Showing posts with label Dianne Salerni. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dianne Salerni. Show all posts

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dianne: Writing a Series -- What I Didn’t Know

Ever since the first book in my middle grade series released in April, people have been asking me if I’m excited about writing the next two books. When I tell them both books are already written, were in fact written before the first one even came out, they’re surprised. So am I.

The third book hasn’t undergone editorial revisions yet, but it’s due for completion this fall. The offer for the 3-book deal occurred in October of 2012, and by the time the second anniversary of that happy event comes around, the bulk of the writing for all three books will be completed.

I had no idea it would happen that fast.

Right after the contract was signed, there was the usual wait for an editorial letter. At the time, it seemed like the pace would be no different from my previous two book deals – that is, lots of waiting with periodic bouts of frantic activity. It wasn’t until I completed the editorial revisions for Book 1 and looked ahead to the submission deadline for Book 2 that it dawned on me how fast things were happening.

In September of 2013, I found myself working on all three books at once. I had first pass pages of The Eighth Day for proof-reading, my editorial letter for The Inquisitor’s Mark, and I was about a third of the way into writing the first draft of (the not-yet-officially-titled) Book 3 – all while working a full-time job as a teacher.

I felt like this:

"Jane! Get me off this crazy thing!"
It turned out I could not work on all three books at once. I kept getting confused about what Jax, my main character, knew and when he knew it.  So I concentrated first on the proof-reading of Book 1, then the revisions for Book 2. Only when those tasks were finished did I open my first draft of Book 3 again …

… and said, “Oh my God. This is a horrible mess.” Then I started over from scratch …

Writing Book 3 was an uphill battle. Like a magpie, I kept getting distracted by shiny new things: Eighth Day ARCs, early reviews, a cover for The Inquisitor’s Mark, back cover copy for the paperback version of The Eighth Day … (Did you know that was established before the hardback even released? Me neither!) Eventually I produced something I was proud to present to my editor, and right now I’m anxiously awaiting her guidance in transforming it into an even better story.

But do you know what the biggest surprise about writing a series has been? It never occurred to me that people would want to talk to me about the newly released first book – and meanwhile I know everything that happens in the next two.

Me: “You think that was bad, wait until Jax has to … oh, I can’t tell you. But you’re really going to love … no, wait, I shouldn’t say. But what did you think about the part where … um, has that happened yet?”

I’m a walking, talking spoiler. Beware.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dianne: The Do's and Don'ts of Launching a Book

Eight months out from the launch of my second book, I’m starting to think about promotions.  It’s a task that must be done, even though it makes me uncomfortable. I’m always embarrassed promoting myself. (In fact, it’ll take all my guts just to stick my book’s cover image at the end of this post.)  Luckily, I learned a lot from the launch of my first book – and from watching other authors launch theirs.

First, DO be part of the conversation on social networks, not a one-track self-promoter.  DON’T comment on people’s blogs by mentioning how their post reminds you of your book and providing a buy link. (I’ve seen this done!) Participate in conversations without dropping your book title all the time. Just get yourself out there and be visible.

DO thank every blogger who hosts you with a guest blog or interview. You may have provided content for them, but they took the time to set up the post. When my first book launched, I couldn’t decide whether or not I should comment on blog reviews that I stumbled across through Google Alerts.  Did it make me look like a stalker if I did?  Did it seem aloof if I didn’t? In the end, I came to the conclusion that no one can take a simple “Thanks!” amiss. 

DO respond to people who contact you about your book or mention you in FB and Twitter posts. The months before and after a book launch are super busy – especially if you have a family and a full time job as well.  But it’s important to block out time to respond to the readers who reach out to you. 

DON’T respond to negative reviews by arguing with the reviewer. Not ever. No matter how hurtful, inaccurate, or unfair the review is, DON’T do it.  Even if the reviewer gives you a 1-star rating because the UPS man ran over her dog while delivering the book: Just. Look. Away.

DON’T judge the success of an author appearance by how many people show up or how many books you sell.  An experienced author once told me that connections you make talking to people (readers, store owners, other authors) are often more important than the signed books that walk out the door. One time, a 20-minute conversation with a woman who did NOT buy my book that night resulted in her book club choosing to read it four months later.

And finally, DO remember that no matter how important your book launch is to you, it’s not the center of everyone else’s life. DON’T be hurt by family, friends, and co-workers who fail to rush out and buy the book on the release date. Of course, the ones who do will hold a special place in your heart (and sometimes you’ll be surprised by which ones they are), but everyone else wishes you well too, no matter when (or if) they read your book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dianne: Adventures in Adaptation

When I was asked to write a screenplay adaptation for my novel, We Hear the Dead, I tried to get out of it. I’d never written a screenplay, knew nothing about them, and frankly doubted I could do it. However, I did want to please the producer who’d just made an offer on a film option for my book, and she did have a point: I was the expert on Maggie Fox and Elisha Kane and Spiritualism. Anybody else would have to start researching from scratch. So, I finally agreed to write one draft, after which she’d find someone more competent to fix it up.

One draft became two; two became three. By that point, I was having fun – and learning a lot. The producer, Amy Green, acted as my crit partner, helping me hammer out revisions over the phone. Eight drafts later, I produced a screenplay which is now on the equivalent of “submission” in Hollywood.

It’s nothing like the novel.

That was the first lesson, and one I learned writing the opening scene. When you tell your story in a different medium, it’s going to be a different story. The novel and movie are based on historical events, so I had to work within certain parameters. But there was no way I could take the novel scene by scene and translate it into a script. If I wanted to retell this story as a graphic novel (assuming I had any artistic talent) or set it to music (an even farther stretch), it would come out different yet again. Maggie in the screenplay is different from Maggie in the book, even though her overall story arc is the same.

I also learned to be more concise, and – heaven knows – I needed it! One page of a screenplay written with the default settings of Final Draft translates into one minute of screen time. The script had to come in under 120 pages; closer to 90 would be better. I pared down lines to their essential elements. I slashed clever, witty dialogue and never looked back. Yet, it still had to be good writing. The screenplay will be read before it’s ever filmed – in fact, it won’t ever be filmed unless I can make a reader visualize it on the screen. I can’t just say: Elisha jumps on stage and rescues Maggie. They escape. I have to vividly portray the scene – her fear, his gallantry, their attraction – and do it in a single paragraph.

When I was finished, I realized I liked some scenes in the screenplay better than their equivalent parts in my novel. Lesson learned again. There’s always an alternate way to tell any story; consider all options when revising your manuscript. In fact, when facing revisions in any manuscript now, I consider how I might do it differently in a screenplay. Any scene that wouldn’t make the cut for a script might not belong in a novel, either.