Friday, October 29, 2010

The Friday Five

this week's Friday Five is brought to you by the letter M.

Four things I like that start with the letter M and one thing I don't.

1. Monkeys. Love stuffed monkeys. I have a little monkey that hangs from my visor in my van, and he gets the credit and the blame for all the green and red stoplights I hit. We call it his Monkey Mojo. :)

2. M & Ms. Peanut, plain, almond, and I'm really wanting to try the pretzel M&M's. I like the red ones best.

3. Mom. I like my mom, and I like being called Mom by my kids. I remember holding my elder child just after she was born and thinking, "I can't believe I'm somebody's MOTHER!" But now it is as natural as breathing to me.

4. Movies. I have an extensive DVD collection. Animated, Westerns, Fantasy, Chick-flick, tear-jerkers...old, newish, black and white, color, blu-ray, CGI, it doesn't matter, I like them all.

5. BONUS M that I like, thanks to CJ jogging my memory. I love Mysteries! Historical mysteries are great. Cadfael, Amelia Peabody, Sherlock Holmes. Contemporary mysteries, Dick Francis, Sarah Graves.

one thing I don't like that starts with M.

Mustard...the bright yellow kind they put on hotdogs and hamburgers. Blech!

Soooo...whaddaya like and not like that starts with M?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm hanging with Steph Morrill

Come join me over at Stephanie Morrill's fabo blog today. You can enter to win a copy of Lily and the Lawman, and we're talking about favorite books.

Easy-peasy to join us. Just click HERE.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Shadowing NaNo

This year, as November approaches, I am a little sad. Since I'm deep into a project right now, I am not in a position where I can take part in NaNoWriMo. The rules of NaNo state that you must start a brand new project on November 1st.

I know there are some that say, "What's the big deal? As long as you write 50K words in November, who cares?"

I care. It's the rules, set up by the NaNo folks. If I sign up for NaNo, then I agree to abide by their rules. That simple.

So, since I do want to write 50K words in the month of November, I have decided to shadow NaNo. I won't officially sign up. I won't be able to say "I won NaNo in 2010!"

But I will be there in spirit. I'll be writing like mad, and hopefully I'll be finishing the first draft of my WIP by the end of the month.

Question for you...Do you NaNo? Are you a rules follower?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Post Cards!

This past week, the promotional postcards I ordered for Maggie and the Maverick arrived. YAY! I've never ordered postcards before, always preferring to order bookmarks instead. But I thought I'd give the postcards a try. They are so beautiful! I can't wait to send some out.

This week I dropped some off at my local Christian bookstore, and I'll carry some with me.

Maggie and the Maverick releases to the Heartsong book club next month. Maggie is book three in the Idaho Brides series. My friend CJ has been waiting for this one to hit the shelves for more than a year. CJ is my first reader, sometimes brainstorming partner, and gentle critic, as well as being a graphic arts designer, photoshop guru, and hilarious friend.

So, the question of the this day of email and e-zines and e-newsletters, do you like getting snail mail? I love getting Writer's Digest in the mail and holding it in my hot little hands way better than getting an e-zine.

If you'd like a Maggie and the Maverick post card, email me at ericavetsch at gmail dot com with your snail mail address, and I'll get one to you ASAP.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is brought to you by the Letter L.

Four things I like and one thing I don't like that start with the letter L.

1. Laughter. If you know me, you'll know I laugh all the time. Sometimes even in church. (Shhhh! My pastor doesn't know.)

2. Lemon. I love lemon bars, lemonade, lemon cookies, lemon in my tea, lemon drops. :)

3. Lollipops. Especially of the tootsie-pop variety. Especially the orange or red tootsie-pop variety.

4. Laptop. :D I LOVE my laptop!

and one thing I don't like that starts with L

5. Licorice if it is black. Smells terrible and tastes like a retreaded tire.

So what do you like and not like that starts with L???

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Plotting and Pages

This past week, I had to stop writing on my WIP and regroup. Though my roots are in total Seat-Of-The-Pants writing, I have changed over the past few years. I need a synopsis. I need more than that. I need a Chapter By Chapter synopsis. I need a GMC chart so I will know what my characters want, why they want it, and what is keeping them from attaining it. The photo above is of one of the white boards in my Sunday School class at church. Last Thursday, I took possession of the room for about five hours and wrestled with this storyline. I filled out Goal-Motivation-Conflict charts for each of the Point of View Characters. Both internal and external GMCs. I made a little time-line to show the three acts of the story and where the turning points are. I even sketched out how many words per chapter I could estimate, though that will vary greatly. Then I started listing (in no particular order) all the different things that had to happen in the book.

I took that list and began sketching out the chapters. What scenes would I need where in order for the story to make sense and get where I wanted it to go by the end of the book. Using the other white board in the room, I sketched out 20+ chapters, scene by scene. Then I started typing. I now have a 7 page chapter-by-chapter outline, more than 4500 words worth of story. I'll refer to this document constantly, along with the GMC spreadsheet I typed, while writing the book. I had thought that my original synopsis would be enough, that I'd be saving time if I just wrote from the synopsis I had. But I was floundering with the opening chapters because I only had a hazy idea of where I was going. I have to plot chapter-by-chapter if I want to be confident in the story. Lesson learned.

Also this week, since my daughter was home from college for a long weekend, we went shopping for some scrapbook stuff. For the past couple of years, I have kept and added to a scrapbook that chronicles my writing journey with pages for big events and a page each for my novels. You can view some of the pages by clicking on these links to previous posts.

The above picture celebrates my signing with Rachelle Gardner at WordServe Literary a year ago. The envelope holds a card from her to me on her personalized stationary, and I've included a picture of Rachelle, the WordServe logo, and the masthead picture of her blog. If you're an author and you haven't read her blog, do yourself a big favor and go read it! You can find it by clicking HERE. When I first decided to query Rachelle, I spent several days reading through her blog. I am amazed at her knowledge, her willingness to help authors, and how professional she is.

This page is to celebrate my novella in the upcoming September 2011 release of A Log Cabin Christmas.

Check out this line-up of authors and stories:

No Place for Angels by Margaret Brownley
The Christmas Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter
Christmas Earthquake by Kelly Eileen Hake (tentative title)
A Star in the Night by Liz Johnson
The Courting Quilt by Jane Kirkpatrick
Under His Wings by Christine Cain (Liz Tolsma)
The Dogtrot Christmas by Michelle Ule
A Grand County Christmas by Debra Ullrick
Christmas Service by Erica Vetsch

Isn't that a terrific collection? I'm honored to be in such excellent company.

The scrapbook page is supposed to look like a Christmas present. I've included the title of the work, the title of my novella, and a photograph of a log cabin church such as is described in my story. The nativity scene, the wreaths, pine trees, and especially the sheep in the upper left corner all play a part in the story. I've left room for a picture of the cover of the book.

I'm not professional. I'm sure that dedicated scrapbook people could find lots of flaws in my pages, but I love my scrapbook. Each page is special to me.

I'll be working on a page for my current WIP as soon as I have more of it finished. Hopefully, before my writing career comes to an end, I'll be able to fill lots more pages.

Question for you scrapbook?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Signings

A table full of my books, Mary Connealy's books, and Cheryl Ricker's books at a recent book signing.

Last week, I read a blog post by Jody Hedlund in which she asked the question "Are book signings worth the time and effort?" and while they might be good for connecting with readers, in her opinion book signings are an outdated method of selling books. You can read that post HERE. Be sure to read the comments as well, as there are lots of points of view expressed there.

Jody's post got me to thinking about my own experience with book signings. Do I think they are worth it? I'd like to pose a few thoughts on why I think book signings are a great idea for writers.

A disclaimer here: I have only been published for a year. I am by no means an expert on book signings or book sales. These are just my opinions, the world as I see it.

The Marriage Masquerade, my second novel, holding the #2 Fiction Best Seller spot at Christian Book and Gift.
 Reasons I think Book Signings are a great way to sell books:

  • People get to put a person to the words you've written. I have a lot of writer friends, and I am always eager to buy the books of people I know. If I have to choose between buying the book of a total stranger or the book of someone I've met, I tend to give a lot more consideration to the person I've met. I'm sure this isn't unique to me.
  • You show you're willing to make an effort, and you care about your readers. It's all very well saying that you're busy. But you want to know a secret? The people who come in to the book signing to meet you and buy your book, they are busy, too. They made the effort to come out and see you when they had plenty of other things demanding their time.
  • You show good will toward your publisher. If the publisher asks you to do a book signing, GO! The marketing departments are doing all they can to sell your book, and they expect (and rightly so) that you will be part of that team. They're willing to help with the publicity, the posters, getting the books there. All you have to do is show up and be nice. :) The next time an opportunity comes up for them to send an author to a book signing, will you be thier "Go-To" author, or will they skip you in favor of someone more willing to be willing?
  • You show good will toward the bookstore. It doesn't do your reputation as an author any good if the bookstore calls your publisher and asks if you can come do a book signing, and you turn them down with an, "It's not worth my time and effort for the number of books I will sell." The bookstore certainly won't be eager to invite you again. No one enjoys hearing a no. Also, it is the bookstore staff that is on the front lines, selling your work. The bookstore isn't obligated to stock your book, or to recommend your book to readers who come into the store. A little good will here can go a long way toward selling books.
  • You are representing your publisher and other authors who write for them. If the book signing is a positive, upbeat experience for the book seller and the people who come in, you have paved the way for future events for your publisher and their authors. The bookstore owner/event planner will remember that you were great to work with and be more inclined to go back to that source (your publisher) when it comes time for another event. Face it, if your publisher is flourishing and has a good reputation with book sellers, this can only be good for you.
  • Often a book signing is a good chance to meet other authors or share the event. I've been blessed to do shared book signings with Mary Connealy. I can't tell you how helpful this was to me as a new author, to have someone so personable and enjoyable as Mary alongside me while doing a book signing. I always find it easier to talk about someone else's work than my own, and I am a BIGTIME Mary Connealy fan, so pitching her books to customers comes easily. When you share the book signing with another author, you always have someone to talk to between signing books and meeting readers, you can help them as much as they help you by talking about their books to customers, and you have made an industry contact on a personal level that you can't get via email or Facebook, etc.

Meeting some sweet ladies who had bought my books earlier in the week and returned to have them signed.
I think there is a danger in looking at the sales numbers from a single event and dubbing it a success or a failure based solely on that. What you've done by attending a book signing event is sow the seeds for future book sales. It's possible that someone who came to the event will buy your book when they otherwise wouldn't have, love your work, and put you on their 'automatic buy' list. It's possible that someone saw the posters and announcements, but couldn't make it to the book signing that day. They might come in and buy the book later instead. It's possible that the bookstore staff will be more excited and eager to sell your books, to stock them and to recommend them to the patrons after you've come and put a face to the name with a kind spirit behind it. It's possible that by showing up and being positive, you've paved the way for future events at that store, not just for you, but for you fellow authors at your publishing house. You might possibly get to meet and network with other authors and learn about their work.

I'd have to say that any opportunity to be a good ambassador for your work and your publisher is one to be embraced. You're sowing the seeds of book sales that might reap you a fine harvest later.

At a book signing, you're not just trying to sell books. You're selling yourself, your publishing house, your fellow authors from that publishing house, and hopefully future books that you might write.

So, what are your thoughts about book signings? Have you had a book signing? Have you been to book signings? Did it affect your perceptions of the author? Did it influence your buying habits?

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Friday Five

The Friday Five is brought to you by the letter K.

Four things I like that start with the letter K and one thing I don't.

1. Knowledge. I like knowing stuff, learning stuff, finding stuff out.

2. Kittens. My kitty in particular, but any kitten. I love how their tails stick up like little pokers, and I love how when they run, their back legs and their front legs get out of kilter and they hop all disjointed.

3. Kansas. Born and raised. Love that place.

4. Kidlets. My kidlets.

And one thing I don't like that starts with K.

5. Kickball. I loathed this game in school. I stank at it, and we had to play it almost all the time at recess and PE class.

How about you? Likes, dislikes that start with K?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fear of being Outed

Last week over on Seekerville, they had special guest Bob Mayer visiting. He spoke about the writer's greatest fear, that of being discovered as a fraud. You can read Bob's guest blog by clicking on the link below. (I hope you do. It's well worth the time.)

As I read the post, I recognized myself in his words. This writer's life is fraught with fearful things.

I had a real-life bout of fear this past week. You see, I sent a proposal to my agent. A first for me since signing with Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary just about a year ago. The projects I've been working on over the last year were books that had been sold by my previous agent, or books that had been sold via pitch sheet at a conference, or something that a publisher had approached me about me writing for them specifically. This proposal for an historical romance series was the first I had prepared for Rachelle to shop for me.

I labored over the proposal template, filling in the various parts. Hook, back cover copy, comparable books, previous sales, biography, synopsis, sample chapters. Writing, rewriting. Then I sent it to the critique partners and waited anxiously for their verdict.

Strangely enough, I got the best of both worlds with the crit partners on this proposal. One of them hammered the synopsis really hard and went lighter on the sample chapters, while the other crit partner hammered the sample chapters and went lighter on the synopsis. Plenty of great ideas and suggestions, and I had lots to work on.

More rewriting. And I was anxious.

So much so, that I stayed up until 4 am one morning working on it because I couldn't sleep. This is the story of my heart, a rewrite of the first novel I ever attempted. I wanted it to be the best I could make it before I sent it to my agent.

When I had it as pretty and polished as I could, I sent it to Rachelle. And fear clawed up my guts. What if she didn't like it? What if, with this proposal, she realized what a colossal mistake she'd made in agreeing to represent me? What if she outed me as a Bob Mayer had talked about on Seekerville? What if she read it, shook her head, and started drafting an "I'm outta here" letter to let me down easy? She's a nice person. She would let me down easy.

To my great relief, she liked the story, the proposal looked good, and she would send it along.

So, will this result allay all my anxiety so that the next time I send in a proposal, I'll have no fears?

Nope. Next time I'll be just as nervous, just as anxious. And I don't think this is all bad. Because it pushes me to do my very best each time. Because it keeps me from being complacent. A little fear of failure is a healthy thing, as long as it pushes you to try harder and to set higher goals.

Question for you write with fear?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Villains, or are they?

Awhile back, I had a chat with my good buddy, Georgiana, about villains. I'd been thinking about them quite a bit lately, trying to nail down what makes a good villain, what makes a bad guy really bad, and yet not a cartoon, cardboard, or one-dimensional character. Face it, there are very few true sociopaths out there (thankfully.) Most villains--the ones that are the most interesting--are multi-faceted.

I had an epiphany while chewing on these ideas. I've heard it said that the villain in a story isn't a villain in his own mind, that he doesn't view himself that way. As I am wont to do, I tried to take this out of 'writer speak land' and see what it looked like in real life, so I might work it over and find a way to translate it back into a story.

So, here's my epiphany.

EVERYBODY is the villain in somebody's story.

I am the villain in someone's story (probably more than one.) Though I would never cast myself as a villain or describe myself in those terms, I'm sure that in someone's life story, I would be cast as at least a minor villain. I've either wronged them, hurt their feelings, got something they wanted for themselves, ended a relationship...something. There are lots of reasons why someone might think I was a villain. :(

But my point is, when describing myself, I wouldn't cast myself as a villain, even though some people might see me as one. Conversely, though everyone is somebody's villain, everyone thinks of themselves as the hero of the story. Or at least a side-kick. I think of myself as a pretty good person overall.

This really drove home to me the idea that when writing a villain, from his/her point of view, it is so important to realize that they would NEVER cast themselves as the bad guy. They have reasons for what they do, what they do makes sense according to their moral code, and that to themselves, they are a pretty good person overall.

I've found this to be very helpful while casting the bad guy in my newest WIP. The bad guy does what he does out of desperation. It's an accident that snowballs out of control, and each step along the way, his desperation causes him to make choices that--while in his mind justifiable--are more and more wrong.

So, question for you...How do you write villains? Do you write pure evil, sociopaths with no conscience and no redeeming qualities? Have you ever considered that you might be the villain in someone else's life story?

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Friday Five

Today's Friday Five is brought to you by the letter I.

Four things I like that start with the letter I and one thing I don't.

1. Ice cream. No brainer. Love the stuff.

2. Ibuprofen. This past couple of weeks, I've had some headaches. Ibuprofen has been my friend.

3. Iced Turtle Mocha Coolers from Caribou Coffee. MMMMMmmmmmm. Ladidahs at their finest.

4. Icicles. Long, shining-in-the-sun, stalagtites of long as I can be inside a warm house looking at them, preferably while sipping cocoa. :)

and something I don't like that starts with I...

5. Illness. I'm a rotten patient, whiny and needy. :( Good thing my family still loves me.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Another reason to celebrate...

Monday I told you about some exciting news re a new writing project. The Christmas Novella!

Today, I have another reason to celebrate. In addition to the novella, Christmas Service, I've contracted with Barbour to write an historical romance for a new trade-length line they wish to start.

A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas is scheduled to release in September of 2011. Eleven months from now. I've already turned in a cover art sheet (or several) and have a synopsis in place. Now to get it written! The goal is to have the first draft finished by Dec. 1st and the ms sent to my crit partners by Dec. 16th. Then it's on to Stars in Her Eyes, book three in my Colorado Light series for Heartsong.

I'm thrilled to death, and so excited about everything that's happening. Thank you again to Becky Germany for this opportunity, and thank you to JoAnne Simmons, who has been gracious to extend the deadline on Stars in Her Eyes to give me time to write the novella and A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas.

Thank you also to my husband and son who are picking up the slack and giving me lots of time to write. You are the BEST!

Oh, and a huge thank you to my crit partners who have been so very busy. Since returning from the ACFW Conference, they've tackled a proposal and are currently critting Light To My Path. To Georgiana and Katie, You Girls Rock!!!!

Monday, October 04, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...


Part of the big news around here is that I signed a contract to write a Christmas Novella to be included in Barbour's 2011 Collection: A Log Cabin Christmas.

As you can see, I've installed a new word meter for this story, entitled Christmas Service.

The plan is to finish the first draft of this story on Wednesday. Yep, THIS Wednesday.

I'm totally in love with this story, and I can't wait for folks to read it. Thank you to Becky Germany at Barbour for giving me the chance to write for her.

Question of the Day: What's your favorite Christmas Story (We'll assume the Biblical Nativity story is #1 with everyone.)  My favorite holiday movie is Scrooge, with Alastair Sim. I can't have Christmas without watching that film.

Also, tomorrow is my husband's birthday. Happy Birthday, Peter! I Love you with all of my heart and a piece of my liver! :) 

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Friday Five

yay, back to the alphabet Friday Five.

Four things I like that start with H and one thing I don't.

1. Heather. I love my daugher and I miss her. She's doing great at college. (Waving to Heather!)

2. My HP Laptop. His name is Elliot, and I really like him. :)

3. Horses. As a kid I was horse-crazy. I couldn't read enough horse books or get to ride often enough.

4. History. I love history. I love the stories and people and events that shaped our past, our present, and our future. I love how God is present, working things to His will.

5. I don't like Hot Peppers. I am not a fan of spicy food.