Monday, January 19, 2015

Designing Series' Covers

Designing covers is always exciting. Periodic glimpses into the progress really feeds the cover lust. The waiting on the final product is agonizing. But when it's done, it's pure love. It's one of my favorite parts of publishing.
Angela Brown gets a second go round on her Shadow Jumper series.

Here's what she has to say...

Check it out!

As you may recall, I mentioned I was interesed in doing some book cover changes in one of my last posts. Now, here's the deal, I LOVE my current book covers Heather McCorkle did for me for Neverlove and They All Fall Down of the Shadow Jumpers trilogy.

Yet, as lovely as they are, they do not let readers know these titles are part of a series or trilogy, so a change was in order. But in what way could I honor the symbolism and beauty in both covers? After I reviewed what the series was about as a whole, then did a deep dive into ThinkStock photos for some inspiration, I stumbled upon something that lit a fire under me. I turned to Heather McCorkle to bring these new covers to life as she was the designer of the originals. Here are the new covers to Neverlove and They All Fall Down of the Shadow Jumpers trilogy...

Duty or love...there can be only one.
A love worth fighting for...
To ensure book 3 is in aligntment, Heather and I have gathered a great photo that I hope rounds the book covers out nicely.

As I mentioned in my post about this coming change, change can be scary. As much as I am excited, I'm a tad afraid the covers may not be received well, despite my personal opinion that they honor the original covers justly through their fiery symbolism.

So here I am opening this up to you, my blog buddies, readers, friends and all :-)

Monday, January 12, 2015

First Chapter Secrets by C. Lee McKenzie

C. Lee McKenzie is here today to share about her new release, Sudden Secrets, and to talk about writing the all important first chapter. After all, the story only has a small amount of space to grip the reader and make them care what happens to the characters or they'll put the book down.

Since I've started writing a new series, I've been researching this subject. We always want our latest book to be better than the last. We don't ever stop honing and learning our craft. There is always something new to learn. I'm focusing strongly on first chapters and pacing right now, because it sets the tone for the remainder of the book. There is a lot of helpful advice out there and I found Lee's process very helpful.
Here's Lee!
Promise and Deliver

I read a wonderful article by Peter Selgin in Writer a few years ago, and it stuck in my head. This part is what I really noted, in fact, underlined.

Based on a book or storys first chapter, the reader will form certain expectations, which, unless they are met, will cause consternation, disappointment or. . .amusement.

I never want my readers to be dismayed or disappointed when reading my books. I definitely do not want them to laugh at me. I think this last would be the most humiliating. I like people to laugh at my words when I plan it that way, but never by any unintentional slip up.

So how could I make the opening of my stories promise and the rest of the story deliver? Heres my simple-minded formula.

I write down the key elements of my story into a single sentence, sometimes two. Never more. That way I can focus on what I want my reader to expect after that first chapter.

When Ive got a solid draft of chapter one, I find someone whos a terrible out-loud readersomeone who doesnt read my books or care toand I bribe them to read the first page out loud to me. Believe me, the flaws become so apparent I want to cry.

During that excruciating experience, I listen

   for the tone and style Id set out to capture.

   for the characters voice and decide if the reader will know exactly what this character wants or needs.

   to find out if I was clear and precise in my choice of words and phrases, so anyone reading this chapter is ready for whats to come.

Once that first chapters the way I want it, I go through the book, keeping an eye open for everything Ive led the reader to expect. Im still not editing for details, Im looking for those main themes I promised, those character foibles Ive hinted at, the consistency of tone and style that I established in that opening.

When Im satisfied, I know it because Im enjoying the story and thats huge because at many stages of writing a story, I havent enjoyed it.

As Sol Stein says, The pleasures of writer and reader are interwoven. The seasoned writer. . .derives increasing pleasure from his work. The reader in the hands of a writer who has mastered his craft enjoys a richer experience. [Stein on Writing]
Sudden Secrets
by C. Lee McKenzie
one Secret
            Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sisters death, but the flashbacks to the accident wont go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.
one Mystery
Somethings strange about the abandoned house across the streetflashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see.
Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isnt, and shes sure whoever is inside is watching her.
 another Secret
In one night, Bellezas life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small town bigotry.
 Then Cleo happens.
Sudden Secrets does indeed sound intriguing. Lee's writing process obviously works and I'm going to study it very closely.
Thanks for sharing, Lee!



All Lee's Book titles:


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IWSG: Word to Screen Phobia

It's the Insecure Writer's Support Group day! If you want to sign up for this once monthly support group, go HERE. Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh and his minions for the endless and ongoing support. Speaking of which, I'll be a minion next month! I'm looking forward to blog-hopping around and meeting new people.

Here I go with my new/old insecurity. When I wrote my first book, I had this problem where I couldn't put the words down to tell my story. I knew the story in my head, but nothing I wrote sounded quite right. Not like in the books I've read, where the words flow seamlessly and the story comes out and you don't even remember you're reading. Nothing sounded good enough. It certainly wasn't perfect, and probably not even close to good. Tapping out words onto the screen became a bit of a phobia. I basically wasted the first year I tried to write for the fear of it not being good enough.

And so now, with two novels and three novellas featuring the same characters under my belt, I'm finding the same phobia occurring with writing my new series. I'm afraid to put words down in case they're not good enough. I want my new series to be good. Makes it really hard to write a novel if I can't put the words down!

I know the adages, that perfection comes with editing, and I should give myself permission to be less than perfect. It's just believing it that's the problem! I know it's totally kooky. *sigh*

How's your writing life?
Current insecurities?

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Results Are In!

I'll admit, 2014 was a rough year for a lot of people. I know the world seemed to be falling apart at times. My year had ups and downs. I count myself lucky because whatever my problems may be, it's always compared to what. I have a home, a job, loving friends and family. A craft that I love. And I'm still thrilled with what the future might hold!

So with the future in mind, it's time to post my 2015 goals!

But first, let's see how I did with 2014.

Here are my 2014 goals with the result in red:
  1. Blog less. Alas, it's true. I can't keep up with the posts, comments and return visits and still write. Something's gotta give. So, I'm on blog hiatus until April, then I'll be back blogging one day per week. And, I'll be doing the A-Z through Untethered Realms. It helps to share the load :) I'll still be on Facebook and Twitter if you want or need help promoting in that way. I'd love to help. DONE! I definitely blogged less and did the A-Z through Untethered Realms.
  2. Implement a writing schedule. Since I've been working full time, I have seriously neglected my writing, and I miss it terribly. My new schedule will be 2-3 hours Monday and Thursday nights, and whatever I can fit in on weekends. DONE! Only I had to approach it from a different angle. I'm not, and never have been, a high energy person. No way can I spend 8 - 10 hours at the office and then write for another 2 - 3 hours at home. So, I set a word count of 2500 words per week instead, and did it on the weekends. I have a very understanding hubby.
  3. Publish my three-novella series by May or June. The first one is done, the second is outlined and the third is just a glimmer. DONE. Again, not exactly as planned. But all three novellas from the Afterlife series were released in October and November, with the print version in December.
  4. Publish my short story in the first anthology (of a 4-part series) with my Untethered Realms group in October. Then work on the second/third story. DONE. We published in October. I started the second short story in December.
  5. Work on my idea for a new series. They might be novellas, I haven't decided. My goal is to outline and write the first novella. NOT DONE. I worked on the idea, outlined and even wrote the first chapter, but that's as far as I got.
  6. Explore screenwriting. TECHNICALLY DONE. I did explore a screenwriting class and almost started it in September, but decided I was too busy with revisions on the novella series and getting it published to take a class.
  7. And yes, the perpetual goal of losing weight, exercising and getting healthy; physically, mentally and spiritually. BLEH! Enough said.

Now on to my 2015 goals:

  1. Blog once per week, with intermittent blog posts over at Untethered Realms. Make a point to visit at least five blogs per week that I don't visit routinely.
  2. Write and publish a short story in the anthology with my Untethered Realms group.
  3. Write and publish three novellas in my new series.
  4. OR, think about submitting the novellas for traditional publishing. I'm still pondering this one.
  5. Start on a new Indigo Eady novel because I can't stand the thought of not writing her anymore.
  6. Think about taking a screenwriting class once again.
  7. Be more proactive about posting on my Facebook author page. Perhaps give snippets of my WIPs combined with graphic designs.
  8. Update my website and blog.
How was your year?
What are your 2015 goals?