Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My bookish experiment

Sequels, sequels, producers love them, publishers love them, and if you've written them properly, the audience will love them too.

When I wrote ALL ABOUT VEE originally, it was 800 pages long and had the title, FAT GIRLS IN LA. The story was about all three Vees: Veronica, Virginia and Valeria. They all came to LA and they all had different professions/dreams/desires. When the book was purchased, however, the publisher only wanted one Vee so it became Veronica's story.

Although I was disappointed, I had always planned to write the stories of the other two girls and publish them as sequels to the first book. Alas, my publisher and I parted ways and I didn't get the chance to do that.

Until now.

The first of the two sequels is called THE RISE OF GINNY COOPER. I consider it book two of the Fat Girls in LA trilogy. It tells the story of Virginia Cooper, one of the Vees from Arizona, who comes to LA to live with her best friend Veronica May. Ginny is a writer, also plus-sized like Veronica, who has dreams of seeing her work on the big screen. She also dreams of finally having a boyfriend.

I am riding the wave of the future: digital. And I am publishing it online - for free - for everyone. As part of the experiment portion of the plan, I am releasing it in four sections during the month of January on The Story Siren's website.

Kristi, the Story Siren, is a fantastic YA blogger and book reviewer whose site has influenced many, many readers and bloggers. I chose her because I like her optimism, her constantly changing content, and her love of books. I was thrilled when she agreed to do this! Beginning Monday, January 4th and continuing for every Monday in January, Kristi will release a section of the book in a pdf file, which is free to everyone who wishes to download it. She alone will have exclusive access to the new book, which means you - the reader - will too.

How cool is that? After the book has been released completely, I will publish it on Scribd, perhaps, or for Kindle. I'm not sure about that yet. For now, I just want to see it in the hands of readers online. I am so excited about getting this story out to people!

And, as a bonus for this experiment, Kristi will be holding a contest to give away a signed copy of ALL ABOUT VEE to a lucky reader. So if you don't have your own copy or you haven't read it yet, be sure to enter the contest! But not to worry, you don't need to read the first book in order to understand the second one. It's not that kind of sequel.

Okay, everyone ready? Let the experiment begin!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Non-traditions, non-celebrations

Merry Christmas morning...I was up late watching two completely non-traditional movies, "Star Trek" and "Tommy." I hadn't seen the latter since I was a kid when I thought it was compelling and disturbing. I wanted to see if it still was compelling and disturbing. It is. And best of all, it holds up as a very stylized rock opera; it doesn't feel dated at all. Except for Roger Daltrey's hair.

And this morning, I slept late. Now, with coffee in hand and computer on, it feels like a normal morning for me. Mo and I didn't decorate at all, didn't send cards other than an e-card, and didn't go out with friends or family, as we might have in the past. So yeah, it really feels like a typical Friday morning, except I won't be teaching today.

For Mo, the holidays really mean nothing. He doesn't consider himself religious at all and is often disdainful of people who are. He is as zealous in his anti-religion as some fundamentalists are. For me, I wanted to keep a very low profile this year. The economy has really affected most of my daily living so there isn't a lot left over for extra things, like a tree or cards or gifts. So when it looked like Mo and I wouldn't be doing anything special this year, I welcomed it with monk-like stoicism and frugality. We would be cheerful without going into debt!

But I have to admit, I miss some of the traditions of the past: the exchanging of gifts with family, the mass on Christmas Eve, decorating a tree and wrapping presents. When we lived in NYC, Mo and I used to go out for sushi on Christmas Eve before we went to visit his family or mine on Christmas Day. It was a tradition we carried over to LA until last night; without much else going on, holiday-wise, we simply brought in Chinese food and watched movies.

And that was nice, pleasant even, but a little...meh. I think next year I will bring back some of the things we used to do. Hopefully the economy and my personal situation will allow me to spend a little more. Even monks celebrate something, don't they?

Happy Christmas to all~

Monday, December 21, 2009

On a winter morning

Why writers take rejection so personally

I'm a lot better with rejections than I used to be. Honestly. I used to moan for days, stop whatever I was doing for a big chunk of time and constantly ask my husband, "Why me?"

But I've been in this writing thing long enough to know that it's not me. Oh, it may be me but it's not just me. It happens to everyone - and I do mean everyone. I know lots and lots of writers who go through the same thing. And these are writers whom I consider successful.

Even though I know this, rejection is still painful. It still stings to hear "no" or to read a negative review. It still sucks when something you believe in doesn't sell. And even though I'm better than I used to be, I still take it personally. I try to "be professional," approach my writing like a business, but when editors or agents write rejections that include the word "love," how can you be totally objective?

A common rejection from an editor or agent will be that he or she "didn't fall in love" with the material. Of course you want to elicit emotion from a reader when you write a book but what do you do when you hear that the person who is in a position to buy or represent your work says they didn't "love" it? When you go on a job interview and don't get the job, does the HR person tell you they "didn't fall in love with you"?

It's hard to overcome those words. They haunt every writer who receives a rejection.

Didn't fall in love with it.

Of course we take it personally. Love is a very personal thing.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I was on the radio!

Yesterday, Barry Eva, aka "Storyheart," interviewed me - I use that word loosely, since it was more like two friends chatting about books and stuff - on his show, "A Book and a Chat" on Blog Talk Radio. The cool thing about the show is that it's archived! Unlike regular radio which is only available in the moment, Blog Radio is available 24/7.

Barry was a great interviewer - he really did his homework! Checking out my website and blog and Wikipedia page (yes, I have a page on Wikipedia!) and bringing up all sorts of things from my past you wouldn't normally expect to discuss on a show about books. He was so much fun - and that British accent is so charming! The time just flew by!

If you have a moment, I hope you'll click over to the show here, and give a listen while you're surfing the web.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Book and a Chat with Storyheart!

On Thursday, December 17th at 6:30PM eastern/3:30PM pacific, I'll be on the radio! Chatting with Barry Eva, aka Storyheart, a very charming and cheerful writer who hosts literary chats on Blog Talk Radio on his show, "A Book and a Chat."

Check out his chat archives here.

And check out his blog here.

I love listening to Barry's chats whether he's talking with nonfiction writers, YA fiction writers or adult fiction writers. He always knows just what to ask to get his subject talking. Maybe it's because he's a writer too and knows how hard it is for writers to talk about themselves (it's so much easier to talk about your characters - they're usually far more interesting!). Plus his British accent makes everything and everyone sound so much more pleasant!

So, on December 17th at 6:30PM/3:30PM, if you're sitting at your computer and want to listen in, tune in your e-radio dial to Blog Talk Radio's "A Book and a Chat" and hear Barry and me chatting about...books! He might be drinking tea but I'm sure I'll be having a cup of coffee.

As they say - across the pond - cheers!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Guest review at The Page Flipper!

Chelsea at The Page Flipper - an awesome blog wherein Chelsea discusses all things book, writing and occasionally movie related - has begun a new feature: the Author Reviews.

This is an opportunity for authors to write reviews of their recent reads, favorite reads, or simply books that influenced them in some way. I am the first one! Ta-da!

One of my most recent and favorite books is by Janice Erlbaum, "Have You Found Her," a memoir of her experiences working with a teen runaway. It blew me away. Check out my review over at The Page Flipper today and I'll bet you'll want to read it too.

Janice, btw, was the very first author I wrote a fan letter to. As soon as I finished the book, I ran to my computer to look her up. I felt like such a fangirl!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Friday

Putting a positive spin on things

1. Headaches can be productive:

I had a migraine this week which reminded me that my current novel on submission began with my migraines. I have suffered from them since I was a teenager and whenever I get one, I feel like I'm outside my body, as if I'm not me anymore. Naturally, that feeling evolved into my present book, SHIFT.

How awesome will it be to tell people who ask about the book's genesis that it started with a massive headache?

2. Deadlines can be fun:

I have 6 knitting projects that I want to complete and send to the east coast before the end of the year. Slippers and leg warmers, oh my! One of my very favorite things to do after teaching several hours of classes is to get out the knitting. So relaxing especially when it's for someone else.

3. Spending all your time on the internet can be profitable:

I am currently writing a novel whose main characters are constantly updating their statuses, playing games online, chatting with friends electronically, etc. I would never have been able to get the job and write the book if it weren't for my own obsession with Facebook and email.

4. Not being wealthy can have its advantages:

I know people who want to be my friend are not looking for celebrity or connections, since I have none. And no one is after me for money, that's for sure. If I hit a tree with my car at 2 in the morning, I'm fairly certain the police, press and paparazzi won't hound me for details.

Be thankful for small things.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More about Plus-Size Teen Fiction

Here's a nice little article at by Francine Morissette about Plus Size Teen Fiction and looky there, ALL ABOUT VEE is mentioned.

Check it out. A great list of books to be among.

Thanks for the mention, Francine!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fat and skinny writing

I write fat.

I'm not talking about my plus-size heroine, Veronica May, in ALL ABOUT VEE. I'm referring to my style of writing. My first drafts are huge, monstrous things, with all sorts of conversations between characters I never imagined, scenes that don't belong, and long paths taken where a short one should exist.

Most people who write "fat" are not working from outlines. They are usually working from a basic idea and trying to find the story and flesh out the characters in the process. Then they go back and cull the story from the chaff. Beautiful moments can be discovered this way, when you allow yourself to go places you hadn't intended.

Outlines, otoh, especially editor-approved detailed outlines, should keep you on track - and skinny. And by skinny I mean efficient, lean, with very little excess baggage. Outline writing is usually quite tight and serves you well when you're on deadline.

But not me. I do both. I have a detailed outline and then I write and write and write, discovering backstories and relationships and themes as I go. First drafts end up at least an extra 15% of where they need to be which is fine because I am also a ruthless rewriter. I have no trouble cutting when necessary. I very rarely fall in love with my babies.

I would love to write skinny but I don't know how to do that.

How about you? Are you an ectomorphic writer or an endomorphic writer?