The wonders of Lulu

My work-in-progress is almost finished.  Again.

This time, I really think that this is my final round for beta readers and query letters.  If I don’t get a bite, it may just be time to look into self-publishing.  E-books and Amazon and the whole self-publishing world has really changed what it means to be a “published author.”  But that is a topic for another post.  For this one, I wanted to share a little tip that is not only financially practical, but SO MUCH FUN!

Ya ready?  K, here it is.  Lulu.com.  You’re welcome.

No, really.  When I went through my first round of beta readers, I spent a LOT of money having Staples print up 8 1/2 x 11  pages for me. Regular, black & white, unbound pages.  Nothing special, hard to carry around, and it cost me way more than it should have.  For the next round, I went digital… emailed copies to everyone and basically hoped for the best.  Response was not great, and I never even heard back from some of my readers due to their lack of interest reading a whole novel solely on their computer.  I can’t say I blame them.

Then I discovered Lulu.  Fellow writers, this site is amazing.  They help self-publishers, and have marketplaces to sell your books and all of that, but the best part for me was that for like $10 I could have a trade paperback glossy covered BOOK to give to my readers.  Let me tell you, opening that box and seeing an actual book with my name on it… better than any Christmas present ever.  Granted, it’s still a work-in-progress… one could just as easily have a grocery list published in this manner.  But this was no grocery list.  It was a book.  MY BOOK.  And it looked something like this…


Okay, not a great photo of it.  And I chose a pretty generic cover, BUT… you guys.  It’s a book.  **sigh**

I’m about to send the next incarnation (that’s four now, if you’re keeping track) to Lulu for another go.  This time, I’ve thought more about the cover, the title is changed, and the story inside said cover is much improved.  And I can’t WAIT to see it in its newest form.  I’ll post pics when I get it.

So yeah… Lulu.com.  Spread the word.



Divergent – some thoughts on translating book to film

divergent quote

I love Divergent.  I’ve been a fan since the first book first came out, long before the movie craze that is currently causing young girls to want raven tattoos on their collar bones.

As a writer with a theatrical background, I can’t help but visualize the scenes I’m writing.  I have most of the characters in my book cast in my head with actors I know and love, and can see the story unfolding as it would on the big screen.  I’m not banking on my book ever being a movie – that’s not the goal.  Still, I think that writing with the visuals in my head is a healthy way to get across certain scenes.  I want my readers to share those images with me.

So now that the movie of Divergent is running rampant, I can’t help but wonder what Veronica Roth thinks about it.  I’ve seen the interviews, I follow her blog, I’ve read all of the Official Commentary.  But I still wonder what she REALLY thinks (beyond “Holy cow, that’s my story up there!” of course).

Well, for what it’s worth, here are my two cents.  Let me say, first and foremost, if you haven’t read the books READ THEM.  Seriously.  Forget the hype and the expectations and the movie for a moment, and just enjoy some good storytelling.  And THEN go see the movie.  And then, this post might make sense, ’cause I’m not going to go into the plot here, or describe the characters’ relationships and all that.  I’m assuming you already know that part.  But what I am really interested in are the differences between the book and the movie – what translated well, what didn’t, and what was just plain missing.  Here goes…

First the positive.  I loved the casting – that’s really where the book-to-movie success lives, and it was done well across the board.  Four was REALLY pretty ( wow – unexpectedly beautiful), and I thought that Tris read a little young at times, BUT I think that was a really good thing.  In the books, it’s so easy to forget how young she is.  (She’s sixteen.  Sixteen!)  In the movie, you cannot forget that.  I also loved the way they depicted the factions – the use of colour and symbols was very well done and made those distinctions as clear as they needed to be. And it was great to get to see the different locales, they were so well done in every instance – from the cookie cutter plainness of Abnegation, to the sterile harshness of Erudite, to the challenging dangers of Dauntless.  So good.  And they nailed three of the most important scenes – the knife-throwing scene, the Ferris Wheel scene, and the Fear-scapes were spot on.  Well done.

Not as successful?  The secondary and tertiary characters were mostly lost.  In that awful moment of Al joining in to help scare/kill Tris was almost not even there, because even knowing who I was looking for, it was hard to remember that that was Al under the mask.  And a huge mistake that I still can’t get past – no butterknife scene?  How in the world are they going to recover from that omission for the rest of the story?  That being gone tells me that Ms. Roth was not consulted as much as she should have been for the film.  Such a shame.

And a few things that I felt were missing… first, three words:  DAUNTLESS. CHOCOLATE. CAKE.  Seriously??  How hard would that have been to throw in there??  Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest…  Some little things – I missed some of the cute, witty dialogue.  I missed the raging river at the bottom of the chasm.  I missed the visitation day, and getting to know that Will & Christina were an item before Tris killed him, and seeing Tris and Four alone in the control room when she turns the gun on herself.  But it took me a while to figure out what I missed most.  I missed being in Tris’s head.  All those thoughts and feelings… so many things run through her head but never come out of her mouth.  And while I really feel like Shailene Woodley did a remarkable job bringing her to life, I found that I still missed Tris.

And the chocolate cake.


My First Blog, or Writing is Hard



Writing is hard.  There, I said it.  It’s wonderful and challenging and frustrating and uplifting and defeating and lonely and scary and triumphant and hard.  And I love it,  Right now, I’m in the throes of writing my first novel.  I’ve been writing and editing for what feels like a very long time now.  But the process is, in a word, incredible.

I finished my first draft about a year ago.  I thought it was golden.  I thought it was Finished.

I was Wrong.

Since then, I have re-written it at least three different times … everything from tiny line edits, to re-arranging chapters, to what I sort-of-lovingly referred to as my Frankenstein Version (bits and pieces were cut and past hither and yon, parts were repeated, parts were missing.  It was ugly.  Children would have run away screaming).  Through this all, as I’ve reached each stage where I thought “Ah ha!  NOW it’s finished!” I would send out a round of query letters to agents.  And here I am, almost ready to knock on doors again.  It’s scary.

But as I sit here typing this, I can say with complete confidence, that the novel I have today is a more solid, more complete, more satisfying story than I had a year ago.  I love my story.  I love my characters.  I can’t wait to hear what they’ll say next, and that thrills me.

So what have I learned from all of this?  Well – first of all, editing takes time.  And honest friends.  And a whole lot of patience.  I shudder at how many great agents I queried with my first round when I had NO IDEA what I was doing.  Today, the search continues, but I’m better equipped for the ride.  I’m confident that my time will come.  I’ll either find a great agent out there who wants to champion my book, or I’ll find a way to self-publish the heck out of it.

And in the meantime… I’ll keep writing.