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Monday, June 30, 2008

NaNoWriMo in July: JulNoWriMo Starts At Midnight

Clock by Darren Hester Creative Commons

From the Danger Zone website comes news of a NaNoWriMo in July.

JulNoWriMo is for all of you who can't fit your novel writing time around Thanksgiving and the pre-Christmas crazyness.
Now you can use those long, light-filled days of summer to totally ruin your vision, blister off your finger tips, and avoid cutting your grass. And you even get an extra day on the 31st to do it. Just write 50,000 words in the month of July.

Let the crazy begin at midnight tonight.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Watch Out Kindle - It's the MiBook

Nathan Bransford had a great round-up of publishing news today, including info on a much less expensive ebook reader than Kindle. It's called the MiBook. and retails for about $130 - and it plays music too!

Getting books on there can be a little pricey at $20 a pop. It does have a memory card slot.

It's cute though. But there are other options out there too.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

How to Publish a Cup of Comfort Story

Squared circle tea cup by Ben Haldenby Creative Commons

If you're looking to get a story published for the Cup of Comfort Series, Writers on the Rise has an interview with editor Colleen Sell that gives you the inside scoop.

When you're done reading the interview, check out their current call for submissions.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Erotica is Hot in More Ways Than One

Books for Sale by Cote Creative Commons

Publisher's Weekly has an article about the new mainstreaming of Erotica including the news that Pocket books has optioned 39 more books from epublisher Ellora's Cave.

The most interesting point in the article is the fact these authors are removing the stigma from epublishing by producing successful, good quality books. The perception had been that you epubbed because you couldn't get into a print house - which may be correct, but not for reasons of quality.

The paper side of the business is risk adverse, so they catch on to new trends through small presses and others willing to take the risk.

Low risk doesn't seem to be working so well for big publishing. Is it time for a new methodology? What should it look like? Should there still be personality driven imprints around one person's reading taste? God forbid they should have focus groups. What can save publishing today for authors and companies?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Looking for a Getaway Close to Home

Check out Rim Rock's Dog Wood Cabins in Southern Illinois!

Looking for a quiet place to finish up those last minute edits or looking for a family getaway. Here’s the perfect place to breathe in nature and relax.

New rustic cabin lodging with modern comforts, surrounded by The Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. Adjacent to Rim Rock and 1 mile from Pounds Hollow Lake, only ¼ mile from the Camp Cadiz to High Knob section of The River To River Trail, directly on the American Discovery Trail and the Shawnee Hills Scenic Byway in Eastern Southern Illinois. Trails for hiking, mountain biking, bicycling, bouldering, bird watching or rock climbing are endless and nearby.

Fish, swim, hike and picnic at Pounds Hollow Lake. Enjoy overlooks, boulders and canyons at Rim Rock Recreational trail just across the road from the cabins. Near Cave in Rock, Garden of the Gods, free ferry to Kentucky, Pounds Hollow Lake, Glen O Jones Lake, Ohio River, Tower Rock and the Shawnee Queen River Taxi. A short drive from Fort Massac, riverboat gambling, Kentucky Amish country, Metropolis, Tunnel Hill biking trail, Saline County Wildlife Area, Lusk Creek, One Horse Gap, Burden Falls, Cache River Refuge, Giant City State Park, Mermet Springs scuba diving and much more. Hog Rock and Little Sturgis bike rallies are nearby.View the spectacular rock formations of nearby Garden of the Gods or Rim Rock. Swim at Pounds Hollow Lake or take a historical or scenic tour of Hardin, Gallatin, Pope and Saline Counties.

The country is extraordinary, especially if you take the time to travel the beautiful trails in the Shawnee Forest. Our Illinois cabin rental lodging has everything you need for your vacation, honeymoon, retreat, getaway...

Death Becomes Vampire Jane Austen

Jane Austen Action Figure by The Eggplant Creative Commons

I am so jealous I didn't think of this. Publisher's Weekly reports genius author Michael Thomas Ford sold a vampire book with Jane Austen as the lead bloodsucker.

Perhaps Mr. Darcy lives on as well? We can only hope. I guess she's finally getting some action. No groans please - my inner critic takes care of those.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Finding Time to Write

Clock by Darren Hester Creative Commons

Mucho thanks to Michael for sending me this link. I have a big project I'm working on and sometimes it feels overwhelming. But I perked right up after I read this advice from Tom Monteleone on how to find time to write a book.

My favorite tidbit - don't try to make up pages if you miss a day because then you defeat the purpose of doing it in managable segments. Work piles on and you give up again. So three pages a day it is.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wilderness Writing Expedition for High School Adventurers

White Water Rafting on the Ocoee River by whitneynmatt

From Idaho: a contest for high school juniors and seniors to win a writing and rafting trip on the Lower Salmon river. To enter, you write two pages about an adventure, dream or memory. Twelve winners will get the combined writing and nature adventure to inspire them to write.

Submission deadline: July 11, 2008
Trip: August 10-17, 2008

Wow. This is exactly the kind of thing I'd have been terrified to do as a teen, sure I'd fall in and drown the first day, ruining the trip for everyone.

Mostly I stayed safely inside with my pudgy nose crammed in a book. But this contest, it makes me wish I was athletic and seventeen. I was never the former. Actually I went tourist rafting on the Snake River when I was about fifteen, so overweight teens, go for it. I had a blast.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Warren Adler Humor Story Contest

Luke, I am your father by John Vetterli Creative Commons has info on the Warren Adler Short Story Contest. Send in your funny story by August 15, 2008.

Entertainment Writer Wanted for St. Louis Nightlife

Craig's list has an ad asking for an entertainment writer who can cover the St. Louis bar/club scene. If you're a nocturnal party animal, you may want to check it out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Chicken Soup Wants your "Ultimate" Stories

Chicken Rice Noodle Soup by Stu_Spivack Creative Commons

According to the Renegade Writer, that purveyor of poultry platitudes Chicken Soup is seeking stories for their Ultimate Series. And they want pictures this time. The essays should be about:

The Ultimate Christmas by June 30

The Ultimate Teacher by July 31

The Ultimate Dad by August 31

The Ultimate Mom by September 30

That should keep you busy for the next few months.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Amazon, I May Have to Break Up With You

Bully Free Zone by Eddie S Creative Commons

Dear Amazon,

I loved you once. I bought almost all my books from you even though I went to Barnes and Noble every week for my critique group. This New Yorker cover, that was me.

But apparently you've had a head injury. Or maybe you just lost your soul in the big, bad world of commerce. You're causing collateral damage to authors in this nasty fight you're having with Hachette UK. No on likes a bully, Amazon. The authors didn't do anything to you.

Most writers make little enough money as it is. They dreamed for years, worked hard, were good enough to make it. And now you are punishing them for things that aren't their fault. Your mother would be ashamed. Aren't those $400 Kindles making you enough money?

Your tactics might work, but I've lost respect for you. I'll be honest, right now I'll still buy the occasional book from you. But when I get a coupon for my favorite book, Barnes and Noble gets my business. And I'm watching you. Any more of these tactics and I may have to cut off our relationship entirely.

I believe you're a good guy, Amazon. I admire your pioneer spirit and your enthusiastic attitude. Don't go the dark side.

Tricia Grissom
Formerly Faithful Customer and Writer

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More Fun Gifts for Writers

Jane Austen Action Figure by The Eggplant Creative Commons

Check out the Mixed-Up Romance Novel Magnetic Poetry Kit. No. I have no life.

Or let an author be your umbrella on a rainy, rainy day. Although Jane looks like she's had her nose pressed to the glass just a little too long. Or have a cuppa with some famous poets. Or perhaps you prefer the Jane Austen action figure? Mine is kicking butt and taking names as we speak.

Haven't you started your Christmas shopping yet? *Ducks to avoid flying projectiles*

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

T-shirts for Writers

Love to agent Janet Reid for posting these cringtastic links to conference t-shirts for writers. Shirt designer Angela L. Fox also has designs for your inner muse and the evil inner critic.

I must have this one. I will be sure to wrap all my manuscripts in aluminium foil so the aliens can't probe them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Developing Your Character's Voice in Fiction

Microphone by hiddedevries Creative Commons

BookEnds has a great post from author Michele Dunaway on finding characters' voices as you write your novel.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What Genre R U?

Kate's Mystery Books by LenEdgerly Creative Commons

Great post on genre over at BookEnds today.

It looks like the best thing you can do is get it in the right ballpark and then tailor your query to the specific interest of the agents. So though my book is paranormal, it could be a paranormal romance because she has romantic relationships, or it could be paranormal mystery because the whole series is about finding out who killed the MC and her entire family.

Basically don't get too caught up in genre. Regardless of what you think your book is, the writing is what will get your foot in the door. And they can't see the writing if you never send that puppy out there.

Query on.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Take the Free Book Crack - You Know You Want To

Stack of Books Creative Commons

A new trend is busting out all over publishing - free books by download.

  • SmartBitches reports you can get the first two books in Julia-Fleming Spencer's mystery series for free (so they can hook you and you'll be jonesing to buy the next four). Diabolical. If I like the first two, I'm much more likely to buy the remaining books in the series.
  • And Tor has just started, a sci fi website offering a free book download and wall paper every week for everyone who signs up for their newsletter. I just received my first free book, Orphans of Chaos by John Wright. Again, if I like his first book, I'll hunt up the second.
  • HarperCollins is also offering large segments of their books for browsing in a try before you buy strategy.
I'm in book heaven! I But I wish I had a Kindle to read them on instead of the pdf on my laptop. Here Kindle, Kindle, Kindle.

Headline Writing Contest at Glamorati

Headline by Matt Volatile Creative Commons

Copyblogger has the scoop on a headline writing contest over at Glamorati. Winning entries get $5 per published headline and score a point. The highest point score at the end receives a $500 bonus. You must register on the website to submit entries.

My headlines based on today's stories:
Homer Simpson's Favorite Holiday
Stinkin' Jobs. Stinkin' Gas Prices. Stinkin' Economy.
You Wouldn't Like to Be a Pepper Too

What are yours?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

3 Tips for Online Critique

100,000 Words of Oblivion by inkswamp

Keep these things in mind if you're giving or receiving critiques online.

1. Online critique comments can sound harsher than you mean them to.
Don’t be offended if something comes across as curt – it may not have been intended that way. Many jokes fall flat in email/text versions without voice inflections to help them along, so give your critter the benefit of the doubt. On the flip side, make comments on other people’s work carefully. Emoticons may be cutesy, but they can soften a comment that may seem harsh otherwise. Also abbreviations like IMHO (In my humble opinion) tend to soften the tone. So if you're offended by a critique, get over it :)

2. Online critique often offers time for reflection that real-time critique groups may not.
Sometimes we feel compelled to shorten our comments at a face to face critique if we are last in line to offer advice. Online critiques give us a chance to say everything fully, without editing. Use the extra online time to give a more effective critique. You may want to read your buddy’s submission once without making any comments, just to get a feel for it. Then go over it again (either immediately or a few days later) with an eye toward making suggestions. It’s also a good idea to leave an overall comment about the piece at the end.

3. Mandate how much critique should be done.
While online critique can sometimes lead to more in-depth comments, sometimes if your critique partner doesn't have to look you in the eye, he or she may skimp on critique. If you start your own online critique group or join one, have a rule that says everyone needs at least two hundred to three hundred total words of critique (this includes intext comments). That way members aren’t tempted to skimp on analysis when they’re juggling 2.5 kids, a job, and making tonight's mac and cheese. Plus it often spurs you to make more thoughtful observations about the writing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Online Critique Groups 101

Fountain Pen and Glasses by Bright Meadow Creative Commons

Have an erratic schedule that prevents you from meeting regularly with a critique group? Having trouble finding writers specifically in your genre? Live in an area that’s too rural to meet other writers? Is your only time to work at 1 a.m. when the kids/spouse are in bed? (Hey, Benadryl works great on both).

Then online critique groups might be for you. The following websites offer critiques for writers. Websites marked with an asterisk are on Writers Digest list of 101 Best Websites for Writers. They work in various ways, so read the fine print before picking your group. – This popular critique site makes you pay with critiques to play. You critique to gain enough credits to submit your work for comments from others. The more you critique, the more of your own work you can submit.

Pros – Your story can be critiqued by an unlimited number of people while it’s posted on the site. Members must sign in to view submissions, so it isn’t considered “published” and you can back track to anyone who viewed your work – so it would be stupid to steal from you. They also show you sample critiques and most people are friendly and helpful.

You can also submit your work by category – so people who like romance will be critiquing your submission, not people who feel obligated because they are in your critique group. Categories include: newbies, thriller/mystery/suspense, romance/women’s fiction/chicklit, science fiction/fantasy/horror, children/young adult, and general.

Cons – it can take a long time to get your story put online for critique. It’s done on a first come, first served basis. So you may wait two weeks or more before your story is critiqued. But you can form your own critique groups and ask others to join after you learn how it works. There is a small additional fee, though, for the privilege.

Critters Workshop, – This group is for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. This is another situation were you must critique unto others for the critiques to come unto you. If you can do about one critique per week, you should have enough credit to get your submission critiqued.

Pros – They have a special feature that lets you get a whole novel critiqued. You post a request for dedicated readers, and those who respond commit to giving you feedback on your whole novel. Those who sign up to help you get double the credits they would per word for a normal critique.

Cons – It still takes about a month to get something in line to be critiqued, and they only allow science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

*Critique Groups for Writers -
Here you form your own critique group with other writers on the site.

*Edit Red
According to Writers Digest, “Head over to Edit Red for peer critiques, publishing tips and opportunities to promote your writing and connect with publishers. The site offers a free personal webpage, and promotion and marketing tools.”

*Mike’s Writing Workshop

*My Writers

*The MuseItUp Club Critique Group -
They limit critique groups to five writers maximum, but set up multiple groups.

*The Internet Writing Workshop

Create Your Own Online Group – Gather up a group of like-minded critiquers and create a schedule. Email submissions to each other on a certain day and require a response. So everyone might email their submission on Monday and critiques could be due the following Monday – or longer if you want to critique longer selections and you have busy schedules.

Tomorrow I'll post some tips specific to online critiquing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Interview With Queen of the Road Doreen Orion

Doreen Orion's book is Queen of the Road: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own. It debuts today, and she was kind enough to answer some questions about her mega successful publicity campaign for the book.

Doreen, you've had outstanding success getting your book out there. How did you get your book in front of Elle Magazine (as a Readers' Jury contender), Target (as a Target Breakout Book), Borders (as the June nonfiction book club selection) and Celestial Seasonings (as the June book club selection)?

I wish I could take the credit - other than, of course, writing a book people seem to be responding to :). My publisher got it in front of the right people, and... to paraphrase what the airline I'm about to take many trips on for my book tour says, "I know booksellers have many choices when they read, and on behalf of the QUEEN OF THE ROAD crew, we appreciate their picking this book." I will say that as I wrote my book, I read other memoirs and tried to figure out what I liked and didn't like about them (good writing being a given). My favorites were those that not only entertained, but provided inspiration based on some change the author went through. Particularly for travel memoirs, I not only want to be transported to another place, but another way of thinking. So, that's what I tried to do.

How much do you recommend budgeting for publicity? A certain portion of your advance?

I don't think there's a set amount. What I do very strongly advocate is that the author look at her advance as an investment in her book. I kept my day job (not that my advance would have allowed me to quit, anyway), so didn't need to rely on the advance to live on while I wrote. As a result, I never really looked at it as "my" money. It was my book's money, so it was easy for me to spend a portion of it on things like a killer website and fabulous outside publicist to complement the great in-house team at Broadway Books. (Look, for all they've done for me, I had to plug my publisher, OK?)

Where do you think you get the most bang for your buck when it comes to publicity?

First and foremost, an author needs a fabulous website. In my view, that is the foundation upon which all other aspects of publicity are built. Then, it all works together, but the website is the hub of the wheel. (Sorry, you can take the gal out of the bus, but I guess you can't take the bus out of the gal.) Publicity is also not just about the bucks. Authors have to be extremely proactive for their books and not assume that everything is going to be done for them. In fact, when an author puts a lot of effort and energy into publicizing her book, that gets the publisher even more excited about it - always a good thing.

What would you tell a new author about publicizing his or her book?

I really should talk to her about getting a kickback, as I've referred so many authors, but as soon as you get a contract, chill the champagne and (before you imbimb, please! You want your email to be coherent - plenty of time for celebration later and besides... warm champagne?) contact Bella Stander - author consultant extraordinaire. Every author I've referred has thanked me again and again. She can not only suggest website designers and publicists in your budget that are good fits for your book, but is one of the most creative people I know. She came up with a wealth of (very inexpensive/free) ideas for publicizing QUEEN OF THE ROAD that I would never have thought of on my own. I only hired her for a total of 1.5 hours and that saved me so much in terms of money (she's also great at figuring out what you don't need), time and work.

Thanks for the interview and congrats on your newest book's debut.

You're very welcome. Soon, I'm going to be adding a link to my website specifically for writers about the publishing process as it can be a very challenging, winding road and although I normally have no sense of direction (just ask my long-suffering bus driver... er, husband), I hope to provide some insights.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Essay Market - Skirt Magazine

Vintage skirt by tajai Creative Commons

Looking for a home for your 800-1200 word essay? Try Skirt Magazine. They publish fourteen estrogen-rich essays per month (although they say "women and women's interests shouldn't limit your choice of topic.")

Monthly themes for 2008 as quoted from their website:
AUGUST: The Detour Issue
Simplifying your life; downsizing your life; organizing your home, becoming less of a pack rat, taking a different path, moving on, being in nature, cutting ties, less is more, moments of zen, running away.

SEPTEMBER: The Rules Issue
Making them, breaking them, bending them, women rule, the exception that proves the rule, conquering, rules for living, playing by the rules (or not), power, dominance, influence.

OCTOBER: Wonder Women
Women who inspire, what you aspire to, women who do it all, heroic women, icons, rule-breakers, your political involvement, situations with female politicians, why women don’t run, why women should run for office, women who lead the pack, leadership, going out on a limb.
NOVEMBER: The Delicious Issue
Dish, cravings, good taste, junk food, comfort food, having your cake and eating it too, the good life, heavenly, mouth-watering, appetites, drop-dead gorgeous, nourishment for the body and the mind, fit for the goddesses, pleasure, delighting the senses (all six of them).
DECEMBER: Fresh Starts
Resolutions you kept, resolutions you broke, why we make resolutions or why we shouldn’t, turning around a tough situation; working through hard times, starting over, clean slate, new beginnings, epiphanies.

*These are suggestions only intended to inspire writers interested in submitting for a particular month. We recognize that you may have ideas for other variations on theme of the month and look forward to reading your submissions.

Essays are due on the first of the month prior to the issue you're shooting for. So if you want your essay in August's Detour issue, submit it by July 1, 2008.
Read some their current essays to get a feel for what they're looking for. I love Amy Henry's essay "Dancing in my Kitchen" about how she stopped pining for the promises her husband had made. She cranks up the tunes and dances into the next phase of her life. Excellent choice of music too. Rock on.