Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Simon novella: update

This image is NOT the cover -
this is the Simon trading card.
 I can't wait to see the cover,
which is being created now. 
Finally, a title: I'm calling it DEVIL'S LUCK!

I'm really grateful to the handful of online pals I bugged for feedback on my title list. You guy really helped me narrow my list and get thinking clearly about it.

One of the things I love about the phrase Devil's Luck is that few people can agree on what it means. Even if you go online, definitions conflict. Some say it means luck that turns back on you, others say it means extraordinarily good luck, or amazingly bad luck. So, it was perfect for this story, because Simon's kind of luck is a thing all its own.

I had more arty titles like BEAUTIFUL LOSERS or THE ART OF RUIN in mind. I actually think those are awesome titles, but I'm trying to think like a publisher now that I'm putting this piece out myself, and those titles felt like they didn't nod to the urban fantasy genre. What's so funny is that, I originally resisted MIND GAMES as a title. It felt a bit common to me, and I wanted more pizzazz. But part of the job of a title is to suggest to people what is inside a book. *head slap*

As I was explaining it to my husband, it's sort of like hospital logos. Have you noticed most American hospitals have blue, teal or green shades on their logos and materials? (Not children's hospitals, but regular ones.) Crisp lines, often swirls or simple lines, a clean look, lots of white space. I find hospital logos totally boring, but if I was sick, I think I might be more attracted to a teal swirl logo than a logo with a spangle of red stars on a field of yellow, or an inky old world just wouldn't look hospitally! A simple greeny blue image tells me there's a hospital inside.

I want people to get that Devil's Luck contains something magical and sexy and dangerous. Devil's Luck definitely does not contain a hospital.

I'm so excited for this novella I can't even tell you. I love the Simon character!! Fawna is in it, too, another favorite character of mine. I'm working with a wonderful editor, as well as a cover artist whose work I've long admired - I've never worked with cover artists or freelance editors, so I'm excited to see what they come up with - more on all that as it unfolds. The book will stand alone--even more so than the Sophia book. In series order, it's 3.5, taking place after Head Rush. Though, a reader could start with it, too.

I'm hoping to release the book at the end of February. That might be ambitious because there is a lot to do between now and then for it, but that is my goal!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Who is my Girl Crush? + author site redesign, day 2

First, I'm over at fellow author Katherine Hawkings blog, 'Who needs Neverland?'  

Her first book is coming out in February (The Sphinx Project!) and she also runs a feature called Girl Crush Monday where she and other authors post about their girl crushes.

Today, I'm there posting about why I think Patti Smith is so awesome. And, rather incoherently, I must say.

But, isn't that what a crush is all about? Who can be logical and reasonable about a crush? It would take all the fun away! Come say hi! 

Author site!
In other news, I'm redesigning my author site. Of course I have to do it myself because I am a major DIY girl and massive control freak (You wouldn't believe how hard it was for me to hire an outside editor and a cover artist for my Simon novella.)

Anyway, I have just enough techie and coding skills to be dangerous on an author site.

My author site, day two. Aren't you SO impressed?
I use this Wordpress theme called Headway. It's a very powerful and flexible theme that lets control freaks control many things (ahem), but they did an update that changes things (for the better) but the learning curve for an unskilled non-techie like me is a bit steep. Part of that is because I'm trying to do a very unusual layout and scheme.

I thought I would make all sorts of progress yesterday, but spent the whole day getting a feel for the new tools. Pictured, a screenshot of my site after I worked on it for like SIX HOURS. lol

But, I feel like I have what I need now to achieve my very extreme and insane ambitious vision. There won't actually be animals on the site. I was just getting a feel for how to manipulate things. Wish me luck!

And, Happy Martin Luther King day to my fellow Americans! Yay MLK!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Whose book is it, anyway?

Back when I was an English Lit major in college there was some shocking tale going around about a conference where a professor was giving a big talk on a famous book (I can't remember the who's and what's).

The crow symbolizes chocolate,
Anyway, the author happened to be in the audience. And this author stood up and corrected some assumption--a bird symbolized this and not that or whatever. And the professor giving the paper told the author to sit back down--nothing the author had to say was relevant. Like it didn't matter what the author had to say, what the author intended. Even though it was the author's book!

It seemed so brazen of the professor to shut the author up like that. I wrestled with that tale in my mind for a long time.

Eventually I came to love what it meant. It said to me that a book becomes its own thing in the world once it leaves the author's hands. The book, once published, no longer belongs to the author. It belongs to the reader.*

That idea seemed so revolutionary to me. And cool!

During writing, of course, the author brings things to the book. But then after it's published, it's the reader's turn to bring things to the book. There's no place for the author in that, because it's between the reader and the book.

Readers are always finding things in books that authors didn't intend, but if they are honestly there for the reader, then they are honestly there. I really like that, as an author and as a reader. Sometimes it's an intensely personal meaning, or a super-smart insight that a reader finds in a book. Other times, readers find things that are offensive to them, or tedious, or boring, or characters who push their buttons. And readers of different generations bring different things to books, just as readers of different political, geographical, and socio-economic circumstances do.

Just today, I had a twitter exchange with an author about a sex scene in one of her books. I had found the scene to be hot, but also profound for a specific reason having to do with the plot. She felt it was just sex. Sorry @authorfriend, I read the book, and the sex scene was hot AND profound.

Not that she's wrong. It's just one point of view, and it doesn't happen to be mine.

Hey Craigslist people, get your feet the hell off the couch!
I often think of this whole thing when these review kerfluffles break out, where authors become upset about reviews. (Even though, gah! a spectrum of reviews, both good and bad, help readers find books they like, and that's good for authors.)

I'm grateful for every review no matter what. These days. I'll read a review now and then if I'm invited. (And, I'm not going to act like I don't enjoy hearing people enjoy my books or reading a positive review - of course I do!) But in general, my thinking is reviews don't involve me and I don't seek them out.

Sort of like, if I sold a couch on Craigslist, I'm not going to go visit the buyer and monitor if they're putting their feet on it or whatever. Because it's just not mine anymore.

I guess that's why I'm writing--to add that point, because I find it freeing. I mean, it's been said over and over that authors should not respond to negative reviews (well, they can, but not in writing). It's been said over and over that  authors should not troll for reviews. Turn off Google alerts. Focus on the next book. Reviews are for readers.

I guess I would go a step further, and say that a review, positive or negative, doesn't have anything to do with the author whatsoever! It's between the reader and the book. It's about the reader bringing things of their own  to the book. You're no longer involved. This is a point that can be liberating for both readers and authors.

Or at least, it's been liberating for me!! LOL. Maybe it's totally obvious to everybody else.

Wow, how did this turn into such a screed? It was supposed to be a short anecdote. ~Crane eyes synopsis she was supposed to be writing this whole time~ Anyway, happy Saturday people!
*Just to clarify, when I say a book belongs to the reader, I mean in terms of perception--I don't mean literally, as in the author doesn't deserve to be paid anything for their work.
Images: Otani Oniji by Toshusai Sharaku, Edo era, Japan, Wiki Commons; No. 296, 10x18 cm (4x8"), Woodcut / Hand-Made Paper, Edition 100 · 17.02.1983 - 24.02.1983 by Werner Stuerenburg. wiki commons.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sam, Elena & Rhonda's awesome blog hop!

Click to check out the hop & sign up!
As somebody who's got books out in all publishing formats - NY, small press and self-pubbed, you know I'm very into publishing diversity. I'm thrilled at how many ways there are for readers and authors to find each other.

So I really love the idea behind the new Small Press Treasures Blog Hop Giveaway created by the lovely bloggers of Sam, E and R's Awesomeness. This is a hop dedicated to blogs discovering sharing small press and indie treasures with each other. And, I was really thrilled to be named on Sam, E & R's roster of small press faves for my Head Rush release!

Do you have a few small press or indie faves you like to recommend? If so, this hop is for you! In fact, I have a bunch to recommend - I should prolly do it too! Once I figure out how a hop works. I'm a total hop virgin.

Anyway, the Small Press Treasures hop runs from March 17th to the 24th, and you do a giveaway related to small press and indie authors during that week. I'm looking forward to seeing the familiar and the new-to-me names that come up on this!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Interview at YMAKAC + giveaway!!

How does this 'Wolf and 7 Kids' image relate to 
my interview at YMAKAC?  It doesn't! 
I just like to have pictures with my posts.
This week I visited with the  Julie from the highly entertaining blog 'Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks'

It was really fun, and she asked some excellent questions about everything from the convention we're both attending this summer to fave movies to scenes I wrote that made me blush. (A deleted angry Cubby sex scene may have been mentioned!)

Pop over and say hi! AND, you could win a signed copy of either Mind Games or Double Cross!

YMAKAC - it's all happening right here. 

Illustration by Karl Fahringer (1874-1952) Wiki commons

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Some reading/writing things I thought I'd never do that I now do all the time!

Use ‘LOL’ or ‘ROFL’

I used to be soooooo down on LOL. An LOL hater! I felt it was dishonest, because, who among the people writing LOL truly were laughing out loud? Maybe 1%! And I felt sure none were ROFLing! So this made me not like LOL, or ROFL.

But now I’m a user—and some might say abuser—of LOL. Seriously! ROFL!! Especially on twitter. No, I haven’t begun to laugh out loud or roll on the floor, but my understanding of LOL has changed. It just means I think this is funny, or I mean this to be funny, in a medium that has no expression. I used to not see it that way, but I do now. These days, I love using LOL.

Aren’t you so glad you are reading this riveting post? Let us now move to the next exciting item...

Ever write 'tho' or  'thru'

I used to not ever use these sorts of abbreviations of though and through, even if it was on something for my eyes only, like I would lose my self respect as a lover of words and an English Literature person. It just seemed tawdry, lazy, and WRONG! But, now with twitter—argh!! Twitter, you have been making me use tho and thru! You have cheapened me in my own eyes! And now, today, while making notes on a paper manuscript, I used tho. Nooooo!

Actually, I’m not that upset about it. Language is always evolving, so, this is fine. I think some shortcuts truly ARE tawdry, lazy and wrong, but informal uses of tho and thru, I’ve let you into my life! Make yourselves at home. Go ahead! Heat up the leftover pizza. Put your feet up on the coffee table.

Use the thesaurus on Microsoft Word

I used to have eyes ONLY for the Rogets thesaurus. I have an awesome hardcover one here, a massive, classic, complete thesaurus. It really is wonderful. And I would use it when I needed the perfect word. Even when editing on the computer I’d have it nearby. And how I disdained the MS word thesaurus. Has there ever been a more pathetic thesaurus? Please! You can never find just the right word there. Or, I can't. MS Word thesaurus: when just any old synonym will do. 

I felt was okay, but definitely not anywhere near the fabulousness of the hardcover Rogets. Then, I sort of started using it. Not a lot, and still I would go to Rogets when I felt serious about a word. And THEN, every once in a while, I would use the hated MS word thesaurus!! I suppose at first it was just laziness, or if I was in a rush. But, my use of it crept up more and more.

I suppose now my thesaurus use is 3-tiered, with MS word for the low-hanging fruit, for the middle of the tree fruit and glorious Rogets when I must have it right. Or, like, if I’m thinking of a title.

Aren't you totally fascinated? LOL also, OMG, how priggish do I sound? No, don't answer that, because there’s more!

Read multiple books at one time

As an author, I plant all sorts of little details and seriously, every sentence is there for a reason, and I think most authors are like that. So to stop reading a book to pick up another? Then another? Heresy! How does a reader remember all the careful little details the author wove in? For years I felt that each book must be my one and only, and a continuous read, unbroken by other characters and narratives.

You probably know where this is going. Right now I am reading three books. But, I like it, because I read according to mood. Oh, what will become of me? LOL


Confession time!
Are there any word or bookish things you thought you’d never do that you do now? Do tell!

Images: public domain images from wiki commons

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Release month roundup

Happy New Year, everybody!

Well, HEAD RUSH has been out just about a month now! I'm so happy and relieved it's out. Also, so so grateful for everybody taking time to tweet about it and facebook, and put up reviews on blogs and Goodreads and Amazon and, seriously, just to get and read it!

I wonder if you know how much that means to an author. You probably don't, so let me tell you: It means TONS!!! Thank you!

Some fun end-of-year round-uppy things in no particular order...  
I have enjoyed seeing Head Rush and the trilogy pop up on some end-of-year lists:

>>The Disillusionists trilogy was named a top pearl for 2011 by "Pearls Cast before a McPig" (a blog with one of the most delightful blog names!) AND, you can win a signed book there!

>>HEAD RUSH earned a spot in the Top 10 of 2011 from Goldilox and the three Weres, another delightful blog with a most delightful blog name.

>>HEAD RUSH was also there among the Advent Calendar books of 2011 over at Book Lovers Inc. where they choose favorite books to overview and give away. Yay!

>>Justine Jones was named Best Heroine of 2011 in Under the Covers Book Blog!!  So honored, UTC.

>>Finally, I was super stoked for the Disillusionists to be called Best Series of the Year at the awesome For What It's Worth Reviews. *yippee!*

....okay, I'm really bad at collecting these things, so if I have missed any end-of-year things, please do let me know! And thanks again, everybody for reading!!

Have a fun and safe week, everybody!