December 17

A Book Cover

I value all my friends.  But I truly worship those who have artistic ability.  Sometimes they can draw something better than I can describe it, sometimes they can convey mood, emotion, and setting with a few clicks of the computer.  This time my friend Cynthia Martinez of YKM Reviews has made a book cover I could never come close to creating myself:

Isn’t it gorgeous?  I think she nailed Arabella and Regan in this image and caught the mood of my book. She used the exact same scene my mother used to make me a book cover for the same book. However, Cynthia had a completely different vision of that scene than my mother.

I’m picky and specific so poor Cynthia went through a few drafts to produce this one.  I’m sure she wanted to strangle me a few times but if she did, she hid it well.  The fact we communicated via email probably helped.

This is not an official cover but it could be.  Don’t you think?  But so could my mother’s.

My book is still being edited. Actually, right now, I’m barely holding onto the precipice of time. I want to start editing my book now, which I’m currently calling The Land of Blood and Sunlight. But I’m holding out, waiting for my self-mandated break comes to pass, December 26. What does it mean when you’re more excited about being able to edit a book than opening Christmas presents? Is it old age?

Anyways,  I’ll be printing this image out and hanging it on the wall, as I did with my mothers. Hopefully it will inspire me when the writing is slow, when I’m in a “I’m a horrible writer” mood or any other time.  And when the image isn’t needed for my writing, it’ll look pretty on the wall.

Simply because I think they deserve recognition, both Cynthia Martinez and my mother are willing to do some freelance stuff.  Cynthia is more into designing things on a computer, website, logos, book covers etc.  Mom is more into working at her easel, portraits, scenes, book covers.  They both worked on projects with me through online communication.  If you’re interested, I’d be willing to provide contact information for either artist.  Just get a hold of me.

November 27

Writing Withdrawal and Why I Suffer

My story is getting closer to being done. One or two more run through and I believe it’ll be ready for me to start query processes of publication. Who knows though.  I’ve said that thousands of times over the years.  I could be far from the mark. Despite feeling I’m close to having it done, I’ve decided, with some urging from friends, that I’ll take a break from Shadowed. I won’t edit anything on the novel for at least a month, perhaps longer, which, if you know me, is akin to torture.

I’ve been working on some version of this story for years. It’s really all I know, and although I’m tired of  working on Shadowed I don’t want to leave it alone until the story is finished. I have gone an entire month without working on Shadowed before. I don’t like doing it.  The moment I say I will take a break from it the ideas on how to improve the story overflow and I am forced to fight the temptation to do more than simply write the ideas down, and store them someplace safe until the month is up.  For me, going a month without working on Shadowed is like going through caffeine withdrawal.  The most painful process is getting through the first three days, and usually by the first week all my symptoms are gone or so weakened that they are easy to ignore.  By then I’ve settled into another book or project to focus on to past the time.  I believe the last time I took a break from Shadowed, I completely redesigned my website with help from friends. I don’t know what my project will be for the month yet, but I doubt it’ll be another website project.  I imagine I’ll get a TON of reading done however.

Right now, I’m going on break from Shadowed, already aware of about sixteen things that need to be changed in the story. I know how to fix some of them already.  Others I have no clue on how to fix them, but know it needs done.  I figure that by going on break now, I’ll have time to come up with solutions for all of them and see more things that need fixed when I re-look over the story a month from now.  A month usually gives me what I call ‘fresh eyes’ on a piece of writing.  I get a fresh perspective, more distant look, at my work than if I keep looking at the same thing too many times.

So, wish me luck on my writing withdrawal.

August 3

Editing Madness

Got some great advice on how to improve my book. Some of it is small, like deciding what The Club originally was: a hotel? an old school? an abandoned movie theater or Wal-mart?  Something else? We’ve changed some of the character’s names.  We’ll see how they stick.  But hopefully it makes it all sound better, more modern.

Other changes are major: requiring two, maybe three entire chapters to be almost completely re-written.  I’m excited about making the changes.  If I can get it all to work–which will be difficult because there are still plot holes–it’ll be much improved, an obvious difference and much more exciting.  I’d have to work day and night to get all the necessary changes done by August 14th, especially since I still need to figure out how to write my critical essays for the books I’ve read and decide what to write about.  Anyone read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke or Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins that might be able to help me with them?

It’s past midnight now and all I want to do is write, edit, polish, etc, which means going to bed will be hard. I’m juiced, as if I just ran a mile, or won a million bucks!  It’s a writing high for me and I love it.  It’s just murder on my sleep habits.

Anyone have some time to be a sound board? I got the major things figured out, I think, but I need to get the small stuff decided on…

Where are you in your writing?

June 29

A Book Cover

My mother is an artist and she thought it would be fun to create a book cover for my book. So we started collaborating on things and the book cover–though it isn’t the traditional one pretty girl in a elegant dress she never wears in the book–I think it’s gorgeous.  It’s a representation of a scene in my book.  Those who have read the entire manuscript may even recognize the scene.

Because we’re not one hundred percent certain I’ll keep the title of Shadowed we thought we’d leave name and title out and photobucket it in. That way the original image does not change and I can change the title as many times as I want.  As you can tell from the images below, I’ve already started playing around with the title and byline locations.

I’m currently playing around with where to put that information now, because we plan on turning everything into paperback copies via Createspace. I won NaNoWriMo in November so I get five free Paperbacks of my work. Has anyone used Createspace before?  What was your experience like?

The cover is oil-based, so I won’t get the hardcopy of the cover for at least a month but when I do get it, I’ll frame it and hang it on the wall for inspiration. It would be nice if I could actually use this cover when I do get published. For now it’ll work well for fun and inspiration.

If you know where I should put the title and byline, what font and color or you think I should use one of those three covers, let me know!

June 25

Retreat Update: It was a blast

I got home from retreat today and I am sad I am home.  I wish the retreat was still going on and I did not have work tomorrow.  I learned a lot at retreat both about writing and non-writing topics. I tried foods that were new to me, drank a single glass of some sort of alcohol every night. I had great conversations with writers, about writing, helping them through their story and about books we’ve read.

There was no internet access at the cabin, which meant when we were on the computer we could only write. We had to leave notes in areas where we would otherwise immediately start doing research and distracting us for several hours from our writing.  I got some good feedback on my work, good sound-boarding was accomplished and some general editing.  I went there intending to edit my novels, which I did, not to create new pages, so I can’t say exactly how much writing I got done.  But one of the attendees there hit 20,000 words. It’s amazing what no internet and several “Power Hours” can accomplish.

A Power Hour, for those who don’t know, is basically an hour of writing.  You don’t worry about grammar, whether the scene makes sense, or anything other than getting words on the page. It can all be edited later. And some make it a mild competition.  Who can get the most words on a page in an hour? I was editing, so I didn’t get as many words written as I otherwise might have when I participated in two of the power hours.  I hit about a thousand words.

This was my first writer’s retreat, my first retreat. I wasn’t sure exactly what to bring with me to this one so I took the basics and a few other…”I may needs.”  Now I have a better idea of what I’ll need to take with me for retreat next year.  Here’s an example of a few things:

  • A Throw

I think I would have been a little more comfortable if I’d had a small blanket to throw over my legs or shoulders at different parts of the day. It got chilly in McCall.

  • A small pillow

I would have been more comfortable with a small pillow to sit on.  The chairs I sat on–the kitchen table chairs–were hard and would grow uncomfortable after a while. The pillow would also give me a little support when I was trying to go to bed for the night.

  • A Hard copy of my novel(s)

I may not feel the need for a hardcopy at a later time. But since I do everything better on paper–editing, writing, reading, critiquing–I probably should have brought a hard copy with me to help me with my editing.  If I’m focusing on writing, instead of editing, next year I should be fine with just paper and pen.

These are only a few examples but they are what I would put on the top of the list of wants/needs.

Thanks to everyone who made the retreat a great experience for me. I look forward to next year’s retreat.

May 8

Highs and Lows of Writing

So, I am starting my first semester at Spalding University next week.  I’m looking forward to start earning an MFA in creative writing. Of course, there is plenty for me to do to get ready. One of those things is filling out a form that’s supposed to help my mentor get to know me. The form asks that I write a paragraph or two for a few questions.  Two particular questions amuse me.  What are your greatest strengths as a writer?  What are your greatest weaknesses?

I smile. The answer I want to give is highly…sarcastic, sardonic. The answer I want to give?  It depends on where I am in my novel.  At one moment, I may believe the words, the pace, the characterization, everything is perfect.  It makes the world sing.  I’m perfect.  I don’t need to change a word, a syllable, a comma.  To change anything would be sacrilegious. I bask in the gloriousness of my great, beautiful writing and believe myself a goddess among writers. HOW DARE SOMEONE SUGGEST IT’S NOT READY TO BE PUBLISHED? My story should be thrown off an airship made out of chocolate so all can enjoy in the majesty of my work.  And as people worship me as I float above them, I shout “Enjoy the sprinkles that is my novel!” WHICH MAKES NO SENSE.

At another point in my novel, or perhaps the same section it’s just a different day, or even an hour later, my novel can feel horrible. My writing is the absolute worst in existence and HOW DARE I EVEN TRY TO BECOME A WRITER?  What I write sucks.  Nothing works.  Everything is cliched and dirty and….wrong. Just absolutely wrong.  What made me think that word would even possibly work there? I’ll have readers bleeding from the eyes if they tried reading my work. What I write is hideous and should be forever hidden in a bamboo tree, guarded by a dragon with a grumpy disposition, who also needs a fire to warm himself with.  Burn baby, burn!

The best place for me to be is at my happy medium.  Nothing is glorious.  Nothing sucks. My writing is mediocre.  I get the most work done in this state, but I’m also my most paranoid.  Everything is mediocre, so how can I kick it up a notch..?. Does this need kicked up a notch or does it just feel like it needs kicked up a notch because I’ve read this section for the 980th time?  I think my friends avoid me when I’m in this state.  Email boxes fill–often my own as I bang my head against a wall. Sometimes an answer will be emailed back to me.  Often my only response is a headache as I try to figure out what email note 129 means by: J needs to turn into a  p so she can kiss B.  And dance with the fluffy masked creatures that want to kill her.  And don’t forget about the purple striped and blue polka-dotted elephants.

Did I even write this email?  How did it get in my mail box?
I’m losing my mind.

Care to guess what state I’m in? What state are you in on your own writing?  High, low, paranoid-mediocre?

Post your response in comments, or anywhere else.