Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A to Z Challenge: O is for Outline

O is for Outline:  a general sketch, account, or report, indicating only the main features, as of a book, subject, or project. (Dictionary.com)

There are two camps, if you will, two trains of thought in the writing world.  One—of which I am not a member—is the pantsters.  These are the folks who write organically, by the very seat of their pants.  They might have a general idea of the plot and characters and where they want them to go, but then again, maybe not.  They don’t plan.  They just write.  There’s no map, only a seed of an idea that they allow to germinate, sprout, grow, and flower.  When I was stuck on where to start one of my WIPs, I couldn’t even figure out where to begin an outline.  So a friend suggested I just write what I knew at that point, to get it down on paper, so to speak, in hopes it would generate a flow.  I did just that, and it really helped.  Better yet, I found it liberating. 

Still, I am staunchly of the other camp.  I am a plotter, a narrative outliner.  I first jot down notes in my iPhone as they come to me, but eventually everything is written longhand in a spiral notebook.  My notes are pretty complete, only missing descriptions and dialogue.  From there, it’s easy for me to just read along in my notes and expand while I type away on my computer.

Some outliners write a mini synopsis, cover blurb, or summary statement to get started.  Some use index cards, others the headlight system, in which they have an idea but can see only as far their “headlights.”  Then they “drive” to that point and see a little farther.  Still others generate ideas for scenes and chapters by asking themselves questions:  What’s at stake?  How will the protagonist react?  What will happen when he does?   Do I need more characters?    

There are as many ways to plot and write a novel as there are writers who write them.  While I prefer to outline, so I know exactly where I’m going, I still write in the moment, meaning I write whatever comes into my head at that moment.  So while I am a plotter, I use many of the freebird pantster techniques, as well.                      

What type of writer are you?  Have you ever tried doing it the other way?  

Monday, April 16, 2012

A to Z Challenge: N is for Name

N is for Name:  a word or combination of words by which a person, place, thing, body, class, or any object of thought is designated, called, or known; a distinguished, famous, or great reputation. (Dictionary.com)

Shakespeare wrote in his most famous play, Romeo and Juliet, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."   In short, this means that what truly matters most is what something is, not what it’s called.  For most things, I think this is true.  But when you’re a writer, your name is your brand, and that means everything.

Most of the writers I’ve met in the last eighteen months are using their true and legal names to query and publish under.  One of the first questions my own publisher asked me is if I plan on using my real name or a nom de plume, which is a literary double or pseudonym.  I’ve met only two writers I can think of who are using pseudonyms.  They don’t even blog under their real names.  And I can’t help but wonder why. 

Are they embarrassed by what they’ve written?  Do they want to retain some anonymity?  I understand some women use initials or a more masculine semblance of their name to compete in a male dominated genre.  Some writers use pseudonyms to cross over into a new genre, one which they’ve never been published under before.  This could be because they want to retain a clean brand from their previous name, or maybe because their titles didn’t sell well under that name and they need to start fresh. 

One of my favorite authors, James Scott Bell, is now writing under a pseudonym because his new series of books is so different from his normal fare.  Even some famous writers have written under pseudonyms:  Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts.  Just look at one of America’s greatest writers of all time, Mark Twain.  His real name is Samuel Clemens. 

I have nothing personal against using a pseudonym; I just feel that I’ve put so much time and effort—my blood, sweat, and many, many tears into writing and polishing my novel—why wouldn’t I want everyone to know exactly who had written it?  Though it does deal with some provocative and horrific events, and people often stare at me and ask how on earth I came up with all that, I want them to know me, to recognize my name, to say, “Oh, you wrote that book, The Mistaken.  I know who you are.”  Call me vain, but I want people to know and remember my real name.           

What about you, do write under your real name, and if not, why?  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A to Z Challenge: M is for Mentor

Welcome to Day 13 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


M is for Mentor:  a wise or trusted counselor or teacher; an influential sponsor or supporter. (Dictionary.com)

I’ve wanted to do a post on mentors for a long time.  As a neophyte writer, I’ve come to depend on a select few to advise and steer me in the right direction.  The three ladies I constantly call on are skilled writers, as well as savvy bloggers. 

They are Jami Gold, Lynda R. Young, and Julie Musil.  All three are highly informed writers who share their considerable insight and experience on their popular blogs.  They each write on topics all writers should educate themselves on, both on craft and on the business, marketing, and platform side of things.  I find every one of their posts to be informative and entertaining.  I suggest scrolling through some of their old posts.  I guarantee, you’ll learn a lot.

Who are your most trusted mentors and why?  How did you find them?  

Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z Challenge: L is for L.O.C.K.

Welcome to Day 12 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


L is for LOCK:  to join or unite firmly by interlinking or intertwining. (Dictionary.com)

Today, I’m using an acronym that spells out the word LOCK.  This is a device established by James Scott Bell in his book on craft, Plot & Structure, a must read for all fiction writers.  I will paraphrase his well-developed L.O.C.K. theory:

L is for Lead:  If you go back to my April 9th post on heroes, you’ll see a complete list of what makes a good lead.  As the author, it is your job to make him interesting, to dig deep inside his head and make him compelling.  No story is good or complete without a single lead.

O is for Objective:  Likewise, if you go back to my April 7th post on goal, you’ll see that an objective is the driving force that generates forward momentum.  It could be that the protagonist wants to get something or to get away from something.  Whatever it is, according to Bell, it should be one dominant objective and should be essential to his well-being.

C is for Confrontation:  This is the oppositional forces at work from other characters and outside organizations.  It is an element that is used throughout the story, but most especially at the climax.

K is for Knockout:  The knockout is the big climax, the highest point of drama at the very end.  It’s the final clash where it appears the opposition might actually win.  It should have the greatest amount of tension, stakes, and conflict, and display how the protagonist has changed, both within his inner and his outer conflicts in order to most satisfy the reader.  It should be unpredictable and last minute, meaning it should be organized so all the plot points peak in a single moment.  Lastly, it gives resolution, ties up loose ends, and gives the reader a feeling of resonance.                    

Do you have a recipe for a successfully plotted story?  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A to Z Challenge: K is for Key

Welcome to Day 11 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


K is for Key:  something that affords the means of access. (Dictionary.com)

One of the best books I’ve ever read on the craft of writing is Writing the Breakout Novel by literary agent Donald Maass.  In it, he plots out an easy to follow roadmap with all the key ingredients.  So I’m going to use his words and knowledge and spell out the key ingredients for a breakout premise:

Plausibility:  When configuring the premise of your novel, you have to ask yourself, could this really happen?  Maass insists that the premise must seem like it could happen to us, the reader.  It should have a grain of truth, for it is this truth that persuades the reader to care.  A little known fact that is unfamiliar, surprising, or arouses curiosity draws the reader in deeper.

Inherent Conflict:  Another question to ask yourself is, does my world contain built-in conflict?  In other words, are there opposing forces, both strong, maybe even both right?  Stories should be set among cultural and social surroundings that are sophisticated and involve contentious groups or perspectives, somewhere it is NOT safe.  Even the most utopian setting should overflow with complications and unseen hazards.  Character relationships must also have conflict.

Originality:  There probably aren’t any new plots to be discovered out there.  The same tropes have been explored over and over.  So you need to find a fresh angle.  Even a story that’s been told a plethora of times and ways can be retold from a different perspective.  Maass suggests authors find originality by doing the exact opposite of what is expected or to combine two discrete story elements.

My own novel is about two very different brothers, revenge, and organized crime, all tried and true premises.  It’s also about mistaken identity, another popular trope.  But I combined the four concepts and wrapped them around a love story, adding my own experiences and telling it from a unique perspective.                     

Do you have a checklist for brainstorming a story premise?  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A to Z Challenge: J is for Journey

Welcome to Day 10 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


J is for Journey:  passage or progress from one stage to another. (Dictionary.com)

For this post, I’m going to keep it personal; after all, it says a writer’s hopeful journey right up there on my banner.  And oh, what a journey it has been.  Although I was hopeful and I am ambitious and I do work hard, I never actually thought I’d get published, certainly not with my first book.  I know that’s pretty rare.  I figured with the provocative nature of The Mistaken, I would have to at least write one more before a publisher would be willing to consider it, kind of like John Grisham did with his first book, A Time To Kill, which was only published after his second book, The Firm, made the bestseller lists.

Though I did make it, and The Mistaken will be published (on 10/18/12), the journey wasn’t always by the book.  The fact that I’m being traditionally published without an agent is proof of that.  My point here is simple:  Everybody has their own path, their own journey.  Though you might prefer a certain road, you also might find roadblocks that provoke detours, detours that lead to unbeaten paths and open doors you never knew existed. 

So don’t embark on your journey wearing blinders or allow yourself to be steered with someone else at the reins.  This is your destiny.  It’s your decision what works best and what feels right.  Remember, regret is just about the worst feeling in the world.                     

Have you ever considered alternate paths to publication?  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z Challenge: I is for Inner

Before I get into my next A to Z post, I want to give a HUGE shout out to my girl, my favorite CP, my writing soulmate, Lisa Regan, who just signed her very own BOOK DEAL with Sapphire Star Publishing!

Yes, Lisa is joining my ever expanding family at SSP.  Her first book, Finding Claire Fletcher will be released on December 6, 2012, and her second book, Aberration will released on June 6, 2013.  Both books, in the suspense/crime genre, are phenomenal reads!  I will post more about Lisa's remarkable journey after the A to Z Challenge is over.  In the mean time, please drop by Lisa's and give her a big hello and a pat on the shoulder.  She's waited for this moment for many years!

Now for the A to Z...  

Welcome to Day 9 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


I is for Inner:  Situated or farther within; interior; more intimate, private, or secret; of or pertaining to the mind or spirit; not obvious; hidden or obscured.  (Dictionary.com)

This might seem like an ambiguous topic, but when it comes to creating a story, “inner” is of extreme importance.  First, there are two levels to every novel: the outer level or the plot and the inner level or the story itself.  For every outer action, motion, or goal, there is an inner reaction, emotion, and growth.  The outer notion to attain works with the inner notion to become

The protagonist’s inner journey deepens when the reader learns who he needs to be in order to be whole and why that is important. Why is he broken or wounded and how does that manifest itself in his behavior and attitude?  What will lead him to be whole again, to force him to change, or lead him to sacrifice?

Each major scene in a novel should have turning points with two dimensions.  The way in which things change that everyone understands is the outer turning point.  And the way in which the protagonist changes is the inner turning point.

A story’s greatest inner dimension is the inner conflict.  This is the protagonist’s fear and doubt brought to the surface, a battle between his two sides: reason and passion.  These two voices directly oppose each other.  He brings them with him into the story before it even begins.  It’s what’s holding him back.  It is this very contradictory battle that is so compelling and satisfying to the reader. 

Inner conflict is a result of the plot.  It’s what leads the protagonist to realize his goal is essential to his well-being.  It’s what makes him strive to attain his impossible goal.  Each obstacle he overcomes provides the protagonist the opportunity to learn more about himself.  In knowing his weaknesses and strengths, he is better able to transform himself. 

Though my own novel is a thriller and therefore plot-driven, it is the main character’s struggle with the villain he has become that is the most compelling.      

Do you focus equally on both the inner and outer aspects of your stories?  

Monday, April 9, 2012

A to Z Challenge: H is for Hero

Welcome to Day 8 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


H is for Hero:  a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities.  (Dictionary.com)

Though a story’s hero is usually the protagonist, not all protagonists are heroes.  In order to be a hero, the protagonist should be highly accomplished, witty, and colorful.  He needs to jump off the page and demonstrate an inner strength that is both memorable and compelling, all while not being clichéd. 

To be heroic, it all comes down to being likable, supportive, and engaging.  He should embody the moral code of his community and inspire that community to act when it is threatened.  These qualities are important when he gets cut down to size by the enemy.  Sure, he may be imperfect—a human with a chip on his shoulder—but this only gives him room to change.  Turn his affliction into integrity; balance his strength with humility. 

Most heroes are self-sacrificing, forfeiting themselves or their own goals for the benefit of someone else.  This is probably the hero’s most mythic quality, powerfully hitting the reader at a visceral or gut level.  We are able to forgive anyone who is trying to be good.

My novel’s protagonist does heroic things and has heroic qualities, but he’s not really a hero.  He’s too dark and steps way over the line.  But it is his need to be heroic that propels him forward, to atone for his great sins. 

Do you prefer the protagonist be a true hero, or do you like dark characters who struggle towards redemption?  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A to Z Challenge: G is for Goal

Welcome to Day 7 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


G is for Goal:  the result or achievement towards which effort is directed: aim; end.  (Dictionary.com)

Let’s face it, the entire purpose of a novel is for the protagonist to attain his goal, his objective.  In fact, The Quest is one of the most widely used plot patterns in fiction.  The goal is what the protagonist most desires and cares about, a driving force that motivates him, keeps him committed and moving forward. 

Every protagonist needs one, whether it’s a dream, a longing, an ambition, or an obligation.  His goal mobilizes him beyond the barriers that bind the rest of us.  It is the vehicle that brings about change, that results in the lead becoming a different person, most often a better person, which, in the end, is the whole point of the story.

In my novel, the main character is, at first, driven to free his brother from the influence of the Russian Mafia, which he is unable to do.  After his wife is killed, he is driven by the need for revenge, which in turn, allows him to attain his first goal and free his brother.  When this need pushes him to do what he otherwise would never think of doing, he changes, as does his goal.  Now he needs to make amends for the wrongs he has committed.   

When you start out writing, does your protagonist have a clear goal or is that something that evolves as the story unfolds?  

Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z Challenge: F is for Flaw

Welcome to Day 6 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


F is for flaw:  a feature that mars the perfection of something; a defect or fault.  (Dictionary.com)

In order for readers to identify with a protagonist, the character must be relatable.  The easiest way to pull that off is to make him similar to the reader, as if he could somehow find himself in the same situation and have a comparable response.  But to make the protagonist interesting, he shouldn’t be perfect, but rather flawed, though not fatally so.  Most often, it’s this very flaw that most interferes with the protagonist achieving his goal. 

He must be likeable and have redeeming qualities, but even if he seems or does something contemptible, the reader must care how and why he got that way in the first place.  In this case, he should be self-aware, have a self-loathing and the courage to change.  Though there is little sympathy for a willfully self-destructive man, we can forgive him if he’s at least trying to be good. 

Most readers can fall in love with the lost and despondent protagonist, as long as they have a reason to want his suffering to end.  Even a tragic character must have something to hope for, and a secret strength within that will allow the reader to bond.  Readers respond to conflicted, fallible characters who endure the challenge and come out a different person in the end.

In my novel, the protagonist’s greatest flaw is that he can’t see, and therefore won’t acknowledge, that he is flawed.  So when he does the unforgiveable, his self-image is destroyed, but he works to right the wrong he’s committed, and redeems himself in the process.                   

I favor the bad boy myself.  What about you?  Do you look for a solid, upstanding protagonist, or do you prefer the darkly flawed variety?  

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A to Z Challenge: E is for Exposition

Welcome to Day 5 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


E is for Exposition:  the act of expounding, setting forth, or explaining; writing or speech primarily intended to convey information or to explain; a detailed statement or explanation (Dictionary.com)

There’s a dirty word—or term rather—in fiction writing:  the dreaded info dump!  Why?  Mainly because it slows the action down.  So there are a few rules writers should follow to avoid them.

Rule #1:  Act first.  Explain later.  In other words, begin with a character in motion and drop in only as much info as necessary, in tiny little bits as you go.

Rule #2:  When you do explain, think of an iceberg.  Don’t tell everything.  Keep roughly 10% on the surface and 90% hidden.

Rule #3:  Set the information inside a confrontation.  Let it come out within a scene of conflict and use the character’s thoughts and words to do the work.

Yes, this means you need to resist the urge to explain.  Hard to do sometimes, I know, but it’s that old adage of show, don’t tell.  Exposition works if you remember to keep the tension high.  And when you do need to explain something, hold off as long as you possibly can and don’t explain what you’ve already shown.

I had no clue about these rules when I wrote my first draft and had to go back and pull out all those paragraphs of excessive information.  I added them back into a high-conflict scene, a confrontation loaded with dialogue.  It worked much better.                     

How do you deal with exposition and fight the urge to explain?

And thank you,  Alex J. Cavanaugh for posting about me today!     

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z Challenge: D is for Dialogue

Welcome to Day 4 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


D is for Dialogue:  the conversation between characters in a novel, drama, etc.; a literary work in the form of a conversation.  (Dictionary.com)

All readers love dialogue on the page.  It’s easy to read, and means the action will be quick.  And let’s face it, long blocks of exposition can be annoying and make us weary.  While we sometimes tend to scan densely worded paragraphs, we snap to attention for dialogue.  It generally means we’re living in the moment, and the characters might be divulging important secrets.  Dialogue is a compression of the action and should somehow be connected to one of the character’s objective, what he wants at that exact moment in time, and it must always move the story forward.

Dialogue should be easy to follow, but this doesn’t mean you need a ‘he said’ tag at the end of every line.  In fact, you should use as few as possible, only enough to keep the reader on track.  Incidental action is a good way to help the reader keep track without using tags, and it helps to infuse movement and emotion into the dialogue without using adjectives and adverbs.  But you also don’t want to bog the conversation down.

Most importantly, dialogue needs to have immediacy and tension on a gut emotional level.  It’s not that the information being relayed is all that important really, but that there is doubt about it, as well as the character delivering it.  It should be a tug-of-war, but we don’t necessarily want to know whether their argument will be settled, but rather whether the characters will make peace.  So find their emotional friction and exploit it, even if it it’s only a friendly disagreement.

Personally, I love dialogue that feels and sounds real.  (Yes, I use a lot of contractions!)  I always speak my lines of dialogue out loud so I can hear exactly what it sounds like, and therefore what it feels like to be with those characters.

So how do you deal with dialogue and
what do you want it to do for your story? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A to Z Challenge: C is for Conflict

Welcome to Day 3 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


C is for conflict:  a fight, battle, or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife: discord of action, feeling, or effect; antagonism or opposition, as of interests or principles. (Dictionary.com)

Conflict is the essence, the very heart of a novel.  A story must open with it, sustain and deepen it, and end it with a clear resolution.  Conflict should be rich and highly involving.  It should be layered in order to raise questions and must be felt deeply for all those involved.  It should be unavoidable and inescapably true.    

There are two levels of conflict:  inner and outer.  The outer conflict is the action, the motion, and the goal.  The inner conflict is the reaction, the emotion, and the growth.  While the outer conflict is what physically propels the story, it is the inner conflict that allows the reader to bond with the story.  It is the inner struggle the protagonist brings with him into the story before the narrative even begins.  It’s what is holding him back.  The inner conflict is the product of the plot.

In my novel, the conflict is like a long rope hanging off the side of a skyscraper with all the characters hopelessly lost and stranded at different floors.  As the story progresses, more and more characters jump onto the rope, trying to escape their dire fate.  You don’t know how much more these characters can possibly bear as the rope stretches and becomes more and more taut, fraying and unraveling as the end draws near.

What is the conflict like in your story?

Monday, April 2, 2012

A to Z Challenge: B is for Backstory

Welcome to Day 2 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


B is for backstory:  the literary device of a narrative history and set of facts and factors all chronologically earlier than, and related to, a narrative of primary interest. Generally, it is the history of characters or other elements that underlie the situation existing at the main narrative's start.  (Wikipedia)

Generally speaking, readers do not need a bunch of backstory to understand who the characters are and why they are in the opening scenes.  Readers are content to wait a long time to learn the characters’ background as long as they are continuously dealing with a disturbance.  The trick to adding backstory is to drop it in in small doses and only when the need to know arises, and it must be dropped in actively.  There must be tension in backstory and should be used to bridge the conflict.  But make no mistake, backstory is necessary, so the reader can bond with the characters emotionally, to understand why they are doing what they are doing.

In my novel, I have two instances where backstory is vital.  I use dialogue as a way for the characters to hash out their past mistakes while also bringing to light their relevant histories.

Have you found it necessary to use much backstory in your novels?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A to Z Challenge: A is for Antagonist

Welcome to Day 1 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.


A is for antagonists:  a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or compete with another; an opponent, the adversary to the hero or protagonist:  (Dictionary.com)

The trick to creating a “good” antagonist is to NOT make him pure evil.  He should be believable and able to rationalize his actions.  Just like the protagonist, he should experience obstacles, setbacks, and doubts.  He should never have infinite resources, nor be easily deterred.  And he should have traits that contradict his actions.  Even better, the antagonist should be sympathetic in some relatable way. 

In my own novel, the antagonists, two Russian Mafia crime lords, hover mostly in the background.  They only come into the light a few times, but when they do, they are menacing and frightening simply because you don’t know entirely what they are capable of.  In the end, you find out they suffered the exact same loss as their nemesis, the protagonist, and that is what sets them on their course.  They may be bad guys, but they loved and lost, too.

So, what is your antagonist like?  

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Thanks, a Road Trip, & the A to Z

First, I want to thank all of you who came by last week and spread the love at my happy news.
I've had 82 comments so far.  82!  You've all warmed this old gal’s heart, let me tell ya.

Anyway, this week, I’m away from home, on another college tour with my son.  We’re visiting three universities he’s been accepted to in Arizona.  And may I say how awesome it is to be out of that dreary Seattle gloom and rain?  We get only the occasional—like once every 3 or 4 weeks—sunny day, so I’m kinda lovin’ Arizona right now!

I did want to take a brief moment to thank two of my fellow Sapphire Star Publishing authors, Amy Gregory and Mandy Baggot.  Amy tagged me for the Lucky 7 Meme, which I just did here a couple of weeks ago.  And Mandy gave me the Versatile Blogger Award which I posted on here last August.  Also, my friend Lady Gwen over at Run Gwen Run gave me the Sunshine Blog Award, which I will tackle when I get back or sometime next month. That one should be fun since it's all about my favorites.  Thank you so much, ladies!  Please feel free to pay them each a visit.  They’re all talented writers. 

Lastly, I will be participating in the A to Z April Challenge beginning April 1st.  I’m #349 on the sign up list and I’m scared to death of this whoppingly huge challenge.  I will be posting everyday for the entire month of April, except on Sundays.  Besides the A to Z, I have revisions, and this time those revisions are for someone else, someone important—like my publisher, so while I will be visiting as many new blogs as I can during the Challenge, I might not have enough time to as visit many of my old supporters as I would like, but this is temporary.  I promise to be back commenting as soon as I’m done revising, which I hope will only take a week or two or three at most.

So far, I have only 15 days worth of posts for the A to Z, but I hope to be able to fit one in each day even while tackling revisions.  

If you are doing the A to Z, have you prewritten all your posts, some of your posts, or are you flying by the seat of your crazy-ass pants?  

Monday, March 19, 2012


I’ve been haphazardly blogging since October 2010.  That was right about the time I finished the first draft of my novel, THE MISTAKEN.  Once finished, I realized I wanted to possibly pursue publication.  Knowing nothing about the business, I set out on a long journey to learn everything I could.  Part of that was this notion of building a platform, hence my blog.

Along the way, I’ve met some pretty amazing people, all of you included.  This community of writers is like none I’ve ever seen before, or have ever been a part of.  You will never meet a more supportive group.  They’ve been there for me while I queried and revised, ad nauseum.  They’ve helped me keep my spirits up during the darkest moments, when I thought I’d never reach any of the goals I’d set for myself.

What kept me going—besides an extraordinary amount of ambition and desire—was the fact that, little by little, I saw writers I knew and followed land an agent, sign a book deal, or find publishing success.  It was heartening to know the dream could be realized, that hard work could pay off.  Now, after two years, I’d like to share my good news with all of you:



Yes, it’s true!  But, just like everything else I do, it wasn’t through “normal” channels.  You see, I’m a DIY girl.  But I still wanted the traditional experience, to be traditionally published.  Yeah, I needed that validation.  But, though I still have several fulls and a few partials still floating around out there, I was not thrilled about restarting the querying process after a nearly nine month hiatus.  And I was never going to self-publish.  It’s just too much work, and I know nothing of that sort of thing. 

So I decided to query a small press, a start-up newly formed over the notion that authors truly matter, that books need fresh, tech-savvy marketing and promotion from their publisher, someone who understood the e-book revolution (and wasn’t under the Department of Justice’s scrutiny.)  With the DOJ attacking the agency model and e-books the wave of the future, I felt the direction of this small press was just the thing for me.  So I submitted a query to them, and they requested my full manuscript.

Of course, if you read my posts here and here, you’d already know it hasn’t been smooth sailing.  I had to overcome a significant obstacle.  You see, my protagonist does a very bad thing, and it was hard for the publisher to get behind that.  So they rejected my manuscript but said they’d be willing to reconsider should I ever make revisions.  I offered a compromise if they’d allow me the same.  Upon that offer, a deal was struck, and, while I did compromise, I don’t feel I had to compromise on my vision or on the story overall, its theme and journey.  That will all remain intact.  So, while I never did restart querying, and therefore never landed an agent, I did follow in my blogging buddy, Alex J. Cavanaugh’s footsteps. 

I got myself a publisher!

...without an agent.  I realize it’s not for everyone.  Would I like to have an agent?  Sure, who wouldn’t?  They work hard for their clients.  And maybe someday I will go that route, if I really need to.  But I accomplished what I wanted, what I would have hired an agent to do.  I saw Alex’s success and knew it was possible, so why not at least attempt the same route? 

Sapphire Star Publishing has made me feel welcomed into their new and growing family of authors.  They have a vision I can stand behind and feel proud to be a part of.  They embrace new technology, as well as the mainstream.  My book will be published in both e-book format and as a trade paperback.  They will be teaching me the ins and trends of marketing, how to promote myself and my book, and, most excitingly, how to use Twitter!  YAY!!

I do Tweet, but I’m not very good at it.  I only joined in because my friend, Jennifer Hillier twisted my arm, but I can see it is an integral part of the publishing business now.  So if you Tweet, find me here @NancySThompson.  Or if you Facebook, visit me here

When I shared the news with Jenny Hillier the other day, she said to me, "There are many paths to publication."  And you know, she is so right.  Well, I’d love for you all to accompany me on the next phase of my journey, because, even though I found a publisher, the adventure has only just begun.

And most importantly, if you’re still in the trenches, remember, if I can do it, so can you!  

My first novel, THE MISTAKEN, an adult psychological thriller,
will be released by Sapphire Star Publishing on October 18, 2012