GoogleDocs #$#$(#)*$@#@#@)#@*()

I have good news and bad news.

Bad news first, though. That way I can soften up that blow with some great news.

Everyone knows that cool thing-a-ma-jiggy called Google, and their amazing word processing whats-a-ma-hoot-sits GoogleDocs.  I wrote the majority of the beginnings of my debut novel, The Gathering Place, in GoogleDocs. I thought it was so nifty, and I sent revisions back and forth with many different editors, who’d make changes for me to review and accept, if I wanted.

The entire three years of this process I thought, “This is so cool!  I am so green!”  Gone were the days of printing out 4oo pages worth of crap and slicing and dicing 397 pages of it into the trashcan.  I have spit shined the manuscript for “TGP” as much as I can, and my editors are tired of me talking about it.  I submitted it, and ordered a proof, and…………

Tabs are EVERYWHERE.  It doesn’t look like that at all on my digital proof.  Tabs look nice, the fonts are embedded properly in the Word document, the grammar and spelling as perfect as my old eyes can see.  But the proof?  Tabs going crazy, all over the pages.  I was so disheartened when I saw it. I called and texted and messaged everyone I could, until I finally apprehended the culprit.

Google-friggin-Docs.

Apparently the program’s capabilities aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  When you export your document as a Word document, the tabs and other snazzy formatting aspects you slaved over don’t come with it. I didn’t realize that until I got the proof.  So now, I sit here, for hours (perhaps even days) backspacing all my quote and paragraph indention marks, getting them to line up properly and staring at the Word ruler like a pool of water in the middle of the Sahara.

Some day I will be done with this book.  Like when I’m eighty.

But the GREAT FANTASTIC AMAZING OUTSTANDING NEWS is that I have a BOOK!  Like a real, live book. It has covers designed by me (How the heck did I do that?  I don’t know!) that look professional enough to sell, it has pages and pages of white, fresh paper that smell like ink, like all of my favorite old bookstores smell like, just without the must and dust.

I decided to self-publish this one, not to forego ever attempting to secure a book deal, but to build an audience. Some of the incredible feedback I got from agents that I queried was how to market these books. I don’t have a lot of likes on Facebook, I have nothing to sell, nothing to market that screams “HEY, Y’ALL! I WROTE A BOOK!!!”  I went back and forth on this topic for ages until I decided that self-publishing and self-marketing my first book was the right way to go for me. I could use it as a tool to help me get exposure, to build a fan base, all the things I need to impress agents and publishers on down the line.

So, with that said, this week by some GoogleDocs hating miracle, or by next week at the latest, I will have a paperback and e-book version of my debut novel, The Gathering Place, available for sale on Amazon and my Create Space e-store.

I’m very excited about this and anxious to see what will happen once my writing is out there!  We shall see!

P.S. If you are writing in GoogleDocs now, STOP IT.

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#pitmad

What fun, what joy!  I stumbled upon the concept of #PitMad, a Twitter novel pitching frenzy that happens every so often.  New authors such as myself, as well as other established and published authors, get the chance to pitch their novels via the 140 character limitation.  It’s frustrating but thrilling.  At first, I thought there was no way I could pare a one-page query into a not-even-one-sentence pitch, but I did it.

And three agents “favorited” my pitches, which means I’m invited to send them official queries with chapters of my novel.  My confidence has been waning of late as I experience the doldrums that come with being an actual author.  Write, edit, pitch, sulk, dance, eat, pitch, edit, sulk, cry.  I think that pretty much sums up my author mood swings of late.

I’m not losing hope, no way. But I’m so glad to see something SO COOL like #pitmad allowing us publishing virgins the opportunity to connect with agents who, without even a real query or the novel, tell us YAY or NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOO just by clicking a little star.  Surely if I can write a pitch good enough to entice rock star agents on Twitter I can master the art of query letters and editing until my eyes bleed. Right?  Right.

Pin pricks to my ego.

I’m glad that I read (and re-read) Stephen King’s wonderful memoir On Writing before I dared to query The Gathering Place.  Rejections from agents are tiny pin pricks to my ego, but rather than letting them deflate me, I try to understand what about my query isn’t attractive.

I’ve heard from several people that it isn’t the writing that’s bad, and I’m finally in a place where I see that “My god, I AM A WRITER!”  I can’t tell you how many times my friends and family have tried to beat that into my head through the years, but I get it.  But when an agent sends you a form rejection, one that you know came without any consideration whatsoever towards your manuscript, you can’t help but feel a little wounded.  I’m the mother of my novel, and they’re calling my baby ugly.

However, I still try to see their point. If it’s a form rejection, the agent is either too busy, or knows right off the bat that my manuscript would be better suited in the loving hands of another agent.  I have yet to receive the ever-elusive response that gives me the information I need to correct whatever mistake I’m making.  I hope one comes soon, because I’m floundering in the ocean of new authors being swallowed up by the shark that is trying to get your novel published.

I am embarking on an intensive round of editing to shave down my word count from approximately 132,000 words to 90,000 words max.  My heart breaks at the thought, and my wordy muse (and protagonist) Lucas is none too happy with me, but it must be done if I want to be published within the romance genre.

So here I go, another edit looming in the distance, as I buy out all of Target’s cheap black frames to preserve the rejections I’ve received, and those that are on their way, just like the great Stephen King did when he was in my shoes, as well as my favorite, Stephanie Perkins.

It will happen, I know it.  I just hope my ego holds out.

Drafting, revisions, drafting, review.

That’s the basic formula for writing a novel.  The fun part is the actual writing process: formulating the idea, outlining, creating the characters, and implementing all of that into a manuscript.  For me, I write and write and write and write. I try not to edit as I go, because I end up frustrated and my muse gets mad at me and huffs off.

Once I’ve finished my first draft from start to finish, I edit it, a.k.a. walk through the gates of hell. I’m a self-proclaimed Grammar Nazi so the editing of grammar and syntax isn’t hard.  It’s the tedious combing through to make sure everything matches, finding potential plot holes and correcting stupid mistakes I missed the first go around.

And then you have people read it and they tell you “Um, I thought she was killed somewhere else, not her bedroom?”  WHOOPS. Yes, I changed it so uh, yeah. And then you panic and experience paranoia thinking you haven’t found everything and oh my god, I’ll never get published…and down the rabbit hole you go.

You reach where I’m at now – the third draft – where all of your revisions are implemented. You’ve had two rounds of edits and you’ve had beta readers going through the manuscript to make sure nothing funny jumps out at them, and then, you realize, oh no!  I have to delete 40,000 words.  40,000 words!!!!  I want my security blanket and my thumb.

It’s not that I’m not up to the task – I assure you that I am.  It’s that I love the words I’ve written, and the things that Lucas (my protagonist) has whispered into my ear in that sexy English voice of his.  How do I delete that or put it on mute?  Aaggghhh!

But, my genre is romantic suspense for this one, and I must adhere to the guidelines, lest I have every single literary agent and publisher in the world shoo me away from their email inbox.  I can’t shoot myself in the foot right off the bat, so shushing my characters and their lovely little internal thoughts is what I must do.

Sorry, Lucas. Please don’t be too hacked off at me, love.

Welcome!

Welcome to my brand new author website, created for me by my lovely friend Nicole Stern.  She’s incredibly sweet and talented (and patient) so if you need any help creating your own website or brand, please contact her for your website and branding needs.

My “official” journey as an author has just begun.  I am finished writing (and editing, and editing, and editing again) my first novel, The Gathering Place, and I have started the query process.  Right now I have queried four literary agents and have received one no.  That’s okay, it’s one person.  I also have met a fellow author who is further down the query road than I am, and she has given me incredible advice on how to tackle the bumps that I am sure to encounter along this path.

While the “official” part is only starting, I began writing when I learned how to write my name. I’ve always had my nose in books, devouring all of the Nancy Drew books, Laura Ingalls Wilder books and Babysitters Club books I could find when I was a girl.  My parents read to my brother and me as kids, and we couldn’t go to sleep until they read to us.  One of my father’s favorite memories is of me reciting my favorite book “I Am a Bunny” by Ole Risom in the living room to my family. I was two at the time, and he thought I was reading, his own Baby Einstein.  But alas, I’d memorized it from my parents reading it to me so often.  Needless to say, I’ve had a lifelong obsession with books.  That love has morphed into a love of writing.  I journal, I blog (please check out my blog, Living With Cushing’s Disease here), and of course, now I write novels.  I’ve always communicated with the written word.  Words are my favorite, and I hope I get to share mine soon with you!

If you’ve found me, I am glad you’re here and I hope you will walk with me toward getting my novel published.

Stay tuned!