Monthly Archives: March 2015

Moving on with Book #2 and #3!

Spring break has been great. Not only do I get to binge-watch Lost and mess with my mom’s cats, but I’m finally getting my writing routine back. I’m writing once a day about 1000 words so life is good for Book 3.

Book 2 is also going well. This is the novel I was worried about before since it deals with a child with mental illness. The illness that inspired this story is schizophrenia, but I have decided not to diagnose her. I’ve read the end a few times and I don’t think I have the right to label the girl with this illness when I have no personal experience with schizophrenia. She will have the same symptoms that are necessary for the story’s structure, but her diagnosis will be in progress.

In other news, I have people reading Book 2. Of course my mother loves it, but I’m having friends I respect and even one of my professors read the book to get some different opinions. I gave the MS to them 2 weeks ago and 2 people have finished the book! My friend read it and said she had trouble putting it down, and my professor (who said she did not have time until April) finished the book in a week! Both agree that there could be some tightening in some aspects of the book, but their obvious excitement about this MS has me excited as well. I feel like Book 2 has a better chance of getting an agent than The Healing Pool. While I love my first book I know it is not fine literature. It is fun and exciting, but I can see how it’s hard to get into the MG fantasy world. However, Book 2 felt much more real. It took me longer to write than The Healing Pool since a lot of the tension and emotion was affecting me personally. I want this book to be compelling, and I think letting the story get in my head has helped.

Anyway, in short I am excited! I am hoping to start querying agents this summer. How early in the summer will depend on how much work I get done while in my last term at school. The hardest class I’m taking is advanced poetry (#senioryear) so I think I will have time to work on stuff! However, I will need to enjoy my last few weeks as a student and that might butt into my writing time. Even if I don’t write 1000 words everyday, if I at least put 10 words on paper I hope to maintain my routine!

Any MS you are excited about? Let me know! Writing is always exciting. đŸ™‚

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Blame it on the Weather

This past Thursday I had a book signing event at the Appleton Public Library. I had posters everywhere, the youth librarian visited schools, there was food and drink and the room was gorgeous. It was too bad that no one came.

Spring is finally coming to Wisconsin so everyone was outside. No one was in the library on a beautiful, sunny day, and I don’t blame them. If I was in middle school I doubt I’d want to come sit and listen to someone read a book when I could be outside running around.

Needless to say I was upset. Being a new author is difficult in a world filled with other distractions and writers that people already know. This event showed me that no matter how hard I work or plan, sometimes people are going to say no, and that’s hard. It was frustrating sitting in a large, empty room drinking lemonade with my two friends that came to support me. I was glad that they came, but I need people I don’t know to come and be interested in the book. I was hoping to see some teens and talk with them about writing and answer their questions. It was upsetting.

Alicia said something surprising that day too. She said: “Don’t be discouraged. I hope this won’t make you stop writing.” Honestly, that was the farthest thing on my mind. I know that last Thursday was frustrating and sad and awful, but there is no way I am going to stop! This is the first book. The first book comes with issues like this. It is the trial run for books to come and I will learn from these mistakes and do better to get people interested. I know Alicia also wants me to get an agent, but I have tried that. Getting an agent is not simple, as all authors know, and I am fine with self-publishing. I do want representation in the future, but for now I like learning things on my own. It is challenging and hard, but I get to interact with people on my own terms instead of having to go places because it would be good press. Eventually in my life I want to have an agent. I want someone to help me get my books out to the people. For now, though, I am going to keep writing and keep pushing. One setback will not hold me down for long.

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A little reflecting on editors

I am working on a project for an entrepreneurship class that I want to use to expand into my existing business as a self-published author. This mock-business has developed into a resource for new authors looking to self-publish for the first time. Ideally, this business will be filled with online resources on how to find the right self-publishing company, editors, cover artist, etc. For the final in this class I will only have bits and pieces of this greater goal. Especially since I have only published one book and the field is constantly changing, I cannot be that resource just yet.

However, I got to thinking and I really wanted to take some time to wrap-up my experience with finding editors. It is easy to think that publishing companies will take care of everything for you and make it simple to publish. Easy is not always the best way. Self-publishing today is getting a better reputation, but there are still enough authors out there who do not put in the time necessary to produce a good product. Looking at my book now I find mistakes that make me *facepalm* but I know without the help of my editors the book would not have the story structure and flow that it has now.

When I started out looking for self-publishing companies I discovered that they all had packages that would make it easy to publish my book. I admit I was tempted. I like having a one-stop-shop to get everything done, but there was something fishy about the editing packages available. Author House was one of the places I looked. At the time I was thinking I did not want a package but it would be nice for them to edit the MS. I called to ask what they would charge. I learned a fun fact–they charge per word on all their edits.

Keep in mind: at this stage my book was 100,000 words. It was long (too long) and getting that thing edited was going to hurt the budget. If I went with AH I would be paying close to $3,000 just to get the grammar checked! If I wanted content editing it would be almost $5,000. It is possible they do a fine job, but I did not know this company. I needed to figure out my other options to see if editing really is that expensive all the time.

By this time I had joined SCBWI, which has been one of the best decisions I have made as an author. I joined some message boards and began asking around to see what people had used and if there were better options. This is where I discovered my editor, Chris Eboch. She, like other freelance editors, is much more affordable than publishing packages. She also specialized in MG/YA fantasy which was perfect for “The Healing Pool!” I read her testimonials and emailed her.

She completely turned my MS around. She knew when to cut, what to ask, and how to get 12 year olds to care! She pointed out how my descriptive chapters read more adult-like and that children would be less interested. She knew her audience and could articulate well how to fix some of the plot holes and where to cut chapters. Although Chris only does content editing she taught me more in her edits than in any english class I have ever taken. I now look at my writing and other writing with her in mind to help make drafts more efficient.

For my line editing I decide to use the company Yellow Bird Editors. They did a fine job and had a quick turn around. Their prices were much more reasonable than publishing packages, but line editing is expensive. It just is. I went with Yellow Bird since they seem to have good standing with their editors. They each have testimonials and bios, and authors have the option to ask for specific people they want to work on their book. I admired that quality in the business and I am glad I chose to work with them.

In short, never take the easy way out. Working a little harder to find the right people and the best decision for your wallet will lead to a book you feel closer to. I enjoyed going through the purple pen markings Chris gave me and the 1,500 Word reviewer comments Kristen (Yellow Bird) gave me! If I decide to self-publish again I will likely keep looking for other options even though the ones I have are already pretty fantastic. It is best to connect with individuals rather than a large corporation.

Have any questions for me? I would love to help if you are just starting out! Or, do you have a great editor? How did you find her?

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Second Guessing

I am running into a conundrum. I have finished my second manuscript and I am sending it out for people to read, but I am having second thoughts. The book is about a child who is experiencing hallucinations where she goes to another land and talks to dragons. At the moment I have her diagnosed as a child with schizophrenia, but I am afraid that I will be overstepping too many boundaries. As someone who has not personally experience that level of mental illness I know that the sections of the book that follow the girl in first person will be inaccurate. I thought I would be able to sell the book as a very fictionalized take. Now I am not so sure.

I know that fiction requires risk taking, but I think this one might be a little too far. I’m having several people look at the MS right now–a few have physiology degrees or work with people with mental illness–but I have not spoken directly with individuals who have schizophrenia. I have not heard back from those who are reading the book now. I’m sure that they will like aspects of the book but who knows! I am probably WAY off and need to take the story in a different direction. I am eager to hear what they say about the MS. I am always looking to improve my storytelling, and if I need to find a way around the diagnosis then I will.

My latest plan for adjusting the book is to end the story before a definitive diagnosis is ever reached. Throughout the book there is dialog with the girl and her psychiatrist so she is getting some attention in that regard. Looking back on the book, naming a mental illness is going a little far. I think leaving the diagnosis to the imagination of the reader might help me not worry about making a whole population of people angry! I am curious to hear what feedback I get to see what else can be improved upon to making the story work. I also need to figure out if this story is for mature YA or adult fiction. It is skating many iffy lines at this point!

Has anyone else run into big issues like this? Anyone have second thoughts on a story or character that they worked through or decided to put away?

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