I Have Five Minutes - and GO!

I stay on these here blogs (even my own) way too long. So I've given myself two - wait no, five minutes regardless of typos to bring up a few things and get off of here.  (What's that? I couldn't understand you - I was laughing so hard at the suggestion that I'd ignore typos...) 

 1)  Today has been a crummy day - but I'm putting on my big, size ten shoes and kicking this attitude to the curb (Soon. Hopefully.)  It's just been one of those all around, brain hurts, nothing sounds good anymore, my shoulders feel like I have concrete blocks sitting on them, I-got-an-critique-and-I-didn't-like-it kind of days.  The critic was right and even made a few valid points, but after staring at a screen for 3 days it probably wasn't what I should have read at that particular time.  So I had gotten up to 67,500 and now I've gone back down to 66-something or other.  I'm going to say 67,000 is my new magic number, but I think I have probably driven you all nuts because every day my number goal changes.  So today, 67,000.  And who knows, tomorrow could be a billion.  (And while I was typing this, it just occurred to me that I should have seen this coming a long time ago - I mean, when in my entire life have numbers and I gotten along anyway?)  

2)  I received another neat blog award that sadly I haven't even been able to look at yet, because I feel soooo guilty that I haven't even passed out the previous award to five more blogs like I was supposed to! (Procrastination as usual...my house is proof of this.)  I promise here in the next few days I will be finally giving out those five, and then bringing up the next one and thanking the lovely lady who gave me this new one, and so on and so forth.

3)  I added a new gadget to my blog - "Quick Links to Answer the Important Questions" - so check it out. (Let me know on here if there are other questions you'd like me post links to - or if you have a link that I might want to share.)

4)  There was something else important to say but my brain is mush so that's all for now I guess.  This actually took twenty minutes - between the kids coming in every 30 seconds (can someone please call me by my NAME for a couple of hours now?) and whatnot.  (If I just used whatnot in a previous paragraph I apologize. My head feels like whatnot right now.  I know that makes no sense. See? And there's my point.)

To enter or not to enter...

There are a few contests coming up in the next few weeks, and I'm seriously thinking about entering two in particular.  Obviously, the chances for winning these are slim to nothing, but I am hoping, if nothing else, it can be a great learning experience for me.  Plus, I won an online contest the other day  (it had absolutely nothing to do with writing, just entertainment stuff - check out their site here) and thought maybe my luck will stick around just a little bit longer and help me out with these contests as well.  (Doesn't hurt to try, right?)

The first one, which is a scholarship to the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar in NYC (you can read all about the contest here), requires you to send in the first two pages of your ms.  Pretty simple, right?  

Contest number two states you must send in 20 pages of your ms (a little more details can be found here).  The 20 pages can be taken from the beginning, the middle, it doesn't matter - pages from wherever the author  chooses. Which at first I thought was really neat, because I have a few specific parts that are my favorite. (I am assuming this is normal, correct?)

The problem with the second contest is - the pages I would love to submit are areas in the story line that would totally and completely give away the plot.  (And who wants to give away the plot of a story that is *hopefully*  going to be published eventually?)  If you had the option to spend money on just one movie ticket, and someone told you all about the highlights and best parts, and maybe even the ending of a specific movie, would you still go see it?  I don't think I would.  Most likely I'd pick a different movie to watch - one I would find entertaining and still suspenseful.

So that is my dilemma.  Contest number one will just require polishing my first two pages, and making sure I'm done with the ms by September 4th-ish.  Oh - and writing a darn good query letter. *insert butterflies in my stomach and most likely lots of hair pulling here*

But contest number two is the one I really want to enter - only I can't decide what to do about the whole page thing. Help.

WiPs - What do expect from your reviewers?

After being on vacation at the coast for a week, we are now back home and trying to get back into the "normal" groove of things.  School begins in two days, and somehow the kids are going to have to get back into the normal bedtime and early morning schedules - not sure how that's going to work!

I am happy to share that I did indeed get some work done while we were gone.  I've reached 63,500 something words, and I've come to terms with the fact that my goal of 70,000 just isn't going to be met, because in order to achieve that goal I would have to add too many extra elements. (Which might, in turn, take away from the current story line - and I sure don't want that to happen!) So now, my new goal is 65,000.  Tops.  Hopefully I'll find a way to get there.   *crosses fingers, knocks on wood, and looks around for salt to throw over my shoulders*

With that being said, I think the book is finally at the point where I can look at it and say, "It's almost finished!" and actually, truly mean it this time.  (And that is quite exciting, as many of you writers out there know.)  There are a few kinks I have been trying to work out (one in particular that I have picked apart - why do we do this to ourselves?), and a few I have already been able to fix...but, like Lovemuffin told me late last night, "Sometimes you just gotta call it, and let it go."  

So that is what I am trying to do.  I'm going to let go for a week or so, no matter how hard it is going to be to not pull up my WiP even just for a few minutes, and I'm going to force myself not to read a single paragraph or line of dialogue.  That way when it comes back to me (about to receive second opinion soon - hello again crazy nerves and butterflies in my stomach!) I will be able to apply any feedback I receive with a slightly cleaner slate, at least. 

Speaking of opinions, I've chosen a few questions to ask the lucky (or unlucky I guess, depending on how you look at it) few who are critiquing my WiP, and would love to hear if any of you have specific things you ask your reviewers.  (Questions like, "Were you able to connect with the protagonist throughout the story?", for example.)

I came across this post on Nathan Bransford's extremely useful blog  http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/08/guest-blog-week-critiquing-critiques.html (written by guest blogger Rick Daley, another insightful blogger, and here's his blog - http://openquery.blogspot.com/  **Can someone please teach me to post links an easier way?**)  So I thought I'd share.

 Always sharing my thoughts on the love of life, writing and coffee -

coffeelvnmom (Jessica)

RESULTS for **Bookstore Poll**

First off, I wanted to thank the 18 of you who voted. I appreciate everyone taking the time to mosey over here and check off the little boxes. =)

Secondly, for those of you who missed the blog post explaining why I did this particular poll, here's a paragraph from that post-

Considering the fact that I am attempting to forge my way into this business, I have been trying to learn everything about it, not only from strictly the author's point of view, but also from the reader's.  Obviously I know what I do when I first walk into a bookstore.  But I would love to know what others do.  It would help me understand what motivates people to choose the books they buy.  (Which in turn, I would hope, will help me with my writing/design/ect.)

So, with that being said, here are the results.  (Those who... followed by # of votes and then perentage.  I apologize for the messiness of the results, my blog and I were not getting along.)

 Go to the first book that catches their eye -   4   @  22%

 Peruse for the latest sales or deals -               2   @ 11%

 Head for the genre they read most -               6   @ 33%

Look for specifically recommended books
and/or authors - 9 50%

Don't set foot into a bookstore unless they
need something specific - 1 @ 5%

Try to find the newest releases - 5 @ 27%

Start on one side of the store and work
their way around to the other - 2 @ 11%

I was actually most curious about the book cover question, because it seems like a logical reason to gravitate toward a specific book.  It is very nice to know that less people judge books by their covers than I had previously thought.  (And I'll be honest - I do it sometimes as well - not judging it, per se - but there are covers that jump out and say "Check me out!" and others I am more likely to walk right past because they don't grab my attention.)

Half of those voted - nine out of eighteen people - look for recommended books and/or authors first.  So the lesson I have learned is, work hard, get your name out there, make sure lots of people read it (and LOVE it) and then find a way to get on Oprah so she'll recommend the book. *ha ha* (Okay that's not exactly what I learned - but realizing most people tend to flock in the direction of "talked about" books is a good thing.  Writers need to know - your novel's reputation is an important part of good book sales, and making sure to get good vibes/reviews is a very important step in the whole process.)

Second on the top was six out of eighteen - voting that they do, in fact, head to the genre in which they read most.  (Also very good information, because it reiterates how important it is for us writers to stick to a specific "group" in order to appeal to that audience accordingly.)

The third highest, and last one I will mention, was those who look for new releases.  The voting was only one less than the second highest, at five out of eighteen people.  So the good news, to a certain extent, is that some people may just be more inclined to buy the novel on the mere fact that it is shiny and new.  I think we can all manage that at first, right? *wink wink*

Add the new release factor in with a few good recommendations, and making sure we hit the perfect genre category, and I think many of us will be on our way to becoming successful authors. (We won't even go there about the many other things involved with making a novel successful  - no "Debbie Downer" today, my friends.)

So.  Are any of you surprised by the results?  Did they end up being just you thought they would be?  

Always sharing my thoughts on the love of life, writing and coffee -

coffeelvnmom (Jessica)

To write or not to write...a sequel or a series

A couple of weeks ago it hit me - I knew what I would write when this novel is done - and immediately I began scribbling  in another journal like a madman.

To those outside the writing world, that may sound incredibly strange.  ("Once this is done? As in, you're already doing another one?  And the first one...isn't...done?")   But I have a feeling a pretty  decent group of writers out there are doing the same thing as I.

On a totally different subject (that actually does tie in quite well, come to think of it - hey, it's getting late, I'm not thinking rationally and haven't had coffee in 8 hours now, so you can't hold it against me) I finished reading Belong To Me this evening. And, at the very end of the book, in a letter from the author, to be exact, I read that Belong to Me was a sequel.  

What?  I thought to myself.  I just read this for two days, and there's a whole entire other book before this one? Humph!  ('Course my next thought was, "Well I have to get that one right now!") 

After I tweeted about it and then bitterly complained to my husband  that I had just read a sequel and missed out on who-knows-what since I had yet to read the first one, I wondered -

1)   How many writers out there do the same thing?  (Start off from the very beginning knowing they are writing a series, or know from the start that they will be writing a sequel)

2)  How common is it for writers to have sequels or series' in their minds as they are writing their first novel? 

I had mentioned my idea (of the "next" one) to Lovemuffin, giddy and proud of myself - to which he had replied (with his usual mathematical wisdom - everything is facts, facts, facts) "Well how to you know anyone will want to read from _____'s point of view?" (The noun has been blanked to protect the innocent. Or not yet fully written, as the case may be.)

To be honest, I had actually pushed the idea aside until tonight.  I do, after all, have quite a bit of work ahead of me for I'll Love You Until yet, anyway - but reading Marisa de los Santos' little note at the end told me that maybe the next one I had in mind will work, after all.  

Just had to ask those questions and quickly share the little dose of enlightenment I went through about an hour ago. =)

Always sharing my love of life, writing and coffee,

coffeelvnmom (Jessica)

Well it happened.

I knew it was going to eventually, and with everything going on around here, I just didn't make the time I should have to prepare myself better.

A couple of days ago, Lovemuffin and I were hanging out with a friend of his - having a normal conversation about nothing in particular, and then...

He asked what my book was about.

To which I said, and I quote -  "Uh, er...it's about, well, this girl...well without giving too much away...uh...and then..."

DUH.  *insert my head between a rock and a hard place here*

Luckily this guy was a super-nice one, and he had the decency to tell me -  "Well let me know when it comes out..." (which, as all writers know, is such a remote possibility right now anyway - but I am trying my hardest to keep the dream alive!).  That was so nice, right?

But that question got me thinking.  As writers, we're so busy writing and working on queries, researching books and articles online (and of course trying to figure out the perfect synopsis to write up), that sometimes the part of the "book" which actually involves the reader (the very most important part, might I add - and part of the reason for my dream at least - to share my story with others) gets pushed aside for other pressing matters.  

Now obviously I know what I'll Love You Until  is about - I've been writing for months and have thousands upon thousands of words on the computer and on paper.  But I'm wondering how other writers do it.  How much do you all share (without giving the entire plot away - or does that matter to you?).  How long did it take to write/figure out your own personal summary to use when asked this same question? (And while I'm asking questions, do you prefer a nice sweet white mocha...or something a little more plain, like caramel or simply just plain ol' coffee?)

Later that day while talking to Lovemuffin, I laughed at having drawn such a blank, and mentioned that maybe I should just print out the very vague synopsis which has been posted on my blog  ( http://coffeelvnmom.blogspot.com/2009/07/my-name-is-jessica.html ) and memorize it.  (He thought that was a great idea.)  

But I'm still curious to know what everyone else does.  Anyone care to share?  

Always sharing my love of life, writing and coffee -

coffeelvnmom (Jessica)

 PS - If you haven’t taken a stroll over to the **Bookstore Poll** here on my blog, please do - the poll ends in a few days and I could use as many opinions as possible! =)

**BOOKSTORE POLL** When I walk into a bookstore I...

Everyone has their own specific agenda as they first walk into the store.  Let's use a grocery store, for example.  I usually hit the produce section first, and go by the frozen section on my way to the register.  (That way my ice cream isn't all melted by the time I go to check out.  Boy would THAT be a disaster.)

Some people hit up produce last, and head to the meat section first before anything else, while others make sure that the last thing they pick up are eggs or bread so there's a smaller chance of them being flattened in the grocery cart.

The same thing happens when one walks into a bookstore.  For me in many ways, a bookstore is a lot like my favorite discount store.  I love to go through each isle and look at everything - titles that have been reviewed recently in my favorite magazines, the newest books fortunate enough to have anointed the shelves; and then after all of that, I head for my favorite genre so I can pull out book after book and read each synopsis to see if that book would be something I would enjoy reading.

Bookstores have many different items which draw readers in, including shiny new covers, big sales signs, even a big media promotion.  (The movie New Moon come to mind, with the movie coming out in a few months, because the hype is already insane for even pre-purchases of calendars, sound tracks, ect.  I'm sure some of you just died a little inside when I mentioned that, but let me tell you - for Twilight fans, it doesn't take much to pull them into the store.)

Considering the fact that I am attempting to forge my way into this business, I have been trying to learn everything about it, not only from strictly the author's point of view, but also from the reader's.  Obviously I know what I do when I first walk into a bookstore.  But I would love to know what others do.  It would help me understand what motivates people to choose the books they buy.  (Which in turn, I would hope, will help me with my writing/design/ect.)

So please, take the poll located to the right top area of my blog, and then share the link to my blog with your friends.  It would be awesome to receive a decent amount of opinions on this... and I would really appreciate it.  (I think many of my fellow bloggers would appreciate the results as well.)

I will post the results next Saturday. (Blog ends on 8/8/09)

Always sharing my thoughts on the love of life, writing and coffee -

coffeelvnmom (Jessica)