December 28, 2009

Slight Revisions, Exciting Changes

For the moment, Tanella's Flight is unavailable. This should not affect those who have already ordered copies. There are a few very minor changes being made to the book; in particular, there was no blank page at the beginning for putting the autographed bookplate on, there was no copyright notice inside, and the author's website was our old address. Most importantly, the author's name needed to be updated to read "A M Jenner" rather than "Anne Marie Jenner". I know it may seem silly, but since we decided to go by our initials, the covers look better. The problem though, is that you had to search under both "Anne Marie" and "A M", to find both of our books on Amazon. We want to make it easier for our customers to find all of our books. This small change is part of a larger, behind-the-scenes invisible change, that should allow us to lower our book prices a little. As a consumer of books, we know that every little bit helps. We're trying to do a little something to help. Keep watching for more developments...not only are we looking to lower the price a little, but this change will allow us to be sold in regular brick-and-mortar bookstores. An exciting change for the upcoming new year. Happy Reading! --Anne

December 21, 2009

Happy Christmas!

Wishing a very happy Christmas and a joyous and prosperous New Year to all our readers and their kin. This link will take you to a page where you may download a windows media viewer video file. (We had to share it this way because it's 71 MB!) We hope you enjoy the movie--it's a ten-minute video on the life of the Savior, and our home-made Christmas Gift from us to you. Happy Reading! --Anne

November 25, 2009

Mid-Novemebr NaNoWriMo News

November is not quite over, but I wanted to give everyone an update on what has been happening so far this month. We stopped work on The Siege of Kwennjurat, the sequel to Tanella’s Flight, a mere four hours before midnight on October 31st. There are still a couple of chapters to write on that book, but we are still anticipating it will be ready for reading by sometime in October 2010. We started work on our NaNoWriMo novels at 12:01:01 on November 1st. Mine still has no real working title that I am satisfied with, but eventually that will come to me. I experienced a real breakthrough while working on this novel. My usual pattern while writing a rough draft is that I come to a place about three-quarters of the way through the manuscript where I get stuck. I know where my characters are, and where they are going, but I am unsure of how to get them there. At this point, I usually have my partner write one chapter for me, which gets me going again, and I continue and finish the manuscript. This is against the rules of NaNoWriMo, which has proven to be a major obstacle for me in my previous wins. This year, I managed to unstick myself, and I feel quite pleased with that. My novel is somewhat shorter than our usual work, but it may grow some during the editing process. I ended with 50,055 words by my word counter. My partner reached 50,000 words about a week before I did, and gleefully announced that she was at 50K, and her novel was “just getting going”. She is still writing fantastic amounts of verbiage, and nouniage too, on a daily basis. Her book continues to lengthen well past the winning criteria of the contest. We are both winners, and glad to be so again this year. In her very first NaNo, our friend Nitrocat well outstripped the both of us in terms of speed and finished her 50,000 words on or about the fifteenth, which included taking Sundays off. We are astounded, proud, and looking forward to reading her book. My daughter is past 32,000 and still working. We have every confidence that she will also be a winner. She has already overcome so much along the way. Her first story, which involved a demon and a kidnapped teenager, turned out to have a plot that was negative and draining, and she couldn’t stand writing it. She abandoned that idea on the 14th, plotted out another entire novel in one evening, and began writing that story. The second story, involving a cultural clash between centaurs and humans, went very well, but she ran out of story before she ran out of word count. We encouraged her to make her novel a collection of short stories which added up to 50,000 fictional words written in November, and she then wrote a second story which details a car accident. A third story is a short romance involving a proposal on the beach and a somewhat annoying crab. Having finished that one, she was driving me to the optometrist yesterday and asked me for a writing prompt. I said, “A guy and a girl are walking down the street, and a large, heavily muscled man carrying a weapon of some sort comes strutting out of an alley.” She said, “Oh, that’s good! What happens then?” I said, “Whatever you want to have happen. It’s your story. Maybe he attacks them. Maybe he ignores them, though that wouldn’t make much of a story. Maybe he protects them from something. You decide.” She sighed and rolled her eyes, but by the time we finished at the optometrist, (my glasses will be ready in 7-10 business days) and had driven to a spot to eat lunch, she informed me that there were cannibalistic zombies in her current work. Should be interesting. As if NaNoWriMo wasn’t enough to fill my November, I have also opened my big mouth and inserted my foot to the knee by volunteering to work as editor of a cookbook, with recipes contributed by the talented and wonderful people at Atlas Quest. Recipes have been pouring in, and I ended up using three entire writing days to organize them and get the cookbook moving. I actually had to tell everyone that I was not doing anything more with the cookbook for a couple of days so I could finish my novel before the November 30 deadline. With my rough draft now completed, I can turn my attention back to the cookbook, and also to editing Deadly Gamble, our next book, which is scheduled for publication this coming April. I will also bend my efforts to encouraging my daughter in reaching her 50,000 word goal. This involves great chunks of time during which we are both sitting in the office at our computers, and I tell her to keep writing every time I hear the rattling of her keyboard cease. Day before yesterday I played a rather involved game on my computer, while she worked very hard to see how many words she could write before I completed each level. It’s a difficult job, but a mom has to do it! ;-) Oh, and I still have a turkey to cook and Christmas decorations to put up, and a bit of on-site research for Deadly Gamble to do before the end of this week,too. Happy reading! —Anne

November 10, 2009

The Story is Unravelled--Finally!

Murphy was right. If anything can go wrong, it will. At least when it comes to publishing Fabric of the World. When the manuscript was ready, we sent it to the publisher, and got our proof copy back in time for the original "publish-by" goal of mid-October. There was one huge problem. The pages were formatted backward (right pages on the left, and left pages on the right) and the book started on the wrong side of the page. I learned a lot about formatting while solving that problem, and we noticed several other mistakes too. So we fixed the other mistakes, fixed the formatting problem, and resubmitted the book.

The original colors we'd used on the cover were...not in the same places, but we liked the second cover better, anyway, with its lighter color.

When the second proof copy arrived, we had somehow missed an entire blank page right in the middle of the book...which we contemplated just living with and blaming on the printer...but then we discovered we'd also spelled our hero's name wrong, right on the back cover. That wouldn't do, so more changes were made, and another proof copy was ordered. Finally! Well, I won't go so far as to call it "perfect", because I'm sure there are mistakes hiding in there somewhere, but I'm not going to go looking for them. The book is available for sale. (Go over to the website and you can get the book from the Ye Olde Book Shoppe page.)

In 2006, I never dreamed I would have come so far in my writing just three short years. A letterboxing friend, Brandy, casually mentioned on the message board that she was participating in something called NaNoWriMo. She challenged others to join her.

Doubtful I could complete the challenge in time, because 50,000 words seemed like a lot, and also because I have a tendency to get stuck about three-quarters of the way through a book, and rely on my partner to un-stick me, (and partners aren't allowed at NaNo), I still jumped in with both feet, and eyes tightly shut.

I hit 50K in November, and finished Fabric in December, and decided I was going to try this NaNo thing again the next year.

NaNoWriMo has given me more confidence in my writing, as well as more volume. Although Tanella's Flight took thirteen years from first meeting the characters to publication, Fabric of the World has accomplished all the same steps in only three years and one month.

Writing fast is a true challenge. You go off on tangents, and you're certain they will be "darlings" that will be cut from the book later. Later comes, and you discover the tangent was a necessary thing for the plot...not something you ever imagined would be there, but a part of their life the character tells you needs to be included.

I am glad I have learned the art of creating realistic characters, and then listening to them tell their story.

My partner's 2006 NaNo novel is called Deadly Gamble, and we expect it to be published sometime this spring.

Our 2007 NaNo stories never materialized, since we had an opportunity to go to England that November and didn't get much writing done. Our 2008 novels await in our computers. My partner's is not quite finished yet, and will be published some time in the future, but there are other stories ahead of it in line. Mine took a left turn and ended up being fan fiction. Although it's a fun read, it will never see the light of day.

And 2009? We're well on our way to finishing on time. My novel includes telepaths, ciphers, an expensive bracelet, and a plot to take over the world. I don't know much about my partner's story, but I can share that her main character sees streams of words floating in the air, and though most people think she's just a little bit crazy, I'm sure her talent will prove most valuable in the end.

For now, rest assured that we're writing like mad (It is November, after all!), and enjoy reading Fabric of the World!


October 30, 2009

NaNo, NaNo, It's Off to Write I Go

October and November are usually very busy months for me. First, I make many of my Christmas gifts, and I am usually hurrying to get them all finished on time. Second, both of us participate annually in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It's a huge challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It's even harder when the rules state you must write alone, without your partner to lean on when you get stuck. Both of us spend a great deal of time in October plotting out the novels we'll write in November. We sometimes help each other with the plotting, but not usually very much. We find it's easier to produce a book if we don't talk about what will be written until after it's written. We get better stories that way. Both of us spend endless hours in November beating keyboards to death. 50,000 words in 30 days averages out to 1,667 words per day. But consider...Thanksgiving eats up two of those days. My sister's birthday steals another. Preparations for one daughter's 18th birthday will eat some of my November, too. The technical difficulties we had with Fabric of the World are ongoing, but we hope to have the changes made by the end of this weekend, then the waiting for the proof copy commences. Finishing the fixes and resubmitting the manuscript will take up a good deal of Sunday, which is another day lost to the NaNo novel. All together, that's at least five days gone. So essentially, we will be writing our 50K novels in only 25 days. Eeek! My almost 18-yr old will be joining us in writing a novel this year, also. This is one of the advantages of homeschooling. You can assign something like writing a novel and make it a year-long project, and it becomes a class in composition. I won't normally take space in this blog for my daughter's happenings, but I wanted to publicly wish her the best of luck on her novel writing. I don't generally have problems coming up with a plot...there are some who say I am always plotting...but this year I had a great deal of difficulty thinking about my NaNo novel. I started in September working on the rough draft of a story tentatively titled The Siege of Kwennjurat, which will be a sequel toTanella's Flight. One of the main characters, Liammial, just wouldn't leave me alone. I couldn't get him out of my head to even think of other ideas for novels. I finally wrote a scene which will not appear in the actual book where I knocked him unconscious for several hours, and used that time for plotting my NaNo novel. Incredibly, the ruse worked, but he has now woken up and is insisting I finish his story before I write anything else. I still have a few chapters of The Siege to write, and if I can't finish them today or tomorrow, they will also be eating up my NaNo writing time. Liammial will not be denied. Sigh. The NaNo idea is so good, involves telepaths, several secrets hidden in a bracelet, ciphers I learned from a letterboxing friend named KuKu (yes, that is her name!), and a plot to take over the world. What could be better? I don't know yet what my partner will be working on this year, but it will probably be better than mine...she's been working on the plot since September. In order to save myself a little bit of November writing time for my as-yet-unnamed telepath novel, I did a little programming on the website that ordinarily wouldn't have been done until November. I have made lesson three of the school accessible, changed some images around (five points for the first person who tells me what I changed and what the new image is of), and put up the NaNoWriMo Word War Page. I've been wanting to get this page up all month, but the word count widgets haven't been turned on yet. They still aren't turned on, so if you go to the NaNo page on my site, you'll see a lot of placeholders for the widgets. I did get an email from a kind soul at the Office of Letters and Light who said the widgets should be enabled "when the site goes live", which I understand to mean, "on November First". We'll see what happens. Just know if you go to the NaNo page and don't see the widgets, it's not a programming error on my part...they're just not turned on yet. Happy reading! Anne

October 22, 2009

No Time! No Time!

The white rabbit was rushed so he wouldn't hear the queen screaming, "off with his head" if he was late to her garden party. Although the circumstances, and certainly the consequences, are different, I've been feeling a lot like the white rabbit lately. First of all, I'm trying to get ready for my annual venture into the month-long madness that is NaNoWriMo, so I've been looking around for a likely plot. The problem is I'm up to my ears in a rough draft already, and the characters in that book won't let go of me long enough for me to think of other plots. I'm working on the "Chocolate Copy" of The Siege of Kwennjurat, the sequel to Tanella's Flight. Liammial has moved into my head, and I can't dislodge him. There's only 10 days until NaNoWriMo, and there's some 28 chapters (or more) still to write on The Siege. I tried outlining an idea I had, and less than halfway through, I realized that I didn't even want to write the outline, much less the book. I figure if it's too boring to write, it will be boring to read. Then again, maybe my boredom stems from the fact I have a megalomaniac locked up in my skull and he won't let me write anything else until I've finished his story. *Sigh* Liammial does not make for a good roommate, or happy dreams. Yesterday I was writing a particular sequence of two chapters, and I started crying, because I know what is going to happen later to these characters, and they didn't even have the opportunity to put on clean clothes or eat breakfast before their fate was set in motion. In other news, Fabric of the World is going to be a little delayed. When the proof copy arrived, we discovered a very serious formatting problem. While trying to figure out how to fix that, a score or more of typos that had previously been hidden came to light. The formatting problem is now being fixed, and the typos are being discovered and fixed as quickly as possible. Then we will have to wait for a second proof copy before the book can be released. We are now hoping for sometime in the middle of November. Happy reading! Anne

October 09, 2009

New Website and other news

Whew! It's been a long month. I've been working frantically to finish my new website. I've been totally rewriting the coding to get rid of the frames, and a bunch of other things that will never be seen, but should make the page run better. (Yes, I know, I'm starting to sound like other programmers.) *shrug* Other than new colors, and a couple of new pages that will be unveiled soon, the biggest difference is I'm no longer at a free, domain that no one seems to know where in the world it originates. One friend looked it up and said it was an island off Australia. My virus checking program said it was from South Korea, and I had to use an exception to see my own site. The trailing letters gave erroneous information, since my place was actually hosted in the just had a strange domain, because it was free.

I now have sold enough books to afford a year's worth of paid hosting and a US domain name. My website is now found at! I'm so excited! A new email address comes along with the new website, too.

We've also spent the last two months reading the suggestions given by our proofreaders for Fabric of the World, and then ripping the book apart and totally rewriting it. I've gotta thank Doctor, Force of Five, Nitrocat, neknitter, bobguyman, Hornicorn, and Pat for all their work and suggestions. The book is a lot better, and there are a lot of changes that have been made since you read it. We expect Fabric of the World to be published very soon. We are currently waiting for the publisher's cover-maker to go back online, and the book should be ready for purchase within two weeks of that time.

As with Tanella's Flight, hand-made autographed bookplates featuring a handcarved stamp will be available.

September 30, 2009

Finding Proofreaders

We’ve been really busy since Tanella’s Flight came out. Preliminary editing was finished for Fabric of the World, and a search was made for proofreaders. Eight of my letterboxing friends volunteered to help, and were sent electronic copies of the manuscript. They were given instructions on what we wanted in a proofreader, and told to return the manuscripts by August 1st. One of them has already returned their copy. With any luck, Fabric of the World will be out by this November.

In the meantime, I started preliminary editing on a book whose working title is One Deadly Gamble Too Many. My partner is doing preliminary editing on The Mom’s Place. Both of those books are tentatively planned for release next year.

Attention has been taken from our writing by family health issues. A sister-in-law lost her battle against pancreatic cancer. My dad has been in and out of the hospital twice with various issues, including serious bruising from being dropped by caregivers, a paralyzing fever, and a small stroke. This has kept my partner, who is also my mother, very busy in her primary job of taking care of her family.

I tripped and fell while out doing errands for the family and ended up with a dislocated right elbow. I am severely right-handed, and the last four weeks of being not only one-handed, but left-handed, have been challenging to say the least. For example, I can get the ice and water from the dispenser in the fridge door, but I can’t make my own sandwich. Handling a spoon with my left hand usually results in decorating my shirt with whatever is for dinner. I’m sure you can imagine other areas in which the sudden, although temporary, loss of the use of one hand has been frustrating. On the up side, I think I’m finally to the point where I don’t need prescription painkillers anymore, so things are improving.

Within two weeks I expect to get the cast off my arm and be able to resume editing. We have also been discussing the possibility of releasing Tanella’s Flight as an audio book.

Probably beginning in September or so, we will make available autographed book plates that we will send, free, to anyone who purchases a book and requests the book plate from us. The book plates are still in the design stage, but not only will they be personally autographed, we intend at this point that they will be hand stamped, and the stamp itself will be hand carved.

Tanella's Flight

Some thirteen-odd years ago I first became acquainted with the Princess Tanella. She appeared in a short story of about three pages that was written at work between phone calls. She was a spoiled brat of a princess who had grown up wild with no mother, and ran away when her father told her she was about to be married in order to cement a treaty with the next kingdom over. The only other character who was well defined in that story was Ambassador Liammial. He was a wonderful old man about to retire. Although his name appeared nowhere on the treaty, and although he would get no credit for it, Liammial was grateful to have been a small part in bringing the pair of kingdoms together.

About four years later, I had need of a longer short story for a contest I was entering. My partner and I had together won the Second Annual Short Story Writing Contest sponsored by the Audiobook Club, and the following year we decided to each enter separately. I liked the characters in Tanella’s Flight, so I pulled them out, dusted them off, and expanded the story to just shy of 28,000 words. With this story, which featured the same willful, runaway princess and kindly ambassador, I became second runner up in the contest. My partner won first runner up. We discovered through this process that while we write well separately, we write better together, and we enjoy the process more. It’s so nice to have a partner to rely on and lean on when you are stuck, and it is also a lot of fun helping your partner to get unstuck.

Some three years later, my life circumstances changed, and I found myself moving in with my partner, who also happens to be my mom. We lost no time in forging ahead on our writing, now that we didn’t live 200 miles apart and have to email everything to each other as body text. (She was writing in Word Perfect, I was writing in Microsoft Works. Totally incompatible. I eventually was able to show her that the most 'acceptable' word processor, as far as sending documents by email, was Word, and we both switched to that, but that’s another story.)

We decided to work on expanding Tanella’s Flight into a full length novel. We looked over the existing short story and realized that in its current plot, the story was as long as it could be. So we set about changing a few things.

First of all, I sat down and had a good long talk with the characters. Now, maybe I never grew out of the invisible friend stage, or maybe I just have a more fertile imagination than most, but I’ve found the easiest way for me to resolve character problems with any novel is to go the invisible friend route, and have a good conversation with them. It’s a way to bring the subconscious mind out into the open, I suppose. The difficult thing is usually finding a place where I can talk to myself in different voices without people wanting to lock me up 'for further observation'. Fortunately at the time I was working in a neighboring city with an hour’s commute each way, so I talked to the characters in the car. Anyone who saw my lips moving assumed I was either on the phone or singing with the radio, so my sanity wasn’t questioned.

I discovered in the course of these conversations that the princess wasn’t as willful as I had at first thought. In fact, she’d been raised to put her subjects ahead of her own desires. The next question then, was if she hadn’t run away from her marriage, why was she missing? Aha! She had been kidnapped! By whom? Each answer engendered a new question, and shortly the entire new plot was discovered.

Our readers often tell us that our characters seem like real people, and I firmly believe that my willingness to play the invisible friend game is one of the reasons why. My characters are real, rounded people in my mind, and they come out that way on paper.

Through the plotting process, we discovered that dear old Ambassador Liammial was neither as dear, or as old, as we thought he had been. He turned out to be the younger twin brother of one of the kings involved in the story. The kings, Jameisaan of Kwenn (Tanella’s dad), and Fergasse of Jurat (Liammial’s brother) got bigger roles to play in the new story.

Mom and I wrote longhand while on our lunch hour, then brought our chapters home and shared them with each other. She was following the doings in the royal courts, while I was following the kidnapped princess. We had to draw a map of the Ten Kingdoms and figure out travel distances, so we could know when everyone was wherever they were. There were a couple of places where people ended up at the same place at the same time and we had to keep them from seeing each other. One night I was making a glass of chocolate milk to drink with my dinner, and the spoon must have hit the glass just right, because a piece broke out of the bottom and there was suddenly chocolate milk all over the manuscripts. It should be noted that although there was no permanent damage done, to this day we refer to the rough draft as the “chocolate copy”.

It took over a year to turn the 28K short story into an 80K replotted novel. The next step was sending it to proofreaders. Most of our proofreaders were novelists, who know very well how to pay more attention to the proofing than the story. Every copy we got back was well marked for about the first quarter of the book. Very seldom did we find any markings after that. Every reader gave us the same explanation. “Sorry, I got so caught up in the story I forgot I was supposed to be editing.” At that point we realized we had a really, really good book happening.

Because both of us were working, and we were caring for a blended family, it took another six months or so to get the editor’s comments incorporated into the book, and do the final checking and polishing.

Then we started shopping for an agent. We needed someone who could handle our fantasy stories, as well as the romantic suspense we write; someone who wouldn’t try to cheat us, but would do a good job; someone who was willing to take manuscripts via email; and someone who wasn’t afraid to take on a first-novel that was longer than 50,000 words. After two years of searching, we have not yet found this agent. (We're still looking. Are you out there?) Mostly it’s the dual genre writing and the long manuscript that are holding us back. We’ve been told, numerous times, that first novels simply aren’t allowed to be that long. If we cut thirty thousand words out, the story would be incomplete, and we were unwilling to cheat our readers of half the story.

We looked into self publishing, but quickly discovered it was prohibitively expensive, and reluctantly set Tanella aside in an attempt to write something shorter for our “first” novel.

Then, after our habitual participation in the 2008 NaNoWriMo contest, we discovered a place called CreateSpace. Self publishing suddenly became possible, and no one was going to tell us the book was too long. Tanella’s Flight was hauled out, dusted off, and taken for one last run through the wringer of editing. We found errors we’d never suspected before. We found a point of view problem where we took the reader head-hopping into the mind of the horse the character was riding. (Don’t bother looking for that one, it’s fixed now.) We fixed everything we could find, and did some general tightening up of the story-line. Then we got busy with CreateSpace and made the novel happen.

And now, a thirteen year journey is complete, and the book is out, on paper, ready for anyone to read, ready to share with the world. It’s for sale at our Createspace store. There’s a link to CreateSpace on the “Ye Olde Book Shoppe” page. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as we enjoyed writing it.