The Cover Collection–Stop By for Inspiration!

Hi all! Hope you fared a relaxing and/or productive weekend and got to do something special. I was thrilled to have found a nearby tennis court clear of snow, ice and puddles, where I played a couple of sets. Of course I lost (that’s just the way of it). Definitely had a rusty day (haven’t been out there since the fall), but I do find happiness in the spring-like weather swinging away at a little green ball.

Rowsy   Rowsy kittens

These photos are for Tess. On the left is my Rowsy, who lived at least 22 years. Under the tabby gray was evidence of calico mix. It certainly showed in her kitties. 

Special welcome to Robbie! She found me via a pingback at NYTBSA Bob Mayer’s blog (How cool is THAT?!) to a guest-post I wrote a while back for author Babette James, when indie publishing was starting to really make its mark.

Promise to work really hard to keep the rest of this quick. (The other writing-related/workshop projects are lined up and waiting patiently. And hubby is looking forward to the egg-wrap I normally make for him on the weekends. )

A couple of posts ago I talked about some inspiring articles at author Joe Bunting’s blog, The Write Practice. Recently, guest blogger, author Carlos Cooper, talked about how perusing pre-made cover art for ideas and inspiration led him to buying a cover that caught his interest and inspired a book to go with it. Since I’ve done well so far with applying some of what I’ve read at Joe’s excellent stop-on-the-web for writers, I figured I’d go for it.

Like Carlos, I did a search. Landed at UK-based The Cover Collection and immediately fell in love with a cover under the Romance tab. Lined up to pay the ridiculously reasonable costs—via PayPal—for ebook and CreateSpace covers for the follow up to my debut novel. BTW, the latter is a print-book front-only option TCC offers to help authors save $$. Older Son is savvy enough to do spine and back cover work.

Virtually met and began interacting with Debbie. She has been utterly WONDERFUL helping me customize the stunning cover I bought. (I promise the images appear to breathe.) She is very generous with her time, open to suggestions and somehow, totally “gets” what moves me visually. One of the versions she made for the sequel—based on my requests—resulted in big-time pay dirt: perfect theme/story-related cover art for my debut, No Matter Why!

So, two lovely covers-in-the-works later, I am taking steps in the direction I’ve wanted to go all along. No cover reveals today; we’re still working on them. (Yes, very patient Debbie is kind enough to put up with me. ;).

So I suppose this is short enough a post for me. (Please feel welcome to differ and say so, lol. No offense taken, pinky swear!) I know, there were a lot of links here. (That’s what happens when you drop in at Jami Gold’s virtual-web stop.) For those of you daring enough to check out each one and somehow wind up back here—you far more focused than I.

Hope this has been as inspiring for you as for me. Thanks for indulging me.

Have a great week,

Joanna

Guests Bloggers at The Write Practice Inspire!

Happy Tuesday, everyone,

And a happy birthday shout-out to my daughter-from-another-mother. Older Son’s girlfriend turned the big 1-7 yesterday. (This post was supposed to go live on Monday, but I forgot to click the SCHEDULE button after I set the date.)  She’s been around four years already, something I still can’t believe sometimes. Luckily, she’s a very nice young lady and there is no real drama between them.

I’m always  a bit sad watching an Olympic flame go down. Being a lover of athletic ability in so many forms—especially since God did not put superstar status coordination into this writer girl—I  so enjoy living vicariously watching the grace and power of those who are. (I get to the tennis courts whenever I can. Luckily, I can hit a few good flat shots–I so can’t do any spin on the ball–and let’s not talk serve.)

I will NOT  miss listening to the rather biased coverage and talk involving American-Russian rivalry re: medal counts, hockey games, etc. That’s just not me, and the Olympics is a place where the world supposedly comes together, right? (Just sayin’…)

Sochiolympicflame

Image credit: Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (Pretty sure I did this properly. Feel free to let me know in the comments or privately if I didn’t. Thnx!)

Having my life back from the TV is always nice (barring Law & Order SVU re-runs—those suck me in almost every time; Modern Family is starting to get me too and I just walked away from auditions for The Voice). Indian Wells, the ‘fifth slam’ of tennis starts March 6th…Dancing with the Stars is about four weeks away… There goes Monday night…again.

Back on track: I haven’t written about writing for a while, nor do I plan to now. What???

I did, however, come across a couple of great posts from The Write Practice, to whose posts I subscribe. I recently moved from lurker to commenter/participant and am finding a very supportive community. (Writers can be like that, cheering each other on, helping each other out, paying it forward…you know.)

In lieu of musings by me, I figured I’d share an exercise prompted by this post, Let Me Be Your Muse. Writer/blogger Joy Collado of the Phillipines suggests I do nothing but write in response to what my character(s) have to say about their feelings relative to me and getting their stories into some kind of existence. Let me tell you, some of mine are pretty dang frustrated, lol. Here is a very short excerpt of the fruits of that effort:

These are one of my POV character’s thoughts. She’s a tad annoyed waiting for me to get it together, to find a direction for her story, and to get things right between her and her hubby.

“So you’re letting me be the muse, huh? It’s about time you stopped trying to figure out my story and started committing to putting down something concrete about it.”

From there my character pretty much outlined her story and gave me a great framework to draw upon. My next step is to do the same with the other POV characters. I’m hoping I don’t choke myself (again!) with all the ideas that come from this kind of brainstorming. That’s what happens: I get overwhelmed with all the info and can’t seem to find a start point to make functional use of it.

Becca Puglisi‘s guest postPurging Your Writing Fear spoke to me too. From that I was inspired to jot down two key affirmations. Those are on my nightstand. I’m seriously considering fancying them up a bit and framing them, so that they’re that much more visible to me on the day to day.

Here is one of them: I am can and will make _____ and _____’s story into a viable suspense/romantic novel. (It’s that suspense part messing with me. New territory.)

So, what are your thoughts on these topics? Have you tried Joy’s technique or written down affirmations/goals the way Becca suggests? Do you feel it’s been helpful? If so, how and/or why?

Thanks and have a great day!

Joanna

Questions: Part of the Writer’s Make-Up

Hi all,

Hope all is well with all of you. I’m trying to stay consistent but no promises for now. Life has this loverly way of getting in the way while I make plans. Ever happen to any of you?

The other day I caught up with a post about asking questions from my good friend and author, Stacey Wilk. This article in particular sparked one of my longer-winded comment responses, which I figured would work nicely as a post of my own. Doing so also gave me an opportunity to point those of you interested to check out her li’l corner of the WWW.  She always brings up highly relatable topics of interest, and does better than I keeping her thoughts short and to the point. 🙂

Stacey talked about people misinterpreting the intent behind many of the questions she poses in the many settings she frequents. (Reading her post will give you a bit more background. She definitely got me thinking.)

MHO: asking questions is this writer’s nature. I want to have a first-hand account of information whenever possible, as I believe it lends authenticity to the situation in any story. And yes, people have looked at me strangely, ESPECIALLY when I was so focused on my question I didn’t think ahead to how the recipient might perceive the inquiry…

Case in point: I wanted to know about survivor benefits in the event a police officer is killed in the line of duty. AFTER I introduced myself to our school’s DARE officer as a writer, I went right for it. Don’t remember her answer, just the look on her face.

Another time, I queried a Yahoo! group about a fairly serious pediatric condition relative to one of my novel’s storylines. Not only did I get responses based from medical personnel who did this for a living, someone connected me to his daughter, who’s infant son had lived through this condition. (I’m an east coast girl; she hangs her hat at the Pacific end of the continent.) I spent a good 90 minutes on the phone with her, and took tons of notes. She even offered a photo  of her son from the recovery room, hooked up to tubes galore. Let me tell you, I believe there is authenticity in the related fictional write-up.

I have no plans to stop asking questions or looking up information. Person on the receiving end is free to NOT reply, and I typically preface my inquiry saying so. Nor do I know where my query will lead. I’m a firm believer in “the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked.”

Anyway, thanks again, Stacey, for inspiring me in more ways than one. And as always, my gratitude to all of you who so kindly scare precious time to stop in, read, comment and/or share.  Words cannot express how appreciative I am.

Take care and have a great day and week,

Joanna

On A Virtual Visit with Babette James…

Happy first Friday in August folks–hey! Didn’t July start just the other day? Where did it go?

I’m visiting with fellow Liberty States Fiction Writers member Babette James today! She’s been kind enough to offer me the opportunity to share the topic of my recent talk at the Howell Twp Public Library in NJ. So if you couldn’t be there in person, here are the highlights of my chat with some very nice folks who took time out of their busy Saturday to hear what I had to say.

You’ll find a little sneak-peak there as well. Come on over: http://babettejames.com/2012/08/03/what-id-do-differently-by-joanna-aislinn/

Joanna

Are You Published or Want to Be?

Happy Friday, friends! For those of you in the area who might consider joining me, I’ll be at the Howell Library, Howell, NJ tomorrow! I’d love to see familiar faces and some new ones, too!

Here’s the flyer!

What I Wish I’d  Known—and Done Differently—

 BEFORE I Got Published!

WHERE:     Howell Library   318 Old Tavern Road;    Howell, NJ 07731 (732) 938-2300

WHEN:         July 28, 2012    10 AM-12 Noon

That manuscript burned a hole in your hard drive. You prodded it, polished it to a blinding shine, then sent out query letters to agents and editors. Nothing to do now but wait for a response, right?

Maybe not.

New Jersey author of romance and women’s literature, Joanna Aislinn, has been there, done that and earned the tee-shirt. Armed with the knowledge and perspective only hindsight brings, Joanna will share important tips on what aspiring and soon-to-be-published authors should do while waiting for that first contract.

Joanna Aislinn’s debut novel, No Matter Why (originally published by The Wild Rose Press), was hailed by her editor as “…what a contemporary should be…an emotional journey…a beautiful story well told.”

When not working her day job or attending to a husband, two boys and two cats, Joanna is crafting sequels, planting seeds for future stories of love and commitment, judging contests, networking and expanding her writing and speaking horizons. Friend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/joannaaislinn) and follow her on Twitter (@JoannaAislinn).

                                                                                                             

For a variety of articles and tips on craft, social media and so much more, check out Joanna’s blog (https://joannaaislinn.wordpress.com) and website (www.joannaaislinn.com). 

Fan Fiction? Bad? Hmm…

Happy Middle-of-the-Week-Day! Hope this post finds you all well, open to possibilities and looking forward to great things!

The other day I happened on Janice Hardy’s awesome blog: The Other Side of the Story. Novice and more experienced writers will find a slew of excellent articles designed to help with any/every aspect of writing, submitting and marketing one can conceive. And tips are easily applicable, even if you’re not sitting keyboard-side.

As I browsed through the responses to a post, I noticed a comment that resonated with some of my current writing struggles. I emailed the commenter, who replied.  She touted herself as ‘bad me’ for writing fan fiction. As my response to her grew, I realized I had a blog post on my hands. So, this one is for my newest online writer-friend—almost—exactly as I wrote it in the body of the email (before I copied and pasted it into the blogging software ;)):

“No such thing as ‘bad’ associated with fanfic, and I’ve already done what you want to do from yours–launch an original piece. I started with a very popular, very dramatic/high-stakes two-part episode of a very popular TV series. What was great about that is I didn’t have to generate the story. The work was done for me, lol, and it gave me a great forum to start learning how to get description, dialogue, etc, on virtual paper. I also got some nice feedback from readers/fans, who felt the original characters I’d introduced into the story line were woven into it well.

So, sixty pages later, I was done, but one line from one of the show’s characters kept nagging me: how did my character meet up with the show’s (and her) hero?

My original story took off from there. I borrowed one character and what should have been one chapter became a short (but full-length) romance around him and my heroine. From there came flashbacks that wound up being NO MATTER WHY, my debut novel with The Wild Rose Press. Its sequel, NO MATTER WHAT, should have been the ‘bridge/transition story’ between NMWhy and my (original) fanfic. Since I realized the character arc for my heroine was done, my fanfic (a highly polished first draft) is now slated as the springboard for a related ‘prequel’ story showcasing minor characters introduced in NMWhat. A completely original part 3—and completion of the trilogy—is in the works (and my current problem-child wip, lol).

As per the fanfic, two very cool things came of that:

(1) I started getting positive reader feedback (especially from the webmaster) and a small following. I even got my own page on that particular fanfic site. There were at least 700 entries posted and I became one of the eight she chose to showcase and make more discoverable. Talk about a confidence boost!

(2) One of my climactic scenes–totally original–took second place in the first contest I entered. The judge’s feedback was ridiculously simple: “Go forth and publish.” Gave me the guts to go ahead and write the query for NMWhy.

So you see, writer-friend, never judge your writing efforts, no matter what form they take. As your writing journey takes shape, you’ll find where each stop on that expedition fits in the grander scheme of God’s plan for you as a writer!”

Your turn! Please take a moment to share some of the unexpected turns and twists your writing journey has taken. Do you judge yourself, or try to follow the flow of your learning experience and see where it leads?

Thanks so much to all of you for stopping in, and thanks, EP, for inspiring this post.

Happy creating,

Joanna

Best Compilation for a Writer Yet–and More!

Happy Thursday, friends; summer is upon us and so are the Wimbledon’s Tennis Championships! (I’ve got A LOT of papers to file–an entire school year’s worth, lol.) Nothing like plopping the laptop onto my desk and following the matches and my fave players while I grind through the tedious job of sorting through notes, reports, etc. I’m planning to go paperless on the reports next year.

I’ve been having issues with getting those next few wips off the ground, so today, I decided to share some pretty awesome resources that have been helping me in the brainstorming and story structure departments. Hope some/all of these will be of some help to you too! 🙂

This compilation by Margo Berendsen was so awesome, it needed a ‘pointing to’ all its own. Packed with tips and reference articles on writing and especially revision, I may be combing through this over the course of the next few weeks!  Thanks Margo!

21 Ways to Make Your Plot More Compelling

  Plotting Simplified–Eddie Jones–the BEST $0.99 you’ll ever spend. (Read my thoughts on this packed little gem here.)

  Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells–Dianna Love and Mary Buckham. This one seems particularly geared to those who like compiling lists and character sketches at every imaginable level. You’ll gain excellent insight into characters and conflict, with examples from three very popular movies included for every checklist!

  Yesterday, I picked up Roz Morris’ Nail Your Novel; currently working my way through her thoughts and exercises for reviving and revising that first draft or even seeing one through. I’m liking her style and approach: formal exercises via a bit of an informal approach–feel more my style at this point.

I’d love to know if you’re familiar with these resources. If so, how have you utilized them in any way? Did you find them helpful? If so, how?

As always, I thank you for stopping in, and taking the time to SHARE, assuming you care to do so!

Have a wonderful day,

Joanna