Thursday, December 27, 2012

Glass Cases: The Year of Self-Publishing

Confused About Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing?

Me too!

I have been confused on whether or not I should self-publish my novel The Consequential Element. I've had many inquries on when it would be available, and lost sales over the holiday because people wanted to buy it for gifts and it isn't out yet. But, I met an agent and a small publisher at a conference who asked me NOT to self-pub until they had the opportunity to review my material. The said they would contact me 'after the holidays'. I have to say, it has been a long 8 weeks thus far, and I know I need to wait at least another 4 before I either get a response from them, or have to nudge them for a response.

In the meantime, I've been considering self-publishing. It is true that my heart is in the traditional route, but people keep pushing me into the self-pub route. They say that if I self-pub, then I will be able to build a better image for agents to discover me, or by self-pubbing I will stand out more with agents.

Then I stumbled across this post by Sarah LaPolla Glass Cases: The Year of Self-Publishing

At last, some clarity. After reading this post, my decision now is to wait. I will begin the new year with heavy querying to agents. I will give it my all. If, after 6 - 8 months I don't get an agent, then I will re-visit the idea of self-publishing.

Thank you, Sarah, for this post.

And thank you to all my followers. What about you? Have you been struggling with this decision? What made you decide to self-publish? If you are traditionally published, how long did it take you? Did you ever think to give up? What kept you going?

All my best wishes for a great, prosperous, successful, and happy new year!

Dee Ann

Friday, December 21, 2012

Building Characters
In my opinion, in order for any story to become successful, even plot driven stories, it first needs to have well defined, richly layered characters that the reader can connect with.  Reader connection develops on many levels.
·         Through Reminders - maybe the character reminds us of ourselves – past, present, or future
·         Through Love – maybe the reader develops a strong love for the character
·         Through Hate – maybe the reader hates them
·         Through Heroism – maybe the reader lives through the character’s heroic acts
No matter what level the reader connects with, the fact remains that a connection must be made. Think back to every book you have read that you’ve loved. Why did you love it? Is your first thought about a certain character? Do you remember their names? Do you have a clear picture of who they were/are? Then that, my friend, is reader connection.
Take a look at this Character Development Worksheet for some good pointers on areas you may have missed during your character development process.
Some writers disagree, but I think there’s something to be said for this important element of writing. Some may say that characters are dynamic, constantly changing, spontaneous, and shouldn't be drawn out from a cookie-cutter. And I agree. The worksheet is designed to give you something to refer to in your discovery of who your character is, inside and out. They are unique, no doubt about, and should be created as the unique individuals that they are.
Make sure you spend time on their back story, dialogue, physical description, nemesis, fears, and the like. Once you get to know them, you may hate them, but you will connect with them.
Some links to help you along:

Advice From Fiction Writers
Writing Advice for Fiction Writers
101 Character Development Questions for Writers

Let me know what other things you look at when developing your characters. I'd love to know so I can add them to my list!

Merry Christmas. I hope your holiday is filled with happiness, warmth, and joy.

Dee Ann

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Way to Use Twitter
Hi everyone. I hope you’re all finished with shopping and are now in the relaxing stages of the Christmas season. But, if you’re anything like me, NOT. I found myself taking deep breaths today, and realized that I will soon be suffering from PTSD from this season. Once again I have tested the elasticity of my budget and found its breaking point.  Oh well. It is, what it is.
During the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to dedicate myself to my social network as often as I’d like, and thus I have fallen behind in some areas. For one, checking my DMs on Twitter. So, this morning I’ve invested time in doing just this. Herein lies my problem (and I know I am not the only one who suffers this - check out Editor Su's blog for her opinion on the subject!).
My DMs are full of people saying hi and then leading me to their social network, be it FB, website, blog, book link, Amazon link, etc. Now, I ask you, why would I visit these sites, or even buy a book from someone who is a complete and utter stranger to me? Have we met? Have we even said two words that were personal beyond hello?
Look, I’m a writer. I worked hard on my books. I want to sell my books. This is all true, same as you. But I think what’s important to remember when building a social network is that it is first, and foremost, SOCIAL. This means that in order for it to work, we must be social with one another. This doesn’t mean ramming our links down someone’s throat. It means getting to know people. These are our contacts. These are the people that are going to help make or break us.
Here are a few suggestions on doing this, for those of us recluse writers who suck at being social:
·         Say hello … and mean it.
·         Ask what they are working.
·         Is your new contact a writer, reader, publisher, agent? Wouldn’t it be good to find out?
·         Have they written a book? Did they go the traditional route in publishing, or are they self-published?
·         Are you working on a book that requires research? Ask your fellow tweeters if there is anyone out there than can assist. You’ll be surprised at who comes back!
·         Show an interest your fellow writers’ concerns. Maybe you can help, or steer them to someone who can. This is priceless, and will come back to you tenfold.
I recently helped someone – a stranger to me – who returned the favor by providing me a contact at a publishing company who is now reviewing my book for publication. How much better can it get? Even if the publisher should end up declining, what a great opportunity I was given simply by extending my hand to someone else.
The same goes for all your platforms. Take the time to utilize them in the way they were intended. I think you will be pleased with the end results.
I hope this sheds some light, or at least creates a spark for you to further investigate the best uses of Twitter. It can be an effective tool, if used properly.
All my best.
Dee Ann

Friday, December 14, 2012

Forgiveness.  A simple word, really. People do it all the time… for small things.
But, what about the really big things? Things like rape, adultery, physical abuse, mental abuse, incest, robbery, murder, child exploitation/abuse, kidnapping, or any number of other violent acts against humanity? Can you forgive then?
Like many of us, I have had terrible things happen to me that I have had to learn to forgive. It took me many years to come to the realization that the hatred I harbored for my ‘enemies’ was actually destroying me inside.
My MC in THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT, Danielle Montgomery, has to learn this lesson for herself. She’s suffered. Greatly.
·         Murder: Fifteen year old Danielle cradled her mother’s wounded body in her lap and begged the African rebel soldier not to shoot again. But he did.
·         Kidnapping: Danielle was awarded to this murderer, Obasanji, as a prize to the young rebel for his conquest of the small Congolese village.
·         Rape: As Obasanji’s prize, she was forced, day after day, night after night, to succumb to his every whim.
·         Physical and mental abuse: Danielle was trained as a rebel soldier and forced to kill innocent women and children, or face dire consequences.
·         Betrayal by her own country, the USA: The US government refused to send in a rescue team for a young girl that they had no idea either lived or died.
It took three years before her uncle was able to put together a team of mercenaries and complete a rescue mission to save her. For three years she lived amongst the scum of the Continent with the man who stole her soul. She would have lost her mind, if it wasn’t for Zulu, her fellow prisoner, and friend from the village. He encouraged her to live, and reminded her frequently that the person she had become was not the person she would be forever.
Now, thirty-two year old Danielle is doing her best to blend into the cityscape of Boston, MA, where she struggles to lead a normal, yet rigid life behind a façade of normalcy. Nothing or no one gets into her tight little world. No one that is, except for Sarah Everett, her one and only friend, and Roland Dupre, her last surviving relative and renowned archaeologist.
It takes all her strength each day to deal with the lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Lingering, Sarah says, because Danielle can’t let go of her hatred for Obasanji. Sarah knows Danielle’s secret. Buried beneath the façade, lies Danielle’s deepest desire: murder. She wants Obasanji dead, and she wants to be the one to do it. Her hatred has consumed her. She finds herself living and breathing for the sweet taste of revenge. It beckons from her dreams, haunts her waking hours, and festers in her empty heart. The question is, how?
And then a letter written in her uncle’s hand arrives, and along with it, an encrypted notebook and a small piece of a map. The letter speaks of a fantastic discovery that he’s made deep within the Congo. One that will change the fate of the troubled United States from China’s imminent attack: a rare earth element known as Promethium, the missing element needed for the completion of Viper 6 – an unprecedented stealth missile that will secure the position of world leader for United States.
But General Sao, a Chinese commander sent to Africa to mine for rare earths, has other ideas. He enlists the aid of the rebel forces known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by no other than the now Major Colonel, Obasanji. Sao promises Obasanji that China will help move blood diamonds out of the country, which will provide money to fund his army.
Now Danielle’s uncle has gone missing, and the C.I.A. wants the information she has. Only, the letter she received said to trust no one but Dobbs in Homeland Security. Trouble is Dobbs is dead. Danielle uses her uncle’s disappearance as an excuse to return to Africa.
Enter Kayden Moreau, a mercenary hired by her uncle before his disappearance to protect her. Only, Danielle wants nothing to do with him. She fears he will discover her secret for revenge and thwart her mission. Kayden takes his job seriously. He was hired to protect her, and that’s what he’s going to do. But, he wasn’t hired to fall in love with her, and he does that, too.
Whether she likes it or not, Kayden is forced to save her life on more than one occasion. And Danielle finds herself drawn to him, struggling with the mysterious and unfamiliar feelings that rage within her whenever he’s near.
Unable to shake him off, Danielle is forced to lead him and a small team of men, consisting of former special ops Marines to African cattle ranchers, on a voyage into the harsh, remote corners of the Congo; a journey where Danielle makes a phenomenal discovery of her own.
She finds Obasanji, but to her horror she learns that he’s the only man alive who can help her find her uncle and the cave where the element was discovered. His price is her forgiveness. Now, she is forced to make a choice: will she forgive him for the murder of her mother and destruction of her life, or is her desire for revenge more than she can bear?
Danielle must endure through car chases with shootouts, kidnapping, and treasure hunting, in order to reach her goal, only to get herself taken, once again, as a prisoner of Obasanji. Kayden and his team must go head-to-head with Obasanji’s army in order to attempt a rescue mission to save Danielle and her uncle. But is it too late?
The lesson of forgiveness is a hard one. To survive takes courage, but to forgive also takes courage. And the act must be consciously desired and made. It is not for the ones who’ve harmed us, but for ourselves, for the rescue and survival of our souls, and is in-and-of-itself, the most courageous act of all.
Christmas reminds me that forgiveness is a charity that should be given. It is God’s gift to us, and one that must be re-gifted many times over.
I hope that you can find it within yourself to forgive, this holiday season. Forgive, and set yourself free.
Merry Christmas.
Dee Ann

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I’ve entered the world of… waiting. Query letters have been written, two versions of synopses have been created (long and short), and my novel has been exquisitely polished. THE CONSEQUENTIAL ELEMENT has finally been launched into the outer realm of the agentsphere. Now, I wait. And wait. And wait some more.
Through my waiting process, I have learned several things about myself:
1.       I hate waiting
2.       I don’t have near the patience I thought I had (my kids told me this years ago, I refused to listen)
3.       My confidence has been replaced by doubt…no… panic is more like it
4.       I’m a stress eater – this was a shocker!
5.       I’m under-medicated
6.       I’m more moody and frustrated (compound that with menopause – yeah, that’s fun)
7.       I’ve developed Situational OCD (not sure if this is a proper diagnosis, but it accounts for the constant ringing of hands, checking email on the 60 second click of the clock, and sitting bug-eyed staring at a blank television screen while thinking that I need to check my email)
8.       My best friends are actually wine and chocolate, not my husband and sister, as I once thought
9.       I’m a nag to my dog (“Get off the damn couch!” I scold, and then moments later I sit and pat the cushion beside me. “Here, come sit by mommy.” (Yes, my dog is becoming as neurotic as me)
10.   I hate waiting (I know I already said that, but it bears repeating)
So, how do I cope? Here are a few things that seem to help with the above issues:
1.       I get involved in another project, whether it be another book, art, scrap booking, or house repairs. Anything to help take my mind off the fact that I’m waiting.
2.       Exercise. I belong to a gym and find that a good daily workout does wonders.
3.       Redesign several rooms in my house at once. Now THAT really helps.
4.       Go shopping, but don’t spend any money. (Hubby says it teaches restraint. He says, if I can do this, then this waiting gig should be a piece of cake. Yeah, hubby says senseless stuff, sometimes. But at least he makes me laugh.)
5.       Eat. (Okay, not the best advice, but the question was how do I cope, remember?)
6.       Keep submitting. Yep. For every rejection I receive, I send out two more to unsuspecting agents.
7.       Write. Anything. Just write. Start an Anthology; write poems, short stories, or my next novel. But, just write.
8.       Promote my book, work on marketing, build on my social network. Great everyday therapy.
9.       Be patient. (Yeah, that coming from me, of all people. Do as I say, not as I do.)
Let’s face it, the profession of writing is a huge waiting game. If you intend on succeeding, it makes sense to adopt a process that helps you be as efficient and productive as possible throughout the publishing journey.
This waiting thing isn’t going to go away. You have the waiting period of pre-agent, post-agent, pre-sale, and then after you’ve been lucky enough to sell, you will be waiting for your editor to work with you. Finished waiting? Not yet. Now, you will wait for the sales results, then wait for your royalty checks. And if and when you write your next book, you will begin the whole process over again. So, best advice? Get used to waiting. I can’t, but you’re a bigger person than me. You can do it.
Me? I’ve just decided to call the spa for an afternoon appointment. Hmm, maybe I should look them up on the NYSE. It’s about time I invest.
I know you didn’t ask for it, but here’s a piece of advice. Never sit and wait for someone else to fulfill you. You wrote a book. You know it’s good. You know someone will discover this for themselves. Until then, keep on moving forward… and WRITE.
You may also like:
How about you? What have you done to get through the waiting process?
Thanks for stopping by.
Merry Christmas!
Dee Ann

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Horrifying Journey of Querying an Agent
Is it just me, or does anyone else experience an immense gnawing in the pit of your stomach while typing your query letter? And how long does it take you to push SEND once you’ve finished?
I’ve finally finished all of the revisions that my copy editor suggested, re-read the entire book for the seventh time, and had another copy editor look it over for good measure. And I thought that was harrowing! But, compared to writing the query letter, that was a piece of cake.
I’ve researched agencies, many of them, and they all seem to provide similar advice on query letters. Advice like; “Be careful with your query because it is your very first impression with the agent. A bad query can sink your book,” hasn’t really done much for my confidence. Instead I think; “Oh, thanks. That’s just great. No pressure, right?”
One of the best places I did get the best advice on the infamous query letter is at Agent Query. I like this site because it offers so much information about… well, so much! It’s like a one-stop-shop for writers. Here are some other resources on this subject:
When you begin your journey, my best advice to you is, be sure you check out the agency’s website. They pretty much spell out, to the T, what their expectations are, from the query letter through submission. Taking the time to read through their websites has helped me tremendously to understand what is expected of me. It hasn’t helped, however, in calming my nerves. I guess only I can do that. I suppose a fifteen minute session of Yoga, followed by another fifteen minute session of Pilates, and finished off with an hour at the spa before each submission would be beneficial. Not sure how productive it would be, but at least I’d get to keep my sanity.
Oh, wait! I remember now. I received a response from an agent last night who is requesting a two page synopsis. OMG!!! Two pages?! Are they crazy? They want me to tell them all about a 387 page novel IN TWO PAGES?? Okay. These nerves are going to take more than an hour at the spa can cure.
How about you? Are any of you experiencing these sorts of feelings? If so, what do you do to curtail, or deal with them? TELL ME! I really want to know.
All my best to you.
Merry Christmas!
Dee Ann