Monday, April 27, 2009

It's raining hard in Houston. Great time for an ARC.

Another first. My ARCs came in the mail today. These are "advanced reading copies", which the publisher will send to reviewers and also which we'll proofread for spelling, punctuation, etc. It's too late at this point to make substantive changes to the text. We're down to the nitty gritty.

I wasn't blogging yet when we went through two rounds of substantive revisions a few months ago. I'll blog about that process if I'm lucky enough to have a next time. For now, I'll just say that this version of editing is by far my favorite of the two.

I received two copies of the ARC--one to keep and one to mark up and return. In addition to The Bridges of Madison County, I'll be reading this on my flight to Malice Domestic this week.

Royalty Statements and Promotion as told by Lynn Viehl

Best-selling author Lynn Viehl discusses and shares her royalty statement for Twilight Fall and offers an interesting take on book promotion, or the lack thereof.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What Google Indexing and our Tax System Have in Common

I don't understand either of them.

A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from my publisher saying it was time to launch a website so I did. Then I Googled myself to see if the site turned up. Turns out there is another, much prettier, much younger Rachel Brady who was Teen California and she rates waaaay up there in the top Google hits. I'm sure she is as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside, but with her youth, beauty, and preferential Google treatment, I confess I struggle daily not to dislike her. Let me save you the trouble so we can get back to my story.

All the stuff I read online said to be patient. It takes the Google "crawlers" and "bots" a while to find new websites. I never would have thought the day would come that I'd long to be crawled... but come it did. And crawled I was not.

Every few days I checked. Then one night I Googled "Rachel Brady, Final Approach" and got a surprise. My new book was listed on Amazon! Wha?! Really? What a neat discovery. Suddenly, being dissed by Google didn't sting as much.

Then another fun thing. My first royalty statement came in the mail. This was extremely funny because, since my book isn't out yet, the statement reported a whole bunch of zeroes. Still. Who cares?! I got a royalty statement in the mail!

And finally today, I made it to the first page of the Google search. I'm still listed way below the better looking Rachel Brady but that's okay because Amanda has started to follow my blog. You made my day, Amanda. Welcome!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Four for Four and guiltless. Happy Easter.

By my standards, today was a perfect day. I scored four and didn't even suffer Mom guilt. In fact, I played three rounds of board games, read a chapter of Harry Potter to the big kids, two picture books to the little guy, and was on-hand in the evening for bath duty. I ran 6.5 miles to counter-balance my Reese's peanut butter egg transgressions, got some guitar practice in (still working on Pasty Cline), did a load of laundry, a smidge of yard work, and cleaned the kitchen twice. Can I get an Amen?

But the thing I'm most proud of today is that I wrote. It wasn't the day's most important activity, but it was the hardest.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What I learned from Laura Lippman

Today I went to a luncheon hosted by Houston's Murder By the Book where the guest speaker was author Laura Lippman. As she talked about her writing process, I was relieved to hear a few things.

She said book ideas come to her two ways. One is a lightning bolt idea, where she just suddenly knows what the book will be. The other is by strings, where she's sort of picking up threads all the time, knowing they'll become a book when she finally weaves them together, but she's not necessarily sure how that's going to happen.

I really liked having the string approach articulated by somebody who knows what she's talking about. I'm definitely a stringer. Validating.

Someone asked if she already knows how the book will unfold from the outset. She replied that she always knows the "central secret" but that some of it is a surprise to her. "No surprises for the writer, no surprises for the reader," she quoted an unknown author as saying. Apparently that quote has been attributed to so many famous writers, nobody is sure who really said it.

I thought that over for a while. So, it's okay that I know the central secret but not exactly how I'll eventually show it? Hmph, I thought. Validating.

When I wrote Final Approach, I didn't write those pages in order. Mid-way through Chapter 4, for example, I might get an idea for a scene that would occur much later in the book and go off on a tangent and write what later became Chapter 28. I did this enough times that it later became a huge challenge to bridge the gaps between random scenes that had little to do with each other. Bouncing back and forth in time was too hard, so I promised myself that next time I'd write the pages in order. The problem with that, though, is getting stuck. With my earlier time-travel approach, if I got stuck in one chapter I would just fast-forward to a later chapter. At least stuff was making it to the page. But I digress. The point here -- even very experienced writers don't always know what's coming in the next scene. Validating.

I left with a swift reminder of why it's important to seek out other writers. For me, it's validation. I don't know what the take-away message was for anyone else in the room, but for me it was: Writing is hard work for amateurs and professionals alike. Stories don't come with a big red bow on them. And, like science and engineering, I suppose, sometimes the best products result not from one's original ideas, but from unforeseen ones that spring up along the way.

I learned another very useful morsel too. Houston's Briar Club serves awesome pecan pie.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Author websites and sexy dresses

My ARCs will go out soon and my publisher has asked when my website will be active. ARCs are "advance reading copies" that go out to reviewers a few months ahead of a book's release. The progress is exciting, but the website question makes me a little bit anxious.

The website content is ready. What's distressing is finally pulling the trigger on how the page will look. This feels like choosing the right dress for an important party. Lots of dresses look fine, but when I walk out the door I'll still wonder if I chose the perfect one.