Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Trial's Over, But the Book Has a Fresh Start

I meant to post yesterday and I didn't because I fell back into a slump yesterday - a PTSD of sorts - and while I knew what I wanted to say, I just didn't want to say it.

Let me back up.

For those of you who are new to the blog - or to my life- since last December, the short story is this: a very dear friend of mine from high school was killed, along with her son, in her home just a few miles from my own. She was shot by a 17 year old kid who came to steal less than $1000 of stuff from her six days before Christmas.

He was arrested only a day or two after the shootings, and has been sitting in jail awaiting trial until Monday. For a double murder trial which held nine other charges along with the two counts of capital murder, it was unbelievably short. Less than six hours long. And the verdict came the same day: guilty on nearly every account.

Charged as an adult, but unable to be given the death penalty because of his age at the time of the crime (federal law, I think), he still will spend the rest of his life in prison.

I went through a depression of sorts after the death of Jeanie. It came in waves that eventually grew further apart until I felt like I'd come back to some kind of even keel again.

Until I attended the trial. Before I even went in the courtroom, just sitting in the hall waiting, it was suddenly overwhelming again. The implications of someone walking into your house and shooting you... the loss of a friend who'd tremendously impacted my life... that moment... Do I need to tell you how many times I've closed my eyes to go to sleep and suddenly wondered what she thought at that moment, facing a gun, knowing her son was already dead? Do I need to say that everytime I let my mind go into that room, my heart is pounding, my eyes are swimming in tears.. I am terrified. And I am so incredibly lonely for a friend I'd only seen a few times in the last year.

And here is where my writing comes in.

Back in January I started a story that came out of my grief - a story that involved a murder, although the plot itself is not a crime or mystery book. It's mostly the story about unresolved issues and grief and forgiveness and loneliness. But I couldn't write. I had the story, but sitting to write that story, about that grief, was unbearable. I just couldn't choose to sit at the computer and face it every day, and so I put it away.

Until this summer, when my own emotions about Jeanie's death weren't deep waves anymore, and I felt like I could write it. It's been going good. Slow, but good. And I've been dancing around the harder scenes, like the murder and the immediate grief afterwards. I figured I'd do it eventually, but for now, the surrounding story needs to be told, too.

I chose to write in 3rd person. I think it gave it some distance from me, which helped.

But on Monday, sitting in the corridor waiting for the bailiff to open the doors and invite us in, I felt the loss of my friend overwhelmingly again, and I took out my notebook and started writing the scene I'd been dancing around. It poured out, faster than my pen could get it on paper, everything I was feeling through the eyes of my protagonist. And it came out through her eyes: first person, present tense.

I haven't wanted to stop writing since. Suddenly, allowing myself to be there, was exactly what the story needed - and I needed as well. It isn't even remotely autobiographical. The plot itself has nothing to do with high school friends, but it is about death, and about dealing with it - and sometimes not dealing with it. It's something that I might have written about before Jeanie's death, but not powerfully because I didn't really know it.

And now I do.

So the writing is going like a house-a-fire, traditional pen and paper, so I have no idea how many words, but going well, and easy. I haven't tried to go back and rewrite what I've already written and revise it to first person, but I don't think it will be that hard of work. The story has always been Kat's to tell, and even though I wrote in third person initially, it was always in her voice. But to give her full control of the story - I think she really wanted that, and I was just afraid to let her have it because who knows what she'll drag me through to tell it.

But I... well... I am a little melancholy again. Tears are closer to the surface than they've been the last few months. My heart hurts a little more distinctly. But this time it feels something more like a healing. At least that's what I'm hoping.

Monday, September 28, 2009

To be a motivated writer, all I needed was a thousand famous authors and a murder trial

Well, if you showed up here today hoping for a new look and a link to a shiny new website, my greatest apologies. I should know better than to post self-imposed deadlines that have to do with technology, because nothing is ever as simple as I think it's going to be.

I'd give you another deadline, but I'm a teensy bit wiser now. It will show up whenever it shows up. So now you have to keep coming back! :)

In lieu of that, I’ve decided to pepper this post liberally with pictures I took this weekend.

I spent this weekend at the 2009 National Book Festival in DC, which I described probably in too much depth in this posting at our 4 Corner’s group website. It was an amazing time, and just cemented how much I want to be a writer. Or at least a reader. I do really, really love books. And authors. Authors rock!!

So I took the Metro in, and one thing I love about the Metro is that the stop I get on at is the first, so there are usually not a lot of people around, and you can always get a seat. Or twenty if you need them.

I figured early on a Saturday it wouldn't be that crowded. I was wrong. Stop by stop it filled up until we were squeezed like sardines. Towards the book fest stop people on the platform couldn't even get into the train because there was just no room. When we got out, I'd never seen the platform so crowded. People couldn't even leave the train because so many people were there that the escalators couldn't keep up. This is the view from after I arrived at the top:

My first stop was the fiction tent for John Grisham. It was packed. This is about a third of the tent. I'd guess there were a couple thousand there.

I didn't get a seat, but I did get standing room slightly to the back and side of Grisham. Some people would have thought it was terrible, but I loved it! No one was in front of me, I had a perfect view of him the entire time, and if he had sneezed in my direction, I would have been close enough to give him a tissue!

He's a brilliant talker. And very humble. And funny as all get out.

I stayed there to see Jodi Picoult next. Same standing space, but the sign interpreter was in my way most of the time, so the best picture I got of her was when she left the stage and got into the golf cart right behind me. Classic!

The only other speaker I got a photo of was James Patterson. I've only read one of his books, and I've heard it's not very typical of most of his writing, but he was a fantastically entertaining speaker. I have a sense he is a bit ADD. He has 27 manuscripts going at any one time and a notebook this thick of ideas for more books. And he collaborates, he says, because he is too impatient to get to the next book to do good "style" on the ones he's written.

So that's the photos of Saturday.

On Sunday I was finishing up my website and the front welcome page troubled me. What does an author put on their home page when they don’t have a book cover to show off yet, nor a link to buy that coverless book, or even any great reviews from famous people who tell you that you must absolutely buy this terrific, coverless book?

The answer is: a book trailer.

Except I’ve been fighting that for a LONG time. Trailers are not easy to do well. I’ve spent hours and hours looking for music and trying to find the right words to use in it, and figuring out what pictures would be dramatic, and finally decided I just couldn’t do it.

Then this weekend I thought I’d give it another shot. So now I’m nearly done with that. It’s the last big piece to add into the website before it’s ready. Later this week I’ll post about the process – how I found the music, photos, etc, as well as maybe a sneak peak of it if it’s all spit and polished by then.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to write about my new book. It’s been an interesting and emotional journey that started back in January with an idea that came out of the death of my good friend Jeanie. It took a long while before I could actually go into that book and face it, and for weeks I’ve been skirting around a death scene I just couldn’t tackle emotionally. Today I spent the morning at the murder trial for her killer, and during one of the breaks I scribbled a good 1000 words of that scene in a notebook I’d brought with me. There was a huge therapeutic value in it, as well as a major breakthrough in my story.

So that’s this week. For now, I’m off to finish that trailer and do two more chapters of edits I’m supposed to have off to my editor tonight.

What's you're week looking like?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Friday Odds and Ends

I was going to write a post today about the marketing planning I've been doing, but I've been doing so much of it, I haven't had time to write about it. (Notice I said marketing planning, and not doing.)

Truthfully, I'm not the person to dole out marketing advice. There are lots of others out there who can give great, professional advice. I really have no idea what I'm doing. But I'm workign it out, and I thought I'd share at least my struggles and plans with you - you know... my journey.

But the one part I can share is this: I have a website!! Well, I'll have a website up and running by Monday. YAY! And since I will have a website, I'm redesigning the blog to better match it. (Hint: it's going to be green!) So once again (I know - again), things will be changing around here. For the better, I hope. And a little more permanently. (Well, I could hope.) But I will still be here, writing the same kind of stuff week after week. I hope you'll be here with me.

The only other marketing news I have to share is something I read yesterday.

If you are a writer, you HAVE to read this article from the Washington Post about how new authors, even those at major publishing houses, are having to do their own marketing. I've heard about this book and author featured in the article. I've had friends tell me I had to read it. But come to think of it - I don't think I've read any reviews or seen any ads for it. But where the publisher cut corners, the author stepped up.

And she has a bestseller.

They tell you how she did it. Mostly by herself. With supportive friends.

She can do it. You can do it. With any hope, I can do it, too.

Have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Comments in the Margins

Have I mentioned that one of the things I love most about my editor is that she writes all kinds of good things in the margins as well as the things she wants me to change? It's amazing, really. It's like this constant reminder that even though it needs a little work here and there, on the whole, it's still good.

So today I received a new section of my book from my editor to revise, and this is the first comment in the margins:

Heidi, I have the darndest time editing your work. I get so caught up in the story (and why’s that? I’ve read it already!), and this marvelous character you’ve created, and I just slip into your world and right outta my editing one. Takes me 3 passes over your stuff before I’m sure I’ve stayed aware enough to do a proper job.

I don't think it gets any better than that for me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Why do I always write better at the pool?

Today is Tuesday. (Okay - it's Wednesday. For you. For me, writing this, it's Tuesday)

Crud. I lost the momentum there. Let me start over.

Today is Tuesday. You know what Tuesday is in my house? It's skip-the-gym and stay at home and write a wicked-lot-of-words-on-my-new-book day. It's the day I ignore the increasingly small amount of milk and the dust on the piano and the dishes in the sink. It's the day I stop fiddling around with my new website (I'll let you know when it's ready). It's the day I try to forget I'm heading into a marketing blitz and waste countless hours trying to figure out how to get my name out there.

It's the one day of the week I ship my kids off to school and for five hours do nothing but write.

So at 8:40 the last of my kids climbed on the bus, and, already two and a half cups of coffee down, I refilled the coffee maker, turned on the computer, and sat to write.

Let's just say I did more sitting than writing.

At one point I got up from the chair and did some stomach crunches. I thought it would get the blood flowing a bit, with the added benefit of loosening my pants.

I reheated soup and critiqued a writing partner's query while I ate.

And I wrote a little.

About 900 words.

Seriously??? I've got five hours and that's all I can eek out?? You gotta be kidding me!! What the heck is wrong with me?? How many writers would kill for time like that to spend uninterrupted? How many (and I know who you are) could practically start-to-finish a book in time like that?

At 2:30 I finally put the computer away, sighing, and went to pick up the kids, one at one end of town and the others forty minutes later at the other end. We set off for swim lessons, and about half-way there, I thought: Troy should be there. In this scene. He would totally show up there.

So after getting my youngest changed into a swim suit and safely dumped into the pool, I scrounged around the car for a pad of paper and a pen and sat to write.

I wrote until my daughter suddenly was standing over me dripping chlorinated water all over my notebook and asking for her towel.

450 words in less than 20 minutes. And that's writing by hand. On practically post-it note sized paper.

I won't dare tell you how many adverbs might be in those pages. Probably more than in my entire last book. But they were necessary! And the scene was awesome!

So the lesson learned here is...?

Either I should be writing with pen and paper instead of on the computer.

Or Troy should be in every scene.

Monday, September 21, 2009

More agent questions

Someone asked me the question, "Why do you want an agent if you already have a publishing contract?"

I thought it was a great question, and though I answered it in the comment section of the post in which it was asked, I thought I'd post my answer here as well. I didn't answer the opposite questions some of you have asked: why did I decide not to get an agent. I think I've answered that in previous posts.

So this is why a writer might still want an agent, even if they have a contract:

One of the main reasons people will seek out an agent after they already have a publisher is to have an experienced eye look at the contract and make sure it's fair and competitive, and not sneaky or a rip-off. I actually had a lawyer look at mine, and it was very straight forward with no fine print to worry about.

For me it was more a long term thing to consider. Right now I have a book deal. That's attractive to an agent because they basically have very little work to do. If an agent would want me now because I have a book, that's someone on my side for the next book if I want to submit to the larger houses on a new book. The larger publishing houses could offer greater marketing and exposure, advances, stocking in bookstores, and more likelihood of foreign rights.

If I don't use this publishing contract to get an agent, and if my book doesn't have some significant sales, it will be much, much harder to get an agent in the future than if I hadn't published at all. It's a huge risk: to go with a small press unagented is to risk never breaking into a bigger market.

I decided before I signed with NorLights and looking at the options, that I'd take that risk. Not everyone will agree with my decision. Traditional publishing is entrenched in the agent system, so it's hard for many to imagine traversing it without an agent.

My big question is why an agent would want to take on a writer with a small press contract. There is basically no money in it for them, very little marketing money to help their client, and if the book doesn't sell widely, they will have a much harder time selling a new book to a larger publisher.

There really isn't a right or wrong way. There are different ways. Each author has to evaluate the pros and cons, and what they want out of the agent relationship and out of their own career, and make the decision that's best for them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Love at First Write

There's a moment when all the characters in your story are just characters - names on a page, maybe a mental image. Maybe even a personality that's been waltzing through your head for a while. But all the same, just a character. But once they start to walk on the pages, to tell the story on their own and make their own decisions, they come alive.

I'd like to say that characters, like my own children, are unique but equally loved. But when I write, there is always one that surprises me, and that I secretly fall in love with. One I can't wait each day until they enter a scene and I get to spend some time with them.

In Ocean Deep it was Tate. He was a main character, though. Someone I knew would steal both my heart and the heart of the other main character. In Some Kind of Normal, though, it was Logan; a supposedly minor character who I wrote into the manuscript because it would give the family greater depth to have another child. I had his name, but until he walked into the hospital room on his first appearance in the book, I had no idea how much I'd love him. By the second line of dialog, I was in love. The days I wrote when he was there were the most fun days to write.

And it's happened again.

This week while writing, Kat, my main character, walked into a coffee shop and there he was. The love of my book. A character I didn't even know was going to have but a passing part to play suddenly took hold of my heart.

Troy was just a name in a notebook until this week. He was a bio. A list of physical characteristics and a brief background.

And then, he leaned across the counter, smiled, said something funny, and Kat and I lost our hearts.

I love when that happens.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Creating a Book Cover Design

One of the most fun aspects of getting published is the cover. It's true, isn't it? I mean, when you spend hours at night dreaming of your book on some bookstore shelf, you don't picture it as a pile of manuscript papers fresh from your home printer. You don't picture it as some blank, unidentifiable cover. You picture it with a fantastic cover that people will walk by and do a double take and pick up because oh. my. gosh. how could you not with a cover like that??

One of the amazing things about working with NorLights Press is that they actually want my input on my cover design. They asked me to send a collection of covers I like in order to have an idea of what direction to take mine.

I thought I'd share this process with you in case you're interested. So today I'm going to share what I showed them, and why I like what I like.

Interestingly enough, I didn't actually know what I liked. I could name book covers I was drawn to, but if you asked what basic designs appealed to me, I would have shrugged my shoulders. Once I started assembling a list, though, there were some VERY clear patterns!

Here is one. can you see the common theme?

Big skies. Simple landscapes that evoke a definite mood. Clean, simple lines. Uncluttered. Neutral palates with a color or two on the bottom that really pops, but in a smallish way.

Okay ; on to the next.

These are Emily Giffin novels. I love the simplicity of them. There are, I think, four like this, but I chose the two that I like the best. The colors are soft but eye-catching, and the tiny pictures symbolize the theme of the story. I think I could do this with mine if I continue the series as I hope to do.

The next one I picked from my own memory randomly but once I had them lined up, obviously show a pattern on my part!

There is something I love about the black background with that one bright thing that pops on the cover. It's just very eye-catching to me. And Kim's book? Well, it's a double whammy with that blue. I love blue. I am very drawn to books with blue, turquoise and purples for some reason. Give me a table full of books and I will immediately pick up the one that looks like it just walked out of the Caribbean Sea.

See what I mean?

And that Blue Notebook one? I could totally steal that. I really, really love it.

And if you add an ocean to it... I'm all over that one!

Aren't the soft colors and clean lines in that one just gorgeous? So sad I didn't write this book about an ocean town. My first novel - the one under the bed - is about an ocean town. I may have to go back and dig that one out just so I can do a cover design for it!

This one is my favorite. The colors, the use of light, the magical quality it evokes. I think it's possible I just really wish I were there.

I'm not a fan of collages usually, but I think they can be done well. Here is one I really like.

I like the colors, and the monochromatic theme makes it feel less busy than most collages. The faces are beautiful too: evocative and yet simple.

I decided I like simple.

The next two I actually bought in a bookstore just because I passed them and saw the covers and thought, WOW! I love this! (Of course the story looked good, too.)

I like the ocean, of course, but I really like the painting feel of the cover, and the fact that no faces are shown (so I can imagine the characters, which is what I'd rather do than have a photo of someone on the front that conflicts with the picture in my mind).

But I like the relationships in the pictures as well. There is an intimacy alluded to, and in that intimacy there is an unspoken crisis.

So those are some of my favorites, and why. They are going to do a few different mock-ups so I can look at them, decide what I like from those, and then we can tweak the one I like best. I'll let you know as it happens so you can go along with me on the ride.

As for you: tell me what book covers are your favorites, and what are you immediately drawn to?

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Editor Totally Rocks; My Book is Listed for Sale; My Son Survived His First Week in Middle School: It's Friday and It's A GOOD Thing!

Woo Hoo! It's Friday and I have survived the first week of school and a new schedule, and better yet, my son survived his first week in middle school.

Can I tell you how scared I was for him? Not that middle school was that traumatic for me or anything. Actually, I think it was pretty okay. I wouldn't want to go back and relive it or anything, but I managed fine.

But it's a totally different thing to send your kid in there. With all the horror stories. And with eighth graders who have a five o'clock shadow at seven in the morning, are a foot taller than me, and look like they could play football for a college team. When did 13 and 14 year olds get so big??

So yeah, I was worried. My son? Not so much. We talked about peer pressure last week, and he just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't really care what other people think about me." And he doesn't! But still, the bus didn't show up on the first day of school and he had to walk in 20 minutes late to his first class. Then he misread his schedule and sat in gym for 10 minutes before realizing he was suppose to be in a different class. And when he got to lunch there were no seats left and he didn't know a soul and didn't hardly get to eat a bite of lunch.

His whole second day I worried. What if he couldn't find his classes again? What if he had to eat his lunch alone in a phone booth somewhere? What if someone called him names or shoved him against the locker?

But I didn't need to worry because his best friend, the only one in the entire school he knows, ended up being on our bus route, and they sat together on the way to school and discovered they had lunch almost at the same time and arranged a place to meet and eat together. And he made it to all of his classes. And he loves his teachers. And he's made a new friend in his class. And today is UpRoar - his very first all-school pep rally thingy, and he is over the moon about it.

I'm learning to let go a little, and to realize I've done an okay job raising him. He's going to be all right.

In writing news, there are other good things.

I discovered yesterday my publisher has my book listed on their website as "coming soon"!!! It's official! My name, my book - listed on the website for anyone to see. Along with a "pre-order now" button. I guess the next big thing will be my cover. I still have to pinch myself and whisper, This is really happening...

But it's not ready yet. There is still editing to do. Which is what I've been doing this week. And I'd like to say for the record that my editor totally rocks. Her name is Nadene, and I didn't formally meet her until she had my book in her hands. What would she think? What would she want to change? What would she be like to work with?

The answer: she loves the book, she wants to do only minor revisions, and she's awesome.

We've worked through four chapters so far, and yesterday I faced my first big challenge: she marked two sentences to change that I wanted to keep as is. The fact is, I've agreed with everything she's done so far. She's really brilliant in keeping things tight, noticing those small discrepancies, and smoothing over awkward phrases. I'd accepted every change until these two sentences. I could see why she wanted to change them, I just really liked them the way they were. It mostly had to do with keeping Bab's voice. So I bit my lip and sent an email. I understand why you want to change them, but I think they should stay this way because...

And I hit send. And waited. And she wrote back almost immediately and said, You're right. I see why you wrote it that way. Let's keep it.


So now it's Friday. I've managed to get up at 6:40 every morning - which is a major feat for me. I've gotten kids to school on time (other than that one bus fiasco day, but I even managed to keep all from panicking that day). I've managed new swim lessons, choir, youth group, piano. I've gone back to the gym and had concerted time to write.

Geez... just writing that makes me tired.

But happy.

And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Plodding Along

I'm a plodder. I'm not proud of this. While other writers around me are spinning stories by the hour, 2k, 4k, 7 k words a day, I'm struggling at just a thousand. If I can get that out.

I thought once the kiddos were in school, when I had a good chunk of quiet time all to myself, I'd pound out a few thousand no problem. After all, I've been writing this story in my head now for months. I even turned off the internet. I sat with no distractions but a blank screen and a computer keyboard with less than 14 letters still legible.

Two and half hours later... just under a thousand.

No matter how well plotted my book is, no matter how vivid it is in my head, no matter how excited I am about sitting to write and how full my head is of the next scene.... I plod.

It's not that my typing is slow. I type pretty fast, actually. It's finding the right words. It's getting those words in the right order. It's stopping to check coffee shop drinks so my character orders exactly the right drink. It's coming up with new names for new characters that pop up suddenly. It's just... writing.

I try to console myself with the thought that maybe I don't need as many revisions because I write deliberately to begin with. I don't have many spelling, grammar, punctuation issues because I write slooooowwwwwllly... plenty of time to catch those little buggers. I pretend maybe my first drafts are stronger for my plodding.

But honestly, I don't think any of that is true. The truth is, I'm just slow.

I will never be one of those writers who can write a book in three weeks, or five weeks, or even two months.

I'm trying to be okay with that. And for now, I'll be happy for those 950 words. It's 950 words I didn't have yesterday. Small victories are victories nonetheless.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's Friday; It's a Good Thing plus writing stuff

Thursday morning I received an email from my editor saying this: expect notes on the first three chapters in a day or two. I didn't totally freak, but I mentally began writing a blog post in which I balanced the extreme excitement I felt for finally getting this baby off the ground and the extreme fear of what those notes might contain.

Turns out, before I could even write the post, she sends me the notes, so complimentary and full of glowiness that I couldn't put up even the least fight over comma changes (which, if you ask my husband - and please don't! - I have a problem with commas, and with thinking I am right and he is wrong about commas, which has led to the unsavory yet somewhat funny nickname "The Comma Nazi". And there will now be no living down the fact that the major changes I must make involve adding commas).

So I breathe a huge sigh of relief and think: I can do this.

In other writery news, I took my kids to the library today to return a book that was overdue by 12 hours, and casually leaned against the information booth and asked the librarian (after several false starts, heavy breathing, elevated blood pressure and undue anxiety over looking too self-absorbed): "Do you do book signings or readings, or events with authors? Because, um, you know, um, I wrote a book that's going to be published this winter. You know, not by me. By a publisher."

Could I be any lamer?

And I realized if I'm going to make it as a writer, I'm going to have to get a whole lot more impressive in my ability to sell myself than that. And for the briefest of seconds, I considered becoming a lunch lady at the kids' school.

But hey - today is Friday and Friday is not the day to stew about what a self-promoter I am not, so here we go. It's Friday, and these are the things I'm thankful for this week:

1. My husband traveled to Dallas this week and went to dinner at my favorite restaurant in Texas. He called me while he was eating my favorite dinner, which I haven't tasted in eleven years, and I literally drooled on the phone. He packaged up the chips and salsa and brought it home on the plane for me. He managed to get it through security (even though it was far more than 3 ounces), balance the take-out container so that none of the salsa spilled, and call from the airport to make sure I'd be up to eat it when he got home at midnight. Can I say how amazing he is?

2. The salsa ended up not being nearly as good as I remembered it. Why is this a good thing? Because I may not eat it again for another 11 years. And now I'm okay with that! :)

3. The weather is cooling off just the time the kids are due to go back to school. Last week I was almost in tears that the summer was nearly over. I wanted sand. I wanted sun. I wanted palm trees and pools and cook-outs and iced-teas. Today I want a long-sleeved shirt. And I'm almost ready for the trees to change and the air to smell of burning leaves and pumpkins to grace the porch. I'm in love with seasons, when everything is new again, every four months.

There are so many more things this week, but this is already long, and it's a holiday weekend for us here, and the husband is home and editor letter waiting, and no doubt YOU have things to do as well.

So happy Friday, happy weekend, happy beginning of fall.

I'll see you back here next week!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Odds and Ends

In writing news... well, there isn't much right now. I think I'm done with my author bio. Thanks to all of you who gave me great feedback!

I'm still waiting on editor notes, but I've been writing on my new book some after a long summer break. I haven't updated the progress bar, but it's coming along pretty well and I'm excited about it. I do love writing. This past year I've done a lot of writing-related work: queries, agenting, researching, marketing... a lot other than writing. And it's good to get back to that, even if it's only a little.

As for the rest of my life - I've been fighting a migraine that just won't go away the last 24 hours, so I'm going to do the blog-lite version today and post one of my favorite youtube videos.

Last week I spent eight glorious days in Puerto Rico, where I discovered my high school Spanish was not what I thought it would be. You know, you can know important phrases like "where is the bathroom?" and "where is the beach" (all first-week Spanish class phrases, along with "can I sharpen my pencil" which, it turns out, is not so useful in a foreign country), BUT if you don't really know Spanish, you can't understand the answers!!

In any case, if you know a few phrases in Spanish, or even just a few words, the likelihood is you'll know some of this song. It's very short. It never fails to make me laugh.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Writing Author Bios

Things must be moving along in the publishing journey because I've been asked to provide my author bio for the book.

You know, when I was writing my first book and I got a little writer-blocked, I'd stop and play around with the "fun stuff" of writing - like jotting down my author bio and fiddling with photos for the cover... like doodling on your notebook your name with the kid you have a crush on in middle school.

Now that I actually have to do this, it's not turning out to be as easy or as fun as I'd imagined.

I thought I'd peruse my bookshelves for some ideas, but you know what? Not so helpful.

Let's just knock out the middle grade and YA books to begin with. Those authors (you know who you are) are just too darn creative and cute and fun. "He likes gallivanting on the high seas with his adventurous family..." Can you imagine that on my book? "She loves poking herself daily with sharp needles and monthly visits to the hospital..."

Literary fiction authors don't help much either. "She has written fourteen books, three of which have won high prestigious awards and six of which have gone on to top the bestselling list..." Can you imagine that on my book? "She wrote a poem in high school someone published, and hopes more than three people will read this book..."

Some bios try to show how the author is related to the book: "She has lived in Nantucket for twelve years, where all of her books are set." Translated to my book? "She lived in Texas long enough to develop a tolerance to country music but not long enough to talk like Babs."

I'm thinking of just going the route of John Grisham. He has one line: "John lives in Mississippi and Virginia with his family."

Yeah. I think I can do that.