tamela_j: (Default)
Wow. Sorry I've been MIA. It's been a busy couple of months. I keep telling myself to take a break and come here and update, and then more stuff comes up and now it all seems overwhelming just to try and remember. Lets see if bullet-points will help me keep it brief and manageable.

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tamela_j: (Commas Save Lives)
“Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. It is one of the hardest things to accept." Michael Crichton

Got my first round of edits. \o/

I’m not going to lie. They were painful to look at. So many stupid mistakes, so many embarrassing typos and repetitions, so many major rewrites to do and so very many plot holes needing to be filled.

I sort of want to send flowers to my editor as an apology for having to trudge through it--is that allowed? Also, more importantly, for taking this book on despite all of that; for seeing what it could be through all the tremendous amount of shit and for trusting me to getting it there.

Believe me, these were not my first thoughts. My first thoughts were pretty much to burrow down in the fetal position in the deepest, darkest hole and never, ever see the light of day again. Thankfully, after three days, that melodrama passed. Instead, I came up with a plan.

I found that the blinding panic every time I looked at it was due to the LARGE picture of everything that needed work and how impossible it seemed and how was I even allowed to operate a pen and paper? So, I decided to break it up into manageable, and hopefully less terrifying pieces.

”People who go on to be writers are those who can forgive themselves the horror of the first draft.” Alain de Botton

My first run through--which I’m almost done with--was simple to tackle the typos, spelling mistakes, grammar and repetitions. It’s a mostly mindless task that involves a lot of “Accept and Move to Next” over and over. The main goal of this stage (besides the obvious of cleaning up the text) was to relax me and give me time to contemplate the larger issues. It has also given me time to tone down the self-loathing. I can happily report that it was a complete success. I have even stopped adding “Dumbass” to all of the notes. Such as, “Commas don’t work that way, dumbass” or, “Hey dumbass, people don’t ‘smile the smile’ or ‘laugh the laugh’ they smile and they laugh. STOP IT!”

My second run through will be devoted to dialogue. My editor kindly reminded me that I am neither John Steinbeck and William Faulkner and not EVERY single character needs to talk with ya’s and gonna’s. The third run through will be filling plot holes and dealing with timeline issues and then finally I will tie up loose ends and make sure it all still flows.

Then I will send it off, sigh a sigh of relief, maybe make a cocktail or three and wait for round two. *meep*

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time unlike, say, brain surgery." Robert Cormier
tamela_j: (old smelly books)
It's pulp fiction. Real pulp fiction, though, not like the movie. John Travolta is not in this book. Sorry.

That's how A.J. O'Connell describes her new novella "Beware the Hawk" on her website. I'm not suggesting I'm an expert of the genre as I can honestly say that I have read very few (if any) pulp fiction novels (wait, does Elmore Leonard count?) I'm just saying, even I know there are a few things that are absolutely essential:

Feisty Dames ✓ The protagonist of the story (who, lol, I didn't realize until writing this up, is nameless and when I figure out how O'Connell managed to do that so effortlessly I will gladly share it with you) is nothing if not feisty. Jaded, yes, but not so much so that she's unreachable and isn't constantly surprised and dismayed. You can feel shocked by her predicaments, because you sense that she is too, no matter how above it all she tries to portray herself.
Clandestine Meetings ✓ Protagonist and her Boston contact, Leo have a number of meetings in a seedy bar where things get more confused the more they're explained.
Code Words ✓ The title alone tells you this is true and yet it avoids being gimmicky.
Someone Overusing the Term "Sweetheart" ✓ Sooooo many sweethearts! But, hey, a pulp fiction book that takes place in Boston where it's not sweetheart, but "sweet-haht" is begging for this overuse.

If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the genre, I highly suggest you start here. It's a short, well written read that will have you wishing it was so much longer. Not in an unfinished way, but in a "I want to hang out with these characters for many, many more pages" way.

In addition to the subtle way that she avoids naming the main character and still makes us feel as if we know her almost intimately, the writer in me also admires and wants to know how O'Connell finds the exact perfect way with descriptions so that they not only tell us the physicality of a thing, but also a bit about the character who notices them without weighing us down with too many facts. It's a gift that's for sure.

Here are a few of my non-spoilery favorites that, thanks to Kindle being in every aspect of my life I can easily highlight on my reader and then cut and paste on my Kindle App for my PC (annotated and everything!!). ♥

It started as a tramp stamp but kind of took over. One of my roommates calls it a tramp stampede.

O'Connell, A.J. (2012-01-14). Beware The Hawk (Kindle Locations 334-335). Vagabondage Press LLC. Kindle Edition.

I turned my head to see three skinny girls wearing black tank tops and khakis. Danny picked all of them up in one gigantic hug and then dropped them. They fell on their feet, three Siamese cats, styled by Abercrombie & Fitch.

O'Connell, A.J. (2012-01-14). Beware The Hawk (Kindle Locations 355-356). Vagabondage Press LLC. Kindle Edition.

It's taking everything in me not to share every single example and every single witty sentence (of which there are many) that I have highlighted here. But I don't have the time (or copyright) for that. :)) Plus, you should probably read it for yourself and highlight your own favorites.

Link for information on ordering the e-novella
tamela_j: (Commas Save Lives)
As I sit here and patiently wait for my first round of edits to come back from my editor, I thought I'd ramble on a bit here about the editor-writer relationship. Anything to help swallow the mounting panic as I try and remember that the life of a small press editor is chaotic and their time is stretched among many projects, not just tearing apart my book. Hopefully this time will be used to bolster my confidence that it's all going to be brilliant and not that the editor is spending a huge amount of time trying to sort out all the ways in which I suck.

Breathe Tamela, breathe )

tamela_j: (Want to be a Writer)
Man! It’s been over three weeks since I got the email and I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time with this post, with the sharing of this extraordinarily good news. It’s something I’ve imagined since I figured out that books were written by people, by mere humans, and that I wanted desperately to be one of them. But, here’s the thing. I never imagined this specific part. The sharing of this news.

Well, that’s not exactly true. I imagined just one thing. I imagined one of my mother’s phone calls/ emails/ conversations and I imagined her asking that question-- the one she’s been asking all these years, every since I left the University of Montana a few credits short of my journalism degree because I couldn’t stop making shit up-- “So, got your book published yet?”

Yes, I’ve imagined that many, many times. I imagined all the ways I’d say:


I imagine if it was through email that there would be a lot of keysmash:

lsafjksda;lfjasd;lfj sdaasfkj asd;fasfjasd;ljfsda;fjsjfaslkj

If in conversation? Well, there would be a lot of high-pitched squealing and I imagine a far bit of Snoopy Dance:

She will say that she wants to hear all the details, so I will tell her about karma and luck and meeting the right people at the right time and how I never thought it actually worked like that, but how in my case, it totally did. I will tell her about the year it took me to write it and the writer's group I meet along the way and how they helped me shape the book and give it a life I never imagined.

She will not believe me, of course, but it is the truth that after spending years polishing it and more years sending it out to agent after agent, that it would be a woman I meet in that writer’s group, who saw this story in its infancy and through many, many drafts that would find me after all these years and ask me to submit it to the publishing house in which she is now an editor. She will not believe the serendipity of it, I barely believe it myself.

I will tell her all about my publisher Vagabondage Press, and will go into long and detailed explanations about the e-market and the where and whens of it. I will tell her about the marketing and publicity and how it terrifies me and that I hope I do everything right and avoid all of the mistakes. She doesn't know all the ways that publishing has changed and I will try and explain that as well. About how its not just about the story, the book anymore (though I wish it were, MAN do I wish it were) so I'll talk of platforms and social media and how an author is always on.

I will tell her about how, in all the excitement and just unimaginable joy I'm overcome with, that there is a lot of anxiety I'll be dealing with as well. How I only have this one chance to do it right. I will only be a “First Time Author” this one time. How much pressure I feel to make it count. And maybe here she'll tell me something, maybe she'll tell me what no one ever tells you; that there is a lot of terror that comes with having your dreams fulfilled.

That's how I imagine the conversation going. I imagine she will try to listen, try to comprehend, but I also know what her last question will be: "So, when are you going to be able to pay for me to travel around the world?"

Sadly the answer to that would be: "Never."

But, that is an imaginary Q & A for another time.

For now the TL;DR of this one breaks down to this:

Q So, got your book published yet?
A. YES! "From These Ashes" will be published late fall/early winter of 2012 through Vagabondage Press.

I'm sure I'll be talking about it a fair bit here. I hope that's okay with everyone. ♥ Until then, how about a bit more of the dance of glee!


tamela_j: (Default)

March 2015

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