Love or Lack Thereof Progresses

Dear Reader,

And so I write my second check-in for Round of Words in 80 Days. I know this is supposed to be the writing exercise that remembers you have a life, but goodness, it’s still tough because I expect so much of myself.

Love or Lack Thereof goals

  • Weeks 1+2: Edit short stories 3, 4, and 5

Over the weekend I completed the edits for another short story for Love or Lack Thereof, the anthology of poems and short stories I will be releasing in February. I’ve determined the book will be in two sections: Sweet and Savory. I determined the order of the stories that are ready for professional editing, etc.

I am starting to kind of freak out because I want the anthology in my editor’s hand by this weekend. I’m participating in a startup weekend event beginning Friday evening which lasts until Sunday afternoon. Which means writing this upcoming weekend is out. Argh! It’s frustrating how my professional life conflicts with my writing life. I have to change my goals for this week yet again.

Fingers crossed I don’t stress myself out trying to get this anthology to Cindy (my editor). She’s already booked for late January and all of February. Gah!

Catching the Rose goals

  • Week 2: Finalize updated blurb, tightened outline

I have completed the blurb, I’m fairly pleased with it. However, I think I’ll have to drop the other goal of writing 750+ words a day until I complete work on Love or Lack Thereof. No outline work will be done until LOLT is done. The new blurb is available below for your enjoyment, however.

CATCHING THE ROSE

Accustomed to getting her way as a privileged southern belle, Veronica Vernon is outraged when her step-father arranges a marriage to her childhood bully. Desperate for a way out, Veronica runs north in search of her childhood love, Jonathan, to convince him to marry her instead.

Intrigued by similarities between her memory of Jonathan and the description of her friend’s cousin, Veronica ventures into Yankee territory only to find Brad Williams is nothing like Jonathan. But that won’t stop Veronica from trying to convince her step-father otherwise!

Refusing to let others run her life for her, Veronica embarks on a headstrong quest to find her Prince Charming before war takes him from her forever.

Belinda Kroll crafts a tale of lost love and determination during the exciting first year of the American Civil War.

Thoughts?

Check out how the other Round of Words in 80 Days writers are doing this week.

Rewriting a Back Cover Blurb

Dear Reader,

It’s time for the first check in for Round of Words in 80 Days. I have two projects for this first week:

Catching the Rose goals

  • Week 1: Finalize new blurb

Well, I’m making progress on the new blurb for Catching the Rose. I’ve written and rewritten it four times so far and I’m still not pleased with it. That’s ok though, because I have until Saturday to wrap it up, which I think I’ll be able to do. This has been more difficult than I expected. I haven’t touched this story since I published it seven years ago. As I was in high school when I published it, I never went through the motions of making marketing materials like a tag line or back cover blurb.

At its core, Catching the Rose began with the question, “What happens when a southern belle’s childhood Prince Charming grows up to be a Yankee?” What makes the story fun is that the “Prince Charming” character has no idea he is anyone’s prince charming in the first place, and is fairly resistant to the idea.

The existing tag line is…

It was her responsibility to marry as her family wished, but she never lost hope of finding her childhood love.

That is still true. I want to shift my thinking for the rewrite, though, so I’ve made a tag line just for me…

A southern belle embarks on a headstrong quest to find her lost Prince Charming before war takes him from her forever.

I like this because it has more action, and reveals Veronica to be the assertive young spitfire we all know and love.

The biggest issue with writing back cover blurbs is how to reveal enough—but not too much!—of the plot to intrigue readers. It took me a week to write the back cover blurb for Haunting Miss Trentwood, and we’re only at Wednesday, so I’m fairly confident I’ll have a blurb I like by Saturday for Catching the Rose.

I need to focus on setting the scene and adding intrigue at the end so readers think, “Ooh. Wonder what that means?” So difficult.

Love or Lack Thereof goals

  • Weeks 1+2: Write 750 words a day

I am not writing 750 words a day on the short story anthology because of other things going on in life. I already have first drafts for each of the short stories I want to include in the anthology. So it was perhaps kind of silly to say I want to write 750 words when in actuality, it’s more like I need to be editing the stories. Haha! Week One and I’m already changing my goals.

  • Weeks 1+2: Edit the four new short stories

I don’t know what I was thinking about the 750 words a day since I’m not making new content, I’m cleaning old-ish content.

Check out how the other participants are doing! Since I’m a sponsor, I’ll be checking in on the participants whose submission number ends in a 7 (7, 17, 27, etc).

Time for My Second Chance

Dear Reader,

Joe Konrath says the best part about self-publishing is if something isn’t working, you can always redo it. As much as we like to think a book that has been released to audiences is a finished product, we authors know better than that.

I wrote Catching the Rose (CTR) when I was in high school. Seven years later, I released my second book Haunting Miss Trentwood (HMT) with awesome reviews. CTR has made some sales since its re-release in July, but nothing compared to HMT.

This information, coupled with the fact that Wulfshado took a look at it and had so many suggested changes within the first couple of pages has convinced me.

I must rewrite CTR if I want it to get the attention I think it deserves.

Perfect timing, because I’m a sponsor for the Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80), led by Kait Nolan. Below are my goals for the first round of eighty days, which should keep me busy as I’m working on two projects.

Round of Words in 80 Days Goals

Catching the Rose goals

  • Week 1: Finalize new blurb
  • Week 2: Finalize updated, tightened outline
  • Weeks 3+: Write 750 words a day

Love or Lack Thereof goals

  • Weeks 1+2: Write 750 words a day;
  • Week 3: Send clean draft of anthology to my editor, Cindy
  • Week 4+5: Review edits, prepare for publication
  • Week 6: Release for publication, just in time for Valentine’s Day

The thing with ROW80 is that if I accomplish all my goals, or find that my goals are too much for whatever reason, I can change them. I think this is a manageable effort, though. I’m excited to make CTR more into the Civil War-based fairy tale I had imagined originally. And I’ve never released an anthology before, so I’m interested to see how that goes, too.

Seems like 2011 is going to start with me as a busy little bee. All the best,

Belinda

Touring the Historical Fiction World

Dear Reader,

I hope your holiday season is going well! Those of you who entered the giveaway from last week, you should have received an email with the discount codes. Have you had a chance to listen to my half hour interview on Page Readers? It was a blast, and I’m so glad Nanci had me on the show.

This week, I want to talk about Charlie Courtland’s great idea to take a tour of the subgenres that are popping into historical fiction. The goal of the “tour” is to read six subgenres of historical fiction. Charlie has suggested…

  • Historical Mystery
  • Historical Horror
  • Historical Romance
  • Historical Young Adult
  • Historical Plantation
  • Historical Thriller
  • Historical GLBT
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Historical Western
  • Historical Paranormal
  • Historical True Crime

Given that I am part of the group of authors who are playing with the historical fiction norms, I love this idea. I’ve written in the historical romance and historical gothic-thriller genres. I have no idea what my next genre is going to be, except that it will be historical. This will be a lot of fun!

So with the above genres in mind, what books do you think I should read? I think I’m going to start with Maids of Misfortune. I want to read books by authors I’ve never read before and in genres I’m not familiar with, which means I can’t read Lauren Willig (romance), Philippa Gregory (romance), Amanda Quick (paranormal), Deanna Raybourn (mystery/plantation), Mary Jo Putney (fantasy).

What’s Next?

I’m not happy with the sales for Catching the Rose, so I’m having an editor look at it to see where I can improve the story. I wrote it over seven years ago, meaning I don’t know what to do with it without outside help. I’m looking forward to the results from the editor, especially because the editor, Wulfshado, needs help with finances. This is a good way for both of us to get what we need.

I’m hoping to get the new content out for Catching the Rose in the next couple of months. I’m also working on the short story anthology Love or Lack Thereof; my awesome editor Cindy Sherwood has agreed to help me with that so I can get it out in time for Valentine’s Day.

I’m looking forward to hearing reviews from the giveaway. They are two very different writing styles, but I hope people enjoy them.

Best,

Belinda

Details, Details, Details

Hi all, sorry for missing last week. It was a rough week all around; this semester, graduate school is kicking my patookie. In fact, I’ll probably have to go on a hiatus for a while.

In class, we’ve been talking about details: relevant vs irrelevant, and how they can alter the power of your story. I tend to rely on details. I over-write during my first draft and then filter out what isn’t needed in later drafts. As long as the details are important both to the character and the plot, they stay in… otherwise, it just has to “feel right.” There’s no other way for me to explain it.

Other students in my class feel it’s a bit arbitrary, how they decide whether ideas are relevant or not. How do you determine that your details are relevant?

A Tap on the Wing

“A book is like a man – clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun.”
– John Steinbeck

There comes a time when you realize that there will be weak points in your work, and there isn’t much you can do about it on your own. What do you do when this happens? Some writers turn to trusted friends, family members, former English teachers. Some writers turn to other writers to act as beta readers. Some writers join local writing groups.

As a graduate student, I have the rare opportunity to work with a published author this semester for graduate credit. I’m incredibly lucky, excited, and terrified about this opportunity to take an “advanced creative fiction” course.

And there’s a catch: I’m not allowed to write historical or romantic fiction. I’m also not allowed to work on a novel-length work, which was kind of my plan… to work on the sequel of Trentwood’s Orphan, Trentwood’s Heir. I can have a romantic theme, perhaps, but I’m expected to write literary short fiction.

So for the next couple of months, I’ll be writing about my experiences. Any advice that I learn from my professor, I’ll send it on to you. I will suggest that you all go and buy Writing Fiction by Janet Burroway. It’s as good as Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, though it does take a little dig at genre writing now and then.

So I modify my suggestion. If you’re open to learning about writing creative fiction, and enduring a dig now and then at genre fiction, pick up this book. You won’t regret it.

Surface Edits

I’m plugging away at the final surface edits for Trentwood’s Orphan during my winter break from graduate school. It’s fast-going, and I’m surprisingly pleased with how the story is coming together. There are, of course, some chapters that got a little jumbled, but I assume that’s because not only was I retyping the entire book after hand-editing it, but I was converting from present-to-past tense at the same time. As such, some of my tenses got a little weird.

But other than that, I’m kind of excited. One of my friends pressured me into letting him read it, despite the fact that I’m not done with the surface edits, so he’s getting it in pieces.

Shocking though it is, not only does he like it so far, he converted the first chapter into a podcast. And it sounds super professional! If I self-publish, it will definitely go on the website as a sample of the book.

Which reveals my next thought: I’m wondering whether I’d like to self-publish this book, as I did my first, or if I’d like to try to go through a small publisher, like Five Star Publishing. I read one of their books in my genre and I know I could have written it, so there’s always that.

Anyway, things are coming along nicely. I hope to have these surface edits done by January 10 so I can send out the manuscript to those of you who offered to read it. As I mentioned before, I wouldn’t expect it back until May, so you have plenty of time to read and make comments.

Tell me, how are your projects going?