Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Self-Publishing Adventure

Jennifer is self-publishing one of her backlist books...

When my previous publisher, Rebel Ink Press, let me know they were closing their doors in June, I wasn't surprised. However, I was conflicted about what to do with the four books on my backlist that I had with them. So after taking a breath, I decided to try self-publishing one of my titles

I've heard a lot about self-publishing but didn't quite know how it worked. So before I did anything, I talked to people who did it, and did it well. And what I learned is that while you have to pay money for editing, covers, etc., the percentage of royalties you make is significantly higher than the percentage you make with a traditional publisher. That's not to say I don't want to publish with a publisher. I do. I'm very happy with my current publisher. But some of the backlist books whose rights I now have back are not going to go anywhere and I don't want them to languish in the ether.

Self-publishing is a growing industry and hybrid authors (those who do a combination of self-publishing and traditional publishing) are on the rise. The stigma around self-publishing is gone, especially if you self-publish well. 

I’m starting small, only working with one of those books—A Heart of Little Faith. The first thing I did was to give it to an editor. No matter how many times it’s been looked at, it can always benefit from someone other than me looking at it. A writer friend I know is also a freelance editor. She edited the entire manuscript and oh boy, there were a lot of changes she recommended. I took a deep breath and made them, and wow, the book is SO much better. 

Then I sent the manuscript to a copy editor. Because again, I always miss the little things and those are the things that end up embarrassing me (Random Reader: Did you know you spelled that word wrong?). I know someone who is phenomenal at copyediting and she found lots of things that would have been embarrassing if they had been published. 

Whenever a book is re-published, it needs a new cover. So I hired a cover artist, who designed a beautiful cover.

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Little-Faith-Jennifer-Wilck-ebook/dp/B07D3BNZG9

One of my critique partners does all her own formatting and works with Amazon, so she handled formatting and gave me explicit and easy instructions on how to put it up on the site. It's there now and available for pre-order. It will be released officially on June 1. Since this is an experiment for me, I'm only publishing this book for Kindle. I'm curious to see what happens. I know how much I spent and I’ll see how much I make in sales. If it works, I’ll self publish the others. If not, I’ll hold onto the rights for a while and see what, if any, other options I have. 

Wish me luck!

Monday, May 14, 2018

My mission, should I choose to accept it

Ana muses about a writing challenge.

Last week, the plot of my next chapter requires the hero to battered, put aboard a steam freighter, and expected to die of his injuries. Naturally, being the hero, he lives, but wakes with amnesia. My original draft of this chapter was in a secondary character's POV. Reasonably well-written with dialogue reveals of the hero's situation and condition.

First feedback from a round one crit partner was thumb's down. "Too telling. Try from his POV."

Hmmm. How to write a scene from an unconscious character's POV? Guess he can't be unconscious.
Here's what I have now. What do you think?

The man awoke to drumbeat throbs in his head. He tried to fill his lungs.
Pain stabbed his ribs. 
With an effort that almost left him spent, he forced one eye to open a crack. The other stayed shut.
Somewhere behind him, a hissing lantern cast a faint light. 
He lay prone on a floor, hands crossed on his chest like a corpse. Stacks of burlap sacks towered above him. He swiped his parched tongue over his lips and loosened a chunk of crusted blood. A gash oozed, refreshing the sickening taste of metal coating his mouth.
Feet shuffled past his head, followed by a heavy thump. 
He tried to cry for help, but all that came out was a barely-audible groan.  
“Think he’s stopped breathing?” a man whispered.
“I hope so,” a second replied. “I’ll check.”
Did they mean him? His heart raced with desperation. He’d heard of people who appeared dead and were buried alive. 
A floorboard creaked. Grunts sounded near his ears. Something thin and sharp-edged touched his lower lip. A piece of glass or broken mirror.
Summoning his last ounce of strength, he exhaled and prayed his breath would fog the glass.
“Sonofabitch,” the second man exclaimed. “He’s still alive. He must have medicine man blood in his veins.”
“You still wanna dump him overboard?” the first man asked.
“Can’t until he’s dead. Damn. How am I going to explain this to the captain?”


Monday, April 30, 2018

Murphy's Law or Fate?

Debra's writing has taken an unexpected turn.

Not to get too religious here, but I'm a big believer in letting God lead me in the direction He wants me to go. When I got a rejection on the mss I'd submitted to a new publisher, I took that as a sign that I wasn't supposed to make a huge career change from teacher to full-time author. Yes, yes...I also know the old adage of not putting all of your eggs in one basket, but like I said, I'm a big believer in signs. And I figured He was sending me one. Not to mention that things in my day job were looking up. (The school year got off to a rough start, but the kiddos and I had finally reached an understanding, and I was enjoying being in the classroom again. For a while there...mid-life crisis perhaps?...I really was contemplating getting out.) To me, that was another sign to stay put.

As I was cleaning out my inbox and deleting old e-mails, I came across the one I'd gotten from Wild Rose about getting my books into audio. I'd re-upped all of the contracts necessary to start the projects, but to be honest, with the keep-to-the-path-you're-on signs I seemed to be getting, and a bit of laziness thrown in to boot, I'd kind of lost interest in the idea. So, I deleted that e-mail.

Wouldn't you know it? A day or two later, our marketing rep contacted me and said she was going through old e-mails/files and saw I'd re-upped all of my contracts, and unless I had any questions or special requirements for narrators, she would mark those books as ready for audio auditions. I told her to go ahead, honestly thinking those auditions were hard to come by and it probably wouldn't amount to anything in the long run.

By know I really should know better than to tempt fate, right?

In the next few days I was inundated with auditions for my books. There were coming in two and three in a day. And then things really got rolling.

As it stands right now, here's what's going on:

I have one book (New Year's Eve at The Corral) almost ready to be released. There was just one small correction in one chapter.

(I wanted to attach the 'retail sample' audio clip here, but in reading directions in how to do that in blogger, it seemed WAY too complicated, so I'm not even going to attempt it right now! LOL)







I have another book (Wild Wedding Weekend) mid-production with the narrator sending me chapters to approve as she gets them done.

I've approved chapter samples for two stories (One Great Night and Valentine's Day at The Corral.)

And, I've heard and approved auditions for six other stories, which should mean that contracts have been offered and I'll be getting chapter samples on those soon.

Which means that all of my stories except for my original Corral trilogy (Which I haven't re-upped the contracts for...long story...yet) and An Unexpected Blessing are the only titles not at some stage in the audio process at the moment.

Keep in mind that all of this started on April 5. Less than a month ago.

So in addition to being excited about getting my stories...especially the older ones...out there in a new format and giving them new life, here's what I've taken away from this whole thing.

Apparently God wants me to be multi-dimensional in my life's pursuits.

And I'm getting more excited about my writing again...even though with the school year quickly winding down (which involves more projects, special nights, and field trips than imaginable) I really don't have time to write these days...and am looking forward to sitting down with my laptop once summer comes and figuring out what the heck to do with my completed mss that needs some work and the mss I started for NaNoWriMo...which is a GIANT mess...and (hopefully) getting that sucker finished. Where they'll go once they are fixed/finished is anyone's guess at this point.

But I'll be keeping my heart and mind open for signs from above, and what is meant to happen with them will happen. He always lets me know...in His own time.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Adverbs or No Adverbs?


Paula looks at adverbs in our writing.  

‘The road to hell is paved with adverbs,’ said Stephen King.

In one sense, I agree with him. Adverbs can often lead to lazy writing. Recently I read a novel (by a best-selling author) which was littered with adverbs, especially after dialogue tags. On one Kindle page alone, there was: said truculently, said coldly, retorted sarcastically, said wearily, reiterated sullenly, said dourly - and when I got to 'she ejaculated hoarsely’ I nearly splurted my coffee in the middle of Starbucks!

Yes, there are times when we should avoid adverbs, especially when they are redundant (‘she whispered quietly’) or when the adverb can be replaced by a stronger verb (‘he raced down the street’ instead of ‘he walked quickly’). With dialogue, it is usually better to show (with a simple action/gesture) how a character is feeling, rather than giving readers a plethora of adverbs to tell them how someone said something.

However, this doesn’t mean that ALL adverbs have to be deleted! Sometimes an effort to do that can lead to ‘clunky’ writing, especially if the writer is simply substituting an adverbial phrase in place of the adverb. Isn’t it better to say ‘He stroked her cheek tenderly’ instead of ‘He stroked her cheek in a tender manner’ (or any other verbose description of what ‘tenderly’ means)?

Do a search of your latest chapter for ‘ly’ words, and you’ll probably (there’s one!) be surprised by how often you use words ending in ‘ly’. But then consider how the sentences containing each of those words could be rewritten. Could I have removed ‘probably’ from the above sentence? Yes, but then I’d be assuming that you WILL be surprised or, worse still, insinuating that you have used millions of adverbs! Omitting that adverb would change the whole meaning of the sentence – and that can be true in our fiction writing, too.

I do think we need to be aware of not overusing adverbs, but at the same time, not go overboard trying to find other words. Sometimes a simple adverb is the best word to use.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Writing Workshop

Jennifer attended a writing workshop...

I went to my first writing workshop in a long time. It was a master class, taught by a respected romance writer and the topic was using verbs to plot your story. 

Now, I’ve gotten into a rut with my writing. Yeah, I write daily. And yeah, I’m publishing books steadily now. But I’m having a harder and harder time getting what I want on the page. The techniques that used to work for me don’t and I’m beginning to see the necessity of plotting, which is terrifying for a pantser.

So I decided that taking a class offered by my local writer’s group was a good idea. No matter how talented you are, you can always stand to learn, polish, become better. The fee was reasonable, I’d heard great things about the instructor—like, really great things—and it was a weekend where I was completely free.

I went.

The morning session was instruction and exercises. The afternoon was taking what we learned in the morning and applying it to our own story. It was suggested that we bring an idea for a story or an early-stage manuscript to work on. Since I’ve just started a new manuscript, the timing was perfect. 

Basically, the idea of the workshop was to come up with strong, specific verbs to describe our character. Verbs lead to action. Action makes a compelling story. So, for example, if my hero is hiding from his past, his overarching verb would be hide. Every scene he is in would be either described with a synonym for hide or it’s opposite—a synonym for reveal—as his arc progresses. Once you know the action for each scene, it’s easy to flesh out the rest of it—description, motive, backstory, etc.

And in theory, it is. Unfortunately for me, in practice, it was difficult. I kept shying away from verbs and using adjectives or nouns. It’s not that I don’t know what a verb is, but this was a totally new concept for me and I’ve always been more attracted to the why than the what or the how. Plus, it’s plotting and I can’t do that. So while I could totally see what he wanted me to do, there was a huge disconnect in my brain when it came to actually doing it.

Ultimately, I don’t think this method is going to work for me. It might be helpful for me to come up with stronger verbs when I’m writing, because word choice is essential, but no matter how many times I tried it, it didn’t feel natural. Even the workshop leader said if it doesn’t feel natural, don’t do it, which I appreciated. Every writer is different and writing isn’t something that everyone can do the exact same way.

But it was another tool to add to my toolbox, and it was good to make a conscious effort to get out of my rut. Education is always beneficial, and reminding myself that I’m never too old to learn can only help me.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Blog Tours?


Paula’s thoughts on her week’s blog tour.
At the end of last year, I paid a ‘blog tour organiser’ to set up a tour for me. It seemed like a good way to promote my re-published Irish novels in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. I had detailed instructions from the organiser about what she wanted, and I duly forwarded to her five different blogs and also excerpts which illustrated the blog topic, together with bio, links, covers, and other photos. She then sent me the list of blogs where my posts would appear.
All well and good – or so I thought. To begin with all seemed to go well – my first blog appeared last Monday, I advertised it in various places, and received quite a lot of comments (including those from HWH members – thank you, all!)
Tuesday’s blog appeared – and again I advertised it, but this time in some different FB groups, so as not to promote to the same people. After several hours, I realised there was a small problem – no comments appeared. Neither the usual one I write thanking the blog host, nor any others, although I know for certain that there should have been at least two other comments, and there may have been more. Yes, the message popped up that comments would be posted ‘after approval’ but it would seem this blog host didn’t bother to ‘approve’ any comments (as evidenced by other posts on the site, which also had no comments).
Wednesday – I waited all day for my blog to appear on the third site. It didn’t – until later on Thursday! This meant that I needed to advertise two blogs on the same day – not an ideal situation. Hardly surprising, therefore, that no comments have been made on either of these blogs. Oh, and neither of these blog hosts used the photos of Ireland which I had carefully selected to accompany my blog, either.
Friday – well, we’ll wait and see. The blog post is there, and I’ve advertised it in various groups…

My conclusions at the end of this week:
1. Five consecutive days of blogging is counter-productive. Yes, people visited my first one, but after that, nothing. Were my blogs too boring to comment on? I hope not, because I worked hard on creating completely different topics for each day.
2. In this case, the blog tour organiser formed the contact with the hosts, and I had no contact with them at all (and in fact only one of them actually responded to my thanks to her). The others simply posted what the organiser sent them.
3. Last but not least: effect on sales? As far as I can see at the moment, not a single sale!

So what would I do in future?
1. I would set up my own blog tour, with requests to friends with blogs. This way, a more personal contact is made, and also the blogs will probably follow a different format, rather than all being presented in the same way.
2. I would space out my blogs. Five in one week is too much. People don’t have the time to visit the same person’s blogs every day. One a week (or two, at the most) is enough.

Having said all that, I am seriously beginning to question the value of blogging. Personally, I think it has had its day. It’s nearly ten years since we first set up this blog, and although it is good to ‘chat among ourselves’, how many other comments do we get? Nowhere near as many as we did in the early days. And, if we’re being really honest, how many other blogs do we visit and leave a comment? I know I used to visit (and comment on) a lot more than I do now.

Apologies if this sounds very negative, but this week has been a real disappointment for me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

I'm An Author!

Jennifer finally believes in her career...

I have decided that I must be a real author.

I know, this sounds crazy, so let me explain. I’ve been writing professionally for twelve years. I have a long way to go to before I can completely support myself doing this, but I make money off of my books, people buy them and even enjoy them. It’s something I love doing.

But no matter how many books I publish, how many readers tell me they like what I write, I’m filled with doubt. I think that’s normal—at least I hope it is.

In order to achieve my goals, I set to-do lists. They include things from my real life as well as my author life, and I know the importance of sticking to the list to make sure I’m productive. Without an office and a boss making sure I hit my targets, it’s too easy to get distracted. So I do my best to stay on task.

Until Friday. This past Friday, we were hit with a Nor’easter that knocked out our power. Without power, our basement flooded. Temperatures in the house went down to 46 degrees. We moved into my parents’ house a town away, but went back and forth, trying to protect our things, deal with the insurance company, get our stuff, etc. During that time, the things I needed to get done for my upcoming book launch didn’t happen. The writing and editing I intended to do didn’t happen either. And I stressed.

Now, some would say that’s a natural reaction to what was going on, and I agree. Of course the situation was stressful. Even though we were all safe, had a warm place to be, and didn’t lose anything that can’t be easily replaced, it’s stressful. I’m not saying I shouldn’t have felt it. But this was the first time I stressed over my writing career.

Which means, in a very roundabout way, that I’m a real author. Because if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have even thought about it. So while I definitely need to work on ways to manage my stress, the good thing I’m taking away from this is I’ve got enough of a career to worry about. Yay!


By the way, my upcoming book that I’m now woefully behind on marketing  is available for preorder here.

Monday, February 26, 2018

My Kind of Vacation

Ana muses about her recent mini-vacation.

Two weeks ago, my hubby drove to a farming conference in Tennessee, a major expedition from winter in northern Minnesota. I stayed home and tended the cows, six water-pipes-will-burst-if-they-go-out heaters, and two spoiled house cats. I was on vacation.

Don't misunderstand. I love the man. I enjoy cooking his breakfast and don't mind bunching his socks. But not having to share the television remote was sheer bliss.

I turned the channel to Hallmark and indulged in their Valentine's Day movie marathon. Romance stories about professional women clashing with fairly good looking ex-boyfriends and sparring with really good looking career-focused men.

One was set in a California winery. Another in a Montana ski resort town. A third in a bed and breakfast in Vermont. An in-debt-with-time-running-out Wyoming ranch. Sumptuous locations.

All the secondary characters were there. The best friend confidant who tells her what she doesn't want to hear: that the hero who pisses her off is her perfect partner. The supportive and long-suffering parents. The long-distance boss who doesn't care how much she wants to come back to the city. Complete the assignment or look for another job. The crabby/nosy neighbor who finds fault at every turn.

Immersed in a romance atmosphere, free of distractions, I worked on my WIP, book 2 of the Prairie Hearts series. If I'd gone someplace sunny and warm, I probably wouldn't have written a word.

I'll take holed up alone any day, but don't tell my hubby. He's still apologizing for leaving me with all the chores.





Monday, February 19, 2018

The Power of a Writer

Debra thinks about what amazing power writers hold.

This weekend I hosted a children's book discussion at our Historical Society based on the book Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. As the kids and I were chatting about the book, we turned to the author notes at the back of the edition I had. A quote from Ms. MacLachlan stood out as she responded to the question of 'What is the best thing about being a writer?'

"For me the most rewarding thing about writing is making things come out the way I want them to; making sense of the things that were in my life when I was a child as well as the things that I care about now that I am an adult. As a writer I have the power to set things down and make them right, that same power that I don't always have in life."

Her response really struck a chord with me. The power writers have at their fingertips is really amazing. We have infinitely more control over the lives of our fictional characters than we do over our own. Even over simple things like the weather: if my story calls for a sunny day at the beach...wa la...the sun pours down, heating the grains of sand and sparking over the water. If the angst and turmoil and tension of a scene needs to be back lit by a thunderstorm...boom!...thunder shakes the earth and lightning forks through the sky lighting it with a brilliant flash.

We control our characters' emotions and reactions. We give them backgrounds and backstory. And especially in romance, we give them a happily ever after. Guaranteeing that after all of the angst and turmoil and bad things that have happened in the past, they are going to be happy. Everything is going to work out in the best way possible. Not to sound blasphemous, but it's a little like playing God.

You have only to turn on the news. Or look on Facebook. Or open an on-line search engine and read the heart-breaking headlines there each and every day to know this doesn't happen in real life.

But not only do we have the power to control our characters and stories, we also have the power to make our readers feel good after a crap day...or a crap week...or a crap year. To let them immerse themselves in a story with a good ending. To know for certain, that no matter what the characters are going through and how long it takes them to get there or what bad needs to be overcome, it will all be overcome. To lose themselves in fiction for a while to take the edge off of reality.

It's a daunting responsibility to think that as much joy as we get out of our writing (most days, right?!) how much more joy we can bring to those who read our stories. Not to mention in a world that more and more often feels like it's falling apart, being able to control anything is truly a miracle.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Writing a Synopsis

Paula agonises over her synopsis!  

I read somewhere that the synopsis is probably ‘the most despised document you might be asked to prepare’ – and, having spent hours trying to write the synopsis of my recently completed novel, I agree with that!

My previous publisher only required a basic ‘blurb’ when I submitted a novel to her, so I was well out of practice in writing a synopsis.

Of course, I knew the basic advice about synopses – characters, core conflict, how the characters deal with it, how the conflict is resolved and how the characters have changed as a result.

All well and good, but what happens if you have several sub-plots which add to and/or further complicate the core conflict? Or which hinder or contribute to the resolution of the conflict?

I think this novel had more sub-plots than I’ve ever used before. Sometimes they form separate strands (for a while, at least!),but then they become interwoven and often somewhat tangled!

I started by writing a basic plot summary. Maybe that is similar to what I might have written beforehand if I was a ‘plotter’ – but, being a ‘pantser’, this was the first time I had done it. It was, inevitably, far too detailed, with too many names and too much irrelevant information. 

But, having done that, I could then see (a) what had to be deleted, (b) what could be condensed and (c) what needed to be taken out of the ‘linear’ outline of the story and combined, so that the synopsis didn’t jump from one thing to another.

So, after tearing my hair out a few times, I finally managed to compose a synopsis, which I hope reflects the most important parts of my story, as well as the emotional journey of the two main characters.

I’d be interested to know how you approach synopsis writing!


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Editing, Editing & More Editing

Jennifer gives an update...

I’ve been buried in my editing cave for the past several weeks, and I’m just now coming up for air. What have I been working on? Glad you asked! J

For the past few years, I’ve been working on a new series that I hope to start pitching in the near future. So I was editing books one and two to try to get them into shape. I’m hoping I was successful. I still have book 3 to revise—and it needs some serious revisions—and book four to write. This is a series I work on in my spare time (ha!), so it’s taken a while to get up and running.


I finally received my galleys for Five Minutes to Love from my editor, so I spent a week scouring the manuscript for misspelled words, additional or missing words (like a double “is,” for example), spacing issues or punctuation mistakes. My eyes are buggy, but I think I caught everything. Next step is to make sure they corrected all the errors and then I will have a release date. In the meantime, Addicted to Love, the first book in this series, is on sale this month for 99 cents. So it's a great time to pick it up!

I’ve also been re-editing my first book, A Heart of Little Faith. The publisher who had it is getting out of the business this summer, so I took my rights back and will try my hand at self-publishing that title (and maybe one other). I’m curious to see how it compares to other means of publishing, and I like the idea of being a hybrid author. So I sent the manuscript out to an editor, she has come back with fantastic changes, and I’m slowly going through them, making the book stronger. Next step will be copyedits.

And that, my friends, is what I’ve been up to lately. Hoping to have some news soon!


Oh, and happy birthday to Debra! J

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Basking in the Glow

Ana feels good about Success

A writer friend's first romance was released by Kensington on Tuesday.
Each month, authors in on the Soul Mate Publishing roster have their books published.

Debra is waiting for news on her latest submission.
Paula is polishing her latest (and possibly greatest) story.
Jen is super busy setting up promo for new stories.
I am writing chapter four of a contracted story, book 2 in the Prairie Hearts Series.

At least once a day, I lean back and bask in the glow of everyone's success--not to steal any morsels, but to appreciate how good we all are. And to thank the systems that allow us to create works of creative art and share them with readers all over the world.

It's time for a quick, "Hooray!"


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The "What If" Game

Debra ponders what will happen if...

I'm at about week 10ish in the whole "You'll hear back from us in eight to twelve weeks." timeline. While I wait with fingers and toes crossed. While I wish on as many shooting stars as I can. While I pray. While I sit on pins and needles. I'm playing a little 'what if' back and forth with myself. Obviously, in this particular 'game', there are two options.

What if...I get THE CALL and it's a yes!

Well, first I will fall out of whatever seat I'm sitting in, then get up and do a VERY enthusiastic dance of joy. Probably shed some tears as well. Call/yell for my hubby so he's the first to know. And then let everyone else I've ever been acquainted with know as well.

After that, I'm going to have some fairly major decisions to make. Because my hope for this particular call is that it takes my writing from something I do for fun and pleasure, to something I do as a career (while, of course, keeping the fun and pleasure component.) At the moment, writing is a hobby. Most days I enjoy it. I love to tell stories, as I can live so many vicarious lives, and it gives me something to do with all of those voices in my head. But I'm not writing to make a living. I have a real job that I also love most days and which I need to pay the bills. But if this really happens, I'm going to need to devote more time to my writing. It literally will become a job, not just a hobby if I am lucky enough to sign with this publisher. Does that mean I give up every other interest I have in order to be able to work two jobs? I'm highly involved in my local Historical Society, and it's something I am passionate about. But with two careers to possibly juggle, my already limited time will be even more limited. Would I eventually choose my writing career over my other career? Something I've been doing for 25 years now? Hmn? Perhaps it is time for a change. Time to branch out and try something new. But at that point, it really, REALLY needs to be a career, because my hubby and I are not in a position to be able to live on one salary.

On the other hand...

What if...I get a call, an e-mail, a letter and it's a rejection?

Well, first there will be some tears. Quite different than the joyful ones in the 'yes' scenario. But once I pull myself together, I will still have some decisions to make.

Do I try this publisher (Which I really have my heart and hopes set on.) with another mss (in hopes they like my voice even though the submitted story wasn't right for them), or do I look elsewhere? So far in my writing 'life', I have not gone the agent route. Do I attempt to get an agent and let her pass my work around? But if I submit the original mss to her, then I've already missed out on my target publisher. Or do I submit a new mss to her and let her know I'd like it to be passed along to said target publisher. Is that even an option with an agent. IF she'd even accept me in the first place. Do I take a step back from writing totally and focus my energies elsewhere? Become even more involved with the Historical Society. (There is a possible opportunity on the horizon for that as well.) Will a rejection be a sign that it's not meant to be? Or am I just too hyper-focused on this one submission? I really, really love my current publisher, but the new projects I'm working on don't seem like they'd be a good fit. Or perhaps, again, it's just me being hyper-focused on what I'm coveting at the moment. I mean, there are LOTS of publishers out there. It would be REALLY silly to give up totally just because of a rejection from one. If that's how I played this game all along, I never would have gotten published in the first place. Rejection is all part of the writing life.

The 'what if' game is tricky. It's in turn exalting and depressing. I'm trying to take a glass half full approach in both outcomes, as there really could be something good that comes out of either. But unfortunately I'm a bit too much of a pessimist to do that. And I really feel I've put all of my apple hopes in one basket.

At this point, only time, and hopefully just a couple more weeks will tell. In the meantime, I'll continue with the 'what if'. You all keep those fingers and toes crossed. And if you happen to see a shooting star, make a wish for me.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!

Debra
www.debrastjohnromance.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Final Chapter

Paula is struggling with her final chapter!  

Usually when I get to the final chapter of a ‘work in progress’, I know where I’m going with it. It may need some thought and ‘sorting out’ to ensure I tie up all the loose ends, but at least I have a rough idea how to do that.

Not so with 'Irish Shadows', my current WIP. There are several fairly complex plot strands running through this story, and I’ve realised I resolved two of them too soon, so first I need to go back and rewrite parts of a couple of chapters. Then I have to decide which other problems/issues need to be brought to a satisfying conclusion – and, of course, how to do that. Last but not least, I need to work out just when the final scene takes place, and how I get all the necessary characters together for this, so that it doesn’t appear too ‘convenient’. Most of my novels have a slight twist at the end, but so far the twist for this story is proving elusive. I've thought of, but then dismissed, several possible twists as being either unrealistic or too contrived.

Fortunately, I have an excellent brainstorming ‘partner’ – not a writer, but a reader who knows what she likes, and also knows what questions to ask me. She’s also happy to listen while I talk through the problems – and sometimes that is the best way to sort them out. I’m hoping that after we have lunch together tomorrow I’ll have a clearer idea of how to deal with my final chapter!

Have you ever had big problems with your final chapter – and, if so, how did you resolve them?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Waiting For the Next Step

Jennifer is waiting...

I’m running out of patience.

Those who know me would laugh, because really, I am not a patient person. So to say I’m running out is kind of the equivalent of saying an empty glass is running out of wine. But I try, I really do, and occasionally, I’m successful at pretending to be patient.

In this case, I’m ready to jump up and down.

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for my galleys so that I can do my last proof of my manuscript and find out my release date. Only then can I start doing serious marketing. I know I’ll get them in the next week or two. But the waiting is killing me, since I turned in my last round of edits in November.

In the meantime, I’ve been drawing people to my Facebookpage and engaging them in order to begin active dialogues about my book when the time is right. I’ve been continuing my Instagram account and running some giveaways on social media and through my newsletter.

I've also been soliciting readers with ARCs for reviews to appear on release day. And I’ve been obsessively checking my email inbox.

I know that one of these days the awaited email will arrive, and at that point I’ll be busier than ever. But in the meantime…