In early May, I flew out to Kansas City for the RT Booklovers Convention. I had a great time. I was on a panel, got to mingle with readers and authors, and I learned a lot from the panels I attended. What was the most surprising thing I learned?
Everyone has a secret identity.
I learned that Jaye Wells had published two books as Kate Eden.
I learned that Jeanne C. Stein collaborated with Samantha to become S J. Haper. (I had a chance to read CURSED early. It is awesome. Preorder it now!)
There were so many others who had split personalities secret identities that I can’t remember. And now I’m learning that urban fantasy author Amanda Bonilla is now Mandy Baxter. (Congrats Amanda/Mandy! I’m so happy for you!)
I’m feeling a bit left out. I want a secret identity, too!
Must work on this!
I stumbled across this on Pinterest today.
Watch the video. It’s exciting! Five years ago, it would have been impossible to turn a book into a good, well produced, and widely distributed TV series outside of Hollywood, but Kickstarter and enthusiastic fans have made it possible. It’s an awesome time to be a reader… and a writer! We don’t have to depend on Hollywood anymore to get what we want.
I can’t wait to see the Morganville project! I’ve already backed it. It’s one of two kickstarters I’ve supported this month. The other one is The Name of the Wind Playing Cards Yep. Another book-related kickstarter. The whole concept of that website is cool. A lot of people contributing a little can make some great things happen.
I hope this project gets funded! If you’re a fan of the series, or of Rachel Caine (who’s so, so sweet and smart!), or of books in general, check out the kickstarter. You can contribute as little as a $1.00. Every little bit helps, especially spreading the news of the kickstarter.
Have any of you contributed to a kickstarter before? If so, which ones?
P.S. When is someone going to start a Firefly Kickstarter?
P. P. S. I know I said in my last newsletter I was shutting down the blog for a while. (Didn’t receive my newsletter? You can sign up here.) I guess my “while” was super short!
Took the twins halfway to the grandparents’ house today then came home and frantically prepared for the RT Booklovers Convention! I think I have everything packed. *crosses fingers*
I have two “official” appearances this week.
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2013
10:00am – 11:00am Reader Anything Goes in Urban Fantasy: Authors Tell All
SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2013
11am – 2 pm Giant Book Fair
I’ll be attending a few panels and stalking introducing myself to a few of my favorite authors, but other than that, I’ll just be hanging around (and probably sneaking in a few minutes of writing time here and there). If you happen to be at the convention, do find me and say hello!
Oh, and the fabulous Shawntelle Madison has put together a raffle basket of books and swag from all of us Magic & Mayhem Writers (Shawntelle Madison, Amanda Bonilla, Nadia Lee, Amanda Carlson, and me!). Check out the awesomeness!
Can’t make it to RT this year? One of the cool things about this big conference is that it changes location! Last year, it was in Chicago. Next year, it will be in New Orleans! I highly recommend attending if it’s close to you. It’s exhilarating to be around people who love books as much as you do!
Gotta get up early to catch my flight!
There’s something you don’t know about me. I am – or I used to be – a news junkie. It started in high school, maybe a little earlier. My family has always paid attention to the news and politics. We’re informed citizens and we love our country and want what’s best for it. When I finally took government in high school, I was enthralled by politics and all the background work that’s done by civil servants. I thought about becoming a legislative assistant (I’ve wanted to write books all my life, but never really considered it a career, or even possible for someone like me). I thought about joining the FBI or CIA. I thought about entering the foreign service.
I wanted to do something to serve my country. I was considering law school because I wanted to do something in constitutional law or international law (love foreign politics). But the more I looked into jobs in government, the more I saw that I didn’t have the right personality for it. I’m a quiet person. I don’t kiss butt. I don’t schmooze. I’m a follower, not a leader. I’m an introvert. In short, I would have been miserable in all the jobs I was considering.
But then, in college, I stumbled across my dream job. I went to Texas A&M University. I majored in political science and history, and in the history building one day, I saw a posting asking for volunteers at the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, which happened to be on campus.
I signed up. And I loved the job. LOVED IT. I worked ten hours I week for free and I was doing the most menial jobs, photocopying newspaper articles, entering descriptions into the databases, I catalogued museum items. Very menial labor, but it was awesome. How could it not be? I was surrounded by history! I touched papers that had been in the White House. And if I became an archivist, I would have been involved in government without all the politicing and schmoozing (though there’s some of that in every job, I suppose). I would have been processing FOIA requests and helping researches learn more about the government. It would have been AWESOME.
So I have to admit that I am beyond excited that the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has opened in Dallas, less than an hour drive away from me. (Please do not take this as a sign of political affiliation. I would be just as excited if this was Clinton or Obama or any other president’s library.) I cannot wait to go.
Have you ever been to a presidential library? I’ve only been to the H. W. Bush Library, but it is such a neat experience for anyone with even the slightest interest in history or politics. You totally should go, whether you agree with the president’s policies or not. In fact, I’m going to put that on my bucket list. Before I’d die, I’d like to visit every single presidential library there is. This is totally doable at the moment. I think there are only thirteen of them so far.
Anyway, if I wasn’t an author, I would be an archivist. That’s why I got my Master’s in Library Science. It’s one of two degrees that would help me get that job (The other degree would have been a history degree. I decided on Library Science because it opened up more job possibilities.)
To be completely honest, if the perfect entry level job opened up at the new Bush library, I’d apply. I’m sure I wouldn’t get it. I applied for one back when I was in college and volunteering and was passed over, and that was ten years ago. I’m less qualified now than I was then. But I’d still have to try. Heck, if my family and life wasn’t in Dallas, I’d move to D. C. or some other location where I could get an archival job. It would be a lot less stressful than writing!
But I wouldn’t give up writing. This is the dream job I didn’t know it was possible to have, and I’m thankful I didn’t get hired at the H. W. Bush library when I applied. If I had, I wouldn’t have met my husband. And if I hadn’t met my husband, I wouldn’t have received the support and encouragement I needed to really pursue my dream of publishing a book. (Garth Brook’s is in my head. “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.”
That’s what’s on my mind today. I love all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the opening, and I can’t wait to visit the new presidential library soon.
I’m curious. What is your dream job? Do you have it? Are you pursuing it? Are you, like me, lucky enough to have two dream jobs?
Gah, I have so, so much to do this week! And so much is happening! I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all, and I’m running behind on everything. As usual. If you’re waiting on an email from me, I promise I’ll get to it this week. (I know, I know, I said that last week, but this time I’m 99.9% sure I’ll get to the bottom of my inbox!)
Yesterday, I was at the Barnes & Noble in Frisco, Texas with Rachel Caine, Victoria Scott, and Gwen Reyes. We had a marvelous time. I thought this panel was particularly fun because we were able to talk about our favorite books growing up, the expansion of the YA genre, and books and publishing in general. I probably rambled on way too much, but I don’t often get to talk books IRL, so I took advantage.
In other news, one of my writing buddies has a book out today!
I loved the first book (my Goodreads review is here) and I’m so looking forward to reading this one. Congrats, Amanda!
In writing related news, I’ve received comments back from a couple of beta readers (THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU, you guys!). They’ve all loved THE SHARPEST BLADE! I can’t tell you how relieved I am. When I finish a book, no matter how much I love it, I always end up convincing myself that it’s the worst thing ever written and that everyone else will loathe it. I’m feeling so much more confident about the book now, and I have to say, the eight month wait for it to be on the shelves is KILLING me. I can’t wait for everyone to read it!
Okay. Going back to my email now. It WILL be under control this week!
On Monday, April 22 @ 7pm, I’ll be at the Barnes & Nobles in Frisco, Texas for a World Book Night Eve event with Rachel Caine, Victoria Scott, and Rosemary Clement-Moore. We’ll be talking about the books that inspired us. It’ll be an awesome evening, with a book signing to follow. If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it! Details are here.
And in just a couple more weeks, I’ll be in Kansas City MO at the RT Booklovers Convention. I’ll be on one panel, ALL THINGS GO IN URBAN FANTASY, with Jaye Wells, Dr. Nicole Peeler, Caitlin Kittredge, Kat Richardson, and Jeanne C. Stein. You can also find me at the HUGE booksigning on Saturday, or just hanging around.
That’s all the business stuff at the moment. Now, on to real-life stuff.
This week? It’s pretty much sucked. I’m not a fan of April. I should cut myself off from the news and the internet, but I can’t. Last night, I watched the evening news – something I very rarely do these days – and didn’t want to go to sleep because I had the feeling that the Boston bombing suspects would be caught any second. For some reason, I felt like I had to know the second they were caught. Totally ridiculous, I know. I finally did go to sleep, though. I hoped I’d wake to good news, but with one suspect on the loose – maybe holed up in a house in Watertown? – I’m a little afraid of how this is all going to end.
And then, there was West, Texas. It’s less than two hours from where I live. Anyone who lives in the DFW area and who has traveled to Austin knows where West is. We’ve seen or stopped at the Czech Stop. The fertilizer plant is sad and scary. People were just going about their normal lives and then… boom.
I have to say, I’m supremely thankful for law enforcement and government officials this week. You guys are awesome. Thank you.
Sick, sick, sick
On the personal front: both my boys were sick this week. One has very much hit the Terrible Twos. He used to be my easy, laid back baby, but not anymore. Tantrums galore. We walked into the doctor’s office the other day, and the second – the very second – we stepped over the threshold, he starts screaming and signing for “Candy!”
We’ve only given that boy candy a very few times. One of those times was a week earlier at the doctor’s office. How the heck does he remember that so well! And, seriously, demanding it the second we enter? What? That boy is scary smart.
The other boy is mischevious. This is a bad combination, I think.
Today, I got to go to the doctor. “Yay”, said sarcastically. I get these lingering coughs every so often. And by “lingering” I mean 3-4 months. I’ve been cough free for 2.5 years, but I had what I think is an allergy attack back before Easter, and the cough won’t go away. It’s freaking miserable. I hate being around people because I feel like I get on their very lasts nerves (I get on my nerves!) and it’s exhausting. Plus, this time, I think I pulled a muscle on my side, so not only is it annoying and distracting and inconvenient, it’s painful, too.
I’m determined to end it sooner than 3-4 months, so I went to a lung doctor I’ve seen before. He gave me meds that I’m praying will work, and a steroid shot which he called a “quick fix”. I’m crossing my fingers hoping it is! But if it doesn’t clear it up immediately and you see me around, please know I don’t hae the plauge!
I’m hoping to blog more regularly now that I’ve finished the majority of the work on THE SHARPEST BLADE. I have a few projects I’m anxious to get started on. I’ll let yall know more about that later on.
That’s all for now. Stay safe and happy, people!
Man, I really hope they get this other suspect without any more casaulties!
[UPDATED 4/18/13 A huge thank you to everyone who sent me an email offering to beta read. I appreciate every one of you. I had more volunteers than I expected, and have already contacted a few to beta read for me. I don't need any more help at this time, but if this experiment goes well, I'm sure I'll be sending out another call for beta readers in the future, so please do check back. And, again, thank you all for volunteering your time to help me make The Sharpest Blade the best book it can be. I can't wait for everyone to read it!]
I’m both excited and terrified to make this request. I finished my first round of edits on THE SHARPEST BLADE and sent the changes off to my editor today. I have a little time to make a few more changes, and I desperately need more feedback from a few readers/writers. So, I’m asking for beta readers.
This is the last Shadow Reader novel, and so it has tons of spoilers in it. It’s nerve-wracking to turn it over to anyone I don’t already know very well because… Well, I have to trust that you want tell anyone about the story or send it on. I’m tempted to just keep it all to myself for the next eight months, but unbiased feedback will make this a better manuscript, and I want the book to be awesome.
So, if you’re interested in beta-ing THE SHARPEST BLADE, keep reading.
If you’re an urban fantasy fan and are able to provide objective, constructive feedback by Wednesday, April 24th, and are able to read and make comments on a PDF file, send an email to sandy AT sandy DASH williams DOT com with the subject line “Beta” telling me why you think you’d make a good beta reader. Preference will be given to people who have beta’d before and/or who have an online presence (that doesn’t mean either are absolutely required). This is mainly so I sort of know who you are, but if you have another writer or a blogger or someone who can vouch for your integrity/professionalism, brownie points go to you. Please note that this isn’t just an opportunity to read THE SHARPEST BLADE early. I need someone who can point out inconsistencies, repetitive/confusing phrasing, pacing issues, TSTL moments, etc. You must also be willing to
sign in blood a confidentiality agreement swear an oath of silence.
Thanks, guys! I’m so, so excited about this book!
Technically, the signing is in Richardson, but it might as well be Dallas. Around 60 authors will be signing their books at the Double Tree Hotel off of 75. I’ll be one of them. If you’re in the area, do stop by. A portion of book sales will benefit the Richardson Adult Literacy Center. Plus, it’ll be fun. This conference is put on by my local RWA group, and it’s awesome to be around so many people who love reading and writing.
The full list of authors who will be signing is on the DARA website (scroll down toward the bottom). There are plenty of authors for urban fantasy/paranormal romance fans. These are a few I noticed at a glance:
Those are just a few! We have several bestselling authors and RITA Award winning authors in our group. (We have a BIG group. 100+ members!) It’s definitely worth your time to come out.
And while it’s on my mind, April 23 is World Book Night. This is an awesome event where “tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers”. On the Eve of WBN, I’ll be signing with Rachel Caine and Rosemary Clement-Moore at the Barnes & Noble in Frisco, Texas. (Here’s the Event Page). What’s even cooler is that we’re going to be chatting about the books that inspired us when we were young. I know just the two books (um, maybe three?) that I’m going to talk about. It’s kind of funny how different they are. I’ll let you know the titles after the event.
What I want to know is this: if YOU were going to be on the panel talking about the books that inspired you when you were young, which books would you name? Leave me a comment telling me the title and, if you’d like to win a signed book by any of the authors signing this Friday (see this list of authors here: http://www.dallasromanceauthors.com/conferences/) tell me who and Rafflecopter will choose a lucky commenter who will get the signed book of their choice. (If you’re reading this on a feed, please click through to my website to enter.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The hubby and I just sat down to look at our taxes this weekend. We had to gather up our W-2′s and all that other fun information to give to the IRS. Since I’m self-employed as a writer, I had to go through my business transactions and put them into categories. I’m kind of astounded by how much I spent last year. I don’t feel like I did much, but all those little things add up quickly.
What little things? The postage, the website maintenance, the office supplies, etc. Since I’m a total nerd, I made a pie chart of where my money went last year. No dollar amounts here, just a general idea of what writers spend money on. (Not to say that this is how most writers do or should spend their money.)
This is the first time I’ve really paid attention to what I’m spending and taking in. Being pregnant and having twins in 2011 made me Not Myself, so I didn’t keep up with things like I should have. I’m going to do better in the future and keep my costs down. I think it’ll be easier because, as a newbie author these past two years, I’ve been expirementing with different things (website ads, Facebook ads, promo materials, etc.) to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t.
Obviously, my agent fee is the biggest expense, but I don’t mind that at all. She is worth every shiny penny! (I should do a post sometime about how much I love my agent and agency.)
If I combine my travel and CE/conference expenses, that’s a big chunk of change, too. Most of that is spent on the RT Booklovers Convention, which I’m going to again this year. When I see how big an expense that is, I’m not sure it’s worth it. I mean, it’s fun, and it’s great to meet so many enthusiastic readers, but I almost feel like I’m there more as a fangirl than as an author, since I’m pretty much a nobody and, um, I’m kind of quiet in large groups. We’ll see how this year goes. I might skip out next year and do the RWA Conference instead, since it’s in San Antonio.
The website expenses I should be able to reduce significantly. I think I have it set up the way I want; I just need to get off my lazy butt and keep the thing updated.
If you’re a writer and want to share where your money goes, I’d love to see how we compare. You can leave a link in the comments to your blog post and I’ll check it out. To make this pie chart, I went to Create-a-Graph. It’s super easy. Just be sure to click “No Labels” before you download so you’re not posting dollar amounts.
All right. I’ve exercised the nerdy part of my brain. It’s time to let my creative side free and get some editing done before I have to pick up my kids. I haven’t accomplished anything yet, writing-wise, because of the tax stuff and some freezer cooking. I made blueberry muffins that are yummy (and they darn well should be after how much sugar goes into them!) and then I made some sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast burritos. I’m curious to see how the latter turn out.
I received my edit letter yesterday! Hurray! I love edit letters. I love reading my editor’s thoughts on the book, and how I can make the book better. Yes, I always hold my breath when I click open the email. I brace myself for the, “This is a good start, BUT…” but I’ve been lucky so far and my editors haven’t hated my books. Which makes sense, of course, or the publisher wouldn’t have bought them.
Anyway, revisions start for real today. I’ve been working on revising for the last few weeks because there were a few things about the book that I had to change, even if they didn’t bother anyone else. One of those things, though, is kicking my butt. In my opinion, my book begins to suck at the end of Chapter 6/beginning of Chapter 7.
And I know exactly why it sucks. It’s not gripping, and it feels like McKenzie is going on these little sidequests that take away from the main, exciting plot line. I had this problem with THE SHATTERED DARK, too. And, well, in my opinion, I didn’t fix them so well in TSD.* I will fix them in TSB, and all I have to do is move the main, exciting plot up to Chapter 6/7, but I don’t freaking know how!!!!!!!!
*ahem* Excuse me, but these two chapters have been frustrating me for the past week. I don’t want to leave them like they are. I need to make them gripping, but obviously, I have some kind of writer’s block.
I need help. I know I do, but you see, I don’t want help. I want to come up with the genius idea on my own. I feel like I’m supposed to come up with the genius idea on my own. I’m the story’s creator, after all. I’m supposed to know how to do this. If I was really a skilled author, I wouldn’t be struggling so much with this. So, if I ask for help, that’s acknowledging that I suck as a writer.
Is that crazy talk? That’s what goes through my mind.
Before I published my first book, when I reached these road blocks, I had all the time in the world to wait for inspiration to hit. I don’t anymore. I have to figure out the solution now.
I’m going to go for a walk. It’s a gorgeous day, and maybe I’ll find inspiration hanging from a tree branch. If I don’t… Ugh. I’m giving myself a few more days to come up with something. Hopefully, I will. If not, you might hear my scream of HELP echoing across the country.**
* I’m probably not supposed to say that. I’m probably supposed to pretend like I believe every word I’ve ever written is right and brilliant, but the truth is, I struggle sometimes (okay, a lot of times) with writing, and if I had years and years to write a book, of course I could make it better.
** I will be looking for a couple of beta readers in the next month. I don’t mind that kind of help at all. I love it! That’s different from what I’m struggling with here. I can’t see all the problems in my manuscripts, so betas are awesome and crucial for helping to point them out.