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2014 Goals Q2 Check-In

I think I’m once again behind on the check-in. Sorry about that–July and August got away from me. I completed a goal in Q1, so there are only 3 left to check in on! Woohoo!

1) Goal: Move more 

  • Action Plan:  I will move for at least 45-80 minutes each day doing cardio, toning, or weights. I will get up from this laptop every hour for at least 5 minutes and move around. 
  • Status: Everyday, I work out for at least 70-80 minutes. I get up hourly from the laptop and try to add in different chores/tasks to move more.

 ON COURSE

 

2) Goal: Eat a lower carb lifestyle

  • Action Plan: Focus on healthier foods–fruits, vegetables, potatoes, oatmeal. Add them into each meal and cut out processed sugars and white carbs. Aim for 30-40 g of carbs per meal.

 

  • Status: Eating less carbs. Avoiding breads and white processed carbs. They are splurges and I try to not splurge more than a little once a week. Allowed fruits and veggies and dark chocolate and the occasional ice cream. Going well. Feel more energetic and healthy.

 

ON COURSE 

 

3) Goal: Draft first draft of Six Train’s sequel

  • Action Plan: Complete the outline by Feb 5th. Then switch to drafting after I finish third manuscript revisions (as long as Reckonings revisions aren’t required by Harlequin).

 

  • Status: Outline completed on February 7th. From May to July, I revised The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts for Harlequin. Then I prepared for book tour. I reviewed outline in early August and officially began drafting 1500 words 5 days a week on August 21st. Drafted about 15,000 words to date.

IN PROCESS

 

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QUERY SEASON

Query Season has kicked off for DM. That means I’m sending out three queries a day to agents until I have 50 queries out. Then I will pause and see how the responses are going. I have an agent list that I put together back in July for this book. It’s a long list because, well, I’m a cautious optimist.

So far, it’s been the best query season yet. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten full requests on the first batch of queries. It’s incredibly exciting and nail-biting. I would be thrilled to work with any of the agents reading my full right now.

AUDIO BOOK MOMENTUM

I approved the first 15 minutes of my audiobook in early August. My amazing narrator has been bogged down in upper respiratory issues, but she is on the mend. She plans to have the final audiobook to me October 15th. Then I have to review and approve it. And then it will go live on Audible.com sometime in mid to late November.

SEQUEL DRAFTING FOR SIX TRAIN

I finalized my outline for Six Train’s sequel last week. I started drafting the rough draft of the sequel. I’m being ambitious and setting a word count of 1500 words a day, 5 days a week. If all goes according to plan, I will have a rough draft by December. It will need time to breathe, then a round of revisions, then beta reading, and revisions after that, but the most time consuming part is the drafting and the time it’s with betas.

BALTIMORE BOOK FESTIVAL

I was one of the authors selected to be in the author tent at the Baltimore Book Festival on September 27th from 12 pm to 8 pm. It’s a nice chunk of the day I’ll be hanging out there. Come chat about books and if you want a personalized copy of Six Train they will be available. I’m also going to have a little giveaway going on too.

THE GIRL WHO IGNORED GHOSTS STATUS

My editorial revisions were turned in before I went to WI. I’m waiting on line edits from my editor.

BOOK SALES 

I don’t think I remembered to report book sales in June or July. Sorry about that. Anyway, June was a writing month and not a promoting month. July was mostly a promoting month.

June: 7 books

July: 41 books

 

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It’s been over 15 months since The Six Train to Wisconsin was first published. About time to stop and think about everything that has happened to me since then.

When I first embarked on this indie journey, I had no idea how many emotional highs and lows I’d hit each week. Or day. Or hour.

Every moment felt so life of death for my book. You’re up, you’re down. Sales are happening, sales stop happening. You won an award, you didn’t place for an award. But a year later, I still am selling copies.

I’ve come to realize I have no direct control over sales. And sometimes they suck. And sometimes they soar.

It’s about balancing the writing and the promoting. And being okay with ranking dropping.

I’ve come to accept that there is no exact correlation between the effort you put into promo activities and actual sales happening. You can guestimate. If a sale happens the day after an event, maybe it’s related to that event. Or maybe they heard about it on Facebook, checked out your book trailer, and decided to try it. Or maybe one of your readers recommended it to them and it had nothing at all to do with your promo work.

There is no concrete way to trace how a sale happens. So there is no definitive way to say if a promotion tactic has succeeded or failed. Maybe it didn’t motivate a sale that day, but maybe it was part of several interactions that led to a sale further down the road.

That’s why it’s so important to have a marketing strategy. A long-term approach to promoting. It has to be about getting your name out there and creating discoverability. And believing that sales will flow from there.

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I am not the same girl who trembled at the thought of giving a speech. Sure, I still get nervous and I over-practice to compensate, but I am getting better and better at doing things I used to run from. It still tires me out—I’m not a natural extrovert. So “being on” saps my energy and I need a day or two hiding in my Kour cave to recover.

I have readers. People who enjoy my novel and reach out to me! People who really connect with my story and my characters. Beyond the sales figures and the review writers, there are people who I don’t know about reading and enjoying my story. That’s pretty cool. I just wish I had a way of knowing how many of them were out there. I suspect it could be thousands. Which is really awesome.

There are also readers who dislike my book. That hurts. But it also means they aren’t my target audience. They aren’t the people I wrote the book for. And so they aren’t going to like it. Sometimes a review reveals more about a reader than a book. What they dislike is usually exactly what my target readers like.

Mostly, I’ve learned to stay the course. To believe in my book and myself. And to hire a team of people I trust in completely. They make it so much easier to manage my indie publishing career.

 

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We checked into The Commons Hotel in Minneapolis on 7/23. A treat for Dad for coming along on the epic book tour.

 

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On 7/24, the road trip to Butternut happened. 4.5 hours of driving.

 

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I was determined to get in that claw foot tub one night. I managed on Saturday evening. I also had a gorgeous walk in shower. The height of luxury in the Northwoods.

 

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I made the front page of the Price County Review!

 

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We headed up to Glidden to the Green Lantern for dinner our first night. I love the country chic style of the place. It’s going to be in a scene in the sequel.

 

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I had steak with grilled shrimp and asiago cheese at the Green Lantern. One of my best meals in the Northwoods.

 

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On 7/25, from 10 am-3 pm, I had a book signing at Ruth’s Pioneer Quilt Shop in downtown Butternut.

 

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That night we headed up to Lake Superior in Ashland.

 

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Fabulous murals from Butternut’s Kelly Meredith can be found all over Ashland county. This one was up in Ashland.

 

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After seeing Lake Superior, we had dinner at the Deep Water Grille in Ashland.

 

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On 7/26, from 10 am – 3 pm we had a second day of book signings.

 

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Ruth’s daughter, Becky had the coolest handcrafts for sale that weekend. Planters and wall art and t-shirts and even homemade soaps and honey.

 

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On 7/26, we had dinner at AJ’s with Kim and John. They make great prime rib there.

 

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We hustled over to the Pioneer Days fair and caught Hugh Bob and The Hustle’s performance.

 

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Then we dropped by Steve’s Corner Bar and had drinks with Dan. Rumor had it Hugh Bob would be performing here that night. He didn’t show up until long after we’d left.

 

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We headed over to Brennan’s Green Brier to hang out with Mike Brennan, who has owned the bar since the 70s. He let me pick his brain for a scene in the sequel. Had a blast hanging out with him. He’s a firecracker!

 

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On 7/27, I got to be in the Pioneer Days parade! That’s my fabulous driver, George, in his awesome car. He made the signs too.

 

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On 7/27, we headed out to Steven’s Point. We stopped at the A&W in Phillips for lunch.

 

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Wauwatosa Public Library author talk and book signing on 7/28

 

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Driving through corn fields in 7/29 to DeKalb, IL

 

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DeKalb Public Library free workshop on writing good love scenes with Margaret, Marie and Gwen.

 

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Great breakfast at the Junction

 

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Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. Where we stayed at the Holmes Student Center

 

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Memorial to the students killed on Northern Illinois University’s campus by a shooter in 2010.

 

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The Shitty Barn in Spring Green, WI. On our one free day of the trip, we decided to roadtrip an hour outside Madison to see Hugh Bob and The Hustle.

 

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Nick Brown performs at the Shitty Barn

 

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Hugh Bob and The Hustle at the Shitty Barn

 

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Cute street of Wausau, WI

 

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My free workshop on How to Be a Productive Part-Time Writer at the Marathon County Public Library in Wausau on 7/31

 

 

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8/1 at the Park Falls Public Library talk on traditional publishing

 

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Fried Cheese Curds at Gregg’s Steakhouse in Glidden on 8/1

 

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Walleye at Gregg’s Steakhouse

 

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Fried Cheese Curds at the Green Lantern on 8/2

 

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Exploring Shanagolden with Maxine

 

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The Butternut Fire truck–part of the Butternut Area Historical Society Museum

 

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Best Burger of the Northwoods–out at Cruise Inn Spring Creek with Pam on 8/2

 

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The talking deer at Cruise Inn Spring Creek

 

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On 8/3, I hung out with Abby at the museum and then we had a delicious lunch at the Green Lantern.

 

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After a 5 hour roadtrip back to Minneapolis, I stayed in my hotel the entire evening of 8/4. Ate at the Normandy Kitchen–delicious walleye with potatoes.

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I can’t believe it’s mid July already! After I finished revisions on July 5th, Mom and I went back to Highwire Farm to celebrate. I met this lovely turkey. She was beautiful.

Mom delighted in the kangaroo hopping about. The one in the background actually photobombed her.

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It was a gorgeous day and great to be outside.

***

It’s the first time I haven’t been revising or outlining in 9 months. But that’s not to say I’m not working.

I was up in Provincetown for a talk at their library on a “Peek Inside the Author Life” on July 10th.

That was 5 hours driving each way. Luckily Mom drove and Aunt Sue came along. We stayed a cute motel, The Cape Colony Inn.

I had an awesome audience. Highly attentive and great questions. One person even hugged me! Sold a few books too.

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Ptown was gorgeous.

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And lively.

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***

I’ve been prepping for my 4 workshops in WI and IL at the end of the month and touching base with the venues to make sure everything is set. I packed my suitcase.  Sent out boxes of giveaways and event related stuff.

I’ve also been catching up on life stuff. Getting new glasses made and going swimming.

Even hanging out with Grandma H. She went rogue on me at the mall last week and sent me into an absolute panic. We separated because I had to go to Lenscrafters and she doesn’t walk that far. She promised to meet me at the bench at IHOP in 20 minutes. But she wasn’t there. I looked inside IHOP. Nope. I walked her whole route from Sears to IHOP 3 times. No sign of her.

Finally, I went over to mall security, fearing something happened to her. As I am giving him her name, she pops out of the bank. The bank she never mentioned going to. The bank that is not on her normal route in the mall. I ended up having an asthma flare.

***

The audiobook for Six Train is progressing. My narrator/producer did a great job on the first 15 minutes. We had a little misunderstanding where I provided line edits, when big picture feedback was expected. But we talked it through and I now know that line edits are not acceptable to audiobook narrators.

I emailed ACX to ask them to provide actual guidance on feedback on their website because all I had to go on was be as detailed as possible. They responded that they would look into it.

I had a couple concerns that my narrator and I are going to discuss via conference call on Monday. Baring any major issues, the audiobook should be done in late September/early October.

***

Six Train became a Readers’ Favorite Finalist in paranormal fiction. I am planning to attend the Miami Book Fair in November and sign books in their tent. Have to do all the logistics in August/September when I return.

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***

I’ve been creating a new agent query list for my next YA novel, DM. I plan to start actively querying in August.

I’ve snuck out a few queries in June and July just to test the waters. I did get a partial request, so that’s something. A nice nudge of encouragement. I’ll plan to send 30-50 queries out in August. And see where it goes.

***

With The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, I’m enjoying a brief breather. Then I’ve got line edits down the road and then copy edits. I’m still waiting on a publication date.

***

I will be on a blog break from July 24-August 6th. It’s just too hard to keep up on blogging when I’m doing the book tour. But I’ll be back in August with updates on my amazing two weeks in WI and IL.

 

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I’m guest blogging over on Megan Stolz’s blog about the indie author’s hardest task–chasing discoverability. Please feel free to stop by and ask questions!

I’ll pop over on her blog all week to respond to any questions/comments about my post.

 

http://www.meganstolz.com/2014/07/guest-post-kourtney-heintz-on-chasing.html

 

 

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I know writers who don’t read books about the craft of writing. But I’m not one of them. I’ve always been able to absorb stuff from books and apply it. That might be my superpower.

It’s why I am a voracious reader of books on the craft of writing. Because I want to deliver the best books I can and I know I can pull stuff from these books that will make me a better writer.

One thing I’ve complained to my crit partner about is the lack of books on the macro level of storytelling. Books that teach you how to tell a story. I’ve read lots of books that focus on a specific element or aspect of storytelling–but always on the micro level. They never talk about the forest. Always the leaves and the trees.

Of course, being the extraordinary being that she is, my crit partner, Kat Bender, recommended two books to me. I finished them this spring. They were excellent books on the macros of storytelling. What needs to be in a story and why. Seriously, if I could only read two books on craft–these would be it.

 

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The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers 3rd Edition by Christopher Vogler

The Writer’s Journey is the best writing book I’ve ever read on story structure. This book takes a macro approach to writing and has given me new perspective and insight into storytelling. As I was reading, I could feel it shifting my approach to writing. Giving me a new lenses through which to examine my novels.

This book is like a comprehensive writing workshop. I tackled 10-15 pages a day. There was so much in those pages, I wouldn’t have wanted to read it faster. I wanted to absorb the details and grasp the key points by taking my time with them.

I highly recommend this book for writers who want to take their storytelling to the next level. I know I’ll be referring back to the archetypes and steps of the hero’s journey as I work on my future novels.

 

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Wired For Story by Lisa Cron

One of the best books on writing out there. So many books focus on micro things, but this stays big picture and walks you through the things you have to do to tell a compelling story that readers respond to. I read a chapter a night and it was like taking an online class. Amazing insight.

I feel like I have a much better grasp of what a story needs to do and be and why. The perfect read to follow The Writer’s Journey. I am incredibly lucky to have such an awesome crit partner who recommends such great books and helps me grow as an author. This is a must read for all authors.

 

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July is going to be a very busy promo month for me.

I’ll be out on the Cape to kick things off and then spending two weeks in Wisconsin and Illinois. If you live near one of my free workshops or talks, please stop by to say hi. There will be a door prize at each event. I’ll also be signing books and selling photography.

 

  • July 10th from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Provincetown, MA at the Provincetown Public Library: Free workshop on living the author life and my paths to publication with a book signing and door prize
  • July 25-27th, Kourtney will be participating in several Pioneer Days events in Butternut, WI. Further details will follow
  • July 28th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Wauwatosa Public Library in Wauwatosa, WI: Free author talk and Q&A with a door prize and book signing
  • July 29th from 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at DeKalb Public Library in DeKalb, IL: Free workshop “Turning Up the Heat: How to Write Good Love Scenes” with a door prize and book signing
  • July 31th from 6:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. in Wasau, WI at the Marathon County Public Library  presenting a free workshop on “Being a Productive Part-time Writer” with a door prize and book signing.
  • August 1st from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Park Falls, WI at the Park Falls Public Library, free talk about my author life with a book signing and photography sale and door prize.

*******

Update on Editorial Revisions

My editor liked what I did with the second part of the book. She had some minor tweaks, which I am working on. I sent the third installment to her last Thursday and am waiting on comments. I will be delivering the final manuscript on July 8th. Then onto copy edits.

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May Book Sales

In May, I sold 6 books, but I did zero promoting that month.

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Book Club Discussion

I met with an awesome book club in Manchester and spent 2 hours talking about Six Train. It was so cool to hear how they enjoyed the book and to discuss the nitty gritty of my characters. Of course our discussion went until 10 pm. And I was so keyed up, I didn’t fall asleep until 2 a.m.

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CT’s Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire kicked off on Saturday!  My awesome cousins James and Ashley agreed to go with me back in April. This also ended up being my treat for working so hard on revisions the past 6 weeks.

 

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Here’s James striking a very kinglike pose. I love his hair.

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It was a gorgeous day.

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There were tons of cool vendors to check out and delicious food options. They also had 5 stages set up throughout the park for performances too. This is an awesome event! I’m definitely in for next year.

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After strolling around, we went to the Tournament stage and watched Knights of Gore.

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We enjoyed it so much we stayed for The Questless Company who had more of a humorous questlessness.

We wandered amongst the vendors and then watched some swordplay lesson too.

I snuck away for a $2 cold pickle. It was a ginormous pickle. Garlic and half sour. And it was delicious and refreshing. And the best pickle I’ve ever had. And I used to have a pickle man back in the city. So it was a damn fine pickle.

And I got a t-shirt. Because I wanted to commemorate the day.

BTW, the park has public restrooms which are so much nicer than a port-o-let.

We wandered around the vendors and ended up at Pearl Odyssey. You get to pick an oyster and then they make a piece of jewelry out of the pearl you get. Pretty cool and memorable thing.

 

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My oyster had two pink pearls in it. So I had a ring made.

Ashley’s also had twin pink pearls and hers were so close in size she got earrings.

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For dinner, I had a turkey leg and scotch egg. The turkey leg tasted and looked like ham. For a while, I was quite certain I was eating a pig leg. But that’s what happens when you cure turkey and smoke it–James checked Google.

The scotch egg–wow! It’s a hard boiled egg rolled in sausage and breading and cooked to perfection. So good!

Ashley had broccoli and cheese soup in a bread bowl. James had hotdogs.

From the food tent we could watch the tournament stage.

We ended up back at the Tournament stage for Hubris, Daniel GreenWold, Wyck, Sasha the Fire Gypsy with a 3-D Juggling Improve Fire Show. At one point, the pickle vendor came around. And it was round 2 of pickles. So delicious. I would go back to Ansonia just to get another pickle. What a great finale!

 

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I’ve decided to use Photo C as my official author photo for #TGWIG (The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts). It got the most votes and is my fav picture.

 

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Hunter College Writing Conference

I was on one of the first panel’s of the day, the Children’s panel, with Dan Greenburg, Judith Greenburg, Richard Peck, and Chris Grabenstein.

Great group of authors and very friendly to a newbie. Each one of them had published dozens of books already.

 

I got to attend the rest of the panels, which were filled with amazing authors.

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The Fiction I panel was awesome. I met Meg Wolitzer and g0t her to sign my book. She raised a great point about how writers need to find the overlap between ideas outside yourself and what is inside yourself. What preoccupies you.

 

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In the Fiction II panel, Warren Adler stressed that the most important trait for him and his friends as authors was that they treat it as work. Write 5 pages, 7 days a week. Before you go to sleep figure out what your characters will do tomorrow. And the secret to writing is rewriting and rewriting.

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We had a lovely lunch and James McBride was our keynote speaker. This was the view from our luncheon.

I also made a few new writing friends (Hi Mike and Megan!) and sold two books. For me, it was a day well spent!

 

Editorial Revisions 

I sent off my first 100 pages on Reckonings to my editor last week. Before I got back from New York, I had comments from her. She really liked how I incorporated her suggestions. And said these pages were:

“…Just terrific. Much more dynamic and gripping.”

That took some pressure off because that was the section with the most revisions. And I was so worried about whether I was getting it right. Some of my revisions even gave her shivers. :)

She noted a few minor concerns that I need to work on and caught a plot loophole too. I am so lucky to have her on my team.

Yesterday, I sent off the next 100 pages to her. The middle was the easiest stretch of the book. For some reason, I really hit my groove there. Now, I’m heading into the end which has to be just as awesome as the rest of it. Even better actually. Gulp.

 

Title Change 

The team at Harlequin has decided on the new title for Reckonings. They picked one of my suggestions which is really cool. From now on Reckonings will be called:

 

The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts

 

 

New Agent Search

 

So unfortunately, Victoria did not like my next book, DM. She will continue to act as representation for The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts, but for future books I will have to start the agent search all over again.  I am split so thin between revisions and promoting that I can’t start querying right now. I’m back burnering that until August.

After 7 years in the query wars, I have a short and long list of agents I’d love to work with. We’ll see if things go better this go round.

 

Author Photo Poll

So I’ve narrowed it down to 6 possible choices for my author photo for the YA gothic mystery novel, The Girl Who Ignored Ghosts. This will go on all the promo materials and the book jacket. I’d really appreciate some help in deciding. So let the voting begin. I can blur the background so don’t worry too much about that. The focus is on the best face.

Photo A:

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Photo B:

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Photo C:

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Photo D:

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Photo E: 

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Photo F:

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