Fiction…Yes, Art…Yes!

Long before I pubauburn-foothillslished my first novel, Call Me Emily, I painted. In fact, drawing and the many mediums of creative art were a huge part of the requirements for my Bachelor of Arts degree in Design. It’s always stayed with me and has been a huge part of my creative process.

Up until now I haven’t chosen to show my paintings outside a visit to my home. But as I stay true to my oath to travel outside my comfort zone this year, I’ve chosen to have a little show. Coming to that decision was hard though.

It’s difficult to open yourself up to criticism. It’s still difficult for me to hear that not every person that reads my novels loves them. And yes, that happens. The same goes for my paintings, but as with my novels, I’m choosing to jump and just do it.

So, on that note, my paintings will be shown at a little downtown business in Auburn that showcase local artists, Auburn Naturopathic Medicine at 826 Lincoln Way. If you are free Thursday, October 6th from 5-7 pm you should stop by a little reception we’re having and take a peek. Of course, I’m sure you can stop by any time.

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Back to School

Call Me Emily It’s that time again. The ceremonial day of mixed feelings. For some, back to school is joyful and exciting. For others, it’s a grind that seems to have no end. For Emily, it’s a little of both. Call Me Emily begins her freshman year at Cal West University and the beginning of the tumultuous ride of her life. It’s a balancing act for sure for Emily. With classes, friends, a nosy brother and a budding romance – what’s a girl to do?

Here’s a little glimpse – the budding romance:

Design 101 started filling up as the teacher walked in carrying a pile of papers. She leapt right into plans for the semester, and handed out the syllabus. This was my first experience with a syllabus, and its organization intrigued me, but I had no idea how we would accomplish all this work. I was overwhelmed. This was going to be a long day.

Oceanography went well. It was nice to be in a class that was so far from my major. The class was much larger, which probably meant people were taking it to fulfill a general science requirement, just like me. The room was typical lecture style, with tiered seating and a big projector screen at the front of the class. My high school had one classroom like this, but on a much smaller scale. Here, the instructor was a quirky man who loved baseball and, of course, the ocean. He explained to us that he was, in fact, a professor with a PhD but not to call him Dr. Vance because he didn’t like that, and not to call him Mr. Vance because he would look around for his father. That left his first name which was Marlon. I kind of chuckled to myself thinking of the irony of his name and his profession; marlin the sport fish. Marlon was cuing up the first slide. Wow, classes started hard and fast here.

Spanish was somewhat of a relief. I had taken four years of high school Spanish, so at least something was familiar. It was a second year college level course but it didn’t intimidate me. I found a spot, again somewhere in the middle of the room: this class was smaller than Oceanography but still bigger than Design 101. As people settled into their seats, the teacher came through the door surrounded by a cloud of disarray and incense, pulling a rolling cart full of books and papers. In a bright orange, pink and black poncho, she was a sight. Her voice was full and rich and it seemed to match the long, curly mane of black hair flowing down her back. She spoke only Spanish: this class was beginning with the same jolt of my previous classes. She handed a stack of what had to be the class syllabus to the first person in each row to hand back. (Of course I didn’t know the Spanish word for “syllabus.”) As the guy in front of me turned to hand me the stack, I reached up. The stack slipped through my fingers to the floor. Oh, I was such a dope! I silently turned in my seat to pick up the papers when he bent over to help.

“I’m sorry, I let go too soon,” he said kneeling to help me.

“No, it was totally me,” I said shaking my head. Yep, I’m a klutz. I stretched for the three syllabi on the floor to my right before I looked up at him.

“Well, I don’t know about that, but if you say so.” One corner of his mouth curved up into an impish smile. He handed me the sheets that fell in the opposite direction. Then I realized he looked familiar. Had I met him? No. I didn’t think so. I smiled back wondering why his face seemed so…then I remembered, he was the guy that offered to help me when I must have looked completely lost on my first day.

“You know.” He stacked the rest of the papers on my desk. “I might need some help.” What? I thought. Did he remember too?

“Help?”

“Yeah.” He pointed to the stack of syllabi in my hand. “Figuring out what that says.” OK. Probably not.

I took my first look at the syllabus and saw it was entirely in Spanish. Great! I hoped I could read it. When I looked up again, his smile widened and for a flash. I felt my cheeks heat up.

“I’m Graham,” he said extending his hand. I reached over and opened my mouth to respond as I heard the girl behind me clear her throat.

 I passed the papers back and quickly sat down. I had disrupted class long enough. 

The rest of Spanish flew by; what a relief that classes were over for the day. It was hard to believe I had so much reading to do.

“So, how about it?” He stood and slung his backpack over one shoulder.

I looked around making sure he was talking to me. His tone was relaxed. He sounded like he was talking to someone he knew, and knew well. But, it appeared he was only talking to me. I shrugged.

“You’re assuming I can read it.”  I slung my book bag on my shoulder, and with a tilt of my head walked in the opposite direction. Barely out the door, I turned around just enough to see him standing in the same spot watching me walk away. And I felt the slightest bit smug.

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What’s Your Passion?

Boulder-2010Yesterday I watched a documentary about the history of rock climbing in Yosemite. To this you probably arch an eyebrow. “But Laura doesn’t rock climb,” you say to yourself. And you would be correct, but I found it absolutely fascinating. While I listened to the interviews and watched the athletes climb I was struck by their passion. Climbers have been referred to as dirt bags and adrenaline junkies. Both of these labels might be accurate and from what I’ve heard, often self-proclaimed, but I dare to say one-dimensional as well. It’s passion. Once a person is “bit by the bug” so to speak, you can’t hold yourself back. It can be anything. You can be a voracious reader without inching your way up the side of a sheet of granite.

I love to write. Clearly, that’s no secret. I’m passionate about writing. Even the thought of writing a new novel gives me a rush. And when I’m in the throws of writing – that’s just amazing. Not always euphoric, but emotional, crazy, and above all, essential. I’m also passionate about running, hiking, yoga, and most recently kayaking tickles me pink. Most importantly I allow myself to indulge in all of my passions so that I can be the best at being me. And trust me, my loves, Randy and Lane, appreciate that.

While I watched these climbers I respected them and their passion. I was happy for people I don’t know because they have a passion or many passions and they’re doing what they love.

So what is your passion?

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Should You Hire an Editor?

When I made the transition from short stories to novels and made the decision to publish my work, I had no idea how the publishing world worked. I envisioned an editor pouring me a glass of whisky and making suggestions while I sat in front a roaring fireplace making notes.  Maybe I wasn’t that idyllic, but close. Needless to say, that’s not how it works.

As a self-published author I have contracted with an editor for the entire editing and development of my novels. I’d recommend that for any author that wishes to self-publish. But what about authors who choose to pitch queries, hope to land an agent and then a publisher? You still should hire your own editor and this is why. When you submit queries your novel must be complete. All agents require a complete novel or they won’t respond to your query at all. Typically with your query, agents require a chapter or a number of pages. You want these pages and your entire novel to be submission ready. You want the best possible version of your work out there. Not anything short of what you consider to be story and copy perfect.

The next important decision is aligning yourself with an editor. I use the word “aligning” intentionally because you are glued to each other’s sides for the duration of your project. Maybe not literally, but definitely figuratively. Each editor has a style and so do you. Contact as many editors as necessary, have each one give you a sample edit on about six pages of your novel, meet in person if you can, have long conversations about whatever and anything, and evaluate your compatibility. Compatibility is the key. An editor that you are compatible with will coach you, urge you to make better writing decisions and encourage you to turn out your best work.  With a great editor, all of this will happen without you even knowing it.

Where do you find an editor? Start with referrals, then look online. I have built an entire publishing team by doing internet research. There are many, many freelance editors out there. Do the research, make a list, and start interviewing. It can be time consuming, but in the end it will be quite worth it.

Good luck to you. Your amazing novel is just around the corner.

Yours in writing,

Laura Albright

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Social Media and Today’s Author

Social Media set-up. Wow! It’s a ton of work.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on a new novel, The Fifth Day. I’ll publish this work under the pen name LJ Bethmann as it falls into the Adult Fiction Romance Genre. Writing, editing and publishing a novel is work enough, but add in all the social media set up and I’m in for it. I wrote and published the Emily Series from 2009 to 2012 and set up all of the respective websites and social media accounts. It’s safe to say I’ve forgotten the magnitude of work. Between Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Amazon, Create Space, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and so on, it’s daunting. Let’s not forget the design, hosting and launch of my new author website: ljbethmann.com.

So if you’re looking for advice, keep looking. Just kidding! It’s one step at a time for me. And keep in mind there most definitely avenues not mentioned here that I have yet to learn about. But I will. Ask the right people the right questions and boom; the perfect hook-up.

Check back here for updates and directions to the new websites.

Best, as always,

Laura

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Don’t Forget to Write the Movie Version

I finally had the chance to watch the “Hollywood” release of the big screen adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t rush to the theater upon it’s much anticipated release like most of my demographic; instead I waited in fear for the DVD release. I say “in fear” because like most readers I’m often disappointed when I see a movie following a particularly poignant read. I was disappointed for various reasons, but most importantly it made me think about writing in a different way. As I watched I started checking off a list of things I would have done differently and my mind went to my novels. The reason I turned the pages of that particular book was two-fold. One obvious answer and one maybe not so obvious. First, it was the first book I’d read at that point that introduced a love scene on almost every page and second, the inter dialogue of the protagonist and her inherent struggle was interesting. Those two qualities failed in the movie.

As I take away those observations I wonder how many authors think about the movie version of their work. Not who will be cast, but how it will translate mediums. We’re writing in an age where most everyone watches movies. Often when we read we imagine the Hollywood version. At least I do.

My next challenge – and I’m always looking for one – is to circle back to my works in progress and evaluate at a deeper level if I’m really creating not only a scene but an experience that allows the reader to transfer the written word into a screen adaptation in their mind. I think this exercise will uncover any weak areas where I haven’t portrayed a “GMC” (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) well enough. One of my ongoing works, The Fifth Day, has given me a bit of run for my money in this area, and I think this new outlook could help me turn this work around. Let’s see what I can do. Check back.

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Time to “Shake Things Up” – and publish it too!

In my New Year’s post I talked about shaking things up this new Year. I intend to do just that, but maybe in different ways than some do.

Late 2013 and 2014 marked a period of drastic career change for me. I went from working part time for a number of years while my son was younger, to freelance, and now returning to my career in a full time and-then-some capacity. That alone tested my routines and comforts beyond what I could have imagined. Now, still not entirely living in a “comfort zone,” I do feel like I’m getting the hang of it. That brings me back to what I’m going to do.

They say you use the two sides of your brain for different things. One for creativity and one for analytics. I say I use my whole brain for creativity and my whole brain for analytics. A demanding career can be overwhelming and has at times, but creativity can coexist.

Writing novels is never easy, story-lines don’t always come to me in the shower (although sometimes) and it’s certainly not in my comfort zone. It’s hard work, beautiful, but hard work. Four published novels later I always wonder if I’ve seen the last of it. I’ve written many stories, but some are on a path to publish while others were just for me. It’s the one that continually nags at you that finds it way on Amazon. For me it’s a spin-off. For years I’ve been nagged by my Call Me Emily character “Colin.” Colin resonated with me in a way other characters just tickled me. This man, so loving and selfless, yet in his journey with Emily did not find his happily ever after.

My plan to reconnect with Colin and maybe some other characters from the series is exciting. And no, not in a comfortable way. I’ll post pieces of the new novel here as they come to me and share with you the journey. I’m looking forward to it.

 

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