Sunday, October 31, 2010

Great Book - Poison Study

For the longest time since I've had a chance to find Maria's V. Snyder's books, I've wanted to read her first book, Poison Study. I learned about her work when I encountered Inside Out. Her style of writing is smooth, action packed, and easy to fall into for a great read.

I tend to be picky with books, so I was pleasantly surprised when I read and enjoyed Poison Study. The book is about Yelena, a nineteen year-old who had been convicted of murder. On the day she is to be executed she is offered a choice: either die or become the Commander of Ixia's food taster. (In essence either a quick death or a death that may come at any time from eating food.)

After she agrees to take the position, the second in command, a handsome man named Valek, gives her a poison to where she is forced to stay. Every day she must come back to him to receive the antidote. And that is just the beginning! Through Yelena's will to live she grows stronger as a character and learns to fight--as well as learn more about the magical abilities she possesses.

Throughout the story, Yelena also faces dangers from the father of the man she murdered to magicians with evil intent. The end of the story was a bit bittersweet, but all in all, I loved the story and I can't wait to read Magic Study, the next book in the series.

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Publishers Marketplace Announcement!

Well, as of 11 pm last night my announcement went up! Glad to see things finalized! Next comes the contract and the edits.

Shawntelle Madison's novel, in which the heroine, a werewolf from New Jersey, is afflicted with a hoarding obsession and tormented by the sexy alpha male ex she still loves, to Tricia Pasternak at Random House, in a two-book deal, by Jim McCarthy at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World). Rights:

So excited!

Here is a screenshot:

PW Announcement

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Urban Fantasy Sold to Del Rey!

I am so stoked I can finally announce to the world my good news! Especially since I've been sitting on this since last week.

My Urban Fantasy, HOARDING YOUR HOWLS, will be published by Random House Del Rey Books in 2012 with Tricia Pasternak as the editor! (Thank you so much, Betsy Mitchell, editor-in-chief of Del Rey!) Woo hoo!

This book was born from an idea I got from one of my husband's physician magazines. (American Family Physician ) I saw an article on OCD and my mind started whirling about what I could do with it. What kind of adventures could a character go through if they were a werewolf with OCD? From that point, HOARDING YOUR HOWLS was born. I started the book last year, but I didn't wrap it up until around February 2010. After all the fun edits with my crit partners, I handed the book off to my agent Jim McCarthy and he helped me pull it through the wringer until that puppy shined. Now I can happily say all that work paid off! I have a two book deal! With a fabulous house where my inner geek can feel comfy and happy!

The shock has not worn off yet, and I am so grateful to my friends for their support on my journey. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Not to Write for Nano

As I sit here enjoying a healthy lunch (the bad lunches come when I'm writing), I thought about the horror stories from the publishing community based on the work that comes out from Nano. They dread Nanowrimo and what hot mess may come from the bowls of an author's head. I'll be honest, what I write when I sprint is not in the prettiest shape, but I know that I plan to edit the heck out of it when I'm done. I also plan ahead so that what I write is what I should be writing. A full month of writing madness should be done productively--well as much as possible anyway! :)

Once in a blue moon I do get a shiny idea that pops up out of nowhere. (Oh, shiny!) I gaze at it lovingly and wonder what I could do with it, what direction I could go and what awesome things could come from it. But then reality hits and I realize that my idea belongs in one of the following bins:
  • Alien Invasion Hard Sell Bin
  • College-Age Student Finding Themselves Hard Sell Bin
  • Sparkly Vampires and Three-Way Triangle Relationship Bin
  • High Fantasy With 20 Races Searching for the One Ring Hard Sell Bin
  • Boring Regency Where She Must Find Inheritance/Love Bin
  • Never-ending Space Opera With Sub Plots so Deep You Can't Figure it Out Bin
  • Medical Thriller Where I Need an MD Bin
  • Wizard School/Academy/Institution Where Must Learn Magic Hard Sell Bin
  • Werecats, Werebats, Wererats: Thundercats Ho! Bin
Do these bins apply to everyone? Nope. There are no hard rules in writing. But if I ever did plan to jump into one of those bins, my premise would have to be very strong. I can't be cookie cutter or my idea won't stand out. I'd also have to write a very clean manuscript to make sure I get great visibility with a potential agent/editor.

What I'm saying here is that before I invest hours and hours into Nano I plan to be ready with an idea that has potential in this market. I've pulled apart my idea using my GMC Wizard to make sure my heroine/hero isn't heading off to Neverland without a reason. (Even if they have enough Frequent Flyer Miles.) I've check Amazon to see if here is a similar title. I've run my idea over with my crit partners to get their feedback if this is a totally new idea. (Usually isn't...) So much time goes into a labor of love like a book. I just want my time where I could be doing something else to be worth it. :)

Only a few more days and counting! This Nano will rock!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finish What You Start - Perseverance in Writing

Not too long ago, I was in the middle of convincing myself to finish a troublesome chapter and I thought about all the times I've finished other chapters. This lead to thinking about whole manuscripts I've tackled. I've created worlds and people who exist within them, but how did I start the whole process and then do it again and again? Not a simple question since writing a story is a constantly changing process. The goal I'd set when I wrote the words 'chapter 1' wasn't the same goal when I wrote the words 'THE END.' My overall goal was to complete a manuscript, but the process to reach the end was as tumultuous as the words within. I had to deal with:

* Family
* Life, Life, Life
* Illness
* Exhaustion
* Vacations
* Life, life, life

I think there is more to finishing a book than determination, (which sure helps), I believe it takes perseverance.

Perseverance: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

You can be determined to finish the book, the chapter, or even a section. But that's not enough during the long term. You need to ride the rough waters and make it out to the other side. Even if your book takes months or even years. I've seen so many writers start books and then never finish them. I've done the same. But, and there is a but. I have to have a reason for the decision. Sometimes I have to focus on another book. Or I switch gears when the book isn't working. The plot might not be strong enough or the characters aren't working out. I can cut all the words all I want, but if the overall structure is flawed I should not waste my time trying to fix a broken manuscript.

Either way, even if I fall off the horse I still have to work on something and in the end complete something.

I asked a crit partner and Harlequin Special Edition author, Amanda S. Berry, about why she finishes a book. She told me the obvious: "It's not a story until it's complete. A chapter doesn't get you anywhere but closer to the end."

YA writer Sarah Bromley said, "There's the great feeling of completion. A lot of the time when I finish something its because the story has grabbed me. I feel obligated to finish it and see it through. Discipline and dedication is required."

There are various ways to look at writing. Some people do it for the joy of creating words. For me, I get the joy involved in the creative process, but I also see my work as a potential product that my agent can sell. In order for my agent to have something to pitch, I need to finish what I start. Even if my kids are running around screaming, dinner needs to be made, my house is a hot mess, the laundry is piled up--I still have to get through all that and come back to my work to finish it.

Lately, I've been plagued by headaches. They've knocked me down a few times. Enough to force me to not work on those particular days. But the day after I got hit hard, I jumped back on the bucking bronco again to get something done. I learned through writing manuscripts that I'm goal-oriented. I want the prize of a completed manuscript. I hunger for a completed manuscript. So I dangle that lovely carrot in front of myself and I chase after it whenever I hit the keyboard.

Writing is hard. Life is hard. But the rewards are worth it for those who are dedicated and put in the overtime to finish and edit the work. You can do it!

So are you ready to finish what you started? Are you ready to get up early before your family? Work late at night after a long day at work? Can you ignore the call of a great book to write YOUR book? Is writing a hobby for fun or a business decision where you want to submit to an agent or editor? Are you goal-oriented or at least goal-oriented when it comes to your writing?

Nanowrimo is coming! What do you want to do?

Preparing for Nanowrimo 2010

Well, I did Nano last year and failed. *sigh* These things happen. I've decided to do nano again this year, but like the last, I won't beat myself up if life jumps in the way again. I got a pretty good start last year and then fizzled. I tend to write in bursts but sustaining a big haul is difficult for me. I think in order to make this year work I'll have to stick to 3K a day to maintain by steam.

I have no idea what I will write this year. I may finish a book I've started or write a totally new one. I have plenty of books sitting in the bat cave waiting to come out. I plan to use Lynn Viehl's Novel Notebook again since I love using that thing. I need to find a way to use it electronically though since my printed copies tend to disappear with my other papers. Be sure to check out Lynn's Post today where she's talking about her prep.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fast Draft: Day 5 - 9

Okay, I'll admit it. I fell off the bus. I rolled off and the aftermath wasn't pretty. After Day 5 I had the Archon Conference here in St. Louis. (My birthday present for the weekend.) I had so much fun with my good friend and mentor Angie Fox as well as so many new and old friends! Each day I did write, but I didn't write close to what I should write. :( I tried to stay positive and kept reminding myself that I'd written a lot of words and made tremendous progress before I got sidetracked. (And hey, I think I could at least let myself off for my birthday.)

Unfortunately real life hit again with a series of bad headaches. I get them once in a while and they hit hard and make writing near to impossible. But today is a new day! My goal is to at least get 10 pages or more today. I usually can write 4K in a day when I get my mojo back! I have 5 days left to make things count. Here goes nothing!

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages
Day 3: 20 pages
Day 4: 2 pages
Day 5: 3 pages
Day 6: 2 pages
Day 7: 1/2 page (Birthday!)
Day 8: 6 pages
Day 9: 1/2 page

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fast Draft Day 4

Sadly, Day 4 didn't go as well as my other days. I ran out of steam yesterday and I think the transition point I hit snagged my momentum. The story I'm writing spans over 9 months and well I can't give every day, every second. So the story needs to jump forward without looking like a hot mess after I jump. (Is it weird after I typed jumped forward my mind went to the Back to the Future scene where Marty sees his house in the future? Weird...)

Anyway, I only got 2 pages done. Not my best, but I do feel refreshed today and ready to work.

Day 1: 15 pages
Day 2: 15 pages
Day 3: 20 pages
Day 4: 2 pages

I did try to open the document a few times to get started. But nothing panned out. My writing process tends to go fast where I write in a blur. Perhaps my mojo will come back today and I'll knock out my goal again. :)