Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Obsessed With Paper

There are a lot of things I miss with so much of our lives packed up and ready to move across the country. Movies, pictures, books, being able to leave my laptop out when I leave the house... But one thing I miss a lot and didn't expect to miss so much is paper.

I love paper. I am obsessed with notecards, notebooks, steno-pads, calendars, anything that is paper-related. I want the paper to be pretty or professional or interesting or have my name on it. Seriously, if it's paper, I love it.

I could spend a week in Target or Office Depot, just roaming around through the paper/cards/invitation/office supply area.

But right now they are all packed up, waiting for us to get to a new house. And I can't buy more, either since they would also have to be packed up so that my office wouldn't be cluttered for house showing. Still, I look forward to the day when I can open up a box (or two) filled with all my various papers. I think it will be like seeing old friends. Hello bird notecards. Hello "From the Desk of..." paper. How I missed you...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Five Books I've Read This Year

I'm forever complaining about how I have no time to read, and it's true. Between writing, writing, writing and all the stuff we're involved with in selling our house and moving across country, by the time I'm done with my day, I fear I'm more in the mental state to watch some TV rather than focus my eyes on more words. So I don't read as much in the evening as I once did. I do tend to read on planes and since I have the Kindle app on my phone, I often read while waiting for... well, everything. This means that in the past year I have actually, SHOCKER, read some books! And here are some of them:

1. The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff -- This one is an interesting one, recommended to me by my sister-in-law who read it for her book club. It's a story of a woman who is the 19th wife of a polygamist who is accused of killing her husband and her son who tries to help her, even though he's run away from that life. It also tells the story of Brigham Young's own 19th wife. The dueling stories and historical story really drive it.

2. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler -- Read this one on a plane the way to Seattle. Raymond Chandler wrote all the Sam Spade stories. They were made into movies starring Humphrey Bogart. Well paced, interesting characters and since there's no real CSI, the investigating techniques from the world's most famous P.I. is fascinating!

3. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin -- A wonderful memoir of a smart, interesting comic who I've always loved. He comes across as kind, fascinating and unexpected. I enjoyed this one a lot.

4. Sex With the Queen by Eleanor Herman -- There's another book called Sex With the King that is on the same subject, people who had affairs and relationships with Kings and Queens over the decades. Spoiler Alert: it rarely goes well to be the lover of royalty. People end up dead more often than not.

5. The Shining by Stephen King -- I got on a Stephen King kick late in 2010 again and read The Shining. Ten times better than the movie (still need to watch the 90s miniseries, which is supposed to be closer to the book). Really compelling and scary, scary, scary.

I don't like reading the same genre I'm writing in (it just gets in my head too much) and I've been writing a LOT of romance, so you'll see my list doesn't have much of it right now (any of it) and I miss it. I have a few books in my kindle in the romance genre and I'm hoping to read them during my upcoming trip in July. I've got some Lisa Kleypas, Laura Lee Guhrke and a sexy Blaze. So maybe the next time I do this, I'll actually have some romance to report on!

What are you reading?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My 3 Worst Writing Habits

All writers have them. I swear, ask the best bestselling author and if they say they don't they are a liar, liar pants on fire. They are bad writing habits. Here are three of mine:

1. Writing until I hurt myself. - I do have a set number of words/pages I sit down and do each day. After of years of trial and error, I figured out the number that allowed me to write quickly but also not burn out. But sometimes, especially when I'm have multiple projects due in a short amount of time or when I'm at the end of a book and can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I ignore my goal and just... go crazy. This is good in that I finish a book ahead of schedule. This is bad in that my wrists hurt, my head hurts, my back hurts and I'm tired for three days after. And yet I still do it. I get that it is part of my process now... but man I wish I could adjust that process.

2. Getting ahead of myself and starting before I should. - I'm a big plotter. I do character sheets and synopses and pages and pages of detailed scene sketches. I always have every intention to get to a certain point and then start writing. And I always start before I reach that intended part. I think this one is related to one. I'm willing to just WRITE when I'm excited. Which is not a bad thing but I do sometimes put the cart before the horse and have to rethink mid-book.

3. Love-Hate, Love-Hate, Love-Hate -- My husband can attest to this one, but I know it isn't just me who experiences it as a writer. I start my book, I love it. I hit about 100 pages, I hate it. I hit 200 and I love it. Get the picture? Back and forth from soaring excitement to crushing defeat. It is exhausting.

Everyone has weakness as a writer. What are yours?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Old Books Are Like Old Friends

Because of my entrance into the independent publishing world (which I wrote about last week), I've had the pleasure of going through my backlist and evaluating which books would be appropriate for publication. There are lots of reasons why a book doesn't fit for the traditionally published world. As an unpublished author, publishers need a book that will fit their list and have a certain amount of universal appeal. That's why it's so hard for a new author to break in to the New York publishing world. A tiny issue, a close-but-not-close enough moment.... and a book won't sell.

Does that mean these books aren't good? Nope! Just look at some of the breakout stars of indie publishing and you'll see books which didn't make that first blush cut for traditional and yet sold like crazy and had readers fall in love with them when they went the indie route.

But many of these books I wrote years ago. In a different time of my life, in a different place physically for some of them. I wondered, would ANY of them be appropriate for publication? And then I started reading them. And I felt like I was meeting up with old friends and catching up. I still loved these stories and these characters and I really wanted to share them.

Were they perfect? NO!! NO NO NO NO. I actually dove into editing and matching them to my writing sometimes ten years later (has it been that long???). It has been challenging and exciting and I hope eventually readers will see that and fall in love, too. Still, old friendships don't have to be perfect. With work, they can be strong.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Indie Publishing: A Brave New World

If you're on my Twitter or Facebook accounts (@jennaromance and then you've probably heard me talking lately about the fact that I've been independently publishing books for the last few months and am planning even more in the future.

When I talk about indie pubbing (or self-publishing), lots of people ask me why I would do that? Well, there are many reasons and I wanted to share mine.

First off, traditional publishing is getting much more cautious about what they publish and that has translated in many authors losing their contracts. I still have many, many, many historical romances to write and share. And I don't want to wait for a publisher to decide that the math is perfectly right for them to take a chance to publish them. Financially and creatively, it just doesn't work for me.

Secondly, there is the freedom of scheduling that indie publishing affords me. I'm a quick writer, but my historical romances were always scheduled 9-12 months apart. Trust me, this was never my choice or because of my writing speed. But with independent publishing I can publish a book a month for the rest of the year (which is my plan) and 4-5 books a year on a regular basis.

Finally, there is the issue of price. One big advantage of indie publishing is that because the author gets a much larger percentage of royalties, I can charge way less for a book and actually make more per book sold. That seems like a win-win for everyone. Readers get a book for less, I can still pay my light bill. Hooray for all of us.

Of course there are disadvantages. If you don't like reading on a reader, phone or computer, then no, there won't be a paperback copy of the book available and I know that's disappointing to many readers. I love books, too, but I promise you I'm not making the decision lightly or while rubbing my hands together with an evil laugh as I picture readers who want a paperback suffering. I only hope that you'll want the book enough to overlook the disadvantage. If not, I do understand that, too.

We're entering a brave new world for readers and authors! I'm really enjoying it and I hope you will too.