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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

  1. Soulless

    October 27, 2014 by Suzi

    I’ve got Crystal Collier here to celebrate the release of her newest novel, Soulless. The sequel to Moonless, released last year. One of the interesting things about this series is where it akes place and the time period.
     

    I was curious about why she chose that time and location, and now she’s here to answer my questions. Welcome, Crystal. So my first question, as I said above, is how you chose England 1768 as the location for this series.
     
    About the time I penned out the first draft of MOONLESS, I was working on a musical based in 1798, England. (It may have slightly influenced my writing.) I knew the time period for MOONLESS had to reflect England’s most prideful hour—a time when aristocracy was at its height, before the American revolution and industrialization. This story has been in my brain for a LONG time, and the nation/time period was very strategically placed to accommodate the entire series arc.

     
    Did you have previous knowledge about this period in time or did you have to research everything?
     
    The musical prepped me, but I seriously spent about five years reading articles, essays and books based close to the time period, not to mention studying fashion, technology, maps and anything else I could get my hands on. The greatest challenge of writing historical fiction is understanding how people thought in a different era. There are so many anachronistic social expectations we embrace (that I had to wipe from early drafts). Gaining an authentic cultural mentality was like learning a new language. And becoming an anthropologist.

     
    Wow. Five years. That’s a lot of prep work! :)
     

    One thing I was curious about. Did you have to revise any details from the story because you discovered they didn’t fit with the time period?
     
    Contractions (can’t, doesn’t, we’d, etc.) are modern inventions. That’s not to say people didn’t slur their words together in 1768, but they would never have written or spoken that way in polite society. That made for a bit of a rewrite…
     

    Clocks had just been invented, and only the most modern of men possessed a pocket watch…which set back my method of explaining time. It was a transitory period, going to from candle-marks, moon cycles and season to hours, minutes and seconds. Another tricky one.
     

    John is a smoker, but not a pipe kind of guy. Turns out the story takes place RIGHT at the time when cigars made their debut…or I may have fudged that one by a couple years—because I can.
     

    I had a writing coach who absolutely adores my time period, and a literary agent mentor who was kind enough to point out some of my early, erm, foibles, but mostly I corrected myself while studying. For instance, in 1750, King George the first established new marriage laws that dictated the legal age of marriage as 21. (Our equivalent of 18.) In early drafts I wanted to call “coming of age” 16. Major no-no.
     

    Definitely good to do your research. That is one of the things that scares me away from writing historical fiction. Do you get nervous about people bashing you for not being historically correct?
     
    I’m such a perfectionist. Seriously. The only way to conquer your fears is to face them, knock them down and grind your heel in their face. I listened to all the bashers in beta readings (probably went overboard in how many betas I used for MOONLESS) and studied my guts out. I even went so far as to research every word and phrase for its historical accuracy. It really was like learning a foreign language, but the more you use that language, the more fluent you become. After all that, I came away rather confident—no matter whether people might rip or not. (Which they haven’t—even the mean ones—so I must have done okay.)

     
    Thanks so much for sharing with us, Crystal, and congratulations on the release of Soulless. And now you can find out more about Crystal’s book and have a chance to win some special prizes.
     
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

     

    Soulless by Crystal Collier
     
    The Soulless are coming…
     
    Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she’s forced to unleash her true power.
     
    And risk losing everything.
     


  2. Fun with horror

    September 21, 2014 by Suzi

    Yes, I said fun with horror. I’m one of those people that love scary movies and books. And just this week one of my good friends, Rachel Schieffelbein, released a horror novel, Flesh Eating Zombies and Evil Ex-Girlfriends. And here’s the super creepy cover for her story. She’s published a few other novels/novellas, but this is her first horror.

     
    I loved it. And I don’t show favoritism to zombies, I like all horror, but hers was really good.
     
    And Rachel’s story inspires me.
     

    I sooooo want to write a horror novel, but unfortunately I don’t have a story yet. Which kinda sucks. I’ve got so many other (mostly ya) story ideas in my head, just not any horror. I do have one premise, but nothing has developed plot-wise, so I’m not ready to jump into writing it yet.
     
    Hopefully that idea will materialize. Or maybe another. We’ll see.
     
    Have any of your story ideas been inspired by a friend’s book?


  3. More on non-fiction versus fiction

    September 14, 2014 by Suzi

    Last week I had my friend Julie Sondra Decker here to talk about non-fiction versus fiction, in regards to writing/publishing. She has knowledge of both worlds because she just published her first non-fiction book, but she also is writing fiction. Today is part two, because she had a ton of great information. Go here to see part one.

     
    So my big question was, what is the difference between nf and fiction when it comes to querying and publishing?
     


    Querying Agents:

    Nonfiction: The book is pitched to agents based on a proposal, not a manuscript. Proposals are extensive documents that include the following, at minimum: a pitch statement; an overview; an outline of the intended audience, demand for the book, and competition; marketing and promotion information; an author profile; a proposed table of contents and brief synopsis of the main point of each section; and sample chapters. A query letter is still necessary at the agent stage, but you need to have a proposal ready.

    Fiction: The book is pitched to agents based on a query letter and sometimes sample chapters and/or synopsis. The agent doesn’t offer until they have read the actual book.
     
     
    Selling to Publishers:

    Nonfiction: Yes, it’s true; the book sells without being read by the acquiring editor, though they also generally want sample chapters to make sure you can write. I got a publishing contract and got paid a partial advance for my book before anyone read it (even my agent); they took it on the strength of the proposal and the sample chapters. (However, my book’s first draft was done before I queried agents; I felt I needed to be done before I could outline its contents effectively. The book had progressed in drafts by the time it sold, but I was still editing it up until the deadline for turning it in to the publisher!) Publishers sometimes offer to pay half the advance on acceptance and the other half the advance upon turning in the manuscript. That’s what I did.

    Fiction: Not only has the accepting editor read the book, but several other readers generally have too (especially if it’s a larger company). Fiction publishers sometimes offer contracts on books they haven’t read, but they’re generally offered with caveats; they will offer a multiple-book deal based on the strength of a completed first manuscript, or for the additional books in a series, or with the understanding that they can turn down your next book and make you write something else to satisfy the contract.

    It’s a world of difference between these two!

     
    No kidding. :) Which agent did you get first: non-fiction or novel? Was querying of one more stressful than the other?


    I was signed for fiction first. When my novel went on submission to publishers, I needed a distraction, so I wrote the nonfiction book. It got signed to an agent and sold to a publisher while I was waiting. Querying for fiction was much more stressful than querying for nonfiction, for two reasons:

    1. I feel fiction is more personal and more creative, so rejections cut deeper. Rejections of the nonfiction felt more like they just weren’t interested in the subject or thought my platform wasn’t developed enough.

    2. I knew the nonfiction would sell. It sounds a bit arrogant, I think, but I knew it was a book that needed to exist and that I was the right person to write it, and I had lots of other content on the subject that had already been well received. I thought it wouldn’t be long before an agent and then a publisher would see eye to eye with me and it would move. I was right. I wasn’t querying very long before I signed with Andrea, and I got three offers from publishers when it went on submission. I still wrestle with self-doubt on whether I’m good enough in fiction, so everything about it is more stressful.

     
    I read one of your novels. You’re definitely good enough. :) But I get what you mean about fiction being more personal than non-fiction.
     

    Does publishing a nonfiction book go faster than fiction? Or does it still take that year to year and a half like it seems it takes novels?

     


    It really does depend on your publisher. Smaller publishers can often get things out faster if they have the means, while larger publishers tend to plan several seasons in advance. My nonfiction publisher is a decent sized small independent. I signed the contract on November 20, 2013, and the book was scheduled for publication on September 2, 2014. I think that’s pretty typical for my size publisher. I don’t know that they would go any faster or slower for fiction; the biggest variable seems to be size of the company, not type of book. (Though obviously if an author gets an offer for a book they have not completed and then they don’t meet their deadline to turn in the actual written manuscript, delays could interfere.)

     
    I suppose it did help that you were all ready to go. I’d be curious to see stats on nf. If most people are like you, and have everything written, or if most go into with with only those sample pages.

     
    Thanks so much, Julie for all the information. Like I’d said before, I don’t really know any others who do non-fiction, so it was interesting to hear how the process go.
     
    And for those who haven’t seen it yet, here is more about her new book.
     

    What if you weren’t sexually attracted to anyone?

     
    A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren’t sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.
     

    Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that “everyone” wants sex, that “everyone” understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that “everyone” wants to date and mate. But that’s where asexual people are left out—they don’t find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that’s okay.
     

    When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as “asexual.” Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed.

     
    In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people’s experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.
     

    Author bio:

     
    Julie Sondra Decker is an author from Tampa, Florida. She writes fantasy and science fiction for adults and children, and is known as a prominent voice for the asexual community. Her nonfiction title The Invisible Orientation (Skyhorse/Carrel) releases September 2, 2014.

     
    Purchase Here | Read Reviews Here | Goodreads | Website | Blog | YouTube | Twitter


  4. Non-fiction versus Fiction

    September 7, 2014 by Suzi

    My friend Julie Sondra Decker just released her first book, The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. This is a non-fiction book, but she is also a fiction writer, and she has two agents. I really wanted to get her on my blog to talk about the non-fiction versus fiction thing because I don’t really know too many nf writers. I’ve split it into two posts because she has a lot of great information, so make sure you come back next week for post two.
     

    Congratulations, Julie, and welcome again to my blog. So I’m curious. Did you write your nonfiction book before you started writing novels?
     

    No. I completed nine novels (and began four others that aren’t complete) before I thought of writing a nonfiction book. I primarily think of myself as a fiction author, but for some reason the short nonfiction pieces I’ve produced over the years have always gotten more attention than the fiction—probably just because I’m writing in a field that isn’t crowded yet.

     

    I’ve heard sometimes that with nf, writers send a query that is more like a proposal. They’ve only written a few chapters of the book and they look for an agent or publisher before finishing. Can you tell us some differences between the nf and fiction writing/publishing processes?

     
    Except for the fact that both are made up of words, nonfiction and fiction are Completely Different Animals. That’s everything from how it’s written to how it’s sold. Here are some huge differences I’ve seen while straddling the two:

     
    Completed Manuscript:

     
    Nonfiction: The book doesn’t have to be complete before pitching or selling. As long as you can describe its structure and content, it doesn’t actually have to be written.

     
    Fiction: The book has to be complete before even attempting to get an agent, unless it’s through a special arrangement.

     
    Author Platform:

     
    Nonfiction: It’s vital that the author has a demonstrable platform and is recognized as some kind of authority on their subject. They may have to demonstrate media appearances, previous publications, or recognized experience in the field.

     
    Fiction: They don’t even ask about platform, though if you’ve had any short story sales or relevant writing credits you can mention them in your query. Platform doesn’t get contracts for debut fiction authors unless they are celebrities or are self-published with lots of sales.

     

     
    Those are some pretty big differences. :) Do you have any other plans for writing nonfiction or will you just concentrate on fiction?
     

    I don’t plan to write another long nonfiction book, but I do write short nonfiction pretty often and will probably continue getting those published in magazines/blogs. However, a novel I have planned for the future incorporates the subject of my nonfiction book—the nonfiction book is about asexuality, and the upcoming fiction has an asexual character—so there will be some tie between my fiction and my nonfiction.

     
    Thanks for stopping by, Julie. We’ll see you next week too. She’ll be talking about querying and publishing for nf and fiction.
     

    And here is more about her new book.
     

    What if you weren’t sexually attracted to anyone?

     
    A growing number of people are identifying as asexual. They aren’t sexually attracted to anyone, and they consider it a sexual orientation—like gay, straight, or bisexual.
     

    Asexuality is the invisible orientation. Most people believe that “everyone” wants sex, that “everyone” understands what it means to be attracted to other people, and that “everyone” wants to date and mate. But that’s where asexual people are left out—they don’t find other people sexually attractive, and if and when they say so, they are very rarely treated as though that’s okay.
     

    When an asexual person comes out, alarming reactions regularly follow; loved ones fear that an asexual person is sick, or psychologically warped, or suffering from abuse. Critics confront asexual people with accusations of following a fad, hiding homosexuality, or making excuses for romantic failures. And all of this contributes to a discouraging master narrative: there is no such thing as “asexual.” Being an asexual person is a lie or an illness, and it needs to be fixed.

     
    In The Invisible Orientation, Julie Sondra Decker outlines what asexuality is, counters misconceptions, provides resources, and puts asexual people’s experiences in context as they move through a very sexualized world. It includes information for asexual people to help understand their orientation and what it means for their relationships, as well as tips and facts for those who want to understand their asexual friends and loved ones.
     

    Author bio:

     
    Julie Sondra Decker is an author from Tampa, Florida. She writes fantasy and science fiction for adults and children, and is known as a prominent voice for the asexual community. Her nonfiction title The Invisible Orientation (Skyhorse/Carrel) releases September 2, 2014.

     
    Purchase Here | Read Reviews Here | Goodreads

    Website | Blog | YouTube | Twitter


  5. Something weird happened

    August 11, 2014 by Suzi

    I’m actually excited about editing again.
     
    But back up first. My summer plan was to get my ms almost ready for querying, but I lost my motivation and haven’t done too much. I had several critiques from my betas/friends and I needed to make those fixes they suggested.
     
    Luckily there wasn’t big structural things, but more character issues to fix. Which is mostly adding to develop characters or cleaning things up. So I was glad about that.
     
    Still, there was a lot of stuff to fix. Which is why I lost my motivation.
     
    But now I got it back.
     
    I was reading a series of blog posts about tightening your writing. Words to cut. Most of those word are in my big edit list, but I found a few new ones to add.
     
    And now I’m ready to get back into it. I need to fill in a few things, maybe make some cuts, and then I’ll be ready to start those little things. Cutting filler words. Replacing words like walk with more descriptive ones. Stuff like that.
     
    Maybe I’m a little behind schedule, but at least I’m back on track.
     
    And that feels good.


  6. The downside of collaborations

    July 27, 2014 by Suzi

    The downside of collaborations… from a reader’s perspective.
     
    When two writers get together and write an amazing story, they forget about one thing.
     
    How difficult it is for us readers to get an autographed book. I mean, it’s hard enough getting an author’s signature, but two? It’s not like they usually live in the same city. Or even state.
     
    So a few years back I got a signed copy of My Heart for Yours (MYFY) from Steph Campbell. Her co-author was Jolene Perry. And my book felt so lonely sitting on the shelf with only one autograph. And then one day, the book got packed up into a suitcase, boarded an airplane, and landed in Salt Lake City. All to accompany me to the Storymakers Conference.
     
    MHFY was overjoyed when I, the lowly owner, presented the book to Jolene Perry and asked her if she could sign it. And she did, cause she’s cool like that. I mean, I didn’t even have to beg or anything. :)
     
    And now my book is happy.
     
    But then… while there, the generous Cassie Mae gave me a copy of her collabs with Theresa Paulo, King Sized Beds & Happy Trails and Beach Side Beds & Sandy Paths. And of course she signed them too.
     
    Now those two books are unhappy because they do not have Theresa’s autograph. And now I’m going to have to hunt down her down to get her to sign it because I don’t want those books to be unhappy.
     
    Unfortunately Theresa lives half a country away, but fortunately, she offered that if I ever came to New York, I could stay with her for a week or two. And she’s feed me and clothe me and show me all the sites of NYC. Right, Theresa?
     
    Um, Theresa?
     
    :)
     
    So I’m hoping I don’t have to wait too long before I can get her to sign it. But by then, they’ll have the third story out, Lonesome Beds & Bumpy Roads, and I’ll just bring that one along too. But then it won’t have Cassie Mae’s autograph and then I’ll have to go to Utah again. And they’ll probably write more books together.
     
    And this will never end. See, you collaborating authors, what problems you cause for us readers?
     
    I guess I should stop complaining because I actually have those autographs, huh?
     
    Do you have books that are collaborations, and you got it signed by one or both of the authors?


  7. The Lucky Seven

    July 6, 2014 by Suzi

    Thank you to Rachel Schieffelbein for tagging me for the Lucky Seven. What you do is turn to page 7 or 77 of your current work in progress, count down to the 7th line, and print the next 7 lines.
     
    The WIP I’m revising right now is called Varying Degrees of Blame. A contemporary young adult in dual POV. It’s about two foster kids, an unrelated boy and girl who are thrown together in the same foster family.
     
    The part you’re seeing is 16 year-old Kylie, right after Kylie witnesses her mother getting beaten by her boyfriend.
     

    “You okay?” I asked, crouching down in front of her. Most people thought we were sisters because she was so young, and I hated explaining the truth.


    “Kylie honey,” she croaked, “can you get me a glass of ice water please?”


    “Sure.” I grabbed the water pitcher and an ice tray from the harvest gold fridge.


    Mom held the sweating glass to a dark bump. “Do you want an ice pack?” I asked. She shook her head and removed the glass from her forehead. I reached over to touch the ugly bruise, and she shrunk back. “Maybe I can drive you to the hospital.”

     
    This story is finished, but right now I’m using my fantastic CPs’ critiques to make it even better. And hopefully I’ll be able to start querying by fall sometime.
     
    Thanks, Rachel. And go here to see her posting from her contemporary young adult, Girl In Trouble.


  8. Looking back

    June 29, 2014 by Suzi

     
    So I’ve been working on revisions for my current WIP, Varying Degrees of Blame, a young adult contemporary novel. I have a notebook for each story I write where I keep notes and ideas. I’m not a big plotter, but I do a little of it. Or character sketches. Or whatever.
     
    On the first page of the notebook for my current story are two names. Zander and Kylie. Originally, Zander had been my boy mc, and some of my beginning notes use that name. I don’t remember why, but I ended up using Christian instead. And now when I look back, I’m like, Zander—that is so totally not right. It doesn’t seem to fit him at all.
     
    Which is funny because I can’t really tell you what Zander looks like. It’s just not the boy in my story.
     
    Most of the time, once I’ve chosen a name for my mc, I stick with it. Secondary characters names may change, but rarely a main one. And I wish I could remember why I changed Zander’s name to Christian.
     
    But now I’m curious if others do this. Have you ever gone back into your old notes and seen where you’ve changed the name of your mc, and does that original name just seem foreign now? So much that you wonder what you were thinking almost using that name?
     
    Or is it just me?


  9. Disappearing bloggers

    June 22, 2014 by Suzi

    I’ve noticed lately how so many bloggers I know are slowing down. I get it because I know why—they’re becoming published and now deadlines are not always just their own and their time is less. Also, many of them are finding that Twitter and Facebook are easier ways to interact with friends and readers compared to blogging.

    Image courtesy of Artur84
    FreeDigitalPhotos.net


    Other people just drop out of the blogging atmosphere, and I don’t have them on Twitter or Facebook, so I don’t know what’s happened. If they’ve stopped writing. Or if it was just the blogging they quit. But there’s no way of knowing.
     
    And I miss hearing from some of those people.
     
    Recently I went through Feedly to clean things up a bit. Take off blogs I don’t ever read, and remove some of those who haven’t posted in forever. Usually I won’t remove anything until there’s been like 6-8 months of silence. But I’ll also leave those people who I really hope to hear back from. To know if they’re still writing. Still pursing that dream. And maybe they will come back some day.
     
    It makes me wonder also, if blogging by writers, in general, is slowing down, for reasons I mentioned above, or if it’s just the writers I know and follow.
     
    What are your observations? Do you have bloggers you followed that dissappeared, and you wish they’d come back?


  10. Fathers

    June 15, 2014 by Suzi

    Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there. Including my own and my husband–both terrific dads.
     
    Most of the stories I write are young adult contemporary, and very often the fathers have a big part in the story.
     
    More often, they tend to be absent, which of course affects my mc’s life in a big way, but sometimes the dad is a positive role model.

    Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    The funny thing is with the ‘good’ dads, they don’t show up a lot throughout the story.
     
    I have one father that I love. A story about two teens, a dual pov between a boy and a girl, called Beyond the Wake. The boy’s father is abusive, and you hardly see him. But the girl’s father is involved with his kids’ life.
     
    And even though he works a lot and isn’t present for much of the story, when he’s around, he has a positive effect. And he plays a huge role in the growth of the boy–who has some issues to work through.
     
    As much as I like to have bad parents that help propel my story forward, I like seeing those good parents too.
     
    Do fathers play a big role in the stories you write?