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Archive for August, 2011

   (Basically what Hurricane Irene left on every street in our area)

Wow, Hurricane Irene really ransacked our area. We finally got power back today in the house we evacuated to but our house is still without power. Nothing like getting an email the day before a hurricane that you must evacuate your home with all your animals since we lie in a low-lying area. So we packed up our two cats, dog, and bunny along with seven days of provisions to seek refuge in a kind sister’s house. Before we left our house I tried to move anything irreplaceable up to the second floor and was faced with one of those hypothetical questions when I had to pick what I could bring with me if for some reason the house washed away. So after packing up all my sons baby photos and videos we said goodbye to our house and the trees that loomed dangerously to it.

I also of course googled how hurricanes effect late pregnancy and freaked out completely to see an increase in deliveries due to low barometric pressure. The image of going into labor during a hurricane and not getting that epidural plagued me and thankfully baby did not decide to make an early appearance. Then my diabetic cat has his first low insulin reaction in the middle of all this stress and I’m chasing him around on the floor nine months pregnant trying to save his life with honey injections with a flashlight. He’s doing fine now, thank the lord, but will not let me near his mouth. Now all I want is to get back home and unpacked before this baby’s arrival and I’m wondering what this nesting disruption must be doing to my already crazy pregnancy hormones.

Oh well. Things could be worse. As soon as the winds died down my husband sneaked under dangerous down trees hanging on power lines to find that out house not only remained flood free but not one tree was down on our property. Yay!

It has been terrible not being able to work on my projects and respond to my book formatter’s and graphic designer’s emails. I realize how much I love working on my novels. Writing (and now publishing) has become a definite part of my life and I really miss it when it’s gone. So I guess that means I’m a writer now. It’s not publishing, making sales, or developing a following that makes you a writer, but what writing brings to your life and how it makes you feel. Writing gives me another purpose and keeps my mind engaged. I truly love writing and hope I always will.

Oh enough whining…back to writing.

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Wow. Everything’s going by so quickly suddenly. The summer’s almost over, my son’s school will start soon, the baby’s on its way, a hurricane threatens to disconnect my internet for days, and of course I’m in the midst of book formatting my first novel of the series. Originally when I set the 11-11-11 launch date I thought I was giving myself extra time just in case of a colicky baby or the baby blues prove a challenge, but now with time ticking away I’m so glad I didn’t pick an October release!

Everything I’ve read about increasing your indie book sales recommends getting your second book out as quickly as you can after your first. Many say that nothing promotes your first book as much as another book release. The more books you can get out there the better. So, as I’m learning the ropes of publishing the first one I’ve been busy revising my second. My goal is to release the sequel January 2012 and I’m even planning on including the first chapter of the sequel in my debut book.

Honestly, I’ve been revising this book over the last year. I’ve gone through all my normal revising checklist and now I’ve added all the things my editor pointed out in the first novel. I feel like I can’t get it any better on my own and since this sequel is almost twice as long as my first, I know the editor, the copy editor, and the book formatter will all take twice as long, so I need to get moving. I did worry that one of my most trusted beta readers is midway into the sequel and would need to allow time for her critical feedback, but I know I can still make improvements between this first editor run-through and the second. I might even have time to send it out to a few more people as well.

So I wrote to my AWESOME editor to see if she was available to take on another book of mine. She said to send it on over and that’s what I did. Two books now on their road to print. I can’t believe it. Is this really happening?

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So I was hooked up to a contraction measuring machine yesterday and I brought along a book I’ve been trying to finish for sometime now. Lately I’ve been giving priority to reading self-publishing guides, writing forums, blogs and beta reading. (I probably should be cracking out those baby care books but since this is my second it will all come back to me, right…right?)

Well, I had to have something I could hold in my hand so I grabbed the best-seller that’s been waiting patiently on my nightstand. Leaving books half-finished is not like me. I normally start and can’t stop reading until it’s done. It wasn’t until I kept rereading lines on the page for the third time that I realized it:

Since writing my own books, I don’t read the same as I used to.

Before what was entertainment and pleasure has truly become a study. Now I feel the need to observe everything: flow, punctuation, dialog tags, pov usage, plot developement, and avoiding clichés.

I used to finish a book and say, “How awesome was that book!”

Now I ask, “How did the author do that?”

Has this somewhat diminished the enjoyment of reading?

It definitely seems like I read slower and in smaller clips. I’ve certainly switched from a passive reading and absorbing role to an active and analytic role. In the past, I would feel this way when we were reading a book for a class, and even though the enjoyment of the prescribed book is affected, I would always come away with a deeper understanding of the book and I tend to remember those books in much better detail.

In a way, reading is now more work. But I think about each book while reading and long after I’m finished, and I have a much better understanding and appreciation than I would have had previously.

It must be the same for artists. They probably have difficultly just looking at a beautiful landscape and saying, “What a gorgeous sunrise!” Since they’re probably thinking, “What color is that sun?” and “How can I create that myself?”

What about you? Have you noticed that you read differently since writing? How has your reading process changed?

 

 

 

 

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Google Alerts - Monitor the Web for interesting new content

 

Just a little tip for anyone not familiar with a great tool called Google Alerts. I heard this mentioned on another blog and wondered if I would be able to figure out how to do this myself. I typed in ‘google alerts’ and wouldn’t ya know it went directly to a google alerts screen. You can enter any keywords or phrases that you want to be notified about anywhere online. This is so important for writers since if anyone reviews your book on their blog or happens to mention your book you can immediately thank them. It’s important to know what others are saying about your writing and your books (good and bad) and this way you will be notified it’s out there.

After you type in something you want to track (my example: Infinite Sacrifice), you can choose what facets of the web you want to search (I chose everything). Then you can chose how frequent you want it sent to you (I chose once a day) and if you want only the best results sent to you or all (I chose best results). Lastly, you enter the email you would like these notifications sent to.

You can create as many of these alerts that you want. I chose to enter the titles of my books, the series name, a few different versions of my name, and my website address. This is also a neat idea if you want to track a certain author or topic you’re extremely interested in. I also decided to enter the names of future titles of my book since it would be good to know if someone else uses these titles before I can.

Well, just another tip I learned about through purusing blogs and thought I’d pass it on!

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I just realized how similar it is that at the same time I’m preparing to get this baby out into the world, I’m trying to get this book out into the world as well. This is how similar both processes are:

~Same crazy elation in the beginning. The idea of it all sounding so wonderful. Not truly thinking about how much work was ahead.

~Five months of morning/day/night sickness equal to the painful revision process. I also took two grueling workshops during this time that was as helpful as it was critical.

~As the baby grew so did all the things I needed to read about self-publishing.

~Spending money: factoring in all the things I needed to purchase for my expanding belly and for the needs of the baby and started laying out money for the website/cover/editor/copy editor/book formatter/ISBN’s/review copies…

~Having to lean on others. I haven’t been able to lift things over 20 lbs for a while, I can’t pick much up off the floor, and I can only waddle around so long before I get Braxton Hicks contractions. I’m also at the point in self-publishing where I’m asking more detailed questions on the forums and blogs.

~Starting to get tired. Tired of moving around and also tired of trying so hard to get this book out there. I keep trying to stay focused on the outcome I’m working toward but it is getting pretty hard to feel motivated at this point.

~Worries. The closer I’m getting to my due date/launch date the more I’m getting worried at what’s ahead. I had a baby already and I know exactly what’s to come. How much sleep I’ll get and how much time I’ll have for myself. I’ve also heard how grueling bad reviews can be, how my sales will most likely be few until I can really get noticed somewhere, and how tedious all the self-promotion can be.

~Can’t change things now. This baby/book is going to come out and I’ll just have to try my best to get it out as perfect as I can get it. I can’t keep either thing inside me any longer!

~Letting Go. These two things I’ve been creating for so long–two incredibly important things–I must release into the world. They’re going to go from being safe inside me to starting their own journey; where other people can ultimately ignore or judge them. But hopefully, where some will appreciate and love them the way I have.

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I can’t wait for this editing to end!

This is all new to me so every step I don’t know what to expect. I was so pleased after working with the editor I chose and part of me wondered if I even needed to use a copy editor. But I listened to all of the most informative self-publishing blogs that insist you must have a quality editor and proofreader before publishing.

So luckily, I found the name of a very reasonable proofreader on one of the forums I frequent. Her website looked fantastic and I liked how she has a review site as well that showcases self-published books. Anyone who wants to support self-publishers like that I want to give my business to.

I gave her my MS on Wednesday and she had it back to me by Sunday night. She even had her partner give it a look through for no extra charge!

I was worried about seeing completely different suggestions the other editor pointed out. I worried I wouldn’t know which editor was right and I’d lose faith in both editors. Well, when I opened up my file I saw the corrections were very infrequent. She changed comma placement, suggested some sentences could be made clearer by removing a few words, found a word I left in by accident when I made my last edits, and made a few editorial comments.

All in all, there was much less corrections than I anticipated. At first I wondered if that meant she wasn’t thorough but then I realized all the improvements she did point out where spot on. So then I realized that this was a great sign. It showed the first editor did a great job and the second editor agreed with her choices.

A few instances she pointed out things I went against the editor with and so I knew I had to change them. But I was very happy to see that the majority of things I did keep (against the first editors recommendations) the copy editor didn’t pick up on. Making me feel much better about going with my gut.

In conclusion, I feel very confident going forward. The fact I’ve had such a thorough and professional editor and then a great copy editor who picked up on the little things we’ve both missed, makes me feel fantastically ready to publish. The copy editor also told me that she and her partner really enjoyed reading my book and couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

I’ll probably do another read through before I send off to the book formatter, who I am still waiting on for a quote. This is all really moving forward so nicely.

PS- Would love to give you the name of the copy editor if you’re looking for one, just ask!

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So in the middle of this whole first self-publishing experience, I’m attempting to get my second novel of the series ready to quickly follow the first.I find myself going back (what feels like so long ago) to the first major edits of my first. So these are the things I’ve learned from so many terrific editing blogs out there:

1) Remove all the ‘just’s you can

2)Remove all the ‘that’s you can

3)Do an ‘ly’ search for adverbs and change them where you can

4) I tend to overuse the word ‘look’ so I do a search for those and change them

6) Tighten up unneeded words

7) Remove all unnecessary dialog tags

8 ) Cut the fat (take out anything that doesn’t move the story forward)

9) Change all ‘has pulled’ to ‘pulls’ or ‘is running’ to ‘runs’, even ‘comes running’ to ‘runs’

I’ve also started to go through all the things I learned from my editor so she doesn’t think I’m a lost cause. My goal is to have a lot less red on the pages with the next one.

It seems a never-ending process though because publishing the second makes me want to finish writing the third book so I can have that follow as well, but I’m only human! How can I be learning self-publishing, promoting, editing the second, AND writing the third! How do these prolific writers do it?

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