Saturday, July 30, 2011

Interview with Debut Author Elizabeth Mueller

As captain it is my great privilege to announce once again that our very own cove contributor Elizabeth Mueller has her first book coming out this fall. She's been roving the blogosphere and doing interviews all month, so we're pleased to have her back on board today to share a little bit about this thrilling moment in her career.

Hi Elizabeth! Congratulations on the upcoming publication of your debut novel, Darkspell. Tell me, do you have a publication date set?

I do! Look for Darkspell this fall.

How long have you been working on this book?

Probably a gross sum of a year to a year-and-a-half.

Can you tell us a little bit about the story?

Average girl Winter Sky falls in love with the boy from her dreams after he steals a forbidden kiss. Alex is the coven Stormhold’s seer and is sworn to protect her from the darkness that hunts her. Will she love him when she discovers his secret? Will love prove thicker than magic?

What's the juiciest, most fascinating thing about Darkspell? Tell us why we all want to read it.

Winter is sucked into a world where magic and evil roam—where the boy of her dreams belongs. The romance is sweet and alluring where danger lurks in every shadow, then there’s the shocking secret our heroine stumbles into. I’m not sure how I would handle such a thing if it happened to me, really.

What sparked the idea for this book?

It was a small prompt for Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic, on page 4, the 5th writing prompt down. Hint: you’ll find that within the first 30 pages of my book!

When did you first decide you wanted to write books?

When I was 11. I wrote my first epic story called Thunder. It was about a wild black stallion who fell in love with a mare after he was captured. I wrote many short stories then, but I wrote my first full-length novel at age 17: over 700 pages long! No need to say, it is in a desperate state of editing attention!

What drew you to your genre?

Darkspell is a paranormal romance. It is paranormal because of the writing prompt, but romance is a common thread in all my books. I love writing fantasy most of the time, but I have only one contemporary, Rock Star, which I feel is just as sweeping as any novel I’ve written.

Are there any authors who have inspired you?

I would have to say Tristi Pinkston in the way that she works hard to make her dreams come true. She is the ultimate writerly mama! She has six published books, is a professional editor, a book tour coordinator, a Cubmaster, a loving and adoring wife, a stay at home mother of four who home schools, and a compassionate down-to-earth friend! I want to be like her when I grow up.

What are some of your favorite books?

Some of the books I’ve enjoyed are Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins, The Perfect Fit by Michele Bell, and Emily Windsnap Series by Liz Kessler.

How did you find your publisher?

It all started with a friend who asked me a few times if I would like for her to hook me up, but I felt unsure because I didn’t feel ready. But after pondering and praying over this, I decided to go ahead and submit Darkspell.

Do you have other writing projects in the works? Tell us about them.

For now, I’ve been working hard on my networking. I’m celebrating Darkspell’s release with a pre-book launch throughout the month of July. Visit my website for updates!

I’m planning to speak over at Weber State University over at the English Department’s Creative Writing course sometime this fall. I will talk about how I became published and the blood and tears that go into getting there.

Please join me in my pre-book launch party for Darkspell’s fall release all July long!

Thanks for the interview, Elizabeth! And best of luck on everything.

Reserve your autographed copy of Darkspell at a special rate of $12.95 for July only (you have till tomorrow) at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Waxing the Cat

This term, "waxing the cat", I first heard at Viable Paradise. I don't know if that's where it originated or if it's more widespread, but it refers to ways that we stall when we know we ought to be writing. Some behaviors are really obvious, i.e. your cat neither wants nor appreciates being waxed, but some are less obvious. People do long, detailed outlines and then spend hours adjusting the format and fonts. Or they draw a detailed map of their world and then color it all in. Even harder to resist, researching topics that only peripherally relate to your story.

So, what are your vices? Mine is internet surfing and checking email. Other than that, I pretty much just stare at the blank page until it drives me insane - and I get some interesting scenes that way :-) How can you tell whether you're doing serious work or just "waxing the cat"?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I'm reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss and it's got me wondering - do we need an apostrophe in the title Scribblers Cove?

When I titled this blog I looked up Sharks Cove and Pirates Cove on the internet, and about half the time there was an apostrophe and half the time there wasn't. I chose to go with no apostrophe because it looks cleaner.

But maybe I'm irritating all the punctuation sticklers out there.

I don't want to call it Scribbler's Cove because there's more than one scribbler here. The plural would be Scribblers' Cove, which I suppose would be okay. The apostrophe implies ownership. But without an apostrophe, scribblers becomes a perfectly acceptable descriptive word, right? This is the cove where scribblers are found.

What do you think? Any editors out there?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Writing with Emotional Power

Not long ago, Jonene Ficklin did a post on avoiding trite emotional language. Thanks, Jonene! But it left me wondering - if I can't tell the reader that hearts are pounding and faces are flushing, how do I write about emotions?

To find my answer I went back to the very first book that made me cry, way back in high school. I could barely read the last page, my eyes were so blurry. It was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. How could something written so long ago and translated from some other language move to tears a cool and calculating teenage brainiac who disdained emotional schmultz of any kind?

To answer this questions, I opened Les Miserables somewhere in the middle and looked for phrases that described emotion. There weren't very many. Instead of telling the reader how the characters felt, or describing their physical emotional sensations, Victor Hugo showed how they felt by the choices they made, the actions they took. He didn't need to tell me Marius was grieving for his father's death - it was enough to show me that he was slipping away from his grandfather's house and taking an overnight coach to Paris just to visit his father's grave. I could tell how powerful the emotion was by what it made the character do.

So in order to write with emotional power, I need to give emotions the power to move my characters. Emotions should move them to action, affect their decisions, become an integral part of the plot, and have far-reaching consequences. So much more than a little throat-tightening or palm-dampening.

I think that using emotional descriptions like those Jonene warned us against isn't really showing. You might as well say "He was scared" as "His heart pounded." In fact, it might be better to say, "He was scared," because it's less ambiguous. Any number of things can get your heart rate up. Instead, show what the character does because he's scared. What choices does he make? What power does it have over his actions?

Want to move your reader with the emotional power of your story? Then give emotions the power to move your characters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Feeling Lucky

I'm done with draft four. Hooray! Time to start seriously thinking about how I'm going to sell this book. So when I heard that Elana Johnson's From the Query to the Call was now FREE on her website, I popped over and downloaded it.

It's a great read - short and to the point. As a query veteran of two unpublished novels, I thought I knew the routine, but Elana gave me some new ideas for my next round. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is entering the query battlefield.

Impressed by Elana's wisdom, I went clicking around for more, and I came across this list:

7 Personality Characteristics You Need to Get Published by Carolyn Kaufman, Elana Johnson, and Suzette Saxton

At first I didn't want to see the list. What if it had things on it like, "Great marketing skills" or "Look really good on camera?" In spite of my fears of inadequacy and certain doom, curiosity got the better of me. To my relief, the characteristics were things like perseverance, self-confidence, patience - things I've already got! I felt real good until I got down to the last trait on the list.


Ow. Haven't got that. I don't even feel like I deserve it. Whenever I submit, I sit there for a while thinking, "This is only one of hundreds of other unpublished manuscripts out there that are all just as good or better. Why should mine be chosen?"

And maybe that's my problem. I need to feel lucky. I need that thrilling conviction that mine is the book they're waiting to see. Because if I don't believe it, no one else is going to believe it either.

Do you feel lucky?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

♥.•*¨ Crazy is I ¨*•.♥

Hi everyone! I saw our Cap'n today. It was so fun seeing her and her kidlets, too! Funny is that I wanted to cry as she left.

It's been a crazy month for me. Crazy past several months for that matter! This has been my to-do list:

  1. rewrite Darkspell so that it will impress my Publisher after she had accepted it (I was totally submersed into Rock Star so this took me by surprise!) Darkspell lost 1,000 words!
  2. wait for the editor to be done with DS; but on the meanwhile, I worked hard on my MC interviews for the month of June over at my blog.
  3. while I participated in an MC blogfest, I prepared for my Pre Book Launch going on now and all July long! I bought all giveaway things and today is my first day to announce a winner.
  4. a few weeks ago, I set up a PayPal button for preorders of my book.
  5. I've reformatted DS  for my publisher
  6. I've done a typo hunt and killed off over 15 YIKESes!
  7. I've decided to illustrate a picture for every chapter in DS and there are 39 chapters--I've done 6, on my 7th one now! I'm hoping to do at least 3 a day not counting Sunday. I should be done in 16 days. Hopefully I'll be done sooner. I'll try to push myself to doing more. Hopefully.
  8. After my book is ready, I will send it off to a few endorsers.
  9. I'm not sure when it'll be released, but hopefully before my target date of this fall.
There, that's what I've been doing. Basically. It's nutsies over here, you don't want to see my house!

How's your list looking like?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Indie Publishing, One Author's Decision to E-Publish Herself

Hi guys, as you're all aware, self publishing through Kindle and other electronic formats is becoming more and more common. Self publishing used to be the domain of those who couldn't or wouldn't even try to get agents, but with a new shakeup of the publishing industry, the roadmap is changing.

My Clarion West classmate, Susan Ee, indie published her first novel, and was kind enough to allow me to repost a blog post she wrote about that decision. I very highly recommend her book, something I don't do lightly.  I think she's got a lot of interesting things to say. Here's her post (it originally appeared on Nicole Zoltack's site):

When I finished writing my novel, Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days, Book 1), I had a good feeling about being able to attract an agent and a major publisher. It's a dark fantasy about an angel, a kick-ass girl and the end of the world. What's not to love? :)
But instead of querying agents and trying for a traditional publishing deal, I chose to be an indie author. This was a big surprise to me and to others who know that I’ve worked hard for years in preparation for a traditional writing career. I studied writing through the Iowa's Writers' Workshop and Clarion West. I've had stories published in magazines and anthologies likeRealms of Fantasy and The Dragon and the Stars. I even had invitations by two respected agents to submit a novel based on the quality of other writing they'd seen. 
So I’ve been asked why I chose to go indie. Here are the factors I considered.
Wild West Ebook opportunities - I love finding opportunities that the chaos of a new industry can bring. I love the nimbleness it offers--make a mistake, you can bounce back within hours rather than years, so I feel a lot more free to try different things. You can find ways to forge a fresh path because all the potential paths are fresh. Once the industry matures, those paths will have already been forged and many of them will be closed off to newbies. For someone like me, it could be a golden opportunity to find an audience faster and possibly grow it for longer than I can in the traditional publishing world.
Now vs. later - "Angels are peaking now." This statement by a friend haunted me for months. Although I don't know if angel stories are actually peaking, it's a certainty that angels will not have the staying power of vampires. Since it can easily be 2 years from the time you finish your book to the time it is offered to the public by a traditional publisher, who knows what readers' interest in angel stories will be by then? I know there's interest now. In epublishing, the time scale is more on the order of 1 or 2 months from the last polish of the book to the first offering to the public. This was a major factor for me.
Marketing - this was the one area that would have won me over to traditional publishing even if all the other factors pointed toward going indie. If I was sure that a traditional publisher would do serious marketing on my behalf, I would have been knocking on their door, begging them to take a look at my manuscript. But the more I looked into that possibility, the more I realized that's probably a pipe dream. New authors have to market their books and somehow rise above the noise. That's all there is to it.
Competition - as a new author in bookstores, what are my chances of successfully competing against the big authors with marketing budgets ten or a hundred times bigger than mine? Not very good. But as an indie author of ebooks who can undercut publishers, I have a fair shot at getting my book noticed among other indie books with similar marketing budgets.
Did I make the right decision?

Angelfall has been available for a month and it’s been a wild ride. It has gone as high as being #48 on the bestseller list for Kindle Dark Fantasy and somewhere in the 50's for Kindle Fantasy Series. It's currently ranked #1 in top rated Kindle Dark Fantasy, #1 in top rated Kindle Fantasy Series, gone as high as #1 in Kindle's hot new dark fantasy releases and #7 in Kindle's hot fantasy series new releases. But it's also fallen off these lists all together, with some of them coming back and some of them not.
It's an emotional roller coaster watching it go up and down and hopefully back up again. Is this better than how it would have been through a traditional publisher, assuming I could have gone there? No idea. Who knows what will happen after the first month?
I do feel that in order for it to be a fair comparison, I should actually wait the 1 1/2 - 2 years it would have taken before my book would have come out through a traditional publisher. How many books will I have sold by then?
Although it’s still too early to tell, I feel that it was probably the right decision to become an indie author. Why? Because if the traditional publishing route is not the clear choice, then I’d rather ride the crest of the changes in the industry with all my rights to the Angelfall series intact. The industry is changing every week. Who knows what the landscape will look like by the time my second or third book comes out? It’s possible for me to move from being an indie author to a traditionally published author. But it’s extremely unlikely that I can move my series from being traditionally published to being indie published without having to wait many years before I can buy them back.

I expect to have a better idea of the overall picture by September.Angelfall is on the to-read list of a fair number of book bloggers. I expect the bulk of the reviews to come out sometime around August. So far, there have been five blog reviews with all of them giving Angelfall 5-stars. I'm thrilled! But I'm also terrified at the expectation this causes. :)  By September, I should be able to see the impact of the blog community and have a better idea of the long term picture.
So I invite you to come back then for an update if you're curious. And in the meantime, may I suggest that you check outAngelfall? :)

Warmest wishes,