Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cover Madness: Seriously, It's a Thing

Please picture me behaving with proper decorum (when in fact I'm jumping around like a spaz) during the following reveal.

After working with a fabulous graphic designer named Allison (find her amazing photography here), I am proud to present the fruits of our labor...

Drum roll...

The cover for my novel, The Wild Wood (releasing in May 2012):


Is it wrong to squeal? Just asking. I love it. But... then we had a happy accident and discovered this possible cover for the book. Now, I'm completely flummoxed.


Help. What do you think? Which one makes you want to read the book? Understand, The Wild Wood is a young adult fantasy.

Please, share your expertise and help me make this important (and the first) decision about my self-publishing adventure.

Quote for the Day from me

"I've got a freaking cover!!!!"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Literary Sailing

I love learning. I really do. I’m even trying to learn a Western Asian language, mostly for fun. (It is kicking my behind, in case you are wondering, but I could ask for water.) Anyway, constantly learning new things excites me. I’ve always wanted to be someone who spoke ten languages (including dead ones), who knew where all the countries in the world are (I don’t), and who could talk intelligently about just about every topic. I’m not there yet, or even close. Good thing I plan to live to be 113.

But right now, I’m trying to learn something new and it is making my head a little fuzzy. I never imagined myself self-publishing. I was going to write books that every agent would want, get an awesome book deal, and trust my career to the professionals while I got to play in fiction for more than a living wage. It still could happen, but I’ve recently decided that I’m ready for a new adventure with my writing, and one way to make that happen is self-publishing.


But to self-publish, I have to learn a lot about the ways that things work, things I really know nothing about (not unlike when, years ago, I submitted my first novel without knowing anything at all). Some people learn everything first, but I decided that learning all the stats about failure would shut me down. I’m glad I wrote what I wanted to write and lived in the dream of easy success for a while. Reality came; it does for all of us. But I was ready to learn when the time came.


Now, thanks to a lot of blogs and Googling, I’m reading about self-publishing and it is enough to make my head pop right off and roll across the room. People have such different takes on it, and without an agent or advocate, I’m left to make all the decisions myself. While a little scary, I’m finding myself getting excited about this adventure (which was the point). I get to design my cover (which I will be releasing very soon). I get to decide on the final edits (with the help of many lovely beta readers). I get to decide about book trailers and websites. I get to steer this book ship, and that is amazing.


I know I will stumble along the way and that steering the ship isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I know that there will be no billions of dollars and a swimming pool shaped like a Hobbit Hole, but I’m so very excited about feeling some control in a journey that has at times left me feeling powerless. So, I’m taking the power back, baby, and seeing where this ship leads me.


I hope you’ll help out by giving feedback on covers, web designs, book trailers, and such. It might be my ship, but since I’m clueless about where fore and aft are, I’m going to be needing some help.


Hope everyone has a happy Monday!


Quote for the Day from Robert N. Rose


“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made.”

Friday, January 13, 2012

Time

It is a common rule for writers that we should set aside our masterpieces for a while, to let them rest and allow us to gain some distance before sending them out to agents and the world. I like this idea and I mostly practice it. Now that I am readying a book for self-publishing, I’ve had the chance to see the true benefits. I recently picked up my old story friend and dove in, and discovered that the first chapter that I had adored was actually not really great at all. I’m actually now surprised by all the agent interest it garnered, because I can see from the vantage point of almost two years that there was a better way to open my story.

In reading the book, I discovered a flaw in my tale telling, an event that a character would have already experienced had been explained to her by another character. Clearly, giving her the chance to experience the event is far better than a “blah, blah, blah” about something so powerfully moving in her life.

Time has given me the chance to see these things and improve upon the story. And it is wonderful to dive back in and revisit a beloved world, especially when I know that in self-publishing, I have the power to decide when it is ready, to pick the cover, and release the book to the world. My newly embraced idea of self-publishing is energizing me to see a different writing career for myself.

That doesn’t mean I will stop pursuing traditional publication, but I see the publishing landscape in very different terms. It’s funny, my favorite singers and musicians are non-traditional; they’ve created their own labels and control their own careers. They may never be billionaires but they own their journeys. I see the value in that more and more.

Quote for the Day from Doris Lessing

“Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Writing Adventure

I’ve been away from my blog long enough that getting back to it has felt awkward. Every time I’ve thought of writing a blog, I magically find crucial things that need taking care of (what, of course, hugging my not-so-small puppy is crucial). But today, I did something that ensured that I would post a new blog: I wrote a post on my new heirloom gardening blog (if you want to take a look, it is here). And then my writing blog got cranky and jealous, and sniped so loudly that I immediately (okay, I walked the Aggie pup, played on Twitter, listened to music, made a really great lunch, talked to my mom...) started writing a new post.

The trouble with blogging lately is that I have been in a transitional phase in my writing that hasn’t always been shiny, nor has it been particularly dark. It’s just been different. New ideas about the future have come through, a book has been written, joy has been reclaimed in the writing process, and I’m fairly happy about where I am at (in every aspect of my life, actually). I’m mostly content. Which is nice.

In writing, I’m preparing to do something I never really thought I would do. I think it is fair to say that we all imagine that as soon as we start querying with our Masterpieces-in-Waiting that agents are going to fall all over themselves to claim us, publishers are immediately going to see that we are the next Stephenie Meyer, and fans are going to adore, but never stalk, us. It’s all so beautiful and life is bliss. Few people, if any, have that experience (Harper Lee came close and then never published another book, so everything has its challenges). After reality strikes, we reassess, work hard, write more, find more people to critic our work, and submit the new baby, who’s a little more streetwise. And then the next and the next. That’s what I’ve done and I’ve been dedicated to the journey more than any perceived conclusions (for the most part).

I’m willing to keep doing this, pursuing the agent that will connect with my work and the opportunities that affords, but what I’ve recently realized (thanks to some special people in my life) is that I am ready for a new adventure in writing. Querying can come to feel like our writing is being done for a pool of agents, and that isn’t what any of us set out to do. We write for readers who will connect with our characters and our stories, who don’t have any business interest in us, but rather seek us out to provide spice to their lives as great tales are bound to do. I’m ready for a new adventure and I have a lot to learn, but soon (within months), I’m going to self-publish and I’m excited about all that I will experience on that adventure.

What about you? Anybody else thinking of embarking on that adventure?

Quote for the Day from J.R.R. Tolkien

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”