Emma Jean

Oh, Amazon, You Trickster, You

Book-books-collection-415-lIf you enter the title of my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, into the Amazon search engine, up my book will pop, despite the fact that its pub date is not until February 12th.  And no, there's nothing about pre-ordering it mentioned on the page.  It's just there.  For sale.

I found this out thanks to the alert eyes of my reader and online buddy Zan Marie.  Now, I'd be happy to have my book available for sale, except for a couple of things:

–This isn't the final copy.  I worked on final proofing all the way to Nashville and back.  Caught a few small errors.  No big deal, you say?  Uh-uh.  Not for me.  I'm a printer's daughter and pride myself on being able to catch typos.  (Now, of course, you'll find one or more.  That's alright.  I can take it.  Let me know, I won't be hurt.) I also tinkered with the acknowledgments (the hardest part of writing the book, I swear) a bit.  And I wanted my readers to get this corrected copy, the final, final copy.  The perfect one.

–We set the pub date for February 12th and I wanted to have the requisite hoopla around it on that date.  Not some vague earlier time.  I wanted it to be a specific date, an event.  (I'm working on ideas for how I can share this event with you, so stay tuned.)  Silly, maybe, but so be it.

So I emailed my ever-patient editor and she promptly contacted Amazon to have them take it down, at the very least until the final final copy gets to them.  (You'll still see it listed for sale if you search for it or click here.  I actually don't know what happens if you click on it to buy it.)

But here's what cracks me up: Just as Emma Jean does in the novel, I started checking my Amazon sales rank.  At one point, it was down to #717,876 or something like that.  Wow!  I was feeling pretty good about that.  I mean, it wasn't even officially on sale yet and already I was ranked below a million.  Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. 

And then my editor emailed me back yet again and said that as far as the publishers could tell only one copy of that version of the book had been sold. (Thanks, Jenni–you've got a one-of-a-kind edition.)  So, as my daughter-in-law said, thus selling one book=#717,876 rank.  Does this mean if I sell two I get put right up to #1?   Um, probably not.  Apparently the Amazon algorithm is mysterious and unknown, just like the Google's.

Thus, note to self: do NOT fuss and obsess over the Amazon sales ranking when the book comes out.  Because it doesn't mean anything.  Does it?

Do you have experience with Amazon?  I'd love to hear it.  Barring that, what do you obsess over?  That's an even better topic.  Please share in the comments.

**There's only a couple more days of early-bird pricing for my Get Your Novel Written Now class.  Check out more info here.

 

Emma Jean Cover Image is Here!

EmmaJeanCoverFinalHere it is!  The cover image for the novel, due out on February 12th.  I'm really happy with this cover because I think the woman in the image has the verve and energy of Emma Jean herself.

A bit of background on the process of selecting the cover.  My wonderful editor sent me three trial versions and asked me what I thought.  One of them looked like a car ad to me, with the model featuring a come-hither expression that looked to me like she was trying to be sexy.  She was draped over a bed with a laptop in front of her.  Good effort, but no.

The second one showed a close-up of a blonde woman with glasses reading a book.  I was tempted by this version, mostly because of the fact she was reading, but I didn't think the model looked much like Emma Jean.  She seemed a bit dowdy to me.  As my editor said, "I think Emma Jean is more put together than that."

The third version was similar to what you see on the right, but it showed only the model with slightly different typestyle.  I asked if we could add something literary-esque and my editor suggested the books.  The first version had the stack of books a bit taller and looked like they were about ready to topple over on top of her.  But then this version was presented to me–and I loved it.  They even used my favorite color, purple!  (In the novel, Emma Jean has a thing for purple pens.)

I feel blessed to have been so involved in the cover image.  I have no idea if this is normal or not but it's great!

So I'm counting down the days until release date, mastering Facebook, lining up guest posts and reviews and feeling a bit nervous about it all to be honest.  (By the way, if you're interested in a guest post or review or know anybody who might be, drop me a line.)

Any thoughts on the process?  Any questions?  Leave me a comment.

On Reading My Own Work: The Issue of Sentimentality

Book-books-collection-415-lTwo stories:

Story number one

I'm sitting at my computer, laughing.  My husband asks me what I'm chuckling about.

"Oh, I'm proofing my novel.  I'm not sure if this is good or bad, but Emma Jean makes me laugh, even though I wrote her."

I've gone through edits, and copy edits, and now one round of proofing, and every time it makes me laugh.  Every time, reading the novel makes me remember how much I loved writing it.  How much I love my heroine, Emma Jean.  How happy I am that the book is being published.

Story number two

This year for Christmas presents, I printed out copies of my MFA novel, Language of Trees, for my daughter and daughter-in-law, because they hounded me for it at their request.  As the chapters came off the printer, I read bits and pieces of it.  Some of it I liked, but some of it made me cringe.  And now when I picture the girls reading it, I cringe anew.

So what's the difference in these two stories?

Well for one thing, Emma Jean has been rewritten, revised and edited within an inch of her life.  Though I worked and worked at writing Language of Trees, I could never quite get it to hang together.  (I'm hoping to change that this year, and I'm giving serious thought to going the indie publishing route with it.)

But here's what I believe the major cringe-worthy factor is: sentimentality.

The best definition of sentimentality I've ever read is that it is unearned emotion.

Language of Trees still has a lot of moments of unearned emotion that have not been edited out.  The kind of thing that makes you wince when you read it.  Oh God, I just remembered a party scene from the novel wherein all the men in attendance fall head-over-heels in admiration of Collie, our heroine.  Ouch. This is embarrassing to me in retrospect because it is a sentimental moment.  Collie has done nothing to earn their ardor but appear at the party.  Unearned emotion.

And, if I'm honest, when I ponder the novel I'm currently at work on, there's lots of instances of sentimentality.  In my defense, it's still a first draft.  The one with holes big enough to drive a truck through.  (I can't remember who told me that metaphor, but whoever you are, thank you.  I love it.)  And some of those holes are unearned emotion.

So I have to admit that printing out Language of Trees was a good exercise for me, pointing out, for future reference, something I want to keep a closer eye out for.  And it gives me a road map for rewriting it.  I can start with the places that make me cringe and go from there.

How does sentimentality tend to present itself in your work?  Is it an issue for you or not?

**If you're struggling with issues of sentimentality or other writing craft problems, make 2013 your year to go full out with your writing.  Consider gifting yourself a writing coach.  There's no better way to make fast progress with your writing!

Photo by lusi.

Emma Jean Update & Pub Date

Black_glasses_publish_263961_lSo, auditorally is not a word.

Who knew?

But this, my dear writing friends, is why God created copy editors: to tell us such things.

I recently finished going through the copy edits for my forthcoming novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, and my wonderful copy editor researched the word auditorally in three dictionaries before deciding that it really isn't a word.    I think I may have made up a couple other words along the way; I know for certain I made up usages of a word here or there.

Going through the editing process of this book has made me hugely grateful for the art of editing.  It's been a wonderful experience all the way through, and I know for certain that the editing has made it a much stronger book.

And….

I have a publishing date!

Drum roll please…..

It's February 12th.

By my reckoning, that is the second Tuesday in February, just in time to buy as a gift for Valentine's Day.

I'm very excited.

And oh so grateful.

**Are you eager to become a published author but not quite sure how to get there from where you are?  Perhaps some gentle assistance is what you need.  My students and clients have published award-winning books, finished novels and book proposals and submitted stories and article galore.  I love watching writers thrive like this!  Check out my services page if you'd like to join their ranks.

Photo by ugaldew.

Writing Tics, or What I’m Learning From the Emma Jean Edits

Lens_magnifying_glass_266925_lI'm deep into the edits for my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, and some things are becoming apparent.  As in, writing tic type things.  As in, the little silly stuff I do over and over again.  I thought sharing these tics might be helpful to you.  I know I'll be much more conscious of them as I write my next novel.

So here goes:

–I use the word and too much, often a lot of times in the same sentence. 

–I misuse commas.  Don't ask me how, because I don't quite get it, but I think I use too many of them.

–I over do it with the dialogue tags.  My editor, Nannette, is forever knocking them out.  And I would have told you I used them sparingly.

–I am guilty of repeating words.  I am a demon when it comes to this on my student's work, always exhorting them to change repeated words.  And I would have told you that my manuscript was clean, so clean when it came to such things.  But, no.  Nannette finds plenty of instances of this habit.

–I need to write around lyrics.  Emma Jean always has a song for every occasion, and will happily share it with you.  But this does not work because one must get permission to use song lyrics.  And such permission costs one money.  So I'm writing around them.

So far, the issue with the song lyrics has been the biggest thing I've had to deal with in the edits.  I know there's a problem in one of the final scenes that I've got to deal with and I'm dreading that.  But that's still pages away.  At the moment, I'm on page 200 of 374 and enjoying the process.  The great thing about going through the edits is that it's teaching me about my own writing, and hopefully strengthening it.

Tell me: what are you writing tics?  Have you ever had an editor point them out to you?

 

 

Emma Jean Edits

The day came.  My edits for the novel arrived.  And I promptly left for a two-day vacation. Arch-cape-or

We went to the beach to stay with old friends, our daughter and the Most Adorable Baby in the World in tow.  I had visions of myself on the deck, feet propped up, laptop in lap, working away on the edits.  Or sitting in a corner of the beach house, happily revisiting my old friend, the novel.

Ha!

Because it was way too sunny on the deck for me to see the laptop screen.  And every corner of the beach house was filled–gloriously so–with people. Most importantly, I wanted to be present in the vacation world and hang with my living friends, not hobnob with my fictional pals.  And so I sat at the kitchen table and answered a few emails and replied to some blog comments (thank you, I love your comments). And then I called it a day and went for a walk on the beach.

Turns out I'm not really slacking.  Before I left I emailed my editor, asking her for a deadline, thinking she'd probably mention a date in mid-August.  But, no, she said I could get it in right after Labor Day.  So I've got plenty of time. 

I'm eager to get to this.  As already noted, it's not a huge job, at least it doesn't look like it from a quick scan of the file.  I'm always a little wonky in the Track Changes feature on Word until I get into it, so there's that.  And I did see one comment about an important character reappearing at the end that my editor thinks is unnecessary.  That will require some thought in how to fix.  I'm sure there's more stuff like that throughout.

But I can't wait to get started on it–opening the file was like visiting old friends.  Which, come to think of it was the theme of the week, both in my real world and my fictional world.  How about that?

What about you?  How do you feel about the editing process?  Do you have experience working with an editor?  I'd love to hear!

**If you want to write a novel of your very own, I've got a novel-writing class beginning August 14th.  We'll cover the basics of the process and all the things you need to know to have at it.  Read more here and join us!

(I found the photo on the interwebs, and I think it comes from Tripadvisor.)