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Monday, February 27, 2012

Love Getting a Great Review

I posted the first chapter each of "The Dreamer Gambit" and "Two Faces, Two Faced" on Writers Cafe, and received some great reviews.

On "Dreamer" from Steve R.:

Great stuff. Raises lots of questions, like is Jack or Burt one of the guys who killed Scot C? Starting out with the different plot threads that I'm sure get tied together keeps the reader eager to read more, I think. No wonder you have a couple of novels published already. Description of the bar is well written. Descriptions of the people too. Enough to give an image without being overwhelming.

On "Faces" from Chris:

...And so it begins... You set a mood, began the intrigue. Not overly stereotypical. The pace was good. I liked the grasp of humor and the character interpretations.

The best thing is hearing that people get the humor, actually find Tracy's jokes and quips funny. Humor is not that easy to do as I've been told by many writers far more experienced than I am, so it feels good to know I managed to get it right.

Now the challenge will be carrying through that aspect of Tracy's personality in the sequel. Yes, Virginia, there is going to be a sequel. I've got quite a few ideas and am working through the plot, now that the heavy-lifting for "The Changeling Kill" is done.

Speaking of "Changeling," after searching through more image websites than I can remember (or want to), I think I may try staging the cover for it myself. A few props will be needed, but they should be easy to acquire. I just hope it winds up looking reasonably professional.

Maybe I should have a Plan B, just in case.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Longing for the Writer's Life

Of late, my opportunities to write have been seriously curtailed by my day job. Oh, how I long to be a full-time author! Sometimes, on a difficult day, I imagine how it would be, in charge of every hour, doing what I need to do or want to do. Writing, promoting, getting in better physical shape, keeping my house cleaner and better organized. But, alas, there are still bills to be paid, expenses to cover, food, shelter, and all that. Hopefully, there will come a time when what I earn for my novels covers enough of those needs and the balance will tip to where I cannot afford my day job anymore.

Ah, to dream . . .

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tempus Fugit

Gosh, a week's gone by since my last post!

Still working on "The Changeling Kill". Got a new idea for the cover which will require me to exercise my amateur photographer skills.

In the publicity department, I signed up for Writers Cafe and created a Google page for my books. It's called Kathryn Flatt, Writer. It's mainly a landing place for upcoming ads that I am working on using the AdWords feature in Google. We'll see how that goes. I also looked into Facebook ads, but I'm still not sure I understand how their billing/funding works. Both books already have pages on Facebook, though.

Looking forward to getting a lot done on the writing front this weekend.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Catching Up

I have been going over "The Changeling Kill" in a sort of haphazard way, and I keep thinking of other avenues for editing that I will want to employ. Also reviewed some of the info in "Write in Style" by Bobbie Christmas, a great resource. Now I'm at a point where I think I want to give "Changeling" a little vacation.

Next up, "Dabblers." An agent I submitted it to a few years ago said the characters were not very three-dimensional. Upon rereading the opening pages, I think what she really meant was that there was no conflict right out of the box. (That's what everyone seems to look for these days--a problem statement.) The point of conflict in a story is to show what the characters are made of. The conflict produces emotions, plans, goals, reactions, etc. I have some ideas for revisions that I think will help.

On the sequel for "Two Faces, Two Faced," my list of notes on ideas is growing. A key scene I have in mind was one that developed for another book but I think it will fit in nicely. My only concern is making the story too dark, because Tracy has a sense of humor and I don't think the readers who have liked her (yes, there are some!) would accept a sequel without her humor.

For now, it's time to crank up the publicity engine again using some of the suggestions from an LIM workshop last week.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Love Is Murder 2012 - Recap

LIM is over for another year, an ending which one speaker called bittersweet. For me, it had its ups and downs. First the Ups.

1) The opportunity to talk to other writers or listen to those who have "made it."

2) Picked up some fabulous information from the workshops given by
  • A former NYPD undercover cop discussing how they do the job
  • Two Chicago cops with the truth about guns
  • A former CIA operative telling about the real world of espionage and what it takes
  • A forensics expert discussing what crime scene investigations are like
  • A financial fraud analyst who tracks where the money goes
3) Sat on a panel of newly-published authors and heard my bio and book blurb read to the assembled attendees

4) Heard my name and book listed among candidates for an award for best first novel.

5) Learned about additional ways to promote my books

6) Had some of my promotional materials picked up by others (all "Faces" chapbooks gone!)

Now for the Downs

1) Did not sell any books. :-(

2) Discovered how much distance there is between my recent success and that of best-selling novelists

3) Did not do any writing all day Saturday.

4) Walked my feet off.

I'm sure there will be more coming, but those are the highlights/lowlights.

Now I can't decide whether to dive into new promotional ideas or get back to the writing I sorely miss.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Proofing and Polishing

Well, try as I might, I couldn't hold back on editing "The Changeling Kill" for very long. I kept having good ideas to put into it and figured I might as well just dig in.

My editing/proofing/polishing method is not a true cut-and-dried process, but there are a number of things I always include. Most of them are borne out of bits of writing advice I've picked up here and there over the years.I don't do any of these in a particular order, and I might wind up doing some of them more than once.

I started this time using the find-and-replace tool in Microsoft Word to locate all instances of "ly". I know that while writing the first draft, in my eager rush to get my ideas down in words, I tend to overuse adverbs, mainly to capture a character's attitude at the moment. "He said angrily," "she sat gracefully", etc. When the tool finds a word ending in "ly", I consider if there is a better way to show what I need to show. For example, I replaced "she eased gracefully into a chair" with "she eased into a chair with finishing-school grace." Not every "ly" instance will generate a replacement, but publishers/editors/agents are quick to jump on overusing adverbs. (See my post of 4/4/2011 "Tools for Writers" for reference to the book "Write In Style." It has lots of other tips for correcting manuscript issues that drive editors nuts or make the writer look like an amateur.)

I know I also tend to use the word "that" too much. Many times, it isn't even needed. Some other words I know to look for: just, said, was, again, actually. As previously mentioned in one of my posts, I found a tool on the Internet which processes an entire manuscript and counts how many times each and every word is used and how many words separate each instance. (It's free!) This is great for fixing repetitiveness that might otherwise get missed, especially since my proofreading is on a computer screen. For some reason, repetitions are usually easier to spot on a printed page, but who wants to kill that many trees over many iterations of proofing?

There'll be another pass to make sure there are no continuity issues (things out of sequence, people knowing things before they should), and yet another to be sure I have provided enough information to convey the idea, event, or thought clearly. Another pass will be done with formatting marks on display. I've learned that not all new paragraph controls are treated equally, and they sometimes disappear when put through a program for web publishing. If the first line of a new paragraph does not show a little right-pointing arrow, I'll correct it with a shift+tab. In this mode, I also hunt for extra spaces or other extraneous control characters. This makes a cleaner first galley and a lot less work for both my editor and me.

Finally, one last spell-check run (with caution since spell-check is far from infallible) and one more full read, possibly on paper, hopefully finding nothing I would choose to say differently.When I can't find any more improvements to make, I'm done!