Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just For The Love Of It

I only have ten quick minutes this morning before my day will be busy busy busy, so I'm setting my timer to see how many reasons I can come up with for loving being an author even when the industry is so crazy and it's more difficult than ever to get published or noticed, and everyone seems to be complaining all the time. Yet, still we try. So we are either crazy or we love what we do. Or maybe a little of both.

Two minutes down. Here goes...
1. Taking time to search for that big idea
2. Finding one you think might work
3. Imagining characters and voices
4. Searching through baby naming directories for that just right name
5. Outlining, pre-writing, sketching, crossing out
6. Pondering.
7. Spending your day thinking
8. Spending your day reading
9. Spending your day writing.
10. Cutting
11. Doing it better the next day
12. Daydreaming about these characters that seem so real to you
13. Daydreaming about ridiculous amounts of success
14. Being alone
15. Meeting with critique group
16. Going on writing retreats
17. Finding the just right word
18. That point where the character you've imagined becomes so real you expect to run into her at the grocery store.
19. Laughing while you write.
20. Crying while you write.
21. Figuring something out.
22. Surprising yourself.
23. Getting to the end.
24. Starting all over again, knowing you can do it better.

Time's up. Notice I didn't list anything that relies on anyone but me. I can't control whether or not what I write gets published or critically acclaimed, and although I do love when that happens, I love all of this, too. Something good to remember.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Jemma Hartman Lookalike x2!

I never tire of finding Jemma Hartman lookalikes, and these twins from Maryland made my day! That's Alicia on the left and Lauren on the right. Their mom wrote to tell me, "We found your Jemma!! My twin daughters look just like her. My daughter was so excited when she borrowed the book from the library, and all her classmates could not believe the resemblance! She LOVES the book and can't wait to read more!"

How sweet is that?

Props to Greg Swearingen, the illustrator who created such an endearing cover image for my book. He not only captured Jemma exactly as I imagined her, but he made her so relatable and realistic that readers are finding themselves in her before they even read a word of the story.

I'm off to the post office to send these fabulous girls an autographed book and some Jemma Hartman swag.

Want to see some more lookalikes? Check them out here and here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Back to Work...

I recently took two months away from my work-in-progress. My kids had a hard time understanding that I was not procrastinating. I'll admit, it looked like procrastination. I read a ton of books (My faves - Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Read them now!), baked a ton of treats (homemade strawberry shortcake is definitely worth the effort), tried new recipes (must admit I hate cooking), cleaned out cabinets (and I hate cleaning even more), finished gigantic to-do lists (but you know, there is always a new to-do list growing), visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (so much fun!), cruised the Caribbean Sea (ahhh!), and even got my daughter settled into a new school (Good luck at DHS, Faith!)

I loved my time off, but by the end of it all, I was itching to get back into the fictional world I've been creating for the last year. Truth is, being an author takes a ton of perseverance, but it also takes patience. You can't just zip through from beginning to end, revise, submit, and sell. That's not how it works. At least not for me. Everyone knows you have to be patient when it comes to submissions and sales. But you also need patience when it comes to the writing. Two months away from this project gave me the time and distance I needed to see my story and characters with fresh eyes. That's the first piece of advice I give anyone when they ask me how to revise. Find fresh eyes.

Yesterday I met with my critique group, and they gave me a gentle push in the direction I need to go with this manuscript. The good news... I've written a fast-paced story with action and high stakes. That's actually great news for a writer like me, who normally writes character first, plot way way second. What they all want me to do, and what I know I need to do, is to develop my characters. Really find the voice and depth of everyone in the story. This is sort of backwards for me, but I like it. The pressure of figuring out the plot is off, and now I get to sort of play at being a psychologist. I'm delving into my characters' childhoods and experiences. What makes them tick? What makes them unique? What makes them relatable? How can I connect with each of them?

This is the fun stuff. This is why I'm an author.