I made another must-do list for the things I let get behind and spent all morning carrying them out. A lot of little tasks, but a mini break from writing. I actually got outside to walk to the post office and stop at the local Starbucks to get a refill on ground coffee.
Then I watched TV (kinda hard not to now) as I went through my character sketches. I wanted to go through each character and revise to fit what they had become and what new habits that had come about in the story. I tend to get very detailed in my character sketches. I include background information like who their parents were, what they did and where they came from. Who their brothers and sisters are. I outline the usual physical attributes (height, weight, shape, hair/eye color, imperfections, age, birthday, sign, etc.) as well as their personality and preferences (personality traits, habits, musical tastes, hobbies, books they read, etc.). Other stuff like marital status, education, employment history, any funny little quirks they have or phrases they use.. I also sketch their issue in this story, their perspective, their goals and desires, their greatest fears, and their motivations. Then I sum it all up around the current issue by writing a paragraph on their upbringing and how that affects their issues in this story.
So, I fill out this form for all the main characters (Excel spreadsheet). I also do a sketch on the minor characters, but not nearly to this detail. Then, as I'm writing in each chapter, for the characters in the scene, I constantly review their characters sketch to see how they react, what they might say, how they feel about whatever it is that's going on, how they try to come across and how they actually come across, etc. I only have to keep referring to the sketches in the first few chapters. It seems like after that, they come so alive that they just do what they do.
In addition to all of this, I make a story sketch too (theme, conflicts, setting information, etc.) and refer to it periodically while writing and revising.
All right. Time to get to revising chapters one and two! :-) It's going to be a long day.
And I accidentally left my cell phone on yesterday and picked up a call from a friend, who, as usual, began chewing me out for not calling--even though I've made friends aware of my deadline and I will be in touch after I meet it--say that "you don't write ALL day. You gotta eat. You can call me then." True, I gotta eat. But when I eat, I wanna eat. Not talk. Then it's "You can take 2 minutes to talk to me." When I point out that all my friends say this, they all will reply, "I'm not talking about everybody else, just me." So argument ensues (I have no idea why I'm arguing) and the conversation ends on a negative note of the friend saying, "Well, FINE. I'll tell you what then. Why don't you just call me when you're done writing the book?!"
I guess they feel better with it coming from them because that's what I've been saying since I started the book. In any respect, this is why the cell phone remains off. LOL
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
I made another must-do list for the things I let get behind and spent all morning carrying them out. A lot of little tasks, but a mini break from writing. I actually got outside to walk to the post office and stop at the local Starbucks to get a refill on ground coffee.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The first draft is done! Let's celebrate! Everyone, get a 40 and join me in a toast! But make it Michelob Ultra to cut carbs. And don't forget to pour some out on the curb in a moment of silence for the characters that didn't make it. They were beautiful people. Just caught up in the wrong story at the wrong time.
Ah, a major milestone has been reached, but it's not over. Today, I'm going to go over all the character sketches and revise. A lot of them have just gotten out of hand. They created their own personalities. Then, tomorrow, I'll refer to these character sketches as I take two chapters a day and revise. I expect to be done about September 10th. Maybe a day or 2 for last minute additions/changes, then it's off to the editor by the September 14th deadline! Yea!
I try to stick to the topic of writing on my blog, but some things you can't bypass. Even though I don't have relatives in the areas where Katrina hit hard, my heart goes out to all. I do know of another author and his family in New Orleans that safely made it to Houston and are still there now. I'm watching the reports on TV and it's truly devastating and many will not have homes to go back to. I know you are already, but please, continue to join me in a prayer for lives in that area.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Here we go now. One more chapter to go and the first draft is done!
I forgot to mention last week... If you're a member of Black Expressions Book Club, check me out on page 7 of the September catalogue. Author Lexi Davis emailed me to let me know about my feature. Yes, I'm eagerly awaiting my catalogue in the mail. But she tells me there a picture of me (I'll smile when I get the braces off in a few weeks), a mini-bio, a blurb, and a small excerpt. I can't wait to check it out myself. Anyway, the hardcover of Counting Raindrops is being sold exclusively through Black Expressions.
All right. I'm eager to get started on the last chapter, so let me get to it. :-)
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Only two more chapters to go to the completion of the first draft!!! On schedule and rolling!
So, last night, I was in the umptieth day of seclusion, tired, but still finishing up the daily chapter. Then, *ding*, I get an email. Barely having enough energy to click from my Word Document to email (okay, maybe that's the little drama queen coming out in me), I opened email to find this message from Kim J., a reader in Memphis:
Hi Cherlyn, I received a copy of your book at a book signing with Carl Webber and Alisha Yvonne back in February. It was several of us reading it at the office and girl it was off the hook! I am friends with Alisha and Sherita the president of R.A.W. Sista of Memphis. I am president of Unique Women Social Club and we are reading it now which will be twice for me. I will be at your book signing when you come to Memphis.
Thanks and keep on writing.
Immediately, I felt invigorated. Energized. Touched. It's simple messages like these that you get out of nowhere, at any given time, that pumps you up and encourage you to keep following your dreams. They're soooooo much better than emails that say, "your writing sucks. Give it up and do us all a favor and die." Now, thank goodness, I haven't received that email YET but I'm bracing myself. I know it's coming because from what I've seen I think every author gets at least one. Even the best authors.
But in the meantime, after I got this email from Kim, with newfound energy, I returned to my Word Document and finished chapter 18 out of 20 of book two! Thanks Kim!
For Friday's winners, I hope you all enjoy it just as much!
Saturday, August 27, 2005
AND THE WINNERS ARE....
Okay, first let me give the numbers I wrote down and the reasons behind them:
I preselected #1 because although I am grateful to all who are interested, the first person to say so always makes you feel good. :-)
I also preselected #11 because I wanted a double digit winner, and possibly someone who would post on Friday so I could have a Thursday and a Friday winner, but I didn't want to go too high, just in case I didn't get that many posts. (whew!)
But, in seeing the response, I wanted to throw in another winner. Problem was, I couldn't just pick because there were too many people that I knew, who've been so suppportive, who's blogs I've read, etc. So, I came up with a simple method to select another winner. I took the total number of posts, divided seven (number of days in the week), took the cubed root (in honor of cubed steaks), then raised it to the fifth power (for the 5th Dimension), integrated from zero to one, then ADDED the number of dollars I made as a self-published author. Unfortunately, this left me with a negative number. So, I scratched all that.
Then I cut up pieces of paper with the numbers 1 - 21 (well, minus the previous winners), and pulled. Out came the number 20.
So, will the following posters please send your mailling address to email@example.com:
This was fun! I love giving away stuff. Why, if I was Oprah, I, too would...wait. Don't let me get to lying....
But, I'm going to have to do this again sometime soon! :-)
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Another chaper down. Yea! Five more to go. Should complete the first draft by Monday, if not before. :-)
Another mail surprise! I got a box of my books in the mail yesterday. How cool! I get to use these to hand out for reviews, promotions, and.....CONTESTS!!!
And I'm so excited. So, I think what this here blog needs is a contest so I can give away a couple of books!
Oh, but what to do, what to do?
Hey, I know! Okay, I'm thinking of a number. No, two numbers. I'm even writing them down. (See----->scribble, scribble.)
Now, if you'd like a copy of this new release, just post a comment and let me know. The winners of the books will be the posters that correspond to the number that I've written. For example, if I was thinking of numbers #1 and #2, then the first and second poster would win the books! Cut off point is going to be midnight Friday, Aug. 27th. Good Luck!
(Lawd, please let someone post!) LOL
All right. I'll be back here Friday!
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Moving right along! Finished another chapter yesterday.
I'm suffering a little bit because I finally went back to the gym yesterday. I know a couple of weeks ago I said I was going to get back on track, but I failed to do so at that time. So now, 2 weeks later, I went back and even after just two weeks I have that oh-not-so-in-shape-feeling. The only way to get beyond this is to keep on going. I know because I've been here too many times before, sad to say. But hey, I accidentally confided in my gym-mate that I was going to start working on those 10 - 15 pounds on September 1st. She guilted me into starting today. I don't know how that happened.
So, I got my promotional cards that I ordered in the mail yesterday. I've learned from the first time around. Instead of bookmarks and large postcards, what I found to be the most effective was little promotional cards the size of business cards. These are great to hand out on the street, at meetings, or wherever. They're also great for slipping in between book and magazines pages at bookstores, drugstores, and libraries (did I say that?!). I've already started a list of promotional activities with dates. This list consists of downtown lunch runs (selecting various locations to introduce myself and pass out cards at lunch hot spots), mall lunch runs, bookstores and other stores, free newspapers, ladies restrooms around town, and anyone I happen to cross paths with at anytime. I'm also planning on doing mailings.
As a new and unknown writer, you gotta do what you gotta do to make people aware that you and your book exist. It's a lot of work, but hey, somebody's got to do it (and that somebody is you.) ;-)
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Okay, I don't know whether to say I met yesterday's goal or not. Here's the deal. All of my chapters currently are running between 3K and 3.5K words. In yesterday's chapter, I got to an end of a scene at 3.2K words. I look at what I had remaining for that chapter and thought it would be best to create another chapter because I estimate another 3K words to write it. In the second draft, I'll go over it again and break chapters more appropriately, but they're broken up write know for easier writing purposes. So, essentially, this adds another chapter for me. Which could be more words. I don't know. I'm just going to get to the end of the first draft in seven days and see what's what.
As a new writer, I'm like a baby just discovering my fingers and toes. As I'm writing this book, I'm paying attention to the way I write, my preferred writing environment, how I write scenes, etc. I've noticed some pretty quirky things about me when it comes to writing.
Like, I can't write in total silence. Silence it "too loud" and I can't concentrate. I prefer to have background voices (TV, people) going on.
I prefer to write by outline. I've heard of authors who just start with a blank page and no outline and just go at it. Okay, I'm in awe of that. They don't know what's going to happen to whom or anything until they actually write it. Now, with an outline, things always change. Some new things/people are added, some characters turn out to be not important at all and are unceremoniously dismissed, some people's personalities changed from the ones I outlined for them. I can handle that, because I have a path. I think I'd have writer's block on page one if I tried to write from a blank slate.
The funny thing that I really noticed just yesterday is that I actually do put myself in each character to write the scene. It's almost like I'm possessed. You know, like in the movie Ghost when Patrick enters Whoopi Goldberg and takes over her body to talk to Demi (I don't remember character names)? And I feel their emotion and record what they're feeling, what they say, and what they do. But I REALLY feel their emotion. For any high intense emotion (anger, excitement,...) my body goes through the feelings: my jaws tighten, my body tenses, I'll type very fast, my heartbeat quickens. If it's a mellow emotion (sadness, sensual,...) my body becomes very relaxed, and my eyelids droop.
I was typing an argument scene last night and when I had stopped, I was breathing hard; my jaw was hurting because I was clenching my teeth together for so long, and my heart was racing. You know, it's probably best that I do write in seclusion. I could only imagine having a male friend next to me while writing and I'm in the throes of the scene and he says something to me and I just reach over and slap him because I'm feeling that emotion at the time. LOL It's just that real.
Well, that would teach him to bother me while I'm writing. Bet he wouldn't do it again. LOL
Monday, August 22, 2005
Back on track! Yesterday, I finished up the half-chapter that I skipped out on to go to the Expo. PLUS, I wrote the next chapter. So, I'm still on pace for finishing in eight more days. Let the countdown begin! And I have to admit, Jill Shalvis provided me with additional motivation. She's trying to finish her manuscript in eight days too, so she offered to race me. I'm a girl that loves challenges. :-) (Hmmm....maybe that's what I need to do. Have somebody challenge me to lose these last 10 pounds and...hmmm.....). I ended up not leaving my apartment at all yesterday so I could catch up.
I just shot my editor an email too because I'm worried about word count. I have a minimum of 65,000, which I'm going to have no problem meeting. I'm actually getting worried about going over a maximum! If there is one. At the rate I'm going, I'm going to meet the minimum with the first draft. When I revise, there's going to be more words added because right now, I'm just laying plot and dialogue. There's very little description or narrative. I don't expect it to be a saga. I think Counting Raindrops was maybe 80K - 85K and 302 printed pages. Well, I'm just glad I'm worrying about a maximum rather than trying to come up with words to meet a minimum. Before editing, I'm a very wordy writer. Not sure if I'll ever have a problem meeting a minimum.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Let the beatings commence.
I played hooky and went to the Missouri Black Expo yesterday and I only got half a chapter written for the day. The pressure was just too much! Apparently, the entire city is conspiring against me and taunting me this weekend, just because they all knew that I would be stuck inside writing. So what do they do? They bring an entire concert series for the weekend and put it on the levee, which is like right around the corner. And to rub salt in the wound, the end it off with like a twenty minute fireworks that I can't help but hear and feel because it's like an earthquake, every night.
Then there are the baseball games. First Arizona, and now the New York.
Then there's the Missouri Black Expo. I always know a few of my book friends are going to be there, book storeowners, and readers that I could promote to (salivating at the thought). The Hip Hop Summit was there as well.
Well, it all got to be too much for me. More than my guts could fathom. I left my laptop with a half written chapter, promising it that I would just take a small break and that I'd be back to finish up. Then I got on the other side of the door and thought, "Sucker!" as if I had told one of my high school teachers I was going to the bathroom, then proceeded to head out the front doors and to the streets (not to say that I've ever done this before. Okay, maybe once. But it was with friends, so I was heavily influenced and under duress.).
So I went and talked to fellow St. Louis author Brenda Hampton and one of her authors. Also saw Tia Dionne and Anthony Carr, authors from Chicago. Of course I saw and chatted with a few literary supporters in the area. Met the publisher of Who's Who in Black St. Louis (networked, of course, so that I could be included in the next edition). Then I sat in on two panels with the discussion topic "Black America Today." Omar Tyree sat on the second panel.
Although I didn't attend, one thing that really impressed me was the Hip Hop "Financial Matters" panel (not the exact name). The panel included Russell Simmons, local hip-hop artists Nelly and Chingy, and a few others. The were able to bring out 4,000 young people to discuss personal finance. They gave these kids workbooks and taught them about balancing accounts, saving, investing, their credit and FICO scores, how to buy a house, and more. They were teaching these kids what to do with their money when they obtained money. I just thought that was the greatest thing. It's great to see the hip hop artists using their power over the young people to teach them something that's going to make their lives better. And just seeing all those kids... It was such a beautiful thing.
Okay, the goal today is to finish the half of chapter from yesterday, plus another chapter. The countdown is on. I should be finished with the first draft in nine days.
Saturday, August 20, 2005
I've been tagged! Blog tagged!
AND I'M TAGGING:
LINDA DOMINIQUE GROSVENOR
Okay, this sounds like fun. And this saves you from the whining post that I was going to write this morning. The one about everything that's going on here this weekend in the downtown St. Louis area. EVERYTHING THAT I'M MISSING!!!! as I sit here and tap out the second book. Stuff like baseball, concerts on the levee, Nelly, MO Black Expo. It was going to be a doozy. So, you're spared. Until tomorrow. :-)
So, the way this tag thing works is that I list the 10 songs I've been listening to. Well, easy, and not so easy. Easy, because I load songs onto my PC and have them on continuous play all the time. Not so easy because I have in rotation about four CD, so that's about 50 or so songs. So, being the creative engineering nut case that I am, what I'm going to do is list the top 10 songs from these four CDs in rotation that make me stop, breathe in deeply, sway (because I can't dance), or just take me to a whole 'nother level. (Pretty clever idea, huh? Thought of that all by myself). Okay, so here it goes:
1. I Want You - Erykah Badu
2. Think Twice - Erykah Badu
3. The Corner - Common
4. The Food (Live) Common
5. Cross my Mind - Jill Scott
6. Family Reunion - Jill Scott
7. Bandy Bandy - Zap Mama
8. Show Me the Way - Zap Mama
9. Sweet Melody - Zap Mama
10. Danger - Erykah Badu
So there you have it!
All right, I'm about to go get a cup of coffee. You can thank Cydney Rax for getting you off the hook. But stay tuned for the bitch session tomorrow.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Okay, I'm just about at the halfway mark on the book. It's going good. Timing is good. Still on schedule to have it finished before the end of the month, then I'll have time to go over it a couple more times to shape and tweak it.
I've got to get better at organizing my note-taking. I swear, I have about five notebooks for jotting down thoughts, ideas, one-liners, character traits, etc. But everytime I need a notebook, I don't have one handy. As a result, I have strips of paper and backs of receipts with random ramblings everywhere! And I just know I'm not going to be able to locate an idea when I need it. Case in point, when I drove to Kentucky on Tuesday. One reason I prefer driving over flying is because of the serenity of the whole thing. I can take time to meditate and think and dream up new ideas. I get some of my best ideas on the road. This past Tuesday, I got a multitude of ideas for scenes and dialogue for First Fridays. But when I make a stop for food, I notice I have not "an" notebook around. Now, I OWN several notebooks so I can keep one in my purse, one in the car, by the bed, etc., etc. But how many in my purse and car did I have then? Nada. So, I'm writing my ideas on the back of a gas receipt. Luckily, I made sure to keep it in a safe place because this is for the current story I'm working on.
Last night, I think I dreamed up a whole story (dreams are still alive and kicking). Thing is, I can't remember the main detail--like the main plot. The main plot is a pretty important part of a story. I remember getting up to jot it down, but, of course, I didn't have a notebook on the nightstand, and my legs said, "I'll be $&%!# if I get up and try to find one at this hour." So, I'm sitting here trying to figure out what it was. Seemed like it was a good story.
Of course, as I sit here blogging with not a new idea to jot, I have two of my notebooks just sitting here staring at me. Playing games. When I need them, they'll get up and go hide somewhere. Grinning and laughing at me.
I got to get more organized with my note-taking.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Hey, great news! I just found out yesterday that we got an audio deal for Counting Raindrops. So, my book will also be available on tape very soon. No exact date for release has been set, but when it is, I will let you know. :-)
Okay, writing has been very scarce since the day I took off on Sunday. Monday, I had a sudden family matter to tend to. After that, I got bogged down in other errands that were "must do" because I'd held off on doing them for as long as I could. I didn't get a chance to sit down to write until 7pm or so, and by then, my brain was no good. Besides, I had to get some sleep because Tuesday, I had the orthodontist appointment in Kentucky. Good news is, only one last appointment left in September. The scheduled off date. Round trip to the orthodontis is 11 hours drive time alone. So, it pretty much takes out writing time for the entire day. And now I'm playing catch up for not really having written in a good three days. Gotta get back on the horse. :-)
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Okay,I'm having a moment!
Yesterday, I just got my Hyperion copy of Counting Raindrops through a Stained Glass Window. Hot off the presses! She's beautiful. And I counted. She has all her flaps and pages. She's a tiny miracle. I wrapped her up in a receiving blanket and took her around to show all my friends and family members.
It's an experience. You know it's coming. But when it gets here, when it gets to your hands for the first time, it's like you gasp with excitement. And it's a different from your first self-published book, I'm seeing. With my first self-published book, seeing it in print for the first time was more of a feeling of, "Wow! I did it. Look what I achieved." But with the Hyperion book, it's a feeling of, "Wow! I'm an author. Author in the respect that someone published me instead of me. Someone else besides me and my mom thought my writing was worthy of publishing."
While I know that either way, I'm a writer, I have to confess that there is a feeling of validation in seeing it. And it's hard to describe. Because it's not that I needed that validation, for someone to publish me to make me feel like I was a real writer. But like it or not, self-published writers know that they aren't considered legitimate writers by others unless they are traditionally published, regardless of how they view themselves. So I look at this first copy and there's a feeling of awe. Especially since it's the first thing I've ever written, the first novel I ever attempted. And it's a real book? How cool is that?
I admit to feeling a little baffled. Because there are a lot of writers out there trying to get published. Good writers too. So I feel baffled and blessed.
Then there's a feeling that I just can't put into words and it's making me just stare at the damn thing like it's an alien. Like, "that came out of me?"
I wondered how I would feel when this day came. Now I have my answer. It's a multitude of feelings. :-)
Monday, August 15, 2005
I had to take a day off from writing yesterday. Believe me, it was hard. But the dishes were piling up, the packed suitcase from last week's trip was begging to be unpacked, a couple of bills were smiling at the anticipation of a late fee, and, ah, well, the next thing that happens is that you start not to like yourself anymore. So, I took the day off to take care of business. And now that I can see the floor, I feel much better. :-)
I even had a chance to do a little reading. Treated myself to a field trip. Went to the bookstore! I got 2 books from the bargain books section. It's very rare that I can go into the bookstore and come out with nothing and the bargain books and the "last chance" books get me every time. Well, I usually can if my purse is empty or say, a tornado hits, and wipes out all the cash registers in the process. Well, maybe not even then because my cell phone has a calculator where I can figure out the tax and then it's just a matter of seeing if anyone has change. So, what I'm saying is, I really, really hate shopping, unless it's for books or shoes and I can't leave a bookstore without something in my hand. I may need to seek therapy. Yeah. Me and a whole lot of other writers. ;-)
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Okay, now I'm feeling the pressure. I'm still on my chapter and day and doing fine with that. But this weekend proved to be extremely challenging. The Rams had a preseason football game with the Bears. I've been so out of it that I didn't know it was coming. Next thing I know, I got the news on TV and they're showing the tailgaters and talking about the first preseason game of the year. I'm sitting in my apartment, a block away from all of this, hacking out a story.
Not feeling my emotion? Okay, let me try to put it in perspective for you. LOL The only way I was coming home to St. Louis was going to be if I lived downtown. The only way I was going to live downtown is if I was going to be as close to the riverfront as possible and walking distance between Busch Stadium (baseball) and the Edward Jones Dome (football). Okay, I have all three. And I literally daydreamed of walking down the street to drop in on tailgate parties and to walk to see a Cardinals game. Tailgate parties are just so much fun. People grilling up food, all decked out in their Rams gear, eating, drinking, talking about the game, drinking, trash talking, drinking.... Oh, and they do partake in a little drinking every now and then. LOL
But the good thing is, I stuck to my guns. I sat there, and just had it playing on the TV, while I finished typed out my daily chapter on my laptop. And it made me all the more determined. With each face that flashed a smile and then shoved in a hot dog or slathered their face with BBQ sauce; and with each shot of a tall slim Jim who was looking up and trash talking a big beer belly Abe who who held a cup of sloshing beer, I leaned over my laptop, furiously tapping out words at a vicious pace, while clenching my teeth with hair gone wild, and vowed to have this story finished by the beginning of the regular season. Okay, it's happening. I done did it now. I'm officially going mad. LOL
Okay, now that I've painted that oh so lovely picture of tailgate parties, NOW do you feel my pain?
And to make it all the more worse, I can look down and SEE the Edward Jones Dome from my apartment window. Sigh!
Thursday, August 11, 2005
So far, so good. I've been off the road for two days and I'm on point with my goal of a chapter a day. :-) I've turned off my cell phone and I'm doing it. Like I said, the story rolls, it was just so much of life that got in the way. But one thing, I achieved my goal by sacrificing going to the gym. Yet another but, though. I can't really totally say that I sacrificed not going to the gym as I can say that I just didn't properly organize my time. I do a "Funk-Soul-Steppin'" class, or, advanced aerobics, three days a week. And I'm one of those people who actually love going to the gym and working out, even though I'm ALWAYS trying to lose those same 10 pounds. Going to the gym has become even more of an experience since I started writing full-time. It has become my social outlet too. Some days I'm at home, locked up in my apartment all day with writing, and other literary stuff. And the gym may become the only time I actually see other people and even open my mouth speak actual words. Sometimes it can be the only time I get a whiff of fresh air. And it makes me feel good afterwards. Unless something comes up, I go to this class faithfully three days a week. And yes, sometimes, I will even sacrifice other events if it conflicts with my Funk-Soul-Steppin' class. Yes, it's just that important.
But I had to give it a couple of days off, kind of like as punishiment. Because I had all morning and afternoon to get the writing done, and I didn't. I could have, but I didn't. I was doing something else. Trying to make postcards for my first book. I'm not good with computer stuff and it took me two days and going back and forth between my Mac and PC computers to get the thing right. So, I finally got it done and placed an order (I'll use these cards to promote on the street, give some to bookstores, and for mailings) so I can get them in time for the book's release.
And from what I'm told, this is what it's going to be like. Working on writing one book, while working and doing promotion for the previous books. Promotion also involves "pre-promotion" which is getting everything ready for promoting. Do you want to give away postcards, book marks, have cute little story booklets, pens, magnets, your bio, newsletters, or whatever. You also gotta take time to make it up and put it together. And some stuff, like your bio, changes so you have to stay on top of it and make sure it's updated so that you won't have to spend a day at the last minute trying to get it perfect before you send it out to someone. And you can't completely ignore it until after you finish your next book, because then you look up and you're ready to go and you have nothing to promote with, because you didn't prepare it. So, this is all the other little writing stuff that's on my mind while I'm writing the next book. So the proper term should now move from "full-time writer" to "full-time writer and promoter". Well, for a lot of us, I should say. :-)
Don't worry. I'm going to make my class tonight. :-)
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Going from self to traditionally published puts you on an emotional rollercoaster. Well, at least I feel like I'm on one. When there's no news and nothing is happening (which I realize is because we're in that period where the book is just waiting to be released), my emotional level is on the low-low. I'm wondering if anybody's going to notice when it comes out. Will anybody even hear about it or read about it. Because that's where I feel like I am now. Just trying to reach a wider and different audience than I did when I was self published. It's like I feel like I've reached my limiting in reaching people as a self-published author. So, now, here I am with the same book, trying to self-promote, and trying to find and reach a new audience. So I'm brainstorming, trying to think of things I've never done before. How can I find and reach a new set of readers. It's tough.
Then there are glimmers of hope which causes my emotional level to rise. At least for a little while. Like I recently found out that Hyperion is going to run an ad in three nationally distributed magazines. Yea! So that will help me to reach a wider audience. Then, just yesterday, my editor told me that Walmart really liked my book and placed a sizable order for their stores nationwide. Now that's awesome. Everytime I go in Walmarts in the area, there are always women there browsing and picking out books. So don't think I won't be in my local Walmarts helping readers choose a selection to buy, then offering to autograph it for them. I'm going to have to ask for a Walmart smock to wear while I stand in the book aisle. LOL But, it's things like that that makes you say, maybe, okay maybe somebody new will hear about my book and want to pick it up.
As the release date gets closer, I get nervous. I feel butterflies in my stomach. It's a repeat of the first time you've ever released a book. All of those feelings I had the first time around are re-surfacing. Maybe it happens with every release? I don't know. But I tell you. It's nerve-wracking.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
Okay, I did it again. Took off without saying I was going to be gone for awhile. But it just seems like I'm always in a rush and never remember to do stuff like that until I rolling down a highway. I remember traveling at work and I would always forget to set the automatic message responder or change my voice mail message to indicate my time away or whereabouts. Well, when I was working, it might have been different. I didn't necessarily want to be found so....
Anyway, just got back from the third annual National Book Club Conference in Atlanta and it was off the chizzle (is that right?)! There were 600 people in attendance, authors like Terry McMillan, Walter Moseley, Bertice Berry, Grant & DeBerry, BeBe Campbell, J. California Cooper, and, um...Cherlyn Michaels! LOL No, I wasn't a perticipant (at least originally). But I did fill in a spot earlier today for the self-publishing panel and talked about my book and my journey. I still haven't mastered public speaking yet. I'm really going to have to work on it. I was next to last to speak and while everyone else was speaking, I was telling myself that this was nothing new. Nothing I hadn't done before. So relax. Just relax. So what do I do? I get up there, ramble and stumble over words because I don't know what to say next (well, in all honesty, I didn't expect to speak and had nothing prepared...but that's beside the point). My voice starts shaking and I remain that way until people start to ask questions. Now, I can stand there and have a conversation and talk to a crowd of people without feeling nervous. It's the talking about me and my book while everybody is quiet and staring, that I have a problem with. Because they're all staring at you and you don't know what they're thinking. Are they thinking, "Man, how did she write a book or get a book deal? She's boring as HELL!" Or, "Okay, okay, enough already. Tell me something good!" You just don't know what the audience is thinking. But, I managed to get through it and aftwards, quite a few wanted more info on my book (hopefully so they will pick it up when it's released) and/or to talk about publishing. I LOVE talking face to face with authors who are about to self-publish! :-)
The conference was AWESOME!!!! I've gone every year and each year is always better than the last and this one was no exception. I love going even if I'm not a participants. It's basically a gathering of bookclubs around the country, and authors. There are author sessions and panels, book club and author awards. Lunches, dinners, and an awesome time. It's great mingling with readers who are just hungry and salivating for new authors. It's the one time that I don't mind the sensation of feeling like a pork chop in someone's eye. And everyone is able to mingle with all the authors there. They hang out with you and cruise the hallways and partake in discussions about books, writing, the weather, flu vaccines, or whatever. This is like the best conference and I love going. It's also very inspiring. You always come away pumped up and ready to write and put out your next book. That's what I'm feeling now. Gotta get this manuscript finished. I set a new goal. A chapter a day because I've missed so many days of writing due to travel. It's still do-able because I did it for a while when writing the first book. Anyway, I'm feeling good and ready to roll again.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
If you don't get my monthly newsletters (well, it's supposed to be monthly but lately, it's been like quarterly--LOL), I'm doing a drawing on August 15th to give away two Advance Reader's Copy of Counting Raindrops through a Stained Glass Window. If you're not on the mailing list, but would like to win a chance at a copy, you can sign up for the newsletter by going to my site and entering your email address in the box (join mailing list). Good Luck! Next month, I'll give away an actual copy or two, plus promotional giveaways and books by other authors.
Okay, gotta get to writing...
Monday, August 01, 2005
Whew! Just got back in town. I drove to Philadelphia, by way of Cleveland, for my family reunion. In Cleveland, I dropped in on a signing with Terry McMillan. She read a chapter from her book before entertaining questions (with the prerequisite that it could not be about anything that's been in the news as of late--you know what I mean). But she was in great spirits as usual. Every time I've met her, she's always been down to earth and nothing had changed. I'm anxious to read her latest as well, although it's going to take a minute.
Had a great time with my family and even visited an old college friend and sorority sister in the area. I had plans to write everyday while there, but, as one would expect, that didn't go over so well. I wrote two days out of four, and they weren't quality writing days by a longshot. And before I left, I spent two days finally getting my receipts in line to do taxes. Yes, I procrastinated on that even after getting an extension. If you're a first time author and on the road for the first time, let me tell you...sort and organize your receipts along the way. If you can, log your travel expenses and purchases immediately. It took me 20 hours to sort all that stuff out. But it was quite interesting too. You're able to see exactly what you do on the road. Where you sleep, what you eat, what you do.... I should have bought stock in Red Bull. That's for sure.
So, all in all, I wrote two days out of about seven. This is lousy! Aaagggghhhh!!! I just want to scream! Three more days before I leave for a book conference in Atlanta so I'm going to be a writing fool until then. Um...I'll holla back in a minute!