Monday, March 31, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour (or Whaaat? I'm supposed to have a PROCESS? WHAT IS THIS YOU SPEAK OF?)

My wonderful friend Precy Larkins (who blogs here: one blog and two blog) was kind enough to tag me in a blog tour regarding the writing process. She's got a short story published in an anthology here: Winter's Regret: What Might Have Been. Her story is totally amazeballs, you should buy this book JUST FOR THAT! And she's represented by Julia A. Weber, who's obviously a genius for snapping this gem up.

I was thrilled for a few reasons. One, Precy is quite possibly the sweetest, most beautiful person ON THIS PLANET. I DO NOT EXAGGERATE. I AM INORDINATELY FOND OF CAPS RIGHT NOW! Also, I lurve learning about other writers and how they get from vague plot idea to full blown novel. It's fascinating and intriguing how different our paths are, and yet how similar we all tend to be.  In addition, I've had absolutely no idea what to blog about lately, so this is a great help.

So, here we go. For this tour, I am required (lest Precy find me in my sleep and break my thumbs) to answer four questions.

1) What am I working on?

An entire bottle of chardonnay!

Oh wait, this is a writing tour. Fine, fine. I am working on edits (mostly line edits at this point) of my novel Imperfect Chemistry. Hopefully, it will be available on Amazon on May 4th. That's what I'm shooting for since it seems feasible and that's my husband's birthday. In addition to that, I'm outlining/drafting the second novel of the same series entitled: Imperfectly Legal. See the "What I'm working on" tab above for more info on those novels.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

Well. With Imperfect Chemistry, it's a New Adult novel that's also a romantic comedy. I haven't seen many comedies coming out of the NA genre. Most of what I've seen/read (and please, correct me if I'm wrong!) involves dark pasts and broken characters, guys that are tough and kind of slutty and/or controlling, and the girls who change them/fix them, etc. My novels are different because while the characters aren't perfect and they each have their own character arcs, I try to add a little more humor and awkwardness than what you might typically see in a NA Romance. In addition, I love reversing some of those gender stereotypes that seem prevalent in most romantic novels. I love to surprise my readers.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Imperfect Chemistry was the first romantic comedy I've ever written. Prior to this, I wrote mostly paranormal or fantasy type stories. But, this was an idea that had been following me around for awhile. I wanted to write a book about someone who didn't understand the concept of romance, and had to turn to someone of the opposite sex for help.

While mulling over that potential concept, I also started thinking of some of my good friends. You see, I have a few friends who are brilliantly smart. One who's a lawyer, speaks four languages, decided on a whim to take the LSATs when we were in college and scored in the 93rd percentile and...she also called me once when she was babysitting to ask how to make a tuna fish sandwich. "Do you have to cook it?!" she asked frantically.

I have another friend, who is now a heart surgeon or some crap, who took the math entrance exam for college and tested into calculus three. CALCULUS THREE which is what you need to get a minor in Mathematics! This same friend had a hard time pulling his crap together long enough for us to make simple plans to hang out. He was always making everything way more complicated than it needed to be.

It was with these things in mind that the plot for Imperfect Chemistry began to formulate. What if you had a heroine who was exceptionally scientifically smart, but was not too smart in some other area? She would have to learn more about it, and maybe have to solicit advice from someone who would, of course, be the romantic hero. It grew from there.

How does your writing process work? 

I used to be a pantser. Alas, this did not work out well for me. I would have a concept or idea and just start writing...but then I would never finish. Or I would rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite. And rewrite again and then throw it all away! It works for some people, but it took me WAY TOO LONG and about twenty half-written novels to figure out that I'm not one of those people.

I have a word doc labeled "idea file" where I put all my ideas, inspirations, characters, concepts, whatever, and I pull from there to outline. I pick whatever story appeals to me the most.

I outline fairly extensively. It's not one of those fancy schmancy outlines with roman numerals and junk. It's more like: Scene one - this happens, that needs to happen, maybe some dialogue, more thoughts, more dialogue, show this somehow, introduce this character etc. etc. occasionally, I'll write, "Ugh that sucks, think of something better!" and that actually works sometimes.

The outline for Imperfect Chemistry was 20 pages and it took me about a month and a half to finish it. Then I drafted fairly quickly. Imperfect Chemistry was my 2013 NaNo novel, so I wrote it in 30 days.

Then came the edits. Those take a little longer. It's difficult to separate yourself from your writing in order to look at it critically. This is why I am uber grateful for beta readers like Precy. I spent about two months editing, then sent it off to my readers and edited some more based on their feedback. And seriously, I love feedback. I really do. ANYTHING to make my work stronger! And I am TRULY blessed with some brilliant friends who are able to give constructive feedback that's not uber critical or snarky, it's just plain brilliant.


Phew, that's all done. Now I have to tag three other writers to participate in this lovely little tour.

Without further ado, I bring you:

Jennifer Wayne! Watch out world, this girl is hot hot hot! Her paranormal romance trilogy, THE CHOSEN is coming to an ebook near you (hopefully soon. Get on it sister!) She's fairly new to the writing world, but she's SUPER sweet and her books are sexy, sassy, and she's got that THING, I can't even explain it, but I've read enough new writers to know that this one is going somewhere. Fast. Keep yer eye out, matey! (I have no idea where the pirate talk came from, just let it happen.)

Jennifer Prescott.  What can I say about my lovely Jenny Phresh-face? She's brilliant. Like, literally genius-worthy brilliant, and if you don't believe me, just check out her fantastic mid-grade fantasy THE HUNDRED. The world building will make you piss your pants and karate chop your furniture! You should also read every last thing on her blog. You will laugh so hard your innards will implode from sheer humor.

Joyce Alton. Ah, Joyce, This lady is super sweet and talented and her blog is chockablock FULL of amazing usefulness so go follow it now! She's written a barrel-full of novels and is published in the non-fiction world under a different name (she's sneaky-sneaky like that). She also moderates a speculative fiction group on Agent Query Connect. In short, she's amazeballs.

Honorable mention:
Jenn Marie Thorne. I have this thing with Jennifer's. I don't know what it is. THIS Jennifer has been a beta reader of mine for (hold on while I check my e-mail account here) August 2010! So, about four years, and I have to say, it has been absolutely wonderful watching her grow as a writer. Her book, which is currently listed on Goodreads as SPIN (the title is changing and I don't know if I can share that and...aca-awkward) you SHOULD READ IT AND ADD IT TO YOUR LISTS AND KISS HER FEET. Ahem. Let's just say, I went from beta reader to fan-girl on this one, and you would be wise to follow suit! She doesn't currently have a blog, but she's working on it (this is why she is merely mentioned honorably rather than tagged), and I will let you lovely blog readers know when she's ready to face the world!

That's it! Thanks for getting this far if you're still reading (this blog post literally took me a week and a half to write, phew!). Catch ya on the flip side.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cover Lovin' Had Me a Blast

Hello lovely people! I'm home today because my daughter turned into Pukey McPukerson last night, so after obtaining approximately four hours of sleep, I thought, hey I can blog today! It seems like a good idea although random nonsense may emerge periodically, and tomorrow I might decide this was a bad decision.

Oh, well.

So, my cover should be ready within the next few weeks, and in honor of me rending my hair in nervous anticipation, I decided to give out some cover lovin'. Below, I give you a combination of my most favorite covers, and some hilarious covers. To kick it off, a cover by the designer I hired for my novel.

I lurve this cover. This is the reason I hired Regina Wamba at Mae I Design. One of the best romance cover's I've seen. And I don't generally like covers with people on them for some reason, I usually prefer fairly simple covers, like the ones below.

This Charming Man
Nice colors, nothing too crazy. I love this. And this is an awesome, hilarious, tragic book, btw.

Summer on the Short Bus
AND THIS ONE OMGERD! This is a great cover, and I'm not just saying that because I know and love the writer, Bethany Crandell. It's so perfect for this book. And it's simple, clean, bright and cheery...I love it so much, I want to rub it all over my body. Oh, wait, I have a copy so I will do that right now. If you would like to join me, buy your own here: Summer On The Short Bus

I saw an article the other day about the trend of book covers beginning to lean toward more typographically inclined, as opposed to faces and people. I stole this image from there: Write All the Words: Author and Poet E. Kristin Anderson and I have to say, I really like all of these. I think that Ms. Anderson is correct in that covers like this have more universal appeal, and could lead to gaining readers who may not have picked up a book otherwise.
Say, if it looked like the one below.

This might not be a bad novel, but...what are they looking at? What's with the thousand mile stare and the hair blowing in the wind? I guess it IS a NASCAR novel. Oh, look, the cars are going around, and around, and around. Hey, they just completed another lap! (I really shouldn't judge to harshly. I read somewhere once that Harlequin sells four books every second or something completely ridiculous like that.)

Ahhh romance novels a bad rap since 1982. I mean seriously, there's a lot of really awesome, wonderful, clever romance novels out there but they have these awful cheeseball covers! Every single one of them have shirtless men, scantily clad women, and poses that would make anyone else look like fools. They're embarrassing to buy and/or read in public. Thank god for Kindle. And the titles! "Defy Not the Heart" what does that even mean?

So there you have it. Some book cover lovin' and laughing. 

Coming soon: I was tagged by the delectable Precy Larkins for a "Writing Process Blog Tour," so stay tuned for the next blog installment! In the meantime, good night and good luck. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

On Blogger's Block & Inspiration

My little sister, Sarah Kane, is living the writer's dream right now. Or, possibly, the human's dream. She's traveling through South America on a little more than a hope and a prayer, blogging about her experiences while she surfs, hangs out on the beach, and eats tropical fruit with the ultimate goal of working on a vineyard in Argentina.

I know. What a bitch, right? But she's so cute! Look how cute she is!

Isn't she adorable? You want to squeeze her face off, don't you?
BTW, she's NOT the one with the mustache.

I sent her a message, recently, to make sure she was still alive because she has not been blogging much, and she shared with me her a little of her blogging anxiety. What should I write about? Pre-post anxiety, she calls it!

This is nothing new to me. I've been there. This blog went dark for two years until I recently breathed some life back into it. And still, I think sometimes (or most of the time): what next? What can I write about that will touch someone, somewhere (and not in an inappropriate touchy way)?

I worry about this as a writer in general, and I touched on it in my last post about writerly fears of DOOOOOM.  It's scary. What if this is it? What if I have no new thoughts or ideas, like, EVER AGAIN!?

There's a few tricks. One: (and this is the one I gave my sister) don't be afraid to expose your insecurities. Don't be afraid to share some intimate, embarrassing, hopeless, useless part of your being. As humans on this planet we are all subjected to self-doubts about something. And with this, we can relate to each other. We can sigh in relief, and gasp in wonder about the fact that no matter how alone we feel, we are never really alone, and we are all in fact the same - yet beautifully different.

Two: Just keep writing. Write through it. Keep going, no matter what. Even if what you're writing is terrible, because writing terrible things is the only way to write beautiful things. Eventually. At least that's the hope.

There are other things that help ignite inspiration, for me anyways: music, movies, good books, my children, travelling, climbing mountains, and for some bizarre reason every time I'm in the shower I come up with fixes to broken plot points and character arcs.

What about you? What do you use to inspire yourself and break through those pesky writerly insecurities? What weapons have you forged against writers block?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Top Seven Writerly Fears of DOOOOM

Being a writer is scary. It's serious business. You write something and then you pass it over to people to read, and they're like "oh whatever" and you're like "OMG THEY'RE READING MY SOOUUL".

In honor of recently handing off my own work to some of the most wonderful writers I've ever read, (and also some friends who aren't writers, but voracious readers) I bring you: TOP SEVEN WRITERLY FEARS OF DOOOOOM. But it's not just about baring your soul to other people, there are many things about being a writer that would scare the piss out of even this guy:

One, two beta readers coming for you; three, four better run spell check before...

Writerly Fear Number One: Even though I've been writing for five years and I edited that draft until my eyes bled, deep down, I still think it might suck. 

You know you're thinking it. You love it. You want to squeeze it and kiss it and call it George, but then you send it to that reader. The one that's super smart, or super informed and opinionated, and you think it. They're going to hate it. And by extension they're going to hate me.

Writerly Fear Number Two: They're not going to get it.

You outlined it. You wrote it. You edited it to death. You understand the thematic nuances behind each scene, and the irony of some scenes that are supposed to be taken ironically and not completely literally. But will they get it? Will they think it's stupid? Will they think it's literal and then judge you and hate you some more?

Writerly Fear Number Three: I'm never going to write anything remotely good ever again. This was a one off.

You've finally done it. You wrote something, and you don't think it completely sucks (it just sucks a little, maybe. In spots.) It's taken YEARS to get to this point, but the fear remains. What if this is it? This is the only book I ever write that isn't total crap on a poodle stick?

Writerly Fear Number Four: You get good feedback from people about your work, but you're pretty sure they're lying.

This is it. You get the e-mail/text/phone call from your reader and they love it. They love the characters, they think it was funny, etc. etc. And you have a moment of elation. Yay! I rock! But what if they're lying? What if they're just saying these things because they're really nice people, but the truth is they hated it and they don't know how to say that without being mean?

Writerly Fear Number Five: Four million one star reviews on Amazon/Goodreads/pick a site!

Okay, this isn't a totally legitimate fear because if you have four million reviews, one star or not, that's means lots of people read your book, so it can't be that bad. But seriously, what if you become like the Rebecca Black of the writing world? Tons of people saying awful things about your horrible is that? Poor Rebecca Black, she's so cute, she doesn't deserve the mean things people said about her song :(

Writerly Fear Number Six: Telling people you know that you're writing a book

It always happens to me. I reveal to a co-worker, acquaintance, whomever, that I write books and they ask things like, "What's your book about?" and that elevator pitch that you've worked on forever that sounds super great while you're thinking about it in the shower, comes out sounding like the lamest concept ever imagined. Like Sharknado. Or you stumble over your words and can't quite get the idea out. Yep. Real articulate. I'm a great writer. Really. *face palm*

Writerly Fear Number Seven: Not doing a topic justice

I'm struggling a little with this one right now. I'm writing a book and the MC is a side character from the last book I wrote. In book one, this character experiences date rape. In the book I'm currently drafting, she's dealing with this issue and how it's effected her and her current relationships. But...what if I can't do this topic justice? What if someone who's experienced rape reads it and finds it lacking or insulting? That's the last thing I want, I want people who've dealt with this trauma to know that they are not alone, and they can move on and they can get justice.

So, those are my biggest fears when it comes to writing, and some of what I'm experiencing now.

Please feel free to share your own biggest fears and insecurities, it really does help overcome them!