Thursday, February 26, 2009

Starting a new book....

Well, in a few days. It's down to the wire with the latest Keelie Heartwood YA. This will be the first of the next trilogy, set in the Redwood forests of the northern California coast. Michelle and I have been working like fiends, writing on our own, then emailing our chapters to each and working online in chat format at night. We got ourselves totally confused the other day and had to step back and revisit a couple of scenes. Almost done, though, and after a big workathon this weekend, it should be in shape to email to our editor Brian at Flux on Monday!

After that we can start our new book. This is totally different. No elves! Lots of humor, and some field trips in store for us as we visit a few wild animal parks and get friendly with leopards, lions, and tigers. As friendly as they'll let us get, of course, and double-checking that our nametags don't read "Lunch."

At the same time I'll be rereading my next women's fiction manuscript, then it's off to my agent, too. I love being productive. Some stages of the life cycle of a book seem more like a stationary bike than a road trip, but you get there eventually. I just happen to be at my very favorite part, the crossroads between "the end" of one project, and "my story begins when...".

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pushing your creative buttons

I'm a big fan of crafts. I'm not necessarily creative that way, though. I can come up with a plot in a second. Need help with a plot of a book? Give me a call. Miniatures, scrapbooking, knitting, sewing, and all kinds of gluey, twinkly paper crafts that I adore? Not so much.

Give me some guidance, though, and I'm absorbed for hours. I love projects, they make my creativity soar. After working on an art project, I can write for hours!

And I love, love, love Kathy Cano-Murillo's site, The Crafty Chica. So much fun stuff to do! I have her Art de la Soul book, which I won't even allow out of my house because I know one of my fellow crafty sisters will steal it (love you guys but I know you will), and now she has an equally fab followup - Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing. Chock full of great ideas! BURSTING with cute, colorful projects. My 14-year-old daughter snatched it out of my hands and ran off with it, so you know it's not some kind of granny thing. My mom's button box has disappeared, so I think she's sewing buttons to the back of her denim jacket. My glitter is missing as well - suspicious.

Since it shows you how to sew, step by step, as well as gives detailed lists of the what you need to make each project, you can wild without worry! I may start at the beginning and make every single project.

I'm buying copies for all of my crafty friends. And for that girlie who took this one - next week is her birthday. I think I'll stuff a box full of ribbons and buttons and charms. How can you say no to creativity? I think that the Crafty Chica, Goddess of Glitter, would approve.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Literary Hamster Wheel

So co-author Michelle and I are back to cooking up our latest YA, due *gulp* March 1st, and we had to stop to do edits on The Dread Forest's Secret, our June release. That took a week, then we were back to work on the new book and now we just got the copyedits on Dread. The sound you hear are my mental brakes screeching.

The reality of being a published author is that you're always revisiting the past, whether doing edits on a book you finished months before or marketing for an older title. Our first two YA books, The Tree Shepherd's Daughter and Into the Wildewood, are now available as ebooks in several formats, because busy Michelle and busy Berta love alternate ways to get our stories. We're both big fans of audio books, and since Christmas, when I got my Sony reader, I've been gobbling up the digital reads. In between writing my books, of course.

You'd think that March 1st when we turn in the book we would get a little vacation, but I have two more books to write, and Michelle is feverishly working on a couple of others, not counting the ones we do together.

Why work so hard? We've asked ourselves that, and come up with two reasons. One is the feeling that time is running out. We have these great ideas that we want very much to get on paper. The other is that it's so much fun to see our books on bookshelves and in catalogs.

I wouldn't trade that fabulous feeling for the world. If only the literary hamster wheel could do something about my thighs.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

January book winner!

Congrats to Amber, who won the copy of LUCKY CHICA in my January contest. I'll contact you by email, Amber. Stay tuned for my February contest!

Twitter, yet another reason not to write

I keep a digital timer by the computer to help me stay focused while I write, something I learned from Stephanie Bond. I was checking out my Facebook page night before last and realized that instead of the three minutes to read mail, I'd spent thirty minutes friending folks, catching up on their 25 answers (a meme that's still circulating), and otherwise not writing my book. I wondered how much time I actually spent checking up on my friends, or to be honest, checking up on who was thinking about me. I used my handy timer, and every time I checked Facebook, Myspace, my email or Twitter, my latest favorite time waster, I noted the total time.

Don't be shocked: TWO HOURS AND FIFTEEN MINUTES. Holy cow. In two hours I can easily write five pages. More than five, but let's keep at that for experiment's sake.

So if I didn't write five pages that night, nor any other night that week, in a month I would not have written 150 pages. Two months later, that equals a book, folks.

I know that not every night is productive, and that I usually write my five pages as well as check my social networks, but it was disturbing. I'm thinking of a solution. Maybe I'll tweet about it.