Tag Archives: Elizabeth Lee

Research and Revision: Jail Escape 101 and Fast Draft

Fast draft of Sharlene book 2 complete (LOVED writing this way. Hope I can survive the revisions)

Part of the Fast Draft method is not stopping to do research. Just write the book, get it drafted, then do research during revisions. I made me first pass through the manuscript just to take notes on what I needed to do during revisions.

My main character Sharlene is a guardian angel. She’s got quite the adventure in book 2.

RESEARCH DALLAS AREA around Mansion
RESEARCH: Spa in Belize (that one you want to go to!)
RESEARCH: French discussion
RESEARCH Mexican beach city with ruins
RESEARCH security systems
RESEARCH STOCK YARDS BAR
RESEARCH EMT procedure for finding someone injured after accident blows up building
RESEARCH hospital stay after big accident
RESEARCH POLICE INTERROGATION OF minors in high school???
RESEARCH jail escape
RESEARCH BOATS
RESEARCH criminal surrender
RESEARCH ANGEL myths
RESEARCH Valhalla, Olympus, Heaven compare/contrast

I love research. Hopefully this will be fun!

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The first Sharlene book, Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee, is available on kindle and in print.

Check out my Amazon author’s page for more info.

 

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing #amwriting #MyWANA

I have four rules when I travel with students. The rules aren’t original to me, but I adopted them early on. After 18 years of taking 10-20 (or more) kids to journalism conventions, academic meets and educational trips to NYC, Boston, the UK and Europe, I can say with absolute certainty that the four rules work.      1. Be Nice 2. Stay Together 3. Have Fun 4. Don’t Freak Out.

My adventures in self-publishing started without any rules. I chose to publish my master’s thesis, Honor and Lies a YA historical, last summer with no real idea what I was doing. I followed that with Prodigal (now Grace is Enough) an inspirational women’s fiction. No idea what I was doing is kind of an understatement: as was evident in the formatting issues that plagued Grace. That was last summer.

Flash forward to this summer. It’s been a year, and I’m still not real sure what I’m doing. I’m writing like never before, and I’m having fun. But I’ve hit a few speed bumps, too.

Speed Bump 1: Formatting. Formatting an ebook is tough. I found a solution this week, at least for the .mobi platform: Scrivener. I’ve used Scrivener to organize and compose my books for over a year.  I had no idea how easily it compiled a book for .mobi until this week. Problem solved…I hope.

Speed Bump 2: Too Much Information. I’m inundated with ideas for marketing my books, and all of them seem like good ideas.  Scheduling tweets doesn’t work well for me, at least not the way I’ve tried. I love working with tweet deck in my dock so I can take breaks throughout the day, use the hashtags #amwriting #MyWANA and connect with other people out there doing the same thing I’m doing. It makes my day when someone I don’t know responds to one of those tweets and we can have a random conversation about writing. We share our struggles and our triumphs and the funny moments (like when I cut my toe on my flip flop tripping over the laptop cord). Problem solved for me, at least for now: use tweet deck and have fun.

Speed Bump 3: SELF DISCIPLINE. This is the biggest speed bump for me. I’ve learned this month that I MUST SLOW DOWN and pay attention to the details. And an absolute for me: just because I’m awake at 2 a.m. and feeling the euphoria of finishing an awesome scene, chapter or book doesn’t mean I’m fit to make publishing decisions. For me that means holding the book at least one more week and reviewing it again before posting, making a schedule and sticking to it, double checking every business post I make.

I still have a million questions about what to do and how to proceed. Paper or ebook only? Professional covers or my own PhotoShop skills? Linking my twitter to Facebook…the list goes on and on. I have books to read on the subject, and I belong to two self pub/indie loops, but so far what I’ve learned there is that for every right answer you think you’ve found, someone else has a different answer.

I’m going to focus on the writing. Is that a mistake? I don’t know. But for now, it feels like the right thing to do. And those rules I have for taking students on trips? They work for my adventures in self publishing, too. I need to remember that.

Current Book (click title to go to Amazon page): Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee: Sharlene Gallagher, teen scream movie queen, was the biggest thing to happen to Primrose, Texas. Until she died. 
Now Sharlene’s back as a guardian angel life coach. Only her real objective is a bit more intense. Her charge: figure out the identity of her murderer before high school junior Addison Karchusky falls prey to the killer. Enlisting Addison’s help without letting her know her life’s in danger? No problem…she hopes.
High school’s never been easy. Now it just might be murder.

I did WHAT instead of going to the gym?!

One of my students wrote an amazing column for the last paper of the year about her constant truancy. She likes school. Likes her teachers. Loves her friends. But when it comes time to get out of bed, she just can’t make herself. When I read her story, it resonated with me. Only my truancy applies to the gym. I love a great cardio workout, I enjoy classes and time on the elliptical. I haven’t eaten sugar since the end of Spring Break. It’s getting to the gym that’s the problem. I love it once I’m there, but making myself go is torture. I mess with my shoes and my audible account and check Facebook one last time and do dishes or vacuum or call my mom. Until this week I put off the gym for over six months. Then this week happened and I had two great days, one crazy day where going to the Y was out of the question, and then yesterday, the day I chose to do laundry and clean the bathroom instead of making my way to the gym (possibly an all-time low). Today, I made myself go. I opened tweet deck, checked Facebook, played Bejeweled Blitz, ran (no, not that kind of run) up to the school, played with grand doggy, watched Gossip Girl (the Darota Wedding, totally worth it), finally made myself get in the car, realized I didn’t have the book I’m listening to on my iPhone, went back inside to download Insurgent by Veronica Roth because I HAVE to listen to something if I’m on the elliptical, and FINALLY made it to the Y. It’s a miracle. I’m tired just writing about everything I did before going.

Once I was there, I loved it. I love the way my heart races and how after 40-45 minutes of cardio I feel like I can really breathe. I love the way my shirt gets sweaty and I look like an athlete even though I’m the least athletic person I know. I love the smell of the anti-bacterial spray we use to wipe down the machines and the sound of weights from the room next door. I love the Y. And still, I know tomorrow I’ll put it off, dreading the moment I make myself get in the car. It makes no sense.

Maybe if I can figure it out, I can help my truant students, too.

Don’t forget Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee, new this month. Guardian Angel training’s a tough gig. One wrong step and someone dies.

Order it here!

Vampires Aren’t Real…

One of my favorite writing stories comes from a Charlaine Harris interview. A reporter asked her how she responded to critics who said she got the vampire mythology wrong. Harris leaned forward, looked at the reporter and gravely said  that vampires aren’t real, so she could do what she wanted with them.

Last night while explaining my new young adult book Dead Girl Walking,I told Mom (#1 fan) that my guardian angel protagonist is a murder victim who has to figure out  the identity of her murderer before the killer strikes again. She said that’s not how it really works with angels. I felt like I’d arrived. 🙂

Off to the revision cave on A Different Kind of Hero. Conflict is calling my name. As in I forgot about including it on the page. Don’t forget to leave reviews for books you read by indie authors. Word of mouth is our best promotion.

I Don’t Have the Answers, But THIS Didn’t Work

The number of times I sat down to write post and hit delete instead: 30

Or maybe it was more.

The last weeks of school were spent doing almost anything other than educating students. From 7:45-12:30 students sat in rooms where they were supposed to take tests that showed whether or not they had learned anything. Or, if they were sophomores-seniors, they sat in rooms where they tested to show testing companies what questions should be used on a test and where cut scores should be set. Or they bubbled B (or if they were creative ABBA) for all their answers and put their heads down to sleep.

When we were told we’d test 45 days this school year, I don’t think the impact of that hit until we were in the midst of the test days. Then it was too late to plan a way to keep an afternoon class on task. Seat of the pants lessons to keep learners engaged became the name of my game. I’m still not sure how my kids made their final newspaper deadlines, but they did. Yearbook distribution without announcements…don’t even get me started.

By the time the year was done, I was exhausted and the students looked like they’d been through a war. I’m a student media adviser. I can’t imagine what my core teacher friends felt like.

At the end of testing I took two seniors to the State Academic meet. One won 6th in headlines. I love when the kids medal at State! State was moved to the end of the school year because of testing. Testing runs everything in our school system now. 10 years ago if you had told me our last six weeks would be built solely around tests, that nothing else would matter, I would have laughed. Joke’s on us, the educators, who sat quietly back and let this happen. Who became pawns to educationese like formative and summative and common core, rubrics, holistic grading, and data, data, data. I embraced those words. I believed in them.

I’m not sure what the answers are, but I know this testing monster we’ve created isn’t the answer we’re looking for.

On the bright side all this testing has pushed me to write like never before. I have a new young adult novel out this month. It’s my first contemporary YA, and I’m excited to hear what people think. I’m working on an inspirational romance and I’m revising a contemporary romance. Maybe I should send thank you notes to TEA and Pearson. They’ve inspired me.

I’ll be keeping up with education politics, and I’m sure I’ll blog about it over the summer. The last few weeks of school, I couldn’t. It made me want to cry.

Thank God for summer!

My new book: Dead Girl Walking by Elizabeth Lee. Get it here.

Someone to Believe

Sometimes all you need is a chance and someone who believes in you.

It seems pretty generic. I was in a class studying scripts, and my professor gave us the assignment. I was a junior in college, a single mom, a little confused about what I wanted to do with life.

In stepped Dr. Hoffman with the assignment: write a one–act play.

Groans went up around the room, but not from me. I was worried and excited and ready to write.

Years before I’d written on a regular basis, but real life stepped in, and the writing stopped. At least the writing that wasn’t in the form of a paper or news story for my classes.

I don’t remember a lot about the play except it was a young adult romance and I made an A.

Dr. Hoffman didn’t know it then, but he’d rekindled a dream. It just needed a little more time.

Three years later I was done with school, teaching English and newspaper and enjoying life with a job that paid the bills and gave me weekends and summers off. My daughter and husband were suffering through my multiple attempts to become a gourmet cook. I didn’t really know something was missing.

Until Dr. Hoffman called to tell me he was offering a seminar class at the graduate level, and he’d like me to take it.

Two years later, I was done with grad school. All I needed to do was write my thesis.

When I submitted my idea, my committee didn’t hide their doubt. A coming-of-age historical novel set in the pre-Civil War era didn’t seem to fulfill the requirements for the assignment.

Dr. Hoffman stood up for me, said I needed a chance.

Thus Honor and Lies was born.

The research that goes into a book like Honor and Lies was crazy intense. I’m sure I still got some of it wrong.

What I didn’t get wrong: the idea that sometimes all you need is a chance and someone who believes in you.

Thanks for being the person who believed in me!