Major Announcement!

It’s truly funny how things work out sometimes.

For the past year, since about the time my son began pre-treatment for his bone marrow transplant, my thoughts where publishing were concerned have turned dramatically towards self-publishing. I’ve seen countless friends self-publish in the past 5 – 8 years, some who even surprised me because of their vehemence towards NOT self-publishing in the same time frame.

I’ve spent numerous hours in the last year reading popular self-publishing blogs, listening to podcasts, and questioning key friends who have both self-published and been traditionally published. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that self-publishing was for me because of the certainty of having my words and stories in print, and because of the level of control I’d be able to have.

And then, a random post about a month ago turned things on its head.

On my personal Facebook page, I made a comment one weekend about the priciness of ISBNs–those 10 or 13-digit numbers that uniquely identify your book and its edition. I knew I’d need several in the next year or two, considering my plans. But, yikes! Were they expensive!! I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I can’t ask my husband for $500 for 20 ISBNs (or whatever the rate is.) We just don’t have it in the budget, and I haven’t shown him the evidence that I could earn it back yet.

So, back to the comment. I was surprised at how many people responded to my post–all authors, of course (because who else knows what an ISBN is??) It was an interesting conversation, especially because I commented that I almost wished we lived in Canada, where ISBNs are free to authors.

What I didn’t know is that they’re free in other countries, too. Like New Zealand.

One of my friends happens to live in New Zealand.

She also happens to have her own press.

She also has read my work, and was my mentor when I did the Team PYP challenge about two to three years ago.

And, late last year, I’d asked her advice on a short story I had wanted to develop into a longer piece of work, and she gladly gave me some advice which was key into developing it into a novella rather than a short story.

She also invited me to send her the completed novella to possibly publish it through her press.

My brain turned on its head. Traditionally publish? But… but… but… I’ve been planning to self-publish for the past nine months!

Still, this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. One thing I’ve struggled with was the idea that my stories were worth it. Another was what I’d do about editing because I knew I’d need at least a good polish, if not much more. If she was interested in the stories, maybe they do have worth, maybe they are good enough. If not, well, maybe she’d have some input on what I could improve.

I’m not going to prattle on much longer in my story, but long story short is: I sent the novella. She loved them. We talked. We agreed it would be mutually beneficial for us to work together.

A contract was sent. A contract has been signed.

As of March 25, 2014, I’m contracted with Splashdown Books. My editor is the fabulous Grace Bridges. I’m completely over the moon, especially since this is my birthday week. What better present could an author ask for but a contract?? Of course this year, I’m just thrilled to be home on my birthday, with my husband, daughter, son, and dog. But a CONTRACT! Probably one of the best presents ever!

We’re still working out all of the details, such as titles and time frame. That information will be forthcoming as it’s available. Check here, the Splashdown Books website, Twitter, my Facebook, or the Splashdown Books Facebook page for updates.

So, that’s my major announcement! I’m so, so happy to share this with the rest of you!

Until next time…

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Welcome Back! — an Update and a Re-Evaluation

Tap, tap, tap! Does this thing still work??

Ahem.

Yes, I’m back after a much extended break. So, let me catch you up on what’s happened in since I did a serious post back in January.

My little man +121 after transplant, feeling great!

In early February, we were told that we were ready for transplant, and March 1 found my husband and I driving from Kansas City to Seattle, WA, where we proceeded with my son’s bone marrow transplant. It  was slated to happen the last week in March, but he got a virus (which he wasn’t symptomatic for!) and forced a delay until May 1. From May 1 until July 23, we were outpatient for only 2 weeks, 14 hours! My little boy kept getting sick for various reasons, so we never got more than a week and a few hours out the two times we were outpatient.

However.

He has done AMAZINGLY well, and we were able to leave on his day +101 to come home!! We arrived home on August 12, which ended up being a bit of a whirlwind for us. We got home at 12:45 AM, rushed to make an appointment with our KC BMT doctor, then went to see my grandmother who was dying… and who passed away while we were with her.

I am so glad I got to come home and see her one last time.

___________

So, whirlwind 5 1/2 months means no writing, right? 

Nope. 

While I didn’t do near as much writing as I’d hoped to do in those five and a half months, I did more than I think many people expected I would. I finished the third draft on my suspense-in-the-future book, Reprisal, and moved further along with the first draft of my police procedural with a Sci-Fi-y twist, Dead Before Arrival. I also began drafting a short story that will be a prequel to Beyond Dead and Dead Before Arrival–and am actively brainstorming ideas for a series of shorts that could very well lead up to the publication of both books, plus the third book in the trilogy, which I’ve yet to name or do more with than have a few ideas for scenes that could or should happen in them. 

Which brings me to the re-evaluation phase of this post.

Something in me snapped last fall where publishing is concerned. Most of you who regularly read this blog will remember I’ve said repeatedly that I’m only interested in getting an agent and going the traditional route. I’m not sure what changed, but something has. Maybe it’s watching so many of my friends succeed in self-publishing, maybe it’s the further success of e-books, or the fact they’re now outselling physical books, but I’ve been re-evaluating what my desires are for publishing.

Over the last several months, I’ve been listening to podcasts like Self-Publishing Podcast and Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn with regularity–maybe even being on the brink of being a bit obsessive about it.  In the many hours of listening while driving or doing house chores, the things the hosts and their guests have said struck a chord with me, and I’m beginning to see how it’s possible for lilol‘ me to be successful in self-publishing. I’ve got a few hang-ups I’m working through, but thankfully, I’ve got friends whom I can pick the brains of. 

Currently, I’m formulating a plan to begin publishing in the next 18 months–maybe even sooner. We’ll have to see how that goes. I’m starting to chomp at the bit in order to make this happen, so if I can keep up that level of enthusiasm and have things come together, you may be seeing my name in print very soon!

As for this blog, I’m going to keep trying to plug away at it, though as I think I’ve said in the past, it’s going to encompass more of what interests me besides writing, so you may hear about kitchen disasters, anecdotes about my kids, or whatever else floats my boat. I’m also considering doing a non-fiction book about my experiences during transplant, although I’m not really sure about the direction of the project yet.

Until next time,

Tough Decisions, or, I’m Not a Quitter–Honest!

Being a writer means making lots of choices. Why did Uncle Melvin kill off Cousin Carl? How will Detective Haskins discover the killer? Why did Sarah run off with Luigi? And on and on…

One of the toughest things about being a writer is knowing when to quit. Not necessarily for the day, but when is the story done. Or when it’s not done, and there’s nothing you can do at this point in your life to make it done.

by Astroboy_71

I’m facing one of those times right now.

For the last 6 1/2 years, I’ve been working on a novel project. It’s had a lot of names, but right now, it’s “Homebody”. This novel predates my children being born, and the two main characters actually predate my marriage.

Over the last year or so, I’ve struggled with the book. I’m on like the 7th draft or some crazy thing, and I keep feeling like I’m circling around when it could be considered done, but just not quite there. Those who have read it say the same thing. But I can’t figure out what’s wrong with it, not now at least. For a while, I thought it was done: I submitted it to agents, and have received a few nice, even encouraging replies, but nothing that would have me thinking I’m almost there.

In a last-ditch effort, I asked Texas Momma (aka Linda Yezak) to take a look at it this spring. Between all her battles, she read a few chapters, but life happened and she had to return it, mostly unread, but with a few very helpful suggestions.

Then, last week, I got that niggling feeling again, like it was time to let it go.

I’ve had that feeling off and on for a while. I’m not sure why, but after it came back stronger than ever, I decided I’d e-mail Texas Momma about it. Even though I asked, I wasn’t quite prepared for the blunt reply:

“Give up on Homebody. Save the personalities for another book, if you’d like, but I’d quit on it.”

My stomach clenched reading those words. This book has become so much a part of my identity the last several years. How can I just give it up? It’s almost like abandoning one of my children at the grocery store.

One thing you should learn early on as a writer is to kill your darlings. In other words, that turn of phrase you think is so clever, or that scene that you love but doesn’t necessarily fit with the rest of the book. Perhaps it’s the same way with this book–it’s become my darling in many ways.

When I first started it, I was a completely different person than I am today. I had different goals, different aspirations, different worries. And, writing… and rewriting Homebody was cathartic in many ways. In the past six years, I’ve started work on several other projects, most of which I’ve finished, one or two I haven’t for whatever reason–my creative juices ran out, I lost interest, etc.

Homebody wasn’t the first novel I wrote. No, that disgraceful thing happened back in my teens. I pray it never again sees the light of day. A couple more came in between, both before and after a hiatus in my last semester of college into the first year of married life. Perhaps Homebody is that transition for me–the one I needed to get out, but isn’t yet worthy of being published. Perhaps the next one or two books I’ve got on my plate will be it. I hope so.

For now, I must say goodbye to this story. Thank you for helping me grow as a writer. I’m sorry I had to use you to do it, that you never reached your full potential, that I wasn’t the writer you needed me to be. Just know that even though you will remain on my flash drive, and I may never open you again, you’ve been valuable. I will always have fond memories of writing you.

As for my characters, Amanda O’Flannigan and Richard “Rick” Pierce, I think they’ll be around again. Almost as soon as I made the decision that it was time to cut it loose, I got a new idea which would be perfectly suited (I think) for them. And, Homebody definitely allowed me to come up with a great deal of back-story for these two. I hope it comes to fruition, mostly because I love both of these characters dearly. I’m not quite ready to quit on them, even if I have to quit on one of their stories.

For the time being, I’m going to get back to work on “Reprisal”. I’m mid-way through the 3rd draft, and it’s lingered far too long as I’ve had two children, done NaNo, and tried to get that OTHER book done. I’ll try to post monthly reports, even if they’re brief, on how that’s going. Once I’ve completed the 3rd draft, I’m going to go back to my 2009 NaNo project, “Beyond Dead”. It’s very short–just barely over the 50K minimum to win NaNo, and ideally I’d prefer it around 80K. That’s a lot of words to add! But, one thing at a time.

If you’re a writer, how do you gauge when it’s time to cut a story loose permanently and stop working on it? Have you ever had to do it? Did you mourn for the story and/or characters as I feel I’m doing a bit of now?

Happy trails,

News!

We have some news!

Last week was the source of some good news… and some bad news…

But, we like good news here. So, I’ll just share the good news today. The bad news… it can wait. Besides, it’s not horrible, life-altering news, it’s just the kind we don’t like very well. 😉

Ahem.

As many of you know, I decided to join the Team PYP challenge back in July. (Sadly, I’ve learned that Mrs. Woychik will not be continuing Team PYP into next year, and has shortened this year from a full year to 9 months… 😦 ) Anyway. I’ve been working on my myriad of projects for this and other duties, and I’m starting to see some success.

A week or so ago, in Miss Snark’s First Victim Secret Agent contest, the Secret Agent told me she’d probably read beyond the first 250 words if my story were in her slush. (Pssst! It is! I submitted to her during the contest, not knowing it was her!) So, that was encouraging.

But, the best news of all came on St. Patrick’s Day.

Now, I’m not superstitious or anything… and while I’m Irish, let’s just say my roots to Colonial America are fresher than those that lead to the Emerald Isle.

But, St. Patrick’s Day evening, I’m doing what every young writer does incessantly–checking their e-mail. I didn’t think I’d have anything, but lo-and-behold, there’s something new in my inbox. (I keep a separate e-mail account for all things writerly, just so I don’t lose things of importance.)

I click on it.

It opens up, slowly. (Yeah, thinking about leaving Yahoo! after all the issues I’m having, but I digress.)

“We would be pleased to include your story “Family Reunions Are Murder” in OMDB!”

How about them apples?! OMDB! is short for “Over My Dead Body!” and is an online magazine for, you guessed it, murder-related stories. I don’t know when I’ll be published–yet!–but I’m sure it’ll be relatively soon. I’ll be sure to let everyone know when it’s up. 🙂

Until next time,

It Seems Like It Took Forever To Get To This Point…

You might remember several months ago, I did a blog post about my son’s battle with a disease called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. You may also remember the fact that he’d been on a feeding tube since Christmas.

My little boy, hiding

Well, we’ve had some pretty decent progress in the last couple of months.

My little boy has gone from baby nearly completely dependent on his feeding tube to a toddler who had the gumption to practically insist on having it removed. Permanently.

As of a week ago today, we haven’t been using the feeding tube.

This may seem like a strange post to do on a writing blog, but let me tell you–this is something I’m rejoicing about. For 7.5 months he’s had this stupid thing. When he first got it just before Christmas last year, they told me it would probably be three, maybe four months.

Before we knew it, spring, then summer was here. Do you realize he’s spent more time with it in than out in his short life?? He’ll be 13 months old in a week or so, and we’ll still have another two months to go before he’ll equal out the time!

So, let me finish updating you on his health.

On Friday, we had what we call a combined clinic. Three departments who are following his progress at the hospital we go to all came in for different parts of the same appointment and discussed his health with TMOTH and me. They said he looks good overall, and are so pleased with his progress, they don’t want us to come back for 6 months.

6 MONTHS!!!

This is absolutely huge for us, especially since we’ve gotten used to seeing almost all our doctors once every 4 – 6 weeks. We will, of course, continue to follow up with our personal doctor, and keep one of the doctors updated on illnesses, weight gains/losses, and call with questions. And, when we go back, our little guy will be having his first bone marrow biopsy. That’ll be the sucky part, but we’ll hope/pray that it’ll just be one thing we have to live with and nothing bad will come of it.

For the time being, if you want to pray for our little guy, just pray we can get into and through cold/flu season unscathed. The theory is the fewer times he’s sick, the less hits his bone marrow will take, and the less stressed it will be, which may reduce the likelihood he’ll develop leukemia in his lifetime. Everyone in our family will be getting a flu shot, and he’ll be getting a pneumonia shot as well. If you’re family or friends and reading this, we beg you to get a flu shot–not only for your health, but his.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

I usually don’t do a two-topic post, but will today, just for the sake of getting it off my chest.

My writing has been coming along beautifully. While I’m still behind on my CCBR reviews (sorry Kristina and Tanya!), I’m attempting to catch up there. Too bad the short books are the easiest to read and review… I’ve just got the longer, chapter books to work on now!

But, more importantly, I took the plunge and signed up for the Port Yonder Press mentorship program for the 2011-2012 season. So far, I’ve written my first story (of the four required) and it came out rather well, if I do say so myself. The goal is to get it worked into a publishable/saleable shape. So, right now, my goal is to sit down and figure out who would be the likely takers for this short project (under 1000 words.) Then, I need to work on my next project, which will be longer. My exclusively-novel-trained brain is definitely getting its exercise working on these shorter projects.

And, finally, I have been once again actively working on the 2nd Draft of “Cora’s Song.” Have I mentioned how much I really love this story? Well, I really love this story. 🙂 I’m nowhere near done, and have already written about 85K (as of Friday last week) on the project. My first draft? 70K. As I said on my author page, I see a lot of editing in my future, since I think this could easily clock in around 110 – maybe even 120K. The really awesome thing is that even though I’m actively outlining, staying about 10 chapters ahead, I’m coming up with some cool ideas to incorporate when I go back to edit further.

Now if I can just get all my notes in one place

Until next time,

April is for Easter

Hello, lovely readers!

I know many of my readers are from ChristianWriters.com, but many aren’t. As such, I wanted to draw your attention to this month’s blog chain. I won’t be participating this month–hey, I’ve got a lot on my plate, more than I can handle–but I don’t want my readers to miss out.

The topic this month is Easter, and I know everyone involved in this month’s chain won’t disappoint. I urge you to check out as many of these posts as you can as they pop up through the month. And, be sure to check my side-bar for last minute changes and updates.

The schedule–as of April 1– is as follows:

As for me, April seems to be a regrouping month. This week, we’re expecting my son’s diagnosis, so once we know for sure (hopefully!) what’s going on, I should be able to figure out, at least for the short term, what my schedule is likely to be like. Which means I may be able to fit in some writing time. I desperately need to start writing daily again. My brain feels like it’s filled with kid’s movies, medications, and medical research, when I’d rather it be filled with agent searches, plots, and characters. (Well, how about all 6 items.)

Please go check out the blog chain and chime in at my friends’ blogs. I’ll try to be back next week with either an update on my son or a blog on writing.

Until next time,

December’s Update

I’m writing this a few days early, as I usually do. Today, Monday the 20th, is probably taking my family out of town on a job interview for my husband. (At the time of this writing, we’re debating on the whole family going, or just TMOTH.) I’m also about to move (finally!) so I’ll probably be brain-dead by Sunday night (the 19th.)

So.

My life has tried very hard to get in the way of my writing. What should have been an obstacle–my son landing in the hospital Thanksgiving week–actually turned into a blessing writing-wise. With him stuck in the hospital for observation, and me with him, I had plenty of nearly-uninterrupted hours to write (and watch the Burn Notice marathon on USA Thanksgiving Day.) This at least got me jump-started, so now, most of the scenes I needed to work on with Homebody are down on paper. I’m hopeful that if I’m in the car today (Monday), I’ll be able to spend some time cleaning things up. As long as my brain’s not too dead. We’ll have to see about that one. 😉

When I have this all done, I’ll be sending the draft off to one last crit partner in Pennsylvania, and then working on tweaking/perfecting my query letter. Yea!

What’s up next after that? I haven’t decided yet. I need to do some editing on my other projects, however, I’m kind of burnt out on editing. I really need to do some writing again–a fresh project, whether it’s with new or old characters. I don’t care which, I just want something new. I’ve got several unfinished projects I could choose from, and some new ideas I’m playing around with, so I’ve got a lot to pick from! 

So, how about you? How are your current projects coming along? Have the holidays or life gotten in the way, or are you persisting through everything?