I’ve had the ol’ nose to the grindstone, working on the finale to the Ruby’s Place series and the sequel to Playing Hurt. So of course it was a delight to take a few moments away from the WIPs to be a Featured Author of the Day over at Many Books! Head on over to read the full interview, in which I dish on all things Playing Hurt:
I’m in the midst of a couple of new projects–one being the conclusion to the Ruby’s Place series, and the other being the sequel to Playing Hurt. I’ve so enjoyed reading your reviews and hearing from you directly regarding Playing Hurt–but here’s the cool thing: with a sequel in the works, the end of Playing Hurt is really kind of like intermission in Clint and Chelsea’s story. It’s unfinished. At the midpoint.
So–with that in mind, I’d love to hear from you all about the sequel. What are you most hoping to see? What issues would you like addressed?
I’ve got a couple fun new things to share: a fun new read and (hopefully) a fun new way to buy it!
THE NEW READ:
This release is called Funny Meeting You Here. It’s comprised of six sweet, humorous shorts. I don’t know about you guys, but the entertainment I’ve been gravitating toward lately is all light and often comedic. I want to smile and chuckle. I’ve been loving Fallon each night—watching his informal interviews and his daughters playing. When I sat down to write during our weeks of isolation, all I wanted to write was something equally sweet and funny. Also, as far as I’m concerned, the best part of any story is the point at which the main characters meet. I combined that hunger for light entertainment with my love of chance encounters to write Funny Meeting You Here. These are quite literally stories of meetings—funny scenarios that bring two characters together. It’s my hope that when you read them, regardless of what the world is like just beyond your door, it will bring two smiles: one to your face and one to your heart.
THE NEW WAY TO BUY IT
Recently, I’ve been hearing from readers wanting to better support authors during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many have contacted me to tell me they’ve bought paperbacks rather than the lower-cost ebooks. That’s incredible! But that’s a big leap between a .99 ebook and a $10 (or more!) printed book. So I’ve started a Payhip store (payhip.com/HollySchindler) as a kind of “tip jar.” At Payhip, you can absolutely still buy Funny Meeting You Here for the listed price of .99, but if you want to set the price to chip in an extra few cents, that’s fantastic, too. I just wanted to give readers a way to offer support and still have enough money left during these lean times to buy themselves another read. One of the best parts of Payhip is that it allowed me to integrate with BookFunnel! When you buy from Payhip, you’ll receive two emails: one from Payhip and one from BookFunnel, both with download links. You can download from either Payhip or Bookfunnel, whichever you’re more comfortable using. Since I’ve been distributing my ARCs and review copies via BookFunnel, and you’re all familiar with that site, I definitely wanted to give you guys that option.
AND, OF COURSE, YOU CAN ALSO BUY THE BOOK AT ALL THE OLD FAVORITE SITES
Thanks, guys. I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you all. Feel free to drop a line to tell me what you think of the Payhip process. And please do stay safe and well.
“Conversational, yet edited with considerable care, the book is like a beautifully wrapped box of chocolate—old-fashioned and sweet.
“Conveyed in narrative snapshots, the scenes of a small town romance fill the pages of this album-novel, while shining a spotlight on a photographer with a retired camera. Obsessed with the past and searching for meaning, every word is like a piece in a juxtaposed puzzle.”
—The BookLife Prize
Coronavirus has thrown the entirety of the publishing world into confusion. I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read lately trying to work out whether you should submit, whether agents are reading, whether editors are acquiring, what kind of reading landscape will exist when we come through the worst of the pandemic, etc.
One thing you can always do–no matter the state of publishing–is write. Easier said than done, of course, these last few weeks. We’ve been homeschooling, cooking, and let’s face it: worrying about our financial situations and the health of our families.
One thing I’ve done during home isolation is juggle multiple projects. In the past, that really got me into trouble. Mostly because “juggling” amounted to starting projects and abandoning them in the middle. This time around, I’ve been more successful with it.
A big part of that success is that I’m not pushing to meet a quick deadline. That’s really one of the most important aspects–or so I’ve found. You really can’t be concerned with finishing a project quickly if you would like to try juggling.
BUT: It’s been great for me lately. Here’s why:
Juggling Projects Allows for More Think Time
Basically, right now, I’m writing four different books. (Sounds nuts, I know.) I’ll admit that it requires a ton of outlining and planning–I draft a few chapters of one book, then outline or brainstorm the possibilities for the next few chapters before bouncing to another project (whichever project is calling to me at the moment). But I never forget about the first project. It’s always there, in the back of my mind. The extra think time gives me room to come up with additional possibilities for structure, events, conflicts, etc.
Ideas Become More Important than Sentences
This goes back to the whole quick deadline thing. When you’re on deadline, it’s all about meeting insane word counts. You don’t really have the time to brainstorm for a week and a half when you need to knock out 50K in a month.
With the juggling method, though, I feel like I’m far more concerned with the ideas. Like I said, I outline like crazy. When I come back to a project, I review my outlines. I may think they’re weak. I may decide I need to brainstorm all over again. I may do nothing but re-outline and brainstorm, then bounce to another book.
Don’t underestimate how important that is: As a reader, I feel concepts stick with me, and make a bigger impact, than pretty turns of phrases. Whether or not I enjoy a book is primarily about an author’s ideas, most times. And this strategy can really help with idea generation.
Juggling Creates a Sense of Play
This is the big one. I’m not alone in saying joy is essential for good writing. When I sit down to write, I go toward whichever project my heart wants to work on. I might switch projects mid-day, and I might stick with one for a week before bouncing. Because I’m writing the project I’m most excited about, I always feel like I’m playing rather than working.
I can’t tell you really how much fun this juggling is–of course, the true test will be in the finished products!
More to come…
Hi Holly. Thanks so much for having me on your wonderful blog to talk about my new book WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY and how it was plotted.
Usually, when it comes to plotting a novel, I struggle with getting it all to come out the way I envision. I have a strong beginning and knowledge of how I expect it to end. It’s what comes in between that throws me for a loop. I’ll write down possible scenes, things the character(s) need to do or potential conflicts that could arise. Most of the plot ideas that end up staying in the story are ones that I discovered after many revisions.
I expect there are many of us out there with this same kind of problem.
For my new novel in verse WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY, plotting was a totally different animal. The main character Jack spoke to me in a voice so loud and clear. He was insistent that I tell his story the way he spoke it, which turned out to be free verse. So, instead of plotting what might happen, I began to compile a list of words that would spark a conversation between Jack and me. (The title for the story at this stage was Fish, Wish, and Other Four Letter Words…hence the list of four-letter words).
Each day I’d sit down with the list, choose a word and let Jack tell me his thoughts on it. The list expanded as we got further into the story and the final version that became the book veered from the strict four letter word format. But that list is the plot, sure and true. Every crossed out word is a poem in the story. I am so intrigued by this idea, that I am ruminating on another story in verse and have started compiling my list of words.
Book Cover Blurb:
Wishes, Dares and How to Stand Up to a Bully. The novel in verse crystallizes a boy’s worries about his father, who is MIA in Vietnam, and how his family, new best friend, and a bully unexpectedly help him find the courage to do the right thing, not just the easy thing.
Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully(review from Forward Magazine)
Creston Books (Apr 7, 2020)
Hardcover $17.99 (275pp)
In Darlene Beck-Jacobson’s poignant novel in verse, Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully, a boy copes with the absence of his father, who is missing in action during the Vietnam War.
Eleven-year-old Jack, with his mother and his sister, Katy, spends the summer at his grandparents’ home. When he and Katy catch a one-eyed fish, they see it is as lucky; they make a wish on it to have pancakes for dinner. When the wish comes true, they wonder if the fish really is magical.
Jack relates the incident to his friend, Jill, who decides to catch the fish again. She wishes that her bully of a brother, Cody, would leave them alone, but her wish has different results. Meanwhile, Jack reads his father’s childhood diary, hoping that it contains clues about what makes a good wish so that he can make the perfect one and bring his father home. Discussions about wishes overlay the ways that the children work through their complicated situations. Its free verse lines crafted with care and concision, the book captures Jack’s emotions, and his 1960s small town setting, because of its sharp attention to detail. References to John F. Kennedy, John Glenn, and Joe DiMaggio round out the period, and the shadow of the war hangs over everything. Still, the children roam unsupervised—fishing, biking, and camping—in a world that is otherwise familiar and safe. They’re dealing with serious issues all the while, from Jill and Cody’s abusive stepfather to Jack and Katy missing their father. By the end, they have all developed the courage and strength to deal with their struggles.
A historical childhood fantasy in verse, Wishes, Dares, and How to Stand Up to a Bully blends light summer fun with deep emotional challenges.
CATHERINE THURESON (March / April 2020)
Darlene Beck Jacobson is a former teacher and speech therapist who has loved writing since she was a girl. She is also a lover of history and can often be found mining dusty closets and drawers in search of skeletons from her past. She enjoys adding these bits of her ancestry to stories such as her award-winning middle grade historical novel WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston 2014) and WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston 2020).
Darlene lives and writes her stories in New Jersey with her family and a house full of dust bunnies. She’s caught many fish, but has never asked one to grant her a wish. She’s a firm believer in wishes coming true, so she tries to be careful what she wishes for.
Her blog features recipes, activities, crafts, articles on nature, book reviews, and interviews with children’s book authors and illustrators.
View the previous post in the tour (March 30):
The next stop: https://viviankirkfield.com/
Yesterday, I recorded a forthcoming podcast interview for the delightful Carrie Jones–among other things, we discussed how I got started writing full-time (it involved an incredible amount of family support).
There’s truly nothing more delicious than long, multi-hour writing sessions. Something I got to indulge in on a regular basis while I was drafting my earliest manuscripts. But what if you’ve got to balance writing and an outside job? Or two outside jobs? Or a family? How do you carve out writing time while everyone is home during the Coronavirus outbreak?
I’ve learned how to keep going in the busiest of times–maybe a book’s just released, and I’m doing a ton of virtual visits, or I’m traveling with my brother for his business, or I get a new puppy (like I did last fall). I’ve discovered several techniques that keep projects rolling:
Every Minute Counts
Sometimes, you have to write in bursts. Don’t discount ten minute writing sessions. Granted, this does tend to work best when you’re drafting. But I’ve thumbed a ton of chapters into my phone while waiting in line, or riding in a car’s backseat, or even during lunch.
Get Up an Hour Early, Stay Up an Hour Late
I do much better with staying up late (I’m becoming less and less of a morning person the older I get). But an hour of uninterrupted time can be carved out of the first or last hour of the day. In my house, these are the quietest hours. It’s a great time to draft or revise, either one. I know I usually do my best revising when it’s quiet. Those last-hour-of-the-day revision sessions have become some of my favorites.
Don’t Get Attached to One Device
To take advantage of tiny writing bursts in strange settings (you can wind up in the wackiest places in the house trying to get away from noisy family members!), you obviously can’t be glued to your desktop. I already mentioned writing on a phone. Notebooks work, too. And don’t discount dictation–I recently dictated an entire book in one-hour bursts. Dictation means being able to write while cooking or walking on the treadmill.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Revision or drafting in tiny chunks of time absolutely requires a plan. You need to know exactly what you want to write about beforehand. If you don’t, you spend your ten minute writing bursts just trying to figure out what you want to say. Outlines and notes are utterly essential. You’ll find yourself spending plenty of your ten minute bursts doing nothing but planning for future sessions!
Don’t Punish Yourself
Writing a book happens sentence by sentence. Don’t worry if you feel like you’re making minuscule progress–it’s progress.
Look, the thing is, I truly believe that all writers get there eventually, in their own ways. So keep at it. Even when it seems like there aren’t enough hours, even when you find yourself barely getting a single paragraph written in a day. Don’t stop. It can absolutely be done. And you can do it.
FREE – for a limited time!
Got kids at home? I’ve got a fun project…
For those who have kids at home–spring break, Coronavirus, etc.–I’ve made the deluxe edition of my Invent Your Own Superhero writing journal FREE.
It’s been a rough time for all of us, especially with concerns about large crowds. Many of us have delayed travel, seen our own sporting events or get-togethers canceled. We’re all looking for something fun to do at home.
So I’ve made my Invent Your Own Superhero free for a limited time. Grab a copy and spend a day at the kitchen table, creating wild superhero stories!
Please spread the word (best thing to spread right now, eh?)–and as always, consider leaving a review when you’re done!
A special place in my heart…
As many of you already know, I’m a hybrid author (meaning that in addition to publishing my own work on the indie platform, I’m also published by traditional publishing houses). Playing Hurt was actually the second book I ever released; the novel received some really nice trade reviews and counted fellow authors Miranda Kenneally and Jennifer Armentrout among its initial fans.
As it often goes in the world of publishing, the rights to Playing Hurt have reverted back to me, which means I’m now getting a chance to re-release this book, which has always had a special place in my heart—with a new cover as well as new, never-before-read scenes! I’m also releasing the book as a contemporary / new adult sports romance, rather than a YA, which is how the book was originally categorized. The main characters’ ages (18 and 19) and the heat level of the book make it better suited for a slightly older audience.
I hope you’ll come back to Lake of the Woods with me, and experience that fiery first love all over again:
It’s hard to get back in the game—of life or love—when you’re still playing hurt.
Once, she was a small-town celebrity. One of the most talented high school basketball players her hometown had ever seen. Bound for something far bigger beyond the city limits of Fair Grove, Missouri. But Chelsea’s world changed when an accident on the court ended her days as an athlete. She struggles with the idea of no longer being a star—and has no real idea what life might hold for her next.
Once, he was a small-town celebrity. One of the most talented hockey players his hometown had ever seen. Bound for something far bigger beyond the city limits of Baudette, Minnesota. When an unexpected tragedy took his head out of the game, Clint was forced to hang up his skates. He swore he’d never put himself in a position to be hurt again, building walls around his heart.
When their paths cross one summer at a Minnesota lake resort, Chelsea and Clint are immediately drawn to one another. But wounds of the heart cut the deepest, and take the longest to heal. Will an unexpected romance end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?
I discussed the basics of book cover design in a previous post. Really, a cover is no more than a photo with some words on it. As I discussed in that earlier post, you can truly create a professional looking cover for minimal expense (somewhere in the thirty to fifty dollar range) even without using Photoshop.
I now use both Photoshop and InDesign for my covers. I primarily use InDesign for the print cover layout and Photoshop for the e-book. (The e-book cover is also the image that winds up being on the front of the 3-D print cover.) InDesign is really all about text layout, so it can also give more options when designing your title. I sometimes find it helpful to edit the cover image in Photoshop, then bring it to InDesign to add text–you can save InDesign files as JPEGs.
The main benefit of using Photoshop over another photo editor is that it’s so widely-used, you can always find a post or YouTube video in which a graphic designer explains how to accomplish a task you’re stuck on.
Recently, I’ve been using a basic Photoshop editing trick (blend modes) in order to get some interesting results:
Create a New Project or File
This gives you your blank canvas. Here, you’re going to need to size your cover. If you know you want to offer a print version of your book, go ahead and plug in your paperback or hardback’s trim size. If you’re planning to release an e-book only, I might suggest using a 5.5 x 8.5 or 6 x 9 trim size for your cover. Those are used fairly often in the pub world.
Now Open the Cover Art Image
As I discussed in that previous cover post, the easiest way to get a professional looking cover is to get a professional (stock) image. You’re going to need to do some resizing to get it to fit your nice 5 x 8 or 6 x 9 canvas. The easiest way I’ve found is simply to open the image as a new file, then choose: Select – All, then Edit – Copy. Now return to your blank canvas and chose: Edit – Paste. Your cover image will now be its own editable layer. Your hi-res image will be quite a bit larger than your canvas, though. Select Edit – Free Transform in order to size your image to fit.
Of course, your image doesn’t have to all be on the canvas. It probably won’t be. You’ll crop to get the portion you want on your cover.
Experiment with Basic Editing Modes (Blending)
Here’s where I’ve been having some fun lately. It’s also a great way to easily add some mood to your stock image. Add an image or overlay as a new layer (you can accomplish that using the same cut and paste method outlined earlier), then use Photoshop’s blend mode, usually found in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen:
You’ll find a ton of options for blending the layers together. By playing with the various settings in this drop-down menu, you can instantly make a stock image look vintage, as I did for my cover for Sentimental Journey:
You can also use overlays to help create mood. I added three different rainbow overlays using various blend modes for the cover of my forthcoming Playing Hurt:
Overlays can be purchased affordably as well, through several different digital goods sites. I found my rainbows at The Hungry JPEG.
These additional layers and overlays don’t just offer something fun to look at, either. They can help you convey what the book is about–every bit as much as your main stock image. Sentimental Journey contains several historical (Depression-era) passages, and Playing Hurt is about two broken-down athletes that learn their lives can have light and love again. Hope can spring eternal. I hadn’t planned on a rainbow, but was utterly delighted when I found the overlays. I think they make the cover.
I’m looking forward to the official re-release of Playing Hurt!
The book has been updated and includes several new scenes. To be notified of the official release, subscribe to my Steamy Romance Newsletter.