Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One Giant Leap ... For Me!

Breaking News...Breaking News...Breaking News

Call the local networks! Call the national news! Get Oprah on the phone! Schedule my cry-fest with Barbara Walters! Cuz guess what? I'm publishing my own book!

Yep, you heard that right. After thinking looooooong and hard about it, I'm taking a HUGE leap. I'm going for it. I'm entering the indie publishing fray.

Almost as cool as the first man on the moon, right? Not for everyone? Ok, got it.

For some authors, this is an easy decision. Not so for me. I'm pretty much the slowest big-decision-maker EVER. Like, I wait, and wait, and wait. Why? I'm a big chicken. Totally.

Indie publishing has been at the back of my mind for quite some time now. But I kept making excuses as to why I shouldn't do it.

I don't know what I'm doing (Duh!)
It's a lot of work (Double duh!)
I could fail (Triple duh!)

Blah, blah, blah. On and on the battle raged within my brain. It's a tough crowd in there, I assure you.

Anyway, what made me change my mind? This post by Susan Kaye Quinn. I'm not even joking. Game changer.

I've already contacted my agent about this book, and she was so sweet and supportive. I'm connecting with professional editors and book cover designers. I took action before I could talk myself out of it. And now that I've told you? I can't back out now.

What's there to lose by indie publishing? Bookstore and library shelves.
What's there to gain by indie publishing? Control and forward movement.

I'm ok with that!

I'm nervous. I'm scared. But mostly, I'm excited. I'll shared the journey with you all as I fumble may way forward.

Stay tuned!

Have you considered publishing your own book? If you've already indie published, were you glad you made that decision? If you're traditionally published, have you been temped to cross over or become a hybrid writer? Do tell!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Conflicting Story Goals

Have you ever read a great book and wished you could go all sci-fi and do a brain transfer with that brilliant author? I totally feel that way when I read any of Jodi Picoult's books. Seriously.

I read a lot for pleasure, but I also love to learn how to become a better writer by focusing on what amazing authors do right. Like, when I recently re-read NINETEEN MINUTES by Jodi Picoult, I asked myself Why does this work so well? 

(For more writing lessons learned from NINETEEN MINUTES, click here)

Why did this book work so well? It's tough to sum it all up, but I'd say it was conflicting story goals. In Plot & Structure, James Scott Bell reminds us to not only create conflict, but to create character goals that conflict with each other. Picoult does this brilliantly. How? She embeds conflict into who the characters are.

Hang with me a bit while I mind-map these conflicting character goals from NINETEEN MINUTES:

Character: Peter Houghton
Teen boy/outcast/bullying victim/school shooter
Story goal: stop the torment

Character: Lacy Houghton
Midwife/prenatal counselor/mother of shooter
Story goal: protect her son

Character: Josie Cormier
Teen girl/former outcast turned popular/former best friend to shooter
Story goal: to fit in

Character: Alex Cormier
Small town judge/single mother to teen daughter, Josie
Story goals: protect her daughter; be a good judge

Character: Patrick DuCharme
Single man/small town detective
Story goals: protect his small town, solve the case, bring healing through justice
  • The shooter experienced torment every day at school. He just wanted it to stop. Speaking up to authorities only made the bullying worse.
  • The mother of the shooter and the mother of the victim, both trying to protect their children. One's a judge who must follow the law. The shooter's mother counsels other parents on how to raise their children.
  • The former outcast and friend of the shooter became popular. She used to protect him from bullies, but now she's a silent bystander. Associating with him would damage her need to fit in, but the nuggets of early friendship remain.
  • The small town detective often feels like he's too late to save anyone. Justice isn't always within his control. He must discover and unveil the truth, no matter how ugly it is.
I'm not sure I interpreted these descriptions and goals the way the author intended, but jotting them down helped me understand why this story worked so well. Who the characters were and what they were trying to accomplish created natural conflict. 

What do you think of these character notes? Do you ever pick apart a story and characters to figure out why they work so well? Do you struggle to add organic conflict? If you're good at it, please share your own tips!

photo credit

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

#WriteOnCon & Helpful Links

As many writers know, WriteOnCon started yesterday and continues through today. Holy helpfulness, it's totally awesome and totally free. Agents, editors, and published authors all sharing what they know to help the rest of us improve our writing. There is always something to learn!

No travel expenses (Yay!) and you can watch and learn at home (Yay!). Even if you're busy shuttling kids to and from summer activities (Who, me?), the information is archived and can be absorbed at a later date.

In case you haven't been over there yet, here's what you can find:

  • Schedule of events and archived posts are here.
  • Live chats take place here.
  • Help with opening pages, queries, and critique partner match-ups take place in the forums. New topics in the forums are here.
The founders/organizers and speakers are so generous with their time. Big thanks to them!

Something else awesome in the blogosphere this week. If you don't follow Elizabeth S. Craig, I highly recommend you fix that. Stat! I subscribe to her blog via email. Each of her posts are super helpful, especially since she posts about being a hybrid writer (traditionally and self-published). Each week she compiles a Twitter roundup of the best tweets for writers, and all this information is organized in her Writer's Knowledge Base (also linked in my sidebar).

Anyway, her recent post Using Blog Posts as Resources is a huge help. There were resources packed in this post that I hadn't heard of before. Elizabeth returns to these posts again and again, and that alone made me want to read each one. Check 'em all out. They're great.

Have you been consistently writing during the summer? Have you attended any writer's conferences? Are you hanging out at WriteOnCon? What's your favorite lesson you've learned from a writer's conference? Please share!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Irrational Fears #IWSG

Welcome, Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Do you have fears? Would someone else say your fears are irrational? Sometimes we can recognize that our own fears don't make sense. Like, when I was young and had Shaun Cassidy's album on display (showing my age) I feared he was watching me. Totally irrational.

But what if we have real fears--situations that truly scare us--but most people think they're irrational? How do we reconcile reality vs. perception?

For instance, I have a real fear of writing conferences. Is it the large group of people? After all, I have no problem going to a concert in the park or a football game. But lots of writers in a ginormous setting? Scary as heck for me.

Maybe it's the "club" vibe. Like, everyone is in the exclusive club and I'm on the outside trying to gain membership. Silly, I know, because SCBWI is an open and warm environment where everyone is welcomed and appreciated.

Last weekend was the annual SCBWI summer conference. Like last year, I didn't register for the event. I live within driving distance, so I buzzed down for my agency cocktail party and also had dinner with my lovely friend, Leslie Rose. Leslie introduced me to other super sweet writers, and I realized they weren't clubbish at all.

So...reality vs. perception? I need to get it through my thick head that this crowd of people isn't scary. This isn't a shi shi club I need to worm my way into. I'm a part of it already...everyone is. I can be a bit thickheaded, even slow when it comes to overcoming irrational fears. But I'm working on it. I promise. Even if Shaun Cassidy's watching me.

Here are a few quotes that help me when I'm feeling fearful:

"Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them." -- Brendan Francis

"There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them." -- Andre Gide

"To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another." -- Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved

Have you attended a writer's conference? Are you comfortable with them? Inspired? Do you have other fears that may seem irrational?

(Me and my super sweet agent, Karen Grencik)

(Those super sweet writers: Leslie Rose, Monica Bustamonte Wagner, Evelyn Ehrlich, and Anna Shinoda)