Saturday, September 26, 2015

Don't Let Anything Get In Your Way Of Writing

As most of you know I've been moving, and it hasn't been an easy one. We were told by our landlord that he planned to renovate the house we rented and double the rent so we had to be out in 45 days. That was August 17th.

It was a tough move for us since we lived there for 5 and a half years and considered it our home. To top it off the rent in Denver metro has doubled in the last few months and we couldn't find anything that we could realistically afford. So we loaded everything we own into a storage unit and are bunking in with my mom until we lock down a new home.

In the mean time I was at the end of Lore and managed to get it to my beta-readers before I would go without a computer for I didn't know how long. As we moved into my mother's, my husband managed to get the computer up and running, (using her neighbor's internet signal) and it was just in time for me to get back two of my reports from the beta-readers.

One loved it, the other said it needed some work. 

So, I'm back at it, even in the midst of chaos in my life. Plus I have written 10 pages of Tale, the next book in the series. 

I guess the reason I am telling you all this is to say don't let life's stresses keep you from writing. My books are my babies and I need to be able to write. They are my release from the everyday stresses and even the catastrophic ones. 

So don't stop writing, even if it's on a notebook. It's a healthy way to get away from all your problems - at least it is for me!

Have a great weekend all, Lisa

Friday, September 18, 2015

Guest Artist - Karla Horst

I’m pleased to introduce you to my new cover artist, Karla Horst! I hope you give her a warm welcome and that you look forward to seeing her talent in action with my covers, and possibly other art pertaining to the series. I wanted to get her out front for all of you to get to know her and see some of her past art. Welcome to the world of the Djen, Karla! You are now part of my most excellent team. I am hoping this little article will help me and my fans get to know you better. You never know, some of them might hit you up to do a painting for them. 

For you readers, I hope you enjoy Karla's art work as you read the article!

First, tell me about yourself. Family? Work? –
I am a Colorado Native, lived here all my life except for 6 months in Kansas, staying with my sister and working two jobs, one was at Hallmark cards - should have stayed but got so homesick for Colorado and the mountains. I grew up in Arvada, with 3 brothers, a sister and always lots of pets. A bit of a tomboy, I enjoyed playing in the dirt, which is why I probably love gardening. I have worn many hats over the years one was being a florist for 15 years. Art has always been a part of my life and I decided to see about incorporated it into a career so I went back to school and received a degree in graphic design and Illustration. I then decided I preferred the fine art and followed my heart. I am now at a few galleries in Colorado as well as selling at Fineartamerica and from my website

I know that you do portraits of animals from pictures. I’m sure people love to have a painting of their beloved pet. Has that been pretty successful for you? –
I love animals. I am working on a series right now of wildlife in the Rocky Mountains. As far as the commissioned pieces, it started with one person asking if I would do a piece for them and it has grown from there. I hope to start some work with my own dogs for a book I am writing and illustrating. I love cats and dogs but will paint just about anything so if anyone wants a commission piece they may leave a message on my website.
Tell us about your work with Vitamin Cottage, one of my favorite stores. –
I worked with Vitamin Cottage, now Natural Grocers for over 13 years and managed the Health & Beauty department. I loved merchandising and creating fun endcap displays. They would also let me display my art in the store I worked at. So that was awesome. I then left to work as a sales representative in the health industry and to spend more time with my art. I started making my art into cards (also prints and journals) to sell at the galleries. Just recently I was able to get my cards and mini journals placed at Natural Grocers. I am in most of the Colorado stores.

What got you started in doing art for commission? –
People would ask and I liking the challenge said yes. It was the same when I was a florist. Finding a way to take their ideas, or just photos, and capture the energy, the essence of what they wanted brought me joy. I feel we are all here to share our talents.
If you could go anywhere on vacation tomorrow, where would it be? –
Well it is funny you should mention that but next week we are heading up to Breckenridge, but anywhere in the mountains feeds my soul. Then to the other extreme, I love the ocean and diving. Third would be going to explore Europe, Tuscany is coming up then we will put Ireland on the list. I have been to Scotland and England and it brought up some feelings of belonging there...

How’s the painting for Lore’s cover coming along? –
Finished! Now we just have to prepare it for when it is ready to go to press. It was a challenge getting the colors just right but it was fun to do! I usually work with mostly watercolor and this painting is done with acrylic. I was able to at least change it easier as we headed in the right direction of what needed to be accomplished.

Are you interested in doing all of my covers, and maybe some other writers’ covers? –
I am open to doing most everything. It allows me to grow as an artist when I challenge myself and sometimes others to achieve the desired goals.

Thanks for being a sport and answering all of my questions. I hope some of my readers leave you a comment. It’s always fun to get to know the people behind the scenes.

Love, Lisa

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sometimes You Need A Break - 5 Times To Step Back From Your Writing

Happy Labor day weekend everyone! I hope that most of you have the weekend off, but for those of you who don't, my thoughts are with you. When I worked in the costumer service industry I always had to work the holiday weekends. I understand your plight.

In fact, I still work the holiday weekends - I'm a writer, I'm always writing. 

But there are times when you need to allow yourself some time off. One of those times is when you've finished writing your rough draft. Another is when your book is completed and you've sent it off to your beta-readers, or editor. There are times you need to walk away from your book and regroup, or even celebrate your accomplishment.

1. You have finished your rough draft

Once you are done, you should walk away from your book for several weeks - some say a month. Why? Because when you come back to it you will have fresher eyes to begin your revisions. Revising your work can be daunting and you need to have focus and a clear head. It also helps with your patience with critique marks.

2. The next round

So you've gone through the book, and you've learned a lot - at least you believe you have. Now is the time to go through the book a second time. If it's your 3rd or 4th book, you probably won't need to go through it with a fine toothed comb, but you still need to read through and catch as many mistakes as you can. 

You still should give your brain and eyes a rest at this point. Even if it is only a week. It helps you, again, to see your work clearer. What I found with this round is my writing had improved tremendously by the time I came to the end of the first revision process. This is where you end up rewriting your first few chapters more times than you care to imagine. Of course, after doing that, it can change your story dramatically and you end up doing a full second round of critiques.

That's okay, it needs to be clean and tight for your readers.

3. Final run through

So you've gone through it twice. You definitely need a break! Set the manuscript down and go have some fun. Celebrate your accomplishment. Not everyone can write a book.

Your final run through should consist of reading it out loud. It is amazing how many mistakes you can find when you do this. If you read it to someone who knows a thing or two about books, like an avid reader, or someone who has worked in the editing industry, all the better. They will point out all kinds of thing you would never have thought of, like dress your characters more, dull spots, stronger, or more appropriate verbs. These are added bonuses to your read through.

4. You've sent it off to your beta-readers

I usually give my beta readers two weeks to read the book and list any mistakes or comments. During this time you need to catch up on other things in your life. Try to stay busy and relax. Once you get their thoughts/marks back, you will be back at it again, so you need a good break from book brain here.

5. Now it's on it's way to the editor

Depending on the size of your book, this can take a month to six weeks usually. Plenty of time to regroup. Sure, your mind will be anxious to get it out to your fans, but you need to remember when you get it back from the editor, you still have weeks of fixes. 

Self-publishing a book is a lot of work, but can be so rewarding. Be patient with yourself, and with the process. And remember, give yourself breaks - you deserve it!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Love, Lisa