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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Formatting Fun for Everyone!! An Update on As The World Dies

Even though my husband gave me a direct order to write up the text for the website that is going live sometime this weekend, I completely forgot and started messing with formatting As The World Dies: The First Days. I made a mistake of reading the FAQ at Lulu.com and next thing I know, its way past my bedtime, I still haven't written up anything for the website, but I have some nifty looking jpegs to share with the world!



Okay..it doesn't look that impressive on here, but it looks really good at the size it would be in a printed book. It just made me giddy seeing it looking like a book.

I'm sure we will be going through quite a few edits as we sort it all out and figure out what looks good. The one thing I am adoring about self-publishing is that I get to be a part of the creative process of the layout and the cover.

I just love how this looks:


Anyway, that is my quickie update for today. Tomorrow I hope to get more done on the assignments my husband gave me. I feel a little guilty about not finishing up what he needed.

I already started working on the untold tale of Lenore and Ken from As The World Dies. I was planning to do the one for Rune first, but a fan told me how much he loved these two. Sometimes I'm nice and take requests. Or maybe his comment just got my creative juices flowing in that direction.

One way or the other, it should be fun.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Computers Gone Wild! Unexpected Turns of Events! AUGH!!!

I was bound and determined to finish my novella set in the world of As The World Dies this last weekend and seemed to be well on my way. ATWD: Untold Tales-Eric's Story was going great and I was pretty excited about the flow.

Then my keyboard began spewing nonsense at around 1 AM in the morning on Saturday and I was left cussing and swearing. My husband did his job as tech support and after around 30 minutes declared the keyboard dead. Since I wrecked my wrists when I was a teenager writing endlessly in notebooks, I need an ergonomic keyboard to type and I was stuck for the night. On impulse, we hit the only store open at that time of the night, but, alas, WalMart did not have what I needed. My husband ended up buying a new wave keyboard for his use and handed his old ergonomic keyboard off to me. It's exactly like the one I have at work, so I am satisfied with this scenario. At least it isn't typing out some weird alien language.

Sunday, I was back on my roll, typing away and having a good ol' time, when I smelled something acrid. Realizing it was coming from my computer, I quickly saved what I was writing and tried to shut down. I had barely hit the START menu when the computer went dark. It was dead dead dead dead dead.

My husband was out buying his new keyboard at the time and when he got home, I pointed my finger at the computer and wailed, "It died!" He looked at me incredulously and began messing with the computer. He couldn't believe it when it wouldn't start at all.

So off we went to Fryes this time, rushing to get there before closing to buy a new power supply. When we got home, my husband shoved the new power supply into my computer and bingo! there was light.

I hate it when my computer malfunctions.

Needless to say, I was a little grumpy to be behind schedule for finishing up the novella, but last night the flow was great. When I finished the story, I felt good about the ending. It was not exactly what I had planned in the beginning, but it really worked well.

A character that was meant to die actually managed not to and stuck around to the end. It was one of those weird little scenarios where I had the story mapped out (loosely) in my head and was concentrating on the character development of the lead. A big dramatic event occured and a minor character who was supposed to basically enter the story and die, didn't. Of course, it was my own character development that did me in. I had made her an athletic, young woman who was an avid runner. That she would be able to physically survive the situation just made sense. It was a definite case of a character being true to her concept. I firmly believe that if you build good, solid characters and create a world that has its own rules and stick to your boundries, your story can definitely develop on its own. With the right mix, things just pop.

So I kept her around. Her character personality was a good contrast to the lead and actually pushed the lead to evolve. Thought I wasn't conciously thinking it, later a fellow writer pointed out that the readers of the original story knew the lead wasn't going to die, so having Stacey (the other character) in the mix created tension because no one knew if she was going to die or not.

The ending was extra poignant because of Stacey's contribution to the story and when I wrote the last sentence, I felt a sense of accomplishment.

So its been a weird couple of days, but I do feel back on track. Having the computer up and running again is a huge relief.

My husband is close to finishing the website and we hope to go live sometime in the next week or so. I'll definitely post here when that happens.

Meanwhile, I'm probably gonna kick back and enjoy a day or two off then jump into the next Untold Tale. Edits are calling to me on the second book and the vampire novel. So I may start that tonight.

Things are back on track. And it is good!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Think I'm In Love With Morris Rosenthal...

Okay, not really. But I think I'm a die hard fan of his self publishing blog and his youtube videos. He is wry and funny with his delivery and freaking smart. When my husband came to me about self-publishing the zombie novesl, Morris' website was one of the first I hit for information.

Though Morris writes non-fiction books, his advice is still excellent. I am a fiction author, but I have a fan base already (and a freaking awesome one at that) so I feel I may have a head start on a lot of fiction authors heading into self-publishing waters. He's written a book Print-on-Demand Book Publishing: A New Approach To Printing And Marketing Books For Publishers And Self-Publishing Authors that I am extremely excited about reading. I hope to use as sort of a how-to as my husband and I work toward the publication of the first As The World Dies novel. I have ordered my copy and I'll be watching like a hawk for it to hit my mailbox. Morris seriously rawks.

But I've been looking at other resources as well.

The other blog I've been cruising around is the SmallPress Blog. I check it for any news on how Amazon is handling print on demand books along with Writer's Weekly. Amazon has been changing the rules a bit (making small publishers use their print on demand company) and I'm not quite sure how its all going pan out, but I'm watching with great interest. Another resource for keeping up on the latest in self-publishing is the PoD Publishers Yahoo Group.

Because of my budget I'm going to be going with Lulu.com for my trilogy. The books published by Lulu are not a sloppy job at all and I've read lots of good things about the overall quality of not only the books but the service. Their forums are also a really good resource I highly recommend.

I also like Write and Publish Your Own Book. They have a lot of good short articles about every aspect of writing and some very good advice. It's an interesting place to drop by and take a look around.

To learn about publishing as a whole....well...I've been hitting a lot of author/agent/publishing blogs. It's been interesting reading to say the very least. The more I read the more confusing it becomes. It's hard to see a pattern in it all and I'm starting to think there isn't one other than if your manuscript is not what they agent/editor is looking for, its over.

Even the advice on how to write a synopsis or query letter changes from blog to blog, writer to writer, agent to agent. It's kinda...well..nuts.

There is also advice everywhere on how to find the hot market and gear your writing toward it. I remember reading on an author's blog about a year ago how her friend (also a writer) was trying to write paranormal romance. Now this was not that writer's forte, but her publisher was pushing her in this direction and she was at a loss as to how to proceed. So the author friend offered her a reading list of materials so she could figure out how to transfer her writing into the paranormal realm.

When I read this I thought "But aren't we supposed to write about what we know and love?"

Anyway, one last great resource (this is for you KingMonkey), is the Fast Draft and Revision Hell with Candy Havens on her Yahoo Writing Group. I freaking love how she challenges the writers on this group to really push themselves.

And of course, I cannot recommend yWriter enough .

KingMonkey, seriously, the best step to editing your Behind Stone Walls will be transferring it into yWriter. It will give you a whole new way of looking at it. I promise.

Okay, now that I'm done with this late night post because of not being able to sleep, I'm going to try to entice the sandman once more.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

He's Still Mad, He's Still Not Gonna Take It, And He Has Food For Thought

Cliff burns wrote another interesting post, this time at his Redroom Blog. I do not have the experience he has with the publishing system, but what he vehemently writes about in this blog is the norm from all the research I've done on the publishing world. In fact, I've been reading a lot of author "success" stories about the much desired CALL and I've noticed its often after years of languishing in limbo (or is it hell?).

Now, don't get me wrong. It took years for me to find my writing voice and feel comfortable with the work I was producing. I learned how to construct a plot, how to develop characters, and how to write good, solid dialog while writing novels that will never see the light of day (they're stored away in a closet somewhere). I learned a lot from those novels and I sometimes think of them fondly, but they were my training ground. I can understand the role of an agent and editor to new writers trying to get into the business, but...

I'm READY and EAGER to jump forward with my writing. I'm completely dedicated to turning out good work that readers can enjoy and doing it on a regular basis. I'm learning how to handle a daily work schedule and a nightly writing schedule without going completely insane. What Cliff wrote really resounded with me because I did decide to self publish because my readers want As The World Dies now. Is it fair for them to wait while I spend 6 months or more querying to agents then maybe waiting years before I find a publisher? I have to say a definite no!

The resources are available to me to make a good product and get a book out that I can feel proud of and that the readers can enjoy. This is the age of the new media. It's impacting on the record and movie industries. The publishing industry is just beginning to feel this wave about to crash down on them.

Sure there are crappy independent films and music, but there is also a wealth of wonderful works that people discover through the new media. As a member of the Goth scene, I've witnessed how many of the artists in that genre have been using the new media to reach their small, but dedicated audience.

I am going to try the traditional route for another book because, hell, why not? Might as well have a comparison of experiences between the traditional route and self publishing, right? I'm not putting all my eggs (novels) in that one basket (traditional or self publishing) and I have many more ideas that I'm dying to write. Am I counting out traditional publishing? No, I'm open to see what it offers, but at the same time I'm going to do my best for my readers and my own writing.

Cliff Burns is very right about the chances of a writer getting published from what I have read about the publishing world. Trying to get published is like "buying a lottery ticket". I've been known to buy a lottery ticket once and awhile just to try my luck. But then I go to my day job and earn a paycheck.

That is what I am doing now. Earning a paycheck by self-publishing on my own terms and trying out the lottery by sending one manuscript through the traditional route.

Now lets see which pays off.

P.S. So Dark The Night is definitely worth downloading and reading.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Writing Is Not For The Timid Or Faint Of Heart

I participate on a forum online. It's one of two locations where I posted As The World Dies mini-chapters on a fairly regular basis for over two years. It has some of the best zombie fiction written anywhere and I have met some really cool people through that forum. The writers are all different ages (16 on up) and obviously have a great love for the zombie genre.

But the forum is plagued by unfinished works. In fact, a lot of fan fiction or original works on the Internet seem to be unfinished works. I have noticed when I speak to other aspiring writers, they tend to float from one great idea to the next, leaving a long trail of manuscripts with no ending (or even a middle).

When I share with people my aspirations to be a writer in print, the author of good solid reads, and have a successful (by my definition) career, I get either the "Wow, that's awesome!" response or the "Oh, well, lots of people write books that NEVER get published. It's a rough business. You shouldn't get your hopes up. Everyone can write a book..." response that seems to go on forever as my eyes glaze over and I bite my tongue so I don't say something catty. Nothing the naysayers tell me is not anything I've not told myself or been told ever since I started trying to write stories when I was not even 10 years old yet. But the fact of the matter is I can do something a lot of aspiring writers can't do.

I can finish a damn book.

Recently, I realized what a HUGE accomplishment this is. Not only can I finish a book, I can finish a GOOD book. How do I know its good? My fans love it. And my test readers do as well (and some of them are pretty harsh). I can tell a solid story with characters that people love (and fear for) and I feel pretty damn good about that.

It wasn't until last year that I fully learned how to shove through even the toughest writer's block to produce a novel's first draft in around 2-3 weeks time. For years I left unfinished works strewn across the file folders in my computer or in notebooks shoved in my bookcase. I could not keep on track with a story for the life of me if the inspirational spark wavered.

It took me forever to finish the zombie trilogy (close to 2 years), but considering it was born from a short story, I never really thought it would end up being an epic tale. I just wrote until I was done. Of course I had a slew of fans sending me emails begging me to finish and not leave them hanging. I have to admit that kept my fires lit.

But pounding out Pretty When She Dies in such a short time was an enormous triumph. It let me know that I could shove through the worst writer's block and still turn out a great story (in rough draft form).

But was it easy? Nope. Not at all. It was tough going the whole way though the reward of having a completed first draft made it well worth it. But it was rough to shove through some nights. I ignored emails, calls, my husband and my favorite TV show (LOST) to get it done.

I'm hoping to get a writing group on the forum dedicated to finishing their stories in a two week challenge. So many of them have great ideas and are good beginning writers and just need to shove it to the next level. I hope to share with them the lessons I have learned. The horror genre needs fresh blood (hehehe) and fresh visions.

Writing is HARD. It takes dedication to your vision and the persistence to get it done.

It's definitely not for the meek either. But that's a whole other post...




P.S. to Morris: C'mon with Zombie Farm! I can't wait to read the rewrite! HURRY!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

False Starts, Confusing Advice, and a Writer's Angry Rant

A long, long time ago in a land far, far away (also known as rural Texas), I opened up my mailbox to find out my short story had been accepted to a 'zine that specialized in all things to do with vampires. I danced around the mailbox with glee and ran into the house to excitedly show my Mom and other family members the acceptance letter. It was an exciting moment that felt full of promise. That short story brought me my first fan mail that meant a lot to me. At that time it validated my writing and made me feel hopeful. But hope can only go so far...

Well, the catch was that I had no idea what to do with that promise or that potential other than put my free copy of the magazine in my book case for safe keeping.

I lived in the middle of nowhere, I was just learning how to use my brand new computer and I was not at all Internet savvy. My only real access to the publishing world were the books in the library and Writer's Market book that came out once a year at the local bookstore. I had no idea what I was doing and after years of frustration, I gave up writing and got involved with roleplaying instead as a creative outlet.

I'm not even going to go into how much time and energy I wasted doing THAT.

Years later, I ended up reading Stephen King's fabulous book "On Writing" and decided to try the short story route that did great things for his writing career. I was very unhappy with the time I wasted on roleplaying and with the two years I spent trying to be normal. I was just getting back to my Goth roots and I needed to start writing again.

The only problem was that my short stories always want to be full blown novels. I did manage to write a short story I really loved and sent it off to a magazine. A few weeks later I got a rejection letter that had me dancing around my apartment. The editor actually loved my story, liked how it ended, but it was not what the magazine was looking for. The fact she took the time to read my story, comment on it, tell me she liked it, even as she had to decline it, meant the world to me. If someone in the actual publishing business liked my writing, then I had hope of future success.

I wrote a few more short stories that I really liked and sent one of them off. I never heard back on that submission. But in the meantime, I ended up writing for The Edge Magazine covering the Goth/Industrial scene. Though this was not fiction writing, it was very enjoyable to attend shows and interview bands.

This was also the time period when my vampire novel was under consideration by a publishing house that is now defunct (I noticed their books on Amazon are in limbo and no one can purchase them...yuck).

The last year I have tried to focus on being more productive with my writing, researching the publishing world, and trying to come up with a game plan for my publishing endeavors. One of my next steps will be joining one of the writer's groups here in Austin. I've flirted with doing this more than once, but didn't feel I was in the "right place" to do so. I was traveling a lot in previous years and I wasn't even sure if I could show up to the meetings. Now its a whole different world and I know it will just take me marking the meetings on my calendar to remind myself to show up. I've read so many books, blogs, and writer's advice that I'm just chock full of conflicting advise on how to get published by the regular route. I'm hoping that a writer's group will help lessen this confusion.

I am very secure in my choice to self-publish my Zombie trilogy (which started out as a short story..hehehehe). I do know a lot of terrible books are self published. In fact, I checked out the self published book from the author of a blog I really enjoy. He does a great job with his blog, but his sample chapters of his novel were so horrible I couldn't believe it. I had to read some excerpts aloud to my husband, who said in shock, "That doesn't even make sense!". It was bad. Really bad. So horrible it made me feel embarrassed for the writer. Seriously, his blog is a great read and really enjoyable, but his book was mind-shatteringly bad.

Which brings me to this wonderful blog. Cliff Burns is anything but a bad writer. He's been in the writing world for a long time and knows the publishing business quite well. Maybe too well. So Dark the Night is his new novel that he was basically forced to publish on his blog after being rejected by the publishing world. Check out his post here. He is obviously not very happy with the publishing world and he burned his bridges with glee.

I downloaded his book and decided to read the first few pages. After checking out that other self published book, I was a little nervous. And you know what? It's good! Really good. It kicks the shit out of a certain writer who has had her thumb on this genre for awhile and has devolved into badly written porn. I cannot understand why this book wasn't snatched up by a publisher for gobs of money and put out in bookstores like TOMORROW.

The publishing world confuses me. It probably confuses a lot of people. I'm just trying to sort this all out and figure out what my place is in the grand scheme of it. Obviously, there are writers who make decent (not great) livings at writing. There has to be a way in for writers who are good at their craft and have good stories to tell.

Now, I just have to figure out my doorway.

Meanwhile, I'm self publishing my zombie trilogy for my fans and I feel good about that. What comes after that, we'll see.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Writer's Blockage? Writer's Bitching?

I did post a new mini-chapter yesterday to the forums carrying my new zombie novella. I liked the way the chapter came out and the response from the readers has been good. I did try to write just one more mini-chapter before bed, but discovered that it just wouldn't flow right.

Now the gist of what I want to be in the chapter is there and I think the readers will enjoy it, but it wasn't coalescing in a way that felt strong and solid. It kept coming across as a very dull news report and very passive. Chalking it up to being tired after a long day, I closed down yWriter and went to bed. My best writing time is usually around 7PM after I've come home, unwound from work, and feel energized again. I will tackle the chapter again tonight around that time.

I do wish I had more time to write, but I gotta work with the life I have, don't I? I am still trying to decide which novel I want to write next. I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head and some of them are ready to be born. I'm not certain which one is up next, but it has come down to possibly three options. Ah, sweet torture.

Meanwhile, I have editing to do on my next book in the zombie trilogy and I need to take a long hard look at my Victorian Gothic vampire tale. Do I really want to trim it down to the word count to meet industry standards for a first novel? Hrmmm....

I wonder what it would feel like not to have all these ideas in my head wanting to be on paper?

Nah, I like being an author.

It's all good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sometimes the Stories Push Back

Last night, I sat down to write a new mini-chapter (or scene) in my Untold Tale and I had a very good idea of exactly what I wanted to write. I started typing away and nothing "felt" right. The words weren't flowing, it wasn't "fitting", and it felt stale. Frustrated, I deleted a bunch of paragraphs and started over. But this time, instead of sticking to the script, I peered into my mind's eye theatre and "watched" the action.

"Okay, Eric," I thought. "What are you up to?"

And the scene went in an entirely different direction. By the time I was done writing, I felt emotionally wrung out and very depressed. In fact, I pondered rewriting the scenario so it wasn't so down, but I have a rule. If it happens on the big screen in my mind's eye, it happens in the story.

I saved it, posted it, and went to bed.

This morning, the reaction to this unexpected scene from those who have read it so far has been really good. One reader listed it as his favorite moment in the story so far. His words were validation for an emotionally gut-wrenching scene that came out of nowhere, but sits rather nicely in the story. It adds to the major character and made his world darker and more frightening.

The mini-chapter I thought I as going to write last night will now be written tonight. The scene from last night puts the character in a different state of mind that actually works better for what is to come.

I'm definitely glad the story pushed back last night and didn't go quietly into what I had pre-planned.

As always, writing is an adventure.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Joys of yWriter

Last summer when I participated in the Fast Draft challenge on Candy Haven's yahoo group, I happened upon a post where someone was raving about yWriter. I googled it and found spacejock.com and all his cool programs. They are freeware and amazing tools.

yWriter and yBook were my first downloads and I absolutely love these programs. Both have made my writing life so much easier.

yWriter is a great project manager for your writing and a valuable tool for any writer who feels overwhelmed by the process of getting their whole story down. I'll try and explain a little of how it works and why I love it so much.

First off, you create a project (novel) in the program. You fill in the name of the project (novel) and your name as the author. Then, using the menu bar, you can add chapters to your project. The default number is 25, but you can change this. There are three panes in the project window and on the left pane, you'll see all your chapters show up with their word counts (zero, of course, when you start). Yous you fill these chapters up, you'll see your word count per chapter. This is a great way to set goals for yourself.

Click on a chapter, use the menu bar to add a scene (or three). You can add as many scenes as you like per chapter. When you click on a chapter in the left pane, in the top right pane the scenes in that chapter are listed. To edit the scenes you can double click them to open up the text box where you can actually write the scene. At the bottom of the box are tabs with all sorts of great options to help your writing along. In fact, one of the things I love about yWriter is you can track which version of the scene you are working on (outline, 1st draft, 2nd draft, etc), which character's POV it is; the goal, conflict, and outcome of the scene; and all sorts of other good stuff.

Kingmonkey asked how I managed my first draft from moviesonline and fanfiction.net when I rewrote it. Well, I made a new project in yWriter, added a bunch of chapters, made empty scenes in each chapter, then began cutting and pasting each entry from the forums into their own scene. This enabled me to get a good handle on the story right away. I could clearly see the breakdown of each chapter and how the scenes all fit together. I even dragged a few scenes around, added a few, etc, without having to do the continuous formating you have to in Word.

I also made sure to build my character database where I included their physical descriptions, a photo of what I thought they looked like, and a basic personality write up.

It's a program that is a little intimidating at first, but once you figure out how it works, it makes your writing life so freaking productive. The best part is that you can export your project and edit it in Word or Openoffice once you're done with the novel. yWriter isn't an editing tool, but a writing tool. You'll need to use Word or Openoffice to run spell check or grammar checks.

One of the things I love about the program is that if you want to skip a scene and get onto another one that is hot on the tip of your fingers, you can write a short description of the scene you want to write later and skip onto the one you want to write NOW.

I have mad love for this program and I love its companion program, yBook, where you can load up your manuscript and read it like its a paperback on your screen. Being able to visualize your writing in novel form in yBook makes it easier to read for editing purposes (you can't edit it in yBook, but you can have it running in Word or Openoffice behind yBook to fix up anything that needs tweaking). Plus seeing your manuscript looking like a paperback is a big inspiration.

I am very serious about my writing and I think yWriter is the best program out there. I can't imagine writing without it.

Check out yWriter 4 here http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter4.html and give yourself a few hours to get accustomed to it. This is a great user guide to get you started http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter4_Quickstart.html

Once you start using it, I don't think you'll want to stop.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Progress Maybe?

After last night's post I felt a little angsty about possibly losing great story ideas because of not having anything handy to record a spark of inspiration. Today, I wandered around Target with a co-worker during our lunch hour and she found something that immediately peaked my interest.

It's a 4x6 index card wheel. It's got a removable bolt in one corner that allows you to reorganize the cards, there are four different colors (four different story ideas? hrmmm) and a neat little elastic to hold it all together in my purse. I rather liked it since spiral bindings always trip up my wrist or make my writing even worse as I try and angle the notebook just right. Trust me, my handwriting is bad enough. I need no additional obstacles to make it worse.

So now I have a new way to manage my story ideas and I'm pretty satisfied with it.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to send the first book of the "As The World Dies" trilogy off to be red inked to death (gotta love editing!) and my husband is getting ready to launch the website soon. It feels good to be working together on this project and it means a lot to me that he supports my writing. Horror is not his thing. He likes movies with the horror element, but he's not keen on horror novels. That he has sat down and read three of mine and liked them means a lot to me. He's a sci-fi kinda guy and he has a good idea for a novel we hope to work on together. Sci-fi is my first love and I do hope to write some novels in that genre in the future, but for now I got my zombies and vampires to take care of.

It seems like every day I'm learning something new about the publishing world and I'm so grateful for the Internet. It is such an incredible resource. I'm getting more and more excited about our self-publishing endeavor. Musicians and filmmakers get to enjoy the concept of independent producing, but writer's really don't. I already know I'll get the "oh, but you're not really published" spiel from people, but I'm ready for it. The way I see it, if someone buys my book, likes it, and feels satisfied when they reach the end, my book has merit whether its published my a major book company or me and my husband.

I have to admit, I have not felt this good about anything I've done in a long time. If anything, this will be a fun and exciting experience.

Writing Journals

In answer to Kingmonkey's question in the comments of my last post, I do not keep a writing journal. I have a notepad that has a whole story written out in summary form tucked under my desk and a collection of word docs tucked into a folder on my computer with more said summaries. I even have some drafts saved in my yahoo email that have story ideas in them.

In other words, when the idea hits, I put it down anyway I can.

I did try carrying a small notebook with me for awhile, but my scrawl is pretty bad thanks to a mucked up wrist. I blame it on hours and hours of scribbling in notebooks when I was a teenager. I used to write constantly and I think my poor wrist paid for it in spades. I would try and write ideas in my little notebook only to not be able to read them later.

When the ideas hit (and if they seem good), I try and write them down as soon as I possibly can. I readily admit I've lost a few stories because I didn't scribble down the idea immediately. Like seeds, you need to plant them and nurture them to get the full story to grow. I've lost a lot of good story seeds because I didn't take the time to write them down. I hate that.

I have been using yWriter in the last year. I think its a miracle program. It has increased my productivity by allowing me to focus on the story in a way I never had before. It is just an amazing program that I wish I had years ago. I think I may start transferring story ideas into yWriter so I can have more freedom with their development.

One of my frustrations at this time is that I have so many story ideas banging around in my head demanding attention, that I'm not sure which one I should work on next. I definitely feel the need to create a new novel soon and I'm not sure which idea I'm going to foster.

Meanwhile, more ideas keep filling my head and I definitely need to figure out a better way to keep track of them when I'm away from the computer. A notebook is the easy answer, but lugging a big one around so I can actually read what I write down is annoying.

If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ah, Saturday

I woke up at the same time I do everyday for work this morning. A good sign that I'm finally adjusted to the stupid time change. I'm about to head back to bed for a disco nap since we're heading out to the goth club tonight to celebrate 10 years of DJ Void spinning the best in Goth/Industrial music. It's all about the Steampunk look tonight, which I love. I'm still not sure what I'm wearing, but it will be something Jules Vern or H.G. Wells would love.

The writing bug struck right after breakfast, which was a good thing. I was jonesing to write more on my "untold tales" from "As The Word Dies". Because I was writing that story in tiny increments over an extended period of time (mostly while I was on the road for work in the middle of nowhere Texas), I would sometimes think I had put a scene/character/event into the story only to find out later I hadn't. Some characters got kind of screwed because of this. One of those characters, Eric, was always in my mind's eye, but actually kept missing being on the written page.

Because of that, I felt I owed the character a bit. So, his untold tale is up on fanfiction.net now. You can see the link to my profile on this page and find his story there. There are a few other characters (all minor) who deserve their own little story, so I may just end up with a collection of untold tales.

I wrote two mini-chapters today and I really liked them. The flow was great and I probably could have kept going, but I had errands to do. Lunch to fix. You get the idea.

I really like this novella so far (that's what it feels like to me) and I know exactly how it ends, which is nice. I don't always know that. Sometimes I feel like I'm flipping to the end only to find blank pages. That's when I have to trust the characters and the setup to give birth to the end.

Considering how much I do NOT like zombies and how much they SCARE me, its amazing I am still writing about zombie infested rural Texas. The reality is that even though I HATE zombies, I love the characters. I love what they represent to me. That incredible Texan pioneer spirit.

I have no idea if anyone is even reading this blog, but it doesn't really matter. It's good to write about...writing. :) How it feels. How it moves me. How excited I am to be moving forward again.

Last year feels like a prelude to a great adventure. This year feels like the beginning of that adventure.

And I'm ready for it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

How Rhiannon Got Her Groove Back And Took Charge-Part Three

One day, my husband walks into our office and starts talking about self-publishing. It sounded like he was talking in tongues. My blood sugar was low, I was cranky, and I had a brand new email from a fan asking where my novel was. My husband gets talking and I keep staring at him like he's an alien and his words are utter gibberish. We go out to eat, my blood sugar levels out, and his words sink in.

Slowly.

Now, self-publishing the Victorian Gothic vampire tale or the new modern day vampire in Texas story is something I wouldn't consider doing, but the zombie epic? Oh, hell yeah! I have a built in fan base. I got a kick ass story. I know people who can do killer artwork and help me put up a website. It was like little gears (and a few big ones) suddenly started turning in perfect harmony.

In a few short weeks, it was evident the zombie epic is really a zombie trilogy and reading up on the business of publish on demand made it clear that I could get the story out to its ardent fans in a solid, professional book. My mother (an English teacher) immediately agreed to edit. Anyone I talked to about the endeavor seemed to instantly support the idea. Suddenly, my husband's speaking in tongues made total sense.

Do not get me wrong, I love my Victorian Gothic vampire tale. In fact, the lead in that story is my great love when it comes to characters. I adore her. She's my girl! I also love my modern day vampire tale set in Texas. It has vampires, a fiesty Mexican grandma, vampire hunters, a bad ass necromancer, and lots of good ol' Austin, Texas in it. I love both those tales.

But the zombie trilogy has its fans already. It already had a great run online and still has fans clamoring for an actual book they can hold in their hands and put on their shelf. It's ready to be out there NOW. And it will be by late summer. The first book will be "As The World Dies: The First Days" and it will have additional scenes in it. It will be a cleaner read due to revisions and edits, but will still be the same kick ass story of two women escaping into rural Texas to escape the zombie apocalypse.

I'm presently working on my marketing stargeties and getting ready for the hard push to publication. The remaining two books in the trilogy will follow.

As for the other two novels, I've decided to try the old traditional routes. One I'll try and get an agent for: the other I will send off to publishing houses. In other words, I am not going to put all my eggs (novels) in one basket.

The one thing I loved about Jenni and Katie in "As The World Dies" was that they were take charge, kick ass women. I think self publishing my zombie epic is me taking charge and kicking a little arse.

Besides, I'm Texan. You can't expect me to do this the easy way, can you? *grin*

How Rhiannon Got Her Groove Back-Part Two

A few years ago, a friend of mine became an editor for a small publishing house and called me up one night asking about a novel I had worked on (for years in bits in pieces) that I had mentioned to her. I summarized the plot to her and she told me to write a letter to her and the publisher and write exactly what I had told her. I did and the publisher(s) liked the idea and wanted to see the finished product when it was done. In fact, they were damn sure they would publish it.

The book was nowhere near ready. I was rewriting it from third person to first person and it seriously needed work. My "real" job kicked it up a few notches during this time and I struggled to get the novel done as fast as possible. As fast as possible ended up being around 10 months. This was before I discovered the Fast Draft approach and lived with the terrible self editor in my head constantly.

But it actually worked out just fine. The editor ended up leaving the publishing house (which is no more now) and contemplated starting her own publishing house. This did not work out due to life events, but I learned a lot from her. I am eternally grateful.

Skip ahead to last year and I had just finished the Fast Draft version of "Pretty When She Dies", when a friend of mine puts me in contact with yet another editor of a small publishing house. This one is an e-publisher and I queried this editor and she expressed interest. She was not handling the vampire/urban fantasy manuscripts, but she was willing to read it, give me feedback, and pass it on to the editor who was. She appeared to like the basic premise of the story and I was excited. I worked on the second draft diligently, finished it, and found out that editor left her publishing house to concentrate on her writing.

So I finish out last year with a brand new book on my hands, a head full of conflicting information on the publishing world, a massive zombie epic waiting to be rewritten, and a finished Victorian Gothic vampire novel that I'm not sure what the hell I'm going to do with.

Should I continue to push Pretty When She Dies with the e-publisher or go another route? Should I try and get a literary agent? Small publishing house? Big publishing house?

Meanwhile, I continue to get emails from fans of the zombie epic, As The World Dies, asking when its going to be published, is it published, where can they read it again, is it online?

I was totally at a loss.

How Rhiannon Got Her Horror Groove Back - Part One

I know. I know. I started this blog then vanished. Part of the reason was that I forgot about it. And when I did remember it, I forgot the password. Then I forgot about it again.

But my excuse was that I was busy. Very busy.

What was I so busy doing?

Well, learning about 1) writing 2) publishing 3)what a total bitch both can be.

I was pretty stoked last year when I finally finished my big zombie epic online. The outpouring of support from the fans reading the story was a huge morale boost. The emails, comments, reviews, PMs, etc, made me feel like a "real" writer and I was gung ho and ready to go.

I bought some books on getting published, read a bunch of websites, subscribed to the Writer's Market online, and immediately fell into a deep depression.

First off, writing a query letter sucks. It sucks a lot. In fact I cannot express how much writing a query letter sucks. Trying to summarize your book into a few sentences is a total bitch. I banged my head against the desk a few times in frustration (not really, but I felt like it!). My soon to be husband (at that time) kept grumbling about the process and how annoyed he was by it, but I kept trying.

I have to state for the record, I HATE every query I've written thus far.

And I hate writing a synopsis even more.

Seriously, hate. Despise. Freaking hate summaries.

You get the drift.

In fact, trying to write the summary and the query on my vampire novel was so disheartening and depressing, I wasn't surprised at the form rejection letters that rolled back to me. Well, just five of them. But, you get the idea.

I paced around the house, thought long and hard, felt extremely grumpy, and sulked as I decided to let it go for a bit. At this point, there was so much contradictory information flooding my brain (get an agent, don't get an agent, approach the big publisher first, no go to the small one first), that I felt completely frozen.

During this time, I kept getting emails from fans asking when the novel was going to be coming out. It was encouraging to hear from people who loved my story when I felt so down and unsure of how to continue.

Somehow I ended up on Candy Haven's writer's workshop yahoo group and found out about her Fast Draft. The challenge was to write a book in two weeks. Not a First Draft, but a Fast Draft. The idea of writing a book in two weeks really inspired me and I signed on. By this time, I realized successful authors are often prolific writers and my old way of "writing when I feel like it" wasn't going to turn my ideas into novels very quickly.

I took an idea I got from a dream and jumped in to the Fast Draft. I had no clue where I was going with the original idea, but I was anxious to find out what lurked just beyond the gray veil of my dream. What was the dream? I woke up buried under the forest floor and clawed my way out. I stumbled through the forest to a college campus and let instinct guide me to my old dorm room. I washed all the forest grim off of me and dressed myself as I tried hard to remember the details of my life and who I really was. Ravaged by hunger, I left the safety of the dorm room and wandered the dark campus in a hazy confusion. Finally, I found my way to a secret sex party where my true nature was revealed as was my creator. That is where the dream ended.

I had no clue what came next. None at all. But I wanted to know what the rest of the story was. To do that, I had to write it.

It was challenging to dedicate every day to writing 20 pages (sometimes more). It was extremely exciting to have the story continually unveil itself as I wrote and fun to discover new characters and scenarios. At the halfway point I was still unsure how it was all going to end, but then a significant event happened and it all snapped into focus.

After months of doing nothing but writing query letters and synopsises that I hated, I finally wrote something creative that felt solid and good.

I felt energized.

Then a publishing opportunity came along...