Monday, January 30, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Cover Design

In my continuing journey to learn about self-publishing, this week I'm going to discuss cover design.

First, the technical.  Here are the basic facts about book covers for the Kindle: Kindle publishing

Next, I found a really good talk on book covers by a librarian, looking at how readers judge covers: You CAN Tell a Book by its Cover.

I found this article fascinating, because she noticed things like how the font on the cover lets the reader know what kind of story will be inside.  She looks at fonts, colors, images, and puts together a way to quickly find a particular kind of book on the shelf in the library.  This got me thinking about what a cover is trying to convey.  It's easy to get caught up in pretty pictures and forget that what you're creating is an ad for your book.  (After reading this talk, I immediately scrapped a bunch of really pretty but impractical art designs I had found on stock photo sites.)

Next is a really good article on cover images, full of useful information about design and formatting.  This blog post talks about the difference between the tiny thumbprint images used in search results versus the large images that are used for the actual cover seen when reading the book on the Kindle:  Kindle Cover Size

I hadn't thought about the idea that book covers online are not usually seen in all their full-size, carefully designed glory.  They are usually seen as tiny images readers glance at among a sea of other, similar images.  This was a new concept for me to consider, and again, made me reconsider my approach to designing my covers.

The next useful article I found was by a long-time cover designer who compares designing for print versus designing for ebooks.  He is another who emphasizes the need to consider what your cover looks like as a small thumbnail image: Ebook Covers.

"A page of search results will show very small thumbnails—60 x 90 pixels—that are extremely challenging to carry off as any kind of good design."

"A beautiful illustration that would be a powerful eye-grabber under the spotlight in a bookstore may become a tiny incomprehensible blob when displayed on a website." --said Michael N. Marcus, commenting on this post.

The designer's advice: use one, dominant object of focus, something still recognizable at a small size.

Next article, again discussing print versus digital design and the demands of each, from the NYT.

"We often get requests to make the type bigger," said Mario J. Pulice, creative director for the adult trade division of Little, Brown & Company. "Because when it’s on Amazon, you can’t read the author’s name."

Starting to see a theme here?

Another article on covers from CBS News.

"A good cover tells you what kind of book it is - without giving too much away. . . . Which is why a romance novel often has the clinch.  Books aimed at women (Chick Lit) may feature some article of clothing, a shoe, a dress . . . while jackets on crime novels are usually dark, with a shadowy character or weapon as part of the design. "

So, what did I learn from all this research?

•Remember that the first thing readers will see is a TINY (60x90 pixels) image of your cover.

•Think of your bookselling as a "campaign," not an isolated cover image.  This was an idea repeated by many experts.  How does the cover relate to the title, description, the excerpt, the design of your website, the author page on Amazon?  Think of it as a package and make sure all parts tie together into a coherent whole.

I decided my own design goals were:

•Something simple, something not beyond my limited design skills, because I don't want to pay someone to make me a cover at this point.

•Something with a theme or idea I can carry over from book to book, because I'm writing a whole series.

•Something giving a hint of the flavor of the story, but not too much detail.

•Something not strictly screaming romance, because I realized if I put a nekkid guy on the cover it would really annoy people when they find no nekkid guy inside the book.  (If you have nekkid guys in your book, DO put them on the cover.  Sexy sells like hot buns!)

•Something that has a resemblance to the most successful books in my subgenre, but is distinctive enough to stand out.

So, how to go about all this?

Try this exercise.  Go to the current top Kindle romance bestsellers.

Look at the SMALL images on the page in front of you (don't click on them and look at them full size). Which ones catch your eye?  Which ones look interesting to you at that small size? Now, look through the books and pick out a half-dozen bestsellers that are in the same subgenre as your book.  For me, these bestselling Kindle books are closest in voice/style/plot to mine:
Keep in mind your choices will look completely different than mine.  Don't choose the covers you think are the "prettiest," but the books closest to the style and flavor of your work.

I had been mistakenly designing a "suspensy" cover, with sharp graphic designs and a block font that conveyed DANGER in capital letters.  Big mistake.  I write suspense, but it's small-town, a-woman's-journey-to-find-herself with a hint of suspense, not nail-biting thrillers. Looking at these covers sent me in a completely different direction.  

I noticed most of the books like mine had author names in a serif font and titles in a script font (the big-name authors naturally had their names big; because I'm not a known author, my title should more prominent on the cover).  I also noticed that it's hard to keep a script font readable at such a small size.  I tried many fonts before finding one I felt was fairly readable when small, and said romance without screaming it. You think fonts aren't important?  You can spend hours on this alone.  Try these on for size:

I also saw that most of these covers do not emphasize suspense elements, even though some of them have those elements in the story.  Neither do any of them have a "clinch," or even a couple or a bride on them (as many of the bestselling romances do--again, if your book is all about those things, put that on your cover to let people know).  But most of these covers are scenic, emphasizing the location and atmosphere of the story.  The bestsellers have lovely artwork that I'm sure was custom-painted for them by talented artists.  Clearly that's beyond my budget. What could I do that would have a similar effect without breaking the bank?

This is what I came up with:

•The design ties in to my new website design for Pajaro Bay, creating a coherent image for the series.

•Text is fairly readable even at small sizes, and it's a script font that conveys that it's a "woman's" book.  

•The images are simple enough to be recognizable at a small size. They are really nice photographs that do look great when blown up to a large size. Most e-readers don't have color yet, and the images look clear when in grayscale, too.

•Location/setting is emphasized.

•There's some hint of danger in the ambiguity of the cover, but it's not red and black with shadows lurking in the corners.

In the full size, the covers emphasize that this is a series ("A Pajaro Bay Romance") and tout my credentials ("Golden Heart Winning Author"), but neither of these things is readable at the small size.
The full title that will be visible in the listing will show that these are romances ("The Honeymoon Cottage: A Pajaro Bay Romance"), and the description and excerpt will give more of the flavor of the book.

Are they perfect?  Not by a long shot.  But it's a start on developing a theme and image that can carry through to the rest of the marketing.

And lest we get too serious about all this, here is a completely different (and hysterical) take on romance novel covers.

So, what current books do you think are closest to your own writing style?  How would you (or do you, for our published authors) convey the flavor of your stories to a reader using only a 60x90 pixel image?

Next time I'll talk about blurbs, excerpts and author pages. Until then, happy writing (and marketing!).

Barb

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bring Out Your Characters!

by Deborah Wright
Twitter: @DeborahBWright

I thought I'd do something a little different in this post. This is an invitation to share something about one of your characters. Maybe it's backstory or something about their likes/dislikes or why they have a particular habit. It can be just a line or two or a longer scene, if you'd like.

I've been working on the new book and thought I knew my heroine's motivation. I was wrong. I assumed she'd started her journey because of a desire for revenge, but every time I tried to use that, it was like trying to stuff a big square peg into a tiny round hole—it just didn't fit. Finally, out of exasperation, I asked her why she left the relative safety of her home to venture out into the dangers of the outside world. This is what she told me:


    Hope’s Gran died the morning of the summer solstice. They cremated her that night on a bier set atop the celebration bonfire built by Hemming, the local hedge-witch. Hemming might not be much good at magic, being a better herb-healer than witch, but he had enough Power to turn the flames incandescent. The pyre burned white-hot and sparks shot twenty feet in the air, making everyone step back several paces to avoid being scorched. Hope thought Gran would have enjoyed the show.

     The following day she buried all but two handfuls of Gran's ashes in the shade of the Crooked Oak on the rise across from the farmhouse. Gran had loved that tree, and not just because that's where Grandpa Jerry was buried. She'd drag her rocker from the porch to sit beneath its branches of a summer eve and watch the sun slip behind Whistler Peak. She'd rock back and forth and say there was no place on earth she'd rather be. The cynical might claim that's because there wasn't much left of the world beyond their tiny valley tucked away in the Siskiyous, hidden from the worst of the Sundering. Hope preferred to believe Gran meant exactly what she said, Sundering or no.

     Early the next morning Hope packed water and a lunch and half of Gran's remaining ashes and set out to hike Whistler Peak. Her goal was the Outlook, a rocky outcrop a little over half-way up the mountain. The temperature rose steadily as the sun climbed the sky, leaving the brief coolness of the morning behind like a forgotten memory. Bees and other winged insects hummed around her as they zoomed through the trees searching for wildflowers, and small birds chirped and twittered overhead. Each step of her leather boots on the trail stirred puffs of dust which hung motionless in the heat before sinking back to earth. Sweat soaked the neck of her tank shirt, a sticky trickle working its way down between her shoulder blades. Hope ignored the heat and discomfort with the ease of long practice and kept walking.

     She'd lived in Mystic Valley all her life, as had five generations of Devlins before her, and she was as familiar with the mountain trails as she was with her own nose. As her climb grew steeper the dirt path gave way to rock, Valley Oaks yielded to Black Oaks and they to Douglas-fir, and the earthy fragrance of pine and mountain loam scented the air. Hope stopped for a moment at a turn in the trail and looked back over the Valley. She could make out the farmhouse and the Crooked Oak, but she wasn't high enough for what she'd come to do.

     She reached the Outlook an hour or so past noon and sat on a flat rock in the shade to eat her lunch. Two Red-tails circled high, gliding on the air currents, hunting for prey hiding in the alfalfa and wheat fields. On the eastern edge of the Valley, Jacob Root's cattle rested in the shade of the oaks, out of the blistering heat of the mid-day sun. Hope brushed the last crumbs of her sandwich onto the ground, a treat for the squirrels and chipmunks, and cradled the small container of Gran's ashes in her hands. It was time.

     "I could wish you'd kept your secret and never told either one of us, but I guess that doesn't matter now. I’ll find Kellan and bring him home. I promise."

     She stood at the edge of the Outlook and opened the container. "I followed your wishes. You're resting beside Grandpa, just where you wanted to be, but I know you loved the Valley, too. Watch over us, Gran." As she swung the container in a wide arc an unexpected breeze stirred the air and carried the ashes away, out over the Valley. Tears stung eyes she'd thought already cried out and she turned away to start the long trek south in search of her brother.

So, that's Hope's reason for leaving Mystic Valley (well, most of it, anyway). Now it's your turn to bring out your characters. I can't wait to meet them!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Current Project: Finished my Anthology
Status: Trying to decide which book to edit.



Source: 500px.com via Tay on Pinterest



It seems there is not a common thread these last two weeks of blogging in January. I thought the picture appropriate considering the weather this week. I will try to link this post to writing but somehow I doubt if I can. Maybe if one looks at the summoner of storms as a paranormal figure.


However, this was not where I was panning on going. Looking at the pictures of Turner I wonder at anyones common sense. Even before the '96 flood everyone is talking about, I remember driving over the bridge to Turner on Delaney Rd. and watching Mill Creek rise. All around that bridge is a flood plain. I wonder at anyones sanity at building a subdivision here. Perhaps the people who bought, I feel so sorry for them, never had the opportunities to watch Mill Creek flood the area. I think all of downtown Turner and Aumsville are underwater.


Hmmm... now how to relate my little rant to writing. I suppose common sense could be the theme. Common sense can dictate many things. Hey, perhaps some of you out there can make sense of this. I know I can't. I've scheduled 6 blogs today on the Angels blog. Trying to get ahead of the game. And I think my mind is a bit foggy.


I did tell Deborah I would at least post a picture. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

HOW DO I KEEP TAKING THAT STEP EVERY DAY?

Current Project: LEGACY series
Status: Doing edits to book #4
Posted by: Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel



I am an impatient person in some ways. I want my story finished NOW! I want to be physically fit and sleek NOW! I want property for my doggies and me NOW!

As you might guess, none of these longer projects has happened NOW. 

So I've listened to other ways to accomplish these kinds of bigger goals, and heard the numbers of how taking one step forward every day can yield impressive results: 
--Barb is writing 1000 words per day and, at that rate, will have 365,000 words by the end of the year.
--A friend told me if I lose one pound a week, that's 52 pounds in a year.
--If I save one dollar or five dollars or however much a day, or put all my change in a cookie jar, it will add up nicely at the end of a year. 

Definitely impressive. However, sustaining new, healthy habits--or taking those daily steps--is many times the biggest challenge for me. Like making New Year's resolutions that have been trampled beneath everyday living before I turn the calendar to the next month. 

As I'm focusing on that one step every day, I'm also learning strategies to support these new habits in a holistic way: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

Following that strategy, getting fit means eating healthy foods that are good fuel for my body and moving my body (the physical); releasing old emotions/habits/self-talk that weighs me down (the emotional);  and holding a vision of myself at a healthy, ideal weight (what I consider the spiritual or higher self). 

Probably even more valuable is I have given myself permission NOT to be perfect. Sometimes I want cheesecake. So I eat cheesecake with great enjoyment and don't feel guilty. And I continue with the rest of my steps toward getting fit. I don't use this "lapse" as an excuse to forget the entire goal. 


And I'm also starting to apply this holistic approach to writing and promotion, though the process has been bumpy at times. 

At least I have my goals:
--I'm making forward progress with my stories, but I want to be more productive. 
--I'm integrating promotion into my daily routine, but in balance with other things I want and need to do. 

Here are my steps from a physical angle:
--BICHOK: butt in chair; hands on keyboard
--Reclaim my priority of writing BEFORE the rest of the world claims my time with e-mails, blogs, errands, etc., etc., etc. 

From an emotional angle:
--Dig into what's holding me back, then get rid of that baggage.
--Give myself permission to not be Superwoman and maybe, just maybe, schedule some flexible time each day.
--Leave the "new, bright, shiny" alone! Schedule it on my very detailed database to do after my current priorities are met.

From a spiritual/higher self angle:
--Allow time to dream!
--Print out those book covers and envision them at the top of a best-seller list!
--Imagine cashing six-figure royalty checks and deciding how to spend them. :)

I have to tell you, though, I'm looking forward to progressing from shaky baby steps where I am now to giant strides toward impressive results. How about you? Are you in the baby steps stage toward your goals or are you striding forward with purpose?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On Snobbery

Current Project: Sadie and William
Status: Still writing first draft, plotting.

I tend to be a reverse success snob; the more popular a thing is the more I resist trying it, buying it, seeing it, reading it. So when a new writing- and romance-reading friend strongly recommended a book by Jude Deveraux, and author popular enough to trigger my problematic snobbery, I was in something of a pickle. This friendship was still fragile, and I wanted to nurture it. I bought the book.

I didn’t read it. I put it on my “to be read/recently read” shelf and ignored it for three months.

This is not all that uncommon for me. When I am engrossed in a series, I sometimes buy the newest book and leave it on this shelf for a month, just to savor the anticipation, especially when I know the next one won’t be out for quite a while. In the meantime I read other things. But three months is a long time.

Each time I was ready for a new book I passed up the Deveraux, again and again, feeling more internal pressure and guilt each time. Eventually it became too much to bear. I opened the book.

Within a few pages I was interested. Soon I was caught. I couldn’t put it down. The story was just too good, the story-telling too fine, to abandon. The last few satisfying pages moved me to tears, and I read them again immediately.

I decided, and told my friend, it was the most romantic story I had ever read. I began thinking about the components of a truly romantic story. I had never before thought about romance in just that way. It was a revelation. I set a new goal someday to write a story as just as romantic. I will continue to explore the elements of truly romantic stories.

So, dear children, what is the moral of my tale? There are several choices; friendship, snobbery, preconceptions, open-mindedness, inspiration. You can choose your favorite. I have benefited from them all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing, Part 1

Back when dinosaurs walked the Earth, I won the Golden Heart in the Romantic Suspense category with In Deep Water, a sweet romance set at a lighthouse in the coastal village of Pajaro Bay.


Since every writer on Earth (and his brother) is now self-publishing books on the Kindle, I've been feeling left out of the fun.  So I have decided to publish my dear old first manuscript, In Deep Water, and use it as a learning experience to see how this self-publishing game is played.


I think it goes without saying that even if I'm doing this mostly for experience, and not expecting to become the next Amanda Hocking, I still want it to be my best work.  So I'll be revising the manuscript over the next month, working to update it and polish it up until it's the best story I can make it.


While I work on the text itself, I'm finding I have to learn how to:


•design book covers


•format text for the Kindle


•write my own blurbs, descriptions and sales copy


•figure out the bizarre world of pricing


•publicize my work


•put my book up for sale and then evaluate what happens over time, hopefully learning from my mistakes and deciding whether I want to do it all over again with another manuscript.


Whew.


So far I'm completely overwhelmed, but I'm also having loads of fun.  Creative control is a heady thing, and I can see how this could become addictive.


I'll let you know what I find out, and I welcome your advice and feedback as I play in this new (to me) playground.


In my next blog (Wednesday, January 25), I'll post what I've learned about cover design (pixels and image rights and display fonts, oh my!).

So are you self-publishing?  Or have you considered doing it? What do you think about this new part of the book market?

Barb
http://www.BarbaraCoolLee.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It Takes More Than Talent

Current Project: Post-Apocalypse Fantasy/Romance
Status: Just Started Writing!

Have you ever read an amazing story or a thought-provoking essay or some other wonderfully crafted piece of writing that was written by someone with no desire to be published? Did you think: Why wouldn't that person tackle writing for publication? It's obvious he or she has the talent...

Let me tell you a little story. I was a competitive swimmer as a kid and it's kind of funny how it all started. I was nine years old and loved the water, but I didn't really know how to swim. Oh, I could float and paddle around and get by, but I didn't know how to do any of the competitive swimming strokes (freestyle/crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly). I was just happy playing in the water.

I spent the first two weeks of the summer when I was nine staying with family friends out of town. When I came home, my father told me he'd enrolled me in a swim school being run by my brother's high school football coach. I'd be able to learn how to swim properly and be taught by someone my folks trusted. Only—Dad had misunderstood. Coach wasn't running a swim school, he was coaching a summer league swim team.

My first "session" ended up being a one hour practice at the local high school pool. My very first time in the pool I was expected to line up behind the other kids my age and when it was my turn, to swim to the other end...25 very long yards away. There were two reasons I didn't freak out or just walk away right then and there. First, I wasn't afraid of the water, and second, I was in the swim lane next to the pool wall. I figured I could always grab the wall if I couldn't make it. My turn came and I jumped in and did my best. I grabbed the wall a couple of times, but I made it to the end. I learned later my dad walked along the edge of pool, just in case, but when he realized I wasn't giving up (or drowning), he went back to his seat on the spectator steps.

I thought I was done, but oh, no, that was just the beginning. We swam like that for an hour. Over the course of the next few weeks, I was taught to swim each of the four competitive strokes. It turned out I was decent at all of them and particularly good at freestyle and backstroke. I ended up competing in my age bracket at swim meets in the Individual Medley (all four strokes), the freestyle, the backstroke, the freestyle relay and the Medley relay, and I usually came away with ribbons of one sort or another.

For the next six years I swam competitively. I dutifully put in the two hour morning and two hour evening practices every day during the summer and then competed in the swim meets every weekend. And in the winter, I continued with the two hour evening practices Monday through Friday. I swam because I could, because it was expected of me, and because I'd committed to swimming for the team (and once committed, we never quit); I didn't swim because it was my passion. Still, I continued on until I couldn't stand the thought of one more race, and at the end of that swim season, when I was 14 years old, I retired from competition.

I believe I had the talent to take my swimming further—who knows, perhaps even to Olympic level competition (yeah, right :). But what I didn't have, though, was the desire. I was competitive enough for me, but I lacked that burning ambition—that need to excel and win at all costs—that an Olympic athlete must have in order to succeed. Talent wasn't enough. I swam with kids who weren't as coordinated as I was, but who wanted to win far more than I ever did and who continued to work hard and push for the next level of competition. Most of them were successful.

I don't regret a moment of my time in the pool. Nor do I regret not trying to be more competitive, because that just wasn't for me. My swimming experience did teach me a valuable lesson. Being talented is great, but even more important is having the desire to succeed at something. If you really want something—I mean, really want it—you're more likely to make the effort to put in the hard work required to attain your goal.

I think that's a lesson most successful writers learn at some point. Sure, there are those few writers who are innately talented, but there are so many more of us who struggle to tell our stories in precisely the way we envision them. I count myself among the later group. I firmly believe that if I continue to put in the hard work of improving my craft and putting my work out there, eventually I'll attain my goal: a career as a published writer. You might say it's what drives me.

 So, what drives you?

 Cheers!

Debbie
www.Deborah-Wright.com
Twitter: @DeborahBWright

Monday, January 09, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Friday, January 06, 2012

I've Become a Workaholic

Current Project:  Ghost Dance
Status:  Waiting for edits


Push to promo, and I've learned so much. I have an extensive backlist that has never sold very well. I didn't know what to do to promote my books. Since retirement, last June, I have had the time to sit down at the computer and explore cyberspace. For all of you out there just beginning, realize you must take baby steps. No one can learn everything all at one time. Now I find I spend way too much time with blogs than I do on writing. I'm trying to become a bit more left brain and start scheduling my time. Unfortunately when one works with photo shop and other on line whatever... one hour can easily turn into three.


I love the new lending library at amazon and I am diligently trying to find out more about it. I understand one must be a certain type of member (prime?) to use it. And I understand one has to pay extra for it. Books can be sold for free on this site and they are put there by the author. Books are not automatically put there.


Paty, is that what you did for your Christmas novella? And what is it called?


As with Genene I plan on putting my two novellas on this site for free. The one from the valentines Day Anthology is called The Gift and is set during the War Between the State. This is one of my 
favorite times in history.
The Gift
Star Crossed is the name of my novella in A St. Patrick's Day Tale. It is set in Ireland in 1813. The story came from a tale my mom used to tell me about how my great grandfather used to be friends with every one during the week but Sunday after church the protestant boys and the catholic boys would gather and have a good round of fisticuffs. 

This cover is still a work in progress:
Star Crossed


Thursday, January 05, 2012

NEW YEAR'S JUMP START!

Current Project: Promoting Valentine's and St. Patrick's Anthologies
and editing LEGACY series
Status: Zooming!
Posted by: Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel


I didn't make resolutions or set goals with the turning of the New Year. I did that a few months back to save what little was left of my sanity. My first three novels were re-issued back to back in a month's time at special prices. 

Great promotion move, but an incredible increase in my workload. Because the promotion for those books paused only slightly before sliding into promotion for  Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day anthologies, which wrap up as I'm deep in promotion for my new LEGACY series. 

So I set my goals for the upcoming two years back in October. Yeah, I'm not doing anything by the "rules" for setting New Year's goals and resolutions. However, my series of at least nine books will be released every two months beginning March 2012. So until the end of 2014--or later--most of my life will revolve around writing, editing and promoting my LEGACY series. 

And keeping myself and my doggies happy and healthy. :)

So setting goals for one year beginning in January didn't work for me. 

And instead of just writing down a list of goals on a cocktail napkin, I set up a database with a detailed schedule. (I did tell you I wasn't following the New Year's rules. :)

So I'm about three months into my goals/resolutions. I'm meeting most of my goal deadlines, have survived the holidays, and am adapting to surprises. One of those surprises was coming up with covers for my novellas that were published in the anthologies I mentioned above. 

The cover for "St. Batzy & the Time Machine" was drafted and just needed to be finaled. However, I loved the style of that cover so much, I completed three versions of a cover for "Chasing Rainbows" before I came up with one I loved as much as "St. Batzy." (Just had to share, so they are posted here--hopefully without the spacing going completely weird. :) 


Now those are done, I'm getting back on track with edits and other projects that are on my "to do" database. 

Most people probably don't go as detailed as I've done with goal setting. But do you make New Year's resolutions and set goals? And how do you keep yourself on track with keeping those resolutions and meeting your goals?

P.S. That's one of my dogs on the cover of "St. Batzy & the Time Machine." And, yes, if I had a time machine in my back yard, I think he would really be traveling back and forth through history, and digging up all kinds of mischief!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Muse

Current Project: "Hims," about Sadie and William: romance, sci-fi, light, slightly steampunk,
Status: Short story morphing (being pushed by the Muse) into something longer.

So, what's in a Muse?

Sometimes I wake up in the morning with an idea so compelling that I have to grab my dream book and write the idea down that instant, or I will lose it. Sadie and William's story started out that way. Luckily it was a weekend morning, because I wrote for two hours without stopping for more than a potty break and some coffee. It became a full first draft.

Wikipedia says: The Muses... in Greek mythology, poetry, and literature, are the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge...

Director Albert Brooks made a film called "The Muse" in which Sharon Stone's eponymous character is a demanding, annoying crazy lady who nevertheless inspires Brooks' character in spite of all the trouble she causes. Or because of it?

Judy Collins has said, "When inspiration does not come, I go for a walk, go to the movies, talk to a friend, let go... The muse is bound to return again, especially if I turn my back!"

And Piers Anthony has said, "One reason I don't suffer Writer's Block is that I don't wait on the muse, I summon it at need."

Elizabeth Gilbert has some very interesting things to say about The Muse as well. "Listen, you, thing, you and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see that I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this. So if you want it to be better, then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal, okay? But if you don’t do that, you know what, the hell with it, I’m going to keep writing anyway because that’s my job. And I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up for my part of the job." For more from Elizabeth Gilbert, you can watch this great video: http://stranglingmymuse.wordpress.com/2009/11/03/are-you-the-genius-or-is-the-genius-working-through-you/

I am a writer. I have not known this for very long, less than two years, and I'm in my 5th decade. It's not the only thing I am. I'm also a mother-daughter-wife, a quilter and church-rummage-sale volunteer, an indifferent cook, a dog-and-baby-lover, the person at the movies who has to bring Kleenex even if it's a comedy.

But there are definitely some stories that have come to me to be written. If I don't write them, the writer they finally get may not tell them the way they wish to be told. They had to bonk me on the head with increasing force, but I finally got the message. I am responsible to these stories. They need me.

I must do my part, must sit down and write, for them to happen; I must find the time, the quiet, the space; I must pee and eat, feed the dogs so they'll sit quietly with me, and make sure I have my coffee. I have had to train my family to take their questions elsewhere when I'm writing. I have had to train myself to ignore their questions when I am writing. Because my Muse is waiting for my fingers and mind to be in place so the ideas can flow.

My Muse and I are partners. We have to work together for stories to get written. The Muse inspires; I wrestle and guide.

What's in your Muse?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Weekly Progress Check-In

Welcome!  This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA chapter's weekly progress check-in.

Did you meet your writing goals last week?  What do you plan to accomplish this week?

(The best prize is achieving your writing goals, but as an extra incentive, we will award gift cards from Powell's bookstore to the chapter member and the non-member who check in for the most weeks in 2012.)

Sunday, January 01, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Mid-Willamette Valley Romance Writers of America® would like to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year for 2012!

The publishing industry is experiencing rapid changes and the future may look bright or bleak depending on how you view it. Speaking only for myself, I believe there are more changes to come and that those changes will mean more opportunities in publishing than ever before. BUT--those opportunities are only as good as the book you write. That's the bottom line, isn't it? Without a book that people want to read, the rest doesn't much matter.

If you've always wanted to write a book, or if you've written a book, but don't know what to do next, or if you're an experienced writer and published author, think about joining Romance Writers of America®. "Romance Writers of America® is dedicated to advancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy."*

If you're already a member of RWA--or are in the process of joining--please consider joining the Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter of RWA. We're located in Salem, Oregon, but we have remote members from as far away as the Monterey Bay area of California. Living close enough to attend monthly meetings is a plus, but MWV-RWA offers much more--online workshops (free for members; workshops are currently being planned for 2012), a chapter-members only online discussion group, and participation in our Chapter blog.

New members are welcome to attend a free meeting before joining. You must be an RWA member to join the Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter. Membership runs from January-December, and annual dues are $25. For more information about the Chapter, see our website at www.MidWillametteValleyRWA.com and read about How to Join.

Cheers!

Deborah Wright
President, Mid-Willamette Valley RWA

www.Deborah-Wright.com
Twitter: @DeborahBWright

*Description from the www.RWA.org website