Confessions of Intimidation

I don't consider myself to be a newbie to this publishing thing. I've been around the block long enough that I've gone from being the youngest member of my writer group to one of the ones that's been there the longest. To put it in perspective, my college-age daughter was in diapers when I started writing.

So, this would beg the question... Why in the world would I let one editor/agent discourage me from writing a story I truly want to write? 

I've sat on this story for nearly a year. I've stewed and hemmed, and fussed and fumed. And yet, I never went any further on the story that I was once so passionate about. Last year, before the beginning of the New England RWA Conference, those of us who were signed up for an agent/editor meeting were asked to send out 10 pages in advance. This was so that the editors/agents could have a chance to read through the material and determine whether the submission in question was something they were interested in reading. In theory, this was a great idea. But only if the editor/agent liked the submission. In my case, she found it boring and she used the word "lazy" in describing the method in which I had used to parlay some of the initial information.

Lazy.

Not exactly the word any writer wants to hear. Especially, when they were trying to write a book that they considered to be outside their comfort zone. Of course, I smiled and thanked her and then turned and walked away from the table with minutes to spare. But something of myself got left behind at that table. Some of my self-confidence. This is an edgy field, filled with competition, a lot of criticism and a good dose of maternal optimism when it comes to our work. We all want "our baby" to be the best, to have someone find it who will respect it and understand it and see why we feel it's the most beautiful, original baby in the world. 

But sometimes, our stories just aren't beautiful, original babies...

I haven't written a thing on the book since then. I haven't even opened the file. It has crossed my mind a few times, only to be pushed to the back burner in favor of more marketable projects. But lately, I've come to the conclusion that while the editor/agent's criticism was harsh and unfavorable... so was my response. This was something a quitter would do, giving up on something they believe in just to conform to the party line. My writing wasn't really lazy, but I was a quitter. And while I wanted to blame the lack of progress on the project on the editor/agent, I knew that to be truthful I would need to look at myself first. I let her intimidate me into conforming. I gave up. Not a pretty diagnosis, but recognition is the first step in changing the outcome. Working on the book again would be the next step and taking it in the direction I originally wanted it to go. 

I've always detested people who place blame for their problems on others. More often than not I am the first to admit when I've done something wrong (much to the amazement of my day job boss). So why should I blame this editor/agent for my lack of initiative? I can't. If I give up, she wins. If I continue, I can't fail. Either way, I write the book I want to tell.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

First, let me say that I haven't read this book. Yet. This is not a review. But it has definitely made it onto my TBR pile for a couple of reasons. One, the incredible cover is a complete draw and had me hooked as I walked by it at Barnes and Noble. Two, the storyline is so bizarre and the format so unique that it's destined to achieve attention. (I'll add a third... the author's name is Ransom Riggs, which is about the coolest name I've heard in quite some time.)

From Ransom Rigg's blog about the book:
A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.


It's hard enough to write a book that stands out in a market as tough as Teen Paranormals, but this storyline is exactly what it means when burgeoning authors are given the advice to write what you know and to write the story that you want to read. After all, if you write what you like there has to be someone else out there that will enjoy it. I was intrigued enough from scanning the book in the store to come home and do the research online. Normally, I'd forget and it would be days later before I went back to Google the book.
There were a couple of other interesting facts from Mr. Riggs' blog. Since childhood, he's collected photos of people he doesn't know. I couldn't believe there was someone else out there who'd felt as I did as a child. I remember collecting photographs at yard sales and flea markets because I couldn't stand the thought that some unknown relative was being put out for sale, unnamed and un-revered. Now, after all these years, I wish I'd kept up with the collection. Perhaps, it's that fascination with the history of the nameless faces that helped me become a writer. I'm sure it had something to do with my becoming a ghost hunter. I never could stand the idea of anyone being forgotten.

There are good and mixed reviews on Amazon for this book. But I accredit this to the fact that there is no way you can put a round peg in a square hole. There is really nothing to compare it with, and as such, people are going to have a hard time with the inability to categorize it. As for me? I've always said that "non-typical" is a very good thing.

Happy Reading! I'm off to buy the book online...

10 Things I learned from Hosting a Guest on my Blog

Hosting on my blog is a new experience for me. It's something that I've thought of undertaking for quite some time, but until now I wasn't sure that I could do. Thursday, I hosted friend and fellow adventurer, Diane Amos, who talked about her path to publication with her latest Five Star book, Promise Me Forever. We talked about this for awhile before attempting it.

Neither of us was sure just what was going to happen, but in the end I was happy with the results. We ended up with 27 visitors for the blog and around 10 comments (I think). This may not seem like much, but considering that this is about five times the normal visitors/daily that I get I was pretty darned happy with it. There were a few things that I worked out along the way and I'll pass these tips on to anyone who may be interested in hosting or being part of a blog tour.

1. Decide the topic to be discussed keeping it to something that will be of interest to your blog readers. If you write a research blog, keep it to research. If you write a erotic blog, keep the tone the same.

2. Decide the type of blog post. Interview or general post. Either, will work well, but keep in mind that the interview requires a ton of pre-work and back and forth between the author and then you will need to put it together into a posting that will entice the readers. If you decided to have the guest post a blog on a certain topic then you'll want to find something that will interest the majority of readers.

3.  When to host the blog post. Really, any time will work, but keep in mind that you want to be available to monitor comments and help the process along by encouraging readers to the blog.

4. Which leads me to... mining your contacts. Not all the lists that you are on are going to appreciate it if you post about a guest on your blog for the day. It helps to know the rules of the individual lists and be sure to follow them so that you don't offend any potential readers. If you intend to do this often then keep a list handy.

5. Do as much of it ahead of time as you can. I copied the post into my blog poster and added pictures that I gathered from the author's site. I also added links for all the ways that they could be connected to their readers, either through Facebook, Twitter, etc. And finally, I added links to all the available books the author had available and made sure the links worked. Once this was done I set the blog to post at a reasonable time on the agreed date.

6. Make sure your blog is ready to host. I found this out through trial and error, but one of the biggest things that I realized to late was that my "follow my blog" app was too low on the page. Make it easy for the readers to connect with you and your blog. Give them the Facebook, Twitter and other assorted links at the top. Include the "follow me" app because this means that as you post they will get the chance to see your posts

7. Network Blogs is an app that's available through Facebook. Not part of it? Sign yourself up. This allows your blog posts to show up as a status message automatically when you post. Also, they can set to follow you through the Network Blogs page.

8. Ditto for Twitter. My blog posts automatically feed to my Twitter page and give a link to my blog. Utilize all avenues for getting people to your blog.

9. Check your comments often. Unless you are set for un-moderated messages you are going to have to approve all the messages that post to your blog. Do this often and encourage the author to check them often to comment on what is being posted. These are their potential readers.

10. Have fun with it. It's really not as scary as it would seem to undertake this type of effort. Because Diane is my friend it was a more relaxed experience (at least on my part).

I want to thank Diane for visiting the blog. She really wrote a great article that touched many people. Her books do the same thing and I wish her the best and many, many happy readers. :)

A Novel's Journey with Diane Amos

Sometimes a novel starts with an idea that slowly takes root in an author's mind and eventually germinates into a concrete concept. Sometimes a novel goes from idea to a book in a short period of time. Or as is the case with my historical Promise Me Forever, released in November 2011, a novel can take years between idea, writing the book and seeing that work in print.

Back in 1998, I was talking with another author about heroes and unlikely heroines: a minister and a prostitute, a minister and a nun. Clearly, if a nun were involved, there could be no romance, but what if the heroine was disguised as a nun? Much better! I ditched the minister for an exhausted, bleary eyed cowboy in a saloon. Make that a heroine from the East with a distrust of any man with a drink in his hands, and a hero as a child, abandoned by his mother, an Easterner. Viola, the idea for my book was born.

In 1999, Promise Me Forever, won several contests including The Maggie Award of Excellence in the unpublished historical category. The book made the rounds of editors and publishers, followed by rejections, rewrites, more rejections. Meanwhile, I continued writing and eventually, got the call in 2002. I'd sold a contemporary novel, Getting Personal, to Five Star/Gale. I was now a published author!

I sold two more contemporary novels to Five Star, one contemporary to Harlequin, and two historicals to Five Star. Promise Me Forever still held a special place in my heart, but after the slew of rejections, I had serious doubts. Plus one of those rejections came directly from Five Star. Since I'd changed the title several times, and since the editor who'd turned my baby down no longer acquired for this line, I decided to resubmit. This time, Five Star bought my novel. Finally, my first historical had found a home.

Though I believed strongly in this novel, I still held my breath for the reviews. This book received a good review from Publishers Weekly, a starred review from Booklist, and a glowing review from USA Today. Finally, my novel had seen the light of day. Finally, I wasn't the only one who liked this book. Finally, my novel was out there for readers.

If there's a moral to this story, it's to never give up. And if a publisher has already rejected a novel, don't let that stop you from resubmitting. A new title and a new editor could make a huge difference between a rejection and a sale.

I've recently acquired the rights back from my first few novels. They are available on Amazon as e-books. Please check them out along with my website at http://www.dianeamos.com/
To tell you a little about Promise Me Forever, I've included the Booklist review below:

STARRED Advanced Review
Promise Me Forever. Amos, Diane (Author) Nov 2011.

To escape an abusive stepfather, Elizabeth O’Hara disguises herself as a nun, grabs her younger brother and sister, and heads west to Welcome, Montana, a place a newspaper article claims is so refined it has a library, church, and theater. However, when Elizabeth arrives in Welcome, she finds that it basically consists of a saloon and a store, and now the impoverished Elizabeth and her siblings have nowhere to go. Feeling somewhat responsible for the group’s predicament as author of the misleading article, Ben Ricker reluctantly offers the good sister a position as a cook at his ranch. However, Elizabeth has no idea how to cook. Granny is almost blind and has been depressed for some time. Elizabeth, her siblings, and a dog about to whelp are just what Granny needs to get her old spunk back. Even with Elizabeth’s help, life at the ranch isn’t without its problems, especially when Ben discovers that Elizabeth is not a nun. With delightful characters, humor, and some danger, Amos’ tale of a woman who lands in the wrong place yet finds a slice of heaven will tug at even the toughest heartstrings.
—Booklist, Shelley Mosley

You can find Diane at http://www.dianeamos.com/
or on Facebook @ www.Facebook.com/DianeAmos
Diane's Hardcovers
Promise Me Forever, Available through Amazon as Hardcover 
Outlaw Hearts, Available through Amazon as Hardcover
Winner Takes All, Available through Amazon as Hardcover

Diane's books available in ebook format
Mixed Blessings, Available through Amazon as Harcover or ebook
Getting Personal, Available through Amazon as Paperback or ebook
The Legacy, Available through Amazon as Hardcover or ebook

Surprise! Surprise!

Last week I promised a special treat and it's going to happen tomorrow with a guest appearance from one of my favorite authors and an incredible friend, Diane Amos.

Join us on Thursday at the Cup a Hot blog while she talks about her path to publication with her latest novel, Promise Me Forever, a Hardcover from Five Star that is getting some wonderful reviews!

I'd post some of the personal pics that I have of Diane, but that might make her change her mind about showing up. Besides, as a good friend and travelling companion, along with Delsora Lowe, she knows waaaayyyy toooo many incriminating things about me to add to the soup. 

See you all tomorrow~

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My friend Melissa Alvarez and her husband have just started a new company designed to help out authors who are self publishing. They've got some great deals going to get the word out, so if you feel like you're roaming the vast space of publishing alone, then go on and check it out.

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