Versatile Blogger Award and new Romance: mine!

You toil for years and years, quietly putting words on the screen, deleting them, putting them on there again… kind of lonely, but it’s your life. Then one day, everything happens at once.

Disappointment was quickly replaced by relief when I learned my first-published story, The Last Straw, wasn’t coming out until November 13th. Ah, I said, leaning back in my chair, linking my fingers in front of me and stretching my back. Plenty of time to figure out some promo ideas. More like pick a few ideas out of a gazillion available in this writer’s sphere that has gone from quiet and lonely to tweetingly, bloggingly, noisily busy.

Well, my publisher (love saying that) just released The Last Straw for a 3 month exclusive on Kindle Direct Publishing! (The book will go out to all retail outlets 11/13.)

What’s that popping sound you hear? Yes, it’s the champagne.

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Not only am I celebrating the release of my book here today, I’m also am celebrating…

A blogger award!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!! The Versatile Blogger!

This beautiful nomination was bestowed upon me by the fabulous Gynji, whose brilliant blog domesticgeekgirl makes me laugh and learn and catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be young (which I no longer really can claim to be), pregnant (which I never could claim to be) and married to a fabulous Navy man (which I usually can only experience through Romance novels)!

versatilebloggernominations

The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Display the Award Certificate on your website/blog

2. Announce your win with a post. Make sure to post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination.

3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers

4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

7 Interesting Things About Me:

1. I’m collaborating on a novel with another author, a first for me, and I love it. I know a pair of authors who collaborate and always wondered how they did it, why they did it and thought I would never do it. They are an amazing team, though, and now I know why they do it. See #5 below.

2. I left my day job last September, a dream come true.

3. I started writing novels in 2001 and tried to quit many times over the next 12 years.

4. Quitting didn’t stick. I thought I was over it, but I started writing again 3 days after I left my day job. The story that was just published yesterday!

5. I actually loved my day job! I was a project manager and worked with really great people. I was sad to leave, but I’ve found I’ve recreated many things I loved about work: I have a critique group, belong to a couple RWA chapters, and now I even have a writing team for my novel(s). (It’s a series!)

6. I’m not a fast reader because I subvocalize. I think I’m an auditory learner. Or I just really like the sound of words. Both, probably.

7. I forget a lot of stuff but remember a lot of conversations verbatim. 

Now for the best part, getting to acknowledge more hard-working bloggers!

  • gwenniesgarden.com celebrates the joy of gardening and has lots of tips as well as photos from her travels.
  • Want pictures from all over the world? This one’s versatile! toemailer.com
  • Ren X. Kyoko delights and amazes with her funny and fascinating not to mention brilliantly illustrated posts. I cannot stop reading one of her posts, once I start. Can. Not. Stop.
  • You must see beautiful pictures and the beautiful island of Patmos offered by Manos, Flora and Marinos.
  • For a brilliant travel blogger offering a humorous theme and plenty of info, see Traveloops. (Isn’t that a great blog name?)
  • Check out the happy themes and get inspired with challenges here: Ese’s voice.
  • Getsetandgo produces very informative as well as beautiful posts on travel; learn how she gets in and out of exotic places on a budget.
  • I appreciate lachlancathy.com for great photos and for telling about his experience of living with a chronic illness. His blog is down-to-earth and inspiring.
  • This blog lives up to it’s beautiful name: thehourofsoftlight.
  • Scott at scott2608 has gorgeous photos of a variety of subjects.
  • ronscubadiver offers amazing photos from all over the world on his well-organized blog. That link will take you to Haleakala, for example.
  • Just about everything you need to know about traveling to Costa Rica is available from this team: costaricatravelblog.
  • Trinity is a wonderful and versatile artist who I bet will inspire you as much as she does me: creativetrinity.wordpress.com.
  • There are so many ideas and recipes to enjoy and keep you healthy at Moveeatcreate, and some fun ones like the second link provided here for whiskey sours.
  • And now for something completely different: The Leadership Freak. If you work on teams even if you’re not a project manager, I highly recommend his blog. Every post is brilliant.

The cover is here!

My first published story is getting closer to being on the virtual shelves. The cover came in a couple days ago.

My first book cover
My first book cover

The cover artists were one of the biggest reasons I went with The Wild Rose Press. During the publishing process, you fill out a form called Cover Art Sheets. In this you explain the premise, give links to covers you like, any design suggestions, and you say what the most important element is. I detailed out two alternate covers with a lot of instructions and even did a mock up of a cover. My critique partner (CP) asked with some amusement (she’s pubb’d with WRP), how much of my suggestions were used. Answer: none. Ha ha! Except for “the most important element,” which I said was the hot FBI agent.

The heroine on the cover looks contemporary. At first I was like, “Wait! I didn’t describe that outfit.” The intelligent people I surround myself with quickly pointed out the obvious. Yeah, Angela Anderson saved me from myself. I’m so happy with the cover.

You know, for a long time, I didn’t want to be published. When I announced this to one of my writing friends, she said, “I don’t know what to do with that.”  She had already fixed me up by helping me see my slump-du-jour might be because I didn’t like the story I was working on, letting me know I could just set it aside and move on. We don’t have to finish everything we start. But then I came out with that comment.

Not wanting to be published sounds crazy, but to me, when I looked at people who were published, it didn’t look fun to me. At the time, I had a demanding job, and being a published author looked like a lot more pressure and work and no fun. But I watched my CP’s experience with The Wild Rose Press for a couple years. Her experience looked SO FUN!!!! She even went to an author retreat at a ranch in Texas! (I get to go to the next one, next year. Very excited.) Her editor was nice. Tough but nice, encouraging. They got back to her. They were organized. Then she received her first cover and wow. Now it’s happening to me.

In conclusion, getting published with The Wild Rose Press is FUN!

My first edit and what’s next

In the featured photo, blue indicates changed text.

Receive first publishing contract for a romantic short story (50 pages), do the *happy dance,* sign the contract.

Next comes edits. The (wonderful) Wild Rose Press editor sends high-level view of what can be improved. Sends an Author Guide with self-editing tips.

Apply each tip systematically, 57.5 hours, but who’s counting.

The story transforms! Improves. Deep point-of-view achieved! (Reader feels like they are in the character’s head, rather than being told a story by an author.)

VERSION 1:

She neither blinked nor breathed as the door swung open, not wanting to miss a second of his reaction. What she hadn’t prepared for was her own reaction to the sheer physicality of him as he sauntered through the door, a white, button-down shirt tucked into belted khakis over what she knew to be tight, muscled abs. His deliberate style of movement came to a smart stop as his perceptive gaze settled on her. Her throat dried and a rustling motion stirred in her abdomen.

VERSION 2:

He sauntered through the door, a white, button-down shirt tucked into belted khakis. When his dark gaze found her, he stopped. Stared. Her throat dried and a rustling motion stirred in her abdomen.

VERSION 1:

His deflated expression provided a measure of payback. But no satisfaction. Enough pretending. She raised her hand with the note and nodded.

VERSION 2:

The corners of his mouth drooped. Payback. But then she lifted the note and nodded. Like a fool.

The types of edits shown above tightened and removed distance between the reader and the characters’ experiences. But a lot of the (57.5 hours) of effort came from adding a sense other than sight throughout the manuscript.

VERSION 1

“A, it’s not a date. B, who says I like him? I never said that.”

VERSION 2

“A,” she said, opening the car door. With the sun gone, the temperature had dropped 10 degrees. She picked up her sweater. “This is not a date. B, who says I like him? I never said that.”

Excerpts from The Last Straw, copyright 2013, Nia Simone.

Accomplished: Manuscript Info Sheet (excerpt, blurb, cover quotes…) DONE. Cover Art Sheets (what do you want on the cover, describe the story, provide links to similar book covers you like, go overboard and do mock-ups in GIMP (actually, they like the writer to do as much as possible.)) DONE

What’s next? Get to skip second round of full edits. (Yay! Editor actually gave virtual gold star.) Next step is “Author copyedit.” Then it goes to copyedit (another editor). (Love editors.)

Lesson: Being Type A works really well for being an author, too. (Like for being a tech writer and project manager.) Doesn’t work that well for retirement.

The editing process, writing craft musings

I just signed my first writing contract for a romantic short story called The Last Straw. My publisher is The Wild Rose Press. Now I am on my 20th hour of the first round of edits.

In this post I talked about deep point of view:  Writing craft musings and Brenda Novak. A lot of the editing steps help increase the experience of deep POV. The publisher provides a list to help authors. The list gives a systematic way to edit. Use Find and search for specific words, then rewrite. Some things you have to look for by reading, but many things can be found by searching for certain strings. I can’t even imagine doing this effectively in the days of typewriters. No wonder so few authors were published in those days. With the help of word processing, we can all improve.

Here is an excerpt from my edit letter. I think it articulates why we do all this editing even though the original was correct and good enough for the publisher to offer a contract.

All of this is to make your book even better. Most readers won’t be thinking “wow, I wish this sentence wasn’t quite so distant,” but they will notice they’re not as engaged with the book overall as they are with others. And we really want readers to engage with your story!

Aside from all the struck-out text all over my manuscript, “bleeding red ink” as we say, I can see how much more effective the story is now. In the past, I resisted doing this kind of a deep edit, but now that I’ve done it and seen the results, I love it! It’s worth every bleeding splash of virtual ink and all the hours of work if, at the end, the manuscript looks more like Brenda Novak’s work, smooth and engaging, but in my voice. What a thrill to contribute to the reading world a fresh and enjoyable story by Nia Simone!