Wednesday, June 29, 2011
What is the oddest thing you've ever seen? This can be a person, an animal or event.
I've seen a few things in my time. One of them was a monkey at the zoo in Hawaii. My husband and I came upon the primate exhibit first. We laughed and giggled at their silliness. Silly little monkeys. But then we noticed the lone monkey in the corner. He looked like he was straining himself.
Now if I already had a child, I would've recognized the look. Only when I saw the result of his straining, did I know what he was doing. Out came the poop.
"Ewww!" everyone said, but then the monkey did something that silenced us all. He scooped up his own poo and popped into his mouth. But the nastiness didn't stop there. The monkey swished it in his mouth, back and forth, back and forth. His cheeks were full with feces until he spit it out into his hand and proceeded to roll it into the dirt coating it like one would a caramel roll in peanuts.
Satisfied with his creation, the monkey sucked it back into his mouth. This went on for several minutes. Just like me and my husband, the crowd remained frozen unable to look away from the nauseating site. And I've never forgotten it.
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 11:56 AM
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
In Ellery's Words:
I’ve received enough emails lately to make me realize that folks are fascinated by what constitutes a writer’s life. I decided to reveal the naked truth from my perspective using the uncompromising language of numbers.
Please keep in mind that these statistics are only a reflection of my work. Me, little ole mid-list cozy mystery author, but I hope they fill in some of the blanks.
Number of books I’ll have published by the end of 2011 — 15
Number of author names I’ve used or will use — 4 (Ellery Adams, J. B. Stanley, Jennifer Stanley, and I’m ½ of Lucy Arlington)
Average page count per book — 300
Average word count per book — 87,000
Number of publishers I’ve written for — 3
Average number of series I’m writing at once – 3
Average advance received from publisher — $6,000 per book
Average amount paid for large print or foreign rights — $500 or $1000
Average amount of advance spent on promotion — 25% of advance
Average money my publishers give me for promotion — 0
Average time it takes me to write a completed draft — 6 months
Average positive emails I receive per week from readers — 6
Average negative emails I receive per week — 1 (These are usually to point out a typo or to complain about a character’s conduct)
Number of personal copies I receive of each title — 50
Time it took me to sign with an agent — 5 months
Time it took my agent (Jessica Faust) to sell my first series — 2 months
Average number of conferences I attend per year — 3
Average number of library talks per year — 2
Average number of times I check my sales ranking on Amazon per day — 5
My writing income based on my 2010 tax return — $18,000
Days per year I work — 360 (This is not an exaggeration. I consider promotion work, and unless I am sick or am forced to be away from a computer, I find time every day to write, edit, promote, or research.)
Age I knew I wanted to become a writer — 7
Number of canceled series — 2 (the Molly Appleby collectible series and the Hope Street Church series)
Number of new series debuting in 2012 – 2 (The Charmed Pie Shoppe mysteries by Ellery Adams and The Novel Idea Literary Agency series by Lucy Arlington)
Series I’m planning to continue as ebooks only — 2
Current income from my sole ebook title (uploaded in March) — $250
Times I’d trade this life for another — Every time one of my books is released and fails to make the NYT list. And then I get over myself and go right back to work.
After reading this, do you feel discouraged or do you want to work harder?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 10:33 AM
Sunday, June 26, 2011
I won't dwell on this, really I won't, but before I submit this tomorrow I'd love to get everyone's opinion on this second version. I used a lot of your suggestions. Thanks!
CONFESSIONS OF A CEREAL MOTHER
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 7:59 PM
Saturday, June 25, 2011
The contest is open to YA, middle grade, memoir, pop culture non-fiction, and womens commercial fiction. If I'm going to share my first 250 words, so should you. Hurry! :) And feel free to critique my work. Come on now, I can take it.
Title: CONFESSIONS OF A CEREAL MOTHER
Genre: Humorous Women's Fiction
Word Count: 55,000
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 11:42 PM
Friday, June 24, 2011
I think of the book The Count of Monte Cristo. Here was a guy who had everything - career, family, hot fiance, but then Wham! He's suddenly thrown into jail for a crime he didn't commit. For years this event effected him negatively, even after he escaped from jail. His lust for revenge was too great. But slowly, over time, he learns to forgive and finds love again (I liked the movie version ending better where he ends up with Mercedes).
Obviously this example is extreme. Most of us don't have life shattering events of this nature, but we do have our terrifying moments. I've had mine, and I like to think I've survived them. They've helped shape who I am for better or for worse, hopefully for better.
On a lighter note, this is making me think of a good friend of mine who went to a late night movie. There was only her and one other person in the whole theater. Towards the end of the movie, the stranger dude sitting three rows behind her starts sharpening a knife. She can hear the metal blade slicing against the sharpener in long strokes. Machete perhaps? This goes on for over thirty minutes, and she's too scared to move. As soon as the movie ends, she bolts. She doesn't even turn around to see who it was or what they were doing.
Why didn't she leave sooner? Fear perhaps, but regardless this was a terrifying event for her. Did it change her life? Not really, but it makes for a great story idea. :)
What are some frightening events that have happened in your life?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 12:23 AM
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
So what do you guys think? Has Facebook peaked? In five years will it be another Myspace? Are you finding yourself spending more or less time on Facebook?
Personally, I don't go on it a lot. I check it out a few times a week, but rarely post. It's been great for me to reconnect with old friends, but if I visit it too often then I begin to feel it's addictive pull.
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 3:05 PM
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
This morning I was cleaning out my email folders and ran across it. I thought I would share it because, first, I can't believe how passionate I felt about it (after just finishing it) and second, I'd like to know what you guys thought of this book. My feelings have softened a bit with the passing time, and I'm considering reading it again to see if I still feel the same way.
Anyway, without further adieu here's my review for Mockingjay. As I said then, let the battles begin! :)
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 11:07 AM
Monday, June 20, 2011
So I'm curious, have any of you participated in any online writing groups? For the most part, I've always stuck to my local peeps, but lately I've been thinking about broadening my horizon. Finding the right partners is critical. I say "partners", plural, because where one is weak the other is strong. It's extremely difficult to find just one person who knows it all.
What's been your experience working with total strangers? If you haven't, why aren't you?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 1:26 PM
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
In almost every novel the main character must face and overcome their fears. Whether it's a fear of being caught, a fear of love, intimacy, betrayal, death, or whatever, to complete their journey and grow as an individual this must happen. Why? Because this is what readers want. We are all afraid of something, and when we read about others overcoming their fears it gives us hope for ourselves, and leaves us with a satisfying feeling even if the novel has a sad ending. Always make sure the MC in your novel has this important character development.
So what are your fears?
I'm afraid of heights, but several years ago I convinced myself to go sky diving in an attempt to overcome my fear. My heart was pounding and my pits sweated so bad a fish could've swam in them, but I jumped. (It also helped that I had a guy strapped to my back who was determined to spiral to the ground.) My knees still get shaky whenever I'm high up, but it's not as bad as it used to be.
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 9:58 AM
Monday, June 13, 2011
But when our job ends, or the kids are in bed, we shed our costumes and live our destiny. So I'm curious, what is the costume you have to wear throughout the day? Do you love it? Hate it?
I get "huh?" looks whenever someone asks me what I do for a living. "I'm a merchant account provider," I say. When their eyes glaze over I add, "You know credit card terminals - like at the gas station? I sell those." They nod as if interested then ask why I have a big stain on my shoulder. To that I say, "I'm also a mom. My child barfed on me this morning."
Do I love my jobs? Ask me tomorrow.
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 10:11 PM
Friday, June 10, 2011
It was very interesting to see the judges reviews and whose entries they liked the best. We all had our favorites, but there was one entry at the top of each list...
Drum roll please......
Death by High Heels! It was well written, funny, had great tension, and flowed well. The author did a great job and will be richly rewarded with a book of her choice.
As for the other entries, I really was impressed. I didn't think it would be as hard as it was to choose a winner. I've already began returning your pages and will continue to do so throughout the weekend. I hope our comments help you on your writing journey.
Thank you so much for participating!
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 10:44 AM
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
While I was at the hospital biding the time with my daughter, we watched many dinosaur movies, her obsession. One of them was Jurassic Park 3 (I know, I know. Not an appropriate movie for a five-year-old, but what can I say? I'm a mom trying to survive four kids.) Anyway, there's a scene where the T-Rex shoves the scientists lab motor home thing-a-ma-jig over a cliff. One of the female scientists lands on the back window and every time she moves it threatens to break and send her to her death a hundred feet below.
Things are bad, real bad. It's already a tense situation but then she notices a backpack hanging by a thread above her. If it falls onto the glass, she'll surely die. The other scientists race to save her, and do just that, but not before the viewing audience has either had a heart attack or peed themselves. I did the latter.
This scene is a perfect example of how to push our characters to the limit. And is it really that far fetched? I can think of numerous times in my life when I thought things couldn't get worse. And then my car exploded. Things can always get worse.
Most recently, the day before we took our daughter to the hospital we found out my husband was accepted into school - in Maine over 2000 miles away and we need to be there in three months. As luck would have it, we found a potential renter for our home and they wanted to see it the day after we returned from the hospital. On top of trying to frantically clean, I was trying to take care of a very sick child.
A couple of hours before we were supposed to show the home, my other daughter decided to cook Ramen Noodles in the microwave...wait for it...without water. It almost started a fire, but instead left this nasty smelling poltergeist. Microwave ruined, we tossed into our garage and lit as many candles as we could. The potential renter probably thought we were Wiccan Folk or something, but whatever. Nothing I could do at that point.
Our lives are stressful, but they can always get worse. What are some events that have happened in your life that have left you in a fetal position sucking your thumb?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 4:27 PM
Monday, June 6, 2011
On to the next question. Think about the town or city you live in--the ambiance, the customs, the people. Your town is about to be the setting for the next great novel. What's the novel going to be about?
In my small town, "Mr. Don Juan DeMarco" returns after being gone for more than ten years. The ladies, and even some men, couldn't be happier. But when dead bodies from the local graveyard start appearing on people's doorsteps, some begin to wonder if Mr. Don Juan isn't Mr. Done One TooMany.
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 12:20 PM
Thursday, June 2, 2011
During the next couple of weeks I will be returning everyone's pages. Because we've covered a lot in the samples given, I won't continue to show more unless I run across something we haven't discussed before. At the end of the two weeks I will post the winner. I must say I've really enjoyed reading everyone's work. You all are so talented!
Moving forward I will continue to post tips on the art of writing mingled with the strange, yet sometimes fascinating aspects of my life. I've discussed a lot about writing, but maybe it's time I share the good, the bad, and the ugly about myself. And perhaps you all could do the same. I'd love to get to know you better. Maybe doing this will help us come up with some cool and original personality quirks for the characters in our books.
First personal question: what do you find annoying? I could name a bunch of things, but one I recently had to deal with was a heavy breather. Not the phone kind, either. That I wouldn't have minded. I was at a business convention and the lady sitting next to me breathed as if her nostrils were pin holes, but they weren't. Believe me, I checked. I couldn't focus on the speaker, or hear him for that matter. All I wanted to do was ask the lady to open her mouth and let some air in before she passed out. But I didn't.
So what's the burr in your saddle?
Posted by Rachel McClellan at 12:51 AM