February 2014’s Progress on Publishing World Domination

This is going to be quick and dirty because I have to get ready for work. February was no less great than January for achieving some writing goals. In February:

  • I went to my second Central Florida Romance Writers meeting, where we studied pacing and emotion.
  • On my way to said meeting, I had an epiphany about a story in the Christian series I’m planning, and throughout the month, I wrote character profiles for the main characters and an outline of the book, along with doing a bit of research. This shall be known as the Enemies story.
  • I joined Romance Writers of American and Central Florida Romance Writers. Yay! I’m a card carrying member–or I would be if¬†I had a card. I do, however, have a member number. ūüėČ
  • I entered¬†Cupid’s Lit Connection’s¬†Blind Speed Dating competition to try and get the attention of an¬†agent but wasn’t chosen. I was disappointed, but I was OK with getting the news because the same day…
  • I entered the Second Chance Carina pitch and got a request from an editor! I sent my manuscript for Delivering Justice in on February 14th, Valentine’s day. I should receive feedback of some sort by March 21st. I basked in the achievement of getting a query letter, synopsis, and manuscript submitted for a couple days before I began obsessively checking my email.
  • The sequel to Delivering Justice, known on social media by the hashtag #MrLastNameBasis, started to come together when I added a pint sized motivator to the mix who broke my emotionally distant hero wide open. I love this little boy in this story and the dimension he adds to the suspense. I’m trying to figure out where this story is going while I outline the others in the series in case I get a bite on Delivering Justice and someone is interested in the other three books.

I crossed off two major¬† writing goals–I submitted to an editor and I joined RWA and CFRW.¬†Not only did I submit to an editor, I submitted a¬†requested manuscript, not to the¬†slush pile. It’s a fast track entry with a quicker than usual turnaround.¬†So why do I feel as if February was a slow writing month for me? Probably because I didn’t get as many words on the page as I would like. I didn’t post as many reviews as I meant to post. I’m a little behind on¬†reading my craft books and such.

But what I’m trying to embrace is that all forward movement is important, that what I’ve accomplished¬†this month is huge. True, I spent a lot of time doing revisions,¬†writing and revising a query letter and synopsis, and not getting new words on the page.¬†But¬†doing those things are what got my submission out the door.

March is about moving forward even more. What are the goals for March?

  • start getting the¬†Enemies book¬†written.
  • finish most of¬†#MrLastNameBasis.
  • get feedback from Delivering Justice submission.
  • work on marriage kit book and get it ready for publication.
  • further develop my writing routine.
  • Start and finish at least one writing craft book.
  • Get all of my March reviews done.
  • Work on one super secret project.
  • Get materials ready for Camp NaNoWriMo in April.
  • Finishing outlining and start Luka’s story before Beta Reader kills me.

How was your February? What are some of your goals for March? Be on the lookout for more reviews and a few special writing posts coming this month. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any.

XOXO,

Erica

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Year of the Writer 2013; Year of the Published Author, 2014?

2013 was a great year for my writing. It was in¬†is year that I got more serious about my craft. In the first part of the year, I worked diligently on the¬†marriage kit book, and in¬†the fall, I¬†began getting¬†back into fiction. I entered Harlequin’s¬†writing contest,¬†So You Think You Can Write,¬†joined the Harlequin online writing community,¬†successfully completed NaNoWriMo for the first time, found critique partners and began exchanging¬†chapters and¬†just wrote like crazy.

I wanted to start¬†2014 off building a writing network¬†closer to home. I went to¬†my first meeting of the Central Florida Romance Writers, an affiliate of Romance Writers of America. I learned so much from this meeting! It was good to sit in a room full of writers, people who “get” the drive to write. I think joining RWA and the local chapter will be a big step in my journey to getting my romantic fiction published. I’m glad I didn’t let the setbacks and foibles of the day to cause me to miss the meeting.

I’m still pursuing self-publication for the relationship book that I’ve calling the marriage kit book here. I think that self-publishing is the way to go with this one because I don’t want the content to be watered down, toned down, or elementally changed by an editor, nor do I want to wait another 12-18 months for it to be available (even though if I keep adding sections and chapters, it may take that long anyway!). I feel much more comfortable choosing the people involved in each step of the publication process with this book.

I haven’t thought much about Some College but there’s a contest coming up that I may want to get started on it to enter. Right now, I’m enjoying revisions with my critique partners and trying to get some new words written each day. My writing new year’s resolutions are as follows:

  • Join RWA¬†& the local chapter
  • Submit, submit, submit–get my work out there as often as possible.
  • enter more contests and pitches.
  • get my hands on more writing craft books and magazines.
  • Write first draft of Always the Girlfriend.
  • Finish Pleasure’s Payne (Read the first chapter here).
  • Finish revisions to Delivering Justice and submit.
  • Outline and write synopses for the three¬†follow ups¬†to Delivering Justice (Series tentatively titled The Bartolucci Brides).
  • Outline and write synopses for the seven (o_O!!!) other books in the “Always” series.
  • Start a proposal for Some College memoir.
  • Start the other short stories for the Love Addicts Anonymous short story collection.
  • Not die or become a hermit.

I have a lot of work to do in 2014 if I want to have contracts in my hot little hands before I’m ringing in yet another year. I’ll keep you all posted on my progress.

XOXO,

Erica

The Writing Show Must Go On…

Sorry for missing my usual Wednesday morning post, but I was out sick from work this week and couldn’t stand staring at the computer typing my life away.

So now that the madness of NaNoWriMo has been over for a week (ten days for me), what do I focus on, writing-wise? How do I move forward from a great accomplishment instead of getting stuck right here and not seeing it through? I’ll tell you how–I keep on writing.

I’ve flirted a little bit with the marriage kit book (which is almost finished), reading through a large portion of it and researching some of the holes I still need to fill. I found all the material I had written for Some College, my memoir about the year I spent in between my junior and senior year of college, and I contacted a good high school friend for his help with an area of the book that involves some things from our high school days. Going back to my high school reunion really opened that door wide for me. I’ve even started writing out some “treatments” for “scenes” in the other story I outlined before NaNoWriMo, and began trying to develop an outline for my next book in the series that this year’s NaNoWriMo book starts.

What I’ve managed to do is to stay far away from my NaNoWriMo manuscript, Delivering Justice. I’ve given myself ten days away from it, and I am chomping at the bit to start revising it. I said I wouldn’t look at it again until the 10th, but I think it’s time to get back into it. I know a few of the issues that I’ll need to address from the beginning–passive voice, weak verbs, an adverb explosion–and I’m sure I’ll discover a plethora of other problems that I’ll need to tackle, but I’m ready to dive back into it.

I spent some time on the boards for Harlequin and discovered that Delivering Justice should¬† be targeted toward the Intrigue line and not the Romantic Suspense line, at least from what I’ve read and been told. I’m glad, not only because the word count is lower,¬†meaning I don’t have to find a subplot or fluff my story out of recognition, but because it means I don’t have to tone down the suspense and play up the romance as much as I initially thought. My story doesn’t have to be contorted into something unrecognizable to fit the mold, and that makes me feel even more certain that this story is exactly what it should be.

I never heard anything back from my So You Think You Can Write entry, but I’ve reworked the beginning and I think I’ve written some really good material since the opening chapter. I’m not sure exactly where the story will fit, but I would love to finish it sometime next year.

I’ve thought of at least three other books in the series DJ starts, with two possibles. Once I have eyeballs back on the story, I’ll get an excerpt up for some critique.

How’s everyone else’s writing coming along? Anyone close to submitting/publishing? Anyone revising?

XOXO,

Erica

Write, Revise, Repeat

I have to be honest: I was crushed when my entry wasn’t chosen to be in the top fifty. I thought my entry was amazing, and it was–just not for the place I submitted it. All of that advice that led me to believe I’d started the book in the wrong place, that the opening line wasn’t strong enough, that there was too much backstory, and that the hero and heroine didn’t meet soon enough was great advice for the publisher I was targeting. When they announced some people had to pull out or were disqualified and they were choosing a few more, I saw a chance at redemption. Perhaps someone had liked my story enough to take a chance on it. In the end, this wasn’t to be, either. So I had a decision to make: revise to fit the publisher and try again or work towards getting a different publisher.

At some point after a rejection with no more explanation than a form “not what we’re looking for at this time,” the author has to decide if the manuscript itself needs fixing or if they are targeting the wrong agents/editors/publishers for the manuscript. Looking over what I wrote in the frenetic time of the competition, I realized that my book wasn’t targeted to the wrong line; it was just bad.

Pleasure’s Payne is a great story. It focuses on a young woman who has recently lost her father and may lose the company he worked so hard to build to a board that doesn’t believe she can be a leader. Her father’s best friend and former fianc√©e are plotting against her. She is just trying to preserve what she has–until she meets the hero. The hero doesn’t want to get involved with another damaged woman after what happened last year. He knows that the heroine wouldn’t be interested in him if she knew about last year, and his association with her can add fuel to the incompetency fire regarding her ability to lead the company, but someone has to help her. The things they face together while trying to restore their faith and find meaning in their shattered lives brings them together in such a sweet way. The story excites me so much. Too bad it needs a LOT of work.

It turns out those editors are right. There IS too much backstory at the beginning. It DOES start in the wrong place. There are also some plot inconsistencies, shifting POV confusions, and sequence problems that need to be worked out in the revision process, not to mention some extensive editing to fix the tense in some areas and make better word choices in others. Being defiant and self-publishing my masterpiece in its current state wouldn’t do me any favors.

Learning how to incorporate constructive criticism, give yourself time to revise and edit to a polished work, and writing queries, pitches, and synopses that will hook the right person is not an exact science, and neither is knowing when to self-publish. I’d like to think I’m learning how to make my writing the best it can be, and send it in where it should be sent. This time I only got it half right, but someday soon, I’ll light upon the right combination that leads to getting my books in reader’s hands.

How do you decide to revise, self-publish, or discard? Any tips for writers new to submitting?

XOXO

Erica

Marketing by Submitting

Gandhi drafting a document at Birla House, Mum...

Ghandi I am not... Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been thinking of ways in which I can broaden the readership of my blogs and get my writing self out there. I told you about submitting a short story for possible publication, but in the meantime I want to get more eyes on my blogs. Enter some guest posting!

There are a few blogs that I follow that have guest posting opportunities. They have bigger readerships than mine have, more regular commentors, and will therefore give me more exposure than my recent efforts (one can only force so many of one’s friends to actually read one’s blogs…and those that do will more than likely NOT become regular readers).

I’m not just submitting guest post ideas to them simply to further my readership, however; I really want to participate in their blogs. I love what they are doing and I want a chance to be a part of it. Plus, I need practice submitting things.

I’ve written more¬†comments in recent months than I think is healthy. I’ve shared the link love on this blog and others. I even make a point of using pingbacks when I want to expand on something someone else brought up. I post daily or weekly on my blogs. I have played around with the design of the blogs and tweak the layouts. I’m having guest posts on my main blog. I’m observing all the laws of blogging etiquette, yet the following hasn’t come. Yes, I write blog posts for me as much as for others, but not getting feedback on some of the issues I am struggling with or validation from a growing readership can make it seem more or less pointless some days.

I’ve never been good at marketing my writing. I’m one of those writers where if people read it, they like it, and will continue to read and be loyal. The thing is, I have trouble getting people to read. As aforementioned, I’ve tried all kinds of promotion, both direct and indirect, and it hasn’t seemed to help. I’m not any closer to any of my writing or blogging goals.

So, how do you develop a readership when none of the traditional things seem to work for you? Is it a case of me wanting to give up too soon (after a year and a half of consistent, quality blogging, and a couple decades of writing in general)? What has helped you develop your following and readership? Do you have guest posting opportunities on your blog?