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Showing posts from January, 2014

Cephalopod Coffe House


Welcome to the Cephalopod Coffee House. The purpose of the coffee house is to write about the best book you read in the past month, and visit others who have done the same.

This month I read, and very much enjoyed, Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass.

http://bethhull.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/writing-the-breakout-novel.jpg

I chose this book because I have been having problems with writing my second novel. It was a story I liked, filled with characters I loved, but I couldn't get it to come out right. I googled around for writing books and this one seemed to be on the top of a lot of peoples' lists.

Donald Maass is a literary agent, and he uses his experience to pin point the common traits that all breakout novels share. He doesn't particularly focus on good writing - as we all know, popular books aren't always the most well written ones - and he doesn't go too much into plotting a novel. He does touch on characters, settings, themes, and most importantly (or at least, what I found most important) setting the stakes, then raising them. He uses examples from different breakout novels to illustrate his points, which was very helpful.

While the book is very helpful, the forward and some of the points of reference could be updated. It was published in 2000, before 9/11,  and the e-publishing boom, and when Harry Potter was still a series for children, but otherwise, the advice seems current and relevant.

Don't forget to stop by other members of the coffee house:

Cover Reveal for Weaver

Here it is, the cover for Weaver:

The cover was designed by Laura Gordon, who was great to work with.

I know I'm supposed to have a big thing for a cover reveal, but I just didn't have the energy for it. I am looking for help with the release, though.

I am set to release Weaver on Monday, February 17th. If you're interested in announcing the release of Weaver on your own blog, please leave a comment below.

I even have some incentives for participation. Each participant will be entered into a random drawing for free copies of Weaver. I will be giving away one paperback copy and two ebook copies to three people.

I've changed my URL...

http://mattstow.com/articles/circular_arrows/circular_arrows.png...so you might want to update your bookmarks, Bloglovins, Feedlys, or whatever you use to follow me here.

My new URL is www.jaelliswriting.com. Blogger promises to continue to automatically redirect traffic from my old Blogspot URL, but just to be safe you'll want to update you're records.

What I've been up to

Good Afternoon, and Happy Sunday to all.

This week I've done a few things. I started taking online classes through the local community college. I'm taking three classes this semester. After getting laid off, I knew I couldn't depend on jobs falling into my lap, which has almost always been the case for me in the past, and I decided to go back to school. So far the classes have been pretty easy. Of course it's the first week, and nothing much ever happens in the first week.

I received a job offer that would basically have me working in the same building, and with many of the same people, that I used to work with. It's a contract position, but it's work, and it's been the best offer I've received so far. Unless something wacky comes up on the background check, I'll be back to work, full time, in February.

On Thursday, my son came home from school with a sore throat and a low grade fever. Knowing that his half-sister had been diagnosed with the flu a few days earlier, I rolled my eyes, grit my teeth, and took him to the doctor the next morning. Yay. Flu. Type A. Whatever that means. Maybe it's a nicer class of flu than Type B. Anyway, he got some Tamiflu, and other than a bit of a low grade fever that comes and goes, and an occasional cough, you would never know he was sick.

Of course, now I have it too. I used to tell people that I never get the flu, but based off the symptoms I've been experiencing, I probably have had the flu, but I just always thought it was a cold. So far, the symptoms have been very mild. It's been years since I've had any of these symptoms, though, (and I haven't had a flu shot in at least ten years) so I must be doing something right in avoiding it.

Also this week, I worked with a wonderful cover artist to create a cover for Weaver. I got the MS uploaded to CreateSpace, and I'm just waiting on my proof to come in. I'm getting really excited and anxious about the whole thing. Stay tuned for a post looking for help doing a cover reveal coming up sometime in the future.

Oh, yeah. And you've probably noticed that I changed the look of my blog again. I'll never stop randomly changing things. Never!

Indie Life

If you're looking for this month's IWSG post it is here.


A couple of weeks ago, I published my first item, a novelette titled Snowbound. I did it without much fanfare, but I've sold a few copies through Amazon and Smashwords, so far.  I've surprised myself in that I haven't spent every day checking my sales ranking.

My indie journey is slowly taking shape. I recently set up a five year plan for my writing, hoping that it will give me some motivation to actually put some effort into the whole thing. So, my action plan is as follows:

Five Year Action Plan:
Make writing a self supporting business.
  • Publish two novels a year.
  • Make enough money writing to count as a part time job.
  • Make each story, every book, better than the last. To always grow and improve as a writer.

And in support of the Five Year Plan, I've created a One Year Plan:
  • Publish Weaver by March of this year.
  • Have Weaver break even in regards to the money I've put into it. (This would require me to sell about 70 e-book copies. That's doable, isn't it?)
  • Finish writing, and publish, a second novel later this year.
So that's my plan for this year, and the future. It would be awesome if I could get this whole thing off the ground. It's been a long time coming for me.

IWSG

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html


This month I'm studying up on the art of novel writing. I have been struggling through a novel that I started last summer. I started it for Camp NaNoWriMo in July, hated the whole process and gave up after the month was up. I went back to it in October, and finished a first draft in December. Then, I hated it even more. It's not that the idea is bad, or the writing is bad, it's just the story. I'm all over the place with it. I really want to write this novel, but there was something fundamentally wrong with it.

I have been very reluctant to take outside advice on writing. "No one can tell me how to write my story", you know the whole deal. I knew there were things to learn, but I wanted to learn it by osmosis, I guess. Well, that wasn't working this time, and I knew I needed some help.

So, I bought Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass. I'm about half-way through it now, and I'm finding it very helpful. The introduction is hilariously out of date (back in 2000 he didn't have much faith in e-publishing), but the actual tips for writing so far have helped me to figure out where I was going wrong.

I'm also thinking of using Susan Kaye Quinn's process for brainstorming a book. I think it will help a lot. I'm not one for plotting out a book from beginning to end, but her process seems simple and vague enough to keep me from getting overwhelmed on details.

Between the book and the brainstorming, I hope to be on track again next month.

Inspiration Monday: New Year, New Goals

It's a new year here on planet Earth, and I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to figure out what my goals would be for 2014. First, let's look back at my "resolutions" for 2013, and see how I fared on them:

  1. Read A Tale of Two Cities. It's on my Kindle, (and has been for a year) so no reason not to - This was also a goal for 2012. I still didn't do it. I started, but just kind of drifted away from it.
  2. Lose 15 pounds. (I'm going to brag here, and just say that if I achieve this goal it will be 70 pounds lost since July 2011) - Also didn't happen BUT I didn't gain any weight last year so, I count it as a win.
  3. Finish my MS and start querying - I finished Weaver. I wrote a synopsis and query for it, but decided to self publish instead.
  4. Participate in a NaNoWriMo (either Camp NaNO, or NaNo Classic in November) - I did Camp NaNo in July.
Ok, so what are my writing/reading plans so far this year?
  1. Get Weaver on the market.
  2. Write another book. Maybe even two.
  3. Read two books a month. I really need to read more.
Those seem like reasonable goals.

I've also come up with a 5 Year Plan (courtesy of Susan Kaye Quinn), but I'm still tweaking it to make sure it's reasonable, yet challenging enough for me.

Another thing I'm going to be doing this year is pulling back from blogging a bit. I've never been a prolific blogger to begin with, and whenever I try to set up a schedule I end up screwing it up one way or another. So, I've decided to just stick with IWSG, Indie Life, Cephalopod Coffee House, and Inspiration Monday, with an occasional surprise post. I'm still in the air right now about the April A to Z Challenge. I'll probably do it, I would feel like I'm missing out on something if I don't.

How about you guys. Do you have your goals for the year planned out?