Tag Archives: fantasy

Avoiding Writing

ajtillock2013 018I’ll put my alter ego, AJ Tillock’s hat on for now and explain why the second book in the GRINDING REALITY series still isn’t out, three years later:

It’s because:
I’ve been sitting on the partially completed manuscript for most of that time.

Contemporary romance is so much easier to write (and sell to a publisher who does all the editing and the cover art and actually PUBLISHES the book so I don’t have to).

finalGRcoverHardly anyone has read the first book in the series, The Forbidden Bean. (Which makes me think the concept isn’t quite as brilliant as I thought it was. Or it could be due to a complete lack of marketing.)

I find switching from contemporary romance author to screwball fantasy author difficult.
I’m not even sure COOL BEANS makes sense.

CoolBeans_CVR4 like3If readers didn’t read The Forbidden Bean, will they “get it?”

I’m not convinced I know how to write:
a) Screwball fantasy
b) A series
c) A screwball fantasy series

Therefore it has been easy not to write it.

But…I have made a promise to myself and to the two fans who loved The Forbidden Bean to have Cool Beans out by the end of summer 2015. I put it on my web site. I have a fantastic cover!!! Therefore I MUST FINISH IT. Plus, writing (and selling the books) in this series is the only possibility I’ll ever have of making significant money off my career as a coffee store barista. Cuz the last twelve years of paychecks just ain’t doin’ it.

Basic premise: Coffee store assistant manager and general oddball Tee Rutledge accidentally swallows an addictive but forbidden coffee bean which then temporarily turns her into…something else. Like an insect in The Forbidden Bean. (Didn’t you ever want to be a fly on a wall? Here’s your chance.) Or a tree frog in COOL BEANS. She can go almost anywhere, overhear things she’d rather not know, become an unwilling superhero.

Oh, God. No wonder editors and agents won’t touch it.

But I’ll write it anyway. Then I’ll publish it. In three years, I will write another blog explaining why I haven’t finished Book Three in the series: KILLER BEANS.

You might also discover posts of difficult chapters this summer as I try to work through my discomfort and ask for help with my drinking—er–writing problem.

#writing #fantasy #series #publishing


November 2012 Newsletter from Author Barbara Meyers

This is the first of many newsletters, I hope, although I can’t promise one every month.  I’m not sure I’d have enough “news” to bother with every month!

My web site has been redesigned.  Check it out at www.barbarameyers.com

I think everything works, including the buy links for my books.  We are still tweaking it, however, so if you have problems, contact me at barb@barbmeyers.com.

I also re-did my Facebook author page.  Another work in progress.  I hope you “like” it. Have I mentioned how inept I am at all things techie and internet related?  Please bear with me.

The last couple of months have been super busy because I moved.  After thirty years in Southwest Florida I relocated to Central Florida.  I lived in this area of Florida when my family moved here from Idaho when I was nineteen.  (I swore when I left Idaho if I ever saw snow again it would be too soon.  I haven’t seen it since and I do not miss it.) 

Many have asked why we moved.  The simplest answer is “the economy.”

Not only did we move, we downsized.  For months I’d lie awake at night wondering how I’d manage this.  It seemed overwhelming to me, but like most things we worry about it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I anticipated.  I gave away things I didn’t need, didn’t have room for or no longer had a use for.  I did a “first wave” garage sale and then a “final wave” sale a few months later.  Even after the move I had more to donate.  After what seemed like a lifetime of acquiring “stuff” I discovered how little most of it meant to me.  I cherish my family and my dear friends.  I am blessed to have them.  The stuff?  It won’t hug you or listen when you need to vent.

For the past nine years I’ve worked for a worldwide coffee chain.  I wear a green apron and “supervise” a group of mostly 20-somethings.  I tell myself I stay with this company because of the great benefits (i.e. health insurance) but I realized the other day this job also supports my writing career.  I’m not rich from writing romance novels.  Yet. 

Then again, I was inspired to write my GRINDING REALITY series because of my observances in this environment.  Book One: The Forbidden Bean is available in both digital and print versions.  I am currently working on Book Two: Cool Beans.  This series is mixed genre, sort of a screwball fantasy concept that would be rated PG-13 or maybe even G if it was a movie.  No profanity, no sex, no graphic violence.  Some adult situations.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written or read and probably unlike anything you’ve ever read.  This series is written under the pen name AJ Tillock, so as not to confuse readers with my romance-writing Barbara Meyers persona.

My third book in The Braddock Brotherhood series entitled THE FIRST TIME AGAIN, is scheduled for digital release in May 2013.  The first two, A MONTH FROM MIAMI and A FOREVER KIND OF GUY are both available in digital and print.

Independently published NOT QUITE HEAVEN and SCATTERED MOMENTS are both available as eBooks.  The print versions are coming soon.

You can follow my periodic comments on Twitter @barbmeyers or @ajtillock (or both).  I do try, but I can rarely think of anything to say that seems like it’d be worth posting.  Almost all of my AJ Tillock Twitter posts are quotes from The Forbidden Bean.

Visit me at www.barbarameyers.com

Cover Artist Interview – Lindsay Beach

Artist Lindsay Beach created the cover for The Forbidden Bean, the first book in the Grinding Reality series.

Tell us a little about your background and education.
I started drawing at a young age and haven’t stopped since. In high school I took all the art classes I could, including additional classes outside of the school at Repenning Fine Arts in Audubon. After encouragement from several teachers, I decided to go to art school. I studied illustration from the University of the Arts, and received my BFA in illustration.

How did you get started in book cover design?
While I was in school I started designing book covers. I had a target market project my junior year, and I chose to base mine on young adult book covers, and then for my senior thesis I also chose that young adult book cover market. Then after I graduated, Barbara Meyers granted me the opportunity to do her book cover, which was a great experience.

How many covers have you done? (Approximate if you don’t know exact number.)
Currently, I have done two commissioned book covers. While I was in school, I did about six or seven book cover projects.

What do you enjoy about doing cover design?It gives me a chance to tell the reader about the overall tone of the book in one visual cue. In a way it can be a challenge, but I like a challenge.

What’s your least favorite aspect of doing cover design?Can’t say there’s anything yet that I don’t really enjoy about them. Maybe if the challenge of finding that one perfect visual cue takes longer than I would like.

Do you want to hear the author’s ideas for the cover? Do you find them helpful or a hindrance?I do like to hear them because in the end the author is my client. Also, the book is something that the author has worked very hard on, so I want to make sure I make something that they would be proud to have represent all of their efforts.

Can you tell us a little about the actual process you go through when designing a cover?I first like to gain information about the book, whether it is a summary or some brief information from the author. Barbara gave me a synopsis. Then I take in any additional information the author may provide me with, such as some of their ideas for how the cover should look, and go from there. I like to draw out sketches of my ideas first to send to the author before I paint, so I don’t end up creating a finished piece of an idea that the author does not like.

Are there certain authors or genres you won’t work with?I would be willing to try any genre. Variety makes things interesting. I just did an illustration for the cover of a horror genre book, which is very different from The Forbidden Bean’s genre of contemporary fantasy, and I enjoyed doing both of them.

Is the process different if you know a book will only be offered online?The only difference is that when I know a book is going to be offered online, I want to make sure that when the cover is shrunken down to thumbnail size that it will still read fairly well.

Any advice or suggestions or “rules of thumb” you’d like to share?My rule of thumb for the artist would be to really talk with the author about their vision for the cover. Even if the author says “anything goes”, it is always a good idea to run some ideas and sketches by them before you get started on the finish piece.

Visit Lindsay here: http://lindsaybeachillustration.com/

Vist me at http://www.barbmeyers.com


Barbara Meyers Career Update 8/26/10

I’m afraid outlining an update will take a long time, but I’ll try.

Non-writers think that if you haven’t had anything published in awhile you must not be writing.  Not True!  If I’m not working at Starbucks, I write all the time.  Even if it isn’t actual creation of a new work, I’m doing research, or I’m reading through what I’ve written for the twelfth time trying to find the flaws, or I’m thinking about a particular story, plot, scene, character.  If you’re not a writer, you have no idea how much of writing fiction is thinking.

I’ve been writing all along, I just haven’t interested an editor one hundred percent in what I’ve written. 

My latest romance A Forever Kind of Guy, the second in a possible trilogy of sorts which started with A Month From Miami was with my editor for eight months before I heard back about it.  And when I did, the answer was, she was interested but it needed more work, so if I wanted to revise it based on her suggestions and re-submit it, I was welcome to do so.

This is discouraging, but not earth-shattering and I believe I have an excellent editor and like my mother, she’s right 99.9% of the time.  But it took me much longer than I thought it would to come up with ways to change it and make myself happy with it.  She’s had the revised version for several weeks and I’m not holding my breath waiting for her to get back to me.  Nor do I sit around on my hands and do nothing.  I’ve always got more than one project I’m working on.

One of the things I did after I revised AFKOG was send it to a couple of people on the Novelists, Inc. critique loop to get a cold read.  (This is one of the many benefits of belonging to a group like this—I can get a cold impartial read and feedback from other writers.)  One multi-published author blasted me after reading a hundred pages.  “Your characters have no goals.  There is no point in reading further.” 

This was news to me.  Of course my characters have goals.  But it forced me to take a hard look at what I’d written and revise yet again.  More than anything, I think non-writers don’t realize how time-consuming writing fiction can be.  People ask me all the time how long it takes me to write a book.  It’s a question I can’t answer.  I write, I rewrite, I revise, I get feedback, I revise again.  Maybe I should just say, “It takes a long time” and be done with it.  I’m a slow writer, apparently, and I just found out that’s not good if you’re published by an e-book company.  Oh, well.  I yam what I yam.

So once I shipped AFKOG off, I went back to the first book in my contemporary fantasy (potential) series, Grinding Reality.  My character needed a more concrete goal.  (I’ve discovered this is what’s wrong with my many unsold manuscripts—a lack of clearly defined goals for the main characters.  Who knew?)  The goal is actually there in all of them, but it isn’t well-defined or crystal clear.  That’s the part that needs work.

If you’re a writer reading this and wondering what’s wrong with your work or why it doesn’t sell, ask yourself what your main character(s) primary goal is.  If you can’t answer that, you’ve got a problem.  Giving the character a clearly defined goal will also make your book longer.  Think goal, motivation, conflict.

I started working on Grinding Reality two years ago.  It’s sort of bizarre and funny based on my experiences working at Starbucks for the past seven years.  My main character, Tee, accidentally swallows an addictive coffee bean which causes her to temporarily inhabit the bodies of other entities.  In those forms she sees and hears things she otherwise wouldn’t and is compelled to act on that knowledge.   She’s after a suspicious group of Eastern European thugs who’ve set up shop in the sleepy resort town and whom she believes are involved in human trafficking among other things.

An editor did express interest but didn’t think she had the leeway to take on such a quirky project.  Translation:  If you had a better track record as a published, selling author, I’d take that chance.

In between these two active works in progress, I’ve looked at another manuscript I wrote awhile ago.  It’s sort of a suspenseful romance (although I’ve been told it can’t be a romance because the heroine is married and the hero is not her husband).  My massage therapist’s husband is a homicide detective and she offered his services to read it and give me feedback on the murder that takes place.  That was immensely helpful.

Another aside to fiction writers, think about who you know or who the people you know are connected to when you need to do research and ask them for help when you need it.  Most people are flattered and interested to help a writer with information within their area of expertise.

I’ve looked at/read through another manuscript I started a few years ago, a romance about a couple who meet up after ten years at their high school reunion.  He wants revenge.  She wants to make amends.

I’ve also written 160 pages for the third in the possible trilogy which began with AMFM, but sadly, I don’t exactly know what the goals are for those characters, so I’ve shelved it for awhile.  But during the latest revisions for AFKOG, I got an idea for yet another connected book.  Did you know if there are four, it’s called a tetralogy?  Both of those ideas sprang from characters in AFKOG.

You can see why it’s pointless to offer your ideas to a fiction writer.  They’ve already got more ideas than they know what to do with or time to develop.

So…today is the day I set as a deadline to finish reading through the final draft of Grinding Reality, Book One:  The Forbidden Bean.  I’ve got fifty pages to read and the day off to do it.  And then I’ve got a couple of places to send it and see what happens.

Just because you don’t see a fourth book out there with my name on it (yet) doesn’t mean I’m resting on my laurels.  What are laurels, anyway?  And why would I rest on them?  Dictionary time…honor or distinction gained by outstanding achievement …to rest on one’s laurels…To be content with what one has already achieved or accomplished. 

As if.