money. More money than I thought possible at this stage of the game. I am not bragging. Believe me, I keep looking at the numbers, rubbing my eyes and looking again. I am not going to be retiring any time soon or quitting my day job, but it is more than pocket change.
  • I hired an editor. Yes, finally I have someone to point out all my writing mistakes and help me fix them. Prior to hiring a professional editor, I used a friend who is great at editing but she is busy and the process took a while. I am a big believer that friends and business do not mix.
  • I have fans! How do I know this? They left Amazon Reviews and sent me emails and told me so. I think I even acquired somewhat of an email stalker. Yes, I saved every email from my fans.
  • Trail Swap and other writing started to sell due to Love's Autograph success.
  • I connected with more writers and beta readers.
  • I adjusted my book categories.
  • I resolved that it is okay to write lesbian romances.
  • I learned that romance readers are more generous with their compliments than general fiction readers.
  • I have some money to put back into my writing thus I created a separate account for my writing.
  • I created a marketing plan and comprehensive book release strategy.
  • I am contemplating having a book cover designed for me.
  • I wrote a book of short stories that include characters from my latest books.
  • Beaver's artwork is amazing!
  • I had the opportunity to beta read for an author I admire, Jae. Bonus: she instituted changes that I recommended.

As you can see the last 42 days have been pretty big. Love's Autograph has been the catalyst of the this transformation. I have begun to believe that I can be successful as an author and I can make some good money writing fiction.

Blogs Needed for a Love's Autograph Book Tour

I'm looking for blogs to tour Love's Autograph. I'm trying to get some more exposure for this0 new book that was published in April. It has received 4.5 stars on Amazon. Check-out the reviews on Amazon. Amazon Reviews. The biggest complaint was the editing. I hired a new editor and it is new and improved. Now I am looking to do some marketing.

I'm open to ventures of writing a post for your blog, having you interview me or sending a excerpt of Love's Autograph.

Do you have other ideas for a blog tour? Send me an email to michelemreynolds30@gmail.com if you are interested. If you are looking to tour your book, let me know.

Love's Autograph is lesbian fiction romance. Here is the summary on Amazon:

What do you do when you show up at an apartment to pick up your blind date and she mistakes you for her kid's sitter? Lesbian rock star EJ Way decides to be the sitter for the night. Fascinated by both Ria and her eleven-year-old daughter, she finds herself sitting night after night, without revealing who she really is. Getting a glimpse into their family life seems like a nice change of pace from her world of music and fame. She doesn’t count on falling in love—or on having to watch Ria go on date after date.

Email me at michelemreynolds30@gmail.com and hopefully we see if our books are a good fit for each other.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

"Perfect" J.C. Mells

I am convinced that author J.C. Mells titled her book Perfect so that fans, reviewers and bloggers could refer to J.C. Mells as perfect. (I guess it could backfire and reviewers could say "far from perfect"). I, for one, would say she is close to perfect.

Author J.C. Mells has thankfully agreed to another interview on Writer & Wilderness Girl Under it All blog. Available here Perfect on Amazon.  After the interview check-out Mells' new look on her website. It is complete with pictures of many of the characters in her book.

As I have written in this blog before, I was lucky to somehow stumble upon Pierced on Amazon or Smashwords and I am hooked! It is not my regular read, but her books now frequent my Kindle.

Tell us about PERFECT- what makes it a must read? (no spoilers I still have to read it)
 PERFECT is a must read especially for fans of the Paranormal Romance genre who have been sticking with the series from the beginning.  Book 1 had very little of the paranormal and no romance.  Book 2 had a bit more paranormal and just hinted at romance.  PERFECT is the “pay-off!”

What kind of feedback or reaction have you been getting from the Pierced Series?
 The feedback has been super positive.  It appears that just about everyone who reads the series really enjoys it.  It’s the getting-people-to-read-it part that is proving challenging!  That's just part and parcel of life as an Indie author though!

What is next for your writing? And for the Pierced Series?
 I am currently working on a novella in the Pierced Series world, featuring one of the peripheral characters, Napoleon.  It will be my first venture into writing M/M Romance and as of right now I’m keeping it YA – but that may or may not change!  After that I have plans to write some Contemporary Romances (I have two in my head at the moment that I’m itching to get to!)
 Wow- I can't wait to read that!

How would you describe your writing journey? How did you get started? What have you learned?
 My writing journey has been a little up and down.  I’m trying to find that balance between working (I’m not yet making enough from the books to pay all the bills…yet!) and finding time to write.  I’ve also learned that it doesn’t come easily to me.  There are some days I can sit and write 10 thousand words (I wrote PERFECT in 3 weeks!) and there are entire weeks I can’t write anything.  I guess I’ve discovered I’m more temperamental than I ever thought I was!

What is your inspiration for your characters and plot?
 I write about things I want to read.  I’m an avid, almost obsessive, reader and I devoured Paranormal Romances for a year or so – so that is what I wrote first.  Now I’m reading Contemporary Romances and will tackle that genre next.  It might sound crazy but I start a book with just a scene or two in my head – then many plot details come to me as I write.  I don’t plot out the entire book before I write, which I assume is more traditional?  The “rave” scene in PERFECT was all I had before I sat down to write it.  I had that scene in my head before I even started PIERCED (Book 1).  Took me a while to get to it – but I think it was worth it in the end!
I agree. I don't do an outline first. It gets me in trouble sometimes. Most times it takes me places I never would have been able to go with an outline.

What do you like most about writing?
 The freedom to create your own little movies in your head and on the page.  I was a Cinema Studies major in college; hence the many film references in the series!

Anything else you would like to add?
Just to say thank you for all your support over the last year since I first published the first book in the Pierced Series.  Also, big congrats to you and your success with Love’s Autograph!  I’m looking forward to reading it!
Thank you for YOUR support!

Check-out the whole Pierced Series. You will not be disappointed.

Developing Writing & Marketing Strategies

Here is a crazy thing. As a writer I want to be writing. I told you it was crazy. Alas, I do not have the luxury of JUST writing if I want to be a successful Indie Author. There is editing, blogging, marketing and networking to be done. My goal for work and life in general for 2014 is to become more organized. My former self about ten years ago was organized, but that part of me died for a bit.

These are some things I am working on.

Marketing Plan
I have read some ebook marketing books, blogs and watched videos. They all pointed to one thing I need a marketing plan. This morning I created a marketing plan for all my books. I have already completed some of the steps. The plan includes entities such as creating a title of the book, using KDP free days, video blogging, blogging, connecting with authors, forum presence, etc.

A integral part of the plan is a COMPREHENSIVE RELEASE STRATEGY. Sounds fancy, right? So far, this is what it entails.

Comprehensive Release Strategy:
  • Soft Release. (Releasing book without marketing.)
  • Blog Tour.
  • Write on Own Blog.
  • Tweets.
  • Obtain Reviews. (Free review sites, formal review requests, Betas)
  • Low Cost Single Book or Short Story to Accompany.
  • Great Cover Design.
  • Public Speaking. (Not sure if going to do this at this point.)
  • Create an Email List.
  • Use of GoodReads.
My marketing plan is helping me choose where to focus my writing endeavors in the next few months. (Despite my internal feelings of wanting to JUST WRITE WHATEVER I WANT WHEN I WANT TO WRITE IT.) I am planning what to publish next based on what will be marketed best. For instance, I have a YA novel close to edit ready. I am choosing to hold off on that to get some more lesbian fiction writing published to take advantage of the success Love's Autograph is having.

Listening to my readers' feedback is important. A lot of the feedback points to my books needing better editing. First, along with using Beta Readers, I am looking for an editor. Yes, every author, publisher and editor article I have read has said, "Find a good editor. Don't skip the editing process. Edit, edit and edit." I believe them all BUT there was this thing called money and I did not have any of it. Now, I have some money coming in from Love's Autograph and I can filter it back into my book. Again, editing will take away from my writing time, but it is needed. I am running into a bit of a problem that a handful of editors who I have contacted read romances but not lesbian romances. One editor wrote "it goes against my beliefs." This is a larger discussion that involves my emotional mind, so I will hold-off on it for now.

What is on your marketing plan?
How have you organized your writing plan?
Do you have a good editor?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writing: Experiencing some Success

I am writing you at the tail end of a nasty fight with the flu. That is not a very cheery way to start a post about some great headway in my writing. I think I just put the flu part in there as a disclaimer for any delusional sentences.

They last two weeks I have had tremendous success with my new book Love's Autograph. The success has been so overwhelming that I have been walking around with a silly grin on my face. I keep checking the sales numbers and thinking "is this really happening?" My wife has even gotten in on the act and checks my Amazon sales report daily. The phrase "what's for dinner?" has been replaced by "have you checked how many you sold today?"

It is not only the amount that I have sold but the REVIEWS I have been getting. There are a bunch of uplifting comments on the Amazon Review site. The first review I read was not very favorable, and I thought "Oh no, here we go again." Then the good ones started rolling in. (I really thing that author's on Amazon should be able to delete at least five reviews.)

Oh, I also found out that I did not make it to the quarter finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The success that I have been having with Love's Autograph has overshadowed that.

I feel like these two weeks of little success has led me to think about the next level to take my writing. I also have a little bit of money to play around with. Some of the reviews focused on my editing mistakes. Despite the GRUELING hours of going over the book and having eight beta readers, there are still errors. Thus, I spent some time today researching editors.

Also, my wife does a great job with what she knows how to do in creating a book cover, but it is not professional. I am thinking about hiring a graphic designer for my cover.

What would you identify as milestones in your writing?
How do you bring your writing to the next level?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Love's Autograph Out & Selling

 Love's Autograph is available to be bought, read and enjoyed on Amazon. It will make you want to create a secret identity and fall in love. If it cannot do that, hopefully it will make you laugh. Its first three days on Amazon and it is already selling 7 x's as many books as Trail Swap did in its first month!

I started writing this book spring of 2013 and was done writing it in three months. Then there were months of editing and getting Beta Reader feedback.

The result: a rocker finding herself and accidental babysitter. A unique 11 year old. A fabulous doctor going on dates with people found online. A roller coaster of a love story.

I am not going to lie. This is pretty dang exciting. Also, I just ranked 11th in the lesbian romance ebooks category. I am hoping to get more reviews with this book and more four and five star reviews. As I have said before,  I wish readers would take a few minutes to write review on Amazon. It would help a lot of authors.

I am excited to see how far I can push this book and to forge new relationships with readers and other writers.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Writing Milestone

On March 18th I found out that I made it to the second round of the Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest! I wrote a pitch that got me to the second round. The judges will read four chapters of A Dozen East for the second round.

I was so excited when Amazon announced authors who made it to round two. I could not believe my eyes when I saw my name and my book title. I road on that high for several days. I printed out the announcement and highlighted my name and book title. I know it is only the first round and there are several more to get through. I, however, am taking the time to bask in this small milestone.

Here is my pitch:
A group of twelve boys named East reside in a Florida Everglades reform camp. They are held captive by cruel leaders and an electrified, orange fog force field. The fog shifts with the arrival of a brazen woman, Breeze Morgan.

In 2042 Breeze lands at Maverly Wilderness Camp to pay back a debt. During her two day interview a boy busts her nose and Breeze humiliates the program director. Somehow, she is still offered the job and she accepts. Breeze soon discovers the camp's cruel and hope-stealing culture. She considers leaving, but the dozen delinquents steal her heart.

Breeze mingles with a biker gang named Wings, attracts inspectors from headquarters, kisses the Vice President and throws punches with a co-leader. The camp’s program director tries everything in his power to push Breeze down, but Breeze perseveres. Each boy survives in his own way and like Breeze has their own reason for why they landed in this camp.

Despite their dark past and dreary future, most of the East boys still have a shard of hope. Breeze awakens that hope costing her much more than the debt she already owes.

A DOZEN EAST is HOLES meets DANGEROUS MINDS. It introduces a possible future system where many children are left behind. The Florida Everglades provides a harsh setting to an even harsher prognosis for the boys.

 This author spent four wonderful years working in a wilderness camps with at-risk youth. The camp portrayed in this book is the evil step-brother to this experience. Also, the author has time traveled to the year 2042, thus adding to the settings accuracy. The book is aimed at younger readers and can be enjoyed by most ages. It has great series potential.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pinked by JC Mells

A week ago I finished reading Pinked by JC Mells. It is part of the Pierced Series (Pierced, Escaped, Pinked, Perfect). I think JC Mells is the first independent, self-published author that I have fallen in love with her books. This is my third post about JC Mells see my JC Mells Interview. It is a Paranormal Romance and that is even further out of my comfort zone.

I am not sure what draws me to these books. (I will be careful not to have any spoilers here.) One thing that draws me to it is the character of Pierce. I love her internal three-some dialogue, her witty humor and her bravery. I love that she does not have all her stuff together but is trying the best she can. She doesn't come as a flawless fighting machine. She makes mistakes and does her best to claw back to good.

I love the uniqueness of taking culinary breaks. Read the book and you will get what I mean. JC Mells is the first author I have connected with on line. It is refreshing to send her emails and to hear back from her. It is nice to see her growing and expanding and publishing book after book.

What is next? I am going to read her next book Perfect. (Once I complete a Beta read and read Divergent before I see the movie.)

Also, look out for this months interview with JC Mells.
Check JC Mells and the Pierced Series out. Her books are well-worth the money.

Potential Writing Adventure

#AmtrakResidency: Application FormLast night I applied for the Amtrak Residency along with probably 10,000 other writers. Amtrak is giving 24 writers a 2-5 day residency on one of their trains. The 24 lucky, selected writers get a private room, a desk, a window and inspiring scenery. Here is an the Amtrak Residency Official Application.
I know that it is a long shot. I would have to stand-out among 10,000+ writers but a girl can dream.

The application required me to write why I want to do the residency, how it would benefit my writing and to submit 10 pages of one of my writings. I worked hard at being witty and trying to submit something worthy of a residency. In the end, I wonder if being a self-published, newbie writer would be my Achilles heel.

It would be nice to have some time just for some writing, be surrounded by strangers to inspire writing, have some sites to take in and to be alone. To me it sounds like a distraction free environment filled with food for my writing.

Since it is a long shot, it got me thinking about other writing retreat opportunities. I would love something rustic enough to be simple but still having access to the Internet and electricity. Having my dog Cali as a companion would be stellar. I am inspired to check on-line of writer's retreats or cheap, cheap places to stay.

One of the best trips I ever took was on the Green Tortoise in 1999. We did a national parks loop for 14 days. We started in San Francisco and hit Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Arches, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas. It was a trip I did solo and lived on a bus with 30+ strangers mostly from other countries. That sounds too crowded now for a writing retreat but that was inspirational.

What about a campground tour? A cabin on a lake? A tree house? It would be a bonus to have a live-in chef.

What has been your best writing retreat?
What kind of trip would you like?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Amtrak Residency

I recently saw a post about travel and I am itching to travel again. I mean traveling more than five hours from my home. I usually have plenty of time to use up for vacation time from work. The issue is finding something affordable and conducive to the family.

I stumbled upon articles about Amtrak Residencies. Some authors were tweeting, blogging or writing about wanting an Amtrak Residency. Then Amtrak granted a few. Now writers are all a buzz about trying to get one. Read this  LA Times Article and another article with the Huffington Post.

All the logistics are not ironed out, but that seems really cool. The concept is to give authors a free round-trip ride on a train. The writer then write during the trip. They also ask that the writer Twitter or post something. Sign-me-up for that! FREE one of my favorite words.

I have never slept in a train bed. I would love to take a train round trip coast to coast. There is something about trains that is so freeing. Trains are somewhat intrusive going through people's yards, cities and through the country side.

It makes me want to read some Paul Theroux books. He is an American travel writer and novelist who wrote The Great Railway Bazaar in 1975 and recently a 2013 travel book.

Would you do an Amtrak Residency?
Any of you want to sponsor me to ride the rails?
Anyone find an RV for me to borrow?

Life Inspired

I read a post 20 Things Everyone should Do at least Once. There is a list that someone thought were NEED to DO things. I have done 17 of them. I have not designed my own house, driven coast to coast or lived in another country. What does this have to do with writing?


I guess it depends on your state of mind. Some writers travel the country or the world trying to inspiration. Others are of the mindset that you just have to stay put and immerse yourself in the culture.
Bryce Canyon on the Green Tortoise Trip 1999
Ten years ago I used to travel a lot. At one point I could fit all my possessions in an '82 Honda and drove around the east coast of the US visiting friends and camping. I have driven up the coast of California. That is how I found my first wife (long story). I traveled on the Green Tortoise travel bus. That was one of my best traveling experiences but it is not for everyone. You have to not mind sleeping close to others and be able to tolerate others. I have lived in Florida, NJ, PA, MA and NC.

That was before I got married and acquired kids. I am not one of those people who think that you can't travel once you have kids. It just gets a little tougher. It cost a lots more to travel with 5 instead of 1 or 2 people. Also, we have a house and pets including a dog. That requires someone to watch the pets or find somewhere that allows a dog.

Cali and Taz
Writing this, I realize that I have a travel bug (not the geocaching kind) and need to find a way to do it. I love my dog Cali and it is hard to leave her for any part of time. I care about the family cats but they are more tolerable of vacations. I think that I would love to head out west. I think my kids might be at an age that can appreciate the sites.

I just have to find a way to do this. My number one thought is an RV. I just need someone to loan me an RV and loan me a credit card to pay for gas. Any takers?

I think that experiencing new, exciting, and challenging things is the foundation of my writing. I would like to visit friends, travel, learn a new skill, etc.

What are your thoughts on travel and writing?
What is on your list of things someone must do in their lifetime?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Growing as a Writer

I recently read a post by Jody Hedlund on the Value of Clocking in Time and Words . In this post Hedlund writes about noticing her growth as a writer. She revisited a book she had written six years ago. She was able to look at the book more objectively and saw not tremendously she had grown as a writer. Her post talks about valuing the time and words that you write. She states that thousands upon thousands words later she is a more confident and mature writer.

This brought me to think about my own writing journey.

  • Perfect Practice. I am a firm believer that perfect practice makes perfect. In regards to any new skill, practice alone does not make you good. You can paint a hundred rooms, shoot a hundred baskets but still not be doing it right. You could be just reinforcing a bad habit.
  • Experience. I have had less than two years concentrating on writing to be published. I have finished five manuscripts.
  • Learning. I have been networking with writers, reading blogs and reading books.
  • Beta Readers. A new addition to my writing process is beta readers. I got lucky and have a handful of good ones. They added heavily to my transformation of Love's Autograph.
  • WriteWay. Using a new writing tool that is an invention of the writing goddesses. I can move easily around in my novel and it can be read back to me. It keeps me organized.
I have learned so much in less than two years. I, however, have a long way to go. I would love to have a writing mentor. I need someone to guide my writing and writing process. I would love a coach.

I am going to keep writing, using my tools, utilizing beta readers and search for a mentor and/or coach.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writer's Best Friend

Writing can be a lonely process. I spend hours, days, weeks, months creating characters, adventures, worlds and love. Then spend even more time editing and re-writing. All the words live on the screen with only me to know. I think that a writer can only do this for so long without someone or something being his/her best friend.

As I type these words I am sitting on my couch with my legs outstretched. My black lab mix Cali is sprawled out across the back of my couch. Her nose is stretched toward me and her front paws hang lazily off the couch and rest on my left arm. Her belly slowly rise and falls. I thought about getting up to get my camera and take a picture, but that would disturb her slumber. Also, the picture could not capture this perfection.

Cali is my writing partner. When I write at a table, she is at my feet. When I write in the Lazy Boy, she curls on my legs. She stays with me and holds me captive. She grounds me.

Some authors have cats who are their writing partners. I have four cats but we don't have that connection. Growing up I had a cat named Bandit who was my writing opposition. I used an old typewriter and she used to try to catch the letters as they flew to the paper.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Editing, Really?

And there is nothing else to be said.

Someone posted this on Writer Unboxed Facebook page. It is so true. I love writing. I want to write, write, write and not have to deal with the editing process.

I have read some authors who say that they enjoy editing. Really? Why?

Writing is like enjoying a wonderful dinner and dessert. Editing is having to wash all the dishes and pots and pan by hand twenty times.

I don't mind working on the plot, developing the characters more and making changes that beta readers suggest. I do mind the grammar, spelling and maintenance tasks.

When I get a book deal and a six-figure deal, it will be great to have an editor and an assistant. Until then, I have to find a way to survive.

One great tool that I have found is the a writing program that reads me the book. I can listen and pick-up mistakes that I missed when reading it.

What do you think about editing? If you like it, what is your secret? If you hate it, what is your secret to get through it?

Friday, January 31, 2014

Enticing Judges & Readers

Along with wondering whom I write for (see previous post), I am trying to find ways to entice judges and readers. The pressure is on with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) deadline in sixteen days. I have been filling all my moments with writing a pitch, super polishing my first 5000 words and editing and re-editing my entire novel.

I am still new to the writing world and waiting for one of my books to be a huge success. I would settle for a little success. I love to write and I am not afraid to say that I want people to enjoy my story. I would love for the to fall in love with my characters. I welcome emails begging me for my autograph. Okay, I know that went too far.

I have been researching author's advice to inspire me. Here are some that appealed to me.

“I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.” -James Patterson

Heck, yeah. That is great advice. Picture someone who you want to keep their attention. I read a review of my book Trail Swap and the reader said that they could not put the book down. That is such a compliment especially when it does not involve glue or anti-gravity.

"Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted." -Kurt Vonnegut
I hate reading books and having to force myself to keep reading. That usually only happens if I am beta reading or it is a nonfiction book that I need information.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood
That takes some pressure off. It is easy for Atwood to say, her books are pretty amazing.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.” - J.D Salinger 
I have felt this on multiple occasions and started stalking the author. (By stalking I mean reading other books and reading their blog. I have yet to sit outside their house. That might only be because they don't live nearby.)
“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” - Kurt Vonnegut 
This coming from Vonnegut is very validating. It is hard to believe that such a story magician had such a feeling while writing.

What are your favorite quotes about writing?

Who do you write for? Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday while driving to working I was listening to Kurt Vonnegut's audiobook Bagombo Snuff Box, Uncollected Short Fiction. (If you don't know who Vonnegut is *gasp* go  Here to Wikipedia. Then go read one of his books. For whatever reason, Hocus Pocus is my favorite.) As I was saying, in the introduction of Bagombo Snuff Box Vonnegut discusses eight rules for writing short stories. *(You can read all eight here.) I am going to focus on one of his rules.

I would write for Cali if she could read.
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

Those two sentences remind me of why I love Vonnegut so much. Vonnegut talks/writes about how there was a psychologist who claimed to work with many writers. This psychologist stated that writer tend to write for one person. Vonnegut states that when he writes, he writes for his sister Alice. He took anything Alice would not like out of the story.

Who do you write for? Who do I write for? If Vonnegut I correct, which I idolize him so he is, then I am writing for someone. Who is he/she? For the last 24 hours, this has haunted me. Am I writing for one person or a type of person? Or am I "opening a window and making love to the world"? I don't want to get pneumonia!

I think as a writer this is an important thing to figure out. That could be an issue with someone's writing. Is it like making love to someone but then thinking about someone else? Or buying a present with someone in mind and then giving it to someone else?

Who do you write for?
What are your thoughts on Vonnegut's rule?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Writing a Pitch for a Book

Who's idea was it to condense a 100,000 word book into 300 words or less? Well, whoever you are Mr. or Mrs. Pitch you are no friend of mine. I guess editors and publishers need a quick way to  assess their interest in a book. Still writing a pitch for a book can be a tough task. I am currently pulling brain muscles trying to write a pitch for my newest book A Dozen East for the ABNA (Amazon Break Through Novel Award) in February. Today I used several things to help me not "pitch" a fit.
  • Jordan Smith's Finding the Core to Your Story. Teaches you how to write a logline (one sentence summary) for your story, book, screenplay, etc.
  • On-line Articles.
  • Writer's Blogs.
  • Samples of Book Pitches. Amazon put three pitches from ABNA contest winners on their site.
The book pitch is important. It is the first thing and maybe the only thing the people you submit your book to will see. That puts huge importance on your content, quality, clarity and strength of your pitch. MOst imprtenty there should be know spelling or grammar mistakes. For instance for ABNA in the first round judges will only be reading the pitch.

Here are some things to guide your pitch:
  • Explain the novel's concept, protagonist and setting.
  • Show off the strengths of your novel.
  • Be Clear & Confident.
  • Capitalize on your Originality.
  • Convince them to read the book.
  • Show your Passion about the book.
  • Ask others to read it and give feedback.
Hopefully this helps you. In time I am CONFIDENT that I will improve my pitch writing and not agonize over them.

What are your tricks of writing Pitches?
Do you have resources that help you?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Writing Life Made Easier: My New Writing Tool

I apologize if this sounds like a commercial or if I am soliciting. I just feel a need to tell more writers who might have been as naïve as me and not know about this time saving and "writing life made easier" tool. My tool comes in the form of WriteWayPro.  (I am not getting any compensation from WriteWayPro to write this.)

WriteWayPro is writing software to organize you novel writing process. You have to check out the website http://www.writewaypro.com/. You can do a FREE 30 DAY trial. I bought it for $35. I have only been using this program or a week and I wish I had it three books ago.

I want to say that I am not a software engineer in anyway. I am just an Indie Writer trying to create, edit and organize my books.

According to their website, the creator of this program is the husband of a writer. He saw all the notebooks and binders she used to keep track of things and created this program. Then the wife encouraged him to market it. So it was made for writers.

In the brief week I have been using this program this is what I found helpful about WriteWayPro.
  • Navigation of Book. You can organize your book into Chapters and Scenes and you can easily tab to those chapters and scenes in a navigation/outline bar on the left.
  • You can LISTEN to your book. That really helps with the editing process. I had read through my book several times and just once listening to the book , I had pages of edits that I did not find reading it.
  •  You can create Character notecards. Currently, I have a box of index cards that I carry around with me. Now I just can click and have access to all my characters. You can add pictures of the character or locations of your book.
  • Research Notecards. Keep all your research available right on our screen.
  • Screen Shot Saving. Instead of saving multiple drafts of your book, you can save during your edits and retrieve the old version if you don't like your edits.
  • Great customer support so far. I emailed them with questions and they got right back to me!
There is SO MUCH I like about this program! Granted, I only used it for a week, but it has already saved me a lot of time and head-ache. I have researched but not tried Scrivener, PowerWriter, and tons of other programs. I don't have to, because this one does the job!!
What do you use? Have you used WriteWayPro?

Failing as a Writer

At this very moment I am not feeling like a failure or a guppy in an ocean, but I came across this article by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore titled I'm a Big Failure And I'm Proud. The article talks about her failures at a writer. (Failure in the sense of not being able sell books.)

Her article begins by talking about how other writers are surprised that she so openly talks about her short-comings or failures. Warning: the word failure I all over this article. Miranda talks about how she climbed out of the lonesome hole of failure, kept writing, took advice of other professionals and bonded with other writers.
Being a writer can be an isolating job especially if you are a full-time writer. Additional stress accumulates when your livelihood depends on the money you pull in from writing. I haven't quit my day job yet. (This is advice from my father when I used to sing around the house. Anyway . . .)

I would love to write full-time and not have the pressure of having to make money from it. That is why I have the plan of winning the lottery (although I do not play it) and saving a billionaires life (that is why I hang around train stations-not that a billionaire would take a train).  I could save a billionaire's live while I am buying a lottery ticket. Tangent . . . I know.

One disappointment I recently had was getting a rejection from a literary agent that asked to see my work. She was really nice about. 1. She sent me an email. It was nice of her to take the time to do that. 2. She stated, "Good concept. I did not connect with the work as I would have hoped." So it is her fault not mine. Right? The whole 'it is not you it is me line.' I am sure this is some sort of generic reply she has, but I appreciated it. Last, she encourage me to keep writing.

There you go. I am feeling hopeful and inspired as a writer. Now, I just need more hours in the day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Getting Noticed as a Writer

Being a writer can be a lonely craft. I seldom get noticed. I have gotten noticed by friends and family. I have had strangers do reviews and say wonderful things. Recently, I had a lot of wonderful feedback from Beta Readers. Last and most recently, I have been noticed by publishers through a media event online.

I had three publishers ask to see my manuscript. I am not throwing a party yet but it feels great. I recently took part in a Twitter party thrown by Brenda Drake. It was a twelve hour party BYOB on Twitter where authors had 140 characters to interest agents and publishers in their books. The rules were you were only allowed to Tweet on the #PitMad (Pitch Madness) twice an hour. I was unfortunately sick that day so I Tweeted at 8am and then a few times from 5pm to 8pm.

When I got on at 5pm there were over a hundred Tweets a minute. I don't go on Twitter much but that seemed like a lot. People were posting that they were Favorited by agents and publishers. My posts sat lonely with one person re-tweeting. The next morning I checked my Twitter and three requests came through!

I sent my manuscript of Love's Autograph to them along with a query and I am not in the 2-6 week waiting phase (so much fun). I know it could be a long-shot that I get some sort of offer but it is exciting. There is of course something exciting about getting noticed as a writer. Cross your fingers!

Have you gotten notice recently?
Who noticed you? How did you get noticed?

Writing Goals this Year

I put a lot of thoughts into the goals that I am setting as an writer this year. Every year I am getting more organize, knowledgeable, dedicated, excited and serious about writing.

1. Find a Writing Mentor. I am not sure how I will find one or where, but that will be part of the process. Ideally, it will be someone who can donate their time to read my writing and give me constructive feedback.

2. Publish three books. I have two written and need to do the less fun part (in my opinion) of editing and multiple drafts. I have ideas for many more books.

3. Create a marketing plan. I have read books and dabbled in many strategies, but I don't have a great marketing plan.

4. Go to a Writing Conference or other social event. This was a goal last year that I did not achieve. This is due to several reasons. A. Money B. Not knowing which one to go to. C. Intimidated a bit.

5. Grow in my writing style. I know this is not measurable, but these are the type of things I want to do to improve on this.
  - Increase my vocabulary.
  - Read books on plot, dialogue, character development.
  - Put all my books through Beta Readers.
  - Take a class or workshop.
  - Read at least two books a month.
  - Read writers' blogs.

6. Find an Editor. Wish list not so much a goal. I need someone who is reasonably priced.

I am sharing this with you all. You can help hold me accountable and help me with these.
What are you goals for writing this year?
What other goal would be good for a writer?
Best goal you reached?

Catching Up

Okay, okay so I haven't written a post since last year. Good thing that is not one of my New Year's Resolutions. I am happy to say that I haven't posted anything because I have been busy with a few things.
  • Writing A LOT. Working on Love's Autograph and A Dozen East. Revising, editing, adding, etc. (More on that later.)
  • Reading. Doing some Beta Reading and enjoyment reading. Just read Something in the Wine by Jae. I stayed up late two nights reading it.
  • Competing in Contests. I participated in #PitMad. (Twitter pitching party where authors pitch 140 character Tweets about their books and agents or publishers Favorite the Tweet.) I had three agents/publishers ask for my manuscript.
  • Coming up with Goals. As I have mentioned in several of my posts, I am a big GOAL person. I feel that focusing on goals makes me more successful.
I plan to take off a lot of days between now and January 31st. I have a lot of vacation days that I need to use. This hopefully will translate into more writing.