First of all, the winner of THE PERFECT LOVE SONG is: Linda Henderson, comment #5. Linda – send me your mailing info to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry for the delay in getting that posted. I haven’t been at the computer much at all this week. I’ve been in the backyard with the Alphasmart, at the park with the iPod, in bed with the Blackberry. Who needs a computer, LOL! Yes, I’ve been writing, and on fewer projects as I swore to do. The last two days only netted me 950 new words, but that’s because I’m also still working to scan and read a backlist book for digitizing. I’m really close to being done and want to finish it, so I’m giving up some writing time for that.
Archive for October, 2010
Friday, October 29th, 2010
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
I actually ran this poll January 15, 2008 and got 105 responses, but I can’t find the post, only the logs in my polls plug-in. Weird. Anyhow, my epiphany happened after writing Monday’s 1860 words and realizing that word count is excellent, that eventually all those projects will be done, but that my crazy writer’s brain needs focus.
So . . . for the remainder of my 50K Words in 30 Days Challenge (my version of NaNoWriMo) I’m going to divide my time between three very specific spec projects that need to have strong skeletons built because I won’t be doing anything with them until they’re finished. And none of these are the projects I added words to on Monday!
Those Monday projects were ones more in the vein of what I’ve been writing over the last few years, the stories published by Blaze and Brava. And I love them all. And it’s very hard not to play with all of them, but I’m going to set them aside until December.
When I get back to them, I need to know which you would most want to read! I’ve got two in the tone of Blaze, one action adventure similar to the SG-5 stories, and one that’s also sexy Brava styled sans the suspense. So take the poll and tell me!
Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
Today’s total: 555. Yes, you read that right. But a funny thing happened on the way to the keyboard. I had an epiphany about focus (which you can read more about here tomorrow) and had to read some previously written work (and do a bit of editing). Plus, I’m editing another story so I was adding and cutting words all day! Oh, and the dogs and I got our walk in to start the day! So I can’t call the day a fail!
Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
#1 – My heroines may enjoy being rescued or taken care of, but will never ask for it, expect it, or lie down like a doormat and wait for it. They’re perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, but know that taking care of themselves means loving a man who loves them in return, an equal partnership / footing, as it were.
#2 – My heroes will sound like men, including having foul mouths when it’s in character. They can talk cooking as well as sports, but they will not be girls in men suits.
#3 – I will almost always have a secondary romance in my books, whether single titles or series category. I love writing secondary stories and weaving them into the main plot.
#4 – One or more of my characters will be estranged or at odds with their family – and they won’t always reconcile. It’s a conflict dynamic I enjoy exploring because it’s happened in my own immediate family, my extended family, and in those of friends.
#5 – Every book will have at least one sex scene where a major piece of characterization or backstory or plot point is revealed. Read pages 157 – 169 of INFATUATION to see what I mean. *g* Yes, every sex scene should fulfill a specific purpose, but oftentimes that purpose is simply having sex. Other times it’s way, way more than physical pleasure, and if skipped, will leave the reader in the dark about a vital story element.
#6 – My story people will talk and banter and argue. A lot. I love writing dialogue, listening to people talking, hearing how they use words to coax and convince, etc. Dialogue makes a story for me as a reader; I love plots whose forward momentum is driven by talk, not thought, not narrative, so that has translated into being a big part of my writing.
#7 – There will be a lot of description in my books, hopefully woven into the narrative naturally. I am a very visual writer. I see settings and clothing and hairstyles, etc, just so, and I want readers to see them as close to my visualization as possible. I don’t do collages, but I do tear pictures from magazines and tack them to my foam boards to keep my story visuals in my mind. The other day, I tore out a single pair of shoes!
#8 – I will rarely use a character name more than once, and if I do, it’s a secondary character often mentioned in passing. I’m pretty sure I’ve written a Graham or two . . .
#9 – In every book, my hero and heroine will fall into bed before they ever fall into love.
#10 – There are a lot of cultural references – music, television shows, movies, events. This is because my characters are living in real time. Doing this may date my books for future readers, but I strongly believe it ups the realism factor in the here and now. I also people my stories with characters of all races and nationalities because that’s the world I live in.
#11 – (It’s a Top Eleven list. So sue me!) A lot of my stories will take place in Texas, Houston specifically because I know the city inside and out and love it. If I could work downtown without working there, I’d be there daily in a heartbeat.
Monday, October 25th, 2010
Today I wrote 1860 words divided between four projects. 1110 to the one with the most, 30 to the one with the least. And that after getting a late start, sleeping till 9, having a short morning visit from the d-i-l and the grandbabies, and visiting with #1 daughter who only worked half a day. I was a bad doggie mommy and skipped our morning walk, but will get back to that routine tomorrow! I also hope to spend tomorrow’s words on a single project!
Monday, October 25th, 2010
National Novel Writing Month begins November 1st, runs through November 30th, and brings together authors from across the globe in a virtual hub where they compare progress toward their goal, a 50K word novel during those 30 days. I love the idea of NaNoWriMo for those who need the dynamic, but it’s not practical for me.
For one thing, 50K words in a month is 1667 words per day, and really. That’s my job anyway as a genre writer. That’s 6 – 7 pages. Maybe 8. Like I said. My job. The site offers pep talks. Again, love this, but I can hop over to the blogs of any number of authors any day of the year for the same. There are also word count widgets for your site or blog. I’ve got one of those over there on the left. Participants can also add badges to their own sites. I don’t need no stinkin’ badges. I’ve got all the badges I need right here. :) But even if I were to officially participate, there’s no way I would hang out in the forums. Talk about a distracting recipe for a chatting disaster.
Then there’s this fact: NOVEMBER. Uh, hello, Thanksgiving? In the U.S., that’s a four day holiday weekend, with days of prep beforehand. Yes, we learn as pros to write on holidays. We also learn how important family time is. Contractual deadlines too often get in the way of these types of celebrations. There’s no way I’m going to voluntarily interrupt that time. I don’t have anything to prove by doing so. I’m already a pro. My badges page proves that. ;)
So that’s, say, a loss of three days. Three family birthdays are also in November: my son, my stepson, and the boyfriend in law (#1 daughter’s long time guy). This means at least one big get together and a lot of cooking. Here I lose another day. I’ve got one Saturday earmarked for Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer workshop. Another day lost. November only has 30, and now I’m down to a conservative estimate of 25 I can devote to those 50K words. Doing that math has me writing 2K per day. Since I’d rather write the 1667, and I’m pretty sure I won’t get much done Halloween weekend with all the husband’s goings-on, I’m starting today, using this week’s five weekdays, then the 25 days in November I think I can manage.
Here are a few helpful tools I may or may not use: Freedom, Write or Die, 750words, XNote Stopwatch, Focus Writer. Of course I can only use these when I’m actually writing at the computer. Since I don’t do that much, I’ll take my Alphasmart to the backyard, and leave my iPod and my Blackberry inside where I won’t hear the email notifications, and if I miss a call, I’ll return it later. Words first!
Freedom is an internet blocking program. Firefox has a similar plugin called LeechBlock which I like because it’s always a freebie. You know how you’re stuck in a scene and you convince yourself a quick look at email or Twitter will break the block? Uh-uh. If you’ve got Freedom or LeechBlock running, you can’t get to the internet without rebooting your machine. Makes it much easier just to stick with the writing.
Speaking of setting time, I love using the XNote Stopwatch. I set a great song to blast at the end of the writing session (usually short, 20 or 30 minutes, because I need to get up and move by then anyway) and jump up to dance. In my office. Where no one can see. Write or Die is a cruel program best used by masochists. ;) If you like to be tortured rushing against a clock, go for it. Me? I would never set it to NOT save if the clock wins. I don’t need that kind of stress, but if you live on that kind of edge . . .
750words is a site set up for morning pages, but can be used to keep track of daily writing. It’s nice to have a check in spot that runs year round. Seeing those words add up and the daily tally prove dedication is pretty awesome even after years in the biz.
Another thing I love is FocusWriter, a distraction free word processor. I have a great full screen image of a village in Italy, and I write in a sage colored square on top.
One of the main reasons, however, that NaNoWriMo isn’t practical is this bit:
Yeah . . . no. I’ve written a bunch of
And I will make a post every day to let you know how many words I’ve done. Feel free to stop by and post your word count if you’d like and we’ll make it a party! I like the idea of being accountable. I will also try to update my Whizmatronic Widgulating Calibrational Scribometer on the sidebar, but can’t guarantee I’ll do that daily.
What I won’t be doing as much daily is writing long tasty blog posts – unless I get the words done early and have nothing else calling my name. I will try and recycle some old ones so you’ll have something to read, and I’ve got a couple of giveaways planned. Also, I’m thinking of a really cool giveaway if I meet my 50K word goal by November 30th – and an equally cool giveaway if I don’t! Ha! But more on those later.
Right now . . . gotta go! #AmWriting!
Sunday, October 24th, 2010
Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
Have you ever wanted to write a love song? Well, now’s your chance to.
What do country music star Dallas Davidson (“Gimme That Girl”, “All About Tonight”) and Patti Callahan Henry (New York Times bestselling author) have in common? Well, a country song. Although this song hasn’t climbed the charts just yet. In fact, this song hasn’t even been written.
In The Perfect Love Song, Callahan Henry tells the story of Jimmy Sullivan, who has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and their band The Unknown Souls. The road is Jimmy’s only home and music his only savior until he falls in love with a beautiful girl, Charlotte Carrington. Spending time with Charlotte inspires Jimmy to write a love song for her, which becomes an overnight sensation and is dubbed “The Perfect Love Song.”
Patti Callahan Henry’s new book, THE PERFECT LOVE SONG, features the first two lines of a love song written for the one of the main characters. She thought it would be a good idea to hold a contest to see if anyone would like to finish the song. This is where Dallas Davidson enters. He and Patti grew up in Georgia where his parents and Patti’s are neighbors. Patti is a huge Country Music fan and has been following Dallas’s career from the beginning before five of his songs hit #1. Even Patti’s children have all of Dallas hit songs on their iPods and know all of the words by heart. Yet, the two writers have never met…
Dallas Davidson’s new album Bone Collector just hit stores and Patti Callahan Henry’s novella THE PERFECT LOVE SONG is out this week. Both will be big holiday gifts!
To celebrate the October 12th release of THE PERFECT LOVE SONG by Patti Callahan Henry, American country music songwriter Dallas Davidson will be judging entries* to find THE PERFECT LOVE SONG.
Start with the words Jimmy sings to Charlotte and finish the love song:
Entry and prize information at http://www.perfectlovesongbook.com/index.php
(Please note: This song writing contest and gift certificate prize is sponsored by Patti Callahan Henry. I am not affiliated with it in any way.)
Dallas Davidson is an award-winning, American country music songwriter. His credits include three #1 hits for “Start A Band,” recorded as a duet by Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” recorded by Billy Currington, and “Gimmie That Girl,” recorded by Joe Nichols. Dallas’s other credits include “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” recorded by Trace Adkins, “Put A Girl In It,” recorded by Brooks & Dunn and “Barefoot And Crazy,” recorded by Jack Ingram. Dallas is also the recipient of three Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) Awards.
I’ve got a copy of THE PERFECT LOVE SONG to give away. Leave a comment with the name of your favorite country western song (or other song if you’re not into country music) by Wednesday, October 27, 2010 noon CDT to be eligible to win the BOOK ONLY, not a gift certificate!
(Please note: This song writing contest and gift certificate prize is sponsored by Patti Callahan Henry. I am not affiliated with it in any way.)
Friday, October 22nd, 2010
Social media is this year’s marketing buzz word for authors, hammered home at conferences, via publishing houses “how to” workshops (yay, Harlequin), on writers loops where many authors have, until now, felt at home and safe, on the internet and connected, but connected primarily to their writing kin. Now editors and agents are telling them to get out there, be available. Problem is, it’s really tough to be OUT THERE while at the same time be IN HERE where all the story ideas are. Social media can be a time suck and a major distraction and a HUGE creative interference, but it’s also great fun and an easy way to combine a work break with promo.
Instead of using the website, many folks rely on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to access their Twitter and Facebook feeds. I don’t. I’ve used Tweetdeck, and found it took me twice as long to get through messages. But that’s because I don’t sit at my computer to work. I’m the pen and paper, Alphasmart, iPod, Blackberry writer. Anywhere, everywhere, and I manage Twitter the same way. My favorite app is Echofon for my iPod, though I’m about to try Seesmic because I’ve maxed out Echofon’s font size and still have trouble seeing. On my Blackberry, I use UberTwitter, though it’s far from perfect. It has a great adjustable font and syncs the last tweet read, as does Echofon. Those two items are my deal breakers, and I’ve gone through multiple apps looking for the porridge bowl that’s just right. But I’ve also set myself several rules that allow me to keep Twitter from taking over my life, while still making it work for me.
1) I keep my follow list small.
I want to interact with everyone I follow. To do so I can’t follow more than around 135 people and remain sane. When I used Tweetdeck, I followed tons more and organized them into groups. It was still overwhelming. By sticking close to what experimenting has revealed as my magic number, I can pay attention to everyone on my list. But think of all the people you’re missing, you say? I do, which is why …
2) I switch out who I follow on a regular basis.
I want to be entertained, to learn things, to be taken to links with even more entertaining and educational info. If I only follow the same core group, Twitter becomes the equivalent of a clique with friends chatting back and forth – which is fine, but I already belong to email loops where that happens. Twitter gives me the world! I’ve hooked up with readers I would never have met elsewhere, and met other writers, not all in my genre, who make me want to read their books.
3) I don’t follow everyone who follows me.
See above re: the manageable list. But I do check all my replies and mentions, and respond as necessary. Sometimes it’s those replies and mentions where I’ll find new super interesting people to check out! And a whole lot of these people mention reading books I would never even have heard of. Oh, and any book that is mentioned? I immediately go to my Kindle app and grab a sample! Social media as promo at work!
4) I don’t follow people who retweet more than tweet.
And the reason why is because I’ve most likely already seen those tweets. Multiple times. I do retweet, yes. But I’ll often wait a day so that the info may hit followers who didn’t see it the first time. Since the dynamic of Twitter has people with the same interests (readers & writers in my case) all following one another, retweeting results in a barrage of the same info hitting feeds over and over again. I scroll past, no problem, because it’s part of the game, and because I’ve made sure the people I follow also tweet original thoughts. Twitter is about TWEETING first, retweeting second.
5) I don’t follow people just because I know them.
It’s the email loop comparison above. I may see some of these people on the web at blogs, or in other group situations online, and what they’re tweeting is information I’ve already seen them share. I love following people I don’t know. This is what makes Twitter so much fun and opens it up as a way to reach new readers.
6) I don’t follow authors who talk about nothing but their own books.
Of course authors talk about their books. But to talk about nothing else? To use Twitter for NOTHING but promo? That’s missing the whole point of social media. It’s equivalent to spamming and I already get way too much of that, thank you.
7) Sometimes I just take a break.
Nothing is going to happen on Twitter than I won’t hear about soon enough. If I don’t see this all important “thing” mentioned in my replies, or in a gossipy email after the fact, I’m surprised. If something newsworthy happens, I’ll learn about it sooner or later. And signing off for a long weekend, or even a middle of the week break, can be a writing sanity saver. My brain can only hold so much input before exploding. ;)
8) If someone’s tweets raise my blood pressure, I unfollow.
I love snark as much as the next person, but I don’t love agendas, or superior attitudes, or rude condescension. If someone I’m following hits my hot buttons, I unfollow. There’s no law that says because I’m an author I have to follow everyone who’s anyone in the publishing industry! I cause myself enough stress already. I don’t need to volunteer to be stressed by others when unfollowing is a click away.
9) I don’t tweet just about publishing or writing.
TV, food, cooking, movies, naps, dog walking, stupid human tricks, the weather. I cover it all. It may seem like writing is my life, but it’s really not. And how boring if it was. ;)
10) I link my Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Apparently many people advise against doing this, but I’ve polled my followers and friends and no one minds and some even appreciate the opportunity to see links, etc., at one place that they may have missed in the other. Plus, I’ve found a way to do so without everything being duplicated. More on that in another post!
To make social media work as a promotional tool, authors can’t just hang out and follow other authors, or author friends, or authors in their genre only, or publishing houses, or publicity firms, or editors, or agents. That’s a very insular way of using Twitter. Social is a much more encompassing term, and encourages interaction outside an author’s circle of friends, and often outside an introvert’s comfort zone. Be yourself, but be smart. Would you want to be spammed by nothing but promo posts? Would you want to be unfollowed because you copped an attitude? I mean, there are no rules, so anything goes, but I’ve been on Twitter since July of 2007 (and that after canceling my first account because no one was there to talk to) so have paid attention to what works. And most of it is common sense and good manners. ;)
Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Not so very long ago, many print authors were up in arms at the digital revolution. “Readers will buy these electronically published books and realize they suck and the respect the genre has worked so hard to earn will go down the tubes and these sales will cut into ours.” Now many authors, published in print and electronic format, are up in arms at the digital self-publishing revolution being driven by authors evaluating their options in the current industry climate. “Readers will buy these self-published books and realize they suck and the respect the genre has worked so hard to earn will go down the tubes and these sales will cut into ours.” (And, yes, I’ve heard all of these things first hand.)
Change, progress . . . they come with panic and denial on one hand, with acceptance and embracement on the other. Authors successful in mass market paperback are touting their low digital sales numbers as proof that the surge isn’t the tsunami some are predicting. Others are citing AAP reports showing the gap in sales between electronic books and those those published in mass market format is tightening each month. Digital first published authors are sharing their income numbers to prove the format is just as viable as print.
As this new world of self-publishing is born (and when I say new, I mean self-publishing done primarily by authors already published by reputable print and digi-first publishers striking out on their own), it’s good to take a deep breath and consider a few things.
Joe may be the exception to the rule, but he may also be responsible in a large part for the revolution. He’s providing numbers, facts and figures. One of the only other people I’ve seen do that (besides myself) is Lynn Viehl. Numbers, facts and figures allow authors to make informed choices. But though his blog is called “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing,” Joe has a platform. He’s been published by NY in hardcover. He has a blog with a huge following. He’s done cross-country book signing tours on his own dime. He’s put more effort into his career than most of us can imagine having time for. And because of that he’s savvy enough to know digital self-publishing does not come with a built-in audience. He has worked to find an online readership by experimenting with cover art, pricing, giving away freebies, writing novels as well as novellas, etc. And he’s writing original work, not digitizing a backlist that many readers will have already read. As he says about his success,
That doesn’t mean other authors can’t be equally successful. What it does mean is that those taking this path needs to have realistic expectations. Don’t automatically assume digitizing your print backlist (or even publishing original work online) is going to bring you a certain amount of money each month. One author may see $30. Another may see $3000. 70% Amazon royalties are awesome, but 70% of five copies sold ain’t much to write home about. Don’t go into digital self-publishing assuming you’ll have the same success as Joe. You might, but don’t count on it. Because anyone who’s been in the biz any length of time knows …
2) There is no guarantee in publishing, whether print or electronic.
One of the smartest things I heard reported from the recent NINC conference is that writers are the ones who most need the muscle behind a publishing machine, that “brand names” are the ones who have a good chance going it solo. Konrath is a brand name. Any author with an established readership is a brand name. Readers who may not hang out online or ever even visit an author’s Website, may still go searching for a favorite author’s digital backlist or newly self-published original work when that Kindle shows up under the Christmas tree. An author going the self-publishing route without that reader base, that mailing list of 7K subscribers, that Facebook account with 2700 followers or those 1700 Twitter friends? That author isn’t going to have such an easy time of it. Not to say that author can’t be a huge success, but brand names have an initial advantage.
New writers in digital publishing are starting out at the same place as new writers in print. At the bottom of a very large heap o’ fiction to read. Except in digital publishing, there are no imprints to tell a reader what s/he’s getting. There is no Harlequin Blaze or Berkley Heat in self-publishing. Readers have only author names to buy, which puts a monstrous onus on the author because . . .
3) Self-publishing requires an author to be a jack of all trades
That thing above about writers vs brand names? Yeah, this is where having a publisher comes in REALLY handy. A publisher handles cover art, handles cover copy. A publisher handles distribution. A publisher handles editing. A publisher SHOULD handle marketing, though this usually only happens in the case of the big stars. My True Vows publisher bought the RT Book Reviews centerfold. My True Vows publisher provided store dumps for the books to be displayed in. My True Vows publisher bought ads, arranged blog tours, all the things most publishers do not do for midlist authors.
Now, think about the electronically self-published author. S/he writes the book, arranges for the book to be edited (and this don’t come cheap!), commissions cover art (a median price tag? $200), writes a cover blurb, and then has to market the ever loving bejeezus out of the book because . . . guess what? It’s not going to be on store shelves. A reader browsing through the local indie or BAMM is not going to come across that book. Without a publishing machine behind it, the success of that book and the author’s career is entirely in his/her hands. There is no publicity department to work with, no editor to lean on. There’s the author. That’s it.
I have rights to three of my backlist titles. I am in the process of scanning the two books for which I don’t have the manuscript files, reading through all three stories and editing as necessary, creating new cover art, writing new cover blurbs, considering what sort of promo I can do for electronic books since everything else I’ve dealt with has been print. This is a new business for me, but I’m being smart about it. I’m listening to readers, learning their pet peeves in digital editions, paying attention to what the industry insiders say, seeing what works for other authors in terms of art, marketing, etc.
But at the same time, I’m continuing to write for NY (or Toronto, as the case may be). I want to write. I do not want to edit. I enjoy designing covers, but it gets in the way of the writing. I can’t even put decent titles on my books, forgetting cover copy. And marketing? I’m cheap. I don’t like paying for ads. I blog. I hang out on Facebook. I tweet random nonsense. Occasionally, I give away books and stuff.
I’m an author. I don’t want to be a publisher. If it’s the only way I can get my work to readers, then I’ll embrace the crazy. But I’ll do so knowing exactly the monstrous task ahead of me, and I won’t expect to become an overnight millionaire sensation.