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2016 Goals

  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
  • call my moms every month or so
  • cook/eat better
  • clean out and organize my writng/craft room
  • re-institute the cleaning plan
  • publish six books by September 2017
  • reach 120 to 125 pounds
  • walk the dog three times a week

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Third Person Past vs. Third Person Present


For most of my writing career...we'll call it that despite lack of publication...I've always written from a third person point of view in the past tense. Fanfic from a couple of the fandoms I started reading this year are written almost exclusively third person POV, present tense.

What's the difference?

3rd/past: Justin thought he heard a knock and went to investigate.

3rd/present: Justin thinks he hears a knock and goes to investigate.

A lot of readers have a preference, a lot don't. First person definitely isn't my thing unless it's especially well done, but first person is more prevalent in genres I don't read so I don't come across it much.

Because of all the 3rd/present I've been reading and enjoying, I decided to give writing it try. Once I get in the right zone, it's not hard to stay on track. I struggled a bit when I worked on two projects using different tenses, but since writing exclusively on this book, it's been fine.

Remember the critique I got from the editor a couple of weeks ago? The page I submitted was 3rd/present. She thought it an interesting choice, but felt it was hard on both writers and readers for long books. Well, everything is subjective, isn't it? And when she said that, I couldn't help but disagree.

I didn't find it any more challenging to write than 3rd/past (but it's only 24K at this point) and as a reader I don't find it difficult to read 30K, 40K, 50K fics written this way. Maybe some people do--if you're a die hard and have a definite preference. For others, a well-written story is a well-written story and not much is going to mar their enjoyment of it.

So now I have this one book written in 3rd/present and everything else is 3rd/past. Except everything else is in various stages of completion and wouldn't take much more work to convert to present tense if I choose to finish them and drop them into this series.

The dilemma is do I just write and publish in whatever tense appeals to me at the time of writing OR do I change this one book to a 3rd/past so as to stay consistent OR do I change everything else to 3rd/present?

The obvious decision is to change the single 3rd/present book to 3rd/past. It's the least amount of work to maintain a consistent voice across this body of work.

3rd/present isn't a choice I've seen in romance that I can recall. Then again, I read almost 100% fan fiction, so my knowledge of what's going on from that aspect of the publishing world is zip, zilch, nada. But I'm almost certain 3rd/past is still the most prevalent choice.

My perverse preference at this point is to publish what's in past tense as is and write in present tense from here on out. Why? Because it's different. It's outside the norm. Outside the box. And that can be really hard to find in romance.

While I'm not necessarily in this for the money, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. I think a mix of tenses could be detrimental, and if I'm going to spend money on content/copy editors and professional looking covers, then I need to not make other decisions that potentially wastes those expenses.

Hm...got some thinking to do. Please feel free to share your thoughts!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Movie (TV) Monday: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D...


How about something not related to writing??

DH and I finished our re-watch of The West Wing and decided on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as the next TV show we watch together. He's seen it before. I have not.


Here's the blurb from Wikipedia: The series revolves around the character of Phil Coulson, with Clark Gregg reprising his role from the film series, and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, who must deal with various unusual cases and enemies, including Hydra and the Inhumans.

And the premise, also from Wiki:

The first season sees S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson putting together a small team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases. They investigate Project Centipede and its leader, "The Clairvoyant", eventually uncovering that the organization is backed by Hydra, which has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. In the second season, following the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D., now-Director Coulson and his team look to restore trust from the government and public while dealing with Hydra, a faction of anti-superhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and the newly revealed Inhumans (who possess special abilities).

During the third season, Coulson begins a secret mission to assemble the Secret Warriors, a team of Inhumans, as Hydra restores its ancient Inhuman leader Hive to power.[8] After the defeat of Hive and with Hydra destroyed, S.H.I.E.L.D. is made a legitimate organization once again for the fourth season, with the signing of the Sokovia Accords. Coulson returns to being a field agent, due to the world believing he is dead, and is tasked with tracking down more enhanced people–including Robbie Reyes / Ghost Rider–while Agent Leo Fitz and Dr. Holden Radcliffe complete their work on Life Model Decoys.

I haven't been overly impressed so far, although, maybe because it's based on Marvel comics, I need to adjust my expectations. I do like Clark Gregg and Ming-na Wen, and the hunky dude is definitely nice to look at. DH says it gets better. But it's part of the time DH spend together, so it doesn't matter much what we watch.

So any Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. watchers out there? Do you like it? Hate it?

Friday, August 26, 2016

The question of discoverability and another consideration of publication...


Thousands of books are published on Amazon on a monthly basis. That's a lot of books to compete against, but the more specific your genre or niche is, the better your chances of being found by your target audience.

I'm not worried about my genre, it's one of the hottest on the romance market right now. So pfft.

As I've mentioned multiples times in the last few weeks, Book one is done and with an independent copy/content editor. (I should get it back today or this weekend. WHOOP!) Book two is 5K to 7K form being done and I'm working faithfully every day to get words on the page. Based on my words-per-day goal, the book should be finished in two weeks. (HA. We'll see.) Book three is in percolating/planning/plotting stages.

BUT

I have two other books--one almost complete and one actually complete--that I could tweak for inclusion in the continuity/series that the first three belong to. That's five books done and published within the next year. That's the goal anyway.

BUT (yes another one)

Book one will not be ready to go live until October at the soonest (because: cover). Book two's publication day target is January or February (it takes place over Valentine's day). Book three's target is late spring.

Of the two extra books, the ending of one also takes place at Valentine's Day and the other was written to take place in the fall, but could be easily tweaked to take place in spring.

SO

The question becomes publish them as they're ready and in conjunction with the time of year they happen OR save them all up and publish them at once or within a very short time frame (like a week)...?

Why publish them all at once? Well, because it used to be that the more books you had in Amazon's system, the better the algorithms would work for you. You know those "you might also enjoy" titles that pop up? Well, if you have more than one book, your other books will probably be listed first. If people liked your work, they're hopefully going to want to buy whatever else you've written. There are other factors too, that's just an example.

I have a friend who published that way and was earning four to six figures a month in pretty short order. She writes in another popular genre. My goal has never been money, but I'm certainly not going to say no. :)

I just don't know if that system works anymore though. Amazon tweaks their algorithms on a regular basis. But thinking logically and bearing in mind the above scenario. Pubbing them all at once seems like a smarter plan from that example alone, right?

Well, it's not something I have to decide until I have a cover in hand in October. I decided to hire out. I want good looking covers. Ones that definitely don't look like they could even remotely be homemade.

Any opinions on which way to publish?



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The new bane of my publishing existense...


The parts are in motion for getting my publishing journey off the ground, and so far, so good, really. I have covers for book one and book three. The cover for book two is giving me fits because I have no idea what I want it to look like, what aspects of the book I want represented.

So I've spent a lot of time searching stock photo sites for ideas, using various search terms. Ugh. It's tedious and it makes me sleepy, which is not a good thing in the middle of the day.

I have basic graphic skills. Covers one and three were super simple. I found images that worked as they were and conveyed the tone of the book pretty well. All that was really needed was title and author and series name. Text isn't difficult. Basic effects aren't hard.

I printed the covers and showed a couple of my chapter mates at my meeting. The one thing they all said was to make my name larger. Size is easy.

One friend, who admits she is super picky and a cover whore, thought it looked too homemade. Another friend who actually makes all her own covers didn't necessarily agree. Not that she strongly disagreed either, but she wasn't as horrified by the prospect. We pulled up Amazon and looked at books in the same genre to see what they looked like. Some looked like they could have been homemade, but it's super hard to tell, because a third friend published three books with a specific e-publisher, and her covers for those three books are awful. So...yeah.

The whole conversation begs the question: How much do I care?

Looking objectively as I can at cover one, it is rather simplistic. Is it too simplistic?

When looking on Amazon, there were a few other covers that were also on the basic side, so okay. But now I'm thinking it needs a little something more. And I have a couple of ideas as to what that 'more' could be. Back to the drawing board.

Book three's cover is simple as well, but the cute factor and the title font/effects counterbalances it. I think so anyway, and I love it so much I can hardly wait to write the book.

Now that I've pondered things for a couple of more days, I've realized most books are gonna require multiple images, cropped and layered and other things...things I don't want to mess with or just don't know how to do. So...

Adding cover artist research to the list of things to do.

How much of a factor is the cover for you? Does a good title make a difference if the cover is less than optimal?

Monday, August 22, 2016

So...I'm a pretty decent writer it seems...


This past Saturday was writers group meeting day, and one of my favorite days of the month. I get to hang out with some of my most favorite people in the world and sometimes I get to hear a really good speaker and learn some stuff. The speaker (a Harlequin editor for 25 years) was worthwhile for many, but her topic, "What Editors Want" was of little interest to me because I'm not following the traditional path of submitting to an editor of a Big Six (Five???) publisher. I'm self-pubbing, which means I can write and publish what I want. I don't have to get past an editorial gatekeeper.

BUT

As part of her programming for the weekend, she accepted (in advance) one page of writing from a certain sub-group of our chapter (to which I belong) and critiqued it. I couldn't pass up a chance to have my work in front of a professional's eyes.

Her comments were minor and a couple of them shouldn't have/wouldn't have even been an issue if I hadn't cheated and sent, not the very first page of book two, but the scene where my two protagonists meet, a page two farther into the book.

What I'd forgotten--because *I* of course know what happens--is that a couple of off hand internal comments made by one of the characters only made sense if you'd read the pages prior to the page I sent. Duh.

What that means though, is that because I know those things make sense within the whole text, they're a non-issue. Her other comment was valid, and I'll tweak the verbiage to address the issue. Everything else she said was positive, such as thinking one of my protags sounded interesting and she wanted to know more about him. Score!

A lot of writers I know feel, at some point during any given book, is that their writing is crap. For me to receive minimal constructive criticism meant a lot and really bolstered my confidence.

I'm starting the week with an increased enthusiasm for getting words on the page and completing book two.

Woot woot!!




Friday, August 19, 2016

HTML what???


One of my little known hobbies is playing with websites. I like to build websites using images and code. :0) I don't do it enough to be super proficient from scratch, but I reference other other sites I've built for the basics and then I can tweak them to suit my purposes.

One of the first websites I ever built was a fan site for the TV show JAG. Here's the first version (snapshot Aug 2002 courtesy of the Wayback Machine) and here's the current version, designed probably a decade ago. Big improvement, eh?

As I mentioned last week, I've begun preparing for publishing my first book. That includes a website for the series I'm working on. It started off as one thing that I wasn't happy with and so I went searching for a design I liked and then began recreating that layout using my HTML/CSSing skills, such as they are. I'm not going to share the site now as it's a work in progress, but I promise I'll share the link when I've got all the bugs in my code ironed out.

What things do you like about websites? Things you hate?


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The colors of fall...


Found these on tumblr...they are not mine... But they are so beautiful and one of the reasons I love fall sooooo much. (Despite, of course, not living in a place that remotely resembles any of these images during fall.)







Monday, August 15, 2016

The Premiere League has returned...


Despite the on-going Olympic games, I'm excited to see the return of the Premiere League--which is English football or as we call it here in the States: soccer.


Leicester City, the champions at 5000 to 1 odds last year, return under tremendous pressure to win. Unfortunately they lost their first game of the season as well as it apparently being the first one they've lost since February! Shame. You know they wanted to start the season with a win.

So, baseball's just over halfway done, NASCAR, too, the Premiere League has started. All that's left is the getting to hockey season.

The L.A. Dodgers will always be my go-to team, but I'm at a stage where I want to watch and I'll pick a team to cheer for on a game by game basis.

My chosen NASCAR driver, since Sterling Marlin retired from driving, is Martin Truex, Jr.

I'll follow Leicester City for the season and see how they do, although most of my British friends think they're a one shot wonder.

As for hockey, I'm going to jump on the Tyler Seguin/Jamie Benn/Dallas Stars bandwagon and see what happens.

Tyler is in the center, Jamie is on the right. I don't know the guy in the jersey.


Are you a sports fan? Favorite sport? Favorite team? Favorite player?



Friday, August 12, 2016

The Long Haul...


I've been trying to reach my weight loss goal of 120lbs. since January of 2012. Yep, four and a half years now. That was intentional. I knew that the slower I took it off and the longer I adjusted to new eating habits, the easier it would be to keep the weight off and maintain the habits once the weight was gone.

Those of you who've been here a while will no doubt remember some of the struggles. :)

Joining a gym has been a goal of mine. A reward, if you will, for reaching the target. I sorta jumped the gun. I haven't yet reached my target weight, but the idea joining a gym wouldn't leave me alone. And then advertisements for two different gyms began airing on the radio station I listen to, so maybe it was a sign. One of them was having a special, so...after talking to DH, I joined.

So I've been going to the gym three times a week, almost without fail, and I keep hoping to see faster progress. After the length of time it took me to lose the weight, I know it's going to take longer than a month. But shouldn't I get some sort of immediate gratification from hauling my behind out of bed and to the gym at 4am??

It'd be nice, huh? But getting this old body in shape is going to take a while too. I do know this.

Why 4 am you ask? Well, mostly because I don't have to fight a whole bunch of other people for the equipment I want, and also it's really just the most convenient time for me to go and get it done and out of the way. Right now--if I had schlep to the gym at the heat of the day, I probably wouldn't do it.

The test will be 4am in the middle of winter when it's freezing outside!!! Hopefully I'll have seen some results by then and they'll spur me on during those frigid pre-dawn hours.

One day at a time!!
Wednesday, August 10, 2016

So...after all these years...


I'm finally gonna (self) publish a romance novel.

I've been dabbling for over a decade. It's been a cycle of love and self-doubt and life getting in the way.

Much to some of my chapter-mates continual confusion, the drive to get a publishing contract just isn't there. Never really has been. It's not that I wouldn't love to make money with my writing, but that's not my motivating factor.

When I first joined my writing group, getting a contact with one of the Big Six Publishing Houses was still the be all, end all of writing. The landscape was changing, however. The first e-publishers had been around trying to make money, trying to gain respectability. Some have come and gone, many are still around. But the e-book market is booming. I prefer an electronic book these days to paper.

Much as I loved reading Harlequin and Silhouette romances growing up, I never really wanted to submit to them, or any of their brethren. I had some minor experience with an e-pub early on and that seemed like a good way to get some publishing experience--working with an editor, meeting deadlines, making editorial changes. But it still didn't feel quite right.

And for the last I don't know how many years, the self-publishing option has been on the table. For me, being more of a hobby writer, the ability to self-publish feels just right. As to why it's taken me so long to finally get around to it, well, that's a journey I've been on and here I am.

In a couple of weeks, I'll be sending my book, by no means the first one I've ever written, off to a content & copy editor. It's a bit nerve wracking. Yes, other people have read my work. I rarely get anything but complimentary comments. This particular book has even been read by a handful of others, including a chapter mate who also copy/content edits for pay. But sending this book to a person who doesn't know me from Adam, who I'm paying to give me her expert (?) opinion--well, I'm nervous about it. I know that even though I've been writing and learning my craft for close to a decade, that I struggle with certain aspects of story telling. So hearing what a complete stranger thinks of my skills--it's a good thing, but scary. Can I fix my mistakes? Can I strengthen the book's weaknesses?

It's time to find out!

Stay tuned for highlights of the journey. :)


Monday, August 8, 2016

The Olympics and oooohhh the memories!




Didn't watch the opening ceremony because well...not interested, but I had the TV on most of Saturday. Mostly it was on for company and noise, but I could no longer multi-task when the men's gymnastics came on.

How about those Brazilian men?? Apparently, it's the first gymnastics team they've had in the games in like forever or ever. And they did fantastic.

And watching the men's gymnastics brought back some memories. Really really 'wayback machine' memories.

Back in 1984 when the Olympics were in Los Angeles, I lived in L.A. Mom and I went and saw the torch traveling through the city! And then mostly I remember us watching the gymnastics, both men and women's.


It was the year for US gymnastics--the men's team as a whole took gold, the women took silver, not to mention the many individual medals. (Not quite as many golds there. :P)

Remember, Momma??

Friday, August 5, 2016

It's Friday, friends...


We're celebrating with a hockey meme. Here's Tyler Seguin (pronounced SAY-GEN (like Carl), for some strange Canadian reason).



Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Did you know...?


I realized while researching something that I'd forgotten to post this morning, and I came across in trying to find something else and was kinda impressed. Straight from Wikipedia, regarding "Transportation", so take it with however many grains of salt you feel are necessary. It's the second paragraph that impressed me.

Texans have historically had difficulties traversing Texas due to the state's large size and rough terrain. Texas has compensated by building both America's largest highway and railway systems in length. The regulatory authority, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) maintains the state's immense highway system, regulates aviation, and public transportation systems.

Located centrally in North America, the state is an important transportation hub. From the Dallas/Fort Worth area, trucks can reach 93 percent of the nation's population within 48 hours, and 37 percent within 24 hours. Texas has 33 foreign trade zones (FTZ), the most in the nation. In 2004, a combined total of $298 billion of goods passed though Texas FTZs.


Most things really are bigger in Texas. True fact. :)
Monday, August 1, 2016

Look at my vincas bloom!!


A few weeks ago, I mentioned the vinca I dug out of the patio a couple of years ago. It's been sitting in a small planter next to my lawn chair and for some reason I started taking pictures of it every day or two as spring turned into summer... After a random "pinch" last year because one of the plants was getting too tall, I realized that the pinch was good for the plant. So this year, I pinched a couple of them early on and something lovely happened... Both of the plants I pinched grew extensions and I've had record number of blooms all at once.

Last year, I'd enjoy two to four blooms at any given time...this year, I've gotten up to thirteen!!

Look!!

One of the first pics I took back in May, maybe?






And here are some others...










I'm pretty chuffed at seeing this thing still blooming and growing. It's a highlight of each day to go on the patio each day when I get home and see if there are any more blooms.

It's the small things...





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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America