fiction

Book Review: The Novel Writer’s Blueprint

Paperbackbookstanding-226x300I've got a new book for all you fledgling novel writers out there.  

It is called The Novel Writer's Blueprint: Start Writing Your Novel Today, by Kevin T. Johns.  I discovered the book when Kevin emailed me a wonderful query asking if I'd be interested in reviewing it. Since I'd just published a rant post about how often I got approached by people with terrible queries, I leapt at the chance.  

Kevin sent me the book, I read it, and now I'm reviewing it.

I like this book quite a bit.  It lays out in five steps the system that Kevin believes will allow you to write your novel.  (The genesis of the five-step system was Kevin's own struggle to write his first novel.  It took him eight years–and he swore he would not let that happen again.  Can you relate?)

The five steps are as follows:

1. Genre Selection–Learn to harness the power of genre.

2. Story Structure–Select a story structure already proven to work with readers.

3. Puzzle Work--Piece together your scenes into an indispensable beat-sheet.

4. Preparatory Regimen–Sharpen your writing skills.

5. Running the Marathon–Implement protocols to stay on track and beat the biggest challenges.

Not mentioned in this rundown is his introductory chapter, which has a lot of good information in it as well.

My favorite chapters were #2 and #4.  I love #2 on story structure, because I'm a story geek, and Kevin has a film background so he's well versed in various structures and he presents them clearly.  Chapter #4 covers a good collection of tips for writing, such as timed writing, mind mapping and brainstorming.  Kevin also mentions a technique called "Writing Down the Page" which it turns out I do all the time, but didn't have a name for.  It's when you write a sketchy outline of your chapter so you have the general flow down.

This book is perfect for the first-time novelist who wants a picture of the road ahead before launching onto the journey.  And seasoned novelists will find a few tips of use as well.  Check it out, guys.

Do you have a favorite book on novel writing?  Please share! 

Building Your Fictional World

Planet_earth_australia_264109_l

Recently, I was the judge in fiction-writing contest.  My job was to review the finalists in the novel first chapter portion of the contest, and select the top four winners.  It was fascinating because every entry had a good concept for a story.

But.

Every entry but one had viewpoint issues (a topic I'll address in a separate post soon), and the other big problem I saw in nearly every chapter was a failure to adequately develop the fictional world.  

While the set-up was interesting and the characters good (though also undeveloped) what I saw over and over again was not enough care taken to fully create the world of the story.  And I don't care if you are writing a contemporary novel, an historical story, or a science-fiction novel set on another planet, every novel has a world of its own that the reader will inhabit for the length of the book.  And it's your job to write that world so that we, the reader, truly feel as if we've stepped into it.

Some thoughts (in no particular order):

1.  Don't rush.  In many of the contest chapters, I felt like I was being escorted through the scene in a whirlwind.  Don't be afraid to slow down, to share description and details (see #4), to evoke the senses (see #7).  I guarantee that your problem is not writing too much, but too little.  Lay it on thick and write more than you think you should and you'll come out about right.

2.  Root the reader in the scene.  A simple technique is to continually hark back to the physical world in a scene to keep the reader reminded of where she is.  Otherwise, your reader will feel like she's floating in the air.   Use simple references to accomplish this–She leaned against the counter, or He set his coffee mug down on the table.  Doesn't have to be anything fancy.

3.  Fast is slow and slow is fast.  I learned this from a friend who learned it from the late Gary Provost. When you're writing a scene that would pass slowly in real life (such as an afternoon lolling on the couch) do it quickly.  We don't need the details.  And when you're writing something that would happen really fast in real life (like a car accident), slow it way down and note every detail.

4.  Telling details are your friend. Details are what bring a scene alive, such as the red rose petal on the wood kitchen table, or the solitary raindrop sliding down a window pane as a storm begins. But, don't include every single detail, the trick is to choose the ones that will illuminate the scene.  And that's something for you to decide.

5.  Setting is more than just location.  Setting is, of course, your friend when you're creating your fictional world, because it is what your characters walk through.  But it is much more than just the lovely ocean they live beside, it is all the furniture and accessories that fill the house they live in.  And guess what else it is?  Time.  Big difference between San Francisco 1906 and San Francisco 2014.

6.  Characters interact with their worlds in unique ways.  A man who grew up in Manhattan is very different than a farmer from Iowa.  The unique worlds of characters influence them in specific ways, and in return, causes them to exist in their worlds in certain ways.  Take advantage of this.

7.  Use your senses.  Obvious, yes, but also easy to forget.  One of the least under-used senses is smell.  Noting the aromas or odors of your world can be very evocative.  And how about touch?  When was the last time your character described the feel of a fabric beneath his fingers?  Or taste?  (Which reminds me, food can be very specific to different worlds also.) We get accustomed to our primary senses of sight and sound.  Adding in the others will bolster your world.

Okay, that's it, that's all I've got for you at the moment.  But do tell in the comments how you like to build your fictional worlds.

Photo by monique72.

 

What To Do When The Words Just Don’t Sound Right

(Note: I was going to call them damn words in the headline, because sometimes the words feel like they need cursing.  But then I censored myself, because this is going out in my newsletter, and I don't want to offend people.  Do words like damn offend people?  I don't know.  You tell me.  I wouldn't be offended, but you might be.  Anyway…)

Lettering_letters_close_260818_lI had an email this week from a young writer whose friendship I treasure.  She is in her early teen years and an avid writer.  Or has been an avid writer.  According to her email, all of a sudden, when she writes, nothing sounds, well, right.  It comes out cliched.  Doesn't ring true or feel authentic.  And she asked me what she should do.

It is a very good question, and a difficult one to answer.  When I think back to the answer I gave her, I'm not sure it was particularly helpful.  So this is my attempt to rectify that and maybe help some of you who've struggled with this as well.  (Who am I kidding?  I'm also doing it to help myself–because yes, this happens to every writer at some time or another.)

Process, not product.  We too easily get wrapped up in thinking about the end result of our writing.  The same impulse that causes writers to inquire of me, "I've got a great idea for a book, how do I get an agent?" (answer: write the book first) also causes us to worry about the end result.  When first you are starting a project, your job is to get words on the page and not worry how they may or may not be.

Do the work, don't judge it.  This goes hand in hand with the above.  Because if you're judging the work, there's a good chance you're not allowing yourself to get into the flow of it.  Again, write.  Throw words at the page.  Let yourself get swept away in the wonder of the creative process.  Fall in love with writing again.

Creativity comes in cycles.  This not liking your work is a stage, and probably a sign that you're onto a different level in your writing.  Because, in the past you might have been satisfied with the way these words sound.  But now you're not.

Mind the gap.  Riders on the London Underground are familiar with this exhortation to watch the space between the train and the platform.  But gaps happen in writing, too.  There can be a huge gap between the story you see in your head and your ability to get it on the page.  And this can cause frustation as you struggle to master your craft.  Of course the best thing to do is:

Keep writing.  In truth, at a time like this, you should write more.   Write journal entries, poems, flash fiction, political polemics, personal essays, character sketches, or anything else you can think of. It doesn't matter so much what you are writing as that you are writing.  Because the more words you throw at the page, the more understanding you will have of how to put them together so that they sound pleasing to you.

Don't second guess yourself.  Commit to something and write it.  Don't question whether you should be writing a novel or a memoir or a short story, just get started on a project and work at it. And please don't second guess you decision to be a writer.  

Finish things.  I will confess: I'm terrible at this.  I abandon stories when I can't figure out where they are going and I despair over longer pieces and give up.  (And you should see my yarn closet, it is full of half-finished pieces.)  However, I'm working to get over this tendency, which stems from bright shiny object syndrome, because finishing WIPs puts you in a different place.  You know more about your story when you get to the end and you've learned more about writing when you complete a piece.

So those are some suggestions that I hope you will find helpful.  What do you do when you find yourself in this situation?

Photo by clix.

My Foray Into Indie Publishing

Blue Sky WEBSITE USEI've been writing so much about Amazon and indie publishing lately that I figured I better try it out myself.

And so I have.  As of last Wednesday, my first indie project, a short story, is for sale on Amazon for 99 cents.

Blue Sky: A Nell Malone Story

Here's the blurb (which I will no doubt rewrite a million times): 

Nell Malone's life is changing, big time. Still grieving over the death of her husband two years earlier, she grapples with the empty nest syndrome as her daughter leaves for college. But a visit to Santa Fe yields new insights into herself–and the tantalizing prospect of a relationship with an intriguing artist. A short story about loss and love.

And here's the inside scoop:  Nell Malone is a character who has been with me practically since I started writing.  She's a newspaper reporter and columnist with an artistic daughter and a husband who died two years earlier.  He was a cop, shot while on the job, and his killer has never been caught. I've got a novel about her all laid out and ready to write when I finish the book I'm working on now. (I'm thinking it will be a great project for Nanowrimo this November. )

But this particular story has been on my computer since my MFA days (and I graduated in 2003). Since Nell seems always to lurk on the edges of my brain, I pulled this story out, drastically gutted it, updated it, and edited it.  Then my writing group read it and commented and made more edits.  And I went back through it again until I was happy with every word.  And then the real fun began.

The Process

Let me just say, there are a few obstacles to the process of publishing a book.  

First of all, you've got to find a cover.  Now, let me be clear: this is a short story, as in short, not a lot of pages, not a novel.  I'm very proud of this story and I love that Amazon gives me a venue to publish it. All that being said, I didn't feel I needed to invest heavily in a cover, because, well, its a short story. And I knew a custom cover would be expensive, or at least more than my budget.

So I did what one always does in such circumstances: I asked the Google.

And I found Melody Simmons.  She does good work for reasonable prices.  I purchased a pre-made cover on her site which happened to suit my story.  It also happened to be on sale, which was a lovely bonus.  Melody has a good selection of pre-made covers on her site, and she also will do custom work. I recommend her.

And then after you get the cover, you need to figure out formatting.  Gee-zus.  It's actually an easy process to submit the file to Amazon.  They check it for spelling errors and send it back to you and then you preview it and realize that everything is wrong: tabs are wonky and things look awful.  So you go back over it again, trying to figure out what you did wrong.  And submit it again.  And it looks worse.  Finally, I got a writing friend with experience to help me with this and that solved the problem. There are also formatters that will do this for you. So that I don't have to rely on friends for help all the time, I'll probably buy this one.)

After you get all the wonkiness out, you submit it, et voila!  Your book is up on Amazon.  You can create your own Amazon author page, which I highly recommend, and feed your blog and Twitter onto it.  You can also create author pages for their UK, German, and French sites. (A tip: keep your English composing page open and you'll be able to figure out what they are saying.)

KDP Select

I opted to participate in the KDP Select program, which means I'm selliing it exclusively on Amazon for 90 days (and probably forever, most likely).  In return I get marketing tools such as the Kindle Countdown, which I haven't quite figured out yet, and the chance to offer my book for free. I'm still studying the best way to handle this promotion–when to offer it for free and so on.  

The Part Where She Asks for Reviews

Anyway, the story is available for purchase, and at the price of 99 cents, who can resist?  If you do buy it, I would SO appreciate a review!  Reviews rule the world, as far as the kings of Amazon are concerned, and I've not been good about asking for them.  (If you've read Emma Jean and feel like leaving a review, that would make me happy, too.)  So if you do decide to buy the story (and bless you if you do), writing a review would be awesome, too.  It's a really easy process!

Previous Posts

Here are some of the other posts I've featured about Amazon:

Amazon for Authors, Part Two: Tools and Thoughts

Amazon for Authors, Part One: Opportunities

Derek

PS

I've got a wee little book on writing about to come out, too.  I keep getting hung up on that one, for reasons to complex to list at the moment, but I'll keep you posted on it, as well.

And now, do tell: are you interested in leaping into the indie publishing process?  

Point of View Tips and Tweaks

Look_close_macro_224801_lI spent yesterday afternoon reading a rewrite of a client's novel (at least the first part of it). He has struggled with point of view in the past, and I've nudged him mercilessly on it. So I was thrilled to see that he is mastering it!

Reading his manuscript brought to mind some tips on viewpoint that might be helpful to others. (Note: most people, myself included, use the terms viewpoint and point of view interchangeably.)Please note that this is not in anyway a definitive rundown on viewpoint. Volumes have been written on it.  If you need more info on viewpoint try this or this.  What follows are just some simple ideas that might help you if you get confused about it.

1.  Don't use omniscient.  Just don't, okay?  In my experience, most of the time the use of omniscient viewpoint turns out to be viewpoint violations galore.  Or laziness.  Whatever, omniscient viewpoint is hard to master and do correctly and it confuses the hell out of readers–which is a cardinal sin.  So don't do it.

2. I am a camera.  Or at least your character is one.  All he or she can see, hear, smell, taste, and feel is in her viewpoint.  It's in her head.  Not the other character's head, hers alone.  Sometimes I see subtle viewpoint violations, like, "Sandra noticed that Frank felt scared."  Sandra can't know that Frank feels scared because she's not in his head.  She can notice that he seemingly felt scared, or she can see an expression on his face that tells her he's scared.  If you get confused on this point, think back to the camera analogy.  

3.  Change viewpoints at the start of chapters or scenes.  It's fine to use multiple viewpoints.  All you have to do is be clear to the reader that you are doing so.  Don't switch points of view in the middle of a sentence or even a paragraph.  Do it at the start of a scene or chapter, and please also give us some hint of who we are switching to.

4. To denote a scene shift, use white space.  If you want to switch viewpoint in the middle of a chapter, its easy–just use white space to signal the reader.  White space is four single hard returns or two double hard returns.  If the white space falls at the top or the bottom of the page, show it with stars:  *  *  *  *  *, otherwise it might not be evident.  Note: you don't need to use stars or any other symbol to show white space if it falls anywhere else on the page.  That's why they call it white space.

5. If you struggle with staying clear on viewpoint, try first person.  This is a great trick, because first person is easy to stay true to–all you've got is that "I" viewpoint, after all.  You don't have to write a whole novel in it, but try a short story or a piece of flash fiction.  It will teach you the limits of viewpoint very quickly.

Okay, those are my quick tips.  Do you struggle with viewpoint?  How have you taught yourself to master it?

Photo by xptakis.

Novel Prep: The Master Timeline

It's two days until Nanowrimo starts!  Are you ready?

You have two more days to write character dossiers, descriptions of locations, and figure out the plot. The rules of Nanowrimo state that you can do as much prep work as you like, so long as you don't begin the actual writing of the novel until November 1.

I highly recommend doing prep work for your novel.  As you might guess from this statement, I'm a plotter, not a pantser.  When I fly without a plan, I go off on tangents and my characters' motivations and actions tend to make no logical sense.  So I like to plan a bit ahead of time.  However, a bit is the operative phrase–I write character dossiers, figure out where they live and work and hang out and get a loose outline of the plot down on paper.  I like to leave room for the magic to happen–for a new character to walk on, or for an existing one to do something unexpected–and this method does that for me.

I've been puzzling over the plot of my WIP.  I'm not officially doing Nanowrimo because I've already gotten some words written, but I'm thinking I'll write along with those of you who are doing it as a way to kick-start this novel.

So I've been working on prepping.

And I've hit on what for me is a brilliant aid to figuring out the plot.

It's the master timeline, which is a timeline that mushes together all the events in all the characters' backstories.  I've made individual timelines for characters lives before, but never done it this way, with them all together.  For some reason, it works brilliantly for me to not only keep track of what happened in the past (when characters married, divorced, bore babies, etc.) but also to generate ideas for plot and character.

I've always had the theory that if you keep an idea book, the ideas in it mate and bear children while you aren't looking and I think the same is true with the master timeline.  The characters on it talk to each other and create activities and ideas when I'm not looking, I swear.

I started the master timeline to get a solid idea of the cast's backstories as I was finding myself confused with what happened when.  Now that I've gotten that all down on paper, I'm realizing I'm going to go even farther with the timeline, plugging into dates and events from the actual plot.

It's brilliant, I tell you, brilliant. 

So try it.  You've got time before Nanowrimo starts.  You can thank me on December 1st.

How do you prep for writing a novel, or any kind of book?  Or are you a pantser who just starts writing?  Leave a comment!

Working With a Writing Group, Writing Coach, or Beta Readers

Everystockphoto_152132_mSo, the time has come to get some feedback on your writing.

You've worked hard on this novel, committing to a regular writing schedule to get it done, and you've rewritten and revised until it is shiny like a precious jewel.

Or, so you think.  But who can be sure until your cherished gem has seen the light of day?  What you need are other readers to weigh in on your work.  Every writer can benefit from letting trusted readers look at their work before starting the submitting process.

Your Options

There are several ways you can approach finding readers for your writing:

1.  Take a class.  Many community colleges offer extension classes in writing, and lots of writers also teach privately.  Refer to the Google to locate classes that suit you. Classes can be a great way to learn, but the format may not allow a lot of personal attention for your writing.

2.  Join a writing group.  Critique groups abound!  Many of them are quite good and can be very helpful to your career–my novel would not have been published without the input of my group!  These groups will meet on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, and read short excerpts each session. It may take you a few tries to find the right one for you, but keep at it.

3.  Send it out to beta readers.  Many writers prefer to get an idea of how the whole book reads–and thus will select trusted beta readers to send their novel to.  You can find beta readers through friends, family members, and other writers. 

4.  Hire a coach.  Working one-on-one with a mentor or a coach can be a fabulous way to get feedback on your work and light a fire to write in your belly.  Each coach will work in a slightly different manner, and most will happily schedule a time to discuss their practices with you.

Okay, so you've decided on one of these options.  What should you expect? How can you best get ready for this new stage of your writing?

How to Prepare

1.  Investigate your commitment.  You've successfully written, so obviously you're committed to the craft.  But are you truly committed to learning the most that you possibly can about your work?  Are you ready to take the time that any of these options will require? 

2.  Be ready to listen.  In many MFA workshops, the format requires the person whose work is being discussed to sit quietly without making any comments herself.  No defending, not rationalizing, no ifs and buts.  Even if your group or coach or class does not require this, its a good rule of thumb–you might miss some good points if you're busy talking about your work.

3.  Maintain an open mind.  Your initial reaction to the feedback might be negative, but it can be difficult to listen to criticism, however well-intentioned of your work. Try to stay open to the suggestions others give you.  In the moment, you may not like them, but back at your desk you might just see some value there.

4.  Don't let emotions cloud your vision. Emotions easily get in the way.  No matter what anybody says, our writing is personal–very personal.  And when someone is picking it apart, it can feel like your baby is being destroyed.  Remember, if you've found the right group, class or coach, they have your writing's best interests at heart.

5.  Be ready to step it up.  Any one of these options will result in an increased clarity on the page.  Be prepared to improve your writing.  Be prepared to learn all kinds of things about yourself, too!

Which way do you choose to share your work?  What do you like or not like about it?  Please comment!

Photo by clarita.

 

Making the Magic Happen: Committing to a Writing Schedule

Writing is magic.
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We think up an idea, and put it on the page.  Whole worlds spring to life beneath our fingers.  And all we need to do this, at base, is a pen and paper.  Oh, sure, a typewriter or computer helps, but if worse came to worse you could do without one and still write.

What you do have to come up with is time to make the magic happen.  You have to sit at your desk, or your arm chair, or in the coffee shop, and put words on the page.  And that takes time.

And that is where many of us falter.  Me, too.  I struggle with finding time just like everyone else.  But lately I've realized that all my important non-writing activities stretch to fill the time I allot them.  So, if I give myself all day to read three manuscripts, that's how long it will probably take me.  And if I give myself all day to read said manuscripts, I won't get any writing done.

And therein lies the problem.

With the necessity of doing marketing around my book release, many days this winter I became a writer who didn't write.  Well, there were blog posts.  And there were guest posts and interviews and ariticles, all of which I love.

But in my heart of hearts, its not the same as working on fiction.  And if a fiction writer is how I identify myself, if that is what I truly want to be, then I need to find time to work on it consistently.

I used to get up and work on it first thing in the morning.  But that schedule no longer works for me–I simply have too many emails and other internet chores pulling on me to allow me to focus.  I'd sort of pretend I was writing and actually get about 20 minutes in.  Not conducive to making progress on a WIP.  I was working on it, but in fits and starts–a stolen moment here, a bit of time there.

Last week, in my travels around the web, I read an interview with an author said that she wrote every morning from 9 to noon.  (I wish I knew who this was or where I read it, but I can't remember.)  This struck me like a thunderbolt.  Bad cliche, sorry, but it did.  I realized that if I put myself on a schedule like that, I'd actually get my writing done. 

And so I did.  I'm now writing from 9 to noon every day.  I'm showered and at my desk by 9 AM.  No more stretching internet time until 8 AM, then working on the crossword puzzle for awhile and getting in the shower when I felt like it.  (Hey, its the benefit of working at home.)  Nope, I'm ready to write at 9 AM sharp.  And I'm getting a ton done.

What I wasn't so sure about was getting everything else done, but so far that hasn't been a problem at all.  I've always harped on said that when you make your passion your priority, everything else magically falls into place.  And it is true.  I'm simply much more focused.  Plus, the high that comes from fiction writing follows me all day, allowing me to power through dumb chores and errands with joy. 

I really can't describe how profound this change feels. 

I've got an exciting new ghostwriting job coming up, and a couple other things in the works, so we'll see how I stick to the schedule when those come in.  But in the meantime, don't call me in the morning, because I'll be writing.

Do you schedule writing time?  Are you able to stick to it?  What works for you?

10 Ways To Return to Writing Regularly

Note_creative_author_260972_lTrue confession: I haven't been writing.

Okay, that's not exactly true.  I've been writing blog posts, guest posts, interviews and comments on my client's work.  I've been writing in my journal every morning.  But I haven't been writing writing.  I haven't been working on my WIP.

Until this week.

In my case, I had a wonderful reason not to be writing: my novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, was recently released and I got caught up in the hoopla surrounding that.  But in the past, I've gotten distracted for the most mundane of reasons: all the events of day-to-day life.  There's just no two ways about it, it's easy to get distracted from your writing. 

But this week, as I said, I've started back into working on my WIP.  It took me awhile, but I'm back.  Watch out world!  It didn't happen all at once, however.  I don't think it ever does.  Getting back to writing regularly is  a process.   I found ways to ease myself back into it, which I share with you here:

1. Download Scrivener.  This writing software for writers is intuitive and helpful–who knew such a thing was possible? I'm still playing around with it, going through the tutorial, but I think it's going to be wonderful.  And I feel like I just got a new toy at Christmas, which alone is worth it because it makes me want to go play with it.  You can get a free 30-day trial here.

2. Direct your thoughts.  Consciously tell yourself to think about your novel, as in when you are driving, when you are vacuuming, when you are walking the dog.  It's also especially good to do this when you're thinking negative thoughts about how you're not writing.  Direct those thoughts to pondering character or plot instead.

3.  Take notes.  I'm a huge fan of jotting things down, because it leads to more jotting and before you know it you're in the middle of writing a scene.  Put all the ideas you get from #3 onto paper.  The other thing that happens is that ideas breed with each other, like rabbits.   Soon you'll have so many of them you'll be at the page writing.

4.  Familiarize yourself.  On the most basic level, this is about getting accustomed to working on the novel again.  Remember where the files are stored on your computer, stare at your vision board, recall where you were in the manuscript when last you wrote.

5.  Take micro action.  Now that you've gotten oriented again, set yourself a very small task.  Like, opening one file.  I'm not kidding.  Set yourself up for one tiny action and call it good.  This is a way of tricking yourself back into interacting with the work regularly.

6. Research.  Reconnecting with the ideas and topics of your novel can get you excited about it again.  Make a Pinterest board for actresses who might play your character or locations in your novel. Do a Google search for that obscure subject that fascinated when you began. Look for images of your settings.

7.  Use bursts.  Feeling ready to write?  Okay!  Set a timer for 30 minutes and do nothing else but write until the buzzer goes off.  This means no surfing the internet, no looking at email, no chatting on the phone, no getting up to get more coffee.  At the end of 30 minutes, you get to take a break.  Then start the process over again.

8.  Read!  Nothing makes me want to write more than reading.  I just got a Kindle (last person on the planet to do so, I know) and I'm amazed at how it enables me to devour books.  Which, in turn, makes me want to cover pages with words.  Most of us come to writing because we love reading so much, so use that impulse to propel your work.

9.  Reread.  While you're in a reading mode, go reread your WIP.  From the beginning.  Immerse yourself fully in the world you've created so that you can go forth and make it come even more alive.

10.  Create a vessel. Commit to a schedule of some sort.  Now, I am the first one to struggle with this–I end up rebelling against myself.  But when I wrote Emma Jean, I rose every day at 5 to work on it before the day began.  When I wrote my previous (unpublished) novel, I was earning my MFA and I had deadlines for 35-50 pages every week.  Each of these examples enabled me to complete a novel.

So there you have it–my rundown of how to get back to writing regularly.  Have you tried any of these, or something else?  What works best for you?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

As The Hoopla Winds Down

I owe you guys a blog post.

I've been guest posting and interviewing all around the internet (thank you, everyone) and, indeed, I have one more interview coming up on Tuesday, one I'm very excited about.  But in the hoopla around my book release I've not spent a lot of time, here, at home base, except for brief posts directing you to other blogs.

I tell myself that a guest post or interview is still me on the page, it's just at another venue.

But still, it feels odd not to be spending as much time here.

And so on this Saturday morning, I will write a bit about where things stand.

My local book release party was Thursday night, the bookend to the virtual release party I hosted a week ago.  We held it on the second floor of one of my favorite local brewpubs and I had a blast.  I think at least 60 people came.  I sold out of all the books I had on hand, and took orders for more. I spilled wine all over everything at the book signing table, including three just-signed books, and several people in attendance got very, very drunk. 

And most of all, I felt like an author.  It's hard not to when you're sitting behind a table signing books.  I think this is a thing that I will grow into more, because I realize  even as I type this that I still have a bit of anxiety around the whole thing.  Stepping out with my novel feels very different than the other writing and writing-related work that I do.  It feels like I'm putting more of me, myself and I out there–which is kinda funny because I strive to do that all the time on this blog.

So maybe it's a matter of getting accustomed to different writing venues.  When I first started writing this blog, come to think of it, I was very shy about sharing it.  I remember telling my family that I'd started a blog and then saying, "But don't go read it yet."  Which is probably hard for you who have read me here regularly to believe.  And I remember even farther back to when I first started getting articles published in magazines how I'd never actually look at them in print.

All of which is odd for a writer, but I don't think I'm the only one who deals with this.   We writers spend so much time alone crafting words that it's a bit of a shock when we realize that others are actually reading them.  But then, that's the point of what we do.  It's just that it sometimes take so long to get our words out there that we get used to nobody reading them.

And getting used to readers reading my novel is a wonderful problem to have.  As far as I can tell by obsessively checking my Amazon sales rank, the novel is doing okay.  Lots of you have said you've purchased it–thank you so much–and as I said, I sold a lot in person.  So I'm happy.

I'm also ready to get back to my so-called normal life, like writing regular blog posts and being on time with critiques and responses to people.  Don't get me wrong, I'm loving everything that has happened, and I'll be talking about my novel in a variety of venues for the forseeable future.  But perhaps we can turn out attention to other things as well. I promise to be here more regularly.

Have you experienced anxiety when getting your words out to the public?  Does it vary with different genres?  I'd love to hear your response.  (And by the way, if you've commented recently and it didn't show up, I'm aware of the problem now, and I think I know how to deal with it, so comment away!)

(You can buy Emma Jean at all the usual outlets, by the way, and I'll be eternally grateful if you do.)