Monthly Archives: November 2012

Celebrate Fellow Authors: Who is Michelle Proulx?

I don’t have much to say, so I browsed through my WordPress blogs of friends and came across one for fellow author Michelle Proulx.  I recently had a patient with that last name and she told me it was pronounced Prue (it’s French), so I think that may hold true for Michelle too, and finally makes my lips happy instead of trying to say Prow-lux. I could be wrong, and I’m sure Michelle will let me know.

Okay, off the ADD tangent.  I’ve been following Michelle for some time, and constantly asking when her book is coming out.  Well, she finally received her edit and sent it in for printing.  And today she received the wonderful news that she also made Editor’s Choice.  She is also publishing through Iuniverse, and despite all the negative press people give them, she like I have our reasons for choosing this route.

Anyway, I wanted to say congratulations to Michelle on this wonderful accomplishment and let my fellow bloggers know who she is. Michelle is at MichelleProulx.wordpress.com and has written a book titled Imminent Danger and How to Fly Straight Into It. Keep an eye out for it, it’s a scifi, alien-type, with six-armed lizard men who have a thing for the color blue (taken from MichelleProulx.com).  Well, my curiosity is peaked.

So congrats Michelle. Please check out her blog, she writes some wonderful stuff and has a pretty crazy imagination.  And be sure,this holiday season, to celebrate a few fellow authors. We should all help each other out once in a while.

And to ring in this holiday season, please visit my website http://www.BeStillNovel.com to receive a free Kindle download of Be Still. Or contact me to receive a signed paperback copy of my book for $10 plus $3.95 shipping, or buy two books and get one free.  Don’t forget, books make great holiday gifts.

If you like aliens check out: MichelleProulx.Wordpress.com

If you like 19th Century novels: TheDeadlyMark.com

If you like a good old tear jerker: BeStillNovel.com

Advertisements

Location! Location! Where?

Today, I got off my butt and went for a very long walk.  I love walking, as opposed to, I hate running.  But when I walk, listening to hours of music, I gain so much wonderful clarity.  I hear stories in the songs and can create my own story lines.  Where do my ideas come from: music, but not always.  Some of my best ideas come from music, though, I am sometimes inspired by simply hearing some kind of catch phrase.

My latest inspiration came a few months back when I overheard a couple’s conversation.  The young girl said something I have heard many times before; she said, “I would die without you.” Ever hear that one? Well, I was sitting in my car thinking about that one day, and the thought wouldn’t leave.  I was plagued by these words until one day it happened: the characters created themselves and gave me a story line.

I spent twelve hours this week punching at my keyboard, but I got over 6,000 words in.  I had a story line.  I had names.  I didn’t have a location, and location is key.  This story must revolve around a small community, a very small community.  I mean, rural as it can get.  This matches up a bit to where I live, in the beautiful desert of California, but I was thinking a bit more lush colors … and smaller.

While I was walking this morning, a city hit me in the face like a sucker punch.  I had to test my theory though.  I was walking with my boyfriend (whom I ignored the entire time so i could reflect), I asked him to name a small, rural community with lots of trees and colors.  I told him it had to be a very small area where everyone knew everyone.  Straight out of his mouth came the exact place I was thinking of: Rim of the World.

That was it! My next story which revolves around the phrase, “I can’t live without you,” will be set in Rim of the World, CA.  This gives me an excuse to visit our local mountains some more, and to keep my story close to home.  Rim of the World is practically in my own backyard, if my backyard wasn’t in fact covered in desert clay and Joshua trees.  I digress, this is going to be an awesome story, sort of dark in my style, scifi but more of a speculative story, tear jerker, and running the emotional spectrum with a bit of a lesson in humanity hidden in.

I have my location! And here we go …

Moving Past Self-Doubt

The more I work on this new project, the  more I start to get nervous. It’s the same old familiar feeling I had when getting ready to send in the manuscript for my second book, since that one was going to be put up everywhere.  I posed the question last year: Do the big named authors still get butterflies when they put out a new book?

Of course this book is a little more different, since this new one deals with the guidelines to writing.  It isn’t so much one of those wild-imagination-fictional-novel-types.  But I can’t wait to get back to that soon. So this manual for new authors with no formal training has me on edge. Why? Like I said in my previous post, these are guidelines not rules.

The guidelines to writing pure fiction do askew a bit from writing a manual or memoir.  I must repeat at the end of every chapter that these are “guidelines” not rules. With that being said–repeatedly–is it then necessary to put out a manual with guidelines to effective writing? I think so.

I’ve been browsing some posts lately, reading through new author questions, and see some of the advice given still lends toward self-satisfying.  One particular post really had me confused; the author asked if it was okay to change from 1st person to 2nd person point of view and he typed in an example. The responses varied, but what really stood out where those who responded, “it’s your book, you can do anything. Go for it.”

The author then asked if there was an effective way to do this. Several responses stated that the author could do whatever he wanted because it was his project. I wasn’t thrilled with those responses, and since I wasn’t signed up to that group (and didn’t want to join), I stood back helpless to put my two cents in.  It wasn’t that what he wrote was bad, and I have read several books that jump point of view, but it really should be done in a way to not confuse the reader.  The way this author wrote it was confusing, and other people just went along with it.

It’s that kind of thinking that frustrates me.  I totally agree that writing is a stroke of our creative genius, but if we write to publish, then we are writing for people beyond ourselves.   And if we are writing for others to read, then we should assume some responsibility to make our work(s) at least make some amount of sense to our readers. I’m really hoping this isn’t just me, but I have read enough to know that some authors seem to not care at all.

This is where I reach an impasse: put out a book on guidelines and be given doody by those who feel there are no “guidelines” in writing. Or put out this manual to help those who want at least a basic concept of some of the terminology floating around in the publishing world?

I’m an entrepreneur by nature, always having some wild idea and a few times reacting on it.  And every time some crazy idea pops into my head, I do an insurmountable amount of research on the topic, complete with flow charts, projections, time, and numbers.  This new idea of putting out a manual along with a website is a huge thing and makes me very nervous . . . so I’m still going to do it.  Anything that makes me this nervous has to have something to it.

See you December 21, 2012.

***********************************************************************

written by, Tania L Ramos author of Be Still and When I thought I Was Tough.

Follow at Facebook.com/TaniaLRamosBooks

www.BeStillNovel.com

@TaniaLRamos and @WritingApocalyp

The Writing Apocalypse: 12/21/12

So I have chosen to take on a new task, mostly because my life isn’t hectic enough <– sarcasm.  After writing my second novel, Be Still (the shameless plugs never end on this blog), I have learned so much about writing. It was more than simply putting pen to paper, or pushing at a keyboard in this decade.  There was style, author’s voice, and oh so many darned guidelines, I thought my head would spin right off.

Now I say guidelines even though one editor called them rules, and the reason is that writing will and forever be creative.  Look at House of Leaves  by, Mark Z Danielewski, that book has broken every major guideline ever laid down since the inception of time. Here are snapshots of the book: Images.  This is a best-selling book, yet every guideline was blatantly broken, and I suppose that is what makes this a sheer stroke of genius.

So are there true “rules?” If there were, would House of Leaves have been published? Probably not.  So I am taking away the word rules and replacing it with the word guidelines. Now that that is defined, I have to say this out of pure rant: If your book is not a pure stroke of genius that will shake the letters off the literary world and readers, then please follow the guidelines to some extent. Guidelines are set in place to make reading an enjoyable experience for your readers. And for us indie, self-pub (or whatever title you give yourself) authors, we must really reach so much higher than just an “okay” book to accomplish a few things: raise awareness of the indie author invasion that isn’t leaving any time soon, set a standard for self-published books, and give readers what they want: a good quality book.

While in the rewrite of Be Still, I had so much wonderful coaching and so many heated arguments based on things I just couldn’t wrap my creative head around.  I didn’t understand why head-hopping was a bad thing when poorly managed, or how foresight was such a huge intrusion of my rights as the author if written in certain points of view, and why bold was the metaphorical devil.  There were so many other lessons to be learned, and thankfully so many editors allowed me to pick their brains.  I took enough notes to fill a book, these notes were passed down to other authors who were struggling like I had.

One author received all my notes, written in all my insane shorthand with squiggly lines pointing everywhere, marked up in different colors (because I see everything in colors … even words), and side notes.  There was a total of 25 pages uploaded, and she replied back, “Why not just clean up your notes and write a book.” Why not?

So I took all my notes, did a ton more research, picked at a few more editorial brains to come up with a cohesive list of guidelines for a new author manual titled, Surviving the Writing Apocalypse.  I figured it was a fitting title with all the talk of an apocalypse on the rise.  This is a huge compilation of literary “guidelines.” Why? Have you read some of the stuff authors are self-publishing?

Okay, this may be where I get some heat, but I’ll say it anyway: if nothing else, at least get editing. One author basically told me he didn’t get editing (though he knew he needed it), because he was so anxious for readers to see his book.  He was apparently anxious for all four books, since none received editing.  I would never have read the book if I knew that. And the sad fact is, it was so full of mistakes that I never made it passed thirty pages.  I didn’t leave a review, but when I went back a few months later there were three reviews that slammed this book and author.  One review pretty much said this is why indie books will always have a bad name, because there is no accountability.

Another author told me that editing was a lie from major publishing houses to get writers to conform to the “rules” set forth by a bunch of people who never made it as authors. Hum, that’s a pretty novel idea, I suppose. Of course this came after getting thirty pages into that book and putting it down. The grammar portion was all right, but the story was all over the place and I was just confused. Again, wish I would have known this before I paid for a download.

Time and time again, after asking authors why they did some of what they did. the answers were usually pretty self-satisfying and had nothing to do with the quality of the book or interest of the readers. Viva la Indie Revolucion. Or as I called it, “The Writing Apocalypse.” Apocalypse, loosely used this decade to mean end of times, is fitting seeing as how the traditional writing world is seeing an end to the stonewall of traditional publishing and the rise of self-pub authors. But as self-pub do we lose regard to our readers? I sure hope not.

I have learned enough to fill a hundred books on the topic, but still loosely use the term guideline.  Where so many authors came off a uncouth and crass about what they wrote, basically having no care about what they put out, I found many others who wanted to put out quality work but had no clue they were committing some minor literary infractions. We didn’t all obtain our MFA, and some never attended a traditional college, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a great story to be told.  These are the authors I passed my notes to, and some I spoke on the phone to explain more in detail. I always emphasized that these are guidelines and if you can break them in a way that adds to your book and doesn’t confuse a reader, then go for it.

So my new adventure, aptly launching December 21, 2012 if we all survive (get it), is the Writing  Apocalypse website, based off my manual.  There will be a page dedicated to Writing Apocalypse “Survivors” which will feature self-published books that meet or exceed basic publishing standards: editing, content, and even the first impression: cover art.

There are a few websites out there like this, but ours is different, or we will try, by not only featuring great indie books, but also offering different services like a 30 min phone consultation, and a 30 page review (we review the first 30 pages of your manuscript and point out things like head-hopping, viewpoint changes, foresight, and author intrusion to name a few).  We will also feature editors, beta readers, and cover designers as resources so new authors have this information all on the same website.  We (Blackbird LSD & I) are hopeful this will be a success.

Lengthy, I know, but I want people to know why we have created this website and that it will be available soon.  We are also seeking input and suggestions to improve it. What we don’t want to do is be a plain page loaded with books.  We’d like to be a quality resource for those who want one place to serve all their self-publishing needs.  Please leave a reply if you have any suggestions.

We’ll have a dedicated Facebook page to the site soon, until then get updates at Facebook.com/TaniaLRamosBooks

New Port Beach Photo Shoot

on the pier

November 18, 2012.  After repeatedly being asked by my publicist to please take more photos for my portfolio, I made a trip to New Port Beach, CA with photographer in tote. A.K.A. boyfriend and carrier of my cellphone and lipstick. Here is what we got. To see more pics click the link to my Facebook page  on the picture or www.Facebook.com/TaniaLRamos.com (P.S. I like back)

New Port Beach looking into my future

My new author profile pic!!!! Maybe.

The binocular has a smile too

Steps at the lifeguard tower

Under the pier

Look at all that hair! I love being a ginger, even if it’s Lady Clairol made.