Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'm about 99% sure I am going to a Conference FINALLY!!

I am very very very excited about this!!! I received an email from my publisher yesterday telling their authors that they will be participating in The Write Stuff, a conference. Of course I checked it out right away. It's in Allentown, PA....just under a 6 hour drive for me...doable. Then I looked at the cost....holy cow it's cheap!!!! Only $120 for non members and it includes all workshops, breakfast, lunch, a welcome reception, etc....I was blown away!! I checked out last year's schedule of events...awesome!!! They haven't announced much about this year's conference, but Kim Lionetti from Bookends will be there! And guess what?? She represents women's fiction and romance!! Conference attendees get a discount on a room at the hotel where it is held...$85 a night.....bargain!! I'm thinking I can do the whole thing for around $350 if my writer friend Sarah gives me the thumbs up and splits gas and hotel with me!!

Anyone else thinking of going to this conference???

Friday, October 30, 2009

That first moment

I remember the exact moment I knew I wanted to write a novel.

I've written my entire life practically, though I never called myself a writer. I kept a diary when I was a kid and teen, religiously....pages upon pages I'd pour my thoughts onto each night...especially in high school with teenage drama at it's peak. I was the reporter for a club in high school too..even won a state award for it. It was thrilling to have my little pieces published in local newspapers...see my name in lights...or newsprint anyway. I even applied to college for Journalism- I passed on it though. But I continued to write in my diary/journal..sometimes I went months without life can get so busy.

But the moment I wanted to write a entire fictional story...that came at a friend's house during game night...before we all had kids. A bunch of early twenty-somethings playing Guestures and drinking. At one point, a couple of my friends broke out into old song- like 60's I think. We laughed and everyone continued on....except me. The wheels in my brain were spinning. What if I took that silly song lyric and applied the situation to a real person in present day...and wrote a story about it. I could do that!!

And so started my infatuation with writing stories and creating my own worlds.

That original story did get shelved..the MC was male and I found it incredibly difficult to write from a male's perspective, especially in 1st person. I will finish it some day though...i still love the concept! I moved on to something a little closer to my heart after that. And like many novelist, my first completed story was based on my own life. I love that story so was so near and dear to me, as crappy as it was!! But I had done it...I had completed an entire novel!!! I felt so accomplished!! It's sitting here in my laptop...waiting for the day I yank it out, dust it off and make it into something fantastic.

What about you??? Where is your first masterpiece?? What inspired you? When did you first know when you wanted to write novels??

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How important is word count to you???

I remember way back when I first started writing a novel. It was just this random thought that had sprung into my brain. I ended up setting that story aside and started on something that was closer to my heart...a story that flowed from my finger tips much easier....a story based on my own life and experiences. I finished that story and I was so so proud of myself. At that time I counted it in was double spaced and over 500 pages. Then I learned that novels are counted by words. I was so new back then and so not familiar with word processing software that I picked a few random pages and counted the words on each page and added them and divided to get an average word count per page.....I was at about 225. I multiplied that by my page count and holy $%^@ I had a lot of words!!!!!!! I finally figured out an easier way to do my word count and my original number was around 135,000.

I worked on that story, I perfected it as much as my green self could and whittled it down to 120,000. I learned that was a reeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaly long story compared to most commercial fiction. Most fiction in my genre ranges between 80,000-90,000. I tried to cut out more but realized I couldn't without hacking off major limbs of the story. It takes place over 2's a long story!!

The story has been shelved for a while now....I was such a newbie back then and once I learned more about the craft of writing, it just wasn't worth it to spend the necessary time on it to get it where it needs to be to submit anywhere. I may go back to it someday though :)

But I learned a lot about word count and story pacing. I don't think I'll ever write a story again that takes place over such a long period of time, unless it skips a chunk of time in the middle.

What are your thoughts on word count?? Do you try to stay within a certain range? Do you just write and where it ends, it ends???

When you edit does your count go up or down??? I've gone both ways in the edit process.....For A Bitch Named Karma, it's official word count was 69,000 (up from the 64,000 when I originally finished writing it) when I submitted it to my publisher...which is short compared to other chick lit/women's fiction novels. (But not a big deal for my publisher because they publish works of all lengths from 5,000 to over 120,000) I'd tried in the past to bump it up but it just didn't work. Once I started my last self edit, per my publishers guidelines, I did manage to bump it up a few thousand by working more on eliminating adverbs and the infamous- show don't tell.

Wow...this post got kinda long!!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do you read each and every comment on your blog???

My blog time is limited so I just cannot read every post every day by every blogger that I follow. I can't imagine anyone does unless you spend your entire day just reading and posting on blogs!!

Some of the blogs I read end up with 40, 50, 100 comments. Holy Cow!!! I cannot imagine having that many comments on one of my posts!!! Yikes!! I love reading what people have to say about my posts and it brings me such joy when people tell me how they feel about my thoughts.

But what if someday I do get 50 comments on one blog post??? I'm not sure if I could physically read that many comments every day.

And the blogs that generate that much of a the bloggers even read the comments????

So bloggers out you read every single comment??? Or once they get to a certain point do you stop???

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A range of emotions

For me, a story is not complete unless I've laughed, felt butterflies in my stomach and cried at one time or another throughout the story. And this is whether it's my story or someone else's. I love the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the laughter, the pain, the flutters of a first kiss!

I love writing something that brings a huge smile to my face. I love writing a first kiss scene or a sex scene that makes my stomach feel like a million butterflies are swirling around inside. And tears....I've shed tears while writing my stories, both from joy and sorrow.

My only hope is that my stories do this for others. I've gotten feedback form friends who've read my stuff and nothing makes me happier than hearing them tell me they sobbed at the end!! :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The piece that is nominated for a Pushcart

I was asked what this piece is I decided to post it for you all to read!!


Flying in Pink Satin

I fidget with my hair, smoothing an already perfect knot atop my head. I check the pink satin ribbons criss-crossed at my ankles to reassure myself of their stability. Their pink is a bit more faded than the last time my fingers tightened them; their feel is softer too, but their strength is still there. I hope to pull from them what I need. They must do so much more today than simply hold slippers to my feet.

I look around the small waiting room which has begun to fill with others dressed like me, black Lycra with fluttering organza skirts. Their faces are smooth, devoid of crows’ feet and laugh lines. Even their ribbons are youthful, shining a much brighter shade of pink than mine. I look down at my feet once again, dull and dirty satin staring back at me. Does there come a time when it is just too late to reclaim a passion?

When the door opens, I follow into a room of floor to ceiling reflection. There is no hiding. A soft melody trails from the shelf as the instructor begins her lesson. I place my right hand firmly on the wooden bar but my body freezes in place. I will my feet to move like the others, but they won’t concede.

My gaze falls to the floor and I remember. I am taken to a joyous place where these same dull satin shoes soared and my heart did too. A warmth starts in my toes, climbing up my calves, my knees, my thighs. My feet start to find positions they hadn’t in years. They move like the motions were just made yesterday, rather than years ago. First position, second position, demi plie, grande plie, releve and back down again. I feel the warmth begin in my heart.

As our stretches come to an end, we line up. One by one the girls go ahead of me, each taking a few sashays then leaping into the air. I feel the fear and chill creep back into my chest. Simple warm-ups and bends are one thing. Can I reclaim the sensation of flying?

My turn approaches. I look to the instructor, a woman who is a bit seasoned like myself. She smiles at me and nods her head. Maybe she sees something familiar in me. I turn back and the line in front of me has disappeared. My arms form an “L”; the right straight in front, left out to the side. My right foot is behind me in preparation. On one and two, I sashay and on three my left foot crosses in front while my arms cross at my chest. On four my arms burst out from my body as I lift off the ground. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, my head held high, my dulled satin shoes no longer appearing that way. The corners of my mouth have turned toward the heavens. I’m flying once again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I've been nominated!!!!

I am so excited!!!! Here is an email I got today:


Flash Me Magazine nominated six stories for the Pushcart Prize
from stories we published in 2009. We are pleased to announce
that your story, "Flying in Pink Satin", published January 31,
2009, was one of those six nominations!

The Pushcart Prize - Best of the Small Presses series, published
every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in
America. Hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short
stories, poetry and essays have been represented in the pages of
our annual collections.

You can learn more at their web site:

Congratulations and good luck!
The staff at Flash Me Magazine

Wish me luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just how many adults read YA for the fun of it???

I know a lot of writers who read YA because they need to get a handle on the genre for their own projects. Me, I read YA because I want to!!

I don't know what it is...well, maybe I do. I am a sucker for a coming of age story!! And nothing makes me melt like reading of first loves, first kisses...first....everything! It's a feeling you just don't get in adult fiction. It takes me back...makes me feel nostalgic for the days when I felt those flutters of puppy love!

Some of my most favorite books are YA. As a kid, my favorite author was Judy Blume- Are You There God, It's me Margaret was my fav!! I remember being so excited for her when she got her period for the first time (I hadn't gotten mine yet when I read the book). I love love love Ann Brashares's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Every book in the series makes me laugh and cry multiple times throughout! She really knows how to write books that grow with her audience too. Sometimes I wish she would continue the story into Adult fiction just because I know her characters so well and I want to know how they are handling adult life!! (Which all goes back to my post the other day about sequels!)

I just finished the third installment of the Gallagher Series by Ally Carter, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, a series about a super secret school for teenage girl spies. While I'm not real fond of the way she leaves so many unanswered questions in her books, she's got me hooked and I need to know what happenes next!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress.....can we compare it to the publishing industry?

The Carousel of Progress is one of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. It was originally built for the 1964 New York World's Fair. It moved to Disneyland for a few years then made it's permanent home in Florida. If you've never been to Disney World, this is a must see, for me at least :)

The attraction takes it's guests through the 20th century, starting at the turn of the century, then into the 20's, the 40's and then present day. The continuing theme is progress and how we always think it can't get any better, but then a few years down the road, things are different and better and again we can't think things will ever be any better.

With all the discussion lately about the publishing industry...and where it's going to be a few years from now....I think of the Carousel of Progress. For a long while, I'm sure people thought books were fantastic and they were great just the way they were....and couldn't possibly think of how they could be improved upon. Well, lo and behold, the digital reader was introduced and it's thrown the industry up in the air. But I find myself thinking to the future....5, 10, 15 years from now, will digital book readers be the norm and and we won't be able to think of a better way to read a story?

Sometimes I think people have a hard time embracing change...but change can be a great thing.

"There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day!
There's a great, big, beautiful tomorrow, and tomorrow is just a dream away!"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The big 5-0!! How do you feel about your number of Followers?

Hello to my growing list of followers!!! I now have 50! Woo Hoo!!!!!

I have to say, I never ever thought I'd have 50 followers. I remember those first few weeks, months of blogging. It was so new to me. I had read other blogs before...occasionally wrote a blog on Myspace. I designed a free website at and kept a blog there, but they were few and far between. Then I discovered Blogspot and the HUGE world of bloggers!! I made a commitment to do this blog thing and maybe it would help me. It would be really cool to meet new people, writers, share, commiserate...maybe make some connections. To quote HSM, we're all in this together, right?

So anyway, I started blogging, and of course my first few followers were friends I already had in real life, then a few of my friends that I met online through communities. I browsed and found a few blogs I liked and became a follower. Then I got my first non-friend follower...someone I didn't already know. How cool!!! Someone out in blogland liked what I had to say and wanted to read more!! As the days and weeks passed...I got more.....I remember feeling so good when that spot was completely filled with faces....poeple like me...they really really like me!

Now I'm up to 50 and I am so grateful!! I admit I am not the most interesting blogger. I read posts by others that are far wittier and give great advice. I'm so new...I have no advice to give yet!! I don't post as much as I'd like...because quite frankly...I have no clue what to blog about most days.

So a huge thanks to my first 50!! Thank you for following me! I truly apreciate it!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Be my Facebook Fan!!!

Hi all! Just trying another way to connect with people! Here s the link to my fan page on Facebook: Stephanie Haefner

Do you have one??? If so, please respond with the link!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

To Sequel or not to Sequel.....

As a reader, I am always asking "what happens next?" when I finish a book..any book. The main character could live happily ever after but I always want to know if he or she really did. Did she go on to have dozens of babies with the man of her dreams? Did they buy a house and move to the suburbs? Or did more problems arise later on.

As a writer, even long before my manuscript was accepted for publication...I had the idea of a sequel rolling around in my brain. My story is complete has a definitive ending, the kind readers expect for my genre. All questions are answered, no lose ends are left. But even as the writer, I'd love to find out if the happily ever after really did pan out.

I just finished reading a book today...the third in a series. This author, as I noticed in the past two books in the series, purposely leaves many questions unanswered and to me that is frustrating. It feels like I just read a part of the story, not a complete book. Now I am left hoping she is in the process of writing a fourth. As one of her readers, I would be severely disappointed, even angry, if she didn't.

(Edited to add: I checked the author's website and she is indeed in the process of writing #4. I feel somewhat better about the ending of book #3.)

So, what do you think of sequels???

Friday, October 16, 2009

Editing while you write

I know some people are compulsive self editors. They write a paragraph then reread it a zillion times and rework it till it is perfect. Then they move on to the next. It's quite a long process for them. That's their way and if that's what works...great!

Me, I've never written that way. I've always been a get-it-on-paper (or rather computer) kind of gal. I always had the need to get the thoughts out of my head before they disappeared forever. It worked for me. I was able to write an entire novel in a relatively short amount of time. I then had to go back and fix things and perfect it, but the story was mostly done. Is my way better? Different yes, it works for me.

I realized something I do now that I never really did before though. Spelling errors. I used to just plow through. I am the first to admit I am not a great typist. I never took a typing class in my life and though I can type decently fast (my husband, who does a one finger hunt and peck method sits in awe of me), I must look at the keyboard and I make many mistakes. I used to be able to ignore the spelling errors (the zillions that there are) and go on...fixing them way later. But for some reason I just can't do that anymore. I have to fix them immediately. Thank God for right click spelling fixes!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh Yeah! That's ME she's talking about!!!!!

I am floating on a cloud right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Read my editor's blog post from yesterday (visit her at Piper Patter)...and my heart literally wanted to burst!! I wanted to run around my house screaming, but by son was napping so I held it all inside!

Here is what she said, in case you don't want to go visit her page:

I started reading the new Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol, for a book club, but keep finding myself with the Reader open to the next book I'll be editing... A Bitch Named Karma, by Stephanie Haefner. It's chick-lit (which I'm thrilled to finally have on my editing roster!) and a ton of fun.

Mr. Brown will just have to wait.

As a writer you wait and hope and pray and wish so hard that someday someone will feel the way you do about your book...and then that day comes.....and the feeling is amazing!!! It's up there with my wedding day and the birth of my children!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Length of blogs...what is best??

I'll admit...there are many times I start reading a blog post and it loses me and I'm barely a quarter of the way in. Is there a need for such lengthy blog posts???

I do see many posts, for writers, giving writing yes, those sometimes have to be long.

Me, I like short posts. I like being able to read some great piece of advice or a quirky story, then comment and be on my merry way. Maybe it's because my blog reading time is limited....if I only have half an stinks to only read one or two.

I try to keep my blog posts short and sweet. I try to make them interesting and able to be read quickly!

What about you??? Do you try to keep posts you strive for epic posts???

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's in her hands!!! (well...her inbox, anyway!)

I officially sent my manuscript to my editor!! She's had it in her inbox for over a week now. I stayed up to finish it the night before I left for my trip. I had to wake at 3:30 am to get ready to catch my flight, and there I was at 11 pm the night before hitting "send" on the email to my editor.

Now I am sitting here wondering how long it will be till I get my first official professional editor's comments. What will she say? What will she think? How much red will there be????? I'm both excited and terrified beyond belief.