Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brain keeping me awake…must Blog

Good evening everyone! I’m sorry it’s been over a week since I blogged. My bad. But you know how it goes, Holidays, family, working a full time job, housekeeping (what’s that?) and oh yeah, WRITING at every spare moment! Time slips on by and is gone like piece of chocolate left on the counter for me to find…poof!

So a few minutes ago I was tossing around in bed trying to shut my brain down for the night. That’s kind of hard when your imagination’s running away from you on a writer’s high. I just finished writing the first draft of a short story I’ve been working on to submit to my writer’s club for an Anthology they’re going to produce next year. I’ve been working really hard at trying to get the first draft complete before the next meeting in December as a goal to stay on track. Ta-da! It’s done!
Now for the editing…Well folks, that’s where I’m left scratching my head.

They have some guidelines for the submissions. One of them being that the work should be between 500 – 1000 words. My first draft is approximately 8600. I know I can edit it back, trim the edges, fluff up the ruffles and call it done – BUT, I love all of it. I’m pouting now…what to do?
There is a glimmer of hope to be found. Tis the season after all. I am permitted to submit up to three works for consideration for the Anthology. So maybe, just maybe, I can expand the short story turning it into two and submit both with the intention that the reader will have all the little goodies at their fingertips. The short story is a branch off of the series I’m writing and as long as the board of the Sacramento Suburban Writer’s Club likes them, they could be published in the Anthology next summer right around the time book 2 comes out of The Deceiver series.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I think my brain is shutting down. Hmm, bed is starting to sound pretty good now…yawn. Good night.

R. J. Machado De Quevedo
Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook

Friday, November 16, 2012

Divine Intervention or coincidence? I say the first.

Good evening everyone! In my last Blog, I told you all a little bit about how incredible it was for me to experience an unbelievably quick turn around in receiving a traditional publishing contract. Thank you TATE Publishing! Well, there’s more to the story…

A few months ago, I was speaking with, Donna, the Associate Director of Acquisitions at Tate Publishing. She was the one I have to thank for this opportunity! I asked her if it would be possible for my husband and I to come on by their office and meet them in October. I was headed out to the Mid-West for a work conference (for my day job) and since I would be in that longitudinal area – sort of, I thought if they allowed it, we’d stop in. They were more then willing to oblige, and said that they loved to meet their Authors, so we scheduled a date.

Basically, I just really wanted to shake the hands of all the great folks I’d already been corresponding with and of course, meet Donna. I was so excited! So after my work conference in WI, My husband and I rented a car and drove down to Oklahoma. We made a three day trip out of it to enjoy the countryside and also, so I could work on book 3 in the evenings! Got some great sight seeing in that I’ll probably use in some later books, but that’s a spoiler alert, so shhhh.

When we got to Oklahoma, I was tingling with anticipation for the coming appointment. We arrived in the packed parking lot, and found a meek little spot all the way around the corner in the back. It wasn’t until we had walked up to the lobby doors that my husband pointed out a plack positioned right in front of a parking spot near the entrance. It said, “Reserved for Author, RJ Machado De Quevedo”. I was thrilled! He asked if he should go get the car and park it there and of course I said yes. I wasn’t expecting that and it made me feel, Okay, this IS really happening and I AM an Author now. Wow.

A lovely lady named, Rachael, Director of Operations, gave me the grand tour. We walked through the building and she introduced me to as many people as were present or available. The first building was their Executive and Administrative office building which houses their CEO, President, Acquisitions staff, Marketing Managers, Editorial Managers, and the like. Then we went over to the building nearby and meet the editors, artists, designers, website designers, etc. Great people! I definitely got a lot of practice giving my elevator speech about the books.

When I got to meet, Donna, the woman who had reviewed my manuscript and sent me the publishing contract, we got talking about the circumstances in which I submitted the manuscript. As I described in my last blog, it was on a Monday and I was at work when I’d felt it in my gut that today was the day that I HAD to submit the manuscript. So as soon as I got home that evening, I did. What I learned from Donna when I meet her, was that she wasn’t even supposed to be in the office the next morning when I called to make sure they had received the manuscript. Since I never received the confirmation email that the website said I would receive, I had called Tuesday morning just to make sure they had it. Donna was scheduled to work from home and had come into the office for a little while. When I met her, she explained this to me and said that now, she couldn't’t even remember why she had decided to come in. The day I called, she accepted the transferred call, even though she didn’t have to as she wasn’t supposed to even be there.

Donna further explained to me that normally, it can take nine weeks or more before a potential Author receives a reply of any kind. It just so happened that when I called, she was there, choose to take the call, opened up the document with me still on phone, scrolled through it to make sure it was complete, and somehow, was intrigued enough to review my manuscript that week! Donna told me, “I firmly believe that when it’s God’s timing, it’s God’s timing.” And she was RIGHT!

So, thank the Lord and Thank you Donna! And thank you to my readers.

Next time I’ll talk a little about some interesting and trippy things that have transpired while I scouted locations for scenes in my books.

Until next time, have a fabulous weekend!

R. J. Machado De Quevedo

Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How I got a Publishing Contract!

The way this book contract came about is nothing short of miraculous. All I can say is when it’s God’s timing, it’s His timing. We can either help him or hinder him. Here’s how it happened for me…

Well, as I explained in earlier blogs, the idea of the books came from a dream. A dream which I strongly felt was the Lord ministering to me about my loss of passion for something that had been very near and dear to me since I was about eight years old, playing my flute and enjoying worshiping and making music. THAT, is a whole other story which I won’t get into today. However, I believe He sent me the dream, and as a result, the ideas and characters for The Deceiver series were born.

I finished writing the first two books around the beginning of February 2012. Originally they were combined into one big book 637 pages long. I split it into book 1 and 2 after I got the contract offer and my publisher and I decided it was the best way to kick off the series since there would be at least four more books to come anyway and we thought it best to keep the length to around 350+/- pages.

By the time I was finished, I had been writing if for nearly 2 years and only when I could carve out time on weekends or a few minutes at night during my work week. There were so many weeks where I hadn’t been able to write a single line due to the busyness of my life and all the obligations I have. The longest I went without toughing it was a month due to a big test I was studying for at work, and it was pure torture! (The not writing part and the test)

I’d been trying to study and my mind would run off on scenes I had yet to write and new twists I hadn’t thought of before. It was very distracting but was a direct reflection of where my heart was. I felt like I was living two lives. I have successful fulltime career and I work with wonderful precious people during the day. Then there was my secret passion and dream that I could pull out at night and on weekends and be a closet writer. I still love my day job, but writing…writing is a whole new level of joy for me.

Even when I was done with the book, I was still nervous about how I should go about getting it published. I had promised myself that if it never got published I’d be okay with that and that it would be for me. But I still r-e-e-e-a-l-l-y wanted to try and was praying that I’d make it.

I had been conducting research for months on how to get traditionally published and compiling a list of the top publishers to make my “wish list”. What I found was that many publishers didn’t even want to deal with the author directly. They only wanted you to go through a Literary Agent.

So I decided to research Literary Agents too, just for the heck of it. I mean, what if I needed one? And since I didn’t know how many publishers were going to give me the “thank you for thinking of us but you suck” letter, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could find a Literary Agent to tell me that first or not.

I had my lists…I had my big fat book…I had cold feet. So I decided to go read through my book again and try to clean it up a little; looking for spelling, missing words, missed punctuation or the run ons…I tend to have some once in a while like you probably already caught on to that and it’s sort of like this sentence you’re reading r-i-i-i-i-g-h-t now actually, if you feel me?  ;o)

Once I got up the nerve, I decided to send an inquiry to an agent I found online. She didn’t want to see any part of the book at all. Her only online inquiry requirements were simply to send her a one page description of my book along with my name and contact information. I won’t say WHO this Lit Agent was and there really isn’t a need to anyway since she sent me back an email that basically said, “thanks, but I don’t think this is right for me at this time.”

Okay. So I was stung for about a day, then I let it go. After all, she hadn’t read my book, so I choose to believe that it didn’t really count. Besides, I had learned from research and watching interviews of other successful author, that it can take a couple years to find a Literary Agent who catches your vision and is willing to take a chance on you. And then it can take them another couple of years to find you a publisher and you’ll most likely to get rejected a couple dozen times before they will even give you a shot. Then by the time you find a publisher, it can be one to two more years before your book is even printed and released to the public. So I was ready for this to take about six years or so. I had time.

After the Lit Agent said, “hmm, no thanks”, I sort of just sat on the book for another month and kept on reviewing it and making minor edits. After all, this could take a while anyway, why rush into anything? I still had my wish list of publishers and knew who I could send the manuscript directly to and who I couldn’t. My top choice was Tate Publishing and are one of the few who actually allow the Author to send in their manuscripts directly online. But that wasn’t why they were my top choice. I liked how they presented themselves, as the most “Pro-Author Publisher in the industry”. I liked their morals, their beliefs and they just felt right to me. Yet I was still very nervous. So so soooooo nervous.

On Monday, July 9th, 2012, when I was at work I started getting this feeling in my gut that I had to move now and submit my manuscript to Tate Publishing THAT DAY.  There was an urgency and certainty in the pit of my stomach that just kept growing. By the end of the day, the feeling was so loud and so intense that I was desperate to get home and submit it. I nearly ran out of the office to get to my car. I couldn’t wait to get home! I knew I had to do it today. God couldn’t have been any louder unless He had shouted audibly to me and tapped me on the top of the head with a stick.

As soon as I got home from work I dropped my purse to the floor and ran to my laptop to start it up. It couldn’t have loaded in slower! Ah! I checked my manuscript as fast as I could to make sure that it at least had my name on it, and pulled up their website, found the submission link, and I submitted it right then on their website. I received an instant notification that it had been successfully uploaded and was informed by that message that I would be receiving an email shortly as confirmation. Well, the email never came! Now what!?
The next morning I called Tate Publishing just to make sure they had received it in good order and that someone could see it in their queue. I didn’t want it floating out there in internet-techno land somewhere all alone. Even though I had already submitted the entire thing to the US Library of

Congress just to cover my butt, I still didn’t want it lost somewhere!
The receptionist was so sweet when she answered the phone and informed me that my manuscript had been received and had already been assigned to one of their Acquisitions staff. She transferred the call to Donna, their Associate Director of Acquisitions. She very graciously took my phone call and pulled up my manuscript with me on the line just to make sure it had all come through so I wouldn’t have to worry.

She informed me that she would be reviewing it and that I would hear back from her within several weeks. She let me know that she would be looking first of all for talent, then writing style, a compelling story and so on. She also informed me that she would not be reading the entire book but would be selecting chapters at random to read. I wanted to tell her, “Oh, read here, then read this chapter, then this one,” but I didn’t want to be pushy or take up her time so I bit back all my comments and questions and decided it was in God’s hands. I thanked her for her time and we hung up. Then I fervently prayed that God would direct her to right places to read.

The rest of the week I felt this stirring going on inside, like a shifting happening mingled with excitement, anticipation and nerves! I could feel something happening out there. I felt something coming, but didn’t know if it was a good thing or a bad thing.  I just kept praying and gave it all to God asking that his will be done. If they were the publisher that God had planned for me, then it would happen in His timing.

Just four days later, on Friday the 13th, the wait was over. I wasn’t expecting to back from her for weeks. When I received an email in my inbox from Donna at 7:30 PM PT (9:30 PM CT- they are in Oklahoma), my stomach dropped and my pulse spiked. I hastily opened the email and felt my eyes bug out of my head as I saw that it was a congratulatory message with a contract offer attached! I couldn’t believe it! In four days and on my first attempt, a publisher had snatched up the book and me along with it. This was definitely a God thing! This just doesn’t happen in the writing world folks. It’s a rare as a white lion in the wild.

Well, I starting doing the girl thing and screamed at the top of my lungs over and over. My poor husband was on an international phone call, and had to hang up so come make sure I wasn’t bleeding to death or something. He came in with his eyebrows raised and his phone clutched in his hand and asked, “Are you okay? What happened?”
I was nearly speechless, the screaming had communicated my excitement better than I could vocalize, but I tried nonetheless. “I just got an email from, Donna, at Tate Publishing. I have a contract offer!” I said in a disgustingly high pitched voice.

“You what?” He said in absolute disbelief.
“I got a contract offer!” I said again, reclaiming some of my mental faculties and sounding slightly more human.

“But…but you said it could take like two years to find a publisher!” He said getting excited, but still in shock. Glad I wasn’t the only one.
“I know! Praise God!” I said, the wonder of it all sinking in and sparking me to life.

“But…but they were the first publisher you sent it to!” He continued, his logical brain refusing to accept the enormity of this unexpectedly quick news.
“I know, Praise God!” I said again. I didn’t know what else to say!

“Really!? What’d she say!?” He walked over to where I was sat paralyzed on the couch and I read him the email. I was giggling by the end of it. I was laughing and almost crying I was so full of joy, shock and amazement. It took me a good fifteen minutes to touch back down to the Earth and breathe normal. This was probably the best news I had ever received in my entire life.
But it gets even more amazing. On my next blog, I’ll explain how the timing of events, the direction I felt in my gut, and small little puzzle pieces God had to maneuver to make this all happen is even more incredible. That’s next time. As it is, I think I wrote quite a bit tonight.

Thank you for reading. God bless. Until next time…
R. J. Machado De Quevedo
Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

From a thought to a book

If I were to try and explain the experience of writing a fictional novel, it would probably be best summed up with an analogy about planting a flower. Bare with me here folks; it’s not as corny as it sounds.

First of all, when you decide you want to plant a flower, you have an image in mind as to what you expect it to look like. You’ve seen thousands of flowers before after all, so you aren’t clueless as to its’ basic design. You may know the species of the flower, but there is no way to really predict how many leaves it will have, how many perfect peddles it will have, the precise color of the flower peddles when the sunlight hits it, how tall it will be, or whether it will thrive with the proper attention, or wither and die because it gets stepped on.
Writing a book is sort of like that; for me at least. I knew the basic shape and form I wanted it “look” like, but how it would turn out when it was all said and done was as much a surprise to me as it will be to you, my readers. It’s so fascinating to experience the book development first hand. As I wrote, ideas and words would come to color and shape my initial impressions and ideas to make the fuller and deeper. My subconscious mind was connecting dots and redirecting story angles that my conscious mind was still puzzling out. I had so many moments where answers were coming as I wrote. At times I felt like I was watching it in my head and just documenting what I was witnessing. It’s such a trip! A really great, fun, and elating trip!

As I wrote I was witnessing the further creation of my characters personalities, morbid or atypical histories, twisted acts of fate, and moments of enlightenment. I felt like I was watching the flower grow and bloom right before my eyes and was awed by the creation.
I am so excited to see what will happen in book 1 and 2 during the coming months as my editor and I start getting it ready for production and distribution. I can’t wait to have a printed copy in my hands, whole, solid and real. Spring 2013 is coming fast! As soon as they have the Authors Website up with the book e-commercials I’ll post the links.

Thank you for reading. Have a fabulous day!
R. J. Machado De Quevedo
Follow me on Twitter under @TheDeceiverBook

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My first time

Sitting down to try and write a novel wasn't as simple as sit, type, done. Oh, no. After I had the dream that inspired my storyline, there was about three months of internal doubts and fear to deal with at just the thought of attempting such a feat. But it didn't stop the fact that I was consumed with the flow of thoughts, writing down every idea that popped into my head, and compiling my notes. Some notes were hand written, some typed, some on scraps of paper that I had grabbed in the middle of the night when my mind was overwhelmed with ideas and I didn’t want to forget them.

Before I sat down to actually try to start writing book one I rummage through all my notes and organize them as “B1”, “B2”, “B3”, etc. These stand for book one and book two and so on. Then I’d put the bullet notes in the order I thought I wanted them to go. Each bullet representing a chapter or paragraphs in a chapter within the referenced book I intended to write. I knew from the start there would be at least four books in The Deceiver series, but it has since developed into more. It is more probable that there will be five or six.
It was thrilling to experience the never ending flood of ideas that bubbled up from my mind and came crashing in like wave upon wave into my conscious mind. The flood gates had been opened, and could not be stopped. And I didn’t want them to stop. If ideas came that I didn’t know a lot about in the real world, I’d make a note to research and investigate them further later on. Some of them I had to research right away to see if the hunches and leading in my gut had been accurate. Most of the time, they were.
I felt like I was being led by the spirit of God into areas and depths I hadn’t conceived of before. It was elating and almost like a runner’s high. Well, technically I guess it’s a writer’s high. The adrenaline and surges of excitement would wash through me when I’d have a really good idea that I knew pushed the story into directions I hadn’t foreseen, but were absolutely perfect for my characters and the development of the storyline.
I remember the first day I actually grabbed my laptop and sat down to start writing book one. The notes and preliminary research were well on their way and could no longer be an excuse to prolong the inevitable. The story needed to be told, to be written. And I was the only one who could, and should do it. I had a choice. Sit down, buck up, woman up, and start writing damn it. Or, never start, never try, and live with the what if and regret it for the rest of my life.
The choice was simple. I HAD to write this book. It was consuming my thoughts, invading my dreams and boiling up from within me a passion and hunger to write and also gain knowledge that I hadn’t had in years. I couldn’t let the fear of “what if I never finish the book” stop me from even starting it. I couldn’t let the fear of “what if I suck and no one wants to publish it” influence me. I had to choose that even if I never got published, I would write it for me. And I couldn’t let the thought of “what if I can’t do this” take away my desire to try something new and something I knew would be great.
You always have a choice. You can follow your dreams and passion and see where they lead you. Or you can let fear, insecurity, and the discouraging opinions of others cripple you from ever pursuing your dreams. God has placed within each of us a talent or a gift of some sort. Some people have many, some just a few. But we ALL have at least one! Find out what yours is and use it! Develop it. Learn more about it. Love it. Love yourself enough to try it. That’s exactly what I had to do.
I started writing on March 16th 2010. I was literally a nervous wreck. My palms were moist, and my hands were slightly trembling. This was it. The start of a new journey. I felt the weight of it on me, and knew it was the true beginning of a change in direction for my life. I had to muster up the courage to start typing. I’m not kidding. I honestly sat there for about ten minutes getting up the nerve to start.
I bowed my head and I prayed. I asked God to lead me as I wrote. To bring creativity and fresh new ideas and insights. To fill me up with truth and let these books touch people in some way, on some level. After all, everyone has something they’re looking for, a place within them that needs to be touched. And everyone has a story of their own. I wanted these books to talk to my readers on some level they could relate to while at the same time, give them a moment of mental escape from their everyday lives and give them what books are best for, some pure entertainment.
That first day I wrote about ten pages and I was thrilled! It had all gone pretty smoothly once I had actually started typing. I had broken the ice. The instant I finished writing on day one, many of my doubts fell away. I still had some that clung to me, but as the book progressed in the months that followed, so did my confidence. Having a small network of close, loving and supportive people cheering me on was a life line of hope and encouragement for me.
I’ll wrap up today’s blog just by saying that it’s just as important to follow your dreams and passions as it is to have supporters to cheer you on. If you have people in your life that discourage you, tear you down, or mock your ambitions, then don’t include them in your plans and learn to keep you dreams to yourself. It really will help you feel happier, stay focused, and follow through.
Thank you for reading. Have a great night! May God bless all you put your hands to.
R. J. Machado De Quevedo
(Follow me on Twitter @TheDeceiverBook )