Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guest Blogger Jill Hughey

FREE on Amazon Click on cover!
Thank you Jamie for inviting me to visit your blog!  I am Jill Hughey, a self-published author of historical romance and I am especially excited to be here today because my first self-published book, Unbidden, will be free as an ebook on Amazon April 19 and 20.

My journey to becoming self-published has been similar to many others.  I started writing in 2000 because there were characters and scenes in my head that wanted out.  I fell into the traps common to many beginners:  no conflict, little plot, sketchy settings.  But I worked on my craft and kept on writing the kind of romances I like to read:  fast-paced, passionate, with a dash of humor.

In August 2011 (yes, ten years later) with many rejections in hand from agents and editors, and with three completed manuscripts on the hard drive of my computer, my mother-in-law Carolyn Hughey told me that many of her author friends were publishing ebooks on their own.  I was excited that this might be a way for me to build an audience.  So, in November 2011, I posted Unbidden, followed in February by its sequel in The Evolution Series, Redeemed.

Self-publishing is challenging because, unless you are independently wealthy or are enjoying financial success with some books you already have available, there is plenty of SELF required in the process.  I enjoy the artistic control of designing covers, I am comfortable with formatting my own manuscripts, but I find promotion to be time-consuming and almost mystifying.  I can honestly say that I learn something new every day.

In the final analysis, I am self-publishing because I love to write.  Enough intelligent people have read my books and enjoyed them that I am confident I CAN write.  If I can someday achieve enough success that all I have to do is write I will be thrilled!  Until then, I am revising and editing the short sweet romance I've named Sass Meets Class, then I will be plotting my third book in The Evolution Series.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Voting Closed, the Winner is...

Vote for your favorite cover in the Poll
on the top left of this page:


#1 - Blue 


Friday, April 13, 2012

Where Do Your Ideas Come From? The Curse of the Novelist

Photo credit: qisur (Creative Commons)
One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is, "Where do you get your ideas?"

My answer: The craziest places. I'll start with how I got the idea for Let Us Prey.

I was attending a monthly writers' meeting in Minneapolis, where Mary Janice Davidson (NY Time Bestselling author of the Undead series from Berkley Publishing) was speaking. She told a hilarious story about a multiple author book signing she did where one of the authors had arrived with a bodyguard (or more than one, I don't remember). She said the author had just been at a conference where she'd had a run in with a "fan" who was upset about something she wrote. Now it's been awhile, so I don't remember if there was a physical altercation at that conference, but that particular author felt some sort of protection was needed for future appearances.

I must say, I barely heard anything else that Mary Janice Davidson said, because I was using this little tidbit to outline a story in my head. But I'm a mystery writer, not paranormal, so there was no way I was jumping on the vampire bandwagon at the time.

Before I left the writers' meeting, I had Mimi, Charles and Nick, along with the name Gotcha Detective Agency, clear in my mind. Instead of joining everyone for lunch, I went to the Macaroni Grill by myself and plotted the story in my notepad while eating pasta and drinking Chianti.

A lot changed in the story from that day to the time Let Us Prey was finally published, but the seed of the idea remained the same. And today, at the Romantic Times conference, I hear that J.R. Ward had bodyguards outside the bathroom doors, so no one could go in while she was "indisposed." Life imitating art? You'd have to have read Let Us Prey to understand this reference. (Thanks so much to NY Times Bestselling author Jennie Bentley for telling me about this kerfuffle at the RT conference).

If you are a writer, where have your craziest ideas come from? As a reader, do you wonder how writers come up with this stuff?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Editing for Indie Authors - Part 1 Self-Editing

As an independent author, I hear so many other writers say, "Oh, I didn't use an editor." And I can't help but wonder why they think hiring a professional editor is a waste of money.

I've been writing for many years, first as a journalist writing for business magazines, then a non-fiction book on hiking,  and in my last incarnation, I've write novels and screenplays. I've been lucky enough to have critique partners and beta readers along the way, but at every step I had, or hired, a professional consultant, or editor before my words were published.

The main thing that came from these readers is a fresh eye on the manuscript that is so important. Just because you had it in your head, doesn't mean you got it on the page in a logical way. You can read your article, script or novel a hundred times, and you just won't see that it doesn't make sense on the page. It came from your imagination, so of course it's clear on the page. To YOU, maybe, but not to the person who isn't in your head. A beta reader is the LEAST you should have before you put your baby out there for the world to see.

An example: I recently had a screenplay read by a consultant, and he didn't even realize who the killer really was. Not because he didn't read the script well enough, but because I thought I'd put all of the subtle clues out there for the world to see. Turns out, you'd have to be a genius to realize what I'd made WAY too subtle.

No writer can be completely objective about their own work. This is why you should have your friends, critique groups, writers groups read and give feedback along the way. But you need to be able to self-edit first.

You must be able to evaluate structure and plot, along with pacing, characterization and theme. Do you know when you are telling and not showing? Is your dialogue "on the nose?" Writing is a craft that needs to be practiced, learned and polished.

Writing is rewriting. How many times have you heard that phrase? After the story is on the page, now it's time to go back and read for basic mechanics of grammar, spelling, structure. Is there enough conflict? Does that scene really move the story forward? If you've ever read any books on writing, or read novels regularly (which I'd hope you do read, if you want to be a writer), you know what to look for. Yes, it's your job to look for these flaws in your writing. You should only show your novel to a beta reader or critique partner after you've polished it to a eyeball burning shine.

Your beta readers are only your first step in the editing process, but they should be pampered and spoiled by only having to read the best you have to offer. Even though you may not agree with their feedback, be polite and take a deep breath. Give it a day or two and you'll realize they are only trying to help your novel be better.

Now it's time to evaluate the feedback, do a bit more editing on your own, then HIRE the best editor your wallet can afford.

To be continued... (Part 2, what to expect from your editor, and for your money)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Writers Lie?

A seriously funny, and scary but true blog post I came across recently talked about the 25 lies writers tell and start to believe.

Chuck Wendig, novelist and screenwriter, has one of the best blogs on the life of the writer and writing. If you read his blog regularly, you may live forever because of the health benefits of laughing.

Be sure to check out his Terrible Minds post on the lies writers tell:

Then come back here and let me know, what lies do you tell yourself?