Monday, February 28, 2011

March Madness 2011--WIN FREE PRIZES!

No, I don't mean this March Madness:

Flickr image by katerha

I mean this March Madness:

Flickr image by Jan Slangen

Well, except we aren't really going to make such a mess. Unless you want to, but then you will be responsible for cleaning it up. I'm not going to do it for you.

My writing friend Denise Jaden (we met through Verla Kay's blueboards, though we are also MSFV Success Stories as well) hosts her own writing version of March Madness each year. And this year is no exception.

In her own words:

"If you’ve been looking for a challenge to get your writing in gear, you’ve come to the right place! Through the month of March we will be cheering each other on to meet challenging goals with our writing."

This year she is opening it up to readers, bloggers, and illustrators as well. So, if you have writing, reading, or illustrating goals you'd like to achieve this month, head on over to her blog and sign up.

Did I mention there are PRIZES?

To keep you motivated, Denise and her March Madness cohorts will be giving prizes away throughout the month. You get an entry each time to check in, so the more you participate the better your chances of winning.

And, as added encouragement, I'm going to add my own prize(s). Each of my followers who sign up on Denise's blog and leave a comment here letting me know they've joined the madness will be entered in my own March Madness contest. The winner will get to choose one of the following books:

  • OTHER by Karen Kincy (ARC)
  • CREEPERS by Joanne Dahme (Hardcover)
  • SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK by Sydney Salter (Paperback)

If I get five of my followers to join March Madness, I'll pick TWO winners. And if I get ten followers to join, I'll pick THREE WINNERS. And if I get fifteen followers to join, I'll rummage around and find some other books to give away! (I've got them around here somewhere...) That means you have a one-in-five chance of winning. And those are pretty good odds, I dare say. I'll draw the winner(s) on March 31st.

What if you aren't one of my followers, you say? Can you still enter? Well, that's easy enough. Just follow my blog on Blogger (or add me as a friend on LJ), and you're in. Easy peasy. So you are welcome to invite your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members, random strangers off the street, etc., to join the March Madness here and on the "official" site (aka, at Denise's blog).

Now get thee hence and sign yourself up for March Madness. Then come back here for more chances to win!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

In the Middle of It All

I was going to let today quietly glide past. I certainly didn't want to bring attention to it, because I hate reminders about how I'm not getting any younger.

Yes, today is my birthday.

But it's not just any birthday. It's the birthday that puts me smack dab in the middle of my 30s. My 20-something friends and family love that I'm getting so old, but my 40-something friends and family still think of me as just a baby. I've found a few hairs on my head that aren't as brown as they should be, but I've still got a long ways to go before I need a box of Nice 'n Easy. I certainly don't feel as young as I used to, but I don't feel old, either.

You see, I'm right there. In. The. Middle.

And that is the reason I'm speaking up today. Because I realized that by not celebrating where I am--Right Now--I'm missing out.

This goes for my writing, too.

I'm in The Middle of my journey to publication. And too often I find myself complaining about not celebrating where I am. I'm too focused on the end product (in this case, a published book in my hands) and not enough on the journey.

And it's the journey that matters.

Sure, I know this, but sometimes I forget. Luckily for me, I woke up this morning to my kids fighting over how old I really am (my 7yo stared intently at my face and declared that I didn't look any older, bless his heart). And I realized that I'd rather be here, in The Middle, than anywhere else.

And that goes for my journey to publication, too. Right here, in The Middle, is a pretty good place to be.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Revision Process

It shouldn't come as a big surprise that I am currently revising a manuscript. (Sheesh, when am I not revising a manuscript?) (Like, never.)

Flickr image by Dan PattersonBut I've noticed that often people, probably in order to procrastinate on their own revision, start asking around to find out the best way to revise.

Well, today I am here to tell you the best way to revise. I know you've all be waiting for a definitive answer on this, and I'm brave enough to tell you.

The answer is:

It depends.

It depends on the person revising. It depends on whether or not you outline first, or later, or not at all. It depends on whether you like to choose one particular aspect (such as beefing up your dialogue) and ignore the rest, or if you polish the entire scene before moving to the next. It depends on whether or not you're having a good day or a bad day.

It depends on the manuscript itself. It depends on the genre you've written. It depends on how well the plot came together in the first draft. It depends on whether or not the characters decide to behave and help, or misbehave and take you on a wild goose chase through the story.

The best way to find the best way to revise is to simply revise. (Yeah, go ahead and read that again. I know I had to.) Try different techniques and see if they work for you. If they don't, IT'S OKAY. Even if they work for Mr. or Ms. NYT Bestseller, that DOES NOT MEAN THEY HAVE TO WORK FOR YOU. I've come across plenty of great revision ideas that seem great on paper (someone else's paper, that is), but when I try them on my own, they Do. Not. Work. And that's okay.

Case in point: One day about two years ago I was surfing the internet, hoping to find a great way to revise the book I had almost finished. (For those of you reading between the lines, yes, I was procrastinating. That ending was not working out so well. In fact, that draft still sits there, almost finished.) And I came across this great revision idea from a well-known author in the adult romance field. She had posted her one-pass revision process, which sounded heavenly. I need at least a half-dozen passes before my manuscripts resemble most authors' first drafts, so you can imagine my excitement.

Well, guess what? Yep, once I tried to implement her plan, I was so overwhelmed with the amount of work that I gave up after revising the first page. I'm still trying to recover from that experience. (For those of you still reading between the lines, yes, that is probably part of the reason why that manuscript still sits, unfinished, in a file somewhere on my computer.) On the next manuscript, I had much better success during the revision process by focusing on one aspect first (though that manuscript lies unfinished as well...long story).

So find your own process. Go ahead and ask others (heck, I think I've already shared somewhere on this blog my process), but just remember the best revision process is the one that works for you.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my revision (aka stop procrastinating)...