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Finally!! LOL!!

I’ve been waiting to share this news with you for years! When Stephanie and Shonna and I started 2012, we each picked an area we wanted to discuss for the year, and mine was self-publishing. Now I have officially self-published a book in digital form and print form. Yay!

If you’d like to pick up a copy of Little Miss Lovesick for yourself and/or give it to friends or family for Christmas, I have my own CreateSpace store page up now. You can see the book’s description and order copies and generally cheer that I finally made it! :)

I wrote a post on my web site with fun bits of trivia about how Little Miss Lovesick came to be. You might enjoy reading that, too. :)

From more of a writerly standpoint, I thought I’d share a few publishing details here for my last regular post on Routines for Writers.

  • I’ve thought about self-publishing long enough that I decided, if I was going to do it, I was going to set myself up as my own micropublishing company. I filed a DBA (also known as a fictitious business name), bought a block of 100 ISBN numbers, registered my company name rather than my own name with self-publishing sites like Kindle Direct Publishing, PubIt! (Barnes & Noble), Smashwords, CreateSpace, etc., and I asked John to make a logo for us. I’m also going to join the Independent Book Publishers Association with my 2013 budget.
  •  I bought a lot of ebooks and paper books to help me learn how to self-publish my books. If I had continued to use Word to format my book, Aaron Shepard’s Perfect Pages would have been the most useful. But since I decided to go a more professional route (for one thing, my husband John is a former graphic designer, has all the software, and I’ve used some of it before), Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual Vol 1 and Vol 2 have been the most helpful so far.
  • Aaron Shepard has two other books that I bought, but have only skimmed, that I think will be useful in helping me figure out how to promote my books better, how to help them be more discoverable. They are Aiming at Amazon and POD for Profit.
  • Going to the Self-Publishers Online Conference was also a big help. Lots of good information there, and super nice, helpful people. They also suggested a few more books and web sites, but I haven’t gone through all that material yet.
  • I bought a photo from Dreamstime.com and John (former graphic designer, remember? lucky me!) played with it in Photoshop and Illustrator to create the full cover for both the ebook and the print book.
  • John owns QuarkXPress 7.2, a professional desktop publishing program, and I’ve used it to create newsletters in the past so I was familiar with the basics of how to use it. For both of these reasons – but particularly the “professional” part – we used it to create the interior layout. HOWEVER, we had problems getting the program to create a pdf (needed to upload to CreateSpace or Lightning Source or just about any print company). It crashed every time. So I had to send the file out to Staples and they were awesome! But now, because we need to upgrade John’s Photoshop and Illustrator programs for future book covers, we are going to buy Adobe InDesign as part of the Creative Suite. Interestingly, one of their “top 10 reasons you should switch from Quark” is that it will create pdf files quickly and easily. I hope so.
  • There are two options on CreateSpace (Amazon’s print self-publishing arm) for proofing your book, the digital proof and the print proof. I am a former magazine editor who used to use both to be sure we had the most perfect copy of our magazine we could manage, so I used both this time, too. (It takes about a week or so longer to wait for the print proof before approving the file.) I did find some errors, so I’m glad I took the time.

Those are the highlights of what I did over the last year. I hope you find it useful in your own journey.

As I mentioned, this is my last regular post. We’ll be posting irregularly from now till June. (Our web hosting is paid till then.) I’ll continue to post a couple times a week on my own web site, letting you know what is happening with my books, and writing silly things like my Netflix Picks column. :)

Stephanie will post when she’s not crazy busy with school. And at the end, you’ll hear from all three of us saying goodbye to you. Meanwhile, we hope you have a fabulous holiday season, and happy writing! :)

As Thanksgiving draws near and my time at Routines for Writers draws to a close, I have so very much to be thankful for. When we started this blog just over four years ago, Shonna and Stephanie and I didn’t know anything about WordPress, very little about blogging, and nothing about how to build an audience. We’ve learned a lot over the years – and that’s why we went on this adventure. We wanted to learn how to professionally promote ourselves and our work.

That’s not the only thing I’m grateful for, though. I’m grateful -

  • for making new friends
  • for learning new things about writing routines
  • for having someplace to share what I learned
  • for making new friends (did I say that already?)
  • for learning great writing tips from Stephanie and Shonna and you
  • for raising the bar on my writing
  • for realizing I can do more than I thought I could
  • for learning how to stick to something even if I’m busy or sick or moving around the world
  • for having a safe place to find encouragement when the writing life got rough
  • for sharing the first news of my published work with you

I hope you are grateful for some of what we’ve shared here over the years. And I hope that you are finding plenty of things to be grateful for this holiday season!

God bless you! Happy Thanksgiving! :) 

Hi friends! As you know, I’ve been working hard on getting more books written and self-published. Very exciting times for me! For the last year, I’ve expected to have to say goodbye to you here on Routines for Writers, and that goodbye is swiftly approaching. My last weekly post will be in two weeks.

But that just means you can visit me at a new location! Yay! My web site is at http://kittybucholtz.com/ and I’ll keep you updated on the new books I have coming out, as well as talk about funny things like what I’ve watched on Netflix, and interesting things like brain science. I hope you decide to come visit me there. (I’ll miss you if you don’t!)

This past week I’ve been working on the interior design of the print version of Little Miss Lovesick. At first, it was daunting to the point of not even wanting to start! Since it’s my first time putting a book into print, I was a bundle of nerves, afraid the whole process would be so time-consuming because of my learning curve that I would not only never finish it, but I would’ve wasted all that time I could’ve been writing. Funny what fear can do to you!

But my awesome husband sat me down at his computer where he has Quark Xpress and he opened the file he’d created for my book (he used to be a graphic designer). He showed me how to use a few key commands, and I started editing. I found a couple dozen punctuation changes I wanted to make, but only a few words that were missing or mistaken. After I finished the copy edit, I did a bunch of other little things like -

  • changing the justification to fully justified
  • making each chapter start on a new page, with the chapter heading partway down the page
  • deleting the headers from the first page of every chapter
  • making the first word of every chapter all caps
  • adding an icon to each scene break (a little fish since the heroine meets the hero on a fishing trip)
  • moving most of the hyphenated words to the next line so the pages look cleaner
  • updating the copyright page for the print version
  • and getting John’s help making the title page look attractive

If you’re doing any self-publishing, keep the above list as a starting place on formatting your print version. You may add some more items to your list, as I may over time. But it’s a helpful place to start.

Whew! It was a huge amount of work, but the inside of the book looks great! Now I just have to write the back cover copy and help John finish the full book cover. Then it will be ready to put up for sale at Amazon!! Woo-hooo!! I can’t wait!!

I’ll let you know when it’s available for sale in print. I’m trying to have it ready by Thanksgiving, but it may be the first week of December. (It’s already available as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and many more online retailers.) If I have any tips about the cover or any of the “getting your first book into print” issues, I’ll tell you about them over the next couple weeks. Meanwhile, have an awesome week! See you on my web site! :)

I almost can’t believe it, but I met four deadlines last month! I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my writing life. Maybe the only time I’ve accomplished so much in such a short space of time is for school/college. But the point is – I did it.

What I learned from that experience is that I can do more than I think I can. Past experience may tell me that I can’t – until I make an experience that tells me I can. What I have to be careful of is thinking I can always get this much work done. It would be foolish of me to think I can work 10-16 hours a day, six days a week, for an infinite amount of time. For one thing, there is no time for friends or family, little time for exercise or healthy habits, and almost no time for fun.

However, last month I reminded myself that I can work very intensely and accomplish a lot in short bursts. Life is a marathon, and the writing life is a marathon, but sprints are useful and appropriate. (In my half marathon training, I use short sprints in training.)

John and I are participating in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, a money management course designed to get you out of debt and keep you out forever. In one of the lessons, Dave shows a video of a leopard chasing a gazelle. Even though the leopard can run faster than the gazelle, the gazelle got away! Why? Because the gazelle could make quick leaps out of the leopard’s path faster than he could move to intercept. The gazelle only has to keep this up for a short intense period until the leopard gives up and looks for easier prey.

Dave suggests we use this method to get out of debt. A short, intense burst of effort to pay off everything from credit cards to student loans to the balance on your mortgage. I listen to his radio podcast and people call in saying they’ve just paid off their last debt. Dave asks them how much they paid off and how long it took, then they give their debt free scream. It’s very inspiring! People are getting out of debt to the tune of $20,000 to $158,000 (that I’ve heard) in 12-48 months. John and I will be right in that range, and it’s exciting to know it can be done.

That’s what I learned last month with my writing deadlines. I focused like I have rarely focused before on one project, then another, then another, then another. And I got them all done, on time. I had hoped that on November 2, I would be able to sleep in, read a little, take a deep breath, and go back to a more relaxed lifestyle. But I still have four more time-sensitive projects to finish. At first, that made me feel super tired just thinking about it. Then I remembered the gazelle intensity speech.

I can’t keep up this pace forever, but I can do it for four more weeks. As one friend reminded me on November 2 when I was trying to figure out if I could do all this, I can’t “catch up” on everything that didn’t get done over the last year. But I can pick the most important things to finish now, and re-schedule my other goals for 2013.

National Novel Writing Month is about gazelle intensity. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world are finding it can work for their writing life. But it works in every area of life. What do you really need to get done? Not just urgent things, but important things. Piles of paperwork? Haphazard, overcrowded home? Behind in something you could finish if you just really applied yourself for a few weeks?

Think about it and decide what you’re going to do about it. In the end, you’ll not only have accomplished something wonderful, and maybe done something about those monkeys on your back, but you’ll find pleasure in your own personal growth as self-discipline blooms in your life.

I’m nervous about failure, about exhaustion, about missing out on fun things other people are doing, but last month I proved that it can be done! So I’m going to keep it up for another month. See you at the finish line!

[Note: If you want more encouragement and direction in planning your goals for 2013, join me for my online class Going the Distance: Goal Setting and Time Management for the Writer. Here's to a fabulous and productive new year!]

Since it’s almost Halloween, John suggested I come up with a themed post. In that vein… :)

You may remember, I’ve been writing like mad to make two deadlines this month. I sent in the polished superhero romantic comedy, UNEXPECTED HERO, on October 14 to Harper Voyager. And last Thursday, I sent in the first chapter and synopsis of BELLA AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER to Love Inspired Suspense.

Talk about scary.

Who knew coming up with a romantic suspense would be so difficult?! Not me, obviously. It was easy to see the victim and what happened to her, and I had a fair idea of the ending. For those reasons, I gave it a shot. But figuring out the 200 pages in the middle…Sheesh.

A couple times, I nearly threw in the towel, but then friends would rally and encourage me to at least give it a try. After all, the worst thing that can happen is I’ll get rejected. Well, the worst thing would be to spend weeks and months on it and discover I stink at suspense and I wasted all that time. Actually, the worst thing would be for Love Inspired Suspense to give me a shot and then I find I am incapable of ever writing another suspense novel, and they kick me to the curb.

See? This is the frightening real life pre-Halloween I’ve been living!

ABDUCTED - On sale now!

Luckily, two great friends helped me with several plot details. My friend Dave is a deputy sheriff and he let me ask him a thousand questions over lunch. Then I called my friend Janice Cantore, novelist and retired police officer, and she took my stretched out, lumpy balloon knot and created a balloon man walking a balloon dog in a couple of deft twists. Wow. Impressive.

So now I have a month or two (I’ll write the first draft during NaNoWriMo) to see if I can write a story that feels both frighteningly real and believably romantic.

Then I’ll have to decide if I enjoyed it.

It is soooo much easier to write about superheroes! LOL!

Have you written any suspense? How’d it go for you? (If you’re good at it, give a girl some tips!) Or have you written something else that scared the crud out of you?

If you’re participating in NaNo, see you there! (I’m “Kitty Bucholtz”‘ if you want to be friends.) If not, keep writing!

And remember, I’ll be teaching my online class again on goal setting and time management for writers in January. Hope to see you there!

Since I’ve just run through an intensive two-week editing and revision sprint to get my superhero book off to Harper Voyager, I wanted to share what I’ve learned about revisions. Regardless of whether you are sending your work out to a publisher or preparing to self-publish your book, you need to have an editing system. You’ve probably learned a lot about story structure and how a good book reads by virtue of years of reading. You may have a natural feel for it. (I think I do.) But you can also learn a lot about solid story structure.

There are numerous books available telling you various ways to go about revising (my favorites are Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King), but the best way is the way that works for you. For me, the best way is a combination of using Scrivener and sticky notes.

The many-times-changed sticky note outline of UNEXPECTED HERO

This particular book, UNEXPECTED HERO, turned into what I hope to be the worst editing experience of my life. After working on this book in several drafts over seven years (ugh, that pains me even to say it), I hope I never ever EVER have such a difficult time editing again. It started easily enough with one draft and a clear vision. That vision wasn’t shared by my agent, and I did a page-one rewrite using her notes. In the end, she didn’t like that version either and the book was never sent to publishers. (I learned a lot from that experience alone, and I am grateful that she and I remained friends.)

Now I had two complete books (not drafts) with the same characters, similar plots, and a different time frame. That meant that I couldn’t use them both as the first two books in the series. I had to choose. Problem was, my agent made some good points about things that I improved in the second book, but other elements I liked better from the first book. I decided the best choice was to roll up my sleeves and completely rewrite the book again, taking the best elements and putting them together for the best possible story.

This was not easy.

In fact, it was so difficult, and I had so many other things going on in life – like grad school – that I didn’t finish the third draft. What I did “complete” (for lack of a better word) was creating a document I called “UH Prototype” in my “Hero” Scrivener file. I cut and pasted the scenes from the previous versions along with new scenes I’d written into a Frankenstein document. The final story would look something like this one in terms of story, but most of the scenes needed to be rewritten to some extent. (My heroine had been married for three years in the first version, was unmarried in the second version, and starts out as a newlywed in the final version.)

Then a month or so ago, I heard about Harper Voyager’s open submission window and thought this could be a great opportunity for UNEXPECTED HERO. So I printed out the UH Prototype file and found a printed copy of the last completed “draft” and read them through, making notes. I’d thought I was at least three-quarters of the way through the final draft, but as I read the printouts, I found I was closer to half done. And I only had two weeks to get the book in.

In grad school, I worked on a few of the scenes for school assignments, and even then the overwhelming number of words to get through was difficult to handle. At that point, I had the insight to number my revisions like software. The original book became Hero 1.1. The version based on my agent’s notes became version 1.2. The new version was Hero 1.3, but in the course of many confusing ideas on how to fix it, it also became 1.4 and 1.5. (The first two were original, complete “books” ready to go, and separate from each other. But after that everything else was a draft of the third version of book one.) I also started a file called Hero 2.1 with notes on the new villain taken from Hero 1.1; that will become book two in the series.

Three weeks ago, when I took time off to do nothing but finish this book, everything I needed was in the Scrivener file, and I was getting confused trying to edit such large (90,000 words) documents. So I needed more than what Scrivener was doing. (I now create each scene as a separate document in Scrivener so I can easily move them around if necessary, and compile them into one document when I’m done by pressing a button. Love it!) So I pulled out my box of sticky notes and wrote a one-sentence description of each scene in the order I currently had it, and lined them up (first on the glass of a framed picture at the timeshare – LOL!, then on my white board at home).

Between years of reading, learning story structure in my screenwriting program, and learning how to be an editor in one of my grad school classes, I had a feel for where the story was going wrong. But I needed to be able to visualize the whole thing in one glance. And I needed to move the scenes around and see if it worked better this way or that way. The one-sentence sticky notes allowed me to finalize the structure as I worked through the story. I’d get to a point in the actual writing/editing, and think, but wait… I’d go back to my sticky notes and realize a piece was missing – she had to tell him before they could argue about it. Or I’d be getting along toward the end when I realized she’d told the superhero but not his alter ego, so I had to write in a way that either the alter ego had to pretend he didn’t know or he had to make a mistake and let it slip that he did.

Sheesh!

In a strange, wonderfully sick writerly way, I actually had a lot of fun! :)

A reminder to track my timeline

Again, at about the three-quarters point, I was getting lost as to “when” I was. Was the story going too slow or too fast? Was I missing any major obvious events? So I pulled up a calendar that had the date the book started on the day of the week I wanted it to start, and I started writing on the bottom of my stickies – Monday the 18th, Tuesday the 19th, etc. Two scenes had to be reversed because one had to happen at lunch time and the other at dinner time. And somewhere around here I had the ah-ha moment for how I would end the book simply based on the date that the story ended.

It was a difficult process but for some reason it wasn’t as painful this time. Maybe because I’ve been rehashing this story in my mind for seven years. In fact, several times I spent an hour or more looking for a scene I was sure I wrote only to come to the conclusion that I must’ve just developed it with striking clarity in my head! One scene I did eventually find in my grad school homework. (Whew!) In any case, I know this is the best version of this book by far, and exactly what I meant to write. Some of the scenes even surprised me with how good they became. LOL! Definitely my best work to date.

So if you’re trying to figure out how to edit a monster, try some or all of the things I used:

  • printouts and a pen,
  • Scrivener or multiple open Word documents,
  • a calendar,
  • sticky notes,
  • and a white board or wall.

You can tame the monster, but it may take looking at your story in several different ways at the same time.

Good luck! You can do it!