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Monday, March 31, 2008

Business Future Shock

No markets today. I'd rather talk about writing mechanics vs. business acumen.

About three years ago, I got it in my head that there was a short story in me and set about writing it out. I had heard about that humungous Writer's Market contest and entered it. Out of 18K entries, it was a finalist. So it got me to wondering, what if I had had some help in tweaking it. Would it have won?

I found Critters and then OWW. I like both. Critters has a system in place for finding dedicated readers for novels, but OWW is better for getting to know reviewers and their reviewing styles, so I ended up staying with OWW. Both had excellent reviewers though. For me, it was just easier to track reviewers with OWW's system.

I kind of bumbled along, learning the ropes and familiarizing myself with the writing community. But around year two it occurred to me I was not moving forward. Yes, there was camaraderie and I was learning, but I wasn't getting published. Why not, I asked myself.

I realized, despite the good company, that most of the crowd I was with were running in place just like I was. Not a single person in my group was pro-paid published, so it was a little like the blind leading the blind. I realized then I needed a mentor.

Mentors don't just fall out of the sky and many aren't willing to help you unless they know you, so it was time to make that scary jump outside my comfort zone and find a well-published author who could shed some light. I found several.

I started first by attending a week-long live workshop where I was skewered from top to bottom. I listened to people far smarter than myself who didn't tell me how to fix the story--but rather, how to identify problems. Remember the parable about teaching a man to fish rather than giving him a fish dinner? Same thing.

I was adrift for a couple of months after the workshop because I'd been armed with weapons but I wasn't quite sure how to use them yet. I experimented and wrote a flash piece that immediately received a startling response. My peers at the time didn't like it. A few hated it. I had struck a nerve and it made them uneasy. But what was surprising was that for the first time it elicited a response from people outside my peer group, well-published authors whose respect meant a lot to me. With one little piece of fiction I discovered I had climbed to the next level of competence. I had been recognized and accepted by a new set of peers.

I started lurking on loops and going to cons. I started reading different authors, different genres. I started taking online classes to polish what I was just beginning to learn. And then I started talking to authors who understood the publishing business. That was when I turned the corner professionally.

My peers counseled me into entering contests, not haphazardly, but very specific contests that put my work in front of people who could make a difference in my career. They taught me to keep my blog professional, to post only on certain forums, and to volunteer whenever possible. Probably the most important lesson of all, is that they taught me to be flexible. The publishing industry was changing--and it's still morphing.

Business Week announced that e-book sales were up 59% in 2007 from 2006. 59 percent! That's an incredible rise in revenue. And where there's money, there's a big corporation looking to corner the market. Amazon, anyone? If you haven't heard the news about Amazon, go here and here.

Understanding my limitations, I needed to sit at the feet of people who knew the business. News flash: People who know how to write are not necessarily the people who know how to get published. I think this is where more new writers get stuck than anywhere else.

Adding to this rat maze, read JA Konrath's post on money. The people who get a huge advance are not necessarily the best writers. Don't make the mistake of equating money with talent. Chances are very good they were just lucky. As Konrath noted so eloquently, you aren't entitled to anything. Get used to it. By the way, Konrath didn't split any hairs. If you don't like hearing hard truths, don't read his post.

If getting published isn't already hard enough, to make things doubly difficult the publishing industry is in enormous flux. And I'm afraid it's bigger than most people want to believe.

I've mentioned it before on this blog and I'm more convinced than ever that e-publishing will become the norm within the next few years. This is why we had the writers' strike. This is why traditional publishers are adding some very disquieting (and specific) language about e-publishing in their contracts for what at one time were strictly print books. This is why Amazon has developed such an enormous appetite. To me, it feels like a layer of magma slowly forcing its way to the top. We don't see it and we feel only the barest of rumblings, but it's there and it's growing.

I've no intention of changing anyone's perception of e-publishing. I think the market will vindicate me in due time. But I do urge people to be very attentive to what is happening in the publishing world. Pay attention to the ripples in the fabric of our business.

Learning the mechanics on what makes a good read is a piece of cake compared to the giant monster that is industry. If you're writing for love, it won't matter. They'll give you your six-pence, pat you on the butt and let you wither on the vine of ego. But if you're in this game for the long haul, cut back on the chumming at the social internet clubs and pay attention to the rumbling. It might help you decide where to stand when the mantle bursts open.

Wednesday: My business plan

Friday, March 28, 2008

Born to Boogie

It's my birthday!! Yes, I still get excited when it rolls around.

Greg can't see me this week, so my friends are taking me out, ALL weekend long. I have very good friends!

I got to thinking who I knew that was born on March 28. In person, I've known only three other people born the same day as I was. Two were art professors and one was a martial artist who worked in military security. The only other three people I can relate too are Reba McEntire, Fra Bartolomeo, and St. Theresa.

So it leads me to believe that people born on March 28 must have a leaning toward the arts, can kick ass, teach, and like to dabble in religious mysticism. Yeah, looks like I fit right in.

Last year I was recuperating from surgery. This year I am recovering from shock. I have a book coming out, and two others that have been requested. I feel humbled and amazed all at once.

Even Greg is proud of me and that means a lot. I've taken a lot of time away from him and I wanted it to count for something. He's been so patient and supportive.

Anyway, gather round and grab some virtual birthday cake. I am celebrating and you're all invited!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How Old Is That WIP?

I was going to talk about something else, but LDS Publisher had a good post from a reader, asking how long is too long to wait for that novel to be published.

Am I right to assume that EVERYONE would like to get published their first time at bat? And yet, that rarely happens. So let's back up.

How long do you keep fighting for something before you toss it out the window? I've known writers who have been working on the SAME story for years. Writing, rewriting. Moving words around, tweaking paragraphs.

For me, that would've been too long. I don't have that kind of patience. I want to get things right and I want it done yesterday. It killed me to have to start from scratch and learn the rules of craft. But it had to be done. And when I say, start from scratch--I mean it. Heck! English isn't even my first language. I started from the basement, folks. So nobody whine to me about how hard it is. I have that tattooed on my chest.

Greg will back me up on this. I have been absolutely single-minded in learning all I could about writing fiction. I took my lumps and learned from them. Those knots on my head have been hard won and I'm proud of them. I didn't let ego stand in the way of progress.

Yet some people can hack at the same WIP for twenty years without moving one step closer to publication. I think there comes a time when you have to be honest with yourself. And some people can't do it, no matter how noble their intentions.

You can't offer advice to people with blinders. But for everyone else, I strongly recommend having a plan. Decide in black and white what you want to accomplish and when. Pick out your troops, those people who will watch your back and your dangling participles. Join as many organizations as you can handle. Participate and volunteer.

Write. Not just your old work, but new stuff. New ideas. New styles. New genres.

Read. (see above--DITTO)

Next week, I'll post my business plan and detail what I did to get to this point in my career. Make a decision to turn the corner and stamp a date on it. It can be done. I promise you.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Markets and Links

Wedding's Great Misadventures

Deadline: Sept. 15, 2008

We are seeking stories, articles and essays on the general subject of wedding day misadventure for publication in Wedding's Greatest Misadventures. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person stories about wedding meltdowns, bad judgment calls, Ex-boy/girlfriend crashing the event, cheating during the ceremony, fights, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, animal attacks, bizarre injuries, regretful toasts, temper flare-ups, crazy in-laws, natural disaster, misfortune, loss of wit, or day of episodes that surround the marriage experience.

Pays: $100 and four contributor copies upon publication if their story is selected for publication.

*****

The Pedestal Magazine

Poetry: We are open to a wide variety of poetry, ranging from the highly experimental to the traditionally formal. There are no length restrictions. There is no need to query prior to submitting poetry. Submit up to six (6) poems. Feel free to submit using one form or by sending each poem in a separate form.

Pay Rate: $30 per poem

Fiction: We are receptive to high-quality literary fiction of all sorts, including traditional and experimental works. Genre fiction (such as science fiction, horror, mystery, and romance) is encouraged as long as it crosses or comments upon its genre and is both character-driven and psychologically acute. We are also interested in works that do not readily fall into one specific category. Please do not send more than one (1) piece of fiction at a time. There is no need to query prior to submitting fiction; however, please do not send fiction directly to the fiction editor's email, as emailed submissions will not be read.

Pay Rate: $.05 per word
Length: up to 6,000 words

Flash Fiction: We encourage submissions of shorter fiction pieces. Please do not send more than three (3) flash fiction pieces at a time.There is no need to query prior to submitting flash fiction.

Pay Rate: $.05 per word
Length: up to 1000 words

Book Reviews: We accept reviews of poetry collections, short story collections, novels, and books of non-fiction. Please query prior to submitting reviews.

Pay Rate: $.02 per word
Length: 850-1,000 words

*****

Hallmark Greeting Card Prize

Fee: None

Make a card that is so milk-spittingly funny that people can't help but send it.
Eighteen finalists receive: Card design for sale online and at thousands of participating Gold Crown retailers from approximately June 16, 2008 to August 31, 2008; $250 cash award; Eligibility for the Grand Prize. Grand Prize winner: Win a Weekend with Chicago's Card design for sale on Hallmark.com for at least a year; $100 worth of Shoebox cards; An additional $1,000 cash award; A weekend with Chicago's Second City, two night's stay, tickets to the show, meet the cast, improv workshop, walking tour of Chicago with a Second City actor.

*****

Hey all, I want to turn your attention to Muse It Up Club. If you haven't heard of Lea Shizas by now, you are working way too hard. Every year, Lea puts out the Muse Online Writers Conference, the only online and FREE conference I'm aware of.

I'm giving her a shout out and adding her link to my blogroll. Go over and check out her sites. She has lots to offer.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Posting at Samhain

I'm guest blogging myself today. I'm over at the Samhain Weblog talking about the Tankster.
Come visit me!

Guest Blogger: Phoebe Wray

I'd like to introduce you to Phoebe Wray, author of JEMMA7729. I met Phoebe through Broad Universe, a wonderful organization dedicated to promoting the work of women writers in SFF and Horror. I'm thrilled to be able to host her here on the debut of her book.

Phoebe Wray is a long-time nonfiction writer who has begun to publish in the specfic field, with stories in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Mag, Farthing, Fables.org, chizine and now has a novel, JEMMA7729, just released from EDGE. A horror story will be included in Backless, Strapless and Slit to the Throat: A Femme Fatale Anthology later this spring. She's a teacher in the Theatre Division of The Boston Conservatory and lives in a small town outside of Boston with three cats.

Phoebe is on the Motherboard of Broad Universe, and has been with BU since it started as a WisCon panel in 2000. She often runs the book tables.



***

A couple of nights ago I started writing a short story – in longhand, interrupting myself from watching the late news. Goofy idea about a guy who falls out of a canoe, sinks, and then can’t resurface. I have no idea what that’s about or where it came from. It got me thinking: where DO our ideas come from. Oddly, I know exactly where the idea for my just-released novel, JEMMA7729, came from. I can say that about only one other story I’ve written.

JEMMA7729 started this way. I was watching the 6 o’clock news from Boston. There was a hold-up in one suburb, a DUI (ed: driving under the influence) in another, and a shooting in Roxbury. Bang! bang! bang! three crime reports in as many minutes. I thought ... WHAT IF ... there was a government so repressive that it lumped all crimes into one big category: Inappropriate Behavior. I wrote the idea down on the pad on the coffee table. It was the original title of a short story that morphed into a novel.

Over the next six months, I kept going back to that idea, kept trying to write something around it. I’d get a paragraph and then stop. Days/weeks later, I’d try again. Three times. Interesting idea but it wouldn’t come out. Then one morning I sat in front of my MAC, put “Inappropriate Behavior” on the first line, and stared at the blank page.

I don’t know how else to express this... As I sat staring, Jemma walked into the room. Suddenly, a character took over my brain and I started to write, stopping some six pages later because my stomach was growling. All this before breakfast!

When Jemma showed up, I wrote: “I survived my first encounter with StateSecurity of the Administrative Government of North America.” That’s still the first sentence in the novel.

Can you trace the genesis of any of your work?

~Phoebe Wray


In stores now!
JEMMA7729

EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gimmick or Gold?

I'm having a guest over at my blog Friday. Stop by and meet Phoebe Wray. She'll be talking about how one idea manifested into JEMMA7729. It'll make you sit back and ask: How was your novel conceived?

I'll tell you more about Phoebe tomorrow!


***

Websites for your characters: Gimmick or Gold?

Have you guys noticed this phenomenon lately? I've seen several authors build websites, MySpace pages and even chat rooms for the characters of their books.

I'm a little uncomfortable with that. I don't know if it's done them any good marketing-wise, but it just seems a little...ahem...creepy.

I'm not talking about the occasional foray into topics such as: what motivated your character to do such and such, or the interviews and checklists some authors use to build a character. But when people start to animate their heroes and give them lives outside their books, it starts to feel as if the author is taking his characters a little too seriously.

I'm wondering if this is a product of the role playing games that are so popular. I've never been able to get into those, so it's likely I am not the audience they are trying to reach.

It's still too early to see if it's useful as a promotional tool, but I did meet someone on MySpace who really treated his novel's character as if he were a living, breathing human being. For example: The CHARACTER answered my email rather than the author. I'm all for a little fun, but I'm not about to start a conversation with a ventriloquist's dummy. That's just carrying it a bit too far.

I backed away politely--and quickly. (grin) I prefer to keep my characters in my head and off the chat circuit.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Links Of Interest

By now, all of you must have learned about Arthur C. Clarke. The man seemed everlasting to me. It's hard to believe he's gone. Here's the AP story.

***

The very charming and handsome Joshua Palmatier created the Plot Synopsis Project. It's kinda like the Forbin Project, but far more debilitating. LOL. If you've ever had to write a synopsis, you know what I'm talking about.

Joshua got together with his buds and each of them posted the synopses that sold their stories. How cool is that? Go here to read Joshua's synopses, and then travel down to all the other authors.

We call that learning by osmosis.

***
I'd like to recommend this site for editing info: Editorrent. Alicia Rasley and Theresa are two editors who make no bones about how to do a proper edit.

I'm taking Alicia's class on Scenes and Themes--well, I should say I'm auditing it. My life has been so busy lately, all I've had time to do is read the lectures, but this woman is a fountain of information. Her feedback to other students is right on the money and she's so helpful. I highly recommend any class Alicia teaches.

***
Josephine Damian tipped us to a great link for literary markets. Read her post here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Money or Immortality?

Bummer. I think I'm coming down with something. I'm hanging, but my joints ache and my sexy vixen voice sounds like Kermit the frog. Ow!

Nearly everyone at work had come down with the flu over the last couple of months. It kinda looks like it's my turn. Time for the Nyquil nightcaps.

***

I read something the other day that sparked a question. All you guys came out of the woodworks when my dog died, (bless you) so I hope you'll pop in and answer this question.

Would you rather have only ONE published novel that generations will enjoy or publish lots of books that made you buckets of money during your lifetime?

I was a little surprised when I answered this for myself. I'll tell you my answer later this week.

Your turn. Money or immortality?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Agent Updates

I'm afraid I didn't have time to research markets so I will leave you with some agent news.

Effective immediately, 3 Seas Literary Agency is accepting email queries only. Please email your first chapter and synopsis.

3 Seas handles Fiction, Nonfiction and YA.

***
The Scribe Agency is another one. Email only. They handle most fiction genres and nonfiction.

***

Save your stamps and your typing fingers. The Vines Agency, is not accepting any more queries.

***
Stimola Literary Studio is very interested in YA thrillers, mysteries, supernatural and sci fi books.

***
Two (relatively) new agents taking on new clients at Prospect Agency.
From the website:

"Rachel Orr joined Prospect Agency in 2007, after eight rewarding years editing children's books for HarperCollins. She enjoys the challenge of tackling a wide variety of projects—both fiction and nonfiction—particularly picture books, beginning readers, chapter books, middle-grade/YA novels, and works of nonfiction."

"Becca Stumpf, junior agent, joined Prospect Agency in 2006 after working as an assistant at Writers House Literary Agency. As a reader, Becca falls hard for sentences that are beautifully crafted, for humor in unexpected places, and for characters that come to life and follow you around for a while. Becca is looking for adult and YA literary and mainstream fiction that surprises."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring in East Texas

For those of you who don't know, my husband lives in East Texas. I live in North Texas. We visit each other on occasion. (grin)

Long story, but the short version is that I accepted a promotion 8 years ago with the plan that I would scope out the area and find us a place to live after he retired. We are getting closer to that goal.

In the meantime, Greg taunts me with visions of spring. We have comfortable weather in North Texas, albeit weird at times. Less than two weeks ago it snowed--HARD. The other day it was nearly 90 degrees.

East Texas has maintained its mild weather, and here is proof. This is our country home awash in azaleas.







Saturday, March 15, 2008

Word Of Mouth

I am feeling virtuous today. I've been ticking off all the items on my punch list this morning and even added a couple. The Tankster was especially happy I added "take dog for walk".

I've been spoiling him something awful since Chelly's been gone. I have to confess I've been fighting a severe case of depression. That isn't like me. Hardly anything gets me down, but losing Chelly has been particularly hard on me.

I can't figure out if it's because I was alone with her when she died or if it's because I felt every second of her life force slip away. I've been with lots of animals in their last moments. But this one took on a surreal effect. And I still feel it, constantly reliving those last few hours.

If nothing else, Tank has benefitted from my grief. That is one spoiled boy. This morning we went garage saling, got breakfast at our favorite kolache bakery and then went for a long walk in a park we had all to ourselves. It was a good morning.

Now it's back to work for me while he goes and takes yet another nap. Lucky dog!

Last night I sat in on a chat for self-promotion. I was glad it was a small group. It's hard for me to keep up when there are a lot of people on line.

I have a chat of my own coming up in August. I don't know what possessed me to sign on. I'm kind of wondering if I should give that spot to someone else. Chat rooms are confusing places to me. Everyone seems to "talk" at once, answering or asking different questions so that you don't know who's responding to who. I might wait until the book's release to see if a chat would be beneficial.

I'm far more excited about KS Augustin's podcast interview. Podcasts are the latest hot thing in communication. The last one Kaz delivered had excellent audio quality, but I've heard a couple (from a pretty big site) that were so hard to listen to I had to stop the recording. I don't know why the quality was so poor, but I wouldn't feel comfortable appearing there. I think a bad production (even through no fault of your own) is still a reflection on the interviewee.

But back to my main point. I think the thing I got out of the chat was that you have to think outside the box. It's important not to talk about your book or yourself, but rather talk about what is of value to your readers.

It resonated with me on a personal level because I feel strongly about giving back whenever I can. This is why I post markets and industry news on a regular basis. I know people appreciate it and as I find the information it's only good neighborliness to pass it on.

I got to thinking how TOUCH OF FIRE would be of value to readers. It would appeal to people who love fantasy and magic. But it also has a subtle vein of sci-fi in it too. And of course, there's the romance.

So how do I demonstrate that value? The chat group hummed with ideas. If you want to be visible to your readers, you have to go where they are. For example, if you wrote medieval historicals, you might find a welcome haven at renaissance fairs. If you wrote ghost stories, you could invite people to share their real-life ghost stories on your website. Interaction is critical. You want people to talk about you.

Romance has lots of venues. In 2007, romance sold more than ONE BILLION dollars in revenue. ($1.37 billion to be exact.) That is a huge fan base. My challenge is to find that niche group who reads not only romance, but SFF. I can find that group at several of the big SFF conferences held every year.

But where else do geeks and fantasists gather? Since TOUCH OF FIRE deals with Elementals, I wondered if Wiccan organizations might be favorable to a new take on an old idea. I can expand on that and approach what in my day we used to call "head" shops, places where they sell everything from incense to rub-on tattoos.

Religion, a common theme in my stories also plays predominately in ToF. It doesn't focus on modern-day traditional religion, but rather looks forward at how religion might evolve over hundreds of years after an apocalypse. Would Christian bookstores consider such a book? It opens up the possibilities.

Has anyone tried to brainstorm where else their books might be appreciated?

The promotion trail is saturated with interviews, book reviews and blogs--all good vehicles. But what I'm looking for is something off the beaten path, somewhere where people aren't expecting a writer or a book. --And most importantly, somewhere where people talk about you amongst themselves. Word of mouth is still the best promotion there is.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Writing Mentors

The past few weeks--no--months have been a blur. Ideally, you want to have one book in edits, one book in progress and one being promoted at any given time. Maybe I haven't learned to juggle my time well enough, but I'm finding it almost debilitating.

Part of the difficulty is that I am such a focused individual. I can only concentrate on one task at a time and I try to accomplish my goals the best I can. So having to juggle three things at once feels formidable on a good day, let alone a bad one.

My current wip is finished though I need to read through it again because it's only the first draft and I don't want to put my crit partners into unnecessary coronaries. "Touch Of Fire" is with the editor. She thinks we'll be finished with edits by the end of the month and I am thrilled to hear it. Promotion for said book is still in the works.

I know what I want to accomplish but I'm having a hard time finding any spare time. I have a full time job as well as a few freelance gigs for extra cash. Can you say, "stretched thin"?

I keep repeating to myself, "where there's a will, there's a way". Sherrill Quinn is proof of that. She had a post yesterday where she said she wrote more than half a million words last year alone. Half a million! Is that not incredible? And she's multi-published too, so these are words that are making a profit. Those are VERY good words.

Maya Reynolds is another fine example. Her five year plan is an inspiration. She always makes me feel that my goals are attainable. It gives me faith in myself to get out there one more day. And I think that's the most important element to have in one's soul. Without self-confidence you might as well hang up your spurs, because no one is going to hold your hand in this business.

I have to mention Josephine Damian too. She said something on this blog recently that really made an impression on me. She said: she wasn't afraid to have strong opinions. I think that's an attribute that's common among the writers/bloggers I admire.

For the longest time, I held back my opinions thinking I was too "new" to have much of an impact, but Josie made me realize that was a mistake. It's having an opinion--that is--an informed, well considered opinion and not just a rant, that makes the difference between a respected writer and the writer we all roll our eyes at whenever s/he opens his mouth.

Mark Terry, who I've been reading for a while now is someone I've learned from too. He had a blog post that made me laugh out loud. Nathan Bransford asked what was your goal as a writer. After reading several responses, Mark wrote: … there seemed to be an awful lot of free-floating obsessive-compulsive disorders out there with the predominant response being, "I have to write. I just have to."

I nearly split a gut because he said what I've always thought. And he reminded me that no amount of planning and no amount of words will ever replace what's really important in life.

He made me realize that not only is it important to treat publishing as a business, but also to keep it in perspective. Writing, believe it or not, is not at the top of my list. The people I love--are.

That's what keeps me going. I try to incorporate Sherrill's determination, Maya's strategies, Josie's candor, and Mark's balance in the hopes that I'll find some middle ground--and some small success of my own.

There're an awful lot of good people in this industry. You just have to be willing to meet them half way.

*****
Good news: My friend, Carol Burge signed with Lyrical Press, Inc. for her book "Dangerous Desires". Way to go, Carol!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Time Capsule

shhh...I think my email is working again.
*****
I had an interesting experience the other day when I was cleaning out an old email folder at work. This particular folder was an archive of saved emails for the last eight years.

As I scanned email after email, I was literally reliving the last eight years of my life in north Texas. It had notes on congratulations for a promotion, messages of sympathy when my father and later one of my dogs died. It archived numerous emails that tracked an ongoing episode with an unsavory character who never did get his comeuppance.

Bosses and employees died, retired or faded into obscurity. I could see every peak and valley of my career and my personal life. And I discovered that even eight years ago I must've been meant for writing. Buried in the deepest part of the archive, I found several early emails from business associates telling me I was wasting my time here and I should consider writing professionally! I laughed out loud when I found those.

It seems I was the go-to person if anyone needed a letter, article or speech written for them. It was stranger still that I kept those emails. I guess subconsciously, I was thinking about writing even then.

It was a time capsule of my life. And while there were some happy moments, I couldn't help thinking how much heartache occurred during these last eight years. Like a recorded chess match, it detailed where each of my career decisions landed me.

It hasn't been an easy journey since I lived apart from my husband most of that time--and still do. It's made me tougher on some issues and softer on others. I'm less patient with whiners than I used to be, but less critical of people who spit in the wind.

I know what it's like to spit in the wind. You might get wet, but at least you know which way the wind is blowing. Yes, folks, she's practical AND positive!

I don't know what the next eight years will bring me, but I'm ready.

Are you?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Markets

Still suffering email envy. I've been promised an update tonight. We'll see.

*****
Broken Pencil

Pays: $30 - $300

Articles, Columns and Non-fiction

Guidelines: Broken Pencil has the following sections that always require contributions. Pencil Sharpener: short reports on cultural events, personalities, zine gatherings etc. examples are a launch of a comic anthology in montreal, a zine fair in medicine hat, a guy who runs an art gallery out of a suitcase in saskatoon. Ideally these are no longer than 400 words. Rant: just like it says, a rant, a first person argument or complaint, could be about anything, but we generally like to have at least some relationship to indie/alternative culture/lifestyle. Should be around 700 words. Features: Long well researched articles on the subject of indie/alternative culture. Could be a profile of an individual or event, could explore a trend or new development etc. 1000-3000 words.

Fiction: Original never before published fiction. Word lengths of 50-3000 words. The thing to do is to pitch us with specific ideas, and maybe include a few of your previous articles. Also a little background info about you would be nice. It will take us a while to get back to you, so be patient.

*****

Big Pulp

Pays: $5 - $25
An online journal featuring genre fiction and artwork of all kinds. We are actively seeking submissions of prose, poetry, photography, artwork, and comics for our pages. We define “pulp fiction” very broadly – it’s lively, challenging, thought-provoking, thrilling, and fun, regardless of how many or how few genre elements are packed in. We don’t subscribe to the theory that genre fiction is disposable; in our opinion, a great deal of literary fiction could easily fall under one of our general categories.


*****

Pod People

Hey, kids! KS Augustin made a terrific idea a reality. Check out her podcast interviews. She interviewed Ashley Ladd the other day. I'm even going to be on there in June. Then you can all hear what I sound like and you can tell me if the voice matches the body. (grin)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Baby Chelly

My email is still on drugs. I am still not getting emails. If you tried to reach me and we haven't touched base yet (I've already contacted several of you), please leave me a comment here and I will contact you today.

*****
Greg brought me my favorite picture of Chelly. She was maybe three months old. Yes, that's me holding her. (I can't believe I was wearing pink!) It kinda looks like she was trying to sock me, but actually she got her paw caught in the cowl of my sweater.






Here's how Chelly joined our family. Greg and I were wandering an open-air swap meet and there was a pet rescue organization in attendance. They had a lot of dogs and cats. The puppies were in a pen and this fat little kid reached down and grabbed baby Chelly by the scruff of the neck.

I don't know what got into me but I rushed over, snatched the squirming puppy out of his hands and told him the dog was mine. Some woman (probably his mother) gave me the evil eye but I wasn't going to let the puppy go. The woman who ran the project came over and said the adoption fee was $50. Of course, I didn't have a dime on me. --typical!

I craned my neck looking for Greg and finally caught sight of him. As we neared each other I told him to fork over 50 bucks. We were bringing a puppy home. He looked at me and then at the puppy and took out his wallet without saying a word.

To this day, he asks when I'm going to give him back that $50. LOL! But he loved that dog. She was the toughest, most independent dog we've ever had. (He says she reminded him of his wife)

If you know me, you know I would never make such a snap decision when it comes to animals, but something told me that we belonged together. (It was the same feeling I got when I met Greg. I just knew he was the one.)

Chel was alarmingly shy. The rescue people thought she was traumatized at that critical point in a puppy's development. It took me 3 months to retrain her so that she could trust humans again. That retraining turned us into a team. We were never apart and I probably babied her more than I should have, but I don't regret it. She was my baby even unto old age.

*****

Thank you, Lexxie Couper (and Hudson)! Lexxie started a new blog. Check it out here. In honor of the new blog, Lexxie gave away the winner's choice of any of her books. I picked her SF collection, Shifting Lust. Look for an interview with Lexxie in the near future!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Email Gone Wonky

I found out several of my email accounts are not receiving or sending. I don't know how long that's been going on.

If I owe you an email, edits, or sketch layouts, I will try to retrace my steps and touch base with you tonight. If you sent me an email and I haven't answered you, try to write me again. I'll hash it out with Verizon when I get home.

Thanks!

Somebody Should've Poked Me

Oy, Vey! Somebody should have poked me with a pointy stick. I had no idea how much time it was going to take to promote a book.

Let this serve as a warning to the rest of you. As soon as you catch a whiff that you might sell a novel, build your marketing plan ASAP. I'm not kidding.
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And even if you think it might be several years down the road, get thee a nice professional blog with your "author name" and not a moniker. You need to build a presence that will serve as an extension of your brand. (Ouch! We won't even get into brands right now.)

There are so many things that have to be done, so many things that have to be researched that you will find your time sucked away into a giant Hoover.

For example, I really wanted to do a book trailer. The lovely and talented Diane Craver wrote an article for Writers Weekly on book trailers that you can read here.

I could have gone ahead and hired someone to create one for me, but if you know me, you know what a control freak I am. I would never be happy unless I picked out all the images and the music. Well guess what? That takes a huge amount of time, not to mention I would have to learn how to put the thing together. So, book trailer--Out.

Websites? I built one two years ago and I am so glad I did. Not only did it give me time to learn how to use Dreamweaver (the bane of my existence) but it forced me to think on how I wanted to be represented. I have very definite ideas on how I want my books seen and it took me a while to find my path. That was two years well spent, and it's one less thing I have to worry about now.

Interviews: I've had a couple of people offer to interview me on their blogs and I'm looking forward to that. I've never been interviewed. Who knows what I'll say?

Perhaps in the interest of sharing, I will write a few posts on what I'm doing to promote Touch Of Fire. Maybe it will help someone else. Maybe not. (grin)

But for the love of Pete, please don't wait as long as I did. This publication business will smack you square in the face and believe it or not, you only have a couple of weeks to make a splash. After that you become old news. That "15 minutes" of fame can take months of preparation.

In my case, I get two chances at fame. May 20 is when the e-version of Touch Of Fire comes out. The print version debuts later. I'll post the date as soon as I find out.

Stay with me for the next couple of weeks and we'll talk about specific book promotion ideas.

*****
It SNOWED yesterday. In Texas! Which only proves God has a sense of humor.


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Links of Interest

Maya Reynolds is hosting a two hour workshop this weekend at the Richardson Public Library for the Writers Guild of Texas. The topic is "Understanding the Publishing Industry".

She will address such topics as:

• Why is publishing so different from other industries?
• What you need to know about publishers, bookstores, and agents BEFORE you query.
• What are agents looking for?
• What to expect once you have a publishing contract.
• What you need to know about genres.

The workshop is FREE and is this Saturday, February 8, 2008 from 10:30 to 12:30. If you're in the area, stop by. The library is located at: 900 Civic Center Drive, Richardson, Texas.

*****

That Josie has done it again. The woman is going to make me broke. LOL! Josephine Damian did a killer review on "Your First Novel" co-written by NY literary agent Ann Rittenberg and her client Laura Whitcomb. I have to admit, I would have never checked out the book judging by the title alone. But when Josie parsed it, I was hooked and bought it by the time she finished reviewing it.

Part 1 is here. And Part 2 is here. I won't add to the review. Go read both parts for yourself.

Edited: And then she gave me a shout out yesterday! I must owe her money. :o)

*****

Tia Nevitt, who always gives me food for thought had an interesting post yesterday and posed the question: "If you are an author or aspire to be one, does your novel have an unforgettable "oh, wow!" moment?"

That really gave me pause to think. A story has to involve me right from the start, but I do so yearn to find that "oh, wow!" moment. I think that's what elevates a good story to memorable.

The most memorable thing about "Touch Of Fire" is the world building. We're on an Earth 1200 years in the future surrounded by things the reader instantly recognizes, yet the characters in the story don't. I had a lot of fun building those moments into a scene. There aren't a lot of them but you feel rewarded for knowing something the character doesn't.


So how about you? What is the neatest "oh wow" moment in your book?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Stop the Presses!

TOUCH OF FIRE is coming!

Working on the blurb now. It should be up on the website soon. But the cover is there and now I can share it.
...

Sexy, huh?

So is the book.




Monday, March 3, 2008

Markets, Agents

Brio Magazine

Seeking short fiction up to 2,000 words to suit teenaged girls. Romance stories, sibling rivalry and situations faced daily by teen girls are especially welcomed. Brio’s target audience is teenaged girls from 12-15. Brio pays between 15 and 35 cents per word on acceptance.

*****

Today's Christian Woman, USA

Award-winning editorial speaks from a Christian perspective. Topics include: family, friendship, faith, marriage, single life, self, work, finances, and health. Pays $0.20 per word.

*****

Angels on Earth

Angels on Earth® publishes true stories about God's messengers at work in today's world. We are interested in stories of heavenly angels and stories involving humans who have played angelic roles in daily life. The best stories are those where the narrator has been positively affected in some distinct way. Look for unusual situations; we have a surplus of stories about illness and car accidents. We are also especially on the lookout for recent stories.

*****

New Agents

Greenhouse Literary Agency • Sarah Davies
Greenhouse is a new literary agency with a difference. We exclusively represent and manage the careers of authors writing fiction for children, from first readers through middle grade to sophisticated teen fiction.

Bressler-Scoggins Literary Management
Actively seeking romance, YA, mysteries and thrillers