Sunday, April 24, 2016

How Story Ideas Are Like Trying On New Shoes

Since my contract with Crimson has come to an end, and I'm free to try to write something else other than about the Fitzpatrick family (don't worry, though. They will reappear in some future endeavors), I've been trying out a lot of different story ideas. It seems I have a new idea for a story every couple days, and it occurred to me that trying on different ideas and different genres is not unlike going to the shoe store and trying on new styles. You pick up a pair from the shelves, try them on for size, gaze in the ground-level mirror every which way, talk to yourself and either put the shoes back on the shelf or hold them out for further consideration and maybe another round of looking in the mirror and talking to yourself.

There's my historic YA novel about the Revolutionary War. I've written a couple chapters of it, but, as we all know, writing a couple chapters is the easy part. I need to do more research on what Boston was like in those days before I can continue.

Then, there's the contemporary Christmas novella. I completed it before finding a possible publisher. They want it set up a specific way, and want it before May 31. So, that's my focus right now.

My historic adult novel is finished (but is it ever, really?) and is being shopped around.

Adding to my plate, I had a notion about another contemporary, which I'm about 7,000 words into right now.

Another contemporary is also sitting on my desktop, waiting for a revision.

Will any of these ideas make it into print? Right now, it's hard to say. But after years of wearing one type of shoe, it's nice to be able to try on all kinds of new ones. If I'm having trouble deciding between stilettos and flip-flops, it's okay, for right now. I'll settle on a style soon, and will forge ahead with whichever idea is the most comfortable, the one who gets me excited.

How about you? Are you comfortable wearing one style of shoe, or do you like to experiment?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Best Laid Plans...

At the end of last year, with the knowledge that my long commitment to the Cotillion Ball Series and Crimson Romance was at an end, I decided to come up with a list of book project ideas for this year. I listed the book and thought about everything in terms of red, yellow and green lights. Red was what roadblocks were in the way of the project, green for things that would help fast track the project and yellow for the things that needed further consideration.

My list included seven potential books. To date, three of them have been completed. I'm on track.
So now, what do I do? Start on the fourth? Oh, hell no. That would be too easy.

My restless mind came up with an idea for a YA historical novel–not on my list, not in my wheelhouse. But it's a great idea, so I'm going to run with it.

Then, today, as if that weren't enough, I had a wild idea for a contemporary story combining an event that actually happened to me along with an event that happened to a friend. All I have at this point is shoelaces and coconuts. I'll start on that one tomorrow.

Sometimes not having any deadlines to meet frees you up to explore new options in your writing career. And sometimes being so free can lead to ADHD tendencies in your writing, and you have to have three projects going at once. Even if you try to be sensible and make plans for the year and set goals for yourself, the best laid plans can be shoved aside when a great idea gets into your head.

At least I'll never be bored.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Back To The Drawing Board

Like most authors, I'm constantly searching for new ways to approach my craft. I take online and in person workshops, read articles on how to show vs. tell, enter contests for published authors showcasing their new work. Since I have been published for four years, some folks think I don't need to do this anymore since I must know it all by now.

If only it were that simple.

I had an idea for a contemporary two years ago, which was to be part of a trilogy. I wrote the manuscript, found an agent to peddle it for me, had it sent out all over the place, and got no bites. I fired the agent, took a look at the editing notes the agent only gave me after the first round of rejections, and revised the manuscript. I then sent if off myself to another publishing house with whom I've had some dealings in the past. Their acquisitions person got back to me saying she'd love to work with me, liked my work, but wanted me to change the beginning, middle and end. I told her I'd get back to her, and promptly filed the manuscript away for a rainy day.

It's not raining, but we did have a freakish snow storm here in Ohio over the weekend, so I thought it was a perfect time to pull it out and take another look at it. After reading the first twenty pages, I realized I hadn't run the document through my checklist, since some of my taboo words showed up with an uneasy frequency. Maybe the acquisitions editor wasn't so far off the mark after all.

I still think I'll send it elsewhere when I deem it ready to go again. And I'm not writing books two and three in this trilogy until the first one finds a home.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Calm Before The Storm

I was asked recently by a soon-to-be-published debut author what types of promotion work best for me. And since today is the day before my release of The Forgotten Debutante, the calm before the storm, I thought I'd share what I've learned in the four years since I was a soon-to-be-published author.

1. Make friends with other authors, both inside your local chapter, and outside. Follow them on the various forums, buy and read their books, write reviews and post them, if you have a blog, offer to host them, etc. You'll soon find an entire group who are following the same trajectory you are at the same time, and there's safety in numbers. Plus, it's fun to watch their successes. I know the conventional marketing wisdom is not to add these fellow authors to your twitter feed, or friend them on Facebook, but I think that's a mistake. Most authors are also voracious readers, too. And they have friends.

2. Work with your publisher or agent, if you're going the traditional route, to find promotional opportunities. Most publishers have a list of places where they'll send your ARC for review, but develop your own list that caters to your genre. A review from a legitimate review site is golden. It takes time to figure out which sites prefer your type of book, but the end result is worthwhile. If you know that a certain site likes your books, you can keep sending them and rest assured you'll get a good review.

3. Don't turn down any promotional opportunity, however frightening it may be. Participate in local author book signings, get your books in the local library or bookstore, even if you have to carry them in yourself, be on whatever radio show you can find (it's not as scary as it sounds), be interviewed for your local newspaper. A few years ago, USA Today was starting up an on-line presence for romance and asked for folks to help. I raised my hand immediately, and for months afterward, it was my job to find new releases in a specific genre. They since decided not to run the new releases on a daily basis and disbanded the group that was helping, but I made a valuable contact there, which I still use today. (See the coverage on April 6 for my new release.)

4. Join whatever offshoot group you can find that caters to your genre. Within RWA, you have the FF&P chapter for paranormal authors, Hearts Through History for historical authors, RWA Contemporary for, you guessed it, the contemporary author, and so on. Each of these groups provide a wealth of information, new friends to make and ways to get the word out about your upcoming work.

5. Explore the various types of social media and find what works best for you. At a minimum, you need a website and Facebook page, but there are so many other outlets that you could easily spend your entire day on this task alone, instead of writing the next book. Play around with them all, and find what works best for you. Then pick three or four and use them daily.

6. Write the next book! You are only as good as your next one. How's that for pressure?

So today, I'll rest up, work a bit on the next book, and get ready for tomorrow's mayhem, which will stretch out for the next few weeks. You can glimpse where I am all month on the upcoming guest appearance tab of this blog, but here's an idea of what Monday brings.

I've got some gift copies to mail. I want reviews to start showing up on Amazon as well as on Goodreads, so I'll prod my beta readers. I have the BookBub ad running on Monday for another book in the series and hope to take The Duplicitous Debutante into the top 100 for historical romances, if even for an hour. And, I hope while people are there, buying The Duplicitous Debutante, they also will pick up The Forgotten Debutante. But that can't happen with just the ad. I must be active on social media all week, promoting on Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, Facebook, and all the rest. It'll be a fun, exhausting, time.