My Cover For “One By One” Thriller!!!

For anyone who’s been following My Writer’s Blog since the beginning, you’re aware that I started it to document my writing journey as well as my journey on getting published. I had focused on my first novel Something’s Amiss, then NaNoWriMo came into my life, causing me to shift gears toward One By One.

I’m happy to announce that I received my book cover last Monday! I had browsed Absolute Write Forums under Self-Publishing. I found a member offering free services–she wants to build her portfolio so eventually she can start a cover design business.

Sandra Giles was professional and very efficient. I contacted her on November 1st (Thursday) and received my mock cover on November 5th (Monday). After listening to my suggestions, I received my final proof the same day.

Cover Design: Sandra Giles

Now that I have my book cover image, I need to continue with my business plan:

  • Get an author photo taken
  • Create an author page on Facebook
  • If I could figure out my image widget, then I could display my books on the sidebar
  • Write a blurb and add a “One By One” tab to my blog
  • Hoping my book release date can be early to mid 2013 (it’ll depend on how long the process takes with editors)

Wish me luck!

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Got A Pleasant Surprise This Morning

It’s been a very long week, so I was happy to find a present waiting in my email inbox this morning. My second beta reader Beth sent me her suggestions. Being excited, I opened and read everything right away. I appreciate that she took the time to run down her suspect list chapter by chapter. I loved seeing how she perceived my subtle clues. Like Mike, she suggested point-of-view changes, improve pacing, and explain the killer(s) motivation more.

You guys have no idea how motivated I am to start tackling revisions now hee hee. But I’ll be good and patient by waiting on my last beta reader suggestions. In the meantime, I’ll jot down notes from Beth’s critique on how to change some of my scenes around.

Like I said before, any writer out there would benefit from hearing readers’ opinions before hiring an editor, sending out query letters, or hitting the publish button. It’s fascinating to send out the same rough draft to different people, then see how they each interpreted your story. Some will focus on story elements while others will comment on grammar and punctuation only. Some will give very detailed comments while others will write a summary. When combined altogether, you’ll get a full picture.

Once again, thanks Beth for taking the time out to help me. You’ll never know how much I appreciate it. I can’t wait to read your story; it’ll give me something to do for my very long week starting Tuesday. Long week means jury duty…

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“One By One” Update #1

Writers are taught to just listen in a critique group when it’s their turn. To just listen and take it all in. Don’t defend their work. So how do you respond when someone wants to sit down and discuss your project, requiring a back and forth interaction? Act scared? Run from it? Embrace it?

I chose to embrace the situation. I’m used to reading comments in the margins, but it couldn’t hurt to hear what my beta-reader had to say. I was nervous (hopefully Mike couldn’t tell I kept tapping my foot and fidgeting with my hands hee hee) but played it cool. By the end of the conversation, I was at ease.

I took his suggestions for improvements and his compliments all in. I’m looking forward to the challenge of some rewriting required to polish One By One. In fact, on my lunch break, I went to the library to outline new plots and motives, feeling motivated. Throughout the conversation, I was all smiles–which was weird to be happy about someone critiquing something personal of mine.

But I couldn’t stop thinking how awesome it was that Mike took time out of his busy schedule to do me a favor. He didn’t have to, especially since he did it for free. The fact that he took the time to not only write in the margins but also suggested the talk will always be cool beans in my book. His feedback was insightful and helped me realize some of the kinks I need to work out. I’d rather hear it at this stage instead of have an editor rip my story apart.

Things I need to work on:

  • Elaborate more on characters’ motives
  • Re-tweak some plot points so everything connects together
  • Pace myself and stay consistent
  • Etc, etc

Thanks again Mike for being my first beta-reader to return my story. Once I receive my other beta’s feedback, I’ll start revising and editing again. I guess my 90 Day Novel will have competition for my attention around that time.

For writers out there, I encourage you to interact with people taking the time to read your work, if you can. There’s nothing more valuable than getting to hear answers to specific questions you may have regarding story elements. For a chance to guide the critique instead of just relying on what someone wrote. And a chance to reveal apart of your writing style or routine to them, so they can understand you a little better.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“One By One” Thriller Third Draft Completed!!!

Is there such a thing as editing burn-out? If so, I think I have it.

Last Saturday, I finished revising One By One, then I left it alone for three days. On Thursday, I decided it was time to read the entire novel out loud to hear any mistakes. At that point, I’ve looked over this thing for so long that I skimmed the pages. Things didn’t go so well; I found errors, changed them, read it again, found more errors, read it again, then went back to original wording. I was all over the place, stressing out. It’s pressure knowing that other people will read your work for critique.

I was honestly two seconds away from giving up, clicking out of Word, and ignoring the document for good. Good thing I talked myself out of it. I think it’s wise to get  other peoples’ opinions because I think I’m just being too hard on myself. Do most writers do this? While they’re taking a look to make suggestions for improvement and highlighting what works, I’ll be taking a much needed break from editing. I won’t touch One By One until I get everyone’s suggestions in front of my face.

I’m happy to say that my third draft is completed with 55,125 words, 12 point Calibri font, single spaced, 101 pages. Hallelujah! Finished August 16th at midnight–just in time to start my first rough draft of my 90 day novel challenge.

Needing a new pair of fresh and objective eyes, I’ve put on my big girl panties to ask for beta-readers. I found two in my hometown and one author. Just need one or two more. My goal was to get two readers and two authors–both have valuable information to share whether they realize it or not :).

I’ve always had a thick skin, so I like constructive criticism. I view it as a challenge to make my work better.  It’s best to work out the kinks in rough drafts, instead of publishing with many errors and getting blasted with negative reviews all over the place. I respect honesty. Besides suggestions of improvement, I think it’d be cool if my beta-readers wrote in the margins when they had a suspect in mind. This would help me know if I have the right balance of red herrings or if it’s too predictable. Actually any feedback would be much appreciated! The fact that people will be taking time out of their busy schedules to help me out means a lot…more than they’ll ever know.

However, I’m only human so I have fears. What if my story sucks but they’re too nice to tell me? What if I send it out and no one finishes it? That’s why I want 4 or 5 (I like to weigh different opinions). If someone fails to come through, then I’ll have back-up. I totally have a Chapter 4 curse–sometimes critique partners disappear after chapter 3, claiming they read and made suggestions on chapter 4, but end up never sending it to me. It’s happened to me twice already. Definitely not a good feeling.

So far, there’s been no massive rewrites. I had to add a lot of details about setting (what clothes characters’ wore, what they looked like, rooms they stayed in, outdoor scenery). I waited to do this last because it’s the most boring aspect for me in the writing process. I see everything vividly in my mind where sometimes it’s hard for me to express it on paper. Plus, my 12th grade creative writing teacher said I overwrite too much–maybe I took that to heart to the 10th degree? Maybe now I underwrite? My main goal is to keep action going with short, sometimes choppy sentences. Some say I have a fast paced writing style like a sportscaster. Definitely something I’m trying to work on.

Once again, I really want to thank my beta-readers! And I want to thank Melissa for being my critique partner, sticking with me to the end. Without her help, I wouldn’t have gotten this far. I hate reading documents on computer screens (it seems like the process is neverending), so I would never force the people in my hometown to give me their email address, so I could send it to them. Instead, I printed my story out, will bind it this weekend, then give them a hard copy the next time I see them. I’m nice like that 🙂

For all the writers out there, how long does the beta process usually last? How long of a break do I have before going back to work on One By One?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“One By One” Second Draft Completed!!!

On July 1st, I completed my second draft of One By One with a total of 57,619 words (told you guys I’d cut a lot out), Calibri 12 point, single-spaced, 101 pages. Woo hoo!

It dawned on me that if I have the majority of my characters saying they didn’t murder anyone during their narration–or interior monologue–then it wouldn’t be hard for readers to figure out who the killer(s) is. Process of elimination.

  • So, I had to go back and delete those type of phrases. Now, of course, the characters can shout that to the rooftops, doesn’t mean they aren’t lying 🙂
  • Another thing I tackled was I knew who the killer(s) is since the very beginning, so I had to add motives, suspicions for the other characters as well, providing red herrings if you will. These were fun to plant throughout the story.

I’ve stuck to my word so far of not changing any characters’ names; I’m pretty satisfied on that end. Plus, there were no major changes to the plot. I’ll see what my writing buddies say to see if I should delete or add some scenes.

Melissa, Robin, and I have already started swapping chapters to critique; we do two at a time, preferably twice a week. Since I only have 12 chapters with an Epilogue, time should go by fast. Keeping my fingers crossed (I already have two beta-readers lined up).

  • Agatha Christie is my favorite author. It was a huge compliment when Robin said she noticed the author’s influence in my writing. I couldn’t stop smiling. Plus, she and Melissa both agreed that the nine characters have very distinct personalities and clear motives, that it’s not confusing. Each narration sounds different instead of a carbon copy. That’s cool because I was afraid they’d say they couldn’t keep up due to too much going on at one time.
  • Most importantly, Melissa has been trying to guess who the killer(s) is. She already has a suspect in mind 🙂 You have to know how hard it is not to blurt out if she’s right or wrong! But I can’t spoil the ending for her. We’ve already reached Chapter 4, so not much longer.

I’m so excited to share my story with my writing buddies. Ever since we began our NaNo challenge, I’ve wanted to describe the mystery, plot, characters, setting, etc. to them. Finally, I get to hear their opinions–made everything worthwhile.

Through email, we swap two chapters at a time, then send it back to the original owner with our comments, suggestions using track changes. I’m thrilled to be reading their stories. I hate mystery and surprises–says the girl who wrote a mystery thriller hee hee–I hate being in the dark; I have to know now, now, now. There were many days during NaNo when we met at Jumpin’ Java that I wanted to sneak a peek at their laptop screen. Good thing I have self-control.

It feels good to contribute to their novels as well as they contribute to mine. For writers who work alone, its a bonus to get more opinions about your story, especially an objective eye. The things a critique partner/writing buddy catches, you may not pick up on if you’re too close to your story.

Depending on what Melissa and Robin comment on, I may have a lot more editing to do, or only need to make minor changes. Either way, I can’t wait to have a final product in my hand.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“One By One” Thriller First Draft Completed!!!

I’m proud to say that I completed my first draft of One By One in 43 days! For everyone who’s been following my blog, you know that I documented my NaNoWriMo Experience with a day by day account. For those 30 days, I mostly discussed the writing process itself instead of my story. Can’t give too much away. I love spoilers; doesn’t mean everyone else does hee hee.

On May 24,2012, One By One finished with a 67,331 word count (which is pretty good, considering I only had to write 50,000), Calibri 12 font, single space at 128 pages.

I used to be surprised when authors could bang out novel after novel like it was nothing. I often thought there’s no way I could do that. However, after NaNo, I’ve realized if I discipline myself to write every day instead of when the mood strikes me, then I certainly can write novel after novel, short story after short story. No more writing as a hobby–have to focus as a business.

I celebrated and put my novel away for about 3 days. With an objective eye, I read word for word all the awkward phrases, passive wording, lengthy info dumps. All writers know first drafts are complete cramp. If not, then please tell me your secret. Overall, the story held my interest. I fleshed out my characters’ personalities, and fell in love with them (so much I was bummed that I had to kill them hee hee). The suspense was there. I bit my nails in some scenes, and I believe that I successfully managed to put subtle clues of who the killer(s) may be since the beginning.

Now, of course, I’ll enjoy my story. I wrote it 🙂 The word count let me know that I really liked this one. Usually I struggle to make it in the late 48,000 range, so this was a huge accomplishment for me. In reality, I could’ve kept going, but I needed to wrap it up. Robin, Melissa, and I are doing the NaNoEdMo challenge next, so our second draft is due June 26th. If I was still creating the story, then that would’ve given me less time for editing and revisions.

I can’t wait to make this story more reader-friendly. Good-bye to 67,331. I’ve already begun revisions and a lot–especially in the beginning chapters–were cut. I can’t wait for critiquing to start to see if Robin and Melissa get creeped out or if it’s too obvious who the killer(s) is. I can’t wait to get suggestions for improvements and to see what they enjoyed the most. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I’ve even asked a horror author to beta-read for me later on, and he agreed!

  • I must admit that I went into self-doubt, self-sabotage mode for Something’s Amiss (my romance drama), but this mystery thriller has brought my passion out again for the other novel.  To think that a fun challenge put things in perspective for me is pretty cool beans.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

P.S. And I’m happy to announce that I stuck to my word of no one tripping and falling while being chased 🙂

Day 30 (SUCCESSFUL!!!!)

MAY 9TH – 1,634 WORDS

TOTAL AFTER 30 DAYS: 50,167 WORD COUNT

The last day!!!! What a relief!!!! That’s all I kept thinking this morning. I felt like weight had been lifted off my shoulders; the faster I could write 1,666 words, the sooner I could finish my goal. In Jumpin’ Java, Nicholas asked to read one of my books to see how good I am (he was nice at first but since then turned into a bug-a-boo). He asked me on scale of 1 to 10 how good of a writer was I. Of course, I said 11. Might as well give off confidence. If I don’t believe in my writing, no one else will. He made the mistake of grabbing for my stack of papers on the table, so I snatched them away from his hand. When will people learn to respect my space?

I also talked to Haylie, who informed me Jumpin’ Java is haunted. Say what now? I believe in ghosts, so I was automatically fascinated and wanted to hear every detail of how she knew. So spooky. The cafe used to be a storage for coffins back in the olden days, and the post office used to be the jail where John Brown served his sentence until he was hanged. I learn something new every day.

Despite my conversations with people, I was productive in writing and created around 1,600 words. Today was a really busy day with new customers coming in. I’m the type of person who looks up every time the door opens to see who walks in. So let’s just say, there was plenty of distractions, but I was so happy when I reached my mark. Now, I could relax all day!

  • Melissa, Robin, and I extended our NaNo challenge for one more week in case people need to catch up on word count. Since I beat it, I’m simply finishing my novel. Hopefully, it’ll be completed by next Friday. After that, we start the editing process–oh boy.
  • I reached the scene where they find the second victim’s body. It’s so surreal that 30 days have gone by. It seems like we started this writing challenge yesterday.

All I know is that my life has gone back to normal since bug-a-boo NaNo is finished hee hee. I created more mock book covers and will present them to Melissa and Robin to receive their opinions. I want this story published, so the book cover will keep me motivated to follow my dreams. To stay on track.

  • I stayed on Facebook for so long, I almost fainted. Usually I write a status update, don’t even bother checking other peoples’ walls or looking at the home page, then quickly log off. Not today. Why? Because I had time –NaNo’s over!!! I even critiqued my writer group’s stories. Why? Because I had time–NaNo’s over!!! That will never get old to say hee hee.

I’m happy to report that I succeeded in my NaNoWriMo 30 day challenge. I told you guys I would; my inner nerd refused to let me fail.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby