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December 2013

Rearview Mirror

2013 draws to a close and will soon be in our rear view mirror. Don’t worry, I’m not about to write some long prose about how tremendous or horrendous it turned out because A) I don’t have the time, it’s holidays B) It was neither horrendous nor tremendous for me. It was a good year, but had its ups and downs. Don’t they all? At times it kicked my tail and sucked like the bottom of a Slurpee, but there were some big highlights too. Honestly? I was all over the friggin’ place.

emo twirl

Each year I make goals rather than resolutions. I put these goals in my phone hoping that, via osmosis, the goals will soak my soul with accomplishment. Let’s take a look at 2013’s list and see how things turned out. This ought to be good for a laugh:

Writer Goals 2013:

1. Finish edits on NR & ML and send to crit partners. I did zat! Got great feedback and, while the books have changed a lot, the critique I received still rings helpful and true. Mwah to my CPs! Y’all rock!

2. Submit NR to agent query list. I did zat too! Still waiting to hear back from two thirds of that list. It’s been 9 months. I figured it was safe to move on. 😉

3. Finish co-authored manuscript. Yes! I did that AND it’ll be published in early 2014. Woo Hoo!

dance

4. Activate McGovy site. Done! With the help of web guru, Jeanette Grey, I have a site. See: heathermcgovernnovels.com

5. Attend RWA Nationals. Done. It was my first too. Met some amazing women and created memories that will last a lifetime. Some of them will never be spoken of in public.

rwa pic

6. Rough draft Mad’s book. Okay, see, this is where it gets tricky. I have maybe a third of it complete, but that’s where it’ll stay for awhile. A looooooooooong, long while.

7. Outline next trilogy. NO. Big N.O. Matter of fact, there is no next PNR trilogy. Maybe later on. Way on down the road. Around the corner and up the hill. For now I’m focusing on my contemporaries and one hottie of a hero.

jared

Extra Credit: I completed NaNoWriMo this year. Yeah, sure, I had some of the book already written, but the important thing is, I wrote them there 50,000 words in 30 days. I needed a little push. Turns out, NaNo was just the thing to shove me.

Extra Credit +: I made PAN! ‘Round about late winter 2013, McGovy got paid. NGL, it was a damn good feeling. Hey, this biz is tough. You’ve got to celebrate while the celebrating is good.

How did your year pan out? Did you accomplish some of what you wanted or all? Don’t say none because we all accomplished something. We survived a roller coaster 2013! There’s accomplishment #1 right there. 😀

Time to celebrate & booty shake!!!

hiddles dance

Write on bbs,

McGovy

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The Twleve Days of a Pre-pubbed Author’s Christmas

 

On the 12th day of Christmas, my muse gave to me….

Twelve Months of Writing,

Eleven Critiquers Slashing,

Ten Weeks of Fixing,

Nine (hundred) Queries Queried,

Eight Weeks of Waiting,

Seven (hundred) Form Rejections,

Six More Weeks of Waiting,

FIVE FULL REQUESTS!!!!!

Four Pounds of Fudge,

Three (hundred) Gray Hairs,

Two Crying Fits,

And the INSANITY to do it again!

 

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!!

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Writer Elves—Get One

Now and then, everyone needs a helper. With Christmas right around the corner, I thought I’d talk about how helpful elves can be. If Santa didn’t have his team of pixies working at the North Pole, it would be impossible for him to pull off the big toy drop every Christmas Eve.

As writers, we need helpers too. I’m referring to critique partners, or—to stay in the holiday mode—writer-elves. Ask any successful writer how s/he made it in the business, and I guarantee the author will list critique partners as a must have.

Critique partners are crucial. We get so lost in our stories we become blind to mistakes. Our manuscripts may be cluttered with over-used words or too many she’s in one paragraph. We may have accidentally changed the heroine’s eye color or have a character with flaky motivations. Critique partners find plot holes, weak conflicts, unlikable characters. They catch what we miss when we become too involved in our story.

Yet, we put off getting someone to critique our work. Why? Here are a few reasons I feel new writers use to prevent acquiring a writer-elf. Do any of these sound familiar?

What if I suck? So what? How do you expect to improve if you don’t give anyone a chance to tell you what you’re doing wrong?

S/he is a better writer than me. Great. A critique partner can help you develop your craft. The best way to be successful at something is to emulate someone who already is.

What if my story only makes sense to me? This is a good time to find out why and what you can do to the plot or the characters to make it make sense to your readers too.

I don’t want to bother anyone? Writers are usually strong-minded. If they don’t have time I’m pretty sure they will let you know.

When you do find the courage to get a critique partner, remember, writing is very subjective.

If your elf suggests you drop the first three chapters because the scenes are unnecessary and slow the story, you may want to listen. If s/he asks you to change your voice—you may want to get another opinion.

Don’t just get a critique partner, become a critique partner for someone. You may say Lori, I’m new to this. I’d be afraid to give someone advice. Not true. Do you read? If the answer is yes, which I’m sure it is, you can be a writer-elf.

I’m not really good at plot problems, but I’m great at detail. If your heroine is wearing tennis shoes in one paragraph and boots in the next scene without a wardrobe change, I’m going to catch it. If your hero is supposedly a motor-head but doesn’t know how to change the oil, I’ll catch that too.  We all have something we can contribute.

It took a long time before I had enough confidence to let someone else take a look at my writing. What a waste of good critique opportunity. So take your tight-gripped, white-knuckled fingers off your manuscript and let a writer-elf take a look. It will do wonders for your craft.

Remember to Dream Big!

Lori

13 Comments

Writer Reality Check

The smell of ink on paper. The bright and exotic lure of the covers. The weight of a book in my hand. From the day I started writing I wanted my stories to be in print.

I’ve pursued traditional publication with single minded purpose since that day. Friends and family would often see how much I was struggling with the querying process and the subsequent rejections and tell me I should self-publish—that’s what everyone is doing now, haven’t you heard? Others would give me business cards for small digital publishers—this is my cousin’s friend’s brother’s press, surely you’ll have luck there. I was tempted along the way to submit to larger e-presses as well, and that could have been a good option for me. But, in the back of my mind was always my dream to be in print and I wasn’t willing to let that dream go. There are many different directions we can go with our writing these days. Oh, the options! I’ve been fortunate enough to have my dream of print come true. But, my dream may not be your dream.

What do you want from your career? Where do you want to be in 5 years? What type of publication will work with your life?

With all the publishing options out there, I think these are important questions to ask. So, I’m writing this with the hope that it will become part of a series on the blog either through interviews or personal experience to give insight into life after publication.

I knew when I began this journey that it would be a lot of work to have books in print…and I was right. *grins* It’s a lot of work to have any books anywhere! With where I wanted to go, I knew I would have to write 2 books per year and meet deadlines…blah, blah, blah. I’m sure you’ve heard that too. But what does that mean for my daily life? What would it mean for yours? Let me break down the past year that’s led up to my upcoming first book release.

In the beginning of the year I was writing along as I always do. I’m not a writer who can produce 5k per day. Some can, but those people are not me. Anyway, I finished book 2 and turned in book 1 and 2 at the same time. I was on top of things. I started plotting book 3 and I even fit in a week off to celebrate my son’s birthday at Disney. I like to call this the delusional section of the 3 book deal. This is the period of time when you think you have extra time before your deadline, but you don’t. Repeat after me: There is no extra time before deadline. Now, keep reading.

I had just started writing book 3 when I got edits back on book 1. And when I say edits, I don’t mean line edits or a tweaking of a scene. I mean, I rewrote nearly half of the book. By the end, I was literally shaking and a month of my deadline was gone. I picked back up with book 3 and worked on it for maybe 2 weeks when I got edits back on book 2. Halfway into those edits, I got line edits on book 1. Another month of my deadline was gone. This was about the point in time when I went to RWA. It was awesome! And when I came home I had a book to finish, line edits on book 2 to do…and a house to move to across town, because life doesn’t stop simply because you write.

I wrote 2k or more everyday with no days off in order to make my deadline on book 3. It wasn’t pretty. One week before my deadline, I was asked for author pics ASAP. [Insert laughter here.] I ran to the mall, grabbed something not hideous, googled a photographer and got my hair done within 4 hours, because that’s all the time I had.

Finally I finished book 3! I took time off to unpack boxes at my new house and spend time with family. It was awesome! I proofread book 1 and relaxed for the first time in a year. A few weeks ago, I got edits back on book 3. I worked on this through Thanksgiving. I took a break to cook and then locked myself back in my office. Sorry, family. I was almost finished with the edits when I got the request for proofread of book 2. I turned in the proofread on Friday and today I’m working on 2nd round edits on book 3 and posting this blog.

My work seems to come in waves. I’m pushed beyond my limit and then left to rest for a while. But on the whole, it’s a full time job. I’m a stay-at-home mom to a kindergartener and I struggle to hold it together. I have to chaperone a field trip this Friday and I have no idea how I’m going to do that unless I go without sleep a few nights this week. But, it’s my dream and for me it’s worth every second. After all, I want to hold a book in my hand. I want to reach readers who grab paperbacks while at the grocery store. I want to be traditionally published. I can’t speak for the work load or what is expected of you in other types of publishing since that’s not my experience, but I hope my story is helpful.

By posting this I hope I don’t scare you away from traditional publishing. That certainly is not my intent and I’m beyond excited to have 3 books coming out soon. But, educated decisions are a good thing. I hope some of the other Bad Girlz will jump in with their experiences on this subject as well. Which path did you choose and does it fit your lifestyle? If you haven’t chosen a path yet, what guides your decision? Let’s chat about it.

~ E. Michels

21 Comments

Better Know a Badgirl….Sydney Carroll

What do you write?

I write humorous contemporary romance and romantic women’s fiction—margarita on the beach type stories.

 

What’s your favorite genre to read?

Historical women’s fiction, especially earlier twentieth century settings, and mysteries and thrillers. I love Kate Morton and Ruth Rendell.

 

What’s your signature drink?

That would be the skinny gin and tonic: start with a shot or two of your favorite gin, pour over ice and add club soda ¾ full, and top up with tonic water. Add lime and mint if you’ve got it. I started making these after suffering diet tonic water for years. Life’s too short to sully good booze with aspartame, and it’s healthy, or at least it is in malaria-prone regions J

 

What movie scares the bejeezus out of you?

I know it’s probably silly, but the Paranormal Activity movies. I really hate it when I think of them in the middle of the night. I blame my super-creepy black and white baby monitor.

 

What movie makes you bawl?

Anything showing the relationship between a human and an animal. Babe and War Horse to name a couple. Additionally, The Orphanage by Benicio del Toro. Pretty damn tear-jerky for a ghost story. Just sayin’.

 

What’s your fave pair of shoes?

My super-cool wedge sandals, in my favorite shades of blue and green. It was actually warm enough to wear them today!

 

shoes

 

3 Comments

Fiction Vs. Reality

I’ve blogged before on my thoughts about divorcing your fiction from your reality. It’s tempting, especially when you’re starting out, to try and novelize the events of your own life. Sadly, few of us have the kinds of experiences that are Hallmark-movie-worthy, and sticking too closely to the truth can make for thoroughly uninspiring fiction.

That said, if you have no experience with the things you’re writing, your prose is in danger of sounding distant or flat.

Where’s a girl to find her balance?

Personally, I like to sprinkle real-life situations into wholly fabricated plots.

For example, in my new book, (which releases today!) When It’s Right, I made up the characters. I made up the general plot arc of two best friends deciding to go on a road trip together to Times Square for New Year’s Eve and discovering that their friendship could be so much more.

I lived the car accident that derails them. I lived falling in love with my best friend, and the moment when I first realized that maybe friendship wasn’t all we were destined for. I’ve been to the places I wrote about—rode the subways and dealt with the parking.

A made-up plot, with (what I hope is) a satisfying narrative arc. Real details that hopefully infuse the story with richness that helps it jump off the page.

How do you balance your fiction and your reality in your stories?

When It’s Right is a New Year’s Eve themed, contemporary romance novella, available from Samhain. Buy it now for Kindle, Nook, or your e-reader of choice.

WhenItsRight72webHe’s the last resolution she intends to break.

Still licking his wounds after a messy breakup, Nate is at loose ends for New Year’s Eve and itching for a wild and crazy adventure to jolt him out of his rut. Now if he could only convince his best friend, Cassie, to break away for an impromptu road trip to Times Square.

Fun as it sounds, Cassie is reluctant to accept Nate’s invitation. Little does he know, she’s made resolutions of her own—resolutions about finally getting over her long-standing crush on him. Telling herself this trip will be the perfect “last hurrah”, she packs her bag.

The trip is a fiasco from the outset. A car that won’t start, a freak storm that strands them on the side of the road, and a long drive with too much time for true confessions. Cassie’s rocks Nate to the core, leaving him wondering if the best thing that ever happened to him has been right in front of him all along.

Warning: Contains two best friends, a secret crush, and a road trip that leads to tow trucks, unexpected hotel-room sharing, epiphanies, sex, and more.

Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Samhain

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