Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Exhaustion is setting in and right now I just want to finish this blog post and go to sleep. Actually I did fall asleep a little while ago. The sound of my heading hitting the keyboard woke me up.
I've been going to bed late and getting up early. And inbetween I lay awake listening to my characters instead of sleeping. I guess it paid off. I finished Book 3 of the Black Wolf Gorge series in a frenzy of writing that kept me glued to the laptop, except for the time I took off to watch Bachelor Pad and the Housewives of NJ reunion. Can you believe that Teresa?? OMG!
Anyway I finished it this afternoon. It turned out to be 33,600 words instead of 65,000. Hey if a story is done in so many words there is no stretching it out. There’s nothing like excess filler to kill a good story.
The word count was not the only change. The title changed from SNATCHED to CAPTIVE. It happens that way sometimes. This is why I can never be a plotter. I fly by the seat of my pants and no matter how organized I try to be the characters dictate which direction we go.
So the changes were made and the story was sent out to the publisher. Now the waiting game begins. And any nails I’ve grown disappear again.
After I sent CAPTIVE on its merry way I updated BOOKS & BLURBS. I think it was after that when I fell asleep. So this is my blog update and now I have to Zzzzzzzzzz
Friday, August 27, 2010
People are reading more than ever. The economy is bad and a good book is the cheapest, bestest form of entertainment there is.
And online book reviews are proliferating because reader find books to be an enjoyable entertaining escape and they want to share the experience with other readers. The internet has made it easier than ever to pass on the excitement after closing the book on an especially good story.
Many sites will let you submit your own review; some will even send you the books. You might even set up your own website or blog. If you do decide to publicize your opinions here are a few things to remember.
First let me clarify -- a book review is not a book report. A report summarizes the subject matter and presents it in an objective manner.
The book review on the other hand provides a brief synopsis and the reviewer's opinion of content and technique. It's subjective and it's meant to help a reader decide if they want to spend their time and hard-earned cash on it.
Each publication or website has their own requirements. Some may want only a simple plot summary while others require a more complete synopsis. One may ask for an opinion while others call for a numbered rating as well. Make sure you read the submission guidelines and follow them.
These tips will apply to all reviews.
1. Read the book, the entire book. You may be tempted to put aside a novel you find boring. Don't. Give the author a chance to captivate you. They're not all bestsellers. Other readers want to know why. If you don't finish the story you won't be able to tell them. If it was that awful, be honest. Admit you could not finish it.
2. Do not read other reviews. At least not until you've written your own. Don't let someone else's opinion influence yours. Come to your own conclusions and have confidence in them.
3. Be objective. You may not be reading your favorite genre. If you love romance and you're reviewing true crime try to evaluate on style, structure, technique and content. Don't take off points because it's not a love story.
4. Criticize without being nasty. Try to find one redeeming feature and start off with that. Remember this is someone's baby.
5. Make notes while you read. Jot down page numbers or quotes that will help you when it's time to write your summary. Back up your opinions with examples.
6. Do not give away the ending.
Most of all have fun. Enjoy the pleasure of sharing something you love and the fun of coming across new authors and books that you might not have discovered otherwise.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Of course this title might not appeal to a publisher. That remains to be seen. But it got me thinking about titles in general. They’re pretty darn important. As a writer you want them to identify your story but they serve another purpose as well. A good title should attract attention. Some say a good title is the most important aspect of marketing.
So what do you think? How important is the title. And more important, what do you think about SNATCHED? Does it make you want to read the story?
Friday, August 20, 2010
by Cassandra Pierce
A friend of mine, who is usually working on a novel or two of her own, really floored me the other day by sighing wistfully and saying, “I wish I could write as fast as you do.”
I admit I was completely caught off guard. When I do sit down for a serious writing session (usually when a deadline is looming, like now), I spend half the time at my computer castigating myself for my sloth. To some extent, speed is relative. The rough-rough draft of HEIRS TO DARKISLE, consisting of approximately 40,000 words, took 45 days to complete, but the second draft (90,000 words, 15,000 of which I eventually cut) took about 8 months to revise. The initial idea was born as an ebook about eighteen months later.
So I do manage to produce pages…and chapters…and eventually, stories, essays, and books. Like most writers, though, I wish I could complete more pages, more chapters, and more books, and all at a much faster pace. Everyone probably remembers looking down in shame when some snarky English teacher trumpeted the fact that Voltaire penned his classic satire Candide in three days (it’s probably a myth, but then again they didn’t have cable TV or the Net to distract them in the 18th century).
I admit I’ve been tempted by those splashy Web ads that promise “a publishable book in 30 days,” only to dig deeper and discover that they’re not all they’re cracked up to be, mostly because their definitions of “book” and “publish” are not the same as most people’s. I did buy at least three books with that same “30 days” promise in the title (much cheaper and more realistic than the web-based lessons). I’ve also tried novel-writing software, which provides all kinds of spreadsheets and plot wheels and character cards, among other toys, for the aspiring writer to tinker with. Thank goodness for free demos—some of those programs cost hundreds of dollars!
And the result? I had modest success, and plenty of fun, with some of these tools, though I never completed a novel-length manuscript using any of them (much less the next Candide). I don’t write any faster. Even the “first draft in thirty days” book gave me only partial success, since my first draft took me 45 days. In the end, I always go back to what works best for me: a pad of regular blank paper, a word-processing program (just the plain screen, no bells and whistles), and a couple of reference books (Word Menu is a favorite). I did realize one thing, though. In the beginning stages, it’s all about word count.
Most everyone who writes has probably heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated). It’s a sort of contest to produce 50,000 words in 30 days (November is the official month, but there’s nothing to stop anyone from doing it privately at any time). What it boils down to is writing 1,667 every day, and doubling that for every day missed. I didn’t sign up for the contest, but I did try to keep that pace on my own for a while. As you can see from my second paragraph, I didn’t quite make it, technically speaking. I got stressed out. But I did produce words, and pages, and drafts. I also conquered my fear of the blank page or screen. Knowing I had to reach a certain word count freed me from caring whether what I wrote was pitch-perfect, something that has always held me back. Revision is a whole different topic, obviously. But generating something to revise in the first place is the key.
All this leads me to believe there really is no magic trick that will boost one’s writing productivity (besides, anyone who discovers one would be crazy to share it with her competition). Maybe, in time, I will learn to whip out a draft that needs minimal revision in a month or less. For now, I’ll just have to keep plugging along at my own pace and suffering the pain that results when the words just won’t come. What I now know is that I don’t need to spend time and money on special (and in some cases overpriced) computer programs or gimmicky, misleading writing e-courses in order to be productive. It’s still all about planning, drafting, and most of all revising. I’ve accepted the fact that I just need to sit at the computer, put on some mood music (New Age or instrumental movie soundtracks work well for me), and pound out whatever I can in however many days I can.
I’m still not totally immune to the promise of a quick fix, however. I bought and loaded voice recognition software on my computer, thinking I could dictate future novels as I play out the scenes in my head. I haven’t really gotten into it yet (too much performance anxiety and too many hilariously misinterpreted words on the screen), but I’m going to keep trying. One thing I know for sure: I’ll have to keep the windows closed when I get to the hot parts of the story. Don’t want to give my neighbors the wrong idea about what’s going on in my bedroom!
Cassandra Pierce’s vampire e-romance, HEIRS TO DARKISLE, is currently available from Siren-Bookstrand: http://www.sirenpublishing.com/cassandrapierce/
and from Amazon at:
Readers can also visit her website at www.cassandrapierce.com and check her out on Facebook!
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Now that I'm awake and had five cups of coffee I know I'm not dreaming. So here's my good news. Last night I sent my contract back to Silver Publishing. POINT OF BEGINNING has a tentative release date of January 2011. I couldn't be happier. And thank you Silver for not making me wait too long. I only chewed off a few nails. P.O.B. is a love story about two guys who work jobs that I had in another life. At the time I wasn't crazy about working the streets * cackle * but at least the experience was good for something.
P.O.B. is the first of a series - THE GENTLEMEN'S CLUB. I've got a plot for book 2 and a few words so my progress meter is now in progress.
I also updated BOOKS & BLURBS. My friend Ashlynn Monroe has a bunch of great new releases and she's sharing excerpts, so today it's BOOKS, BLURBS & EXCERPTS. Check them out for some great new reads.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Have you ever wondered who you write like? Here’s a website that will tell you.
A friend clued me in yesterday and I entered a few paragraphs from SILENT KNIGHTS. Imagine how thrilled I was to see Stephen King’s name come up. He’s my idol.
So if you need a bit of flattery and a pick-me-up to start your day. Check out:
I Write Like
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
P.O.B. is special because the characters do a job that I did in another life. One is a surveyor, the other a CAD drafter. Actually I did both jobs. I started as a transit person on a survey crew. It’s outside work and I enjoyed it but it’s tough for a woman to find a clean public bathroom. And carrying the transit got old. Yeah, when I started they still used a transit and a level. Now it’s a total station and GPS. Eventually I came inside and became a drafter and CAD manager.
I guess we put a little bit of ourselves in each book. The rest is imagination and sheer love for my characters. And now it’s time to send them out into the world, always a stressful thing, because we want everyone to love them as much as we do. So I’m crossing my fingers and heading back to Black Wolf Gorge.
Monday, August 16, 2010
I’ve been working 24/7 on my novella and this could be the day I finish it up. This story is near and dear to my heart. I love these guys. I know I say that about all my characters but these are extra special. One of them does a job that I used to do in another life. More on that later.
But I wanted to tell you about three great books that came out this month. My prolific friend Rebecca Royce has been busy. If you haven’t read her books yet you’re in for a treat. So head over to BOOKS & BLURBS and check them out.
Have a great week everybody!
Saturday, August 14, 2010
No. I have not been abducted by aliens. Don’t believe everything you read in the tabloids. Contrary to popular rumors I haven’t disappeared off the face of the Earth.
I do feel a bit like Punxsutawney Phil. You know, the furry little guy who comes out of his hole once a year on Groundhog Day to make a prediction about how long winter will last.
I finally poked my head out the door of my office and the light of day actually hurt my eyes. I was on a role. Actually I'm still rolling. I’m pretty sure I can finish my new novella this weekend – or die trying. It’s another great love story about two hot guys. I’m still juggling two titles in my head so more on that later. But if you look over at my progress meter you can see how far I’ve come.
I keep saying after I finish this one I’ll take a breather, but it never happens. I’m always like – if I can just finish this story, I’ll stop and smell the coffee. But then there’s another story to finish, and another…
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
My dh just sent this to me. Think he’s trying to tell me something? Thanks honey but I think I’ll keep playing.
Friday, August 6, 2010
This has been one busy week. I already got my first edits back for SILENT KNIGHTS. I must be getting good at this. There were nowhere near as many as I expected. In fact I’ve already finished them and sent them back. I also filled out the cover detail sheet and sent that back. Silver Publishing has some beautiful covers on their website and I can’t wait to see what mine will look like.
I started the new novella. I have a beginning and an end, no middle. But that’s usually how it goes with me. I’ll work it from both ends and it will fall into place eventually. I’m also working on book 3 of the Black Wolf Gorge series. Keep an eye on those progress meters and you’ll see my numbers creeping up.
And promo, I’ve done lots of promo. I updated BOOKS & BLURBS. I posted excerpts of CALL OF THE WILDS on the loops, wrote blog posts and answered interview questions.
But it hasn’t been all work. Last night a good friend, and I do mean good, took us out for the best steak of my life. We went to the Texas Roadhouse and I got to pick out my own 12 oz. filet. It was grilled to perfection, pink inside but not bloody. But I’m jumping ahead. We started with the Cactus Blossom, crispy onion petals with zesty dipping sauce. And the absolute best rolls with cinnamon butter. I had a salad and baked sweet potato with my steak and cleaned my plate. It was a great way to end a grueling week and gave me renewed energy for the weekend. Have a great one!
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I’ve only entered 3 writing contests, and that was at the start of my career. Of course I didn’t expect to win a publishing contract. I was a newbie, learning the ropes. My number 1 reason for entering was feedback. I wanted to learn from writers who were further along in their careers. A critique from an experienced writer would be invaluable – or so I thought. My second reason for entering was to get myself used to formatting a submission and following a deadline.
Entering contests cost money. There’s a fee to be sent along with your entry so I chose carefully, selecting 3 that were suited to my genre. To say I was disappointed with the results would be an understatement.
The scores were all over the place. The first entry came back. One score in the nineties and one in the eighties. The third was in the fifties. The judge who scored me the lowest offered very few comments along with her numbers. She did say that my hero wasn’t alpha enough because alphas speak in clipped sentences. Huh?
The other two contests produced similar results, mixed scores with the rare comment. One judge sticks out in my mind as being outstanding - and not because she gave me an excellent score. She critiqued everything, even those things that weren’t meant to be judged. Like the synopsis. This wonderful lady took the time to go through my synopsis and she gave excellent advice.
The experience wasn’t a total loss. Entering those contests taught me a few valuable lessons. First, your money is better spent on workshops. And second, you will learn more by joining a good critique group than anything else. Which I did.
So why did I jump at the opportunity to be a judge last week? I wanted to see if I could do better.
I read each submission through first, to see if the storyline was clear or confusing. It’s amazing but you really can tell right off the bat if a story is going to be good. Now I know why editors and agents say they’re able to toss something in the slush pile after reading the first paragraph. Didn’t matter. I treated each entry with respect. I felt honored to be trusted with somebody’s baby.
There were a lot of elements to judge, such as Pacing, Dialogue, Characterization and Motivation. I made sure I backed up my number scores with my reasons and some advice. I offered praise along with the criticism. A little sugar makes the criticism more palatable and a writer can learn from what he does right as well as what he does wrong.
I hope I helped somebody. I sure as hell got a lot out of the experience. In fact I think I learned more judging than I did being judged. Would I do it again? YES!
Monday, August 2, 2010
I had a really good weekend. Of course it’s always good when you can sign a new contract for your book and send it off to a publisher.
My novella was adopted by Silver Publishing and I’m so glad my SILENT KNIGHTS have a good home. I’m especially happy since this book was a departure for me. There’s nary a supernatural creature to be seen. It’s a romantic holiday story about two men who have troubled pasts. I’ve really come to love these guys. You will too. I can’t wait until you meet them.
Right now I’m working on cover details and having a blast. It’s my number three favorite thing in the writing process. Number one is the actual writing. And number two is getting an offer of publication. Of course there’s a certain amount of stress involved with #1 and #2. Three is just plain fun.
You may have noticed the progress meter for SILENT KNIGHTS has been replaced. I had an idea for another novella and I started it Saturday. No title as of yet. I need to get a better handle on the story first. And I’m hard at work on book 3 of the Black Wolf Gorge series. I love where it’s going. A lot of the story takes place in another location and I think book 4 will move the series to that setting.
The weekend wasn’t all work. A new sale always involves a celebration and this was no exception. My DL took me to dinner Saturday and then we went to see Salt. Awesome movie. I love Angie. Sunday my granddaughter turned five and we partied at Dave & Buster’s.
But now it’s time to dig in and get back to work. Oh, and I just updated BOOKS & BLURBS with a steamy paranormal by my friend Missy Martine. You’ll love DISCOVERING HER WOLFEN HERITAGE!
Have a great week!