Monthly Archives: March 2013

No Joke: April is the month of the blogging fool!


As we wrap up the third
month of the year, I realize my blogging has becoming abysmal. I’ve made a
grand total of six posts. At this rate my chances of averaging a post a week
for the year are looking as good as the Sox making the World Series. But as I’ve
mentioned before, I’m not a quitter. There’s no way I’m throwing in the towel
before Memorial Day even rolls around. So starting tomorrow I will be blogging
six days a week.


No, this is not an early
April Fool’s Day joke. I’m joining the 2013 A-Z Blogging Challenge. As you can
probably guess, this challenge entails bloggers of all types who push
themselves to blog six days a week (Sundays I’ll sleep in), for the entire
month of April, with blogs focused on a topics from A-Z. As of when I signed-up there were over 1600 other crazy bloggers attempting this!

To coincide with the
release of Unveiled, book two
in the Alex Crocker Seer series, sometime in early May, I’m going to try to
keep my posts related to the series. Think of it as an Alex Crocker
Encyclopedia. I’ll dish on characters, places, and important terms, including
some background information (you know how I love backstory!), my reasons for writing things as I
did, and whenever I can a short excerpt—including some from the new book!

So swing by often or just
sign-up for posts to be emailed to you. Also be sure to check out some of the
other great bloggers who are participating! And fellow bloggers, there’s still time to join!



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A Few Updates (Or excuses for why I haven’t blogged recently)


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With book two due out
soon, one might think I’d be a blogging fool, updating daily with new and
exciting announcements, or at least weekly to check in with readers. I haven’t.
Here are a few things I’ve been busy with instead:

This week I’ve been on a
killing spree. Yup, you read that right. I’ve been ‘killing my darlings’ as
they say, which means I’ve been cutting extraneous scenes from my book. Of
course to the writer, who loves her characters, their backstory, and their fun
side-adventures, nothing seems extraneous. To the reader though, who wants a
little more plot in her books, the scenes might have seemed unnecessary. So
sadly I trimmed nearly fifty pages from the manuscript. Fingers crossed that it
was enough; I’d hate to slaughter too many more of my babies! (For those of you
who love boundless backstory and character-driven scenes, I’ll stick a few of
my more beloved victims on the Extras page of my website soon!)

*

Two weeks ago I attended a
one-day self-publishing workshop on Cape Cod run by the Cape Cod Writers
Center. It was an interesting look at the self-publishing business, but focused
more on companies that help writers self-publish than how to do it oneself,
which was what I was hoping to learn. That said, I always love learning about
new aspects of writing and publishing and mingling with other writers, so it
was well worth the trip.

*

If you’re wondering why I’m
interested in self-publishing when I’m already working with a
publisher for my current series, the answer is another reason why the blog’s
been quiet lately. I’m working on a new project, Unbridled
, which is a novella comprised of four connected
short stories from the Alex Crocker series, all focusing on my female
characters. Unlike my novels, where the romance is more a sub plot, these
stories are all about the ladies and their lovers. For those of you who told me
to kick up the steam factor, I listened. For my mother, aunts, and anyone else
easily shocked by my more saucy side, I apologize. (Okay, actually, I don’t, but it seemed polite to say.)

The reason I want to
self-publish this one is because I’d like to donate a large chunk of the
proceeds (of which there will be millions, no doubt) to women’s charities. The
over-arching story in this collection focuses on females who were victimized by
the baddies in Alex’s world, but I make it clear that none of these characters
are merely victims. I like strong heroines in fiction, as well as in life.
Around the time I was finishing the first draft of this project, my mother had
just been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. If ever there was a
compelling reason to honor women who bravely fight all of life’s battles, this
was it. Luckily, Mom is kicking cancer’s ass all over again and doing it with a
sense of humor (epitomized by her “Save Second Base” t-shirt!). Unfortunately,
though, everyday more women have to join Alex as warriors to fight their own battles. It seems right and fitting that I help other women in some way through my writing.

My aim is to finish and
publish this before heading back to school next fall. I’ll share more as I continue to work on it, but in the meantime I’m open to help. Any
beta-readers (to give feedback), grammar geeks (to copy edit), and graphic
designers (for cover art) interested in donating a little time would be greatly
appreciated! I’d also love suggestions for the best charities that support
women’s issues. I’ll likely narrow it down to two or three and split the
donations between them.


(This was just me having fun; the photos aren’t mine, so it won’t be the final cover!)

*

Aside from that I’ve been booking promotions for the release of Unveiled, writing guest posts, and sharing writing advice on some indie writer sites. Not bad for someone with a full-time job!

·      New Pinterest page for my writing

·      Article on Indie Writer’s Guide: “Go Local: Putting Press Releases to Work in Book Promoting

·      Guest post at Book Chick City: Writing a Novel in Five Easy Gut-wrenching Time-consuming Steps

So, really, I haven’t just been twiddling my thumbs avoiding updating the blog. In fact, I have the next month’s topics all planned out, but for that you’ll need to wait until next week.

Until then Happy Easter! I’m off to play vampire on a few Cadbury cream eggs. (I vant to suck their filling. Yum!)

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An Unveiling

It’s Here!

The cover for Unveiled, book two in the Alex Crocker Seer series, expected release May 2013:


Yesterday I asked you your cover preferences: setting? characters? symbols? designs? Well, how about a cityscape, Alex (but not too much of Alex), metaphorical mountains (there are no real mountains in Eastern Mass, but plenty of challenges to overcome), and sweet font design? I’d say it’s got it all!


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Book Covers and Boyfriends: A prelude to tomorrow’s cover reveal


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“What’s in a cover?
That which we call a bestseller

With any other cover
would read as sweet.”

My apologies to
Shakespeare, but as a best-selling author himself, whose plays have seen some
crazy covers over the years, I think the man might agree. When it comes to the
reading and enjoying of a story, a book’s cover is irrelevant. Yet, despite the
age-old adage warning us not to judge a book by its cover, we do. It can’t be
helped; a cover is a book’s first impression, it’s online dating profile pic, if you will.

Like with potential dates, it’s
hard not to judge a work upon first seeing it. Also like with potential dates, that
first judgment can often be wrong. A cover that might catch our eye visually
might belong to a book whose genre or style is far from our tastes and vice
versa. Who doesn’t have a few books on the shelves that look stunning but were
never finished? Or a few classics with yawn-inspiring jackets that have been
reread to the point the binding is in pieces? We ought to have learned this lesson in high school when we always went for the guys with the looks, only to Facebook search the geeks we graduated with years later to discover they’re not only rich, but also pretty handsome.

Even my own shelves,
stacked only with the books I loved enough to buy physical copies of, often
hard-covers, in order to display, have quite a medley of covers—more than a few
of which I don’t particularly like. The cartoon drawings on Charlaine Harris’s
Sookie Stackhouse books would never have led me to purchase them if I hadn’t
had numerous recommendations from friends. (It was a blind-book-date I was glad I went on!)  And though a few friends and
former students might burn me for blasphemy for this one, I’m admitting it
anyway: I don’t really like the covers of any of the first four Harry Potter
books. Sure, they’ve earned a special place in my heart, but that’s because of
the hours I spent lugging them around, reading and rereading the pages in
between. The artwork itself is not my style. I much prefer the symbolic covers
of the Twilight
series or the
simple symbols on the Hunger Games

books.

But those, of course, are
my preferences. Everyone’s preferences of what they want to see on a cover are
different. Just like everyone’s preferences of what they want to read between
those covers are different. However, you might miss out on some good reading if
you only open the covers of books that look good to you. As anyone who has ever
dated knows, a pretty cover is great to display, but if there’s nothing
interesting on the inside, it makes for some looong nights.

However, if you’re lucky enough to
find a book or a beau that has both, you should scoff it up—and quickly, too! 

I’m hoping you’ll find Unveiled
worthy of scoffing up come May. For now you’ll just have to make do with judging
this book-to-be by its cover tomorrow!

In the meantime, share
your general cover preference:

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“I care about you; I just don’t like you.”


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As a reader, I’ve been
struggling to finish a book this week in time for next weekend’s book club.
When I tried to explain to someone what the problem was, I struggled, because
it wasn’t that I didn’t like the story or the writing style. “I just don’t care
what happens to the main character,” were the words that finally popped out.
That seemed a reasonable explanation. I’ve always held the belief that for a
book to be enjoyable, one needs to care about what happens to its characters.

As a writer this week I
read two reviews of my book. Note to writers: I wouldn’t suggest doing this
often. It’s like obsessively checking the scale when you’re trying to diet; it
can be helpful or totally debilitating. That said, I did it. And I was a bit
surprised that although one review was very favorable and the other we’re not
going to talk about, both readers had trouble liking my main character, Alex.
Now I don’t expect everyone to like the book or my character, but reading the
different reviews left me thinking, did I even want my readers to like Alex? Do
readers need to like a book’s protagonist in order to enjoy the story, or is it
enough to care about them?

Let’s be honest; there are
people whose lives we love to follow despite the train wrecks they are, people
we don’t particularly like. (My mind is screaming Honey Boo Boo right now.) But
do we care about them? Well, we care enough to tune in to the show, read the
online article, or follow the Twitter feed, so it seems the answer is yes. But
why? The answer goes beyond the go-go juice.

People aren’t perfect. We
all have weaknesses, flaws, defense mechanisms, and quirks that at certain
doses can be obnoxious, abrasive, annoying, and…entertaining. Laughing or
cringing at someone else’s inner ugliness allows us to come to grips with our
own. The reason we don’t want to read books or watch shows about seemingly
perfect people isn’t simply because it would be boring. It’s that it would be
discouraging. We turn to fiction, or these days distorted reality, to see
ourselves, our friends, our enemies, in all their flawed glory. We might not
always like what we see, anymore than we always like the reflection in the
mirror, but if we can connect, if we share even the smallest similarities, then
we care. So if an author fumbles as a writer, it’s not in creating a character
who isn’t likable; it’s in not developing a character enough for readers to
connect, a character round enough that the average reader can see a glimpse of
himself somewhere inside. Sharing (qualities both good and bad) is caring. But not always liking.

I guess my answer, then,
to my earlier question is no, I didn’t really expect too many readers to like
Alex, cetainly not all the time. Bad guys make predictable bad decisions, which
make for boring plots. Stories get interesting when the good guy, or girl, in
my case, do dumb things and has to struggle to rectify his or her mistakes.
 

As for that book club
book, I’ll keep plugging away, hoping to find that connection that makes me
care. And if it never comes, at least I can be certain there will be plenty of
likable company and our own brand of go-go juice come the weekend!

 

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