Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Swollen Feet and Elephant Ankles

I feel like an elephant. Just call me "Tankles." My feet are so swollen, I can hardly bend my ankles. Walking is insanely...weird. Like this weird pressure under my skin. As if I had an excess of water turning my feet into bubbles...oh wait, that is what I have.

That's me in the picture. Yeah, I'm not sure what happened to my feet, but I desperately wanted that watermelon. The trunk? Um... that belongs to someone else.

D-Day is two weeks away. You know, Delivery-Day. Or Dooms Day, if you prefer. Because as much as I'm trying to get things ready before this LO shows up, I can't seem to stay awake long enough to do it. It's taken me nearly two weeks to get through 100 pages of my novel. We're on final edits here. I should be able to knock this out in three days. But it's taken me two weeks! Because I can't seem to stay awake!

I'm forcing myself. We are going to get this done. And try not to look at my feet.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Losing My Religion

The religious aspect of Perilous has been an issue of debate from the moment I got my contract. Not so much debate as in, my editor and I fought over it, but as in, debating how much it really fit my novel.

As my novel became less and less of a coming-of-age, inspirational Christian novel, and more and more of a high-stakes thriller, the religion felt like it belonged to a different novel. We started making changes a long time ago. One of the first comments from my editor about the religion was this:

One of the ideas I threw out in my notes was the option of having only two of the girls be
LDS, Jaci and Callie is what I'm thinking. This is just a thought. See what you think as you go
over your revisions. I am looking at ways of making this appeal to a broad YA audience. It is definitely a YA thriller, and yet I don't see it appealing to the LDS YA audience. Therefore, we need to take out much of the religion, or it won't appeal to a non LDS audience either, and then we have problems!

So right away, we realized we had to tone down the religious aspect because we wanted to appeal to a mainstream audience. Still, we kept the LDS domination as an ever-present part of the novel for two reasons: a) to appeal to an LDS audience b) to appease my desire to have a mainstream novel with an LDS main character.

I made the changes. I went from four LDS characters to two. Instead of having prayers and religious talks, we went to a general sense of normal girls who have moral upbringing. Everything seemed to be going well, when we became aware of a change in marketing. Or rather, a change in the economy that affected LDS books: the closing of LDS bookstores. From my editor:

The LDS bookstores are struggling in a major way right now. Even Deseret Book has closed down stores and been pickier about taking on books at their stores. As a result, WiDo is moving away from the LDS market as it's not economically feasible in today's climate. In fact, one novel under editing has the LDS character changed to Methodist, because it complicated things too much making her LDS, yet she meets a guy at church and she doesn't smoke or drink so we wanted her to have a church background.

I desperately wanted to argue the point and say that there are plenty of LDS readers out there buying LDS fiction. But the truth is, there isn't. Just that day I had spoken with several ladies from church who said they preferred to read mainstream fiction over LDS fiction. So unfortunately, what my editor said rang true to me.

However, it felt like a betrayal and even fraudulent for me to make my main character a different religion. So instead, we've taken out all direct domination references and just left her a Christian. In my mind, she is still LDS. I hope many young teenagers pick up on that and relate to Jaci even more because of her religious background. But perhaps young people of all religions will assume she goes to their church.

In all, as difficult as it was to let go of the idea of putting a strong LDS character out into the world, I have high expectations that the book will come across as a thriller with a moral main character, whose unidentified religious background will make her relate-able to many people.

In your WIP or published book, what have you had to give up to make the publication become a reality?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Choosing the Right One

I'm not a bumper sticker girl. I've had nothing on my cars for years, except for my car magnet that advertises my English business.

But lately I've been wanting a special bumper sticker to show the world how proud I am of my husband. I haven't really gone searching for it, just kind of waited for it to jump out at me. Well,
it hasn't. Until today.

My brother was kind enough to do a Google search (I mean, come on. Why didn't I think of that?) and found me over 500 AWESOME army wife bumper stickers on zazzle.com. Seriously, I've spent the last half an hour crying over these bumper stickers. I wish I had 20 cars so I could buy them all. (Let's be honest, I can't put 20 "Army Wife" bumper stickers on my car.)

Here are some of the ones I'm trying to decide between:
See why this is so hard??

Which one would you choose?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Countdown: 3: Final Edits

This month my editor has been working hard to get Perilous out by the anticipated release date of Oct. 31, 2010. She sent me the final edits with the last (hopefully) of the big changes.

Now is my turn to look over the final draft for corrections and anything else that I might find needing changing. It's an exciting time, because we are so close to publication. It's a nerve-wracking time, because if I find anything (big) that needs changing, it could delay my release date. And it's a humbling time, because in spite of all the edits we've made, my editor still found 20K to cut from my manuscript. (Not to worry. I will have a 'deleted scenes' section on my website where all my eager fans can read the adventures that didn't happen.)

With my manuscript now down to 63K, I find it is definitely in the YA genre. Here are the things that got cut:

--Repetitive information (did I really have to mention twenty times that Sara is adopted?)
--Jaci's 'snarkiness' (I kind of liked it, but we want all my readers to like her too.)
--religious references (this one deserves a whole blog post. Maybe later this week.)
--anything (anything??) that slowed down the pace (I have yet to see what that may be.)

I am excited because it looks like we kept all the characters and all the major plot points. Anything else that is gone, well, I'll cry over it and you'll never know.

My job: finish going over these final edits as quickly as possible so we can get ARCs ready!

What do you think of the length? It's not too short, is it? I don't want it to be mistaken for MG!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Goals and Plan of Action

Now that I have a release date for Perilous, I feel the definite urge to start doing things. It's time to put all my theories and plans into action. But there is a part of me that just kind of freezes and thinks, "Where do I start?"

I have the suspicion this phenomenon might not be uncommon. So I'm going to walk you through what I'm doing, and maybe it will help you.

First, what are my goals? What are things I want to get done before my book comes out on October 31, 2010?

1) Make a book trailer
2) set up a blog tour
3) set up local book signings and book launch party (and everything that goes with that--the bookmarks, posters, etc)
4) sent out press releases
5) Make a vlog of the first chapter to be posted on youtube
6) Create a facebook fan page for Perilous
7) Contact authors about blurbs
8) Make a list of people to send postcards to, inviting to book signings, etc. Order postcards.
9) Request reviews from Publisher's Weekly and New York Times

Now, to make a plan of action. When am I going to do these things? Time to get specific. We are three months out right now.

Three months out (August)

Start making a book trailer (or hire someone to do it for you). This could take awhile and you want it out on the web a month before publication.
Find the blogs you want to request for your blog tour.
--Contact authors who you would like to blurb your book and request a blurb. Be ready to send an ARC.

Two months out (September)

--Set up blog tours. Line up who will be doing the tour and when. Send out ARCS.
--Request reviews from Publisher's Weekly and New York Times (can't hurt to ask, right?)
--Contact local book stores and request signings (don't forget the libraries!). Schedule these for after the book is out (obviously). You will probably need ARCs for the bookstores, too.
--Get your contact list of invites to the book signings. An author recommended to me that I send out 300 postcards. Order postcards.

One month out (October)

--Write and send out press releases. Take advantage of free wire services.
--Order flyers and bookmarks for book signings.
--Place book trailer and vlog on youtube and any other internet video service.
--Create your facebook fan page (and Goodreads, and mySpace, and anywhere else you want).
--Send out postcards inviting to book signings.

Did I mention that somewhere in here you should request your spouse's boss to give your spouse a raise? :)

All right, I've got my plan of action. Looks like the next two weeks of July are my last free days. I better get that other novel written!

What would you do differently? Anything? Everything?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stay on Target

What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you read that line? Stay on target?

Today has been a busy day. I took my 2-year-old to get his birthday pictures done, and let me tell you, that kid is too cute. When we finished, the photographer said, "I'm just going to clean up the ones that are not centered and out of focus."

Guess how many she deleted? One. We had a lot of fun putting together a ton of photo collages for the little guy!

And then I get home, dump the kids in bed, and check my email. To my absolute delight, there's an email from my editor. And guess what? We're still on schedule!

(Pause here to do a few more cartwheels--which is not easy, in my gestational state.)

My book Perilous is still scheduled for release in October!!!

Of course it's not set in stone and we still have many edits to go through. And as an author, I try hard to be flexible (which goes against my nature, believe me). But my editor gave me a timeline of things we are expecting to do and when. It is so nice to have something to refer back to! And I'm very excited! WE ARE STILL ON TARGET!

On another note, Jen Daiker (who I totally admire and has more than 500 followers at only a few months of blogging!) at unedited posted an interview of me on her blog today. Please make me feel like a celebrity and visit her blog!

And as for "stay on target"--what does it make me think of?

Wedge Antilles from "Star Wars"! Stay on Target!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

FREE writer's conference!

So I've already gone on and on on this blog (and that's lots of on's!) about how important writer's conferences are. I love them! But price is always an issue, as is traveling, even if it's only an hour away.

Most of you follow the same blogs I do, so you already know about this. If not, I'm thrilled to announce the first ever FREE WriteOnCon YA writer's conference.

This conference is Aug. 10-12 at a computer near you. That's right. It's ONLINE.

When I first heard about this, I thought, "How can you have an online writer's conference?" Well, let me tell you how.

The conference takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, specifically around working hours. Can't make it? Transcripts will be available of all the sessions. All of the sessions will happen on the website, www.writeoncon.com. Everything will be done through blogs, vlogs, online chats, live streaming, and podcasts. And this is no itty-bitty conference. There will be keynote speakers and agents and editors attending, as well.

Still not sure? Wonder how all of this is possible? There's only one way to know for sure. Come. I will be there--as long as I'm not in labor, that is. Go ahead. Register.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Marketing: Self-Published vs. Traditionally Published

If you self-publish your book, you know you're signing up for a ton of marketing. There is no company behind you, no financial backing, no support group (other than your friends and family). On the other hand, everyone seems to think that if one can just "get an agent," very little of that stays the same.

The truth of the matter is, even if you go with a traditional publisher, you better be prepared to do some heavy marketing. Some of the best ideas I have ever seen to increase sales and your own public recognition have come from self-publishing blogs. A great one is by James Betcher. If you are a contracted author, don't be so proud (or foolish) to think you don't need these tips and information.

I want to mention one tip Betcher writes about that I found very, very useful. He said that his "most successful marketing strategy has been identifying Amazon Top Reviewers and emailing them, asking if they'd consider reviewing my book." On his blog, Betcher gives some advice for how he approached the Top Reviewers, so be sure to check out that link attached to his name. But it paid off. To have one of them give you a glowing review bumps your book closer to the top of the stack on Amazon.com. Which, let's face it, it's bigger than Walmart, at least online.

I am always surprised when I see or hear of authors publicly complaining that their publisher is not doing the marketing they expect. I read a blog yesterday where an author that I am familiar with did this. I know this author well enough to know that he is doing ZIP to promote his book. I've done more on my own blog for him, publicizing, book reviews, etc. If the author is not willing to put forth some effort, what makes them think that the publisher is going to have the confidence to do so? It's a joint effort. (To read more about this author and the ongoing debate he sparked, check out the blog here.)

So really, what's the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing when it comes to marketing? There shouldn't be any. You should promote yourself and your book as aggressively as any self-published author.

Friday, July 9, 2010

When the Passion Dies

My love affair with blogger is stagnate. Our relationship has become mediocre, with me only taking an interest when I have nothing else to do. It's not that I want our relationship to crumble; I would very much like to strengthen it. I have tons of blog posts in mind and things I know would help us be close again. But I'm not really feeling the desire to give our relationship any priority.

What should I do? What would you do to bring back the passion and flame?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

June Bug!

Okay, I am currently pulling together all the names of people who posted on my blog last month. Then I will go to random.org and in about thirty minutes I will announce the winner.

Curious about what you might win? The book is Leven Thumps and the Eyes of the Want.Oh, and happy one year of blogging to me!!! I started this blog on July 1, 2009. Yay! Thanks to everyone one of you who actually reads and follows me! (And commenters are always loved.)

Okay, and the winner is, at number 83, Karen Gowen!!!!

Karen, shoot me an email with your address and I'll get this book to you! I sure appreciate your support!

For those of you who wondered, I'm obviously back from Branson, where we had such a marvelous time that I'm planning a special getaway for me and hubby when he gets back. Even bought the bubble bath. :)

I thought since I had no internet access that I would do a ton of writing. Ha! I barely popped open my computer. I managed to get one hour in. So, this novel's stats aren't looking so good. I'm a quarter of the way there, so I'm getting somewhere. But at this rate...it's going to take me six months! (Just a reminder, I don't have six months. I have a baby coming next month. It's now or...in a year!)

And now I've got most of my family staying with me. My youngest sister flew home yesterday. I know she was anxious to get home, but it sure was fun having her here. And all the little cousins! So cute! I will indulge you all with a rare look at these super cuties, two of whom are mine.

I hope everyone had a great holiday! I'll do my best to be a more consistent blogger over the next month. Everyone has had to put up with my preggo brain, and even the blog is suffering! I appreciate you guys more than you know!

15121 / 60000 words. 25% done!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

It's Independence Day

I can't think that phrase without thinking of the song by Faith Hill. But that's not what I want to talk about today. My blog posts, at least right now, seem to have two themes: my writing and my husband.

As it is the 4th of July, today's blog post centers around my husband. I can't help it. He's very close to my heart and very far from my home.

Something about hearing the stirring music to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” coupled with multitudes of people standing in reverent attention with their hands on their hearts, always brings a warm fervor of pride to my soul. I have always been so proud to be an American. As a child, I would shout the lyrics to songs at the top of my lungs during patriotic activities: “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.”

And yet in the past year, the patriotic fervor I feel has magnified to an almost religious observance, to a passionate devotion and gratitude that I feel in the depth of my being. Now when I sing, “And I won’t forget the men who died and gave the right to me,” I can’t restrain the tears that flow down my face. There are still men today that fight for not only our freedoms, but the freedoms of repressed people across the globe.

My husband is one of them. At the command of our country, he left his life behind to sacrifice at least a year of his life and help bring equality and justice for all to a war-torn nation and the suffocated, deprived people of Afghanistan. We cried when he got the call; my husband was leaving behind not only the house we had only hours ago moved into, not just the job he received a promotion at two months ago, but also two children and a pregnant wife. Yet he never questioned his duty. He never tried to shirk the responsibility he accepted when he joined the armed forces.
I am grateful to the families who support their husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers, allowing them to serve in the military. I also honor you on this day. I am grateful to the civilians who remember our military with every prayer, who put out our nation’s flag and let it wave in front of their houses. I am grateful to the church groups who post signs in front of the buildings asking us to pray for our military. I am grateful to the radio stations who take time out of their normal scheduled programs to play music that celebrates our freedoms and sparks emotion in our hearts.

But especially, I am grateful to the Americans like my husband. The normal men and women that have the desire to be something greater, to accomplish something more. I do not have the strength, emotionally or physically, to serve my country as you do. But my thoughts are with you, not just today, but every day. Happy Independence Day.

Find someone you know, either a veteran, the family member of a veteran, or the family member of someone who is serving, and take the time to thank them today. Whether you agree with our government's political agenda or not, you certainly enjoy your freedom. It means so much to me every time someone does this.

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