Book Release Countdown

Happy Tuesday!

Let’s be real; Tuesdays aren’t all that thrilling, although we are having tacos tonight at my house. So.

But today is exciting because I got my final proof for Beach Glass & Other Broken Things in the mail, and even though there was a pretty significant fix I had to make (with help) in order to upload the final, final, final version (HOPEFULLY???) I’m happy and relieved release day is almost here! Just 8 more days until I can take a big breath and let this book out into the world. I’m a little nervous because I am literally out of time to order another paperback proof, so fingers crossed that everything comes out okay and I can double/triple-quadruple check everything online.

What I’ve learned: Self-publishing an entire book is so, so different than self-publishing an e-story (duh), and way different than being published with a (small) publisher. I did not realize how much work everything was going to be for me, or how much stress I’d be under as I neared the release date. The awesome thing is it’s also been really cool, and I will definitely do it again. Someday. LOLOLOLOLOL.

For now, I’m checking things off my long list and have to get final files uploaded to the various sites, contact some local press, set up my FB giveaway, mail out some paperbacks to some early readers, and things like that.

Next Wednesday will be a great day, and I will be back then to share my release day links. Make sure you come back, too!

 

April Update

Hi.

I’ve been having some minor blog guilt because I know I’m slacking on cool, new posts (sorry!) BUT I do have a few neat things to share today. Soon, I’ll have some book reviews (because, yay! I’ve been reading more) up, too. But today I just want to update you on a few things.

-My publisher Penner is interested in Weightless. It doesn’t mean they’ll take it, but I’m excited that the premise was intriguing enough. So far, I’ve sent a few chapters and the synopsis. I’d be grateful for some good vibes. I really love this story and I think it deserves an audience.

-I’m back on to the querying game for Witch Lessons! Partly fun, partly brutal, I’m starting out again with a pretty good responses. I’ve gotten some rejections but I also have a partial and a full out right now. So that’s sweet. Another batch is going to go out next week so fingers crossed. I really have had a good feeling about this ms for a long time. I love it, and I hope others will, also.

-As for poetry news, I got an acceptance for SIX poems from a really kick-ass place. I’m still waiting to hear that they’ve received my email accepting their acceptance (ha) so I don’t want to shout it from the rooftops yet because I’m still a little afraid it won’t happen. But still, so far so good?

Beach Glass & Other Broken Things is almost here! Can you believe it? Because I sure can’t! Don’t forget to sign up for the Goodreads giveaway. There’s still plenty of time left to enter and win a signed copy plus an engraved piece of beach glass. Right now I’m just reading through the last proof to make sure all is good on the paperback front, and then that’s it. I can sit back and enjoy my book birthday in a few weeks!

-Deja You: Stories of Second Chances, my BookBesties collaboration is also almost here. We just ordered our proofs and they arrived today, and they are gorg. Now we need to read through and make sure there’s no errors or anything, and then that will be on the way to publication (May 30th). We’ll also be doing a giveaway for that, so stay tuned.

-Fireflies & Fairy Dust. The anthology I’m helping out with is now re-opened for submissions. Please check it out here.

I think that’s it. Besides the mess that is my personal life right now (a happy mess, but still, a mess, thank you house reno), that’s all. Work at the library is going well, family is good, and I am anxiously awaiting completing some of the projects above so that I can get back to the writing. Damn, do I miss it.

Take care, guys. Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

The manuscript giving me gray hair.

I should not be writing this blog post, you guys.

What I should be doing is working on fixing the mess of a manuscript that is causing me endless amounts of anxiety, frustration, and guilt.

But…you know. Denial, and all that.

Have I mentioned Weightless much? Having a habit of not talking about projects much while I’m working on them, probably not. I guess I like to keep them private until they’re “ready” to be out in the world. Until they’re published, or going to be.

However, I have to “talk” this one out. I am driving myself mad with it.

Weightless is a fairytale retelling. It’s based on The Light Princess, by George MacDonald. It takes place in Scotland, and is about a princess (Ailsa) who is cursed to live without her gravity. Not only is she light physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. The curse takes away most of her wit, intelligence, and compassion. She becomes a shallow, ditzy, laughing thing, unable to cry or feel things deeply. Not to mention, unable to move without being tied down! There’s fairies, and magic, and evil, and true love. It’s funny, and heartbreaking, and really FUN in ways.

I adore this story. I really do. But never has a story given me so much problems. And it’s not the poor story’s fault, really. You see, I finished the manuscript a while ago. It was right around 40,000 words, and I queried it as an Upper-Middle-Grade (which is roughly for ages 8-12) story to several literary agents. I even had a couple requests for the full manuscript (a big deal!), however, they all passed in the end.

Then, I had my super cool editor Dani do a manuscript analysis. She remarked, among other things, on the voice, and POV (point-of-view). As well as that she had a difficult time connecting with the characters. Of course there were good things too! But I had to fix the issues. Agents had mentioned the connection thing as well.

I decided to tackle a major revision, turning the story from limited omniscient third person, where the POV is from numerous characters, and unfortunately included a bit of head-hopping, which can be jarring and confusing, to third-person from the POV of only four characters- the heroine Ailsa, the fairy godmother Sorcha, the villain Griselda, and the hero Graeme. For the first time ever, I opened a new doc in Scrivener and got to work. I should mention that it took me a good two weeks to finally decide on that POV set-up, and I went back and forth a few times.

However, I had settled on the 4 main characters’ perspectives, and got to writing.

What was good: The level of immediacy and urgency improved once I narrowed the focus on to those four characters. I felt much more connected, and so did my readers.

What was not so good: It still felt scattered in places, and it just didn’t feel right. I can’t explain that entirely, only to say that while I loved the story, I didn’t like the way I was telling it. I knew I could do better. Also, I was not sure it really was a MG story. I was thinking it could be an adult fantasy. Or maybe YA. God, I was confused.

Revision, take 2.

Thank goodness I hadn’t made it that far in that Scrivener doc. Only about three chapters worth, and I scrapped it. I made lists. Actual lists of pros and cons to doing different POV. Should I do first person present from Ailsa’s perspective? What about alternating only two characters? What to do? What to do?!

I’m not exaggerating when I say I was freaking out. Why so much? IDK. Because I believe in this freaking story and I want to get it published in this lifetime, probably.

I have now opened a new Scrivener doc, actually two. Because I started writing one in first person, past tense from Ailsa’s point-of-view and LOVED it, that is where I’m leaning, and hoping to tell the entire novel like that. However, because there are many important scenes that she’s just not included in, I feel it is necessary to also try another option, so I have yet another doc open where I’m trying out three POV- the three leading ladies (Ailsa, Sorcha, Griselda), and doing all three in 1st person, past tense. Also, I have concluded the story is YA. I think.

SIGH. SIGH. SIGH.

What I’m hoping, is that I can get three solid chapters done in both versions. Then I’d like to get my editor and readers’ opinions on which flows best, which is more urgent and interesting, and which version they connect with more. Because I feel like I can’t be objective anymore. I don’t trust myself. I love it, yet I’m incredibly frustrated. What’s that saying about forests and trees? I’m lost, and I think I desperately need someone NOT ME to say, This version rocks, or This version sucks.

I no longer know the best way to tell this story because I have overthought it.

I guess this happens?

An interesting consequence of all this mess, and multiple docs open, and the mass of confusion around me, is that I, a verified pantser, have begun plotting! I have a whole outline, going into each scene in each chapter. Oh wow. I am even surprising myself here!

Side note: You know what I love about blogging? It’s like free therapy. Sorry, guys. I’m a little neurotic, I guess. Still, it helps to vent.

So, sometime this century I hope to be done with this ms. Actually, I’m going to have to give myself a hard deadline, because otherwise I’ll just ignore it, hoping it’ll magically fix itself, and we all know that ain’t happening.

Weigh in, make me feel better. Have you ever been so frustrated with a project, and been able to work it out with enough time and dedication?

Thanks guys,

Amanda

Goals, Resolutions, Plans

Happy New Year, everyone!

I like to start the year with a list of goals. Call them resolutions, if you like. (Some people are anti-NY-resolution…I’m not one of them). Last year I did the same, and I was pleased to see that I not only met some of those goals, I exceeded them.

2017 needs to be big for me. I have lots of hopes and dreams, and dang, I’ve been working hard. I feel like good things are in store with my writing. And I want to share them, because it really does help me stay on track knowing other people see these things! My resolutions:

-Get a literary agent. Yes, I have just started querying Witch Lessons, and I have, I think, two full manuscripts out on submission and probably four rejections so far. I plan to focus intensely on securing an agent for this story.

-Revise Weightless. I don’t know that many other stories have been as much work as this one, and I don’t mean that resentfully. I have been STUCK on something that I was querying last year (with little success) before finally deciding it just isn’t ready or right the way it is. I no longer am certain this even is middle-grade. It’s possible it’s YA. It could even be adult. I’m just revising, and rewriting the story how it comes naturally, and I’m trying not to worry about the audience so much. This may very well be a story that is hard to fit into a mold. Once it’s revised to my liking, my plan is to query—either to agents, or to small presses directly. I have a soft spot for this story. It doesn’t feel as “big” as Witch Lessons, but it too deserves an audience.

Publish Beach Glass & Other Broken Things, April 2017. Yep, my short story collection is something I’m constantly working on, editing and revising each story individually. I have two more I’m planning to write new, and have started on both of those as well. I’ll have a cover reveal sometime in March, and advance review copies going out that month as well. At least, that’s the hope!

-Publish something small every month. Or something like that. I like the idea of giving myself a deadline for these things. I also plan a short story trio ebook of three of my new fantasy stories sometime this month. More info coming!

-Submit, submit, submit. I mean to literary magazines, journals, websites, anthologies, what have you. I want to submit a lot of poems and short stories. I would love to see some of them accepted before I publish both those collections.

-Keep a daily writing planner. I already bought a gorgeous planner, complete with stickers! 
I want to make a daily goal of what I’d like to get done, and then see if I can stick with it. So far, day two of this year, and I’m on track with what I wanted to get done.

-Read more. I love reading, and yet I never make enough time to do it. I waste too much time on mindless internet browsing and way too much time on internet shopping (gulp). My plan is to read more books, and get better at reviewing (or at least rating) each and every one! I want to utilize Goodreads more, because I use it more as an author now than as a reader.

-Write more. Write longhand, write in crap notebooks, write on the laptop when I have the luxury of time and quiet. Write everything I can think of, and push myself more.

I think that’s it for now. Please, if you haven’t already, take a look at my previous post (Book Bestie Giveaway) because it’s super cool and we will have TWO winners who will each win 5+ ebooks/stories!

I hope 2017 is treating you well so far! So far, so good here. Tell me, do you make New Years resolutions? 

Take care,

Amanda

Year in Review: 2016

I decided to write one more blog post for 2016.

This year has been marked by the loss of several really cool people in this world. It has been tumultuous politically, and just really, a big awful mess in so many ways. In some ways, 2016 has SUCKED. Yes.

However…I would be remiss amidst my fretting and complaining by not acknowledging how great this year has been for my work. I am truly humbled, grateful and damn it all, I am proud of myself.

In 2016 my debut novel (Penner Publishing, 2015) became a bestseller in FOUR different categories on Amazon, and I earned out my small advance.

In 2016 I completed a kick-ass novel (which I am now trying to get published) and I really feel that 2017 will be the year I get an agent for it.

In 2016 I self-published my first short story, The Peony and the Sun. I followed that up with another five short stories. That was all done within a span of about three months.

In 2016 I came into my own as a writer. I learned many important things about myself. I had an explosion of ideas and creativity.

In 2016 I wrote a few more (unpublished) short stories besides the ones I released as an indie author.

In 2016 I gained hundreds of new Facebook and Twitter followers. I got several new book reviews. I blogged more.

In 2016 I began revising my MG fairytale retelling.

In 2016 I wrote notes and got sparks of ideas (and maybe even a starting sentence or two) for some short stories, novellas, and novels.

In 2016 I became a part of an author collaboration Book Besties, which will publish a collection of short stories next year.

In 2016 I decided to self-publish my short story collection in 2017, and began compiling and editing all the stories.

In 2016 I read some great books, and listened to several audiobooks that I loved.

2016 was a banging year for me as an author and a creator. I learned a lot about publishing. I learned even more about myself.

Thank you for being along with me this year, to read my posts, to comment, to share my content. Thank you for reading my book and stories, and for reviewing them. Thank you for telling your mom, or your sister, or your neighbor, about this cool new author you found (moi!). Thank you for sharing my triumphs and being patient as I sometimes fumble on this journey.

2017, get ready. I have a lot I want to accomplish. Let’s blow 2016 out of the water.

A Mini Vent

Well, hello.

I wish I could say this blog post would contain some cool news, or a free story, or an amazing update on the agent search for Witch Lessons (actually, I did get a 50-page request last night!) but really, it is a vent post. Sigh. Double sigh.

The realization came to me just now that I have two problems (well, that I’m focusing on now)—the first is I feel weirdly antsy and static not having released any new stories or anything. I KNOW. I know. It’s only been a couple of weeks since my last one. But publishing is pretty addictive! And I’m sitting on Sonja Uncaged, just waiting on cover art. I feel like a total slacker, which I know isn’t fair to me, or that it even makes sense! I just always want to be moving forward.

The second, and biggest problem this morning, is that I am unbelievably confused and frustrated with my fairytale retelling Weightless. I’ve queried agents for it with some requests for fulls (Yippee!) but they all passed. Sad. When my editor did a manuscript analysis she remarked that she had a difficult time connecting to the story and characters—a comment more than one agent stated. I currently have the entire manuscript in third person limited point-of-view, meaning you, the reader, would know what multiple characters are thinking and feeling. Based on feedback, I thought perhaps I should use first person (where the narrator uses I, and me), but that’s getting too messy! Part of the problem is one of my main characters is just not a good narrator. She misses a good 50% of the story, if not more, and when she is there, she’s still not fully “there”. I can’t tell it only from her perspective. But there is not one single character who “sees” everything. Each characters has a truly unique perspective of the story. So…I’m stuck. How do I close the disconnect of feeling far from the characters without creating a botched-up mess of multiple points-of-view in different tenses?

Arrrrrgghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, that surprisingly helped a little.

I think I just need to ask myself some hard questions about whose story this is exactly, and who is best equipped to tell it. I know the story is for middle-grade (age 8-12), and I’m pretty happy with the actual plot. I just…I need to figure this part out so I can move on with a new set of queries. Please send me some good vibes, guys. I really love this story, and I want it to be right. As of now, it just is not.

Peace & Happy Holidays. I’ll check in soon.

Amanda

UPDATE (A few hours later):

-Got a rejection on those first 50 pages. Oh well. You’d think that would really upset me (it did for a second, till I reminded myself that it was my FIRST agent rejection on WL, plus a quick rejection is better than a drawn-out one. And then, this second thing happened)

-I totally figured out what I want to do with the POV in this story. You know how sometimes venting or talking about something (or totally rambling/whining) can give you clarity? Well, this totally did. I know now what I want to do, and have already started changing things! Thanks for letting me vent. I feel much better now. YAY! Break-throughs are such a relief.

An Anthology

Good morning!

It’s actually not a great morning for me because of some personal and professional disappointment yesterday (sigh), but I’m trying to see the bright side of things on this snowy, Saturday morning. Christmas cookies may help?

Something to be excited about is this cool new anthology! I’m helping to get this thing rolling, and am heading up the Facebook page for it. Please check out the description below, like us on Facebook, look at the website-in-progress, and then go to Submittable to submit!

Fireflies & Fairy Dust: An Anthology

We are seeking short fiction and poetry for a new anthology coming out in spring of 2017. Appease your inner child and send us your takes on favorite nursery rhymes, give us twists on fairytales, make us hear old lullabies in a new way. We want witches, and edible houses, and true love. We want whimsy and magic. Give us stories that are tender, lovely, funny, and even a bit dark. We want to laugh, cry, and be surprised. Make us fall in love with your words. Make us jealous we didn’t think of your story first!

Contributors will be paid $10.00 and receive a free e-Book, and possibly one paperback copy as well.

The fee to submit is $5.00. Please format in Double-spaced, 12 pt Times New Roman, and send us your strongest work. You should include your name and contact information on the cover letter (and only the cover letter) so that it can be removed before we read. Submissions will be read blind. Minorities and marginalized writers are encouraged to submit.

POETRY: Please send 3 to 5 poems per submission, at 1-2 pages each. We love old-fashioned rhyming, but free-form is also welcome.

FICTION: Please send short fiction, from 300 to 1,000 words. If the stories are shorter, sending two at a time is fine. If they are longer, please limit to only one.

All rights will revert back to the author upon publication.

Submissions will be (tentatively) open until sometime in February 2017. If we are interested in including your work, we will contact you. If you do not hear back from us within two months, consider it a regretful pass.