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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

At this time last year I played at being a writer. I wrote for fun, with only vague expectations of submitting a story “someday”. Now I have a book that will be coming out in a few months, and I have other books planned for the series. I have no obligation to write more, but I want to.  Those characters need to have their stories told too. Last March and April I could hardly wait to get home from work so I could write. I spent too much time at my desk at work mentally writing scenes.  I wrote 75,000 words in 6 weeks. I absolutely was driven to write. And I loved it!

But now I have to FORCE myself to write. It’s like I’ve lost the joy of writing. It’s not Writer’s Block. I know the story I’m telling (occasionally my characters throw me for a loop, but still, I know what main events have to happen to tell the story) but I have to force myself to sit at the computer for hours to write a measly 500 words. Where has my joy and drive gone?

Maybe every writer goes through a phase like this. What was once a delight, a mere hobby for fun, has become a job. And I already have a job, monday through friday, from 7am-3:30 pm (unless we’re on overtime, which happens regularly. In fact, overtime starts again this coming week and goes through Christmas) I don’t have to write to support myself. Plus I have other hobbies like reading, knitting and spinning, costuming and the SCA to fill my free time. Writing is no longer one of those hobbies that I can do when I feel like it or abandon for something else.  Except, that it could be that again if I wanted. I have no contract for the sequels, no obligations. I could, if I chose, go back to being a hobbyist. But the very thought of that makes me rear up and say: No! I want to share my stories. I want to keep being published. Not just for the money, although I’m looking forward to the royalty checks, but because I want people to read my stories. I want to make lots of money for my publisher and myself.  But even more I want people to find a little escape through my writing.

Over on Romance Divas there is a thread where several successful authors have posted about how many books and novellas and short stories they have coming out this year and in 2011, and I simply stand in awe and envy.  Envy because they keep selling their stories, and awe because wow! how do they do it? A couple have said that they have contracts to fulfill and deadlines to meet, so they have to write so prolifically, but that next year they are slowing down so they can have some times for their families and themselves. I don’t ever want to get to the point that I have no time for anything but writing. But I hope I get past this feeling that writing is a chore.

This is why writing ain’t for pansies. It is work. Sometimes it is hard grinding work with nothing to show for it. Do other writers ever think about giving it up? Sometimes a story flows out of me like water from a wide open  faucet. Some times the story is  forced out of a clogged faucet in drips and drabs. It takes longer to write that way, but at least it’s writing. I’m not quitting. I just hope I’ll find my enthusiasm and joy again. Soon.

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Thursday 13

Hello, this might be my last post in this blog. The wonderful Ria Ritchey is designing a website for me. It is up, but is only in the bare bones stage while she works on some extras like a contact page, importing this blog to the blog on the website and adding some photos. So here are 13 things about my new website:

1. The first thing is the web addy: www.maddybarone.com

2. I like my tagline: “Unlock Your Imagination” It covers more than just paranormal romance, since almost any book involves using your imagination. Someday I’d like top write other types of stories besides erotic romance.

3. The door with its iron scrollwork sits in mist, making me think of dreams, and the key hanging by my name hopefully invites the visitor to unlock the door.

4. I want visitors to feel like they can let go of everyday life and relax with my stories.

5. My “About Me” page may have to change. I’ve decided that a list of facts isn’t very interesting.

6. I haven’t gotten the final cover art for my book yet, so my “Books” page isn’t very inviting. I hope when I get the cover art it will immediatly draw the reader in.

7. I would like a side bars on every page. On the Home page I’d like to have my book with a purchase link in a sidebar so the visitor doesn’t HAVE to click every tab to find the important things.

8. I need to learn how to maintain and update my website myself.

9. I need ideas for what should be on my home page.

10. I need to know how often I should update the website.

11. I wonder how much does a website help an author sell books? Is it important?

12. I wonder if there is a way for me to add moire pages under my Books page in the future. Hopefully I’ll have a whole bunch of books on there someday.

13. I’m very excited to have a website!!

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Three Stitches Later…

Monday was the first official day of my long-awaited vacation! Friday was just an extra day off for my birthday. So yesterday I woke up late, made coffee, knitted while listening to Il Divo. It was lovely. The cats were well behaved, taking turns sitting in my lap while I maneuvered the cardigan in progress around them. Then I got dressed and cleaned the bathroom thoroughly and did laundry. About 1:30 I began reading all my correspondence and replied to those i needed to. It was good to get that taken care of. After all that, I opened my long neglected WiP (book 2 of the After the Crash series) and re-read and began doing some editing as i went along. After  I finished reading I got up to make supper and while I did that I plotted the next chapter. Home made chili is a favorite for cold evenings. Too bad we’re having a warm spell right now. 🙂 But it was tasty. After eating I began to bag up the garbage to take out. I still needed to clean up spills on the stove, unload the dishwasher and load up the supper dishes. I hoped to have an hour to write before Dancing With the Stars came on. I forgot or maybe just didn’t notice that the empty kidney bean can in the garbage had a sharp lid.

O. M. G.

At first I didn’t feel anything. I noticed a dark stream of some liquid running down my arm. I was surprised to see the blood splatter on the white garbage bag and the kitchen floor. I followed the red path to my right forefinger, which was belching out an amazing amount of blood. And then the pain hit. All thought of my characters and their soon-to-occur separation fled from my mind. I grabbed paper towel to try to stop the bleeding. No go. Maybe  I should go to the clinic?  I called several friends, but none was available to drive me to the clinic. I grabbed the whole roll of paper towels, threw on a sweater and hustled out the door.

In retrospect, the choice of the white cardigan may not have been the best…

The flu season hasn’t really started yet so the walk in clinic was nearly empty.  I got three stitches, a honking big tube of antibiotic cream, a finger brace and I would have gotten a tetnus shot if I hadn’t had one just a year and half ago. I got home to an apartment of dried blood, scattered trash, and a kitchen full of the debris of chili making. The cats got one whiff of the hospital stench that clung to me and hissed. Boy, did I feel loved.

What were my plans for my vacation? Knitting, sewing and writing. How many of those activities require the use of the right forefinger? Hm. Let me think. Happy vacation to me. Actually, I can knit, very slowly, but my tension is flooey. And I can type, but it too is slow, and I have tons of typos. And it hurts. The handsewing? Well, not so much.  I guess that means I have to read for my own entertainment. I can do that with my injured hand raised like a kid in school who has a question.

I had no idea how much I use my forefinger.  Try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Comb your hair? Trim your finger nails? Open a can. Brush your cat. Shift gears in your car. Write a rent check. Use your phone. Stir pancake batter and make pancakes. Sweep the floor?

Sigh. I will still try to write, but I’m adjusting my goals to take rest breaks into account. It could have been worse. The slice is across the top of the finger, and the was no tendon damage. I just have a perfect excuse to not sweep my floor or do any more housework. Right?

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…When They Learned I Was Going to Be Published.

1. I didn’t know you were a writer.

2. How much do you have to pay to be published?

3. I’ve always wanted to write book.

4. When is it coming out?

5. Who is the publisher?

6. That guy on the cover isn’t wearing very many clothes.

7. How much money will you make?

8. I like to write but I don’t have time.

9. Are you going to quit your job?

10. I’m so proud of you.

11. How long did it take you to write it?

12. If I buy it will you sign it for me?

13. Hey, I can say my friend is a published author!

What things have people said to you? Some things have been sweet and some things have been downright insulting. I didn’t include the sneers about romance or epublishing.

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Some time ago a newcomer to a forum I’m a member of had said that he had decided that the money in writing was in romance so he was going to write one. His job had been cut and he’d decided to start a new career as a writer. He needed money right away and he wanted to know what was the best way to become a money making writer. Well… I’m not sure what exactly to say to that. Frankly, this person’s posts rubbed me the wrong way. Was he assuming that anything he wrote would immediately sell, and sell well? That he would be the next JK Rowling by this time next year? There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing to earn money. But it’s not that easy. Not everything written and submitted will be accepted. Not everything published will be a best seller. Or even a good seller. I have sold only one story as of yet, so perhaps I’m not an expert on this subject. But I do have some experience. If you want to write and sell a romance novel, here are my suggestions to help you on that journey:

1. Read Romance
Read lots of romance, both printed books from large New York publishers and electronic novels from epublishers. I suppose it is possible to write what you don’t love, but the idea seems alien to me. Would the story be cold and mechanical if it were written by someone who didn’t feel strongly about romance? Also, by reading romance you will learn what is currently being published, what sorts of stories are selling, the general story outlines for romance and what sub-genres are being published.

2. Research Publishers
All publishers have websites these days. Go there. Read about them and find out what they publish. Also, do a search on them. Find out what people are saying about them. Are they reputable? Are their authors happy? Sites like www.erecsite.com will help you make an informed choice.

3. Read Submission Guidelines
Again, go to the publisher’s website and read their submission guidelines. Are they even accepting submissions? Would your story match what they publish? If you have a sweet contemporary romance but they publish erotica then your story will probably be rejected right away. Check out what they want for a submission. Just a query and synopsis? Do they accept only queries from authors represented by an agent? Do they have formatting requirements? Don’t waste your time or theirs by submitting your single spaced manuscript in Old English purple font if they want a double-spaced manuscript in Times New Roman black font. Read the guidelines.

4. Join a Writers Group
Romance Writers of America has branches all over. And if none is close to you then perhaps one of their online groups would work for you. But if you don’t want to spend the money for the membership fee there are many free online groups and forums to join, like Coffee Time Romance and Romance Divas. I think the camaraderie on this type of site is encouraging, especially when you feel the sting of rejection or the daily struggles that come along with writing. Also the other members of these groups will have personal experience with writing and submitting and being published. They will probably share their experiences if you ask nicely. And maybe that is a good place to find a critique partner.

5. Critique
Even the most talented writers need a second opinion. My friends don’t make the best critiquers. They love me too much to say: “What the heck is this paragraph in here for?” or “This bit of dialogue is weak. I can’t tell who is speaking or what info is being conveyed in it.” And we as authors are so close to the story, practically inside it, that we don’t see the weaknesses that hurt our stories. Get a critique partner who will be encouraging and honest.

6. Be Reasonable
Be reasonable in your expectations. If you submit a novel and expect to be living off the royalties of that book you will almost certainly be disappointed. Only a very small percentage of submissions are accepted. In the epublishing world the acceptance rate is higher than New York publishers, but still well under 10% and much lower for new authors. An editor for Samhain Publishing (one of the best selling and well established epubs) recently wrote that they accept about 8% of submissions, and many of those are by authors they have previously published. Even if your story is accepted and published how much can you expect to make from it? $500? $1000? $5000? Probably not enough to build your dream home. It takes many many books being published and kept in print for those kinds of royalties. See Show Me the Money for some more precise money numbes.

7. Keep Writing
A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean your writing sucks. Maybe it wasn’t suitable for that publisher or that publisher simply didn’t have room for it right then. Try another publisher. If you are lucky enough to get a rejection with suggestions for improvement, rejoice. Above all, keep trying. If the first story didn’t sell, write a different story. If Stephen King had quit after his first ten rejections the world wouldn’t know his name today. Keep writing.

~ ~ ~ ~

Being a famous author who makes a good living just from writing would be wonderful. But don’t kid yourself: there’s not that many beginning writers who do that. Heck, not even all established writers can do that. Writing is work. And just like with any other career, a writer has to be dedicated to his/her job to get to the top. They have to put in long hours. They have to be professional. They have to be trained and disciplined. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

So good luck in your pursuit of being published. It’s partly talent and partly luck, but mostly hard work and keeping at it.

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Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen: 13 writers I love. (In no particular order)

1. Anne Bishop. Her Black Jewels stories are wonderful. I put off reading these for years because they take place in “Hell” and the character names are Saetan, Lucivar, Daemon, etc and my Christian background was turned off by that.

2. Georgette Heyer. She is the Grande Dame of the historical and Regency romance. I can’t even pick a single favorite because I love them so much. The historical detail is precise, but never takes away from the story.

3/4. Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. This husband and wife duo write space opera like no one else. The Liadan Universe is a place I’d like to live. Women have as much power and respect as men.

5. Laura Kinsale. Well drawn character driven plots. The Shadow & the Star and For My Lady’s Heart are classics. If I could capture a personality half as well as she does I would be in heaven.

6. Loretta Chase– Lord of Scoundrels anyone? When the heroine walks into the gambling hell and coolly shoots the hero, it became in instant favorite.

7. Mary Jo Putney. Again, too many to count. Silk & Secrets, One Perfect Rose, Angel Rogue… Yeah, too many to list.

8. Laura London/Steve and Sharon Curtis. The created the most excellent secondary characters. Decades after reading some of their books like the Windflower I still yearn for the secondary characters’ stories to be told.

9. Louis L’Amour. No one did westerns like Louis L’Amour. Quiet straight spoken men who see a job that needs to be done and do it, strong women who pull their weight.

10. Julie Garwood. Her medievals were light on historical authenticity, but they always satisfied me. I still re-read them when I want a comfort read.

11. Elizabeth Peters. Her Egyptian mysteries are so fun! Sethos is fascinating. Emerson is riveting. Amelia Peabody rocks!

12. Barbara Hambly. Fantasy, swords, humor, adventure… They have it all. The Time of the Dark is possibly my favorite. I love the regular person transported to an alternate universe story.

13. Wen Spencer. I like everything she’s written, but I especially love Ukiah Oregon. I’ve read she won’t be going back to his series. Darn! Wonder what he would have been like at 30?

Who are your favorite authors? Tell me who and why. I’m always looking for more authors to glom!

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Glory and Shadow

I have been trying to decide on a title for my current work in progress. It is the second book in my post-apocalyptic series After the Crash. A plane takes off in 2014 and crashes in 2064, fifty years after World War III destroys technology and the world has become more like the Wild West where women are scarce and a clan of Lakotah are werewolves. The survivors of the plane crash have to make new lives in the future.

The hero is a Native American. His name is Wolf’s Shadow. He is an Alpha, the son of the chief of the the Clan. Shadow is spoiled by his successes and a lifetime of having the less dominant of the wolves in his clan bow down to his will, so when his wolf choses a mate from the plane crash survivors he expects that she will accept him gratefully. Or at least peacefully.

Plus sized Glory Peterson is a loud mouthed goth who has made a habit of rebelling against anything that tries to control her. She’s plenty willing to play with Shadow, but if he thinks he can tell her what to do he’d better think again.

So I need a name for this. Which do you think?

Glory and the Wolf
Courted By the Wolf
Glory’s Wolf
Shadowed By the Wolf
Glory’s Shadow?

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