So, you got a publishing contract. Now what?

It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to get a publishing contract for my novel.  I know I personally spent more time imagining covers for my novels than I did envisioning my dream wedding.  Come on.  Let’s face it.  The wedding gown is expensive, you wear it for an hour, and then it gets stuck in a ‘preservation’ box forever.  A book cover on the other hand lasts a long time, people will see it for years to come, and even after many eons have passed and the pages are yellowed, a new reader will come along, find the cover intriguing, and crack open the binding to read the precious, toiled-over words in between. For me, that would be words I wrote.

I wrote.

The thought boggles my mind that others will read my story.  That my words will be eternally in print.  Part of the Library of Congress.  A permanent testimony of my life on earth. A legacy.  In a sense…immortality.

But to get this dream, I have to have one of these:

Yes, a publishing contract.  Yuck.  I hate contracts.  All the legal mumbo jumbo, the fine print. Wondering if I can live with this, or if that has to go.  If I push too far, will the publisher say no and then I’m back to square one looking for a publisher?  Do I self-publish?  The possibilities are enough to make an author want to run for the hills and hide.  After all, we write, not negotiate contracts, right?

Sorry to say, if we want to see our books in print, we have to wade through the business end, too.  Even if you have an agent, you want to make sure your agent has your best interest at heart.

As I sit here and wait to find out the fate of my novel I submitted to one of my dream publishers, I’ve been educating myself on what to expect when that contract comes in.  (yes, I said, when.  There is no if.  It will happen).  Over the course of the next few days, I’ll share with you what I’ve learned on Granting Subsidiary Rights, Royalty terminology and other important publication rights that all authors must consider whether going the publishing route alone or with an agent.

I hope you stay tuned.  It’s gonna be a bumpy but fun ride – like dodging pot-holes in a Ferrari at 200 mph.


17-Year Old Author’s Most Valuable Lesson Learned

As a YA author, I’m always interested in talking to teens and young adults to get their perspective on things.  Marissa Halvorson is the youngest writer in the ONE MORE DAY anthology so I was quite interested in finding out what she thought to be her most valuable lesson learned in this whole getting published thing.   I found what she said to be enlightening and very true.


 As some of you may know, I am the youngest author in this anthology. In fact, I was not even eighteen when I first heard the good news that they were accepting my story for publication. I turned eighteen about a month later.

This process has been absolutely amazing for me. I’ve met a ton of new people, made a ton of new friends, hopefully made some new fans, collected some new knowledge, and most of all, had fun. I’ve learned a ton of things. Jenny has asked me to tell all of you what I believe the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is. Well, here it is.

You can’t do it alone.

I’ve been trying to get published for several years now. People always told me not to give up, that I had to follow my dreams because I dreamed them so strongly. The whole time I was trying to do this, I thought I had to do it all alone. I thought that the publisher would publish my book, that they’d help edit my book, but that I would have to sell my book myself. I’ve been a fairly lonely child for a good portion of my life, so I’ve become quite independent and I rarely rely on others to do anything for me. In fact, I often don’t even trust others to do things for me. You can see why I’d want to do everything myself, that I’d believe I have to do everything myself, can’t you?

The truth is, becoming a part of the JTP family has changed my life. They’ve all made me realize how you never have to do anything alone. You often don’t even have to ask for help when you’re around the right people. The right people know that you need help and they help you before you have the chance to ask. The other authors helped me with marketing, helped me to learn what I needed to do. We really are a big family, and they have taught me the best lesson, not just about writing and publishing, but about life as well.

Don’t do everything yourself if you don’t want to. Ask for help. Sometimes, you really can’t do it alone.


You can catch up with Marissa at the follow web spots.  Make sure you stop in and say hello.

Website   Facebook     Twitter

To read Marissa’s story, please pick up a copy of ONE MORE DAY from any of the links below, or try your luck and enter the Rafflecopter for a giveaway of the book and signed bookmarks.





I – Insecure

Happy Wednesday,and welcome to day 9 of the A-Z challenge.  Thank you once again for visiting and reading my contribution to this fun blogging event.  Please take some time to visit the other A-Z participants to see what they’re up to.

Now on to the letter I.

I’m insecure about my YA novel, The Eye of Kedge.  This novel has been in the works for years.  It started off many, many years ago as a thought that went dormant for a very long time.  Then, in 2003, it resurfaced again and I took out my pen and starting plotting it out a bit.  I wanted to get a feel for it, to see if I had something.  I dabbled with it here and there.  Did some research, wrote a bit but didn’t devote myself to it full-time until the spring of 2010.  Then, I whipped it out and sent it off to a publisher.  Thankfully, that publisher saw a diamond beneath all that black coal, and they gave me some really great advice on how to fix it – something unheard of in today’s publishing world.

I sat on it.  Mulled over their suggestions.  Some I liked.  Some I didn’t.  Then life sort of got a hold of me and well…let’s just say the past 2 years were really, really tough – physically, mentally and emotionally.  Now, I’m perked back up again.  I have a job.  I’m bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan, but I can’t seem to finish editing my novel.  I told a friend of mine tonight I’m scared – scared of succeeding.  Scared of failing.

I’m insecure.

We keep hearing and reading about how our novels have to have that special ‘umph’, that ‘new thing’, that ‘wow’ that hasn’t been done before.  But no one tells us what that is.  Is it enough that I love the story I wrote?  Will it hold up to scrutiny?  Will it garner such horrible reviews I’ll want to climb under a table and die?  Will I ever think it’s good enough to see the light of day?

A publisher two years ago thought so.  Otherwise they wouldn’t have taken the time to hand out page after page of suggestions with an offer to resubmit.

So why am I so insecure?

Do any of you feel insecure about your passion?  How do you pump yourself up?  How do you find the courage to believe in you?

NaNoWriMo Winner

Well, it’s official.  I finished NaNoWriMo with over 78,000 words.  Here’s the proof:

Now, those of you who know me have seen the title before.  I’ve only been working on this novel for forever.   I even had a couple of people tell me I cheated because the novel was already complete.  I disagree and here’s why.

I finished the novel last year and sent it off to a publisher who came back and said, “We like it but we’d like for you to consider making changes X, Y and Z.” I considered the ideas and thought, “You know what, I can make those changes.”  So I began. The thing is, the more I wrote what the publisher wanted as far as “Z”, the more I strayed away from the story I wanted to tell.  The very crux of the story, the core, the glue that held the trilogy together was rapidly disappearing.  As I wrote, my gut told me I was going in the wrong direction.  Eight months into the re-write, I tossed it aside.  It wasn’t my story.  I was writing for someone else.  Something had to change.

I revisited what the publisher said about X, and Y and they were right.  Spot on, actually, and I decided to keep those changes.  The changes worked well and did make the story better, but I had to re-write once more to put back in what I removed.  It was harder than I thought.  I actually had to put the novel aside for a while, write some short stories, and let the ideas percolate on Dragon King.  Occasionally I would revisit it but couldn’t get in the right frame of mind to finish it.  That is until November 1, 2012.

I had no plans to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but the time presented itself so I went for it.  I knew in my gut I had to finish Dragon King or at least make some significant headway in its completion.  The first week or so started off really slow in the rewrite/revision…only 4,000 words in 5 days.  Not too good.  I had to give myself a pep talk and put my mind to work.  Today, I completed 78,266 words – rewritten, revised – from two manuscripts that didn’t work on their own, but together?  Well, let’s just say I hope people will like it when I’m done.  I don’t have that much more to complete and I hope to get it back out to beta readers after the first of the year and the holidays are over.

So, in my opinion, I didn’t cheat.  I like to think of it as having two elaborate outlines that I merged together into what hopefully will be something worth reading.  During this time, I also have been diligently writing on two short stories and another one that turned into a novella I titled SUMMERFIRTH.    Hopefully that one will go to betas soon, too.

So what about you?  Did you participate and finish NaNo?  Do you have plans to finish?  I would love to hear your struggles and successes.

The Next Big Thing

In the last two weeks or so I’ve been tagged by two authors – Julie and Kathils – to participate in the new blog hop sensation: The Next Big Thing!  The purpose:  discuss my current Work in Progress.  Seeing as I was tagged by not one, but two authors, I figured I should indulge all of you with some little tidbits about my  novel.

What is the working title of your book? In the Shadow of the Dragon King.

Where did the idea come from for the book?  The idea has been swirling in my head since I was young.  I’m an army brat with a love for fantasy – the kind of fantasy that involves knights and dragons and sorcerers.  My Army dad was always a hero to me, as are our servicemen and women.  One Saturday morning while sitting in an IHOP, nine servicemen dressed in uniform, came in and took a table by the window.  Watching them, listening to them, the idea for my novel began to play out in my head and it wouldn’t stop.  I’ve been working on the trilogy ever since.

What genre does your book fall under?  a cross between urban and high fantasy.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Kidnapped for his own safety, a seventeen-year old boy is thrust into a magical world hovering on the brink of war, and forced into finding a hidden ally before his arc enemies – a sorcerer and a dragon – can kill him.   (Still working on it but it’s what I have for now.)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  Wow, my list is long (yes, I’ve thought about this a lot :-))  Are you ready?  Nicholas Haut, Vanessa Hudgins, Megan Fox, Cameron Bright, Jeremy Sumpter, Craig Parker, Roselyn Sanchez, David Wenham and Paul Rudd to name a few. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  I would love to have my book repped by an agency, but I’ll probably end up going with a small press.  There are several out there I’m looking at who have a great reputation and same publishing model I’m looking for.  All options are open at this time.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Years.  I worked on it part-time to begin with only to realize I needed to do some research into medieval weapons, castles, locations, etc.  This put the actual writing on hold for a while.  Then I started writing again but I didn’t like the way it started, so I ditched it and started over.  I was also working full-time and trying to raise four kids, so time was limited.  Then I was laid off in 2010 from my job and, unable to find a job, dove into my manuscript with vigor.  I completed it in 2011, sent it off to a publisher who liked it but needed changes.  I’ve been working on those changes ever since, along with the other two novels in the trilogy.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’ve been told my story has elements of Tolkien, Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Cassandra Clare and Anne McCaffrey mixed with my own flare, but as far as actual books?  I don’t think it’s been compared to any books.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? There are mysterious tattoos, fight scenes to appeal to the YA male reader, a hint of love interest for the gals, a bit of sarcastic wit for the adults and some bad a$$ characters to love and hate.  There’s a good dragon as well as a very, very bad one, a couple of kick-butt fae, and an army of shape-shifting teens any kid would want on his/her side in an epic battle.  It’s a story of love, sacrifice and believing in one’s self.

And now, for my nominations, in no particular order:

Amy M. Newman

Kourtney Heintz

Tristan Berry

Jamie Ayres

Carrie Ruben


And anyone else who wants to play along.

Be careful what you put your name on…once published, there are no do-overs

When growing up, my mom and dad always taught me to think about my actions before acting.  They taught me every move has a consequence.  They taught me the value of a reputation.  If you break the law, you’ll be remembered as a criminal.  If you habitually drink, you’ll be labeled an alcoholic.  If you smoke dope and pop pills, you’ll be a druggie.  If on the other hand you do good deeds, help people, are involved in the community, you’ll be thought of as a humanitarian, a philanthropist, a caring person.  If you drop everything you’re doing to be with someone in physical or emotional pain, you’re considered the truest of friends.

The same advice used to get through life should also be applied to writing.  If you can help it, try not to put your name on something you aren’t 100% proud of.

I did that once.  One of my favorite short stories appeared in an anthology I am not 100% proud of.  See, I took on a job as ‘editor’ for an aspiring authors writer’s group I was in. The founder and publisher decided to put together an anthology of the member’s works.  There was no set theme, no cohesion, and, it was a ‘pay for inclusion’ publication for members only.  I cringed inside when I realized too late into the project I had very little ‘editing’ control over the submitted pieces. By then, I’d made a commitment to see the project through.  My reputation was on the line.  The result featured snippets of novels, short stories, some complete short stories, and some errors that would make most editors and polished authors quiver.  While it was a morale booster to those who submitted, the finished work was not what I had envisioned.  My name was on something I wasn’t 100% proud of.  I didn’t get to perform my job the best I should have, the best I would have, if given control of the reins.

Was the experience a bad one?  No, nor do I regret it.  I learned a lot.  I met some really wonderful people.  I gained experience of working with over 20 authors for one project, which was way cool.  I worked on cover design, formatting text, placement of stories.  It wasn’t a complete wash, but I wish I hadn’t included one of my favorite short stories.  Because it was published in this anthology, no magazine or publisher will touch it, even though I gave up no rights.  I’m looking at publishing it as a stand-alone e-book short story, that’s how much I love this southern paranormal tale.

We hear all the time of actors and actresses who say they regret making some of their first films.  Susan Sarandon has stated several times she would like to forget her role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Ironically, that is one of her most remembered and beloved roles.  I’m not going to go so far to say I wish I hadn’t participated in the anthology but I did learn valuable lessons like the importance of determining where your work appears.  Remember, in the publishing world…there are no do-overs, so make sure you do your best to get it right the first time.

Major Publishing House files bankruptcy

It’s a sign of the times.   Major, large corporations that have been around for years are folding.  It’s no surprise that publishing houses are part of that group.  After all, tangible book sales are down, replaced by an upswing in e-book purchases.  While this is disconcerting and heartbreaking for this author (I love real books and think it’s almost sacrilegious  to eradicate them all together), I understand the big 6 can’t survive unless they put their finger on the pulse of the consumer.  They really need to re-evaluate their approach to publishing.

The first big house to file is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., the publisher of authors from Mark Twain to J.R.R. Tolkien.  They filed bankruptcy to eliminate more than $3 billion in debt.  The company filed Chapter 11 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, along with more than 20 affiliates.

According to an article in the Lake Tahoe News, “The global financial crisis over the past several years has negatively affected” Houghton Mifflin’s financial performance, in a business that “depends largely on state and local funding” for the schoolbook market, said William Bayers, company general counsel, in court papers.

He cited “recession-driven decreases” and “purchase deferrals” by the states and a “lack of anticipated federal stimulus support” for “substantial revenue decline.”

From someone who believes in traditional publishing with all of her heart, this doesn’t surprise me that such a large company would fall in the face of the current economy and its lack of forethought into future publishing.  I only hope the rest of the traditional publishers take notice and do something to stop their companies from the same fate.

It sickens me, literally sickens me,  to think there may be no more tangible books in the future.  It should be an option to all authors and readers.  Books last forever.  Kindles will only last until the next big piece of technology replaces it.  Books can be passed on, handed down from generation to generation.  E-books have to be paid for, you can’t pass them on, they can’t be shared and you’ll never find them at a flea market, garage sale or signed by the author.  But that’s a whole different post isn’t it?

The big houses need to wake up and quit thinking they are too big to be touched by this economy.  Start looking to the consumer instead of the government to find their way out of debt.  Many publishers are already putting their textbooks in e-book format and school systems are handing out Kindles to their students at the beginning of the school year with the textbooks loaded.  This opens a lot of issues that worry me economically (on more of a local state and county tax level), but the concept is a good one.

What are your thoughts on the frailty of the big six and do you think the traditional book can survive?  Do you want it to survive?  As a writer, are you more inclined to approach a big house or are you looking more for independent, smaller houses or even self-publishing?

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Tchotchkes – tribbles…they’re all cute

I can already see your funny little face squished up in confusion.  Tchotchkes?  What the heck are tchotchkes?

In a nutshell, they’re digital goodies that publishers put together for their book releases. These little goodies can be website banners, magnets, bookmarks, postcards…even posters!  Oooo, I would LOVE a poster.

I’ve had a chance to view the ones for the Make Believe Anthology and let me tell you, they are b-e-a-utiful!!!!!  Sorry…can’t show them to you yet.  Top secret stuff and all.  But you’ll get to see them soon, I promise, and I can assure you, they will be well worth the wait.

I wish I had money because I can think of some wonderful advertising.  How cool would it be to make a banner that streams out behind those airplanes that advertise over the beach?  Or maybe a bus stop bench advertisement?  Whoa!   Hold the presses.  We could go billboard size!  That would rock!  (I’m not a little excited over this anthology am I?)

Oh, it’s nice to dream.  One day, I’ll be a famous author and I’ll be able to do stuff like this.  Until then, I’ll just stare at my little digital tchotchkes, smile, and know how lucky I am to be published.  It’s a wonderful feeling.

Now get going, shoo.  You have writing and publishing to do so you can get your own tchotchkes to stare at.  I promise, they’re cuter than tribbles and won’t take over your starship.  🙂

(sorry about the advertising, but it’s too cute not to post)

You’ve signed a publishing contract…what’s next?

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve recently begun to navigate some uncharted waters.  I wrote a short story based on a publisher’s prompt, went through many beta reads until I got it ‘right’, paused a long time before I hit the submit button, and managed to obtain that elusive publishing contract.  I know.  To a lot of people,  a short story in an anthology is not the same as getting a novel accepted for publication, but to me…a publishing contract is a publishing contract.  I’ll take it, baby!  🙂

But what happens after you sign the dotted line? (which isn’t dotted by the way, in case you’re wondering)

I can’t speak for the industry as a whole because this is my first venture, but for me, I’ve been assigned an editor.  Now, if you’ve never worked with an editor, this can be a little daunting and scary.  Editors are different than beta readers in the sense they have a feel for the market.  They know what works and what doesn’t work.  They know what to look for:  grammar, logic, flow, story, clarity, sentence structure, specific errors, overuse of words, and many other elements.

I’d like to pause here for a moment and recommend two sites to help you fine-tune your document before you submit.  There is the paid version of Autocrit, which is a fantastic piece of software, and there’s the poor man’s version (free), ProWritingAid. Both will help you find overused words and constructs, consistencies in hyphenation, US vs UK words, capitalization, spelling, cliché’s, redundancies, and so much more.  Autocrit is a little better because it breaks down the sections into reports and explains errors in a bit more detail than ProWritingAid does, but not everyone has the $$$ for Autocrit and ProWritingAid performs well.

Okay, what happens after you get the contract and get an editor?  You get your first line edits from the editor.  This can be really scary and upsetting if you don’t know what to expect.  Let me warn you, it may (and probably will), drive you to tears, but you can’t take it personally. Remember…your editor is your new best friend.  (S)he will help you polish your gem and make it the best it can be.  With that will come a few growing pains.  You’ll get through them.  Trust me.

When I got my first set of line edits, my manuscript looked like someone bled on it.  There were bracketed comments in the middle of the document with editor notes in red.  There were strike-throughs, comments, altered text, insertions, deletions.  You name the editing mark, it was probably in there.  Thankfully, my editor and I have an open line of communication (very important), and we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other and find solutions that work for both of us.  So far, the ride has been a smooth one.

I’m currently on my second round of line edits along with what my editor refers to as the author line credits.  This is where I go over the second line edits and make my changes to those.  Again, the second round was difficult to look at because now we’re in the tweaking stage.  Now we’re tightening the voice, keeping the pace consistent.  Looking for additional grammatical errors that were overlooked.  Finding plot holes.  This means more cross-throughs, additions, deletions, text transfers.  And, because I’m working with a publisher and an editor, I now have deadlines.  I’ll talk more about that next week.

Overall, the experience so far has been intense and I’m learning a lot as far as accepting criticism, knowing when parts of my story don’t work and accepting they don’t work, and being a part of watching my story come to life the way it should.  It’s an incredible journey, and one I’m glad I made, and it all started with the click of a button that said, ‘Submit’.