Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Report on Success of The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp

the Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp

It's been seven days since the short story, The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp has been available. It's had 150 downloads, and three reviews. I'm pretty happy with that, but am hoping for even greater things, of course!

Ken Brown wrote: "The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp is an excellent short story. Joan hooks you in early and even mentions Nancy Drew as the mystery thickens... Who is the mysterious person leaving a personal list and other valuable items in a hollow tree. And why? Another, "I can't put this book down from Joan H Young."

Cindy Gunnin says: "This is a sweet little mystery that reminded me of the ones I loved growing up. Joan Young's Ana Raven has curiousity and a social conscience. What's not to like? This is a quick read, perfect for a rainy afternoon by the fire or a break on the hammock in the shade."

Sue Erickson adds: "I liked your story very much!! Looking forward to reading more of your work."

Although the reviews are on different sites, they all use a 5-star system, so averaged together the rating so far is 4.3

If you've read it, I'd love to have you post a review on Smashwords, Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere!

Buy Anastasia Raven books at Smashwords. Also at Amazon, but Hollow Tree is not free at that location yet.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Free! The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp

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Just for fun, and so anyone can get to know Anastasia Raven and her friends in Forest County, here's a FREE short story from Dead Mule Swamp.

This story fits into the series after News from Dead Mule Swamp and before Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp (scheduled release June 1). However, it stands on it's own, and doesn't contain any serious spoilers if you haven't read "News," but would like to find out what the books are like without spending one single cent!

In The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp, Anastasia Raven finds a secret hidden in a hollow tree near Dead Mule Swamp. She thinks she's seeing things, as the discovery appears to have come straight from a Nancy Drew story. With some simple sleuthing, Ana catches Jimmie Mosher, whose grandfather used to own the house she has recently purchased, hiding money in the tree. But what else does Jimmie have to hide?

Download The Hollow Tree at Dead Mule Swamp at Smashwords

Monday, April 16, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - First Draft Done!

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
 
Now the serious editing begins. I do edit as I go. I'm not a writer who just forges ahead with words and worries about how it sounds later. I almost always read the previous chapter or two when I start a new one, and edit them, to get the flow of the story going. I almost always read back through the entire story a couple of times while it's still in progress, which keeps me from leaving out important things, or forgetting something that happened earlier and then contradicting it.

This method doesn't lead me to a perfect first draft, but a better-than-rough draft. I know there are a few things to fix. Elements I need to add back in, for example. A hint here and there, the description of something, things like that. Then there are always typos, grammatical errors (not too many, I hope!), too many "that"s, dialogue with talking heads...

But I have promised the MS to my beta-readers by April 25, and I should have it to them before that. Maybe in a couple of days. Meanwhile, I'm working on a small surprise for fans of Anastasia Raven. Stay tuned.

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapters 32 and 33

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
 
Two more chapters done! That leaves only one more and the first draft of Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp will be complete!

I had to work today, but got home in time to write. Since these final scenes were all laid out in my head, they were easy to write. However, I think there are some risks with writing this fast. In fact, I think it's easy for self-published authors to make this mistake. Sometimes it seems that authors get in a hurry to finish a book and the last few chapters become rushed. The writing is less polished, there are more typos, and there might even be small missing elements that would wrap the story up better.

Several books I read recently were good, but they could have been much better with some independent feedback. Sometimes the difference between an OK book, and a really good one, is in just a few details.

I'd like to seriously guard against those kinds of mistakes, so I'll be reading this section over with what I hope will be an eagle eye. I also have four beta-readers lined up.

Tomorrow, I plan to write the final chapter. It contains the kinds of housekeeping details needed to tie up loose ends for readers, preferably with a solid "period," rather than just a bit of a whimper. Then, I'll start re-reading the whole MS, hopefully in just one or two sessions, so I really get a feel of the flow.

Everything looks like it's on track for a June 1 release.

Paddy staring at me from Farah's cover has just kept me writing his story!

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapters 31 and 32

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
 
Two more chapters completed! These are the climax of the mystery, with a fair amount of action. I'll read it all through again tomorrow to make sure it makes sense. This is the first time I've ever tried to write a scene like this.

I had a pretty good idea in my head of who would do what at each step, but until you write it out it's hard to choreograph it all in your head. However, it worked out even more smoothly than I thought it might. Tonight I'm pleased. We'll see how it reads tomorrow!

There are only two or three chapters to go! Loose ends to tie up. People will want to know what happens to several characters even after the crisis.

I'm looking for one more beta reader, preferably someone who hasn't read the first book. I need to be sure this one will stand on its own merits. Leave a comment if you are interested. I'll need the MS back by May 20.

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Two Chapters and an Oops

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
 
I'm so stoked about being close to finishing Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp. I've completed chapters 29 and 30!

However, I spent most of yesterday afternoon fixing a big oops! I'm sure the beta-readers would have caught it, but I'm just as glad to have found it earlier. I've been tracking the book time in a spreadsheet, but hadn't gotten it up to date for quite a few chapters. For some reason, I decided to do that yesterday. Good thing.

I discovered that in the current week of book time I had Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Friday, Saturday. Oops! Well, there were no spare days in there to move action to, so I had to squish two of them together because Saturday had to be Saturday. I succeeded, but the lesson is, keep track of this stuff as you go.

Unless, of course, you are writing a book with a time warp. I'm not.

Tonight is my writing group, and I'm way back on Chapter 11 with reading to them. That's ok too. I appreciate any feedback they have.

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon


Monday, April 9, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapter 28

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
 
I'm trying really hard to stay focused with the hope of finishing the first draft of Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp in the next couple of weeks. Then it will go to some beta-readers, and come back to me for revisions.

I'm also hoping to be gone hiking for part of May, so I want this to all be set in motion before I leave. If the feedback is in when I return from my hike I'll be able to do the editing, and formatting and have this book ready for a June 1 release.

This seems feasible, if I keep writing, so I hope you'll excuse me now!

Sorry... I think we are too far along to be giving excerpts any more. If you are just finding this journal, go back a few posts to find samples from most of the chapters.

You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapter 27

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
 
Rolling right along, but I've had trouble making time to write this week. In fact, I'm supposed to be working on something else right now.

I'm feeling the itch though. The end of this book is actually in sight. Unless the characters surprise me, everything plays out from here in just a few scenes.

I also uploaded new copies of News from Dead Mule Swamp to Smashwords and Amazon, to correct some typos and add the Library of Congress number.

We are getting close to where I probably shouldn't be posting excerpts, but I think we are fine just yet.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 27:
    Star began, “I didn’t like that brother and...”
    “Hey, wasn’t that Dad’s truck?” Sunny interrupted with a loud voice, twisting to try to catch a better look at the black truck that had just sped past us, going south on Kirtland.
    “Can’t be,” said Star. “He said he was going back to Chicago, that he had to be at work today.”
You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp - Chapter 26

cover for Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp cover design by Farah Evers
 
At first, this chapter wasn't coming together. But I thought about it for a few days, and slowly the scenario came to me that made perfect sense to come up next.

It's now written out, and I'm still thinking it works pretty well. Because this story line is less linear than the one in News from Dead Mule Swamp, there are side issues that need to be dealt with. They seem extraneous to me, because I know where the story is going. However, I know the reader will not know the final outcome at this point. All the threads have to be followed.

I think the next few chapters are all set in my head.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 26:
    “She was younger than I am. Not much, but it always seems like a lot when you are in school. She would sometimes tell me that she dreamed of having a pretty flower bed, or decorating a bedroom in pink for you two. As it was, you were lucky to have a bed instead of a mattress on the floor.”
    Star’s face was stony. “We’re not stupid little kids, you know. We’ve heard a lot of things this week. Talk about drug dealing. Why would we have to sleep on the floor if Mom had lots of drug money?”
    Paula took a breath. “OK,” she said. “I’ll be honest. You are old enough to hear the truth. But none of what I said was a lie. Not at all. Your mom loved you very much."
You can buy book 1, News from Dead Mule Swamp, for only 99¢ at Smashwords, or Amazon