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NOTE: This post was drafted on May 18, but I still don’t know how to do certain editing (putting a series if words in italics, for example) on my iPad. So I had planned on doing that editing on my real computer that night in the new place. But I’m having connectivity issues, and yesterday was the moving van part of the process, so last night I fell into bed surrounded by boxes. Decided this morning to publish the post as drafted.
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Today I’ve been up since extra-early o’clock. Slept in the old moving-out-of place last night. The movers are coming this morning to pack all the stuff I didn’t want to attempt moving myself (grandmother’s china, items from my great-grandparents, etc.), along with all the stuff I simply cannot lift (mirrors, big framed wall hangings). So, I’m sitting here for a brief peaceful moment, in advance of the chaos, with some yogurt/granola and my iPad. (Critical elements for life, such as my coffee pot and my computer are over at the new place–but, with my iPad, I’m at least connected, if not caffeinated.)

As I’ve been sitting here in the complete stillness (experienced rarely anymore and only when television is not an option), I’ve been thinking that moving is one of the ways we can sample hell on earth. And every time I move I say the same thing: This is the last time!

How many time have I moved? Funny you should ask. This current move makes number thirty! Yes, a nice round number. So once again I say, “This is the last time!” Seriously.

Not all of the thirty moves were of my own doing. Since I’m counting from when I was born, at least a half dozen or more of those early relocations were my parents’ fault, of course, although several life-altering events are associated with each of those domiciles. But from the time I left for college (and I’m counting the college dorms as being among the thirty “residences”), every move has either been of my own choosing (generally quite exciting situations marking positive changes) or the result of some stupid decision I made along the way.

Several years ago, the thought occurred to me that an interesting idea for a memoir might be to track the formative moments in a life through the places in which a person had lived. And since I have photographs of almost all of the thirty (the number was only 28 when this brainstorm hit), I thought “that person” might be me, and I actually starting crafting the outline for that book.

Then, after spending about forty hours on the project and getting sort of jazzed, another thought occurred to me: What the heck am I doing? Who on earth is going to care about where I lived, or what happened to me and to my family in each of those places, or what I ended up learning from those various parts of the country, types and sizes of houses/apartments, and how each location ran in tandem with the development of my heart, soul, dreams, aspirations, and calamities? No one even knows who in the world “Cheri Laser” is! Not to mention the fact that everyone in America seems to be writing a memoir–even 16-year-old pop singing phenoms named Justin. (There’s actually something a tad bit annoying, to tell the truth, about a 16-year-old person who’s already [theoretically] crammed enough substantive life experiences into sixteen brief years to support a memoir. Do you think there might be any padding in there? Or perhaps the book is only twenty pages long …?)

At any rate … whatever.

After extensive consideration of all the above, no motivating or inspirational answers to my questions were forthcoming, so I ceased my work on that memoir and shifted all of my concentration to Separation of Faith.

Now, who knows? Readers are discovering Separation of Faith all over the country through word of mouth, contest placements, book clubs, and so forth. And dreams have a funny way of materializing, if you never give up. So, maybe someday people will know who the heck I am–and then, perhaps, there might be some interest in the thirty places where I’ve lived and all that comes along with that theme.

Should even a trace of that scenario ever come to pass, I just happen to have a book ready to resurrect on the subject.

Meanwhile, back to the real world of May 18, 2011 and to move number thirty. Hope you all have a beautiful day!

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Good News Is Especially Fun When You’re Exhausted!

Hi! This will be the quickest of posts since this moment finds me literally buried in the chaos of the move. But my genius computer fellow just finished reassembling the technical elements of my office about an hour ago, in the new (and amazingly wonderful) space where I will now be blessed to write each day.

So, after he left, I stopped unpacking for a few minutes to check email–and there I found a message announcing that the winners of the Paris Book Festival had been announced. And guess what? Separation of Faith has placed as runner-up to the winner … again!

I am pleased beyond measure about this string (we’re now at #4) of contest successes! There are five or six contests still outstanding (I think that’s the right number–need to double check), and now there’s even more anticipation than before!

Although I am immensely grateful that Separation of Faith is being so well-received in the book contest world, I remain ever hopeful that when I scan the eventual results of the remaining competitions, there will be that one glorious moment in time when the title Separation of Faith will be at the very top!

Well … no one is going to do my dreaming for me! 🙂

And … if you have a book (or almost have a book) that you’re working hard to promote (or plan on promoting), be sure to check out the whole contest avenue. The 2011 Writer’s Market (http://www.amazon.com/Writers-Market-Deluxe-Robert-Brewer/dp/1582979499/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305661286&sr=1-2) has an entire section devoted to contests, and pursuing those competitions just might help open some doors that you might not have known were there. (The 2012 Writer’s Market will be out in September. The Deluxe Editions of both the 2011 and 2012 WM come with a searchable DVD of the entire reference.)

Also, please keep in mind one of the key messages delivered many times throughout this blog (through posts as well as reader/writer comments): Quality editing is as important to the success of your book, if not more so, than the quality of your writing and the creativity of your plot. A poorly edited manuscript (or one with no editing at all, other than your own) will cause readers, agents, editors, and yes judges, to bypass a project that is otherwise terrific. And this is true no matter which path to publishing you decide to follow. I’ve seen some very poorly edited books coming out of mainstream houses lately, which never (or hardly ever) used to happen, so remain vigilant if you’re going that direction. If you’re exploring the alternate routes, be sure to have your book professionally edited. Skipping that step will make this steep climb even steeper.

Regarding the move, the furniture will be in my new place this Thursday (day after tomorrow), so I’ll be waking up here on Friday morning! I’ll check back in through another post at that time, and then there will be photos loaded shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, please have a beautiful and productive week on whatever path you’re taking to your own Dream!

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As a consequence of entering Separation of Faith in the “Best Books 2011” Awards competition (one of about 15 contests entered during the last couple of months), this increasingly high-powered little novel of mine is now listed “live” on USA Book News (http://www.usabooknews.com/generalfiction.html).

Winners of this contest will not be announced until October (2011), so the wait for some of these results seems rather interminable. But meanwhile, there’s new visibility as a byproduct.

Book Promotion

The list of promotional to-dos for Separation of Faith seems to grow exponentially by the day, appearing even longer, I sometimes think, because authors have to do all the work themselves (until they become famous … 🙂 …). I’ve been collecting promotional tips, which I’ll be sharing with you in a post later this week.

Current New Project

This is also the week that I will finally begin earnestly writing my next book, which I’ve decided will be my nonfiction story about the last year initiated by the breast cancer. (You can search this blog for all relevant references once the breast cancer popped up.)

Because I diligently kept a daily journal for many months after the diagnosis, and then wrote substantial notes thereafter, I believe this book will be the quickest to complete and properly edit. (You can also search this blog for all of the references to editing Separation of Faith, the most critical of all the steps in the production of this novel. I believe with all my heart that the high quality of editing is directly correlated to the success we’re beginning to realize in contests. Poor or nonexistent editing can squash the dreams about an otherwise well-written, innovative novel. And that’s the most important lesson learned from the post-completion phases of Separation of Faith!)

Once my nonfiction project is comfortably out of my head, I’m confident that focusing on novel #3 will become easier. As long as the nonfiction effort remains incomplete, I’ve found that there are too many distractions that keep me from the heads-down attention required to effectively fire up the next novel.

Lesson: If you have more than one book in your head, pick one to finish. Spending time scattered across more than one project ends up producing nothing of value at all. As we travel this Journey, unless we’re already celebrities, no one is going to be interested in our “ideas.” The only things publishing professionals want to see are finished books!

So, here I go, all set to create a work of nonfiction that will hopefully prove helpful to women who are finding themselves in the same place I was a year ago. More later on this project as the chapters materialize. Really fun (and incredibly fulfilling) to be moving back into the writing part of this Journey.

Hope you all have a great week!

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Okay–now things are starting to get exciting!

As part of all my promotional activities, I’ve been entering Separation of Faith in a lot of contests. Last week I posted that the novel made the first cut in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award competition.

And now I have learned that Separation of Faith placed as runner-up to the grand prize winner in the 2010 DIY Book Festival!

For any of you who are stopping by this blog for the first time, if you check out the blog launch posting on November 4, 2009 (https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/hello-world/), you’ll see how far we’ve come! And this truly is turning out to be “A Journey from Publishing Obscurity to Somewhere Else”!

Holy cow is all I can say at the moment! What a feeling!

–Cheri

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Yay! Hurray! And oh what a feeling!

There’s certainly a very long way to go in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award before the winners are announced. HOWEVER … Separation of Faith has made the first cut! Only 1000 of the 5000 entries in General Fiction will be moving on to the next round … and my novel is one of those 1000! As I said before … Yay!

This first round was judged primarily on the book’s pitch, and here’s the one I entered:

In the summer of 1945, as World War II is ending, nineteen-year-old Abby Ryan is studying to become a nun. On the serene grounds of the convent in Kettle Falls, Washington, she is assaulted by two male trespassers and rescued by Sinclair Mellington, a handsome army captain attending a retreat at the institution. 
 
More than sixty years later, in 2008, Isaiah Mellington, an unemployed attorney in his fifties, receives a posthumous communication from his late father Sinclair containing instructions that send Isaiah to Kettle Falls to wrap up loose ends in the wake of Sister Abby’s death. There he discovers that the “loose ends” in question are connected to a life Abby lived outside the convent. And eight days after his arrival, Isaiah is still in Kettle Falls, with four women. One is an aging former nun who’s been the keeper of Abby’s secrets. Another becomes a romantic interest for him. And two are women whose lives have been abruptly hijacked by Sister Abby’s past. 
 
Separation of Faith is a story of intrigue, suspense, sorrow, and redemption, reminding us that knowing who we are is prelude to uncovering our destiny. As betrayal encroaches upon Isaiah as well, the twisted fabric of secrets and lies—amalgamating through a generation while short-circuiting destiny—begins to unravel. In the end, no one touched by Abby Ryan’s story is spared the scourge of heartbreak. And by the time Isaiah Mellington returns to Seattle from Kettle Falls, nothing about the life he’d taken for granted when he left two weeks earlier will ever be the same again.

Judging for Round Two will now start focusing on the book’s submitted “excerpt”–the first 3000-5000 words, which in my case equals the first chapter of Separation of Faith. Authors making this next cut will be announced on March 22.

As I said in the beginning, there’s still a long way to go in this contest, and the competition is tough. But this is certainly a welcome start and validation!

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The 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award opened for submissions at 12:01 a.m. this morning. There are only two categories: General Fiction and YA, with a maximum of 5000 entries allowed in each. The deadline is February 6 or whenever 5000 entries are received.

Last week before I left for the Writer’s Digest Conference, iUniverse sent me the Word file representing the printed version of Separation of Faith in order to enter this contest. So I spent about nine hours reformatting things, working on the 300-word pitch (which was a little easier on the heels of the conference), and trying to get a photo down to the tiny pixel size they want.

Now the novel is officially entered. Writers will have until February 6 to go in and edit things, so I’ll review each section a time or two before “letting the entry go.” Fortunately, the “excerpt” portion is supposed to be the first 3000 (min)-5000 (max) words of the book (not counting things like the dedication, acknowledgements, etc.), and the first chapter of Separation of Faith is 4936. So, that worked out well. 🙂

Some of my blogging buddies are entering as well, especially Jacqui at worddreams, who did a great post on the contest (http://worddreams.wordpress.com/2011/01/18/abnas-back/#respond). If anyone else is entering, let me know.

Later …

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