Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Outlines, rough drafts & word counts

So I took part in my first panel a couple weeks ago with sci-fi/fantasy authors, James Maxey, Lisa Shearin, Mark Van Name, and David Drake. Had the 'first-time' jitters like you would not believe... But anyway, I've been thinking about a topic we discussed about the writing process, word counts, outlining, etc...

I want to expand a little and highlight the fact that no one process is right or wrong. It DOES NOT MATTER how you get to the final product as long as that final product is a good book. If you outline every chapter, if you think and ponder for five months before starting, if you use index cards, if you have no idea what's going to happen when you sit down to right... A good book is a good book regardless of how you did it and how long it took you.

My process is different with each book I've written. These days, I seem content to let the story stew in my head before I sit down and start writing. Sometimes I have an ending in mind, sometimes I don't. But what seems to always remain a constant is my rough draft approach. I write fast rough drafts. I've done ones that have taken me 3wks to 2 mos. But that's not some impressive fact because they are messy, messy affairs. It's not nearly a finished book at this point! The reason they take me so little time is because I hate writing rough drafts and do it as fast as I can to get it over with.

I don't stop to research, don't revise, don't take time to craft pretty sentences, etc.. I speed through in order to get the story down on paper so I have an idea of what's going on and what happens. It's really my version of an outline. Now I have a beginning, middle, and end. I have something to work with. I have my block of clay. That's when I become an artist, when I slow down, savor my work, and start crafting, sculpting, weaving, and creating something wonderful. This process often takes me longer than it took to do the initial rough draft. So when I say, it took me 4 weeks to write a rough draft, that does not mean *total* time. That does not take into account the revision, the polishing, the critiques, etc...

I always come in under word count, which is what sparked the conversation in the first place. I don't think about word counts. I think about story. I usually come in about 70,000 words with my rough draft. And once I start revising and then polishing, it inevitably grows to about 85,000 words. And once my editor gets a hold of it, I end up with a 90,000-100,000 word book.

I wished I had explained my process better at the panel, but, like my rough drafts I sped through my answers like a jack rabbit on a sugar high.... :-)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Best & The Worst

You. All. Are. The. Best. :-)

I read two amazing emails this morning from readers of THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS. They have gone into the file with others who have written to me. (Because I could never delete them). I love hearing from readers, and I'm regularly stunned and humbled by the fact that you guys have given this book your time/effort, taken a chance on a new author.

Thanks to you all. (God, that sounds sooooo inadequate!)

One of the emails asked if there was any way to help get the word out, and really I couldn't ask for more than just giving BPOD a try. That in itself is such a mind-blowing thing to me. But, for those who want to spread the word and are not sure what is helpful or not... Just recommending it to a friend is huge. Or if you're an Internet person, giving it a shout online, or rate it at Goodreads or Amazon, etc. All those things help, too.

And yes, I'm even grateful to those who were unsure of the book or didn't end up liking it, because they gave it a try. And really, again, that's all an author can hope for.

Of course, the ones who make blanket statements, rip you a new one, get all the facts wrong, or just think nasty and sarcastic somehow comes off as witty and cool -- eh, not so sure I get the point to those kinds of responses. But, even those (after I calm down and remember how to breathe) I remind myself that it's still someone who gave it a try.

The ones I will never understand are those who put their copy on filesharing sites for thousands of strangers to download for free. Not so great for a first time author who could use real, actual sales numbers to help her publisher decide to publish more books. If you love books so much, why do something that has the potential to put an author out of business and offer her product for free to thousands of people you don't even know when you have no right to do so and it's illegal? There are no "sales" being reported when someone illegally downloads my book. All my publisher see is that "we made x-amount of copies available and x-amount was purchased." Publishers take into account the numbers. It affects their decision to keep publishing me. How would you feel if I cut into your ability to make money at your job? That I affected your performance numbers with your boss? That I went and stole something you produced and then made illegal copies of it for others? *sigh* If you don't want to or can't pay for it, please go to the library instead of requesting an illegal copy. Because then what happens is not that the poster simply sends you the file privately. It's put up for THOUSANDS of others as well. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. I cannot begin to explain how heartbreaking this is. I don't make money on concert tickets, merchandise, appearances. I make money on the book. That's it. Think about it. (Jeaniene Frost wrote an excellent post here about e-piracy at Deadline Dames.)

Anyway, that is another post for another time... But, guys. Readers. People who truly love books, and want to see authors continue to write and continue to get contracts, and who give your time, and money, and effort into showcasing books and just reading books - You all are amazing, and so appreciated. You can't even know how much.

So here's to all you guys! :D Thank you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Like perched on a cloud

I have been shopping. Finally bought new living room furniture from Haverty's. A gorgeous leather couch and *drumroll* . . . a new recliner. Also known as Kelly's Office. Old chair is gone. New one is here, and it is Mighty Fine. I feel like Jean Luc Picard in this chair and want to say "Engage" every time I sit down and open my laptop.

Feast yours eyes on my new writing chair. Sorry about the blinding supernova coming in from the window:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Signed book giveaway & Interview

Hey guys. Popping my head out of LaLa Land (aka Kelly's fictional universe) to let you know that the fabulous Larissa is hosting a book giveaway of THE BETTER PART OF DARKNESS (signed to the winner, of course) on her amazing blog, Larissa's Bookish Life. The contest is open internationally as well. And she had me answer some great interview questions that are up on the blog today. This was a fun one to do, so I hope you'll check it out!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Writing through the crap

Writing through a big ole spot or spots of crap isn't fun. It doesn't help my confidence in my writing abilities, and it doesn't exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy about current WIP. But, the one thing it is is: Productive.

Might not sound that way, but writing through the crap and giving yourself permission to do so is productive. Sure, you have to go back at some point and fix said poo, but guess what? You have to go back and revise anyway, and now you have a completed draft. There is something to actually fix. You're not staring at a blank page.

I used to feel awkward about writing terrible sentences, paragraphs, and pages. Deadlines taught me otherwise. I'm the kind of writer that if I didn't give myself permission to write through the crap, I'd slave over every page until it was perfect and I'd most likely never complete a manuscript, and if I did, it would take me a long ass time.

So now I write whatever comes to mind. If nothing comes to mind, then I'll make a note and keep going until something does. If it's crap, it's crap. That's why it's called a rough draft. Yesterday I wrote five pages of crap. And it wasn't a waste of time. It allowed me to continue on with the story and move things along. Had I not done that, I would have stared at the screen for days because, quite frankly, the scene in those five pages did not want to be written. And if I'd waited or made so many attempts at perfection, I never would have moved on.

My rough drafts are littered with brackets: [FIX THIS] or [RESEARCH] or [CHARLIE KICKS ASS HERE] or [MORE HERE]. But these markers help me to keep going until The End. Then, when I do go back for my first revision, I know what happens in the story, I can see the over all arcs, and I can better address certain issues and fix certain things.

Works for me. :-) Now, I'm off to write more cra-- *cough* rough stuff....

Monday, June 07, 2010

Crazy weekend

We had a huge storm here on Friday. Or maybe it was Thurs. Can't remember. (I know, that's pretty sad), but anyway, it killed my router. I spent two days trying to reset and make work (b/c I didn't want to buy another until I was sure it was actually toast). Finally, realized it was and bought another on Sunday. Same storm also blew shingles and shutters off my shed out back. Not sure if it was lightning or the wind, but I can tell you whatever it was was fierce.

And took the cutest picture of Yeager, (my Dane) this morning. He has fallen in love with my son's Winnie the Pooh couch.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

90 Days

And counting. How do I know this? I just downloaded a countdown widget for my Droid. Heh. 3 months! So here's how things are looking in the writing world as of now:
  • Starting to organize promo stuff. (ARC list for reviewers, etc..)
  • Completing a couple interview questions for later this month and next.
  • Working on Charlie #3
  • Getting nervous about Sci-Fi/Fantasy Panel at B&N in two weeks.

So all in all pretty quiet right now. Been thinking a lot about this second Charlie book, and how people are going to react to it. The feeling with this one releasing is a bit different than the first. BPOD was basically "Here is my book. Dear God, I hope people don't use it as kindling" kind of thing. People would like it or they wouldn't. But when I wrote this second one, I had an all-consuming desire to give everyone what I thought they might want in the second book.

I learned that's just crazy thinking. The only way I can write a great second book is to write what I want to write, what speaks to me, and makes me passionate. Hopefully that'll translate onto the page. If I write to please someone else, it all falls apart. Can't please everyone. Doesn't work that way. Might as well bang my laptop against my head.

So, wondering what you'll get with the second? A book that pleased me. A book that (after I got over the second book hump) I fell totally in love with and wrote from my heart. A book that I hope you will love too. In DEOD we'll see:

  • More Hank. (We all need a little more Hank in our lives, right?)
  • The intro of a character known as the Druid King.
  • A journey into the early myths of Elysia and Charbydon
  • And interesting turn of events with Rex (because, as we all know, with Rex we can expect the unexpected).


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It's up

The Darkest Edge of Dawn's cover is finally up on Amazon. Looks good. Looks very, very good. :D (Although, there is an editorial review for another book where mine should be. But this should be taken care of shortly. Weird.) But anyway, yay! It's a thrill to see it up there. Can't wait for the blurb to go up as well.

And, totally unrelated, last night I dropped my old cell phone into the tub while giving boy child a bubble bath. It was not working this morning so I got a new phone. A Droid! It's very cool, and very intimidating. Though, I feel certain I shall be able to master this phone eventually. This is the first phone I've had with the ability to receive email.

So, off to play with ma Droid. ;-)