Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Traveling a Very Long Road

FLASHBACK: I finally received an email (after many emails, actually) from the publisher I'd submitted to for my mystery romance, A DEADLY DEED GROWS and the editor informed me that I was being offered a contract. Woo hoo! I was so excited. In fact, I was amazed that I could've gotten two books and two contracts in a matter of six months. Both were with small presses, one significantly smaller than the other. Still, I'd managed these on my own. Of course I want to get more, and more. We authors are a greedy lot :-) Anyway, I signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press in April of 2013. Yes, you heard me. 2013. 

FLASH FORWARD: It's now February, 2015, nearly two years of editing, revising, and editing and revising some more, but we (my editor Johanna and I) are finally getting there, i.e. a publication release. I'll admit, there were times I'd think, "maybe they'll decide not to publish it, put it on a shelf, and let it sit for an eternity". This, too, is the mind workings of an author. Lots of insecurity and doubt along the way, and it's a true roller coaster of emotions from highs to lows. But when you see the cover, then you know. It will happen. And it feels great! 

I haven't received a release date for the book yet, but I'm hoping some time this spring. In the meantime, I have my cover to keep me satisfied. And it's truly an awesome cover! Thanks Kim Mendoza! You rock! So, drum roll, please ..... brrrrrum ... Tada!  (UPDATE: just received word! Release: March, 20, 2015)



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Tweeting We Will Go ... to Find an Agent

I decided it was time to post about my experience tweeting. No. Not just any tweeting. I'm not a newbie to that. I'm talking about Twitter contests for authors and agents and publishers. I ventured into that world recently to see what I could accomplish, and frankly to see what the buzz was all about. After all, I've been writing for many years, had a few books published, which gained a modicum of success, depending on how you view success. I've been enjoying the experience thus far, but want to take it to another level, i.e. agent represented, i.e. knock on pub doors I can't do otherwise. 


I discovered Twitter contests like #adpit, #agentmatch, #pitchmad, etc. by accident while using Query Tracker (an excellent resource, by the way) and perusing the comments. Authors were saying how they submitted to such and such agent after said agent requested their work on __________ Twitter contest. So, I ventured over to Twitter and ... Voila! All those little goodies, a paradise land for writers scrambling to get noticed and sell their work to an agent were here, popping up all over the place. I could already feel the attraction, the joy it must bring to be a part of it all. I mean, there can't be anything better than that feeling of validation where one hears an agent tweet, "I liked what I read in your pitch. Send me the first 20, 30, 50 pages." What??? Somebody likes me, really likes me ... that is, I hope so after he/she reads my sample pages. 



So, I took the dive. I entered #sunvssnow, #adpit, and #agentmatch. Now here's where I must warn you, it's addictive. A drug you want twenty-four seven. But that aside, I gladly joined the realm of agent-seeking peons. And it hit me. So, here's where the party is happening! All the agents are coming over to take a look. Then another thought slapped me in the head. Of course, they'd come here. Scanning through maybe fifty to a couple hundred pitches vs. hundreds of query emails coming at you almost everyday? I'd choose door number one, too. Not to forget, these contests provide a support system with lots of success. Writers helping writers helping agents, and it's turning out to be a wonderful pay-it-forward cycle.



Oh, about that support system? Writers connecting with other writers is gold, pure gold, giving each other encouragement, pulling each other up from the trenches when it gets rough and mean, and sometimes offering help with that precious baby called a manuscript. Trust me. Nine months is nothing when there are some who've spent years on developing, polishing, and polishing again that "precious baby". 


So, what did I accomplish? Lots of new Twitter friends, like-minded people with similar goals and obsessions. And I did get a few nibbles at my work. Who knows? One of them may work out and a partnership will be made. I can always hope. In the meantime, I glow from the validation, the acceptance, the camaraderie. Yes, that part is priceless. 


Oh, and did I mention the addiction aspect? Hmm ... I think I'll head over to Twitter and see what's happening next. I hear #pitchmad is approaching, or maybe ...


Happy writing, all! 



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Writing Apps ... Do You Need Them?

A recent post by The Writer's Circle  (Top 4 Free Writing Apps) informs followers about several FREE writing apps. Yes. Free. And that's something to check out. Always. The ones they list and describe are: 1)Draft; 2)Storehouse; 3)OmmWriter; and 4)Evernote. Here's a brief summary of each. 

1)Draft: collaborative word processing where you choose whether to accept or ignore feedback from editors, fellow writers, or whoever reviews your writing. Special feature is the Hemingway Mode which sets you in the write first, edit later mode. 


2)Storehouse: I should say upfront it's an iPad app. This one has the ability to visually enhance your writing with video and photography as they blend with your text. I can see this working well with children's picture books and adult books that may have photos. 


3)OmmWriter: This one is rather difficult to describe because it's more abstract than physical. However, the app's goal is to create an atmosphere conducive to getting your writing done in the most productive manner. It provides various backgrounds and audio tracks to match the mood of your writing. 


4)Evernote: a note-taking app that syncs and coordinates notes across all your devices. Completing a huge project that requires research and fact gathering? Use Evernote. Besides basic note-taking, you can place these notes alongside your articles and photos. A great organizational tool.


That said, I have to add my personal favorite, which I've found both practical and easy to use. yWriter is a writing app with so many goodies. I stumbled upon this when I was trying to find a free alternative to Schrivener (being the tight, frugal person that I am). I can create chapter summaries, character descriptions, plot summaries, and the list goes on. I print off the complete chapter summaries for my latest WIP and voila, I have a handy reference tool. Not to mention if an agent or publisher asks for an outline or chapter summaries, I've got it ready.  And ... did I mention it's free? The only $$$ that could come into the picture happens when you want to upgrade to a more extensive program, but I haven't found the need for that yet!


Whether any of these work for you depends on your writing process preferences, of course. But you never know if circumstances will change. So, why not check them out?


Happy Writing! And if you have any apps or programs you'd like to mention that are not listed here, please comment!


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The True Power of the Pen

How descriptive do you think your writing is? Well, the more effective you are, using all those descriptive sensors to create colorful images, may give your writing more power than you think.
I was reading this article about the effect media has on increasing aggressive behavior. Though many have claimed violence in movies, music, and video games impacts human behavior in a negative way by increasing violent actions, one particular media has been left out. Reading. Yep. A research team from Brigham University has conducted a study with experiments to provide evidence that reading fiction causes certain psychological behaviors. Whether the reading describes physical or relational aggression, i.e. aggression that harms one's personal relationships, the more descriptive the scene is will create vivid images in a person's head. And if it's violent ... well, you get the "picture".
So remember this, authors, your words have power in ways you may never have considered!
If you want to read more ...


Friday, January 9, 2015

Here We Go Again.

The thought must cross authors' minds when they write how their work will be received, especially if the books are for middle grade and high school students. After all, themes which appeal to this age group can be controversial. The question is how do adults decide? And what do they use as criteria? 

I taught at the high school level, teens with mild disabilities, with emotional problems, some who came from dysfunctional homes. I always felt certain themes should be embraced and taught in the classroom, those that many adults would rather choose to protect kids from. It's a fine line and not an easy decision -- to read or not to read. That is indeed the question. 


In recent news a story came out about a mother in a certain school district who objected strongly to John Green's Fault of Our Stars, about two teens who have cancer. Death is a theme, but there's love, acceptance, survival as well. Mom's reasoning is that middle schoolers have enough issues dealing with their own mortality let alone reading a book about it. Well, she convinced the school board and it's been pulled from district middle schools. 


As no surprise, authors usually have a defensive response to censorship. I know I do, both as an author and a teacher. However, John Green's reply was something special. Take a look and read what he had to say, then let me (us) know what you think. 

The Fault in Our Stars Has Been Banned in Schools 

by Joanna Robinson

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It’s All About That Bass, i.e. Great Writing

bass 2The truth is when you write, it’s all about that bass, too. How so? Well, first, let’s look at the song. I’d guess many who listen to it initially think it’s all about the physical. However, there’s figurative meaning in the message, too. Right? That bass, deep and substantive, it’s part of who we are. In fact, it’s the importance of who we are. Beauty is nice, but it’s the personality, the heart, all the “bass stuff” that keeps people coming back for more and it's the glue to sustain relationships.

So, what about in writing? How does an author sustain reader relationships? I’d like to think in a huge way it is all about that bass – the plot with its twists and turns, and its complexity; those dynamic characters with layers and layers to make them a challenge to figure out; the setting descriptions meant to pop with every one of the five senses; the dialog, authentic and purposeful. Writing with anything less is a half-hearted effort.


I say, don’t kid yourself. Readers know. They are an intelligent species whose demands should never be ignored. Otherwise, it can be a painful death to an author’s career. As I’ve stated countless times: writing is hard ... very hard work. There’s a reason for revision. Your story in its initial stage might have all the “surface beauty”. It looks pretty and shiny at a glance, but then … Did I mention that readers have demands? Yes. You must edit, revise, layer upon layer, and repeat. Add that bass. Your writing deserves the best effort. Your readers do, too!


Happy Holidays!


www.kathrynlong.webs.com

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Writing, and Then There's Patience

I finished the first book in a new mystery series -- Grave Maker Blues. Satisfying as it seems, at least for a brief time, I queried it to a handful of agents. That quenched my productive, creative urges. For a brief time. So, I outlined the next story in the series. Just last week I started writing book 2. I figure it will take me two or three months to finish a rough draft. That should satisfy me ... for a brief time. 

Admittedly, the little voice in my head won't let me stop. I have to keep going, moving on to something new, while I wait for whatever I hope to accomplish. I'd like to stop. Give a brief, restful pause to enjoy those things that tend to be overlooked or ignored while I'm busy producing, achieving, waiting. Ah ... it's just that little voice, the cheerleader in my head ... it won't let me stop.

Could it be the mentality of all those great minds throughout the course of history? Could they possess that voice? Am I like that, included with those great minds? .... Nah, it's just me, like anyone trying to satisfy the productive, creative urges, just one in a gazillion. Yep, that's who I am. 

Still, I think I will try to stop, at least for the holidays. It's only fair, to me, to my family, friends ... now, where was I? Oh. Yeah. Book 2. And then, more letters to agents. And how about promotion ideas for A Deadly Deed Grows? It's coming out in a couple of months. I'm hopeless!

Happy Holidays to all!

And If You Like Mysteries, Click on This!