This weekend was a blur. It was. From the moment I woke up on Thursday morning until sometime last night, I ghosted through my life. Well, no. Ghosted implies a degree of calm. I was more like Speed Racer sans car, or that little mouse who yells Andele! Andele! Arriba! Arriba! Only I did it in English because my Spanish sucks, thank you four years of college electives. I also did it in heels and with a schedule in hand screaming at the other places I needed to appear simultaneously. There were copious amounts of coffee involved. Which the Today Show says is a mental illness. I say, I don’t care, just keep it coming.
I didn’t get as many pictures as I planned. The hotel sucked the life from my phone with relentless tenacity. By Friday night I was carrying my charger around and plugging in anywhere I was staying more than a few minutes. BUT I did get some fun shots of me with old friends, new friends and my booty. No. My raffle basket winning – booty. Not my booty-booty, though anything seemed possible this weekend.
I helped Carina Press with romance pictionary. See what she’s drawing there? That’s my girl! Sell it sister! I met people I tweet with. I met readers who tossed my books aside, complaining “I want the dirty stuff.” I met a couple teens who made me say “book” then took my bracelets. Reader teens are crafty and competitive. Especially this one. Natasha and her mom made me smile a ton this weekend. I signed a few books, which always makes me feel odd. I saw glow in the dark juggling. I was pinned by Jules Bennet. I fawned over the drop dead gorgeous CL Parker and laughed with Darynda Jones until my sides hurt.
I spent a lot of time with my Turquoise Morning Press sisters and mah boss. On Saturday night there were awards. I mean, like working with that group of women isn’t reward enough, they gave out awards! There was Reader’s Choice, Most Prolific Author, etc. I won the Happiest Author in the Universe Award. Of course. Only you guys know what a crab I can be. I keep that face on the low-low and since only three of you read my blog, it’s our secret *slow stage wink* The pictures are numerous and silly so I will just plug them all in here like a scrapbook. Enjoy!
It’s that time again! By far my most fun weekend on the conference trail for me. I think this is true because so many of my friends come to see me. I live in Ohio, so they clearly attend to see me. I get to squeeze all the people I tweet with all year long and read pages for and who slap my manuscripts into shape. I can SEE them. Like In real life!
This is my third year attending the Reader & Author Event. The first year was through the suggestion of romance author, Keri Ford, and the relentless suggesting of my beloved Nikki Brandyberry, romance review blogger. I wasn’t sure I belonged there since I don’t read much romance. Turns out, I was wrong. This conference is for all bookish people. It’s so energizing to be in a place where I’m surrounded with my people. Readers. Authors. BOOKS.
The Reader & Author Get Together occurs in Cincinnati, Ohio every June and lasts for three jam packed days. Different authors and publishers help sponsor the event to keep costs down and fun up. There are two book signings during the weekend, both are open to the public – if you’re ini the area, come! 7-9pm Friday and 2-4 Saturday. If you’re lucky enough to land a ticket to the conference (they sell out in a matter of hours) the fee is a teny tiny $50. For the weekend. AND includes meals. I mean….come ON. My husband goes every year just for kicks, plus his other option is watching three kids alone, but you can’t even eat for a weekend at that price, so why not? The entire hotel bustles all weekend long. There are raffle baskets out the wazoo. There are author events, pitch sessions for writers, costume parties, Romance pictionary with Carina Press, sometimes photo booths. Sometimes male cover models. It’s nuts. So much fun. I can’t wait to see my friends in person and hug them so tight. Until it gets awkward.
I live tweet the weekend and Instagram it and FB it and generally swamp my social media with the fun. It’s a great time. This year is bonus cool because I will participate in the Friday night book signing. AND Turquoise Morning Press is a sponsor and has a ton of fun reader events going on. I get to control the TMP board room for the first 15 minutes after I arrive. I am drunk with power. There will be S’Mores. That’s all I can say. S’Mores. Come see me Friday from 3:45-4pm
At 4pm Friday I am thrilled to participate in a panel, adorably called, The Dirty Flirt. I don’t know what that means, but some of my TMP sisters sent me their pages to read. I’m looking forward to working with writers who want to brainstorm on Saturday morning and talking about Honey Creek books and I’m ready to absorb all the mischief and mayhem. I can’t wait. This is my happy time. I’ll post a recap with pics on Monday
I hope to see you there!
Starting now, let’s call Point of View, POV so I can type this faster POV is the character voice from which you are telling the story. Sometimes it’s more than one POV with switches in POV between scenes or chapters – Never Ever Ever in the middle of a scene. Head jumping is a whole other problem that will get your manuscript tossed back at you in a millisecond. That’s a topic for later. Today I’ve got something else on my mind.
I often read pages for friends and one comment I make in their side bar regularly is “POV. We know. Cut.” In other words, you’re in the character’s head ie it’s from their POV, so we know this, please cut the phrase.”
If you’re telling the story from Julie’s POV and her kids start fighting in the other room, you don’t need to say “She heard the kids fighting.” Or if you’re using first person POV. Skip saying, “I heard a toy break.” Just say WHAT the sound is, the reader assumes your character heard it or it wouldn’t be on the page for them to read. Ex: “Her daughter squealed in the next room.” or “Crunching plastic preceded a scream.” Both tell the reader what she heard without saying “And then I heard.” Same thing goes with:
We’ve all read or heard by now that we are to show and not tell. This is also an example of that error. Use POV to bring readers into the story. Don’t pull them out by inserting phrases that make it seem more like they’re seated at a table being read to, the way we read stories to our children. “And then the little bear tasted his porridge…” style of writing isn’t awesome. Use POV to say “he lifted the spoon to his lips” or “he pushed the porridge between sharp teeth and …” you see. We KNOW. POV.
So, if you’re looking for a way to show more and tell less, or if you’ve been accused of this in a rejection without any real explanation, try rereading your manuscript. This time cut every instance where you instruct the reader as to what is perceived and swap it out for a sentence that states what has occurred instead. This one move can clean a manuscript up in a big way. Show don’t tell can be looked at in a number of ways. Too often we overlook this one, I think.
PS. I bring you this advice based on my own experience. I made this mistake far too long because I didn’t know I was making it. Once someone explained it, I formed a new writing habit that avoided this error and now, being a recovered from this problem, I see it in others’ writing. I want to make sure everyone knows how to identify and fix this POV issue. You can’t change it, if you can’t recognize it, right?
I recently had a weird Facebook interaction where another writer saw me say something to the effect of “Sometimes making stuff up is hard.” She disagreed. I thought it over and recanted, saying instead, “Okay, you’re right. I can make up crap all day but making up interesting stuff is hard.” Again, she disagreed. That time she said all I had to do was love life…something like that… and then I could make up interesting things with ease. To that I made a face. And we agreed to disagree after I assured her I adore my life and logged out a little perplexed. Mostly, I was all….why am I disagreeing about this on facebook? And. I could be wrong. Maybe she loves her life so very much that I can’t comprehend it and as a result she thinks of wonderfully intriguing things by the thousands. Right? I don’t know. *shrugs* So, it got me thinking.
From a girl who loves life the-Julie-amount, I can tell you with honesty: Not everything I think of is that interesting once I inspect it and draft the concept and dig out arcs and insert characters and knead and mold it in my hot little hands a while. Sometimes an interesting premise does not a novel make. At least not one I could do justice. This is a prime reason I have a file of IDEAS. They might one day grow legs and wobble, but for the time, they are filed as interesting, but not workable. I think that’s okay. It’s part of being a writer. Part of the process. After all, we’re best equipped for different storytelling at different times in our lives, our careers, states of mental health. And depending on where we are, the story will evolve differently.
There are some things in my stories that always pop up. Recurring things.Things that are part of me, like fireflies and evening skies and tall grass and lakes and cornfields. I write about willow trees and bonfires and skylines of century old barns with Mail Pouch logos, endless stars and bats swooping past the moon. I know those things. Beyond them, things I’ve read, seen or heard sneak into my stories, too. I’ve found it true that we put a piece of ourselves in every story, intentionally or not. Logically then, things I haven’t yet experienced might be exactly the inspiration I need to get that alien vampire bunny story off the ground later.
I see this truth in my fall releases. I recently finished my final read through of both a September and an October release. The September release, Deceived, was written almost four years ago and revised many times. The October release, Murder by the Seaside, was written last spring. Deceived feels like it was written by another person when compared to Murder by the Seaside. In many ways, that’s true. We writers grow and evolve quickly, constantly impacted by the craft, our reads and our life situation. I couldn’t write Deceived today, not the way it is now. I would approach it very differently because I’ve changed. The main character in Murder by the Seaside is a different story.. She’s on target with my writing style today, probably because I’m literally writing her today…book three in the series anyway. The contrast is intriguing. I enjoyed those final reads very much, and when I finish writing the third installment this summer, I’ll take a look in that IDEAS file again and see if one of those concepts inspire something new. But even before I open the file, I can tell you, inspiration doesn’t make it interesting. And making up interesting things is hard, at least for me. Taking an interesting idea all the way into a richly developed world, with fully human emotion filled characters and arching plotlines is not easy. Not for me. And for the record, I do love my crazy writer life in absurd and devastating ways. In the past few years, writing has grown roots in me deeper than the willows.
Today I reached a new milestone. After lots of hurry-up and wait in my baby writing career, I’m experiencing many new things as an author these days. This one has been the most thrilling so far. FedEx delivered a box of ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) yesterday. ARCs are imperfect paperback versions of the book to come. Inside, there are typos and random other things which were caught on the final read through, but not yet corrected in these copies. This is because ARCs go out early. They don’t wait around. LOL. ARCs are directed in advance of release to journals and reviewers and even to other authors high on the ladder than me, in the quest for a kind review, favorable mention or perhaps a blurb for the cover.
This is that moment when an author realizes there is no going back. What happens now is out of my hands. My baby will soon be set free in the world and while I will do all I can to nurture it and spread the word, how it’s received by readers is utterly beyond my control and that is terrifying. There’s no reeling it in. No do over. No pretending it didn’t happen. If this novel flounders, flops and dies, I can only mourn and move on. And moving on isn’t as easy as it sounds. I mean, what press will want me after a failed release? What reader would pick me up again? Oh. Boy. These are the thoughts I can’t entertain. Or I will be battier than I already am. Instead, I shall hope, have faith and believe in this story.
So, I’ve brought you with me this far, guys. From that life changing day a few years back when I first typed “how to write a book” in my search engine, to my first story in an anthology and every baby step since then. I’m putting it out there for you. Here it is. My journey from the slush to print. What do you think?
Available in September from Merit Press & F+W Media.