Sunday, August 29, 2010

More about cover art

Some time back I posted concept sheets for Cactus Rain's debut book. Most who commented were quite pleasant. However, I assure you there were unpleasant comments in email. Ouch!

The thing about hiring a profession book cover artist is they will ask for a concept. That might not be what we stay with, but that is the beginning point.

Recently there was an article on cover art. I thought I'd pass it on to my readers.

Frankly, I'm not sure I'd pay for any of these covers. They aren't the type that would reach out to me in a bookstore.

Here is the link. Which one do you like best?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Give Credit

Sometimes we strive so hard to find clarity that we overwrite. We write, "He got the smell of ___________ in his nostrils." Not to be a smart mouth, but where else would one get a smell?

Watch for things like "flattend it down," simply write that it was flattened. (Honestly, how would one flatten it up?)

We have to give our readers credit for being smart. It is a delicate balance not to overwrite, yet not to leave out something that results in confusing copy.

While I honestly think that one produces the best story by NOT editing while writing the first draft, I believe as strongly that editing needs to be more than proper punctuation.

A perfect way to deflate an excellent scene of showing is to tack on the end an obvious statement of telling. At times we almost can't help ourselves. We've written an emotionally charged scene, then to make sure it is understood, we explain it.

Suddenly the forward momentum we had created falls flat and the reader thinks, "Oh duh!" While that does elicit a reaction from the reader, if they are saying, "Oh duh" about us [and not something the character did] then we haven't quite edited properly.

I think a good deal of that happens when we self-edit our draft as we write. The only thing to do is to read aloud the finished first draft [for content], before worrying where the comma goes in a direct address.

Things can get muddled as we work through rewrites and focus on a paragraph, a scene, or even a sentence and we can have bits no longer fit in the big picture. I've already talked [some weeks back] about the UK book where the mother-in-law clutched her pocket book through thick and thin, only to have it drop out of the story during the arc moment and never mentioned again.

I remember one book I read in a sci-fi series. The captain was walking down a hallway toward a certain cabin on the spaceship, then was coming up the hallway. It read like a camera angle change, but really seemed that somehow she had changed direction and doubled back from the narrator.

I get a chuckle when someone has left a scene and mysteriously spoke in the conversation while they weren't present.

The point is edit carefully. Give the reader credit for knowing that people smell with their nose. Keep track of when people leave and don't let them continue talking after they have left.

Content editing can be a lot of fun, so don't get too serious with it even though it is work. Keep focused that it is about making the best story out of the first draft.

What things do you see in books that you remember long after you've forgotten the title and author?

Monday, August 16, 2010


What is a mid-list book? In fiction, according to me, the list works like this: Best selling authors on one end of the list (top) and classics (old and new) on the other end. The stuff in the middle is mid-list.

Everyone starts mid-list. Everyone.

The book and the author [each] have to prove themselves from there. No one knows for certain if a book will take off. Adapting a screenplay from a book doesn't guarantee that either the movie or book will be a success. A celebrity or political figure can be photographed reading a particular. Still it is the regular people who read a mid-list book and love it, tell their friends and they love it. Suddenly sales rise and the book gets noticed - and other good things happen.

Sometimes a well known author will have a really bad book. (Well they can't all be best sellers!). What do they do? They grin or laugh about it and write another book.

There comes a time in the writing process when the story gets old (it has been through a dozen rewrites and read-throughs) and confidence lags. I've spent one weekend cutting 5,000 words from Kathryn's Beach because it all looked bad to me.

The giddiness and self-indulgence of the early draft writing days turns to a seasoned writer, an author. Like any artist, then they can see the true beauty of their work.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Next new best thing...or is it?

Just so you know what is going on out there, look at this after you read my post:

Because I purchase ISBNs from them, I was on their email list, with lots of other publishers and self published authors, to get the notice (press release?) about this new service.

I won't be looking there for new authors/mss. I can't imagine anyone having the time to scroll through sites or blogs looking for the next best selling title.

Like Ann said in her blog (link above) there isn't a short cut to querying. I know we all hate the process as writers, but as a publisher it works for me. I can tell a lot about the writer by their query and synopsis.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cactus Rain news

Before the press release goes out about the launch of our boutique publishing company, I thought I'd mention it looks like we might be ahead of schedule on the publication of our debut book, The Doctor, The Plutocrat, and The Mendacious Minister.

Author Glyn Pope gets the credit for the title. I admit, I wasn't sure I'd ever get the spelling right, much less say it without getting my tongue twisted after months of calling it "Doc."

Glyn is quite brave to go with an unknown publisher. Even more daring is to try a new system where there are no royalties. Yes, that's right. No royalties.

With Cactus Rain the author gets all the income above expenses. By our calculations, that should equate to more than royalties would normally work out. Expenses are set and except for pre-agreed upon unusual expenses, there will be no surprises to any of us.

How's that for a novel idea?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Help Please

Several years ago, I met Celise Downs at an author function in Phoenix. Celise writes YA (young adult) fiction. She has returned to school for more writing classes and needs help to complete one of her assignments.

During the month of August, Young Adult fiction author Celise Downs will be allowing readers to give their "two cents" on the first five chapters of her YA work-in-progress. For more details go here (

I meant to put this in my newsletter for August and just now sent it out without this request. Please pass this info on to others.

BTW, my newsletter is now posted on my website,

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Some time back, I posted a screen shot of the draft for the Cactus Rain website. (Link at the bottom).

We are just about to launch the site - any day now, perhaps even tomorrow. I'm just about to burst with excitement. There have been so many details to get to this point. In addition to all the particulars of starting any small business, there has been many tasks specific to publishing.

I've had a lot of help along the way. From strangers on the phone explaining the Pinal County sales tax requirements (I was in Maricopa County), to Joyce my right hand in much more than website design, and friends who helped or encouraged me along the way. And Jean who mentored me and laughed a lot. Thank you everyone. You mean the world to me.

At the time I'm writing this, points to my website. Sometime in the next 24 hours it will be launched and point to the new website. Once it launches, feel free to tweet, facebook, tell your office mate, and all your reading friends about Cactus Rain Publishing.

The galleys have arrived for Cactus Rain's debut book, The Doctor, The Plutocrat, and The Mendacious Minister by Glyn Pope (France).

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Andrew Revels

Five years ago I met a young and talented writer, Andrew Revels. He is one of those people who can crank out a novel in a few weeks, and his first draft is nearly perfect without editing. He has such a knack for story telling that his characters jump off the page.

Andrew has a ready, slow smile with a twinkle in his eye. He is always up for a gag and usually one of the instigators. He has a very strong sense of family, and community. He gave aspiring artists a boost with his online interviews.

He loves Halloween and planned to marry this October with the guests in costume. I still haven't sorted my costume.

He is just a year or two older than my oldest kid, so one day I wrote to him that he would understand when he was older. Within minutes he sent me a poem, "I Know What It's Like." I realized that he was right, he was old beyond his years.

This morning I woke to an email from Andrew's mom.

I am so sorry to inform you that my son, Andrew Revels died unexpectedly today, Saturday July 31, 2010. He was out on a boat with some friends and was being pulled on a wakeboard and fell off. He tried swimming back to the boat and was pulled underneath a barge on the river here in Wisconsin. I wanted to thank you for all your input and help mentoring Andy and just know that he thought the world of you. Thank you again and I am so sorry to have to deliver such tragic news. Laura Revels Stedman (his mom)

Andrew died like he lived, swimming with all his might. Please take a moment to follow the links and meet this incredible young man, my friend, Andrew Revels.

Andrew at the blog party:

From Andrew's website:

Andrew talking about his books:

Here is the link that was added to the comments:

Andrew left a gentle footprint on my heart.

A note from Andrew's mom.
I just want to say again what an influence you had in my son's short life. He truly admired you. Without your help and support he wouldn't have gotten as far as he had in his career. He definitely would have made it on his own, but knowing you speeded things up.

He surely touched a lot of people. At his celebration of life on Thursday we had to end the receiving line because of time constraints. The funeral parlor was completely packed full with people crammed into every nook and cranny and the whole front lawn outside. Even though they couldn't hear anything out there they wouldn't leave. The funeral director told us he wouldn't be surprised if 700 people didn't attend. Amazing, huh?

I have just started to go through some of Andy's things and these two quotes of yours were in the first box.
There are 24 hours in a day. What we do with each hour ....defines us.
It isn't how long one lives, it is how wide that really matters. How true.

Have you checked out his facebook page or planet-revels lately? Or anything associated with him. I am getting so many e-mails and facebook messages that my computer can't keep up.

There are many benefits and concerts and fundraiser's in the works coming up, all either in his memory, in his name or for his benefit. It's mind boggling.

On Aug. 28th, there is a concert with a lot of the bands he interview and some he hadn't got to yet. So far there's 7 of them and more offers keep coming in. They are all donating their time. They will be selling t-shirts, live long, live strong wristbands, a silent auction and much more.

The proceeds for that will go to Juvenile Diabetes. Another benefit will be for the family to help out with costs. Another one will donate a scholarship to a young author. (He so would approve of that one)

We are going to keep Hoops for Hope alive and already have had so many volunteers. I really don't know how he kept up with all he was involved in. It's very comforting to know that he will never be forgotten.

Once again Nadine, I want to thank you for all you did for my son. He truly loved you.
His very proud mom,
Laura Stedman