Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's Coming in December

As November wraps up, I'm sure many of you are wrapping up your NaNoWriMo masterpieces! I have to say for what is usually my least favorite month in New England, November has been phenomenal this year. I hope December will prove just as exciting. Here's a look ahead at what's coming to amy & the pen in December.

Pirate Week! As 18th century pirates play into Dead Locked, I'm devoting an entire week to one of my favorite topics. Stay tuned for lots of swashbuckling fun!

Design for Writers. I'm experimenting with an article series idea, helping writers to tackle graphic/web design projects on their own, including covers, book trailers, and websites. I'll focus on design principles as well as the technical stuff. The first in the series debuts next month.

New Book Unveiling. The first details about my next novel happens right here.

Tomorrow, December 1, is the final day to download Dead Locked completely free at Smashwords. Enter KR98Q at checkout to get your copy today!

'Til next month!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lessons Learned From My First Novel

After a year and a half of false starts and missteps, revisions galore, and quite a few smackdowns from my sister, Dead Locked is finished and for that I am extremely grateful. I'm the first to admit my little book has a lot of imperfections - some bruising here, a scar or two there - but it came time to send it off into the world and now there's no looking back. Well, almost.

I still think of things I could or should have changed. But in the end, there's no denying (or faking) that I'm still learning how to construct a well-written novel. I keep reminding myself that I could rewrite for all eternity and it would never be perfect. And as it was, I was ready to take the hard-earned lessons from Dead Locked and share them with my next novel.

And learn I have. At times, I really thought Dead Locked hated me, which is absurd of course. (Books can't hate their authors - can they?) And the problems often came down to my own neuroticism. But I do love to write and I take a lot of pride in writing well. So though I know DL will hardly be my best work ever, I put everything I had (and more sometimes) into it.

So other than learning (again) that writing is hard, what else have I come away with? Well, I learned a lot about my novel writing process. I discovered (as a life long pantser) that a little plotting is a good thing, but too much plotting for me is very, very bad. I started walking the tightrope of tension and pacing. And unwittingly, I took a crash course in handling a heap of necessary background information in the form of flashbacks (hopefully with success!).

I am most proud, however, of my character development. With each project, I often have a focus, something I want to improve. With DL, I wanted to create the most alive, vibrant characters I'd ever envisioned. And I definitely succeeded in that department. Overall, I understand a lot more about how to make a novel tick now, and I'm looking to the future to apply what I've learned more fully. I'm also buckling down on things I know I need to work on.

My next book is already well underway and I'll unveil the details about that in December. Until then, there are still two days left to download Dead Locked for free by entering KR98Q at checkout. The response has been awesome and I appreciate all the fabulous support and encouragement. And I do hope you enjoy my first, slightly imperfect, novel.

Photo by Seth Sawyers

Monday, November 22, 2010

When Obsessive Proofreading Pays Off

I admit, I'm kind of neurotic about checking and double-checking...and triple-checking...my work for errors. But for something important, say publishing a book, it can be a lifesaver.

While going over Dead Locked one last time, I saw double. Two chapters labeled "23." My heart froze. Did I seriously mess up the chapter numbering? Sure enough, I had managed to get the ordering out of whack earlier. Not surprising since the chapters weren't in order since my first draft months ago. So I fixed that problem but then I was paranoid and checked everything again to make sure I hadn't missed some horrible, glaring mistake. I didn't catch anything else and I hope you won't either.

So this is my advice for today: If you want to check that important document one last time, do it. It could very well mean the difference between catching a glaring mistake or publishing your book with two chapters 23.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dead Locked Preview Roundup

Over the last several months, I've posted a few excerpts and a character interview. Since Dead Locked is actually available now (phew!), I decided to corral all these posts into one for those of you new to my blog or otherwise.

In case you missed yesterday's post, you can download a free copy of the ebook edition of Dead Locked until December 1, 2010! Get the gory details here. For now, check out all these past sneak peeks!

Word Paint Blogfest Entry
Neverending Revisions and Dead Locked Snippet
Blogfest of Death Story
Book Title Announcement and Novel Sneak Peek
Character Interview Blogfest (with heroine Imogen Bell)
A Heroine is Born

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dead Locked Available Now!

I can't believe my book is done, but it finally is! After a year and a half, things sped up and came to a head, and as of last Wednesday, Dead Locked was officially finished! And now it is officially available to read as an ebook!

To start things off with a bang, I'm giving Dead Locked away for free from now until December 1, 2010. Here's how to claim your copy:

1. Go to the official Dead Locked page at Smashwords by December 1, 2010.
2. Checkout and enter promo code KR98Q in the appropriate box.
3. Download in the format of your choice (Kindle format included).
4. Once you've read Dead Locked, please leave an honest (yikes!) review.

Feel free to tell others how to get their free copy of Dead Locked on your blog or website. Along with the promo code, you can include an excerpt of up to 3,000 words from the free sample available. (See the FAQ for details.)

To whet your appetite, watch the official book trailer below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Go NaNoWriMo Writers! The High of Week 1

This is just a shout of encouragement to all of you participating in NaNoWriMo this year! The first week is always thrilling as you pen those first few thousand words and start to see your ideas - vague or clearly defined - come to life.

If this is your first time around, I suggest you make this week count as much as possible. Circumstances differ, but I learned my first time around that aiming to get a little ahead the first week didn't hurt. Just stick to your plan and get as close to your daily and weekly goals as possible. Life will happen during NaNoWriMo but don't get discouraged. Just keep trucking.

If you know you'll have days when you won't have as much time - or any - to write, plan for it and set larger word count goals on days when you do have the time. While it may not matter so much this week, it can be a lifesaver in the weeks to come. Plus, as I said, life does happen. The more you write early on, the better off you may be at the end of the month.

Don't get stuck trying to make everything perfect. I loosened up as time went on but I found the first few days tough in that regard. I thought too much and wrote too little. Just relax and write. It's a first draft after all and isn't supposed to be perfect. You'll have plenty of time to revise after November.

How is NaNoWriMo going for you so far? What is your story about (if you know!)?

Photo by seyed mostafa zamani
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