Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Here's the final cover for "Star Sons"!!! I'm so excited! The real cover will have stronger colors, but isn't this gorgeous?!

The book designer will be sending the book to the printer in just a couple of days - soon I'll have a proof of the book in my hot little hands! YAY!

Writing novels is definitely a labor of love. I don't know that any monetary value could be put on the hours and hours and hours of effort that went into researching, writing, polishing, editing, polishing, editing again, etc. And then there was the agonizing wait to hear from those I'd asked to read it. Would they think it was any good? What would I need to change to make it better? What a relief it was when all of them liked the story and they didn't find huge problems with it! Yay!

I know very few authors make a profit with their novels, but it will be a thrill to have a real book of my novel! Can't wait!!

You can read a sample chapter here: http://www.whimsyhill.com/. Please leave comments when you read it!

Monday, December 03, 2007

What fun!!!!

I uploaded the first chapter of my novel, Star Sons: Dawn of the Two (which will be published soon) to my HP Yahoo group and to my writing group, as well as to the publishing website (http://www.whspubs.com/). I was nervous as could be, exposing my "baby" to the world that way, but it's gotta get out there and be read if it's gonna be successful!! Imagine my delight when I got a bunch of responses very quickly, all cheering and delighted with it and wanting to know when and where they can buy it! YES! That's sweet music to my ears!!!!

The book's cover is being set up now - as soon as it's ready to go, the book will be printed! YIPPEE!!!!!!!! Can't wait to have it in my hands!!! Exciting times here!

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's a lot more work than it looks like . . .

Getting a book published, that is. Yikes! I've gone through my novel close to thirty times now (I lost track a LONG time ago - it may be a lot more than that!), editing, polishing, proofreading, editing and polishing again, proofreading again, sending it to my group of readers and my copy editor for their input, editing/polishing/proofreading after input from each of them, etc. Then there's the proofreading after sending it to the typesetter. Thank goodness he's a patient man, because it's absolutely amazing how different the manuscript looks when it's typeset! I found errors that should've been caught in all the other proofreading and copy editing, which are being fixed, thanks to a kind-hearted typesetter. And today I sent him my final read-through. Once he fixes the few glitches I found (missing quote marks here and there - tiny things like that), it'll be done!

The BIGGEST headache to me has been coming up with a synopsis for the novel. I write long-form (novels) - short stuff is HARD for me! But with the help of a lot of writing friends, I finally managed to come up with one that's 150 words (which was my goal) and seems to be pretty eye-catching. Hopefully it will intrigue people enough that they'll want to buy my book! Telling the story is the easy part (124,000 words later, I'm a happy camper with a told story!). SELLING the story is HARD (synopsis, queries, whatever else - argh) - for me, at least.

Today I had the very great pleasure of looking at my second novel's manuscript for the first time in a very long time. I wrote the bulk of it (57,000 words) during Nanowrimo last year. It's now about 90,000 words and finished in first draft form. Now I can polish and refine it. I can't wait!

I'm supposed to be working on a short story for an anthology too. I need to get my first novel out of my head a bit so I can work with completely different characters, plot, setting, etc., and in short form, which isn't as easy for me as novels. (My second novel is a continuation of the series I started with the first one.) Various things about the short story intrigue me a lot - I just have to get immersed in it to get it going. With "Star Sons" out of my hair for a little while, anyway, hopefully I can immerse myself in the story of Robin and Cricket (Robin being a young woman, Cricket a cat with a tale to tell).

Watch for "Star Sons: Dawn of the Two" to appear on Amazon.com in a few weeks!! YIPPEE!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Of Nano and GREAT readers!

You can see from the count thingie that I'm not doing Nano this year (and have been too busy to remove the count thingie from my blog). I'm busy proofreading my novel, "Star Sons: Dawn of the Two" which should be published in January, with a possible "soft publication" in December, yay!! So between that and all the traveling I've been doing with my art, I haven't had time to think about new novels. I am working on a new short story for an anthology, but it's only 2700 words so far and nowhere near the end.

As for "great readers" -- the folks on my Yahoo site (you know who you are!) http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/HPRefinersFire are the BEST in the WORLD! They've spotted a second instance (in a few months!) of someone copying my Harry Potter novel, "The Refiner's Fire" nearly word for word and posting it as their own work on various sites! And then when I couldn't get the reporting system on those sites to work for non-techie me, they did it for me! Bless their hearts!! They take EXCELLENT care of me!! And I'll be repaying them the way they like best by beginning the upload of my latest HP story, "Now and Forever" in December. Thanks again, guys!! You rock!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Friesian Extravaganza!

The Friesian Extravaganza is now over (whew!) and I'm about to leave for Equine Affaire in W. Springfield Mass. (if you get up there, I'll be in the Better Living Center, booth 517-518 - come say "Howdy!"). The Friesian show was my best show EVER! The first night, before it was unveiled (!), my Artist's Proof of the "Friesian Elegance" bronze was sold! And the same lady bought two more bronzes! I had a few other sales that weekend too, and several folks interested in commissioning portraits of their horses, or in talking their spouses into buying one or more of my existing bronzes. YAY! I could use more shows like THAT one!! It was great fun, too!!

The photo to the left shows me carrying the Concours d'Elegance trophy (which features my bronze "Friesian Elegance") away after the awards ceremony in which it was presented for the first time. It will reside at the FHANA headquarters at the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington KY, with this year's winner's name inscribed on the first of the fifty name plates around the trophy base (the small plates you can see in this picture). I wound up carrying it all the way around the arena to get to the vendor area, where I had to wrap it up for its trip to its new home in Kentucky. On the way around the ring, I stopped and let people look at it as much as they wanted. That was great fun for me!

I had such a good time at the show, and my customer who commissioned the bronze was kind enough to let me ride one of his horses! I'd told him I wanted to ride in a carriage behind Nanning (his stallion) or just sit on a Friesian, or be led around like a pony ride, I didn't care. This was my best-ever chance to get on a Friesian and I wanted the chance, if at all possible. Imagine my absolute JOY when his wife and trainer came to my booth and his wife said, "I understand you want to ride a Friesian? We'll be ready for you in 15 minutes." YAY! Long story short, I not only got to sit on a gorgeous Friesian mare, but I also got to do whatever I wanted with her! So I walked, trotted and cantered her and had a BLAST! The pics aren't very good because of us being in an indoor arena, but here's a pic of me having an absolutely wonderful time on this lovely mare, who had just won the Friesian World Championship in Intro Dressage! (Good thing it wasn't a higher level of dressage since I don't ride dressage - I ride hunt seat and western!)

A bunch of folks who'd watched me sculpting or talked to me in my booth, as well as some vendors I'd gotten friendly with, came out to watch me ride. They asked if I was going to buy a Friesian after riding this one, and I said no. I have a wonderful Quarter Horse (Jack) who rides just beautifully and still has things to teach me, and he's PAID for, and he doesn't have all the "high maintenance" of a Friesian's long mane and feathers. He's my "forever" horse - I expect us to grow old together. But I sure did enjoy riding this Friesian! What a blast!

On the writing front, I'm still working with the book designer to get the layout done and proofread. It's a meticulous, painstaking process I had no idea would take so long. I have people champing at the bit to get my book now, and I still can't tell them when it will be published for certain! But it will be as perfect as possible when it is published!

While at the Friesian show, I started a sculpture of a small horse to be about the size of "Maestoso" (Shown in a marbled patina - also available in black). I thought the new piece would make a nice "pair" with Maestoso. I had it posed with its head turned the opposite way, reaching as if it needed to scratch its shoulder. Well, the sculpture started to bore me, because I'd started with no real plan, just grabbed some pics in a hurry, whipped together an armature, just to have something to work on at the show. That's not a good way to start a sculpture! Then suddenly I thought, "He's not scratching his shoulder - he's got an itchy wingpit!" So the piece developed wings! Well, wires where wings will go, anyway! As soon as I started putting the wires in place (after cutting out a big chunk of a well-developed body so I could get to the main armature wires), I found myself dancing and singing "You can do magic, bump-ba-dum" while putting the wires in place! And that isn't even a favorite song! And then I laughed out loud, amused that I was singing a song about magic while creating a Pegasus!

I planned a Pegasus years ago and got permission to take photos and measurements of a magnificent Andalusian stallion, Alborozo, who lives on the http://www.kilimanjaroranch.com/ in Malibu (I sure hope they came through the fires okay!). When I went out to measure him, they were having fires in the Simi Valley, just across the mountain from the farm. The pictures were made with the stallion's smoke-gray mane billowing in the gray, smoky air, with white ash falling on his white coat and all over us, too. I had a different Pegasus pose planned but this one appeals to me, and why not make more than one? :D So the new piece will be called "Feathers Itch" or "Itchy Feathers" - I'm not sure which.

A fun tie-in to my writing is the fact that in the second book of the series, my young mages are given winged horses, and the older brother's horse is named "Feather." I wasn't even thinking about "Star Sons" when I came up with this Pegasus idea, but it all ties in nicely!

The really cool thing was that when I stood back and looked at what I'd created after attaching the wires for the wings, I saw that there are heart-shaped formed by the turn of the horse's head and one wing top; by the two wing-tops considered together from the front, and again from the back; and by the swishing tail and the left wing-top! It's a very very cool thing to discover something nifty like that in a piece that just "happens"!

Anyway, as usual, my art and writing are closely tied together! I'll post some pics of Feather as he progresses. I'll be working on him at Equine Affaire next week.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This 'n' That

Alas, December Boys was gone before I was able to see it. At least the DVD will be available Dec. 11 - the same day as "Order of the Phoenix" is released on DVD! A friend of mine said it will be a Dan DVD weekend, LOL!

In better news, my carriage piece is bronze now and is SPECTACULAR! Even if I do say so myself! The trophy will be awarded this coming Saturday night. Here's a picture of it taken at the beautiful Lake Wallowa in the Wallowa Valley, Hells Canyon area, near Joseph, Oregon. My foundry is in Enterprise, Oregon, just a few miles away, and we were blessed with this spectactular autumn day after the first bronze (the trophy, which is actually #2 of the edition of 15) was completed, so we went out to find a beautiful place to take some pics of it. My customer is really happy with the piece (he's only seen pics so far - he'll see the real thing tomorrow, actually!), which is GREAT!
The picture to the right shows the detail in the sculpture, which is 1/9 life size. I sculpted in all those tiny buckles and the patineur buffed them off to show the natural pale gold of the bronze. He even managed to paint the browband red, a detail so tiny, I didn't think he'd be able to do it! And the bit looks like a real Liverpool bit - I don't remember ever seeing a small sculpture like this that had a real Liverpool bit-shank on the horse rather than a simple ring snaffle. Kudos to Brian, the metal chaser/fabricator who went to such great lengths to get the details as accurate as I could possibly hope for, and Bart, whose patina work is, as usual, fabulous!
As for writing - my novel, "Star Sons: Dawn of the Two" went to the book designer today after I did final revisions and made formatting changes to the manuscript. Hopefully, I'll have a published novel soon!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"December Boys" now in theaters!

Totally off-topic here, but I'll get back to art and/or writing soon: Those of you who know me know I'm a HUGE "Harry Potter" fan and a huge Dan Radcliffe fan as well! Dan's first non-Harry Potter film opened in LA and NYC on September 14.
"December Boys" is an independent Australian film shot on Kangaroo Island, Australia, an absolutely beautiful location. The film was shot between "Goblet of Fire" and "Order of the Phoenix" but was delayed in release due to the problems of getting distribution set up that indie films face.
It's a coming of age film about four orphans who are given the gift of a month at the beach for their birthdays (all in December, hence the "December Boys" title). Dan plays "Maps" who's the oldest and kind of a big brother to the others. The boys' close relationships are challenged when they learn that a couple wants to adopt one of them, resulting in the boys (all but Maps) competing to be the one adopted.

Maps experiences his first kiss, first love affair (with the pretty blond in the poster), moons somebody (and Dan says "that's the geniune Radcliffe a**" not a double, LOL!) and heartache in the film. It looks like a sweet, entertaining film.

The problem is - being an indie film, it's opening in "selected cities" which means I'm going to have to drive 100 miles to Cincinnati to see it!!!! But I will! So all you guys who are in those "selected cities" need to go see "December Boys" so it will open wider (in more cities) so I don't have to drive so far to see it! :D

To get back to art: Dan came into his fortune at the age of 17, although nobody believed it because he didn't go out and buy anything expensive that anyone noticed. In interviews for "December Boys," he revealed that he did buy something when he got his money - a painting by Jim Hodges. I'd never heard of Hodges until then, but I've researched him online, and I'm glad I found out about him. His work is gorgeous! Do a search on him and check it out. (Here's a place to start: http://www.crggallery.com/artists/jim-hodges/ - follow the links to see more of his work and read about his career.) He's a sculptor as well as a painter, and his work (that I've seen so far, anyway) is light and airy, delicate and elegant - poetic, really. Since Dan's a poet, I'm not surprised he likes Hodges's work. I'm glad Dan (indirectly) introduced me to it!
Click on the link above to get to the "December Boys" website and find out when and where it's opening. Happy movie-going!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Writing Stuff and Art Stuff

I've been too busy to update my blog for ages! Sorry about that!

Writing stuff: The book designer sent me his work on my original novel, "Star Sons: Dawn of the Two" to proofread. It's appalling how many mistakes I've found, nearly all of them glitches caused by Word being Word (not the book designer's fault). Argh. Paragraphs jumping up into the paragraph above, blank lines showing up just randomly (fortunately without deleting any text!) and so on, things that confuse the book designer so the section breaks wind up in the wrong places, etc. So I'm having to proof it very carefully to make sure everything's as close to perfect as I can get it!

Writing tip of the day #1: If you write in Microsoft Word, save your file frequently, but when you get to about ten saves, rename the file. Apparently, the more you save the file to the same name, the glitchier it gets. Kudos to my daughter for sharing this hint with me!

I've been busy writing a new Harry Potter chaptered fanfic that I promised my readers. It was unbelievably hard to get back into Harry's world after developing my own magical world, but once I got into it, it was just as much fun as ever to write. I'll include ordering information for "Star Sons" with each chapter as I upload it, so those who already like my writing will know how to order my original novel. It will be a handy marketing tool!

Writing tip of the day #2: Create a file for each of these categories:

*Characters (including their names, the meaning of their names if significant, what they look like, what's "important" about them, their relationship to other characters, their abilities, quirks, etc.)
*Settings (including whatever's important about these settings, locations, etc.)
*Incantations/Spells/Science of your world (if applicable)
*Anything else that seems important to you.

Also, start a "chapter outline" file, with an outline or paragraph or list of what happens in that chapter, who's involved, clues or "red herrings" you've planted, resolutions to clues from previous chapters, etc.

Keep these files updated every day, if you can! When you can't remember when little Sally actually broke her arm, you can look it up easily.

On to art news: The Friesian trophy ("Elegance") I've been working on is being cast in bronze as I write this! We'll be going to Oregon to supervise the finish work in a couple of weeks. "Finish work" involves how the parts of the carriage are put together, and the creation and attaching of all the little pieces that have to be made by hand for each sculpture, such as the bits, the driving lines, the terrets on the harness, the tugs, etc. I'm having three cast now, and the foundry workers will take notes and LOTS of pictures as we go along. Then when I order more in the future, they'll know how to finish them without me there. You can see that sculpture here: http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/elegance.html It will be awarded at the Friesian Extravaganza at the Clark County Fairgrounds, Springfield OH, the last Saturday in October. I will also have my booth there in the vendor area - come by and say "Howdy!"

Someone just ordered a perpetual trophy for the US Dressage Federation using my sculpture "Frolic" (http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/frolic.html). It will be awarded at the USDF Convention at the end of November. Detail and finishing work on both of these trophies has kept me very busy!

Once both of these pieces are awarded, they will go back to the Kentucky Horse Park to live in their respective organizations' headquarters, "Elegance" at the Friesian Horse Asso. of North America (FHANA) headquarters, "Frolic" at the USDF headquarters. With "Harmony" (http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/harmony.html) already in the USDF Hall of Fame, that makes THREE pieces I have at the Kentucky Horse Park! "Harmony" is just on loan (unless someone buys it and donates it to USDF), but "Elegance" and "Frolic" will be there forever! COOL!

I've nearly finished the sculpture of my husband that goes with "Just Trying to Help" (http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/trying.html, but the trophy work and proofreading "Star Sons" has put that sculpture on the back burner for the time being. I only have to finish his right hand and his paintbrush, then clean him up, and he'll be ready to send! But the delay isn't really a bad thing. I was afraid I'd have to send it with dry ice and overnight express, which costs a fortune, due to the heat wave in both Ohio and Oregon, but it's much cooler in both states now, so shipping can be done the normal way. Yay!

That's enough blogging for now! I hope some of my rambling has been helpful to you!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Catching up. . .

I've been so busy, I've never finished the "final" page for my horse and carriage sculpture (well, not yet, anyway). Here's what I was working on for so long!

This picture shows the piece as "assembled" as I can get it for now. The shafts for the carriage are aluminum rods that have been sanded (on a belt sander) to make them square rather than round, and have been bent into the proper shapes for the shafts. The rest of the harness (the tugs, shaft loops, etc. - the stuff that connects the horse to the carriage) are simply a stack of wax strips right now, or wax with bits of clay on them to form buckles, etc. The driving lines (which are white rope in reality) will be made at the foundry.

Before you ask, yes, the man and carriage are proportional to the horse. The driver isn't a huge man, but the horse is big and kind of dwarfs him. The horse is 16.3 hands - there are 4" to a hand - at the withers (the part of the horse where the mane ends, just in front of that second strap across this horse's back). The carriage in real life has 54" high wheels, which are 6" high here - 1/9 lifesized, as is the rest of the sculpture. The wheels were made by my basemaker, Diane Soper of Sistermaide Woodworks (http://www.sistermaide.com), who makes reproduction spinning wheels as well as sculpture bases.

The bit is made from copper wire (the flat part is flattened copper wire) which took my hubby three nights of trying (and melting at least three bits!) before he got them soldered properly. I'd already given up on soldering them, since it took a propane torch rather than an electric soldering iron, and I'm not very good with torch soldering.

The horse is 10" high at the top of his neck and the whole piece about 21" long total. The detail on the man's face is so tiny, I was using micro tools, a toothpick and a straight pin to try to sculpt the details!

You can see this sculpture, called "Elegance," as a work-in-progress on these pages: http://thesculptedhorse.com/progress.html (scroll down to see the horse) and http://thesculptedhorse.com/progress2.html to see how I made the carriage (and there were no instructions - I had to figure it out for myself, argh).

I've just finished teaching a week-long sculpture/mold-making/resin casting workshop at the K-12 Gallery in Dayton, Ohio. It was fun but also a LOT of hard work!! The kids were great, and so were my helpers, but I was exhausted every evening when I got home, so, unlike my usual practice, I didn't get anything done other than cleaning stalls and feeding the animals. It's nice to get back to my usual routine!

On the writing front, I'm currently writing content for my book website, http://www.whspubs.com which may or may not be "live" when you check it. My web designer and I keep messing with it, trying to get it "right" before officially launching it. I'm currently working on a couple of "Writer's Tips" articles.

I'm also doing the final polish on Star Sons 1: Dawn of the Two before sending it to my book designer. I got the manuscript back from the copy editor about a week ago, but I've been teaching since then and haven't had the time or energy to do the revisions (all very minor - just formatting and typo-type things, mostly) until today. I hope to get it off to the book designer very soon!

And that's the news from here for today! Have a wonderful 4th of July!

Jim Baen's Universe magazine

Someone (Hi, Sam!) suggested I try Jim Baen's Universe magazine. I recently read the October 2006 issue, and enjoyed it greatly! There are stories there in mind-boggling variety. My particular favorites were Mike Resnick's "All the Things You Are," an intriguing "love" story, and S. Andrew Swann's "A Time to Kill" about a time-traveling sniper who does his job magnificently well, but with horribly unforeseen consequences. The stories range in locale from the deepest reaches of space to the American frontier, in time from the distant past to the unforeseeable future. Fascinating stuff!

As an artist myself, I was particularly impressed with the beautiful illustrations for each story. They not only enhanced the story, but gave me even more to think about as I studied the artist's interpretation of the story.

This issue includes stories by well-known authors as well as first-time authors, a "classic" ("A Matter of Fact" by Rudyard Kipling) and two serial installments, non-fiction articles and columns.

You can read Jim Baen's Universe, which was the last project Baen started before his death last year, at http://www.baens-universe.com/. Check it out! If you enjoy SF/Fantasy, I believe you'll enjoy it!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Doing the squealy circle dance of joy here!!!!!!!!

Every book or resource I've read on self-publishing, self-promotion, etc., says you should get "quotes" from VIP types to put on your book cover or inside the front pages of the book, to use in promotion, etc. I don't know that many "famous" people. The movie actor I know is recovering from two hip replacements and probably is in no mood to read fiction. But a girl I went to college with - the only college friend I'm still in touch with - is the daughter of the man who was a very "high up" politician in the late 60s/early 70s. So I asked my friend if her dad liked to read (yes) - did he like fantasy (no, he never reads anything but historical biographies and that kind of thing).

Long story short, he agreed to read my novel despite the fact that he's not interested in magic and has NEVER read a fantasy novel. I sent it to him last week, he got it two days ago and he called me this morning! He said I disrupted his busy schedule because he COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN! He said it was a great read, a "gripping" story, and a real page-turner! He couldn't wait to see what happened next!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! From someone who doesn't read fantasy, that's HUGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited!!

Doing the squealy circle dance here! Joy Joy Joy!!!!

And since it's been so long since I've posted, I'll catch you up. I've converted the ISBN numbers I had left over after publishing my sculpting book ("Sculpting 101: A Primer for the Self-taught Artst") to the new 13 digit ISBN. I've got everything in place for my publishing business now, AND I have a group of authors (from one of my writing boards) who are working on an anthology that I'll edit and publish (IF their work meets my standards, which I believe it will -this is an "invitation only" group and they're all good writers). So now I'm busy trying to get things organized to publish things for more than just ME - that means contracts, etc. I've joined the PMA (an international group of small publishers) which means I'll be able to have books in BookExpo and the London Book Fair f0r a reasonable fee. I've been approved by the Library of Congress for their cataloging system (just need a final page count, which I'll have after I get the book back from the copy editor and book designer, before I can finalize the stuff with the Library of Congress). I've got a lot of other things in place too, but my brain is so buzzed about this wonderful review, I can't think! :) And sorry, budding writers, but I'm not accepting submissions from other authors at this time. When I'm ready to accept more submissions, I'll post it on my publishing business website (http://www.whspubs.com/, currently under construction).

In other GREAT news, I finished the horse and carriage sculpture today, YIPPEE!!!!!!! I'll post some pics here once I get the horse cleaned up and get the final pictures taken.

Sorry I haven't posted more often - but I've been a busy lady! :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Well, I've been busy. . . .

In early April, when I had my art booth at Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, I got a commission to sculpt a horse pulling a two-wheeled carriage (with a driver in the carriage, of course) which will be used as a world championship trophy! I normally take about three months to do a single horse sculpture, and the foundry takes two to four months to cast that horse in bronze, but this trophy has to be awarded in October, so I have to HUSTLE to get the original made and shipped to the foundry! So that's one of the many reasons I haven't kept this blog up-to-date - I've been slaving away in my studio getting three months of work done in about one month's time! The horse is nearly finished (WHEW!), and I'll be starting on the carriage in the next day or two, hopefully (I'm waiting for the client to send me some measurements so I can get started).

On the writing front, I've been working on a new Harry Potter story to keep my HP readers happy, and letting both novels "rest" so I can read them with fresh eyes when I get back to them. I sent out queries to six agents back in March, all of whom stated on their websites that they report in six weeks. Each also accepted "partials" (a few pages up to 50 pages of the novel), which is why I chose these agents to contact first. I figure the novel will sell itself better than any query letter of mine! I heard back from three of the six, and have yet to hear from the other three, which seems rather odd to me (but maybe they're just swamped, I dunno). It's been way more than six weeks now.

The published writers on the Critters news group said to allow six months to hear back from them, but I'm beginning to have second thoughts, thanks to one of my betas. He suggested I try to benefit from the Harry Potter insanity that's coming this summer (due to film 5 and book 7 coming out within a week of each other!) and get my book out there ASAP. He thinks my HP fans will flock to buy my book now while they're waiting for Harry's next film and last book. So I'm researching self-publishing now, just to see what's involved in self-publishing fiction.

I self-published a non-fiction book, "Sculpting 101: A Primer for the Self-taught Artist" a few years ago (and that edition is nearly sold out - I need to revise and reprint it!), so I'm a "registered" publisher already, and know how to get the ISBN number and get my book listed on "Books in Print" as well as submitting the copyright application and a copy of the book itself to the Library of Congress. I did all of that for the sculpting book. I've had good art sales this year, so I can afford to print a certain number of books if I go the route I used for the sculpting book, which means shipping every book myself rather than having a Print-On-Demand (POD) company handle all that work for me (which is WAY expensive!!). So now I have a query into the local digital printer who did my sculpting book to find out what it will cost to print my novel.

I've spent a lot of today revising the formatting of my novel to a 6" x 9" "trade paperback" format and cleaning up some of the other formatting stuff that appears in a draft of a novel rather than in the finished book - and I'm only up to chapter 2, argh!! It's painstaking, annoying, frustrating work to reformat a 124,000 word book by hand, but that's how I have to do it. I can't do a "search and replace" because every instance of whatever needs to be changed is different!! For instance, the "internal monologues" (thoughts) had to be formatted with an underscore _before and after_ the internal monologue for proper "submission" formatting (or so I've read and been told numerous places). In the printed book, the "before and after" shown between underscores would be printed as italics. Apparently it's easier for a typesetter to find underscores than italics. Also, the existing format (the way I wrote it originally) is in 12 point Courier New, which is not a fun font to read in a book. I've changed the font to Bookman Antigua, which is attractive as well as easy to read, and I'm making the chapter headings in a different font to make them more attractive, as well (well, I AM an artist, after all!). I have to delete the extra space between paragraphs, indent each paragraph three spaces, and center the * * * that denote a scene change (they didn't have to be centered before). Argh. . . talk about a labor of love!!!! *sigh*

That same beta suggested I check into e-book publishing too, but I don't know if I want to go that route. I've done some research already, and found a software that SAYS it encrypts the files so they can't be pirated or shared, but who knows?? That's too much for me to think about right now!

The good news is, a friend of mine who's a *fabulous* painter (Elin Pendleton, www.elinart.com) has agreed to do the cover art! Now we just have to figure out what image would make the best impression as cover art! I have some ideas, but I've asked my betas to give me their ideas, as well. I may ask a few more folks for their opinions before I'm done. But getting Elin, who's a truly exquisite artist, to do the cover art is a real COUP!!!! And she's excited about the book and believes I'll make a great success of it! From her mouth to God's ear, that's all I can say!!!! LOL!

My horses are home from winter boarding at last, so some of my time is being spent doing barn work and taking care of my horses as well as riding. And that's on top of doing yard work, sculpting (of course), keeping up with orders (I just shipped two trophies to Kent, Ohio, and the week before shipped six trophies to a race track in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! And I have fine art orders to fill, too - only one left to fill, but that piece hasn't arrived from the foundry yet).

On top of all that, I'm teaching a sculpture workshop at the K-12 Gallery in Dayton, Ohio, in late June. I need to do some preparation work for that. Then I have a sculpture show in Botkins, Ohio in July. By that time, the horse and carriage piece should be at the foundry and being cast, so at least that pressure will be gone. In the middle of all this, I have the Harry Potter story to finish and get to the betas, and the first novel to re-format, re-read and decide if I'm going to self-publish it, and the preliminary beta jobs on the second novel to read through and work with. Sleep????? Who has time!!!!!!! :D

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's been a while! Whew!

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I posted to this blog! Asad wants me to write about my recent trip to Maui. It was wonderful! Ten days in paradise, where we rode horses up and down a steep mountain (at the Menendez Ranch - you can find them online, and they take VERY good care of you!), rode a helicopter over Maui (can't think of the helicopter company's name, but the pilot was Al and he was terrific - I'll post the name when I remember it), rode two catamarans, both from the Trilogy company (they're the BEST!), rode the Atlantis tourist submarine (our second time to do so - still quite a treat!), toured Lanai with Bridget, our tour guide (who's very funny!) and just had a great time in general!

My hubby and I don't swim well and I'm afraid of deep water, so when we went snorkeling, I lost my nerve while walking into the water. I told our catamaran captain (Captain Chuck, who's from Zanesville Ohio!) and he said he'd take care of us. He had a guy from the crew named Orren (I hope I spelled that right!) tow us out to the reef with a surfboard! Orren dove under the board and helped me with my flippers, and towed that surfboard around for about an hour, I think. He was wonderful, and we got the snorkeling experience while feeling SAFE (we did have waist floatie thingies, but they didn't make me feel as safe as hanging on to that surf board!)

Trilogy catamarans are wonderfully fun, and we had a great time both times we went out. We saw lots of whales up close and personal, including mother and calf pairs that breeched in tandem, a mother that spent a long time slapping her tail, her pectorals, breeching, sticking her head up to look around, and in general showing her baby all the things whales do on the surface - and then the baby tried them too. COOL! When we were sailing (the engines were turned off), a pair of adult humpbacks followed us for quite a while, and another breeched right beside our boat, maybe 25 feet off the side! By law, you're supposed to stay 100 yards from the whales, but if the whales come to see you, it's hard to outrun them!

We saw lots of shows, too, and wandered through tons of shops. One fun thing was that I'd bought a turquoise-blue pendant that's a paua (sp?) shell with resin "coral" with pearls and rhinestones embedded in it. I got this necklace here in Dayton, Ohio, at a discount store, just to have something bright, colorful and inexpensive to wear in Hawaii. Imagine my SHOCK at how many shop clerks, expensive jewelers and just people in general *raved* about how beautiful my necklace was! (I got it at Stein Mart, for $20!). That was fun!

I didn't get any story ideas in Maui - at least, I don't think I did - but I had a wonderfully relaxing time. I have gotten story ideas since returning home, including several today while observing people at a restaurant where my hubby and I had lunch. I don't know what story it's inspired, but a woman who had lunch with a big white rabbit (a stuffed rabbit wearing an Easter bonnet, who was given a baby seat, a bib and some crackers by the servers!) certainly seemed to be screaming to have a story written about her! LOL!

Meanwhile, my second novel has been through one beta and my Brit-picker so far, and a second beta is sending in his comments in pieces (which are quite useful!). All of them (so far) have said the second novel is "a good read" YAY! What surprises me is that they haven't reacted to what is truly a first draft as if it's a first draft, except for marking a few typos (I did write the majority of this book while riding in a truck, y'know. The fact that it's readable at all is pretty much a miracle!) I have a ficlet beginning to bubble in the back of my brain to keep my HP fans happy, a lot of whom are writing me that they're re-reading my HP novels online and enjoying them for the second or, in one case, hundredth time (maybe she was exaggerating a bit????). And one of my readers sent me a note saying it was the anniversary of the last chapter uploaded to my second HP novel. Boy, these folks are so sweet to pay such attention to my novels!! Now if I can get an agent, a publisher and get my original novels out there, maybe these HP readers wil buy them!! A lot of them have said they want to, or asked where they can buy them. As soon as these books are available, I'll have ordering info on every site hosting my stories and will activiate my "namesake" website, which will be my writing website. I'll post info in this blog, too.

I'm still waiting to hear from some of the agents I queried a few weeks ago. I won't send a second batch of queries out until I've heard from all of those in the first batch. I'm enough of an optimist to hope that someone in this first batch will LOVE my story and take me on as a client!! Keep your fingers crossed that such a thing actually happens, and SOON! Thanks!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On getting published

Someone on my Yahoo group asked me how to get published. Well, I'm about to try for that myself, but I've done a lot of research on it, so following are my thoughts on going from idea to publication. Since I'm only published as a newspaper/magazine freelancer, I'm sharing my research, not my experience. When I have fiction publishing experience to share, I will certainly do so!

There are LOADS of books out there on how to get published. The best thing you can do to learn about writing and publishing is join a writers' group online where pro's and wannabe-pros (like me!) both post. Critters.org is a good site if you write sf/f/horror (mine are fantasy, so I fit there), but earning critiques there takes a long time. I use www.notebored.com for my crit group, Hatrack River Writers Workshop (Orson Scott Card's site) for the lessons there and the message boards (mostly the boards) http://www.hatrack.com/writers/index.shtml. Liberty Hall is a good site, but it's invitation only (I'm a member but don't participate there much - too busy, but it's a good site). All the sites I'm involved with are for sf/f/h writers. There are similar sites for romance writers, children's writers, etc. You just have to search for them.

The first step to geting published is to write, write, write, then revise, revise, revise (*way* more than three times!!). Set the story aside for a month or two and find something else to occupy your mind so that, when you look at the story again, you'll see it with fresh eyes. Then revise, revise revise AGAIN! After it's as good as you can get it, ask people whose opinions you truly respect to read and critique your writing. Be sure the people you ask like the genre in which you're writing - don't ask those who like techno-thrillers to read a fantasy novel, for instance. Your loved ones -- spouse and children -- may refuse to read it because they're afraid they'll hurt your feelings if they don't like it - which is why nobody in my family has read any of my fiction, *sigh* (and they're into techno-thrillers instead of fantasy, so that's another problem).

Don't argue with your readers, learn from them. Every opinion has SOME validity, even if it doesn't make sense to you (if it doesn't, ask them to clarify their meaning, to give specific examples from your story and perhaps they will also be willing to suggest ways to rewrite the problem areas).

Go through as many critiques as it takes for you to get to the point where there is very little you can find to change in the manuscript (I had 3 betas, my Brit-picker, two critique groups and two or three other folks critique mine). When you think it's really, truly finished, see if your most vocal critic will read it one more time to help you find any leftover plot holes, words used too frequently, etc.

While he's working on that, you can start researching agents you want to query. If it's a novel, those who know the industry suggest you try to find an agent first, rather than a publisher. An agent can get you through doors that you'll never get into by yourself. You can meet agents at writing conventions, many of which are sf/f/h conventions as well as writing conventions.

There are guide books published each year by Writer's Digest books and others that list both agents and publishers open to new writers. The 2007 Guide to Literary Agents is my next research assignment, once I get the polishing on "Star Sons" a bit further along (no, wait - I can do it today, since I'm polishing chapter 10 right now). Some agents want you to send the first five pages, others the first five chapters, a rare few the first hundred pages. When I have the first hundred pages polished again (I'm nearly there now), I'll start sending out queries to agents, ten at a time.

www.AgentQuery.com is a good site that has up-to-date lists of agents and tells what they're looking for. Jeff Herman has an annual guide to agents that's really nice because they answer questionnaires that tell their other interests, such as favorite films, which can help you get to know them better before approaching them (so you can do a better job of choosing who to query).

I've read many times that it's a good idea to break into publishing by creating a name for yourself by selling short stories. I'm not very good at writing short stories - I tend to think in "long form" - so I haven't tried that route. I do write articles for magazines and newspapers - I'm working on some now to publicize my daughter's new farm (a training/boarding facility that features educational clinics for riders - www.dancinghorsefarmoh.com), but short stories just don't seem to flow from my fingers all that well. It's a good idea to try them first if you can write them.

Query letters are difficult to master, IMO. The query letter has to catch the eye but be professional-looking and SHORT. A synopsis is also hard for me to write, as is a "blurb" (a one-paragraph explanation of the story). But those are all things you need to learn how to do.

All that said - hang out in writers' forums. Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - nanowrimo.org, I think), or at least read the forums. Read every book you can find on story, structure, character, dialog, plot, scene, description, etc. Read every book you can find on every aspect of writing and submitting your novel. There is a "Complete Idiots' Guide to Publishing Your Novel" that explains the process in simple language, and many others that are just as good. Learn to love spending time at B&N or Borders browsing the writing books! Subscribe to Writers Digest (www.writersdigest.com) and check out their book club, as well. WD covers everything from freelance articles to memoirs to poetry to screenplays to short stories and novels, and has books in the book club that are tremendously helpful for any form of writing.

Beware of vanity presses and POD (print-on-demand) places if you want to be published "for real." There are two distribution companies in the US that distribute books to all the big chain stores. Ingrams is one of these, and I can't think of the other, sorry! I've read in articles and on several forums that PoD places and vanity presses (both of which involve the writer paying to have the book printed) cannot get their books into the chain bookstores (Barnes & Noble, Borders, Waldenbooks, Books-A-Million, etc.) or even WalMart-type stores. So you'll have a garage full of books unless you can talk your family and friends into buying them or do a lot of SERIOUS marketing on your own. (To be fair - there are POD and vanity press success stories such as the "Soup for the Soul" books, but those are rare.)

Bookstores won't deal with distributors who won't take returned books (those that haven't sold in a certain amount of time), which is why they deal pretty much exclusively with Ingrams and that other place (darned swiss-cheese memory! *sigh*) POD and vanity presses won't take returned books.

POD books are fine for those with a small niche market - I did that for my "how to" book on sculpting ("Sculpting 101: A Primer for the Self-taught Artist" which, like "real" published books, has an ISBN number and UPC code). My art business (Whimsy Hill Studio) is listed as a "publisher" in all the places that matter. I didn't bother to try to place the book with a real publisher nor did I worry about distributing it through Ingrams, since it has such a small niche market. I sell it from my website (www.thesculptedhorse.com) and in my booth at shows. I also wholesale it to art teachers and sculpture supply stores, including the largest one in the US (as far as I know), The Compleat Sculptor in NYC. That's good distribution for such a book, and I make a tidy profit from sales. I actually need to revise it and do a second printing - I'm almost out of the first edition. But that kind of thing, church cookbooks and family memoirs are pretty much all PoD and vanity presses are good for if you're serious about being a PUBLISHED author, as I am. (And you can't count such "publication" on a writing resume - the pros in the field know who the PoD publishers are and will give no credance to such "credentials.")

Once your novel is as good as it can be, print it out and edit it again. You'll be surprised what jumps out at you when the novel is on paper rather than on a computer screen.

Once you narrow down which agents you want to query, find out how the agent wants to be queried (that's what AgentQuery.com and those books are for, to give up up-to-date names and addresses of agents who are LOOKING for new writers!) Print your novel out in the proper format (do some research - I don't have to tell you *everything* LOL! That can be another post sometime anyway) and send a fresh, clean, crisp copy (not your ONLY copy!) of however many pages they want (if any), along with your query letter, etc. and a self-addressed-stamped-envelope for the agency's response. Then cross your fingers that you get a good response!

Oh, another thing to do before querying is to go to a bookstore and look at books similar to yours. Look in the "acknowlegements" for each one (not all of them will have them, but mine includes this group, my betas, and the others who've helped me get my novel into publishable form). Find out who the agent is for the writers whose books are similar to yours. Then look in the guidebooks to see if that agent is taking new writers and query them, since you know they like work similar to yours.

If an agent asks for more of your manuscript (and you do NOT copyright your manuscript!! That's very amateurish. No agent or publisher is going to rip off your story), send them exactly what they ask for (but if they ask for the first five pages, for instance, and the chapter ends on page 6, go ahead and send page 6 - they'll accept that). After that, make sure you find a lawyer to go over the contract you're offered (if you're so lucky!) before signing it, and you're in business!

A reputable agent will not charge you a reading fee or any other fees up front. Once you have a contract, they may charge an "office fee" for copying, etc., but you shouldn't have to pay anything else. Agents are like commissioned salesmen - they make their money by making sales, not by charging writers fees. If, in your research, you run across an agent who charges a reading fee or other fees, don't query him. That's what all the pros say, and I think it's good advice.

If you're lucky enough to find an agent, and he's good enough to find you a publisher, the publisher should put you together with an in-house editor who may make suggestions about your story. Listen to the editor - he knows what works in the real world of publishing. But remember, too, that it's YOUR story. If you question something the editor says, there's nothing wrong with asking about that point (or so I've been told - I'm not at that point yet!)

Eventually, you'll be sent galley proofs to read so you can make sure the story was printed as you wrote it (you'll be looking for typos and real errors - no "polishing" allowed at this point). Once the galleys are approved, the book goes to press. Then you and your agent or publisher will discuss which book signings you'll attend, etc. and you'll hope and pray that lots of folks buy your book! (You should talk to the agent and publisher about how your book will be promoted and how much travel you're expected or are willing to do to attend book-signings, etc. If you're comfortable giving interviews, it will benefit your book for you to be interviewed on radio and TV and in print, so let your agent and publisher know if you are comfortable in front of crowds that way - that's where my years as a performer - both singing and sculpting in public - will be helpful to me! Yay!)

This is the publishing business as far as I know it from extensive research and talking to friends who've been published (but not in my genre, dang it, although one friend did try to hook me up with an agent friend - but that agent doesn't handle fantasy, *sigh*, nor did she know any such agents - I did try to get the networking thing going, but it didn't pan out, alas).

Hopefully, this rambling post is a bit helpful to you!

Monday, February 05, 2007


That squealing you can hear all across the country (surely you can, right??) is ME!!!!! I just put all the chapters of my novel together and did a total word count. I was SO worried it was going to be WAAAAAY over the 120,000 limit for first-time fantasy novelists, since it was 115,000+ when I started editing/revising, and parts of it have "grown" considerably. But one chapter got deleted completely, saving me 1800 words (which isn't much in the overall scheme of things), and I've been polishing polishing polishing as hard as I can go. So are you ready for my combined chapter word total????? WHOOOOO-HOOOOOOO!!!!!! Doing the happy dance here! It's 122,272, and some of that is chapter headings ("Chapter 1, Chapter 2," etc. through chapter 51 - so that's 102 words, right, that don't count in the word total? So I'm down to 122,170! YAAAAY!) I can trim 2170 words outta there, no problem!! YAAAAAAY!!!

Doing the happy dance here!!! (And there was nothing wrong with the chapter I cut - it was just not "necessary" to the flow of the story, so I cut it. Nice chapter, too bad it's gone, but YAY that I'm so close to the right word count! HUZZAH!!!!

Here I go, doing a celebratory squealy circle dance all by myself!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Media bias, grrrrrr

I was simply appalled by the ridiculous media bias shown on ABC's "Good Morning America" when Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts and an English correspondant reported on Daniel Radcliffe's publicity photos for the play "Equus." The reporters expounded repeatedly on their idea that parents wouldn't want their children to see "Harry Potter" nude. (Children aren't going to be taken to see "Equus," which is such an intense play, it's difficult for many adults to watch.) The reporters completely ignored the fact that every person they interviewed for the story supported Daniel's decision to appearin "Equus" as a very professional way to progress in his career from child star to an adult actor whose work is taken seriously. Even the mother of young children who was interviewed simply shrugged and said, "He's an actor. He isn't Harry Potter or a role model. He has a right to do what he wants to with his career." One person said Daniel was being very professional in his choices by taking a challenging part and changing his looks to prove he can do adult work, rather than partying, getting drunk and getting into trouble to "prove" he's a grown-up. And those who think that, at 17, he's too young for such a part need to remember that he is English, and he is "legal" there for such things at his age. Also, the British aren't as offended by nudity as some Americans are.

The photos themselves are true works of fine art and were shot in good taste. Some of them are comparable to many photographs, paintings andsculptures I've seen in art museums. As a fine artist myself, I am envious of the skill shown by the photographer, Uli Weber. I've done a lot of photography over the years, and won awards for it, but Mr. Weber's work is astoundingly beautiful.

ABC News just lost another household. We stopped watching Dan Rather when his lies and bias became obvious. For ABC's reporters to say exactly the opposite of what the people interviewed said about this subject is another form of media bias we will not tolerate. I really like Diane Sawyer most of the time. I'm ashamed of her for allowing this story to run as it did.