Updates

Status: Releasing Entranced on February 17!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Get that Blog Tour Organized!

Wow, can you believe today is the last day of the month? And I have failed to get my blog tour completely organized.

I could come up with a lot of very credible excuses...but the bottom line is, I simply haven't organized my time well enough.

Or my information, and that has caused a lot of backtracking. So, let me share with you what I would do if I were starting over.

1) Make a spreadsheet. This is truly the most important part. On this spreadsheet, make a list of all the blogs that you want to ask to participate in your blog tour. Then have the following columns (Not necessarily in this order):
Invited
Response
blog address
Email
name
date of blog tour

This makes it really easy to find your people and know when you're doing what.

I found it also helpful to have a

2) Calendar. On this calendar I've included the name and blog address for each person participating in my tour. I wish I'd also included the emails so I don't have to constantly go back to my spreadsheet, but I didn't. You can be smarter than me.

Bottom line is, everything involved with getting published requires lots of ORGANIZATION. I'll be more prepared with the next book.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I am a Goodreads Author

It took some effort and a request form to Goodreads (because I'm not that internet savvy sometimes and couldn't find my way around Goodreads), but I'm officially a Goodreads author!

Man, that makes me feel important.

And my book, Perilous, is listed on Goodreads. Here's the link. Add it to your to-read list!

I'd love to post it in my sidebar...but I don't know how. Help, anyone?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cut to the Story, Already!

So I'm reading a book. (What else am I supposed to do when I spend 10 hours a day nursing a baby?) This book, to me, lacked a lot of curb appeal. The cover felt too cartoonish, and the summary didn't grab me.

To my surprise, the book caught me in the prologue. I was intrigued. It actually started well! The first few chapters were rolling. I got excited and sat down to enjoy the show.

Then it started to drag a little.

Then a lot.

Now I'm wondering when it will end.

So sad! The author has a fantastic imagination and lots of great concepts. But the book is just dragging on! It needs to be trimmed. I find myself skipping paragraphs. I roll my eyes at lines that tell us what is going to happen right before they show us. Redundant! And I don't feel the romance at all. Yes. Less is more sometimes.

But at the same time...I have this haunting fear that we've cut too much from my book. I got this AWESOME response from the person I hired to do my book trailer:

"Finished reading your book. It was a really quick read, I read it in a day. A lot of fast-paced action! Now I really want to know what Jaci's dad does, what will happen to the Hand, to Jaci, and if the girls will be okay. Amanda kind of drives me nuts. I like Jaci alot. GREAT JOB, Tamara."

Which made me feel totally awesome! Yeah, like really. But she followed it up with:

"I felt like it was good the way it was, but if it had been longer, I would have enjoyed it more."

Which made my heart freeze up with paranoia. Mostly because I feel like people will like it more if it's longer, that parts of it have been cut at the expense of the story.

So. The happy medium. How do you reach the point where you realize the book needs trimming, and how do you make sure you don't go too far? Because in all honesty, as an author, we think NOTHING needs to be cut. We hate to chop the limbs and appendages off our baby. But sometimes it REALLY does need to be cut.

I don't have an answer. Is it the perfect length? Or does it feel like something's missing? I'll let you guys tell me after you read the book.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Character Meet and Greet

People aren't static. Everything we do changes us. Everything we witness, everything that happens to us.

Yet often times in books, it seems that the characters are static. Flat. They don't change. As readers we anticipate a change. We watch the cause on one screen and turn to the next screen to see the effect. If there is none, we feel a huge let-down.

The relationship between your characters is changing, evolving. Have you noticed? How well do you really know your characters?

My characters have a huge back story. Most of it is never revealed in the book. At one point it was revealed, but most of those scenes have been deleted. And it doesn't matter. My characters still react to things in context of their histories. The little reveals add depth to the novel, they add mystery and intrigue. Just like our relationships with our friends in real life. When we meet someone, they don't hand us a pamphlet with their back story (though heaven knows, sometimes it would be nice). We get to know them little by little. We discover their eccentricities and what makes them tick, and sometimes we never quite find out what it is about brown socks and rabbits that sends them into a tizzy every time, but we know it does.

It's okay to mess with your characters. Do something crazy, just for fun. Write a scene where one of your characters breaks a personal moral standard. What does that do to your character? How does it affect the relationships with the other characters? Write a scene where the character witnesses a crime. Loses a sibling. Gets a scholarship.

Get to know your characters again. It's amazing how dynamic they are. Maybe someday I'll be ambitious enough (and organized enough) to do a blogfest on this topic. In the meantime, feel free to share your scene with me. Just post it in the comments. I might do something with them later.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Nursing the Manuscript

Pediatricians say that human babies are born three months before they are ready. That really, a human baby is not mature enough to be outside the womb when it is born. This means that as parents, we spent a crazy and hectic three months helping baby mature to a point where it can be more--human-like.

Supposing this is true, I wonder how we might compare our biological babies to our type-written babies.

Caring for your Newborn Manuscript

Holding

There are several safe, comfortable ways to hold your manuscript. One of the best ways to get a good look at it and decide what needs the most help is to print it off. Whatever position you choose, always support your main character and make certain you have given your character the freedom to make consistent, character-driven choices. Your manuscript at this point cannot stand alone. Make sure you support the grammatical rules for English, as well.

Feeding

Even after your manuscript is out, newborns usually need several more hours of feeding to not only increase the pace, but to trim the excess. While not always pleasant, it's helpful to find the time every three to four hours to care for your manuscript; some feed as often as every two hours. This is a newborn manuscript, and it needs more care than one that has been out for several months. Take the time to think about your plot. Reread your descriptions. Analyze your characters. Dissect your grammar. There is so much that must be done that you shouldn't neglect your manuscript for more than four hours at a time.

Crying

You're not imagining it when you hear your newborn manuscript crying out to you. Crying is a form of communication between the manuscript and the author. Newborns usually cry when there's no hook, the characters are flat, the grammar is poor, or something just doesn't feel right. An author will quickly learn what the manuscript is trying to say. Now is not the time to become bored or put off by your manuscript; now is the time when it most needs you to pay attention to it.

Sleeping

Sleep is an essential routine for a newborn manuscript. Sometimes the best way for a manuscript to grow is to let it rest. It is normal for a manuscript to sleep 16 to 20 hours a day, sometimes even more. Authors should rest and take it easy while their newborn sleeps, though always keeping the manuscript in the forefront of their mind.

Cutting the Cord

You created this manuscript, but it is not you. You must be willing to give it the freedom it needs to breathe and to grow. Don't expect it to mirror everything you do or act as you would. The cord should be completely severed within one to three weeks after birth.


Caring for a newborn manuscript is one of life's biggest challenges. You will probably feel overwhelmed at the beginning--after all, there's so much to learn and so many changes! But don't worry; you'll soon know your manuscript's needs and how to meet them.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thus We can Conclude

1) The Chinese Gender Calendar is right
OR
2) The Shettles Method works
OR
3) We were just lucky.

At any rate, we got our baby girl.

A brief birth story: My water broke at 9:30pm Monday, August 9. The hospital gave me several
hours to go into labor on my own, and when that didn't happen, we started pitocin. We increased the pitocin at 9:30am Tuesday, August 10. I requested an epidural and got put on "the list." Things progressed rather quickly from there, and Sadie came flying out at 10:49am, before I got my epidural and before the doctor arrived. In fact, if I hadn't told my mom the baby was about to come out, I don't think the nurses would've come into the room on time.

She's a sweet baby. I actually got some sleep last night. Not bad, for the second night home!

Pretty little girl!


Me with little Sadie. Don't mind me. You can imagine my physical state at the time.


Now, where was I? Oh yes. Organizing a blog tour... ha!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baby is Here!

Just a quick note to say that we had our little girl yesterday!

I'll give more details on Friday (internet is bad here at the hospital).

But briefly, our little "Sadie" arrived yesterday morning and weighs a whopping 6 lbs, 12 oz. She's so sweet!

I know everyone here will be so happy for us, so thanks in advance for all the good wishes!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Best Blog Tour EVER

So, as I am excitedly preparing for my first blog tour, I am realizing just how much time and effort is going to go into it. Not just for me, but for each person who agrees to host me on their blog. And for that, I am so appreciative to those people who are doing this for me! For free!

For those of you getting ready to do a blog tour, let me share with you some things you might want to include.

1) First of all, find the blogs you would like to host your book. It's easy to find the blogs you follow and that follow you, but now is the time to branch out. Find blogs that your readership follows even if you don't.

2) You've found the blogs, now JUDGE these blogs. How often are they updated? Page views per day? Comments? Comments and followers are good indicators of how popular a blog is, but there are some blogs with many readers and few commenters.

3) Next create the excerpt you will send to each blogger to convince them to host you. This is EXTENSIVE. Include a description of your book, a passage from the text, cover artwork (if you have it!), an author photo, and a brief bio. Remember you're trying to convince the blogger (who may have never heard of you) that they want to host you. Your except should also include:
a) book topic and audience
b) title, author name, and retail price (again, if known)
c) blurbs and testimonials (if you have them already!)
d) standard information such as ISBN, page count, publisher
(Note that a lot of this information I don't have yet. Hopefully I will have before the actual blog tour, but I don't have it to convince the blogger of how special I am. You might not either. Carry on!)

4)BEFORE the blog tour, ask the blogger to post parts of your excerpt--such as the summary or sample passage or author photo or biography--somewhere on their blog to up anticipation for the book.

5) The day OF the blog tour, be available to answer reader questions and comments (hopefully there will be reader questions and comments!).

6) Keep checking back over the next week to follow-up any questions and comments that come in late.

7) And if the blogger wants, a follow-up or preceding author interview is always nice. Don't forget to leave inks of where the book can be purchased!

Good luck!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High Drama Blogfest

I totally forgot about this until today. Well, it's not too late, since today is the day!

According to DL Hammons, who is hosting the blogfest, high drama means action. So, here we go. Trying to find the appropriate action scene!

A noise next to them brought Branca’s head up. Had she dozed off?


Footsteps. Instantly alert, she tensed. Was there someone on the stairs?


A light turned on next to her and Medoli, sending a sheet of gold under the hidden door. Branca pressed her eye over the hinge. The closet led to Queen Cinthia’s room. She could see the queen’s bed and dresser. Was the queen back? She stirred, ready to call out to her.


“Mirror, I seek the Princess Branca. Where is she?”


That was Evan’s voice! Branca froze. Medoli’s legs were intertwined around her ankles. The other girl was asleep.


Branca held her breath and peered into the room, heart pounding. He couldn’t possibly know about this hidden door.


A dragging sounded over the padded carpet, and Branca stared in horror as Evan came around the bed, eyes fixed on the door. His leg dragged behind him. He’d tied a rag around his arm, and it was stained crimson. Blood ran from a wound on his neck. His eyes snapped furiously, the knife out and high, already dripping.


He’s coming. Branca jerked her feet out from Medoli, shaking her awake. “Medoli! Wake up! We’ve got to run! Now!”


The door flung open, and Medoli fell backwards onto the floor. Evan lifted the knife and plunged it toward her heart.


“Stop!” Branca shouted. A strange sensation prickled her skin, like droplets of moisture from a cloud.


Evan’s hand halted, the blade inches from slitting Medoli’s chest.


Wow. How did I do that? Branca slipped out of the closet. “She’s not the one you want.”

He whipped his head up, eyes widening in recognition.


Medoli grabbed his hand and pushed it backwards, forcing him to plunge the knife into his thigh.


Evan screamed, his head swinging back to Medoli. He jerked the knife out of his leg and backhanded her across the face, cutting her cheek.


Medoli gasped. Evan shoved her against Cinthia’ bed and pushed himself to his feet. Branca straightened and glared at him, daring him to come to her. Spotting a small white ceramic pot on the dresser, she grabbed it and threw it at Evan’s face. He ducked, missing the blow. The pot collided with the Queen’s bedpost, shattering and spraying a strange gray ash.


He shook his head and waved his hands to clear it away, and then he halted in mid-motion. Even as Branca watched, his face and arms developed huge welts everywhere the ash touched. He began to shriek.


Medoli inched closer to the closet. Branca thrust her back inside. “Stay put,” Branca sobbed. She jammed the door back into place. It disappeared into the wall as if it weren’t even there.


“Branca!” Medoli cried, fingers scratching at the door. There was just a slit, right above the hinge, unnoticeable if one didn’t already know where to look. Medoli’s blue eye stared out at her. She slammed her body against the door, but it latched from the outside.


Medoli was safe. Branca turned to examine her escape route.


Evan stood between the bed and the bedroom door, moaning. His bloodshot, swollen eyes were open, and he watched her, bloody knife at the ready. He took a halting step towards her, the useless leg bleeding profusely from a thigh wound.


Branca tried not to panic. Her exit was behind him.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Setting Up the Blog Tour

I'm almost done with my to-do list for August. I've sent off a copy of the ms to the person I hired to do my book trailer. I've contacted several authors about book blurbs and heard back from many of them.

Now for the blog tour.

I'm still working out the details for my blog tour, but I think I want it to run for two months: one month beforehand to build hype, and one month after the release to continue the hype when people can actually buy the book.

Eek! I'm really excited!

Is one blog a day too much? Should I do less? Three a week? I anticipate these being much easier to line up than author book blurbs.

Oh, and contest, people. I need ideas. What kind of contest should I hold during this time period? Everyone does the "make a comment and be entered in to win a free book," so I'm sure I will too. But what else can I do? Something awesome that doesn't cause me to give up all my first year's royalties! Ideas, anyone?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Totally REJECTED

I thought it was bad when I was querying publishers.

Now I'm querying authors. And I'm getting 98% rejections.

According to my schedule, I need to have the authors that are going to blurb my book all lined up this month. My ARCS are almost ready. Things are good to GO.

Except nobody wants to blurb my book!

Is there a secret to this?

Of the authors I've heard back from, most have apologetically informed me that my editor/agent must request their editor/agent to allow them to blurb my book. Some have flat out told me no. Most haven't responded.

Next goal: Line up blogs for blog tour. Hopefully this will be easier.

While you're all here, hanging out on my blog, let me announce AUGUST'S COMMENT WINNER! Number 53, Krysten @ after I do! Krysten, you won the book
Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson! Send me an email at tamara at byu dot net with your address and I'll get it off to you!

Oh, and in case anyone's wondering, my bumper stickers arrived. They're beautiful, but only one is on the car straight. The other--well, it's a little crooked. And I guess that's how it will be for life, because I can't get it off.

Lame!

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Hillbilly Writer's Conference

Otherwise known as the Ozark Creative Writer's Conference.

Did you know they have one? Deep in the heart of the Ozark Mountains in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, they have a writer's conference.

I'm so excited.

For me it's a fantastic deal because it's only an hour away. Believe me, I'd rather spend that hour driving than spend it on a hotel. And! My mom already said she'd keep my boys for the weekend. The whole weekend! (Little Tiny, of course, will have to come with me.)

I've been desperately wanting to network with local authors, and I think this is the best way.

Now, my question is--does anyone else want to come???

Come on, you can't pass this up. A conference in hillbilly land? Now that's something you want to see. (For all the important reasons why you should go to a conference, click here.) I know I've only met 1-2 other Arkansas authors, but the rest of you are willing to make the journey, right?
At $99 for two days, this conference is a steal. And next year I'll be there signing books.

If you're not coming to this one, which one are you going to? What's awesome and local for you?
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