Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thoughts on Writing, with a Special Yahoo!

An Article on Writing and Publishing
by Sandra Smith,
Writing as Cassandra Barnes, Author of Jenny's Legacy

I am pleased to announce that my novel, Acts of Love, has been accepted for publication by Write Words, Inc.

Acts of Love is my third completed novel, and the second novel be published.

Acts of Love will first appear in e-book format. Write Words also has a print division, Cambridge Books, and they will later consider publishing Acts of Love as a print book.

Write Words is the same company which published the e-book version of my first hardcover book, Jenny's Legacy. As well as making the book available on their site, they sell e-books through other sites, such as Mobi and Fictionwise. They also make their books available as a Kindle download.

Write Words has been a very satisfactory publisher to work with. I have no qualms about recommending them to you.

They are not a self-publishing or vanity publisher. My mss will go through a rather stringent editing process with them. They accept author input on cover design. They have a straight-forward contract, which may be viewed in full at the website.

They do not pay an advance, but pay royalties on a quarterly basis. (To the best of my knowledge, royalties only is pretty much standard for e-book publishers.) If you access the website, you can find full details under the "author information" tab.

I received a quick response to my query. Because I'd already published with them, I took the liberty of including the synopsis and first three chapters with my query, rather than waiting for their request. The acceptance for publication was based on the synopsis and chapters. I didn't have to send the complete mss until after acceptance. Authors new to them would do well to follow their instructions, rather than my example.

The tentative release date for Acts of Love is December 1, 2008.

I started writing Acts of Love in 1999. It was originally intended to be the first in a series of cozy mysteries. I very carefully chose plausible characters and setting. The primary male character is a police detective, which insured adequate exposure to crime; and the primary female character is an aromatherapist who owns a retail shop in a mall, which insured exposure to a variety of supporting characters.

I wrote and rewrote the story many, many times, trying different points of view, different plot points, etc. There isn't a character in the book that didn't get to fully express him/herself. Eventually I decided that I simply didn't want a straight mystery, so I turned the whole thing into a romance. I wrote and rewrote that version many, many times. I didn't care for that either, so wove together murder and love, and rewrote it a few more times. I queried the final version as a mystery/romance/women's fiction.

My files are in storage, but I know I submitted the complete mss to IWW workshops at least twice, and received very helpful critiques. At least one of the times, the title was Love Knot. Along with everything else, the title has changed several times. The one aspect that remained consistent was the concept that love can be distorted - people murder for love, steal for love, etc, etc, etc. I knew from that beginning that's what I wanted to convey in the story. Everything the characters did in all the versions, including the final version, was in some way motivated by
love, healthy or unhealthy.

It would take a book to relate all that I learned in writing Acts of Love. I think the main reason I stuck with it through all the experimentation and rewriting is because I really love my characters.

And because I make every effort human ly possible to finish whatever I've started. Which is probably why I procrastinate terribly on starting a new book.

One of the biggest things I've learned since I started writing 15 years ago is that I have to have the title first. This is true whether I'm writing non-fiction articles for magazines, short stories, or a novel. My first novel, Jenny's Legacy, didn't have a title when I started, and I struggled through several drafts of it. Then one morning, in the middle of my toast and tea, the title popped into my mind. The writing flowed smoothly after that.

I have pages and pages of notes and trial titles on Acts of Love, and I finally chose that title out of sheer desperation. Probably after it's published I'll think of exactly the right title and want to rewrite the mss. Each writer has his/her little "thing" that starts the writing flowing, and for me it's the title.

My current mss, A Perfect Body, is going well for me, and I truly believe that's because I had the title in mind before I wrote the first word. I have the titles for the next two books, and I'm confident that once I get them started they'll flow well for me. (All I need to finish them is characters, plot, and 60,000 -80,000 words each, LOL.) It also helps that I know what genre I'll be telling those stories in - I don't think I could ever again go through what I did with Acts of Love.

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