Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I can't wait until you all get to see my cover tomorrow! Seriously, it's the most beautiful cover I've ever seen. Eve Ventrue did such an amazing job. I feel like I need to make her cookies . . . or something. Too bad she lives in Germany.
But really, all the covers being revealed tomorrow are so amazing. Rhemalda and its artitst really outdid themselves.
The whole cover will be announced next week on my publisher's blog. I'll post the link and cry. A lot. Don't worry though, they're happy tears. To go along with that, I'm doing a huge contest in February, giving away one of my signed books. Make sure to check back in and enter to win.
"In WITCH SONG, Amber Argyle makes a riveting debut, creating a fresh new world full of wonder, peril, and splendor. I found WITCH SONG to be positively engrossing from the first page to the last. I'm convinced that this is just the first book in what will be a long and prosperous career!"
Have you ever scrimped and saved for something, only to have a huge repair bill smack you upside the head?
For instance, last month our van ("You drive a minivan!" you say. "Yes." I respond. "And I look quite sexy in it too.") needed new tires.
So of course, I'm in the waiting room with two of my children who are determined to see just how far they can splash the water from the drinking fountain. As the man with the tick in his cheek will attest, it goes quite far. Then hallelujah, my name is called.
Tire man looks at me with a sad reservation I'm sure is forced. "You need new breaks too."
A stack of tires wobbles precariously. "Just a second," I respond. I grab 5 YO just before he crests the fifth tire in his ascent to 10 Tire Peak, haul him over to the counter, with 22 MO in my other arm.
". . . tires off . . . rotors are shot . . . replace them." That was all I caught as I tried to corral my 5 YO and not drop my squirming 20 MO.
"Okay, but I'm the room mom for my 8 YO Christmas party and it was supposed to start 5 minutes ago."
Needless to say, I was late. But thank heaven, so was the party. A week later, I returned for said brakes and rotors. This time, the tire man was smart kind enough to give me a ride home and come get me 4 hours later.
For all this, $700 bucks.
Fast forward a month. I wake up shivering in the night. It's 60 degrees in my house. My husband does what he can to fix the furnace to no avail. We call the repairman. 3 days, 6 hours, and $200 dollars later, he informs that the part is under warranty, but it cost 200 to deliver and 400 for labor to install (which is oh so generous of the furnace manufacturer).
But he thinks we should just get a new furnace.
He recommends the 2,000 dollar one.
So you know that vacation we were going to use our tax return on? To Washington DC for a visit with my SIL. Well now we get to stay home in our warm house. Or maybe we could go for a ride in our sexy minivan.
Cue creepy music: So now I'm left wondering, do the rotors count as my third in the law of three, or do I have one more to go?
Does this kind of thing ever happen to you? Just when you've saved enough money for something fun, it gets sucked into repair costs?
4. When real world obligations mount, how do you keep your excitement for writing and whatever project you're working on?
Take a break. I'm so tired of the advice, "You must write every day. No matter what."
You know what? Not everyone can do that. Not everyone wants to do that. There are no rules in writing. There are guidelines. And while this is a good one, it doesn't apply to everyone all the time.
If you need a break, take one. I got to the point where I was so bitter I couldn't stand writing anymore. I took six months off. And I have no guilt about it. Seriously, if you're unpublished, you have no deadlines. No commitments. You're free. Enjoy it.
5. What do you do if you find yourself stalled on a project? What do you study to get your creative juices flowing on a new project, or to twist an old project and re-invigorate it?
This is a fun one.
To get the creative juices going: Watch a good movie. Read a good book. Listen to inspiring music. Take a break.
If you're stalled: usually it's because I've got my editor hat on instead of my writer hat. The first draft is messy. It's doesn't make sense, it's chubby, and cluttered. I find myself constant reminding myself, "I'll fix it later."
6. How do you keep your personal momentum for a project before you're a "discovered" author?
I give myself deadlines. I want to have book X ready for conference Y. I'm going to have this one ready to query by X.
Having a regular meeting writers group helps too. You have to have something to share, and it's fun.
7. How do you work toward getting to the point where you're prepared to be seen as professional?
I have no idea. I'll let you know if I ever figure it out.
I had a writerly acquaintance, Mike Shaffer, ask me a boat load of questions. Hoping the rest of you might benefit, I've posted them here.
1. I need help pre-writing and world building. I haven't figured out a strategy that works. What's yours?
I could give a whole discourse on this subject. Honestly, it's really not a question with a quick answer. The best, brief advice I can offer: Outline. As a budding writer, I hated it. I thought it was constrictive and intimidating. It's not.
There's lots of different methods. Check some books out from the library, google it, pick different ones and try them until one fits. Honestly, I work best when I can sit down with my husband and we hash out an idea together (usually when we have a long drive). Honestly, I do 3/4 of the talking. For some reason, saying it out loud makes it click in my head.
2. How do you either write an ending, or plot a good one out if you come up with scenes that feel like a middle or just beyond the beginning?
Sometime plotting intimidates writers because they feel like they have to know everything. You don't. It's like going on a vacation. You plan out your destination, some stops along the way, some of the big things you'll see, etc. The rest you fill in as you go along. Sometimes you know your ending from the start of the book. Sometimes you change it. Sometimes you don't figure out the ending until you write it.
And that's okay. Say it to yourself, "It's okay. It's okay."
3. Can you pre-plan a series?
Absolutely. Although I recommend you write stand alones or stand alones with sequel potential until you find a publisher. Why? Because no one's going to buy books 2, 3, 4, or 5 if 1 doesn't sell. Don't ever become so entrenched in a book that you're unwilling to let it go.
This interview took place today between my brain and my body's foreman.
The construction worker slowly swiveled in the padded chair, his eyes searching for something more interesting than the bare, grey walls around him. He eventually saw a fly and followed it with his gaze. Every once in a while, it zoomed away too fast. But he always found it again.
There was nowhere to go. For either of them.
Finally the door opened and a young, pretty woman wearing a grey business suit stepped in. She wore glasses and had her hair in a tight ponytail.
Great, he thought. She was always more uptight when she had her hair in a ponytail.
The woman didn't look at him. Instead, she concentrated on the open manila folder in front of her. She let go of the door and moved into the seat opposite him.
Just before the door closed, the fly escaped.
She finished scanning the folder, shut it with a soft slap, folded her hands over it, and looked at him. "We have some problems to discuss."
He shifted uncomfortably in the seat that was too small for him. "Yeah, I suppose we do."
Of course you will. "Alright."
"I've noticed some unnecessary bulging on the inner thighs, buttocks, and around the middle."
He grunted. "Muffin top."
She blushed scarlet. "I suppose you could call it that."
He scratched his bald head under his construction hat. "Listen lady, I do the best I can with what I've got."
She tapped the eraser of a number two pencil on her folder. "We've been working out at least three hours a week. We've cut back on a lot of unhealthy foods."
He nodded warily. "Yes, but not in the last month."
The tapping pencil stopped. When she grew still, he knew to tread carefully.
"8 months, we've worked our butt off. 8 months. And you know how much weight we've lost?"
"Well, we haven't exactly worked our butt off." He started to chuckle, but her eyes blazed black fire at him. He choked on it and found himself sitting deeper in his chair. "We've, uh, toned up a lot?"
It was like she hadn't heard him. "A pound! One measly little pound!"
He scratched his belly. "Well then, a pound is something."
She stood up in her chair and leaned toward him. "The baby is 22 months old, Foreman."
He shrugged. "Well, the materials are older than they used to be."
It was the wrong thing to say. He could feel the hairs on the back of their head standing on end. "Plus, we've had some setbacks." He tried to placate her. "Three kids are hard on a body. Not to mention the sleepless nights and--"
"I don't care how old this body is or how many children have damaged it. I want it working like it did before."
He felt his face flush with heat. "I'm a working man, not a miracle worker." They glared at each other for a while, and suddenly he was frightened. "Wait, your not seriously thinking of cutting us up?"
She flopped back into her chair in exasperation. "It crossed my mind."
"You wanna hurt us, just so you'll look good in a bikini you'll never wear anyway."
She signed. "No. I'm not going to cut us up."
He found himself relaxing, a tiny bit. But suddenly, things started clicking into place. The increased chocolate, the hectic schedule. Now it was his turn to be angry. He slowly rose and pointed a shaking finger at her. "I know what this is. It's not some random meeting. You do this to me every year."
She wouldn't meet his eyes. "I don't know what you're talking about."
He could already feel the aching muscles, the burning lungs. "Every year it's the same, the chocolate, the candy canes, the eggnog. Less time to work out, but plenty of neighbors bringing chocolates and popcorn balls. And then, then comes the New Year. And the New Year's Resolution." He could barely contain himself now. "And then you work us into the ground."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "Well, if you'd cooperate a little better, we wouldn't go through this every year."
He shook his head in disgust. "I won't have it! I won't!" But it was useless. She was in charge. And even if he gave her an awful stitch in her side or broke her out in a rash, she was going to do it again. He stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
The woman jumped a little when the door banged shut. Then she slowly unwrapped a miniature chocolate Santa. She nibbled off his head. "Might as well enjoy it now." Rolling the aluminum foil into a little ball, she tucked it neatly into her pocket and left the room, her heels clicking on the concrete floor and her toned muffin-top jiggling, just a little.