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Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Promo Day

Spent some time on promotional activities this morning. First, I sent an email to a reviewer at Windy City Reviews to submit "Two Faces, Two Faced." Of course, I've no way of knowing if I'll be sending it or, if sent, if the review will be positive. It would be great to have a quote to put on the back of the print edition cover.

I made some revisions to this blog page as well, as noted in the welcome message at the top. Now each novel has its own page with a synopsis, reviews, etc., much the same as my Google site (see link at left). Unfortunately, the purchasing links had to go, but the books are not hard to find at the usual places.

Getting ready for the release of "Game Faces" in just a few days. Once it hits Amazon, I can set up a Facebook page and run an ad. I'm thinking I should also do an ad for "The Changeling Kill" while I'm at it. And there's all the other places like Goodreads, Authors Den, and Google. And let's not forget Twitter (which I sometimes do). I should probably tweet more. I recall reading an article about promoting yourself as an author which mentioned that it's easy to spend so much time promoting on the web that you have little time to write. It's a tough balance to strike, but I don't think I'm anywhere near the tipping point yet. Not with two books coming out and two in the works!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shorter and Better Than Ever

My latest editing effort on "Dabblers" brings the manuscript in a 79,800 words. It's sometimes miraculous to me how I can look at a novel over and over, reading and editing, and then a new angle comes to me and I see it all differently. This time, it was the idea that it was too long, and suddenly I started to see all the extraneous stuff. I took out snippets of dialog, descriptions of things that did not matter, and rewrote wordy sentences. Things I original wrote as two sentences became one, and I don't mean by connecting them with an "and" or "or" in the middle.

So once again, I'll let the story "rest" for a bit and come back again, but I think it's nearly done. Then I'll see if Write Words wants to publish it.

In the meantime, back to Tracy Book 3. The plot has solidified and more scenes are in my head to be written, so that one should progress pretty fast. But I'll also have to jump into some promotional work as well. I have an idea for revising this blog, but I'll wait until I can add "Game Faces" into it. And there'll be galleys to proof for "Two Faces, Two Faced," the print edition.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

So Much For Hiatus

Guess that cooling off period for "Dabblers" did not last the "few days" mentioned in my last post. For a while now, I kept getting the sinking feeling that the manuscript was too long at almost 85,000 words. Then today's post on my publisher's blog solidified the feeling. In an email question about length, someone asked about a manuscript over 100,000 words, and in response, she mentioned that 80,000 is about as much as POD publishing can handle.

Back to the "Dabblers" manuscript with my editorial hat firmly in place. I started deleting unimportant stuff. Granted, it's sometimes hard to decide what to leave in and what to leave out. Some things that may not seem crucial to moving the story forward are there merely to set the scene for the reader, make it more real. While it's fun for me as a writer to invent details and make word pictures, too much "stuff" slows the pace. I found passages that were well written and necessary to the earlier incarnation of the manuscript, but now they are not necessary. Sort of like a woman wearing too many accessories--the details begin to overwhelm the outfit.

Also in the back of my mind are words from editor Bobbye Christmas in her book "Write In Style." Sometimes a writer must "kill your babies," those nicely written, highly descriptive passages that don't do anything except impress the reader. If it lays groundwork for future scene, keep it. If it provides a discrete clue, keep it (but maybe shorten it). If it develops a character, keep it (but maybe shorten it). As an example from "Dabblers," I realized that because I originally wrote it while on my lunch break, it seemed to focus on food a little too much, with descriptions of what Stefanie was having for lunch or planning a menu. Fun stuff to make up but unnecessary to the story. Save imaginative descriptions for something that matters.

So slashing away, I've already trimmed almost 2,500 words. Whole paragraphs gone. I'm also going to look for bits of conversation that can be dropped; for instance, sign offs from phone conversations or greetings when people meet. At Chapter 9 out of 21, I think I'll be getting beneath that 80,000 word threshold pretty quick.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Flip Flop

I think I'm finally done with the "Dabblers" rewrite, and I'm quite pleased with it. The result is a more cohesive story, with a lot of the pieces falling into place better. I think the opening works better, too, as far as drawing the reader in, and the first level of conflict--a point of difference between Stefanie and her husband--plays better as well. Not only that, "Dabblers" now sets the stage for a sequel, the idea for which had been bumping around in the back of my mind since finishing it the first time.

For now, "Dabblers" will go on hiatus. I'll leave it alone for a few days and then go back for a fresh reading. In the meantime, as I wait for galleys on "Two Faces, Two Faced" the print edition, I'm delving back into "Faces 3." Even while working on "Dabblers," I've been getting ideas for "Faces 3" as well and working out some of the plot lines. I have to have a clear idea of who's a good guy and who's a bad guy to determine how the Big Scene comes out. I've been toying with an idea about setting that in the middle of a tropical storm.

Once "Game Faces" gets released, I'll have to jump into promotion for a bit. Let's see: update this blog page, update Google site, update Goodreads, update LinkedIn, create new Facebook page, start new ad for Facebook, lots of tweets on Twitter . . . whew!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sneak Peek

With "Game Faces" due out on August 1, I thought I would offer a preview:

Following her adventure in the world of international intrigue, Tracy Wiley joined her lover, Alex Laughlin, in opening a private law practice where she could apply her skills as a problem solver to help people with non-legal issues. Within a few months, however, she becomes bored with nothing to do except play receptionist, especially when a flirtatious TV star hires Alex to negotiate her contract and then monopolizes his time and attention.

Enter Tracy’s first client whose stepdaughter, Betsy, joined the True Brilliant Path, a cult dedicated to improving the human race. Tracy goes to visit her at the compound in the Florida Everglades to learn if Betsy is there of her own free will. The following day, Betsy’s ravaged body is found on a roadside with Tracy’s business card in hand. The leader of the cult swears Betsy left with her boyfriend who has gone missing, as has Tracy’s client. Although not a suspect, Tracy becomes involved with the investigation by the sexy, enigmatic detective in charge, whose amorous advances she finds hard to resist in light of Alex’s involvement with his glamorous client.

Then her role in the case takes a staggering turn, and Tracy becomes victim as well as investigator. Dealing with her own trauma, the chaos of her relationships, and a sense of responsibility for Betsy, she must put on her game face and employ all her resources to find justice and unearth the deepest secrets of the True Brilliant Path.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

News and Updates

I heard from Write Words today about taking "Two Faces, Two Faced" to paperback. How timely with the sequel coming out soon and the "Two Faces" Facebook page up to 91 likes. I think this one's really going places.

Also joined Chicago Writers Association. I heard about them at the Glen Ellyn Bookfest a few weeks ago, and joining sounded like a great way to make contacts and get my name out there.

Registered for Love Is Murder 2013 too, and said I would be willing to be on a panel. Hope they come up with something for me. (At the risk of sounding like a broken record, more promotion opportunities--but hey, nobody but me is going to do it.)

"Dabblers" still in progress. While I would probably put it aside for a while when I think I'm done revising, the decision to do so may be made for me when I must proof galleys for "Two Faces, Two Faced."

Still not ready to give up the day job (although I wouldn't mind if I ended up doing so at a time not of my own choosing if you get my drift).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


"Dabblers" is really coming along. In its newest incarnation, I find myself getting excited about it again, and that's great. When I originally wrote it, I wanted to explore certain ideas in a way that they might really happen. To a degree, the story still does that, but rather than have Stefanie just learning about her uncanny ability, it's more about her learning to accept it and understand it instead of pretending it doesn't exist. She wants to fit in and live a normal life, something denied to her in her youth, but she cannot deny a part of herself to do so. I also made one more tweak in the last day or two, and that was to make sure I did not endow her with too many gifts. She needed some challenges too. A little research on the web proved that my idea for doing that actually has been studied. A perfect fit. 

I have a couple more chapters to rewrite on this pass before I start going through the editing process. Since this is a new story with new characters, it will have to start at square one with Write Words, and hopefully, they'll want to publish it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together...

I have completed another pass at "Dabblers" and I like the result. The story became more complex, but that's okay. Stefanie also became more complex and more likable to me, another good result. Next, I may  have to indulge in an exercise I think of as outlining in reverse While some writers do a complete outline of the story before they start writing, my outlines -- if any -- come somewhere in the middle. The main goal of this exercise is to determine if I have covered all the points I wanted to cover and that each chapter moves the story forward, supplying a critical piece of knowledge or some action. As Arline Chase puts it, in each chapter, something must happen which changes everything forever. In my rather disorganized approach to writing, where I go forwards and backwards at the same time, I can lose track of the form and function aspects. But no worries. All things are fixable.

With "Game Faces" now out of my hands, I must also think about promotion. As soon as I receive the final files from Shelley at Write Words, I can construct a Facebook page for "Game Faces," do blog design changes, and update my Google website. I'm beginning to think the rash of FB "likes" for "Two Faces, Two Faced" is a result of the FB ad I created for it. If that is so, I can only hope that "likes" translate into sales.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Put It To Bed...

Just sent the documents for "Game Faces," (corrections, blurb, bio) to editor at Write Words. Novel #4 is complete! With an August 1 release date, I'll have to jump into promotion pretty soon, too.

Back to juggling two other novels at the same time. It seems that whenever I do some work on "Dabblers," I suddenly get inspired with ideas for "Faces 3" and vice versa. I think "Dabblers" will be completed sooner, though, as I still don't know how the other one ends.

I have rediscovered the value of proofreading from print instead of the computer screen. Repetition of words seems to jump out more on a printed page. Given my edit-as-I-go approach to writing, it becomes too easy to replace a single sentence and not notice it creates repetition of something nearby. For example, by working off paper, I noticed I used the word "retorted" twice on a single page, and the phrase "a bit more" twice on a page. Those are the kinds of things that are harder to spot on the screen. While I certainly hate to kill a bunch of trees, doing so might save a whole lot of time.

On another note, my Facebook page for "Two Faces, Two Faced" is up to 77 Likes! I am both amazed and humbled.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dabblers Progressing

Now that I've started the rewrite of "Dabblers," the ideas have been developing further. Since the story is told from Stefanie's point of view in first person, I am following some advice I once received from a literary agent. The story should flow as if Stefanie were telling it to her best friend. I've considered this hint and refined it (correctly, I hope). I'm telling Stefanie's story as though she is telling it to someone who does not know anything about her at the outset, unlike a best friend who would know some of her history. This includes providing flashbacks to earlier events which have meaning and/or bearing on the current story. It's proving to be a tricky exercise because I want to reveal enough of the background stuff to provide motivation for Stefanie's actions and decisions. Her past experiences play a very important role in this. But I don't want to reveal too much all at once, because Stefanie is also learning about the peculiar talents she has been blessed with.

The rewrite may prove challenging enough that it will require a fair number of readings to make sure I get it right. It might be necessary to take a break from it after a complete first pass.

Then it's back to "Faces 3". Even as I work on "Dabblers," I find myself thinking about Tracy's latest adventure, and each time I follow a thread about it, the story becomes more clearly developed. At the moment, I'm working out the actual part certain tertiary characters play. Then there will be the big climactic scene which I don't have a single idea about at present. But it will come. It always does.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Where to Find the Time

I am trying a slightly different approached to proofing galley for "Game Faces." I printed off the PDF file and my initial list of corrections from the first pass. Now I'll mark those corrections on the print copy and start reading it again on paper. This has some advantages. First, I don't have to keep switching back and forth between the correction file and the PDF file to see if I noted something or not. Second, since the correction file must note page (of the novel, not the PDF), paragraph, and line number, this might be easier to do instead of trying to keep count while scrolling on the computer screen. Third, for some reason, some errors are just easier to see on paper than on a screen. I don't know why this is, but I prove it to myself over and over again. One more modification to my earlier proofing method is to give it a rest for a couple of days between readings. I get way too close to the material and stop seeing what's on the page.

Faces 3 is heading for another stall. I have a scene in mind coming up, but then I don't know where it's going except in the vaguest sort of way.

This being the case, I will probably do some more work on the rewrite of "Dabblers." I've been through the first chapter already, and I now like my character better that she's less of a victim. Instead, she has her peculiar talent that she chooses to hide from everyone, including her soul-mate husband. She dislikes being "special" or different and longs to fit in, just as she did in the earlier version, but I've tweaked the premise enough so that once she feels she must embrace that talent to solve her uncle's murder, she begins to morph into a different kind of person. As others around her see her begin to change, it causes -- guess what -- conflict! Oddly enough, when I concluded the novel the first time, I had envisioned a sequel to it, but with the rewrite, Stefanie is even better suited to that sequel.

Eagerly awaiting second quarter payroll from Write Words. While I'd certainly like to see a larger check, I also want to get some idea of what effect various promotion efforts are having. We shall see.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Game Faces -- Coming August 1

Yesterday, I downloaded the galley for "Game Faces," sequel to "Two Faces, Two Faced." Cover looks awesome! I am in the process of proofing and writing up list of corrections. I've almost completed a first reading.

I'm also updating various websites to reflect the scheduled release date. Maybe this time, I'll have another go at sending out press releases. I did not get much response when I tried that route for "The Dreamer Gambit," but in most cases, it's free.

Of course, this breaks up writing of the third in the series. Still not sure what the title will be. And there's the rewrite of "Dabblers" which is bubbling under the surface, waiting to come out. Maybe I need to take a week of vacation from my day job and really lean on the writing.

I am also considering a major change to this blog once the new book comes out. Rather than have all the different links listed on the lefthand side, I might just add a link to my Google site. That website has a separate page for each novel with room for lots more detail about it, as well as links. Just an idea I'm toying with.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Updates and Miscellaneous Notes

First, a big THANK YOU to all those who have "liked" my Facebook pages in recent days. "Two Faces, Two Faced" is up to 27 Likes. This is great! "The Changeling Kill" comes in next at 9, and "The Dreamer Gambit" comes in last at 2. Really, having lots of likes is quite helpful as it improves chances of my books showing up in searches. I can always use as much advertising as I can, and free is always better.

Got past a stuck place in the newest "Faces" novel, although another still looms ahead. I need to figure out how Tracy is going to ultimately get herself out of her jam. And of course that begs the question of how each of the characters comes out of it too. My ideas in this area are still very sketchy.

Also, ideas for the rewrite of "Dabblers" are coming on strong. A new opening is in my head:

I fall backwards slowly into eternal darkness. Above, a point of light grows ever smaller. It becomes a mere pinhole through velvety black just before I am enveloped in cold. It closes all around me until I cannot breathe, cannot hear, cannot see. But my mind remains active, conscious, reaching out beyond the physical senses to find knowledge, truth, answers...

The flash of dream-memory-fantasy came to me in an instant, and then I returned to the real world, sitting in the car in front of Uncle Hank's old house. The mid-twentieth-century brick ranch had not changed at all since I last saw it more than twenty-five years ago. Nothing about its exterior suggested its last occupant had died in a freak act of nature, struck down by lightning, but the occurrence of the falling vision announced that all was not as it should be in Windsong Lake and I would once again travel the dark road it foretold.

I swallowed hard in a dry throat and hoped my sense of trepidation did not show.

That's sort of a rough draft of the opening. I'm getting very eager to work on this one as the manuscript has been sitting around in its earlier form for some time, and I think it has merit.

Maybe when I get to the next stuck place in "Faces 3" . . .

Still waiting for galleys on "Game Faces."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

From Adversity, My Darker Side, Dabblers Re-envisioned

Entered one of my books in a contest (and paid for the privilege). Results came out today--I didn't even make the first cut, i.e., the screening process. Bummer. BIIIIG bummer. I started thinking about it and decided that perhaps the book did not seem to fit within the category in which it was entered. It always struck me as a sort of genre-bender anyway.

So in a black sort of mood, I went out to do some errands, and on my MP3 collection, "Lady In Black" by Uriah Heep played. For some reason, all the elements combined and, voila!, Stefanie from "Dabblers" got a make-over. I had noted in a previous post that I stopped work on "Dabblers" when I realized I found her too weak, too needy. That meshed with the idea of my contest entry not clearly fitting into a specific genre. My dark mood morphed into Stefanie's personna. While the original premise of a woman with unique talents trying to hide and deny them getting into a situation where she must embrace them still stands, some fresh ideas were born out of my sudden inspiration. One, she doesn't deny them but tries to hide them and control them because she still wants to fit in and enjoy normalcy. But instead of being frightened, nervous, and lost, the character will react in a far different way. I also had some ideas about important elements of the story, certain events, and how they transpire. I'll be thinking about all this more in days to come.

But I am also in the middle of Book 3 in the "Faces" series. I got past the first "stuck place" and have formulated some events that will move things forward. Still need a vision for the dramatic climax though. I may be interleaving this one with a bit of work on "Dabblers." Two books at once? We shall see...

Someone I know bought and is reading "The Changeling Kill," and I warned her before she started that there was a scene that might prove shocking. Well, she reached it, and shock her I did. Let us just say there was an abrupt need to do some laundry. (If that makes anyone curious, read it and find out.)