What Have I Been Reading Lately?

Hello, everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your summer. I’ve been working in the morning and then shifting to play as soon as my two noisy teenagers wake up (because if you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em). This means I’ve had a little more time to read than I usually do, and I’m so happy about that!

Here are my favorites so far:

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – This was a delightful and fresh spin on the age-old enemies-to-lovers trope. The writing was sharp and the tension was fantastic.

Leave Me by Gayle Foreman – I’ve read If I Stay and Where She Went, but this is Gayle’s adult fiction debut and it’s wonderful. I would pick this up before bed with the intention of reading for only a short time and would still be reading an hour later.

Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner – I have been a fan of Jennifer’s since Good in Bed. I loved reading about her life and how she got started as a writer. This is an author I’d really like to meet someday.

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore – I loved this tale of family drama. There was enough humor and heart that it never felt depressing to me.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo – This was a wonderful blend of women’s fiction and romance (I would categorize it as a love story). I loved the writing and enjoyed the character-driven narrative. Make sure you have a supply of tissues nearby.

Coming Clean: A memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller – I absolutely loved this memoir about hoarding. It reminded me a bit of The Glass Castle and Breaking Night because of the hardships the author had to overcome due to circumstances outside of her control. Gritty and ultimately triumphant.

The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn – I love stories about marriage and suburban life, and this book delivers both. It’s funny but realistic. The characters are old enough to know better but dive in headfirst anyway.

Falling by Jane Green – No one writes women’s fiction like Jane Green. I’ve been a fan of hers for years and this is one of my favorites. I especially loved all the details surrounding interior design, and the relationship the heroine has with a certain special little boy. This one was right up my alley.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo – A few months ago, I became very interested in eliminating the clutter that seems to permeate every corner of my house. I have two teenagers and their stuff is EVERYWHERE. It’s still a losing battle, but what I found was that I could eliminate my own clutter and it would feel almost as good as eliminating theirs. I was able to reduce my closet by 2/3 and have made multiple trips to Goodwill. It really did feel good to keep only the items that “sparked joy.” My next hurdle is our basement storage room. Hopefully I’ll have the strength to let go of the things we’re holding on to that we don’t really need.

Maybe in Another Life and One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid – I find myself gravitating more and more toward stories that are a blend of women’s fiction and romance. This is reflective in my own writing so it makes sense I would be drawn to them. I like that both of these books were character and relationship driven. They’re thankfully low on angst and the subject matter is relatable and realistic. I love Taylor’s fresh voice and will definitely seek out more of her work (now and in the future).

What I’d love to read more of this summer: contemporary romance with adult characters and a fresh premise that doesn’t solely rely on tropes, smart women’s fiction that also includes romance in the storyline, and compelling memoirs that contain subject matter I’m not familiar with. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

I hope you’re enjoying your summer,

Tracey

 

 

 

Heart-Shaped Hack Is On Sale!

Good morning!

Guess what’s on sale RIGHT NOW for only .99? The e-book of HEART-SHAPED HACK!

In anticipation of White-Hot Hack’s June 7th release, I’ve discounted Heart-Shaped Hack to .99 effective now through Sunday (if you subscribe to BookBub e-mails, you’ll see it listed in tomorrow’s deals). If you haven’t read the first book yet, now would be a good time to scoop it up.

Here are the links:

Amazon US http://amzn.to/27yWwaw
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/25b41pg
Amazon Canada http://amzn.to/1TfjoaK
Amazon Australia http://bit.ly/205yYo3
Amazon India http://amzn.to/22g42Dn
Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/1JbQWyS
Apple http://apple.co/1Ipq5xU
Kobo http://bit.ly/1BtXZwE

Please feel free to share this post if you know of anyone who might be interested in the sale.

Thank you!

 

Update Time

Hello, everyone!

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read Heart-Shaped Hack yet but plan to, you may want to skip this entire post.

I’ve received quite a few tweets, e-mails, and private messages regarding the publication date of White-Hot Hack, so I’m going to try and answer some of your questions.

First of all, I’m overjoyed that so many of you are looking forward to spending more time with Kate and Ian. They’re two of my favorite characters and I’m glad I don’t have to let go of them just yet.

Many of you have asked how many books will be in the Kate and Ian series. I originally wrote synopses for three books because I’d tossed around the idea of writing a trilogy, but once I finished Heart-Shaped Hack, I realized the complete story could really be told in two books. Sometimes the second book in a trilogy can end up feeling like a set-up for the third and final book, and I didn’t want that to be the case here. If anything should change (and I don’t anticipate that it will), it will be clearly marked in the description of White-Hot Hack so you’ll know for sure whether it’s the final book.

Some of my readers were upset to discover there would be a sequel to Heart-Shaped Hack because they prefer to wait until all books in a series are published before they start reading. While I completely understand this, there’s a plot element in Heart-Shaped Hack that could have potentially been spoiled if this information had been shared at the beginning of the book instead of the end. (As I’d anticipated, most of you guessed the “twist” and those who didn’t probably spent some time around the 70% mark wanting to kill me). There were in-depth discussions between myself, my publicist, my beta readers, and my peers about the best way to handle this potential spoiler issue, and the consensus was to err on the side of caution. The fact that Heart-Shaped Hack can be read as a stand alone book was also taken into consideration. There is no cliffhanger and it’s a complete story with a happily-ever-after/happy-for-now ending. White-Hot Hack is simply the next chapter in the lives of Kate and Ian.

I’m not an especially fast writer and usually complete at least three drafts before I’m ready to send the manuscript to my beta readers. Then I need another 6-8 weeks after that to tackle revisions, polish the manuscript, go through the copyediting process, and have the final pass proofed and sent to the formatter. One book every 9 months is about the quickest I can write; anything faster and I’d be worried that the final product would not be well written and/or edited. This is just *my* process. There are many authors whose timelines are much faster. The official publication date of White-Hot Hack won’t be released until I have a better idea of my timeline for finishing, but I’m shooting for late spring/early summer. I’m working on the blurb now, but I’d like to get a little further in the writing process before I release it. This helps me avoid having to tweak it later if something should change plot-wise.

I’ll be revealing the cover soon (sometime in the next 3-4 weeks). I can’t wait to show it to you!

If you’d like, you can add White-Hot Hack to your Goodreads shelves here.

Thank you for your enthusiasm, everyone! And please feel free to reach out to me via social media should you have any further questions.

Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Process Update – Revision Stage!

Here’s another update for those of you who enjoy hearing about my writing process.

I’ve completed the first draft of my new book. I actually typed THE END almost two weeks ago, but then proceeded directly to the second draft, also known as the beginning of my revision stage.

Which I love.

The first draft is where you meet your characters and learn about their world.

Revision is where you find your story.

I feel – very strongly – that this stage is the most important part of the entire writing process (and for me it’s obviously the most enjoyable). You find out a lot about your characters in the first draft, but in order to develop them fully – to give them dimension, to make them leap off the page, to ensure their actions make sense – you need to be able to look at the story –and the active role your characters play in it – as a whole. And I really can’t do that until I’ve written the first draft.

The first thing I do when I start the second draft is send the first draft to my Kindle. Then, as I read the entire manuscript straight through, I highlight sections and take notes, adding them to the items I’ve already listed in my revision checklist. For example, there is an element of the hero’s backstory in the first draft that is totally cliché, and I’m sort of embarrassed that I couldn’t see it. But that’s one example of why revision is so important. Often the first idea that pops into your mind is the one everyone would probably think of, so it needs to be replaced by something not quite as obvious. A character’s backstory is part of the reason they act the way they do, and – bonus! – the element I came up with in the second draft actually makes more sense for the hero. Double bonus – it added some more dimension to a secondary character as well. This is the power of revision. 

I mentioned in my earlier updates that I’d written a synopsis of this book for my agent, and that it had really helped give me a road map to follow as I wrote the first draft. But with the good comes the bad, and there was one particular plot point in the synopsis that really didn’t work the way I needed it to once I’d written it. And that drove me NUTS because it was a pivotal plot point and I thought it would be so awesome when I finally got to write it.

But it wasn’t awesome.

At all.

Because by the time I wrote it, I knew a lot more about my characters and their motivations. And the reactions of both characters in this particular chapter didn’t really ring true for the stage they were at in their relationship. This realization was incredibly frustrating and at first I tried to force a solution, which only made it worse.

Last week I was on vacation with my family for spring break. I had lots of time to let my mind wander and when the answer finally came to me, I realized where I’d gone wrong and what I needed to do to fix it. But I was only able to do this by looking at the story as a whole (and allowing myself the necessary time to figure it out). Interestingly, I had originally planned for this chapter to occur earlier in the book but then moved it a few chapters later. This no longer works, so I’m re-writing the whole chapter and moving it to where I’d originally planned for it to go. Sometimes this is the only course of action and I’m just thankful it was one chapter and not half a book. However, any time you pull a plot thread you run the risk of loosening something in another location, which means I now have a few other things that also have to be changed and moved.

That’s okay. That’s revision.

One of the other things I’m able to do once I have a completed first draft is look at my story arc. I like using a three act structure (you may need to click on the picture to see it better).

3-act-structure

This doesn’t mean it has to be followed 100%. But it’s a great way to see if I’ve got rising action (including enough smaller conflicts), a big enough main conflict, and a nice wrap up.

I hope to be done with my revisions by early May. Then I’ll send the manuscript off for beta feedback. After that, I’ll write the third draft, do a hard line edit for grammar and rhythm, and give it a final polish. This is why I’ll probably always be a 1 book a year (or maybe 1 book plus a novella) author. I’ve learned (the hard way) that I really do need this much time in order to be satisfied with a book.

I would love to give you more details about this book (including why I decided to write it) and hope to do so in the next couple of months. I can tell you that it’s not The Girl He Used to Know, which is what I had planned to write next. I’ll still be writing that one, but not until I’ve completed my current project. This new book is straight-up adult contemporary romance, which is something I haven’t done since On the Island (at least in a full-length novel). After the heavier subject matter of Every Time I Think of You, I really needed to write something a little lighter (and I think my readers are ready for that, too).

In one word, this book is fun. The hero and heroine have lots of dialogue (and banter!). There is an external conflict in addition to the romantic conflict, which is my favorite kind of contemporary romance. Many of you have asked for a bit more steam, and I tried my best to kick it up a bit. However, you still won’t see certain words because I don’t think they’re necessary, nor do I personally find them romantic. The heat level of this book is similar to Jill Shalvis (who’s an author I love).    

So there you have it! I’m very excited about sharing more on this project in the coming months.

Tracey

 

 

Covet E-book Sale And Giveaway!

Hello everyone!

I’m sorry I’ve been missing in action lately. I recently finished writing my newest book and will have some exciting things to share with you in a couple of weeks. But in the meantime, I’m excited to talk about the upcoming release of the trade paperback of Covet. In case you haven’t seen the new cover, here it is:

Isn’t it gorgeous? I wouldn’t have believed that Penguin could top the beautiful concept they came up with for the hardcover edition, but I think they have. I just love it.

The trade paperback will be released on 4/29/14 and will be available at the following retailers:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Target
Wal-Mart (select stores)
Airport bookstores
Books-A-Million
Canada – Indigo, Chapters, & Amazon

In conjunction with the publication of the trade paperback, the e-book will also be going on sale. From today through May 21st, you can buy the e-book of Covet for $5.99. If you haven’t yet picked it up, now would be a great (and economical) time to do it.

Here are the participating retailers:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple
IndieBound
Kobo

I need your help in getting the word out about this e-book sale, so one lucky winner will receive a prize package containing the following items:

Signed copies of the trade paperback of Covet and On the Island

This cute little Marc Jacobs necklace

This Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey (which is my FAVORITE shade)

This awesome blush from Clinique in Berry Pop (which is the last one on the left) 
This Marc Jacobs Dot rollerball perfume

To enter, all you need to do is follow the instruction on the PunchTab giveaway below (and make sure to share your activity on your Facebook timeline). If you win, I do need to be able to verify where you shared the information. This giveaway is open to EVERYONE. I don’t care where you live, I’ll get the prize package to you. The giveaway will run from 8:00 a.m. CST 4/23 through 8:00 a.m. CST 4/25. One winner will be chosen. 

PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOU *MAY* HAVE TROUBLE ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY USING A MOBILE DEVICE.

Thanks, everyone!!

xoxo

Fiction Friday – A Public Service Announcement To All Aspiring Authors

Hello, everyone!

Today I’d like to talk about something that’s become quite worrisome to me. I’ve already touched upon this subject here, in my FAQ, but I want to go into it in more detail.

I’m still receiving e-mails from authors with this question: Who did you use to self-publish On the Island? As I’ve said before, I didn’t use anyone to self-publish my debut novel. I published it myself (which is why it’s called self-publishing) and the book was later acquired by Penguin as part of a two-book publishing contract. But initially, when the book was self-published, I acted as the publisher and I was responsible for all the things a traditional publisher would have done for me. I spent time searching for – and vetting – a freelance content editor, copy editor, and formatter. The names of everyone I used can be found in the link in the first paragraph of this post.

I paid each of these freelance professionals a flat fee, which we agreed upon in advance. There were also written contracts provided (where applicable), so that everyone knew the fee and the completion date of the service provided.

Once everything was complete and my book was ready to be published, I uploaded it to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I also published via Smashwords, so that my book could be available through Sony, Kobo, Apple, and Diesel.

Cost to UPLOAD: zero dollars. I paid nothing. 

The reason I’m writing this post today is twofold: First of all, if you’re going to self-publish, you don’t need to pay anyone to do this for you, especially if they’re also going to take a percentage of your royalties. Self-publishing is not nearly as hard as people want you to think it is. It takes work, and there are a lot of steps involved, but it’s not hard. If you’re ready to publish (or query agents), the really hard part – writing your book, revising it, sharing it with betas, revising it again, self-editing, and polishing – should already be done. If these steps haven’t been taken, your book is probably not ready for querying OR publication. Get a critique partner, get some beta readers, spend more time learning the craft of fiction writing, or whatever it is you need to do to write the best book you possibly can. Second of all, when you pay a company to publish your book for you, this is called vanity publishing. You will pay for your own editing, cover, marketing, etc…Print distribution will probably be of the print-on-demand variety, which I don’t have a problem with, but you’re still paying a company to publish your book for you.

And some of you are paying a lot of money to let them do it. When you stumble upon my self-publishing FAQ and then write to me, heartbroken, because you’re out hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars, I feel horrible for you. But if you want to be a writer, you’re going to have to make good business decisions and that includes educating yourself about the business you want to be a part of. Read everything you can about the publishing industry, so that you can make informed choices. There are tons of great articles and blog posts out there, so spend a little time every day learning something new.

So, is it bad to pay a company to do your editing, your cover, your formatting, etc…and then publish your book for you?

I think it is.

Paying freelance professionals on a per-job basis makes a lot more sense. And making sure that you’re the only one who will receive royalties (other than the cut the retailer will take) is always a solid business plan.

Here is the link for the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing FAQ.
Here is the link for Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press FAQ.

These links are a GREAT place to start if you want to learn more about how to self-publish your work. And remember, you can upload your manuscript to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for FREE.

There’s something even more insidious than the vanity publisher, and it’s what I call the “predatory publisher.” With the explosion of self-publishing, more and more writers are throwing their hat in the ring. Unfortunately, that means that these “predatory publishers” are also popping up all over the place. What usually happens is this: An author submits their manuscript and an “offer” to sign the author is made. Unfortunately, what the author finds out later is that they can’t get the publisher to pay the royalties that are due to them. Now they’re in a really bad situation. Also, it is a huge red flag if a publisher is willing to sign you without reading your manuscript. Think about it: why would they buy something they know nothing about?  

All of this can be avoided by doing a few things:

1. Self-publish without outside assistance. I’m not talking about your editor, formatter, cover designer, etc… you’ll pay them a flat-fee for services rendered. I’m talking about someone who wants you to pay them money to publish your book and/or also wants a cut of your royalties.

2. Google is your friend. If you’re thinking about signing with a publisher, do your due diligence. There are a lot of really good publishers out there – big, small, and in-between – but check them out. If you don’t have an agent, consider hiring an IP attorney to look at any publishing contract you may be considering.

3. Go to Preditors & Editors (click on the link here). I like to think of P&E as the Better Business Bureau of the publishing world. Go to the section marked ‘Book Publishers’ and check yours out. If it says NOT RECOMMENDED, there’s a reason and I’d steer clear.

So, to re-cap:

1) You are perfectly capable of self-publishing your manuscript on your own, and uploading it to retailers will cost you nothing.

2) Do your due diligence when signing with ANY publisher, and if you don’t have an agent make sure you consult an IP attorney.

3) Never pay a publisher to publish your book for you. You can do that on your own.

Along these same lines, I’d like to caution you when choosing a copy editor.

Because everyone is a copy editor these days.

While I’m certainly glad that there are plenty of available resources, you need to make sure your copy editor is qualified. Ask them if they follow the Chicago Manual of Style or APA. If they don’t use either, or they don’t know what you’re talking about, they are probably not qualified. And just because someone is a voracious reader doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re capable of editing your work. Copy editing is a learned skill, and good copy editors are constantly honing theirs.  

Other people who are not qualified  to edit your manuscript: your sister, your best friend, your mom (unless they’re actually copy editors). Time and time again, I see copy editing confused with proofreading. While copy editing includes finding typos in a manuscript, copy editing involves a qualified professional showing you all the places you screwed up. A good copy editor will know that your compound modifier is missing a hyphen. A copy editor will tell you when it’s okay to split an infinitive, and when it isn’t. A copy editor will know if you are using simple past when you should be using past perfect (and vice versa). I have learned something new every time one of my manuscripts has been copy edited, which in turn helps me to become a stronger writer. A good copy editor can teach you so many things.

So just be careful, okay?

I’m not trying to burst anyone’s bubble, but I do want you to do your homework because I don’t like it when people are taken advantage of. I’ll be happy to answer questions in the comments sections, so please feel free to ask.

Now let’s go write!