Saturday, December 30, 2017

Book of the Year + Critiques

I hope you all had a lovely holiday and aren't resenting getting back to "regular" life (by doing things like reading my blog). Since the year is almost over ?!?! I will share my favorite read of the year and offer a critique opportunity for you guys! Consider it a hodgepodge.

First off, let me explain by saying this isn't a true Book of the Year because none of the competitors were actually published this year. ;) So it's more like Read of the Year. It was fairly simple to weed through my 5 star reads on Goodreads and select a few of my favorites. 

What was not easy? Narrowing it down between Some Kind of Happiness and Chasing Jupiter. Seriously. I loved both of these books so much. Honestly, I've made up my mind both ways now and am still waffling as I write this. 

Some Kind of Happiness describes me so well, and it was so well-written even in the areas I couldn't relate to personally. My main hesitation is that I apparently only rated it 4.5 stars for some language and the fact that it had. no. Jesus. I wasn't exactly expecting redemption, but it made me want to slam my head against the wall because it was so obvious that He's exactly what all the characters needed!!! :(

Chasing Jupiter was endearing and touching without being as relatable. It also had the most believable conversion of all time. So while it was comparatively a little less personal and impactful, I applaud it for actually offering a solution for all the problems it presents. And not just any solution, the solution.

So with that ... reflecting on how much I enjoyed reading these books in the midst of it all, my favorite read of the year is:

Chasing Jupiter

Have you read either of these books?
This bit is the simple part. ;) With my writing being on the back burner right now, I'm trying to focus more on my editing. It's bringing itself to the forefront rather of its own volition, but I was trying to think of good ways I could actually "promote" it. Blech, marketing.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to beta read, and most people won't take the professional's own word for it. Thinking about how I hire help, I realized that I either take a trusted friend's word on how skilled someone is, or I make that decision for myself.

So this is an opportunity for you to make your own decisions about my editing. The proposition is this: drop a blurb (back cover book description) you've written in the comments. Simple as that. It can be for published, unpublished, unwritten, any genre ... whatever you want. Invent one for the purpose, even. As long as it's yours. I'll reply to the comments as usual and offer a critique on it! 

Almost everyone struggles with writing blurbs (myself included). I've found out recently that I actually really enjoy helping someone else find the sweet spot with their own blurb. It's so much shorter than any length of story, and it's complete.

I think this can also function as a great get-to-know-your-project type thing. I want to know what you guys are working on! And yes, even if you find this post weeks or months from now, you are welcome to drop your back cover summary in a comment. :)

This point is that then you'll know my editing style and hopefully that means you'll keep me in mind if you ever need an editor for your story. You can find all my updated details for this new year on my Editing page. :)
As always, thank you guys for reading. I hope your Christmas was fantastic, and I'll see you in 2018! (Or in the comment section if you have a blurb!!)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

All Those Hours (it wasn't for nothing)

This blog post is unique for a few reasons. 1) I 110% forgot to post last week. Completely. That's what having extra responsibilities an adorable new sibling will do to me! 2) Grappling with laziness vs needed breaks has been a huge theme in my life lately. So I've really been thinking about whether all those hours I spent writing stories that were never meant to be was the most colossal waste of time EVER. 3) I've been slowly adding to this post week by week in a note on my phone. 4) As a result, it shows a huge shift in my thinking. I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

I don't know about you guys, but I wrote casually for years and years. I have two little stories I finished before the age of ten. And probably around forty others saved on a Word document with character names and sometimes chapters and chapters of writing.

About half of those are garbage and the other half remain my Pinterest-board worthy stories who hope to see the light of publication one day.

So do you ever ask yourself--what was the point of all that? Before I knew the difference between plotting and pantsing. Before I knew what passive voice and action beats were. And yet I for one spent countless hours just ... writing. With little thought of what was right or wrong. Lots of it has rookie mistakes. However, I think I also learned something.

Without all those hours, I wouldn't have known I could get ideas onto a page. I wouldn't have known that writing with chapters helped me generate new ideas. I wouldn't have learned that I get inspiration from movies and "what ifs." I wouldn't have the inquiring mind that files away every name and odd circumstance. And I certainly wouldn't have read as often, learned how to use word processing so young, or squirmed through so many "scary" movies if the power of story had not captured me from an early age.

So even though the actual words I spent those hours on need a lot of refining, I came away with a passel of now second-nature skills that help me build my stories of today. I'm really thankful for that, because it does look like a big waste of time at first glance. I know now that if I'd gotten "serious" about writing sooner, I might have missed the most important part of the slow growing process. Because that only comes through practice.

That's what I consider those thousands of crummy words documents--practice. They're fragments of ideas, but bits of my past imagination. Honestly, I'm a little too impatient to write thousands of useless words just for the sake of practice nowadays.

It's amazing to look back because I always assumed I'd be an author. I knew someday I'd finish something and it would be published. I never questioned what would come in between. It didn't worry me that I had the attention span oif a gnat. I kept at it, never getting anywhere new. And never doubting the importance of what I was doing. I am SO thankful for that. And I'd very much like to bottle that contentment with my slow progress and the hunger to write.

I think God's slowly leading me back around to having to really wait on His timing, because I'm a green light girl. As soon as I feel like what I want to do has gotten the okay from God and parents, I'm off ... often charging into a brick wall and wondering how that happened when the truth is I was never supposed to be the driver in the first place.

With this break I'm taking from writing so my wrist can heal, I feel really lazy. I'm hardly on my computer once or twice a week, let alone hours every day *gasp*. Without my writing, I've lost my motivation to post on social media, reply to emails, read ... Lame, I know. Writing is the lifeblood of all those things, and without it I'm pretty content just to hold my new sister and watch Netflix. So maybe you can tell just how much it meant to find out that I haven't been wasting my time from the very beginning. Even the no-writing stages are learning stages.

And for the first time this month, I think I can finally see what's next, because all of a sudden the next few months are packed with editing work. It's a good thing I'm not god of my own universe or my life would be much much more boring than this.
I have to know: did you write a bunch of fluffy words as a kid, too? Or a teenager, even! Can you see how they shaped you as a writer?

Thank you guys for tagging along on wherever this crazy writing part of my life leads me. It's so much more fun to go offroading and get lost with all of you in the backseat! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas with your families. I'll try not to drop off the face of the earth again. ;)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Andora Paperback + Snow Shoot

I'm thrilled to be sharing with you all that Andora's Folly is now available in paperback! It snowed at my house (?!?!?!?) giving me the perfect opportunity to get you in the Christmassy mood and stun you with the beauty of my books among the snow. There's still time to get them before Christmas!

Andora's Folly was published on Kindle back in July. I simply didn't want to mess with jumping through all the hoops that only come with a paperback. It was just as well because this one did prove quite tricky to get all the details right on. Victoria Lynn was super patient and helpful with working out the full cover and interior formatting quirks. I couldn't be happier with the teency end result!

Here's the cover and blurb for you one more time since it's been a while.

A Pandora's Box retelling

Andora is a beautiful young woman with insatiable curiosity. Raised in splendor, she is spoiled by her privileged life. When a love letter is slid under her door, her life takes a drastically unromantic turn. Nothing makes sense—her arranged marriage, the gifts her parents bestow on her wedding day, or her new husband’s temperament. \

As Andora begins to unravel the mysteries around her, she ignites a chain of events that have the power to sabotage her entire village forever. Only her new-found wisdom as a desperate peasant's wife can save her from her folly.

Annnnd here are all the links to click: 

Is it worth buying in a paperback? ABSOLUTELY! Yes, it's tiny. Perfect for a stocking stuffer xD It's petite and adorable and has lovely interior formatting and a matte cover that I never want to let go of. So YES. You know you want the paperback. It's affordable, I promise!

If you've already read the book you should still buy a paperback can leave me a review on Amazon! Already got one up on Goodreads? Just copy and paste. Yes, Amazon's weird about purchase verification and who they let review. Use your parents' account if you have to! (I do.) And thank you guys SO much for the 14 reviews that are already up. That's actually more than Martin Hospitality!

In case I have failed at my self-promotion attempts and have yet to convince you of the necessity of my little novella, just ... just ...

I still can't believe my eyes. My books. And SNOW. In December. Inches of it. (Forgive me, I live quite south.) It was like going to Narnia with my children. xDD Yes, MH got pics, too. But I'm hoarding those for now ^.^

Thank you guys immensely for the support. I'll be sharing this post around on social media, so if you feel lead to comment, reshare, or write that review I'd be super grateful!!

If you want a chance to get to know more about me and/or my books, I'm participating in TWO Facebook events this coming week! The Twelve Writers of Christmas hosted by Laura A. Grace and featuring interracting with 12 awesome authors and 2017 New Writers' Showcase hosted by Annie Twitchell featuring 7 authors works. I promise great giveaways at both events. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Recent Happenings + a Glimpse into 2018

Hey, everyone! This post is going to catch you up on a couple things that have happened recently. Serves as a kind of November wrap-up post, I suppose ;)

The only reason I quit doing wrap-up posts is because I transferred most of the life and update type stuff to my monthly newsletter (sign up in the sidebar). BUT, there are a few things I want to make sure everyone knows so there's no confusion. I haven't begun my Nov newsletter yet, either, so ... you're actually getting first scoop this time. ;)
First, the exciting thing: Andora's Folly has a paperback release date! December 9, 2017. ONE WEEK!! I already have a teency little paperback proof in my hands which you can watch me unbox in a video here. (Forgive the meh quality. xP)

I still have to work on that back cover and add a finishing touch to the updated Kindle edition. Then you guys will have a snazzy paperback option or at least a more current version of the Kindle. ;)

I'm not doing any huge release or anything. But I will announce on Dec 9 that the paperback is available. Of course, it would be awesome if you guys wanted to spread the word. Or for all of you who've been waiting for the paperback, grab yourself a copy for Christmas!
Some health issues exploded for me this month, so I think I only wrote around 15k for NaNo? I find that very pathetic. I wrote that in about two weeks, which isn't bad. But I really lagged the second half of the month and got almost nothing done D: I've had a head cold off and on for about six weeks and a cough for two. I went to the doctor and I have walking pneumonia and overuse syndrome in my wrist. Thank God it's not full-fledged pneumonia or carpal tunnel!! I was still told I needed to take it easy, down lots of drugs, and for my wrist: stop. writing. *cries* The only cure for overuse is to ... stop using. So I'm looking into dictation or a more therapeutic keyboard or something. Because we all know I can't completely stop.

Basically I feel really lazy and may kind of disappear from everywhere. For now, I'm going to keep posting every week. But I might have to take a hiatus before long, because blogging is a lot of typing ;) Since all my work requires typing, I need to limit the bits that don't make me money. Sounds horrible, but it's a reality at the moment.

Anyway, I just thought you guys should know that. :)
Being behind on drafting Behind the Act (the matinee book), meant I was also behind on editing chapters for the agent who was interested. I hit a bit of a roadblock the other day when I realized that there were no proposal guidelines on the agency website, only query guidelines. So using the more direct email I'd been given, I emailed the agent a query and asked for the proposal guidelines if he was still interested in moving forward.

He was and he wasn't. With this new trend in traditional publishing houses to only consider manuscripts from authors with a "significant" platform, I'm still too tiny to be considered. I don't blame the agent at all, because there's not much he can do about industry standards. But it does seem to be a futile cycle. I want to traditionally publish to get more following and reach more people. However, I can't do that until I have enough following. See the problem?? It's because larger publishing houses, in particular, are scaling back the marketing. They don't want to start with nobodies.

Don't let that discourage you, though! I doubt this is the case with all publishing houses (espeically not the smaller ones), and it means that self-publishing is only becoming more respected and viable. Traditional publishers are almost requiring authors to be self-published first because building a large following otherwise is a little hard ...

So I don't know if I'll look at more agencies or if I'll work toward self-publishing Behind the Act ... If I'm going to run into the same wall everywhere, there's not much point. I need to keep building here with you guys :) But at the same time, I feel like I should try at least once more. Because who gets signed with their first agent? Basically no one.

ANYWAY!! I'm not crushed by any of this, so you don't have to pity me xD And I am making some progress in the Andora's Folly department. Up next on my list is going to be merchandise for my already published books, I think. *shrug* Who knows. Everything's changed this month and I have no idea what's next. It means so much to me that you guys stick with me. Tiny platform or not, you guys are much more than numbers to me.

2018 basically has a clean slate now. I don't know what it holds. But December's going to be crazy, so I guess the first thing is to survive that. ;) I actually do consider this the most wonderful time of the year even with my life turning upside down in November, so I shall rest up with Netflix so I don't miss out on the holiday season!
Enough about me!! Tell me what's new with you :D How was your Thanksgiving? Did you do/win NaNo? What does 2018 hold for you?