Getting Down With Patti Larsen

When you meet Patti Larsen, you have to squint your eyes, she shines so bright, in person and online. She’s got one of the strongest work ethics of anyone I’ve ever met. She is THE most prolific writer I’ve come across, generous and giving to other writers. That counts for a lot in this business.

Keep your eye on this rising star — and eat your Wheaties, because you’ll need the strength to keep up with her.

She looks like she means business, doesn't she?

1. How has your dream of becoming a published writer differed from the reality?

Oh boy. You don’t pull any punches, do you? In one word, VASTLY. I went from THE DREAM of writing a best seller, finding the perfect agent, nabbing a million dollar advance and sitting back to enjoy the accolades of my adoring fans to, well… none of that. Except writing the best seller part. That will always remain.

I’ve learned so much in the last two and a half years. When I dove into writing full time, I was still under the impression this was going to be so easy! And that lasted quite a while. It’s really only the past year or so I decided to actually open my eyes and pay attention. After all, I’m a businesswoman and have been for many years through two other businesses. But when I leapt into publishing, it was like the smart and savvy part of myself took a vacation in favor of having everything done for me.

Since when? It took some great new friends (yourself, Joseph Paul Haines and others) to help me see how much I’d strayed from what I really wanted. With all the changes in this industry, it makes sense to put my big girl entrepreneur panties back on and treat this like what it is–not a fairy tale or a pipe dream but a business.

Am I ever glad I did.

2. You really pump out a lot of material. What is your writing process like?

I think I suppressed the muse for so many years because of fear and other people’s opinions that she’s been saving everything up until now. Seriously. It’s like this faucet has been turned on and the more I drink from it the faster it flows…

My process. I get an idea, I spend two days developing it, turn it into an outline and sit down and write the thing in about eight or nine days. That’s my process. I wish I had a magic bullet to hand to other writers, had some witty or charming way of explaining where all of this material comes from but I don’t. It’s really just that simple. And while I know it isn’t for everyone, please don’t be jealous.

I have to produce that fast. The voices, you see. It’s write or go nuts.

The first book in Patti's series, "The Hunted". Get ready to Run!

3. What do you think is the most important part of being a self-publisher?

Being in control of my career. NO ONE knows what’s good for me and my books but me. NO ONE. And while I am wide open to information, to learning, I embrace what I discover, absorb it, take what I need from it and discard the rest as I see fit. Everything I do, sink or swim, is up to me. The learning curve is massive but it’s also thrilling–and I no longer have to tolerate someone else’s opinions on how I should run my business.

Every writer, every creator, needs to do this at least once. I love to explore all avenues of everything I get involved in. I need to understand how everything works, from typesetting to cover design, editing and proofing, marketing… all of it. Every piece of the puzzle gives me another insight into doing my job better, smarter and faster.

4. What was your biggest misconception of the editing process with a professional editor?

Oh, that my work was absolutely perfect, naturally, and that the manuscript would come back with giant happy faces and lots of notes proclaiming how I was a literary genius.

And while I know I’m fortunate, I can string words together into a coherent sentence and those sentences into paragraphs and those paragraphs into something that makes sense, the editing process has taught me so much more about how I write. I never see comments as criticisms but as an opportunity to learn something more–to take that knowledge and apply it to my work from then on.

So while it didn’t happen the way I imagined, it’s been so much more than I could ever hope for.

5. How much self-editing did you do before engaging an editor?

Not a whole lot, to be honest. I’m pretty lucky that the copy I write is fairly clean. I still need editing, I know that, but I trust my creative process now. I’m a staunch believer in outlining and do most of my editing during that part of development–so major story changes don’t tend to pop up for me (at least so far…). When I’m finished with the first draft, I basically read through it once, catching as many typos as I can as well as fleshing out anything that needs it then send it off immediately.

While some of your readers may flinch at the idea of not revising fifteen million times, I say this: why are you washing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher? That’s what your editor is for.

6. What do you like the most about the editing process?

EVERYTHING. Seriously. I know most writers hate it, but I love it. Love it. Did I say I loved it? It’s like taking a diamond and adding facets and angles and sparkle until it glows and shines even without any light on it… it’s fun and informative and I adore every second.

The key to it I think is having an open mind and leaving your ego at the door. And trusting your editor. You have to find someone who understands your work, who sees your vision. Shares it. But is outside it enough they can spot the areas that aren’t sparkly yet. I’m lucky enough to have found that person in you.

I don’t let my logical mind control my editing. Again, I feel your readers all shuddering collectively and that’s okay. I don’t think logic really has much of a place in writing, at least, not in the art part of it. When I go through your notes, Netta, I let my heart tell me: does that serve the story? Of course it does! Or, hmm… no, I like it the way it is. Most of the time I’m bouncing in my seat with excitement that you’ve pegged the very thing I’ve been trying to let out and get to. Tip of my mind stuff. For me, that’s thrilling. Like uncovering treasure.

I love it so much.

7. What do you like the least?

If I had to pick something it would be when I screw up and repeat a mistake. I know better than to tell and not show but sometimes the odd one will slip through. You catch them and I kick myself. I don’t like wasting time, mine or yours, so I see those mistakes as failings.

8. What surprised you the most about it?

I guess how much I love it. I didn’t think I would enjoy it this much. I mean, I was raised to think editing is terrible, horrible, painful, that I’d end up hating my manuscript at the end and never want to see it again. That I wouldn’t even recognize it when it was done.

Um… I call bullshit. I love my books even more. Who would want to work like that?

9. Tell us about any upcoming projects.

So many… you and I just finished the edits on Family Magic, book one of The Hayle Coven Novels. It’s due out on or around the 15th of this month. I love this book. It was the first one I wrote in this current incarnation of my career, the very first young adult I tackled. It’s about Sydlynn Hayle, a sixteen-year-old daughter of a powerful witch and a demon lord, but she just wants to be ordinary. Syd is my soul sister and I adore her. I’m thrilled she’s finally going to meet the rest of the world.

I’m working on next three books in that series as well as outlining the following four. In November, I’m tackling the Blunt House series, Pins and Needles, Them Bones and Blood Lines, about Alice, a quiet loner who finds a voodoo doll in her grandmother’s house and then wonders why horrible things start happening to people who are mean to her.

That will wrap up this year–next year is another story entirely. I have eighteen novels lined up to write in 2012 and books scheduled into 2015. Busy busy!

Wooohooo!

10. Tell us something you’ve never divulged in an online interview.

I don’t like to have strangers tell me their story lines–not because I’ll steal them but because I’m so prolific I know I probably have something similar on the back burner–and if I hear someone else is working on the idea I have to dump mine. I have too strong of a work ethic to ever consider writing something I know is already being developed by someone else.

About the Author: Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal who writes a great deal of horror for someone who is afraid of the dark. She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four massive cats.

Where to find Patti:

My website! Shiny!
For the latest news on my work
My writing blog
Because a girl’s got to have a fanpage
I’d love to Tweet you!
My Amazon page!

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Fun In The Sandbox – A Writing and Editing Update

Time flies when you’re having fun, but it also flies when you’re up to your armpits in “To Do” lists. And it’s only the “To Do” lists which are keeping me from going nuts.

Oh sure, he looks cute. But see that crazy gleam in his eye? Yeah.

Lots going on. First of all, working on several editing projects and loving every minute of that, even though most days it means my eyes look like this:

Yikes. That's a scary eyeball right there.

Several of my client’s projects are coming out or have been launched over the last couple of months, and that’s really exciting. After much soul-searching and teeth gnashing with a little bit of hair-pulling and heartache, I have come to the conclusion pimping out my clients when they launch could be construed as having a conflict of interest. So, as much as I love each and every one of them and believe in their work, I must limit myself to simply posting the links on my sidebar over there <- labeled as "Editing Work", which I will be updating regularly so make sure to keep an eye on that list. A hard decision, for real. *sniffle* [caption id="attachment_1449" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="I do not endorse violators. Or bitch slapping. Unless you're a violator."][/caption]

But honestly, I have been extremely privileged and honored to work with these writers, and I encourage you to check them out. There are some amazingly talented people out there. It’s really humbling.

Next on the list is the launch of “Athena’s Promise” on October 28th. I’ve been posting snippets on my Facebook Fan Page, and that’s the only place you’ll see them. So, if you’re curious about what I’ve been doing in my spare time, “like” the page and see what’s shaking. I’m all the way up to Chapter 19 as of today with three more to go. Share the page with your friends, and the day I hit 200 fans is the day I will post here the first two chapters. FOR FREE. Sound like a deal?

No, not a deal like this. Besides, those are really shitty cards. I can do you better than that.

The covers of all three books in the series are being crafted even as we speak, along with a blazing trailer. I am beyond excited about this, especially since I’ve engaged the uber-talented Rebecca Walker. And let me tell you, she is AMAZING. I’ll post them when they’re ready, because I love you guys that much :)

In addition, I’ve set up all Kindle publications for a Kindlegraph. How cool is that shiz? Visit my fan page for more details! (See what I did there? Heh.)

Sneaky little bugger, ain't I? Heh.

Now that you’re all caught up for the moment, I need to take care of some of those “To Do” lists before the nice men in the white jackets get here. 😉

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

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Of Deadlines and Betas

Ah, the deadline for my beta readers was today, and with only a couple of exceptions, they were all really great about getting back to me regarding comments and critiques or notice they would be unable to fulfill their beta duties.

I have a bit of a reputation about deadlines, and that’s because of the copy background. Well, that’s not strictly correct. I have been anal about time since I was late showing up out of the womb. (Sorry, Momma!) See, in my line of business, time is money.

Notice there is silver in this pile. I usually see more pennies than quarters.

Being self-employed, I have to set my own schedule. And while I’d rather schedule marathon viewings of “Firefly”, long bubble baths to soothe my aching back, or hour-long sessions of cat-skritching, unfortunately none of those pay my bills.

Sometimes very difficult to explain to my Cat Overlord.

So, instead of leading the life of luxurious sloth I so richly deserve, I find my boss is an absolute bitch about deadlines. I know people depend on my finished work in order to accomplish theirs. I also know one of the best ways to kill your writing career is to make a habit of missing deadlines. That’s not to say when I set someone else a deadline I don’t understand when Real Life happens and things are derailed — sure, it’s happened to me. But I think the key here is communication. If I don’t think I’m going to meet a hard deadline then I’m in touch with the client as soon as possible to communicate that. To me, it is the height of unprofessionalism to stick your head in the sand and pretend the train wreck is not going to happen.

Do I miss the mark? Sure I do, but not often. It’s a personal thing. I know writers who blow off deadlines like it just doesn’t matter. That irritates me. Either you’re a professional or not — and if you are, act like it. Just because you have thirty days doesn’t mean you leave it to the last one. That’s stupid, and in NettaLand, a hanging offense.

Yes. I will find you, and I will hang you. But first, you will suffer.

The moral of this little story — if you’re not going to make it, communicate that factoid. This gives everyone a chance to make changes and shuffle important activities around.

***

Now that little lecture is over, let’s talk about something more fun, shall we?

Mired as I have been in writing web copy, I am very excited to be putting on my editor’s hat in the next week or so. Not only will I be editing the fabulous Lori Whitwam’s Make or Break, I will also be starting edits on the equally fabulous Patti Larsen’s second book in her Diamond City Trilogy. I’m very excited about both projects and can’t wait to begin.

Even more exciting, with the notes I’ve received from my blessed betas, hopefully I will begin revisions on Athena’s Promise.

This is Zach Carter. He looks like how I feel! Only he's so much cuter!

I’m not setting a deadline (heh) because I never know what the next day is going to bring and I have a wedding in August which deserves my full attention.

Don't worry, it's not me. I'd stick one of these in my eye first.

But, my hope is to have Athena’s Promise ready for publication in September. Of course, updates here as they happen. :)

And of course, I couldn’t let you go without expressing my eternal gratefulness to my beta readers. It really takes a special person to be a good beta reader, and all of mine are GREAT. Their insightful, perceptive and honest observations have confirmed some thoughts I had and opened my eyes to places where Athena’s Promise needs a little help. Thanks to them, I can take Pallas and her story to the next level, and for that I can’t thank them enough.

I Love You Beta Readers! *MUAH*
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Change Is The Only Constant

Yep, some changes in Netta-Land, and while change is not necessarily a bad thing, it can be a little disconcerting.
So, if you’re tired of the same old story…turn some pages.

This is me — turning some pages.

***

One of the biggest changes and one I am ecstatic over, is the position I’ve accepted at Etopia Press as a Content Editor. I am over the moon.

This moon. Not the other kind of moon. That would just be wrong.

I am so happy about this because fiction has always been my first love, story my passion. I really enjoy working with new authors and taking a manuscript to the next level. This position allows me to expand my scope and exercise my Mad Editing Skillz, as well as provide an opportunity to meet and work with some outstanding authors. I am very excited about this!

I decided to sign with Etopia for many reasons. One of them was because of the fabulous Managing Editor and founder, Annie Melton. Not only is she smart and savvy, she and I share the same driving passion for story and what really resonates with me is her respect for writers in general. She gets it. Annie has a lot of experience in the publishing and editing field, and she has the kind of high standards I can get behind 100%. I feel very fortunate.

So, if you are interested in working with an indie press dedicated to nurturing and supporting both new and established writers, take a look at Etopia Press. If you think it would be a fit, use their submission form and if you would like to work with me, include my name. If accepted, your story, novella or novel will come to me and we would get to play together! Doesn’t that sound like fun?!

Don't be scared. Those are fake horns. Mostly.

I am interested in all genres, but I will admit a fondness for speculative fiction, horror, paranormal, urban fantasy…you get the picture. Length doesn’t matter (so many jokes here, so little time, but I’ll spare you, heh!) because I love short stories as much as I do longer works.

Send me what you have! I’d love to see it.

***

And not so much of a change, but in addition, I have some new releases on my Amazon. Three of the covers I did myself, but the cover of The Blood is Not Enough was done by Laurie O’Hare who totally nailed it on the first try. I love this cover so much, I’m thinking about getting a tattoo. The story means a lot to me, and could be in development as a longer work.

My other cover, for Of Virgins and Indigestion was done by graphic artist Rebecca Treadway. She brought George to life, and it is SO COOL! This is the first Netta Character ever to have a face, and I’m so happy with it. I love George, bless his heart.

Both of these stories appear in Not Nice and Other Understatements but stand quite nicely on their own. I’ve also packaged a selection of stories in On the Edge of Insanity – A Triptych of Crazy and Little Rebellions for those who aren’t sure they want the whole collection. (And why not?)

For something new, I’ve released a volume of twelve stories called Musical Chairs – A Jamming Bio, a unique look at significant memories over a period of time inexorably linked to a selection of popular music.

More projects in the works as time allows. Stay tuned.

***

Another major change in Netta-Land is I’ve decided, except for a few select clients, to retire from writing web copy. I’ve had a good run, but it looks as though the Universe is poking me to travel in a different direction. To that end, I am currently on the hunt for an Outside Job Involving Real People. (Oh, the horror! Heh. For me, not them! Although some people may differ on that opinion.)

I’ve chosen to do this for many reasons. The main reason is I want to focus on my editing and writing endeavors. Right now that’s not enough to support me, so I will have to adapt. I can do that.

Decisions, decisions.

Another reason is I have become increasingly disenchanted with writing web copy, and this is partly due to the demanding deadlines. Now, I don’t have a problem with deadlines, and I have made it a priority to never miss one and I am proud to say I haven’t. But it is extremely wearing to always be “on alert”, so-to-speak, especially with other factors becoming major issues.

“What factors, Netta?”

Well, I’m glad you asked that question, Dear Reader. Factors like low pay, unreliable payments, disrespect and general Fucktardary (sure to be the subject of another NettaRant. I’m sure you can’t wait). I’ve had enough, to be perfectly blunt. Truth is, I know the world of fiction and publishing a lot better than I know the world of web copy, and I’m much more comfortable with fiction. I’ve straddled the line for almost three years, and it’s time to pick a side.

Talk to the hand.

So, I have.

I don’t count my years writing web copy full-time as a loss. I have learned so much that will serve me well in the fiction arena, and I feel as if those lessons will give me an edge. I’ve met and worked with some fabulous people, and I’ll still be working with a select few. I also feel as if it’s time to put my butt on the line in a different way, and to that end I will focus my energy on what I truly love to do.

Change is the only constant. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

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A Hodge-Podge

There’s always something happening in the writerly world of Nettaland, and I really should be spanked for not blogging regularly. I could promise to be better about that, but I hate breaking promises. The shards are sharp and really hurt when you step on them.

Anyway, here’s the hodge-podge of what’s currently on the table:

~ I am closing on on the completion of a Special Project, and I’m excited. My client is happy with me, and says so here. Truth is, she’s been a dream client, and I can’t wait until “Lovers and Beloveds” hits the shelves. Believe me, you will love it. I think the pre-orders are open until July 15, but you can find out more information here. Hop on, because I have a feeling this thing is gonna blow wide open. Remember, you got the scoop here :)

~ With the completion of this project, I will have two openings for editorial services in about two weeks. Contact me for details.

~ Some of you who have followed me on my private blog are most familiar with my whining about “The Blood”. This is a short story whose history is ten times longer than the final word count. I won’t tell the story behind the story here (but I will if it’s published, promise) but suffice to say it’s been a long, torturous road with this thing. It is one of those stories that JUST. WON’T. LET. GO. I wrote the initial inception SEVEN years ago. Yes, you heard that right. It has been reworked and rewritten until I was satisfied, has garnered more rejections than a pimply-faced thirteen-year old at a high school dance, and I finally got to the point where I figured it was just going to be one of those stories that meant more to me than it ever would to anyone else.

Until one of my favorite magazines put out a call for vampire fiction. I sent it in. No word yet, but all signs look promising. I’ll post the link and tell the story should it be picked up.

~ One of my favorite authors has a new story up at Strange Horizons and it is LOVELY. Love her work. Check it out.

~ For those who are looking for a website and book cover designer, I can’t recommend Matt highly enough. He’s not only talented, the man’s a machine, great to work with, and an all-around nice guy, even if he is an Aussie ;). If you have a need, he’s your guy.

~ I’ve been asked to guest blog on Cape Cod Holistic, so that’s something I’ll be working on. I’ll post the link when it goes live — but it’s a great website and I’m honored to be asked to be a part of it. I’m contemplating subject matter, and hope to have something up in the next few days.

~ Ah, yes. Pallas. She tasks me, so she does. I’m really wondering, at this point, since the ending seems to be giving me fits, if I should just leave the ending alone and start editing from the beginning since the first chapter continues to bug the hellfire out of me. It’s the weakest chapter of the lot, in my opinion, and the more this beast sits in the trunk the more I see what’s wrong with it and how to fix it. I realize there’s no rules and I can do what I want, but the truth is I’m in uncharted territory here. I really need to finish this thing, but stuff like Life and Paying Work has had to take precedence. Stress. I haz it.

Other than that, I continue to plod along, and wonder why I didn’t choose an easier career. Heh.

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