Saturday, April 16, 2011

Word of Mouth....and Creating Fire and Ice....


The above list my friends- is a website analytics we use to give us an idea of who is visiting the website, how to improve, what pages are doing well and which are doing badly. The first column of numbers represent how many visitors from that area/location have visited. The very right column of numbers represent how long they spent on the website.

CAN I SAY COOL? Heather has spent A LOT of time working to spread the word of our website, and I just want to say THANK YOU ALL who come and take a moment to see what Fire and Ice is about. Pass it along because it may be your mother or your sister or your aunt that absolutely loves the storyline and would be eagerly waiting for a new book.

I also wanted to post this information because I want all of you out there who have been to any of the Fire and Ice website places (Facebook, blog, main website, twitter- which by the way we are working to increase more posts…we’re just trying to get all this other stuff up and running….) I just want to say thank you and I want to personally tell you that you are choosing to be a part of something we are hoping to become BIG. It would be fun to say seven years from now (think Twilight’s progression) that you are one of the original followers/supporters/readers……I mean seriously- how exciting? I would love to brag that I was one of Stephanie Meyer’s first friends on Facebook, or that I was at her first bookstore signing, or to say I was one of the ones who bought one of the first 100 hundred published copies of her original first Twilight books.

I also want to speak about Stephanie Meyer/Twilight. I am surprisingly not a very obsessed fan. I do buy advanced tickets of the day-before movie screening when a new movie comes out, I have the set of the books and have read the set once through (thanks to a great family member who bought a newer set so I got the awesome older set), I always buy the illustrated guides, and I have one movie souvenir type chest from Hot Topic. I get excited when there is a new movie and new pictures or trailers are released Aside from that, I mention her or speak of her work because it intrigues me. And this my dear friends is the whole reason I began writing Fire and Ice.

I remember in 2008…..I was the usual stay at home mom and I always made sure to DVR one of my favorite shows- Oprah. Anyway, I actually decided to watch this one live that day. It was the interview and first time Stephanie Meyer went on Oprah to promote Twilight and talk about it- ‘the newest hottest selling book that had even middle aged moms and grandmas by storm’. (or so I’ve heard in various places).

I watched, and my mind was spinning.
I had written short stories my whole life, been involved in yearbook and newspaper in Jr. High and High School. My lifelong dream had been to write a book. And here this stay at home mom simply had a dream and chose to write about the dream. Then submit it. And as we all know, it turned into a movie which has turned into a mania. (Twihards).
So I made up my mind to start writing my first book right there. Only problem was….I hadn’t had any good dreams recently. No ideas on what to write about. So I went and found my huge box of short stories I had written up on my grandmother’s ancient typewriter back in the day when I was in my early teens. I found one….it suited me…the storyline did not. Therefore I spent the next two weeks looking/searching for ideas to somewhat change my short story to make it a novel. I talked with my husband, I asked friends.

And then suddenly I began writing. I got really into it…I believe accomplishing like four chapters before we had to pack up and do a big move into another house. I remember picking back up again on the book in my new writing office bedroom of the new house….Becoming stuck with writers block on what “Claire” (main character of Fire and Ice) finds in the chest of her grandparent’s basement. I remember one night combing my bedroom trying to find some type of trinket that would fit perfectly of what Claire finds. My husband suggested something and I remember snorting with laughter because it sounded so silly. But then as I’m digging through a dresser drawer, I realize I’m bouncing ideas back and forth with him about the item he’s suggesting. His suggestion was golden. I took off with creating the destiny behind it. I wrote feverishly for another couple months. When I finished Fire and Ice, it had been a total of Nine months of writing over a 12-13 month span. (Hey, stay at home moms who actually enjoy their sleep don’t really get anything but naptimes to write!)….

Towards the last 6 chapters of Fire and Ice, it came to me of what I wanted to name my main girl character. It also hit me the same week of what I wanted to name my book. And then the book sat for awhile. I can’t remember how long. It was just a long while. I picked it up again (I am still trying to remember exactly when) and I did several types of edits on it myself. Those edits took several months because I’d get burned out on reading the book again and again. I tried to get my husband to read and give input but he just isn’t the reading type of guy and never has been.
And I believe once I edited several times, had one friend read it, and I began submitting to agents- querying for the first time in my life. (Querying is when you submit a short one page of information that explains who you are- (the author) and what your book is about. You handpick agents who you have researched that specifically represent your type of book. Then the agent decides if they want to begin representing you (in order to publish, you need an agent. It’s sort of like buying a house. Agents- no matter the type- they have the special access to things or people you can’t/don’t mingle with on a normal every day basis. So for a literary agent, they have access to professional editors, big and small book publishers, they know how to publicize your book and get the name out there…..)…..

Querying was exciting at first. And then I began to read more about people who had queried, what advice they gave, what I should and shouldn’t have done in my submission. And then the rejections started coming in. Like I said, it was exciting at first…but after the second month of waiting….still getting rejections in my inbox….it got to the point that I just started to burn out. And then I came across Heather. She had been my neighbor for awhile already, but it wasn’t until later on down the road of sharing my banana bread with her that we actually started going to each other’s houses and sitting for periods of time while we chatted and enjoyed visiting more than just standing on the driveway or at our doors. And Heather discussed her desire to be part of someone publishing book. So she became part of the Fire and Ice team. So, with fresh new eyes on my goal, Heather was excited as could be. We spent the summer (while I still got rejections) talking about how we could make Fire and Ice better. It all came down to the storyline.

Mine had too much in common with Stephanie Meyer about Indians. (I didn’t mean to sound like a copycat, but Lemhi Indians in Idaho really truly are interesting and I have great true story plot)… we scratched the Indians. (It will have to be part of a different book some other time…)…….And then Heather suggested ancient mythology. This too, I snorted at, but found myself going back and forth with her on her idea, providing feedback and further ideas. I honestly did not like the idea of change. (I never do…you should have seen me two weeks ago when I got the new iphone. SERIOUSLY.)

But, as we began analyzing my story- trying to fit in how mythology could work, it fit brilliantly. So now that it was decided, I was to go back to the ‘drawing board’ and rewrite Fire and Ice.
Two words: Not easy.
To change something I loved so much was so incredibly tough. I already loved certain lines, specific scenes….The only way I realized I could let go, is to cut and paste into a notes folder, saving the idea for later…for another lucky book down the road.
And then my grandmother became sick and passed away. I was literally inches from being done (well, about two or three chapters from finishing my rewrite) when my grandmother passed. But, having to go home, have the funeral, come back and get the family and house back on track- it was no easy task. Especially with Halloween taking place, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas…But during my daughter’s Christmas school break, I was determined to finish my book. I also wanted to finish in the year I’d begun the rewrite, start the next year- (2011) totally fresh. I sat for a week and did the last of my writing and succeeded on that goal. So overall- my rewrite took me from August 2010 until December 2010. Yeah, kind of slow and long, but you have to remember and consider all the crazy things that happened during those months that kept me from writing quicker. (So really only about a month and a half of writing, though)
Here it is April. Fire and Ice has been shuffled from a few trusted readers since January (a couple of them previous readers), but this time everyone was so busy with their lives happening that helping to edit a book was literally impossible. I finally found a favorite teacher who is editing as we speak. (BLESS HER HEART! And man- it paid off to be a good student in school! ;) )

So, Heather and I have decided to try to accomplish all we can with Social Networking and website changes as much as possible so that when the manuscript comes back, I can be totally geared towards fixing the edits, doing small areas of writing to fix the flaws. So maybe another 3-6 weeks for editing…..and then from there we’ll do about four weeks of writing and fixing the flaws. That puts us about middle of June/beginning of July with a perfect, shiny book. (Agents love getting books that have seriously been polished again and again and are in the best possible shape. It’s like buying a house. Who wants a dirty one and has to go in and do the cleaning themselves? No one does. So, we writers have to make sure our ‘houses’ (manuscripts) are clean and ready to sell. We’d like a sales deal ASAP.
So, say by chance we are ready to query again by the middle or end of June- that would be amazing. We are going to be ready this time.
I hope I have informed everyone’s curiosities on what it’s taken to write Fire and Ice. I am currently working on a FAQ page, but I had promised I’d let you all know how I got to this process right here and I will be more day by day posting of the ongoing progress.

They say that you should start promoting your book three years before it is published/printed. Well friends, the time is now. Please pass the word about this. You guys- our readers, our followers, our friends- you will be the ones to help us get there. You can give us feedback on what we should write about (posts, what we should twitter more about, what things you’d like to know about Fire and Ice (granted that we can’t tell too much since we are going to be querying and have to keep things still under wraps since the book has not been inked with a deal or published yet…..)….Like I said before, this might be something a friend or family member of yours would enjoy getting into and following, so share. Our storyline might just be their new passion. It might help your cousin figure out where she’s supposed to start in writing a book….especially if she has children and is a stay at home mom with little time to herself. It is possible. And dreams shouldn’t be kept in little jars on a shelf. They should be released….they are like rainbows…they are beautiful and when spread out…they are something many enjoy seeing/experiencing. I want those who are looking for my ‘rainbow’ to enjoy it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Crest of Harmonia

So I call this little cream oval trinket- "The Crest of Harmonia".
First off, it's probably not even called that in real life. Second, I have no idea it's past, it's making/creation, where it came from originally, how it was acquired and why....etc.
Why it means something to me: First: The tiny little picture portrays the woman mythology Goddess from my book, "Fire and Ice".
Second reason of why it means something to me: It, although extremely tiny is the very item that gave me hope about my book this last September when I was at a point in my life where I just wanted to give up on alot of things.

See- I had just been through a sort of depressing summer with an extensive five month query attempt (trying to send part of my manuscript to literary agents so one of them would agree to represent me and try to get me a publishing deal with a major publishing company). Out of about 165 queries- (some were email, some were actually printed and mailed all the way to New York City), I received about four positive responses. Yeah, kind of hard to swallow. (But out of all of them, there were a couple I was more than happy to get back- whether they were negative or positive. One in particular is from Jodi Reamer, the agent who represented the author who wrote Twilight. It honestly was a great honor to receive a big fat rejection from her. (All rejections were nicely worded, though).
So anyway, the depressing summer came and went and the fall season started stressfully. My grandmother that raised me became very sick. Within two weeks time, she went from OK- healthy to passing away. It was devastating. She was my best friend. The worst part: she lived 1000 miles away from me in Idaho. I was unable to get there quickly.
Out of some things I was given of her possessions, there was a small Rubbermaid organizer from Wal-Mart filled with her simple play jewelry (think fun trendy stuff from Claire’s) and most of it was 80's dated/purchased. Most of it I remember playing with when I was a little girl. Originally, I was to pick a few items and then they (my grandmother’s children) were going to toss it/donate it because they didn't think anyone wanted it. When I found out I was the last person picking, I quickly asked if I could just take the whole thing home. I had so much stuff to take home already anyway, so what was another small Tupperware of a couple drawers filled with some play jewelry?

Well, it wasn't just another Tupperware.....It held something so small and so significant.....
I never really had a chance to go through it until 2-3 months later and organize the jewelry. So I am unsure of when I actually came across this little special oval of plastic-like porcelain type of trinket. Things were a blur after the first week of September and never really became entirely clear until just two months ago. (About six months of fuzzy living)....

When I did find it, I was sitting in my bedroom closet and the dim light provided hardly any use. I examined it closely at first, sort of slow motion-like and then I jumped to my feet and into my main part of my bedroom near the window which provided sufficient light for viewing.
"No way..." was all I can remember thinking. "It's Harmonia..."

And now let me explain: The main character in my Book, Claire, comes across a chest in her grandparents basement. Inside is something unusual. (You'll have to wait for the book to find out the item- it too is a trinket-like object but not this, and the answer is nowhere but the book part which has not been published anywhere....sorry to make you suffer!)...Anyway, Claire is tied to a bloodline of Mythology Gods and Goddesses. One of them in particular is the glorious Harmonia I have been speaking of.
(If you look up mythology history- Harmonia is the daughter of Ares and Aphrodite. Harmonia was born out of wedlock whereas her mother Aprodite was having an affair with Ares while married to Hesphaestus. Once Hesphaestus left her (and was actually banned from the kingdoms of heaven), Aprodite hooked up with Ares and Harmonia was then born. Harmonia is said to have Harmony with all things living, especially nature.)

So- take another look at the crest. You see a lady in a white flowing Greek-mythology type of gown and there are all these birds and nature are around her.....
It’s beautiful. It's Harmonia to me. This little crest has given me such renewal on getting excited about the book, writing it, finishing what I started.

But please, let me go back to a tangent about the book:

So Claire is given the ultimate choice of protecting what is inside the chest. Not just some pinky promise. Like life or death. Pretty much: "Like your life is never going to be the same ever again once you say yes to protect this thing..."
Also told via the Fire and Ice excerpt, the chest in Claire's basement is the original "Pandora's box".
See- something terrible happened in Heaven, dealing with Harmonia. So bad that she had to take something precious and seal it away in a chest. But although the chest was still in heaven, Hesphaestus sent his daughter, Pandora to retrieve the item and she failed. Therefore the chest got its name of "Pandora's Box"..... Whatever was in the chest was apparently not safe in heaven...So it was sent to earth to begin being cared for by caretakers- relatives of the distinct mythology bloodline.

So I have named my trinket from Grandma "The Crest of Harmonia".

When I found it- it was almost like grandma encouraging me to continue on my big dream, to not worry about her and to return to my everyday life things and routines. See- grandma listened eagerly to every step I was accomplishing or brick wall I was running into when I began writing, querying, editing.....
For the longest time, I wanted so badly to have the book published and in her hands to show her my accomplishment and to make her proud in order to thank her because of all the wonderful love and things grandma did for me as a kid, raising me and teaching me and supporting me. I know she doesn't have to have my printed and finished novel in her hand to be proud. We had many talks about things like this, her trying to make me understand that she didn’t need something physical to be proud, that just seeing me do all this and working hard with what she taught me was good enough...but, if my dream could have happened, with me having my moment to surprise her with the book in her hands- it would have been a plus though. I guess all I can do is continue the dream and know that she's watching down from heaven.

How ironic do you think this all is? Does it give you goosebumps? Do you believe in fate and 'meant to be' type of things? This was my meant to be. Totally and absolutely amazing.
My next post: I plan on talking about my steps so far to getting to the phase I am at currently in attempting to publish a book. The ups and downs I have had, the trial and errors I’ve experienced, places online I have found of great use in answering A LOT of my querying, publishing and agent questions….and so forth and so forth. I would like to help be a tool to others- giving real life posts and experience of my daily efforts in accomplishing my dream. Maybe my answers can help speed up someone else’s efforts to catching their dream star in the sky faster than what I have experienced in catching mine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First post of the official blog! Officially scatterbrained!

Ok, so I need to post something, although this isn't what I planned on for my first post!!
I am really excited to begin the whole internet social networking to promote my FIRST novel, Fire and Ice. I am openly embracing twitter (I still have not had a chance to get to setting up that part quite yet), a facebook fan page, an author facebook page (let's just say trying to create the right pages has been exhausting), making changes to my website and so on and so on has left my brain a little fried.....For all of you who know me, I am not someone who knows a whole lot about technology, but I'm willing to learn. Unfortunately I am a VERY slow learner. Heh, heh....And to warn you: I am a big dreamer and I have serious issues with staying on the same topic for very long. I tend to jump all over the place. So hopefully those of you choosing to take this ship with me- you can withstand and survive my all-over the place antics.

Anyhoo, Fire and Ice was written in about 10 months and I've been farting around on getting it edited, critiqued and published for the last two years. When I began submitting the manuscript last spring, I honestly had no idea what adventures I was in for. There is so much more work to publishing a book than I'd ever dreamed of, folks! So although I've taken my time, I have been working really hard. I know that sounds kind of weird together....

I have wanted to start a blog on my novel for ages. There are all sorts of little secrets and behind the scenes things I love talking about with my book. I can't wait until I have followers and a discussion feed and can speak with eager readers/fans about things they think about and I think about.
And let's put it this way: I will never read a book by another author ever the same ever again. When I read, I want to ask all sorts of questions to the author themself.

My dream- someday meet Stephanie Meyer. It wasn't until her interview on Oprah about Twilight that I was hit with the light bulb moment to write my first novel. I have always wanted to publish my first book, I just never had the ummpfff of a push to get me going. I never really had a dead set reason behind the madness of accomplishing such a mad and difficult dream. I give huge credit to her (Stephanie M.) Sometimes just having her books on my nightstand or in my book shelf would be the only things that kept me going during times of dissappointment or frustration. "If she can do this, so can I!"....(except sometimes I didn't sound so excited/determined when exclaiming that.....)

So, back to the creation of the book Fire and Ice: I wrote it in about ten months, and 12 months later when trying to get it published and failing miserably (not really getting any bites on the storyline), I became super great friends with one of the best people ever- My co-author Heather Adams. She was so into my book, wanting to help organize my scatterbrained ideas and thoughts and she had amazing advice and imput. She helped to revamp the storyline and give a whole new idea to how it should play out. Thus I went back to the writing board and spent another 6 months re-editing. The final outcome is so much better than the original. As Heather puts it, "This is your baby. I'm here to help."......So Heather is more of the behind the scenes person with a fabulous brain that soaks up everything like a sponge. (Hence she is attending school to gain her RN degree.)

For those of you stumbling across this page, here is my opening Query, (description of the book): STORYLINE OF FIRE AND ICE: Claire Ellis finds something very strange and unique in her grandparent’s hoarded and cluttered basement that changes her life forever. She soon learns that if it falls into the wrong hands, it could have the power to destroy this world, along with other worlds and all their creations. Feeling inadequate for the task, but seeing no other option, she accepts the challenge to guard her discovery with her very soul in order to prevent evil from winning the final battle of the excruciating war that has taken place silently for nearly four centuries. Because of her discovery, she experiences love for the first time, she witnesses death and murder, and she becomes even more uncommon from her peers. Ultimately, the destiny of her life is changed eternally. In Fire and Ice, 15 year old Claire Ellis does all this alongside her best friend while exploring boys, parties, and dating. Claire is a humble, yet liberal teenager. Claire’s discovery is actually a part of a larger number of sacred items that had once been safe within the Higher Powers of Heaven as ‘One’ and guarded closely by famous Gods and Goddesses like Ares, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, ... A soap opera of events like infidelity, revenge, and damnation in the heavens cause all things harmonious to be disrupted and cursed forever. The Gods and Goddesses have no choice but to break up the one sacred item into multiple pieces, scatter and entrust them to a variety of different mortal ‘caretakers’ in distinct bloodlines, who like Claire now, were given a choice of whether or not to accept such an intimidating call of duty.

Back to my regular blog post- I have had a lot of friends and family eagerly asking over the last year of my progress on my book. So here I am finally able to give them something to chew on.
Also, I have written half of book two (Fire and Ice is planned to be a four book series) and I've written summaries/plotlines of books three and four.

Recently in the last year, I lost someone very dear to me. It wasn't until after this person was gone that I came across something extraordinary in their belongings that was given to me that honestly made me stop and realize that writing Fire and Ice is meant to be. I will share in my next posting (which I wanted to be my orginal first post) of what it was I found and was given that pushes my determination in completing this project book series and going on to write half a dozen other stories and even a children's series. (seriously, you will pee your pants when you see the next post. Heather almost did, it even gave her chills on the coincidence of everything!)
Thus, I am going to end this post and revisit with you in a few days. Thanks for reading, welcome aboard and hold on for the ride. It's going to be awesome!