Friday, November 30, 2012

Author Interview - Daria Buczynski

Let's welcome Daria Buczynski, author of Soul Witness.  

1)      What were your favorite books growing up?
a.       My favorite books growing up were mostly mysteries. But the book that had the biggest impact was Tom Sawyer. Aside from the antics and Tom's wit, I loved Becky Thatcher. She was such a strong female character. I was so impressed by her, I named my daughter after her. And the first thesis I wrote was on Mark Twain. I love all his works.

2)      Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self?
a.       Now that I have some life experience, I would tell my younger self not to worry, not to be so critical of yourself and for God sakes, stop being Princess Perfect in the land of Good Enough. Just have fun!

3)      Describe your typical day.

a.       Typical Day????? The only thing typical is my morning. I have seven cats to feed and they don't let you get away with it. I keep a Prayer Journal that I write in 5 days out of 7. I believe in Angels. They keep me on the straight and narrow. After that, I "take care of things." My mother is in 5th stage Parkinson's disease, I have granddaughters to babysit, and I have a house to clean. I teach a class in Crisis Intervention. I do a lot of thinking on a subconscious level, which I am eventually privy to. I have always been a daydreamer. Those thoughts make it into my stories.

4)      Who is your favorite character in your books?

a.       My favorite character in Soul Witness is Sybil. I think she is most like me. I have a mouth. In my next book, Jar and the Wooden Leg, my favorite character is Jarred. He is based on my best friend who lost her leg and her life to cancer. She was a daredevil and afraid of nothing. She taught me how to shuffle cards and I think of her every time I do it. I miss her.

5)      What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable?

a.       Writer's block- I ask the angel Gabriel to help me. She is the angel of creative writing. I usually just lie down and let my mind wander. That's when all the stuff in my subconscious starts to bubble up.  It's a real high!

6)      Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost?

a.       I definitely pull from real life. Irish and Sybil are my sisters and me. Jarred and Sam are my friend, Theresa, and me with real stories based on my business partner's life growing up in the Pinelands of New Jersey. Even the father in Soul Witness is based on my experiences caring for my own grandmother, my father-in-law, and my dad. It is amazing how real life and imagination walk hand in hand.

7)      What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)?

a.       My first book was actually a children's book, Rebecca's Field. It was first told to my daughter, Rebecca, after she announced she was "bored." It is the story of a young girl who loses her beloved field where she always played to a housing development. She discovers she can still play in it via her imagination. Rebecca was so delighted by it, I wrote it down. It needs a great illustrator. I am very proud of it.

8)      Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing?

a.       I pursued traditional publishing but after 75 rejections, my husband, Frank, and I looked into self-publishing. We did it out of necessity. My mother outlived the money she had saved and her level of care is high. Necessity is truly the mother of not only invention but motivation and survival.

9)      What Works In Progress are brewing?  Any target dates for publication?

a.       As I said before, my next book is Jar and the Wooden Leg. It still needs Faith's loving care. I hope to have it published sometime in the fall. At the Gate will come out next year. It combines spirituality with science. According to Einstein, it is the only way we could get to the truth. A huge endeavor, it sometimes intimidates me and I have to tell that younger self still inside me to knock it off and just do it!

10)   How can fans reach you?  

a.       Fans can, and I hope you will, contact me on Facebook via my website.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Name That Character!

No, this is not a rip-off of Name That Tune (gee, did I just date myself? I swear, I watched in the 80s, not the 50s).

In replying to a Tweet (you know who you are!) looking for a name from the 1980s, I found the Social Security website has a popular baby name database.  You can actually see the most one hundred popular male and female names since the 1880s.  They have them listed by decade, so you can quickly look to see how popular your name was in the decade you were born (although, if you had to sit through your teacher calling out three or four different last names after your first name, I'm sure you already had a clue as to how popular your name was when you were born).

I didn't meet anyone with my name until I was fifteen.  I went to California to visit my grandparents and my grandmother worked with a woman named Faith.  As a teenager, I always wanted one of those souvenir license plates with my name on it, but I could never find one!  My mother finally found a keychain with my name on it in the Pocono Mountains (and yes, I still have it!). 

Just for fun, I put in my name.  When I was born (1969), my name ranked 423 in the popularity chart for girls' names.  In 2002, it had shot all the way up to number 48!  Way to go!! I think we can totally lay the shift at Faith Hill's feet.  After all, from 1998 to 2002, she was very popular, not only with the country crowd but with the pop music fans as well.

This year, it's only at number 71, so I guess the Faiths of the world (or the United States, anyway) need to do more to bring it back into the 40s.

So if you are looking for a popular name for your character - or maybe a not-so-popular name - take a look at the website for some inspiration.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How I Spent My Paris Vacation

So, I have just returned from a trip to Paris.  Yup, Paris, France.  Oui, oui. I did actually work for the first few days while my husband was working, so it wasn't all fun and games.  But, work ended and the vacation part started.

One of the best days was the one we spent at the Louvre. There are some truly amazing works of art there, and it's incredible to think of how they were produced hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

But I was giggling inside when I saw this masterpiece:

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Winged Victory.  As in, CMOS 8.193's example of how to correctly write about works of art.

And there was this famous lady:
who is also featured in CMOS 8.193 (Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa).

Yes, I am a grammar geek.

P.S. - The Mona Lisa is much smaller than one would think.  Of course, it doesn't help that it's all by itself on this huge wall in a huge hall that has huge murals on all the other walls!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Planning For Success

Very often, an author will be asked if they are a plotter or a pantser.  People are typically asking how the author writes their stories: by carefully plotting out the story or just sitting at their computer (or pad of paper!) and writing.  But there is another kind of planning you should think about: strategic planning for your overall writing/publishing goals.

Some people like to think in grand schemes (“I’ll sell half a million copies of my masterpiece in five years.”) without much planning.  That’s called dreaming. It’s not a goal based in reality—you know, actually writing the book, taking care of any research if it’s needed, getting it critiqued, edited, formatted, reviewed, and sold.  

Take a look at D.D. Scott’s plan for next year. Here is an author who actively takes time to plan what she wants to accomplish.  She asks herself almost 20 questions about where she is having success, where she needs to readjust her goals, and reviews her financials and yearly sales.  

Now, maybe this is more in-depth than you want to get, but it gives you a great place to start brainstorming for the next year.  Will you write more? Less? Have your pricing strategies worked out the way you wanted them to? Are you reaching your target audience? Are you still having fun?

I know some of you are doing this type of stuff already.  I’ve gotten some general target dates to expect manuscripts from some of my regular clients (thank you, by the way!) in 2013.  This helps them keep themselves accountable to someone and, frankly, it helps me to plan my year.  I’d hate to plan a vacation for the very week one of my clients absolutely, positively has to have their manuscript back!!  And I noticed a general uptick in inquiries and editing requests for November in preparation for December sales (have to fill that Kindle or Nook with something, so it might as well be YOUR newest release, right?), so I’ve had to disappoint some people when I got booked so quickly for November and December.

But a little planning can go a long way.  Remember—the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!