The Waiting Game

Waiting to hear from an e-publisher may be as bad as waiting to hear from a print publisher.  I just sent Wolf Legend to Samhain Publishing and to The Wild Rose Press.  So now the waiting game begins. They say it’ll be weeks before I hear from them.  Okay, they say it might be a couple months.

I guess I shouldn’t complain.  I wrote for the confession market for many years.  That taught me how to truly wait.  I sometimes waited a year to hear back from them.  Or two.  I can’t remember ever waiting three years, but one year was usual and two happened occasionally.

Not always, of course.  I’d hear from them in two or three weeks if the story I’d submitted fit their current needs.  Once I even got a phone call to say they wanted to use a story immediately and that they’d send the contract ASAP.  That was nice.  But it wasn’t usual.

So now I’m about to find out about e-publishers.  Will I hear in a matter of weeks?  Months?  Or longer?

In the meantime,  I’ll get started on Earth Legend, the last of the Legend trilogy.  And I will try to be patient.

Welcome to the world of publishing.  And waiting.

Writer/Procrastinator

Last post, I said I was ready to start marketing Wolf Legend, my next contemporary romance novel with a supernatural theme.  Maybe the truth should be that I’m almost ready to start marketing Wolf Legend.

I’ve still got to do one more run-through for editing, typos, etc.  Most of all, I must justify the margins. When I first started e-publishing, I tried writing first drafts with justified margins so I wouldn’t have to go back and do it later.  It didn’t work. It drove me crazy.  All those letters jumping all over the place whenever I made a change.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, try it.  You’ll go blind very quickly.  Or insane.  Or both.)  And I changed at least a few things in every chapter.  Even if I was on rewrite number ten.

So I quit creating with justified margins and must go back and redo the entire book now that I’m finally, finally truly done with it. Actually I justified it twice already and then un-justified it so I could make changes without going blind.  But this time I’m sure I’m done.

Really sure.

Pretty sure.

Almost sure…

Okay, I’m a writer and that means I’m never done.  I just reach a point in the creative process where I send it off whether I’m satisfied or not.  My husband often threatens to tear my latest manuscript from my clutching, ink-stained fingers because that’s the only way it’ll ever go out into the world.

The Romance Genre… Or Not

I’m finally… finally… finally… ready to start marketing the second book of my Legend trilogy, Wolf Legend, about a psychic wolf.  Actually two psychic wolves, mother and daughter and the woman they share a mind link with.

Marketing requires that I choose a category for my book.  I hate doing that.  Hate, hate, hate it!!!

Wolf Legend is a supernatural, contemporary, clean romance.  Though a supernatural element is fairly common in contemporary fiction, clean romances don’t often have that theme.  So maybe Wolf Legend shouldn’t be marketed as a supernatural, contemporary, clean romance after all.  Maybe it’s contemporary fiction with a supernatural theme and a romantic sub-plot!  Since readers ultimately categorize books, it’s difficult to know ahead of time where they will place it.

I wish I had a mind link with my readers!

Second Draft

I read somewhere that most novels go through ten re-writes before being published.  When I read that statistic, I almost quit writing for a more lucrative field, like greeting people at Walmart.

Ten re-writes?  Really?  I still think that’s a bit extreme but that number worked its way around my psyche until I figured something out.  If a story might be re-written ten times, more or less, why not use that fact to my advantage?  So I tried something and I’ve been doing it ever since.

I write the story.  The story.  Not the characters, not the background.  Just the story.  Only when I’m done do I consider what kind of story I’m writing.  Romance?  Mystery?  Thriller?  Mainstream?  After remembering what kind of story I started out to write, I re-read the whole thing and insert what’s needed to make it become the kind of story it should be.

If it’s a romance, then every so often I’ll insert a sentence or two to add a bit of romantic interest.  Occasionally that sentence or two becomes a whole new scene.  Sometimes not.  Whatever the result, those re-written sentences add a subtle something that reminds the reader that this is not just a story, it’s a particular kind of story. This becomes especially true if what you are adding doesn’t contribute to the flow of the story.  Sex scenes.  Car chases. Descriptions without action. Soliloquies.  Background information.

I’ve since learned that many writers do this.  And here I thought I was unique!  I’m not, I’m just one of many writers who learned how to write by writing.

The only caveat to doing this is to not let it take over the book.  Remember that you’re fleshing out a situation, not stopping the action completely.  Usually a sentence or two will do the trick.  If you find you are writing an entire scene, then go back later and make sure you didn’t add too much.

And guess what?  Reading the story that third time to make sure your re-writes were appropriate becomes re-write number three.  And so on, until you stop because if you read it one more time you’ll puke.  And you realize that you’ve gone through the whole thing more times than you’d have thought possible when you put that first sentence on the page and ten re-writes begins to look almost normal.

The Literary Genre Part 3

More thoughts on the literary genre, mainly who reads this genre and why.

The answer, as I believe I’ve seen from talking to people who love it, is (drum roll, please) readers who want to insert their own ideas into the story, figure out their own endings, and interpret whatever happens in their own way.

The reason I say this is because I hear over and over again from readers of literary fiction how much they hate it when the writer hits them over the head with the meaning… the story line… the ending… the character descriptions… whatever it is they wished had been handled more subtly.  Or, to look at it another way, they want to read the story the way they’d have written it if they’d been the author.

I suspect that for many readers, literary stories work in much the same way as those stories with multiple endings.  The kind where you read so far then decide what ending you want and it pops up just the way you wanted it.  Ten people could have ten different endings.  I suspect that lovers of literary fiction want to be able to see the whole story their way, not just the ending and they couldn’t do so if the writer was too specific.

This is no more than a personal belief of mine based on observations of reader friends over the years but I’ve come to truly believe that they read literary fiction because it allows them to fill in so many blanks in a story that is all allusions and generalities that when they are finished they have read whatever story they were looking for.

Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know, but I do wish them good reading.

Unicorn Bait by S.A.Hunter

novel Unicorn Bait

My second book review.  Unicorn Bait by S.A.Hunter.  Hey, I like fun fantasy stories!

This is such a story and the title is the most fun thing of all but I won’t tell you what the unicorn bait is because that would be a spoiler.  But I’ll say this much.  It made reading the book worth it in spite of the fact that, to me at least, the book was a little longer than necessary.  A bit wordy.  And not exactly high English but definitely readable.

It’s a familiar tale with a twist.  Modern day woman inherits a joke unicorn horn from her father that turns out to be the real thing and when she dusts it off she’s whisked away to a magical kingdom where unicorns and magic are commonplace.  Since her only wish is to return to her home and since she’s smart enough to figure out that it was the unicorn horn that got her there, she figures that she needs another one to whisk her back. The rest of the book is the search for a unicorn and a virgin (which she isn’t) to use as bait because, as everyone knows, unicorns only communicate with virgins.  And, of course, in the process she falls in love with the prince of the kingdom who starts out being nasty and ends up being nice even though he remains a little rough around the edges.  Much better than Prince Charming, to my way of thinking.

So there you have it.  I’m discovering that I actually enjoy writing reviews though I’ll never write a bad review.  If I don’t like a book (and I’ve started many books I didn’t like)  I don’t review it at all.  I just put it down without finishing it.

When Fiction Imitated Life

I think this post is about writing.  Maybe not.  You be the judge….

I find that, unbidden, animals creep into my work.  Recently they have become psychic because it works for the story but also because psychic animals are fun.  Wolf Legend has a psychic wolf.   Wanted Sharpshooter has a rogue psycho cougar.  But I never thought of psychic animals as being anything other than clever additions to fictional stories.

Until now.  What follows was my life last week:

First I should mention that we have a cat named Smoke.  He’s our first cat ever and we have him because our daughter got him as a kitten to become another barn cat to keep their barn free of mice.   Smoke, however, didn’t want to be a barn cat.  He kept coming to the house and meowing very politely to let her know that he’s a house cat, not a barn cat.

Since our daughter already had three house cats and didn’t need any more, she decided her parents needed a cat.  So we got Smoke.  As soon as he came to our house he knew this was where he wanted to be.  He walked around and inspected his new kingdom and informed us that it was acceptable and climbed onto my lap and started purring and has pretty much been there ever since.  Even though we aren’t cat people.  Or, to be honest, we weren’t cat people until Smoke came into our lives.

Anyway, to get back to what happened in the last few days:

My DH Dick started feeling sick Thursday night. So did Smoke. Didn’t come to get us for bed as usual and was quiet.

Dick got worse Thursday night. So did Smoke. Stayed in one spot on the bed all night. Didn’t move. Didn’t do anything.

Dick was really sick Friday morning. So was Smoke. Managed to crawl onto a shirt that Dick had dropped onto the floor and he stayed on that shirt.  Didn’t move, didn’t do anything.  Was really sick and puking and refused to get off that shirt even though Smoke generally prefers me to Dick.  But that day when I offered him one of my shirts, he refused it and went back to Dick’s shirt, where he stayed.  So I left him there while I took Dick to the ER.

It was acute appendicitis.  Dick had surgery and, as happens after surgery, he felt generally awful for the rest of Friday and all day Saturday.  He came home Saturday evening. Smoke also felt awful during that time, couldn’t even climb onto the bed and, when I lifted him there and touched his stomach, he cried out in pain. So I put him back on Dick’s shirt on the floor, which was where he wanted to be. He lay there without moving.

Sunday both Dick and Smoke felt awful. Both lay around and did nothing, Dick in bed, Smoke on the shirt that he refused to give up.

Monday, Dick felt awful until afternoon, when he began feeling better. Same with Smoke. Didn’t move, stayed on Dick’s shirt and felt awful Monday morning, but Monday afternoon he, too, started feeling better.

Tuesday morning, Smoke felt better still.  He came into the kitchen and let me know that he wanted his morning treat and, when I only gave him half a treat because he’d been sick, he meowed until he got the whole treat. Same with Dick. He wanted a full breakfast and is now feeling pretty good.

Oh yes, when I went into the bedroom later that day to put that shirt in the hamper, Smoke watched me pick it up, accompanied me to the laundry, and watched me drop it in the hamper without interest.  Because whatever had happened during those last few days was over.  Both cat and man were okay.

Coincidence?  Probably.  But maybe not.

Anyway, in the future if I can’t get those psychic or empathetic animals out of my work, instead of mentally excusing their existence because it’s only fiction, I’ll accept the reality that art imitates life more than I’d ever realized until we got a cat named Smoke.

Genre Fiction

I’ve been blogging about the craft of writing fiction for some time now.  I’ve been passing on tips learned from other writers and a few things I figured out on my own.  But I find that now when I sit down to write a post, the ideas no longer crowd each other in their need to be heard and read.  So I’ve decided to widen the scope of my blogs.  But how?  What else to say?

I write genre fiction.  Several genres, actually and often all are in the same book. Romance.  Sci-fi.  Small Town.  Paranormal.  Sweet.  Eco-fiction.  And probably a few more I haven’t heard of.  And I’ve learned that not everyone agrees on what belongs in which genre.  There are some generalities, but once you get beyond those general descriptions, genre fiction seems to be all over the place.

So I’m going to jump in head first and see what happens.  Okay, honesty compels me to admit that anything I jump into will more likely involve a belly-flop than a swan dive.  But you get the idea.

Any thoughts?  What genres do you read?  Which do you write?  Why?  Do you like cross-genre fiction?  What would you like to see done differently in the world of genre fiction?  Which genres would you like to see more of?  Less of?  Let me know and maybe we’ll get something going.

As a former first grade teacher, I know that sometimes when there’s  mud puddle in your path that calls out to you with a mesmerizing siren song, the best thing to do is hold your nose and jump in.  And enjoy the mud.

(Note:  It took me years to develop a tolerance for leeches, and guess where they live?  In the mud.  But that’s another story.)

I Love My Kindle

Last week our son visited.  Happened to be here on Sunday so he went to church with us.  Before leaving the house, he asked about this particular church.  Whether there were bibles in the pews.  We looked at each other in puzzlement and wanted to know why he’d ask such a question.

There was a good reason.  He wanted to know whether he should bring his own bible or whether there were bibles already in the pews for those people who wanted to look up passages the pastor was referring to.  We didn’t know the answer to that question because we don’t look up passages, we just listen.  (Hey, at least we don’t sleep!)

He’s a Regional Pastor.   In his job he travels constantly to churches in many states.  When visiting churches he wants to be able to smoothly handle different ways of doing things so if the church doesn’t provide pew bibles,  he wants to have his own.  But carrying several bibles (to have whatever bible that particular church prefers) would add to the weight of his luggage and airlines charge per pound of extra weight.  Several bibles equals several extra pounds and many extra dollars.

So, that Sunday he pulled his Kindle from his suitcase.  He had all the bibles he could ever need right in that one, small device.  Along with all the reading matter his job requires.  And several novels to choose from when he’s done working.

And here I thought Kindles were only for enjoyment.  Mine takes the place of the library I gave away when we moved into a house too small for all those books.  Doesn’t matter now, I’m quickly gathering a new library.  A more extensive one.  And all in that one, small device  that fits in my purse.

This isn’t a plug for Kindles per se, instead it’s a plug for progress in the form of any electronic device that makes life easier and fuller without adding to the mental and physical clutter that present day life involves.  And Kindles, Nooks and all other electronic readers do just that.

Long live Kindles!

Guns and 99 Cent Reads

I’ve decided that Americans like their guns and I have the data to back up that claim.  My data, as inconclusive as it may be, is that my novel Wanted Sharpshooter is selling better than any of my other books, even Spirit Legend, the book that was prominent last week in a book blast that sent it to be featured in a dozen blogs.  I admit this is a surprise to me.

Why has it  happened?  I have a thought.  Just a thought.  If you check out Wanted Sharpshooter, you’ll see that the cover features a guy with a rifle and he’s ready to fire it.  Both the guy and the rifle are prominent and can’t possibly be missed.  Both man and gun are dangerous.  The book sells for 99 cents.

Conclusion?  We Americans like our guns and I suspect we aren’t the only people who do. And I know that people everywhere also like a good, inexpensive story to read.  So perhaps Wanted Sharpshooter fulfills both desires?

As far as guns go, I can’t hit the broad side of a barn.  But when my dad died, our inheritance was guns.  Growing up, he repeatedly reminded us that guns are capable of killing people and you must remember that every single time you so much as touch one.

Books can be equally dangerous, though in a different way.  Words have the potential to change the world.  Not the books I write, they are for enjoyment and relaxation.  But both words and bullets are extremely potent weapons.

And a good, affordable story is a well-deserved treat.