Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A schedule - in stone!

I’ve gotten my marching orders. Janice, my Lucky Press LLC publisher, and I worked out a book preparation and publishing schedule that works well for both of us. And, I’m excited about it. Like all of the work I did on proposals in the aerospace industry there is a beginning, middle, and end – and plenty of time for reviews along the way. It also makes the end product seem more and more real. I have to keep pinching myself to believe that this is actually happening – and happening to me!

Here’s what the schedule looks like. I will have the book to Janice on October 31 for her review – also send any photos for consideration for the cover. Janice will return the book to me with her notes on November 15. I’m so fortunate. She says she trusts that all the helpful professional help I’m getting now will preclude any major rewrite requests from her. I’ll then return a final electronic file back to her on December 18 – my choice. I want to be free of all memoir work during the last two weeks in December in case we decide to travel then. Between January 15 and 25,  2011, I will review the book’s final layout and cover design and return any changes on January 26. A few more major dates include: send out review copies on February 15, release book on May 9, Mother’s Day, and release an eBook on November 9, 2011.

Though the schedule looks tight it’s doable. Believe me, I’ve marched to much tighter schedules in the past. 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another book revision progress report

It’s really coming along. I’m down to the last chapter in my first revision pass. I still have lots of moving around and repetition deletions to do, but I’m feeling more confident that the book has now taken on the right shape. And, my storyboards are a big help. I can see where each chapter best belongs by having the whole book posted. I also have highlighted my problem-child text in yellow, so I can see where I need to go back and revise again.

Once this first revision is complete, I’m going to ask Janice to give it a preliminary look – about the end of September. Then all I’ll have to do once she’s finished is get it ready for her final edit and galley prep. Did I say, all I’ll have to do? I suspect it won’t be that simple. Even when the words are in their proper place I’ll still have to put it in the required manuscript form and adhere to the Lucky Press style guide. That alone could take weeks.

I also didn’t mention that one of my friends is currently editing it as well. She has the first four revised chapters. And, she warns me that she is tough – she got her training at Oxford University Press.  So, I suspect I’ll have plenty of notes from her.

Another step in the process is to have Marlene, who read the book this past spring, look at the book’s organization one last time. Her advice about what to put where and what to move has been brilliant. I am so lucky to have such talented and willing-to-help friends.

Another one of my writing projects, The Emerging Goddess, has come to the forefront again. Paul Blieden, the photographer, has self-published a few copies and has successfully sold them at a few art fairs recently. So, we’ve decided to push to sell more. I’ve posted a link on Facebook, and he’s begun a huge email campaign. I was so thrilled when Paul asked me to write the poems for the book – just about four years ago. I was in the doldrums writing depressing stuff about Paul, and having another subject to write about was just what I needed. He told me that one of the people who purchased the book had tears flowing down her face as she read it.

One of these days I hope we find a proper publisher for this beautiful book. But, in the meantime, I’m very happy it’s getting out there. It was a labor of love for both of us. Here's the link: www.theemerginggoddess.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book review of The Prophet of Sorrow by Mark Van Aken Williams

From time to time I plan to post a review of a book I espectially like. I think the writer's life must include reading good books. How else would we know how to write if we don't read?

Here's review No. 1.

A tour de force, the historical novel, The Prophet of Sorrow by Mark Van Aken Williams, is a narrative account of the assassination of Leon Trotsky through the voice of his assassin, Ramon Mercader. Most impressive is Mr. Williams’ re-imaginings, in the form of journal entries, of the thoughts, ideas, and motives of each of the characters involved – e.g., Trotsky, Stalin, Eitingon, Natalia Sedova (Trotsky’s wife), and Caridad Mercador (the assassin’s mother) – interspersed throughout the narrative. Mr. Williams’ writing is smart, historically accurate, and packed with literary and artistic illusions. A must-read for historical fiction buffs.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Foam board and Facebook - my writer's helpers

I finally found a material that will work to storyboard my book. Rather than Micore Board which is quite heavy, I took my publisher, Janice’s suggestion to check out foam board. And I found a product called FOME-COR that I can purchase within 30 minutes from my home. It’s light-weight, it doesn’t need to be painted, it’s the right height for me, and it’s much cheaper than Micore. I’m going to pick up 10 4x6 foot boards tomorrow that cost $10.25 a piece. Picking it up myself will also save me $50. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Besides my book work I’ve also been busily trying to drum up interest in my book by using Facebook and Twitter. One of my activities has been inviting my Facebook friends to become fans of my Madeline Sharples author page where I post about my book revision progress, my writing tips, writing tips and quotes from other authors, and any other material that’s relevant to getting my book to my publisher on time and in great shape. Plus, I want to make sure I have a large audience ready to purchase my book when it is finally for sale. I’m also using Twitter – though not as much as Facebook – to get the word out. Facebook and Twitter are also great for letting my followers know I’ve posted a piece on my blog. All this on-line material is intertwined – all working together to help me be successful. This is an amazing service. I’m learning more and more about using it as I go. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting back into the writing groove

After almost of week off from my writing routine I'm finding it hard to get back into the groove. But, I'm forcing myself to keep my seat in my desk chair and do what it takes to keep my fingers moving on the keys. I also followed my own advice: write a journal entry and find the nuggets there. 

As of today I’ve reedited chapters one through five, and 10, so that’s a good start. I’ve also written a new chapter, and material for inserts into several other chapters. (Sorry to say, I'm not revealing any content here.) 

And now I've also come up against a major roadblock. 

I cannot get the company that carries Micore Board -- the material I need to storyboard my manuscript -- to return my calls. Of course, why should they? They are a wholesale resource. I've also called three retail building suppliers and they haven’t even heard of Micore Board. I need it. I want it. And I’m afraid I’m going to have to do without it, thwarting my plan to have my book up on the walls right after the wedding. I'm such a strong believer in the advantages of storyboarding, but if I have to move on without that tool I will. I just won't like it!  

So, here I sit -- trying to find my writing groove and trying to find the material to help me make that happen. Anyone out there know where I can buy some Micore Board? 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ben and Marissa's Wedding

Just a little bragging before back to posts about writing....

Flower Girls Samantha and Anna

Bob, Ben, and Madeline

Ceremony in the Garden

The Newlyweds, Ben and Marissa

Susie Cakes and Tina's Flowers

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Journal writing - how my book began

A friend recently asked me how I got started on my book. And keeping a journal was the answer. 
I've started writing in a journal many times throughout my life and know its benefits - especially as a way to deal with life's hard times. Back in the 1970s when we first moved to the South Pacific and I felt lonely and upset about my new surroundings, I wrote in a journal every morning -- mostly about life on the Marshall Island, Kwajalein, where we lived. Then after we returned home and I went back to work, my journal entries became the basis for an article in my company magazine. That was my first published work.

I again started journaling full force when my son Paul was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Writing helped me stay sane while going through that huge stress in my life. And of course I continued -- after his death and into my present life. The material I wrote from the mid 1990s to just recently became material for my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, to be published by Lucky Press LLC. Look for it on the shelves around Mother's Day 2011.

At first I wrote by hand in notebooks. I have a slew of them. Then in 2002,  after I left one of my journals on an airplane. I switched over to computer journaling. The computer actually works very well for me because I can type as fast as I think. When I wrote my hand I couldn’t keep my hand moving fast enough to capture all my thoughts. With the computer I write fast and before I know it I’ve input  about 1000 words in about 30 minutes. Phew! That’s fast. 

Of course I don’t stop to edit. If one of my journal entries becomes the source of another piece, then I’ll edit. Like today. This journal entry will go into this blog post about journaling. And since I’m writing all over the place it will take a lot of editing before I actually post it.

Also it’s best not to stop writing until the journal entry is complete -- or you've come to a stopping point. I was advised early on to keep my fingers moving. If I have nothing to say I write over and over,  "I’m keeping my fingers moving," and pretty soon I have something more to say.

When I realized I had enough material for a book I began compiling it by reading through my journals, underlining everything I thought applicable, and then transferring that stuff into a book file on my computer. It was an especially grueling process when I worked with my handwritten material because I had to input the handwritten material into my computer. Once in a file I moved pieces around according to my outline, and then edited, revised, edited, revised until Voila, a book. Believe me, it wasn't as easy as it sounds.

This process, probably very unconventional, worked for me. I'd love to hear how you got started with your books.

By the way, even though my journal entries are not geared to becoming a book right now, I use them as a resource for blog posts, poems, and other writing products. There is always some wonderful little nugget in a journal entry that you can use for one of your writing creations. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Business of Writing: The Importance of Marketing

Besides all the work I’m doing to revise and edit my memoir manuscript I’ve been laying the groundwork for a marketing campaign once the book is published. In fact, I’m drumming up interest already – several months in advance.

In addition to posting regularly on my blogs Choices and Red Room, I have created a Facebook page devoted exclusively to book news, writing tips, and writing-related  quotes. (In just two weeks I’ve amassed a fan base of 125.) I am also posting regularly on Twitter. In addition, I’ve amassed many friends in the business of writing and publishing on my personal Facebook page.  

After contacting several of my poetry publishers about my book, I’m excited to report that they too are ready to help in the marketing campaign. One publisher plans to post a profile about me on its blog. Another has offered a free add in its magazine.

And it doesn’t stop there. One of my writing teachers plans to write about the book in her newsletter, and I’ve laid the groundwork for a blog tour through the Women On Writing (WOW) website.

All of this is in sharp comparison with the lack of any pre-marketing campaign at all when the book I co-wrote with Trudi Ferguson, Blue Collar Women, was published in 1994. No social networks existed then, and all we did were simple radio interviews after the book came out. We weren’t tasked to create our own platform – so necessary to getting the word out about a book now.

I’ve been told that the writer’s work really starts after the book is published. Well, I think the writer’s work starts as soon as a publishing contract is signed and perhaps even sooner. A writer doesn't need a marketing degree, but they do need a viable marketing plan and the beginnings of a platform at the time he/she begins the query process. It’s all a part of the business of writing. It must go hand-in-hand with the actual writing work.