Saturday, July 30, 2011

Three "Confessions" Giveaways

I just wanted to let everyone know that there are three contests going on right now for a signed paperback copy of my new book, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School).

Barbara Kloss is hosting one. Donna K. Weaver is hosting another. Holly, my cover illustrator, is hosting the third. Check them out for a chance to win! :)

ETA: I believe to comment on Holly's, you have to have or sign up for a DeviantArt account. (You can have one for commenting--you don't have to post any art or anything. :))

Friday, July 29, 2011

Perseverance, Writing, and You

I really just want to do a post to honor all of you writers and your perseverance in writing, and blogging, and living life while learning how to balance it all.

Writing is not always easy, as you know. Writing a novel isn't just throwing words onto paper. It's getting the story out, tweaking, editing, rewriting, plotting, getting stuck, plotting some more, bouncing off of friends/family/support people, writing more, and finally, finally getting that last sentence written.

It's that moment of celebration--you wrote a book. You actually did it.

And then it's the editing. Lots of it. Personally, I often find the editing more exhausting than the writing--and sometimes it lasts a lot longer. There's the rewriting, the file sent off to beta readers/critique partners. There's getting the feedback, weighing it all carefully, and deciding what needs to be changed in the story. More editing. More rewriting. Wash, rinse, repeat. Send it to more betas. Get more feedback.

Then there's deciding what you want to do with it. Query letters, agents, publishers, self-publishing. Writing summaries and blurbs. Sending emails. Blogging. Tweeting.

When your book gets to publication, by whatever means chosen, there's marketing and other such things to think about.

Oh, and yes: there's deciding if this is the only book you want to write or if you have more you want to do.

Writing is different for everyone depending on life and circumstances. Writing can be finding time between school, work, exams. It's can be squeezing in writing in between homeschooling kids. It can be getting up early or staying up late. It can be lugging your laptop to your kids' Taekwondo or ballet classes. It can be hunching over a notebook in a coffee shop. It can be trying to work while not being distracted by shiny things on the internet. It can be a hundred other things that you have scheduled or the hundred unscheduled things that pop up.

It's a long, long process to write one book, and if you write more than one, the cycle continues.

But you persevere through it all. You plug on through computer crashes, through a file shutting down and not saving the last ten pages you wrote. You wrestle with those characters or that plot until you come out the other side--maybe with battle scars, but you come out and you get that next part of the book written.

Whether you are just starting to plot your first novel, or preparing your eighty-second book for publication: you are doing it. Don't forget to stop every now and then and remind yourself of what you are accomplishing. You're creating new worlds, breathing life into characters, filling pages with something that is important to you. You're learning and growing and shaping your craft.

And it's worth all of it.

For all of you sticking with your book(s) and riding the wild rollercoaster of plot, here is an award I made to celebrate what you are doing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Confessions ebook now available in other formats on Smashwords

I've yet to reply to everyone on my Avatar: The Last Airbender post or done my blog reading today--I will get to both ASAP.

I spent my day wrestling with getting my ebook for Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) uploaded in EPUB format to B&N (success, and should be available on the Nook in a couple of days) and I also got it formatted for Smashwords and uploaded there. In addition to it being available on Amazon for Kindle, it's now available on Smashwords in multiple ebook formats: Confessions on Smashwords

My brain feels like MUSH. MUSH, I tell you!

I also need to put up a sample chapter or so on my blog here--will get to that soon. I just don't want my blog posts to be all about this. ;) I'm trying not to slam everyone with posts about the book, but I did want to let everyone know when it's available in different formats.

Still waiting on the paperback. (ETA: Just got my sample paperback in the mail. SO PRETTY! Once I look it over, it will go to publication, as long as everything's okay with it.)

I think I'm going to go watch a movie or an episode of Star Trek: Voyager to try to de-mushify my brain a little bit before I catch up on replying and reading blogs. :)

Thank you all SO much for your encouragement and support as I've been wrestling my way through all of this!

What have you all been up to today?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Or: A Cartoon That Has Taught Me Much)

As promised, a post about my favorite cartoon and what I've learned from it. I've been wanting to talk about this for months. It's Avatar: The Last Airbender. Some of you may have seen it and some of you might not know anything about it. Some of you may know of M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Atrocity Airbender. I try really, really hard to be nice and optimistic and not to put down someone's artistic work, but I'm sorry--that movie slaughtered everything I loved about the show. It was supposed to be a live action retelling of the first season of the cartoon. Welllll...the skeleton of the story was there, and that was it. The characterizations, humor, friendships, the very heart of the show--they were all non-existent. I found the movie to be a giant ball of narrative with a few action sequences.

The original cartoon, however, is a different story.

A brief summary of the show:

Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place in a fantasy world comprised of four groups: the Fire Nation, the Air Nomads, the Earth Kingdom, and the Water Tribes.                                                     

Certain people born into these groups have the ability to manipulate, or "bend," the element into which they were born. So someone from the Water Tribes might be born a waterbender, able to control water.                                                                

There is one person born who has the ability to control all four elements. He or she is the Avatar, and has the responsibility of keeping peace and balance. Every time one Avatar dies, he or she is reborn into the next nation in a continuous cycle.

The story takes place during a war that's lasted a hundred years. The Fire Nation has basically taken over the world. The Air Nomads were wiped out, the Avatar hasn't been seen in a century--and that's where the show begins.

Now, a little personal background on how this came into my life:

In December 2007, my husband and kids and I moved to Ohio. I had been living in Tennessee (we just moved back to TN) since I was eleven, so it was a whole new adventure. Summer 2008, Hubby and I bought our second house. About a month after we moved in, we came home from church to find our house had been broken into. It was...not a fun experience. I'm grateful that no one was home when it happened, but it left us all pretty shaken. I needed something to just take my mind off it all, and I spent that week watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. It had been recommended to me by two of my friends. I knew absolutely nothing about it except that it was a cartoon on Nickelodeon, and the show had just finished. It's complete at three seasons (called Books) in 61 episodes, each about 20 minutes long.

I have to say, I didn't have very high expectations. I had watched some decent anime shows, but this was an American cartoon, and every cartoon I had watched--while fun--wasn't incredibly deep.

I started watching and was struck by how gorgeous the animation was. (Seriously, seriously gorgeous.)

I still didn't expect much. I was like, 'oh, it's just going to be a silly cartoon about these kids.' Then, as the first season (Book 1) went along, I became more and more impressed with the storytelling. Yes, there were fun, silly things that had me laughing, but the deeper I got into the show, the deeper the characters became. By the time I finished Book 1, I loved the show.

After Book 1, I had much, much higher expectations, but it wasn't until I was halfway through the second season (Book 2) that I had complete faith that the writers knew what they were doing. There was this episode that had me shaking my head and going, "They are totally going THERE, aren't they? And they're going to completely disregard the emotional upheaval Character X went through twelve episodes ago."

But they didn't. They brought this emotional upheaval back up and they made it real and painful and I was just in awe of the consistency and storytelling, and from that point on, I trusted that the writers had it under control. By the time I finished Book 2, I was convinced there was no way Book 3 could possibly be better.

I was wrong. Book 3 about knocked my socks off. The characters who had started off as these silly, playful, immature children really grew. They fought a war and the toll it took on all of them was evident. It wasn't just one thing that was beautiful about this show. It was everything. The characterizations were consistent and realistic, and still managed to take me by surprise. It was the kind of story where you look back and realize it couldn't have happened any other way. (Someone on my blog list was talking about this the other day. Faith, I think? An ending that's surprising, but inevitable. *goes to track the post down* Yes, right here: Surpising, yet inevitable.)

The animation, as I said, is gorgeous. The story and plot are well-developed. The attention to detail is incredible. I've lost track of how many times I've watched this show, but I've picked up a lot of really subtle things happening in the background that just amaze me. It's like reading a fantastic book where you see little things happening with other characters, or things that are important later but you might not realize it at the time. The layers! So many layers! There is friendship, romance, redemption, betrayal, families, humor, action. There are strong female and male characters. There are characters of all ages. There is inner and outer turmoil.

At the end of the whole show, the characters had come so far. It's always funny going back and watching the beginning of the show again, when they were so little and had so much growing up to do.

Plus, the voice actors/actresses are magnificent. And Mark Hamill plays the show's main villain, and who wouldn't want to hear Luke Skywalker as the bad guy?

This cartoon has raised the standard for me in how I perceive storytelling, and the standards of stories I watch/read. Not only is it fun, funny, sweet, bittersweet, heartbreaking, and beautiful--it's something that I can learn from as a writer, from the way it was crafted and told. If you want to watch something that's fun, deep, grows with the characters, and that can show you a LOT about story structure, plot, and character development, I highly recommend this.

*Is there a particular show/movie that has impacted you and taught you a lot?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Kindle Book is Now Available!

That was SUPER fast! I didn't expect Amazon to have my new book available so soon! Only the Kindle version is available at the moment--the paperback will be coming soon, and I'll let everyone know when it's out--but if you want to check it out or share the link or anything like that, you can see it here:

Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School)

I am giddy. And nervous. But mostly giddy. :D

ETA: I'm also planning on uploading it in other ebook formats, and I'll let everyone know how that goes, too.

Thanks to all of you for listening to my rambling through this process. It's been--and will continue to be--a lot of learning for me.

(And within the next few days, I'm going to try to do a blog post unrelated to publishing--I want to talk about my all-time favorite cartoon and what it's taught me as a writer. Yes, a cartoon. :D Stay tuned for that!)

All About You

I have a blog post I've been wanting to do all week, but I have been occupied with html coding. Specifically, wrestling with all of the ins and outs of formatting a book for a Kindle. Several days and numerous attempts later, I have succeeded in creating a working, formatted ebook.

*insert clever drawing of celebration and fireworks* (Shh, you'll have to imagine the drawing is here, because I am too. tired. to actually draw it this evening. Er, this morning. It's actually 12:30AM.)

Thank you for all of your lovely comments on my last couple of blog posts. I'm sorry I haven't replied yet; I am going to try to do that tomorrow. You all are awesome!

I would now like to take the opportunity to learn more about all of you. So, if you'd like to share, I've got a fill-in-the-blank thing below.

1. I love ________.

2. I hate it when ________.

3. If I could do or try anything, it would be __________.

4. Somewhere I've visited is ______ and I thought it was __________.

5. My favorite ________ is _____________.

6. If I woke up on the moon, my first thought would be ___________.

7. If I lived in a city built underwater I would want the job of ____________ because ____________.

8. I believe _____________.

9. If I was stuck in an elevator I would _____________.

10. (Anything else about yourself you might want to share.) _______________

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Cover!

My wonderful, patient, splendorific illustrator Holly finished my book cover for Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld today. I wanted to share it before I get to work on publishing this. :D :D :D I am SO EXCITED.

ETA: In my excitement, I neglected to give my timeframe for publication. If all goes well, this should start the publication process this week. I'm hoping it will be available sometime this month or in August.

Front Cover:


Spine and Back Cover:


Cover art © Holly Robbins.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Ever Elusive Muse

You know when you really, really want to write, and you set some time aside to do just that...and then nothing comes? Or something comes, but it's all blah and you feel so listless with it and it's not quite right?

Yeah, that's me with my novel this month. I'm familiar enough now with how I write to know that each book is written a bit differently. With some stories, I can dive right into and push forward. Others take more consideration before I plunge in. Right now, I've been trying to force myself to write, and my brain is screaming at me to cut it out because it's in the "simmering" phase. I thought I was ready. I know the story I'm writing--it's the sequel to another novel, so I have the world and main characters established, but this week has shown me that I need to let it sit and stew in the back of my head for a little while longer. It's right there, on the edges of my brain, and I know that if I just give it a little bit of time, it'll come pouring out.

Waiting can be hard, though, when I just want to write it now. This week went something like this:






The thing is, this is part of writing for me, too--allowing everything to sit and churn around in the back of my head while I do other things.

Does this happen to you when you're writing, too? (Or trying to write?)


I'm planning on doing a post on the ever elusive muse (my current state of writing), but since that's going to take me a little while to put together, I thought this morning I'd post the current blurb for my upcoming book, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School). 

ETA: Blurb edited to reflect final updated tweaks on it.  


Write what you know.

Persephone "Sephie" Benson scoffs when her creative writing teacher throws that little gem out there. Maybe this advice would work for a professional skydiver or a baseball star or a ninja princess. It's not so great for a high school student who doesn't even know what to do with the rest of her life. Add in being the oldest of six girls, having Responsibilities with a capital R, and living in a town the size of a tick, and you've got a recipe for boring soup.

At least, that's what Sephie thinks until her senior year. Now, her grandfather is losing his house. One of her sisters plays a starring role in the local high school scandal. Even things with her best friend Joey aren't the same.

As Sephie deals with the changes in her life, she finds that nothing is quite what she expects—and that sometimes, the most extraordinary life can be the one that seems the most ordinary.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Quick Updates

I am terribly behind on my writing goal for this month. TERRIBLY.

I have been going back and forth with my ever-so-patient and amazing illustrator this week to tweak things on the book cover.

I finally, finally got the rough draft of the book blurb written, part of it last night and the rest of it this afternoon.

I'm going to get coffee and write as much as I can right now.

Oh, July. How is already the sixth? Where is the month going!?! Is it going as fast for you all as it is for me?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcome to July!

The first of July starts a month of craziness in my neck of the woods! This month, I have quite a few things happening and goals to meet. I plan to write half a novel. It's the sequel to the book I spent over a year writing. But I figure I've succeeded at NaNo in the past and written a whole book--I can do half in a month, right? Right!?!? O_O

(I should note that half of the book is probably going to be between 50,000 and 60,000 words.)

Next, I'm prepping my book, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) for publication at the end of the month. I'm waiting to hear back from my editor and from my final beta readers. My illustrator (the most awesome, patient illustrator anyone could ask for) sent me final sketch designs for the cover this morning and is going to start coloring it now. I'm so excited about this. I still have so much more preparation to do for this book and its release in the next couple of weeks.

My hubby starts his new job this week, and my sister is getting married in a week, and there is probably something else I'm missing. I suppose it's good that all of these things are happening when my kids are out of school for the summer, because I don't have to worry about starting up homeschooling again until next month. ;)

Plus, you know, I need to keep up with the blogosphere as much as possible.

What are you all doing this month? Any goals or plans? Vacations? Anything else? What's up in your life?