Beautiful Addictions, Blog, Learning, Publishing, Romance

Finding Inspiration Anywhere

The question I get asked most often is, “How do you come up with your stories?” The answer is simple: ANY WAY POSSIBLE. Life is full of inspiration. You just have to slow down and look around and there are stories everywhere. Taking one simple idea and expanding it in your mind (or on paper) can lead to fantastic plots and complicated characters. You’ve simply got to find what inspires you.

if-you-dont-build-your-dreamWith BEAUTIFUL ADDICTIONS, it all started with a dream. It was a dark dream. A girl sketching in an alley and a boy comes in. He’s angry and takes out his anger against the bricks. She hides away and watches him. The moon suddenly shines down like a spotlight and they are revealed, the voyeur and her subject. The moment is intense, but disappointing when he walks away.

I woke from that dream feeling heavy and overwhelmed. I wrote down everything I could remember. It was then tucked away in a notebook for a few months until I stumbled across it again. As soon as I revisited this dream, I was able to see these two characters. I imagined a connected past and dangerous love. I wrote a story and then fleshed out the subplots and details with a friend.

How the dream of one tiny scene morphed into an entire novel, I’ll never be able to say. There was no process set in stone, there were no rules to follow or map to guide me. I wrote it and then wrote it again. I added characters and intertwined them in the most interesting way possible. I erased the middle and wrote it again.

For me, writing is a lengthy process of layering. I’m not an outliner. That seems too rigid and formal for me. I write a basic draft. Then I rewrite it and add emotions, reactions. Then I’ll rewrite it and add details and scenery, descriptive imagery to put you in the story. That’s just me. Every writer has their own process.

Once you’ve found your inspiration, that tiny nagging feeling that tells you “this moment is bigger than it appears,” then all you’ve got to do is get it out of your head and onto paper. Embrace that notion and hold on for dear life. Before you know it, you won’t be writing the story, it will be writing itself.

Write on!

Beautiful Addictions, Novel, Publishing

Where do I start?

So much has happened since my last update. In no particular order:

1. The final contract is done
Yes, even after all the verbal contract negotiations, things are not set in stone. When the contract came in from St. Martin’s, my agent read through it and had their contract lawyer read through it. They made a few changes and sent it back. One more round of revisions and then the final draft was delivered. Print, sign, and done. I’ve had my fill of jargon and clauses. It feels really great to have this done. All the legal talk is out of the way and I’m free and clear to be creative.

2. Audible deal is signed
Beautiful Addictions will be available in audio format from Audible! I’m not sure if I’ll have any input on the narrator or the process, but this is super exciting! I can’t wait to hear these characters come to life.

3. Beautiful Addictions has been added to Goodreads
For some reason, this made it really official for me. My book is on Goodreads, along with a nice description and release dates. Go take a look HERE and if you’re so inclined, add it to your To Read list.

4. The cover art is finalized
As with any artistic process, there were a couple of versions of the cover. I’m lucky to have such a great editor. Rose listened to my feedback and let me help with the process. I’m sure it got to the point of annoyance, but she and the artist were great sports. Once a graphic designer, always a graphic designer. I can’t share it with you guys yet, but very soon…

5. The eBook is available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks
Did you read what I typed? My book is available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and iBooks! Whoa. Let’s take a minute and let that sink in. This came along with news from St. Martin’s that they want to try a different approach releasing my book. They are going to release the eBook first (January 28) and the print book later (July 1). That means only FOUR more months until Beautiful Addictions will be out in the world.

6. Revisions on untitled Book 2 have begun
I’m having a lot of fun doing revisions on this book. I’m developing characters, killing my darlings, researching and living inside that world for a few hours at a time.

7. I have an official author page on Amazon
There’s not much HERE so far. A small bio and a few links represent my small piece of Amazon’s author space.

It’s a combination of all these things–some big, some small–that make this dream edge closer and closer to reality. Thanks for coming along with me. Write on!

highfive

Beautiful Addictions, Novel, Publishing

What I’ve learned about publishing so far…

Summer rolled in, and with it came scathing temperatures and almost daily thunderstorms. For me, it also brought a few lessons about the publishing and writing process.

Soon... ish.Soon. The word soon in publishing generally means three to four months. In an industry where it takes a year for a manuscript to become a novel on bookstore shelves, I suppose this makes sense. Though it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach when you’re experiencing soon for the very first time.

Rough Draft. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written a rough draft, so imagine my surprise when I finished the first version of Book Two only to find that it was terrible. After a mini freak out, a Route 44 Diet Coke from Sonic and a bag of pretzel M & M’s, I was able to talk myself off the theoretical ledge. Of course the rough draft sucks. Of course it doesn’t compare to the finished manuscript I just finished editing. I put my heart and soul into that rough draft, but the rest of the recipe has not been added. Blood, sweat, tears, battle wounds and a sacrifice of personal hygiene must all be applied to that rough draft before it can grow into something I’m proud of.

cat beardDistractions. I write a sentence and then think, “Is that realistic? I should research that.” Then I proceed to my favorite search engine where I ask a simple question and get 600,000 simple answers. This leads to that, leads to something else and before I know it, I’ve been looking at cat bearding photos for an hour. I’ve learned of software that helps with cutting out distractions, but since I have zero self-control when it comes to this, I find turning off my modem and hiding my phone works just as well.

Twitter. As far as writers go, Twitter is the motherland. It is so easy to post follow me, buy this, read that, enter this contest, or check out my review in less than 140 characters. There are authors who strictly post self-promotional things. These get a bit boring and I find myself skimming over them. It garners an “I only want to talk about me” vibe that is off-putting. Other authors do well by mixing their “buy my book” posts with links to helpful articles or fun facts about reading and writing. These are my favorite. Lastly, there is the author that doesn’t need or doesn’t care for book promotion. They want to use their thousands of followers as a collective BFF to share things in their personal lives, photos of their new puppy or even political rants. I can’t say I blame them, because when’s the last time you had over 10,000 people in one place who actually want to hear what you have to say?

Overall, it’s been a fun three months since landing my book deal. I’ve learned so much about the process and have so much still to learn. I look forward to the journey and I’m glad that you guys are coming along with me. Write on!

Novel, Publishing

I don’t write horror, but this is scary

Things are moving along just fine on my end. I’m writing and researching like a mad woman. I check in on the publishing contract and am hit with something I wasn’t prepared for. They need firm dates that book 2 and book 3 will be turned in to the publisher.

Uhh…

Image

So, after a slight freak out that includes calendars, red ink and counting on my fingers, I calm down and reply. Nothing like a flashing neon date to say “You better get this done!” While I do feel the pressure of these dates, I will not fear them. A deadline is encouragement, a firm push in the right direction and sometimes a wake up call to your purpose.

I have stories in me. I have characters and plots, subplots and villains, trapped in my head. Now, I’ve just got to expel them onto the keyboard in some sort of chaotic order and voilà! Write on!

Publishing

Agent? Check. Book deal? Check. Check. Check.

The same day that the lovely Rachel Ekstrom became my agent, we received our first offer from St. Martin’s Press. After three days of negotiations, going back and forth over these rights and those rights, I accepted their offer with slack-jawed amazement and terrifying excitement. Synchronized squealing and an animated happy dance followed.

St Martin's Press

After coming back down to earth, I sat and marinated in the details.

  • THREE book deal
  • Great contract
  • Retain audio rights
  • Publish every 6 months
  • 6 FIGURE ADVANCE

That’s it. No pressure. Hahaha. With such a generous advance and a quick publishing schedule, I’m leaving my day job to focus on writing. It’s exciting and so, so scary. But if this isn’t the time to follow a dream and take risks, then when is?

The craziest part of all this, is that within TWO WEEKS of meeting these ladies at the Jambalaya Writers Conference, I had a book deal. Thanks to Rose, from St Martin’s, and Rachel who believe in my writing and are already working so hard.

I keep asking myself, “Does this really happen to people?” The answer is, “Yes. It happened to you. So get writing!”