My 2014 RT panel schedule

…as Stephanie Tyler, Sydney Croft & SE Jakes….and sometimes, all of me!  Hope to see many of you in New Orleans :)

Wednesday, May 14th

- 1:15 − 2:15 – Panel: LGBTQ: Beyond the Pronouns: Why LGBTQ Romance May Be Your New Favorite Genre

Join some of the genre’s favorite authors to explore the many types of romance that fall under the LGBTQ umbrella—from sexuality (m/m, lesbian, ménage) to gender (trans, queer, questioning) to tropes (Gay For You, coming out, historical concerns)—and how they’re popping up in the most unexpected places.

Moderator: Sarah Frantz (Riptide Publishing, Senior Editor)
Panelist(s): Suzanne Brockmann / Heidi Belleau/ SE Jakes/ K.A. Mitchell/ Marie Sexton
Location: 4th Floor
Room: Regent

- 2:30-3:30 PM- Panel: Double Trouble: Writing With a Partner

We all have the image of the lonely writer, typing away on their computer in some dark, isolated room. But what if you prefer to share the experience? There are unique rewards and challenges for writers who collaborate. How do you team up without wanting to choke your partner? How do you share two ideas and mold them into one? How do you surrender some of yourself? And more importantly, is it worth it? We think so, and we’ll teach you the tricks of writing with a partner because we’ve all done it. Some of us are even married to our partners. But even if you’re not interested in writing with someone, it is essential that all writers learn to collaborate. All of us have to deal with readers, editors, proofreaders, etc. And even beyond that, successful collaboration skills are a major key to success in life. Join us and learn our secrets!

Panelist(s): Ilona Andrews (aka Ilona and Gordon Andrews) Susan & Clay Griffith/ Larissa Ione/ Alexandra Ivy /Stephanie Tyler/ Laura Wright
Location: 4th Floor
Room: Balcony K

Friday, May 16th

- 11:15 − 12:15 – Panel:  Digital DIY: The Pros & Cons of Digital Self-Publishing

Today anyone can self-publish digital books. But who can best utilize this mode of publishing? What are the benefits and pitfalls? What are the contractual issues to consider when e-publishing works that have been previously published? These questions and others will be addressed in this comprehensive, unbiased Q&A.

Moderator: Sylvia Day (aka S.J. Day)
Panelist(s): Mark Coker (Smashwords, Founder) Lindsey Faber (Samhain, Publisher) Kristen Proby / Karin Tabke (aka Karin Harlow) / Stephanie Tyler (aka SE Jakes)
Location: 2nd Floor
Room: Studio 7 – (Preservation Hall)

- 1:55 − 2:25PM Riptide Publishing Publisher’s Spotlight  (Location: Fourth Floor, Balcony 1)

SEAL of My Dreams site up & running!

There are several upcoming projects I’m really excited about, but none means more than being part of the SEAL OF MY   DREAMS anthology.  All proceeds go to Veterans Medical Research and I’m so grateful to have a chance to give back to these   heroes!  I’m buying zillions of copies and everyone’s getting them for Christmas – everyone!  The authors I’m side by side with are amazing and I can’t wait until release day – November 11th – Veteran’s Day!  And yes, it will be available in both print and eBook format, thanks to Belle Books!

My short story is connected to the HOLD series – you’ll see Jake and Chris and Jamie and Nick and the rest of the gang.  We were only supposed to write 5K and mine is close to 8K, so I cheated a little.  But there was so much more I wanted to write!  I’m definitely not done with this series and I’ve got plans, plans I tell you.

Anyway, as always, it’s been busy here, but Fall is always my favorite season.  I think it has something to do with school starting and having taught, but I always view September as the beginning for me.  I tend to get a huge bulk of writing done during this time too – I also plan for new projects as well.

I’m often asked how I write, how I stay focused, etc. In fact, Sarah just asked me on Twitter last night!  If you’ve been visiting this blog for a while, you’ve heard this before, but I like to talk about my process in case there are new writers out there who think there’s only one way to do things.

There’s not.  And when I first started out, I didn’t know that.  I couldn’t finish a book to save my life and couldn’t figure out why.  Somehow, I’d gotten it into my head that a book needed to be written in order.

The big secret?  It doesn’t.  You can write out of order!  You can write the end first, the middle first, you can jump all around.  At some point, of course, you have to pull the whole thing together, but until then, get it written any way you can.  I typically see the big moments first, and I tend to write those first.  I write down anything and everything that comes to mind.  But the key is, I’m always writing – because I have to for my contracts, but more so because I love writing.  I can’t not write.

I also write several books at once.  I don’t plot much, so this definitely helps my productivity.  I’m always moving forward on something.  Obviously, the contracted work that’s due next is the priority, but I usually have a couple of things with close due dates, plus copy edits, etc.  And somehow, the big mishmash all works for me.  I’m a really organized person, and writing in a disorganized way works because I can see the bigger picture – I keep my eye on it the entire time and I know I can pull together the puzzle in the end.  Is it the easiest way to write?  I don’t know, but it’s the only way I can, and I’ve tried others.  But I’ve written somewhere in the vicinity of 20 books or more and at this point, it’s my process and I’m sticking with it.

As we approach NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month in November) I’ll try to talk more about process and publishing and the like.  If you’ve got anything specific you’d like me to talk about, feel free to put it in comments or drop me an email via my contact page!

 

 

 

NaNo check-in

If you read nothing else today, do yourself a favor and go read PBW’s post.  I always love her blog, but sometimes she just hits the nail right on the head at just the right time – for me, that was this morning.

A long time ago, I unsubscribed from lots of different loops and groups.  I’m an RWA member but didn’t join any of theirs, either.  I was a member of some other group for published writers, too and after I year I never renewed.

The thing is, in my opinion, those loops and groups can be toxic.  They were for me.  And this is no one’s fault but my own.  People on the loops were doing nothing wrong at all – they were talking about the business – complaining / celebrating / disseminating information – just what the loop is there for.

For me, it’s too much information I don’t want or need.  I don’t want to be ignorant about the business side of things, but there’s a whole chicken little the sky is falling tendency in the writing community that can make even the most stoic of authors slump in defeat.

Dude, this job can be hard enough without the outside influences whispering in my ear, telling me that this market is slumping or I can’t write this or that because two editors declared it dead.

It’s why I don’t go on Twitter all that often – mainly, I just follow friends and readers, but inevitably, other stuff seeps in there (as it’s supposed to) that I just don’t want to know.

The internet can be a really bad place for your head to be in when you’re trying to write.  Too many opinions, way too much snark which, IMHO, is the easy way out, and just too much can sap all your creativity and make it impossible for you to get all that shit out of your head.

I was really good for a while and then I started looking around a little more.  I shouldn’t have – I feel it, and not in a good way.  So PBW’s post was a really timely reminder for me to stay the hell off the internet unless it’s my own space – here, FB, etc.  Otherwise, I gotta tune out for a while –  “walk away from the wolves and the sheep, and use your non-writing time to accomplish something personal that has meaning to you.”

Here’s something to chew on, when you listen to the, this can’t be done / can’t sell / will never make it people- when I started writing SEALs, I was told that I couldn’t / shouldn’t write them.  Because Brockmann wrote them and no editor would ever want them.  Even my agent at the time said, well, SEALs will be a tough sell, but she believed in my books, so that didn’t stop her.

The editor who bought my SEAL trilogy?  Brockmann’s editor.  So yeah, who would’ve thought, right?  Because I’m not writing her SEALs – I’m writing my own – my own take, my own voice, my own stories.  And I believed in my books enough not to listen to people who told me, you can’t.

I’ve always hated those words.

So (and this goes for writing and for real life as well) stop listening to everyone and pay attention to your gut – it’s what saves the men in my books – it’s what will steer you in the right direction every single time.

random editing discoveries

I can’t spell the word adrenaline correctly without spellcheck.  And i use the word a lot.  And yes, wordpress has spellcheck.

In Mace’s book, everyone’s expression was hardening.  His face hardened. A lot.

In Kell’s book, everyone is intoning.  A lot.  Not sure why I’m having a love affair with that word right now.

Editors invariably replace the word like with, as if.  Except in Mace’s book, she replaced two as ifs with like.  It was almost like a personal victory.  It was almost as if it was a personal victory.  What?  You can choose which one you like better.

I finally remembered that it’s talk to, not talk with.  I think.

Mace’s book is my second longest, clocking in at 97K.  Promises in the Dark is my longest, clocking in at 102K.  All the rest are between 89K and 93K.  Lie with Me was my shortest at 89K.

There is a sticky spot in the middle of my trackpad that’s driving me nuts.

The Black Saints friended me on Twitter and I checked them out on iTunes and bought some of their songs.  The power of Twitter. Except I’m not loving Twitter lately.

I know the last two things have nothing to do with editing. Neither will the rest of the post.

I don’t remember getting a subscription to INKED magazine.  Consequently, I don’t remember letting my Rolling Stone subscription run out, right when the True Blood naked cover issue was out.

Speaking of remembering, Linda H reminded me that I forgot to pick a winner for the good karma contest – so thanks to random.org, the winner is #13 – Alina D!  Alina, please email me via my contact page with the email addy you’d like me to send the Amazon gift card to!

In the next week, I’m going to be giving away another Amazon gift-card – to be eligible to win this one, you need to be on Facebook – and all you need to do is Like me.  (aka, join my reader page) And that’s it.  You don’t have to comment or anything.  I’ll be picking the winner from the list of friends on that page.  And yes, I have another Facebook page that I started first and you might end up being on both. Eventually, I’ll only be on one. For now, totally confusing.

Nano, Day 2

I’ve already lost track of the dates and actually had to check a calendar.

So, I’m about 3/4 of the way through Mace’s 2nd round of revisions – mainly just wording issues and a few semi-bigger things to fix, but those all seem to be in the last 30 pages.  Which is why I stopped there, because it was around 2AM and my brain had stopped functioning.  I didn’t want to have to do the work twice.

And  then Baby Boy decided to get up at 3AM to eat.  He hasn’t done that for a while and I was so tired it actually hurt.

I also missed the Real Housewives of Atlanta.  Tragedy.  And I forgot to DVR it.

As for new stuff, I wrote about nineteen pages longhand yesterday, spanning 2 different books, so I’m typing it in now.  I pretty much get one typed page for each one written, so it wasn’t a bad day.  Would’ve been better if the revisions weren’t so time consuming – they’re not hard – it’s just a matter of going through the ms page by page and inserting / deleting.  It’s like the edits before the copy edits.  Like the shirt before the shirt – and if you understand this, then I’ve caught you watching the Jersey Shore.

Really, you can admit it – we don’t judge here.

If you’re doing Nano, how’re you doing?  Are you looking ahead and taking into consideration any days in the coming week where you know you won’t get much writing done?  You have to bank your words then, write a little more each day heading up to that in order to make up for it.

My other tip of the day is, if you’re stuck, change modalities – if you’re writing on a desktop, can you move to a laptop / alpha smart – can you change locations?  Go into your bedroom, your living room, outside.  Try writing longhand for a while – I always do that when I’m stuck – longhand writing just frees me.  Plus, you get to use fun pens – it’s like the first day of school with fun office supplies all over again!

Don’t judge.

Happy Halloween & NaNo starts tomorrow

Okay, well, I’m hopped up on way too much candy (YUM!) and plan to take the leftovers and hide it in my office because chocolate is the nectar of writers.  No really, it is.

So, do you have everything you need for tomorrow to start your book?  For me, that would include a new pen (my favorite kind to write longhand with is pilot precise grip – fine point black) and a Claire Fontaine notebook (I don’t use a new one at the start of each book or a new one for each book – I go through about 1 every 2 months so I always have a supply on hand)…also, my quote that I start each book with and at least the start of a soundtrack that I create on my iTunes.

Do you have a way to back-up your work?  The simplest (lazy) way is to attach and send it to an email address or 2 (web based – not Outlook.)  I also use a Western Digital Passport and save my entire computer with Mac’s Time Machine once a month. You can use the Western Digital for PCs too.  I’m just a Mac girl now.

You can also think about using a writing program – I loved WriteWayPro when I used a PC – now I used Scrivener for Mac, which I also love.  They allow you to color code scenes and actually see them in a list.  You will still need Microsoft Word, no matter what, because you will need to send to editors / agents / crit partners in this format.  Both programs are easy to convert to Word.

Now, you can have all the notebooks, pens and writing programs in the world, but what’s going to separate you from the pack is that you listen to advice, take what works for you (do you feel it?  Can you get out of your own way long enough to listen to what’s being said or are you still in defensive-mode? and I’ll discuss this more in weeks to come) and then (wait for it)…write the book.

I know – it amazes me that I have to say it but I can’t tell you the amount of people who talk to me about wanting to write a book and then they never actually write anything down.  You cannot call yourself a writer if you don’t actually write.  So just start – ANYWHERE.  Even if it’s just lists about the character’s wants / needs / desires.  Is there a line from a song that describes him / her?  Write it down.  Work with PBW’s three questions:  Who are you? / What do you want? / What’s the worst thing I can do to you?

I know – they’re great questions.  Picture the scenes in your head and let them play out like they’re a movie.  Put the music up loud and just get something down that resembles a story, a scene…something.

I’m going to dig into my IN THE AIR TONIGHT final revisions and prepare so I can write a bit on Kell’s book either tonight or in the morning.  So I’m right there with you, writing away.

November looms…

Yeah, I know – we haven’t gotten past Halloween yet, but we’re close enough to November – and my impending deadlines – to make me start to twitch.  Or continue twitching, I guess.

November’s the time of NaNoWriMo – a writing challenge where writers attempt to get to 50K on a brand new book.  Since I kind of feel like it’s NaNo every month of the year for me (which is a damned good thing, I need to add) I’ll be working toward my own goals, but figured, if there are writers out there who need some encouragement as the month goes on, maybe I can give back a little.  I know it’s a strange, rough time for publishing and the amount of doom and gloom out there is tough to wade through.  But I’ve been really blessed with a great start to my career and awesome readers and if I can help someone else on their journey, I’d like to.

I won’t be doing the traditional NaNo – this month, I have to finish a contracted romantic suspense – NIGHT MOVES – which will end up around 100K.  I have…um, 10K right now.  And I have two other projects I’m really excited about that I’ll be squeezing in because, well, that’s the way I roll.

I need to work on multiple projects because that’s my right way.  When I try to tunnel vision, nothing gets done – I stall and I bitch and whine and it’s not pleasant for anyone.  I want to write one book at a time, in order, but in the *counts* ten years (OMG!) that I’ve been writing romance, it just hasn’t happened.  My process has it’s great points and it’s completely sucky points but hey, I own them all.

So this month, I’ll try to talk about what I’ve learned, what I still struggle with – strengths and weaknesses, writing with children tugging at you, writing with all kinds of real life interruptions.  If you’ve got any writing related questions, things you want me to talk about, feel free to mention it in the comments or email me via my contact page.

For now, remember this.  I’ve told people that, although I’ve gotten better, it doesn’t get easier.  I don’t think it’s supposed to – if it does, maybe it means you’re not trying to outdo your previous work.  Because the only person you should be competing with – the only one you can compete with – is you.  And that’s the thing to keep in mind.  You need to surround yourself with really really really good friends – the kind you can call and whine to, the kind that you’re honestly from the bottom of your heart thrilled for when amazing things happen to them because you know they absolutely deserve every bit of success they get.  This is your support system, and it’s completely and utterly necessary in this business.  Choose them wisely.

And then, repeat this to yourself - just because other writers get published / hit lists / get other writing related things you covet before you doesn’t take away your ability to do so – those writers did not take your spot. There is plenty to go around.

And then, start writing your book.  Honestly, it’s that freakin’ simple.  Start.  Writing.

More to come…

the song remains the same…

I promise that all my blog post titles won’t be song lyrics.

Maybe.

So Zoo’s alarm clock (aka my cube) woke me up to La Isla Bonita.  And you know when you’ve got a lyric in your mind wrong and you know it’s wrong but you can’t stop singing it wrong?

Yeah, I keeping hearing, young girls with eyes like potatoes, in my ear.  And I know that can’t be right.  Who has eyes like potataoes?

It’s like when my friend told me she thought the song, Big Old Jet Airliner was really, big ole chad had a rhino, and ruined the song for me.

There’s also a line in Cinderelmo where I swear the king says, cake and eat it (because, hi, cake – who wouldn’t want to eat cake?) but Zoo’s like, he’s saying, take an edict.

Granted, the edict line makes way more sense, but it’s Elmo.  He’s always got too many questions, he’s always scared of something and he’s always screwing up, so common sense isn’t really his friend.  So I’m sticking by my cake and eat it line.

Anyway, I have a lot to do – some last minute revisions on Zane and I almost can’t bear to drag myself through the manuscript again.  Don’t get me wrong – I love the book – love the way it’s turned out and the edits will only make it stronger but…I don’t want to!  (mature, I know) I want to work on shiny new stories, like Mace, where things still make sense and I have a lot to discover.

But I will be good and finish Zane.  I’m armed with candy.  A large, price club mixed bag of candy that includes Twix.  The Twix will inspire me.  If I can stop singing about the young girls with eyes like potatoes to myself…

Writing Myths Busted or Don’t Abuse My Muse

I read a lot of advice floating around the internet and twitterverse and the like, some from awesomely published authors and some from readers and a lot of it makes sense.

But some of it – very specific parts of it – piss me off to no end, especially since they are so absolute about it.  And since most of the authors who bust publishing myths don’t worry about the other side of the coin and being politically correct, I won’t either.  But please do know that I respect everyone’s method.  (couldn’t resist.  i’m like that – it’s my Libra rising – fair and balanced)

Myth #1:  Butt in chair, hands on the keyboard and forget the muse.  There is no muse.

Um, hey, I have one!  It’s not someone who flies down in flowy white robes (oh, that would be cool, though) but there is something that separates me from the zillions of people who talk about wanting to write a book and never, ever do.  My muse / imagination / mystical thing inside my brain pushes me to sit in the chair and write it all down.  I’m not saying it’s easy or that I want to write all the time.  But I have to believe that people who write or paint or sculpt or whatever have something that differentiates them from the rest of the population who doesn’t write or paint or who can’t write or paint.  I laugh and cry with my characters – I’m way sensitive (probably too much so, some would say) but all of that enables me to write books.

Myth #2:  From readers point of view:  Authors who ‘see’ their characters and talk about them as such are doing something kooky and weird because they want to draw readers to their kooky weirdness. From writers point of view:  Please stop being kooky and weird so I won’t be labeled kooky and werid.

Why do we want to strip away the kooky, weirdness that it artistic creativity?  Why is that necessary?  Does it really stop your enjoyment of a book if the author claims she channeled the characers?  I’m not sure why this annoys some readers so much…the author isn’t asking you to channel them.  The author who talks about it is just answering a question asked of her and frankly, the author that first said, I hear voices in my head of my characters, brought me great relief.  Because I wasn’t alone anymore, wasn’t the only one seeing movies in my head or hearing the voices whisper to me.  Dude, seriously, it happens to me.  Can’t explain it, don’t really want to, but I’m not sure how or why this should bother you so damned much.  Get over it.  My process.  And my process is a hell of a lot of fun most of the time.

Myth #3:  The book of your heart won’t sell, so get over it.

Really?  Because I’ve got the trilogy of my heart coming out.  The problem is, I think we need to redefine terms here.

I’m not saying the book of your heart is the only thing you should ever work on.  But if you’ve got books / stories / characters that have been with you since you were, oh, let’s say 10 years old (hello!) then why not write them?  I chose to wait until I thought I had the experience, the skill and the chops to execute my books of the heart, because otherwise yes, they can turn into self-indulgent messes.

But stop telling unpubs that they can’t write the book of their heart.  Instead, let’s tell them they need to be a little smarter about it.  I’d much rather tell unpubs to back away from the craft books until they’ve actually written something, to stop relying on contests scores so much, to finish a book and move onto the next instead of polishing one to death.  Move on, listen to your muse and let yourself go.

Whew.  I feel better now.  Hi, I’m Stephanie Tyler, I have a muse and I write much better when I’m inspired.  That does not always mean that I wait around for inspiration.  But I have to tell you, my writing is thousands of times better when I’m writing from inspiration.

The thing about word count…

One of the most basic things I didn’t realize when I started writing was how to deal with / convert the word count of my manuscript.  In the past week, I’ve gotten a few questions about it (I’m assuming because NaNo is full force) so I figured I’d answer it here.

I understand it can differ for ePubs, because they use actual computer count, so you can check Word or whatever program you use and get your actual word count there.  Easy enough.  So if the publisher says they want manuscripts of 40K, I’m assuming (I know, I know…) that they’ll get anywhere from 38K to 45K (or maybe a bit more).

But most print publishers – well, at least mine – still use the page count thing and I’ll explain why in a second.  On the contracts, publishers expect anywhere from 85K to 100K, although these days going over 100K is slightly more problematic than coming in a bit under.  Publishing costs and all, I’m guessing, although I do know that most editors will not trim away an extra 20K if it is fabulous and not simply filler.

So it goes like this – for every 20 pages, it’s assumed that it’s 5K.  So 200 pages should equal 50K, half a manuscript for a NY single title.

Here’s the rub – if you write lots of dialogue (like me) you’ll have low word count but a regular page count.  For instance, on the current WIP, I have 193 pages and 38K.  My manuscripts run anywhere from 400 pages to 424 pages (my highest, I believe) and they all log in around 90k – 93K.  For the record, when I hand it in, I use Courier New 12 point, because that’s an equal font and can give the publisher an idea of how long the book will be when printed.

For me, this all works out, because I don’t worry about word count – I know if I get close to 400 pages, I’m good.  I’ve told the story. And it seems to take forever – there’s a point when I think, I can take the words Larissa cut from her recent Demonica book and add them in – who will notice?

As always with advice, your milage will vary.  And btw, no one in NY will reject your manuscript if you don’t use Courier New 12. Just use a readable font and you will be fine, I promise.  Personally, I hate Courier New and I write in TNR 14, but I always convert so I can see the pretty page count.

The things we do to trick ourselves.

With this current WIP (aka PROMISES IN THE DARK aka Zane’s story), I have about 45K more to go (I’ll get the rest through revisions.)  I’ve lost ground as I mentioned yesterday, so I need at least 5K per day for the next few days to make up ground.  For today so far I’ve got 2K, which is good – I usually can’t get that much done during the day.  And I’m trying to work on Sydney book 6 at night, since that goes faster with two people working on the story.

Oh, and another Zoo train story – he IM’d me today to tell me that there were high school kids on the train this morning drinking beer at 7AM headed to the Yankee Parade and those were the days.  My response?  That was us – a looooong time ago. We’re old.

His response?  I know.  I almost gave them money to buy more beer.