Happy Halloween! Friday Exploring

This year's jack-o-lantern has a brain sucker.

This year’s jack-o-lantern has a brain sucker.

That could have the strain.

That could have the strain.

It might already be a zombie vampire. Watch Out!

It might already be a zombie vampire. Watch Out!

Looking for rare, collectable, hard to find books? Try Turn The Page Books, an online bookstore with a huge collection of well preserved treasures. Happy exploring and have a great Halloween. I’m already in my luchador costume and plan on playing the theremin and ghost hunting until dawn.

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Changing my approach to posting

Jack-o-lanterns in the wild.

Jack-o-lanterns in the wild.

Hi everyone,

I think I’ve figured out a better way to share everything I’m learning in my writing life. So far, I’ve had trouble keeping up with a weekly blog because I’ll have ideas during the week, but when I finally sit down to write, I’m overwhelmed by how many things are happening in my writing life that I want to share with you. So, I’m going to try short daily posts Monday thru Friday with each day dedicated to a different aspect of my writing life. I’ll try this new idea through the end of the year. We can review the decision in the new year. Okay?

The three main aspects of my writing life are: Marketing my self published children’s picture book Gator McBumpypants Hears and Scary Noise and its sequels to come, finding an agent for my middle grade fiction story, and rewriting/finishing my novel, so I’ll separate those three topics into Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I also want to focus on the importance of reading and improving  writing through reading so I’ll talk about that on Thursdays and Writing exercises and exploration on Fridays. I hope all of my followers don’t mind this change. I think it will help me be more efficient and informative and hopefully make this part of my writing experience more fun for me as well.

That said, as this is Thursday, I want to talk about the importance of reading. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been on a mission to find books similar to my work in progress and I have finally had some success. I’m writing a psychological, character driven thriller, so I tried Paranoia–Fiction in the library Keyword search, I also tried Agoraphobia–Fiction because one of my main characters, though not agoraphobic, is a self-proclaimed hermit, and looking up hermit didn’t get me anywhere. So, it took a couple weeks, but now I have three books I’m reading that I think relate to my novel in different ways.

One of the main focuses of my rewrite is to bring depth to my characters’ motivations. I want the reader to feel that the actions of my characters are justified and I think in my rough draft I kept a lot of those motivations to myself out of fear of writing them down and also because I may not have delved far enough into my characters’ histories. Finding similar characters in these novels is a tool I hope to use to compare their motivations to those of my characters. I also want to find creative ways to make my characters’ motivations apparent.

Any tips on how you make your characters’ motivations clear?

Any thoughts on my new approach to this blog?

Happy reading.

AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! I’m off to carve my pumpkin. My trick or treaters will be met by a Luchador (Mexican Wrestler) playing the theremin. What are you doing for Halloween?

Busy Writer’s Life Update: Gator McBumpypants 2 and searching for an agent

Herman becomes a dragon at Hogwarts

Herman becomes a dragon at Hogwarts

I can’t seem to stick to my goal of a weekly blog, but I’ll keep trying. However, while I’ve been neglecting this blog, my writing life has been very busy indeed.

First, I’ve finished the text and taken the pictures for the second book in my Gator McBumpypants series. I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with the title Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. I had the idea for this second book as I was working on the first. The reactions from my readers the moment they finished the first book (e.g. “Herman needs to learn to fly”, “When does Herman learn to fly”, etc.) prompted me to not waste any time before writing the sequel. I hope to have the second book available for the holidays. I plan to finish my guide for self publishing children’s books while I go through the process a second time. That way I’ll be sure I don’t leave anything out. Look for it in late November/early December. If any of you have specific questions about self publishing children’s books  you would like me to answer, please ask in the comment section, so I’m sure to put it in my free guide for you.

Secondly, I’ve been working on my query letter for my Middle Grade Fiction story. A well rounded writing life should at least attempt traditional publishing routes, right?  The rough draft is finished and edited. The summary and hook for the query were positively reviewed by a group of writers. The hard parts over right? Ohhhh, NO. I spend countless hours each week trying to figure out which agent/s I want to query.Many books I read say to read everything I can in my genre, find a book similar to my work that I like and find out who the author’s agent is. Every time I finally find something similar, find out who the agent is, research the agent on agent query or their website –the agent isn’t accepting new clients. So frustrating!

I’ve decided to do the opposite of the original advise: find an agent that sounds promising and accepts new clients, then read the books they represent. This last week I found a little help in my search, a great blog called Middle Grade Ninja. Middle Grade Ninja has mini interviews (7 questions) with a list of authors and a list of agents. I’ve been going down the list of agents, cross checking them on agent query and then looking for any other interviews on the web. Then, if they still look promising (so far I’ve found two), I’ll download the books they represent from the library, saving so much time and money. I usually don’t like reading ebooks on my laptop. I don’t have a kindle or other specific ebook device, so I’m not sure if I would feel differently, but I’ve only read all the way through about 5 books on my laptop. I don’t like the glow behind the words; I tend to read what I can in about 10-20 minutes and then not go back.  However, for this project I love ebooks. I can find out in the first 10-20 minutes if the work is like mine, if I like it, if it was well edited, etc. Imagine having to request each book at the library and wait for the few you could find to become available and the cost of purchasing the ones you couldn’t get from the library. I have to admit, the downloadable ebook is the true friend of the author attempting to find an agent through a query letter.

Thirdly, I’ve been focusing on reading. My whole life I’ve been a voracious reader. I often come back from the library with ten to twenty books at a time. However, for the last few years, the majority of the books I read to the end were How To books. I would pick up plenty of novels, but not get past the first few chapters. Finishing a few of the novels I read  in the last year was like listening to a dentist’s drill through my eyes and letting it echo through my brain. Hopefully, that’s all over. I finally joined goodreads (to set up my author page for Gator McBumpypants) and after reading an article about the new recommendation algorithm, I spent some time rating many of the books I’ve read. At first I didn’t think the recommendations were very accurate, but after a while I started finding book descriptions that sounded very interesting. Every book I chose to read from the recommendations, so far, has been great! I’m very excited. I used to think I was an intellectually eclectic reader, but I’m finding out that, though my interests are vast, they are also semi-specific. It’s nice to not have to wade through ALL the muck to find what makes me happy. I’ve posed this challenge to my critique group: to find a the closest book to your work. I’m looking for something like my novel, but I still haven’t found anything close. I’m hoping goodreads will be a catalyst to finding some similar work through my preferences and friends. Meanwhile search engines and libraries will continue to be my stabbing grounds.

Have you found the novel you will compare your work to, or use after the fact as a learning tool? I’d love to hear how you found it.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! What will you be this year?