Monday, April 29, 2013

Bookstore Closings (The New Era of Publishing)

One of two major chain bookstores in our nearby college town will close in the next few week. With a nostalgic sadness, I look back at the precious hours I've spent browsing bookstores, to include the one scheduled to close in mid-May. Browsing the shelves and running my fingers along the colorful spines. Inhaling the smell of paper and ink and relishing the expectation and excitement of holding a soon-to-be-read book in my hands.

Most of the reference books, such as books on writing, I read are in hardback or paperback, while the recent fiction I have read is in downloaded e-book format on Kindle.

Where I once had three large bookshelves of books in my home, the hard copy or paperback copies now fill three shelves. The local library has benefited by the streamlining of my books (even the complete Stephen King collection), and I have transitioned mostly to e-books for reading.

In less than the physical space of one paperback book, I am able to carry hundreds of books with me. Tucked in a zip-lock, Kindle is there when I light a few candles and read while soaking in the tub. Kindle, in its lighted protective case, can go camping and has traveled into the Canadian wilderness with me. With the Kindle, I can enlarge the text and give my overworked eyes a break.

E-book readers provide a versatility, flexibility, and availability that hold-in-your-hands books do not.

Although, I appreciate what this technology brings, when I visited the local bookstore and saw the sign announcing the store was closing, my heart sank to my toes. Despite e-book reading, I visit this particular bookstore at least once a week. Hubby and I shop both magazines and books and regularly leave the store with a good stash of both.

The newer upscale store opened a few years ago in a trendy shopping center. Shopping there is okay, but the feel of the store is more like a mall, where aisle items that have nothing to do with books or reading are strategically placed. Brightly colored and marketing savvy, the place reminds me more of grocery store than a bookstore.

When I started visiting J.A. Konrath's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing blog back in 2010, I knew the time of bookstores closing was coming, and even though Borders filed for bankruptcy in 2011, I didn't realize the actual process would come about so soon. No, times aren't changing, the times have changed, and the new era of publishing is here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Author Dean Wesley Smith is Doing What?
(Common Writing Myths)

When it comes to writing techniques and processes, one size does not fit all. What works for my favorite authors may not work for me, yet one techinique used by another might be just the ticket. That's why I've been fascinated with Author Dean Wesley Smith's shared novel writing experience. He is ghost writing a 70,000-word novel, which he's set a target to write in 10 days or less, and is chronicling the writing of the book on his blog.

During Dean Wesley Smith's writing marathon, he's taking the time to graciously answer questions in the comment sections of his posts, providing answers that are pearls of wisdom for writers eager to debunk traditional writing myths.

The ten (10) of the most common writing myths, I personally have encountered include:

1) Fast writing can't be good writing.
2) The writing journey must be filled with angst and struggle to provide validation.
3) Large chunks of time are required to write any words of value.
4) The muse must visit and you must feel inspired in order to write.
5) The writing of a novel is mysterious and difficult, and meant for only a chose few.
6) Only a chosen few actually "get" how to write a novel.
7) Good writers are born, not taught or self-created.
8) If the writing process is easy, multiple revisions must be performed.
9) To write, the writer must have complete quiet and no distractions.
10) Good writing is innate, it does not come from the act of actually writing, then writing some more.

Fast writing can't be good writing.

Dean is debunking this myth with his writing marathon. His theory is that the quality of writing remains the same whether you write fast, while you are tired and more in a zone (which is why he gets most of his writing done in the wee morning hours), or when refreshed. To me, when you are first drafting, your focus should be on the story, not the words. (In his comment replies, Dean addressed this story versus words issue head on.)

The writing journey must be filled with angst and struggle to provide validation.

My parents believed you must struggle and work hard to earn your way through life. Basically, if you worked a lot, you earned a little. Writing doesn't have to be like that. Writing doesn't have to be a self-suffering journey. My chosen writing journey is fun and satisfying, every step of the way. 

Large chunks of time are required to write any words of value.

Dean writes in smaller stints, usually approximately 1 hour in length, spaced out so that he can last the distance of the marathon. In 15 minutes a day, a writer could write a book in a year. No large chunks of time required.

The muse must visit and you must feel inspired in order to write.

What if the muse is on vacation in Maui? Or Inspiration is on a year-long sabbatical in the mountains. Writer's write. The end.

The writing of a novel is mysterious and difficult, and meant for only a chose few.

Not too long ago, a writing workshop instructor claimed that you either got writing a novel or you didn't. Um, okay, then why are you bothering to "instruct" a class, Mr. Instructor? I'm not sure whether this tact is ego-based or territory-derived. Either way, sir, with the help of Rock Your Plot and Rock Your Revisions, I beg to differ.

Only a chosen few actually "get" how to write a novel.

By chosen few, I mean established authors, such as Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Nora Roberts, who have achieved household name status for their prolific writing in the traditional publishing worlds. Or how about J.A. Konrath or Dean Wesley Smith? They get how to structure, draft, and revise, yet the process must be out of reach for other aspiring authors? Not. (Thank you Joe and Dean for dispelling the myth every day on your writer-supportive blogs!)

Good writers are born, not taught or self-created.

You either are born able to write and possess such mega talent, or you are a wannabe and that's all you'll ever be. Savvy Authors provides numerous courses to authors that debunk this myth in a big way. If they so choose to actually write, wannabes can easily become gonnabes.

If the writing process is easy, multiple revisions must be performed.

Which is why so many books now a days are vanilla. The life has been edited from the style, the voice and the words. Any reader, no matter the genre, will tell you they get tired of the same ol' same ol'.

To write, the writer must have complete quiet and no distractions.

This myth is being dispelled by Dean as well. He writes in stints, takes time out for food breaks and to take naps with his cat. I close myself away, but if something comes up to take me away from writing, I address the issue, then return to my desk. The biggy is coming back to the writing and actually writing. 

Good writing is innate, it does not come from the act of actually writing, then writing some more.

A multi-published author recently told me there comes a time when no class or workshop or course is going to be more beneficial than the act of actually writing. You write, write, write, then write some more.

Dean Wesley Smith's Progress

On Day 5, Dean has reached the halfway mark of a novel he didn't outline and claims he has no idea where the story is headed. Dean says he trusts the process and believes the story will come together. Should you get a chance, drop by Dean's blog and share in the experience of a professional writer's schedule, his progress, and his gracious sharing of his writing journey at

Thank you for sharing your experience, Dean. Good writing and onward!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ali's Victory by Kat Duncan (On My Kindle)

Ali's Victory by Kat Duncan is a grabs-you-and-doesn't-let-you-go Romantic Suspense. Not only has Kat Duncan renewed my faith and interest in Romantic Suspense, during the reading of Ali's Victory, I laughed, I cried, I cared, and I became lost in the story and truly was sad when the book came to an end.

Amazon's book description:

What young widow Ali Granger doesn't know can put her six feet under. Her boss, a medical advocate fighting drug companies, has been murdered, and she's on the run from a killer. After stealing a boat and crashing on a private island, she meets the man of her dreams. Only he's holding a shotgun, and it's pointed at her.

Ben Dewey, a.k.a. former entertainment wrestler Hammer Victory, never expected to find Ali's brand of trouble on his doorstep. But when she uncovers evidence that both his wife and her husband died from the same unexplained condition, he agrees to help.

Danger and desire lurk around every corner as Ali and Ben team up to expose a dietary supplement as a deadly, addictive drug--before the forces behind it silence them forever. But if they succeed, can they leave the past behind and find love again?

From Kat Duncan's blog:

Escaping a killer, Ali Granger crashes a stolen boat onto a remote harbor island only to be confronted by a two guard dogs and a man with a shotgun. Her terror is compounded when she learns her boss, a medical advocate fighting drug companies, has been murdered. Now she has no choice but to pick up where her boss left off and expose the supplement Antaqx for the addictive, lethal drug it is.

Ever since Ben Dewey was forced out of the limelight of wrestling entertainment, he's been trying to make amends to Rick, his best friend and partner. When blonde bombshell, Ali Granger, crashes on his doorstep, she brings with her evidence that could help Ben atone for all his personal losses. Can he convince Ali to lose her heart to him before the evil man behind Antaqx knocks them both out of the picture?

Ali's Victory is $2.99 as an e-book on Amazon. A great buy for a very enjoyable and much appreciated good read! Highly Recommend!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Writing In the Dark and Through the Darkness

Lights out, shades drawn, sitting before the monitor, I enter the story world of my mind and write through the darkness to bring the story to the page. Fingers on keyboard, I sit in the dark pondering what comes nexts, what happens to whom, how best to share my writing experience with a participating reader.

Someone asked me recently, in the tone you come to expect from one that disbelieves and discourages or perhaps from one who is of a critical mind, "How DO you spend YOUR days?"

Without the benefit of an alarm, I awake just before or right after sunrise. I pad, sock-footed, through the house to the writing room, in which three Simese cats have chosen to den. Other times, if the glow of dawn approaches, I pause to admire the sunrise of another day.

I turn the computer, monitor, and mouse on, then visit the restroom. (Notice, turn on computer happens before bathroom pit stop.) If it's a cold morning, I slip on a sweater. A chilled bottle of water and glass in hand, I return to the computer room and the cats. These three regard me with much suspicion. In the glow of the monitor and with the keyboard highlighted by a small desk lamp just over my right shoulder, I sit down before the keyboard.

First thing, I block internet access for at least 60 to 120 minutes. My reward for writing for one to two hours is that once the internet block expires, I do a short check social networking sites and email. I get up, pace a bit about the room, retrieve another bottled water from the fridge, and return to the keyboard.

Again, I block the internet, another hour or two, and write. I focus on getting into the point of view characters head, heart, and current action. I share that characters experiences in this story world on the page. I write in short stints of one to two pages at a time.

For breaks, I do breathing and stretching exercises, then again I write. Somewhere around this time, I make a green smoothie and enjoy the smoothie with a handful of pecans or sunflower seeds. Mid-morning, I make breakfast, usually oatmeal with nuts or fruit and a drizzle of local honey. I make quick visits to my favorite writing blogs and then again I write.

In between writing stints, I load the dish washer or clothes washer, and I also shower, apply makeup, get dressed, do household chores, then I must dislodge those still suspicious felines from my chosen writing spot and begin another writing session, after which I perform other household chores, feed pets, take the dog out, make lunch, and assist in making dinner, to name a few non-writing activities.

I spend time with hubby in the evenings after dinner. We watch our favorite recorded television shows, play with the puppy, and laugh and enjoy each others' company.

Each day, I spend anywhere from a minimum of 4 to a maximum of 12 hours writing, more so leaning toward the latter rather than the former. Writing is my job. Writing is what writers DO with their DAYS.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Back to Basics (Progress Tracking & Scene Direction Made Simple)

While previously a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and a Microsoft Word table listing chapters served as tracking devices for my writing, now that I am heavy-duty first drafting, a printed sheet from a Word calendar template and a notepad serve as my guideposts for writing goals and tracking and for scene direction. While diving into first drafting, I need simple.

I jot down what chapters I plan to write when for the entire month, leaving a couple of days off per week to accommodate non-writing time and potential appointments, then make adjustments at the end of each day. I check off completed chapters, and then use another color of ink to adjust chapter numbers if a chapter happens to roll over to the next day. Simple.

For each scene, I hand write (well print, since my penmanship tends to lack readability) a bulleted list of what might possibly happen next in the scene, potential happenings, possible conflicts, dialogue snippets. At the bottom of the page, I note word count when I pause to reflect on what's next in the scene. (Again, simple.)

The calendar and note page are nothing fancy, and with the exception of the examples included in this post, are for my eyes only.

The calendar gets messy, but I am able to discern where I stand and what adjustments I might need to make to the schedule. My notes are sloppy, yet I get an idea and gist of what direction the chapter might go or needs to take.

The information on both pages is flexible, ever changing, and helps me keep track and view the first draft status and where the next chapter is possibly headed. Both sit on my writing table for easy referencing. Nothing fancy or complicated, yet they work. Oh so simple!

Did I happen to mention that I love and appreciate simple?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review Time (Writing Full Time & Loving It!)

The journey during these last few months of writing full time has been enlightening and painful, yet satisfying and fulfilling.

In attempt to keep track of when, where, and how I reached self-defined writing goals, I have tracked my journey over the last nine months, to include progress or lack thereof. Health issues have served as stumbling blocks, yet in looking at the dates of launches and completions, I have made steady, if at times plodding, progress.

First Draft of Book #1 in five-book series:

The first first draft of Book # 1 Development Edit and Review. (Majorly developmentally flawed. Back to square one with planning, plotting, and redevelopment of series):

Second First Draft of Book #1:

First Draft Book #2 & Revision of Book #1 (Revision of Book #1 placed on hold):

First Draft Book #3:

First Draft Book #4 (scheduled completion date):

First Draft Book #5 (scheduled launch & completion date):

Revision time-frame for Series #1 (scheduled launch and completion date):

In looking at the time-frames for each book, I am able to see the blocks of missed writing due to illness, as well that when health issues are not a factor, the time-frame between launch and completion of first drafts has tightened.

A five-book series completed in little over a year. (If all goes well, in 14 months to be exact.) Not bad at all!

In September and October, I will draft and revise a standalone book.

Then in November, I will begin Series #2. This go around, instead of first drafting an entire series up front, I will write the first draft in November and revise in December:

My 2013 writing journey all mapped out. Glancing back and looking forward makes me smile; therefore, I must be headed in a positive direction.

For 2014, I am debating completing Series #2 straight out, as in completing and self-publishing each book as they are completed, or alternating writing each book in Series #2 with a standalone book. (I have two story ideas for standalones that keep surfacing, and I am looking forward to writing each.)

No regrets, no pondering or slogging through what ifs. In review, I am happy with my progress over the past few months, and am looking forward to writing onward. (Yeah, this writer gal is writing full time and loving it!)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Bump in the Road (Writing Onward!)

Just like slowing your car for a BUMP AHEAD sign on the highway, I've been forced to slow my writing pace; however, SLOW does not mean STOP.

Goals all worked out and tasks targeted, the past few weeks, I've been writing material better and faster than I've every produced, then unwelcome health issues interrupted my writing flow and are serving as a bump in the road.

Just like on a day job, I have only a few days built into my schedule for unexpected hitches and glitches (such as illness or unexpected family demands); therefore, since writing is my job, writing is a MUST.

Even unwell, when I write, I feel filled up and fulfilled. There is a connectedness to words and to story that makes me feel whole. For me, writing is like coming home.

For today, I have quartered my daily goal. Yet, today, I write.