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Monday, June 30, 2008

Markets

This is a holiday week in the US so expect a lot of lazy bloggers.

Independence Day is this Friday!! That means a long weekend, BBQs, and cold brewskies.

I should still have the weekly Killer Campaign post up this Friday despite the festivities, so don't stay away.

Markets

Spacesuits and Sixguns

Spacesuits and Sixguns is a magazine of contemporary pulp fiction – simple, straightforward storytelling with an emphasis on action. We’re not looking for Lovecraft or Howard pastiches, or stories set in the 1930’s. Read a dozen pulp fiction stories, soak it all up, then ask yourself: what if this happened in my hometown today. All genres accepted -- detective, horror, mystery, adventure, SF, sword and sorcery. We love them all. Give us about 4000 words. Shorter is fine. We're flexible. If it’s longer and it's good, no problem. Rule number one - be fun!

Payment is 3 cents a word/$100 max for fiction

***

Agent News

Straus Literary Agency

319 Lafayette St., #220 New York, NY 10012. (646)843-9950. Fax: (646)390-3320. E-mail: jonah@strausliterary.com. Contact: Jonah Straus.

New agency actively seeking clients. Prior to becoming an agent, Jonah spent 13 years in editorial, sales and marketing for publishing and book distributers in New York and San Francisco.

Interested in: general fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction, multicultural fiction, mystery.

***

JABberwocky has added an agent. Eddie Schneider.

Contact info: Eddie Schneider • JABberwocky Literary • P.O. Box 4558 • New York, NY 11104

Fiction areas of interest: Literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, humor/satire, young adult. How to contact: Send a query with a SASE. No e-mails.

Schneider is seeking projects with a greater literary emphasis to his tastes than is typical of many agents who represent authors in these genres. Likes dark.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Linking

After all the mongo posts I've put up lately on websites and blogs, I thought it would be nice to discuss something simple, yet powerfully effective.

There's a problem for people my age in that sometimes we don't understand the vernacular. At least, I don't. When I first heard the word, linking, I didn't know if they meant an actual link (a word or series of words you see underlined) or the physical website address.

I was afraid if I didn't type out the entire address, the person I was linking to wouldn't know I was sending them traffic.

That's not the case. Any hyperlink that will take you to your intended location is considered linking.

And here's another word for you. Deep Linking.

Deep linking is when you send a visitor to a link inside a website that is not the home page. For example, rather than sending you to my home page at http://www.mariazannini.com/, I send you to the Touch Of Fire fact page at http://www.mariazannini.com/Enter%20the%20Fire.htm. The fact page is a deep link.

In essence, I sent you deep into the website. Make sense?

I hear that some web owners don't want you to do that because it steals traffic from their home page. I think as long as someone is visiting your site, they have the option of moving around within the site. Forcing them to go to the home page doesn't give you any better traffic, unless you are selling something that is on the home page.

For myself, I'd rather send people directly to what I want them to see. That's why when I post markets, I almost always send you to the guidelines page rather than the home page. Why should I make you hunt down the guidelines--especially if they're hard to find?

Now that I've explained linking, let's get back to using it as a promotional tool.

The world wide web is a fascinating monster. Search engines have a gazillion spiders or bots that crawl all over your page, be it a website, a blog or a pdf page. They go back to their masters and report who's been on your page, what links were found and how to rank you in popularity.

This comes back to help or hinder you in searches. If lots of people link to you, your site comes up higher in the PageRank. There are some very secret algorithms that go into computing your ranking on a search. They're probably better protected than state secrets.

Let's suffice it to know that it is to our benefit to link to our friends and peers often. Not only will it raise your visibility, but the visibility of the person you linked.

This is why it's so important to comment on blogs with an actual link back to your blog. The more often you comment, especially on high visibility blogs, the higher your ranking.

It does double duty too. A lot of the people I follow now were people who made an intelligent comment on a big blog like BookEnds or Dear Author.

When someone says something smart or insightful, I check out their blog and see if they are equally interesting there. If they are, I add them to my blog reader. If they're especially noteworthy, I might even write them and introduce myself. This way they know who I am before I start commenting on their blogs.

I think it's friendlier and more professional to introduce yourself. It doesn't have to be any more than: Hi, I found your blog through 'so-and-so' and love your posts.

I've had a couple of people comment here who I've never met before and they chat away as if they'd known me for years. And they might know me at that, if they'd been reading me for any length of time or they know me from one of many loops. But if they've never introduced themselves to me, I'm at a social disadvantage.

That's why it's always nice to pop in on occasion. Your comment doesn't have to be world-shaking. Sometimes I post a comment just to tell the blogger that I enjoy the blog. Everyone wants to hear that.

Bear in mind, that really dumb comments label you too. Just as I might follow a trail of virtual breadcrumbs back to a blogger who posted an intelligent remark, you will scare me off if you post wild remarks that seem to have no bearing on the post.

We are judged by our content. Always.

This is why I always try to double check my typing and reread my comments for clarity before I hit send.

But linking is a good thing. It is FREE. It makes you highly visible. And it has the power to give you more traffic, and potentially, more sales.

Link often and link well.


 
Want to get a whole book with this information for $2.99?

Find it on Amazon.
 


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Out Of The Closet

I've had so much going on lately, I don't know where to begin. After the interview with Patricia Altner yesterday, I got to thinking about other paranormal phenomena. Can it be this is what I was meant to write the whole time? A genre I have avoided for nearly my entire life--on purpose.

Confession time.

I probably spent a good three and a half decades without seeing a single horror movie or reading any ghost story. My reasons were personal. I didn't want them to feed an overly active imagination.

You see, I see dead people. Always have.

For good or bad, I got used to it. And it's actually been several years since I've seen the last ghost. (I live in a young neighborhood. Older neighborhoods harbor more paranormal activity.)

At first, I never admitted it to anyone outside the family. They knew because strange things would happen whenever I was around. Doors would open by themselves. Voices called out, and small objects would be found in unusual places. I was like a magnet for strange phenomenon.

It was especially brutal when I was a child. I never got any rest. My earliest memory is one my mother still talks about. I was three years old and I was looking up at the ceiling and pointing. I saw people climbing down a pass of some sort. One of them was an American Indian and he stopped and acknowledged me. He was the only one. The rest of them seemed oblivious to what was going on in our fourth floor walk-up in Chicago.

What's made this realization especially poignant is that I've been anguishing over how to brand myself for the last few months. What is it that identifies me and what I write? What one thread binds everything I do? Now I realize much to my horror, it was exactly what I'd been avoiding nearly my whole life. No matter what I write, a thin tendril always brings it back to the mystical, the unexplained. The paranormal.

I write paranormal. I understand paranormal.

I guess it's time I came out of the closet.

*****
And just to prove I'm still firmly planted in the normal world, I've come to find out I might have thrown away my royalty check. Oy vey!

Apparently, the envelope from the bank looks like junk mail. I am notorious for throwing away junk mail.

Agh! At least they'll send me another one.

Note to Greg: Open EVERYTHING that comes to the house from now on. LOL!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Vampire Notes and Book Bee

I normally don't post on Tuesdays, but you never know what I'll do. I'm wily that way. Besides, I have a perfectly good reason to pop in today.

Patricia Altner who hosts Patricia's Vampire Notes has an awesome blog where she discusses all things vampire. Patricia is really on top of the vampire market! I think I'm going to have to pick her brain when I need some vampire research.

If you love vampires, go over there and bookmark her page. You know you want to. Just do it.

To give you some history, I met Patricia through Broad Universe, a fine organization where I've probably met more writers who've become friends than any other group I've joined. It's a great place.

Anyway, for some reason Patricia asked to interview me--I'm pretty sure she lost a bet--but I was happy to do it. So please pop over there and say hello to me and the vampire queen. And drop me a note if you're in a commenting mood.

*****

A place to promo

I wanted to tell all my buddies with books out about Book Bee, an online group that allows you to make announcements for books, contests, well, you get the picture. It is pretty easy to join and update. Membership is free. TOUCH OF FIRE is in there somewhere. I put an announcement in on Sunday, I think.

Of course, I'm going to assume that if you read my blog faithfully, you've already ordered the book. (grin) So send this link over to your friends and tell them to order up. Mama needs to pay the mortgage. LOL!

*****
Coming soon

I have several guest blogs scheduled for July, September and November. I promised myself I would also write some articles too.

Now, where the heck is that Maria clone when I need her?

Hmm...probably off drinking with my half-naked muse, Seamus.

Typical.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Markets

The Warren Adler Short Story Contest

Suggested by the recent publication of Warren Adler's latest novel, Funny Boys, the theme for the Summer 2008 Warren Adler Short Story Contest is humor. We're looking for humorous stories in all their varied forms. From satire to farce, from the whimsical to the uproarious, all writers looking to get a laugh (in a good way!) should enter. We are looking for the subtle and the pungent, the black and dark, the sporty, the salty, the waggish, or whatever can spark a knowing smile, a sly chuckle, or a hysterical belly laugh. In other words, anything goes, just as long as it falls into this category, however one stretches its elastic boundaries.

Entries must not exceed 2,500 words, and there is a minimum length of 1,000 words. As in the previous contests, all stories will be judged on the basis of character authenticity, plotting, narrative drive, and the skillful manipulation of the short story literary form.

Submissions will be accepted from May 1st to August 15th.
Entry fee up until August 1st is $15. After August 1st, a late entry fee is $20.
Five cash prizes will be awarded.

Warren Adler's top choice, along with the People's Choice winner, will be announced 15 September. Prizes will be as follows:
1st Prize: $1,000
People's Choice Prize $500
Remaining finalists receive $150 each
Authors retain worldwide publishing rights.

*****
Here's a unique one with narrow parameters for topic.

Thrilling Tales

Fiction: Hero Pulp tales of up to 20,000 words. Query for longer material -- we will consider standard-length pulp novels (60K words), but primarily as serialized fiction or stand-alone book releases. We want tales that are true to the spirit of the pulps -- as such we prefer that they be set during the "pulp era" -- the 1930s. Our standards are perhaps a bit higher than those of the original pulp fiction magazines -- in general we'd prefer stories that are written in a more polished and professional manner than the original pulps, yet still maintaining the pacing, imaginative plots and excitement of the originals. We do have a certain number of "House Characters" -- characters which we will regularly feature, both classic and licensed. Stories featuring these characters will be assigned to writers that we're familiar with, so once you've gotten on board with an original story, we'll consider you for assigned work.

Pay: .03 per word to negotiable

*****

This isn't a market, but someone on one of my loops passed it on. It's hard to describe. Basically it's a pageful of links with their logos as radio buttons. I guess if you recognize the logo of the company you're looking for, it can't be too hard to find.

It's neat anyway. Take a look. It's called: All My Faves

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blogs of Note

I've got a couple of places to send you today.

My buddy, Red Garnier (Don't you LOVE that name!) is holding a contest over at her blog. She's asking visitors to tell her their favorite painting and its artist. How easy is that!

Go. Visit. Post on her blog. I'll wait for you. And check out her book, Color My Heart. It's on the MBaM's best seller list.

*****

There's another interesting blog in cyber town called Book Roast. It's a neat concept that adds a little humor to the mix. I think it looks like fun.

Go over and visit their blog. Their grand opening is June 23.

"Book Roast cooks up five authors from different genres. Stop by to hear about their books, jump in the oven and poke them with a meat thermometer to see if they're done."


Thanks to Josephine Damian for telling me about them.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Guest Blogging

I'm adding to my initial list because I forgot to add: Guest Blogging. That in itself is a whole post.

There are singular blogs, group blogs and then guest blogging. A guest blog entry is when you write a post for a blog where you have no ties. You are a visiting blogger.

Guest blogging is a nice way to introduce yourself to new readers. It's just as beneficial to the blog host because s/he is liable to get traffic from your regular readers too. It's a win-win situation.

But guest blogging has the same responsibilities as any other blog post and one extra obligation. You must always remember that you are a "guest", so it would behoove you to be polite, interesting and genial. You have the option of being a jerk on your blog, but when you're a guest in someone else's home, you should be on your best behavior.

Whenever I've been asked to guest blog I always ask what they want me to talk about. I prefer to be given an assignment. If it's in my sphere of experience, I'm open to any topic.

The other reason I prefer to be given an assignment is because the blog host knows his audience better than I do. Ask what he thinks would be of interest to his readers.

If the host gives you carte blanche, study the blog's past entries and see where he's had the most comments. This might give you some indication on how to slant your topic.

While guest blogging at its core is a good vehicle for marketing, blatant promotion is BORING and in poor taste.

I am far more likely to buy if the author comes across as interesting, witty or funny. If it starts out with an advertisement, my eyes glaze over and I'll move on to something else. On the other hand, if the author hooks me with a great story about how he got stuck in a Moroccan harem, I'm going to sit up and pay attention. When he closes by saying how that experience relates to his book, that's when he's got my full attention and possibly my credit card.

A blog post should reward the reader first.

Tips for being a good guest blogger.

• Bring your joie de vivre. Nobody wants to hear you whine.

• Talk about something you know well. Blogs have a bad reputation for spewing a lot of garbage. Be an expert on your subject and no one will accuse you of talking out your butt.

• Be available. I've been on blogs that don't get a single comment and others that are jumping with activity. Either way, make yourself available to comment or thank people for stopping by.

• Which brings me to acknowledgement. Whether it's your own blog, a group blog, or a guest blog, always acknowledge people when they leave a comment on the blog. People took the time to write you. The least you can do is say thank you, or add to the conversation. Don't act like you've been raised in a barn. (Gawd, I sound like my mother. LOL!)

• Always thank your host, post links on your blog to your host's site and mention your topic on any of your loops.

• If it's a high traffic blog or you have books to spare, offer to hold a giveaway to one lucky winner who comments on your post.

• Announce an upcoming guest blog a few days before it airs and then on the day it goes live.

• Have fun. People can tell when you're enjoying yourself. And a good time is infectious. It makes people feel good about themselves.



Want to get a whole book with this information for $2.99?

Find it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celibacy Is Not For The Weak

My guest post on the Samhain weblog is up.

It's called Celibacy Is Not For The Weak. You can take what you want from that. :o)

Stop by and leave me some comments if you are so moved.

The post should have appeared at 3pm EST, but I got my time zones confused and it posted an hour early. Argh!

Turning Points

Margaret Fisk did a lovely interview with me specifically on the value of small presses. She's posted it on two blogs. If you're an LJ fan, you can go here. If you prefer Blogger, go here.

It's a short interview that expresses my take on small presses, along with its pros and cons. Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have a specific question I didn't answer.

*****
I should also be blogging at Samhain this afternoon at 3pm CST. I'll update this blog when that happens.

*****

I took the day off today since Greg decided to surprise me and spend a couple of days with me. Originally, we had not planned to see each other for the whole month of June.

This bi-city relationship is difficult at the best of times, but it won't be long before we can live together again.

Greg's coworkers tell him it must be great to have such a setup. He smiles broadly and tells them it's wonderful. It's just like being a bachelor, except he's not allowed to date.

It would be bad for his health. :o)

This arrangement isn't all bad though. My writing career started because of it.

I moved into my house and spent four years redecorating, remodeling and gussying up the place. When that was all over, I thought, great, now I can do what I want to do. Ordinarily that meant I would feel free to start another painting, but instead I wrote an essay about my father. He had died not long before and I needed some way to express my feelings.

It made me cry as I wrote it and when I sent it to my family, it made them cry too. I had touched on the core of the man.

I never intended it for publication so I put it aside. But the writing juices were still flowing so I wrote a short story next; my version of Genesis. As I reread it, it occurred to me it might be good. But I couldn’t be sure. After all, I knew nothing about publishing at the time.

I found OWW and Critters and joined both. In the meantime, I sent the essay about my father to the Writer's Digest contest and it beat out 18,000+ entries to final. That bolstered my confidence, so I subbed my SF short story to my new crit groups and got some good advice. I polished it and sent it off to Writers of the Future. It too, went to finals.

That seemed to be the first turning point for me. I was hooked on writing.

My second turning point came two years later. I felt I had gotten all the mileage I could from my crit forums and decided to expand my horizons. I took online classes, live workshops, and formed a very select group of peers into a critique circle. Between all three of these, I noticed my writing was getting sharper and more entertaining.

This might sound weird, but I can pinpoint when my turning points occurred. I know the exact moment when I had risen to that next level.

I was at a writers' workshop, feeling particularly antisocial because I was trying to work the kinks out of my wip. Whenever I'm trying to solve a problem, I generally go off by myself. That night I tossed and turned, unable to sleep. I got up, pulled out my laptop and wrote a new short story in a couple of hours.

As if my brain were relieved of a burden, I was then able to drop off to sleep. The next morning I read it and there was something about the writing that seemed different. It was raw, but there was an unmistakable voice to it. It had a fingerprint that was mine alone.

I subbed it at one of my crit forums and was surprised with the response. My usual critters wouldn't touch it. Instead, I got a response from published authors. I was now "worthy" of being in their company. It felt both scary and liberating at the same time.

How about you guys? Could you tell when you were getting better at your craft? Did someone have to tell you or did you just know? Do you know when you turned the corner on your career?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Markets

A little more tweaking on the website and I can call it done. I'll probably finish it off next weekend. Thanks to everyone who wrote me to tell me what they saw on their browsers.

Let's do some markets, but first a warning about a scam contest. I posted this on a few of my loops, but I didn't get them all.

From the Writer Beware blog.
Apparently, someone is running an entry fee scam using the SFWA as the front. According to Victoria Strauss, SFWA is taking steps to shut this contest down.

This is part of their ad:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. is currently accepting science fiction story submissions of no more than 3000 words. All genres of science fiction accepted. Winners will get published in a Random House book titled "Asimovs of the Future."

The cash prizes for winners are as follows: 1st Place: $10,000, 2nd Place: $5,000, 3rd Place: $2,000, 10 Honorary Mentions: $1000

I went to the Craigslist site and it looks like they've been shut down, but it's still up at FLIXER. Please beware. This is a scam contest. For the whole post go here.

Let's be careful out there. On to real markets.

*****

Per Contra

PAY: $.07/word

The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas. Per Contra accepts submissions of short fiction up to 3,000 words. We publish both flash fiction and short stories.


*****

Happy Tales Literary Contest

Entry Fee: None
Contest rules: Take any literary work with a sad, disturbing, or negative ending and supply a happy, affirmative, uplifting, humorous ending. The new ending must more or less parody the idiom, style, atmosphere, and so on, of the original. Entries will be judged on the basis of humor, insight, and quality of parody. Entries should be no more than ten pages in length and may be submitted on paper or via email.

Deadline: September 30, 2008.

Award: $200 cash money and the prestigious, coveted, etc., Nahum Tate Cup.

Entries, including the winning entry, may be read and praised and/or ridiculed by contest judges in a public session of the Humanities Montana Festival of the Book, October 23-25, 2008, Missoula, MT. Winning entries will be weblished at the Festival website or published in other media. Entries become the non-exclusive property of the Montana Festival of the Book.

*****

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Resolution Stories

Release Date: December 2008

Stories about resolutions We all do it!! We make those New Year's resolutions each year and we try so hard to keep them. How did yours work out? We would love to hear from you about the resolutions you made, those that worked and those that didn't. What did you learn? The deadline date for story submissions is August 31, 2008.

Please note that this deadline could change so the sooner, the better!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Updated Website

The website is done--most of it anyway.

The layout remained the same because I liked it the way it was. But I added two more pages and I changed the names of two others to reflect a more reader-friendly site as opposed to strictly writer-friendly.

I will continue to add links in the weeks to come. I'm also thinking about contests, newsletters and maybe articles specifically geared toward readers. There are behind the scenes things to do too, like embedding keywords so the spiderbots can report back to their search engines. (Websites can be so complicated!) At least the big stuff is done.

So now I have a favor to ask. Can you look through each of the pages and click the links to make sure they work? Also tell me if anything looks funky on your browser. All browsers are not created equal. What may look good on mine, may be very weird looking on yours.

There is a deliberately unobtrusive link under Bio Hazard where I placed my bio and a few links to articles and excerpts. It's the link that takes you to a new page and it has pictures and bios for all my "kids". You'll find the link towards the end of my bio.

I know sometimes people don't care about those things unless they're animal lovers. If you would, go to that page and tell me if the pictures come up quickly and if everything reads well.

This was such a massive undertaking, I know there're bound to be broken links somewhere.

You can email me or post a comment here if you prefer.

Let me know what you think. Here's the new and improved website: http://www.mariazannini.com/

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No Pet Left Behind

Well, I'm having rotten luck today. I started loading new image files for my website, but the web host keeps giving me an error message. I have more than 83 mb of memory yet, so I don't know why it refuses to load them.

I've contacted support. Hopefully they can fix it soon.

***

The floods in the midwest are devastating. Having gone through a pretty massive hurricane, my heart goes out to all those people dealing with floods, but I cannot forgive you if you insist on leaving your pets behind.

I know a lot of places won't take you if you have animals. Please don't leave them just because you can't be assured a nice hotel room. Sleep in your car if you have to. We have. That's the price of good pet stewardship. There was no way we were going to leave our dogs behind.

During the last hurricane, Greg and I did a relay race of moving all the dogs and as many of our possessions as we could. And then I had to say goodbye to Greg because he was on the emergency rescue team and had to go back. He left the strike zone only a few hours before Rita hit.

After the hurricane, we went back to clean up the mess. If you don't know the story, let me make it short and tell you it was BAD. 21 days without power, precious little fuel and literally no sleep. But the most sickening thing of all was finding so many animals wandering the roads looking for their owners and some food. Shame on you! Shame on all of you who leave your pets.

Greg got there before I did and he immediately set to giving food to any stray that came up to the house. The horror stories of so many abandoned animals after hurricanes Katrina and Rita are legendary.

I don't care how much food and water you leave your pets. They are your responsiblity. Take them with you. They are not fair weather friends--but obviously people who leave them behind are.

Yeah, I'm a little ticked off. I saw too much of that not that long ago, and here it is happening again.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Group Blogs

If you were following my original list, I should be talking about social networks today. But since I just finished a post on blogs last Friday, I thought I should continue the series with Group Blogs on today's edition of Killer Campaigns.

Group blogs are a nice alternative to doing your own show. Basically, a group blog is a group of like-minded individuals who take turns blogging on one site.

Like any blog it should have a theme or focus. A lot of group blogs have a free-for-all mentality, allowing you to blog whenever the spirit moves you, but I prefer to have a set deadline. It forces me to be accountable and I think I write better posts when I know I'm scheduled.

Group blogs like Fang, Fur & Fey sometimes has members who post several times in one day. I find that a bit obtrusive. It's like a ten car pile up, after a while it's just one big mess.

Samhain has a group blog that is very well organized. You sign up to blog, and then you are placed on a calendar. We get timely reminders that our turn is coming up. We can blog about anything we want as long as it's not a blatant promo. We do get a chance to do straight promo on the day our books come out though.

Seekerville is another good group blog that I read faithfully because they almost always have good content. Whether you run a single or multiple author blog, content is what brings people back.

A great advantage to a group blog is that if you have enough people you should have no trouble filling spots. It also makes it less taxing to the individual bloggers. The obligation and stress level is far lower if you're sharing posting duty. Different voices are also a plus.

What makes a good group blog?

• The format is clean and easy to read.

• Authors have a set schedule to blog and don't pile up on each other. This gives everyone a clean slate so they can have individual "me" time.

• Good content. No one wants a constant advertisement about your book. Talk about process, business or craft. Remember who your audience is. When I blog over at Samhain, I try to have a theme. My first time was around Christmas and I talked about our first Christmas tree. The next time I talked about the Tankster. The only promo I did was sign my name along with my book title.

• Depending on the blog you might have to "sign" your work. I hate seeing anonymous blog posts. I want to know who I'm reading.

• If possible post at the same time of day. It makes it easier if people know when to expect something from your blog.

• Give everyone an equal chance--even if you have to force them to post. :o) I don't know about you, but I get suspicious if I only hear from a select few. Makes me think they are hogging the limelight.

• Have occasional contests or blog parties.

• Group blogs should have something that ties them together. For example: Maybe they are all Christian writers, or SFF, or erotica, or romance. If you mix them up too much, you risk diluting your audience.

• Never forget your audience. Sometimes group bloggers get chummy with each other and forget their visitors. You get an "us" verses "them" feeling. I stopped commenting on one group blog because I felt some of the authors were patronizing toward their guests. You never want to alienate your visitors.

If you want to blog, but don't have a lot of time or don't feel you can offer enough content, a group blog is a great option. You have the advantage of getting your name out there, introducing your work to people who might not know you and sharing the workload with writers of similar caliber and genre for very little effort.

And now that I've said all this, I need to practice what I preach and post over at my group blog at Authors and Books.

Maybe I can post something clever this weekend--that is after I upload my new website. I don't want JK to come after me with a stick. She scares me. LOL!

The website is coming. I'm still scanning photos and looking for links. I'm shooting for Sunday...maybe.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! Go out and break a few mirrors.


Want to get a whole book with this information for $2.99?

Find it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Not Your Mama's Digital

I've been working on my website...

But STOP! Don’t go over there. The changes haven't been uploaded yet. Patience, Grasshopper.

My aim from the beginning was to make the blog for writers and the website for readers. I think I'm coming up with some good links and fun copy in order to make it reader friendly.

Since I have so much writer information, I'm thinking I might save a place for writing links too. There just isn't enough room on the blog to put all the links of interest to writers.

Sometimes I go to people's blogs and they have a list of links a mile long. I like finding new blogs, but I won't go through the effort of going down the list if it's that long. This is why I keep mine relatively short.

Anyway, back to the website. With any luck maybe I can upload the finished product by the weekend. I got some of my ideas from Mike Keyton who added a list of Liverpool links on his blog. This is what I was talking about when I mentioned targeting your audience.

Following Mike's example, I'll post links to places and people I think my readers will enjoy. I'm also going to put up a new page that will talk about the world of Touch Of Fire. I worked on that all last night, and I'm excited about it.

I know that future world by heart, but it occurred to me that my readers don't. They might glean some of that information from the book, but this might give them some context.

The one thing I'd like to do for my website is put in some add-ons, things like jokes and weather, etc, but I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet. I'm thinking the site needs to be supported by Flash or Java or some other fetish-sounding word.

Sadly, I am technically challenged, so I will have to find a smart person to walk me through the steps. Anybody want to volunteer? I see the code, but it just sits there looking all code-y.

I want more pictures on my site, but that takes time too because aside from hunting them down, I want to make sure they load quickly.

So stay tuned. I think you'll like the new and improved website.

***
Maya Reynolds has been talking about the publishing model in several excellent posts, and Nathan Bransford continued the dialog over at his blog. I normally don't read a lot of the comments, but the commentators on the Bransford post had some rather interesting thoughts on e-publishing.

Many of them echoed my sentiments. And several people reminded us about the old days. How we balked when floppy drives came on the scene, or when email debuted. I still remember vividly the huge argument I had with Greg when he insisted we go to cds rather than tapes and records. Blasphemy, I thought! I was a purist and cds were the devil's tool.

I freely admit, I entered the 21st century kicking and screaming. I do not evolve quietly.

Now we've passed cds in lieu of downloaded music playing off an ipod through the pristine sounding Bose system.

Digital is coming, guys. And it's going to stay until something else takes its place.

Someone on the Bransford site complained that equipment fails, but books have permanence. Umm, yeah, but what's your point? Record albums were more permanent too, but the quality is better on downloads, and it's certainly more convenient.

And Greg probably knows the answer to this, but I cannot tell you how many computers we've had since 1984. Ten? Twelve? Probably more. We replace them as new technology emerges. That's the way of things.

As I mentioned to Edie the other day when she commented on an earlier post here, Kindle is still too expensive for me. My price point is way lower than the average consumer, but then I'm cheap. (And proud of it!) I am perfectly content to wait a couple of years until the price comes down or the technology woofies goes up.

But I can see myself lounging on my couch and reading off a Kindle or a Mentor. All they have to do is make it more affordable for us frugal sort.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Markets

Thin Thread™ - The Moment that Made the Difference.

Kiwi Publishing invites you to contribute a true story, article, or anecdote that will bring hope and happiness to all those who realize the possibility in each moment, and the unseen miracles that arise from overcoming what seem like setbacks. By sharing special moments, from surprising, loving and inspiring to traumatic, these stories will touch people around the world.

Topics will include: Thin Threads™ of: Survival, Romance, Opportunity, Sport Success, Courage, Leadership & Innovation, Forgiveness, Motherhood, Fatherhood, Patriotism, Business Success and any other story that offers hope from a Thin Thread™ moment.

We're looking for inspirational, true stories, 1200 words or less, that will make readers laugh, cry, or sigh. Stories should be positive, universal, and non-controversial. The "point" or "message" should be evident without preaching. No essays, commentaries, tributes, philosophical or biographical pieces will be accepted.

Each story must contain the following elements:

1. Be Real - non fiction
2. Capture the essence of a thin thread event
3. Evoke an emotion from the reader

You may submit more than one story, all original or from a person in your life. Should your story be selected and be included in the "Thin Thread"™ book series, a permission fee of $100 will be paid. The submission deadline is July 1, 2008. Submit a story through this site

Further information is available at FAQ

*****

Traveling Mamas Anthology

TravelingMamas.com is in search of true uplifting, funny, inspirational, and touching stories with a travel theme for an upcoming anthology series. Possible themes may include family travel, romantic escapes, girlfriend getaways, and solo trips.

Word count: 300-1,000 words. More than one story may be submitted. The story can be told in first or third person. You don't have to be a mom to tell the story.

Deadline is midnight September 1, 2008.

Pays $50 per story.

*****

Glimmer Train Standard Story

Reading fee: None

Deadline: July 31, 2008

Payment for accepted stories: $700, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 10 copies of that issue.

Other considerations:
• Open to all writers.
• Stories not to exceed 12,000 words.(No minimum, though it's rare for a piece under 500 words to read as a full story.)
• Okay to submit up to three stories per submission month.
• Online submissions preferred.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Changing Publishing Models

I'm guest-blogging over at Maia Strong's blog sometime later today, so check it out. I'll be talking about contests.

Maia Strong is a fellow contest winner at Samhain and her book, The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing releases next week, June 10!

Pop over and visit.

*****

The Ebook Debacle~Again

It seems ebooks and ebook readers have been in the news lately. Paul Krugman of the NY Times has this to say about the ebook future.

And GalleyCat visited this subject as well.

Did I not tell you these things start with a ripple? I constantly hear people saying they will never buy an ebook. And I still run into people who do not know what an ebook is.

I don't mean to come across as disrespectful, but it doesn’t matter how you feel about it. The market will change despite your reservations. This is much bigger than how you or I feel about print and digital. We have an entire generation of readers who only do things digitally and that segment of society will continue to grow as the rest of us die out.

If you sell a manuscript to a traditional publisher, study the e-book clause in your contract carefully. Your percentage will be much smaller than mine. Fight for as much as you can because it won't be too long before you'll see that little clause come back to bite you.

The other thing I think is counterproductive is thinking small. People are under the mistaken belief that the market is an either/or situation. Either publishing will go to ebooks or stay in print. There is no either/or. It is both.

There will always be print books, but now it must share the market with ebooks. That scares the bejeebers out of traditional publishers because they've been forced to rethink their publishing model. Some of them are making adjustments on things like return policies and royalties. But this is only the beginning.

Am I happy about it? No.

I think, in the end, the only one who will suffer will be the author. Krugman cited Esther Dyson who predicted: that the ease with which digital content can be copied and disseminated would eventually force businesses to sell the results of creative activity cheaply, or even give it away.

If we want to continue to earn a living through our writing, we will have to earn our revenues differently than we do now.

I'm not pleased with what I think must happen. But then I wasn't pleased when I had to accept the cantankerous workings of a personal computer in 1984.

I got used to it. I had no choice.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Blogs

There are many reasons to blog and many styles of blogging. Some people can write solely on their day to day lives and have a legion of fans. Others can't get noticed if they had bloodhounds after them. The reasons are as varied as the individual.

For the purposes of this post, we are going to talk about blogging as a promotional vehicle for your writing career. What are your options? Who is your audience?

When blogs made their debut a few short years ago, I didn't pay them any mind. The first blogs I noticed were more like very public personal diaries. It was: what the kids did, what someone had for lunch, or at best, how many words they wrote that day.

Clearly, this was personal information that wouldn't (and shouldn't) be of any interest to an agent, editor or publisher.

I designed my blog specifically with the writing community in mind. It is for this reason I stick to providing markets, news and tips. Occasionally, I tell funny stories because I think it has entertainment value and God knows, it's good fodder for fiction.

Other bloggers have made seriously lucrative careers out of spilling their guts and telling every juicy detail about their lives. I find such bloggers generally crass and not worthy of attention, but society loves a train wreck and these sites get tons of traffic for playing drama queens.

It's a judgment call. If you're comfortable baring your all, and you have an enticing voice, advertisers will pay big money to be on your blog.

But let's assume you are a normal blogger looking to benefit his career without getting nekkid.

As I mentioned earlier, I use mine as a way to reach other writers, but you could just as easily create a blog for your fans. The only difference between us is that you will be using some of the elements from my previous post on websites and using them on your blog.

Knowing who you want as your audience is critical. If it's just a diary to keep your friends up to date on your personal life, LiveJournal, Facebook and MySpace do the job well. I've tried LJ and MySpace and that's about all I can recommend them for. These are social networks. They were created specifically to network in a casual atmosphere with the "friending" model.

If you want a place to introduce potential fans to your work, consider WordPress, TypePad or Blogger. I would love to have my blog on WordPress because it offers so many useful add-ons, but Blogger has the benefit of being part of the Google family. It comes up in searches faster, providing me with more traffic. It's an acceptable tradeoff.

So how do we go about making our blogs work for us?

Content is king. What are you going to talk about? Remember that it has to be of interest to the audience you are trying to reach and your scope can be as narrow or wide as you want it to be.

If your audience is:

Just Friends: The sky and your prudence is the limit.

Fans: Talk about your books, other people's books, your research, your background, your appearances. Keep the dialog open. You want to be as interactive as possible and the content has to change regularly so they keep coming back. You have the luxury of including a lot of fun stuff like games, contests and downloads.

Peers: Anything that is writing related is fair game. Think about the things you'd like to know and then teach yourself to become an authority. Some blogs on my list focus on specific aspects of publishing like: breaking news, agents, editing, markets, freelancing, marketing, conferences, workshops, research, debut authors, specific genres. There is a wide and wonderful smorgasbord of choices. These are my very favorite kinds of blogs. Almost all of them focus on a particular strength, but they also talk about other stuff. It's a nice mix.

Frequency: Blogs should be updated on a consistent schedule. Regular posts are the surest way to earn return visitors.

On the flipside, I'm not sure posting several times a day is advantageous unless you have late breaking news. Lots of tiny announcements of little import sometimes diminishes your impact.

Voice: Blogs have voices. Did you know that? Develop a voice that brings people back. One thing I did back when I created my first website is practice my blog voice. I didn't have much traffic then so any sins I committed are lost to the ether.

If you want to practice, create an anonymous blog and post for a few months until you feel comfortable.

Appearance: Never "diss" other writers, agents, editors and publishing houses on your blog. If you keep getting rejected, don't rant about the injustice. If you're angry or depressed, you are better off keeping that information between you and your buds. Your friends will understand, but strangers will just think something is wrong with you. This isn't high school. Respect yourself and respect your audience.

Tit for tat: Visit other blogs and comment. The more often you comment, the higher your PageRank on Google goes up. The same goes for linking. Every time you link to someone else's blog, website or page, it enhances your standing. The more important the link is, the better you look too.

Linking regularly and commenting are probably the two easiest and most reliable ways to build traffic.

That said, there is an etiquette to linking. If someone asks to be linked on your page, they in turn must link you.

Blogging can be a useful promotional tool, but it can also be misused to fritter away your time and scratch an itch. It's all up to you.

How do you like to use your blogs? What would you like to do differently? What's given you the most pleasure or success in blogging?



Want to get a whole book with this information for $2.99?

Find it on Amazon.
 

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why Do You Write?

What made you decide to take up writing?

Some of us are born writers, but I freely admit, I wasn't. I fell into this career when I wrote a letter to an editor. I stumbled onto it again when someone at work wanted me to write a very important business letter, and yet again when someone needed an article for a newsletter.

It seemed writing was out to get me. It kept poking at me, trying to pique my interest. I would dabble a bit and then back out. I'm not a writer, I'd say. I'm just helping someone out.

But eventually, I started writing through my own volition. Eventually, it became something I WANTED to do, something I enjoyed.

I love figuring stuff out, whether it's plot, character or world building. I love the exploration part, blazing a trail into unknown territory and being pleasantly surprised when it turns out to be an interesting story.

I've been writing steadily for about three years now, but it was two years ago when I decided to make writing a career. The minute I made that decision, everything changed for me. I had a pure focus and desire to succeed.

Greg was very disappointed. He wanted me to continue as an artist. His thinking was that I shouldn't abandon something I was good at. My thinking was: Oh, cool…a challenge!

I swear, I don't have enough sense to know when to give up. LOL!

It's been a good choice and I've enjoyed the process immensely. I can still remember the moment when I made the conscious decision to write as a career. It's something I savor because it was so real to me. I had no doubt about my course.

I had returned from a writer's camp a month earlier, drained of all brain cells and hope. They skewered me alive, but something was left behind. An ember. It took a solid month of moping when a lightbulb went off and I started seeing the novel I was working on in a new light. I stopped examining it as a writer and I started to read it as a reader. It suddenly made sense.

I was a hurricane after that, rabid and relentless, absorbing all I could. But this time, I had a direction. I had a purpose. It changed me from a dilettante to a true student of the craft.

What about you? Was there any single event in your life that made you sure this was the path for you? What was your turning point? And if you didn't write, what would you do with your life? Be honest. What would you be doing right now if you weren't writing?

Tell me. I really want to know.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Markets

Jim Baen's Universe

Looking for Sci-Fi and Fantasy with popular appeal. May submit via e-mail or via forum at website; forum at website recommended for writers not yet pro by SFWA standards. E-mail submissions should be *.rtf or *.doc files. One slot each issue reserved for non-pro writers. Pay differs between solicited and unsolicited stories.

Pay rate for Unsolicited Manuscripts: any length, pays 8-15 cents US.Pay rate for commissioned stories:• For the first 5000 words, we'll pay 25 cents a word. That comes to $1,250 • For the next 5000 words (i.e., from 5-10K), we'll pay 15 cents a word. That comes to $750, or a cumulative payment of $2000 for a story that was 10K words long. • For the next 10,000 words (i.e., from 10-20K), we'll pay 10 cents a word. That comes to $1000, or a cumulative payment of $3000 for a short novella that was 20K words long. • For the next 20,000 words (i.e., from 20-40K), we'll pay 8 cents a word. That comes to $1600, or a cumulative payment of $4600 for a short novel that was 40K long. • Anything longer than that, we'll pay 6 cents a word. Our rates are lower for stories that we buy from unsolicited manuscripts, whether submitted through the submission form or the Slush conference. They range from 8 to 15 cents a word depending on various factors.

*****
Interfictions 2

The Interstitial Arts Foundation will be publishing a second volume of Interfictions. We invite submissions for an Anthology of Interstitial Fiction, to be published by Small Beer Press under the auspices of the Interstitial Arts Foundation in ??? of 2009.

What We’re Looking For: Interstitial Fiction is all about breaking rules, ignoring boundaries, cross-pollinating the fields of literature. It’s about working between, across, through, and at the edges and borders of literary genres, including fiction and non-fiction. It falls between the cracks of other movements, terms, and definitions. If you have a story idea that’s impossible to describe in a couple of sentences, it may be interstitial.We’re looking for previously unpublished stories that engage us and make us think about literature in new ways. Rather than defining “interstitial” for you, we’d like you to show us what genre-bending fiction looks like.

Our submission period will be from October 1, 2008 to December 2, 2008. Do Not Submit Before!

*****

Samhain Cowboy Roundup

Put on Tim McGraw's "Real Good Man", close your eyes and picture aguy who wears jeans to work and who's real good with his hands, andlet your muse have her way. I'm looking for 3 novellas to fit intoSamhain's Cowboy Roundup Anthology. This anthology will consist ofthree novellas to be released individually as eBooks in June 2009 and combined into one print title in 2010.

I'm open to any romance genre but the stories must end with a HEA.

Submissions are open to all authors previously published with Samhain as well as authors aspiring to publish with Samhain. Submissions must be new material—previously published material will not be considered. Additionally, we will not consider manuscripts previously submitted whether individually or for past anthologies. Please be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

To submit, please include the full manuscript of 24,000–30,000 wordswith a 2–5 page synopsis. Also include a letter of introduction/queryletter if you are an author not previously contracted with Samhain.

Submissions are open until December 1, 2008, and the final decision will be made by December 24, 2008. Submissions should be sent to editor@samhainpublishing.com. Please put Cowboy Roundup Anthology Submission in the subject line. If you receive an auto response, your submission has been received. Anthologies are special projects exempt to the general closing of submissions.

I'm happy to answer questions about this anthology either on the Samhain Author loop, Samhain Café, or by private email at heidi at samhainpublishing dot com