Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tis the Season for New Growth in All Things

I've been busy with my book tour, and catching up on my reading on my favorite blog sites, so today was a day outside for a couple of hours - away from the computer. It's mostly purple season at my house, but the colors are coming on and the yard and flower gardens are looking lush! I hadn't done a walk-about in my yard for a week or two and my, how it has changed! The Giant Allium are popping out and the Oriental Poppies (the most intense tangerine you could imagine) are nearly ready to join them - their flower bud heads are ready to burst. Funny how a little bit of time away can change the landscape's appearance, bringing in all kinds of newness.

I've also let my WIP (Book Two for the YA Quintspinner series) sit unattended for the past couple of weeks and I'm now viewing it with fresh eyes. My motivation in progressing with it had been severely lacking and I had a lot of excuses - I've got the blog tour, my day job, my yardwork, other community commitments - but now, in rereading, I realize that subconsciously I didn't like where the story line was heading.

It was kinda' blah.

BUT, walking among my garden, I was flooded with new ideas, and I returned to the house, refreshened with inspiration for the story - a new journey in the storyline and an unexpected possibility for the ending. New growth is everywhere and it's contagious!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quintspinner Book Tour

Monday, May 30/11 marks the first day of a 10 day book blog tour for my novel, Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest. The organizers are Goddess Fish Promotions and they have been fantastic to work with. This tour has a terrific lineup of host bloggers - why not visit their sites and add a comment? If you comment on the day that they are hosting me on my book tour, your name goes into the hat to be eligible for a random draw for the prize of a Quintspinner Tshirt ( a very cool shirt indeed!) and a $10 Gift card from Amazon. Free stuff just for dropping by! And you'll have had the chance to explore 11 new blogs full of great content. The tour is as follows:
  1. Monday, May 30th at (Travel the Ages)
  2. Tuesday, |May 31st at  (The life and lies of an inanimate flying object)
  3. Wednesday, June 1st at (Cali Cheer Mom)
  4. Thursday, June 2nd at  (Fresh Pot of Tea)
  5. Friday, June 3rd at (Novella Vialli's Blog)
  6. Monday, June 6th at  (Realmantic Moments)
  7. Tuesday, June 7th at (ReaderGirls)
  8. Wednesday, June 8th at (Romance That's Out of This World)
  9. Thursday, June 9th at (Hope. Dreams. Life ... Love)
  10. Friday, June 10th (Stop One) at  (Immortality and Beyond) (Adult site)
  11. Friday, June 10th (Stop Two) at (Minding Spot)
Hope to see you all there!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Reprieve from Book-ish Stuff (sort of...)

Today I am sharing a posting by Catherine Ryan Hyde, well known UK author of several novels. This is another example of how technology brings people together around the world. It's a wonderful thing to be writing in today's times. So many topics to write and read about. So many people to meet!

Catherine is prolific, not only in writing marvelous novels, but also in maintaining a very entertaining blog as well. I am honored to have been featured in her recent post with my ol' friend Boru. He tipped the scales at 202 pounds and was quite the character. An Irish wolfhound (the breed has lots of history behind it), he was a BIG fellow, but was truly a gentle giant. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Guest Post by Bob Mayer

Another multi-million-paid traditional author goes over to the new world of self-publishing and gives his reasons for doing so in this post on JA Konrath's site A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: Guest Post by Bob Mayer . We are in the midst of change that most people outside the self-publishing realm cannot believe is happening. In 10 or 15 years , when self-publishing is what ALL authors do, we will all look back and say "Who woulda' thought it could happen...?"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Which genres are the most work?

My novel, "Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest" is set in the 1700's in the infamous Golden Age of Piracy. It is an action story but also has an element of romance, a thread of magic, and is, of course, by nature of the settting, a novel in the historical genre. I was chatting with another published author, who has several novels to his credit, all of them historical. He has a PhD in English Literature and is a prolific historian. I asked him if he thought writing in the historical genre was more work than others. He replied that, in his opinion, it was, as the amount of research and fact checking adds to the workload of the story.

Another blogger, who writes/reads/ reviews in SciFi,  volunteered the same thought before I could even ask him. "I just need lots of imagination," he said, "But historical writing takes time and energy and lots of note-taking before as well as during the writing period."

What do you think? If you had to find out and verify how your characters dressed, what they ate, how they acted/lived for the times that they lived in, before you wrote the story, would you still choose that genre? Do romance writers need to be experts in relationships? Crime writers in police work? Which genres are the hardest to do well?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Getting Affirmation For One's Writing

When I wrote my first novel, Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest, I was writing for the sheer joy of storytelling. Yes, there was a little pressure to do so, to finish the story and to make it a good one, from friends and spouse who, once I told them I was "writing a book", either guffawed and shook their heads, or beamed with enthusiasm. ( Either way, I had something to prove.) I was writing in the best time to be a writer - the age of the Internet. At the time I didn't realize that writing historical was more work than contemporary - there was all that research to do on life in the 1700's, on tall ships, on pirates - as well as creating loveable/detestable characters, settings that sprung to life in a reader's mind, and a compelling page-turning keep-you-up-at-night plot. At the time it was all just a wonderful way to get lost in a story - to be whisked away to another time and place that felt so real to me. There were many moments of self-doubt along the way and that's when affirmations of friends and fellow writers, even hearing of other's successes and enjoying them vicariously, pulled me through.

And the hours of work have paid off, I think. Quintspinner was a shortlist selection for the 2010 Saskatchewan Best First Book Award, and last week it placed first in Best Historical Fiction ( and therefore was recipient of the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction) and third in Best YA (15-18) for the 2011 ReaderViews Book Awards. Even though I reached my initial goal of writing and getting a book published, these awards have confirmed to me that my book is an enjoyable read to others and for now, self-doubt has greatly diminished. I am Write on the Way to ...Somewhere! To all of the writers out there, hold fast to any and all positive affirmations! Keep believing in yourself.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Stuck? Never Say 'Whoa' In A Tough Spot!

I spent the weekend writing. Not unlike thousands of other writers out there who have regular jobs to pay the bills.

We then write in our "after hours" which, for me, often means marathon hours on my days off, spent writing. I hate to put this confession on paper, but... (big breath - OK, here goes) I have a borderline obssesive/compulsive personality (please note this is a self-imposed diagnosis, and in no way were the words spoken to me by a paid professional). Anyway, this amounts to me setting up goals for myself, one of which is to write a minimum of 1000 words per day on each of my days off, and 500 on each of my "work" days. I recently realized that I am obsessive about this because:
  1. I keep a little day calendar at my writing desk, in which I mark the number of words I have written each day, as well as a running total for the manuscript. No one sees this but me, but I feel compelled to carry on with this and shamed when I don't reach my numbers. In fact I'm tempted, just once in awhile, to pad the numbers - by now you can see the obsessiveness...
  2. I feel a moment of panic when, during a rewrite, the word count drops for the day (Sheesh! Even I think this is wierd.)
  3. I often carry on writing long after my energy has waned/ideas have gone to sleep (and so should I)/ or I have missed other important deadlines like mealtime preparation. (Hamburger doesn't cook itself, ya know.)
So, of course, some of my writing is forced. (No kidding, you say?). BUT! - (Big 'but' there, not unlike the one I am growing while I spend all those hours sitting at my computer) this past weekend, I revisited the worthy advice given to writers by other writers everywhere, and that is - Give. It. A. Rest.
"But what about my word count?" my Primitive brain whines.
"No good, unless they are worthy words," my Override self cautions.
"The story must go on!" Primitive orders.
"And so it will, but for now, do something else. It's not giving up - it's taking a little side trip or two. Fresh eyes and thoughts stimulated by something else will give you those worthy words," Override declares.

It was true. I was stuck. Stuck in a nifty plot problem, but one that I could see no way out of. No amount of typing was saving me. I put my computer in sleep mode and put on some rockin' music. I ate chips and dip. I brushed my cats. I worked out on the elliptical. I sat in my hot tub. I watched a movie. I read several chapters in a book that had nothing whatsoever to do with my genre. And I missed my word count for the day.

More importantly, as I slept that night, the resolution for the plotting problem came to me with a great twist. And the worthy words came effortlessly the next morning. Side trips are necessary tributaries of the overall journey.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Safety net for the memory banks

Writing a series, I've read and discovered first hand, is a bit tricky. It's not just the effort required to continue the story's characters and their adventures, but to ensure additional books make sense for the reader who did not have the pleasure of devouring your debut book. Many authors, myself included, wrote the debut several months, maybe even a year or two prior to the next in a series, and it's a challenge to keep track of all of the details that were sweated over while making that first masterpiece. (What was that minor character's name? Was it Tyson or Tyler, and did he have blue or brown eyes?)

To keep my memory banks, faulty as they're becoming, from experiencing a full melt down, I have resorted to a tried and true method. The good ol' spiral ring notebook. Never crashes. doesn't break if I drop it. Page never freezes up - I can turn 'em as fast as I want. I can make as many files/categores as I need ( sticky notes are a wonderful invention), and I can check up on details in the notebook at the same time that I am typing my manuscript  - no fancy split screen needed. Best of all, just handling the thing takes me back to the times of junior high Creative Writing classes - where a binder full of spiral ring notebooks bulged with my imagination caught on paper - and there's still a subconscious thrill of opening the notebook's cover, a sense of one about to be taken away into a very pleasant place. Sadly, a computer file just doesn't do that for me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Adapt and Survive - Tsunami of Change in the Publishing World

Since I entered the writing arena in 2009, things have changed in the publishing world at a dizzying pace.
  1. Ereaders a few years ago were pricey - picked up by mostly techies. Then several models were released - the Nook, the Kobo - and Kindle expanded its available servies into countries other than the US. Sony released newer versions of its ereader. Ereader price wars broke out.
  2. Authors, tired of wait times and low royalties and loss of control over their projects, started to look at self-publishing and the numbers of sales that ereaders were producing. 
  3. Digital publishing became available for the common writer, as many self-publishing and assisted self-publishing options became available and the resulting books and ebooks were of good, possibly even great print quality (read: as good as a traditionally produced book).
  4. Agents continued to turn their noses up at those who dared to go the self-pubbed route, touting it as a last resort for desperate writers, until ebook sales took off with many dozens of authors making a reasonable living off their ebook versions.
  5. Agents began to scout through Amazon for authors and their "tested" books - those that had proven their worthiness by either great sales or great reviews, or both.
  6. Agents and self published authors began to work together, obtaining traditional deals that gave the authors and their "proven" books a far greater distribution pathway.
  7. Ebook sales outpaced hardcover sales and royalties for self published projects left the traditional royalty rates in the basement.
  8. Ereader sales exploded, suggesting that the sales numbers for ebooks are also going to increase dramatically.
  9. Some ebook authors turned down agents' offers for representation ( yes, TURNED DOWN!)
  10. Agents are still authors' best route for foreign rights and film rights - authors do not have much experience in contract negotiations/royalties in these areas.
Stay tuned for the continuing saga of publishing changes for 2011!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Too Much Information and Yet Not Enough

While I was finishing up my first manuscript (2009), self-pubbing was coming into its own. There were a few  choices out there and they were getting positive publicity. As a technologically challenged newbie without any tech savvy teenagers left at home to rely on to help me through this vast new wonderland, I made two decisions: one, to self-publish because of the higher royaltes (20% at the time vs. 7-10% from a traditional publisher), and two, to use an assisted self-publishing company, as I had no idea how to format, get an ISBN, set up social media sites, or build a platform for myself.

I was pleased with the results. My debut novel, "Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest" was shortlisted for 2010 Sask Book Awards for Best New Book, and it has gathered 4 and 5 star reviews.

In the time since, self-publishing options have exploded faster than a head count at a rabbit farm in the spring, and now I face a new dilemma: which self-publishing path to go on this time? Soft covers as well, or ebooks only? CreateSpace, directly to Kindle, to Smashwords? Every day I have favorite blogs to read and learn from, but the information put forth is so abundant that I wallow in confusion still. Which has the best distribution? Which gives the best payback to an author? Which is the most use-friendly? Should I upload to a combination of sites?

What has been your experience? What have you chosen to do and why?