Monday, February 21, 2011

Sample "Ceremony" While I'm Away!

I'll be taking a brief break from the Internet this week. I'm planning on a partial retreat, but reserve the right to take the full week if needed. This is not reckless abandonment, hepsters; I actually have to disappear for a few days. His name is Eddie and he has a glass eye... No, nothing so exciting. More like doctor's orders. This means I will miss this Wednesday's ROW80 check-in, but I should be back on Sunday. By all means please leave messages/comments/send emails if the mood strikes you. I'm not going to Mars. And even if I was, Mars has Twitter now. So Tweet away!

In the meantime, very exciting news on the book front: Ceremony of Innocence is ready for sampling!!!!!  I  am, in fact, smoking a Cuban in a hot tub while drinking Red Rock, crushing on Joshua Jackson on the outdoor flatscreen, talking sweet nonsense to my freak cat who likes water (?!?), and writing this blog all at the same time. How's that for celebrating? And I'm only making one of them up! Guess which? But the point is, Ceremony is coming along swimmingly, kind of like Felix the Freak Cat, and I couldn't be happier. Everything looks on track for the March release. It's a nice note on which to begin an Internet break. Those of you who wish to read it can follow the link to download it here.

One last very amorphous thought: The site is named The Ides of March, so I thought I'd do something special on the Ides of March. March 15th, the anniversary of Julius Ceaser's death (according to Shakespeare,) and one other top secret event to be revealed later. I thought I'd give away prizes or something. Move in a disco ball and hire a band. It'll be grand. Beware, beware! -VK

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday Update

1. Moving Day!
I moved back into my studio space! I am so happy I don't think it's quite penetrated. During the publishing process of Gifts and the worst of the coldest winter we've had here in the South for many years I moved most of my equipment into the main house. It just made sense. My husband the graphic designer/ computer wizard was essential during my first encounter with Amazon's DTP, especially since it didn't seem to like my Mac. Also, I was quite unused to freezing howling wind that found every crack and crevice in the structure, stripping my freestanding heater of all relevancy and my fingers of all flexibility. I just comfy in the house. I could make tea, keep an eye on dinner, and watch the news while writing, right?
And I wondered why this sequel was so much harder to write. Ha.
My studio! A door I can shut and lock, detached from the main house. A stereo I can blare. Pile of notes that make perfect sense to me. Outlines taped to the wall next to color-coded charts delineating magical systems next to genealogical charts of angels. I've missed it.

2. Writing:
Two writing days out of four: one fairly easy one, one like pulling teeth. Oh well. They were all focused on my WIP, which is good. This was somewhat spurred by the fan emails I've begun to get, saying nice things like, "dying for the sequel." That gets me. I *hate* waiting for books. So, ok then. Onward with the sequel.

3. Editing:
I figured out what was wrong with Chapter One, and fixed it. It pretty much involved a complete re-working, but it's much stronger now and didn't take much away from content. It was also nice to get rid of that nagging feeling that something was really wrong with Ceremony. Like I'd sent my kid to school in dirty clothes, or something. So it's fixed, which is good, because I'm on track for the end-of-February three chapter samples I've been promising the very sweet fans who've emailed and commented on my website. Hang in there, guys! It's coming!

4. Reading:
Yes, I was bad. Or good? I read two really good Sci Fi books this week. I keep thinking that I'm going to have to impose my reading moratorium as I get closer to the finish line, and I probably still will. But I did read (dammit) and posted a short review on Goodreads. The Rho books are just that good, and I needed a break from the paranormal for a bit.

5. What's new in my little corner of the world:
Everybody check out VJ Chamber's new Little Sister: A Vampire Novella! I've been a huge fan of hers since I read her Jason and Azazel series. I got a chance to read an early copy and it's definitely worth the $.99. VJ Chambers also came up with the idea of starting a Facebook page for Indie YA authors- a great idea, and one I'm grateful to her for implementing because I'm kind of Facebook challenged. Also, congrats to Kait Nolan for landing an agent! Such a great example of how Indies who work hard at professionalism and quality don't have compromise: we live in a world where we can have the freedom to self-publish and still pursue more traditional avenues, on our own terms. Kait's had some really thought-provoking discussions on her blog about this very subject lately. And finally, best of luck to Stacey Wallace Benefiel as she embarks on her Glimmer blog tour! I'm definitely bookmarking and following that one!

I hope everyone has a really productive rest of the week, that the weather is mild, and good books and music come your way. -VK

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Great Gray Beast of February

I read. A lot. I always have. I suspect many of you do, too. If we're the sum of our experiences then mine is a life made up of words and phrases, only some of them mine. Of those that belong to others, I often don't remember where they came from, only that they fit the occasion and I can't stop them from rising when they do. Words flow, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to catch them. Sometimes not.

Take The Great Gray Beast of February. I think I've encountered this phrase before, no doubt as a child in some book I must have loved desperately or it wouldn't have stuck with me this long. But for now, The Beast is all about the stranglehold this especially hard winter has had on the South. The way it's driven me and all my equipment into the main house, out of my detached and thus poorly heated studio space, and the devastating effect this has had on my creativity. How the hum of everyday life has supplanted my bright wall-to-wall quilt hanging; my strange books, candles, and toys; the notes and maps about made up things laid out with the careful precision of a forensics lab. Until winter's deadly grip drove me inside, I didn't realize how important, how blessed, a space that was. Now that the Great Gray Beast of February is loosening its grip, as it always eventually does, I get to move back out. Claim my space again. Find a rhythm. What an odd creature of habit am I.

And this week, another ROW80 benchmark gone? Raw writing is going well- four times a week 1500 wc. I'm on track with current projects, but I've noticed something unplanned creeping in. Is anyone else getting sick of YA? My characters keep pulling me towards darker/deeper currents. As this is still "in progress," I'm inclined to see where it's headed. Editing is confined to clean-up and moving segments that obviously don't belong to places where they might fit better. Have confined the blogging to the requisite two per week, and have read in my genre but have yet to post a review. Here I foresee a conflict: I always reach a point in my ms when I have to ground myself from books until I finish. This can go on for months. It's just necessary as story reaches critical mass. My brain, starved of any other reading material, turns inward and creates its own. So soon, I'll have to adjust my reading/ reviewing goal. Perhaps not the reviewing. I have such a backlog of books to review that I could do one a week for months and still have some left over.

On the good but still kind of strange news front, I actually got fanmail this week. Weird. It was pretty cool, though. Renewed my resolve to buckle down and finish the sequel. I've also already almost matched my entire sales figures from January already, and it's not quite two weeks into February. Barnes and Noble is outselling Amazon 2 to 1, which is strange. I wish I could figure out the secret and apply it to both sites, but there seems to be some kind of wacky B&N gremlin thing going on. You either get it with B&N, or you don't, or at least, that's what I've been told. Good things abound for ROW80 folks this week- congrats to Kait Nolan on landing an agent! Hope everyone has a happy and productive week.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bowling Alley Mystic

I've had a strange shift in focus brewing for about a week and a half now, and instead of fighting it, this week I just sort of ran with it. That's how I found myself scribbling towards my word count the old fashioned way: with a pen, in one of my notebooks made from bizarre but designer materials (moleskine?), about bowling alleys.

Yes, dear reader, this week I became creatively obsessed with bowling alleys. For ROW80 folks, that's the sum total of my mid-week update: one writing day about bowling alleys. That is all.

I can't claim that this has nothing to do with my work in progress, because all my WIPs are setting- heavy; although the characters and stories change, Whitfield is the one constant in everything I do. So perhaps there's a bowling alley there. Or there's about to be, in the version I'm writing now. Maybe it's worldbuilding, or my muse playing a joke, or maybe I just want to go bowling and I'm overthinking it all. I just know I was watching Fringe (I love Fringe), and one of the characters was getting all this sage advice from the bowling alley attendant. There was this very specific music, ambiance, and decor: laid back 70s but not obnoxiously so, which led me to thinking about perhaps the greatest movie of all time, The Big Lebowski, which is all about bowling. Before I knew it I had framed an idea about the bowling alley as a timeless space, a refuge from modernity, and then I had an entire playlist called "Bowling Alley Mystic" and was thinking about Indie musicians I knew who I could con into doing loungy covers and an anthology of short stories to go with it.

Which is what a former professor used to call a mushroom cloud.

So I have to rein it in. No way am I doing all that. But I am doing some of it. S' ok. I got a new playlist out of it, which I badly needed, and Whitfield got a bowling alley, which is pretty cool. Not just any bowling alley, either. Like everything else in my nowhere town, it's more than it seems- if not magical, then mystical, at least. Beer and clarifying questions for the down and out, with low lighting and that song you've forgotten but always loved.

So, to sum up for ROW80: That's one substantial writing day about bowling alleys. Maybe a larger project for down the line. And, honestly, that's really about it. Hope everyone is having a happy and productive mid-week check-in.

Clip from the Coen brother's The Big Lebowski, one of my favorite movies: (WARNING: clip contains @ 1 second of mature content at the 2.55 min. mark)(And music. There's always music on this blog.)

Gutterballs from Marty McFly on Vimeo.

ROW80 Folks, blog on!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Row 80 Wednesday

Hi everybody!
Just a brief check in as another week gets under way and I get back on track after The Week from Hell:
1. Writing progress:
I'm a little ahead of my usual progress this week. I've gotten one decent writing day in towards my weekly goal of four. The early part of my week is usually pretty packed with work, school, etc., so I tend to focus my writing efforts later on in the week. It's strange to be writing towards my WIP but also have a novella I've been planning to release suddenly decide to take up residence in my head. I've never tried to work on more than one WIP at a time. I'm not making promises, but we'll see how that goes. The book I have out now is gaining steam little by little, selling a few more copies every day, so I really would like to make its sequel a priority.

2. Marketing:
Again, trying to make this something I weave into my everyday writing/ online life. Am starting to plan a more aggressive marketing campaign, along the lines of a tour and i-net campaign, when I release the sequel to Gifts. I've also had a few writers reach out to me for some joint marketing campaigns. January exceeded my sales expectations, especially considering it was the first month my book was out. Happy one month birthday, book!

3. Reading:
An odd thing happened this past week. I paid the ridiculous full prices for three ebooks from traditional publishers.  All were from huge, well-known authors I've always loved. I think there really is something to my theory that ebooks by Indies are just different. They have a different feel- a freshness, a vibrancy- that ebooks issued by traditional houses lack. I really did not enjoy these major releases. In fact, one of them, by an author I've loved since childhood, was so unenjoyable I'm strongly tempted to ask for a refund. I've never once been tempted to do that with an Indie. I don't care how "unskilled" or how bad the typos were. It kind of goes with my theory that ebooks aren't novels. They're related to the novel, sure. Novelists write them. But a lot of Indies write for ebooks, and release their ebooks as novels in novel form later. Kind of like screenplays and stage plays are both plays, but screenplays evolved from stage plays into a separate genre that better fits its medium.
Most writers don't have the same minute interest in genre development as me, though. Whatever the genre, it still has to be interesting.
Oh, and that still leaves a review to write. Guess which book I won't be reviewing?

4. Found some neat new Indie writer blogs, which gave me some ideas for the two writing-intensive blogs I need to write this week. There have been a lot of discussions sparked by the Lee Goldberg/ Joe Konrath post which I've jumped into on a number of sites. Some have been markedly friendlier and more productive than others. Interesting that so many writers are so interested in the topic.

5. So, to do still: 3 more days of word counts to meet, 2 writing-related blogs, one book review, participation in writer's blogs/sites, a few more days of marketing (facebook fan page and web site building really needs doing), and edit one chapter.

I hope everyone is having a good mid-week check-in, and that February treats us all well.