Call for “Heartless” Beta Readers!

Hello, lovelies!

Things have been quiet around here again, but I’m going to blame that on my deep involvement in edit-land, because I emerge from the silence on the search for those who might like to volunteer their time to helping me make my book even better. The Slayer Saga: Heartless is ready for beta readers. I’m looking for anyone willing to give it a look, to offer anything from broad, sweeping generalizations to the most minute line edits imaginable. The document is about 110 pages in 12 pt Courier, just about 400 words shy of 50,000. Have you read The Slayer Saga: Soulless? Excellent! You can help me know how well it continues the saga. You haven’t read The Slayer Saga: Soulless? Hey, that’s awesome, too! You can give me a perspective from someone who might not know what the hell is really going on.

Generally, I would love, love, love to have edits and responses and thoughts back by the start of July, so that I can implement changes or brush things up for publication in August. Even if you can’t get it completely finished by then, any help is good help.

Please let me know, either in the comments or via email, if you’re interested in giving it a go. I’d also like to offer anyone who beta reads Heartless a free paperback copy once it’s out and into the world.

Thanks, everyone! Cheers!

February Focus.

Welcome to February, everyone! As fitting for the wintry month, we’re currently in the middle of an absolutely beautiful snowstorm here in Chicago, where we’ve gotten maybe three of the potential twelve inches until Monday. I’ve got a shift at work that’s going to likely be slow due to the double whammy of storm and Superbowl (which hit us HUGE yesterday; the store had it’s highest grossing day since it opened last year, even bigger than Thanksgiving, Christmas, and opening day), but then it’s followed by two glorious days off in which I intend to get a whole heck of a lot of work done. Especially since the arrival of February gives me two more things to focus on:

1. Finish Heartless and have it ready for beta readers by March 1st. I’m about 80 pages to go on the draft, and then I’ve got to type it all up and get a bit of an edit in, but I want to get it to beta readers by March so I have lots of time to work on the book before the August release. It might be a lot to squeeze in, and I might move the beta-reading to April, but we won’t know if I try.

2. Alpha reading another work. I’ve gotten the docs for a book I’ve offered to cover in red (and anyone who’s had me beta knows that I like to make a manuscript bleeeeeed), so I’m resolving to look over at least 13 pages a day so I can have it finished by February 25. Which shouldn’t be a problem at all…(She says now).

Also, with a new month comes a new Featured Story from World Unknown Review. This month, it’s Robert Robinson‘s memoir piece, “Sheba.” Give it a look and, if you like what you read, consider following Robert’s blog or picking up a copy of the review.

Definitely excited to add these to the focus for this month. What have you added to your plate for February?

RoW80 Update: Let’s Stay Together.

Now that I’ve pretty much officially moved into the boyfriend’s apartment (the cats are settled, so that makes it legit), this next week or two is going to be about getting all my crap moved over (no easy task, as there’s significantly less room here) and finding myself a new routine that works around sharing my time and space with someone else. In a way, Friday’s post about breaking from the tyranny of the clock was borne from this exact thing. He likes to sleep in, and I feel bad waking him, so I no longer set an alarm clock (except in cases where I have to be up well before when I would naturally awaken). The only schedule I have to work around is my part-time job, which only accounts for 25 hours a week on a busy day, so things are getting very “go with the flow of whatever” around here. I like that I’m not as concerned about time, but I still need a structure around which I use my time wisely. That’s where my RoW80 goals come in real handy, and these updates help keep me on track so I don’t waste away too many days in this new laisse-faire approach.

Let’s break down what’s coming into swing now that I’m coming into my own at the new place:

Goal One: Promotion. With the exception of one day, I’ve actually been finding venues to promote Soulless pretty consistently, some free, some paid. It’s still to early to determine which venues have been the most beneficial so far, but I do know that I’ve already made more with Soulless than I have with Bowlful of Bunnies. I’m sure the higher price tag on the former might have something to do with it, but it confirms for me that the approach has been solid. I’d like to shift a little more focus onto promoting the World Unknown Review more aggressively, too, so I’m going to start tracking Soulless‘s progress a little closer. If it’s taken a jump up from the previous day, I’ll promote WUR that day. If it’s taken a dip, I promote Soulless. If it’s about the same, I’ll go with which ever one I feel needs the next venue. A little bit of a balancing act, though I feel it’s a little crazy to be nitpicking at them this closely. However, I like that kind of approach, as long as I’m mindful of when it starts to become a little obsessive.

Edit: Literally two seconds after I posted this, I received emails from both Goodkindles and One Shot Pitch that my ads with them went live! So it’ll be interesting to see tomorrow if they did any good. You can check them out here and here!

I might even do a little promotion for BoB coming up here soon, especially since I discovered /r/wroteabook on reddit.

Goal Two: Short Stories. I’m still going to use the excuse that I still haven’t unpacked one of my notebooks that helps me keep track of what I’ve submitted where as the delay on brushing up some stories to send out, but, really, I haven’t had the mind-set. I’ll get there. Some August 31st deadlines are moving in quickly, so I might just buckle down next week and see what might work where, or if I can pull something out of thin air before those submissions close. I pushed myself to finally get “Flesh and Feathers” (those of you who have read Bowlful of Bunnies might recognize that one!) to The Maine Review‘s Rocky Coast Contest, so hopefully that gets the trend of submitting more going along.

Goal Three: Medeline. Not a chapter a day, but I’m getting at least a page a day, just as I expected. One thing that happened with this project that’s kind of exciting is that I’ve started writing some of the scenes out of order. That’s right. The habitually beginning-to-end L.S. Engler is playing around with the idea of writing scenes all higgly-piggly then trying to put them together in the end. This project is the perfect one to play around with this, though, as, really, since it’s based on a short story, I only have a few major points to hit, and the rest is essentially filler. So I can really play around with which scenes help the main story, which are useless, which can fit in where in the timeline…it should be pretty interesting, as I’ve never written like this before, and it gives me something to write while I’m at my part-time job, since my efforts to write short stories in the downtime there haven’t been very successful.

I’m also traipsing through Fallon Brown‘s manuscript, hopefully offering lots of helpful advice and encouragement, while also cheering on my fellow RoWers, who you can find here. How’s everyone else doing?

Happy writing!

RoW80 Update: Selling Out.

Things have been a little quiet on my side of the Intrawebz this weekend, despite having the weekend off from my part-time job. Having miraculously been giving a block of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off, I took advantage of an actual weekend to hold a very timely yard sale to get rid of some of my junk before I move into a much, much, much smaller apartment with two more roommates than I have at the moment (plus two more cats and a rat). Yeah, I’m moving at the same time I’m planning on releasing a book; that was smart. But, considering that The Slayer Saga: Soulless comes out THIS FRIDAY, I’m back to my usual grind, and back to finalizing the coding so that it’s ready and raring to go on August 15th, which is what this RoW80 update is essentially about.

See, the funny thing with me and deadlines is that I tend to hem and haw a lot in the week before hand, then bust it out last minute. I work best with a deadline, but the thing with Soulless right now is that, yeah, I have so last minute touches here and there, then the coding, which I can bust out pretty quickly, but, other than those things (which I can’t help put off), I’m all set. I just have to click a few buttons. Also, I have Thursday off, too, so whatever I don’t manage to do these next few days, I can devote that day to brushing things up. Unless the boy and I go to the zoo. Because we’re terrible vegans and love the zoo. We’ll probably go to the zoo.

…and then I’ll stay up way too late finishing and poking and prodding, and remembering exactly why I’m so adamant about a deadline when I decide on one. Because if I don’t stick to it, I will never feel it’s ready. Will Soulless go out into the world imperfect and flawed? Ohgodyes. Is that okay? Totally. I will release it into the ether to do its own thing, with its imperfections and flaws and what have you. And the world will go on, and I’ll move on to the next thing, and, soon enough, two books will become three, then four, then five, and so on.

I’ll bet it never gets any easier, though. I’ll bet I got through the same cycle with book thirty as I do book three. At least, I certainly hope I do; that thrill and excitement is part of the wonderful thing about this writing thing, that awful, terrible, wonderful, excited, glorious tumble in your stomach and flutter in your heart as you agonize over not having done a better job while simultaneously glowing over all you’ve accomplished.

This post is going into rambling territory, and I’ve got one more chapter to finally finish (LOL) and infuse into the main document, so I’ll leave you all to it and get back to work. If you get the chance, check out my fellow RoWers here and see how they’re doing.

Happy writing, everyone!

RoW80 Update: Calm, Consistent Seas.

I’m almost wondering if I should forgo RoW80 updates until Soulless is out, since there’s not a whole lot to update with considering I’m just plugging along with the last touches on the book (which actually includes a whole new chapter…ten days before publishing. Nice). Not a whole lot of excitement in Update-worthy material, but I’ve pretty much got the print version ready and now I’m going through that excellent chore that is formatting for the ePub. It’s a damn good thing I like coding…

Brushing it up this last time has made me feel a little more confident in the text itself. It’s not spectacular, no, but it’s at least entertaining, especially if you like those pulpy sci-fi/fantasy type books like I do. I think the real problem is going to be people assuming it’s something it’s not, and then either being upset about that or just not getting what I’m trying to do. If you’re not familiar with the genre, it probably seems pretty stupid. But we’ll see. Time will tell. I like it and it’s going to look gorgeous on a bookshelf, and that’s ultimately what matters most. That, and it’ll get more than Bowlful of Bunnies out into the world.

At the pace I’m going, balanced with some of the moving prep I’m doing, the garage sale I’m going to have, and working, I should have this ready for electronic format by Sunday. Knock on wood. That gives me a good solid five days to do any final quirking and touching before next Friday rolls around and it’s time to make this available to everyone. Exciting stuff in general, just not very exciting for RoW updates. You’ll likely find more excitement over here with my fellow RoWers, so check them out.

Happy writing!

RoW80 Update: Full Speed Ahead.

Effective immediately, all of my RoW80 goals are being put on hold, so that I may focus on one single, solitary, gigantic one: the August 15th release of The Slayer Saga: Soulless. It’s kind of hard to believe, but I’m less than two short weeks from making this project live for the public to enjoy and consume. I’m still sort of dazed that it’s going to be happening soon; I’m sure I’ll be dazed well after August 15th, too. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.

That said, the next few check-ins might be a little quiet for me, as I’m temporarily brushing aside everything else so I can focus on what needs to be done with Soulless before it hits the scene, because I’m still editing for crying out loud (hi, there, perfectionist writer with not nearly enough time or planning skills). I’m hunting people down and seeing what I need to do to help get the word out there. I’m checking in on every “before you publish” checklist I can find and figuring out what I totally screwed up on and what can still be done. I’ve got Soulless on the brain, and everything else is just going to have to wait.

(Knowing me, though, I bet you anything that this is the time where I somehow manage to churn out some amazing short story out of fricking nowhere. Then again, that’s totally wishful thinking to the max right there.)

Again, if anyone’s interested in doing a feature, let me know, and I’ll get in touch with you about a plan. Also, if you’re interested in doing a review, I can see about getting you a free copy. I’ve just ordered the proof with expediated delivery, just in case, so I’m thrilled to see how Ingrid’s beautiful cover look in the flesh, and, more importantly, but a lot less fun, how the interior is settling so I know how my margins and font size should be. Tuesday seems forever from now. SIGH.

Well, while I’m in the Full Speed Ahead mode on this particular goal, perhaps you can hop on over to some of my fellow RoWers and see how they’re doing? You can check them out here!

Happy writing!

RoW80 Update: After the Storm.

The past two days have been…interesting, if you couldn’t tell by the fact that my RoW80 update is a day late. Aside from my minor meltdown and applying for a perfect, bigger-than-expected, totally-in-love-with-it, vintage ’20s apartment (which I am waiting to hear back from with bated breath; the guy said he’d get in touch once all the paperwork is done, “probably” yesterday around six, but no call. If I don’t hear from him by five today, I’m pestering him. I want this apartment so bad.), I also went on a spastic rampage and almost changed the entire ending of Soulless. Let me offer a word of advice to my fellow authors: if you start having a grand scheme to change your book dramatically, stop and take a shower first. I was able to work out that what I have going on now makes way more sense, that the new idea was cool on the surface but would never work in the grand scheme of things, and I saved myself a lot of heartbreak by thinking about it first. That was a close one. I’m still probably going to cut one of my favorite parts from the book, but I’ll still be using it, just later in the book.

I was kind of a mess (again!) yesterday waiting for that call, but since it didn’t come in, I had to grapple with disappointment and fear that he didn’t like what he saw on the credit checks and decided already not to rent to us. I reasoned with myself and told myself he was probably waiting on a reference or something like that. Then, someone was talking about meditation on the radio, and I reminded myself that I’m living far too much in the future right now, neglecting the fact that the true path to happiness is to live in the moment. So I’m focusing on that right now, looking at the present, paying attention and enjoying what is going on now, and not worrying about what may be. I can’t control any of that. But I can control how I make today count, no matter what may be ahead of me.

But we’re not here for me to vent out all my nervous excitement and worry and hope about an apartment. We’re here for a RoW80 Update! Here’s my goals and how they’ve been coming along these last few interesting days:

Goal One: Soulless. Did I mention how I almost completely changed the ending? Yeah. That was interesting. It’s so surreal to change so much of a book before it’s published. I feel very good about the changes, but I really feel like I’m flying in blind, and I can’t thank my beta-readers enough for opening my eyes to some real big issues. I’m learning a lot, too. Next time, give yourself more time before the deadline and the beta-reads. You’ll want a second round, more than likely. The entire tone of the book has changed, some of the “bad guys” turned into good guys, and one character even completely changed genders. I’m almost a little glad I gave myself a deadline when I did, because if there were more revisions, I might change even more of it completely.

Also, I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to put together my back cover blurb. When you’re writing pulpy apocalyptic zombie fiction with a side of steampunk, it’s really hard to describe it in one paragraph without sounding super cheesy. Maybe I should just put “Pulpy Apocalyptic Zombie Fiction with a Side of Steampunk.” I’d read that if I saw it on a back cover.

Goal Two: Short Stories. The Torn Pages deadline is coming up fast, so I’m really focusing on finally getting that story out, especially now that I have a new concept that I think is really cool and interesting. Other than than, I’m brushing the dust off my list of contests and submissions to keep an eye out for the next deadline.

Goal Three: Heartless. Heartless is at a little bit of a pause right now There’s a scene in Soulless I’m considering moving out of the first book and into the second, and whether or not I do that changes a lot of what I’m working on right now, so it’ll be a day or two before I decided. Until then, it waits.

Nothing too exciting, as you can see. Most of my energy is going decidedly into Soulless, as it should. It’s almost ready to go into formatting, but not quite yet. So I better get back to work. If you haven’t already, be sure to swing by here and support my fellow RoWers!

Happy writing!