Monday, January 24, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I was very quiet last week because I was trying to power through my latest draft. I have two wonderful readers to critique for me, but I am not ready.


Because this is a play-by-play of my week:

  1. This book is SO GOOD! I can't believe I wrote this. It's awesome!
  2. Hmm, that section is weak compared with the end, so I need to rewrite.
  3. Well, it's not the best book, but it's still pretty good.
  4. Ooh, just thought of another character that I need to add.
  5. I wonder what will happen if I change this whole section.
  6. Oh, that was bad. That made it much worse!
  7. I'm never going to get this finished.
  8. You know, this is not really a very good story. 
  9. My book is kinda boring.
  10. Maybe I'll do better with the next book I write...
And so on and so on, until yesterday I managed to work on it for about 4 minutes. Not my goal for the day. But there was a big football game on TV, and I was a little busy watching the Steelers win. (I know - excuses, excuses.)

I'm back to a solid footing between #2 and #3 right now - not bad for a Monday morning. And tonight I can dream of the day that I'll return to #1. But I wonder - will I ever feel that good about it again? Or will I always see the faults, the what-could-have-beens?

The advice I keep finding on various blogs leads back to the same conclusion: JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD. I can't let my doubts paralyze me. I need to get this first book out the door and online, then work on the second and the third, and so on. Keep moving forward...

PS - Happy Birthday to my sister, Amy! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Switched and Storytellers

On Friday, I finished reading Switched by Amanda Hocking. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. I have shown remarkable restraint ever since. All I wanted to do Friday night was rush back to the Kindle store and buy the rest of the trilogy. But I told myself I have to wait until my current edits are done...

The story is solid, and although I spent more time than I should admit trying to pronounce "Trylle" (her word for troll), it was a smooth and polished read. (I'm not kidding. For the first 20 uses of "Trylle," I sat there and said, "troll, trile, trill, treelah, troll, treelah" over and over until it sounded right in my head... BTW, I think "treelah" is closest to the right pronunciation.) It had everything I wanted - teen confusion, a handsome and mysterious love interest, a secret past and a psychotic mother who tried to kill her daughter when she was six.

OK, maybe I didn't need the psychotic mother, but it worked in this story. I read and read as fast as my finger could flick the Kindle pages, then transferred to my laptop version and finished it there.

But what I love more than the book is the story behind Amanda's success. I'm not going to list it here, but if you're interested, you can check out her blog or the many mentions of her on A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. She is a storyteller, and she didn't let anyone stop her. She kept moving forward, and she did it her way. I love that. The indie drive to keep writing, keep working and keep publishing is inspiring.

I don't have a backlist like hers, but I do have stories that I want to tell, stories that I need to tell. Perhaps more than anything else, I love that her path allows her to publish as much, or as little, as she wants. Talk about freedom! I'm getting closer to that type of freedom each day. I am sending my heavily revised draft to my alpha reader this week, to my betas soon after that, and I hope to get my first book in my series published this spring.

Do I daydream of finding success on par with Amanda's? Sure I do. I'd guess that every indie writer does right now. But that's not the most important thing to me. I am drawn to the possibility of telling the stories I want to tell the way that I want to tell them. I want to work at my pace and publish when I'm ready, not according to someone else's schedule.

But above all of that, I want to be a storyteller.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Battle of the Books

The time has come. It is January, and a new Battle of the Books has begun.

The particular Battle of the Books to which I refer is for 3rd and 4th graders and a parent here in our township. And the competition is fierce. At least, I think it's fierce.

See, we missed the actual Battle last year. After two months of reading as many of the 10 books on the list as we could, my 3rd grader and I were ready. And then he got sick. Really sick. And we missed the big Battle. So this year, we're hoping to actually make it to the Battle in March.

I've already started the trash-talking phase of the Battle with another mom of a 4th grader. She's very nice, but she's going down.

We've started the first three books this week. Here they are, just in case you'd like to read along with us.


Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
Judy Blume

Andrew Clements

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Read: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble

With all of the rushing around in December, I feel like I hardly read anything. Strange for me. Of course, I did read, but I decided that along with my resolutions like Listen to more classical music and Put laundry away as soon as it is finished, I should get back into the habit of finishing each day with a few chapters. The laundry is still downstairs, folded neatly, but I have managed to find a new (to me) piece by Liszt that I love. And I bought a copy of H.P. Mallory's book, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble, from the Amazon Kindle store for my phone.

Now I'm going to admit something here - I bought the book because I love the cover. Seriously. But that's not the whole story.

I stumbled upon H.P. Mallory after reading about her on Joe Konrath's site, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. He posted a Holiday Ebook Buying Guide, and her book is the 14th on the list (I think - hard to count while scrolling). One of the points he makes over and over again is that you need great cover art to attract readers. We really do judge a book by its cover. And Mallory hit a home-run with her self-styled covers. She even has similar eye-catching artwork all over her sites for her books and blog.