August 21, 2012

Made It Moment III: Douglas Corleone

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 12:02 pm

Last Lawyer Standing

I started sharing Made It Moments by authors for one simple, selfish reason. I needed inspiration to keep going in my own struggle to become a writer. Listening to the moments of joy that other writers had found gave me happiness of my own, and also convinced me that happiness can be found in this pursuit of ours. If I’ve learned one thing from the Made It Moments forum, it’s that joy as a writer comes in as many different forms as there are authors out there.

Doug Corleone is one author whose evolution I’ve followed, cheering all the way. And it’s been quite a way–Doug is the only Moment-er to have shared three Moments. His first appears here; and his second here

And today with the release of Doug’s third (and last in the series) Kevin Corvelli legal thriller, we learn what makes for making it–the third time around. Congratulations, Doug, and thank you…for the inspiration.

Douglas Corleone

With the release of my third novel Last Lawyer Standing, I’ve officially made it – through another year. With every passing week, I realize more and more that writing novels is just like any other job (except we don’t have a dress code). We have to show up every day to write and revise and promote. We have people to impress – our agents, our editors, our critics, and most importantly, our readers. Think it’s tough to have two or three supervisors? Try having several thousand, each of them holding a piece of your future in their hands.

Before my first novel, One Man’s Paradise, was published by Minotaur Books in 2010, I was sure that publication would lead to at least some kind of job security. But with the industry in a constant state of transition, a novelist’s job is only as secure as his next contract. That’s frightening – but it also keeps us on our toes and hopefully keeps us at our best.

My greatest challenge over the past year has been leaving the comfort of the Kevin Corvelli series of legal mysteries and entering the unfamiliar world of international thrillers. In a way, it was like being moved to a different department within a corporation. I had to introduce myself to an entire community of new characters, learn new skills, and face the challenges that come with navigating new territories.

With the release of Last Lawyer Standing, I’ll also be leaving behind old friends. Ending a series can feel a lot like moving away from your hometown. The bittersweet sense of closure combined with the adrenaline rush that comes with opening a new chapter in your life creates a batch of mixed feelings that can be tough to sort out. Writers of fiction spend their entire lives trying to create inner conflict, but when we finally have to face it ourselves, we can feel woefully unprepared.

Over the course of three years and three novels, I have changed every bit as much as my main character. Maybe more. While Kevin Corvelli faced tough juries, unscrupulous prosecutors, and killers who would stop at nothing to hide the truth, I quit the law, became a father of two, and made Hawaii my permanent home. While Kevin Corvelli’s story comes to a close in the final chapters of the trilogy, mine is simply moving in a very different direction – one that I can only hope will be as challenging and as satisfying as the last.

Douglas Corleone is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime novels set in Hawaii, including ONE MAN’S PARADISE, a finalist for the 2010 Shamus Award for Best First Novel and winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award.

A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Corleone now resides in the Hawaiian Islands where he is at work on his next novel.

August 14, 2012

Made It Moment: Peg Brantley

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:34 am

Red Tide

My mother had me back in the day when hospital recovery rooms were shared, and the woman who joined her after she’d had her own babies (twins I grew up with) became her best friend for life.

That’s how I feel about Peg Brantley. Writing is nearly as intense a process as childbirth, and Peg and I began writing mysteries and talking about publication roughly in conjunction with each other. We turned to each other for hope, support, and in moments for me at least of dread disappointment, and as such, we’ll be bonded forever.

If I wasn’t the first to order Peg’s book–you’ll find out who that was in her Moment–I must’ve been close, and I can promise that it is much more than your usual twisty, turny read. The Kindle version is Free, just for today, so please discover this author if you have not. I think you will feel bonded to her as well.

Peg Brantley

A Few Feel Good Moments

Like many of you, when Jenny asked me to share my “Made It Moment” I thought she’d made a mistake and hit the wrong email address. Then after cleaning up the coffee that had spewed from my mouth and onto my desk, I considered that actually I’ve had a lot of moments that made me feel good. And maybe that’s what “making it” is all about.

Here are a few feel good moments:

  • Listening to my husband read my eBook. He occasionally used his ear buds for text-to-speech and when he didn’t, I could hear him click to turn the page. I had never even considered that could be any kind of a moment let alone a joyful one until it happened.
  • My first actual sale. I’m pretty sure it was to Timothy Hallinan who is a writer I admire. Tim told me he’d always wanted to be someone’s “first.”
  • My first review. From someone I didn’t know. Wow. The idea of a total stranger reading my words and then commenting on their experience was surreal. A little like a stalker but in a good way.
  • The first time my book was checked out of Amazon’s Lending Library. As a kid, libraries were wonderful worlds to me, and having Red Tide checked out of the library made me want to cry.
  • The proof for the trade paperback. More than anything else, holding my book in my hands made me feel like a real author.

I’m sure there’ll be more. I hope there’ll be more. My first royalty deposit will happen at the end of June. I’m betting that will be a highlight. I haven’t received any “fan” mail, that’ll be fabulous (in a good stalker kind of way).

One thing I’d love? To either attend in person (or via Skype) a book club discussion of Red Tide. That could possibly be the moment when I will feel as if I’ve actually “made it.”

A Colorado native, Peg Brantley is a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime. She and her husband make their home southeast of Denver, sharing it with the occasional pair of mallard ducks and their babies, snapping turtles, peacocks, assorted other birds, foxes and deer named Cedric. Red Tide is Peg’s first novel. Her second will be released in late 2012.

August 7, 2012

To Market, To Market, Jiggity Jig

Filed under: Great Reads,The Writing Life — jenny @ 1:02 am

The above would be such a great title for a blog post about the writer’s Hamlet-esque quandary (To market or not to market, that is the question) that even though I sat down meaning this to be my first sentence:

To bookstore, to bookstore is the real refrain of our summer

I’m gonna save that one for later and take up Shakespeare’s rallying cry instead.

Some people would say that this isn’t a question at all. Sunny Frazier, an acquisitions editor at Oak Tree Press, is a sage of marketing and she is famous for uttering words to the effect of: she would rather take on a good book by a writer who’s willing to get her feet wet in the marketing pool than a great book by a writer’s who’s not.

Them’s powerful words, but I understand Sunny’s wisdom. There are so many books coming out these days that a writer has to understand how to make his or hers stand out.

Even more than the problem (or is it a wonder?) of the number of books published, there is this truth. We are all used to relating to more people in a given day than we ever have before. We are used to an unprecedented level of access to people. If they don’t respond to an email, then there’s text, or a tweet, or a status update. This level of connectivity has become so much the norm that if we don’t have it, we may feel frustrated. Or put off. We may simply turn our attention to someone more present.

No writer wants a reader to feel that way.

Which is probably why so many writers feel that having a strong social media presence is not just a plus, but a given.

There are drawbacks, though, and we pretty much all recognize them, I think.

The endless juggle life is now. How we never feel like we are doing everything, because there is no end to everything. We are never, ever simply done.

The weekend was invented for a reason. World-creating requires a break. So does book-creating, or career-creating. What happens if we don’t get that rest? That’s a big unknown. One big social experiment in which we’re all taking part.

Or, what if you’re an introvert and find the demands of all this interaction draining? You might be a wonderful writer, but meh at tweeting and texting.

What’s a writer to do?

I wish I had an answer. I do have one guess, though, and a possible partial solution.

The guess is that precisely because virtual connections are so ubiquitous, it may be that real-time, face-to-face interaction begins to have a resurgence, and the writer who is willing to invest in that will really stand out. No, we can’t connect with 20,000 followers live. But is anybody actually reading all those tweets?

What we can do is get out to physical locations–bookstores, libraries, book clubs, school, out-of-the-box places like a knitting store if you write crafts mysteries, or a history class if your book focuses on some distant epoch–and say hello to the handful, dozens, or hundreds of people there.

Really say hello. Out loud. With a smile and a handshake.

I’m not saying that social media will or should go away. In fact, I dearly hope it doesn’t. My world is broader and more filled with love and closeness because of people I’ve met in far-flung locations that only the internet has brought me to.

But I am saying that we shouldn’t abandon one for the other. They can both co-exist, and enrich our lives in different ways.

The possible partial solution (I’m hedging my bets here, but I do hope this may help at least one person who is struggling with this) is that we all stop trying to do it all. It’s impossible anyway. And if we stick to the aspects of marketing that are truly organic to us, then it won’t seem a burden, but a joy.

Tweeting about food isn’t hard for a foodie. And if that person happens to write a cupcake mystery series then the people who love her tweets just may love her books as well.

No one can do everything, but everyone can find something to do that is value-add–both for the producer of content, and the recipient.

If nothing else, post about how hard you find all this social media stuff and the chronic seesaw that is life today.

I’ll bet you find a million followers.

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