Off to WFC I go

A friend stopped me at a local business/social function a few days ago and asked me how “Dreams of Ivory and Gold” was doing. He had read the book so we talked for a few minutes about the story and some mutual favorite authors before he moved on. Before he walked away, however, he leaned in close and said, “I don’t know how you find time to do it all with your schedule.”

As he left, I considered what he had said and, yes, my schedule leaves a lot to be desired. I still work between 60-65 hours per week. I have four kids, all still in school, so that means clubs and meetings and horse shows and karate lessons/tournaments and weight room workouts and…. you get the idea.

That often does not leave a lot of time for my writing. But since my last post a month ago, a lot of has been happening despite the time constraints. Since October 4:

1) I have had three short stories accepted into anthologies/magazines for print.
2) I finished editing my latest novel.
3) I attended a question-and-answer at a book club in Columbus. One of the month’s selections for the club had been Dreams and the members asked me to come in and talk about the book and the process of writing.
4) I plotted out and researched the sequel to Dreams. In fact, as the plotting came together, it became obvious the overriding story arc needed to finish in a third book so the series will now be a trilogy.
5) Despite most of my writing needing to be accomplished sometime between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. (before getting up and starting the new day again), I now have a good start on the second book and plan on having a first draft done in the first couple of weeks in December.

WFC2My friend would probably only shake his head harder if he knew I was going to be attending the World Fantasy Convention in Washington D.C. later this week. But as I was reminded at ConText in Columbus a few weeks ago, attending these conventions are a necessary part of being a published (or trying to publish) author.

These conventions offer a multitude of discussion panels on a wide variety of writing and industry topics. You could walk into one room and find a best selling author talking about their process when they plot or world build. The next room may offer a view of where a certain genre is headed or what agents/publishers are currently searching for to sign.

But for me, the biggest opportunities at the conventions are the chances to meet people in person that I have “known” for years and to network with industry professionals. For instance, I found my current publisher through a writing group buddy that first read my work several years ago but all of our interaction has been digitally. He and I will meet in person for the first time this week.

I know other authors, editors, illustrators, and public relations people who I have exchanged ideas with or worked with for months, if not years. Many of them will be in Washington D.C. this week as well. There will also be people who I have only a passing acquaintance but who I want to get to know better because of their work.

Invariably, there will be at least one conversation that sticks out and remains in my memory forever from these conventions. At ConText in September, that conversation happened on Saturday night.

It had been a long day. I had been in panels or in the dealer room with the AKP crew all day. I had screwed around and missed lunch in the con suite and supper was pushed back so we could continue to talk to people. By the time we finally got out, it was later than normal so we just ended up eating at a nearby bar/grille. By the time we finished, the clock was pushing midnight on a long, long day.

But then we started talking about writing and the topic ended up on whether to plot novels or to just write in a free manner, going where the story takes you. That talk with a handful of other writers and a couple of publishing industry people turned out to be one of the best writing discussions I have ever had. My publisher definitively called it the best convention talk she had ever been a part of.

And that is why I am making time this week to go to the World Fantasy Convention. Hopefully I will shake the hands of some friends (new and old) and get into a late night discussion that will stay with me for years.

I will try to check in from the convention, either here or on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Hopefully I will have some good news about my future projects.

They say you want a resolution, well, you know…

ResolutionIf it is the last day of the year, then it must be time to rejoice in all of the things that were accomplished in the past year and make resolutions to do even more in 2014.

Or in my case, wonder how any of last year’s resolutions made it past January 15th.

Last weekend I pulled out a dusty piece of paper from my desk and I was surprised how many of my 2013 resolutions I was able to achieve:

1) Write daily – Well, with my work schedule this was probably a stupid resolution and I am sure it was the first to fall by the wayside. However, the point of this goal was to write more often and I can honestly say I accomplished that this year.

2) Read 10 books – I actually read 11.

3) Put two books/stories into print – Yes and no. I was thrilled to have my short story, “Rev,” included in the Manifesto UF anthology. I also signed a contract to publish “Dreams of Ivory and Gold” with Angelic Knight Press and that will arrive in April. I am going to count this as a half a point.

4) Finish writing “Jacked” – Completed the manuscript in April, final edits were done by July and the full manuscript is currently with an agent. I hope to know something definitive by the end of January.

5) Finish writing “Alpis” – No and yes. I not only did not finish Alpis, I never got past the research and outlining stages. However, I did complete three short stories-I never write shorts anymore-and two of them were accepted into anthologies. Again, one half-point.

6) Finish writing “City” – I have not completed the novel but it is outlined and I have about 30,000 words on paper. This work will have a first draft done by the end of January and hopefully be ready for marketing by late spring. Half a point.

7) Start sequel to “Dreams” – Nope.

8) Start sequel to “Jacked” – Nope.

So, out of eight possible points, I made it to four. Not exactly stellar but considering how little I have been able to write over the past three or four years, this was a very good year for putting words to paper. As I sit down later tonight to work on a new list for 2014, that is what I will try to keep in mind – that my goal is to continue to write and publish more every year. If you check back with the site next year, hopefully that is exactly what I will be reporting.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Can I have a few more hours?

I thought I would take a quick opportunity to bring everyone up-to-date with what is going on. The cover art is still being created for “Dreams of Ivory and Gold.” As I discussed last time, this has been a very pleasant surprise that I have been asked for my opinion and kept in the loop on what is happening with the artwork. I am very excited to see what Rebecca comes up with at Angelic Knight.

I am also working as hard as possible on my WIP. I have been able to sit in the seat a couple of nights this week and produce some copy so that is good. It is just with the JOB this time of year – budgets, forecasts, meetings, etc. – I am still racking up the 60-hour weeks so most nights by the time I get home I am ready to eat and go to bed. But I have continued to make a concentrated effort to write at least a few words every night. The problem with that is that once I start typing, I often lose track of how tired I am and the clock so the next thing I know I have a short night of sleep staring at me. Which leads into the plea for just a few more hours (of sleep). The best news of all is that this book is coming together very nicely and, even though it is different than any other I have written before, I really like it and the characters. I hope to have the first draft done by mid-January. I will talk about it some more once I get closer to it being completed.

The timing is good because I talked briefly with the Angelic Knight folks this week about the second book in the Dreams series and they were excited about the prospect – no promises on publication – but excited about another book.

One work I have not spoken about recently is my YA novel, “Jacked.” It is with an agent in New York at the moment and I am waiting to hear about their plans. Hopefully I will know something after the holidays but New York really closes down for the next two weeks so I may need to wait longer.

A step forward for Dreams of Ivory and Gold

Last week I was in the office working late one night when a message popped into my phone. It was from my editor at Angelic Knight Press and she had several questions about “Dreams of Ivory and Gold” – very specific questions – about an item in the manuscript. It seems the artist assigned to my book was in the process of reading it and designing the cover art.

For those who are not involved with the publishing industry, this was very unusual on two different accounts:

1) A lot of artists create the cover art for a book from a one-to-two-page treatment or overview of the book. While I am sure there are some artists who read the books they have been hired to cover, I have found that is a minority. Just another reason why I am glad I chose to publish with Angelic Knight.

2) I have no say over the cover art and that is very common in the publishing industry (I know that for a fact. I was so surprised by the message I went back and checked my contract. I have no say over the cover art.). I have artist friends who say they have never even spoken to their cover artists while others tell me they might have been asked a question or two but just as often as not their answers were ignored to varying degrees when the final cover was produced. Do not think that I am criticizing the process. For the vast majority of authors, we are just that – authors. Font, print size, color schemes, placement – these are not what we deal with on a day-to-day basis and more likely than not we are much happier and proficient at working with words.

It was exciting to describe the object the artist wanted to know more about. When I write, I tend to see the scenes in my mind, imagining the objects, feeling the weather, maybe even taking in some of the odors. She may choose to go a completely different route with the cover art and I am okay with that. But for that night, “Dreams of Ivory and Gold” was very real to me and the chance to finally hold it in my hands as a published work was that much closer.

Review for Manifesto UF

ManifestoCoverThe first review I have seen on the Manifesto UF anthology and Frank Errington gave it four out of five stars with a recommendation to buy the book. He also had several nice things to say about my story, “Rev,” and even included two quotes. Coincidentally, one of them that he chose as a favorite was also one that I liked the most as well.

Here is the link:

Frank Errington review of Manifesto UF

Manifesto UF at #3

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of the urban fantasy anthology, Manifesto UF. Editor Tim Marquitz just informed me that it has climbed all the way to #3 on the Amazon anthology list.

For those of you who are traditional paper readers (and generally speaking I count myself in that group as well), we should know about hard print copies next week.

On a different note, I hope to have more exciting news to report in a couple of days.