Friday, April 30, 2010

My Saga Continues with the Woos of being Self-Published

It's a new day and the end of a long work week has finally arrived.  I have a busy weekend ahead of me and not enough hours to get everything I need to do done.

Continuing where I left off, I proudly show off my email to a few friends and family members.  I'm feeling proud and confident that I can actually make this dream work.  That's all well and good until you realize you have to finish the book.  Sitting at the computer I start to type.  After a few sentences I decide to check email, play a little music or a game; you know, just a short break.  I notice the floor could use a good sweeping so I do that.  Now the kids and their kids come over.  I can't possibly get any work done with company in the house.

I finally had to admit to myself I had writers block.  The dreaded condition you get when the hype has come down and your ideas have hit a dead-end.  If I had been under contract with a publishing company, I definitely would be sweating bullets trying to get words to paper or letters on the computer screen, but since I'm self-publishing, I can take all the time I want! 

With this new lease on life, I pack up my manuscript and put it away for another day.  I had to get away from it to refresh my eyes and look for new ideas.  I would suggest anyone working on a book for the first time actually put it down for about a week, if you can, and let your brain rest.  My break lasted for a few days and I decided I needed maybe a week.  The holidays were coming up and I needed to shop, clean and cook.

I had stretched this little break to a month before I received a phone call from my author representative asking if everything was okay.  I told her I needed a break to take care of a few things but I was still working on the book. Satisfied with my answer, I told her I would contact her if I needed anything.  Now my mother/editor started calling me asking what was going on with the book.  She hadn't received any new material from me to review.

Stress meter has started to tick.  This is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby for me not a job with stress involved.   But I get it.  I had recruited these people to help me and I dropped the ball.  Back to the computer I go.  Instead of picking up where I left off, I start from the beginning and rewrite most of the first few chapters.  I finally get to the middle of the book where the suspense starts to build.  The direction I was going with the suspense required me to do a little research...stress meter tick..tick. 

I'm not a police detective nor do I know any, so my research had to be as close to realistic as possible.  You can't always trust what you get off the Internet, so that meant going on a few government websites to find information and possibly calling these people to verify what I found.  In today's tense world, calling the FBI and asking about bombs could be a big mistake.  As a word of warning, if you do this, MAKE SURE YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS AN AUTHOR AND YOU ARE WRITING A BOOK!  They still might not believe you but you have a better chance of getting the right answers from the right source instead of the Internet.  Stress meter tick...tick...tick.

The doubt has returned and again I push myself to continue.  The suspense is taking on a life of its own and I find myself liking the criminal element of the book more so than the romance.  Romance is easy if your characters are compatible with each other.

To be continued.....

My First Published Book Experience

I was told to start a blog and talk about my experiences with writing my first book. Well, I'm not really one to chat about my vivid imagination but it can run wild when I have time to think. I have always loved to write and would do short stories and stick them in a notebook never really doing anything with them. When introduced to the world of computers and years after my children were doing their thing, I still wrote and let my imagination run, but this time I called it a "journal."

Over the years some of my writings were lost or decayed in notebooks after laying around for so long. Then one day I decided that worrying about losing my job due to the number of layoffs in the company or how to make ends meet with the rising economy, I would use my time to write again. This replaced me wasting time and energy thinking about things I couldn't change into doing something I've always wanted to do---write.

My first book "Obsessive/Obsession," published on March 1, 2010 by Outskirts Press, took me approximately eleven months from start to finish and I had a blast writing it. Now the stress kicked in when decisions had to be made on how to publish it. Self-publishing is a hard game and you are the one making all the decisions unless you pay the publisher to do that for you. If you have the resources by all means take whatever advice your publisher offers after researching it first. If you like adventure then do this on your own and by the time you write your next book you will either be an expert or lucky enough to have a major publisher offer you a contract and they will do the work but remember you lose total control of your work. As a self-publisher you have total control and the final decision.

I'm jumping the gun a bit but I tend to diverse at times. Getting back to publishing for the first time. I had my notes together, characters were defined, story board set and knew where, when, and how I wanted my book to end; at least I thought I did.

If you are searching the Internet for ideas on how to write your book, you will find many sites that will tell you "How To Write A Book In A Day" or "Don't Be Fooled, Anyone Can Write A Book."  This may be true but if you don't have a beginning, end, or anything interesting to say, you pretty much have nothing to work with.

Armed with this knowledge, I started to type. Since I work full-time, I only had a few hours in the evenings and on weekends. We all know how short weekends can be when you jam a weeks worth of housework, shopping and other chores before doing activities you really enjoy.

Okay, the diverse thing has returned. I wrote until my manuscript reached about one hundred pages. At this point, I decided I needed to go back through it and see how it read because if I didn't find it interesting why would anyone else.

As an avid reader of fiction myself, my first rule to writing a good fiction would be to get the attention of the reader in the first few pages. If you lose your readers after the first chapter you pretty much have failed. So I went through those chapters and found parts to be choppy and not flow like I'd hoped. Now this is where that "Write A Book In A Day" theory blew out the window for me. It took me months to get the first few chapters to flow and the characters to mesh.

Now if you're writing your classic romance with only a hero and heroine then maybe it won't take as long to get to that ending. With multiple characters, each one has to be defined and placed---the other theory that went to the wayside. I needed to work more on my story board to place these other characters for my book.

I went with a suspense novel with a romantic twist and a little humor on the side, which meant I had to build this story to keep the reader interested chapter after chapter. To do this, I drafted my mother to be my editor and feedback person. Now I had bigger issues. How comfortable was I having my mother read sexual content that I made up in my head! I didn't want my mom to read and think----dang where did you learn that stuff?

Knowing that sex sells, I had to find a way to tone it down but make it hot at the same time. Man that took some doing but I think I managed to do it. I would write and print and she would read and suggest changes with that pesky yellow highlighter.  I would make changes and again she would question why I had certain characters doing certain things.

Now I had more rewrites which meant more hours at the computer and more strain on a brain already bursting from asking myself "why did you start this?" Determined not to be a defeatist I managed to finish the first few chapters to submit to Outskirts for their evaluation.

I chose self-publishing because I was only doing this for myself. I knew I would never get with a publishing house due to the sinking economy and the competition with all the well-known authors so I wasn't going to sink money on postage to have everything sent back marked "denied."

After a few weeks of mulling over the idea and researching different self-publishing houses I decided to go with Outskirts Press. They were very professional when I emailed them regarding submitting my manuscript. They emailed me promptly explaining the services they offered and what I needed to do to get started. Sounded easy enough but still I hesitated and didn't send it off for few more weeks. I'm a newbie and I imagined the evaluation team sitting around having a good laugh at my attempt at writing a romance/suspense novel.

Making more changes and doubting myself over and over, my mom threatened to drop me as a non-client and my best friend told me to stop worrying and go for it. I read my manuscript for the last time, attached it as directed and off it went to Outskirts' Manuscript Evaluation Team.

For two days I was afraid to open my email. I was anxious to know what they thought but on the other hand I didn't want to know what they thought. The day came and the email sat in bold letters jumping out at me on the screen. I opened every email before that one. With nothing else to open and a few games of solitaire under my belt, I opened the email.

I tried to read it with one eye but with astigmatism that can be pretty darn hard to read when the words all run together and are blurry. So I acted like the adult I'm supposed to be and read the email. In the words of Grady Wilson of Sanford and Son "Good Googly Goo" they liked it!

The team praised me for developing a story that didn't seem like fiction at all and developing characters that were so life-like that readers could relate with one if not all of them at some point. Feeling encouraged to finish the manuscript, I went back to writing the ending. I knew in my head how I wanted it to end but I had to make it sound out in words like it was playing out in my head. This is where the stress starts.

I will finish more about Obsessive/Obsession tomorrow. So stay tuned.

Text 'Yes' If You Love Me Has Been Nominated for Cover of The Month for May. I Need Your Votes Please

If you liked the cover of my book, Text 'Yes' If You Love Me, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on