Thursday, December 25, 2003

Ahhh! Christmas morning. I got to sleep in until 7:30 AM this morning! LOL So much looking forward to relaxing with my family here in St. Louis today. No matter what, however, the book bug is always on your back. I'm up before everyone else and going over my list of bookstores to contact and my book selling tour.

I got my first taste of selling in the malls yesterday. I didn't get a chance to do this in Cleveland like I wanted, but I went to the malls in St. Louis to try to sell my last 12 books to shoppers. I passed out about 100 postcards, cruised the mall for 6 hours and sold a whopping 3 books! Whew! Okay, this is going to be hard work, I see. I scoped out strategies. First, of course I did the Toilet Campaign. Then I also found that it was better to actually hang out by the bookstore and catch people coming out. They were more receptive than people just randomly walking in the malls. However, I did find that women in the shoes and designer bags areas in department stores were receptive too. So, I'm taking my strategies and doing it again in malls in Cleveland this weekend.

Sales have been great, but I know there are going to be some rough times ahead. Days where I won't sell a single book. Who knows, it could be a week like that coming. But I already know I gotta keep plugging away and don't let myself get discouraged. Everyone has to start somewhere. I'm paying my dues right now.


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Finally got everything in and it seemed like it took forever. Just a lot of little minor corrections to make most of the time. I know that I can be a perfectionist at times. For the most part, I think it's a good thing. Thus far, I've received tons of compliments on the quality of the prerelease. Still, other times, trying to get everything just perfect causes major delays and many headaches. I'm sitting here already thinking about little things that I wish I could change. At this point however, unless it's something major that's going to take away from the reader's enjoyment of the book, I know I need to let it go and just make the change in the second printing. Yes, I'm praying for a second printing.

There's a never ending stream of little things to do, it seems. Getting the book to the printer was a major project. Now, that it's done, it seems to have been replaced with a million and one small items on the to do list. The next major task is working on more distribution, mailing sell sheets and calling bookstores to get them to order. Also, we're putting together the book tour now. If I can pull it off, it'll be great. I'm looking to do more than just sign my book though. I love it when people email me with questions about my process or need help with some part of the publishing process. So, I want to work that into my book tour as well. Provide an opportunity for other writers to ask whatever questions they want about my process. I'm not an expert, but I can definitely relay what I learned. That's what I'm looking forward to the most.


Saturday, November 29, 2003

November, 2003
I re-routed plans to attend a conference in PA so that I could pick up my books in St. Louis. I picked up 2 boxes that I had shipped to a St. Louis Fedex location, opened the box and just stared at it. I held it in my hands and I did imagine that this must be what a new mother and a new father feels. I mean, just like counting fingers and toes, I checked the page count, made sure all the chapters were there, ran my hands over the cover, and just stared at its detail. I propped it up on the console and glanced at it every few seconds or so while driving west on I-70. I was worse than somebody talking on a cell phone or eating barbecue ribs while driving. I was a proud little mommie.

With preorders, sales, and my mother and sister hustling books like crazy, I'm actually running low. I'm actually having to scale back on pushing my baby because I need to make sure I have books for my book party in December, not to mention the stash I need to keep for sales. However, better to sell out, should that happen, than to have 500 books lined up against my walls saying, "What we gon' do nah?" LOL

I'm having fun but I'm also feeling exhausted already. Maybe because I'm trying to complete a move to Cleveland and finalizing the sale of my condo while in the midst of this madness. It'll work out. It always does. I'm truly blessed.


Thursday, November 27, 2003

It's Thanksgiving Day, and instead of going to visit my family in St. Louis, I stayed at the condo in Cincinnati to pack up for the move back to Cleveland next week. Just a sacrifice that has to be made. I took so many days off this year for writing classes, workshops, conferences, and seminars that I have no vacation days left at work. So now, I'm using my holiday in order to pack up. That's cool because it'll be worth it just to be able to leave Cincinnati and go back to Cleveland. I dislike Cincinnati something awful.

My sister relayed to me a message from the Call and Post in Cleveland. That a writer there wants my photo in addition to the press kit we sent. Kim's going to follow up with him Monday and hopefully, this will be an article on my book. We're selling well in St. Louis (dare I say too well) and I need to start getting the word out in Cleveland. This will be a great start.

I'm still so amazed. It's been a little over a year since I first thought about writing my first book. It was last summer and it hit me like a lightening bolt. One day I suddenly realized that the perfect time that I was looking for to write a novel would never come. So one day, I just made a pledge to myself to make writing my first novel my number one priority. To my surprise, or not, I actually did make it number one from that day on. My first conference was a Writer's Conference in Columbus, Ohio in August that kicked off my learning process. Then, I got the self-publishing handbooks, started studying, and everything grew from there. Writing classes, starting the self-publishing company, putting together my plan. . .everything.

All this is so hard to believe.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I've been meaning to start a daily log to capture all of my experiences during this process, but things have been going so non-stop that I just haven't had a chance. Here I am, 11 months after writing the first sentence; 5 months after completing the first draft; and 1.5 weeks after holding the first book in my hands. The prerelease is in the hands of readers now, who I'm hoping are reading non-stop.

Feedback has been very positive thus far. So positive that I think I may actually be a writer. Not just a writer, but maybe the potential to be a good writer. But still, I know from other authors that I'm going to continually have to study and hone my craft. Which is not a problem for me. I love to learn. I would love to learn to mold and shape my writing style and to be able to offer something different to readers with each book.

Yes! Each book. It's funny. Only a year ago, I thought completing one book of 300 pages was going to be a daunting task. I love to write. Just never wrote that much for one document before. Now, I just finished my first novel and I have SEVERAL novellas and novels lined up for completion. Now, if I could just quit Toyota so I can get this stuff written! LOL

I'm having a great time writing and promoting. The only frustrating thing right now is not having enough time to do everything. And I'm trying to complete a novella while wrapping up the print job for my novel. I'll never do this again because it does take fun and creativity out of it. I wonder if that's what it's going to be like if I publish with a house? Hmmm... Now, I have target dates, of course, but I'm not under somebody else's deadline. I can see where that will make a difference. Trying to force and squeeze something out before a certain date or time and have it represent your best possible work is not going to be easy. That's going to take non-procrastination and time to let the creative juices flow. I can squeeze something out, I'm finding. But it would be better if I wasn't under a time pressure.


Friday, October 31, 2003

October, 2003

Finished the final edits this month and sent out ARCs. Added to and revised my plans. Now I'm working on getting it typeset and to the printer. But once again, the whole thing is not going to be ready for publication by November without rushing and skimping. Came up with this idea to do pre-releases. I'll prerelease the book with the story only. I'm making a short run of a limited number of copies and will sell them for less than retail.Lots of work. More work than actually writing the novel. I'm loving it though. Love the business side as well as the writing side. I love controlling my own dream.


Tuesday, September 30, 2003

September, 2003
Had to get rid of the publicist. Seemed like I was still doing all the work, but just added on paying someone. And then I got a press kit back that looked like a 3rd grader's school project. I was so hurt. Hurt because I shelled out hundreds of dollars. There was no way I could send out that press kit. Plus, my galleys went out 3 weeks later than agreed on and I don't have a reason why. I figured since I'm doing the work anyway, I needed to fire the publicist and just do it all myself. Didn't know how, but I created my own press kit. Imagine how I felt when the first feedback I got was from someone who said, "NOW THAT'S A PRESS KIT!!!" Made everything worthwhile.Pushing the publication date back to November now. With editing/proofreading, then typesetting and proofreading, then going to print, it's not going to be ready by next month.


Sunday, August 31, 2003

August, 2003
Editing process is taking a little longer than I had planned, but I want to get it right. For now, I'm still keeping my target release date of October, but it's going to be close. I'm continually revising and adding to my publishing and marketing/promotion plans. I took a class, Guerilla Promote with Linda Dominique Grosvenor, that has been a Godsend as far as promoting. I've got to be aggressive in getting the word out. I know what to do and I'm trying to work with my new publicist to get it done. Getting started is a little rough, though.It's getting tough to keep up with everything while still trying to work a full time job. I'm behind on keeping the books organized. I've got receipts all over the place. I'm getting printing quotes, fullfilment plans, and everything else. There's a lot to do. I'm tired, but I love it. Just wish I had more time to do it.Back in March, I had decided to put Jamel White in the story. I wanted a football player in there. A Browns player preferrably. My friend Jesse is an agent and has a couple of players, but the only one who's name I could remember was Jamel White. So, Jamel it was! LOL Then from there, I wanted to give back to my community from day 1. If my community supports me, I wanted to have it automatically built in that I would give back to my community. So, I looked for charities to donate to in St. Louis only, at first. Later, I added Cleveland. Being away from St. Louis and not having a lot of time, I had to find organizations by way of internet. So, I considered the Marshall Faulk Foundation, Cedric the Entertainer's Foundation, and Nelly's 4Sho4Kids. Since I had a football theme, I decided on Marshall Faulk's organizatiion and added on Jamel White's Diamond Kids. If I continue to self publish, this is something I want to do with each book I publish.Went to the 1st annual National Book Club Conference in Atlanta. Networked and got the word out about my book to the most important people, book lovers!!!! It was well received. I made pamplets of the first chapter and handed those out. Once again, saw other authors, and they're actually starting to recognize ME now. That's nice! People are getting more and more interested in my book and the way I'm promoting.


Thursday, July 31, 2003

July, 2003

Editing is a *%!@^. Okay, I found that I'm stubborn and I do have a hard head. From the workshops and classes, I have learned noto to be married to my words. Everytime I get corrections and recommendations back from the editor, I find that I'm defensive. So, I now take it, read it, wait a day, then respond. The second day, I usually see that their suggestion is right, clarifies things, or makes the story better. Thank goodness for editors!


Monday, June 30, 2003

June, 2003
Went to the BEA in Los Angeles. I guess having plants on the west coast did come in handy for something! Now, I had postcards and writing samples. I handed out postcards to introduce my book to other writers, agents, and editors. Ran into Jenoyne again and gave her a postcard. She actually recognized me. Then she told me about her gettiing into agenting and she requested a sample. Well, I just HAPPENED to have the first three chapters handy. So I gave her a set. It's only been 2 - 3 weeks since having up the website and already, people are starting to recognize my cover. Not me...but my cover. LOL That's cool because I'd rather have the cover in the limelight than me.Went to the Rawsistaz Affair this month too. Picked up a publicist and made contacts for reviews. Once again, people are recognizing the cover, which means I'm doing an okay job of getting the word across the internet. Met some other writers. A great deal of them are sooooo helpful. I'm so amazed and overwhelmed.Finished the first draft too! It's pretty much been edited once and now I need to revise. I've adjusted and added to my publishing plan. Also developed a separate marketing/promotion plan.Went to the VONA Master's Workshop with Terry McMillan. It was such an honor. Terry received our writing samples ahead of time. I was lucky enough to be one of the 2 that she used as an example to the class. She pointed out good things, and bad things. This was such an awesome experience. Took pictures, and she read from her current work in progress, The Interruption of Everything. She shared with us her hobby of painting light switch covers and passed out some. This was so funny because I'm so designer-challenged and I just had a hard time with this. Decorating or anything creative in that aspect is a challenge to me. But that was so cool of her to share that part of herself with us. She signed books later. I didn't read what she wrote in my book until after she had gone: "Cheryl, you can write your butt off, but find the voice." At that time, I had the first chapter written from the perspective of a child and the remaining chapters from the perspective of Vanella as an adult and it just wasn't working. So, I worked it out and changed it. So, Terry, I FOUND THE VOICE!!!! :-)


Saturday, May 31, 2003

May, 2003
Okay, I re-adjusted my schedule. Maybe wriiting a 300 page novel in five months was a little unrealistic anyway. Got a lot written this month. Developing the story hasn't been the problem. When I'm writing, it flows. As a matter of fact, subplots have worked their way into the outline (which I've adjusted so many times), and the characters really do take over the story. I used to think that writers were so full of crap when they said that! LOL You know what? It's TRUE.Started my website this month. My target date to publish was October, 2003 so this gives me 5 months to try to get the word out so that when it comes out, people are aware and want to buy it. I emailed a few well known authors announcing myself as a new writer. To my surprise, some of them actually emailed me back with words of encouragement or even offerings for me to keep in touch or ask any questions. Now THAT, I didn't expect. I'm keeping in touch with a few. I staked out one popular writer's booksigning. I wanted to see and take notes of how his signings were done. He was cool. I must have stayed 30 to 45 minutes after everyone left and he answered EVERY question I could think of. Gave me his email address to keep in touch. That was cool.


Wednesday, April 30, 2003

April, 2003
Went to the Black Writers on Tour Conference in Los Angeles. Met Jenoyne Adams and Michael Datcher. They are great together and Jenoyne was so poetic when read from Resurrecting Mingus. Brought samples of my work, just in case. Still not much done in the writing the story. I think maybe 5 additional chapters since February and my deadline for completion was next month. I'm not going to be able to make it and I'm going to have to re-adust the schedule.


Monday, March 31, 2003

March, 2003
Work is kicking my butt and interfering with writing. I got plants on west coast that I'm starting to travel to frequently. It's throwing my schedule off. Didn't write a whole lot this month. In the meantime, I did a lot of reading on the craft of writing.


Friday, February 28, 2003

February, 2003
Went to the UCLA Extentions Writer's Studio 4-day workshop. What an experience! Our instructor, Leslie Lehr Spirson (66 Laps), took us all up and down, in, out, and around writing the first novel. This is by far the best writing class I've taken and the feedback has been tremendous. I've learned how to end each chapter and begin each chapter to try to keep the reader reading. Hook 'em! I learned to create a hook for my story. I learned about editing and revising my manscript and so much more. I'm going to have to do this on a yearly basis.


Friday, January 24, 2003

January, 2003
Wrote first sentence to Counting Raindrops through a Stained Glass Window. Got the first five chapters written. This is really flowing. Got my Elements of Style that I'm keeping by my side and it's still hard trying to figure out what's wrong and what's right. I think I'm going to just write and let the editor worry about that. Speaking of, I picked up an editor to work with me chapter by chapter. I set a goal of four months to have the first draft written. I created detailed character profiles and that's helping me to write about them easily.Researched the web and found a designer in New York to do my cover. He did a cover for Lolita Files' Blind Ambitions. I want my cover to represent the settings of St. Louis and Cleveland and I think girls in football jerseys will best represent that. He already did my company logo and we're going through the first drafts of the cover.