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Plan Update

Hi! This past week has been unusually busy due to catch-up work in the wake of the storm. But Separation of Faith is now in the hands of iUniverse (the publisher) again for the all-important copyedit. That will take 3-4 weeks, they tell me, so I’ll use that time to hopefully complete the reduction edit of Cinnamon.

Once the copyedit process is complete, the iUniverse Editorial Review Board will need to pass final judgment on my novel to officially secure the Editor’s Choice designation. Then the book will go into production; we’ll start working on the cover; marketing and promotion plans will heat up; and today’s to-do list will start to look like a vacation by comparison. But I can’t wait!

Interesting Articles/Links

This was one of those weeks where I had a lot of “waiting” time in various places. But because the edit I just finished was done on the hard copy, my mini-netbook didn’t fit in this go-’round–and the manuscript is too cumbersome to carry with me. So I did a lot of blog and reference reading instead. Here are the highlights, which I hope will be helpful (or at least of interest) to you.

Anyone who’s following this blog and/or interested in considering an alternate publishing path should check out this article in Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/2008/07/17/authors-amazon-iuniverse-tech-ebiz-cx_sm_0718authors.html). The featured author, Elle Newmark, first published her novel with iUniverse, as I’m doing. She’s also a more “mature” woman as I am. So there’s plenty of inspiration for all of us going after The Dream, regardless of how long we’ve been in pursuit.

If you read the Forbes article, I also encourage you to read the 7-part interview with Kevin Weiss, President of iUniverse (http://www.sramanamitra.com/2008/07/10/opportunity-within-the-long-tail-of-book-authors-iuniverse-ceo-kevin-weiss-part-1/). The more enlightened we can become about what’s going on in the publishing world, the more effective we can be in tailoring our individual paths to The Dream. And Weiss does a good job of broadening that perspective.

Finally, with respect to the promotion side of our Journeys, take a look at “10 Things You Can Do Now to Promote the Novel You Haven’t Even Sold Yet” by Gina Holmes:  http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/2010/03/10-things-you-can-do-now-to-promote.html.

Here are two links to articles with tips to help improve our writing:

Stats

  • This blog: 1625 (1520 last report)
  • My website: 36,150 (35,922 last report)

These should both start moving more dramatically once I begin my pre-release promotion for Separation of Faith in about six weeks.

Hope you all have a great weekend. I’ll look forward to hearing from you and to running into you as a tag surf over the next few days.

Cheri

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Discovery: Disasters Feel a Lot Worse When They’re Yours

Hi! This is not my normal blog (although I’ll add a quick Plan update in a minute). On the heels of our record-breaking snow storm earlier this month, we were hit with an unofficial hurricane over the weekend. Apparently, the storm turned out to be a whole lot worse than the weather forecasters had envisioned, so no one was prepared (mentally or otherwise) for what happened to us Friday and Saturday (especially Saturday).

I’m including an album of pictures, which speak far more effectively than I can at the moment. We are among thousands still without power, and the hotel we’re in is full to capacity with folks in the same predicament. Fortunately, we got into the hotel early enough yesterday to avoid the sold-out catastrophe that has been greeting people in hotels all around here. We’re also lucky that our hotel is very close to where we live so we can check regularly throughout the day and night on all of our animals.

I will keep you posted on the repair progress, the scope of which will be abundantly apparent to you when you look at the pictures.

Plan Update

Needless to say, I’ve been a little preoccupied today and haven’t been doing my normal work. But I’m all set up with technology in my temporary quarters, and will begin focusing again when I finish this post. Until this situation is resolved, though, there won’t be anything normal about my schedule.

The final editing plan with the publisher for Separation of Faith has now been clarified. I will go through the manuscript one more time and then submit that result to the publisher (by early next week, I hope) for the professional copyedit. That will take another few weeks, so I’ll proceed with the reduction edit of The Truth About Cinnamon while I’m waiting. When I get past all of these edits, I’m going to be very grateful.

Stats

There’s been a lot of traffic on this blog during the last week, and that’s very exciting for me. There are about 1520 hits now (1405 six days ago). Since I tend to wake up extra early when I’m in a strange place, I’ll try to do a lot of tag surfing in those wee hours over the next few days. I miss talking with everyone when I go for a few days without doing so.

Meanwhile, I hope you have a good week. Enjoy the photos … 🙂

Cheri

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And a good Saturday morning to all of you! This will be a quick post to let you know about a couple of exciting things that happened this week to feed the Plan.

  • Yesterday I was notified that I’ve been selected as a “featured author” on the FiledBy.com website where I’ve been posting the free serialization of The Truth About Cinnamon. If you go to www.filedby.com, you’ll see the “Featured Authors” section right on the Home page. And, if you click on me, you’ll also be able to access each of the serialized issues … 🙂 … So, this was an unexpected and very exciting piece of news.
  • Also, I was notified in the middle of the week that Separation of Faith will, in fact, be coming out with the “Editor’s Choice” imprint from the pubisher. Although I was overjoyed, I’ve been waiting to blog about the news because there’s a “contingent upon” clause that I’m trying to get clarified. Basically, the “Editor’s Choice” award requires that a book be meticulously edited to meet extremely strict criteria. I’m there, except for a final copyedit that we’re trying to work out. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, we’re in the midst of another massive storm as I write this, but this one is rain and wind instead of snow and wind. The storm’s category is still “nor’easter,” though, which means the thing is extremely robust and will supposedly be sitting on top of us until Monday. Thank goodness the temperature is above freezing, otherwise we’d be looking at another two feet of the white stuff.

On Monday, I’ll post some more interesting tips and information that I’ve been finding through my reading. The rest of this weekend will be spent on the reduction edit of Cinnamon, which is moving right along. So far I’ve eliminated 1.5% of the words I’m targeting, so there’s still a v-e-r-y long way to go. My goal is to be finished by the end of the month.

Take care!

Cheri

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Cinnamon Serialization Update

Sorry I didn’t post yesterday. Here’s one of the reasons for the delay:

Now that I’ve published 10 free chapters of The Truth About Cinnamon (when the original plan was to only publish 7), I’m going to take a break from that process for a little while. The 1-2 hours of time required to prepare each chapter every week is time I want to start devoting to my blog instead, at least for the moment. This is especially true since I’m not sure how many readers are actually reading the free serialized issues.

If anyone is out there, however, who’s been getting into the story, has finished all 10 chapters, and is clamoring for more, please do let me know. At that point, I’ll publish #11.

Paid Speaking Gig

My first paid speaking engagement was very well-received last Friday, and I had a fabulous time while meeting another room full of terrific people. The experience would have been fulfilling enough if that was the end of the story, but I also sold five copies of The Truth About Cinnamon while I was there. In addition, the majority of people in the audience said that they want to receive the press release for Separation of Faith when the time comes later this spring.

The day was a good one!

Making “a Living” from Our Writing

A few of you have been commenting this week on the difficult prospects for making even a marginal living from our writing. And I’ve been saying that there’s some truth to that concern for most of us who aren’t yet prolific celebrity authors.

But when you expand your thinking about “making a living” to include things like speaking engagements, advertisements on our websites and blogs, interviews for which we might be paid, and other avenues that are limited only by our imaginations, the money starts to add up.

The key, of course, as I’ve said so many times in this blog, is to first make sure we’re creating something of the highest quality possible. We need to be well-educated in all the basics and nuances of our craft, and we need to seek a lot of input, turning our work over to beta readers and professional editors for their critiques. Then we have to be open to the issues presented in those critiques, open and willing to invest the necessary time to make changes.

Once we have a product of the highest quality, a world of possibilities for making a living–with that product as a base–will open up to us. And making a living from our writing only begins with the royalties, if we’re inventive and creative enough to take some chances.

I’ll be on the lookout for articles that I can share with you on this subject.

Conquering “It”

Speaking of producing a quality product and mastering the elements of our craft, I’d like to spend a moment on an issue that surfaces with great frequency when I’m wearing my editor’s hat. That issue is the word “it.” If I had a dollar for every “it” I’ve seen in manuscripts, I wouldn’t need to worry about making a living.

Here are the two main problems with “it”:

  1. “It” doesn’t actually say anything or paint any pictures for the reader.
  2. A whole bunch of us, through sheer habit and an absence of awareness, overuse the word “it” to the point where what we’re trying to say/explain, or the imagery we’re trying to create, becomes completely diluted.

As an experiment, go to the beginning of whatever project you’re currently writing and do a Find function on the word “it” (making sure you specify that you’re looking for the whole word). Each time you click on Find Next, highlight the word “it” that pops up, excluding any “it” that shows up in a direct quote or in dialogue. Direct quotes can’t be changed, of course, and “it” in dialogue is okay because that’s the way people actually talk. The target should be “it” in any narrative.

You can do this experiement for as many pages/chapters as you like, and I promise you that you will be absolutely astonished at what you discover. You’ll have highlights all over the place!

The next task is to go back to the beginning and challenge yourself to rewrite every sentence containing “it” so that the sentence no longer contains “it.” What you will experience is the transformation of your writing from something that’s flat and uni-dimensional into something that’s three-dimensional and that creates vivid, living imagery.

For example (and I’m just making these up as I go):

  • He was riding the horse, and it was extremely uncomfortable.

What was uncomfortable? The horse? The saddle? The bumpy leather on the saddle? The fact that there wasn’t any saddle but just the horse’s back? Can you see how “it” doesn’t say anything at all to the reader?

  • It was a winter night.

Where’s the picture? The imagery? How about something like: By eight o’clock that night, the temperature had dropped into the teens, and the icy white streets had become treacherous. You don’t even need to say the word “winter,” because the words used paint the picture for the reader.

And that’s what our words are supposed to do. As the paint and brush are to the artist’s canvas, so are a writer’s words to the page. “It” is empty and colorless. Leave the word (and I use that term loosely here) out of your narrative writing. 

Again, I just made up these examples, but you’ll find plenty of your own if you do the Find exercise. Believe me, I did many years ago–and the shock from what I discovered in my writing led to this issue being one of my biggest hot buttons as an editor.

If you have a minute, let me know what your experiments produce.

A Few Other Relevant Links

In my reading of late, I’ve run across a number of topics that are relevant to comments you’ve made, or to topics in my posts. Here are a couple of those that I thought might be helpful to you:

I’ll include references for you more in my next post.

Plan Update and Stats

The post-editorial review revised manuscript for Separation of Faith is currently with the publisher, undergoing the second editorial review. Stay tuned for the news on those results …

As soon as I finish this posting, I’m going to work on the reduction edit for The Truth About Cinnamon. Finally reaching the point where I can focus on that part of the plan is a great relief!

Regarding the Stats, this last week has been very interesting, particularly with respect to this blog:

  • Hits on this blog: 1405 (1255 on March 2). This is a jump of 150, fueled by the 80 hits on Thursday, March 4. I’m trying to figure out what I did on that day so I can do the same thing again … 🙂 … Let me know if you have any ideas on that front.
  • Hits on my website: 35,922 (35,795 on March 2). The jump of 127 is good but not as good as the 137 the previous week. Of course, until I get my next royalty statement, I won’t know how the increase in website traffic correlates to any increase increase in Cinnamon sales. You’ll be the first to know.
  • As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to stress myself out with the Amazon ranking until the 2nd Edition of Cinnamon comes out (although I might take a peek periodically …)

Moving Forward–And I’m Beginning to Actually Feel the Movement

This blog was launched four months ago last Thursday. (Oh! Maybe that was one of the reasons behind the 80 hits …?)

Since then, my goals have become further clarified as I give voice to them through this medium. And tangible progress has been made now that Separation of Faith is with the publisher and will (hopefully) be moving into the production process soon with the Editor’s Choice designation. Plus, I’m now in dialogue with so many of you, who never cease to amaze me with your drive and creativity.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the Journey thus far, and I hope you are too.

Cheri

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Building a Following … Planning Ahead

Good morning! My apology for not returning before yesterday was over. The meeting ran late, and when I got home I was just too tired to do a good job.

But the meeting was valuable for more than one reason. I’m a member of Rotary, and this was a District Staff Meeting where I was giving a short presentation on a project our club is currently running. Although I’ve been in Rotary for four years, I’ve never been to a District Staff Metting. In addition to the important Rotary stuff addressed, I became vividly aware that this was an occasion–as is every occasion these days–for me to further advance the Plan (see November 4 Blog Launch Posting, if this is your first visit to my blog).

Not only were a number of people surprisingly interested in what I’d been writing but, after I finished my presentation, several individuals approached me about doing additional presentations in their clubs and associated organizations. As you may remember (see posting #14, heading “Speaking of Various Offshoots …”), I’ll be giving a speech this Friday, March 5, on the topic of “Reinventing Yourself at Any Age,” and I will be paid for this one.

In addition to introducing me to lots of wonderful people, each of these separate occurrences serves to advance (even if only by inches) the building of a following, which is the Journey being tracked (warts and all) through this blog. And, in all of the reading I’ve been doing, the single point repeated again and again is that we cannot wait until our book is being published to begin this process.

In fact, a number of articles emphasize the point further by saying that we cannot even wait until we finish writing the book before we start building our following. (The latest article, which you might find of interest, is “Audience Development: Critical to Every Writer’s Future,” by Jan Friedman, Editor-in-Chief of Writer’s Digest: http://writerunboxed.com/2010/02/19/audience-development-critical-to-every-writers-future/.)

Reaching that understanding was one of the epiphany moments in the conference last September that inspired me to start this blog/Plan in the first place. And last night I was reminded that every single event in our days, and every single person we meet, presents us with the opportunity to add one more person to our “audience.” One person might not seem like very much, until we consider how many other people that one person knows.

Every article on the subject states that creating a following takes a very long time, which is why those articles also tell us to begin before we have a book. Remember the point in my Blog Launch Posting on November 4 where I mentioned another epiphany moment from that September conference–the moment where I heard that the first thing agents and editors do when they receive a query letter from us is Google us? And, if little or nothing pops up on that Google search, the odds of that agent/editor responding favorably to us–regardless of how good our work might be–are slim to none, with emphasis on the “none.”

A couple of quotes from the Friedman article that stand out are:

  • “Mediocre writers with sales & marketing savvy are more likely to succeed in commercial publishing than talented writers without sales & marketing skill.”

and …

  • “You must cultivate a readership every day of your life … Your readers will not be interested in reading just one book; they will be interested in everything and anything you do–and that includes interacting with you online.”

I know (believe me) that just finding the time to get the writing done is challenging enough. How are we supposed to work all of this other stuff in? Well, the answer needs to be “somehow,” if one of our goals is to actually have people read what we spend all that time writing.

Sharing ideas for how to get that done is something I’ll continue to do through this blog.

Trends in Fiction

This is another article (by Chip MacGregor) that I found of value: http://chipmacgregor.typepad.com/main/2010/02/the-trends-in-fiction.html. He addresses a number of categories, but the one paragraph that stood out for me personally was:

“Literary fiction is definitely a growth category in American publishing … many of the books [on the bestseller list] have a clear spiritual thread …”

This is very encouraging, with respect to Separation of Faith.

Another article on the subject of trends that you might want to visit is by Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent:  http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/2008/02/trends-in-fiction.html.

Plan Update–Separation of Faith

The edits are all complete. Now I’m going to give the manuscript a final “once-over” and then email the finished product to the publisher by tomorrow. Next, we’ll wait to see what the new Editorial Evaluation says. The goal is to receive the Editor’s Choice designation prior to production, so I can use that achievement in my marketing. We’ll find out soon if the book makes the cut. Stay tuned …

The Truth About Cinnamon

Yesterday I published the 10th free serialized issue. Originally, I was only going to release the first seven chapters, but there’s enough time (and there are enough chapters) to keep going for awhile. As soon as Separation of Faith enters the production process, which will take a number of weeks, I’ll return to the reduction edit of Cinnamon, which will also take a number of weeks.

The new edition of Cinnamon will be published shortly before Separation of Faith–and remember that, as soon as the new version goes into production, there won’t be any way to buy the original. So, anyone who has the original will be in possession of an authentic First Edition. Of course, that will only mean something if this Plan is reasonably successful.

If you’d like to check out the free serialized chapters (which will also go away when the new version goes into production), please feel free to visit: http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/24081497/.

Stats

  • Hits on this blog: 1255 as of a minute ago (1177 last report)
  • My website: 35,795 (35,658 last report)
  • Amazon: I’ve decided not to worry about this one until the new version of Cinnamon comes out … 🙂

Hope you’re all having a good week and that the weather is calm where you are. Our big snow is slowly beginning to melt now. Temps reached the 40’s yesterday, and are supposed to do the same today. A little more snow might come tomorrow, though … Like building an audience/readership following, the melting is going to be gradual over a long time. Take care.

Cheri

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New (10th) Serialized Issue of The Truth About Cinnamon

Hi! This is going to be quick because I have to leave for a meeting. But I wanted to get the 10th free issue of Cinnamon posted, for those of you who’ve decided to give the book a try.

You can find the new issue at: http://www.filedby.com/author/cheri_laser/2721580/documents/27668443/.

This evening I’ll come back and add to the posting, with Plan updates and newsy/informational stuff that I’ve run across in my “travels.” There sure is a whole lot going on!

Hope your week is off to a good start. See you later.

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Talk About a Snow Day …
 

 

Some of you might be following the snow storm still bearing down on us here in the Northeast. Some of you might also be in the mess yourselves. Just for fun, I thought I’d switch gears for a minute and post a few photos. The latest weather update tells us that the snow, which started falling early yesterday morning, will continue to fall at varying levels through Saturday and possibly into Sunday morning. Needless to say, we’re all at home today.

In addition to the snow photos, I’m also throwing one in of me in my new office, for those of you who were with me during the nightmare move.

Once I finish this post, I’m going downstairs to my dining room (I’m including a photo of that too) where I hope to finish the final hard copy read-through of Separation of Faith. Can’t think of a better day to get that done. Sure would be nice to email everything to the publisher this weekend!

Have a great weekend! And be careful out there.

Cheri

Snow Deck in Alpine, NJMagical YardMeasuring 14 InchesView Out of Dining Room WindowThe Final Hard Copy Edit AwaitsView from the Front PorchMorning of February 26, 2010My New Office

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