“Seven Minutes in Devon” by Catherine Gayle

Even though I like romance novels, I prefer drama and thriller type books. With that said, I do read romance, on occasion, but it’s not my “go to” genre when I am book shopping. However, I do have my favorite romance authors and I think I’ll be adding Catherine Gayle to that list!

Seven Minutes in Devon” was wonderfully written. It drew me in from the start and kept me hooked throughout the book. The characters were easy to understand and relate to. I found myself rooting for the main character and her love interest right off the bat.

You often hear that characters need to be “three dimensional” so readers can get to know them better. Nobody likes a flat character that simply ‘exits’.  Emma and Aidan were richly written and their road to love was twisted and complex. I loved this about this book!

Seven Minutes in Devon” is the first in a series of the Cardiff siblings and I can not wait for the next book to come out! This is one of those books where you are so vested in the characters and their story that you don’t want to let them go at the end.

If you like romance, you’ll love this book. If romance isn’t your “go to” genre, give it a read anyway – I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

 

Book Reviews

As Indie authors, we all need a little help, right? We have poured our everything into a novel that we want people to read. Not only read, but enjoy. It may have been a story that we’ve carried around in our minds for years, or something inspired by a single moment. We have put words to paper and went over those words time and time again. We have edited, revised, trashed, revised, rewrote and edited some more. We have had our friends and family read it (and hopefully a beta reader or six). We have polished it to the point of absolutely shining.

Now what?

Some authors go the “mainstream” route and send query letters to agents (drillions of query letters, with about as many rejections), hoping to hook just one into taking a look at our “baby”. For those authors, I say, kudos to you!

Others of us take the “new” route and self publish. In the year 2012 and beyond, authors can skip the whole query/agent/editor process. With a plethora of tools at our disposal, we can have our polished masterpiece up on Amazon or Barnes & Noble in a flash.

But, again, now what?

Marketing. (that should so be a four letter word!). We tweet, post, blog, hold local author meetups and any other thing we can think of to get the word out. More often than not, our book just sits in cyberspace hoping to catch the eye of a reader or two. We pray that those few people will love it and tell other people about it. Maybe even leave a review for other people so they, too, get inspired to read it.

I am just one person (and an Indie author with a WIP), but I would love to help! I would love to review your novel on my blog, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon/Barnes and Noble. Every little bit helps, right?

How it works: contact me on my blog (leave a comment below this post), DM me on Twitter, or email me at christi(dot)leaverton(at)yahoo(dot)com. I will give you my mailing address so you can send me a final version of your book. I will read and review. Easy, peasy.  **we will discuss timeframe upon initial contact, which depends wholly on the amount of books already in my review queue, my writing schedule and how many ‘adult responsibilities’ I have coming up.

Happy writing!

Stuck! Gah!

I started my new novel around mid November and was writing like a champ. Go me! I got right at 25,000 words in just a few short weeks. Words were flowing out of me in waves. I was patting myself on the back and thinking, at this rate, I’ll have my first draft down before Christmas!

Yeah, that’s not going to happen. Real life stepped in and derailed my writing for the last ten days. The holidays, Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, laundry, house cleaning. You know, the adult responsibilities we all have.  I have not opened my manuscript since December 1st. That was, until yesterday.

I finally had some time, yesterday, to do some writing. I opened Scrivener, read over my last few paragraphs, poised my hands over my keyboard. And froze. Nothing came. Notta. Zilch. Zero.

I was at a very profound scene with a lot of conflict and knew the general direction I wanted to go, but my mind was blank. The problem was, over the last ten days or so, when I would get a wee bit of time to write, I knew it wasn’t enough to devote to the scene I was getting ready to tackle. So, I didn’t write at all. In doing that, I completely derailed my writing; stuck in the ditch. In about two feet of snow. And ice. And mud. (from spinning my wheels and all).

Yesterday, when I had enough time to sit down and justly devote to the scene, I had a sudden case of writer’s block. Being a ‘linear panster’, I can’t move on to the next scene. Being OCD, I can’t go back to the beginning and start reading in order to get into the story again.  I will start editing and get completely consumed with fixing everything – and end up stuck in the same exact place I was already stuck in. Trust me, I’ve tried this.

So, doing what a lot of my writer friends do, I jumped on the Absolute Write Water Cooler forums and yelled for help. As usual, the folks on there came to my rescue and offered tons of great ideas to help get me pushed up out of that ditch.

I ended up getting 883 words written yesterday. While not magnificent (in any stretch of the imagination), it was words and all words count. (at least until the edit and revision) And, I have made a new goal: to write something every single day. Even if it’s just a sentence or a paragraph, something has to be written every day. It’s the only way I know not to let the flow of the story run off downhill and land me smack in a ditch.

Anybody have more suggestions for getting “unstuck”?

Indie Authors

What are Indie authors? Unless you have been reading writer/author blog posts or are in some way associated with the art of writing, you have probably never heard the term “Indie Author”. So what are they?

Indie authors are 2012’s answer to traditional publishing. Go 2012!

First of all, what is traditional publishing? In the “old days,” writers sat down and wrote out a manuscript. Then, they edited it, revised it, trashed it, rewrote it, so on and so forth. When they felt like it was “polished” they would begin the daunting task of trying to get it published.

To get a story published, an author had to start with an agent, preferably in their genre. It would be kind of silly to try to pitch a horror novel to a romance agent. Finding the right agent is quite a task on it’s own. But, say you find a few agents in your genre that are accepting manuscripts. Bingo!

However, before you ever get the chance to get your manuscript in their hands, you have to “query” them first. This involves sending a “query letter” basically saying ‘hey, here I am, maybe the next big thing…’ with a brief (very brief) synopsis of your story. Imagine trying to get a highly sought after position in a very overcrowded career field and having to sell yourself in a one page synopsis. Yeah, it’s that hard.

But, let’s say out of the 100 query letters you send, one agent is intrigued. (probably not, but we can hope, right?) The agent contacts you and requests either a couple chapters of your manuscript or your whole manuscript. They read it and see that it is all you said it would be and that you really can write. Yay!

Next up, the agent goes to work and tries to sell your manuscript to a publisher. In a perfect world, the agent finds a publisher that loves your story. Next comes the edits (the publisher has an editor, by the way) and revisions. Hopefully, with a little luck, your story still resembles what you wrote to begin with. Wah-lah you have a book in print, on store shelves and at Amazon.

This whole process can easily take two years. Easy. Do you have what it takes to not only write, but to wait two years before you see your book in print?

Enter 2012. The year of the Indie Author. Now, authors can take a less traditional route to publishing. Basically, anybody who has access to a computer and internet can have a book published and up for sale in a matter of days. Did you hear me? Days!

All you need is a writing program (I use Scrivener) that allows you to write, edit and compile your story. Want it on Amazon? You can do that. Want it on Barnes & Noble? You can do that, too. You can even submit it to websites that specialize in print versions of Indie books.

While the “getting it to published status” is quite a bit easier, if you go this route, you will have to do all of your marketing yourself. Or hope like hell that a few people read it and rave about it; leaving glowing reviews all over the internet. **It can happen – Fact: Fifty Shades of Grey started off as fanfic for Twilight (Fanfic – writing based on a popular book/movie by a fan). EL James started writing her story, a chapter a week, in a Twilight forum and sprinkled in some erotica (okay BDSM) and found she was gaining followers left and right. She ended up self publishing under the title “Master of the Universe” before Vintage Books published it under the title “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

There is a downside to self-publishing that does hurt the market in general. Like I said, anybody can publish a book these days. Translate: you can be a great storyteller, but a terrible editor. Or you can be a great editor, but terrible storyteller. Therefore, the self published world of Indie Authors has loads of “books” with awful story lines, plots, spelling and grammar. But, there are some (quite a few actually) diamonds in the rough.

Where do you find good Indie books? The Kindle Book Review has a list of 2012 Finalists divided into several different genres, with links to the books. Click here to check out their findings.

I am planning on self publishing, so I will be one of those Indie Authors. (Stay Tuned!) Meanwhile, I would love recommendations on good Indie books if you know of any.

 

My ‘Why’

My first post! Yay!

I’ve let a few people (friends and family) know that I’m committing myself to a novel. People who have known me for years are generally saying, “it’s about time.” People who have only known me for the past few years are generally asking, “why?” As in, who in their right mind would want to sit down and write upwards of 70,000 – 100,000 words?!?! Crazy, right?

So, a little background: I started writing my very first novel when I was about 13 years old. I remember sitting at a desk, strategically placed by a window in my bedroom, and taking pen to paper. To be honest, I don’t even remember the story now, but I’m sure it was something of the horror variety since I had just discovered Stephen King. Note: “Salem’s Lot” will scare the bejesus out of a 13 year old girl!

I continued writing through my teen years and early adulthood. Sometimes working on stories and other times working on poems and sonnets. But, life gets in the way, right? I got married at 19 and had my first baby just a few months shy of my twentieth birthday. Baby #2 was born 13 1/2 months later. Nine years after baby #1 was born, I gave birth to baby #5. Yes, five kids in 9 years. So, I worked and had babies. I kind of specialized in babies 😉

I loved being a mom and loved being around my kids, but I was also blessed with a love of knowledge and the ability to learn. I decided to go to college. I needed to do something to help support my family.

I started college in 1994, attending Drury University at night. I worked a full time day job, raised my children (and they all played sports) and still completed my college education in four years. I graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science in Education and minors in both Sociology and English.

I didn’t set out for the minor in English, but I ended up with one. English, especially writing, was my first love. I was from a small town, which even in the year 2012, has exactly zero stoplights. So, it wasn’t “practical” to get a degree in the field of say, journalism. I am also a determined and proud person. I took English classes to keep my GPA up. English, with all the literature and creative writing classes, came easy to me. Chemistry, not so much. In the end, I graduated with a 3.498 GPA and Departmental Distinction in the field of Education.

I tell you that to tell you this. I LOVED one class. I mean like, LOOOVVEEDD it. It was Creative Writing: Fiction. My professor was Dr. Tom Lawson and I had him for several other English classes throughout my career, so I had an inkling of what his class would be like and he had an inkling of what to expect from me. And, expect he did! We were assigned to write four short stories over the course of the semester. While the other 99% of the class turned in pretty much the bare minimum of 7-12 pages, with an occasional 15 page story here and there, I turned in 60-70 page stories. It was like I couldn’t shut up. And, here’s the kicker, I never sat down to write my story until a night, or at most, two nights before it was due.

One week, Dr. Lawson assigned us a story on an inanimate object. I wrote a 72 page story about a softball, from the softball’s point of view. 72 pages. About a softball. Where did I come up with that??? (even I can’t answer that now) Keep in mind, at the time, I was writing a LOT, just in college overall. I very rarely edited and revised those stories. It just came naturally. Even the grammar and the mechanics.

Each week, after stories were due, Dr. Lawson had various students read their stories aloud in class. Guess what? I never had to read mine. 72 page stories pretty much take up the entire time he had allotted for reading. However, that week, he decided that my story needed to be heard and he did the reading. When he was done, he announced that the only mistake I made in the whole manuscript was…..I forgot to underline my title.

Rest assured, writing doesn’t come anywhere near that easy for me now. I’m terribly out of practice. Years of teaching learning disabled students with my writing focus on IEPs (test scores, IQs, behavior plans, etc.) and more recently monthly reports as the QDDP (Qualified Developmental Disabilities Professional) of a group home has taken a toll on my creativeness. For the last 14 years or so, my writing has been bare bones, no frills, just the facts ma’am. And it sucks.

But, I have this incredible husband and he has inspired me to write again. He supports me 100% and even checks in to see how much and what I’ve written that day. I have wonderful friends who don’t think I’m crazy. Or at least, they don’t tell me they think I’m crazy to my face. A few have even expressed their love of writing as well.

So, I started writing my novel on Monday, 12 November 2012, and as of today, Monday, 19 November 2012, I have a whopping 6, 673 words typed. Obviously, I am way out of practice. But, with practice come perfection. So, this blog will not only be a catalyst toward the completion of my novel, it will also be practice sessions. I hope you stay for the ride.