I'm Published or Shameless Self-Promotion

On Monday I mentioned the Anthology I'm a part of and as promised I'm going to talk about it more today since it's the official release date.

Edited by Melinda McGuire Available now on Amazon!

Here's the descriptions:

Many people are involved in the creation of this anthology. This book, Rich Fabric, focuses on the culture, tradition and symbolism of quilting with both historic accounts and modern stories.

Editor, Melinda McGuire, handpicked the contributors, and they have come together to create an anthology full of vibrant stories, poignant memoirs, beautiful photographs and touching quotes.

Profits from the sale of Rich Fabric are donated to the Twilight Wish Foundation - a non-profit charity that grants wishes to senior citizens who live below the poverty level.

I am so proud to be a part of such a great project. Not only is the book a great look at an art form that's a huge part of our nation's history, every purchase helps to bring joy to the generation that taught so many of us how to quilt

The paperback is available now and eBook is expected in early December. In addition to all the paperback content, the eBook will feature color photos, videos and music!

I appreciate you checking it out and helping to spread the word to anyone you think might be interested in this unique look at the history and tradition of quilting.

A Multi-Purpose Posting

I have a few things on the docket today so let's dive right in, shall we?

A multi-purpose tool for a multi-purpose post? Source

First, Congratulations to the winners of my Operation: Endgame Giveaway. Lysette L. is the winner of a copy of Christi Snow's debut romantic suspense novel and Donna C. is the winner of a 30 page critique. Congrats to the winners and thanks to everyone for participating. If you haven't checked out Christi's book yet, what are you waiting for?

Second, I want to draw your attention to the Contest tab at the top of the page. I update this whenever I come across anything new, but several additional contests have popped up lately and I want to make sure you don't miss any of them. Right now is a great time to be a writer with a polished manuscript.

Third, it's a great time to be a writer with a WIP. Despite all these fabulous contests going on, I don't have anything I think is ready to share with the world outside of my critique partners. But that doesn't mean I can't get something out of these contests. I encourage you to check them out even if you aren't participating. Many of them post queries, pages or tag lines on the host blog site for public comment. This is a great chance to see what other people think about different topics, styles of writing and word choices. And once the agents start leaving their two cents, things get really interesting.

It's like a front row seat inside an agent's office. Not only do you get to see what they like and don't like, many of them will say why for the whole world to see.

So even if you're in the same boat as me this contest season, don't pass up on the great opportunities to learn more about writing and what agents are looking for.

For all of you who are entering away, good luck!

Why We Write

I'm a little excited about an anthology that comes out this Friday.

It's a charity anthology which makes it extra fun, plus I'm one of the contributing authors!

I don't want to go on and on about the book. I'll save that for Friday when it actually comes out. :) For now, I want to talk about why we write. It's easy to forget sometimes and this book helped me remember.

If you ask most writers why they put pen to paper and agonize over sentence structure and adverb deletion they will tell you it's because they have to write. And it's true. For those of us tortured soles who spit out words on a daily basis, the idea of not writing sounds like a medieval torture device.

We write because we love books and the beautiful words that fill them. We write because stories are magical and they help us to feel the world in a way that would otherwise be impossible without a time machine and oodles of cash. We write because we have stories in our heads that demand to be told.

I write for all of those reasons, and for the same reason I ran home from my first day of kindergarten to show off the gold star Mrs. Green stuck to the top of my worksheet. Because there are people in my life I want to make proud.

Not that my family isn't already proud of me for lots of other reasons, and they share their love for me in ways that make me sing. But continuing to make them proud is a way for me to show my love for them.

Although I'm pretty excited about my first public dalliance into the published world, it isn't something I've made a big deal out of. I mentioned it to my mother, who while being amazingly supportive, doesn't really understand the world of publishing. And my husband was well aware of my work since he's the one who sees me typing away constantly.

I sent out the link to the book yesterday to my immediate family. I told them just a bit about the book and mentioned the piece I wrote was about the t-shirt quilt I made for my younger sister, Rachel.

Rachel emailed me back immediately and is responsible for reminding me about my more emotional reason for writing. In her own words, "Dude! That is awesome!!!! I almost cried reading this and remembering how much I loved my big sister for loving me so much to make that quilt for me. Congratulations : )"

And that right there is what keeps my butt in the chair when the thought of writing another sentence is physically painful. Knowing that doing what I love can make me happy and make my family proud is a priceless gift.

I hope that each of you has an equally priceless emotional tie to your writing.

Halfway There

Ohhhh...we're halfway there. Oh Oh, livin' on a prayer. Take my hand and we'll make I...

Oh, hi. Sorry 'bout that. :)

I'm pretty pumped about hitting the one week mark of fast draft. Bring on the celebration!

Yeah, we're awesome! Source
Take a few minutes today to celebrate, but don't go crazy!

The halfway point can be the hardest, especially if you have reached or are nearing the halfway point in your MS. This is the turning point and everything you (and your characters) do is leading toward the grand finale.

So go ahead and pat yourself on the back and enjoy a pumpkin spice latte. You deserve it. Then get back to writing because with the finish line in sight you can't afford to take your eye off the prize.

On a personal note, I actually reached the end of my first draft last night. Total fast draft words:  19,097. Total manuscript words: 63,138. But just because I'm finished doesn't mean I'm done. I've got a hot little idea that started brewing about 5K words ago and now I get to start mapping it out. I've got to have something to distract me while I let this MS marinade for while. ;)

Avoiding burn out

Yesterday I talked about pushing your boundaries as a writer and challenging yourself to do more. How did you do?

I bet you rocked it!

But there can be a downside to all this greatness and it's a biggie: writer burnout.

It happens when you sit down at your computer and glare at the open document. This isn't a case of block where you don't know what to write. This is an instance of not wanting to write it. Of being so sick of this book you would hurl it across the room if you could muster the energy to print it out and bind it.

You don't want to be this guy Source

It's crucial that we recognize the signs of burn-out and learn how to step in before we get there. This will be different for everyone, but usually includes a declining interest in your story. You might even start doubting some of your characters and plot points because it all starts to sound stupid. Now, your book may be a hot mess, but in the middle of crafting the first draft is not the time to analyze your story.

When you start to feel the burn-out coming along, it's time to step away from the computer. Your story will still be there when you get back. Go do something else completely separate from your writing. Take a walk, dig in the flower bed, wash the dishes, get some coffee with a friend; anything that gives you and your manuscript a little space.

You'll know it's time to start writing again when the voices in your head (we call them characters to make us sound less crazy) start talking again. When that happens pulls out the pen or laptop and get to writing.

Pushing the Boundaries

How many words do you normally write in a day? 500, 1000, 3000? Depends? If your working through fast draft with us this week, Hopefully you're kicking tail somewhere in the 5000 range.

But what if you could do more?

Remember last November when Nanowrimo felt like climbing Kilimanjaro? 50,000 in a month? What? But that's only 1667 words per day. During fast draft you can eat that many words for breakfast.

I bet 5000 words/day sounded like crazy pants, but maybe not as much now that you're a few days in. I hope it's starting to feel easier.

This man is crazy pants. Wonder if he's a writer? Source

Again I ask, what if you could do more?

If you're hitting 5000 words, what if you pushed it to 5500 or 6000 or 7500? What if you wrote 10K words in one day!

Imagine how awesome it would feel to lay your head on the pillow knowing you bulked up your manuscript by that many words. You'd be on a crazy writer high. And like most addicts, already thinking about your next hit.  Writing like that can be addictive.

Today I'm challenging you to kick it up a notch. No matter how many words you're writing each day, increase it (a little or a lot) and push yourself to do more. I bet you surprise yourself with your awesomeness!

Fast Draft Update
Yesterday's goal: 3000
Actual: 3091

Finding lost time

The most common reason  fellow writers cite for why they don't write more is time. I hear this everywhere, including coming from my own mouth.

There are all kinds of things we can do as writers to find those extra minutes in the day. Things like turning off the TV or ignoring the internet. The one that always sounds good, but never end well for me is getting up early. The issue I have with these solutions is that I have to give someone up in order to utilize them, and that can be hard to do. There I said it, I like the internet.

So here's an easy tip that doesn't mean giving up any of the writing excuses you already cling to: a voice recorder.


Most of us spend hours each day on mindless tasks that require both hands, and prevent any writing. Cooking dinner, folding the laundry, driving to work, come to mind but there are tons of others. So why waste this time?

Instead, invest in a digital voice recorder, or even better use the one on your smart phone, to "write" your novel. Just set it down on the counter, passenger seat or couch cushion and dictate away.

"But, Sarah...," you say in that awful whiny voice we writers tend to adopt when someone suggests something that makes too much sense to ignore. "people will think I'm crazy if I spend all my time talking to a voice recorder."

True, but here's a news flash. You write stories about the imaginary people who live in your head. You passed crazy a long time ago.

Fast draft update:
Yesterday's goal: 5K
Actual result: 527, I tried to write through a migraine but gave up an hour in. I'm hoping after sleeping most of the day yesterday, today is sunnier. :)

Motivating your writing

Yesterday I talked about making sure your characters have the proper motivation. Today, I'm asking if you have the right motivation.

I'm not talking big picture, are you writing for the right reasons kind of thing. I talking about daily motivation to sit your butt in the chair each day and pound out words.

Mmmmmm...chocolate! Source
 Last time I did a fast draft, I rewarded myself with some quality chocolate each day I hit my goal. At the end I got a mani/pedi finished draft reward.

This time I am rewarding myself with a good book. Each day I finish my word count I get to read another chapter in a book I've had on my TBR pile for a while. And when I'm done, I'm heading south to the Austin Teen Book Festival where I plan to buy more books and fangirl a bit.

What about you? Do you have daily rewards for good writing behavior? To quote Sheriff Woody, "If you don't have on, get one!"

Fast Draft Update:
I know several of you just started in on the fun yesterday, so welcome to the party!

Day 3 results:
Goal: 5000K
Actual: 3418K
I'm pretty bummed that I didn't hit my goal today. I had a big stump spot today that I just couldn't work around. I finally got it at the end of the night and pushed through to get close. Hopefully, tomorrow is a better day.

How are you guys doing?

Motivating your scene

We've all been there. Your manuscript is open and you know exactly what needs to happen in this scene. But every time you try to write, you get farther away from where it needs to go. Your scene is acting like a stubborn three year old.

This happened to me recently. I needed one of my characters to show two others a secret place. This is important to my story. So off my characters go to learn about this secret place, only I can't get them there.

So I stopped to think about it. I know why two of the characters want to go. My female MC has a crush on the guy with the secret and would follow him anywhere. The male MC is the type who has to know about everything (because knowledge is power). But why would my other character (lets call him Ed) go there. Sure, Ed's nice, but he's got other stuff to do. Ahhh...what if he needed something from the secret place. He's going there anyway and offers to let my MCs tag along. Eureka!

I was missing the motivation. Even though all the character actions fit with who they are, I forgot to make sure that they were properly motivated to do something.

What's your character's carrot? source

It's not enough that your character is the type who likes the library. I love the library, but I don't go just because. I go because I need to return books or get new ones, or do some research, or whatever. You can't just say, My character loves the library so she goes and meets the love interest while wondering around looking for something to do. But she can go to the library because the book she put on hold just came in and she meets Mr. Right at the circulation desk. Aha, motivation.

So next time you can't get a scene to move in the right direction, take a look at your character motivation and make sure everyone has a reason for being there.

Fast Draft Day 2 Check In!
Goal: 5000 words
Actual:  5000 on the dot!

Day one: in the record books

Yeah! If your reading this, you survived your first day of fast draft. Unless you've figured out a way to read blog posts from beyond the grave. If that's the case, good luck in your Ghost Writing career. :)

I couldn't help myself! Source

Do you feel awesome, exhausted, or both?

I hope you feel motivated. Even if you didn't quite hit your word count goal. Hopefully you learned some ways to get more words in so you can power through today.

The key to hitting your goal is to keep going. Fast drafting is a bit like dieting. Just because you fell of the wagon once doesn't mean you call up Domino's delivery and eat ice cream from the carton. And if you had an awesome day, just think of how much closer you are to your end goal.

No matter day one looked like for you, recognize the fact that you have more words written today than you did yesterday morning and that's a good thing. So jump back in and keep writing!

My word count:
Goal: 5000
Actual: 5114 Wohoo!

So, how'd you do?

Fast Draft Kick Off

Happy Fast Draft Kick-off Day!

I'm make this short because I have some writing to do. Today starts all the fun so I hope you're ready. Here's how the blog is going to work for the next few weeks. Every day I'll have a post up (but since I'm squeezing words in, don't expect anything genius). Stop by the blog for some inspiration and motivation and check in on your progress.

Every day you should leave a comment with your success from the previous day. So tomorrow, stop by and leave a comment to let us know how you did today. Don't forget to tell us what your personal goal was for the day and how much your wrote. Your goal can be in words, pages, chapters, scenes, anything that works for you.

Try to leave excuses at the door, but feel free to share anything you're learning that might help others to reach their goals.

I know several of you have mentioned concerns about goal setting and what number to use. To help, I've created a pretty simple goal worksheet which you can download from Googledocs. This can help if you are starting from scratch or working to finish a WIP. Just fill in the light blue boxes at the top and the document will calculate what your daily goal should be in order to finish your MS.

And because I'm anal, I've color coded the daily goal counts, which adjust based on the amount of writing you completed the previous day. So long as your goal stays under 5K per day, your boxes will stay green. But as your goal climbs (from lack of prior day progress) the color escalates to three alarm fire red. Yeah, I know. I'm a big nerd.
Drafting Goal worksheet

Since today is our first day, I'd love it if everyone writing along would leave a comment to introduce yourself and share a little bit about what you'll be writing for the next two weeks.

I'll start :)

Hi, My name is Sarah. I'm going to use this fast draft session to complete a YA Dystopian I've been working on for a while now. I'm about halfway done with the MS so the second half is in my sights.

Now it's your turn!

Meet Romance Author: Christi Snow

Today's is my 101st blog post! To celebrate, I bring you Romantic Suspense author Christi Snow! Christi's debut novel Operation: Endgame came out in paperback in August and is now available for e-readers. Yeah!

It's been six months.

Six months since Jake Madsen let Chris Robertson die.

Six months since the passion between Jake and Cassie, Chris's sister, stepped over the line.

But now Cassie's being stalked and it's time for Jake to swallow his guilt, grief, and lust so he can save her life, even if it's a life without him. He owes it to his dead friend and he owes it to Cassie. He's fallen in love with her, but she doesn't have to know that for him to keep her safe.

  Operation: Endgame is full of well-developed characters, a swoon-worthy hero and a wonderful suspense filled plot that will leave you guessing until the end. Of course, I might be a little biased since Christi allowed me the honor of being her editor. :)

But you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a smexy passage to whet your appetite.

Cassie watched the myriad of emotions cross Jake's face as he helped her out of her clothes. She stopped him now though with a hand cupping the side of his face. "Jake, relax. It's just me, the girl you used to tie to the tree and abandon when we were little."

Jake gave a self-effacing chuckle. "Can we not talk about bondage when you're standing there looking so gorgeous in just your underwear and about to get naked?"

The comment was so out of left field and Jake had such a look of pain on his face that Cassie had to laugh. "Relax, Jake, we can do this. We're adults."

"Again, not helping, because I don't need to be thinking adult thoughts right now, trust me."

"Okay, well talking about it isn't helping so let's just get it over with, okay?"

Hello, steamy! To celebrate the release Christi is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky winner. I'm helping the celebration with a free 30 page critique/edit. The details are below, but before that Christi has graciously agreed to share with us her personal path to publication. Take it away, Christi!

Hi everyone! Sarah, thank you so much for having me here to talk about my journey to self-publishing.

First, let me explain a little bit about how I got here. Mine is probably not the normal progression for most authors. My first love is reading. I read ALL THE TIME and that only got worse when my husband deployed for a year and a half over a three year period. I rediscovered my love of all things bookish and became more than a little obsessed. When he came home, it was hard to let go of that and suddenly I needed a reason to keep reading so much. Enter my book review blog, Smitten with Reading. By starting a review blog, I could share my love of books with others AND have a good reason to keep reading voraciously. 

That was January, 2011. So how does this make me a writer? I’m getting to that. I’ve always had dreams of being a writer, but I never did anything about them. Periodically, I’d write a page or two of an opening scene, but that was it. Nothing more. But when I am reading a ton, I literally dream in text. I always have. Is that weird? I honestly have no idea if anyone else does that, but I do. In addition to that, I was analyzing books on a daily basis as to why I enjoyed them and why I didn’t. Suddenly, I was looking in depth as to what makes a book enjoyable and why.  

That isn’t as cut and dry as you would think. Usually, we can tell you why we love certain books, but do you have those books that are simply okay reads? Can you pinpoint exactly why? Try that next time you read a mediocre book. Try to write a review and analyze what made or didn’t make it a good book for you as the reader. I promise, it will make you a better writer.

But back to how this lead me to writing… by July, I was thinking that it was time for me to start really pursuing my dream. My husband retired from the Air Force the year before and after twenty years of following his dream, I decided it was my time. I requested he buy me a netbook for my 41st birthday in August, 2011 and then I set off on my writing journey, not knowing if I could even create anything resembling a book anyone would want to read. By January, I had over 150,000 words written on four different novels and my first completed manuscript, Operation: Endgame.

Operation: Endgame went through several rounds of self-edits and I sent it to a couple of people to see if I was delusional in thinking that it was worth reading. I got some really amazing feedback, went through several more rounds of edits and started thinking about querying it. That’s when I hit the “Oh my God!?!” moment. I probably am not telling you all anything you don’t already know when I say that querying and submitting is torture. I HATED EVERY MOMENT of the week and a half that I did it. LOL!

I waited 41 years to start writing, but this was not the type of writing I had in mind.

At the same time, I was reading the blog of another romance writer who has been published by the big-name publishing houses and how she then decided to go the self-publishing route. Her arguments about the control and money all made sense to me and at that point I was desperate to not do anything else with querying. Yes, I have a very low pain threshold when it comes to doing things I don’t want to do. Again, that 41 years has an influence….I’m too old to do things I don’t want to do anymore.
Plus I am a book blogger. I do promo for other authors all the time. Why couldn’t I do it for myself? I have a few connections with other book bloggers and know the way the whole system works. And honestly, I don’t have ambitions to be a NYT best-selling novelist. I just want to write stories that will engage other readers and make them happy to read them. BTW, did you know that for every $2.99 e-book on Amazon (sold in the US), the author makes back over $2 of that. That money can add up especially when you compare it to the average author contract through the publishing houses.

So I started to do research on how you even begin the self-publishing process. I will tell you right now the absolute best thing I ever did was buy Catherine Ryan Howard’s book, Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.  I am not a techie person, but she walks you through the process and the different websites you have to use step-by-step with easy to understand and yes, even entertaining explanations as to why you do things. I would NEVER recommend you go through this process without her guide.

There are a few other things that I’ve learned along the way. Some things I think every person should know going into self-publishing:

  • ·         Hire a cover designer- reviewers are not going to touch your book if it looks amateurish on  the outside. I promise you, it’s worth the money.
  • ·         When you hit that button on your e-book or print book that says that yes, everything looks right, you better be ready for it to show up on Amazon. I had no idea about this. I thought there would be more to the process (like a “publish now” or “upload to Amazon” button) so when I approved my proof copy of Operation: Endgame, it automatically went for sale (at least in print)…3 months before I planned on it being available. *oops* BTW, this works the opposite direction too. I planned the release date for Operation: Endgame to be September 14th. To make sure that it definitely was up on all the websites, I uploaded and went through the whole process at Smashwords on August 30th. As of September 12th, it still isn’t up at B&N or most other major retailers besides Amazon & Smashwords. It’s a frustrating process where you have no control and, even though you are told a set timeframe, it may or may not fall within that timeframe.
  • ·         Hire an editor. You NEED someone with fresh eyes to look at your manuscript. I don’t care who you are or how good of a writer you are. There are problems in your book that you aren’t going to be able to see. You are too close to it. And the fact of the matter is your beta readers may just be too nice to point out the nit-picky little things like your hero is annoying and whiny on page 134. (Sarah is my editor and she’s amazing!!! Oh, and she will totally tell you that I use “fact” in my phrases WAY TOO MUCH! Hehe.)
  • ·         Be aware there is a stigma with self-published books. As a result, you need to work that much harder to make sure yours isn’t one of the bad ones. Believe me, I’m a reviewer. I know how bad the self-pub books can be. Even though I am a self-published author, I still have a stigma about self-pub books and honestly probably judge them harsher because of it. On the flip side, I want to scream it from the rooftops when I find a self-pub book that’s an amazing read. Don’t stick something out there that isn’t good. Your reputation will never recover from a badly written book and the reviewers and readers will not give you a second chance. There are too many good ones on the market for readers to choose.
I am going to talk just a tiny bit about the money so that you know how this worked for me. You cannot self-publish without investing a little bit of money on your new business. And yes, this is absolutely a business that you are starting when you decide to self-publish. Here’s a break-down of what you can plan for self-publishing expenses:

  • ·         $100-$200 cover design- This obviously varies greatly between designers, but these are rough figures and around what I paid for a bundle deal on both my e-book and print covers. Print covers take more work so are more expensive. Usually you can get a joint deal for both covers.
  • ·         $1-$3 page for editing- this is going to be the bulk of your expenses, but it’s worth it. BUT PLEASE make sure you’re hiring an editor you can trust. I’ve heard horror stories, so make sure you check out any editor’s work and reputation thoroughly.
  • ·         $50-$200 for e-book formatting- This is one of those things that you can easily do yourself, but for me the $100 I spent was so worth not having the headache of trying to figure it all out. Every e-reader out there needs a slightly different formatting. Yeah, I’d rather be writing.
  • ·         Small fees- there are little fees here and there for KDP direct publishing, Createspace, and Smashwords…all those websites that print and upload your books to the various retailers. All those fees are under $50 each and make your book more available to more people. NONE of them are mandatory expenses, but I think most people find that they’re worth it.
Honestly, you can self-publish with minimal expenses. It all depends on how many favors you want to call in and how computer savvy you are, but again remember…the more professional the package, the more favorable your readers will look at the final product.

There is so much I can tell you about the process and I’m sure that in a couple of months when I go through it again with Operation: Endeavor (book #2) that I will have even more that I learned. But I have already taken up enough space on Sarah’s blog.

FYI, as an e-book, Operation: Endgame has been on Amazon for 12 days when I wrote this post. At this point in time, I am maintaining a sales record of 10 books/day. Honestly, I’m thrilled with this. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but consider this… my promo doesn’t truly start for another couple of days, this is my first book, and I am making over $2/book. Those numbers should only increase as I release more and more books and the word-of-mouth spreads about the book.

Again, thank you so much Sarah for having me here today. I know that I didn’t cover it all, so ask questions. I probably won’t know the answer, but I sure can try.

Feel free to ask Christi any questions you have about her book or the publishing process. And don't forget to check out her website  Christi-Snow.com. You can find her books on: Amazon, Smashwords, and B&N

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Author Interview: Sheryl Steines

Today I'm serving up an interview with Sheryl Steines, author of the action-packed urban fantasy, She Wulf. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of She Wulf, and 5 copies of its companion, The Day of First Sun.

 1. When you start a book do you know how it will end or do you create the ending as you go along? I have a rough idea of what the book will be about and I have some scene ideas and a rough ending. When I wrote The Day of First Sun, I knew that a high profile, non-magical person was going to be murdered by magic. I wrote out a paragraph of things that I wanted to see in the story and began writing. I didn’t look at the paragraph again until after the book was published and realized that I didn’t keep to my original thoughts at all. I tend to work without an outline because I feel tied to the story as if I’m trying to make everything fit. I prefer to let it flow and change. I like the freedom and the discovery. Sometimes I’m wildly surprised.

 2. Do your book characters ever visit you in your dreams? Yes and no. Not as much when I’m sleeping, but I daydream about them all the time. It’s how I work out characters and storylines. It’s almost as if a movie is playing in my head and I can change and add to storylines.

 3. What are your favorite authors as either an adult or a child? When I was a kid, I loved Nancy Drew. I read every one of them, but I didn’t just want to read them, I wished I had wrote them and started to write my own detective stories when I was seven. As I grew older, I read Judy Blume and Stephen King. Both made me feel something and from that I wanted to keep writing. I still read Stephen King and was very inspired by his autobiography On Writing. It was J.K. Rowling though, that reminded me of what I loved to read and that’s what inspired me to write my own fantasy novel.  

4. How do you go about finishing a chapter when you can’t get it right? I skip it…Just kidding. No, actually I’m not. Sometimes, I make a note in all caps reminding me I haven’t finished the chapter and other notes that I might be thinking about for the chapter and start the next one. Sometimes you just need to move on. The answer will eventually hit you upside the head when you least expect it.

 5. Describe your reaction when you saw and held your first book? I think I was numb when The Day of First Sun was published. Almost as if I had only done it to satisfy a selfish desire. It didn’t seem real. It was when I held She Wulf in my hands for the first time that I was overcome with emotion. This book consumed me for so long and I was so amazed by the final product and it seemed more than just a fantasy.

 6. What is your biggest achievement to date? Writing my first book. I always wanted to and never gave myself the opportunity. One day I decided it was time. It changed my life, gave me confidence. I lost the extra baby weight, changed my wardrobe, straightened my hair and gave my girls a role model, an example of taking control of one’s life and being the best person you can be.

 7. What’s your favorite color? Pink. I’ve always been a girly girl. As much as I’d like to be a sporty girl, I’m just not. It’s all about the pink, purses and shoes.  

8. Favorite sound? I love the sound of rain on the roof. Not during the sunlight hours, but early in the morning when it’s still dark out. I snuggle under the covers. It makes me happy.

 9. If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? An interior decorator. I love being creative and crafty and picking paint colors and getting lost in a fabric store. It’s almost as good as getting lost in a bookstore.

 10. Worst fear? I fear the alligators under the bed. Since I was a kid I can’t sleep without something covering my feet in case they come and get me. Don’t laugh, Stephen King admitted the same thing in an interview once.

   As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the She Wulf eBook edition is just 99 cents this week--and so is the price of its companion, The Day of First Sun. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $550 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of the book. All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment--easy to enter; easy to win! To win the prizes:
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About She Wulf: Annie is sent through an ancient time portal with only a prophecy to guide her; she struggles with a new destiny as she tries to figure out a way to destroy an un-killable demon and return home. Get it on Amazon.  
About The Day of First Sun: A vampire, a rogue wizard and an army of soulless zombies are par for the course for Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky of the Wizard’s Guard. But when the non-magical princess, Amelie of Amborix, is murdered by magical means, a deeper plot unfolds. Get it on Amazon.
 About the author: Behind the wheel of her ’66 Mustang Convertible, Sheryl is a constant surprise, using her sense of humor and relatable style make her books something everyone can enjoy. Visit Sheryl on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Everyone loves a winner

You're a "W"inner! Source

It's true, there's nothing sad about that great author who scored a top agent quickly followed by a three book deal after winning a contest. Unless, of course, you thought about entering said contest and chickened out at the last minute.

The writing community is awesome and one of the things it does better than anyone is supporting others with great contests. The problem I often see is that people don't know contests are happening or only find out about them after the submission window is closed. I hate when that happens!

So, I'm going to try to do my part.

I've started a new page on this blog labeled Contests. My goal is to keep this updated with all the contests I come across while procrastinating researching on the internet. For now, I plan to limit this to contests that have agent and/or editor components. There are hundreds of contests every week for books that I could never keep up with. These are contests that are targeted to the un-agented and un-published among us.

Be sure to check the page often for updates. I'll also try to sneak updates into regular blog posts, especially for those last minute contests that seem to pop up out of thin air. Of course, if you come across any contests that I don't have listed or have one coming up soon, please feel free to let me know. You can send these to me using the Contact option at the top of the Contest page.

Until then writers, keep your pens to the paper and good luck!

Whose ready to get their write on?

I am so excited by how many people are going to start fast draft next week. It really is more fun when you know there are others out there doing the same thing (and expecting you to keep up). We're starting next Saturday, the 15th, so there's still plenty of time for anyone else who wants to get in on the action.


Starting Saturday, I'll post every day (eek!). These will probably be short post with words of encouragement and pictures of chocolate and caffeine to keep us going. Pop in every day to update the comments section with the number of words or pages you wrote the previous day. You can also feel free to post on your own blog and comment here with a link. Just make sure you have a public place where people are expecting to see your numbers. :)

Then write away! Set a daily goal for yourself. I recommend 5K words or 20 pages (this is also what Candace Havens recommends in her class), but you can choose whatever goal works for you. Keep in mind, the higher the goal the faster you finish.

Until then, make sure you're ready to get your write on. Of course, this means shaping up that outline and going over your character notes. As a side note, I don't think I could do a fast draft without an outline, but do whatever works for you.

Outside of writing prep, make sure you have personal stuff prepped as well. Go to the grocery store and make sure you have plenty of food in the house for meals. Don't forget about late night fuel and motivation treats. Last time I bribed myself with a piece of quality chocolate each time I hit my daily goal.  You should also use this time before we start to pay the bills, clean your house and get your calendar set up. Do as much as you can now so you have fewer things to worry about when you're writing.

That's it! Until then writers!

FastDraft Round 2

I must be nutty. I've agreed to do another FastDraft with some of my writing mates. Yep, certifiably nutty.


 Why have I agreed to another two weeks of pumping out a minimum of 5K words each day?My current WIP (#3) is taking too long.

I started this bad boy back in June for Camp Nanowrimo. I got about 20K words in before the enormity of it's awfulness pulled me under. So I put it away and vowed to pull it back out when I had my head in a better place.

In August I peeked at it and realized it wasn't complete garbage, but what I had certainly wasn't working as it was. I started re-writing, changing both the POV and the tense in order to make it the story I really wanted to write.

And that leads me to today. I'm still working through that original draft, digging out the random gems of goodness and scratching out lifeless prose that is only holding the story back. It is taking forever. I need a little external motivation.

Bring on the drafting.

On September 15th I'll sit down and finish this thing, even if it kills me. But before then, I need to finish sifting through what I already have. I have ten days to go through about forty more pages. This is completely doable.

After that, the fun and games begins. I already have two others who have promised to draft like crazy with me. Who else wants in?

All you have to do is set a daily writing goal (the standard is 5K words per day) and then write it. That's it. Nothing more complicated than writing every day (which you are already doing, right?). You can start something brand new or vow to finish the WIP you've been chugging away at. I'll be posting every day for a little public accountability. You can stop by and brag on yourself, too!

So, whose with me?

Writerly Self-Restraint

There are a lot of things we try to resist as writers.
Source  Sometimes we need a little help

We sit on our butts all day so it's important that we limits sweets and wine (but not coffee; that should be limitless). We love books so it's hard to concentrate on writing sometimes when there are some many good books in our TBR piles. Let's not even get started on all the things we have resist putting in our manuscripts, like adverbs, cliches and obscure Warehouse 13 references.

For me the hardest thing to resist is...pitching.

Source  Here comes my awesome book. It's a strike!    
It feels like there are dozens of amazing pitching opportunities going on right now. And I want to play!

But I can't, or rather, I shouldn't.

WIP1 is technically available for pitching events and if I had to pitch at gunpoint right now, it's what I'd go with. But...I put in back on the bench last month. After getting some great feedback, I know there are some things that need fixing. So even though it's finished, and has been polished numerous times, it's not ready.

WIP2 is a completed draft that I have yet to read. I haven't taken a look at it in over a month since I typed "the end" and hit save. I'm letting it fully marinate, so it is no where near ready for public consumption.

WIP3 I am super excited about and this one is the hardest to resist. I don't even have a full first draft yet, but I can't wait to tell people all about it. Plus, as part of the Save the Cat method I already have a kick-a** pitch that is well within 140 characters. I could slap that puppy up on Twitter without batting an eye.

But I won't, because pitching a manuscript that isn't spit polished to within an inch of its life is one of the cardinal sins in the world of hunting agents. Since the first draft isn't even done, I'm thinking it's not ready.

It's hard to resist the urge to shove my work out into the public sphere, but I can do it. I just have to keep reminding myself that there will always be opportunities to pitch my work. The regularity of contests and agent focused events is one of the things that makes the online writing community so amazing.

So instead of focusing on the opportunities I'm missing right now, I'm getting my butt back in the chair and back to work. Because next time I see an amazing event, I want to strip off the straitjacket and dive on in.