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April fool (well, not really)

Apparently March has whizzed by already and that means it’s time to announce April’s contest. For the history of my paying-it-forward contest go here.

I’ll draw the March winner sometime over the weekend and post it here and on Twitter so stay tuned!

And now onto April. This month, the prize is Welcome to Temptation by Jenny Crusie.

Way back in hmmm, 2001, when I had decided to give this whole writing thing a serious go, one of the first things I went to (thanks to the sharp eyes of my flatmate at the time) was a talk given by the always lovely Anne Gracie at the Victoria Writers Centre about writing romance (sensible given that was what I wanted to do). Anne was fresh off the plane from the Romance Writer’s of America New Orleans Conference and probably jetlagged as a jetlagged thing but she was entertaining and educational and full of enthusiasm for what she did (and alliterative, apparently). She was pretty much the first real! live! author! I had met in person and because she was so nice, something clicked in my brain that authors were people too rather than superheros (though Anne is a superhero) and maybe I could do this after all and I came away all inspired. I finished my first manuscript which had been languishing at three chapters for quite a long time about two months later. Anyway, at the talk Anne had spoken about different genres of romance and one of the contemporary authors she mentioned was Jenny.

Welcome to Temptation had been out for a little while in Australia (I remember wandering past the bright green cover in various bookstores several times – picture the above cover kind of Granny Smith apple green) but after Anne’s talk, I finally gave in and bought it (there may yet be a recurring theme in these tales of books Mel has resisted for no particularly reason then adored once she bought them). I took it home and started to read and fell in love with contemporary romance all over again. Witty, sexy, intelligent romance. I became a Crusie fan on the spot and remain one to this day. I own every single book she’s written and some of them twice but I think Welcome to Temptation remains my favourite mostly because Phin is a hero who is right up my alley. Still not sure why as generally I don’t do blonds.

Jenny is also a great writing teacher and I’ve belonged to her loops for ages and can be found hanging out on the Cherry Forums from time to time.

Other favourite books of hers include Manhunting, Tell Me Lies and Agnes and the Hitman (co-written with Bob Mayer) though really, I love ‘em all.

So this month’s prize is Welcome to Temptation, another book I have read too many times to count, and turn to as a treasured comfort read. Anyone who hasn’t read it and loves great contemporary romance is in for a treat. Now, to continue the tradition..here’s a taste of the back cover blurb from that very green book I bought.

“Sophie came to Temptation, Ohio, to help her sister make a movie. Now she’s making trouble for the town council, love with the mayor and lemonade for a murderer…Welcome to Temptation. Population 2158. And falling.”

For April, it’s the same rules as March. Comment on this or any other of my blog posts this month and you’re in the running. Simple. Winner will be drawn early May and announced on the blog and via Twitter and will have two weeks to claim their prize or there will be a re-draw.

The call

Sorry there has been blog silence but there have been great things afoot which I have not been allowed to blog about…

Some of you may have heard the news already but people, I have sold a book! In fact, I have sold three. On the 20th of February I finally got “the call” and am beyond thrilled to announce that I’ll be writing as M.J. Scott for Ace/Roc (Penguin USA’s SF/F imprint). Ace/Roc publish a very high percentage of my favourite fantasy authors so I’m going to be in some very illustrious company.

Anyway, the actual story….

Those of you who read this blog know that after a year that wasn’t really the highpoint in my writing life, I finished a new book and Miriam sent it out on January 21. We had some fairly immediate encouraging feedback that week and then some even more encouraging feedback the following week (at which point my nails started to fear for their lives). I was trying not to get too excited after all, publishing can move very slowly. And it’s been a bit under three years since Miriam sent out my first book and the last twelve months or so have really not been the greatest time to try and sell as a debut author (note to aspiring authors out there…try not to have a Global Financial Crisis during your submission process) despite Miriam’s untiring championing of me and my work. So I know that it’s a long haul business.

However it seems the publishing gods finally decided to let me switch to a faster track because early the following week we got an offer. An offer from a house that has always been on my dream list. So Miriam went to work talking to the other houses who had the book, I stopped sleeping and started avoiding people so I wouldn’t have to explain the stupid grin on my face and the waiting began. We got a second offer late on Friday in the US (Saturday morning for me) from another house that was on my dream list so then we knew there would be some sort of auction!! The US then had a long weekend which felt like the longest four days of my life (being ahead of the US here in Oz I knew I wouldn’t hear anything until my Wednesday morning) where I had to walk around pinching myself a lot and swinging between happy and very very nervous.

The auction and various agentish things took until late Friday their time again but finally Miriam called me early Saturday morning my time and we talked and then she called the winning editor and then I got the official “call” from Miriam to say it was a done deal. So in the end it took just under a month. Plus the eight odd years of writing and submitting prior. Since then I’ve been walking around (or maybe floating around) in a bit of a daze, smiling a lot and still not sleeping very much as my brain comes up with a thousand and one questions and a thousand and one things to do, most of which have to wait.

As a piece of trivia – the number one question you get asked when you tell people you’ve sold a book is “when does it come out”. Depending on who you’ve sold to, you probably won’t know this straight away. At the moment I know it will be in the second half of next year but nothing more definite. The number two question is “when are you quitting your day job” (or maybe..does this mean you’re resigning if you tell people at your day job). The answer to that one is easier. “Not right now and probably not for a while.”

So it seems for the next 18 months or so there will be much learning about being a paid writer, much writing and hopefully much blogging about the process between the call and publication. I’ll be posting news about release dates, titles, covers and all that good stuff as it comes to hand here and on my website (just updated…go see).

Until then I’ll be working on book two (and book one revisions when they land), snoopy dancing and hopefully returning to a normal sleep pattern!

PS If anyone links to my website, it’s now www.mjscott.net rather than .info (though .info will redirect) so please update your links.

PPS As a final comment WOOOHOOOOO!!!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! However you spend this day and whatever your beliefs, I hope that today is great one and that 2010 is fabulous!

The robin above isn’t exactly evocative of Aussie Christmas (though they are forecasting a cool day where I am – which is just fine with me because cool weather is better for eating yummy food and drinking yummy win than 40 degrees Celsius in the shade) but he was too cute to resist!

Making it shiny

Comments are starting to come back from crit partners and betas so my mind is turning back to the book. I’ll get Miriam’s comments later today but she’s given it the tick of approval (not that the tick of approval means no more work needed lol).

So work on draft three will begin soon. For me the process goes something like this:

Draft 1 – write version of book that is way short (about 75% of what it should be) and full of people talking and severely lacking in setting and description etc. Early in this process do a collage and a soundtrack.

Revision pass 1 (to get to draft two) – read draft 1 and make notes to self about stuff that is missing, stuff that doesn’t make sense, threads that need to be picked up etc and many comments along the lines of “expand” “what the heck are these people wearing” and “setting please”. Start thinking about solutions to some of these problems. Then I generally cut down the soundtrack and maybe add a few new songs to it and perhaps fiddle with the collage or make another one if I need to though I didn’t do that this time. If there’s structural stuff I want to do (ie shift stuff around or make major story line changes or fix pacing etc) or if I don’t quite feel I’ve got a handle on the book, I write a synopsis because that helps me see it a little more clearly. Then I get to work putting a lot of stuff in, circling back to layer stuff, cleaning up the language and getting it to the point where I’m not ashamed to let people see it. I prefer to revise fast but it takes as long as it will take.

Draft 2 goes to my agent and my crit buddies (either in full or bits) and any other beta readers. While they read, I chew my fingernails, become convinced the book is terrible and that my agent will sack me and try and distract myself by working on other stuff. The back brain also goes to work on the things that I think are still not quite right with the book.

The next revision pass depends on what the comments are and what my thoughts are. There might be structural things, there might be just polishing and tightening, there might be worldbuilding to solidify or subplots to tweak. I have my views on what the book needs right now and I’m waiting to see what else the readers see that I just can’t. So while I wait, now that I have some comments, I’m going to do some revision prep:

1. Do the first draft of the synopsis and a scene outline. This gets the “what happens” back in my head and shows me the POV balance and timeline.

2. Play with the soundtrack some more. The muse is still happy with the collage, so apparently I nailed that early on this time.

3. Do some braindumping/free writing about the comments and my concerns to see what turns up.

4. Whatever else the muse tells me to (look for images, watch certain films or tv shows.

5. Possibly bore people who gave me comments with questions and discussions.

Then I’ll do the next pass (and probably start to hate the book again and whine a lot) and it will go back to Miriam. Hopefully she won’t want another pass but you never know. If she does then, it’ll be lather, rinse, repeat until I get it right.

I got nothin’

Not the most scintillating week. It can be summed up as hot and busy with a side of the return of Mel’s stupid allergy that makes her itch. Phooey.

However, we have plunged into the joy (oh hear the sarcasm) of revising and so far have staggered through the first six chapters. So about a third down. I want to get this book to Miriam by mid December at the latest and the rest of the book needs a lot more work than what I’ve done so far, so it’s head down and type type type for the next few weeks.

Tomorrow morning though, I’ll be doing this as a bit of a mental break. So hopefully that will fire up the girls!

Onwards

Despite spending most of the day prepping for my class tomorrow, I managed nine pages. Didn’t end up watching Glee last night due to wrestling with Linux trying to get Write or Die up and running on my Acer netbook. I was eventually successful but it took awhile. Doesn’t help that I really don’t know much about using Linux and my recollection of doing things the old DOS style way is sketchy at best. Thank goodness for Mr. Google and wiser heads than mine who have already solved the problem and shared it with the internet.

No idea how many pages it will take to get to the end of this book. By my count there’s got to be at least two more sex scenes, some plotting and planning scenes, some targeted violence, a failed assassination attempt, more plotting and planning, a final confrontation and then mopping up the aftermath….but for now I shall believe my progress bar that says I’m about three quarters through.

Progress – Lily

New pages - Nine (Write or Die continues to be a page count boon)
Intriguing things - Moles
Annoyances - Drafty drafty drafty. Talking heads about. But only to be expected when mainly writing in word sprints
Linear/non-linear – Non-linear
Music - Crazy by Icehouse.
Location - Write or Die and Think.
Taking care of Mel - Nap. Soon to be physio/stretching
Muse food - Sewing, soon the delayed Glee and Burn Notice

Melodrama

I have a sneaking suspicion that my heroine is being melodramatic inside her head. Right now, the muse keeps throwing up songs that belong to her soundtrack and they’re all pretty much tragic heroine/lonely ingenue songs. At least, on a positive note, at least three of those suggest she is at least falling for the hero even if she thinks it’s doomed *g*). It’s going to be fun moving her through to the point where she can have a grand happy love ballad at the end. I’m imagining there’s going to be some angry stubborn chick music before we get to that point.

Luckily my hero is well up to the task of digging in his heels and refusing to take no for an answer until she sees the light.

Heh heh heh. Should be fun.

Another year

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

How did another year go by? Apparently time flies when there is writing, sewing, knitting, alpacas, crazy orange cats, friend’s babies, conferences, day job, silly grey cats, parental units, books to read, friend to hang with, naps, dancing, flowers and many other cool things. Let there be cake!

Over here again

Blogging about part of my recent post conference trip with the 2007 GH girls. So come on over.

Not too far off

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Still buggy. Sadly my cats cannot say “bless you”, so I sneeze in silence (and possibly endanger my soul or whatever it is that saying bless you is meant to protect you from). Normal blogging shall resume when I no longer need shares in Kleenex.