Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Uncut Diamonds Hype

After hearing so much about this book, I could hardly wait to go out and buy it. I know, I said I wasn't going to buy anymore books for awhile. Well, it's the weekend, so it's time right? I treated myself and bought Uncut Diamonds and 13th Reality.

The book is sitting right beside me. I'm so anxious to read it. The cover is even more vibrant and beautiful in real life than in the pictures. This book, by Karen Jones Gowen, has been called "everything you have always wanted in an LDS novel. It is Steel Magnolias with Mormon characters." I wish I knew who said that.

I expect this novel to make me laugh, pull at my heart, and tug at my emotions. For those who are not LDS, this book will provide an interesting insight into a curious and foreign culture.

As soon as I have it finished (which will probably be Monday), I'll post my thoughts. If you haven't heard about this book, now is the time to get to your local bookstore and ask about it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Star Wars Karma

What are the chances of two individuals from totally different parts of the galaxy coming together at the right time and the right place and finding out they are twins, separated from birth?

If we had never seen Star Wars, would this sound totally hokey, or really really cool?

I remember as a child when I first made the connection that they were brother and sister. I thought it was awesome. And then Darth Vader (or Dark Vader, as I called him) is their father?? Wow. What a fascinating family.

Could this happen in real life? We buy into it in Star Wars. There's the Force, and all, and maybe that pulls family members together. What about in real life, though? Is there any 'force' that might bring biological family members into proximity, and they don't even know it? Might they feel a certain familiarity with the stranger in the sub station, or a connection with the teller at the bank?

I don't know how often this happens, if ever. But it sounds good, in theory. Siblings separated shortly after birth, not knowing about each other, encountering later in life. I love the rich element of family ties, the flavor of warmth and friendship that this theory lends to Star Wars. We've all seen it in fiction. Has anyone seen it in real life?

Well, of course I couldn't leave this alone. So I went and did some searching. Here are a couple of links I found: Twins' marriage annulled. Apparently it does happen, and worse! sometimes they get married!!! The poster said he didn't believe it could happen, but the comments are unbelievable. Someone dated his sister unknowingly and they ended up on Oprah. All kinds of stories. Here's another link to the same marriage story. Very, very bizarre.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Around North America

Thanks to the many different places we visit in my book, I feel like I'm getting to know a lot of North America. Wouldn't you know, it's really making me want to visit these places? Especially now that I'm writing scenes from the detective's POV. When it was just the girls, they didn't get to really experience things, like hotels, restaurants, sights. They were scared and running for their lives. But it's different with the detective.

We start out in Shelley, Idaho, a sleepy little town most famous for its honey. Our detective is from Idaho Falls, though originally he claimed Alabama as his hometown. The first stop is Havre, Montana, mostly used for its proximity to a highway and an entrance into Canada. We spend a lot of time in Victoriaville and Montreal, Quebec (Canada). Wow, Victoriaville sounds like a lovely place. Full of new industry and artists. We see bits of Dallas, Texas, a glimpse of Vermont and Maryland, and then we enter the Adirondack national forest in New York.

I'd heard of Adirondack before, but never realized that it's the biggest national forest in the continental US. How fascinating is that? Located in the Gore mountains, famous for their cross-country skiing and hiking, it's dotted with little townships and hamlets. The largest one, Johnsburg, has just under 3,000 people. I've watched some beautiful footage of this place.

Then we move on to Little Falls, New York. I want to stay at the Bed & Breakfast where Detective Hamilton stays. I want to eat that French/American food! The menu looks fantastic. And just around the corner is the National Historic District of the Erie Canal. Not to mention the art shows and antiques and the veritable history in this little city!

From here we visit Rome, New York, and I'm not sure yet where our Detective is going to stay, I haven't written that far. But I'm ready to put on my backpack and grab a map and explore these places!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The World Between the Pages

I used to read a lot. I mean, a lot. I was that teenager who had her nose in the book up until the moment when her mom snapped to put the book down for prayer. I was the one walking back to my college apartment, one eye on the street, the other one in the book.

When I start a book, I can't stop. Unless the book is absolutely horrible. Any other kind of book sucks me in. I might roll my eyes a bit, laugh, or even dislike it, but I can't put it down. Not until I'm done.

That explains why I don't read anymore. Or why I didn't. I got caught off my guard when I started blogging and meeting other authors. All of the sudden I'm reading book reviews, talking to authors about their books, and it starts. One snippet of a novel, and I'm crazy, wanting to read the whole thing. I can't stop.

I read a book over the weekend by Tristi Pinkston, called Nothing to Regret. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, and the religion came across a bit corny to me. But it was a fascinating read. It takes place during World War II (well, part 1 does), and is told from the POV of a Japanese-American. We all know what happened to them and their families during WWII.

I couldn't put it down. I read late into the night. I kept thinking, "Just one chapter. Just one chapter." There were many parts I disagreed with, parts I thought were slow. But Tristi managed to hook me, and I wished there were more when I finished.

I have another book of hers, Strength to Endure, sitting on my bed, tempting me, begging me.

This is not good.

And now I have a list of books I want to read. Books I'm going to buy, because if I can get it from a bookstore, I refuse to buy it from Amazon. Inconvenient, yes. But I want to support my local bookstores.

I read a first chapter last night from the book Offworld, and now I'm desperate for the book. Gotta have it. I've also developed quite an interest in the book Liar. I'm going to have to limit my book reading to the weekend. Because I will seriously get nothing else done.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Business Cards Arrived!

No--not for my book. That would be a bit of jumping the gun, even for me.

For what, then, you might ask? Well, it's kind of a funny story. See, when DH joined the army, I realized I needed some spending money. So I decided to start a business. Teaching English online. I've done it before for another company, and it was loads of fun. I decided to do it for me. I submitted my manuscripts, thinking it would be at least three months before I heard anything back, and another year before anything appeared on the shelf, and then another six months before I made so much as a dime.

Plenty of time to get a business going.

So my business cards arrived today. Funny thing is, I don't really have time to do this business right now! But I've got everything I need. website (English4tomorrow.org), programs, cards, books...and one student. Plunging onward! I'll be the author/English teacher!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flats and Screws

I keep saying I'm only going to blog about writing, but then weird and crazy things happen in my life and I have to share. This one involved my car. Yes, now you can probably correctly interpret the title.

Yesterday when driving home we went over a bump. I noticed it. When we got home, my tire seemed a bit low. I figured it was no big deal. I'd fill it up with air in the morning and be on my way.

I put the boys to bed and climbed into bed and this thought popped into my head: That tire is going to leak air all night. You won't be able to go anywhere tomorrow.

Well, thanks for the notice, kind of too late. But I fell asleep with that thought in my mind. As soon as I woke up this morning, I ran outside. Sure enough, my rim was practically kissing the ground. I opened up the back of my car thinking, "I've changed a tire before...once...I can try this." I pulled open the compartment for holding the jack. Wouldn't you know, the jack wasn't there??? Neither were the little wrenchs that go with the jack. Now, it's been over a year since I bought this car, but I'm 90% sure I checked for the jack. Granted, only 90% sure, but that's pretty sure. No idea where it is now.

So I started calling people from church. All the men were at work or on vacation. The Relief Society President told me she'd call around and get back to me. Time starts ticking. I get impatient. Finally I wander over to my neighbor's house. This dear man who hardly speaks any English very graciously accepted my invitation to change my tire.

I drive a Honda Pilot. It's like a mini-SUV. The spare is under the car. We flipped through my manual trying to figure out who to get that spare out, and finally found a little compartment with a rod poking out. If you have the right wrench (the one that comes with the car), you wind that rod and the tire drops down. I, unfortunately, didn't have the right wrench. My neighbor hunted around in his tools and found something that would work.

As soon as the tire comes off, we find the culprit. A giant screw, nut and bolt included. Firmly embedded in my tire. He suggested a little shop where I could get it fixed. I was hesitant but desperate, so with my spare attached, we wandered off.

They spoke enough English to communicate with me and were very nice. They put a nice plug in that tire and it works great. The mechanic had some issues getting the tire back under my car. He just stared at me when I, like an idiot, explained that I didn't have the tools. Yeah. Gonna have to buy some. And then I went to pay. They don't take check. They don't take visa. They only take cash.


As I pulled out of the shop to go to the bank and get cash, I wonder if they wondered if they'd ever see me again.

That was money that I didn't plan on spending. But, since I had the cash now, I took the boys out to Mexican food for lunch.

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Police station, anyone?

Wow. Last night got super busy for me. I was writing my last new detective scene for the night and needed to know which PDQ (neighborhood police station) would be the one to serve Victoriaville, Quebec, which is where part of my story takes place. My detective was currently in Montreal and needed to make a quick trip to Victoriaville to try and find some missing characters. I was just going to get this tiny piece of information and then finish the scene and go to bed.

I opened a can of worms! First thing I discovered is that Victoriaville is two hours outside of Montreal, and therefore not serviced by the PDQ. Huh. That meant I had to go back and change several scene locations and references to the PDQ. It also meant this wasn't going to be a quick trip, but rather an overnight stay in Victoriaville. I actually got really nervous and started thinking, "Maybe none of this story takes place in Montreal at all!" But then I checked my area codes and calmed down. Yes, Montreal was the right city for my detective to examine first. (Funny how these stories write themselves sometimes.)

Next thing I discovered, as I'm pouring over the Victoriaville city website and exercising the gift of tongues (I don't speak any French), is that Victoriaville is actually so small, it has no police station! Well. So where do the citizens go? A few more google searches showed me all police type thingies in the area. I picked the closest one--nope, that one's emergencies only, not arrests and detentions. Okay, next. Nope, that one's the RCMP--Canadian equivalent to the FBI. See, in this book, the RCMP are the good guys and the police are the bad guys. So we couldn't have it be the RCMP. Next one, and I thought this one would be it. A police station in Drummondville. I thought. It was hard to tell because again the website was entirely in French.

I placed my scene in Drummondville and continued to write when my mind suddenly put the word "Ecole" together with what I'd seen on the website and I realized, "This isn't a police station. It's a police academy." Doh! How embarrasing that would've been! So, next one out. A real police station, I believe. Whew! I got my scene placed in a city, and I got the distances from one city to the next, thanks to google maps.

And it was an hour past when I thought I'd finish for the night.

Anyone want to come with me on a research tour of Victoriaville, Canada?

Raging War

There's a war going on in my house. Against the ants.

It started when I noticed them attacking my cat's food bowl. They did this last year, which is why we keep her food bowl in the entry way. I pulled out the ant spray and sprayed down the area, including outside the house. Problem solved.

For a day. The next day they were back, and they were in my kitchen too. On my counter. In my sink. Time for more desperate actions. I pulled out those 'combat ants' thingys, the little round white ones that have ant poison in them. The ants eat it and take it back to the anthill and kill everyone.

Whew! By the next day they were 80% gone. Looked like we were winning.

Then I woke up this morning. And they are back, and with a vengeance! The cat bowl again, and now in the bag! On my counter, on my fridge, in my fridge! I moved the bag of rice and the cereal boxes into the fridge because the ants were all over them! In my children's room, attacking their stuffed animals! In my bathroom, crawling around the floor! Ahh!!!

I walked back into my bedroom and they are climbing up the wall!!! On the ceiling!!! What food is there to eat on the ceiling???

I really wish Mark were here. I'd look at him and shriek, "Mark! The ants are everywhere!" And he'd pull out the vacuum and vacuum them up...every ten minutes...no, I better take care of this problem myself.

I don't know what to do with these guys. I'm going nuts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Countdown: 15: Study Hall

Sometime in the early 90s (I'm thinking '93 or '94)

I was bored. Second semester of seventh grade, and somehow I had managed to land myself the easiest schedule ever. I can't remember the order of the classes, but it went something like this:
1) American history
2) English
3) math
4) science
5) teacher helper
6) choir
7) study hall

Did you notice those last three classes? Yes. I had a lot of free time on my hands. I finished all my homework before fifth period was over. I started going through three books at the library a week. I started writing notes to my friends like crazy. I started--well, I started a book.

I took a piece of notebook paper, folded it in half, and wrote "Walk Me Home. By Tamara Hart. Chapter 1." Yes, that was the original title, and that was my original name.

I started the book thinking about my three best friends, thinking of "The Babysitters Club", and thinking about what would be an exciting story. I came up with the idea of a kidnapping. I also wanted to share my LDS beliefs in a non-obtrusive way. Kids love reading about other kids. So my four girl characters, aged 12 to 14, were all LDS. As I was only 12 at the time, there was a lot of silliness--like getting away from the kidnapper and going on a shopping spree at the mall--and going into Sam's Club to try all the samples. I employed a lot of known 'plot devices' at the time (I thought I was being clever...) like a real skeleton in the closet, and horrible, nightmarish incidents that turned out to be dreams. Yes, I cringe a little, but I was just a kid.

Let me tell ya. This became my biggest obsession. I didn't finish writing the book until right before school started in eighth grade. But I did finish it. My dad began the arduous process of typing it for me, until I mastered keyboarding in the second semester of eighth grade. Then I finished typing it up. I took those typed pages with me everywhere, handing them out in class, on the bus, at Girl Scouts. I was so proud of what I'd written. I was 12, and I'd written a book. (Of course, by the time I got it all typed up, I was 13.) After this thing's published...I'll pull out the original first page and you can laugh at it with me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

First Response

I got my first chapters back from my editor. Wow! She's not afraid to say it how it is. Not only that, she feels quite comfortable giving me advice. Obviously. She commented on the same things many of my readers had. But my attempts to fix the problems in the first two chatpers had fallen short!

Well, Allie was quick to tell me how I could redeem myself. What a project! I can hardly wait for the boys to go to sleep so I can get started. I'll tell ya, I keep forgetting we've already signed a contract. Reading over her comments, my heart froze within me, my blood ran cold, and I thought, "Oh no! They're never going to request a full!" And then, "Oh yeah. They've already read the whole thing and agreed to publish it!"

It definitely cushions the blow.

I had one of those nights last night when I couldn't sleep. How perfectly frustrating. I stayed up late revising a friend's story, and then went to bed because I couldn't keep my eyes opened anymore. And then couldn't sleep. I kept thinking, I should just get out of bed and work on my book. But I was too tired to think about my book. So I just wasted my time tossing and turning.

My little ones are waking up. I'll get some work done during their naptime--provided I'm not napping too!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Now What?

Yesterday was a busy day for me. I finished rewriting Branca, and I absolutely love the changes. Of course, I'm sure the ending is stiff and needs molding, as everything I write does after the first draft. But it's done and I'm putting it aside for now.

Then, I stretched my fingers, wiggled the tips, and got busy on the requested changes for Walk Beside Me. First, I made a calendar of events, attaching a month and date to each action in the book. Next, I made an outline for our detectives: when and what they are going to do on each of these dates. Exciting!

So I'm ready to go. Except--now what? Am I supposed to actually start writing something? Uh-oh. I don't know what to write! I've never been a detective! :::slinking down on the couch::: It looks like I'm going to need to contact the local police department and ask for some help. B/c I really don't know where to go from here.

Oh boy. This is going to be harder than I thought!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Framing the Contract

Well, it's officially official. I have the contract, with my signature and WiDo's signature, in my hand.

Wow. :::gulp::: I'm really in this now. It feels so completely surreal. Like I'm just playing along, we're hypothesizing about publishing my book. I feel like, okay, let's see how far this charade goes. I cannot seem to wrap my mind around the fact that is real!

I need to go buy a frame and put this on the wall. And they approved my pen name. Tamara Hart Heiner.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Deleting Scenes

I've had a lot of experience now deleting scenes. It started when I needed to chop 20K from Walk Beside Me. That ended up being about 60 pages! At first, it was really hard for me. I cut out some of the scenes that I thought were necessary, some of the extra POVs, and some scenes that didn't flow quite right.

And then I wondered why that was so hard. I'd always thought those scenes didn't flow quite right. Somehow, I couldn't bring myself to hit that delete button. Well, let me tell you, after that I became quite delete happy. I cut and cut and cut. And the result was fantastic! The story is tighter, more action-packed, extremely relevant.

Now as I attack Branca, I find it not even painful. If I don't love it, I fix it or cut it. No reason to hold onto anything less-than-perfect.

So how do I know what to cut? Here's what I've looked for.

Is it realistic?

This was a big problem for me in Walk Beside Me, mostly b/c I wrote this book when I was 13. To my teenage mind, some of the things the girls did were perfectly logical. And who knows, maybe they were, b/c the girls at the time were also aged 13. But as an adult, I couldn't relate to kids who would act so irresponsibly. I changed the ages to 15 and matured their actions. All of the sudden, a lot of the scenes I'd included as a child no longer fit. They simply weren't realistic.

Does the story really need it?

Sometimes I'd write a scene, maybe even an entire chapter, with some exciting event, something to keep the suspense up in the story. The odd thing was, it really wasn't relevant to the plot. If I cut out the entire adventure, the entire chapter, it had absolutely no impact to the rest of my story.

Granted, many scenes we write can be cut out and the story can continue. But some of the scenes we write really do add to the quality of the story. Others drain it. If you're not sure...ask a reader. They'll tell you!

Do I need this character's POV?

As I've stated before, one of my biggest problems was trying to tell the story from everyone's POV. These were some of the hardest scenes to cut, because I wanted to tell the story from that POV. Sometimes I could bring out the relevant information by using another character who was present, showing the incident from that POV. Other times, though, there was no alternative POV to use. These scenes were hard to delete. But it needed to be done for the consistency of the story. I miss those POVs. But the overall quality of the story is better. It felt like a plot gimmick to throw in a different POV for only one scene in the entire book.

Do I enjoy reading it?

You would think this would be obvious, but to me it wasn't. Sometimes I'd write a scene and it wouldn't sit well with me. Everytime I'd read it I'd get that uneasy feeling in my stomach. But I'd think to myself, "It's just me because I wrote it. Nobody else will think this." Ha! Well, guess what! They notice it even more than you! When I realized my critiquers were pointing out the very scenes that I felt uncertain about, I realized I didn't always need to ask. If I didn't like it, the reader wouldn't either. This has been so helpful to me and allowed me to cut without even feeling guilty!

One other thing that helps me as I'm cutting is to save my deleted scenes. I have two files, one for each novel. Each is called "Deleted Scenes." I like to think of it as in the movies: some scenes have to be cut. When you watch the deleted scenes on a movie, you can often tell why it was cut. Yet it's still fun to watch. Maybe someday I'll release a 'director's cut' of my books! Then again, I might recycle the scenes into other books!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Assigned an Editor

Yesterday I was assigned my very own editor. Her name is Allie, and I feel like I already know her, thanks to the communications we've had since my submission. Other than William, who first requested my manuscript, Allie is the one who has emailed with me.

Now that I have my editor, the fun really begins! Here are snippets from Allie's email, which is respectful, courteous, and encouraging. I can hardly wait!

I have been assigned as editor for your work, "Walk Beside Me." I am excited about your wonderful ms., and together we will make it absolutely as good as it can be.

I like to do everything electronically, so I'll need the ms. emailed to me in Word. I'll make notations, email it back with suggestions for rewrites/revisions, and you will do your part and we'll go back and forth like this until it's done. You can email me any time with questions and comments, and I'll be fairly prompt in reply.

Please don't be dismayed by excessive notations on your ms, or by how long this can take. It's no reflection on your ability as a writer, it's simply the process of revision that can be quite tedious and lengthy. WiDo has high standards for what it publishes, and does not put anything out until it is completely and thoroughly edited.

I've already emailed my manuscript to her. Next she will begin marking it up and I will begin improving it. Yes! It's going to be awesome! After that we will begin discussing where we can add in our detectives and what not to change the demographic.

Rip it up, Allie! This book has to be stellar! This is where I get to watch someone take my diamond in the rough and make it shine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Journey to Publication: 15 months and counting

Well, as my book is estimated to come out in the "Fall of 2010", I'm guessing that would put us in October/November. That's about 15 months away. More or less.

In honor of that number, I'm going to blog a chronology of the steps it's taken (and will take) to get this book from idea to shelf. Trying to keep it in 15 steps.

The steps are as planned:

15) Bored in study hall/first draft
14) first & second submissions/rejection
13) Finding treasure/Christmas
12) reading and rewriting
11) writer's forum/WDC
10) third submission/changes/Deseret Book
9) fourth submission/resurrection/Covenant
8) fifth submission/WiDo, Covenant, Cedar Fort, Granite, etc.
7) contract/emails back and forth
6) Assigned an editor
5) Revisions--4 and second editor
4) copy-edits
3) Cover art
2) final proofs
1) release date/calendar of events

Obviously, some of these things haven't happened yet. So I might be off a bit. But I've had a lot of people ask me about the querying process, wait time, etc. I'll be happy to delve into detail on my experience!

Now I think I'll go take a nap.

Monday, July 13, 2009

What's in a Name?

When I received my contract, it came with a letter saying to pencil in any changes I wanted to make, and we'd negotiate them further. Well, I didn't really find any changes I wanted, except one, and that is in my author's name. In my contract it stated that my name would be displayed as Tamara Heiner. I assumed that was because that's my name, and it's what I put on my cover letter when I sent in my manuscript.

I requested to change my name to Tamara Hart Heiner so we could include my maiden name. My thinking behind this is that I know so many people from college and my mission to Brazil, and they may not know my last name. If one of them should walk into the bookstore and see the name 'Tamara Heiner', it might not mean anything (especially since many from my mission never knew my first name). But if they walk in and see 'Tamara Hart Heiner,' they might think, "Hmm. I wonder if that's that girl I knew way back when." Then they'll pick up the book, see my picture, and go, "It is her!" And buy the book, of course, because everyone wants to own a book written by someone they know!

But then I got to talking to another author who's publishing with WiDo, and she said they actually requested her to go by M. Gray instead of her full name. Fascinating! I had no idea the publisher had a preference! With that in mind, I hope they they're not put off by my request!

They probably won't recieve my contract back in the mail until tomorrow. Then I'm sure I'll hear from them and see if it's a Yay or Nay.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Branca Chapter 11

So I'm plowing through Branca, trying to get a chapter done a day before I abandon edits on this book for a few years. Yesterday I redid chapter 11. Really wasn't too bad, since it was mostly in Branca's POV. The little bit that was in Dejan's POV, I just deleted. Works just fine w/out it.

But I added another romantic scene between Branca and Dejan. I think it was necessary to help concrete the relationship between the two of them. To really show the agony our Prince Charming feels at not being able to be with her. And I really like this new scene. It adds a whole nother level of depth to our leading lady.

Today I get to work on chapter 12. This biggest issue I'm going to have in this chapter is Branca's rival, Bara. At first I had decided to cut out her POV as well. Now I'm not sure. There are some interesting scenes that we see through her eyes. I don't think I can incorporate that information or those feelings through Branca's eyes, and she is the only other POV character in this chapter. It gives some relevant information, like how the mirror became a magical object, and how Bara comes to discover about Branca and Dejan's relationship. This could be interesting.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mailing in the contract

My contract arrived yesterday. It's very simple, to the point, and definitely not scary. So why am I so nervous??? My book is going to be published. Set for a release in the fall of 2010. That gives me more than a year to get publicity going. I guess that's what's making me nervous. This book has got to do well. Otherwise, why will they want to publish the sequel?

So I'm off to the post office. I also get to pick up a letter from Mark...imagine my disappointment yesterday when I checked the mail and there's a yellow slip of paper saying I need to pay $0.17 to pick up his letter!

Wish me luck! Time to tell everyone I know that I'm getting published.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sharing the News

So the most wonderful thing happened yesterday. Mark got to call me! My husband is in the army, stationed outside the state for basic training. We got to talk on Monday and I was afraid we wouldn't talk again for a week. Of course after we talked on Monday I got news about my offer.

And I'd just sent him a letter too! So of course I started a new letter (I would've anyway) but knew we'd talk on Sunday probably before he got it. And I was dying to tell him! My husband, of course, has come along w/ me on this journey for the past few years. Well, turns out he won some relay competition yesterday, and they gave him a 30 minute phone call!!! I was so happy to tell him about the contract. He's excited. He's ready for me to be the next New York Time's bestseller. Alas! Who isn't?

Today I get to work on chapter 10 in Branca. There's a lot to change in here. I have half of it in Prince Charming (Dejan)'s POV. I don't want to use his POV anymore. First, b/c I have too many POV in this book. Yikes. I didn't really understand POV when I wrote it four years ago. I mean, I knew what it was, but I didn't know that you had to follow a format in books!

Anyway. Second, I chose him as a person to cut b/c he's not really that interesting. Interesting from the outside, yes. But too much like my main character to be interesting when we get in his head. At first his voice sounded just like Branca's. So I changed it. And now he sounds kind of stiff and boring. So I'm not giving him as much screen time.

That's my biggest project today. And watch the mail for the arrival of that contract.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Writer's Insomnia and Multiple Points of View

I've got it. It's not really a painful thing. If you're a writer, you know what I'm talking about. Five hundred ideas dancing half-formed through your head, anxiously waiting to be born. And your fingers itch to tell the story. And you lay awake in your bed, tired, but formulating chapters, scenes, dialogues.

I stayed up until 1am b/c I had to finish chapter 8 of Branca. This book is about to be put on hold for several years, probably, and the ideas I have for it must be put down before then. And of course I already have the revisions for Walk Beside Me spinning around in my mind. I'm ignoring the sequel for the moment.

I've been thinking a lot about Multiple Points of View, or MPOV. I've always been in favor of this, but thought that the general public found it distracting. I spent a lot of time taking out the POVs in Walk Beside Me. I am thrilled that WiDo asked me to put more in.

Here's a fantastic quote I found on MPOV from a fellow author:

"Writing in multiple points of view has many advantages. It allows an author to piece together a complex story without requiring a single character to know and see everything. It makes it possible to give more information to your reader than you’ve given to your main character, which in turn makes it possible to rachet up the tension and the sense that your beloved protagonist is in danger. And finally, as my comments about omniscient voice imply, it helps with character development, by putting your reader inside the thoughts and emotions of several characters." http://magicalwords.net/david-b-coe/point-of-view-single-vs.-multiple/

Boy, that just says it all! I want to make the tension more for my reader. They are privy to information that my main character is not. He mentions the benefits of a single POV as well, and I agree. I was quite pleased w/ the 'mystery' and 'closeness' that developed between the reader and Jaci when it was entirely her POV. There won't be quite as much mystery, and for many of my readers who were annoyed that they didn't know what was going on in the rest of the world, that will be a good thing. I will work hard to maintain that closeness! I want my readers to feel like they know Jaci!

Another website said this: "In novels the point-of-view can easily be changed at a chapter break, and 2 or 3 clearly distinguished time-lines or story-lines are juggled." http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~tpl/texts/multipovs.html

Ive had some issues w/ the juggling in the past. The problem w/ both books was that I started them in omniscient POV, not realizing it is a kiss of death. So while I'm about to add more POVs to Walk Beside Me, I'm trying to eliminate some in Branca and make the ones I have appear at predictable times. Particularly when we are switching back and forth between dimensions, it's important that the reader not spend too much time away from one dimension, and thus lose all interest in what's going on there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I'm getting published!!

So it's official! Yesterday I got an email from WiDo Publishing Company offering me a publishing contract. I quickly thought about it and sent an email back accepting!

Granted, they haven't emailed me the contract yet, I haven't read it, and haven't signed it. The next step is, they will mail me two copies of the contract. I sign it and send it back. I'm very anxious to see what my terms and conditions will be!

I'm so excited! This is fantastic for me. I always wanted to be published. I don't know if I could've broken into the market with a bigger company. WiDo is growing and needs writers, which fits perfectly with my needs to find a publisher.

There were some conditions already, though. They want me to change the demographics of my book. Here are some things from the email.

We are very impressed with your submission, "Walk Beside Me." Several editors have reviewed it and all had a positive response. Our major concern with it is that the demographic it's apparently written for-- LDS adolescent and teen girls.

One editor's suggestion was to bring in the opening cop characters more, to intertwine their investigation into the story, and thus make it more of an adult adventure/thriller, in order to broaden the demographic. The four girls would still be the main characters and focus, but a team of investigators as introduced in your prologue would also be developed and followed in the background. Is this something you could consider doing?

Overall, your story is incredible, fast-paced and a really, really good read. Your plot development is excellent, and the characters are also well-developed and likeable, except for the villains, who are incredibly frightening. Again, this would make a highly marketable book as long as it could be broadened to an adult demographic. There still might be plenty of teenagers who would read it and enjoy it, but limiting its appeal to simply the Mormon teen girl might be a very dangerous road to go, marketing wise, for above-stated reasons.

In conclusion, WiDo would like to offer you a contract and work with you on the editing, as long as you are willing to revise "Walk Beside Me" so that it could be marketed to a broader demographic.

If you are agreeable to this offer, please respond by return email and a contract will be on its way. Once we receive two copies of the signed contract, an editor will be assigned to you, to work closely with you throughout the long, often rigorous editing process.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Wow! Can you believe it? I've been trying to get this book published for years!!

Okay, so right now, here's my game plan: I've got to finish Branca. I'll work on that one until the end of next week. In the meantime, I'm going to make an outline of where to make Walk Beside Me have more 'adult elements.' This is going to be fun! Hopefully by then I'll be assigned to me editor, and we can start rewriting. And then I think I need to start working on the sequel!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Avoiding Cliches

Right now I'm working on my second novel, Branca. This novel made it to the semi-finals in the ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award) contest of 2008. It used to be my better novel. But after the changes I made to Walk Beside Me, I kind of cringe when I look back over Branca.

I love rewriting, though. I love watching something mediocre (or :::gulp::: bad) become better. And Emerin, my friend from writing.com, said something several months ago about the ending being kind of cliche. Well, how do you fix the ending? I've got it now. The idea came to me yesterday. And I am *so excited* to start working on it.

Thanks, Em!

Currently I'm on chapter 7, though. Changing the time frame and giving Cirus' coronation more urgency. Before I think it was kind of like, "Why are we rushing his coronation? What's the hurry?" Well, I'm still working on the reason, but I think it's more clear now. And instead of having this novel take place over the course of about a year, we're cutting it back to six months. Might even cut it back more...but six months isn't very long for our protagonist to meet Prince Charming (or Dejan, as it would be), court him, and marry him. Though I suppose in fairy tale time, it's plenty long enough.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July!

God bless America. I love this country. I am so grateful to live here. May God watch over us and our loved ones. Watch over our soldiers, our mothers, our fathers, our sons.

Take time out to listen to patriotic music. Put your hands over your hearts and turn your eyes up to the flag. Hold your loved ones a little closer and thank God for the freedom we enjoy. I know I will.

Bom dia!

Yawn. What a perfect Saturday morning. I'm sitting in my bed. My 3-year-old is at my feet, watching "Little Einsteins." My 1-year-old is on the floor playing with his firetruck. It's so nice to be with them. Such wonderful, sweet little people.

We were up late last night. Our extremely patriotic neighbors launched firecrackers until after midnight. Is that even legal??? I let Jacen sleep with me. He was scared. Except he doesn't really sleep. He just kind of...tosses.

So Mark is in the Army and I canceled our dental insurance last month. I checked our bank account yesterday--something I hate doing, b/c I always expect us to be overdrawn!--and they charged us our premium! Well, I about had a tizzy. And it was Friday night and there's nothing I can do about it! I hate that. I'm one of those people who has to take care of it RIGHT NOW, make that phone call and get it resolved RIGHT NOW. Now I have to wait until Monday! Grrr.

I think I'm supposed to make a post in my writer's blog. something intellectual about writing. I spent most of last night rewriting chapter 5 of Branca, my fantasy novel. Turns out Claude's point of view wasn't working for me. Or Evan's. Or Maitle's. Okay, so I had about 50 points of view in this novel. Yikes! I'm learning. I'm a better writer than I was. So I'm cutting it down to four points of view. Maybe five, but probably just four. That's some major rewriting!

Oh, and thanks to Vicky, I joined Twitter. I'm waiting for my fans to flock to me by the dozens now.

If you have a chance, check out my other blog. I share it w/ several other writers, and we are full of good advice for your writing process. http://smblooding.blogspot.com/

Friday, July 3, 2009

Who am I?

This question came up, and I feel awful for not introducing myself! Allow me to do so now.

My name is Tamara Heiner. I live in Springdale, Arkansas, with my two beautiful boys, Jacen and Asher, and my husband Mark. And our cat, Seamus. Oh, and Mark's not really here right now, b/c he joined the Army in May. Fun stuff!

I'm a stay-at-home-mom. For fun I write, take my kids to the library, write, scrapbook, write, cook, and write some more. Seriously. I love writing. And yes, my children really do get jealous of the computer. :::slaps hand::: Bad mom!

Mark and I used to work at a gym and had a really bad experience with it. Did you know there are a lot of dishonest people out there? People who will pretend to be your friends and then turn on you in a heartbeat? People w/ malice and vindiction in their hearts?

Oh, okay. You all knew. Well, we didn't. Believe me--WE DO NOW!

But I'm really happy not to be working. After all, I probably wouldn't have finished my book otherwise! And now I've got three others to finish. Whoo-hoo! Off to write some more.

Keep the questions coming! It gives me something to talk about!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Getting Started

All right. I've finally been persuaded to start a blog.

Ya'll are gonna love being on board this train. I have got the craziest, most adventurous life. And I'm a stay-at-home mom!

The name of our train is the "Dream Catcher." That's because I'm about to be the next person to realize the American Dream. I hope. My book, Walk Beside Me, is at the moment in a publishing house (Wido Publishing). They've finished reading it. They've asked me my marketing plan. They told me they'd get back to me.

LOL. Okay, so it's not as if they've actually offered me a contract or anything. That's why we're just coasting, cruising speed, not going uphill or downhill.

Yesterday I wrote a whole page about my youngest's birthday. He turned one. I'd say I wrote it all down in my journal, but actually I wrote it all down in a letter to his daddy. Because Daddy decided he wanted to be a hero and joined the Army.

I never wanted to be an Army wife.

But we are so proud of Daddy. He's sunburned with blistering feet and chapped lips, doing his part for all of us. We'll think of him while we set off fireworks. We miss you, Daddy!

I'm watching my emails...maybe I'll hear from some publishing company soon!
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