Archive for March, 2006
Friday, March 31st, 2006
This one’s for the authors. What is your favorite online writing resource (whether research, inspiration, etc.)? What is your favorite trick for getting the pages done? Lastly, so much of the way we write is hard-wired. (For example, I can’t write scenes out of order. One tiny thing I may write in the current sentence could impact the entire direction the book takes – and I won’t know that until I put it down.) In that vein, are there any changes you’ve made in how you write that you never thought you would?
One thing I learned to do after saying “never” was plot in advance. I started out as a pantser, just hoping I’d get to the end and have something that made sense. After 13 years as a pro, I’ve found for me that is a totally unproductive way to write. So much time ends up being wasted in revising what wouldn’t have to be revised were it planned. It’s also unproductive for me because of the depth I can reach in both plot and character by pre-planning that I can’t otherwise.
What about you?
A couple of opportunities. This from Anna Genoese at TOR.
And from Cynthia Sterling’s Market News:
Premium Press America, a Nashville-based publisher with a 20-year history of success with non-fiction titles is branching out into romance and mystery fiction. New titles are already available in CVS and Eckerd Drug stores. The books are also available through Baker and Taylor and other wholesalers. PPA has carved out a market niche with nonfiction through specialty marketing agreements with stores such as Hallmark, CVS and Eckerd drugs, as well as corporate sales. They also have a strong oversees marketing division. They hope to publish 40 mystery and fiction titles per year, with five titles released every other month.
Senior Editor Lanier Brandau is looking for both steamy and heartfelt romance and all types of mysteries. Their first group of releases includes an erotic Regency-set romance, a contemporary romantic suspense, the first in a historical series, a steamy medical romance, and a women’s fiction novel. In an interview with Music City Romance Writers, Ms. Brandau said “Most of our titles are sold in family stores; however, we like for our titles to push the envelope without causing an anti-provocative riot. We like our titles to have a great story as well as intimate relations.” She will consider manuscripts between 60,000 and 100,000 words, with 85,000 – 90,000 being the preferred word count. PPA works with both agented and unagented authors. You may query and send a synopsis to email@example.com or request writer’s guidelines at this same address. The website http://www.premiumpressamerica.com is currently under construction, expected to debut soon.
On Monday, 4/3 at noon central, I’ll pick one name from those of you who comment here to win a copy of DEEP BREATH.
Thursday, March 30th, 2006
Before I get to today’s question, I found this on author Jo Leigh’s blog yesterday:
Wow, everywhere I go that has discussions about the RITA, I’m hearing that Blaze authors didn’t bother to enter their Blaze novels. I didn’t, and I think I’ve counted about a dozen others who didn’t. So what’s up with this? Something is really rotten in Denmark if romance authors – terrific romance authors – aren’t even bothering to enter their industry awards because they know they won’t get a fair read. I’m betting that Blaze authors aren’t the only ones who aren’t entering. So the writers lose, RWA loses money, and the poor RITA becomes even more meaningless to the publishing industry and to the public at large.
Uh, yep! There’s no point. Not anymore. I didn’t enter anything. I could have done so, even as a non-member, but why bother when such a large percentage of our supposed “peers” want our books banned completely for being depraved. Yes. I heard that this week. (If you didn’t enter this year, why not? Feel free to post anonymously; your email addy won’t show to anyone but me and my lips are sealed.)
Update: I posted this in the comments to another entry below, but am posting it here, too:
The RITA process goes like this. An author pays a fee of $40 to enter each book she wishes to enter. Her books are then sent out to a panel of 5 of her peers. If her scores are one of the highest in her judging bracket, she goes on to the next panel of 5. Not all authors enter because not all want to pay the fee. (And if you’re not an RWA member, then I believe the fee is $140.) And since many peers refuse to read hot books and will send them back if they get any in their panel, many of us who write hot books don’t bother to enter any longer.
Now, do you belong to any author chat loops? If so, do you look for info on books, camaraderie with other readers, a closer glimpse at the author, writing tips . . . what? If I started a chat loop, would anyone be interested, or want to moderate it? Sing out, and tell me what it is about author chat loops that brings in readers and fans.
On Monday, 4/3 at noon central, I’ll pick one name from those of you who comment here to win a copy of DEEP BREATH.
Wednesday, March 29th, 2006
If I were to invite a few guest bloggers, what authors/industry pros would you like to see here? I have a couple of ideas in the works, but may not get things rolling as soon as I’d like since I’ve got so much writing to do. Having a list of suggestions would be cool. Maybe little known authors you really admire, etc. Ones you’d like to tell others about but have never had a forum to do so. Have you read a book by an author you know nothing about and would like to? Lemme know! You can even email me if you’d like, instead of posting here.
Also, since DEEP BREATH is showing up on shelves now, it’s reminder time. If you buy a copy, enter the DEEP BREATH CONTEST! Or enter anyway – it’s a faboo prize! If you buy it and blog about it, enter the contest and send me the link to the entry so you can get a free copy of my next Brava per the the DEEP BREATH BLOGGING BLITZ!
Here’s one blogger’s entry: Sara Walker Howe on Deep Breath
But nothing out there compares to Alias. So I turn to the book world, and lo and behold, Alison Kent has the series for me
Oh, and check out the The BWAHA: The Bitchery Writing Award for Hellagood Authors.
On Monday, 4/3 at noon central, I’ll pick one name from those of you who comment here (because I really did introduce a discussion question up top) to win a copy of DEEP BREATH.
Tuesday, March 28th, 2006
On Friday, the 2006 RITA finalists were announced. In looking at the list, I realize I’ve only read one of the books. I have this one and this one in my TBR pile, and I ordered this one since the plot synopsis sounded so cool, and this one since I adore the author and have been meaning to buy it for awhile.
Your turn. Take a look at the list. Which books have you read, and what did you think about them? On Monday, 4/3 at noon central, I’ll pick one name from those of you who comment here to win a copy of DEEP BREATH.
On another topic, I posted Sunday a quote from author Elizabeth Bear, one of the top ten things she’d learned from writing popular fiction. From Jordan via all sorts of other links, here’s another list from author Hal Duncan and my favorite (which those who know my feelings on critiques will totally get *g*):
4. Flattery is for fuckwits; ruthless critique is the only critique of any value.
Monday, March 27th, 2006
Today is another mix-and-match title game.
As you know, Lynn Viehl, author of the faboo DARKYN series, writes under a multitude of names and in a multitude of genres. So, just as you did with my title game last week, you’re going to take her titles, mix and match the words, and come up with new ones!
And what do you win, you ask?
Well, not only will five of you win a copy of DEEP BREATH, one of you will also win an ARC of DARK NEED, whoo-hoo!
I’ll draw the random winners next Monday, 4/3, at noon central time from everyone who comments here.
Two rules for this version of the game:
You can only comment once.
You can only create one title.
(And, honestly, you only need one comment/one title to enter anyway!)
Here are the titles for you to work with:
Paradise Island | Dream Mountain | Sun Valley (written as Gena Hale)
The Deepest Edge | The Steel Caress | The Kissing Blades | Into the Fire | Heat of the Moment (written as Jessica Hall)
Going to the Chapel | Portraits of the Past | Midsummer Melody | Home for the Holidays | Promises to Keep | Life is a Three-Ring Circus (written as Rebecca Kelly)
If Angels Burn | Private Demon | Dark Need | Way of the Cheetah (written as Lynn Viehl)
StarDoc | Beyond Varallan | Endurance | Shockball | Eternity Row | Blade Dancer | Bio Rescue | Afterburn | Rebel Ice (written as S.L. Viehl)
Night of the Chameleon | Do or Die | Sink or Swim | Now or Never | Illumination | Deimos | A Diversity of Houses | Mercy House (self-pubbed fiction e-books written as S.L. Viehl)
Sunday, March 26th, 2006
ten things I have learned from writing popular fiction from author Elizabeth Bear:
8. Despite the number of people who will write in to tell you that they never read the sex scenes, sex does, in fact, sell. It does however mean that if you put the major plot revelations in sex scenes, a certain percentage of your audience will not notice them. [8(a).] don’t put the crux of the plot in the middle of the homoerotic kissing scene you’ve been building to for three books: nobody will notice. Even the ones who aren’t skimming.
This is exactly why as important as it is in erotic romance to make your sex scenes count for more than sex, you don’t want to risk readers missing vital plot points because they’re either 1) too involved in reading for the sex or 2) skimming the sex!!
I’m not going to be around for the rest of the week as I finish up writing INFATUATED, but I have posts going up each day, and each is a chance to win a copy of DEEP BREATH. I received word of my first and second store sightings on Saturday, so it should be widely available soon. It’s still not shipping from Amazon, but the official release date isn’t until 4/1 or 4/6 or something. Anyhow, if you buy a copy online or in your local bookstore, don’t forget to enter the contest.
I got the box of Pamela Clare books I’d been waiting on, so will be sending out the winners’ copies as follows:
Extreme Exposure – ChristyH, AngieW, JennyT, KimH, CherylS
Surrender – MaureenE, ZaraH, Lynn Raye Harris, StacyA, Little Lamb Lost
Congrats all, and stay tuned for a lot of giveaways coming this week. (BTW, if you lurk here but never post, this will be the perfect chance for you to do so in order to win. I only need an email address to contact you; you can post with your real name or with an anonymous screen name!)
Saturday, March 25th, 2006
Six months ago, Sara Wade had turned down her boyfriend Jax’s proposal. Now it’s her turn to convince the hunk she wants it all, starting with a steamy fantasy weekend in sultry Puerto Vallarta . . .
First reader to comment gets a copy!
(For details: Weekend Winnings)
Friday, March 24th, 2006
Founded in 1989 by five writers of popular fiction, Novelists, Inc. dedicated itself to serving the needs of multi-published writers of popular fiction. Within just a few short months, Novelists, Inc. had over three hundred members and was well on its way to becoming one of the most respected organizations in the publishing industry. Now numbering over 700 members and growing, Novelists, Inc. attracts writers from all genres of popular fiction.
I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen a discussion online about the benefits of NINC. With so much chatter this week about RWA and the GH and the RITA awards, and various non-romance bloggers talking off and on about the MWA or ITW, etc., NINC seems to take a backseat. And it shouldn’t. Because it’s the sort of nonpartisan organization that many of us enjoy belonging to.
Why belong to a non-specific professional writers organization? For that very reason. Those of us who’ve been pros for awhile, who have a hefty backlist, who have worked with multiple publishers, who know the ropes of our genre, don’t really need our genre’s organization except for the camaraderie to be found at conferences, the chance to mentor, etc. Yeah, I know. A lot of you think I’m talking out of my ass. That authors need to be members of their genre’s national organization. It’s what we do. It’s where we get our vital pro info.
I belonged to RWA for 15 years, and there’s nothing I learned there once I sold, no benefits I received after becoming a pro that I can’t or haven’t been able to discover for myself either online or via other authors. Maybe I’m just more craft than business focused, or more plugged in outside of the org than others who swear by it for their info. Maybe I just have different priorities, a different focus, an agent who handles the nitty-gritty for me. Who knows. And while I was there as an aspiring author, I did a LOT of volunteer work – organizing conferences, contests, etc. (One chapter’s contest even gives out an award named after me!)
Anyhow, I love NINC for their newsletter alone. I have yet to attend a conference, though twice in the past have planned to and had to cancel. Someone correct me if I’m wrong (because I’m doing this from faulty memory) but they alternate conferences every year, one in NYC that is business based followed by one somewhere else that is more of a retreat. One of the conferences I canceled was in Sedona (I think) and the other was in NYC. This year they’re going to New Orleans; actually, this month they’re going to New Orleans.
This is the kind of stuff you’d be getting if you were there this year:
Pulitzer Prize winning author Robert Olen Butler – Writing from the White Hot Center
Renowned creativity coach Eric Maisel – Trauma and Troubles of the Creative Life
Nora Roberts – ’nuff said
Meshing Your Promotional Efforts with Your Publicist’s with Christine Saunders of Mira
Contract Issues, etc. with Authors Guild’s Director of Legal Services, Anita Fore, Esq.
Intriguing Information from the Publishing World with Daisy Maryles of Publishers Weekley and Bette-Lee Fox of Library Journal
Misc workshops on brainstorming, creativity, and even voodoo!
I do belong to their listserv, though am no mail there. Still, I’ll check in once in awhile and find fabulous research and industry discussions. And the newsletter alone is worth the price of dues. Business articles, inspirational articles, craft articles, etc., along with Barbara Samuel’s fabulous column, The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement. In the latest issue, Barbara talks about celebrating ourselves and says:
The great lesson in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town is that the world is lucky to have us, and we are lucky to have the world, in all our messy glory and despair, in this very minute. The great gift is our life, just as it is, and the pleasure comes in knowing that.
If you’re a pro and you don’t belong, why not?
Thursday, March 23rd, 2006
Update: AlanM, SanjayS, and KayS are the winners!
MORE COPIES arrived today, whoo-hoo! I feel compelled to give away three! Here’s how you can be eligible to win. Below I’ve listed all the titles of my fiction books. What you have to do is take words from various titles and make up a title that’s brand new! Example: CALL ME and THE GRINCH MAKES GOOD could be CALL ME THE GRINCH . . . got it? (And for the SG-5 books? Don’t just switch out names, i.e., The Bane Alibi won’t get you any points, ha!) I will draw three names from everyone who posts here in the comments on Monday, March 27, at noon central.
Okay, here are the titles you have to work with:
The Perfect Stranger | Beyond A Shadow | Infatuated | Deep Breath | Goes Down Easy | Red Letter Nights | Totally Charmed | Kiss & Makeup | Undressed | Larger Than Life | Beach Blanket Bad Boys | The McKenzie Artifact | The Beach Alibi | The Samms Agenda | The Shaughnessey Accord | The Bane Affair | Mother, Please! | Indiscreet | Wicked Games | Jingle Bell Rock | Striptease | The Sweetest Taboo | Bound To Happen | No Strings Attached | All Tied Up | Love In Bloom | Four Men & A Lady | Love Me Tender | The Badge And The Baby | The Grinch Makes Good | The Heartbreak Kid | Call Me | Playing Love’s Odds
(Oh, and the dh is giving away one copy, too!)
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I recently did a post on author promotion at Access Romance.
The comments from the readers who joined the discussion were fabulous. I got a true sense of what works for them, as well as what works for me. I’ve changed my thoughts off and on about what I’m comfortable doing. Part of that has come about as I’ve learned more about distribution and that all important term, velocity. As my Brava editor, Kate Duffy explains:
It is all about the speed with which (books) are bought and not the numbers of copies sold over time. Steady stream will get you a nice sell-thru but will never put you on a bestseller list.
That information segues into the topic today at Romancing the Blog where the author columnist says about promo:
I’ve seen this on author home pages and in author newsletters. It goes something like this, “If you love my books” followed by directions: “wait until such and such week to buy my book,” (…) I have to say I have yet to see one of these that didn’t set me back, and make me feel a little less positive about that author’s books. Am I the only one?
This echoes similar thoughts of a reader who recently posted to a message board thread at AAR, complaining about the efforts an author and her publisher had made to get out the word on her book. The reader said:
I think she wants to push sales to get on the USA Today list or for some other reason.
My response? Well, duh. (Not that the author in question was aiming for lists; I’m just saying that if she was, so what?)
There is no such thing as job security in this business. And though sell-thru is what’s critical, lists can reflect an author’s position, the size of her audience, etc. Lists are but one indication of sales, and there are a number of lists that can tell a publisher a number of different things, yes, but sales do matter. Sales equate to a bargaining chip. An author can take those numbers to the table when it’s time for contract negotiations. Sales can mean a bigger advance, a bigger print run, publisher-paid promotional perks, etc.
Sales can determine whether or not readers ever see another book by their favorite author on the shelves again. Or whether said author has to take a pseudonym and launch a new career. Authors can hope and pray that word of mouth is enough. That our own advertising efforts (websites, bookmarks, pens and postcards and nail files) are enough.
But all the prayers and nail files in the world won’t matter if the sales aren’t there. Asking fans for help might be outside the comfort zone of an individual author. That’s understandable. After all, we don’t all enjoy calling attention to ourselves, being brash and ballsy and all that. Personally, I’d rather be upfront about the truth of sales numbers and what they can mean, and let my readers make up their own minds.
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