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To celebrate awesome author Jenna McCarthy‘s hilarious new book, I’ve Still Got It…I just can’t remember where I put it, summer (my fav season), and reading (a fav activity), I’m doing a *Fun, Fabulous, Summer Reading Giveaway!*

You…yes YOU could win this beach tote full of fun! Comment below with what you’ve “still got…and maybe can’t find” to be entered to WIN:
1. A copy of Jenna’s new book I’ve Still Got It…I just can’t remember where I put it WHICH JENNA WILL PERSONALIZE for the winner!!
2.A yellow polka dot beach bag…because why not?!
3. A pink leopard print water bottle–BPA-free natch–so you stay hydrated in style this summer!
4. A pink SPF-50 sun hat so that we can all stay as young-looking as possible.
5. And my favorite almond-coconut KIND bars (delicous! I live on them!)

Want more chances to win? Post this giveaway on social media, post the links below, and each one gives you ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN!


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I’m thrilled to announce that Where in the OM Am I? has been awarded Best Memoir by the National Indie Excellence Book Awards! This is such an honor and I am truly grateful.

OM in the World! Woo-hoo!

After countless rounds of edits, denigration at the hands of my critique partners, flattery from friends and family, and many glasses of wine, my very first book finally made its way into the hands of actual readers on June 11, 2013.

OM is available as both an ebook and a paper book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and pretty much everywhere else!
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You can also order a signed, personalized copy straight from me here on the Book tab!

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Just emerging from two days of battling the stomach flu. (Side note: Holy crap I hate being sick!) And besides my new found gratitude for wellness, I realized that writing, if you're serious about it, has to be looked at as a business. Your business.

And here's the thing about working for yourself: there's good and there's bad. And there's probably  ugly as well.

The good is you can set your own hours. There's no bat-shit crazy banshee of a boss breathing down your neck (wait, was that just my bosses?). You can work in your yoga pants…or no pants. You can work from home (yay!). It's whatever you want.

The bad is, there's no structure and you can't coast. When I worked in corporate, I hoarded my personal and sick days like a miser straight out of a Dickens novel. I would drag my sick ass in to the office, prop my aching head up, and work through the day. And if the work wasn't my best due to the fact that my head felt disconnected from my body and bleary with congestion, well…I didn't really care.
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Now, I care. I care a lot. Now, nothing less than my absolute best will do. Which is somewhat of a problem when you inevitably fall under the weather. Or feel like you got hit my the stomach flu bus. Which is exactly what happened this week.

But stopping and resting isn't an option. So instead, I sat at home, trying not to puke, and slowly kept editing away. That's the bad and the ugly. The good is, I'd still choose this over the corporate world. Because freedom, even if you're battling the flu and don't get sick days, is still better than corporate shackles. Or at least that's my two cents. But there is definitely something to be said for the safety and security of working under the protection (and the weight) of someone else.

Thoughts?

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Ever wondered what the actual editing process consists of? Have a demented desire to know how the writing sausage is made, so to speak? Yeah, me too. But nobody ever talks about that. It's all veiled and secrecy and “Who me? Pshaw. I barely needed an editor.”

Well, I am not afraid to pull back the curtain and share my editing process! Come on in, pull up a seat, and let's get to the nitty-gritty of what it looks like to work with a professional editor.

Quick catch up: I paced. I chomped at the bit. I resisted–barely–rending my garments and gnashing my teeth. But I did wait nervously for the edits to come back. Then they arrived–all 426 pages of copy edits and a 13-page developmental editing letter…and then I wondered why I was in such an all-fired rush. I wanted to pound my head against the desk until the blissful oblivion of unconsciousness overtook me.

It's hard to know before you get your first-time edits back exactly how much a blank page (e.g. a page without a single, blessed change) or a little smiley face can mean. Seriously. Years ago, I might not have noticed or I might have taken these boons for granted; now, they practically bring me to tears.

The only thing that's worse is when, after combing through 400 pages of edits, I have to circle back to my questions about the edits. Sweet Jesus. What was I thinking? Why did I ever want to write a book? You pause and question…and then dive back in.

Since I transitioned from the waiting phase to the they're-on-my-plate phase, it's taken me the better part of a month just to get through the copy edits. I pretty much made all of the suggested changes, unless I could tell that the tedium of editing had gotten to my editor and she had made a change that was in clear violation of logic and basic grammar rules. (I think that only happened once.) Then I re-wrote all the things that she said she didn't understand or felt needed to be clearer. There were probably about five of these but it took me a bit because my original way seemed so obvious and clear…you know, inside my own head.

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Next step: tackling the developmental editing letter. Which, apparently, addresses the larger issues. Oh goody. I'll be sure to dive right in…right after I finish this bottle of wine to numb the impending pain.

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As soon as I decided to go the indie route, I knew that hiring a professional editor was a must. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right.
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I researched independent editors, culling a list of 10. I narrowed it down to five that I interviewed by phone. I took notes on each conversation. I made lists of their previous clients and researched each book they had worked on. Then I researched the reviews that each one got. I asked for references; I checked references. I reached out to past clients who they hadn't given as references (because OF COURSE they're going to give me the clients who loved them–duh!) Then, after a lot of mental and physical pacing, I made a decision.

Then I stressed about my decision. Was this the right choice? Was she the best fit for me? What if her references and past clients had lied? What if this was all a farce? What if I'd just sent a big, fat check to a hustler?

I waited six weeks for my turn in the editorial queue. Then I waited four weeks for my manuscript to be sent back to me.

During this time, I thought of very little else. How could I when my professional editor was editing my book? (My book! Holy crap!)

My editor let me know that it's her policy not to comment while she works. Which kind of made sense except the fact that I'm totally freaking out and dying to know what she thinks!
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One of my reasons for going the indie route was because it was the expedited route. But that patience–lots of it–is required, even on the expedited route!

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When I found myself starting to write a book three and a half years ago, I didn't think beyond the actual writing. All I knew is, I wanted to tell my story, get it out, get it down on paper (or rather on a screen for several months and then, after much ado, eventually out onto paper). Then I was focused on making it the best story it could be…editing, re-editing, having trusted hubby and critique partners read it. Then I'd edit it some more.

(Note to self: for the good of your partnership, Do Not Ask Spouse to Read Drafts. Ever!)

Eventually, I felt like it was as good as I could get it on my own…you know, without professional help. (Professional help from an editor, I should clarify, though “professional help” in its more traditional sense–aka mental help–may be in order soon!) So without a lot of thought about what I was doing or why, I started researching agents. I undertook this task with meticulous care–researching their sales history, the reviews of the books they repped, their preferences, their blogs, what the writing community thought of them…I cross-referenced at least five sources for every single agent.

I created a spreadsheet. And eventually I sent a few queries out. Again, I have to stress, I did this without a lot any thought as to why I was doing it, why I was pursuing the traditional path, or what my other options (aka self-pub) were. You know, sort of like a lemming.

Then several friends sent me Jessica Park's extremely honest, wonderfully straight-talking piece on IndieReader about all the reasons that she self-publishes and the issues she takes with the traditional path. As she says,
“I spent months thinking that I needed a big publisher in order to be a writer, to legitimately carry that “author” title. To validate me, and to validate Flat-Out Love. I needed a publisher to print my books and stick a silly publishing house emblem on the side of a hard copy. They were the only way to give my books mass distribution, and having them back me would mean that readers would know my book was good.
I also, apparently, thought that I needed to be taken advantage of, paid inexcusably poorly, and chained to idiotic pricing and covers that I had no control over
I was, it seems, deluded.”
I laughed. Then I re-read her article several times. I researched the data she cites. (If you haven't read it yet, you MUST. Click over! Right now!) She raises valid, irrefutable points. I debated internally (and externally). And finally, after a lot of mental gymnastics, I made my decision: I'm going to self-publish.
My reasons are pretty much:
  1. Creative control.
    We've all heard the horror stories about the author whose cover was all wrong but he had no choice or input, or the author who had to re-write her plot in a way that she never imagined it. Maybe some people would be OK with this. I'm not one of them. I want to retain creative control of my book (my baby!). I want to be an active participant in its flight to public life.
  2. I'm new, but I don't want to be treated as “next to nothing.”
    Again, Jessica Parks said it best: “Publishers pay terribly and infrequently. They are shockingly dumb when it comes to pricing, and if I see one more friend’s NY-pubbed ebook priced at $12.99, I’m going to scream. They do minimal marketing and leave the vast majority of work up to the author. Unless, of course, you are already a big name author. Then they fly you around the country for signings and treat you like the precious moneymaking gem that you are. The rest of us get next to nothing in terms of promotion. If your book takes off, they get the credit. If it tanks, you get the blame.”
  3. I'm impatient.
    It can take many months (maybe even years) to find the right agent. Once you finally make that match, the agent has to begin the lengthy and usually laborious task of trying to sell it to a publisher. This is called being “on submission.” The wonderful author/blogger Natalie Whipple, whose blog I devotedly follow, wrote very openly and courageously about being on sub for 15 months, and what that was like. In a word: tough.

    Finally, Natalie's book did sell! Eureka!! {confetti!} {celebration} {cupcakes!} Then the publisher said it would be come out…in two years.

    I understand that publishing is a process and patience is a virtue. I understand that newbies have to wait their turn and get in line and who the hell do these debut authors think they are anyway?! And I also understand that there are many, many reasons for wanting to take the traditional path (the honor! the validation! the wonderful fact that you–YOU!–have made it! you're in an exclusive club and you have the publisher's emblem on your book's spine to prove it!) and trust me, I wanted all those things too…but to me, personally, it wasn't worth the tradeoff. So since there IS another option, I'm choosing to take it.

  4. I have a bit of pioneer mentality.
    Yes, it's scary to be stepping off the paved path of traditional publishing. And it kind of feels like instead of a paved path, I'm hitching up the ox and pointing my wagon into the wild west of indie/self-pub. BUT I've always had a spark of pioneering energy in me anyway. Yee-ha!
  5. I'm willing to do the downside work.
    Every so often, Natalie holds Q&A days, when she generously and honestly answers any question you pose. (I've never met her, but I think she must be one of the nicest people ever.) On one of them, I asked her if she'd considered the indie/self-pub path and she said that it wasn't a good fit for her personally. She said, “Going that route requires a savvy marketing mind, being willing to promote yourself and get out there in ways that I don't feel I'm good at. For me, while the traditional route is marked with lots of gates, it felt more comfortable to me to get the support of an agent and publisher. They can do things for me that I really don't want to do myself…it felt like the right choice for me. For other writers, self-publishing feels right for them. It's certainly not any easier, just different, and I really admire writers who venture out on their own like that.”

    Listen, the idea of self-promotion is just as cringe-inducing to me as it is to everyone else. I dread it. I loathe it. I want to stick my head in the sand or induce an “Inception”-like coma where I'll wake when it's over. BUT this is the work of it. THIS is the trade-off for the upsides of creative control and speed and immediacy and better royalties. So, for me personally, it's a trade-off I'm willing to try and a path I'm willing to take.

Westward on! Giddy up!

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