To NaNo or Not

It’s only five days into October and I’ve already gotten emails from two NaNo groups I’m part of, telling me it’s time to get ready again. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) happens every November, I know, but wasn’t it just a few months ago? Time flies!

So what am I going to do this year? Participate and work hard to write 50,000 words in 30 days? Sign up just to be hanging out online with my writing friends and do however much writing (or editing, or whatever) I feel like or have time to do? Or skip this year because of other commitments and make up my own writing schedule like I do the other eleven months of the year?

I haven’t decided yet. A huge factor in my decision will be whether we are staying here in Sydney for a while longer or if we end up moving back to the States in November. I’m pretty sure that no matter how organized I am, I can’t write 50,000 words and make an intercontinental move in the same 30-day period.  🙂

But if I don’t decide to reach for the traditional NaNo goal, I’m still going to put together some kind of goal for November. I find that having a schedule and a plan and a goal help me to accomplish more. (For instance, my plan for tomorrow is to not check email before I start working. I’ve gotten sidetracked the last few days and I need to put an end to it.)

My plan for October is to finish uploading the ebook version of Little Miss Lovesick to the various online retailers I’ve targeted (it’s available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple iTunes/iBookstore, and Smashwords, more coming soon), then to finish setting up the print version so it can be ready for orders in November. (Woo-hoo!) I also have a boatload of marketing and promotion tasks to do including blog tours (check out my guest post at Writers In The Storm on Friday this week), updating my web site, and creating an Author presence at places like Amazon and Goodreads.

In little bits of time I’ve squirreled away in the last week, I’ve also printed out all of my notes and the first draft of the next book I’ll publish, Love at the Fluff N Fold. (The first chapter is at the end of Little Miss Lovesick.) So I’ll actually be working on editing in November anyway. (Good thing we had this conversation! Now I’ve narrowed down the three options above to two.)

So there’s the general outline of my NaNo plans. What about you? Have you thought about what you’re going to do yet?

Little Miss Lovesick Has Arrived!

At long last, I have reached the next stage of my journey – I have a book for sale! Woo-hooo!!

Little Miss Lovesick took a long twisty road to get here. A very long time ago – 1997 or so – it was a proposal for an anthology Tyndale House Publishers was putting together. The editor passed, but asked to see more work from me.

I met a Silhouette editor at a Romance Writers of America conference a couple years later and pitched her the idea. She wanted to see it, but by the time I had the proposal polished and ready to send, she wasn’t with Silhouette anymore.

I decided that pursuing Harlequin/Silhouette was still a good idea and did some more work on the story, trying to figure out what line it most closely matched. I read a bit of it to my friends Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Wright when we were off on a writing week together. They were polite but not overwhelmed. That said to me that it wasn’t a very interesting story. Maybe I should just forget it.

Then Lauraine asked me if I had heard of chick lit. I hadn’t, so the three of us did some online and bookstore research. I was gobsmacked! This was exactly the kind of voice I’d write in if I didn’t have to write towards the expectations of one publisher or another. The next day I rewrote the first chapter into more or less what you see here in Little Miss Lovesick and read it for Lauraine and Kathleen. They laughed so much! I was thrilled!

Then Lauraine picked up her cell phone and called her agent. “I’d like you to read something,” she said. I didn’t know if I was going to throw up or pass out! But chick lit was reaching its zenith and passing away. Though the agent received two “we almost bought it” replies from editors, all the publishing houses we sent it to passed.

And for the last seven years, the book has languished on my computer.

Then I heard about digital self-publishing. Other authors were giving it a try without a publisher behind them, and they were succeeding in varying degrees. I figured, what’s the worst that can happen? The book isn’t doing me any good on my computer. So when I finished my master’s degree in June of this year, I dusted off the book and did a little more editing based on the comments of the editors who had passed on it years before.

I put my entrepreneurial hat back on and filed a DBA (“doing business as”) to work as Daydreamer Entertainment, the publisher of Little Miss Lovesick. And voila! A lot of hours later, I had a book! Out in the marketplace! Yay! As a co-owner of our little business, John did the cover design. Lovely, isn’t it?

Right now the ebook is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Smashwords will help me get it into the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, and Sony. I’m working on getting it into All Romance eBooks and XinXii this week. Then I’ll start working on the print version, which I hope will be available by December 1.

If you don’t have an ereader, you can download an ereader app to your smart phone, your iPad or your PC or Mac computer. Or you can check back here or at my web site or on my Facebook page to find out when it is available in print.  🙂

So that’s the story. My career has taken a new direction and I’m loving it! I’m exhausted, but I’m happier than I’ve been in years! (Thank you, God!) Whatever you’re doing, and however hard it’s been, don’t give up. Anything could happen at any time to change your life for the better. I’m proof of that.

Reading Routine 2 – Finding Your Voice

One of the things I love about reading is that when the book is just right you can find your own writing voice. I’m in the process of finalizing my about-to-be published book, Little Miss Lovesick. At night and when I’m standing at the bus stop or waiting in the doctor’s office, I’m reading Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl. My friend Paula loaned it to me and the idea of the story really caught my interest.

It’s about a girl in her 20s who meets her great-aunt’s ghost at the funeral. Her great-aunt is both her 20-something self as a ghost, and she was born in the 1920s. I liked how the title was a double entendre, and it made me wonder how I could think up titles like that. Other great titles that have caught my eye recently include Cara Lockwood’s Every Demon Has His Day and The Scarlet Letterman, Maureen McGowan’s Cinderella: Ninja Warrior, and K. Bennett’s The Year of Eating Dangerously.

Obviously, I like titles that play with words so I need to figure out how to come up with playful titles for my own books. (Special note: I’ll have a fun interview here with K. Bennett at the end of the month! I’m about to start his new zombie legal thriller, Pay Me In Flesh. I can’t wait!)

Another thing I’ve learned about my writing through reading is that I love humor. I didn’t try to write humorously for years until someone said, if you wrote the way you talk, it’d be so funny! After a while, it occurred to me that the books I love have a lot of humor in them. Ah-ha! Lightbulb moment. So then I went wandering through my mind trying to decide what I thought was funny and writing that down. (My husband still doesn’t quite believe anyone else out there could possibly have a similar sense of humor.)

So I like the title of Twenties Girl, I like the humor in it, and I like that the main character is struggling to figure out how to be her true self and a better version of that self as the story progresses. That’s kind of what all of my main characters do. When I read a book that hits that note for me, it’s a reminder of what I am trying to accomplish in my own work.

What’s equally interesting is what I read that I know is not what I want to write. I just finished Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Chick with a Charm. I love Vicki’s Nerd books and I loved the first book in this Babes on Brooms series. Vicki’s sense of humor makes me laugh out loud. A lot. But this particular book is about an adoration spell so the entire conflict of the story is about the guy wanting to have sex with the girl all the time. All the time. I had to start skimming those sections because it was just not that interesting to me to read. I like the “romance” parts of stories – what he says and what she does and awww, isn’t that sweet! So reading this book reminded me that I love humor and romance, but not with tons of sex. I want more “other” story.

Little Miss Lovesick is my first attempt at tying all of these areas together. I’ve got alliteration in the title. There’s a young woman trying to find a way to be a better version of herself. There’s humor and funny situations. And there’s a fun romance without any sex. I really enjoyed writing it, but I owe the parts that I did well to the writers who have gone before me, the ones who made me love to read. 🙂

Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you want to be a great writer, you need to be a book-loving reader.

[Note: Little Miss Lovesick should be available as an ebook as early as next week!]