Tag Archives: editing

When the creative flame burns low

lighted candle

Photo by Rahul on Pexels.com

It’s not writer’s block…exactly. I can still write. It’s just that the past few days have been very emotional in my family, and for the first time this summer, I actually don’t feel like writing.

My creative flame has turned from a roaring fire in my breast to a flickering candle flame. So I’m using the time as wisely as I know how. I’m proofreading and fixing what I wrote this summer while my fingers burned with creative fire. And every now and then, maybe I’ll dash off a poem if the spirit moves me.

And I’m promoting! Becoming Magic is making the rounds on the internet right now. I’m over at Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews today talking about what makes my hero Connor especially charming and what’s next in my “new kind of romance.” I hope you’ll join us and while you’re there, enter the drawing for the $50 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

And no worries! The writing flame will get stoked at some point soon. And I’ll be off and writing in a mad dash once more. I just have to be patient and feed the tiny flame until then.

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Filed under Breathing moment, Writing

Take the Plunge: See beyond the stigma of “self-published”

man standing on brown rock cliff in front of waterfalls photography

How to convince a reader to take that leap of faith into your book? Photo by Oliver Sju00f6stru00f6m on Pexels.com

I get it. I’m old enough to remember vanity presses. I remember the indie-publishing phenomenon of The Christmas BoxRemember how quickly indie publishing grew after Richard Paul Evans’s little treasure was discovered by mainstream publishing? Vanity presses became independent presses and developed into KDP and Smashwords, providing a voice for authors who either can’t make it through the gatekeepers of traditional presses or, like me (I like to think, anyway), lost patience with the hoops you must jump through.

I’ve had three books published by two different traditional publishers. In all three cases, I enjoyed the experience of having professional cover designers, editors and book designers. It was invigorating working on a deadline. But at both publishers, my editors eventually left, putting me back at square one of trying to sell my book to another editor.

I’d rather sell it to you, my readers. But finding you is another process. Gaining your faith is yet another. I’ve been doing this for eight years now. My first book, Secrets of the Lotus, was published by Lyrical Press (now the digital first arm of Kensington Press) on July 5, 2010. I started this blog around then, too. Eight years, fourteen books, and countless blog posts later, I’ve got a few devoted readers. They’re the ones who’ll take the plunge no matter what I put out.

So I better make it good.

I think I’ve managed to improve both my writing and my publishing skills. I edit my own work now, but I have worked with enough professional editors so I have pretty good idea of how to find the holes in my own plots. I put all my manuscripts through a thorough proofreading at least twice by me and I have some beta readers who’ll look over drafts for me, too. I’ve learned a lot about the formatting of both ebooks and print. My self-published books look good now. Clean and pretty with clearly delineated breaks and chapters. And my covers are almost always professionally designed.

Now, I’m working on the marketing. That’s the really tough part. That’s the final push every author—traditional or self—must somehow summon to convince a reader that their book is worth reading. That’s why we query book reviewers and write blogs, why we spend hours writing guest posts for online book tours and tend to all our social media sites from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Goodreads.

It’s all to push you, dear reader, over the edge of a cliff and into the world of our writing.

Go ahead. Jump. If you don’t, you might miss out on the next self-publishing phenomenon.

 

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Filed under Becoming Magic, Writing

Soldiering On: RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

“Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximise corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.” —Ursula K. Le GuinSeattle rose

It’s hard to express the sorrow you feel when a hero dies. Ursula K. LeGuin was one of those people for me, and it’s funny because I’d never really thought much about her until she won the National Book Award a few years ago and said four words I’ll never forget. “Books are not commodities.”

Oh yes, I thought. Writing is art. Writing shouldn’t be directed and commercialized. I’ve always felt that way. And yet, it is. Publishers hold the cards for the most part in the world of writing. Publishers decide what gets published based on what they think will sell—and too often in today’s world, publishers decide what gets written.

It’s a chilling thought that a handful of corporate conglomerates might decide what books you read, isn’t it? It sounds more like a dystopian fiction than reality. And yet…it does happen. I know of writers who long to write a particular story and go to their publishers with it and the publisher doesn’t like it. It won’t sell. How about writing this instead?

And an idea dies.

Maybe it won’t sell. It’s certainly been my experience as a self-published writer that very often my ideas don’t sell. They’re well written. I know I’m a good writer, and a lot of reviewers (not all, but a lot) agree. They’re well edited. I am meticulous about that. The formatting is not as professional as, well, a professionally published book, but my books are certainly neat and clean and readable. But whether it’s because the publishers are right and my ideas are not sellable or because I don’t have a publisher’s ability and know-how to market them, my books are most definitely not bestsellers.

The one thing I can take pride in, though, is that my books are my ideas, born of my dreams and written in my words. Without direction or influence from a dystopian corporate world. That’s what self-publishing has done for me and countless other writers who’ve gotten their words out there in spite of doubting corporate publishers.

Rest in peace, Ursula K. Le Guin. We heard you. And in the end, what more can a writer ask for?

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Filed under Publishing, Writing

The one true sentence

Every now and then I come across something in my writing that strikes a chord. It’s a true sentence. Something I know comes from my own heart and experience. I came across one of those today while doing my “itty bitty” editing on Movie Magic. (That’s the editing that looks at all the “itty bitty” things and tries to find anything at all—a word or letter or typo or whatever—that will jolt the reader out of the story. I never catch them all, but I do catch most of them!)

Anyway, at the risk of giving you all a peek into my own heart, here’s the sentence, spoken by my hero, Walt, to the heroine, Sabrina:

“You know, you leave home thinking you’re leaving everything behind, but what you don’t realize is ‘everything’ includes some pretty good stuff too. The stuff you think will always be there. Like your dad taking you fishing or your mom frying potatoes in the fall. Or laying on your back looking up through the branches of the Christmas tree and feeling like every dream you’ve ever had will eventually come true. Because you’re a kid. Just a kid who doesn’t understand that dreams aren’t reality. And if you want to make magic exist for everyone else, you’ve got to give it up for yourself.”

And there it is. I don’t actually remember the moment I wrote that sentence. I probably wrote it two years ago. I do, however, recognize the homesickness that probably went into that paragraph. The very best writing comes from your own heart, but it’s surprisingly difficult to do. I’m glad I managed it here. And I can’t wait to share the rest of Movie Magic with you!

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Filed under Movie Magic, Writing

Writing and publishing and what comes between.

I’m getting better at this self-publishing thing. I’ve even started thinking of it as a four-step process. The first step is writing/editing. This includes all the drafts and all the deep editing and re-writing. (I’m going to skip a step here, but stay with me.) The third step is publishing. This mostly consists of pushing a button and saying a prayer as your book begins its journey into the world. The fourth step, which actually begins somewhere between the second and third step and continues well into the future, is marketing. I’ve talked about that some, but it includes blogging, tweeting, sending out excerpts, begging for reviews, putting together a press kit…you name it, it’s there.

The second step, which is what I’ve been deep in the process of recently, is book-making. I include copy editing and formatting for ebook and print in this step, and it’s the step that many authors miss out on in traditional publishing. This is the step I’ve had to work to perfect over the years. I’ve found it’s not as simple as typing up a book and plugging it into a publishing platform like Smashwords or CreateSpace. It involves a lot of work, a lot of oversight and a lot of experimentation to get a good, clean-looking book. Chapter headings, white space, margins… Oh, and book covers! Book covers are so much fun. I usually have to get professional help with these, but I also get to make some suggestions and requests (much more so than with traditional publishing). And when it’s all done and you’re ready to move on to Step three, you can call yourself something new, something beyond an author, editor or even publisher. You can call yourself a book-maker.

Pretty stinking awesome.

I’ve been at it for a couple weeks now. I’ve finished the copy-editing and am into the formatting stage for Out of Time. It’s already up for pre-order on Smashwords and Amazon. Go check it out, even if just to look at the beautiful cover designed by Farah Evers Designs. But don’t forget to come back here often. As soon as I’m done with formatting the print version, I’m throwing myself headlong into marketing, and I’ve got a few surprises lined up that will culminate in the day long Out of Time Launch Party on June 15.

See you soon!

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Filed under Writing

Whoops…there it is: Rewriting, the true test.

I’ve been offline for far too long, trying to make my Facebook and a few Twitter posts make up for my lack of blogging. It’s not that I’m not writing, it’s that I am. I’m actually writing and having a lot of fun with it.

And something else is looming on the horizon.

My current work in progress is lovely. I’m in love with my characters and it’s set in New York, which is a city I love to write about. Not sure I’d want to live there, but I do love writing about it. I get caught up in the storyline, and the twists and turns of it reveal themselves a little more to me each day, so every time I sit at the computer, it’s an adventure.

But every now and then something else lifts its head like Nessie the sea monster and smirks at me with seaweed-stained teeth. Something that will take the joy—at least temporarily—out of my writing.

It’s the first draft of Movie Magic.

I don’t know if you remember Movie Magic. I wrote it way back in November during National Novel Writing Month, which was only the second NaNoWriMo I’ve ever finished. I have no delusions. Movie Magic is bound to be a mess since it actually started out as Pirate Magic and took a turn a third of the way through…and I obeyed the unwritten NaNo rule not to go back and fix what had gone wrong but just to plow through and get it done.

So it needs to be rewritten. Edited. Reworked. Sweated and bled over. I still owe this book a pound of flesh.

I know it’s coming after I finish the first draft of this as-yet-untitled new book. I plan to publish Movie Magic on October 31 (Halloween to the rest of the world, but always Houdini’s birthday to me). So eventually I must face it.

If you’re asking what the big deal is, you’re not a writer. Mark Twain once remarked that the best writers are the best rewriters. Because that’s the true test. Writing a book is one thing. Being able to open it up six months later and face the mess AND fix it…well, that’s a test of courage and willpower and skill.

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Filed under Editing, Writing

I finally got it right! (Preview excerpt from ISLAND MAGIC)

I’m so excited! After working on Island Magic for at least the past six months, rewriting and then rewriting again when I hit wordblocks (ha, see what I did there with roadblock/wordblock?), I think I finally got it right! I have a really good feeling about this particular iteration of my latest in the Sleight of Hand series. At times I’ve even had to wonder why am I tearing my hair out over this story? Maybe it just doesn’t want to be written. But I do think it does want to be told. I just had to find the right way to tell it. And today, I hit on it. And because I’m so confident I’ve got it right and so excited about what I think the changes are going to do to my story, I’m going to give you a little preview!

The first few paragraphs of ISLAND MAGIC:

Even Logan didn’t expect magic that night, but when he thought about it later, that was the night the real magic started.

Night fell slowly in the Caribbean, and when it came, it was complete. Especially in the little bar on the beach that Logan loved. Even the tiki torches only spread small radii of flickering glow around their poles. The rest was dark, secret, a haven for those who would rather not be seen.

From his oasis behind the thatch-roofed bar, he watched the patrons of the resort milling around, coming in from the dark beach, usually hand-in-hand with someone else. Occasionally a group of young men would collide with a group of young women and soon they would pair off and head into dark corners. All Logan had to do was make their drinks and chat. No interference required on his part. He was like a voyeuristic benefactor, watching them leave his bar with nothing but good feelings.

He spotted Rachel in the bar, but he lost sight of her in a crowd of college kids. He frowned, craning his neck. It certainly had looked like Rachel. Nora’s best friend, the maid of honor at his wedding to a woman who was now dead. But what would Rachel be doing there? And why wouldn’t she have told him she was coming?

He recognized the long, luxurious hair and the lovely features, even though they had a hard edge he wasn’t used to seeing. And what was up with the slinky dress? Rachel had always seemed so strait-laced he’d figured she would be a suburban soccer mom by now, though he’d lost touch with her years before. This was no soccer mom. This wasn’t even the beautiful, gentle woman Nora had known in the years after their marriage.

As he spied, she sat at a table not far from the bar. She was alone, but everything about her said she had no intention of remaining that way. Logan noticed several men glancing her way. He couldn’t blame them. Her raven hair fell over one bare shoulder, her sleeveless red sundress setting off her tan. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, and he shouldn’t be looking at Rachel that way. Not Nora’s best friend. Never mind that Nora died eight years ago, his self-imposed exile hadn’t been long enough. He needed more.

When the waitress delivered her order for a frozen margarita with salt, Logan intercepted it from Ramon. “Sorry, man.” He grinned at his friend. “I’m gonna deliver this one personally.”

Ramon gave him a mock growl. “Earn me a good tip if you’re gonna pull rank on me, amigo.”

Logan flashed him a smile and vaulted the bar neatly, landing on the other side to appreciative looks from a group of young women. He saluted them, picked up the margarita and crossed to the table. “Your margarita, señorita.”

She raised beautiful dark eyes to meet his. God, he’d always known she was beautiful, sexy, desirable, but the raw sensuality in that gaze left him breathless. She smiled, playing along as if she had no idea who he was. “Muchas gracias, señor. To what do I owe the special delivery?”

He glanced left and right, then sat across from her, leaning over the table as if to keep their conversation covert. “Between you and me, I’ve been told I’m overly concerned with our guests’ satisfaction.”

The curve of her lips deepened and he knew she’d sensed a double entendre in his words. He wanted to laugh but didn’t give in to the impulse. He’d spent so many years on stage, his career so dependent on reading his audience, yet he couldn’t seem to see Rachel’s carefully guarded exterior anymore. It intrigued him enough so he stepped over a boundary he hadn’t crossed in years.

Leaning over the table, he beckoned her closer. When she obliged, her expression highly amused, he let his lips brush her ear. “Do you believe in magic?”

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Filed under Editing, Island Magic, Sleight of Hand, Writing