(No, I don’t know the release date yet.)
This is the novella I was calling Blood Siren for a while, but Ellora’s Cave has a rule that you can’t have blood in the title. Apparently it was overused, which kind of gives one pause. However, I *can* have blood in the series title, so this is officially the second book in the Blood Currency series, led off byFeeding the Vampire. In this one, Imogen is my vampire queen, living on the Russian steppes with her Nightriders. That ripped Mongol dude? That’s Kasar, who hiked out of Moscow after the earthquakes devastated that, too, and Europe sank. He thinks he’s going to go all VanHelsing and hunt Imogen down, to avenge his sister. But Imogen is no pussy cat.
Did I mention I don’t have official cover copy yet, either?
Yes, here’s the sales pitch part: if you sign up for my NEWSLETTER, then you can be the first know these things! I also will include special somethings in my newsletters, which will probably be fairly few and far between, settling into your email in-box like dew on the morning rosebuds.
See, I’ve been exhorted to have a newsletter. (I don’t much like them myself.) So, I did it. Set up the newsletter sign-up link there in the right-hand column of the home page. And like SIX people have signed up. Which is really super sad and pitiful. Thus, I have a deal for you!
Everyone signed up for my newsletter by midnight, mountain time on July 8 will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card to the online book vend0r of your choice! And yes, this includes you six loyal few who signed up already.
And then you get the extra bonus of fun surprises in the newsletter, too!
Isn’t this fun?
Okay, yeah, we’ll see.
Here – have an ice cream cone.
I’ve been working away on the sequel to Rogue’s Pawn, simply titled RP2 for now. I had been going fast on it, then I slowed down. It happened right as I neared the Act I climax. Usually I don’t have this problem, but usually I’m not writing a sequel.
Now, for those of you not hugely up on story structure, most stories fall roughly into three acts. This is traditional, embedded-in-the-subconscious hum storytelling. Jokes traditionally come in three parts. Magic tricks have three stages: the pledge, the turn and the prestige. (Brilliantly demonstrated in the movie The Prestige.) Shakespeare’s plays generally are in three acts (if there’s an Act IV, it usually serves as an epilogue). You can think of it in the classic terms of “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back” or “get your hero up a tree, throw rocks at him, get him back down.”
So, Act I for a sequel is all about getting my characters back up a tree. I say specifically “back up the tree” because I just finished getting them out of a damn tree in the first book. It’s not that easy to get them back up the tree without making them seem stubborn or stupid or just plain self-destructive.
Plus, in the sequel, you need to ground readers in the world and ongoing threads established in the first book so that they know enough to skip reading the first book, but not so much that readers of the first book throw the second one against the wall in frustration. (A reader recently told me she did this with the most recent book in an ongoing, very long series. She felt like every other paragraph was devoted to summarizing “the story so far,” to the point that would have thrown it against the wall, except she values her ereader.)
It’s a lot of stuff to fold into the first act. Especially if you want the story to be interesting, too.
I felt like I was up against a wall, in that final scene of the first act. I’d built and built up to that point, I had an idea what needed to happen, where everyone needed to be mentally, to catapult us into the rest of the adventure (hurtling rocks – coming right up!), but I just couldn’t seem to get it into place.
Now, some writers will switch off at this point. They’ll switch to another project or write a scene from later in the story. I can see why this works – it relieves the pressure of having your creative face mashed up against that plot wall.
But, for me, all the juice is in sticking it out.
I went back and reread what I had so far – about 100 pages – and tightened and polished as I went. I worked my way back up to that wall, my steps slowing with every page as I neared that final scene. Yes, it was painful and unfulfilling. The last 20 pages took me two days of sticking it out.
Finally, the wall crumbled.
The resistance gave way and the world on the other side opened up.
I dipped into Goodreads yesterday and looked at some of the reviews and ratings for Rogue’s Pawn. I don’t do this all that often. Mostly I try not to read all my reviews and ratings. I look at the ones people tag me with, especially when a reviewer went to a lot of effort to write a long and thoughtful review. But, for the most part, I think the Goodreads ratings are for other readers and aren’t really my business to helicopter over.
Besides – that kind of thing can make you crazy.
But, on impulse yesterday, I took a quick gander (I think this link will work, even if you’re not a member) and I’m so delighted that readers seems to be loving it for all the reasons I hoped they would. Near the top I saw a two-star rating – alas – and saw that she started off saying she wanted to like it and the writing is “clean and direct and intelligent” (thank you!), but that she was going to say what no one else would: that she didn’t like it being so “Fifty Shades of Fae.”
I just busted out laughing.
I mean – how clever is that?
She is, of course, referring to the erotic phenomFifty Shades of Grey and sinceRogue’s Pawn is absolutely about Faerie and the fae, the play on the title is apt. I also see why she got that vibe, though the book is not a BDSM story like Fifty Shades. But, thereare elements of power, control and submission. Because that’s just what seems to come out in my writing. My hero and heroine, Rogue and Gwynn, struggle with each other for mastery. It’s not a kinky game, though. It’s about life and death, magic and freedom.
Still – I confess I just love the tagline “Fifty Shades of Fae.”
I find it clever, funny, oddly apt and flattering in a way she might not have intended. After all, being connected to something everyone recognizes is a wonderful gift.
So is the laugh.
The other day on Twitter – yes, where I get pretty much all of my news – I saw someone listed as an “agent and author coach.” And he was tweeting coach-y type things. You know – those energetically optimistic exhortations that you can doo eet. Usually with the caveat that you need the coach’s help to doo eet. (Sorry – Adam Sandler movies have forever corrupted this phrase for me.)
In case you haven’t picked up on my tone, I should say I’m not a huge fan of the whole coach concept to begin with.
Some of this goes back to being a 10 year-old cheerleader and having the football coaches yell at me to get the hell out of the way. And the coaches in school who also taught gym class and showed nothing but contempt for non-athletic me. So, yeah, I have issues there. But even the whole personal trainer and life coach trend bothers me. I even have a friend who’s a life coach, and she’s a really lovely, interesting and dynamic person, but I still have problems with telling people how to run their lives.
See, that’s the thing – a personal trainer or life coach really doesn’t have access to knowledge you don’t have. You can read all kinds of information on how to build muscle tone or organize your schedule. What the coach brings to the table is that outside perspective and a kind of authoritative permission/directive to do the things you really want or need to do.
I’m stubborn and self-directed, sometimes to a fault, and I really don’t like other people telling me what to do. Not my gig.
But let’s talk about these “author coaches.” We all know that the job of agent is in flux. With the rise of digital publishing, authors have access to publishing again in a way that they didn’t for many years. We still need agents to reach the upper echelons of traditional publishing, but that particular brass ring isn’t quite as shiny as it was. Certainly it’s not the be-all and end-all of a writing career anymore. Advances – where agents traditionally made most of their money – have shrunk or, in the case of many digital publishers, have gone away.
A lot of writers are questioning whether they need an agent. When I see agents selling their clients’ books to the exact same digital publishers that I am, I wonder, too. That debate is another issue, but what is undeniable is that many agents are reinventing themselves and their profession. Clearly the agents selling clients’ books to digital publishers that don’t do advances are making their money through a percent of royalties, perhaps with the hope of building the clients’ readership and moving them into bigger and better contracts.
I’m over at Word Whores on this gorgeous Sunday morning, talking about what I think it takes to quit the day job.
One of the things I love about this blog is the conversations it starts. Jodie Griffin, one of my Carina Press stable-mates (whinnies) said she thought I should touch on not giving up on editing, too. I invited her to guest post and here she is!
Yesterday, Jeffe posted a great blog about over-editing a book. Today, I want to talk about the other side of that.
Don’t give up too easily.
Let me take this to a personal level. Forbidden Fantasies, my first Carina Press title and my first published story ever, was rejected by Spice Briefs. Form rejection, no suggestions as to why, nothing. I put it aside and worked on some other projects, but it was never far out of my mind.
I submitted two other stories to different Harlequin lines, both of which were rejected. At this point, I was seriously questioning my writing skills and wondering if the stress of raising a family, working a full-time job, and trying to get published was worth it. But Forbidden Fantasies wouldn’t let me go, and I started to fiddle with it again.
I deleted a lot. I added new stuff. And then I let it sit. I was considering some other publishers, but just wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to try again, and then Harlequin ran a Carina Press pitch contest. I submitted my two-paragraph blurb and was chosen as one of five to pitch my story to Angela James. I was crazy nervous, but Angela was wonderful. When I finished my pitch, she asked to see the full manuscript. I was elated and terrified at the same time. My fabulous critique partners helped me make sure it was as clean as could be, and I sent it in.
You’d think the story about not giving up would end here, since Forbidden Fantasies was published in March, but you’d be wrong. Because rather than a sale, I got a revise and resubmit request. In a way, a rejection, but the best possible kind of rejection. We like it, but it needs work. If you’re willing to try to fix it, we’re willing to look at it again.
I felt like I’d won the lottery. Deborah Nemeth, my editor, had incredible ideas on ways to strengthen and expand the story. I took my time, played around with it, got advice from my crit partners, and (holding the longest breath I’ve ever held) sent it back in again.
And this time, I got an offer. The editing and revising didn’t end there by any stretch, but now it was being guided by Deb, a wonderful editor who understood what I was trying to say and helped me make sure I was getting that across.
Forbidden Desires will be my second story with Carina Press, and it’s coming out in November. And guess what? It was also rejected by Spice Briefs, same as the first story. Form rejection, no explanation, nothing to tell me why. To submit it to Carina Press, I changed it from first person to third person, and used everything I’d learned from the editing process with Forbidden Fantasies to make it stronger. It sold without a revise and resubmit, but I would’ve been fine with that, too.
I loved Jeffe’s don’t over-edit advice, and I really agree with it. But there’s definitely a fine line between that and giving up. I’d hate to see someone give up after their first rejection. If you truly believe in your story, you owe it to yourself to try more than once. It’s a chance I’m glad I took.
About Jodie Griffin:
Jodie writes naughty tales about nice girls & the men who love them. She loves chocolate, happily-ever-afters, and alliterative titles, and could seriously use more hours in every day. You can find Jodie on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and at www.jodiegriffin.com.
There have been some interesting conversations this week about continuing to revise books after they’re published. Now, knowing when a book is done is always a challenge for an author. You can literally work on the same book your entire life and never be “done” with it. At a certain point, you just have to let go and make the conscious decision that you’re not going to screw with it any longer.
And, with print publishing, it used to be that there was a definite end point to this process. Once the story hit paper, you simply *could not* revise any longer. Over and done with. Move on.
Well yesterday, Sunita who is a reader and reviewer at Dear Author, posted to her blog about a self-published author who is responding to reader reviews and revising her ebook accordingly. She makes an excellent case for why this is a problem for readers on a number of levels.
I think it’s also a problem for writers to consider.
I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before, but I’m telling it again. Back when I was in a writer’s group, there were 12 of us and we met once a week. Each meeting we focused on one person’s work, which meant your turn came up once every three months. Sometimes faster because people would bail on their turns. But still, this was a fairly slow schedule for feedback, especially to the cycle I have now. This one gal brought her essay to the group easily five times. So, for more than a year, we read and critiqued various versions of this one 5,000 word piece. Finally, another member became exasperated and told the author that she would never get this feedback she wanted that the essay was PERFECT. There would always be something to pick at. She needed to decide to be done with it.
The writer became very offended.
And the rest of us took to using the title of the essay as a shortcut reference to over polishing and obsessing without finishing.
It also puts me in mind of another author I know, whose book was published several years ago. It met with modest success. Not raving responses, but I don’t think anyone hated it either. Not an unusual story. The thing is, she’s still pimping that same book. She must have gotten her rights back, because she had it republished with a book-packager – essentially self-publishing, but of the very expensive paper variety.
So, now, several years after the original publication, she’s investing huge amounts of time and money into pushing this same book.
How many new books could she have written in the interim with this kind of effort? Instead she seems to be stuck on that one story. That one book.
I wonder if this isn’t true, also, of the gal who’s revising her ebook according to reader comments. She’s wanting it to be perfect. Totally understandable – we all have this fantasy that *everyone* will love our book, and us, and we’ll be universally celebrated – but there’s a serious problem with wanting that.
IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
Perfection does not exist. Universal acclaim never occurs. Someone will always find something to pick at. I’ve heard that quilters and knitters deliberately insert a flaw in their works. The rationale is supposedly that only god is perfect, but I wonder if it’s not just kind of restful to have something you know isn’t perfect and to be okay with that.
Being okay with moving on is crucial. Write the book. Revise and polish. Decide you’re done. Publish it and move on.
There are always new stories to be written.
That’s the magic.
The wonderful, multi-talented Laura Bickle made this trailer for me. I just love it!
She made one for her upcoming book, The Hallowed Ones, too. You can see it here.
From one of my favorite Tweeps and readers, @sparklybearsy. Read the review here.