Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What to do When You Finish Your Book....First Forays into Exploring the Publishing World

I just finished the first draft of Chapter 5 of The MirrorMasters last night! I have to do a little editing, but hopefully by tonight it'll be finished. It'll be wonderful to finally be able to move on to the next chapter. There are still probably at least fifteen or more chapters to go, but the story is well under way.

Lately, I've been wondering what comes next for the story once all my editing is done, and the work is as polished as I can make it. As a first time book writer, it's daunting even just beginning to explore the world of publishing. I've been googling searches on literary agents like Writer's House and science fiction/fantasy publishers like Tor. There are a ton of publishers out there, I'm sure, but so far it's taken a lot of searching just to find them. Maybe I'll add them in here as I find them, so keep checking back.

There are a ton of publishing options, from traditional publishers to self publishing (and print on demand books) to simply posting your work online. I've read many pros and cons of each lately, but the general theme of it all seemed to be that it's best to try the traditional publishing least at first. Search for a literary agent, who can open the doors to publishers who don't accept unsolicited manuscripts. Many publishers and literary agents also don't accept simultaneous submissiions, but it's probably best to submit to as many places who do allow for it as possible. It can be months before you receive a decision either way, and this way you maximize your chances and cut down on time. If you only submit to one publisher at a time, for example, you have to wait for the first to turn you down before trying another, and the whole process could take years. If you go the self-publishing route, it may be more difficult to be taken seriously, not to mention getting your books into actual stores. But there are a lot of options to do this. Amazon Kindle has a way to post your book with them, and Barnes and Noble now has an option to upload a book for digital viewing. But it won't be printed or available in their stores. Just be on alert for any scams involving companies, whether it's self-publishing companies or agents, that want upfront fees. Never, never get involved in something like that.

So much to think about! But for those of us who want to share our stories with the world, it's heartening to know that one way or another, we can.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Plot Thickens...

I did get a bit further in writing The MirrorMasters over the past two days, but didn't manage to reach the goal yet of finishing Chapter 5. Still, every bit counts, and I'm another few pages or so along. So, it's going to be fun. Just writing now about what I have in mind for the next scene in the chapter is transforming it into another candy bar scene for me :) Can't wait to write this!

By now, everyone's at the boardwalk pavillion, and Brian will be along soon. He'll be finished unpacking enough to set up his room and take a lunch break. The chemistry between him and Leah continues, and it'll be so cute to see the two of them together. And to see him getting to know the rest of the group, too. Enter a guy from school, Jason, who likes Leah. The feeling's not mutual. Not that he's that bad a guy, but there's just no feeling of connection on Leah's part. He's Mark Jacob's son, and not only is he on the football team, he's an aspiring cop like his dad. Anyway, Jason's somewhat moved on to dating head cheerleader Cailley, who's there at the beach with him. He's hoping Leah will be jealous, and even Cailley's flaunting the fact that Jason's dating
her and not Leah.

Meanwhile, Leah's oblivious to all that and is going to be genuinely thrilled that the two of them are planning to go to the end-of-school bash together at the Wharf next Saturday night. She doesn't realize that Jason still likes her. Not to mention she's basically just relieved that he's not still pestering her to go out with him, though she's too kind to admit this to anyone but her best friends. And Jason and Cailley are going to be annoyed, each for their own reasons, that Leah's not jealous. Jason's going to end up being the jealous one instead, because Leah and Brian are clearly smitten with each other. Cailley is going to be miffed by Leah's lack of reaction to her taunting and flaunting. And Kara is totally amused by the whole thing. She's going to have to explain it all to our dear, innocent Leah afterwards. Poor Leah! Even without being smitten with Brian, Leah would probably still be endearingly clueless about Jason and Cailley's motives.

Hmm...I'm thinking that this is probably going to be a great moment where Kara will have something important to teach Leah about that. A lesson that will help Leah later as she faces the witch and the Drakes in a situation where she needs to figure out what everyone's motivations really are.

So as not to reveal too much about what's to come in the MirrorMasters, I'll avoid any major spoilers in any of my posts. Especially anything to do with plans for what's going to happen further down the line. But writing this little piece of scene development has really been helpful. It's given me a bit of extra motivation, because it promises to be really fun. It's shed a bit more insight into a few of the characters, and it's really going to help further the plot in ways I'm just beginning to imagine but can't yet reveal.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Candy Bar Scenes

So, a little while back, I came across an author's website devoted to helping other authors succeed. As I'm just really beginning my learning experience, this piece of advice stood out to me (and I take no credit for it).

The advice to maintain your motivation through the entire process of finishing a book is to intersperse your "candy bar scenes" along the way. Isn't that a great name for it? These are the scenes that are the sweet ones, the dessert of your novel that you can't wait to write. In the MirrorMasters, I have a number of them. One of them I've already written, and it is the scene in which Leah finally confronts the fact that it's not safe for her to stay on Earth, and has to suddenly say goodbye to her brother as she escapes capture. Capture by who? I'm not telling yet ;). There are some other scenes that are going to be really awesome to write, like the first bonding moment between Leah and Brian, where they end up meeting out on the beach. She's just out for a walk and comes across him at a time when he's stormed out of the house after an argument with his dad after he learns some major family secret(s) that have been kept from him. I also can't wait to write the first glimpse of a new world, Jantyr. It's breathtakingly beautiful in my imagination, and it'll be such a fun challenge to bring it to life in the story!

The idea of candy bar scenes was new to me, but the feeling definitely isn't. I remember so many times during my role playing days the breathless anticipation of wondering what's going to happen next, and the eagerness to get to the next major scene when a revelation or dramatic event would happen. It's like that now in writing my current story, though it hasn't yet recaptured the intensity of those feelings. Maybe some of it was the suspense of waiting to see what my role play partner would come up with, and the synergy that working together on a storyline could create.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Expanding my Fashion Horizons

Ok, so I've enjoyed a recent shopping spree, and was determined to find some clothes at stores other than the ones I usually frequent. Ross had an adorable dress, and they have petite sizes! So, I snagged that and a pretty sleeveless top. I found a cute sundress at Aeropostale, and a couple of great shirts at Ambercrombie and Fitch. Finding slacks and pants the right length is still tricky, but then it's always a good idea to make friends with a good tailor. That mission has been accomplished, and I have a cute pair of white slacks from Kohls that finally got tailored to the right length (since practically every store insists on even petite inseams being 30"!) Ok, I'll have to stop complaining about that and just buy the cute pants from whatever store I see them in, and get them tailored next time. Old Navy has some great work slacks, and a lot of stores do have them.

Anyway, I've also managed to score a couple of cropped pants, as these tend to be the right length for me with no tailoring needed. American Eagle had really cute artist cropped pants in white, but my size wasn't in, so I had to pass them up. Otherwise, they'd have made great skinny jeans that I could probably get away with wearing to work. Oh, well. The thing about shopping is, once you find something you know you really like, you can look around for the right size...and watch for it to go on sale!

Did I mention that sale was my very first word? It was.

Petite Clothing

Is anyone else out there frustrated about the lack of cute petite clothing? Oh, it's out there, but the available styles are much more limited than the varied selection that non-petites enjoy. If I were a clothing designer, I would definitely provide my looks in a variety of sizes, so that the proportions would fit everyone, and so everyone who found a particular item of clothing could find it in their size to fit their frame perfectly.

But finding a designer who does that would maybe only happen in an ideal world. The reality of being really petite is that you have a lot more work to do to find tops, and especially slacks and jeans, in the right size. One tip, besides doing a lot of searching and trying on, is to make good friends with a tailor. I've also found that with a little heel, there are some cute petite slacks and cords that aren't too long. For those of us who need a very petite inseam, some brands like Dockers make slacks and jeans in petite-short length. And, if you're still having no luck with finding anything in the right length while you're out shopping, a cute petite skirt is always a great option! Sometimes outside of a petite department, it's possible to find tops that fit, particularly in small and x-small sizes that might be more proportional to a petite frame. I'm fairly petite, at 5 feet tall, and can still sometimes pull off tops at stores such as Charlotte Russe that don't have a petite department.

There are still many stores out there with good petites departments, or a selection of petite clothes. I hope all of this helps, and feel free to share any great finds and ideas you have!

Ann Taylor Loft - their slacks are usually too long for me, but they've got cute tops and dresses, and good sales!

Kohls - typically has a lot of cute petite clothes

Sears - the one in Neshaminy Mall has a really good petite department

JC Penny - another good place to find petites

Macy's - they have a great selection of petite clothing

Old Navy -they carry jeans in short length, and I recently found an adorable pair of Diva skinny jeans that were perfect!

Delias- has certain styles of jeans, cords, and trousers that come in various petite inseams, though most are online

The Gap - has petite fit online, and ankle length trousers