Friday, August 29, 2014

One drawback of being a writer is that it can ruin your reading enjoyment, your editor's eye automatically critiques everything you read; whether newspapers, magazines or books; and, half the time, I am constantly amazed at the level of writing; and the lack of editing that is out there!

Yesterday I began reading a novel, and by the end of the first chapter one, I was so aggravated--I shake my head, grind my teeth, and have this insatiable urge, to mark it up with my red pen; that I decided not to finish it: even though I am interested in the subject matter! I already tired of rereading; I can't make sense of what I just read. If there was a Hook in the first chapter, I missed it!--because I was so distracted, by things like:

*Sentences connected by commas.
*Endlessly long sentences that are actually four or five sentences combined by colons and semicolons.
*Other unusual and awkward sentence structures.
*A voice is lowered, yet no voice had been speaking--it had appeared that she was merely thinking.
*A new character with no clue to her identity, to where she might fit into the story, or the purpose of what was said to her.
*The mysterious new character complains about someone else by name, with no clue to that person's identity either.
*Nouns used as verbs.
*Missing verbs.
*Proper nouns not capitalized.
*A common noun capitalized.
*A question without a question mark.
*A sentence beginning with "But" followed by a colon.

I was under the impression that the large well-known Publishers use editors? But: are they so large, that now, they just skip that step in the publishing process; or, did an editor actually edit this? and then except this end-product as good; and might this level of editing what is now being produced, by colleges?--is a major publisher not embarrased by such writing.

And of course the whole time I am writing this--criticizing someone else's writing!--I am thinking, "let him who is without Sin cast the first stone." Perhaps as you read this, or something else I've written; you, entertain similar thoughts about me?

Monday, March 3, 2014

In a small town like Winnemucca, where you often run into people you know, it's a good idea for an author to have a large purse and always carry at least one book at all times. I've sold books standing in line at the post office and grocery store, to the bank teller, in parking lots, in Walmart, and half a dozen at the Ranch Hand Rodeo, where a boy I know saw me in the food line and said he had just finished my second book and LOVED IT, and the boy with him told me he couldn't wait to read it too. Great publicity, LOL.

Whether talking to a class I'm subbing in, or visiting with adults, I've found that many have misconceptions about writers. Some assume that publishing a book means the money just starts rolling in. Many are surprised to learn that an author must give a 40% discount to stores! This makes for a good class discussion on economics. They ask how much it cost me to publish my book, not realizing that it costs the author nothing in advance to go through a traditional publisher. Many ask why I didn't self-publish, so I explain that I thought seriously about it, and almost went that route when my efforts to find a publisher came to a standstill. It is becoming a more and more popular option, but there are pitfalls to that path, besides the initial cost to the author. I enjoy the opportunities to talk to people about writing and publishing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Well, it has actually happened--my second book, Starting the Colt, is out! It even arrived earlier than expected from the printer. Now it's time to take off my writer's hat and put on my marketer's hat--not my favorite hat. I'd much rather be spending more time with my cowboy hat, but that's not going to happen for awhile, what with winter cold and snow. So it's a good time of year to be selling books in my spare time.

I am an introvert--I don't enjoy publicity or the process of publicizing my books, but I am trying to balance the side of me that would prefer to remain invisible. Every time I take a load of books to the post office, the rewards of marketing outweigh the challenges. Starting the Colt is now at the library and available in over half a dozen stores across northern Nevada. I just barely got it in at the Western Folklife Center in Elko before the week of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

My hard-working publisher, Janet Muirhead Hill, at Raven Publishing, has Starting the Colt up on, both as a paperback and as a Kindle book. She has been so great to work with--promptly answering my many questions, always making good suggestions and guiding our projects in the right direction.

As I have been subbing, I have shared with students the progress of my book in its journey toward publication and had a few opportunities to give mini-author talks or short readings. I love talking to students about reading and writing.

Other projects include tweaking my website ( and placing the curriculum unit that I wrote last summer on I have spent the past month and a half familiarizing myself with TpT--the products, the descriptions, and the process of formatting and uploading a digital product. Here, teachers can easily access the CU for an affordable price, and even download a free introductory mini-unit. Visit my TpT store to find "STARTING THE COLT Curriculum Unit Common Core Aligned" and "STARTING THE COLT Mini-Curriculum Unit Common Core Aligned."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

When the second book is about to arrive, and you must find a way to squeeze more book stuff into the same small space in your small house, cleaning and re-organizing is the order of the day! Fortunately, as a substitute teacher, I'm still on my two weeks of Christmas vacation. Much of my vacation to-do list is crossed off, and it felt good to cross off one more today. I ruthlessly discarded useless space-stealers I had been holding on to "just in case I might ever want this."

In the process of cleaning out old file folders, I discovered two newspaper clippings from 1998 that I had ear-marked as ideas for a future book. What a find--turns out they both dovetail with some ideas I've been playing with! Now, back to the computer to continue my pursuit of new online opportunities. Such pursuit often feels more like floundering, but I am so thankful as an author for all the ways the computer and the internet have opened doors of convenience and connection.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Starting the Colt is going to the printer, and the last-minute emails are flying back and forth between myself and my publisher, Janet Muirhead Hill, of Raven Publishing, as we make corrections and suggestions and critique each other's ideas. We both want everything to be just right. I am excited and stressed--so glad it's the weekend and not a hectic work day.

At the same time, marketing has already begun! We are offering a pre-publication ordering discount, so I've been designing mailings as well as changes and additions to my website. Because this is now my second time around, I have greater confidence about what I need to be doing. There is so much more to writing a book than just writing a book!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Galleys are the uncorrected preliminary version of a book that can be sent to reviewers a few months before the book actually comes out. (see The galleys of Starting the Colt have been printed and sent out to reviewers. In proofreading one last time (I think!), I managed to find a few things that needed fixing. We are getting close to publication! It was very exciting to receive my galley copies in the mail and see what my book will look like shortly.

What I found amazing in proofreading was that as many times as I have read through my story, I found it as hard to put down as if I'd never read it. My husband asked me one evening when we were going to eat dinner. I thought to myself, "Not now! I'm right at the good part--I have to keep reading!" Not like I didn't know what was going to happen, right? And yes, I did get up and start dinner...after just a few more minutes of reading.

It reminded me of the many times my mom scolded, "Jaaaaan-ice! Haven't you started on your chores yet?" And I would answer, "Oh, just let me finish this page" or chapter, or one more chapter, or however much I thought I could sneak in before she'd get after me again to do my homework or piano practice or my chore list taped on the refrigerator. Has my love of books been passed on to my kids and grandkids? You bet!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The good news: I finished the curriculum unit for Starting the Colt! A combination of hard work and fun, it could also be a slave driver, taking over my summer and pushing aside other things I wanted to do. But I had set a goal of finishing by the start of school, when I begin work of another sort, and there is satisfaction in reaching my goal. I also feel a burden has been lifted from my shoulders, freeing up my time for other things, or even, nothing! I try to keep projects from becoming my master, stealing my ability to relax and do what I want.

The bad news: Starting the Colt won't be out in paperback until early 2014. We tried to make 2013 work, but life just wouldn't cooperate. There was a chance it could happen late in the year, but I learned from my first book, The Orange Slipknot, that a late-in-the-year release has marketing disadvantages. Many lists, awards, reviewers, etc. will only accept books published in the current year, so a late release makes it difficult to take advantage of many of those possibilities. With subbing and teaching piano, I only have so much spare time to spend marketing, and I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. I believe it will pay off in the long run to be patient and make a wise marketing decision. If you just can't wait that long, the ebook is available on Smashwords and Kindle!