Coming Soon!

Everything you wanted to know about The Art of Science – well, except to read full book – in the form of a blog tour, beginning May 20th. The schedule will be posted at the beginning of next week.

I also have a blog interview scheduled for June 24th with Katie Hines.

Looking into ordering some business cards and post cards to promote the book, as well. I’ll need to put my plan together for appearances. Details to follow.

Tomorrow…

Is the official release date of The Art of Science. At least, in my book. I think it’s been out a couple weeks, but I’ve been busy with baby and not able to keep up with events very well.

Still putting together a plan for a promotion party – stay tuned for details.

One thing I managed is to get a copy reserved for a giveaway on Goodreads.com. I’m not sure how much it will help, but I do know people look for books and sometimes when they don’t get them they go out and buy them. A friend of mine looks through their giveaways fairly often, and I’m sure she’s not alone in that.

Here’s hoping. If you are a member of Goodreads – let me know what you think of their giveaway program.

On Submitting to an Agent

Read the entire blog post here.

An excerpt, of the list of why an agent would, or would not, read past the first page. Sometimes they don’t make it past the first line. Reading her words, Anne Mini impresses more on me how difficult it is to land an agent.

It also drives home why they say you work hardest on the first page, the first paragraph, and recommend you spend half your time on that very first line. It isn’t to say an agent will pick you up if you do that, but it’s the best chance.

Oh, for the list:

This is Why I Would Not Read Farther:
1. An opening image that did not work.
2. Opened with rhetorical question(s).
3. The first line is about setting, not about story.
4. The first line’s hook did not work, because it was not tied to the plot or the conflict of the opening scene.
5. The first line’s hook did not work, because it was an image, rather than something that was happening in the scene.
6. Took too long for anything to happen (a critique, incidentally, leveled several times at a submission after only the first paragraph had been read); the story taking time to warm up.
7. Not enough happens on page 1.
8. The opening sounded like an ad for the book or a recap of the pitch, rather than getting the reader into the story.
9. The opening contained the phrases, “My name is…” and/or “My age is…”
10. The opening contained the phrase, “This can’t be happening.”
11. The opening contained the phrase or implication, “And then I woke up.”
12. The opening paragraph contained too much jargon.
13. The opening contained one or more clichéd phrases.
14. The opening contained one or more clichéd pieces of material. (The most I counted in a single submission was 5.) Specifically singled out: a character’s long red or blonde hair.
15. The opening had a character do something that characters only do in books, not real life. Specifically singled out: a character who shakes her head to clear an image, “he shook his head to clear the cobwebs.”
16. The opening has the protagonist respond to an unnamed thing (e.g., something dead in a bathtub, something horrible in a closet, someone on the other side of her peephole…) for more than a paragraph without naming it, creating false suspense.
17. The characters talk about something (a photo, a person, the kitchen table) for more than a line without describing it, creating false suspense.
18. The unnamed protagonist cliché: the woman ran through the forest…
19. An unnamed character (usually “she”) is wandering around the opening scene.
20. Non-organic suspense, created by some salient fact being kept from the reader for a long time (and remember, on the first page, a paragraph is a long time).
21. The character spots him/herself in a mirror, in order to provide an excuse for a physical description.
22. The first paragraph was straight narration, rather than action.
23. Too much physical description in the opening paragraph, rather than action or conflict.
24. Opening spent too much time on environment, and not enough on character.
25. The first lines were dialogue. (To be fair, only one of the agents seemed to have a problem with this.)
26. When the first lines are dialogue, the speaker is not identified.
27. The book opened with a flashback, rather than what was going on now.
28. Too many long asides slowed down the action of an otherwise exciting scene.
29. Descriptive asides pulled the reader out of the conflict of the scene.
30. Overuse of dialogue, in the name of realism.
31. Real life incidents are not always believable.
32. Where’s the conflict?
33. Agent can’t identify with the conflict shown.
34. Confusing.
35. The story is not exciting.
36. The story is boring. (Yes, they did differentiate between this and the one before it.)
37. The story is corny.
38. Repetition (on pg. 1!)
39. Too many generalities.
40. The character shown is too average.
41. The stakes are not high enough for the characters.
42. The opening scene is too violent (in the example that generated this response, a baby’s brains were bashed out against a tree).
43. Too gross.
44. There is too much violence to children and/or pets.
45. It is unclear whether the narrator is alive or dead.
46. The story is written in the second person, which is hard to maintain.
47. The story is written in the first person plural, which is almost as hard to maintain.
48. The narrator speaks directly to the reader (“I should warn you…”), making the story hyper-aware of itself qua story.
49. The narration is in a kid’s voice that does not come across as age-appropriate.
50. An adult book that has a teenage protagonist in the opening scene is often assumed to be YA. So if the agent doesn’t represent YA, such a protagonist may trigger automatic wonder about whether this book is not in a category s/he does represent.
51. What I call Hollywood narration – when characters tell one another things they already know. (They don’t call it by my term for it, but they don’t like it, either.)
52. The tag lines are more revealing than the dialogue. (The example used: “She squawked.”)
53. The writing switched tenses for no apparent reason.
54. The action is told out of temporal order.
55. Took too many words to tell us what happened.
56. The writing lacks pizzazz.
57. The writing is dull.
58. The writing is awkward.
59. The writing uses too many exclamation points.
60. The writing falls back on common shorthand descriptions. Specifically singled out: “She did not trust herself to speak,” “She didn’t want to look…”
61. Too many analogies per paragraph.
62. The details included were not telling.
63. The writing includes quotes from song lyrics.
64. Overkill to make a point.
65. “Over the top.”
66. “Makes the reader laugh at it, not with it.”
67. “It’s not visceral.”
68. “It’s not atmospheric.”
69. “It’s melodramatic.”
70. “This is tell-y, not showy.”
71. “Why is this written in the present tense?”
72. “It just didn’t work for me.”
73. “It didn’t do anything for me.”
74. “I like this, but I don’t know what to do with it.”

This is Why I Would Read Beyond Page 1:
1. A non-average protagonist in a situation you wouldn’t expect.
2. An action scene that felt like it was happening in real time.
3. The author made the point, then moved on.
4. The scene was emotionally engaging.
5. The voice is strong and easy to relate to.
6. The suspense seemed inherent to the story, not just how it was told.
7. “Good opening line.”
8. ”There was something going on beyond just the surface action.”

My upcoming novel actually has one of those reasons why not to read on – however, there was a reason in my plot to do it that way, and it wasn’t simply a crutch. I’m hoping to learn more for the next project, but I still have to iron out a few of those items.

Launching a Book

So many things are involved, trying to get a book to launch. It’s nice being “just the author” because I don’t have to deal with some things like the printer. That author title does mean I have to think about a lot of other things, though!

It’s all about promotion. This is not entirely on my shoulders, but the more I can do to get the word out and generate excitement, the better this book may do.

I’m looking around for some new fun ideas to make this launch cool. I have until the end of April, though I know there will be other demands on my time soon.

Media kit, press releases, appearances, scheduled readings… I’ve been wondering what part of the book I ought to read to get people interested. I don’t want to read the end, because that seems like it’d give away too much of the book. I don’t know if I want to read the beginning, but it does seem like a solid place to start. I don’t know if I read something from the middle if it will make enough sense without a huge lead-in. So many things I don’t know – but I will admit them.

One thing I’m glad for, it sounds like the latest the doctors would induce me with this baby would make her old enough to stay with Dad while I’m doing these things.

What did the Leprechaun bring you?

I got another look at my book. Fewer things to find, just as many things to check. I am definitely getting faster at reading this thing.

It takes so much longer to write than to read. To edit, to rewrite, to polish – these things have more time and effort than I can think about, but are worth it in the end to get a finished product.

Still, I can’t think of a nicer gift from the leprechaun than to do stuff for my book. It’s a good change from the baby stuff going on around here. She’s not even here yet but she seems to rule the roost. Can’t make plans without at least a nod to the schedule that she isn’t sharing.

Proofreading

I read through my book another time. Did we catch them all? Time will tell.

Sometimes I just get the feeling there will be a glaring error that we don’t find until after it’s out. We’ve all put a lot of time and effort into it, but nobody’s perfect. It’s so much better than the first draft I put to paper, though sometimes it’s hard to remember back that far.

One day I’ll put together all the things I’ve learned writing novels and tell everyone what not to do.

I just hope people dig the story. I have the acknowledgment, dedication, discussion guide, copyright, and a story that wants to grab attention. The final cover is now available on the Art of Science page. I’m so excited! My proofread copy also has the ISBN numbers, so looks like I’m ready to finish up everything.

Wow. Where does the time go? It’s like it was just yesterday that I was amazed I finished a novel. Not really, but it does feel like this last little bit has just flown by.

The Race is On!

So far, the book is winning. Received the author’s proof PDF today. So, I sat down to read a book I’ve read many times before, that I wrote.

I made it over halfway through so far. Marking up random things that haven’t translated. You’d think we’d have caught everything with as many eyes have gone over this manuscript by now. Most of it is simply formatting for the printer. Okay, all but one definitely are, but reading through another time to make certain that’s all there is.

I think I can get through this by Monday.

Perhaps the book will be done first? All I know is I’m in for a very interesting month.

Almost there…

With only a couple days until I get my copy to review before publication, I’m sitting on pins and needles. I received the final copy of the cover. It’ll be up on the other page by the end of the weekend.

It seems to be moving so fast now. It’ll be done before I know it!

In other news, I’ll be finishing up my media kit so we’re ready to run with it when we make sure there are no flaws (read: as few as humanly possible).

I also want to have a book launching party. While it’d be easiest to do in Des Moines near where I live, I wonder about the best location. I think I might be able to do a reading at the library, but other than that I’m still thinking of ways to reach the people. The next question, of course, is when.

Then there could be an online aspect to a book launch. Could be a fun way to go. Again there is a timing issue.

After that, we shall see!

Book Update!

While I do not have an exact date for the book just yet, I did hear from my publisher today. Sounds like it is coming out this month!

It’s going to be exciting. There are still so many things to be done and planned. It’s hard to believe.

Beginning to work on a list for more research. I think my life has so many lists now.

Everyone is amazed when I say I’m having twins because I’m so small, I bet. Then I clarify one is a book and one is a baby… and they might both debut this month. It really does feel like twins.

I bet only authors and parents understand that, and I bet they could say it better. However, I’m pretty sure one takes more time and determination before the debut, and the other one will require much more later.

Do you ever notice?

So many previews, so little time.

The new Star Trek looks cool. It makes me remember so many times I’ve watched them since I was young. So often the aliens looked just – like – us. Not always, but most of the time in the original series. There are small cosmetic changes between us and them, but not enough.

The newer series did better, though most of them seemd based on the same lines. I find it interesting, but we are somewhat limited in film for what we can realistically show. “Realistically” is probably not the right word, since so many things that happen on the silver screen are no more realistic than balancing a Chevy on my little finger. Even those that are not mean to be science fiction get a little hazy, as you’ll notice once you sit next to a literal-minded engineer in a theater during an action feature. (If you haven’t done it, you haven’t lived! Or, lived to be annoyed…)

I still wonder sometimes about the books that do make it to be movies in the science fiction genre. Many of them don’t translate well; others lose too much in translation to the visual art. Do you wonder if you want your creations mangled by a creative mind when it took so much of your time to build the written world? I think and imagine and still don’t have a good answer. Perhaps if I’m ever lucky enough to get an offer like that I’ll figure it out.