Quick Update

The latest on my hands: All tests, including MRI, show no obvious damage, so the diagnosis is plain old overuse. Therefore, I will be using my hands as little as possible until they get better, which means extremely little blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, etc. It also means no working, so I’m now part of the “unemployed” statistics.

Fortunately, my speech-to-text software allows me to continue to write and edit.

I recently sold my flash fiction story “The Pen Is Mightier” to Daily Science Fiction. Sore hands or not, I’ll definitely link to that once it’s available.

My main writing focus right now is on getting my science fiction space opera trilogy Children of the Om-Mar whipped into shape. All three books are finished, but only the first one is in good enough shape to show to the world, and it’s still going to get at least one more editing pass. You can read the current draft here.

Baby Grand author Dina Santorelli interviewed me about The Silver Cage and writing in general for her Debut Author Q&A. Thanks, Dina!

Louise Wise interviewed me on her Wise Words blog. Thanks, Louise!

My hands are saying I’ve used them too much today, so I’m outta here.

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Happy 2011!

Happy (belated) New Year!

My hands have let me spend a few hours on the computer lately, allowing me to get all of the required end-of-year tax forms filed for my businesses and letting me work a bit on my author website. Hurray for that.

Staying off the computer does make my hands feel better, but since getting back on the computer makes them hurt again, it’s not really much of a solution. However, I’m going to continue to limit my computer-use for a few more weeks. I’m going in for another round of tests on January 17. Hopefully the tests will reveal something as being definitely wrong so the doctor has something he can work on and I can get back to writing, blogging regularly, and (oh, yeah) earning a living.

I’ve been getting some writing and editing done using speech-to-text software (without which I would probably go insane). I’m mainly working on The Greyhounds of Aeravon, the first book in a series of fantasy novels I hope to use to raise money to help support greyhound adoption. Although many of the characters in the novel are greyhounds, I think the story will be enjoyable to many different types of readers whether they like fantasy stories, dog stories, greyhound stories, or just a good adventure story. I think it will also appeal to younger children since the main human character is a twelve-year-old boy. Early drafts of the first four chapters are available on The Greyhounds of Aeravon website.

Despite my inability to do much online promoting of The Silver Cage, it’s received a couple of 5-star reviews on Amazon, which is nice to see. I’ve sent out a lot of review copies, so it will hopefully get some more reviews soon. If you’ve read it and want to leave a review, please feel free to do so.  ;-)

My houndies are demanding to be fed their dinner. I’ll post again ASAP.

 

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Continuing Hiatus

Two weeks off the computer seems to have helped my hands a little bit. My doctor wants me to continue to stay off of it as much as possible. He’ll be repeating all of the nerve and muscle tests in a couple of weeks to see if there’s any change from the October tests.

Until then, I may check in on the computer once a week or so. With luck, this hand stuff will all be solved in a few more months and I’ll be back to work.

P.S. Don’t forget to buy a copy (or two or three) of The Silver Cage before January 1; I’m donating $1 per copy to Rescued Racers in St. Louis.

 

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Taking A Break

UPDATE:

My week of no computer use has come and gone, and my hands are still bothering me, although I think they might be getting a little bit better…maybe. I have another appointment with the hand doctor on December 27, so I’m going to continue my computer hiatus until then to see if anything else happens.

Happy holidays!

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For the past couple of months, I’ve been dealing with an issue with my hands that is exacerbated by (and may be caused by) using the computer. It isn’t carpal tunnel syndrome or anything specific like that; I’ve seen a doctor and had a lot of tests, and the conclusion is that I’ve just overused my hands.

Despite cutting way back on my computer use, my hands are still giving me hell, so I’m going to take a full week off the computer. That means I won’t be blogging, using Twitter or Facebook, e-mailing, etc.

I’ll be back on December 20, hopefully with good news.

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Interview with J.M. Kelley, author of Drew In Blue

J.M Kelley is another of my fellow LazyDay Publishing authors. Her novel Drew In Blue is a contemporary love story set in the fictional Appalachian town of River’s View, Pennsylvania, and filled with quirky characters that pay homage to the real-life characters she’s had the pleasure of knowing all her life.

Why don’t you start by telling us about Drew In Blue.

Drew In Blue by J.M. KelleyDrew In Blue is the story of a thirty-six-year-old loner unexpectedly saddled with the task of raising a baby while trying to sort out his mess of a life. Problem is, he just keeps making things worse for himself. It’s a running theme in Drew’s life, considering he never does anything the easy way. The River’s View, Pennsylvania, gossip mill is watching each misstep as Drew juggles a price-gouging babysitter, a major case of artist’s block, and a best friend with an opinion to share on every bungled choice he makes.

Drew’s love life isn’t faring much better. Despite a long history of relationships that never really get off the ground, he falls head over heels for someone new, hoping that she might be the one to end his romantic bad luck streak. After a few abysmally bad false starts, things finally start looking up for Drew. That is, until he finds out (the hard way, naturally) that this new love interest isn’t the one for him after all. Turns out, it’s actually lifelong pal, and high school girlfriend, Kristina Moser.

Drew’s feelings for Kris intensify as he witnesses her growing bond with his son, and he finally realizes where he belongs. Now all he has to do is convince Kris he’s right… and she’s just not buying it.

How did you choose the title?

It was really a random notion that came to me, and later I realized it tied in nicely to the artistic background of the characters, as well as the world view of the main character. Honestly, when I first thought of it I thought, ‘Hey, it rhymes. Neat.’ The logic of it fell into place later.

Who is your favorite character in Drew In Blue?

I love Drew to pieces, but Kris seems to qualify as my favorite. She was really meant to be a bit player in the story, and the girl refused to be a background character. I love how it feels to read over the story and realize that in a way, Drew and Kris as a couple took me by surprise as much as it did them. Her strength as a person is responsible for the path my story took. I kinda love her for that.

Who is the ideal reader for your book?

I think Drew can appeal to a wide variety of readers. If you’ve loved and lost, Drew is for you. If you’ve bunged up a relationship or two, Drew is for you. If you’ve ever felt like the world’s left you behind, it’s for you. I’d even like to hazard a guess that even though Drew is a romance and would appeal to a generally female audience, that men might find it an engaging read as well. My biggest desire in writing the story was to present a believable male main character, and I’d love to have the guys test that attempt for me.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m continuing the theme of life in small-town Pennsylvania, but this time moving the setting to Lancaster County. The main characters are not Amish, but they are surrounded by the culture. The working title, for now, is Daddy’s Girl. Janie, a bit of a black sheep, is called home to care for her ill father. While the story is a romance, with Janie finding love at the most inconvenient time in her life, the story focuses strongly on Janie and her father healing old rifts and discovering how much they have in common after all.

Tell us something about yourself.

I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and am a writer of love stories, a painter, a painfully bad knitter, and a photographer – if the pursuit is artistic, chances are I’ve dabbled in it.

After a lengthy break that included adventures in accounting and coffee distribution, I returned to my passion for writing with that old adage write what you know whispering from the deep recesses of my mind. I realized that I know how to read a book on a moving skateboard, that if you’re riding shotgun in a pick-up truck, ‘mud’ can be used as a verb, Amish traffic jams can wreak havoc on your morning commute, and Hog Maw is not to be experienced by the faint of heart.

While this list of knowledge seemed random and borderline nonsensical, it led me to one rock-solid conclusion: life in the Keystone State is a rich and endless source of inspiration. And so, I sat down in front of my laptop and began to piece together a story about life in small-town Pennsylvania – something I know a thing or two about. The result of this epiphany is Drew in Blue.

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America (PRO), The International Women’s Writing Guild, Pennwriters, and the South Carolina Writers Workshop.

My short story, Killing Me Softly, earned a first place finish in the In Other Words Competition at the 2010 Pennwriters Conference, and my non-fiction piece, Anniversary, won Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Award at the 2010 South Carolina Write’s Workshop Conference.

What types of books do you like to read?

Because I write romance now, I have been reading everyone from Jennifer Crusie to Janet Evanovich to Sarah Addison Allen. I love Toni McGee Causey. My tastes are a bit manic. I’m all over the place. Some of my favorite books are Stephen King’s The Stand, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, and Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, to name a few. I have easy standards for stories. A character or a setting or a theme much catch my attention. If I’m trying to walk and read at the same time, I know I’m hooked.

What is your guilty pleasure read you turn to for sheer entertainment?

Stephen King is my sheer entertainment read. I enjoy his characters. I like getting a little freaked out by the notion that a soda machine may try to kill me.

Who is your literary idol?

Harper Lee is the author I worship. To Kill A Mockingbird moved me beyond words, and will always be the book that inspired my love of reading and writing.

How do you approach a story?

I just start writing. The general story is something that pops into my head, and I mull on the topic for a bit. I seem to have a ridiculous ability to remember most of the potential story plots that spin through my brain, so unless it’s something that is critical for me to remember, I don’t really write much down. I may outline a bit here and there when I want to figure out how to handle a particular story arc, but for the most part I sit down and start typing, and that’s it.

Where do you work when writing? What is your ideal creative environment?

My ideal environment is beachside. I love to take a notebook to the shoreline and let the sounds of the ocean clear my mind and allow me to focus on what I want to write. I’m always on the lookout for a shot at a few hours on a secluded stretch of beach.

Back in the real world, though, and not the fantasy world, I write wherever I can. I carry a notebook with me at all times in case the mood strikes. Right now I’ve just moved into a new place, so I’m salivating over the idea of creating a special area just for writing.

What is the best advice you can give other writers about writing?

Just keep pushing. Keep doing the work. Keep learning. Never be afraid of anything that improves your manuscript. Listen to your gut, and when your gut says that something may need work, do the work. Writing isn’t a vacation. It’s a commitment.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

My biggest obstacle was being completely unclear on what it takes to write a book. I was a total novice, and made many, many mistakes. I may have composed the worst query letter known to man, and burned some agent bridges because of my cluelessness. But I went to the Pennwriters Conference and learned so much. Since then, I attended the SCWW Conference as well. I think conferences are a tremendous resource for authors in the making, and think it made all the difference in my work and how I handled the querying process. Invaluable information is available at such events.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

My website and blog are located at www.jmkelleywrites.com

Thanks for joining me, and good luck with your writing!

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The eBook Revolution

My fantasy novel The Silver Cage was released last week as an eBook. Since then, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the so-called eBook revolution: What’s it like to be part of it? Where do I think it’s going? Is it here to stay?

Heck, I’m not even sure how to spell eBook. Is it e-book or ebook or eBook? I’ve been using “eBook,” but no one seems to have settled on a spelling at this point. I remember a similar controversy with how to spell “email” when it first came into use. I’m not sure that controversy has been settled, but I’ve chosen to use “email.” I suspect that I’ll eventually settle on “ebook.”

I Googled “e-book revolution” and got over 11 million results. Interestingly, Googling “ebook revolution” (without the hyphen) returned only 282,000 results. I’m not sure what that means.

Since I don’t like books (I like to read them, I just don’t like having them physically cluttering up my life), I’m all for eBooks. What’s not good about having access to 1500 books in the palm of your hand? I’ve got a Barnes & Noble Nook, and I have both the Nook and Kindle apps on my PC and my Droid. For me, eBooks are absolutely perfect.

I’ve heard a lot of people say they will never get an eBook reader. A lot of them claim to like the feel and the smell of a “real” book. But I’ve also heard a lot of people take back those words after they got an e-reader. I guess the lesson here is “never say never.”

I’ve also had a lot of people ask me if my book will be coming out in a print edition because they don’t have an e-reader. I guess that those of us involved in the “eBook revolution” have to keep working to get the word out that you don’t need a dedicated e-reader to read eBooks. I blogged about this in a previous post and provided a number of links to free e-reader apps. Here they are again:

Do a Google search to find more.

So, is there an eBook revolution? I suppose that depends on how you define “revolution.” Are paper books ever going to go away? Absolutely not, but I’m fairly certain that eBooks are here to stay.

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Interview with Jack Hessey

Jack Hessey is one of my fellow LazyDay Publishing authors. He is the author of Steam Queen, a steampunk novel, and On Angels Wings, a young adult fantasy novel. I recently interviewed him about his books and his writing.

Welcome, Jack. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself.

There’s not much to tell. I’m from Mansfield in England, and after suffering through four years of temporary jobs and unemployment, I decided to get into education again. I’m currently studying Zoo Biology at Nottingham Trent.

Who is your favorite character in Steam Queen, and why?

Without a doubt it is Erica. I just find that she’s a really unique, unusual character. She’s an emotionally unstable girl with a bleak outlook on the world. A traumatic experience in her past has caused her to suffer from Mysophobia. She forces herself to never let people walk all over her, believing the best way to do this is to cruelly punish people who wrong her, no matter how small the offense.

She is a strange girl who takes great pride in the ‘freak’ tag that the other people in her town have tagged onto her. She judges people too quickly and often struggles to make friends because she takes an immediate dislike to others for no reason.

She isn’t really your typical main character since she has quite a lot of negative traits, and that is why I like her!

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’ve got a second book out called On Angels Wings, also with LazyDay Publishing. It’s a young adult fantasy that follows a newly graduated Guardian Angel’s attempts to protect a girl from a rogue Angel who is out to kill her.

Other than that, I’m working on a sequel to Steam Queen. It’s set in the same world as Steam Queen but follows a different character. It could work either as a direct sequel or as a standalone novel since only one character makes a return and even she doesn’t appear until late in the novel. It does tie in with Steam Queen however, both books are linked, which will lead to a third book in the series.

Who is your literary idol?

J.K Rowling. I love what she has managed to achieve, and she’s got such talent in writing interesting supporting/minor characters, something that many people don’t manage.

How do you approach a story? Do you start with outlines or something else?

I’m an outliner. I do brief chapter outlines and then start writing. Saying that, I usually end up changing things, and the story goes in a completely opposite direction than planned.

What’s the most personally challenging aspect of writing?

The query letter. What hell that was, summing up a 76,000-word novel into a few measly sentences that are good enough to hook agents and publishers. I dread going to query letter hell again.

What genres do you write in? Why?

Fantasy, because it means I can put what I want in it no matter how outlandish it may seem. I don’t wanna be shackled by the real world!

Can you tell us about any themes you have running through your stories?

Betrayal, war and right or wrong play a big part in Steam Queen. Another major focus is overcoming fears, something that the main character has to deal with.

Tell us your “story of getting published.”

After finishing the novel and polishing it up, I first submitted to agents. Got a few full-manuscript requests and a fair few rejections. Most rejections were positive though, praising the story in some way or another but didn’t think it was right for them.

I had more success going directly to publishers. Got a contract from two publishers (including LazyDay who I eventually went with) and a week after signing the contract after notifying other publishers who had my manuscript, two emailed me back saying they had been about to offer a contract, too.

Where can readers learn more about your book?

I’ve got a blog at http://scribblesandsteam.blogspot.com/ and there’s also the LazyDay Publishing website.

Thank you for joining me, Jack, and good luck with your novels. Keep writing!


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