Well, it’s that time again. Out with the old, in with the new. 2008 has been an interesting year of change and growth for me. I became a full-time writer. I sold five books. I had two releases. I have been really, totally focused on my writing this year. I want to continue that focus into 2009…however, I’d like to try to fit in some stuff that isn’t writing related! I want a focus on health and fun in the new year. Better health and more fun! Those are my resolutions.
Have a very happy new year! I’ll see you on the other side!
Favorite Book I read in 2008
Poison Study. Maria V. Snyder came up to the Toronto Romance Writers (which, FYI, I’m now the vice president of this RWA chapter. Join today!) to do a workshop on worldbuilding. I’d heard about her books before but never picked them up. Frankly, they sounded too literary. Not that I shun literary fare, but I don’t remember really enjoying much of it and it made me remember the book club I was once in where I was subjected to really boring stuff. Anyhow, I digress. Maria had some excerpts in her workshop hand-outs and I was interested in what I read about a woman forced to choose between execution or becoming a poison tester, her sexy boss, and this wonderful alternate world Maria created, so I bought the first book and devoured it in a few days and have the next book, Magic Study, at the top of my TBR shelf.
Starting in 2009 I’m going to keep track of all the books I read in my WordPress blog sidebar.
Twilight. This is the first movie for a long time that I actually anticipated seeing for months. I looked forward to it. I planned ahead for the day I was going, and with whom, and it became an event. And as I sat in the darkening theater I hoped very much that it wouldn’t be a let down. And, for me, it wasn’t. It had some flaws, sure. Visible contact lens edges. Weird vampire pancake makeup and unnaturally colored hair. The pacing was a bit off with a slumpy middle and a rushed ending. However, I’ve seen it three times now which should hold me until the DVD comes out.
Favorite Hot Actor
Rob Pattinson. I know, it would make sense I’d pick Hugh Jackman since he’s the Sexiest Man Alive and buzz is gathering for Wolverine and I’m always yapping about how he’s my intended. Plus, I channeled his godliness for Thierry in two books this year. But it’s not. Hey, he turned 40 this year. Maybe I prefer 22 year olds now. In any case, I found Robert Pattinson, his unruly hair, and the fan adoration surrounding him absolutely fascinating — enough to inspire a character in a YA contemporary I want to write. This guy is also interesting because he can take either a photo where he looks like 1) a serial killer, or 2) absolute hotness incarnate. Plus he’s English and he’s really very funny and smart and a good actor. Although I’m still not sure why Edward calls Bella his spider monkey in the movie. Does he do that in the book? Because that was so random.
Favorite TV Show
This is a tie for me between Lost and Supernatural, with Lost possibly edging out Supernatural by a smidge. Lost is consistently good for me and leaves me on the edge of my seat. Supernatural sometimes annoys me because I would do some things differently if I was the writer. Which I’m not, of course. Dammit. Plus, I’m still not thrilled with the way women are portrayed on the show. Who knew a show about two hot brothers would bring out the girl power side of me? Both return in January and I’m keeping my PVR just for this reason. Can’t miss an episode of either!!
I’m working through my second draft of LIVING IN EDEN right now. I’m about half way done. However, most of the changes are in the second half. I’m very happy with how it turned out — it reads way more fun than it was to write — and can’t wait to get it to my betas next week.
It was three years ago that my first book was released. The official release date for BITTEN & SMITTEN was January 1, 2006, but by now, three years ago, it was already on the shelves. THREE EFFING YEARS. I can’t believe it!! Time sure flies. Right now it’s being released in Germany and that’s just way too cool for school.
I’ve learned a lot in the last three years about writing, publishing, and…well, writing. And I thought I’d share with the class…
Ten things (in no particular order) I’ve learned after three years of being published
1.Writing doesn’t burn calories.
A full day of writing will be mentally exhausting but if you don’t do any exercise or watch what you eat, your ass will get bigger. And bigger. And…well, you get the idea. Why is RT in Orlando in 2009? Sigh.
2.Never reply to a bad review.
This is sometimes difficult, but far from impossible. I think it’s best to just not respond at all. It gives the illusion that the writer is much too busy with her oh-so-glamorous writer life to allow such things to negatively affect her. Bottom line, the more successful you get, the more reviews you will receive — and it’s impossible for everyone to love you. The more popular you are, the more haters you will collect. Don’t respond. Ever. Blogs, MySpace, Amazon, wherever. It makes you look like an idiot or really, pathetically needy. I repeat. NEVER. Restrain yourself. There’s a review site I read religiously but I won’t comment on. I just think it’s better that way for everyone involved. Mostly me.
3.Writers are all varying degrees of crazy and paranoid. The successful ones are the craziest and the most paranoid.
There might be an exception to the rule, of course. But I doubt it. And I don’t even mean it as an insult, just an observation. Just because we’re crazy, doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us really, really dedicated. Obsessed is another good word. How can you write four books a year if you don’t have a little bit of obsession going on? YOU CANNOT, that’s how.
4.In the middle of a first draft I’m always convinced that it’s utter crap.
It’s always the way. It feels like I’m pushing my characters around and forcing them to have strange, meaningless conversations. But once the book is done I see these strange, meaningless conversations actually contribute to the plot as a whole. At least, I sincerely hope so.
5.Writing is hard work.
If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. Sure there are those magic days, the days when the muse lands and the pages fly and everything is perfect — la, la, la. Those days are few and far between. Usually it’s a slog. It’s forcing yourself to sit down and write something that might not be any good and possibly end up being a huge waste of time that could have been spent seeing Twilight yet again.
6.It is possible to write a book in three weeks.
My average time to write a first draft now is six weeks. I’ve done one in three weeks. I won’t say which one. But this is, of course, after I’ve done lots of prewriting and more than likely already have a proposal to work from. And it’s also not including revision time. What’s the difference between the first book that took me two years and the ones that take me a month and a half or less now? The fact that I wrote two hours a week then, and I write eight hours a day now. Sometimes more. Including weekends. Concentration of writing time. That is the only secret to being prolific. Use it wisely.
7.Nothing cures a bout of depression like a new book deal. At least, temporarily.
The first five months of this year were very touch-and-go for me. I quit my day job to write full time, but I hadn’t considered that that didn’t guarantee me a flood of new contracts. I worked harder than I’ve EVER worked on my writing this year and worried about my dwindling funds and the sudden scary case of writers block this money panic had created. But then I sold. And I sold again. And I sold again. Three book deals in two months for five books. The relief and happiness is tempered by the reality check I’d experienced, because it can happen again. But right now I feel pretty okay about everything. Sort of. And, FYI, five books at my current advance rate is what it takes for me to continue writing full-time. We’ll see what 2009 brings. Hopefully new eyeballs because I’m wearing out my old ones.
8.Awards and good reviews are nice, but numbers are the only thing that matter.
Just because the world seemingly loves your book and the awards are pouring in…doesn’t mean anyone’s actually buying it. And if no one’s buying your book, you better be damn prolific, because an award doesn’t guarantee you another book deal or an address on Easy Street. Reviews and awards are a nice ego stroke, but they don’t pay the bills. However, a consistent sales record can.
9.An idea is never as perfect on the page as it is in your head.
Maybe this is the reason a lot of people stop writing the book they wanted to write. I know that used to be why I abandoned lots of ideas back in the day. The first chapter didn’t sing and didn’t match the movie in my head. Perfection is one way to guarantee never finishing anything. The sooner you get over that fact, the sooner you’re going to start making some major progress.
10.Just because you want to write the book, doesn’t mean you should.
I have this fabulous (ready to go) proposal sitting in on my hard drive. It’s a humorous, action-packed sci-fi with romantic elements. It could be a series. But it’s not marketable right now. It’s hard to see past that. It would be fun to write, but it would take several months to finish and send out and then there are no guarantees. I’m now focusing my efforts on building my career with specific projects instead of having my attention scattered by shiny new ideas. It’s a hard lesson to learn.
I bought this really cool printer that lets me print wirelessly. It prints great. I love it. But then I realized that I only get 300 pages of black type outputs before I need a new ink cartridge. Since my manuscripts typically run 350 pages, that means it’s costing me upwards of $25 to print one of them out. Grrr. What cost per page is that? That’s 8¢ a page. Boo Lexmark. Boo.
I’ll have to figure out where my nearest Kwik Kopy is.
This morning I finished my Christmas Shopping. Thought I was going to finish early this year. That did not happen. Since I was really immersed in writing LIVING IN EDEN, this month seriously flew by. It was encouraging today when I went to the bookstore (Chapters, to be specific) and the line up was ridiculously long. Yay for book buying!
Today I’m working through the second half of my copy edits for TALL, DARK & FANGSOME. I’m really happy with this book. It’s going to be great to have multiple releases next year. Even though I’ve been working my tail off lately I keep forgetting that I’ve really only had one Rowen release for ’07 and ’08. 2009 will have three books out, four if my Blaze is moved up, plus an anthology. That will be very good. And 2010 is shaping up to have a similar number of releases. We shall see!
Starting tomorrow I’m going to be working on my read-through of EDEN and figuring out all the things that need to be tweaked before it goes to my beta-readers. I know I want it to be funnier. Even though I fight the funny — wanting to be a dark urban fantasy author at heart, you know — I have to accept that teh funny is important to my writing. Angst, sure. there can be the angst. But it needs to be tempered with the funny. And I realize this while I go through FANGSOME. The first draft of this was, um…not very funny. I’ll admit it. I thought I was justified in writing a darker manuscript because Sarah is going through some serious stress. But my editor pointed out that it needed a lighter tone and a main character who didn’t CRY ON EVERY PAGE. Yes, I agreed. It took me a while, but I agreed. And now as I read through it I see how very right she was. The angst tends to play out a bit draggy and preachy while the comic bits are, well, funny and entertaining.
However, I am more inclined to read dark so I guess that’s why I have a dark fiction addiction. But even if I were to write another Michelle Maddox book, I don’t think dark and tragic are my style (well, not on the page. Ha ha). It can be more serious and darker, but I think my writing will always have some comic relief. Life’s depressing enough without writing whiny, crying characters all the time.
Okay, enough dark reading. I’m going to grab a comedy off my TBR shelf later. I think I know the one. I’ve been avoiding reading this particular vampire series since I didn’t want it to influence my own vampire series — even though I have the first four books purchased. But now I can get the chance to read up on some funny vamps. Woot.
I’m going to have a lot of work to do in the second draft, but I’m happy to report that the first draft of LIVING IN EDEN is done. I normally have multi-colored dancing bananas, but for this book I need something a little more…devilish…
Excuse me for doing another Twilight post. This issue is weighing heavy on my mind because obviously I seriously need a hobby…
The latest news from the New Moon movie camp is 1) they replaced the director of Twilight, Catherine Hardwicke, with Chris Weisz (who directed the gorgeous-looking but flat Golden Compass — but hopefully this will give New Moon a bit slicker look that I felt Twilight could have used), and 2) they are considering replacing the kid who played Jacob in Twilight, Taylor Lautner, for an older looking actor in New Moon.
If you’ve read New Moon, you will know…
…that Jacob physically ages to look like he’s in his mid-twenties, despite being only sixteen, due to his, err… shapeshifting needs. He’s buff, he’s mega-tall, and mega-hot. And he also his growing friendship/romance with Bella is a huge part of this book.
I quite enjoyed New Moon. It’s actually my favorite of the series. I love a good love triangle.
And I really liked Taylor as Jacob in Twilight. He was perfect as the young, cute kid who obviously has a major crush on Bella. He is also really into the books, you can tell his enthusiasm from the interview’s he’s done. And the fans really love him. He’s been taking the transition to “older Jacob” very seriously and bulking up and working out l like a maniac. But is he right for the part?
I’m not so sure he is. I like him. Don’t get me wrong. But I think he looks too young to play opposite Kristen Stewart romantically and give RPattz a real run for his money in this love triangle. Although, apparently ever girl under sixteen in the universe disagrees with me on this. They don’t mind a younger Jacob since, I would assume, they are young themselves. But to be true to the part as it was written, it needs an older actor.
Allegedly, two other actors are being considered for the role of older Jacob. Michael Copon and Steven Strait. I don’t think any of the three mentioned actors are actually Native American.
I think Michael Copon looks perfect for the role. The fans are not digging this guy, though. They think he’s egotistical and anything that isn’t Taylor is bad to them. However, originally the choice of RPattz for Edward was met with… dissatisfaction. To say the least. But as the months went by to say that Robert’s been embraced by the Twilight community would be an understatement. Personally I think if they end up casting someone else, it won’t take long before the fans will shift their affections.
So, pictures… First up is Taylor Lautner…
And now, Michael Copon…
Definitely hot. And he looks like he could be Taylor’s older brother which would make for a smooth translation. I’ve seen clips of his acting on YouTube (yeah, I have some spare time, okay??) and I wasn’t majorly impressed. But when you look like this, who cares if you can act?
And lastly, Steven Strait…
I’ve heard this hottie is who Stephenie Meyer herself had in mind when she was writing Jacob. He’s done movies before, like The Covenant, and I think he’d be really good. He doesn’t look all that Native American to me, though, and nothing like Taylor.
Out of the three I like Taylor’s attitude and likability (key to Jacob), Michael’s looks, and, well, I just like Steven Strait because he’s hot. We’ll see what’s decided soon. The movie starts shooting in March for a November release! Damn. That’s even faster than publishing a book!
Yesterday was one of those days when I remember why I want to do this writing thing. The words came fast and furious and I was in the zone almost the whole time I was writing. Total magic. Whether or not the writing itself is usable is another thing, but the process was fantastic. I wrote over 6600 words (28 pages) and it felt GOOD.
Today is another matter. It’s nearly four o’clock and I still haven’t written anything. I’ve done some research (witch’s talismans and what if feels like to get shot) and reread some pages, but nothing new. Yet. Usually after a really good day I hit a minor wall. It’s okay. I’m on track to finish up this first draft by next Sunday. I’m liking what I’m getting. I’m over the hump of “OMG this is really horrible” and onto the “OMG this just might work” section of the journey I take with every book. The climax of this story is a bit up in the air. It’s not going to work out exactly as I had it in my synopsis since some things have shifted a bit as I’ve written. I had to ax an entire extraneous subplot since my word count was in danger of being too high (there’s a first time for everything), so I need to figure out just how everything’s going to turn out. I think I know. But we’ll see if the characters agree.
After this book is done like dinner I have the go-ahead to write up the synopsis for book 2 in my Demon Princess young adult series. So happy I’m going to get to hang out with those characters again really soon. I’ve seen a rough cover for REIGN OR SHINE and it’s really mega cute. The second book is going to be due July 1st with a probable Spring 2010 release. Life is good. I can’t complain.
Well, I can complain. In fact, I’m very good at it. But I don’t really have any reason to right now when it comes to the writing. This is subject to change at any moment.
Okay, enough chit chat. If you want to keep up with how I’m progressing, I do twitter my little heart out every day. That site is seriously addictive.
I’m guest blogging today on Lori Devoti’s30 Days of Vampires and giving away another copy of Stakes & Stilettos. Swing by and comment on your favorite or least-favorite vampire myths to be eligible to win!
TOP PICK! “Rowen jumps from paranormal romance to paranormal mystery without skipping a beat…Here’s hoping Sarah will have many more adventures in her new series.”—RT Bookreviews on Blood Bath & Beyond More reviews...