Skip to content

Category: Mention Monday

Dead tree editing redux! #MondayBlogs

It’s been only since the Jurassic era that I last blogged, but that’s life with 9-month-old twins, who just happen to be simultaneously napping for maybe another 10 minutes.

So what have I been up to besides channeling my inner moo-cow and changing poopy diapers for the last 18 months? Believe it or not, I’ve actually been making a great deal of progress on editing my third novel – working title Community Klepto. The latest thing I did in the editing process is a step I have not taken before, but now that I did it I am inordinately glad I did. I edited a complete “dead tree” version of the book – meaning I went to Kinko’s, had computer them make a spiral bound paper copy of it, and used that for a cover-to-cover read-through/edit.

I’ve done straight readthroughs on both computer and Kindle screen and found there to be some definite benefits I hadn’t experienced before by doing this on paper – things I think will definitely make it a better book.

1. Relative spine thickness

This seems obvious, but looking at my word count in a document file is one thing. Seeing the thickness of your book spiral bound is another. It didn’t sound like a long book when I said the word count out loud, but I was shocked when I saw how thick it was printed out. Holy crap I wrote a big ass book!

2. Stale jokes

I found several places where I thought I was being high-larious, but it turns out past me was already high-larious. Since I went through the chapter edits one by one, I missed a lot of instances where I repeated the same jokes twice, sometimes even three times.

3. Missing words

For some reason, these just seem to jump out on the printed page so much more than they do on a screen. Since my brain wrote over them once, it tends to read over them a second time. It wasn’t until I read through again on a tactile page that I found a few more of these

4. Awkward chapter breaks

Again, since my previous round of edits was chapter by chapter, I wasn’t able to see how smooth the transition was from the end of one chapter to the beginning of the next one. When I find myself struggling to figure out where to end a chapter, I just cut it off when I think it starts to get awkward. This wasn’t as graceful as I’d hope in some spots.

I definitely think this process will make Community Klepto a better book. Now I just need to go incorporate all my bright orange chicken scratches on a screen once more.

So what else have I been up to? Besides diapers and bottles and snot suckers? We’ve been training for the Austin half-marathon, which has helped me channel my protagonist even more. I’ve had some interesting experiences with some of my training runs… but that’s a story for later.

Leave a Comment

Local author night at BookPeople

Last week, I had my first ever for-realsies author event. BookPeople, my absolute favorite bookstore on the planet (to date, anyway), hosts a local author night once a month with a handful of authors. I got to share my evening with M.E. Patterson, a local sci-fi author.

I was pretty nervous about the prospect of speaking in front of everyone, but I tempered the anxiety with a signature culinary favorite of mine – red wine and pizza. The original Whole Foods is across the street from BookPeople, so I was able to snag 3 of their pizzas and get nice and sweaty walking it over. For the wine, I opted for Vintage Ink so as to be on theme with the book I was featuring, which of course was Portrait of Woman in Ink.

Despite my tempered nervousness, I got through my introduction and book reading with only moderate stammering. The crowd was fantastic – about 15 people between myself and Patterson, so I didn’t have to use my plant (the husband) during the joint Q&A session. We both got a lot of great questions and I performed much better during this session than the reading (something to work on for next time).

BookPeople asked for 16 more copies of the book, and while I only sold a couple, I was completely fine with it since it was only ever supposed to be a social event in my mind. BookPeople gets a lot of really big name authors, so it was definitely an honor to see my name on the front marquee “Appearing soon at BookPeople”. I thought I got a picture of this, but apparently my phone decided to be a dirty little whore instead.

For a first event, I’m certainly marking it in the win column. After all, I got out there and I made myself talk to people, which is the first step in overcoming literary sociopathy. And more importantly, I took away some great lessons for the next time; yes, there WILL be a next time.

Since I was unable to take a good selfie from my podium, I entrusted this duty to my faithful plant.


It’s a deal! Portrait of Woman in Ink newest member of Bird Brain Publishing family

Yep; it’s the longest blog title ever, but I’m so happy about getting this deal done I can’t think of a better abbreviation. After a needlessly long contract process, I’ve signed a book deal with Bird Brain Publishing for my second novel, Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook. We don’t have a release date defined yet, but it’ll be coming on quickly since we’ve already finished our editing process.

Now we have to do all the artwork, which is quite a bit more involved than a standard book with it being about tattoos and all. But I think it’ll go pretty quickly since they’ve got some talented graphics people on their small team.

I first queried them way back in July. Believe it or not, they were actually the first ones I queried, and one of the first small presses I had on my short list who expressed interest in the project. As a few more publishers expressed interest, our negotiations process stretched out a bit, but anything worth doing is worth doing right and taking your time with, and I am very excited about working with these crazy nice and talented peeps!

Plus, you know, it’s my first book deal, so I’ve got to be pretty stoked, right?

Leave a Comment

In which I appear in a print anthology

In case you missed it, I had a poem published in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine back in May, my poem “Culley’s Pub: An Elegy“.

This same publisher is putting out a print anthology soon, and they’ve accepted Culley’s Pub to be part of this anthology. Yay! As per traditional publishing standards, I get a free copy of the anthology as payment for my work. Not complaining, just stating a fact.

As a little background, Culley’s Pub was my bar in college. Not by choice – my ex-husband always wanted to go there so we always went. Their signature drink was Mickey’s malt liquor, if that tells you anything. I’m told even the building Culley’s isn’t there anymore, so I suppose this is my way of immortalizing this seedy-ass dive bar.

In other news, I am starting a new job today so wish me luck.

1 Comment

“Manifesto of a Neglected Chipmunk” Featured in Anthology Work

FYI – this is what the number one Google image result for the phrase “Neglected Chipmunk” looks like… pretty much sums up my story.

Quite some time ago, a flash fiction story of mine, Manifesto of a Neglected Chipmunk, was featured on the Rose City Sisters’ flash fiction anthology blog. Happily enough, the kind sisters of the Rose City thought this story was good enough to warrant inclusion in their forthcoming print anthology, Pasadena Flash, which is going to be a best-of collection of the many stories they’ve published over the years.

I’m not sure when the book is going to drop, but it’ll probably be before next Christmas, so if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get your Christmas shopping done before December 24 this year, you’re probably in luck 🙂

Like the website, the book will be perfect for people who love to read but don’t have a boatload of time to fritter away doing so. (Some of us aren’t so lucky.)

Leave a Comment

Library Bookspotting December 2012

It was a December to remember at the branch library I volunteer at here in town. Here are my finds for the month, and the end of the year.

IMAG0216Sometimes, I see a book whose cover is so bad and so boring, I think I could probably do a better version of it in Notepad. This is one of them. Of course, there is no shortage of books designed to scare people about what they put in their children’s bodies, so why wouldn’t there be a handful of them for easily persuadable pet owners? And at the very least, they could have borrowed one of those pitiful-looking faces that we see in those Sarah McLachlan commercials. “I will vaccinate you…”

IMAG0215I know I have made fun of some punbelivable adult mystery titles before, especially those that play on classic literature, but this one really takes the cake. It’s just… shameful. Even the chihuahua on the cover is like “This is so wrong”. I can only imagine it is about a mystery-solving chihuahua whose ghost haunts the Baskervilles, a 2-bedroom apartment complex in suburban Salt Lake City.

IMAG0214Again, this is one of those book covers that is so literal, so boring, and so shoddily put together that it’s just laughable. Then again, if you’re learning how to hunt open country mule deer by reading a book, you’re kind of asking for it. I thumbed through this one a bit, just because I wondered what kind of content actually goes into an instructional text on deer hunting, and it’s mostly ammunition diagrams. Figures the content would be as boring as the cover. The author’s name also made me chuckle, as “Dwight Schuh” is dangerously close to “Dwight Shrute.” I wonder if he hunts mule deer on the open country of his 60-acre beet farm…

IMAG0212And the winner of the month. The spine of this guy caught my attention as I was shelving it with the other early readers, and I thought to myself, “Wow, Dragon Puncher might be the most awesome title for a book I have ever heard of. I can’t wait to see what’s on the cover.” I did not expect to see an actual cat in a cartoon cat suit, yet it somehow is even more amazing than anything I could have pictured in my mind. When I teach my future children to read, you can bet they will be doing so to Dragon Puncher.

See y’all next year! I hope one of your New Year’s Resolutions is to pay more visits to your local library!

Leave a Comment

“Getting” is to “Book Deal” as “Jumping” is to “Hoops”

Like most introspective, creative people, my least favorite form of communication is the phone. Sure, I enjoyed it plenty when I was 15, but I’m now 15 x 2 so I would much rather just email you, thanks very much.

When I began writing Portrait of Woman in Ink: A Tattoo Storybook, it was fortuitous of me to do the project for National Novel Writing Month, because I was on a time crunch. It also meant I couldn’t procrastinate picking up the phone and calling people to talk about their tattoo stories, and ask them if they’d be willing to let me write about them for this project. That was nerve-wracking, since I basically felt like I was asking them to bear their souls to me just so I could write another book. Still, they were my friends, and I appreciated their candidness and willingness to let me write about it. I was on a 30-day time crunch, so I couldn’t let people equally un-phone-y as me dodge my calls for long.

After I finished the project and started sending it around to publishers, I got a bite. The publisher asked that we have a – you guessed it – phone call. It was a good phone call, I learned a lot about what they were willing to do for me, but in exchange, they wanted me to do something for them: get all the friends whose tattoos I wrote about to sign a legal release form saying that when the book makes it big they won’t sue me for royalties, and to get all the tattoo artists who drew their tattoos to give consent to use the images. Which meant… 23 phone calls.

I also now had to ask my friends to sign a legal document saying they wouldn’t sue me and yes, I felt like a total dick. Pretty much without exception, all of them were totally cool about it; after all, they are my friends and they were as excited as I was about the prospect of me getting a book deal. I also had to ask them who did their tattoos, and call up their shops, leave messages, call back the next day, leave another message, explain myself several times… lather, rinse, repeat.

But this is what you do when you want your book to see the light of day, so I’m gladly doing it. But you can bet your britches that my next book will not bear any likenesses or have overlapping copyright implications that make me chew my nails down! Also, I refuse to make any phone calls over this long holiday weekend, so if I am waiting on you for your signed release form or tattoo image consent, you get a whole 4 days of me not calling to remind you.

Leave a Comment

What’s In A (Pen) Name?

I’ve been thinking a lot about names lately. For one thing, I recently got engaged, and my fiance isn’t super keen on the idea of me keeping my maiden name. As Kelly Hitchcock, I’ve published one novel (and hopefully one more), a few short stories, and several poems. Still, he maintains that he wants me to take his last name, which is four syllables… not exactly hyphen-friendly. And anyone who has read my work knows I am a big fan of the hyphen; almost as much as I would be a semicolon superfan if it didn’t make me look like a pretentious a-hole.

It also came up in my writer’s group the other day – when is it appropriate to use a pen name? I imagine that if your given name at birth is Brad Pitt or James Cameron and you plan on making a serious living as an author, you might want to use a pen name to distance yourself from the celebrity namesakes (then again, you might want to invite the connection). Then there’s the case of writers who cross over into writing in another genre – like erotica – and use a pen name to maintain the separation between the two genre’s writings.  Or maybe your name just sucks, like Dentenia Zickafoose.

What I wonder is:

  • It’s common practice for doctors and lawyers to keep their maiden names based on public professional accomplishments. Income disparity notwithstanding, does the same expectation exist for authors?
  • Is it icky to take on a pen name for no apparent reason? No evidence of genre-switching, crappy namesake, or celebrity doppelhood?

What do you think?

1 Comment

Library Bookspotting for September 2012

September was a great month for me, both personally and professionally, both of which I will elaborate on in a future post. For now, savor these tasty gems I found while volunteering at the library last month.

It’s a good this fiction (?) novel is geared toward junior high boys, because otherwise men of all ages might track it down and enjoy it. How do I know? My fiance laughed hysterically and said he would read it, and all he reads is programming books. I think we can all recall a day this very thing has happened – I once ate street tacos for every meal and yes, it ended badly. And The Day My Butt Went Psycho is supposedly based on a true story…

This one’s a little hard to read since the cover’s so busy, but it’s a children’s cookbook called The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes. I’ve been trying to get a good shot of this one for awhile, but it never stays on the shelf for long. I want to believe that the publishers of this fine specimen had no idea that Wookiee Cookie had another, more grownup, meaning, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, they knew the correct spelling of Wookiee – which blew my mind when I discovered it. I’ll have to check it out and try the Boba Fettucine for myself sometime.

Remember how I told you that mystery novels, particularly those in series, have ridiculous titles based on bad puns? Well, here’s another case in point. Roast Mortem (part of the Coffeehouse Mystery series) is about as stretchy of a pun as you can get. Despite its terribly punny title, this book actually doesn’t look half bad.

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln is an I-Can-Read book. I can’t think of more appropriate subject matter to use to teach my child to read with than the in-cold-blood killing of our 16th president. I’ll avoid this one like the plague – I’d rather wait until the dog passes away to explain the concept of death instead of using poorly illustrated photos of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

Stay tuned for October’s finds!

Leave a Comment

Library Bookspotting for August 2012

I collected some great gems volunteering at my local branch library this month. Have a look for yourself!

This is an I-Can-Read book, so if you want to teach your kid to read and teach him a valuable lesson about the merits of public sewage servants, this is the book for you. What I really want to know, though, is how they convinced 1988 David Boreanaz to pose for this cover.

I just couldn’t resist snapping this cover. My life experience hasn’t involved many baboons, but I truly believe that this baboon is the most melancholy baboon in the animal kingdom. He looks like he hit the bong before his youth non-fiction book cover photo shoot.

We have an absolutely unreal amount of cookbooks, even for our small branch. You can get all kinds of holiday-themed cookbooks, your favorite celebrity’s cookbook (I’m looking at you, Alicia Silverstone), and cookbooks meant to transport you to a bygone era where men manned the grill and women had 18-inch waists with ridiculous titles like this one.

I don’t care how old I get; I will never not laugh at the title of this book. I’m guessing that when they started the series (A Look at Mars, A Look at Venus, etc.), they failed to take the full Milky Way galaxy into consideration. By the time you get to Uranus (snicker), you can’t very well deviate from the theme. Besides, it’s not like the intended audience of this book is a bunch of immature children or anything. Oh, wait…

That’s all for this month, but I’ve got some great ones already for September, so be sure to come back next month!

Leave a Comment