Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Romance Writer's Life - Installment 7 The Contract

Yay! I received THE CONTRACT, a binding agreement, a proof that I am an author!! My dream come true!!!

I danced through the next few days with a huge smile. All my hours at the computer had paid off--I can now tell people that I do have a book published. My first experience was stopping into a local restaurant late at night after visiting a family member at the hospital. We were the only patrons and the waitress was cute and friendly. My husband, God love him, doesn't know a stranger. He can talk to anyone (and usually does) . . . nonstop. I get tired just listening to him. He's never at a loss for words. I've heard him tell a perfect stranger in less than two minutes: he was born in Michigan, but is now a Buckeye, that he is retired, that he once owned a meat shop but sold it and is now working part-time for the man who bought it, that he has a pond in the backyard he dug and cemented himself, a statue of a boy fishing sitting on a bridge over the pond that his wife and daughter painted, how many fish are in the pond, that he has replaced most of his rose bushes with knock-out roses because they bloom all the time if you care for them properly, that he listens to Denny McKeun on the radio to learn how to care for them . . . (gasp) Whew! I'm making myself tired, but I think you get the gist.

Anyway, we were leaving the booth to pay for our dinner when he was in the middle of spilling all the information he could to the waitress and he said "My wife is an author." The waitress looked at me with awe. Wow, she was in the presence of a real-life writer. (At this point, I could have kissed my talkative soul-mate!) I pulled out one of my new business cards, turned it over and wrote the names of the three books I had stories published in, and listed the title of my "upcoming" novel. She asked if she could have my autograph when the book came out. I smiled and said of course I'd autograph a copy of the book if she bought one. (Ah, see, publicity.)

And that's the next step for me as a writer. I have the contract. My book will be published, but how do I promote it? It's not quite like "Field of Dreams." One cannot say, "write it and they will buy."

What will entice readers to purchase my book? How does one advertise and reach a multitude of people? I'm not a good salesperson, which is why my day job doesn't require that. But now I've chosen to be a writer, and as such, must learn to be a salesperson. **sigh**

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Romance Writer's Life - Installment Six - Plotter or Pantster?

There is no right way to write! Did you hear me? No matter what you hear, the most effective way to write is what's right for you!!

I've taken many classes and seminars and if I had listened to everything the instructors had to say, I'd be in a lock-down facility painting pretty flowers on a green lawn. Plotter vs Panster?

I'm proud to say I'm a panster through and through. I tried to follow the rule of "outlining" the novel before writing. Sure, I can sketch out the briefs for the beginning, middle, and end. No problem. But then I was told, you must write a synopsis BEFORE you can write the novel? Huh?

I hate writing a synopsis! Is there any writer out there who loves them? I'd sure like to hear from you . . . and be sure to include why. If anyone responds to this, I'll just bet they are a plotter all the way!! And, that would be the most effective way for ya'all to write. :)

I tried writing a synopsis before the novel and I came up with something totally ridiculous. Then I heard, "Oh, but it's all right for your synopsis to change as your story develops." Okay, excuse me, but if that's the rule, why do I even have to write it first?

I love writing my story (or rather my character's story) and letting them tell me what happens next. That's when I am totally "in the zone" and pouring out the pages as fast as my fingers can type. I love it! I love when that happens. It's the biggest "high" I can think of, and it doesn't cause a headache afterward. LOL!

I used to belong to a women's online group that had subgroups for different interests. One of the groups was a writer's group. The members consisted mainly of poets, but we began to spin off into having some people write short stories. Each month I'd write a short story and I didn't have a clue what I was going to write. I'd start writing, and soon the story just flew from my fingertips. I still keep the majority of these on my personal writing site. (If you are interested: Click Here). Very few of the ladies had a clue how to write. Some didn't even know how to create dialogue. There were run-on sentences, POV switches, etc. but you know what? Most of them spun a really good story. This was a fun place to be and not have to worry about the "right" way to write.

My story "Hands of Time" which was published by Chicken Soup for the Soul came about when I was looking at my hands on the keyboard and envisioning my mother's hands. The words just began to spill. I didn't even revise the piece. I still like that story! You can check it out by clicking on the nonfiction link on my website and choosing the "Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Mothers" book. My story is the featured one from the book.

So, how about it? What kind of writer are you? And why? What do you dislike about the "rules" you've heard, and which ones do you adhere to?

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Romance Writer's Life - Installment Five

Ah, but I digress. . .

So as for the goals for 2006: I submitted my second novel to Harlequin Intrigue and received a very nice rejection letter. This novel I'd written geared toward category romantic suspense. Not to be daunted, I sent it out to fifteen literary agencies. Through one of my loops I heard about The Wild Rose Press, so I submitted my second novel to them as well.

I received back fourteen "Not for us" rejections from the literary agencies, and one "I'm interested in your project and would like to read more. Please send the first three chapters and give me 90 days, please." Woo hoo!

Then I opened my email and found a respons from The Wild Rose Press saying the editor was interested in reading the entire manuscript. Eeek. What to do?

I talked to several people on my loop to see how they felt about e-pubs. Shouldn't have done that. Received responses from many people who were very happy with their e-publishers and an equal number who stated they had friends who received such low returns that they would never consider it.

I decided to beg the editor from the Wild Rose Press to forgive me, but I wanted to take a chance on standard publishing for that novel, BUT that I had another I'd love to send her if she was still interested.

She was . . . wonder of wonders! I sent my query to her and she wanted to read the manuscript! Wow! So I completed my third 2006 goal by revisiting my first novel and revamping it. It is under contract with The Wild Rose Press and I'm awaiting word on the revisions from my editor.

Only one goal left: To write my third novel. I'm breaking rules here because I'm writing two novels. I'm not finding it hard at all. When I reach a "what now" place on one, I turn to the other and that seems to clear my mind. When I go back to it, my muse is with me. I'm in very good hopes that I will complete not just one, but possibly two more novels yet this year.

Ah, a breath here to pat myself on the back. I know, I know, the third isn't completed yet . . . but it will be!!!

More to come . . .

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Romance Writer's Life - Installment Four

I'm going to get off the track of my own adventure now to share a few statistics for my friends and family who seem to think that writers have it made. Just write a book and you'll be rich and famous. Yeah, right. If one is lucky enough to have an editor, a percent of any commissions made will go to the editor. Factor out other costs, and multiply by the number on the bottom line below and the truth should be glaringly clear!

An Excerpt from Publisher's Weekly.

In 2004, Nielsen Bookscan tracked sales of 1.2 million books in the US.

Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold fewer than 99 (yes, ninety-nine)
copies each.

Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.

Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies.

Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies.

Only 10 books sold more than a million copies each.


I wonder if this will explain my brother's reaction when he said something about me being rich and famous . . . I tried to tell him that I didn't receive $5M for my book. He just couldn't understand that. Darn, nothing like the disillusionment of family members to make your success lose its glow.

More to come . . .

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Romance Writer's Life - Installment Three

Writing the second novel took longer than the first. Real life stepped in throwing some health issues and legal issues my way. I struggled along, still managing to write when I could. Add the death of my father, and it became harder and harder to continue with what many believed to be my "little hobby." Oh, they didn't say it exactly, but . . . those glazed eyes from my explanations as to why my book wasn't on the shelf yet . . .

Guess I can't blame them too much. During this time frame, I received a contract from Chicken Soup for the Soul for one of my stories. Nearly a year later it hit the bookstores. They also contracted the same story (in its entirety) for a second publication--a year later it hit the bookshelves. So . . . I thought that might help to validate my explanations on why it takes so long to get a WHOLE BOOK published.

The best support came from an on-line writing group called PopFiction. Two of the instructors from a writing class joined together and offered the group to their students. We are a small group who cheer each other on, lift spirits after rejections, and groan at some of the horrid writing that is actually published. Because of them, I continued until I finished that second novel.

In 2006 I established my goals for the year:

Submit my second manuscript in January to Harlequin Intrigue

Complete my third novel and submit it to agents

Revisit my first novel with a new angle and submit it

Comments I received from friends and family during 2005:

When is your book going to be published?

So you write? I've been thinking of writing a book. I need the money.

I thought Harlequin published everything.

Haven't you heard back from that place you sent your book to YET?

When is your book going to be published?

They turned it down? Why?

When is your book going to be published?

You're writing another book? Has the first one been published yet?

Wonder when your book is going to be published?

I don't talk about my writing efforts to many people any more.

More to come . . .

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Romance Writer's Life - Installment Two

The workshop was fantastic! I learned that I had probably sealed my novel into doomdon by starting it with a prologue. Then, he had us think of something our heroine would never say or do . . . and rewrite it so they actually did the act and said the words. Arrrrgh!!! I came home thinking I would have to rewrite this thing all over again.

The following week, I received the rejection letter from the Maass agency.

I joined our local writing chapter of RWA hoping to gain a lot of knowledge from fellow writers just like me. In my second meeting I learned about PROs. Well, shucks, folks, I fit the qualifications. I brought my manuscript and the rejection letters and voila! I became a RWA pro.

By now friends and family members were asking when my book would be published. Sooooooo, I tried to explain the publishing business to them . . . how hard it is to get published, get an agent, blah, blah, blah. Their eyes just glazed over.

So I stuck my first novel on the shelf and began to write a new one. Fear set in, could I actually write another whole book?

More to come . . .

The Romance Writer's Life - Installment One

Doesn't everyone dream of having a writer's life--work at home, no boss, no time clock, spending your time writing the next New York Bestseller?
Sorry, folks, that's a fantasy.

I'll tell you my journey.

I penned my first novel in three months and shoved it in an envelope and sent it off to a literary agent. I walked on cloud nine knowing I'd soon have a contract and a book sitting in my local Barnes and Noble.

Six weeks later, I had my first rejection slip. Not even a letter. Not even signed. I'd been warned. I was ready. So I proudly pinned it to my corkboard beside the computer and announced, "I'm a writer!"

I was too scared to send it off to anyone else though. I knew it needed revising, but didn't know where to start. So I took a few creative writing classes, learned a few things, and set about fixing the manuscript. When I finished, I felt it was perfect! Who wouldn't like this book?

I heard about a great workshop at one of the RWA chapters south of me being given by Donald Maass. Checked out his website. Impressive! So I sent off a query letter and the first three chapters to one of the agents. Hey, why not dream?

More to come . . .

Monday, July 17, 2006

I Hate Mondays!!

So, after the wonderful vacation it's back to work Monday. Enter to an overflowing mailbox, overflowing email box, and . . . now, where's my desk? Oh, there it is under the piles of new "to do's."

The first thing that happened was finding my desk wouldn't unlock. The key turned, but the drawers remained locked. Phone call, answer phone. Someone wants to schedule a meeting room. Open the online meeting room scheduler . . . waiting . . . waiting . . . won't open. Wait, I can just take the information and call you back, Mr. Caller. But, wait, I can't do that because my desk won't open so I can get a pen!!!! Sigh.

Open briefcase, take out pen, get info on room. Call office manager to unlock my desk. Book room for Mr. Caller. And then, my day began . . . reality is a bummer!!

Finally, day ends and I get to come home in the scorching heat to my wonderfully air-conditioned house only to find . . . you got it . . . the power had failed sometime during the day. Luckily it's back on now, but both air filters failed on the two fish tanks. Work to get them back up and running before the fish croak. Three cats meowing and doing figure eights around my legs, begging for their canned treat. Feed the cats. Open all the junk mail and run the new checks all the loan companies want to give me through the shredder. Now I can change clothes.

Ah, yes, the computer crashed during the power outage. Fire that baby up to make sure I haven't lost my latest draft (which I should have saved onto a CD last night). And luck is still my friend, for it is up and running. Should make a copy of my latest draft onto CD, but need to update my blog before starting dinner.

I'm starving and my head is pounding . . . gotta remember to make a copy of my latest draft onto a CD later . . .

Sunday, July 16, 2006

My first post . . .

Perhaps it's the heat and humidity that have rendered me with writer's block number 5,453,652. I love camping. No one can convince me I don't. What is better than packing up plastic containers of food, pop, and suitcases, lugging them from the air conditioned comfort of the home to the steaming hot truck bed, hooking up the tent-camper, and driving fifty miles to a state park; then unhooking, cranking up the tent-camper, carrying all those containers from the truck, and getting heatstroke from the near 100 degree temperature? Then, ah, what heaven. The roaring campfire in the evening when the temperatures soar downward to at least 87 degrees. Oh, yes, one must always forget the extra long hot dog fork and have to purchase the kind with 12-inch (or so it seems) handles. Next comes cooking those mouth-watering brats over that intense heat.

The quiet of nature greets me after finally relaxing--the sound of children riding their skateboards after dark, the Harleys cruising past the campsite, and the ever-present clanging of horseshoes being tossed at the poles.

So glad to be back home and in the air-conditioning again. Though I did manage to complete edits on all but the last 50 pages of my soon to be published manuscript, Hit and Run. Be watching for it on The Wild Rose Press website!