Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Black Friday Weekend...Week...Month

Why do we not just call it holiday shopping sale? Why bother have it on a single day when you know it's going to be "extended". Then there's Cyber Monday, and that gets extended, too. The sales never end, neither does the mail spam and it's all messing with my holiday mojo! Wtf marketing idiots?

There is nothing more distracting for writers than this time of year. Believe me. Not only do most of us have other jobs while waiting to be lucky enough to make the big bucks in writing, (And by big bucks I mean paying for groceries and cost of living, not paying for a trip to McDonald's and a pack of T.P.) but we all have to do shopping, business parties, and setting up for the holidays while trying to throw in some writing time.

I don't know about any other writer out there, but I can tell you, my creativity spikes when I know I can't write. I usually get great ideas when I'm on my way out the door to a family function or a dentist appointment or some such. It's always at the worst time.

Then when I do sit down to write, I usually have to write up a quick blog post ( :) Cheese!) or respond to Twitter requests and make statements on my myriad Facebook pages just to feel like I'm plugged back in. Then I write for about five seconds and Booooop! My email is going off again with another notice from another store that sends me coupons every other day, telling me that I have just six more hours left to shop their deals. I keep writing. Guess I'm going to miss out on some cheap pink hair dye.

Boop! Six hours later I'm trying to squeeze in another 500 words and my phone is informing me that it's a good thing I didn't stop typing earlier, because they have no extended the sale for the following day too. But all the really good deals...well those are happening right now and only now. Boop! Amazon deals are still up for grabs until midnight. Boop! Old Navy says I've got a little more time too. Boop! Kohl's would really love it if I shopped their extended sale and while I'm at it, I need to download their store app which if I check in when I get to the store I can have more extra awesome points for being poised to spend money...possibly.

I turn my phone off and get back to writing, but now I can't stop thinking...what if the gifts I got for my family are cheaper elsewhere and I didn't look?

I look at my phone again and chew on my lip, right before I flip it the middle-jack-knuckle and think, screw it, I'd pay more to get this damn book typed out! I will not be victimized by passive aggressive marketing any more! At least not until I get my 2.5k words out for the day.

Happy Shopping everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2015

I swear I'm not going to swear!

It is time for me to admit to you all, that I have what my great grandmother would've called "a mouth on me". My grandmother would've said I talk like a drunken sailor denied a refill. And my mother...well she's constantly telling me that ladies don't talk "like that". Even my loving mate and partner in crime, David, once in a while will tell me to "watch my mouth", which I think he says reflexively before remembering who he is talking to. I often frown and have a moment of guilt, wishing I could be the type of person who can recognize when I'm about to say something offensive and reel it in. I should be banned from the public eye! Flogged for my indecency! Someone should glue my f--er, my mouth shut, and then...and only then, would I be allowed entrance back into the glistening white walls of a welcoming society fully reformed and ready with my new arsenal of acceptable words. Like: "fiddle-faddle, goshdarn, dagnabit" etc.

Then I hear a small voice in my head that sounds suspiciously like my dearly departed Uncle Bob..."What the fuck is their problem?"

Well said U.B. Well said. I can honestly say, I don't know what their problem is, but their solution seems to be censoring me with a wagging finger and a glance down their noses.

Okay, okay, I get it. I have language issues. Yes, I come from a place where it is more acceptable to go hungry than to go without a pair of designer jeans. We weren't the most sophisticated lot by the standards of some (insert subtle finger display), but we were, and still are, street wise and able to handle sh--stuff that would make the silver spoons lose their fookin' minds! ( Doesn't count!)

Some of my friends that I grew up with would say no less than seven F bombs in a fourteen word sentence and I understood perfectly what they were trying to say. That's just how we talked. It's how some people I still talk with from school converse even now. I don't judge them, because I know that's how it is. I changed my address, I changed some of my habits, but that doesn't mean others have to. They live in a harsher environment, they express themselves differently.

But here's the real question: When you're writing about an environment described above, how authentic do you keep your dialog?

I've seen people who have full on cuss-strong writing works, whether it is a screen play or a book. I've read those pieces and I've enjoyed them. I don't know if other people will or if they'll feel strongly that the book/play is ruined. Who can tell? My personal opinion is that it takes a good writer to let the audience know they're in a highly slang-tastic region without having to paint a colorful picture that leaves readers slack-jawed and feeling violated. But that doesn't mean you should p...wuss out. If your character is facing some next-level trauma, and you have them saying "darn that really sucks", they better be someone who aspires to be the next saint.

Basically I'm saying you have to find a happy medium. Know your audience. If you're writing for John Oliver or an HBO series, by all means, F-bomb like you're trying to win a war. But if you're writing for a more sensitive audience, use your skills and choose your words wisely. You don't want to come off as a writer who is trying to sell shock value any more than you want to be known as a writer who writes a teenager with the soul of a mid century grandma. Maximize your stories potential by keeping it friendly to more readers.

Or you can tell me to go fiddle-faddle myself.

**Please excuse all typos and nonsensical sentences well within my control but outside of my ambition!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Visiting Rochester Hills Public Library's Young Writers Program!

A few days ago, I had the honor of visiting a young writers group at the Rochester Hills Public Library. And though it would have been nice if the weather hadn't been horrible, the company was awesome.

Lining the pushed-together tables on my right and left were eager young writers, ready to tell me all about their books and poetry and comic ideas. And I do mean ALL about their books. :) I had to stop a few of them from revealing everything about their ideas, trying to instill a little bit of social media paranoia I think is healthy for all writers. (There are times I refuse to even tell anyone the title of the book I'm working on.) But in truth, I hope to do more with these writers. I hope to visit again in the future and this time offer a little critique on their first chapters. I want to be surprised by what they've written. No spoilers for meh!

So there it is...for any of you sneaking over on my blog to see if I mention the visit. You better get to writing because I want to see some pages!! :)

I can't explain just how awesome it is to come to a group such as this and give them a quick overview of the publishing world. Letting them know that someone out there takes them seriously, regardless of
their age, is the greatest feeling in the world. I left the library remembering those who furiously scribbled notes down as I spoke, and I smiled. I have high hopes for the group.

Yes even the dark, dark, dark poetry writer obsessed with Nazi references. I'm convinced there isn't anything any of you can't accomplish. Thank you for letting me into your group for an afternoon of conversation (okay, more like me babbling) and visually pretty weather.

It takes a serious writer to brave a snow storm just to hear some writing advice and to talk about your projects. I hope you all made it home safe and sound. Your stories need to be told! :)

Thanks for everything,

Friday, November 6, 2015

It's all about the ME!

There's plenty of time to be selfish in the coming months. By February, when my book comes out (On Edge- Feb 2nd from Poisoned Pencil Press. :) ) I plan to talk to anyone who will listen to me, at whichever venue I'm at, and tell them all about my book, my process, and my accomplishments. I plan to excite the masses with my action adventure thriller mystery young adult novel. (There's a lot of adjectives there, I know. But I have genre commitment issues.) I plan to even over-share a bit to--well I'll be honest, I do it on accident because I'm not good at holding back stories or refusing to answer questions put to me.

But, with all of this me, me, me...I find myself uncomfortable. It is part of being published, yes. And I agree, if you can't deal with being out in public and under a microscope, you should definitely not be an author (or actor, musician, etc. because there's always that one in a million chance you might become a household name.) But my lack of comfort isn't as much being an extrovert phobe. ( :) See what I did there? I cheated.) No no, for me, I get uncomfortable talking about myself and my accomplishments at times because I'm no different than the people I'm talking to. So why should they care what I have to say if I give them nothing for listening to me?

So I decided I'm going to start doing classes, seminars, or maybe even a club or two this coming year for teens and adults who are looking to understand the writing world and the publishing world. I'm totally excited! I've had some good experiences that have qualified me to talk about the industry. I've had two different agents, I've tried different kinds of publishing, I've tried different kinds of marketing, and I learn differently, so the writing process was a struggle. (Still can be.)

There's a lot of good things I can share to balance the conversation with those who come to visit me. I think that's how I prefer to "market myself".

I'll post updates on the blog for when I plan to hold any of these events! If you have an event in mind, feel free to message me on Facebook!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

She's Bald And Not Quite Right...

...BUT I love her anyway.

Yes my friends, my first Uncorrected Proof has arrived. And I'm totally stoked.

She doesn't have her final cover yet, so she's a little exposed, the cover states my release date is February 2015 instead of 2016, and my last few copy edits haven't been entered into the final body...but I think it's just beautiful.

I find myself picking up the book a lot and just walking around with it.

I received two copies, and though I keep one with me at all times, the second is traveling to those I promised could read it. My daughter has started it, and though the language is a little strong and the themes a touch violent, I figure if she can watch avengers, she can handle it. The language thing is all about me informing her, as I always do, that cuss words are emotional and should never be substituted for quality. She gets it, so I don't worry.

I hope, to those of you who would like to read it, that you will enjoy this book as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

Here's to future plots!

All my best to you,

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Worst Part About Copy Edits!

In almost every book I read, I see at least one or two typos. Every one!

Copy editing is supposed to clear all of these, and back when I was just a spectator, I used to think a typo meant someone was being lazy on the job. I didn't give the benefit of the doubt to those who spent hours toiling over a book to make it perfect for publication. I had high expectations at the ripe old age of 15!

Now, here I am, done with all my content edits. I've gone back and forth with this book about four times. My editor is probably tired of seeing my book. I know I'm tired of seeing my book. (I mean...I love my book, but reading it five times in as many weeks can burn a mother out. :) ) But now, I have to go through it again and look for anything that we've missed.

This is probably the toughest edit for me. How do I keep my eyes from skipping? My brain knows this book backward and forward. It knows what is supposed to be there, and I think it is going to make me see what is supposed to be there instead of what is actually there. I say this, because so far, I've found nothing! Did we really rock it and catch everything? Or am I missing something major?

I know all the editors, from content to copy, probably feel the same pressure I feel not to miss anything, and they, too, probably have a skip in the brain from time to time. Surely that can be understood if not excused, right?

In short, I have a deep...deep respect for what editors do, now more than ever, and experiencing what really goes on behind the curtain, I have to tell the younger version of me to shut it! So what if there's a typo? Get over it.

>.> please don't let there be a typo in my book

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rising From The Fall

It's been too long since I've kept a blog, tweeted some news and posted about my writing career. I've had several good excuses for slacking off, but none of them are good reasons. There's never a good reason for giving up hope on your dreams. Never. And though I never truly gave up, I was definitely trying to find a secondary dream "just in case". I don't think it is a bad thing to have a back-up plan, but when times get tough, sometimes having a back-up plan can become a scapegoat for trying harder.
At the dawn of my writing career, I was flying high. I thought, even though my first two books weren't exactly what anyone was looking for, I finally had found my genre in my third attempt. My book sang to me, the characters were vivid in my head, the new spin on an old concept kept me fresh, and I had a good agent from a highly respected firm representing me. All the failures of my past had brought me to this moment...my moment.

And then the rejection letters started rolling in. My new concept wasn't considered fresh, it was considered niche. Or should I say...too niche. For over a year, my agent and I submitted my book, and the letters of "no thanks" kept coming. My agent was confused, she'd been so sure of the sale. I was confused, because the letters had no patterns other than "what is freerunning" and "is there a market for it?". I didn't want to give up on the book, but I was starting to, especially after one editor rejected me by stating she was working on her own book with a similar Parkour theme. What? Wait. What?!? I felt a little violated, I'm not going to lie. I wrote my book years before, when no one even knew what Parkour was (except, of course, those who practice it) and now someone was telling me they were writing a YA book about freerunning, too? Over!! My moment to shine, my moment to be the first...everything was over!

I swallowed back my disappointment and then I got a grip, and became more determined than ever to succeed. I poured my heart into another novel, a second book that had another storyline that spoke to me. I wrote a fast fifty pages, and was so excited about the project, I sent it directly over to my agent...who promptly told me she hated it. (In much kinder words of course, but, that's what you hear when someone tells you they can't relate. As artists, we're so sensitive sometimes aren't we?) I rewrote the pages three or four times from different angles, different viewpoints, but the response was the same.

I told myself then that my writing career...was a writing hobby. I wasn't going to sell either novel, I wasn't going to be able to write up the sequels, and everything...was a disaster. I used all of these perceived failures as a reason not to write, as an excuse to put more time and effort into my jewelry vendor business. The muse in me was dead, dead, dead.

Then I got an email from my agent. I think she, like me, wasn't satisfied with the ending of my personal writing story. She still loved my first book, she still thought it deserved better. She wanted to submit it again, but this time to publishers who were much more focused on mysteries that had nothing to do with post-apocalyptic, vampire, or post-apocalyptic vampire themes. Okay, I said, what can it hurt? I had no expectations this time.

In the nine months that followed, I became pregnant. With my small ray of career revitalization and a new life awaiting me...I became inspired. I started to write, again. I had ideas, again. I had hope, again. I rewrote those darned fifty pages in my new novel, again, and fell in love with the story...again. I approached writing with the passion I had prior to letting all the negativity get to me, and when I least expected it...I got the call.

Okay it wasn't a call. It was an email from my agent. And it began with "From Ellen"...and then a copy and paste portion of an email between my agent and the editor over at Poisoned Pencil Press. I skimmed through it, thinking it was a letter telling me why my book didn't fit with her line, but paused when I realized these were specific editing notes. Why was someone discussing book edits with my agent? Wait. I typed over a quick response to my agent which basically said I'd be willing to work on all of those things. "As a debut author, I'd be a fool not to look forward to an opportunity to improve my craft. Does this mean...she's offering for it?" Within the hour I received another email... "Yes! Congratulations!"


I reread the email several times, both my agent's and the snippets she sent me from Ellen. I'd just sold my novel.

I'd been about to give up and fully devote myself to my secondary career choice, but a small beacon of hope brought me back. And though I have no idea what the future holds for my books, I do know that no matter how dark and creepy my personal path to success may look, I'm going to march down it with confidence knowing that eventually, around a bend, there will be a field of awesomeness. :)

Stay focused, my friends.