Category Archives: Writing to a Deadline

Fulfilling your contract: So, what is an “option book” anyway?

For the past two weeks I have been working on the “option book” as required by my contract.

What is an option book?

My contract with Month9Books was for a three book series with an option for the fourth.  That means I agreed to write three complete novels. (Already done. Yay!) Once those are done, the publisher has the “option” to request a fourth book.

The next step in the process for me was to provide a summary for the fourth book (This will vary by publisher and by author/book. I have friends who have been asked for outlines, first chapters, first fifty pages, etc.)

So, in my mind, I figured they just wanted a rough idea of what I had in mind. After all, they have three books from me already, right? They are familiar with my writing style.

So what I did was write out a rough, fairly detailed outline.  This is very similar to how I would start any book … just hitting on the key points, figuring I would fill in all the “holes” as I write (Which is my normal process.)

Since I had two large signing events back to back weekends before this was due, I shot it off two weeks early so I could check something off my to-do list.  Yay! I felt accomplished!

Imagine my surprise when the next morning I got an email from Month9Books, asking for a phone meeting that same day.

Yikes!

Well… I found out that I hadn’t quite done my summary right. What they were looking for was a complete, highly detailed summary so they would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this would be a book they would want to contract even before I had written it.

So then started the conversation … Why did this happen?  What about this? Did you realize that this part contradicts that part? What does this scene even look like? Why? Who? Which? Huh? Etc, Etc, Etc…

As humiliating as this sounds, I found it incredibly useful.  My editor was able to see problems in the manuscript before I had even written it. (This is the kind of stuff my beta readers would see later and I would have to fix) She asked questions that got my wheels turning, and we came up with ideas together to strengthen scenes before they were even written, and come up with a few that weren’t even there yet.

Now I have pages and pages of notes to strengthen my story.  Total score.

Due to the extremely intricate nature of the book I am proposing, my next step is to submit a detailed timeline. Since a few things happen at the same time, she needs to see how the timelines run together, and how they intersect.  I have one month to do this.

This is a lot harder to do this that it might seem, since the book isn’t even written yet. Like I said earlier, I usually plot only major points in the story, and then I write each day trying to get my characters to that point.  A lot of my ideas come “on the fly”. Coming up with them when I’m not completely engrossed in the story?  Really, really hard.

Think GirlBut what this exercise is forcing me to do, is to really THINK about the story scenes, and how they interrelate.  I am finding that I need another scene here, another there. There is not enough time for this scene in this spot. I need to move it over here… and so on. I am really glad they asked for this exercise, because there is a lot to this story, and as she told me, “We need to nail this or it will bite us.” Nope, don’t wanna be bitten.

So, that’s what I’m working on at the moment. Once this is done, if they take the option, it will be interesting to see if this extremely detailed timeline, summary, and subsequent notes from our phone meeting help me to write faster, of if they will stifle my creative mojo.

How detailed a plan do you come up with before you start writing?

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The Big Announcement! Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #4 The Big Announcement!

I am so excited to announce that I’ve just signed a contract with Still Moments Publishing to have my story Connect the Dots included in their 2012 Christmas Anthology.

This is totally unbelievable.  In January, I posted a big boisterous banner proclaiming that I WOULD BE PUBLISHED by the end of 2012.  It was quite a lofty goal for me, and now I will have two stories coming out this year.

I’m giddy with glee.

Hey, Canada.  Look South.  See that big bright light down in the USA?  That’s me smiling!

Oh, guys.  This is just so dern cool.  You have no idea.

Click here to see my query blurb and promo page for Connect the Dots.  Yeah, No explosions.  I was a good girl for Christmas.

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #3 — OMIGOSH! You Gotta be kidding me!

You know the drill.  This is all I’m allowed to say.

Need a Hint?

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #1

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN #2

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN? You betcha! Part Two

Yes, here we go again.  When I left you I had five weeks to write a story from scratch and submit.  Here’s how I did it.

Check out yesterday’s post by clicking here to see how I got myself into this mess.

Okay, so this is how I did it…

I took two days to come up with and outline the story.

I gave myself 1,000 words a day of writing time by placing FIRE IN THE WOODS on hold.  Within Ten days (two weeks in to the process—I don’t write on weekends) I had a rough draft.

Three more weeks until Deadline.

I posted the first half of my story on Scribophile, took general comments, and did a mild revision.

Two weeks until deadline… and no one had even seen the second half.

Now it was time for my writing buddies to jump on board.  They all read it in full.  One ripped me a new one.  It almost felt like a “keep out of genres you don’t write” kind of critique.  Ever gotten one of those?

One beta said it was good, but when I asked her about the harsh comments I received from the other person, she agreed with many of them. (Ugh!) Later the same day, two glowing betas came back with mild changes only.

Talk about contradicting criticism!

I mentioned that I was now unsure, and was considering an overhaul… and one buddy… let’s call her multi-published Romance Writer #1 said:  “DON’T YOU DARE!  This is your story, not hers.  Tweak if you must, but don’t change. Always go with your gut.  Your gut likes what you wrote. The publisher will, too.”

So, I thought it over, and agreed with Romance Writer #1.  If I made the drastic changes to both my characters to make everyone happy, it would be sappy, and not really what I wanted.  So I stuck to my guns.  Tweak, polish, complete.

One week and three days until the deadline.

Oh Crud!  I need a query!

I wrote up a query really fast and sent it to my query gnome.  (If you don’t have one, find one)  She slashed my blurb and re-wrote it for me, but left the rest in-tact.  I tweaked slightly to keep in my voice and posted it to my Scribophile group.

Multi-published Romance Writer #2 jumped in and tweaked it some more.

You know what? I ended up with something that even made ME want to read it, and I don’t read Romance. (It’s great having friends that like to write queries.)

One week to deadline:

Yes, I pressed the submit button, and I did it one week early.  Funny, I was not as stressed about this one. I’m not sure why.

I learned a few things through this process…

Well, maybe not learned, but it reiterated things I already knew:

1.        I can write under incredible pressure.

2.       You need more than one beta, get many opinions and go with majority… don’t try to make them all happy

3.       Go with your gut.

4.       Writing buddies are incredibly important.  My friends knew I had a deadline, and they dropped what they were doing to critique.  Know what?  I will do the same for them.  If you don’t have writing buddies, find them.

Thank you Sisterhood of the Traveling Pens!

(Note… all my buddies are “on-line” friends.  Social networking.  It ROCKS!)

So, that ends the tale of my latest madness writing adventure.  Will it work out? Dunno.  But I do know that push comes to shove, I Can do this.

My advice?  Challenge yourself. You don’t know what will happen or what you can do until you try.

Writing to a Deadline AGAIN? You betcha!

Yes, I placed myself in the clutches of a publisher’s deadline AGAIN.  I didn’t expect to. It wasn’t planned.  It just kind of happened.  Here’s the scoop…

About two months ago a writing buddy of mine Terri Rochenski announced that she was submitting to an anthology. I looked up the publisher.  They only did Romance.

WARNING WARNING DANGER WILL ROBINSON!

I giggled.  Despite the fact that there was a romantic element in LAST WINTER RED, I knew that writing a straight Romance was not for me… and I was having so much fun blowing stuff up writing FIRE IN THE WOODS that I didn’t really want to take the time to start something new.

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Anyway… A month later she put out feelers for beta readers.  A little niggle gnawed at my gut, poking and peeling until guilt set in.

The little writing demon inside me smacked me upside the head…  Who cares that it’s Romance!  You just missed an opportunity.

The overachiever in me flipped back to the publisher’s web-site. There were still five weeks until the submission date.

Five weeks…

Is that long enough to come up with a story, outline, write, beta, edit and submit?

Honestly… No it wasn’t.  Did I try anyway?

OF COURSE I DID!

I’m not going to draw this out… I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that I have already submitted a story to this publisher within the timeframe, and I managed to get it in a week early.

So, How’d I do it?  Just to not make this post too long, I’ll tell you tomorrow.  Be there or be square!

Make Believe Anthology: The back of the cover. Yay! Another Reveal!

Along with the book cover, and here ya go, in case you missed it.

Sigh… just don’t get tired of looking at my name on there…

Anyway…

Along with the book cover, we now have the back cover copy with details on all the cool stories about this little lady in red.

And no, It’s not Little Red Riding Hood.  It had to be about anything BUT that fabled character.  So without further ado, here is the back cover copy for “Make Believe”

Oh!  It would be great if you’d click on these lovely ladies’ names and give them a shout out on their blogs.  We’re all celebrating!

Back of the Book

Sacrificial Oath by Terri Rochenski

An impetuous act unwittingly makes Alesuela the fulfillment of the Sovereign’s Blood Oath to their Goddess. In five days, she’ll be forced to make the greatest choice of her life: become the virginal sacrifice already promised, or force the man she loves most to die in her place.

With an impossible choice in front of her, she searches for ways to undo the oath, and in her quest, finds not everything in her life is as she expects.

The Amulet of Ormisez by J. Keller Ford

There is only one way to save Elton Fletcher’s brother from an insanity-ridden death.

After years away from home, fighting for his people, Elton returns to discover his only sibling, Cayden, possessed by greed and malice, and responsible for malicious, unthinkable deeds. Cayden, though, isn’t the only one afflicted by the Amulet of Ormisez, and Elton finds himself in yet another battle, where the price of failure could be his own life.

Birthright by Lynda R. Young

Christa can mask the pain and hide the scars, but running from a birthright is impossible.

She’s tried to escape her grief by fleeing to a small town in Florida. Much to her frustration, the locals think they recognize her even though she’s never been there before. To make things worse, a man named Jack spouts outrageous theories about her.

Both spur Christa to bolt, to start fresh yet again, but there’s something about Jack that intrigues her enough to stay. The only problem? Someone else wants her to leave, and they won’t stop until she’s dead.

Petrified by Kelly Said

A mysterious storm has replaced summer with winter, devastating crops and smothering Castle lands in snow.  Prince Sterling August stands alone as a leader, lost in personal grief as well as a desire to help his people but with an inability to do either.

The answers he needs await him, but without Lochlyn, a woman who’s just as isolated as Sterling, he’ll never see what stands before him, cloaked in illusion.

Last Winter Red by Jennifer M. Eaton

Emily is a Red, a woman whose sole purpose in life is to produce offspring. When her husband dies and leaves her childless, she risks her life and forsakes the safety of Terra—a disease-free city born after the nuclear holocaust. Beyond its boundaries, she knows, survives a man with whom she can be properly paired.

The Outside, though, holds secrets the government struggles to keep, and what Emily discovers on her quest for a mate will change her life forever.

Escort to Insanity by J.A. Belfield

From a charity auction, to a stroll in the park, to the craziest night of her life. Nicole Harrington can’t help but wonder how a simple event went so drastically wrong.

Of course, the male escort she booked is wholly to blame. Not only charming but shrewdly intelligent, Benjamin Gold drags Nicole into a platoon of unimaginable problems—ones from which she’ll have to find the courage just to survive.

URL: http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/books/17

So, Whattya think?

Are you Excited?

The Cover Reveal-Seeing your name on a book jacket for the first time.

***Woa.***

So, I was rattling through my email the other day, and my buddy Jenny Keller Ford sends me a message saying: “Did you see the cover with your name on it yet?”

So, yeah, I scrambled through all my emails, searching frantically, and low and behold… there it was.

The contract felt pretty real, but let me tell you—seeing your name in big bold print with cover art…

I called my kids in.  My five-year old said, “Oh, okay.  Can I have a snack?”

The Monomaniacal Middle Grade Reviewer looked at it, gave me a hug, and went on about his business.

My eight year old, Thank Goodness, stared at it with wide eyes and a big poop-eating grin on his face, saying, “That is soooo cool!”

Later on, my husband came home and finally got to see it.  I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something like, “Wow.  This is real, isn’t it?”

I think he actually needed something to validate it in his mind.   I tried to explain what an anthology was, but until he saw the cover, I don’t think he actually “got it.”

So, without further ado, here is the cover for the Make Believe Anthology.

So, what do you think?  Pretty cool, huh?

The Road to Publication #1: The Contract

Wow, did I TOTALLY not expect to be writing a heading like that so early this year.

This will be a series of posts, but it will most-likely not be weekly.  Honestly, I don’t know everything that’s involved yet, or how often I’ll even have anything I can tell you.

Why am I writing this?

I realize that I am in a position of extreme interest to most of you.  As always, my mistakes, or my good fortune in this case, are an open book for you all to learn from.

To start with… the contract.  Wow.  Nothing makes things more real than seven scary pages filled with very serious sounding words like “Breach” “Grant” “Term” and “Indemnification”

Yikes!

Luckily enough for me, part of my day job is reading contracts, so this wasn’t as scary as it could have been.  I would highly suggest that if you DON’T have a background in contracts, or have a clear understanding of the publishing business, to bring your contract to a lawyer to get it explained.

Luckily for me, J.Taylor is a great publisher.  Their contract is concise and fair, and there are things in there to protect me and my family, as well as them.  Everything that I wanted was already there in the contract.  Whew!

Be prepared that there is a lot of negative stuff in the contract.  This is because the document is made to protect both sides if something “bad” happens.  It can be a little daunting to read all the stuff that can go wrong, but don’t worry.  This is just part of business, and is standard for almost any kind of business agreement.

What I really liked is J.Taylor Publishing softened the blow of the contract with a pretty “Welcome packet” wonderfully written with an air of excitement outlining some of the things that they will expect of me, and all of the great services that they offer.

After all I have heard about publishers dropping marketing in the lap of the author, leaving them to flounder on their own, I am tickled to find out that My publisher will be creating a marketing plan, and will do everything in their power to make sure the work is a success.

Have I mentioned my Beta Readers ROCK?

Thank you

I know this may sound hokey, but considering what I put my beta readers through, I think I need to give them all a big public hug and a Thank You from the bottom of my heart for:

#1:  Not being mad when I put my own beta-reading on hold

#2:  Being so supportive and honest, even though they knew I was stressing

#3:  Not hating me for asking for so much help in such a tight timeframe

I would like to introduce My Beta Reading Army for Last Winter Red:

Ms. Fran Metzman:  Thank you for pointing out that I needed more setting.  At the very last minute, I balked and added extra scenic imagery.  I have to admit that the story is richer with it.

Krista Quintana:  Thank you for being the only one who pointed out that my beginning wasn’t great.  I thought I knew what you meant when someone else said to start it a little later, but the publisher called me on it, and now it starts even sooner.  Also, you were totally right about Sara.  I didn’t change her much, and she was one of the fixes that the publisher requested at the last minute.  She’s now 15.

Ravena Guron:  Thanks for being so anal… and I mean that in a good way.  You made me look at every sentence more critically, and my story was stronger for it.  Your closing comments on the final version that you read really hit home, and made me think that maybe I had something here.

Nancy Krause:  Thank you so much for doing that read over the holiday weekend.  Thank you for giving me your phone number (even though we barely knew each other) so we could discuss everything live.  Having a voice attached to the comments helped breathe some life into me – and oxygen at that point.

Dawn Burne:  For reading and showing me things that I hadn’t thought of.  I would have looked so stupid if that talking/attacking furniture made it to the publisher.  Thanks so much.

Julie Reece:  For jumping out of the Scribophile world and offering to read for me even though you were preparing for the release of your own debut novel.  I sent you my final draft at 2:30 in the morning, and it was waiting in my email when I woke up the next day.  I also appreciated your help with that one transition element that we emailed back and forth on.  If I can ever repay the favor, please let me know.

Gloria Richard:  Thank you so much for your support and “whoots”.  I was excited that you liked the romantic elements, since I hadn’t done that before.  All those stinking typos that you caught too… that would have been embarrassing.

Jenny Keller Ford:  What can I say?  You totally Rock.  From long nights dwelling over rejections, editing nightmares, and draft after draft… here we are.  Feels good, doesn’t it?

Sandro Fletcher:  Thank you for jumping back in when we haven’t spoken in so long.  The one “missing plotline reolution” that you mentioned is fixed.  It is now in the last two pages, and sewn up tight.  Thank you so much for your support, not only now, but for encouraging me when I first started out.

This is a diversified group of people, and if you noticed, they each gave something different in their perspective of my work.  It is important to build your own little army.  Know which person will find what, and build relationships.

If any one of these people were to ask me for help, I would stop what I was doing and help them.  If you support me, I will support you.

We are not alone in the writing world, and I have been incredibly lucky to know this amazing group of people.  If you don’t have beta readers/partners… they are out there.  Find them.  They can be a lifeline in your time of need.

An Amazing Feeling. Published.

An Amazing Feeling

If you hadn’t noticed, I’m excited.  I am a born writer.  It is a talent God gave me, but I suppressed for twenty years.  Always in the back of my head, though… I knew giving up writing was a mistake.

When I decided to take up writing again in 2010, my focus was to be published.  In January of 2012, I decided that it was going to be this year.  I was going to do it.

I threw everything I had into that goal… and here I am!

And believe it or not, it only gets better.  A little over a year ago I did a beta read for a woman who has since become one of my best friends.  We’ve been on a roller coaster ride together, both striving toward that elusive publication credit at the end of the rainbow.

I am so excited to say that Jenny Keller Ford’s Amulet of Ormisez – The work that had me questioning my own submission, will also be included in J. Taylor Publishing’s Make Believe Anthology, due out just before Christmas of this year.

It’s fantastic to be published, but it’s even better to be published alongside your friend.  Instead of one of us being excited, but at the same time consoling the other, we were both able to celebrate together.

What an amazing feeling.