Tag Archives: author things

Promises, tears, and magic

Remember back when I won a book on Goodreads and it led to me accidentally working with an author?

On May 13th, that manuscript, the one I got to read and puzzle over and love – it was published.

Suzy (I call her that cuz we’re tight, remember?) and I probably shot pieces of this book back and forth over the course of four or five months? Let’s call it six because that makes it sound like we did half a year’s worth of hard work and let me tell you, writing is hard work. She’s a total hack-n-slasher; she’ll remove entire sections, if necessary, in order to make her story go the right way. It’s like she is all the forces of nature wreaking havoc upon her poor characters but the result is amazing. In turn, her early readers are like FEMA workers in that they have to see what the lay of the land looks like after the restructuring. We’re responsible for testing the new spots, making sure everything fits together, sometimes reading the same thing over and over again. It’s a lot of work and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed or taken as seriously any other project in my entire grown-up life.

Anyhow, when time was up and she had to relinquish her baby to the publishing house, she told me I’d been a big help. I don’t know how much I believed her – my opinions are only opinions, after all – but it was nice to hear nonetheless. She reaffirmed she was going to put me in the acknowledgements, something she’d said a million times already, but this time she said I would be first. Again, I don’t know that I fully believed her because I know I get overly-enthusiastic about stuff from time to time and make promises only to forget them later. She asked me how I wanted my name to appear and if I wanted her to say anything specific. I said I wanted my full name because I’m vain and no one would be able to doubt it was me she was acknowledging but, otherwise, she could say whatever she wanted. Then I promptly forgot about all of this. Well, not forgot but it sort of went to my background consciousness.

As the publication date drew closer, I started hyping the book to co-workers, friends, and family, using the “You should buy this book because I’ll be in the acknowledgements” line but even then, I don’t think I really knew what that meant until April 18th when Suzy announced on Facebook that the pre-order was live and that if you went to Amazon and did the “Look inside!” trick, you’d see the people she’d tagged in the acknowledgements. I did as instructed and then died.

Talk about making good on promises.

People, when you say you’re going to do something, do it big like Suzanne Palmieri. I cannot tell you what this did to me (but I’m going to anyway).

Here’s the book:

Go get this book. If this isn't your kind of story, buy it as a gift for someone else. Just go get it.

Go get this book. If this isn’t your kind of story, buy it as a gift for someone else. Just go get it.

And here’s the Acknowledgements page which is right at the beginning:

Yes. That's me. The very first acknowledgement, just as promised.

Yes. That’s me. The very first acknowledgement, just as promised.

Not only am I first, but I have my own sentence. Two of them, actually. If you read the book, you’ll appreciate the sweetness of “shine,” too.

When I saw this, I cried. Not pretty little tears trickling down my cheek at a beautiful pace. No, it was the out-n-out snotty nose, puffy eyes cry, the Ugly Cry. You would think ugly-crying would not be the proper response to finding out you were mentioned with gratitude in a book and got a place of honor surrounded by swirly, lovely words but the thing is, not only had I not been expecting something this big, this special, but about ten days earlier, I had found out my mom has cancer and I’d been in a bad place ever since. So seeing this was a gift, a hug, a bit of love on the wind coming to give me comfort during a turbulent bit of life. Yes, of course, part of my joy was centered around my vanity – who doesn’t want to see her name in print, right? But it was more than that, two things more, to be precise.

One: My mother was going to be able to see this before she dies. I owe her and her mother, ZZ, credit for my reading addiction. Because they showed me how to love words, my name gets to live with words. My mom always wanted to be a novelist but never got around to it. I think she has the same hope for me but even if I never make it, this is close. I loved seeing her smile when I gave her this book and she read those words. I can keep that with me forever.

Two: Praise is a wonderful thing but, for me, it’s what’s behind the praise that means the most. I know that I helped Suzy, that I gave her a piece of me and she was able to weave my thoughts and suggestions into her story, that she was able to take what we all gave her and she made something that was already good into something absolutely…well…magical.

I feel the shine. Can’t you?

The Witch of Belladonna Bay is available at Barnes & Noble, Target, Amazon, and other fine book retailers or you can order it through your local bookstore. Can’t buy it? Try the library!


Filed under Adventures, My journey to writerhood, My Opinions on STUFF

Carrying the TOURCH in the #mywritingprocess blog hopchaintour

Funny story:
One day on October 4, 2012, I was perusing The Bloggess’ latest post and noticed the first commenter, a guy named Nic, had the word “garlic” in the bloglink under his amusing reply. I love garlic so I clicked over to his blog, found that it was quite enjoyable, and I left a comment. This is not an uncommon habit of mine – I like to spread myself over the internet like black mold invading a grimy bathroom. However, I took the extra step of stalking him (I started following his blog) which is rare because I typically only stalk people I’ve already met.

For months, I read his blog from the shadows and then one day, I just started commenting on posts as if we’d been friends our whole lives. My ruse, it worked. He accepted me into his tribe but I only just found out how much he had accepted me last week when he passed me the #mywritingprocess TOURCH (<–click that word to find out why I keep saying “TOURCH” and also to see Nic’s answers to the questions I am about to answer) and said really nice things about me! I was all, “Awwww!” and then I realized that he was just setting me up to do work. Then I was like, “DAMN YOU, NIC!” with my fist shoved angrily into the air.

So from what I can gather, this is a blog tour/hop/chain. It’s been done by both real, actual writers as well as play writers (like me) (no, I don’t mean I write plays, I mean I’m playing at writing. It’s what I do here on this blog) I don’t think there are any stated rules anywhere, but it looks like you answer the four questions (below), say something about it on Twitter with the hashtag (which you’ll automatically do if your posts send themselves to Twitter and you put the hashtag in your title. I think), and then tag some other bloggers you admire to do the same!

That sounds about right. Let’s move on now.

1. What am I working on?

Blog answer: I am currently working on three drafts and four scheduled posts. They’re in various stages of editing.

Non-blog answer: I am working on a YA horrordomesticfictionparanormalsomethingorother novel. It should take me about 10 years to complete at the rate I’m going. I am also working on some sort of friendship/chick-lit (though not really) piece but that’s all vague and hazy right now.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

It…doesn’t, actually. Blog-wise, I come from the same writing school as the admirable aforementioned Jenny Lawson as well as Tina Fey. It is sort of the Open Mouth, Words Come Out, Then You Listen to Them After You Realize What You Just Said school. Yes, yes, I understand both Lawson and Fey do lots of editing and don’t just go all willy-nilly but their art makes them look like they’re all willy-nilly and I always look that way because I am that way, so…see? Same/Same.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I don’t know what else to write. I think I’m a storyteller so I tell stories. I might not actually be a storyteller and am, rather, a hoarder of words which I then collect on a page and call it a blog post. I’m not really sure what I’m doing, actually.

I can tell you why I write YA horrordomesticfictionparanormalsomethingorother novels, though: It’s because I’m working through crap and this seems to be the most user friendly way for me to get it out of my system.

4. How does my writing process work?

Writing process? I’m supposed to have a process?

Oh, well, actually, with the blog, I am fairly organized. I think of things I want to write about or I remember stories I want to tell or Noelle says, “You should blog about that!” and so I jot notes on scraps of paper or, if I’m near my computer, I type sentences into a document. Then, when I’m in a super-writey mood, I compose all these stories and post them as drafts here on WordPress. I organize them according to when I want them to appear and then edit as needed. I like the editing part because I like making my jumbled writings more cohesive. I mean, you wouldn’t know any of my work is edited because it all seems so scattered but you should see it when it’s still in rough form. That said, I have a long way to go, obviously.

For the novels, though…I have to wait until my brain is ready to write. It comes and goes. If I force it, I just get crap. But if I wait until it tells me it has stuff for me, then I will sit for hours and pour words out of my fingers. When I’m not busy doing that, though, I edit. I really do like to edit. The YA horrordomesticfictionparanormalsomethingorother novel has actually become something I enjoy reading, too, and I keep getting frustrated that there’s not more done because I want to know what happens next. I think that’s a good sign, though I will obviously never know what happens next if I only ever work on the writing part six to eight weeks out of the year.

The End.

Those are my answers. I would have been more cheeky but I’m fresh out of cheek this week. Sorry.

And now, I would like to have the following published authors share their processes because I think that would be really interesting:

My beloved Internet Boyfriend: The Reverend Doctor (and his whimsical adventures)
Tyler is a fellow #Lawsbian (those who follow The Bloggess; we’re almost a cult, really, created the day she had a book chat on GoodReads, broke the site, moved the chat to Twitter, broke that, too, and we were all left in a heap of giggling and silliness afterward) and a published poet! He’s like the antithesis of me in that he’s kind and gentle, thoughtful and good-hearted, and impressively talented when it comes to crafting things such as hats, tiny taxidermied creatures, and words. Yet, somehow, we are so alike and I’m not sure why. I am sure, though, that I adore him. So, Tyler, it’s your turn to share your writing process!

Also, four-time published novelist and BEST. TWELLER. EVER: Suzanne Palmieri — Oh, look! She already did it. Here it is. She’s always one step ahead of the game because she is magical and one day, I will meet this amazing person. Go read her words because they are delightful, much like the author, herself. And then, you can go buy her books, especially the new one that was just released yesterday!


Filed under My journey to writerhood

NaNoWriNO! (Not rhino) (maybe rhino, actually)

I’m writing a book

I know, who isn’t, right?

It’s a young adult novel about witches and stuff and I’ve come upon a…well, it’s not really a problem but it is an obstacle.

See, when I first started my work, now over a year ago, I checked out stories about witches, from compendiums to picture books. There’s a lot of witchery out there and yet it’s never really gone mainstream in the young adult (YA) fantasy world, despite the efforts of Harry Potter and his ilk. For some reason, vampires and werewolves still have the limelight while angels/demons and fae traipse right behind. I’m cool with that but I still wonder: Why not witches? It’s like they’re always the tagalong little sister.

So I started writing, declaring to myself, “I will bring witches to the forefront! Single-handedly! Because I am just that good” and then I stopped writing for a long time. I began again this past summer and found that during my hiatus,  a lot of people were able to get their witch stories out into the world. I’ve since read four different stories that have elements I had incorporated into mine or are, at least, similar. I have five chapters of Part I finished and three chapters of Part II and now I have to go through and change a lot of things because I don’t like thinking the few potential people to read this book of mine will be all, “Oh, she totally stole that from that OTHER book I read” and it will really look that way because everyone will be able to see, via Goodreads, that I read those books before publishing mine.

I’m going to dial back and ask a more broad question: What’s going on with this hive mind think thing? I see it all the time in entertainment but always figured some entertainment guru gives each medium an annual assignment. For instance, Entertainment Guru says to Movie Industry, “We want to see flicks about turn of the century magicians battling a newfound sense of disbelief and cynicism amongst their audiences which, in turn, turns the magicians murderous” and then three movies with that theme all pop up. Think “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist” (Right, that’s only two. I know that) They were out at the same time and about old time magicians. What are the chances? Well, probably pretty good if that’s the assignment the Entertainment Guru gave at the beginning of the year. This also happens with books, it happens with music, with video games. I’ll bet it happens with plays, photography, mixed media art, fashion, paintings, sculpture, and every other form of artistic expression. I’ve always just assumed that someone was putting the idea out there and everyone was picking it up and following but when I had my own ideas and kept them mainly to myself and then I saw them cropping up other places, well, I might have been wrong about the Guru giving out assignments. Maybe it’s a form of hive mind. Maybe we’re connected to others who think like we do, maybe we share a wavelength and the information travels between all of us even if we’ve never met, even if we don’t live in the same city, state, or even country. Maybe that’s why pieces of my story are showing up in other people’s books?

Another explanation of course, is that since I’m playing with witchcraft, magic is involved. When my book goes live, some new writer will read it and go, “Damnation. There goes my great idea. Back to the drawing board,” because that’s how magic works. According to me, at least.

I should wrap this up by saying that I’m NaNoWriMoing my book, that I’m going to spend this month creating a roughly-formed novel that I can then edit to my heart’s content over the next several months. Yeah, no. I’m not doing that. I don’t actually work on my writing for the last three months of the year because all my creativity is channeled elsewhere. When I’m a famous author, that will sound cool and well-rounded instead of like an excuse, as it does now.

But if you are NaNoWriMoing, GET ON IT! Get that idea out and on paper – virtual or literal. You can totally do this! Just, please, don’t take any more of my ideas. I won’t have anything left.


And here’s a rhino.


Filed under Adventures, My journey to writerhood, My Opinions on STUFF

Writers, come to me

I have this great plan that will involve lots of help from friends as well as copious amounts of moolah. See, there’s a mansion in my town that’s up for sale, complete with acreage, about a town-block’s worth, and views. It’s lovely, all nestled up against the mountains and it’s only like a million and a half dollars! I am going to win the lottery/get a giant inheritance from an unknown benefactor/go gangbusters on Kickstarter or something equally unlikely that will provide me with piles of cash, then I’m going to buy this mansion and turn it into a writer’s retreat! As in a place for writers to retreat, not a place that teaches writing classes, though, come to think of it, that could be an option as well.

Here’s the mansion that will become my writer’s retreat. It’s so popular that even those evil deer who mug poor townsfolk for their birdseed hang out here.

This is a great idea for several reasons.

Reason 1: I know a lot of authors. They often need help finishing their stories and help could easily come in the form of a quiet room with no distractions and I would totally be able to provide that with my writers retreat.

Reason 2: I stalk many other authors and once the authors I know started telling their author friends about the fabulous place they stayed and all the inspiration they received and the wonderfulness of the quiet mansion in the mountains, said stalked authors would be intrigued enough to want to try it out themselves. In essence, they would PAY me to stalk them! How perfect is that?

Reason 3: Something useful needs to be done with that mansion and making it available to artists would not only bolster my town’s economy somehow but it would also make people care about the mansion and they’d want to help with its upkeep. I don’t really know how that one works but in my mind it does so we’ll go with it.

The mansion would not be open all year, though. Oh no no. It would close to the public from October 1st through January 1st. In October, I’d hire (because I’m rich, remember) costumey and theatery people from the local colleges to decorate the house and grounds for Halloween and then we’d have a ginormous party the night thereof. The whole town would be invited. It probably wouldn’t be very safe because that is not my first priority, but it would be extremely fun.

In November, I’d invite all my friends and family over for Thanksgiving and the cool thing is that I’d have plenty of room for everyone to stay a few days.

In December, we’d have wintertime parties GALORE! I’m pretty sure there’s a festivity for almost every day of that month. We would  celebrate them all, every one. Again, the entire town would be invited. There would be lights and fireplaces and hot spiced cider and a constant supply of freshly-baked cookies. It would be the highlight of everyone’s end-of-year.

See? This is what wintery festiveness will look like.

Seriously. EVERYONE in town will be invited.

I’ve got some of the staff hired already, too. Pam, one of the instigators of this blog, is going to be the overall manager and her son can be the chef. She doesn’t know that yet…well, actually, she does if she just read this. Noelle is going to be the entertainment director and will be in charge of arranging pick-ups and drop-offs of authors at the airport in addition to any fun things they want to do while they’re in town. Gabe can be one of the drivers because it means he can have a nice, new car. Bedot is going to be the hiking tour guide. My favorite nursery will be in charge of the grounds and my mom will be in charge of the indoor plants. I’ve got a lawyer, I’ve got a CPA…I think I’m set. If you want in on this, now is totally the time to sign up either as a guest or as an employee. Let me know your preferences below.


Filed under My journey to writerhood, My Phenomenal Fake Life

I was honest and didn’t even get in trouble. For once.

Something really neat happened to me. I mean REALLY neat, like in the Top Ten Coolest Surprises In My life neat. I won a debut novel from GoodReads First Reads Giveaway last December  (that’s just plain neat, not the super neat part) called The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri. I received the book in  February, read it, then reviewed it on the site, as suggested in the contest rules. I tried to be a little more concise than usual, a little better at expressing my opinion in a normal-person way, but, as always, I was honest and I gave the ARC a 3-star rating and that was that.

This isn't my ARC, it's the actual published copy. If you don't want to buy your own, why not try the library?

This isn’t my ARC, it’s the actual published copy. If you don’t want to buy your own, like maybe because you’re poor or just horrible or both (poorible), why not try the library?

Until February 9th when I got a message from the author. She wrote to thank me for my review and said that I’d picked up on the things she’d had the most trouble with when writing the book. She was enthusiastic and seemed genuinely happy with both my praise and criticism. This has never happened to me. Well, ok, once I gave a local band’s album a terrible review and they put it up on their MySpace page apparently under the belief that there is no such thing as bad press, but that’s not quite the same. I was…well, a little floored, actually. An author wrote to  thank me for pretty much saying, Yes, I liked this book but it wasn’t great and here’s why, though here are the parts I enjoyed. Who even DOES that? Well, Suzanne Palmieri does because she’s a genius who must understand the concept of fan loyalty because she was making fans before she was even on the market. (She says she values honesty and constructive criticism because it makes her better at her craft, but I suspect brilliant marketing because no one is really that introspective and appreciative. Come on.)

Here’s what happened next:
I wrote her back to thank her for responding. I told her I appreciated her not sending a face-stabber after me and from there a conversation started, one that led to her asking if I might have time to read the manuscript for her second book. I tried to be all non-chalant in my, “OH HELL YES!” reply and I think I nearly pulled it off. On my side of the computer, though, I was all giddy and I probably fainted. Several times. I mean, seriously, an author just asked me to read her manuscript and give it my evil, critical eye! MY HONESTY WAS NEEDED! Wow.
I thought maybe she was being nice and wasn’t really going to send me a real manuscript because isn’t that dangerous or something? Apparently not since a couple of days later, she e-mailed me the first part. I fainted a few more times and then stayed up til 2:00 am for 2 days reading it. It was really hard at first – I wanted to make sure I said the right things for the right reasons. I wanted to not be fawning but I also didn’t want to be my normal brusque, mean, critical self. I edited and re-edited my comments over and over to make them fit into those narrow parameters. And then that just got too exhausting and I said, “Eh, screw it. I’m just going to say what I think because that is what is easiest and it’s what I’m good at,” so I did. I sent that first part back to her, never expecting to hear back due to my bizarre running commentary throughout her draft. And yet, a couple of days later, I did hear back and she did not even tell me go gouge my own heart out with a rusty nail file! No, in fact, she was gushing with even more enthusiasm, if that was possible, and she promised me part 2 ASAP. Part 2 came and I plowed through that both because it was the best-written part and because I’d found my rhythm and felt comfortable spewing my comments all over the place. When finally I got part 3, I read it all in one sitting, happy to suffer at work the next day in a zombie-like haze because getting to the end of the story was much more important than getting to sleep. And besides, sleep was unnecessary since I was left feeling incredibly lucky, special and also inspired.

I felt special because I had been hand-picked to read a manuscript with a reader’s eye and to give feedback. I’ve edited ten bajillion school papers and some articles and too many technical documents but that was always for school, for friends and family, or for my job. This time, it was solely for my honest opinion. For once, my unhumble self was finally not in trouble for shooting off at the mouth and it was an amazing feeling. More important, however, is that I was inspired. I’ve always said I want to be a writer someday and that day started on my 40th birthday when I became serious. And then I ran into ten thousand and one stumbling blocks, many of my own creation (I can edit the hell out of a paragraph over and over and then forget to write the rest of the story) so to see an actual manuscript, one that would be sent over to an actual editor and would eventually be made into an actual book made me realize that I can probably do that, too. I recognized that manuscript as something that looked very similar to things I’ve written. It was not formal, it did not have secret codes that only REAL authors know, there were mistakes, it was a work in progress JUST LIKE MINE!
This experience left me with three things:
1) The knowledge that I can finish a book, regardless of whether or not it ever gets published. I know I can make it from the beginning to the end, now, because I know what that looks like. Such a strange little realization but one of such magnitude that it changed everything.

2) A sense of purpose. I don’t know how long it has been since I’ve felt I’ve done something that has made a difference. Thanks to Suzy (I call her that, now; we’re tight), I felt like I had helped someone with something very important and that I was good at it. I may not have been good at it at all but because Suzy was so supportive and encouraging and seemed to appreciate all my thoughts, I wound up feeling positive about what I’d done. It made me think that I would love to be an editor.

3) Someone to look up to. I don’t know if Suzy’s just a brilliant strategist, though, honestly, it’s probably more true she’s a naturally magnetic personality, but she has made one loyal fan via a simple gesture and a truckload of trust (because giving your baby to a stranger is crazy). She has unknowingly inspired me, knowingly encouraged me, and has made me feel like I belong in her world, the world she writes about, like she’s writing me stories about people we know and now I will always buy her books, always push her books, and even if she writes something that disappoints me, I will not stop supporting her. I think I’ve just become a fangirl. Well, a fanoldlady, at least.

Her work is being compared to Alice Hoffman’s or Sarah Addison Allen’s; I find it closer to the latter but am even more reminded of Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap series only with more magic. If you like any of those authors, go pick up The Witch of Little Italy. Seriously, do that. Because it’s important to get prepped for her next book (not the one coming out in May that she co-authored, but the NEXT one)  because, dude! I helped with that one! Oh, I’m going to faint again. Excuse me.

Authors are amazing people. In my line of work, I’ve been able to meet several and beyond my line of work, I’ve met even more. Some have been nasty creatures, most have been lovely, but a few stand out and shine. Suzanne Palmieri is on the top of my Shiny Pile. Also? I’m going to continue to be honest about things because that was one sweet reward.

April 30, 2013: This just in! A book trailer for The Witch of Little Italy!


Filed under Adventures, My journey to writerhood, My Opinions on STUFF