Friday, July 5, 2013

Reclaiming my first drafts

Re-posting something I wrote for YAConfidential a bit ago, mostly because I feel bad about the lack of content here, lately!

In which I reclaim my first drafts and take Stephen King's advice:

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote please!

It doesn't matter who you're voting for--just go out and exercise your constitutional right!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How many trees can I kill?

Yesterday, I got to this page in my printed draft:

My draft went from looking like this... looking like this.

Still reading through chapters for Really Stupid Errors before sending to a CP. But the scissors and tape get a vacation. For now.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Making of Taking Back Forever

I did a post like this once before. It was fun, so I'm doing it again.

As with the GRASPING AT ETERNITY cover, Karen took the photograph that is on the cover of TAKING BACK FOREVER. That's one of the cool things about self-publishing: you have complete control over your cover.

So, we actually did TWO photoshoots, and the first one was a disaster. The original concept for the cover involved just boots--no legs or anything--but we quickly realized that it didn't work, and that the boots looked more like amputated feet coming out of the top of the picture. I was wearing the wrong color jeans to get my legs in the photo, and it started to rain. Wind blew those little petals all over the place, and we had to wrap everything in a sheet and put it on Karen's back porch.

The photos didn't turn out well, to say the least.

The second photoshoot went much better, and we had multiple pictures we liked. The winner was this one:

This one was fun in photoshop because I had to tilt the picture so that the cage with the heart were straight, and I had to clone the background, and duplicate a feather (haha, I think feather duplicating is becoming a pattern) among a lot of other things (describing photoshop processes is not very interesting.) One of the last steps in making this cover was something we didn't do for the last one. The light overlay of purple clouds to turn up the paranormal feel.

I actually superimposed the GRASPING AT ETERNITY cover over top of TAKING BACK FOREVER to make sure the text matched up as much as it could, and you'll see elements of the first cover in this second one if you compare them side by side. ;)

This cover needed a lot less editing, because we'd already worked out many of the kinks making the GRASPING AT ETERNITY cover. I'd already figured out the text and the infinity symbol and where the swirls should go.

Okay, that's my story. Don't forget to enter the giveaway! (Just scroll down to my last post to find the rafflecopter!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Guess what?

The cover for Karen Hooper's TAKING BACK FOREVER is here!

I'm the designer, as usual, but THIS TIME I am the model as well!

Check it:

To celebrate, we're having a giveaway! Two signed copies of GRASPING AT ETERNITY, the first book in The Kindrily series!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And come back tomorrow because I'll give you all the dirty details about making this cover, including the reason we had to do two photoshoots!


Monday, September 24, 2012

Taking Critiques As Yourself

This is a weird post for me to write. I've tried several times and failed because I sounded like a speshul snowflake. So if you start reading and think I'm being a speshul snowflake, I'm not--really, I'm not. I have a point, I swear, and it's not to be a speshul snowflake.

So, taking critiques well. Easy to say, hard to do. I don't know if anyone can do it truly objectively, but I know we all try our best because we want to improve as writers and we want our craft to be the best it can be. I don't know anybody who WANTS to send out less than their best work.

There's a lot of stuff online about how to take a critique, what a good critique is, etc. etc. This isn't one of those posts, exactly. It's a look at another bad way to take a critique, but one you might not realize you're doing because it's easy to think you're taking the critique well.

I'll tell you a story to explain what I mean. When I was first starting to write with the actual intention of publication, I knew I needed other people to look at my work. I found a few critique partners online and within my friends, and I sent out some work. One critique partner was tough--she left me a LOT of notes in the margins and even more red on the manuscript text itself.

Without really thinking about it, I assumed she knew better than me and made almost every change she suggested.


Here is WHY I shouldn't have: because I had another friend read the chapters after that, and she picked out a bunch of places she said didn't sound like my writing at all.

What I did right: understanding that my sentences, plot, characters, etc. weren't perfect. Understanding that I needed to learn more about craft, to fix up shabby parts of my manuscript, and smooth out my writing.
What I did WRONG: letting someone else do it FOR me by rewriting my sentences instead of LEARNING to do it myself.

Here's the thing: I wasn't doing myself any favors by just assuming someone else knew more about writing than I did--even if that was true--TO THE POINT that I stopped thinking about how I as a writer would do things. The minute I stopped trying to LEARN from the changes and just started taking them because I didn't know what I was doing was a real rookie mistake--way more than just being a bad writer ever could be. I sat there thinking I was taking that critique like a champ, because I wasn't hanging onto my own bad writing and was more than willing to make changes to my novel. What I SHOULD have done is look at each change and think about why that critique partner suggested it. So I could understand what was awkward about that particular moment and try to do it better next time.

So that's what I mean by taking a critique as YOURSELF. The most insightful critique in the world won't help you improve as a writer if you do not approach it as YOU THE WRITER, and take it as a learning tool rather than a coat of paint on an awkward sentence. I know people have said this before, but I think it's worth repeating. You ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS want to learn from critique notes, not just use them in the specific instances to which they're applied. And even if someone writes better than you, you always always always ALWAYS want to sound like YOU. Just a better, more polished version of you.

There, that's my two cents on the subject. Because I think taking a critique like a champ is way more than just avoiding speshul snowflake moments. :)

And really, reading critiques as ways to learn rather than as all the ways you screwed up (which, I know, it can feel that way sometimes) seems a little easier, no?