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A WRITER IS TENSE ABOUT TENSE

Throw the book out?

I am revising one of my earlier novels with the plan to publish it as an eBook. It’s the story of a woman married to a DEA agent, who is abusive. How can she leave a DEA agent, who has endless resources, so he can never find her?

If you’ve read either of my published books, you know emotion is strong in my stories.

As I revise A Marriage to Die for, I don’t feel the inTENSE emotion I’d like to portray. I rewrote one of my protagonist’s (Jane) scenes using the first person, present TENSE, and sent it to my critique partner, author Sandra Fontana. She really liked the effect.

Valiant and daring as I am, I plan to write all of Jane’s scenes this way. The reader will be right in the moment with her, be in the throes of her TENSE situations, share her deep emotions.

On the other hand, I want some distance from the DEA Ace, Brock. Although, I’d like the reader to know what he’s up to—to know things Jane does not. All of his scenes will be in the third person, past TENSE. As will other characters in the story.

Wish me luck. I may be breaking some rules here. Since I’m planning to offer the book free on Amazon for a limited time, read it, and let me know what you think in a review. I’m aiming for a few months. Sign up on my website: http://www.gerrileclerc.com, and I’ll send you a newsletter when A Marriage to Die for is available. Then I will blog on your responses.

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A WRITER’S FORTUNE (COOKIE)

Do You Believe?

Do You Believe?

I have to admit, every time I open a fortune cookie, I am waiting for those words a writer longs for. Something like: Your book will be a best seller, or: Your novel will skyrocket on Amazon. Even: You will be a great success; good things are coming your way. Right? Of course, you shake your head and smile, but when you get a good one, you slip that slip of paper into your pocket, pat it, and later put it on your bulletin board. Guilty as charged!
Last evening we went to a Chinese buffet with friends. An enormous buffet. On my last pass, I took advantage of the dessert assortment of ice cream, cookies, pastries, pudding, and fruit. Later, more than sated, we sat and chatted with our friends, sipping the last of our tea. The server came and brought the bill, along with four fortune cookies. Too full to think about eating one, I did focus on the possibility that one of those cookies contained the fate of my novel writing. I waited for someone to hand me a cookie. It wouldn’t work if I chose my own. Finally, my husband placed a cookie in front of me. I ate the cookie—yes I did—as full as I was, then unfurled the bit of paper.
Anyone who cared enough to research the origin of Fortune Cookies would have found the cookie is not a tradition in China. Several theories exist on how they became a staple in Chinese restaurants, but most likely they are based on a Japanese cookie—with a fortune inside. But who cares where it came from. Some of the numbers on the back of the fortune have been lottery winners. So, we all agree, the fortunes are true also.
This fortune was different from any I’ve seen before. A special message to everyone. As a writer, I love when my words come together to draw an emotion from my reader, so I particularly loved this fortune. All four of us felt it. Here’s what it said: Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby.
Those lovely words are on my bulletin board. I am thinking of playing the lottery!

The Book . . . The Book . . . The Book!

Silent Grace

Silent Grace

It’s been a while since I put on my blogging cap. I’m back, having packed and unpacked a gazillion boxes, taken a million trips to donate stuff, and having finally found everything we packed . . . somewhere.
Yet, with all the commotion, I was able to progress with self-publishing my next book in the Knoll Cottage Series, Silent Grace. It should pop up on Amazon shortly.
Suddenly, I have time to relax and get back to a normal schedule. Do writers have a normal schedule?
I wanted to get back to you on my And the Agent Said: blog. While I waited to hear from her, I was actually feeling two ways about having an agent. I’ve been to panels of authors, agents, publishers, and they all have good points. Some traditionally published authors (which an agent would lead to) felt pressured. A book a year. Deadlines. Alterations in the story. I once attended a debut book signing by a mystery writer. She was traditionally published after years of trying with the same book. Her contract included seven more mysteries as a series to follow the original book. She told us this with deer-in-the-headlight eyes.
In the time I’ve waited for a response from the agent I met with at the writer’s conference I attended, I gave some good thought to which manner of publishing I’d prefer. The answer for me was: Being able to work at my own pace; being able to write in different genres; receiving a greater portion of the book royalties; hiring my own peeps to work on the book, was self-publishing. The caveat: One Must Market! But one must market even with a traditional publisher.
In spite of the fact that I met with the agent at a conference, which in the past meant a reply of some sort, I never received an answer on the two queries she requested. The agency’s website clearly said if you don’t hear in thirty days, there is no interest in representing your work.
Querying agents is hard. A negative answer, or no answer, is rejection. But a rejection doesn’t mean the book isn’t great. The agent’s choice is a subjective one.
After much thought, I am happy being an indie publisher. My book bravely heads to Amazon with a zillion other new books. The difference will be Marketing!
I’ll start here. If you go onto my website: http://www.gerrileclerc.com and sign up for my email list, you’ll be notified when I do give-aways of either Missing Emily or Silent Grace. They are two women’s fiction novels that stand alone, but are part of a trilogy. In about three or four days, check them out on Amazon, and read the great reviews!

Self-Publishing – Is it for you?

Very Early Self-Publisher!

Very Early Self-Publisher!

It has been a little over three months since I self-published my novel, Missing Emily. Some musings on how I feel now.

Every resume I put in for my many nursing positions–as my husband’s career involved frequent moves–contained the words “detailed oriented”. I also listed problem-solving and organizational skills. Those attributes were not my natural talents; they were learned, beginning with my nursing education. You must be sure you are administering the correct medication. You must hand the correct instrument to the surgeon. In order to care for multiple patients on a hospital shift, you must be organized.

When I began to write, I utilized those same skills. It was a huge learning curve. Writing is not instinctive. Over centuries, published writing styles have changed right along with the changing societal mores. Charles Dickens’ writing style gives me a blood sugar spike. Hemingway’s less-is-better started a whole new diet of written words. But few writers make such tsunamis when they publish a book. Most of us write because we must. Because we have stories to share, or a memoir of all or a bit of our lives we want our family to read.

I learned about writing novels. Current trends in reader popularity. I had great helpers along the way, coaches and teachers and conference speakers. When my first manuscript was ready, I began the agent search. More to learn. Query letters, synopses, credentials. I was moving forward, made it to semi-finals and finalist in some contests. Had some exciting manuscript requests, and some bummer rejections. A lot of bummer rejections. I was still climbing the hill when a dear friend, who has 11 million books of her own in print, offered me a hand up to self-publish. Her peeps became my peeps. I formed my own tiny publishing company (another learning curve), worked with a book designer, David Seager, who is fabulous; an eBook converter, Diana Birdsell, who is also fabulous. My friend, Donna Green, the artist with all the published books, who runs a foundation for children with cancer, took time to do an extraordinary illustration for my cover.

My Amazon reviews are all good, even the ones from people I don’t know. No Hemingway or Dickens, just a writer who learned her skills and lucked out with a story people like.

Self-publishing is a huge job. There are years before it that are filled with learning, wins and losses, ups and downs. There are something like 8 million books on Amazon—the absolute best place to sell a book. But think of yourself as a grain of sand on a beach, not a sand sculpture. A star in the sky, not a super nova. It’s wonderful to see your book page on Amazon! The problem is there is no filter for books that are not ready to be published. The filtering that agents and editors do for publishers. So, how do you make your book stand out?

The stigma of self-publishing is way less than it used to be. But because many not-ready books are for sale, barriers exist for self-published writers. One I recently experienced is with our local weekly newspaper here on Cape Cod. They restrict all “author published” books. I get that.

Good News. The industry is still changing. A group of book bloggers are helping to sort the good from the bad. Some publishers offer self-publishing assist and may take on the writer if the book is good enough. Agents are working with self-published authors whose books stand out on Amazon.

Bottom line: Learn your skill. Work at it and don’t be impatient. Enter contests that give you reviews; query agents who may give you some advice or encouragement. Have fun! Go to conferences and yak with fellow writers. Keep learning and keep working.
I may be a wavelet and not a tsunami, but publishing my book is one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. It’s amazing fun. I wish the same for all of the writers out there!

A Woman Writer Wonders

Nom de Plume? Photo courtesy of Hans Splinter Wana Commons

Nom de Plume? Photo courtesy of Hans Splinter
Wana Commons

I came across a most interesting blog this morning. I had a wow reaction to it and would like to share it with you. Keep this in mind, being represented by an agent is my ultimate goal. Having self-published, and being ever so grateful for an opportunity to get my book out there, I have grown even more appreciative of the work an agent does on a writer’s behalf.
Some background on me. I’m a girly girl. Love make-up and ruffles. Still enjoy a man who holds a door open for me. An RN, worked in a female bastion—pardon to the wonderful male nurses out there in the new world of medicine. I began writing several years ago. A story-teller with women protagonists. I began by writing suspense novels. Women overcoming frightening, dangerous situations with their own intelligence and inner strength. I moved on to women’s fiction and just self-published the first novel, Missing Emily, in a three-book series.
This I did after going the agent query route, entering contests, doing pitch parties. Along the road I received many positive responses—my favorite from an agent’s reader: . . . could be a commercial success i.e.Jodi Picoult. So, I was close, but I wasn’t offered representation.
I am a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Today’s newsletter had a link to a blog: Homme de Plume: What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name by Catherine Nichols.
Here’s the link: http://jezebel.com/homme-de-plume-what-i-learned-sending-my-novel-out-und-1720637627
I’ll do a short summary in case you only want the gist. This young demonstrably excellent writer, in a bout of writer’s block, after sending out fifty queries to agents on a book she knew was good, wasn’t offered representation. Based on something Catherine read, she decided to do an experiment. She sent out fifty more queries–some overlapping agents she’d queried as herself–with the nom de plume, George Leyer. The results are surprising. She received nicer worded rejections, fast turnarounds, many more manuscript requests as George than she did as Catherine. An agent she’d queried and was rejected by as Catherine, requested the manuscript from George.
In her blog, Catherine gives an array of possible explanations for the phenomenon. She does in no way disparages agents. Catherine wonders if a female protagonist written by a male author holds more interest for an agent. Her small experiment is provocative to women who write. She suggests we might all use only our initials in the future when querying. Catherine is now represented by an agent based on a work of non-fiction (under her real name). Kudos to you, Catherine!
I am, at some point, going to publish my suspense novels. Do I have the courage to use only my initials or a male pseudonym? Wouldn’t an agent see right through my girly-girl writing? Worth a try?

A Writer’s Slant on Aging (Gracefully!)

Aging Rhodie

Aging Rhodie

Nature has a way of teaching us. The Rhodie in the picture is preparing the observer to grow old gracefully, vibrantly. The ancient shrub has gnarly joints and brown spots dot its leaves. Its branches are thinning and growing fuzz in places that once were smooth. Yet as spring warms her roots, she puts out her fragile blooms. The color is deep; the petals are soft but strong. Those flowers brighten up a rainy spring day. They bring beauty to the corner where she lives. And she is proud!

You Self-Published. Now What?

Steps to Success?

Steps to Success?

Someone gave you a fabulous book launch party. You have some book sales under your belt. You have a handful of reviews that are stellar. Now What?
The research I’ve done boils down to one thing: Get your book reviewed. A lot. A variety of ways to do that include book bloggers; free book for review exchanges; and reviews for a price. And for me: begging my friends or readers to get back on Amazon and review my book, Missing Emily.
My first experience with book reviews was the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. My book, still pre -published, made it to the semi-finals. Some ten thousand books were entered in that contest. My entry was well-reviewed. Many of the reviews were great, but others pointed out my amateur mistakes. I was amazed at how many reviewers Amazon had on hand to do the job. Where the heck are they now?
Self-publishing is huge. Some Indie books are ready, some not. Sites like Goodreads gives authors a place to post their book. Goodreads is mainly for readers and it’s a great program. But there are many authors posting their book every month. How to stand out in the crowd is still a mystery to me.
I have been contacted on Twitter by several entrepreneurs who have a cottage industry helping authors market. You can purchase Twitter blasts for you book. Facebook will help you by boosting your author page, for a price.
Here’s my problem. (Disclosure: I believe in angels and garden divas.) I would love my book to be reviewed by people who searched for a women’s fiction novel, who loved the cover, who loved the story. I would love those people to say so on Twitter and Facebook, but especially, on my Amazon book page.
Millions of books are being published each year. The odds are tough. But am I discouraged? Not! I just purchased two books published on Amazon that are going to tell me exactly how to reach my sales goals! I hope . . .

Publishing Day!

MISSING EMILY COVER COVER Lo-Res

I AM PUBLISHED! Finally!! After years of work and preparation, I was not ready for the onslaught of delight! To see my book listed on Amazon, after combing the site for books to read written by others, now there is a choice for others to read my book. I have heard from family and friends who celebrate the book’s launch with me. If I can figure out the system, I bet I would find purchases of Missing Emily already completed.
Thank you to every hand that was reached out to help me reach my dream!
Every single minute of my time in learning and writing has been worth the extreme feeling of joy I have today!
Missing Emily is available on Amazon. And from here . . . I will begin to polish Silent Grace, the next book in the series.

WRITERS DO IT SITTING DOWN

Sit/stand desk in stand position.

Sit/stand desk in stand position.

Writers use a lot of buts, as in: She saw him approaching, but there was nowhere to hide. Her daughter was missing, but she would come back; she would! I have so much to do to get my book published, but I don’t have enough time in a day.
But the most common ways a writer uses but, is by sitting on it. As in, just get your butt in the chair and write!
It isn’t just the writing—that’s the fun part. There is also social media, Facebook, Twitter. We email requests for research, and we research all over the internet. What about online classes or webinars? Building your website takes hours in the chair then you must maintain it. We write and follow blogs. We spend time on Goodreads. And if we’re not self-publishing, we use up hours searching agent sites and preparing queries or proposals.
That is a lot of time in the saddle! The picture you see above is my new sit/stand device. It fits on the surface of my desk. I am standing while I type this blog, but I’m also doing wash. It’s neat to go back and forth without pushing back the chair, and then pulling it up again. BUT, the best benefit is you are off your BUTT! Writing is a sedentary occupation, and we all know sedentary is not good. Some people stand on a treadmill while they use their computers. I can’t walk and chew gum—love this cliché—so I just move my feet or pop up and down on my toes.
So far, I’m very happy with the change. It will burn a few extra calories, improve digestion, prevent the danger of blood clots (my nursing background always cues in), and it saves time (chair out;chair in; get up; sit down).
There are no buts about it, the ability to sit or stand while I spend hours on the computer, is a lovely option for me!

Getting My Gulls in A Row

DSCN0238

I have “Peeps”! Very special publishing peeps! I’ve taken the first steps to publish my novel, Missing Emily. Easy. . . . NOT.

Before you even start the process, you have a ton of preliminary work. Of course, you start with writing the book. It might take you a year, maybe two or three. That’s the easy part.

You have your Author photo taken. For me, on the hottest day of the year on Cape Cod. Then choose from forty-six different shots, with my family all choosing a different one. While I cringe at all of them.

Try to keep the list of acknowledgements to two pages. How many people have helped you with the first book you are about to publish? When I think I have everyone, I wake up in the middle of the night and remember another person. And another. What if I leave someone out? Won’t they all look for their names? Is it too early to apologize?

A dedication page. Who is the most special person in the world to you? Easy on the first book, perhaps. What about the next five?

An author bio. What if you’re not Jodi Picoult? She has a bio that would fill a book all by itself. What if you haven’t ever published anything before? I have to say something. Uh, I can bake a mean pork pie?

Back blurb, story description, ISBNs–one for eBook, one for print book. Copyright. Bar code?

My gulls have a few gaps, but I am on my way!