Some news is a'coming...

Palo Duro Canyon

I know it's been a little, how should I say this?, quiet around the Swamp for the past few months, but there's a very good reason for it. Soon, I will be able to tell you the reason. Hopefully, this week. Going forward, news about my books will come first through a newsletter. You may remember I ran a contest a couple of months ago promoting it. If you didn't sign up for it at that time, now is the time to do it! I promised I wouldn't spam you and, true to my word, I haven't sent one since the contest. Now, it's four months from the release of STILLWATER, and news will be coming more frequently and I want you to hear it first!

To sign up for my newsletter, CLICK HERE.

And, watch your inbox for some exciting news! The banner picture above might be a hint. ;)

One more thing: 199 people have added STILLWATER to their Goodreads Want to Read shelf! Have you? If not, go over and be the one who puts it over the hump!

When friends ask what's the hardest part of writing a book I answer, "All of it."

perfection atwood
perfection atwood

This quote by Margaret Atwood was the first thing I saw when I opened Twitter this morning and wow, is it a perfect sentiment for where I've been this week, starting a new MS.

I'm not a plotter. Oh, how I long to be a plotter, but that much organization completely kills my creativity. She's already a timid little thing, the last thing I need to do is murder her with PLANS.

I know, in broad strokes, the beginning, middle and end of every book, but I've never been one to outline chapter by chapter what happens when. One Nano I tried the Snowflake Method. Lasted about a day.

My method is think shit up, and write it down quick, before I forget it.

Have I told you before? I have a horrible memory.

Anyway, not a plotter. That's why my "synopsis" includes lots of parentheticals such as, "she is betrayed by the con-woman (not sure why; will figure out later, probably jealousy but OMG Boring, and Predictable. UGH.)." There's also a few, "blah, blah, blah" and "yada, yada, yadas" in there.

So, it's no surprise I'm an insanely inefficient writer. I will, almost always, write at least 20,000 words that end up in the trunk file. One day, I'm going to hem all those scenes together and publish a seven part, stream of conscious contemporary mystery/historical fiction/women's fiction/erotica epic that will take the literary world by storm. I've jettisoned more awesome scenes than I can count. Actually, I don't want to count them. It's too depressing. I'm an expert at killing my darlings.

So, here I am, starting a MS with the beginning and the middle and the end clear in my mind, but the details of how they get there are fuzzy. Or non-existent. And, this time, I have a deadline. Not a self-imposed deadline I can meet or not meet depending on my inspiration. An honest to goodness deadline where there will be consequences if it isn't met. Which means I can't dither.

I can't check my phone every time a sentence isn't forming right.

I can't get up and switch the laundry over, decide I need to make a cake (I wanted to the other day but didn't *pats self on the back*), clean out the cabinets, organize the pantry or wash the dishes.

I can't wait for the perfect word because now, at 7,000 words, none of them are perfect, but they're all salvageable.

Yesterday, I sat in front of a blank screen, knowing I needed to write at least 2000 words and didn't have an idea to save my life. I ended the day with 3500 words and two damn good scenes under my belt that I hope survive to the end. We'll see.

So, if you asked me today, "What's the hardest part of writing a book?" I'd say, "The beginning." Ask me again in a few weeks and I'll say "The end."

But, I'll be damn happy to be there.

Friday Twitter Tips - Marketing, Publicity, The Funny and Query Tips, Which Will Never Die

TwitterBirdTaps microphone. Hello? Shields eyes from spotlight. Anyone here?

There's a drunk slumped at a table with an empty bottle of Wild Turkey, a suburban mom with a tiny bit of spit-up on her shoulder and a man whose thousand yard stare can only mean he's at the end of writing a first draft. Thanks for sticking around, guys. Sorry for the delay. Traffic was a nightmare.

Where have I been, you ask? Working on the sequel to STILLWATER (coming Fall 2015), which means I've been procrastinating like a mofo. My favorite form of procrastination has been researching book marketing, which says to engage your readers/fans through social media--Twitter, Facebook, Blog--which I haven't been doing because I feel guilty I'm not working on my sequel.

The good news is, the sequel is coming along. It's still a hot mess, but it's getting there. I've also learned a few things about book marketing. Here's what I've learned:

  • Facebook isn't nearly the marketing dynamo everyone thinks it is. The posts on my page have very little reach, even when I share it on my personal page and my friends share it. Why? Because Facebook wants me to pay for promotion.
  • Heard the "you must have at least 2,500 Twitter followers" stat again this weekend. Apparently, this magic number will be the deciding factor for publisher's sales/marketing departments if they are on the fence about buying your book. Still think its a specious piece of advice.
  • Blogging is more difficult when your posts need to be more than just some random woman on the internet posting her thoughts about books. I have to look at everything I post through the "How Will This Help/Hurt My Book Marketing" lens, which has sucked what little blog creativity I had out the window.

But, there's always Friday Twitter Tips. No surprise my favorite tweets focus on craft and marketing/promotion these days. But, there are still a few query tips because they never, ever die.

Craft

https://twitter.com/nownovel/status/526768654533136384

https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/521980029027500032

Publicity/Marketing

https://twitter.com/authorStacyHoff/status/527439510645522432

https://twitter.com/carlywatters/status/524193572761767936

https://twitter.com/LizaDawsonAssoc/status/507931985914761216

https://twitter.com/carlywatters/status/501851316537135104

https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/500785357471088640

Because Query Tips Never Die...

https://twitter.com/sarahlapolla/status/497810023381499904

https://twitter.com/LZats/status/501749220526026752

https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/499869387621691394

https://twitter.com/EricRubenLawyer/status/498877155443757060

https://twitter.com/JennieGoloboy/status/497817537703579648

Things Only Writers Find Funny

https://twitter.com/penguinrandom/status/520307776468549634


 

PREVIOUSLY ON FRIDAY TWITTER TIPS

Article Links Edition

Do Your Homework

More Query Advice

 DFW Writers’ Conference Edition

Query Advice Edition

Writing Advice Edition

One Submission at a Time

#PubTips

#PubTips

#PubTips

#PubTips

One year and counting. Plus, Big News.

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We are one year out from the publication of my debut novel, STILLWATER, and things are starting to get interesting. Not only am I writing the sequel, tentatively titled THE FISHER KING, but I'm researching press kits, email marketing and newsletters. In short, I'm educating myself on every possible way to get the word out about STILLWATER to as many people as possible. Blog, Facebook, Twitter, newsletters, print media, I'm going to try it all. But, probably the absolute best way to reach readers is through Goodreads and Amazon. Amazon won't help me until the book is available for preorder, which won't happen for months. But, Goodreads. That's another story.

That's a long introduction to say I am now officially a Goodreads Author.

*throws confetti*

Okay, celebration over. Back to work.

Do you remember when I announced my publishing contract I said I would need your help in the upcoming months?

I need your help.

If you're on Goodreads, you can find my author page here. Click on "Become a Fan."

Then, scroll down a bit and you will see the link for STILLWATER.

Now, this next part is very important. So important I'm giving it it's own line.

Add it to your Want to Read bookshelf.

This is critical. Why? Well, other people who are friends with you will see it on their timeline and maybe they'll add it. You can recommend it to your friends, as well. The more people who Want to Read STILLWATER the better. Why?

Interest on Goodreads and pre-orders on Amazon (when it's available; it's not yet) will give the book buzz, which can then be translated to media buzz, which will be translated to sales, which will be translated to readers, which will be translated to more sales and more readers which will be translated to a happy author!

If you aren't on Goodreads, why aren't you? You can join easily using your Facebook login. Then follow the steps above to Become a Fan and add STILLWATER to your Want to Read bookshelf.

That's it for now. We won't have a cover for a few months, at least. When we do, I'll be waving that baby all over the internet. You won't miss it.

Wife, Mother, Writer, Reader, Ice Cream Lover

A post on Book Riot (my new favorite website about books and reading), The Reasons I Don't Read: Causes of the Dreaded Book Slump, hit home with me this morning because I am in a book slump. In fact, I'm so bothered by my book slump it made the list of things that are pissing me off that I bombarded my poor husband with on Tuesday.

  1. I'm procrastinating.
  2. I'm not writing.
  3. I hate our gym.
  4. I can't lose weight.
  5. I haven't lost myself in a book in months.

I won't bore you with talk about the first four because they are all on me and things I could fix if I put my mind to it. Though, in my defense, our gym isn't a gym, but a rec center with all the weird little quirks that comes with that. That place pissed me off from the word go with their weird childcare hours (at a crucial time in my life when working out was my only avenue to sanity), stupid rules and the fact it didn't have a water fountain on the workout floor. I mean, come on. What the hell kind of design is that?

*takes a deep breath*

Anyway. Reading. I talked to writer friends about this last night at happy hour.

And, can I just stop down right here and say how amazingly awesome is that I'm having happy hour with writer friends? Slowly but surely, I feel like I'm a part of a larger community, an industry, that I'm a professional. Crazy how much I missed that.

Anyway. Reading.

I can't read a novel without analyzing it from a writer's point of view. Without thinking,

"Oh! I should do that!" or

"Good God! I would never do that!" or

"Oh my God! Do I do that?" or

"If I did that, Workshop would cut me off at the knees."

Let me tell you, it sucks the enjoyment right out of reading.

"Come on, Melissa. Not reading isn't the end of the world."

To that I say, "You obviously aren't a reader." It is the end of the world. I love reading. It's who I am. Reading has educated me, comforted me, angered me, inspired me. One of my biggest joys in life is recommending a book to a friend and that friend loving it. It's a Twitter descriptor - wife, mother, writer, reader, ice cream lover - the last of which explains #4 up there. It's not like reading is a bad habit I need to kick. In fact, it's something I have to do to be a good writer.

Therein lies the problem.

I haven't been picking up books that grab my interest, but books I feel like I should read, specifically mysteries.

Here's a little quirk of mine: I write mysteries but I don't read a lot of mysteries. In fact, I write mysteries that I want to read. Fodder for another post.

As a result, instead of focusing on enjoying the story, I've been over-analyzing the text, the writer's style, how it differs from mine, what I can learn. In the last six months, reading has become homework and no one likes homework. My writer friends suggested I should get completely out of my genre which is, of course, the common sense response and one I should have seen myself, and would have if the other four issues up there hadn't sent me spiraling into irritation overload.

Will I continue to analyze everything I read. Probably. I fear it is the curse of being a writer. But, I still believe there are books out there that I will lose myself in, that I will forget to think of scene structure, tension, dialogue and plot. There's only one way to find it.

Keep reading.

My Path to Getting Published Blog Tour

My workshop friend, Brooke,  started this pretty cool blog tour idea in a post for Carve Magazine. I volunteered to participate, though I am not going to tag five people. Feel free to post about your own path on your blog. 1.    Where are you on your publishing path?

I signed a contract with Skyhorse Publishing last month. My debut mystery novel, STILLWATER, will be published in hardback in October 2015.

2.    How long has it taken you to get there?

I started writing ten years ago. I attended my first writer's con in 2012, I signed with an agent in 2013 and signed a publishing deal in 2014.

3.    What’s your journey looked like thus far?

My mentor, Mark, told me recently I have done this whole publishing thing by the numbers. Finishing a book, getting an agent, getting a deal. It sounds like it was easy and painless and, if I'm honest, it probably has been an easier journey than many or most writers go through. Why? I don't know. It's not because I'm good at pitching or write a clear, gripping query letter. In fact, I'm pretty terrible at pitching and query letters. Don't even ask about synopses. My success has been a mix of talent, luck, perseverance and the confidence that, no matter how long it took, I would get published.

4.    What’s your future look like?

NYT Bestseller, baby! At least, that's the dream. Isn't it every writer's dream? Realistically, I want STILLWATER to sell well and for the second book to be picked up. I want the historical fiction novel my agent is submitting to publishers in the fall to be picked up. But, most of all, I want to continue to write, for people to read and enjoy my work.

News So Big and Monumental, This Subject Line Cannot Contain It. Let's try anyway: My book is going to be published!

skyhorse11
skyhorse11

After ten years and hundreds of thousands of words, I finally get to write this simple, but monumental sentence: STILLWATER will be published by Skyhorse Publishing in October 2015.

Woo-hoo! It's been a long, somewhat frustrating process. But, the end result couldn't be better. We've found an editor and publisher who are as enthusiastic about Jack, Ellie, Ethan and Stillwater, Texas, as I am. I can't wait to work with the Skyhorse team.

I'm sure y'all have lots of questions, which I will be answering over the next 14 months as we progress in the publishing process. The most important information is THERE IS GOING TO BE A PHYSICAL BOOK IN BOOKSTORES WITH MY NAME ON THE COVER IN 14 MONTHS!!

If you would have told me when I first sat down at a computer and wrote a sentence that I would have a publishing contract in ten years, I would have said, "What's a publishing contract?" Last night, I dreamed about practicing my autograph on my dust-covered dresser. I'm sure Freud would have a field day with that dream.

Thanks to all my family for understanding when I zoned out for hours, thinking about my book. For the times I would cry out while driving carpool when I broke through a story problem. For Mark for mentoring me and being the first one to really believe I could do this. For my friends for their support and encouragement. See, every time I said I couldn't do something because I was writing, I really was writing.

Stay tuned. October 2015 will be here before you know it.

My Writing Process Blog Tour - Dark Fantasy writer Brent Kelly

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Continuing with the My Writing Process Blog Tour, today we hear from Brent Kelly, a dark fantasy writer from the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

What are you working on?

These days I’m trying to wrap up my third novel, CHUGGIE AND THE PRISONER GODS. It’s about my pal Chuggie and some trouble he’s gotten into. It’s the third book of his ongoing series, the first being CHUGGIE AND THE DESECRATION OF STAGWATER. The second was CHUGGIE AND THE BLEEDING GATEWAYS. There should be many more to come. In this book, Chuggie’s stuck on a world called Glughu, and he needs to get home to try and stop a war. We also get to see through the eyes of Chuggie’s friend Fey Voletta, as well as young lady named Squip who was born into poverty. I’m even more excited about this next book than the first two for several reasons. The story is amped up, the monsters are more monstrous, and there are going to be pictures. I’ve got an artist named David Starr creating illustrations, and the ones I’ve seen so far are just glorious. The man knows what he’s doing, and his illustrations are going to be a great addition to the story.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Chuggie’s stories are in the genre of Dark Fantasy. What you won’t find are dragons, werewolves, vampires, fairies, elves, trolls, centaurs, or zombies. A lot of Dark Fantasy tales are set right here on Earth. There’s nothing wrong with that, but with Chuggie I created a new world. It’s called Mag Mell, and I have a pretty wild time exploring there. On Mag Mell, there is a race of beings called Steel Jacks – basically creatures of living energy who live in 8-foot-tall metal suits. They arrived through the Tetracardi Rift, and they’re not to be trifled with. They also lend a touch of sci-fi to the story. The Steel Jacks want Chuggie to join their team, but he does his best to avoid them. He spends his days trying  in vain to stay out of trouble and his nights telling crazy, boozy tales that may not have happened exactly how he says.

Why do you write what you do?

It’s what I’m best at writing. I dabble in horror, sci-fi, children’s stories, and so on. With Dark Fantasy – particualarly Chuggie’s stories – I feel like I’m home. His adventures are light-hearted, silly, whimsical, profanity-filled, gory, gruesome, creepy, and sexy. I can really let my imagination off its chain when I’m writing about him.

How does your writing process work?

There’s a long period of writing notes. Then I’ll write down every conflict in the book that I can think of. That becomes a basic outline. I don’t spend too much time working on a huge outline initially because it’ll be useless by chapter 4. I’ll outline a chapter at a time, write the chapter, then a quick outline, then write a chapter, and so on. Once I have a completed manuscript, I’ll send it to my editor Kate Jonez at Omnium Gatherum. She’ll read it and send back her editorial suggestions. We’ll edit for two months. Then, if Odin wills it, we’ll publish the book exactly on schedule. CHUGGIE AND THE PRISONER GODS is slated for release this September. Want my opinion? Everyone should get the most excited they’ve ever been and then maintain that level of excitement until the book comes out, star

tiiiiiiing… NOW!

brent kelley
brent kelley

Brent Michael Kelley lives and writes in the Wisconsin Northwoods.

He is the author of CHUGGIE AND THE DESECRATI

ON OF STAGWATER

(Mischief Mayhem Want and Woe)

and 

CHUGGIE AND THE BLEEDING GATEWAYS

(Mischief Mayhem Want and Woe Book 2)

.

He shares a home with such things as hairless dogs, a snake named Darth Batman, and the woman he married on Halloween. In addition to writing about his pal Chuggie, he likes writing story-poems, painting monsters, and making wine. Some say late at night, if you’re alone by a campfire, you can summon Brent by closing your eyes and saying his name eleven times. He insists this is not true and there’s no way it will work… yet. He can be found on the web at brentmichaelkelley.com.

Friday Twitter Tips - Article Links Edition

TwitterBirdMonday, we will have another My Process Blog Tour entry but today it's Friday, and that means Friday Twitter Tips. I know how y'all love a schedule, so I'm sticking to my schedule. I don't know about y'all (you know you're from Texas if you use "y'all" in two consecutive sentences), but I'm getting a little tired of the same old query tips. So, today's theme is Article Links. Below are tweets promoting articles as varied as how to plan a blog tour, how to increase  your productivity, how to set up Google Authorship in Wordpress and more!

[embed]https://twitter.com/gordonwarnock/status/476745615221993472[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/olsonkayla/status/476745594879229954[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/nfrail17/status/476354915485634560[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/474884684934291456[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/BadRedheadMedia/status/470020089409200128[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/469784889236398080[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/SassyOutwater/status/469799650716053505[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/pwheeler_agent/status/458228927992176640[/embed]

If you have a helpful or interesting article about writing you'd like to share, please post it in the comments!

Next week, I am going to post the Six Query Tips I've Learned from Compiling Friday Twitter Tips, your one stop post for Six Query Tips.


 

 PREVIOUSLY ON FRIDAY TWITTER TIPS

Do Your Homework

More Query Advice

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Query Advice Edition

Writing Advice Edition

One Submission at a Time

#PubTips

#PubTips

#PubTips

#PubTips

 

My Writing Process Blog Tour - Fantasy writer Anna Hess

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Today on My Writing Process Blog Tour, we hear from genre busting, but mostly fantasy, writer Anna Hess.

Why do you write what you do?

I write because there is a steady stream of characters in my head that I’ve become good friends with. They’ve helped me through hard times and embellished good times, but mostly they have helped me learn about myself. I’d like to share these characters and their stories with others, and if only one other person has as much fun with them as I have, then that was worth it. And if not, well, I still had fun with them. I also write because I’d like to contribute to the children’s/young adult age when I was inhaling any book I could get my hands on.

How does your writing process work?

I’m not sure if my writing process has a pattern, but if it did it would work something like this - I picture something ridiculous happening, build a scenario around it, feather it into a basic storyline, and immediately jot down a series of notes that I spend an inflated amount of time, and many pots of coffee, trying to interpret later. Then, after many months of yelling ‘Just do it already!!’ at myself, I sit down and put a solid string of scenarios on paper. I carry a notepad and a small pencil around with me almost all of the time. Though, it never fails that ideas come to me when I’m in a pitch black theater or have hands full of gooey bread dough and am utterly incapable of writing. More than once I’ve found a shredded and dried piece of a napkin in the dryer and have spent long moments trying to understand what “cave tree orgooo bler” means. I write very quickly (tpyos are common) and with a steady flow, so it’s very difficult to me to go back and change small portions of a story, I mostly have to change a huge chunk of it. Also, you can throw in the usual amount of the author self-loathing cycle, following “This is amazing! This is horrible! I hate myself! *pour coffee*”.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My writing probably differs from similar genres because it is fairly advanced in humor, cynicism and relationships and spans across the border of children’s and young adult. I try to write for advanced young readers. When I was growing up there weren’t many books for children 9-15, and after reading everything on the shelves at the local library I read Jurassic Park (I was 9, and the librarian was worried it was too violent) and then started the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (admittedly that took awhile). I’m so happy that there are authors adding to the young adult genres, and that I can always see my younger cousins tucked into a corner with a book. If I could contribute to this, I’d consider that a great accomplishment.

What are you working on?

I’m working on at least a dozen different projects ranging from beginning readers to advanced adult. Most of these are fantasy, though I also delve into the horror genre sometimes, but moreso with ghost stories and psychological thrillers. Currently my favorite project is a young adult fantasy series in which my characters are animals and mythical creatures trying to strategize in a non-classic battle of good against evil. I’m also reworking some short stories that were published in newspapers, including a mini-series about a multi-universe bond between two teenagers, and another about a ghost wolverine (which, frankly, is terrifying to me). I am currently publishing a study on butterflies and bison, and at the moment I am editing my answers to Melissa’s blog (thanks so much for including me!)while I wait for a satellite image to process.

anna hess
anna hess

Anna Hess is a chronic daydreamer and musician that finally settled on an enigmatic career in cartography so that she could mix science and art. She fell into a series of job opportunities including saving prairies, surveying powerlines, finding patterns in how floods occur, saving butterflies, and preparing chemistry laboratories. Through her 11 years of college (she did get a doctorate) she worked with theater companies doing everything from acting to props to stage management to substituting for mannequins. However, she enjoys writing fantasy more than anything else. You can find her on Twitter

@AnnaNHess

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My Writing Process Blog Tour - YA Author A.M. Bostwick

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When I asked A.M. Bostwick to participate in the My Writing Process Blog tour she agreed, with a caveat: she doesn't have a blog. No worries, I said. We'll post it on mine! Then she tagged three more people who don't have blogs. I'm happy to host their answers to the blog tour for the next few days.  First up, Abigail. What are you working on?

I’m on a break from a NA/YA I’ve spent nearly a year on. It was unexpected, but I decided to delve into a sequel to my debut MG novel, THE GREAT CAT NAP, a mystery adventure.  For the longest time, I didn’t know where time would find my feline narrator. All of a sudden, I just knew. I’ve had a lot of fun writing this – I knew all the characters, found plenty of new seedy ones for Ace to encounter and an entirely new mystery for Ace to solve that I hope will appeal to young readers.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I flip between YA and MG and sometimes NA! So it depends. As for Ace, it’s different because it’s from the first person viewpoint of a cat, I suppose. He’s sophisticated, smart and sassy – and in a world that’s perhaps a bit more noir and dark than many MG. I think my YA differs in that I face some common dilemmas of that age group, but also some larger-than-life issues that are unique to the character. It’s not so unique, however, that someone couldn’t empathize with the situation and want to know how the character pulls through.

Why do you write what you do?

In MG, I like to write what amuses me. As a kid, I related strongly to books about animals. I grew up isolated, in the country, with a lot of cats, dogs and rescued wildlife. I loved books with animals as the heroes. As I got older, I really found myself in real-life, contemporary stories, however, which are what my YA focus on. So many of my friends found themselves in fantasy, and it took me a long time to get into that genre. Maybe that’s why I write contemporary. It’s still what I gravitate toward.

How does your writing process work?

As much as I try to “think” of ideas, that never works for me. It usually starts with a character speaking to me and suddenly everything catches fire and I write like crazy – scenes, parts of chapters, dialogue. Just to get the feel. Then I like an outline. I always know the end. Maybe not literally, but I know where the character arcs will end. I like to leave enough room to be surprised. Not everything is plotted. Just the main points.

abigail
abigail

A.M. Bostwick writes Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. An early draft of her young adult novel, “Break the Spell,” was a finalist in the 2013 Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Fab 5 Contest. Abigail lives in northern Wisconsin with her husband, dog and thrill-seeking cat. The Great Cat Nap, winner of the 2014 Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, is her debut novel.

Thanks, Abigail! For more information about Abigail and her writing as well as a sample chapter of THE GREAT CAT NAP, check out her website or follow her on Twitter @bostwickAM

My Writing Process Blog Tour

My friend and fellow DFW Workshop member, David Goodner, tagged me in the My Writing Process Blog Tour meme. Below are my answers, and the three people who agreed to keep this meme going.

What am I working on?

I'm editing my historical novel, PALO DURO, to ready it for submission in September.

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How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write character driven mysteries with too much cussing to qualify it as a cozy, not enough blood to qualify it as gritty, too much romance to qualify it as a procedural and not enough romance for it to be erotica. The central character is a male instead of a female, a police chief instead of an amateur sleuth, and it's a crime novel instead of a thriller. To me, it's a pretty straight forward small town crime novel, which it turns out is more unique than I thought.

Why do I write what I do?

I love history and historical fiction. I love learning something new when I read and the opportunity to do that for other readers is appealing. Plus, there aren't enough American authors writing about American history. Unless it's the Civil War. Everyone writes about the Civil War. But, there is so, so much more out there to write about. It's getting better, actually. I've seen quite a few unique American historical fiction novels recently: The Traitor's Wife, Orphan Train, One Thousand White Women, to name a few. I love British and European history as much as the next person, but it's time for historical fiction to move on from Nazis and the British monarchy, I think.

Why do I write mysteries? I'm not sure, truth be told. Since my reading habits are so varied, I I don't read a ton of mysteries and when I do it's whatever catches my eye. It might be cozy, traditional, noir, thriller, crime procedural.  This lack of genre focus in my reading probably explains why my novel isn't easily slotted into a sub-genre. I've been influenced by many of them. When I wrote STILLWATER, I wrote a mystery I would like to read and discovered I like writing mysteries.

And women's fiction? That is such a hard genre to define. To me, all of my novels are women's fiction because they have a strong female as a central character. I've dabbled in erotica but haven't written a traditional romance. I might one day, but for now I'm focusing on writing strong female protagonists in male dominated worlds.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process is 60% procrastination, and by procrastination I mean naps, and 40% writing. I'm not kidding.

I start with an idea, usually a character. I'll go through my daily activities, distracted and distant, thinking about this idea; fleshing out the character, the situation, the setting. Then, I start writing. I don't outline, save for one or two word sentences for each chapter, which I usually write once I'm halfway done with the book. It's at the halfway mark that it starts to flow, I realize there's an end to work toward. I finish the first draft, polish it up, then send it to my first reader, Mark. He tears it apart, and I rewrite. He teases me that I write two novels worth of prose for every novel I write. So far, he's right. I keep hoping that as I develop as a writer, I will develop a more streamlined writing process.  So far, that hasn't happened.

If the idea is historical fiction, I try to read as much as I can on the subject and time period before  so I have a good grasp on the feel of the time. Between my first and second draft, I'll do specific research to get the details right. I can't research while I write or I will fall down every research rabbit hole there is and get nothing done.

Three of my writing friends have graciously agreed to continue this little meme.

abigail
abigail

A.M. Bostwick writes Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. An early draft of her young adult novel, "Break the Spell," was a finalist in the 2013 Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Fab 5 Contest. Abigail lives in northern Wisconsin with her husband, dog and thrill-seeking cat. THE GREAT CAT NAP, winner of the 2014 Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers, is her debut novel.

anna-photo
anna-photo

Anna Davis. Writer. Mom. Wife. Avid reader. Coffee lover. Cyberpunk. Sci-fi nerd. Winner of the DFW Writer’s Conference “Fire and Ash” Short Story Contest. Editorial Assistant at Henery Press.

jenny
jenny

Jenny Martin is a librarian, a book monster, and a certified electric-guitar-rawking Beatle-maniac. She lives in Dallas with her husband and son, where she hoards books and regularly blisses out over all kinds of live and recorded rock. Her debut YA novel, TRACKED, will be released in 2014 by Dial, an imprint of Penguin.

Friday Twitter Tips - Do Your Homework Edition

[embed]https://twitter.com/MsMariaVicente/status/474638891358896131[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/MKDB/status/473296674463313920[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/literaticat/status/473160177269895168[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/ChuckSambuchino/status/472815199507202048[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/carlywatters/status/472767014000685057[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/alecdshane/status/472134391742078976[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/EricRubenLawyer/status/471607871369920512[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/JennieGoloboy/status/469931486758449152[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/JennieGoloboy/status/469930289108508672[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/469784889236398080[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/AgentShea/status/469200603382816768[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/SusanMacNeal/status/469098613919191040[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/Renee_Nyen/status/466659881375006720[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/ZulfiqarRashid/status/465880333720625152[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/471640179535777792[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/kate_mckean/status/471330492231335938[/embed]

[embed]https://twitter.com/jsinsheim/status/462763493754540033[/embed]

Tweet of the Week

[embed]https://twitter.com/AdviceToWriters/status/462653016626061312[/embed]

Previously on Friday Twitter Tips...

More Query Advice

 DFW Writers' Conference Edition

Query Advice Edition

Writing Advice Edition

One Submission at a Time

#PubTips

#PubTips

#PubTips

#PubTips

Friday Twitter Tips: Mostly Query Advice. Again. #pubtip #querytip

With the ease of internet research, you'd think writers wouldn't keep making the same query mistakes over and over. But, you'd be wrong. https://twitter.com/Renee_Nyen/status/466659881375006720

https://twitter.com/AliceNicoleH/status/466577390400200706

https://twitter.com/LZats/status/466013761048825856

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/465954427975647233

https://twitter.com/literaticat/status/465926248313544705

https://twitter.com/SarahGreenhouse/status/465843281600196608

https://twitter.com/gordonwarnock/status/465198395192537089

https://twitter.com/Michrichter1/status/464953239427768320

https://twitter.com/carlywatters/status/463307781366636544

https://twitter.com/byobrooks/status/463787652785778688

https://twitter.com/agentgame/status/462319015244091392

https://twitter.com/gordonwarnock/status/461979714236997632

https://twitter.com/byobrooks/status/463787652785778688

https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/465242484386590720

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/461520453677637632

https://twitter.com/gordonwarnock/status/461202307724902400

https://twitter.com/bradfordlit/status/461186703961509888

https://twitter.com/Mary_C_Moore/status/460900346336796672

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/460805702861467649

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/460788700159676416

https://twitter.com/SaraMegibow/status/460780327741321216

https://twitter.com/jsinsheim/status/460203985220403201

https://twitter.com/WolfsonLiterary/status/459897340657410048

TWITTER TIP OF THE WEEK (for everyone suffering through yet another rejection)

https://twitter.com/LitRejections/status/459768474467053568

Friday Twitter Tips 5/6

Friday Twitter Tips 4/25

Friday Twitter Tips 4/18

Friday Twitter Tips 2/28

Friday Twitter Tips 2/14

Friday Twitter Tips 2/7

Friday Twitter Tips 1/31

Friday Twitter Tips 1/24

 

 

 

DFW Writers' Conference: Tuesday Morning Twitter Tips Edition

Since I am writing a full recap of the DFW Writers' Conference for a Sisters in Crime newsletter, I am not going to recap the weekend here. Though I will say it was outstanding. I learned so much and met many wonderful people. I also felt very 21st century. I took notes on my computer and, because wi-fi was free at the conference center, I was able to have Twitter open in the background and to tweet my favorite quotes from Donald Maass, Jonathan Mayberry and Les Edgerton, among others. So, because I'm still a teeny bit brain fried, I'm going to do a Tuesday Morning Twitter Tips, Writers' Con edition. https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/463019723597168641

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462962742777753602

https://twitter.com/LZats/status/462649834575376384

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462961882144309248

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462697309105451009

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462662824854974464

https://twitter.com/NinaAmir/status/462646869412159488

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462645931683246080

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462600246065770496

https://twitter.com/DFW_Writers/status/462626728905416704

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462598829745790976

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462596217839427584

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462595349312319488

https://twitter.com/DFW_Writers/status/462644165117882368

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462330786041966593

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462321976464273408

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462321419439726592

https://twitter.com/SwampOfBoredom/status/462268264941228032

https://twitter.com/NataliaSylv/status/463072082692042754

 

 

Friday Twitter Tips, Writing Advice Edition

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Yes, I've fallen down on my Friday Twitter Tips so much I have a huge backlog of favorites to post. So many, the brilliance of the tips would be lost amid the avalanche. So, I'm focusing this Friday Twitter Tips on one particular subject: writing advice. Because writing advice is like dieting advice: you know it already, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded. https://twitter.com/DFW_Writers/status/456986286486589440

https://twitter.com/erinjorge/status/456504055305498624

https://twitter.com/DanielleBurby/status/455800573384982528

https://twitter.com/ALeeMartinez/status/454345104921083904

https://twitter.com/AgentShea/status/454258574597038080

https://twitter.com/DelilahSDawson/status/453144132475953152

https://twitter.com/UweStender/status/450292815868997632

https://twitter.com/UweStender/status/449525699981115392

https://twitter.com/susanorlean/status/446402111043948546

https://twitter.com/KatBrzozowski/status/444471572825661440

 

 

Friday Twitter Tips - Roundup of Literary #PubTips from Agents and Editors

ALL ABOUT QUERIES

https://twitter.com/MKDB/status/431472056874434560

The same goes for pitching at conferences. You should only pitch completed work.

And this is why:

https://twitter.com/AgentShea/status/431266489313013760

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/431438715991646208

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/431439003712507905

https://twitter.com/SaraMegibow/status/431433726484938752

https://twitter.com/AgentShea/status/431265915179905024

Here she means offer from another agent or publisher:

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/431060547660832768

https://twitter.com/MarleneStringer/status/431048646176436224

https://twitter.com/hannahnpbowman/status/430863100829782016

https://twitter.com/JennyHansenCA/status/431759373220589568

https://twitter.com/LitRejections/status/431141843288338432

Conference season is coming up. Read this:

https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/427117603862355968

TIPS ON CRAFT

https://twitter.com/gordonwarnock/status/429372198496006144

https://twitter.com/DFW_Writers/status/431273181408927744

https://twitter.com/JillCorcoran/status/431475137615912960

https://twitter.com/WritersDigest/status/428879905116651520

https://twitter.com/ForewordLit/status/431129636165005313

https://twitter.com/JennyHansenCA/status/430309824450928641

THE BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING

Not entirely sure where to slot this advice, so it's going here:

https://twitter.com/brooke_warner/status/431105002330136576

https://twitter.com/DonMaass/status/431126909230272512

This tip is more of a tip on professionalism than anything:

https://twitter.com/jawlitagent/status/431454556787322880

TWITTER TIP OF THE WEEK

https://twitter.com/MKDB/status/429663849319370753

Friday Twitter Tips 1/31

Friday Twitter Tips 1/24

Friday Twitter Tips - Roundup of #pubtips from agents and editors

I love following agents and editors on Twitter. It gives such a great insight into what they like, dislike and what is trending in the publishing world. Plus, some of them are interesting in their own right. When they tweet about the weather, opera, their children, cats, happy hours, well, it reminds us they are human and not robots reading and rejecting our manuscripts just because they can. I see so many good #pubtips on a daily basis. So, as a public service to my fellow authors, and as a way to keep the ones I like best easily accessible on my blog, I'm rounding up my favorites. My idea is for this to be a weekly post. Considering how sporadic my posting as been, and my general inability to follow-up with my Grand Blogging Ideas, I understand if you are skeptical of my ability to do this. At the very least, you'll get this one post, and that ain't nothing.

https://twitter.com/AngiNicole722/status/426732128374493184

https://twitter.com/AngiNicole722/status/426745267430248450

https://twitter.com/maseditor/status/426736347391348736

https://twitter.com/SaraMegibow/status/426448170596306944

https://twitter.com/SaraMegibow/status/423950383833042944

This should be a no-brainer to writers. That someone had to tweet this advice makes me sad.

https://twitter.com/RedSofaLiterary/status/424633576257093632

https://twitter.com/JennieGoloboy/status/418054153839976448

https://twitter.com/AliceNicoleH/status/426105668844548097

I especially love agents who do 10 queries in 10 tweets, or a similar series. You get lots of great tips and advice about what turns agents off. Margaret Bail has been doing 10 queries in 10 tweets consistently for a while now. Great info.

https://twitter.com/MKDB/status/426061250842202112

 

On Writing - Starting from scratch

It's been a while since I've started a story from scratch. STILLWATER was a re-write of a NaNo novel from four years ago. PALO DURO was the completion of a novel I started in 2008. The sequel to STILLWATER I started last summer felt more like a continuation of the novel than a story from whole cloth.  (Duh, Melissa: it was a sequel.) Since November 1, I've been trying and failing to settle on a story. Doubts are starting to creep in. Will I ever be able to finish another MS? Is that it for me and creativity? Are those two MS as good as it's going to get? No. Of course not. But, the doubts, they've been a creeping lately. This morning, I finally figured out why.

My first drafts are horrible.

Maybe everyone's first drafts are horrible, but mine sure seem to be almost unreadable. There's lots of standing, staring, looking and moving. Tons of dialogue and very little narrative. True characterization or voice doesn't tend to kick in until about halfway through. I jump around, write scenes as I think of them, then inevitably have to completely re-work the scene or delete it all together. My writing mentor, Mark, jokes that I write 2 1/2 novels worth of prose before I settle on the story. He's right and it sucks. But, I can't seem to write any other way.

I know I will edit out all of the garbage, tighten it up and make it better. I know I should allow myself to write badly. But, it's hard to do that. Well, it's easy to write badly, that's become painfully obvious these past two months. It's hard to not worry myself to death about it. It's hard to make myself write in the beginning of a story, when the story hasn't solidified, the voice is weak and indistinct, when the flow just isn't there.  I have to force myself to write, to trust it will all come together, like it has before.

Until then, I cling to the encouragement of my friends and family, like this remark from my husband after reading John Grisham's new novel:

"It's not any better than yours. Wait. That didn't come out right."

"Do you mean, mine was a good as Grisham's?"

"Yes," he said, with a sigh of relief.

Good enough. I'll take it.

Writing ADD or, Melissa's complete lack of focus

normal_tech_typewriterkeys This month for NaNo, I intended to branch out, to write short stories in different voices, experimenting with tense, POV, stream of consciousness. I was going to rock it! What have I done?

Nothing.

Granted, writing 30 different stories in 30 days was a ridiculous goal, even for me who loves ridiculous, barely achievable goals. I should have known better since these days, I can’t even finish a blog post.

I’m forcing myself to finish this post instead of vacuuming the stairs. That’s how bad it has gotten. I’d rather vacuum dog hair off the stairs than write.

I had my version of a panic attack about this last night before I went to bed. What if I’m done? What if I have no more good ideas? What if I can’t ever start or finish another book? I almost got up right then to go write. Instead, I rolled over and went to sleep. See, my version of a panic attack is thinking about it, worrying a little, deciding I can think about it tomorrow, then sleeping.

Now, here I am, barely restraining myself from vacuuming.

I hate housework.

Housework over writing has got to be rock bottom.

When my husband asked me what was on my agenda today (isn’t he sweet to pretend I have anything resembling a professional agenda? I’m still in my pajamas) the first thing I said was, “the floors.” Then I realized how pathetic that sounded (though not as bad as yesterday when my big accomplishments were “cleaning the ovens and polishing the stainless steel"), I said, “A new story. I have to settle on one. I need a single focus, something I can…”

“Obsess over?”

“Exactly!”

He knows me so well. And, he still loves me. He's a keeper for sure.

So, today, while I’m vacuuming the dog hair off the stairs, I’m going to focus on the first line of my new story. I’m going to hone it in my mind until it is polished to a bright shine. It has to be good enough to inspire me to write the second line, then the third, then the fourth. I think if I can get to the fourth line, I’ll be on my way. But first, the opening line. Maybe,

Vacuuming dog hair off the stairs always settled Melissa’s nerves.