Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Prats

Moving was tough and exhausting. Everything is still in boxes and life is hectic. I got behind on my day job from all the packing, behind on my writing for the same reason, and I wasn't even blogging. This week is going to be catch up.  But as promised I'm back with a week on staying motivated as the rejections pile up.

I thought the best way to handle this would be to talk to people who have been writing longer than me and are still unpublished yet motivated. Today Elizabeth Prats is here to be open about the sensitive subject of rejections.

  1. How long have you been writing?
    I've been writing seriously for about 5 years. I started my first novel at the age of 15 so I'm 20 now. It is a YA high fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce. Sadly, it was my first novel so it does need some editing and revisions. So far it is on the back burner. 
  1. How many full length manuscripts have you written?
     I have two full length manuscripts written and am currently shopping the second around to agents. It is a MG fantasy. Think Cornelia Funke meets Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I'm also halfway done with a YA urban fantasy romance. Think Sophie Kinsella meets Rick Riordan. (I'm aware none of those are YA, but that is exactly what it reminds me of). 
  1. How many times have you queried? And how many rejections have you received?
    Ah the lovely topic of rejections and queries. I'm still not at the 150 mark, but working towards it ;) Seriously. Between both projects--including the 30 or I sent while being entirely clueless about the industry--probably 60-70 rejections. At the moment I have 13 or 14 queries out. My advice: research the agents like crazy. I feel like a stalker, but I'd rather no too much about an agent then too little. My go-to sites are Absolute rite, Literary Rambles, Mother Write, and Query Tracker.
  1. Do you have an agent?
    I have no agent but I've come close. I have received the helpful feedback and even notes on a full, but I've also gotten the terrible handwritten "no" scrawled on half a piece of paper. It happens to the best of us. I will say that one agent who kept me going in the beginning and got me to really immerse myself in the industry was Natanya Wheeler. I queried her thinking my work of genre fiction was literary. Doh. Dumb move, I know. Yeah. She took the time to write in cute, purple pen, "Wow, only 17. This project was not for me, but keep at it". It was something along those lines. That rejection still hangs in my old bedroom. (I'm in college and surprisingly a rejection like that is too precious to me to move it from dorm to apartment every year).
  1. Do you ever get discouraged with all the rejection we are faced with?
    Do I ever get discouraged with the rejections...? Oh my god yes! But I know what I want. Some people decide to self-publish after a lot of rejections or go with a small press. I think either way is fine as long as it is what you want and you believe you'll be successful at it. I drank the Kool-aid and want to be published through the traditional route. So every time I'm feeling sorry for myself I remind myself that going this route was my choice. That publishing is not the easiest thing in the world. My brother and sister played sports and got scholarships. I watched my brother practice at least 4 times a week and when he didn't have practice he went hitting on the weekends and of course had his regular baseball games. Nothing comes easy. Except maybe to Snooki (but really, who's gunna read herbook?) You just have to pledge through and celebrate the little things. Like the partial and full requests, even just finishing that blasted query.
  1. How do you stay motivated?
    CELEBRATE THE LITTLE THINGS. Just writing a darn good query, getting a request to see more. All of that is a step toward your ultimate goal. Relish in the little things and treat yourself. This is a LONG, arduous process. You have to be in it for the long haul, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy every second of it.
  1. Have you ever considered self publishing and why or why not?
    My dad and just about everyone keeps asking me and sending me random links to successful self- published authors. They ask, "Why won't you self-publish?" Like I said in question 5. I drank the Kool-aid. I know what I want and I know what I have to do to get there. Personally, I want the traditional route. I like the idea of a house backing me. The name would make it easier to get reviews etc. EVEN if I have to do every single bit of promotion on my own. Public Relations is one of my majors. Traditional has always been my goal. No way am I giving it up that easily. But to each their own. There's nothing wrong with self- publishing, but it's just not for me. There's something so gratifying about knowing that an agent, an editor, and many more people actually believe in your book and want it to succeed. I want that.
  1. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
    Don't give up, no matter how hard it gets. Those that keep at it WILL make it. Those that don't, well, how can you make it if you don't try?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Be Back Next Week/Advice

Okay first of all, I won't be posting again this week due to moving and trying to put together the baby's room, so that it's done when we get to our new place and before baby arrives.  I will be back in force with a theme week on staying motivated.

Until then I need advice (again). When you feel really miserable (physically) and you know you have a project to complete, are you able to make yourself do it?  If you're able to write when your sick, is there anything that helps you do it? I really need/want to finish my WIP but I've been sick about half the week consistently for months. It seems like I'm not going to feel well again until after the baby is born, so I'm looking for ways to work around this. And anything you've found that helps would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Friday, January 20, 2012

Short Fiction Friday

After reading Dean Smith's article, I've made a goal this year to put 20 things on amazon starting with my backlist, not all novels and probably not any novels.  Since I'm starting with my backlist, some of these things will probably be published under a pen name. Stuff I wrote before I decided to be a writer isn't YA. I didn't even know what YA was then.

And I've altered his plan a bit though. After 2010, the year of rejection, I know I need a confidence boost. So I've made a list of publisher's who publish anthologies in genres I can write and will start there first. I won't get tons of rejections, because I'll write a short story that matches the theme of that anthology. The publisher will either except it or not. If so, I have a good publishing credit and an ego boost, if not I'll self publish it on amazon, because publishing short stories and novellas shouldn't really hurt my debut numbers for a novel. I haven't decided if I'll self publish my novels, but I know I'm open to it. Either way, I'm excited. I feel like a "real writer." For the first time ever, I have an actual business plan, and one that isn't contingent on someone else. Because either I'll publish some short stories and query with publication credits, or I'll self-publish and build a following. I have no illusions. I know building a following through self publication is easier said than done, but I also know that as 2012 passes, I'll be writing anyhow. I can make my work available and some people will hate it, but some people will like it. They will tell their friends about it. Even if that's a marginal minority at the end of a couple of years, it will add up.

So I'm starting my first short fiction Friday(on Fridays I only write short, and I only write short on Friday) by editing a story I wrote in 09 getting it ready for publication. It's actually been edited a couple of times and shouldn't take long. After that I plan to write a 5,000 word short story which I will revise next week and submit.
Thanks so much for being with me on this journey. Have you developed a business plan? Either way, what do you do with your Fridays? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I've mentioned before that I thought I found my voice while working on my first blog, Project 52. Today, I'm not so sure of that. Oh, I know it improved, or at least got me started down the right path, but I don't think I've fully realized my "voice" yet.  But I've changed what I think about voice recently.

What I'm about to say is probably going to sound crazy. I know longer believe that the character's voice is the most important to the story. I don't really even know that I believe the author's voice should be distinct from the character's voice. (Of course, I don't really write in the third person and don't enjoy reading it). But I do know voice is the most important thing your manuscript can have. Without voice, your manuscript will wither and die on your hard drive. Without voice, your carefully planned, brilliant and well written plot will die a slow and painful death.

Halfway through Shatter Me I went to the author's blog to see if she had any writing tips, and if she mentioned how she got to publication, and what kind of rejection she endured first. I found even her blog posts were beautiful, but the thing that struck me is the voice was unmistakable. It was the same voice I'd read almost 200 pages of. And what made the book so good, is because it was grounded in her voice. No bells, no whistles, just voice. If she writes a voice with a completely different MC I'll still read it for that voice.

And so now I know I have not found my voice yet, and I must do this. I must use it. I must own it, because it's mine. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Shatter Me by Teherah Mafi Book 2

Wow! I finished this book  yesterday and I'm still somewhat speechless. It's a distopian with a really hopeful main character. It's YA with lots of romance, but it's not just another YA romance.

Juliette accidentally kills people when she touches them. She's locked up in an insane asylum with conditions beyond inhumane. She's just been assigned a new guard who she has a slight past with. The totalitarian government taking over the world wants to use her curse/gift as a weapon. As far as a synopsis goes that's really all you need to know.

But what you need to know is the writing is phenomenal. This writer has a talent for grabbing emotions. Now in the past, I've found books I absolutely love because the emotional connection to the characters are so strong. They usually have a slower pace. Think Shiver (book 1) or Twilight. Neither are really page turners, but both evoke mood and emotion. Shatter Me will shatter you. It does both. And beyond that Mafi's writing is almost poetic. Above being able to make a page turner of deeply emotional writing she took a lot of risks with this book, lots of repetition and crossed out lines, almost stream of conscious but not quite. I think some of the repetition was a bit much. It didn't work everywhere, but it worked most places. And she did what she wanted to do with her book. I admire that. 

From a writer's pov, I found this book motivational.  I see so many mediocre YA books (that's not an insult--most books will be average)and think my story is this good. Why do I keep getting rejected? And I still don't have an answer for that, but I read Shatter Me and I know my writing isn't there yet. While it doesn't explain how other average manuscripts get published, it is a tough market and when you're average you need luck. 

Just my thoughts. Go read Shatter Me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Do You Think?

This is kind of me relying on someone else's thoughts more so than an original post, but I'd like to know what you think. Dean Wesley Smith has had an amazing career and is a well experienced published writer both traditionally and in self publishing. Now because I don't read Sci-Fi or high fantasy, I only recently stumbled onto his blog, and since then I've found it extremely helpful. Not to mention, when I asked for a bit of writing advice in a comment, he responded.

This week he has a post on the indie writer's 401K. It relies on an investment of words, not money. I don't think it says what you would expect such a post to say, but I found it extremely interesting not to mention motivational. Now I'd like to know what other writers think. I think even if this is something you disagree with, it's an interesting perspective and serves as food for thought. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Things That Annoy Me

Maybe, it's because I'm pregnant and overly emotional, but things have been annoying me a lot lately, and I just felt it's time to vent so here are some of them in no particular order.

Humana- I hate you. I wish you would go bankrupt. As nice of you as it was to sell my prescription drug coverage to a third party vendor who changed my coverage without telling me, I just wish you could cease to exist. Seriously. Come on, even before that it's not like you were great. $2250 deductible so you can pay 80% of Nov. and Dec. before it starts all over? What exactly do I give you money for?

Pick N' Save By My House- You are a grocery store. Bananas are supposed to be yellow not green. I can't be the first person to tell you this. And why do you have a bakery if the NEVER have a glazed donut. It's not like I'm looking for some rare delicacy, just a glazed donut which has to be the most common bakery item in North America. And if all the other Pick N' Saves in Wisconsin can have glazed donuts even at 3 in the afternoon, why can't you have them at 9 in the morning? Really? And then the employee girl tells me I have to come at 7. For a donut? Are you serious?

Wow. I'm really starting to feel better.

Wisconsin- You're cold. Even this "hot" winter is kind of chilly, which brings me to another thing. Chili has pinto beans if any in it, not kidney beans for real. Putting fried food in a tortilla doesn't make it a taco, avocados are supposed to be purple not green and this problem extends Pick N' Save, and dude use a pepper. The food is so bland here, I have to drive to Illinois to eat. On the same note bab-b-q is supposed to be spicy not sweet. And grilling meat doesn't make it "Texas." That much I'm sure of.

Telemarketers- Don't call me and interpret the law for me. I might be a drop out, but I have a clue.

It seems less things annoy me than I thought.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tech Support For My Friends Losing Their GFC

I have found a low cost (and in some instances maybe free) way to avoid losing your GFC if you're on wordpress.

You can move to a blogger blog and import your whole blog and your GFC. You won't lose any followers or any work!  It's a fairly simple process which you can find here. I realize for some of you this would mean losing or changing your blog url, which can cause problems for people trying to find you, but I was actually able to set up a re-direct. Even though I have a blogspot url, you can still get to me by simply putting bethfred.com in the address bar.(You're domain name registrar, in my case go-daddy, will provide you with an option to re-direct to any url). I've heard stories of people with non-blogger blogs being booted from the dashboard bloglist, so my blogspot url keeps me in dashboards while my redirect continues to let me be me.com. If you use a wordpress blogsite (the url is blogtitle.wordpress.com) this won't work. But what you can do is put up a banner under your blog title showing the new url, like I've done here, or you can put html in your blog to make a page redirect to blogspot which you can find here or use some javascript like this.

The only thing left to do is to import your GFC. You can do so by following the instructions here (the instructions are for blogger to wordpress, but you can easily do it the other way).

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rewrites/procrastination/freaking out

Okay, so I'm re-writing my all time fave ms and maybe my all time fave book as narcissistic as that sounds. And I'm am freaking out!!!! Which is making it hard to write!  I must write 5k before bed. I need to finish this whole book in 3 weeks so that my hubs has to pay me $100. (The devil wears parada. Just b/c I would not under ordinary circumstances finish a book in 3 weeks doesn't mean I can't do it to force him to pay). But the procrastinating is BAD b/c I'm afraid the book won't be as good from the guy's pov, and this will change the plot some so the romance might not be as strong. And I'm afraid the new first chapter might be confusing since it used to be the sixth chapter, what if it doesn't introduce the characters enough?

I'm afraid of a lot of things b/c I love this ms! And I don't want it to get worse. I love this ms so so much, I really don't understand why someone hasn't opted the film rights yet. Okay, I'm off for a decaf mocha and then write.

Talk me over my precipice pls someone, anyone.

Thanks Bye.

Calling Unpublished Writers

I'm looking to interview an unpublished writer who has been writing for years (preferably five or more), but if I can't find this person anyone who has been writing for years can help.  Actually, if I can't find anyone who's been writing for 5 years and still isn't published that would be kind of encouraging.

I'm interested in finding out how you stay motivated, what you've learned over the years, and if you've considered or plan to self publish. I think it would be good for other unpublished writers especially me to see. Most of the interviews out there are of people who have been published. It's nice to hear how they got there, and it's a great way to promote a book, but for those of us in the trenches every day I need a real story. While being published doesn't make you a better writer, it has to do something for motivation. Not only are you being paid to write, you're being acknowledged which I think often times is more important. Having someone just say, I like you're work enough to put it out there is invaluable.

If you are willing to help with this please let me know.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bridesmaid Lotto by Rachel Astor Book 1

Bridesmaid Lotto    "Josephine McMaster is pretty and smart, but very much a klutzy mess. Finally, at 26, she may have actually lost the dreaded 'McMaster the Disaster' nickname that has followed her around her whole life. 

Josie's quite content to be single, much to her mother's disappointment. So when a bizarre contest is announced where a socialite is holding a lottery to pick her bridesmaids (and rake in a little extra cash), she can't roll her eyes fast enough, even if it does mean meeting Jake Hall, her one and only movie star crush. Obviously, Josie doesn't enter the bridesmaid lottery, so you can imagine her surprise when her picture pops up among the winners, thanks to Mom. With a little prodding -- okay bribing -- Josie agrees to participate.

The wedding turns into the event of the year, and Josie finds herself in the middle of a paparazzi feeding frenzy, which gets even crazier after Jake Hall takes a special interest in her. "

This was a cute book. Most of the characters were well developed, but it had some pacing problems. It got really slow in places and felt almost repetitive at times. Josie did have continuous problems but it was more like repeats of the same problem. For me, the romance wasn't there, but in fairness this is chick-lit not romance. I'm just venturing out of the world of YA romance, so perhaps it was what it's supposed to be. She didn't even get Jake's phone number until 3/4 through the book. This is also interesting because by the end of the book they're in a serious relationship, but she just got his number recently, meaning it has been very casual.  

The story is engaging and the characters are well developed. This isn't brilliant, but it's enjoyable. I would give it a three star review, except for the countless grammatical errors. However, I will point out that I've spent way more on some pretty well known books, that I was equally impressed with. I'm giving it two stars, but if you're into chick lit and have an e-reader I recommend it. If you're not into chick-lit but have an e-reader, and just want to check it out, you might like it. Either way for $.99, you're going get more than your money's worth.  My official review is 2 stars.

Monday, January 2, 2012

About Project 52

So as I mentioned in my New Year's Eve post, I'm planning to review 52 books this year as I did in 2010. When I did this the first time I was hoping to find or develop my voice. I didn't even really know what that meant starting out, but when I came across it, I learned it's actually pretty strong. P-52 also taught me some other things: I love YA lit and believe in the impossible. I have a hard time being constrained by reality.

This year, I'm hoping to find my genre. That sounds funny since obviously I don't own any genre. And because lots of writers write more than one genre. But I write romance and that tends to end with a marriage proposal and most of my manuscripts tend to end with a marriage proposal. I've been told this is "too mature for ya" (although many things I'd consider far more risque aren't, but whatever). A couple of people have recommended I write inspirational, and it's something to look into. But since most of my storylines are paranormal, I'm not sure how well I'd fair in inspirational. All the same, I've never really read an inspirational so it's a good time to try.

So this year I'll be reading lots of subgenres and probably still reviewing YA, because I love it. In the adult world, I'm not sure where to start. Honestly, most adult is too adult for me. LOL. Goodreads has a clean romance shelf and I suppose there is a good place to start. Then again, I'm looking at the very real possibility that even after 12 months of deep genre searching, I realize that I still fit in no box. To be published, I will still have to self-publish. I have a lot of respect for self published writers. It's gutsy and hard, but traditional publication makes the possibility of success so much more likely.

52 reviews, a variety of genres, no idea where this is going to go, but I'll see where it takes me. I'm pledging to review 18 self published books this year. And I have to apologize to every one in the writerly world. Last year if I couldn't give a book 3 stars or more, I just didn't review it. And as a result, if you've followed my blog since 2010 you know that I reviewed far less books. To make my way through 52 reviews this year I will have to honestly review most of what I read. If something is really bad and going to lead to a screaming rant, I'll still try to avoid it. But if something is 1 or 2 stars for valid reasons that could have been fixed I'm going to have to say so.