Friday, August 31, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Sandcastles

Today's quote is one that I really needed to hear. I've been drafting book 2, and it is SO HARD. And it's feeling SO SLOPPY. And like so many elements are missing. After working on the uberly-polished book 1 for so long, it's feeling like this one is just wrong. But then I read this:

“When writing a first draft I remind myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
~Shannon Hale

And now I feel a million times better. I'm just putting in the sand! And later--- LATER is when I build the sandcastle. It doesn't have to be a sandcastle at the beginning! It's okay that everything's mostly plot right now, and I haven't included nearly enough character development or setting or even conflict. It's all about shoveling the sand. It kind of makes it all better, doesn't it?

If you've written more than one book, do you find it hard to go from working on edits to drafting, because drafting is so much less polished? Or is that just me?

While you're telling me, have a cookie!

Used with permission from

Have a incredibly awesome weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Post-Apoc & Dystopian August

Do you guys know Lenore Appelhans? Isn't she fabulous? (If you don't know her yet, just trust me-- she is FABULOUS.) She is doing spotlights on dystopian / post-apocalyptic fiction this month, and today, I get the honor of being spotlighted! Wanna check it out? It's on the blog Presenting Lenore.

And while you're there, take a look around! You might find you want to follow her blog because like I said: FABULOUS.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pub Talk: List Launch

I've got to admit: some of my favorite posts to read are ones that talk about the publishing industry. I think it's good to hear things from a variety of people, since everyone's publishing experience is different. So I figured I'd do a series of Pub Talk blog posts.

And I'm starting with List Launch.

Why? Because it's the one thing (at least the only thing that came to mind) I've run into so far that I hadn't known a thing about before getting a book deal. I think the reason it isn't talked about much, is because there isn't much the author has to DO for it. Occasionally, an author launches without even realizing they've launched!

So what is list launch?

List Launch is kind of like this. Only not.

In a nutshell, it's when the editors (usually-- sometimes it's the publicist, or maybe even marketing) present the books they've been working on to the sales and marketing force.

It happens 2 or 3 times a year, depending on how many lists each publisher has. (Most have spring and fall; some also have winter or summer.) I don't know how far in advance of the book coming out list launch typically happens-- I just know that it happened at the beginning of this month for me, and my book doesn't come out until fall 2013. The editors are the ones who know the book best, so they are the ones who usually talk about the book. If the book has a cover, they show the cover, pitch the book, and talk about the book details and sometimes the marketing plan. Basically, they try to get sales excited about the book they're pitching.


Because sales are the people who go from bookstore to bookstore, and help them to decide what books to carry in their stores. There are TONS of books that come out each season-- there's no way any bookstore could buy all of them. The sales people help them choose. And the sales reps hear about a LOT of books, so it's really good if yours stands out. And do you know who really wants your book to stand out as much as you do? YOUR EDITOR. That's why they make such great presenters at list launch.

The other awesome thing about list launch is that the info-sharing goes both ways. The people who talk to bookstores about what to buy are experts at knowing why bookstores choose not to carry books. They know what types of covers they tend to like less. They know if a book's title is likely to get lost in the masses. So they tend to give really great feedback to your book's team. And that is a very awesome thing.

A few months ago, I read a post on Pub(lishing) Crawl where Vanessa Di Gregorio talked about list launch from the perspective of a Sales Rep, and it was fascinating! Definitely worth checking out.

So I'm curious. If you're pre-published, did you already know about list launch? And if you're published (or in the process), did you know about it before you got your book deal?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: "Yes" burning inside.

I've had a lot of deadlines lately. And the glorious thing about crazy busy deadlines is, they set your schedule for you. They lodge themselves firmly in your #1 Priority spot. And then they tend to shove everything in #2 spot off the list. And sometimes even kick out the priorities in #'s  3, 4, 5, 6.... sometimes even 10 or more. (Okay, maybe that's a less glorious part...)

But for the first time in forever, I don't have anything due in the next couple of weeks. Like all of us, I have tons to do. More than I could ever get done. But I have so much to do, I can't figure out where to start. Without a deadline, it looks like I stirred up all the things I need to do in a giant bowl, and just dumped it on my priority list. Over the last couple of days, I sit down to work on my list, and don't have a clue what to do! So I grab something at the edge, mess around for a bit, then grab something else on the list and mess around some more. Am I doing the most important things? I have no idea! Probably not!

I've been thinking a lot about what is most important lately. And about how, if that list of priorities isn't made, it's likely the most important thing won't get done. And then I was thinking about how Steven Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) died recently, and how I've been wanting to do one of his quotes. I looked up a list of his top ten quotes, and this gem was on it:

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

~Stephen Covey

Were the things I was grabbing from the edges good? Of course! Otherwise I wouldn't have been doing them! (Well, except the messing around part. That was plain and simple wasting time.) But were they the "best?" I'm pretty sure not.

I don't know about you guys, but when I get that jumble of a mess prioritized, where the best is at the top, those things gain a big enough "yes" burning inside, that it's easier to keep them where they belong on the list.

*Raises cookie* Here's to getting that list figured out!

kimberlykv at cc-by-2.0
Do you have your priorities list figured out pretty well, or is it a jumbled mess like mine is? If you've got it figured out, CONGRATS! Have an awesome weekend! If you don't, let's shed a few tears together, then let's get this puppy in order! And then let's have an awesome weekend, too. :)

A huge thanks to Becky Povich for the Reader Appreciation award!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to have a great Writing Retreat

Okay, so I've only been on one writer's retreat, so I'm no expert. But I have been to a ton of writing conferences, so I know--- when writers get together, we like to chat! I mean how can we not when we are finally surrounded by people who *get* us?

But...... chatting up a storm and getting writing done generally don't go hand in hand. So what's the number one secret to getting way more writing done?


Yes, writers are a chatty bunch. But we're also a competitive bunch, and we really like to win. (Plus, we really like to see that word count climb, so we've got that constantly working in our favor.) There's probably about a billion ways to bring competitiveness into writing, but we did two things.

The first was one the fabulous Elana Johnson suggested. We each brought a prize, and put all those prizes into a pot. The prizes don't have to be big-- we had various kinds of chocolate, fancy notepads and pens, an Amazon gift certificate, etc. Every so often throughout the day, we'd have a writing sprint. We found that 45 minutes worked best for us, but you can do them for any length of time. Then, the person who wrote the most in that 45 minutes got to choose a prize. And ohmygosh. Never did I imagine that eight non-sleeping people in the same room could be so quiet!

The second was an overall prize for the person who wrote the most words over the course of the retreat. Again, this could be anything. As an example, our writing retreat's official name was The Writing Retreat of Joy and Awesomeness, so the person who won overall was crowned Queen of Joy and Awesomeness. Each of us added to the prize pack for the winner and lemme tell you: THAT was what kept people burning the midnight oil to get in a few more words, then waking up much too soon in the morning. How could you stay in bed when you saw your competition already adding to their word count?

The second secret to having a good writing retreat?


Not as big of a factor as contests, of course, but it definitely makes a difference! Imagine a noisy hotel with elephants stampeding above you. Or an office building, where the floors and walls are all gray. Now, imagine a comfortable mountain cabin tucked next to a lake or stream. Or a high-rise overlooking a beautiful city. These may be extreme examples, of course, but some locations definitely are more conducive to creative juices flowing than others. Location matters. And the third secret:


The better you eat, the better your brain works, right? The right food can make those late nights / early mornings not so painful. Not to mention the better the food, the happier the retreaters. :)

So what about you? Have you ever been on a writing retreat before? How was it? And if you could choose to go ANYWHERE on a writing retreat right now, where would you go?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hi! **waves sheepishly** I'm not dead.

image by dev null
via Flickr Creative Commons
And I haven't been an absent blogger because don't I love you, or because I haven't missed you all like crazy, either. After being gone from blogging for what felt like the entire summer, let's update each other, shall we? If you want me to start, keep reading. If you'd like to start, feel free to scroll right down to the comments first.

I made it through content and line edits! I did round one edits in the spring, but my editorial letters for rounds 2, 3, and 4, each complete with line edits all came during the summer. It was tough, but I'm done! And right now, my manuscript is in the hands of a copy editor.

My kids made it through what has arguably been the MOST BORING SUMMER EVER. (Apparently stressful deadlines for me = no fun for them.) And they went back to school today! I now have kids in three different schools, with six different drop off / pick up times. 7:45, 8:15, 9:05, 2:15, 2:45, 3:30. Crazy much? Maybe just a little. Benefits to having the most boring summer ever? My kids are actually, for the first time ever, mentally ready (and possibly even a little bit excited) for school to start. Huzzah!

I recently okayed my author bio, wrote my dedication, and worked on my acknowledgements. :'o) I haven't finished them, though. Holy hardness-- they're tough! So much more difficult than I anticipated. Oh! And I made a book trailer! Aaaand I can't show you for like ten months. But it's awesome! (You're just going to have to trust me on this one for now.) It was crazy time consuming and had to happen right during crazy deadlines for edits in order to be used at list launch, and possibly made me a little crazy,  but it's done. And my agent is going to use it to pitch my book to foreign editors, which makes me crazy happy. Plus, in ten months from now when I'll probably be crazy busy, I'm going to take a few minutes to sit down, kick my feet up, and be so glad I'm not in the middle of making a book trailer.

I actually worked on book 2 this past weekend! I went to a writing retreat and got SO MUCH DONE. I'm still living off the high from accomplishing so much. Especially because I'm generally a slow drafter, so what I got done in 2 1/2 days amounts to 7 good weeks of writing. For a moment, though, I didn't think it would happen. I was wandering outside the resort, talking and plotting (because I plot best when I wander. And it's even better when I do it chatting on the phone with someone than when I'm just talking with myself...), and I saw this:

I took this with my phone, standing directly in front of our place, looking at the Park City mountain that's so very close to us. That stuff in the background? Those aren't clouds! They're the first billows of smoke from a massive forest fire. I thought for sure we'd be evacuated. The writing gods smiled down on us, and we forged on.

I swear, guys, I am back, and I plan to blog like I love it again. Because I really do. I figured I'd do a few industry posts, too. I think it's so good to know what you're getting into every step of the way, and the best way to do that is to read about the same things from different people. Things are just so vastly different between publishing houses, between genres, age groups, editors, authors-- it's good to hear all of it. So I think I'll post this week on List Launch--- the thing I knew the least about when I got my book deal. Plus, I think I'll post on how to have a successful writing retreat, because it could've just as easily become a chat-a-thon as a write-a-thon.....

So tell me what you've been up to this summer! You don't have to write a post-length comment, of course. It is, after all, my fault I haven't been around to see what you've been doing. But if you do decide to leave a post-length telling of your summer, I am so VERY okay with that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

When things get really tough

There are parts of this whole writing thing that are HARD. Some are so hard, you might be tempted to quit! Today, I'm at Jeff Hargett's blog, Strands of Pattern, talking about how to keep the desire to be published when things get hard. Come hang out with us!