Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Round of Words in 80 Days

I wish I could say I had a busy life with screaming kids and a husband to cook for. But I don't have kids and my husband usually fends for himself. I do however have a full-time job and a part-time job teaching community college Monday nights and Saturday mornings. The rest of my time is either spent writing or thinking about writing. You'd think by now I'd have a better handle on how to better manage my time, but no...I tend to procrastinate and actually do more thinking about my WIP than actually writing it.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon A Round of Words in 80 Days and even though this writing challenge began on January 3rd, I decided it's never to late to set realistic writing goals. The organizer, Kait Nolan, was encouraging and said to jump on in and so here I am.

The idea behind #ROW80 is to set your own realistic writing goals as long as they're measurable. That's pretty much all there is to it, with bi-weekly check-in's on Wednesdays and Sundays.

I think I can manage that!

So here are my goals for the next 80 53 days:

1. Write everyday - I don't have many distractions other than work obligations, so I have to condition myself to put in writing time in the morning and at night. I get easily distracted by the t.v....

2. On weekends, spend at least 3 hours writing a day - my weekends, other than Saturday mornings, are are almost always free.

What I hope to accomplish with the first two goals will ultimately lead to my third and final goal.

3. Have the first draft of my WIP completed.

So there you have it. Every Wed an Sun you'll be seeing my progress posted on my blog and I hope that by participating in this challenge I will stop procrastinating and get it done!

** I didn't devote 3 hours writing time yesterday, but I did manage to get in @ 1,500 words. If I stick to these goals (starting today), think of how much I can accomplish!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm a Writer, but a Reader First

I just want to make it clear that this is not a book review site. However, occasionally I like to post about books that I've read and enjoyed...especially indie authors. Why? Because we are a special community of writers that rely on the support from writers and their peers. It's no different than what we see in the world of academia when we hear the term "peer reviewed" in relation to a published article. It simply implies that the work had been accepted and vetted by members within their academic community.

But aside from being a writer and a peer, I am also a reader!  If you're going to write, you have to read (and because Stephen King says so).

Now that I've said what I have to say, here are two books I had the good fortune of reading this week from indie author Stacey Wallace Benefiel

I loved the story so much, that I ended up reading both books back to back (Stacey, please hurry up with Glow)! Stacey offers an original take on psychic abilities and I was completely sucked into the story and its characters. While the books are YA, it was still a captivating read to this 30-some year old. My only complaint was that both books were just a tad too short...I didn't want it to end. Oh, and her sister did the cover art. How cool is that?

Glimpse (Zellie Wells Book 1)

Glimmer (Volume 2)

So you see, this isn't really a review, but rather an attempt to say, "Hey! Read this book. It's great."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Blog Design!

For those of you who actually read my blog, you'll notice a definite change. I decided to take advantage of  last night's winter storm (okay, I could have gone to work today, but I decided to stay home and clear up all the widow makers that fell in our front and back yards) and play around with my site.

Since a lot of my current projects include horror, paranormal and fantasy elements, I went with fun. Plus, I really like skeletons and skulls - I even have skull artwork around the house (but no skeletons in the closets!)

I am still working on revising some of my pages, so keep checking back!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't Forget to Add These Books...

Ever since I decided to take the leap from published short story writer to penning full length books, I've been greeted with open arms by both authors and readers. All I can say is that I've had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of some great indie authors, readers, and reviewers in the last couple months. Without your words of encouragement and support, I'd have given up long ago.

But support goes both ways, so here I am, excited for my dear friend Abe Dawson who has just published his first book, Acedia. If you are familiar with the some of the works from last year's Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Awards, you'll know that Acedia (under the working title, The Earls of Fairlington) made it all the way to the Semi-Finals. Publishers Weekly called his debut book, "...a highly original, sometimes farcical and reliably intelligent work..."

Now, even though Abe already gave my husband and I a signed ARC of Acedia as an early wedding gift awhile back, you can bet I'm looking forward to downloading Acedia on my Kindle!


And speaking of signed copies...Guess who won a signed copy of J.L. Bryan's The Haunted E-Book this past weekend? Me! As I've mentioned before, J.L. Bryan is currently blog-hopping on his Haunted E-Book Tour (Is it possible to be a groupie for a blog tour??) and it's not too late to win some great giveaways, including a Kindle!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hello, Self

I've only been able to read one book this week, finished up some much needed editing for Heir, and kept up with my social networking...all this in addition to my full-time job and working on my lectures for school.


All that aside, I have been working on an outline for a new book (I know, I still have to publish my first one, but when the idea strikes, you write!). The idea for this one came to me the other morning as I was getting ready for work. I looked at myself in the mirror and I thought to myself, what do you see?

Eye crust aside, I caught a glimpse of who I am: a person who lives in two different worlds. One world defines me by my education, profession and marriage. The other world shaped my character, through culture and heritage.

By the time I got in the shower, it hit me...why don't I have a character who's like me? Why don't I ever read about characters that I can relate to? So I decided to take matters into my own hands and came up with an idea for a book.

After fighting rush hour traffic, a story took shape and I began outlining my character and background that night.

Here's my point...there are an estimated 50 million Hispanic living in the U.S., making us one of the largest ethnic minority groups. And being a proud member of such a diverse population, why doesn't my writing reflect that?

So the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to create a character who's like me - someone who juggles two cultures. I'm an eight generation (third generation on my father's side) American, but my Mexican roots are still very much alive. Depending on my mood, my voice can carry a slight Texas drawl, but I also speak fluent Spanish; I can do the Texas Two-Step with ease, but I rock the Mexican Cumbia; I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I love tortillas smothered in butter too.

So where are my chicas? Where are the paranormal romance, chick lit, and mystery thrillers featuring a spicy female who kick butt? I know you're out there!?

I may not be the stereotypical Latina, but let's face it, neither are our characters....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Support Our Books

Here is a list of all the books I read this past week. All links direct you to Amazon and all are priced at $2.99 or under! Most of them are indie authors and if you have never read anything by these authors, you should give them a try!

To Kill A Warlock by H.P. Mallory

This is the first in the Dulie O'Neil series. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is owed to Dulcie, who works in law enforcement (as a Regulator who monitors supernatural creatures living in the mortal world), but in her spare time writes novels hoping to catch the eye of an editor. Hey! I work in law enforcement and spend every spare moment I have working on publishing my first book. Talk about relating to a character!

                                                            Ascend by Amanda Hocking

I was sad that this is the final book in the Trylle Trilogy, so reading Ascend was a bittersweet ride, but Miss Hocking does not disappoint. Since this book was just released, I don't want to spoil it with spoilers (yes, pun intended).

                                                          Desert Places by Blake Crouch

I'll admit, I picked up Desert Places because I am preparing for Stirred, the final book in the Jack Daniel's series by J.A. Konrath, that will be co-written by Crouch, blending characters from both series of books. Update: I just finished reading Locked Doors, the sequel to Desert Places this morning.  

                                                      Burial to Follow by Scott Nicholson

I was in the mood for some horror and I stumbled upon Nicholson and thought I'd give this book a chance. I was not disappointed! Being a fan of horror, this novella was wonderfully crafted and I wanted more!

                                                              Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan

I read this book the previous week, however, I thought I would add this to the list as J.L. Bryan has kicked off The Haunted E-Book Blog Tour to promote his book, The Haunted E-Book (which I will begin reading this week). As for Jenny Pox, this was original in concept and beautifully written. It liken it to a cross between Carrie and Romeo & Juliet.

***As I compiled the list, I realized that Crouch, Nicholson and Bryan are all Southern writers. Maybe it's because I'm Southern myself that I find myself drawn to them....something about their style : )

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Can a Serial Kill?

The other night, the hubby and I stayed up to watch Stephen King's The Green Mile (a welcomed favorite, no matter how many times we've seen it), when he commented that it must have been a great book. He's not much of a reader, so I confirmed that yes, it was an excellent book and pointed out that initially the book was was back in 1996(?) and I remember anxiously waiting every month for the new installment. Six mini books in six months - that's the longest it's ever taken me to read an "entire" book :)

So I got to thinking, what if I turned Heir into a three part serial, with each episode (or novella) to be published over the course of a few months. I would eventually publish the subsequent books in the series as complete novels.

To serialize my debut book is not without its appeal:

One, if I decide to work with an editor, I could keep initial costs at a minimum by submitting one novella at a time vs. a completed book. Two, if I serialized Heir and the first novella bombs, then I can scratch the project all together. Three, I can get my story out to readers ahead of schedule. And lastly, since this will be my first time working with Amazon/PubIt/Smashwords, I can try to figure out the formatting on a much smaller piece than the whole enchilada (which two other jobs, this is a great reason).

I do however, see the disadvantages:

Readers having to wait several months to read the entire first book...hmm, that's the only downside I have so far. Well, okay, maybe pricing. The price for each novella would most likely run about .99 cents (I've heard indie authors can't price it for FREE on Amazon), so it could end up costing the reader a total of $3, if they were to buy all three novellas. If I were to publish Heir as one book, I would probably price it at $1.99. Something to consider.

I am going to continue toying with the idea, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. Thoughts?

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Sure Thing

I will be the first to admit, I couldn't wait to watch the season premiere of Jersey Shore last night and I can't wait to see Sammi the Sweetheart get her ass kicked in next Thursday's episode. I don't remember how I got hooked into watching Jersey Shore, but I think it was when my husband was watching the season two marathon one boring Sunday and couldn't reach for the remote.

If you're reading this blog (and I thank you profusely) then I can assume you are interesting in writing/authors/books and have no doubt heard the buzz about Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi's new book. I think the issues with this concept is as obvious as it is universally noted.

I'm not surprised that Simon & Schuster has agreed to publish this book that claims is "about a girl looking for love on the boardwalk (one full of big hair, dark tans and fights galore)." As one of the Big 6, they are out to make money and (unfortunately for us) reality stars pay out. But unfortunately for them, they miss the opportunity to sign a talented writer simply because they don't generate the big bucks as a newbie...but it's really the readers that end up losing in the long run (isn't it??).

But to be honest, it makes me feel better knowing there's a book entitled A Shore Thing, by Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, because that means there is a book out there that is definitely worse than anything I could ever come up with. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Glad You've Finally Arrived

It's now 2011 and I couldn't be more excited. This is the year I plan on publishing my book (and hopefully several others) and begin working on making a career out of my writing...even if I don't ever quit my day job.

Normally, I write and edit in the living room watching television, but I decided it was high time I take this seriously and finally convert one of my spare rooms into an office. So yesterday I hightailed it to the antique store (that's where I shop for furniture) and immediately found my desk (for under $60)! Browsing a bit more in the store, I also found a cork board  which is exactly what I wanted (I was planning on going to Target)!

Yes, it's an old sewing table...the room is too small for anything larger and I have to admit, the foot petal totally rocks! I also put in our combo tv/dvd player so that I can still have the tube in the background as I work...right now I popped in Buffy Season 5 (Joss Whedon inspires me).

Now I can write away reminding myself that all of this will be worth it (working three "jobs")  so that one day I can retire drinking pina coladas on the beach.

So once Heir is published and I finally get readers on this blog who are going through my archive of blog posts, you now have the opportunity to see where I work :)