Friday, July 29, 2011

Three Swords, One Heart

I had an interesting tarot reading earlier this evening. It really hit close to home with family issues, my writing, and...well, pretty much the whole package. With hubby's dad so close to crossing over, we are stressed, emotionally wrung-out, and doing everything we can to be prepared for a phone call we know is going to come eventually. Every time I hear the phone ring, I cringe and my heart starts racing. Is this going to be the call? I can only imagine that for everything I feel, it must be threefold for hubby. It's hard watching him struggle through all this.

Every day is like walking on egg shells, and it's been very difficult to keep up with my writing. Motivation is very hard won right now, but I'm forcing myself to just do it. Just write.  Not over think things and just write for the moment. Get the words on the page. For now, for me, it's enough. So for everyone else waiting on me, it's going to have to be enough for them, too.

Moving away from that topic... Earlier today, I saw one of the literary agents from The Knight Agency had posted on twitter about a letter than had gone out about them offering a self-publishing service. You can find the letter here. The authors pay for outside copy editing if they want it. The agent takes the standard 15% in fees for the services they provide, which includes uploading the book. This is an optional service available to their authors, not mandatory, and authors can still self-publish on their own if that's their choice.

I'm sure they have clients who will take advantage of the self-publishing service, and I would imagine for those that "need" this service because they aren't tech savvy, it could be the right thing for them to do. However, it makes me a little sad to see one more agency heading into publishing, whether it's optional for the client or not. For better or worse, I'm convinced there are going to be many more agencies out there that will be going down this path soon enough.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Writing Projects and Publishing Stuff

It's been a chore to focus today. It's so hot outside it's uncomfortable, and it makes it difficult to keep the house cooled down. I lounged on the couch with Mini for a while and read on the Kindle earlier, but I had to move to a room with more air flow. Okay, more like, a room where I could turn a fan directly on my face. Hot flashes and summertime do not mix.

Despite it all, I managed to get a few pages in on one of the erotic fairy tale-ish fantasy stories I'll be bundling into an collection for Kindle release this fall. At The Edge of Twilight (formerly published in an anthology at Freya's Bower), will be re-edited and set up as the main story. All the other stories in the collection will be erotic/fantasy based, some with romantic elements, some without. I had intended it to be 7 short stories, but I think I may go with 4 or 5 novellas instead. We'll see. I still have the werewolf erotic story to write for it, and I need to clean up another one that's finished, but I haven't yet gone back to edit yet.

I've been tinkering with the butterfly story today, and if the universe is kind, I hope to finish this one over the weekend, and put it aside for editing.

I still have the Shivers story for EC to finish, too. For whatever reason, it's easier for me to work on that one at night, when the house is quiet and I don't have people wandering in and out of my office. Maybe it's because of the darker atmosphere. I have no idea.

On to other things...

For those of you looking to keep tabs on the new Samhain Horror line, they've announced their line up for the October launch here:  

And on a completely different topic, I read a very interesting article at Taleist called Self-Publishers Need to Start Minding Their Manners. A very good post, regardless of how you're published. I highly recommend it.

Also, last night there was a very good YA writing chat on twitter. To find the posts, go to twitter and do a search for #yalitchat . Be sure to include the hashtag. There were authors and publishing industry folk talking about YA, what they like, what they don't, and more.

Wow,'s already 4pm. I better go before Oldest runs out of patience. I told him about three hours ago we were heading to the store. Heh. He should know me by now, right? Right?  

Oh, one more thing! Don't forget to add me on Twitter, and Facebook. If you're a writer, and you mention it in your profile paragraph on either site, I automatically follow/friend back! That's it for now. I hope you all have a snazzy Thursday. ;o)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Considering Anonymous and Categorized

After a few phone calls this morning, I discovered I'll be driving my mother to South Houston to see grandma this weekend. Gram wasn't able to have her cancer surgery because of the stroke, so mom wants to see her. I don't blame her at all.

After trying to figure out how to pack for both Mini and myself and keep the luggage count low for this trip, I've discovered how much I really miss my old train case. It was from the 60s, and it belonged to my mother. A very ugly piece of luggage, and make no doubt. I was about 7 or 8 when she passed it down to me, and I would use that as my suitcase wherever I went. I remember the interior had this smell you couldn't get rid of - like old perfume mixed with hairspray and baby powder. It was also a good case for Barbie storage - just sayin'. The one I had was a puke-tastic olive green, and had a gold ruffle interior and a single latch on the front. No Samsonite for us, we had generic luggage, and to date I haven't seen another one like it. We used it for all our family trips, and I'd take it with me whenever I went to someone's sleep over. I think it survived until the late 80s, or early 90s...until the latch broke. We got rid of it after that, and I've regretted it ever since!

I guess that will be my next eBay conquest: a vintage train case. The ghost of luggage past is haunting me, so I know I won't rest until I have another one of those train cases. Then again, when I consider how we've been traveling so much lately due to family emergencies and relatives being sick, it's probably not a bad idea to have a new train case on standby.

On to writerly things, I've been listening carefully to the dialogue going on about agents becoming publishers. I know agents have to eat and pay their bills, but I don't like the way the agent to e-publisher trend is flowing. I think Anonymous Person 7:18 AM posted an interesting idea in the comments on the agent's blog. They asked why agents are turning this route, and wondered why agents who need to branch out won't simply offer a contract negotiation service, or possibly offer a query package service.

I assume Anon 7:18 meant a query service as a business where you hire an agent to look over your query for you and offer advice. At any rate, I think that's a brilliant idea on both scores, both the contract and query services. I would much rather see agents go that route, there is no conflict of interest involved, and I could actually see myself using both services. For some people, it would make more business sense to pay an agent (or a literary lawyer) a one time fee to have them look over a contract, rather than them signing with an agency.

Also, after sitting through many Twitter #askagent sessions, and considering the number of query questions that pop up even when the topic of query letters has been forbidden, it seems to me that a query package service would be a booming business. Of course, that's just my impression.

I saw this article earlier today, and I'm copy and pasting the link here. It's a good article on why your agent should not be your publisher:  I know a lot of people are in disagreement over this topic right now, and I just want to say what may work for someone else, may not work for me. I'm fine with that. Even so, I'm posting this because I do hope more agents will consider other options to expand their businesses before jumping on board with a similar agent-to-publisher model.

All the agenting stuff aside, Let me just say I LOVE, love, love this new genre map over at Book Country! I want a poster of it for my office.

It reminds me of the 1990s maps of the entire internet (at the time) that came with the old Windows 3.1 PCs. The internet was shown sectioned off into burroughs and labeled with the ISP companies. Le'see...I think at the time there was Juno, Prodigy, CompuServe, and AOL. Maybe Linux. There were a few others. Not many.

Anyway, I love the Book Country genre map. How cool is that? I love the way everything is grouped together. My inner nerd wants to print a copy and put up a little sticker on it that says, "You are here." But before I could do that, I'd have to figure out where my erotic android cyber vampires in space story would be categorized.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kindle Love and Crawfish

Let me just say...I ♥ my Kindle. I totally adore this thing. Hubby ran off to the store for something early on Sunday morning, and when I woke up he was already back home. When I walked into my office, there was a brand new Kindle in the box and a leather case for it. He's such a peach. Kisses to hubby.

I registered everything and transferred my Desktop Kindle reads to the new e-reader. 43 books. Heh. I need to go through there and remove some of the books I've already read. Anyway, the first book I purchased for the Kindle was The Deal Breaker by Cassandra Curtis.

I'm pleased with how easy it is to buy the books and transfer to the Kindle. Easy peasy, and I already had an established account, so I didn't have to go through all the new account creation garbage. I had it all taken care of in less than 10 minutes. Now Oldest has my Sony Pocket, which is practically brand new. I've read only four books on it. I just never picked it up and ran with it for some reason.

So anyway, I'm currently reading a very raunchy and gross out vampire novel that was from the early 1990s. I'm not sure how I feel about this one, since the writing is fine, but all the females in the book, regardless of age and occupation - even the heroine, are portrayed as nympho-whores who fall to their knees anytime they glance at a male crotch. I wish I was joking about that, but sadly, no. I don't know if the author has some serious beef against women, or if this is a major wish fulfillment book or what, Wow, dude. I'm not some hardcore feminist; I'm not someone to go crying about glass ceilings, but this reeks of some serious issues. I mean...whew! The whole angle of the book... I've never read a book like this one. So, for that reason, I'm not going to promote the title and author. I've never felt uncomfortable about promoting someone before, but I guess there's a first time for everything.  Moving along...

On Monday, I didn't blog because hubby and I took Mini with us to Ruston and spent the day there. First things first, we paid off our house. Big hurray for that. Then we went out to eat at the Cajun Kitchen. I got the crawfish platter, and it came with a ton of food - all of it crawfish based, of course. Crawfish etouffee, crawfish salad, baked potato stuffed with crawfish, crawfish pie (which hubby ate), and fried crawfish. Yum. Yum. Yum. I'm writing all this and I'm about to take Oldest to the Panda for lunch. I'm a little hungry. It was good, though.

One more thing before I go. My crit partner told me yesterday that BookEnds is opening a self publishing arm at their literary agency. I only know what I've read, and....well, I can only say it's not something I'd be interested in, even though I imagine there will be more literary agents to come that will follow this route. There is a lot of good dialogue in the comments. If you drop by to check it out, I encourage you to read through all of it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Make Contact

I'm having a quiet day at home with the guys. I had ice cream for breakfast, and taught Oldest how to use the treadmill...although twenty minutes later I found him lounging across my bed watching Nightwatch instead of  exercising. When he ships out in January, basic training is going to kick those marshmallow buns of his. What can you do, though? I mean, the kid is almost 20. He's gotta provide his own motivation. I only have so much to go around.  

Yesterday, I finished reading Donald Maass The Fire in Fiction. I give the book a solid B+. The plus is because of the practical tools pages at the end of every section. You can read through these and apply the questions to your work in progress, which is handy. The book had a lot of examples from popular fiction, some of it I've read, so it makes for a good example of what he's talking about. I also liked his take on inner and outer turning points, and how to make "monsters" scary. For those three reasons, this book will go into the keeper basket.

That aside, I feel like The Fire in Fiction is for more advanced writers, not those just setting out to write a book. If you're a true beginner, I still recommend Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy. Don't let the title fool you. That book is the best, of the best, of the best in my humble opinion. Everything you need to know to kick off writing a novel is in there, and it's written in the clearest way possible. Also of all the writing books it covers the most material - so it's more of a complete course than any other writing book I've read. And I've read a lot of writing books.

Another thing I want to bring up...something I mentioned on my Facebook earlier today. Authors, writers, please put some kind of email address or contact form somewhere on your website so people can contact you - especially if you don't log in to your social media networks everyday. I can't stress enough how important this is. A current example of why this is necessary: an author's account is sending me phishing emails, and  I have no way to contact her to let her know she has been hacked. 

This is actually the second occurrence (different people) over the past two weeks. These people could return to their pages days from now and find them deleted by the social media site, or worse, because no one could reach them to let them know what has happened. A simple contact page could save these people a lot of trouble. 

That's all for now. I'm off to crash across the bed to read. I hope you all have a relaxing Saturday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Horror Imprints and Romancing My Shivers

funny pictures - Escher Cats

I'm on Haus Frau duty today. I have errands to run, bills to pay, and once that's over, I'll be coming back home to do household chores. Joy, right? I'd rather be doing something, anything, else, but but by getting it all out of the way today, I'll be able to work full throttle on my Shiver story tomorrow. Last night I wrapped up all the necessary research details, now I need to go back over the plot skeleton and see where I have all my romantic vs. horror elements. Things are really shaping up. I just hope I have room to squeeze in one more character - a possible love interest.

Speaking of writing and all that jazz, for those of you interested in Samhain Publishing's new horror effort, a web page for the venture has gone live. You can find it here: It's worth a look.

Based on what I've read, Samhain Horror plans to publish two books a month, which will match Dorchester Publishing's (horror imprint) rate of release. Plus, Samhain will also be taking on novellas, and that makes me wonder if we can expect any horror anthology calls in the near future.

Overall, I like the look of the new publishing program, and wouldn't hesitate to submit there. Samhain has a very good reputation as a publisher, their editors are top notch, and they pay their authors on time. That aside, with only two publishing slots a month for the horror program, and factoring in any potential submissions arriving from established/agented and/or in-house authors, I'm curious what the rejection rate and wait time is going to be like for this new imprint. I hope there will be additional editors coming in to help Samhain Horror grow - and build its presence in the marketplace.

Dorchester/Leisure has always had a painfully slow response time on slush pile submissions (up to 2 years) - not so surprising in a print house, but I don't think of that as being normal or acceptable in a digital first publishing landscape. I'm really, really hoping this doesn't transfer over to the new horror publishing model, but I guess we'll have to wait and see what develops. Whatever the case, I'm happy to see a new horror market on the rise. It's needed, and long overdue.

That's all for now. I need to hop into the shower and wash my hair. Too, I better make the Oldest kid get out of bed. I swear, he's gonna sleep his life away at this rate. :P  Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Expectations and Platforms

I'd be interested in hearing someone who knows what they're talking about do a total break down of the author platform - complete with what a successful author platform should be, AND how to apply it across ALL genres. Oh, and I'd want to see examples of this done from the start up of a writer's career. Not after they've self published nine books and NY takes notice.

Since the beginning of this year, I have been hearing a lot about building your author platform. I went to a workshop earlier that was listed as being about something entirely different, but it turned out to be a big brouhaha about building your author platform. I was open to learning about it, but in the end, walked away very disappointed in the workshop, and the idea behind it.

Before I ever heard of an author platform, the catch phase of the day was author branding. If you wanted to sell books, you had to work on your author brand. No matter that you might want to write across genre lines, you were expected to push and cultivate your name in conjunction with that brand. For example: a lot of people associate my name with werewolf stories. Not surprising. I've written several of them.

I'm all about author branding, particularly when it comes to genre fiction. I feel like your readers should know your name and have an idea of what to expect when they discover you have a new release. When people pick up my books, I want them to think "Hey, look it's Cora! She writes paranormals and weird stuff. Cool beans." That's great. It works for me. The reader has an idea of what they might find in one of my books.

On the other hand, I am not a fan of this new author platform push, and I'm going to explain why.

The way I understand it, an author platform is supposedly how you reach your readers, and how you're getting your name out there in a way that is valuable to you...and potentially to a publisher and/or an agent. This includes your conference appearances (and I don't mean you registered and showed up!), any interviews or articles or keynote speeches you've written or given (to show you're an expert in your field), awards you've won (although you're later told the awards don't really matter that much unless they're big national awards - for example, you've won The Pulitzer), and of course you need a strong social media presence (although it doesn't matter at all how many followers you have). The exception to all this?  If you have a huge following, or you're selling a million books on Amazon all by yourself. AKA, the Hocking effect. (Although, she didn't necessarily have a platform. She built her author brand by writing a series that she sold on Amazon.)

Okay. This is where I have the problem with the concept of the author platform. Publishing is not a one size fits all kind of business, and with the current self-publishing boom, that has never been more true than it is right now. I feel an author platform is something that lends itself way, way better to a non-fiction writer. For example: doctors who write non-fiction books have credentials, a career, and backing. If a doctor wrote a self-help book, or a diet book, they have a platform to tour with. It's built in. There is an end result the reader wants and expects with that kind of book. The platform matters because the reader will want to see what their results might be.

If you're a fiction writer, it's not the same. You have your name, your genre, and your writing voice. There is no end result for the reader. Either your book sucks or it doesn't.

If you've given workshops, keynote speeches, won a dozen awards, etc. etc... chances are you're probably already an established author. You're also probably published in one form or another, and may or may not have an agent. Whatever the case, I seriously doubt you had any of those things to start with.  And these are things I'm seeing the industry people asking us to have as part of our author platform. It's a bit like putting the cart before the horse. Please be successful before we sign you.

If you self-published instead, and have all of the things I wrote about in the paragraphs above, you likely don't need an agent or a publisher, unless you plan to go into traditional publishing. At least, that seems to be the popular opinion I'm picking up from various groups, blogs, forums, etc.

If you don't have any of the above, well....would you pay to go to a conference that had someone teaching a workshop about publishing who isn't published?  No? So again, explain to the new guy, and to me, how he's supposed to break in with an author platform?

My advice to the guy would be to write what he wants to write, and brand himself as that kind of author. Screw the platform. What's the point of having a roof if you don't have a house to prop it on? Work on building your author brand. Put out nine books. Nine short stories. Go with a small publisher or put them up on Amazon. The point is to find your target audience. They are your most important asset - they are the people who buy and read your books. Blog with them, Facebook with them, and use twitter to network with other authors. Join groups in your desired niche. Carve out a little hole in the big cheese for yourself.

I could be completely wrong about this entire author platform jazz, but I have yet to hear anyone explain in specifics that can be duplicated how someone who is unpublished and wants to go the traditional route is supposed to build a successful author platform without having some kind of back list, or credentials to prop up that platform. I think this is because the industry is trying to cram everyone into the same publishing box. Guess what - we don't all fit. No two careers are ever the same.

Now for an entirely different perspective on the matter...that of a reader. I'm an avid reader, and honestly, I could give a rat's ass about an author's platform. I don't think most readers care about a platform. That's something only the industry cares about, as if it's some kind of insurance that the author can sell books, and by now they should know there are no guarantees. An author's first book can sell strong, and their second might flop. But I digress... back to a reader's perspective...

All we readers really care about is reading your book - if it interests us. I tend to look for authors who are branded as either erotic romance authors, or horror authors. You can market your Civil War focused political spy thriller across nine platforms, have a million twitter followers, and be the top client of NYC's most esteemed agent. You can have critics sing the praises of your book until they're blue in the face - still, I'm not going to buy that book. Why?  Because I'd rather watch bread mold that read that time period. It doesn't do anything for me. Regardless of content, I am damn certain I'm not the only reader who thinks (and buys books) that way.

If you're selling me a diet book, and I read it - well, I might suddenly care about your author platform. I might go to your website, look at your interviews, read your reviews, look for articles about your work. I'd want to know if you're an actual doctor, and possibly if there are any law suits against you. I might want to see where you do weigh ins. I might want to know who some of your clients are, and where you're giving your low-carb cooking retreat in the summer. Another example: I may be interested in the author platform of the writing guru who is giving a summer workshop on breathing passion and life into your characters. Whatever. My own observation: a publishing platform seems to work better for non-fiction writers. I say that, because when reading fiction novels, I couldn't care less.

The point is, if I haven't heard of you, and I Google your website - and, yes, I Google authors all the time looking for something new to read - the first thing I want to know is what genre you're writing in. Again, if it's not erotic romance or horror, I go to the next website. It's not because I'm cranky, it's because I'm not your target audience, and I know what I want to read.

Speaking of reading and finding authors on Google, I've found many new authors (to read!) on Twitter, or through Facebook. I see they write books, and hit their website to see what they're offering. And if I find something interesting, I'll buy it. I read two or three books total a week (depending on the length of the book). I read both fiction and non-fiction. If any of the fiction authors I read have a platform, I'm honestly not aware of it. Truth be told, if a fiction author tries to market their book to me beyond a simple cover image, blurb, and excerpt on their website (a simple contest is okay too), I run scared. Rather than sit through a big promo spiel, I'll go to the next site.

Big sales letters and repetitive pushing of a book reminds me far too much of those people hustling tickets outside Walmart - you know those people. They're using their little kids to stop you at the door to sell raffle tickets for a chance to win a quilt or a barbecue grill, or some such mess, usually for an organization no one has ever heard of.  My thoughts on that?  DO NOT WANT. In fact, when I'm leaving a store and there are hustlers are out there, I don't even make eye contact! It's the same thing when I'm visiting an author's Facebook, Twitter, or website. I do not ever want to be hustled into buying a book, especially fiction books. Just show me the books, ma'am. I'll figure the rest out for myself.

Several years ago, I came across an author who was just a little bit too...pushy...(that's putting it nicely) and that totally turned me off to ever reading her work again. What good does it do you if your "author platform" is so strong it drives people away?

The publishing industry is shifting and changing. It's a shaky landscape out there right now, so I understand where agents and publishers are coming from when they challenge authors to build a massive media presence. I agree it should be on us, the author, to get ourselves out there to connect with our target audience. That aside, most writers, especially unpublished folks and newly published authors, won't be able to pull off the kind of "platform building" some editors, publishers, and agents are talking about as a necessary key to "breaking in" nowadays. It's actually driving potential authors from ever attempting to publish in a traditional way. And who can blame them? The expectations for a lot of us simply aren't realistic.

Say it with me: Publishing isn't a one-size-fits-all industry. Write the best book you can, connect with people who are interested in your genre. Brand yourself, whether you're a paranormal author, a romance author, or you write cozy mysteries. Make sure you're easy to find online. I'm not convinced success is so much about platform as it is about connecting with your potential readership. Perhaps they are one in the same. Then again, I never claimed to have all the answers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday Ramblings

So it's back to the Monday grind. I got out of bed on the wrong foot this morning. I stayed up entirely too late going over workshop exercises, and when I made it to bed, I dreamed I was in a classroom taking notes. I went through several screenplay videos yesterday - about three hours worth, and made all these awesome notes on my WIP regarding symbolism and metaphor. I knew a lot of this stuff already, but it was a good refresher. I needed to hear it again.

I also finished reading 45 Master Characters (see previous posts for more info) by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I give that book my highest recommendation. That's one of those books I'll be keeping in the reference basket beside my desk.

For non-fiction, I'm now back to reading The Fire in Fiction (again, see previous posts for more info) by Donald Maass. So far so good. I hope to read through it this week - if nothing happens to sidetrack me, which has been happening a lot lately. Just a bunch of little things out of my control.

This morning I had to run to the post office, so I dropped off Oldest at the library. He wanted to spend the day in town. When I got back home, I tried to finish up as much work as possible before the afternoon. I promised Mini we'd make some super bouncy ball things from this craft kit. He's into that sort of thing, building stuff and what not. Used to, it was all about playing with cars.

Another sign that his taste in toys is changing: I asked him today what plate he wanted to eat off of at lunch and he chose Scooby Doo over Disney Cars. I think I cried a little. Cars - okay, anything with wheels - has been his thing since the day he took his first breath. He is starting to seem a little less interested in them, and while it's just that he's growing and finding new things to like, it saddens me somewhat. My little boy is growing up.

Anyway, back to writerly things, I have another two weeks to pull all the details together to hammer out this latest book project. After that, I'll be stuck in writing mode, and I intend to sit and do it in one stretch. This will be my last blast for the summer. I have to start getting things ready for back to school, which means I have to start picking up uniforms, and I need to get Mini over to the dentist, and the doctor for check ups, and what not.

I've come to dread this time of year. I always used to love summer, and I guess the freedom it represented, but it's always such a madhouse around here come late July through the end of August - especially now that the kids have to go back mid-month. Whatever happened to school starting in September?  They lengthened the school year, and still Mini can read better than a third of the kids that Oldest graduated with. Seriously.

But I suppose it does not good to bemoan what I can't change. School will be starting up again soon, and I'd like to take a trip to the gulf before the summer is out, but I'm not sure we can swing it this year. Hubby has already missed so much work to go to D.C., and I really don't want to push it. Still, I'd love to take a little trip down to Grand Isle, if the universe is willing.

That's all for now. I imagine Oldest will be calling me to come pick him up soon. Until then, I'm going to go fall across the couch with Mini and read for a bit. Hopefully I won't fall asleep!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dreaming of Reading

I fell asleep on the couch early, early this morning while reading about female archetypes, and actually dreamed I was wide awake and lying there reading. I could hear the TV in the dream and everything.  Hubby woke me up around 4 a.m., and I realized I'd dropped the book on my face. Comfortable, no? I guess I decided to learn through dreams and osmosis, or something like that.

Anyway, I'm still reading through 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I'm on page...193. This is definitely the best of the archetype books I've read so far. It's well thought out, and explains more than the other books I've purchased. It shows the positive and negative sides of each character archetype, and different ways they could be paired with other archetypes to create drama and conflict. There is also a very helpful section on secondary character types, and when I was flipping through the book, I noticed there are worksheets for journey mapping  in the appendix. 

On to writerly things, I'm still working on the Shivers story. I suppose I should put up a word range counter or something, but they are always so damn huge and ugly I hate to add one. So text updates will have to do for now. I wrote for a little while yesterday, then stopped to do a bit of research on Shamanism. Interesting stuff. I also talked to my editor, and let her know that I'd have this book to her sometime at the end of summer. She's so busy, I doubt she'll even think about it, bless her heart. At any rate, I've hitting a comfortable stride with it, and plan to spend a few days next week scene planning for the midpoint of the book. It's the best way to avoid the dreaded sagging middle.  

I found an interesting article through one of my writing groups. Cozy mystery author Ellery Adams has posted a financial breakdown on what she makes for her titles. The article is on the BookEnds agency blog. These figures seem very reasonable to me - attainable for those who put their mind to it. 

Author Maya Banks recently posted her financials also. Her numbers are simply amazing, and I don't doubt there are other authors making those numbers, too. I know two people right off hand who are making similar numbers regularly. And yes, they are e-published authors. One is an ex-traditionally published author that went entirely self published when her publishing company began to have troubles. The other started out self e-published. However, that said, I want to make a note before sharing that link about Maya's figures - Your results will vary. I don't think most of us will see those kind of out-of-the-parks numbers, especially without a sizable back list, but I won't deny that anything is possible in this shifting market. New and/or unpublished authors looking to make a quick, easy ton of money just because they e-publish or self e-publish a book should be aware those numbers aren't the norm. That said, you can read about Ms. Banks' financials here

I'm out of Diet Dr. Pepper, so I guess that means its time to end this blog post. I need to get at least 1k written today, and I plan to finish reading that archetype book this afternoon. By the way, I still need to finish reading The Fire in Fiction. (Got side tracked with the archetypes book!) I'll post my thoughts about Fire in Fiction once I've read the book cover to cover. Over and out!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grasshoppers and Master Characters

Is it really Friday?  I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I went most of today thinking it's Thursday. Not sure how that happened. The day got off to a weird start anyway. I sat down at my desk with my first cup of coffee, and when I looked up over my computer monitor, there was a moving shadow behind the curtain. A buggy shadow. I thought for sure it was a wasp.  

I'm terrified of wasps, so I slowly left my office for the can of wasp spray I keep on top of the fridge for paranoid emergencies such as this. I came back into the office, used the end of a pencil to pull back the edge of the curtain and the wasp leaped to top of the curtain, and began rubbing it's back legs together. Yeah. Okay. That's when I realized it was a grasshopper, not a wasp. 

I had no qualms about letting a grasshopper hang out with me, so I put the wasp spray back on top of the fridge and sat down with my coffee. Two seconds later, the grasshopper dive-bombed me. I assure you, harmless insect or not, this was not funny. I honestly think he was aiming for my coffee cup. It's a miracle I didn't end up wearing my coffee instead of drinking it.

Even so, I hoped the grasshopper might be a good omen, so I did a quick search to see if that might be the case. As it turns out, he is!  I'm certainly not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. ;o)

I kicked off the actual writing of the erotic horror story today, and worked on that til lunch time. Right as I was making lunch my godfather arrived. He'd come over to visit, and since we had nothing better to do, I took him out to see the fig tree. He's all about that kind of stuff. He picked a bunch of figs to take home, and we chatted for a while. Mini came outside and ended up chasing Petunia and Oldest Kippy cat around.

Not long after godfather left, my dad called. We chatted for a long time on the phone. Just fun stuff. A good conversation all around. I'm gonna drive over there and pay a visit this to the parentals tomorrow. I planned to do that anyway, but now it's kind of a must, since Sassie Lassie chewed a hole in my favorite maple leaf quilt. I discovered the hole this morning while making the bed and nearly had a conniption fit. I'm going to see if my dear ol' mommy can patch the quilt for me. I can spare several layers of dog hide and fur if need be.

Once everything settled down after godfather, then dad, and eventually lunch, I sat down to do a bit of research online and realized the internet was down. Le sigh. I gave up trying to work, and took a few writer craft books to the couch to read instead.

I read several sections from 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, and found the section on secondary characters very interesting. I can't wait to try some of the techniques in that section alone. I've been focusing a lot of characterization and emotion in fiction lately, rather than plot. Basically, I'm starting over with the learning process, just from a different level. I guess it's true what the experts say: we never stop learning.

Now that I'm back online, I better get my researching done since I never know when the internet fairy is gonna start messing with my net connection again. Usually she waits until the last possible moment, but I think she's been kinda bored lately. I better not press my luck.That said, I hope you have a relaxing weekend.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Something, Created

Thunderstorms rolled through early this morning, and it rained just long enough to make the grass perky and the rest of the day hot as blue blazes. A lot of little piddling things went wrong all afternoon, just enough to color the day as a total annoying loss. Hubby dented the hood of his Jeep not long after he made it home from work. Yes, the Jeep was parked, and to top it off, we are paying the fucker off next week. That sort of thing. It's enough to make me want to break out the voodoo doll...

I spent much of the day working on the erotic horror story. My characters are evolving, and I'm pleased with the direction the story itself is taking. Last night I began adding a few scenes to the plot structure, just playing around with possibilities. Slowly but surely, it's growing.

This evening, while listening to the Zoe Moon Astrology show, I dropped by Samhain Publishing and noticed the guidelines for their new horror line have been posted here:  I believe the first horror books go live in October, so if you're looking to break in with a horror book, get your manuscripts together and submit something. Also, don't forget, Ellora's Cave has a brand spanking new erotic horror line also.  This is something for horror kids everywhere to be excited about. The genre hasn't had this many new publishing opportunities in a short eternity.

If you weren't on twitter a little earlier this evening, you missed a very cool #bookcountry chat. The topic was about creating likable characters. It's harder than it sounds! You can still view all the posts, if you go to and put #bookcountry in the search box. (For the folks new to twitter - yes, add the number symbol to your search!)  It should bring up everything that was posted with the chat hashtag.

Apparently there will be another Book Country on July 28th. The special guest is going to be @lilithsaintcrow , and the topic covered will be about writers blogs/websites - what works and what doesn't. Sounds like it'll be worth a look!

Now...onto more pressing events. I have to go do the dishes and laundry. What fun! Any volunteers to help? *crickets* Yeah, I thought so. ~_^

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Horror Line Coming to Samhain

ARG. I feel yukky. Too little sleep. Too much caffeine. Yeah, yeah...story of my life. It's not stopping me from working on my erotic horror story so I guess I shouldn't complain. The story is coming along, finding its way. I'm doing the research for my settings and going over my themes, characters, plot, plot points...basically doing a run down of every "story prep" sheet I have in the new book file on my desktop. I need a new story binder to hold all these loose pages, but every time I make my way to the store I seem to forget that one little thing - the darn binder.

Anyway, I dropped by Cindi Myer's Market News and saw that she has the Samhain Publishing spotlight from this year's RWA conference up on her blog. I'm thrilled to see Samhain will be opening a horror line come October of this year. I'm going to take a wild guess here... I imagine Don D'Auria, former editor at Dorchester/Leisure (who is now part of  the Samhain editorial staff), will likely be over this horror line. Exciting stuff! I have no idea if he's already taking submissions, so I'll be looking for more news on that.

I've also started reading The Fire in Fiction, by Donald Maass. So far, this book is way better than the Writing the Breakout Novel. Within the first few pages, I've jotted all these little notes on my wip. Good stuff. I'll be sure to post more about the book once I've made it to the back cover. That's all for now. Happy dreams!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Project Underway

Hubby made it back home from his trip to DC, so home feels a lot more "normal" today. Or about as normal as it gets for us, anyway. He's off taking care of business-y things right now, and I'm scarfing down the last piece of left over pizza from yesterday while trying to pull together the pieces of this erotic horror book.

I was up until about 3 am writing the synopsis, so that's out of the way. It also means I officially have a new project underway. The synopsis flows from beginning to end, but I'm still pre-writing - filling in the gaps and tacking on details. I have a few starter chapters written, but I want to go back and fill out character sheets before taking the story any further. There's a huge psychological undertone to this piece. Much more so than anything else I've written, so I'm gonna have to chart the character growth carefully. All that aside, once I get all the scenes straight and the plot together, I'm gonna hit this story hard. Ideally, I hope to have this one in similar shape as Wicked Obsession when I started writing it - all the details jotted down so all I had to do was write the book. That seemed like a lot of work at the start, but it was a life saver in the long run. Especially on such a short deadline.

On to books and readerly stuff... Yes, yes, I know I need to update my Goodreads, so spank me already. I'll get around to it eventually. As far as fiction goes, I've been reading a lot of Harlequins lately.  On my TBR stack this week I have Helen Bianchin's Alessandro's Prize up next and ready to go. I read the blurb in the store and I loved the premise. This isn't one of those stories with the alpha hero pushing the heroine away as he's romancing her. This guy is pursuing the heroine because he's attracted to her. Not because he hopes to hurt her family, or take their secret baby away from her. This book sounds like a very different take on the standard fare. I look forward to reading it. Also on this week's reading list: Just Let Go... by Kathleen O'Reilly - a sexy cowboy book from the Blaze line.

I finished reading The Art of War For Writers (James Scott Bell) recently and rate that book as a must have for writers. The tactics and strategy section is loaded with good advice, much of it you don't find it other writing guides. That one is now in the keeper basket by my desk. Regarding non-fiction, I've moved on to The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass.

I've already read Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass, and while it was informative, I'm hoping to get more out of The Fire in Fiction. Out of all the writing books out there The Fire in Fiction has probably been the second most recommended book after Deb Dixon's GMC. I guess I'll find out how helpful it is shortly.

That's all for now. It's almost 11 o'clock, and I'll be stuck making lunch soon, so I better get back to work on this Shivers story while the getting's good.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Unmotivation

It's definitely Monday. I woke up totally unmotivated. I forced myself to get out of bed, and then had to force myself to write. I knocked down 1k earlier today, but after that I'd reached my limit and took off to the living room to read for a bit. At least I managed to get a few words on paper. That's what matters.

An hour or so ago, Hubby called to let me know his flight is delayed out of Houston. Boo. Hiss. If push comes to shove, he can always stay with my family over there. Still, I'm ready for the big guy to be home. I get the vibe he's ready to be here, too. The entire ordeal with DC has been mentally and emotionally draining for all of us. And think - just when you're ready to be home, there's nothing like being stuck at the Houston airport for tons of fun, right?

Too, Mini has been asking for his dad, and I keep telling him it won't be much longer now. It's hard for the lil bear to be patient, though. To him it feels like his dad has been gone forever, when it's only been a few days. In about an hour, I'll go start working on supper. I'm gonna call him into the kitchen to help. He can help me put the beef steaks in the oven and all that jazz. It will keep him occupied until the man makes it home.

Speaking of Mini, he bit into a burrito last night and it loosened his front tooth the rest of the way. That tooth was barely hanging in there to start, after the burrito incident that sucker was hanging on by a spider's thread. He was talking funny afterward; that tooth was so loose and dangly. He wouldn't pull it though. It bled a bit, and that had him freaked out and whiny, and declaring he would never, ever be able to eat again. You know, kid drama. I worried he'd swallow the darn thing in his sleep. 

This morning he marched into my office displaying his freshly plucked tooth. It tickled me to pieces the way he was so proud of himself. What a guy. I hugged him big, told him we'd wrap it up for the tooth fairy tonight. Now, he's a complete snaggler. His two front teeth are missing. I need to break out the camera and take some pics to commemorate this milestone. It's part of my mom duty, I think. ;o)

And that's a wrap. The big news today is laundry. I'm trying to get it all washed and put away before Hubby brings his bags home. Tonight I'll probably try to get in another 1k. It all depends. We'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Another Lazy Sunday

What a lazy Sunday. You won't hear me complain at all about that. Last night, I stayed up late doing tarot readings with Cassie at the Midnight Moon Cafe in Awen. I did seven or eight readings, so that's a pretty good amount, I think.

I got up around nine this morning and talked to hubby on the phone. He's still in DC, though he will be on his way home tomorrow. He should be in late that afternoon, and we're all ready to see him. Mini has asked for his dad several times, and I've distracted him with movie marathons, and a few rounds of Trouble and Hi Ho Cherry-oh.

Today I read for a little while, napped on the couch, and wrote a few pages on the Shivers story. I pretty much know the direction I want to go with the plot now. I'm going to sit down and work through some scene pages later tonight, just kind of make a rough plot outline to work from. Having a sketch of the story that goes from point A to point Z will help me make sure I don't leave out anything interesting or important.

Oh! Early this morning, right before bed, I had this epiphany about the YA story I've been waffling over. It happened very out of the blue. I ran and grabbed a note pad and jotted down a ton of notes. Very interesting stuff. While I don't think the book is ready to be re-written yet, I can see more fascinating story in the stone. So, as it grows, I think it gets a little stronger.

So, I currently have three stories on the table right now. I guess I'll check them off the list as I go. That's all for now. Mini's in the hallway dancing to get my attention. I better go tickle the stuffin's out of him before it's time to cook supper. 

Friday, July 08, 2011

Books and Pancakes

I've been lingering around the house most of today, listening for the phone. Hubby has called twice from Charlotte, and tells me his flight has been delayed because of storms. Poor guy. He's already stressed to the max, and I'm sure flight delays aren't helping him one bit.

I paid the bills earlier, and I have both boys home. Thankfully they've stayed in their respective corners. Mini and I made pancakes and played some Angry Birds, then I chatted on the phone with Mom for a while. I think Oldest is on Guild Wars or something. I've been surfing the net, and whittling away at my TBR stack. I'm almost finished with The Art of War For Writers, by James Scott Bell. I'm also picking my way through a Harlequin American by author - Hm. I thought I had the book right here beside me.

I planned to post the title and author, but the book is buried somewhere under the clutter on my desk. Or maybe it's on my printer. Okay, maybe not. Well, foo. After looking around, I have no idea where I put that book. Yes, I'm one of those crazy people walking around the house reading, stubbing toes on the furniture and all that, but whatev. If I wasn't a missing book, it would probably be my flip flops or my glasses, so we won't count this as a legitimate incident.  I'll justhave to add the title and author when I find the book again.

Moving along... Tomorrow I have to go buy groceries and put some gas in my car. I'm running on fumes, and there's nothing left in the pantry but pet food and a couple o' box of macaroni and cheese. Yay. I'm very sad to be missing my local chapter (RWA) meeting this weekend, but it can't be helped. I'm going to miss seeing everyone. Boo. I guess I'll have to find something else writerly to do to fill my time. At any rate, that's all for now. I hope you all have happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Making Room on the Keeper Shelf

Sorry there hasn't been as much blogging this week. Honestly, I've been kind of tired and burned out. Hubby is heading out to Washington DC to see his dad this weekend, and this will probably be the last time he gets to see him. It's been very emotional at home, and tough on every front.

I'm in the middle of my book for the Shivers line, but I had to stop for a breather. It's hard to concentrate and be creative with so much home stuff going on. Instead of trying to push creatively when I'm just too stressed out to write, I've been on a mission to learn more about layering conflict and building realistic character goals.

Instead of writing, I've been reading a lot lately. Fiction, of course. Lately I've picked up a couple of Harlequins across different lines, and a couple of erotic romance e-books from different places around the net. I've also been reading a lot of non-fiction.

For the non-fiction, I very recently read Kate Walker's 12 Points Guide to Writing Romance, which has probably the clearest, no nonsense explanation of layering conflict out there. She also explains the difference between types of conflict very well. I learned a lot just from the section on conflict. That said, I highly recommend the 12 Points Guide. I also recently read The Complete Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes by Tami Cowden. That's a very good book, too. Both of these are destined for my keeper shelf.

I'm currently reading The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. I haven't gotten far enough into it to say yay or nay, but it came highly recommended, and I like the short, to the punch sections. I may have to come back and post more about that one later. Another one from the TBR stack is Fiction First Aid, by Raymond Obstfeld. I haven't had a chance to flip through that one yet, but it's next up after "Art of War".

So that's the deal. I'm reading and plotting, and trying to keep the creative fires burning. Hm. I'm thinking the creative fires could probably be helped along by a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Maybe I should confer with Mini about that.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy July 4th! We went over to my mom's for a BBQ earlier today. We ate, visited, and Mini played in the sprinklers. It was relaxing and easy going. I love days like that, and I think we all had a really good time. When the hubster, kids, and I came back home, I tried to take a nap, but my allergies are getting to me. Whenever I stretch out, my nose goes all stuffy, so I gave up on that and settled in to read for a bit.

Toward the afternoon, I have to start working on the laundry. Boo. Hiss. It's been in the laundry bin for two days now, so I imagine when I dump it out for sorting, it will be like a miniature Devil's Tower in the hallway. I really wish there was a Jetson-like invention to take care of the laundry for me.

Wouldn't it be nice to just toss your clothes onto a conveyor belt and they run through the wash and dry cycle? Then you could watch them come out the other side either folded, or hanging directly in the closet?

Yep. Appliance designers should get right on that. ;o)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Website Update

Woot!  My website has a new look. I'm in the process of updating it, and getting all the links together. Moving all that content turned out to be a bigger job than I remember, even though the interface to the new site is much easier to use. So, if you pop over to expect to find a few things still in need of tweaking. I need to add my free reads, and link everything up properly. Never fear. I'm working on it.

Speaking of free reads, if you visit my Smashwords page, you'll notice My Zombie Ex-Boyfriend is down. I got an email yesterday that it needs to be reformatted so it can be converted to epub, so I unpublished it while I study the formatting guide - again. What a complicated pain in the ass. Of course, I'm a bit ham-fisted with tech stuff. I know there are folks who can format documents in their sleep. Oh how I wish...but no. Not my specialty.

I also need to format At the Edge of Twilight (from In the Gloaming anthology) as well as The Butterfly King, and What She Doesn't Know, so I can get them up on Smashwords and Amazon but I haven't had the time yet. Sometime this month, I'm going to set aside a time block to get it done and out of my hair.

The thing with My Zombie Ex-Boyfriend, it's one of those short stories people either really love, or totally hate, so I was debating whether to bother adding it back up there. Yeah, I know you can't please everyone all the time, but I'm neurotic like that. Truth told, I'd hate to have my readers go looking for it on a torrent site in a fit of desperation, and risk infecting their computers. So I'll probably do a dust and polish, then pop it back up there in a few weeks. Or maybe I should hold off until I can add in what was supposed to be the 2nd half of it - I'd intended to do it as a separate download, but what the heck?  I guess that's something to waffle over and add to my "possibly to-do" list.

On the writing front, I'm about 1/2 way through the plotting/pre-writing phase of this new story for EC. I have two minor world building kinks to work out, and I need to iron out all the fine details for the ending, then I should be ready to sit down and write this puppy from start to finish.

Once this story is out of the way, I'm going to wholeheartedly tackle this YA piece that I've had a few requests for. I've had to spend some time acquainting - or rather, reacquainting - myself with the genre. The other night on twitter, @literaticat tweeted a link to a post on her blog about the ideal word counts for YA and MG stories. That's a really good craft post, and you can find it here: WordCount Dracula. It's worth a look.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Friday, July 01, 2011

RWA Wrap Up

The RWA National Conference is winding down. The awards ceremony is going on, and I'm watching the tweets while working on this latest story for EC. I tell you, even though I stayed home and watched the entire shebang on twitter, I feel like I was there in spirit. I met some cool folks, and I learned a ton. Big thanks to all the people who tweeted, and to the folks who allowed live streaming. I attended everything I had access to. I appreciate you!

I've retweeted a ton of awesome information from the conference if you care to view it through my twitter feed. Just go to my profile on twitter, and scroll through everything.

I managed to pick up some info on EC as well. Stuff that wasn't tweeted, but that I found very important. I <3 Ellora's Cave books, and hope to publish through there for a long time to come. I was very jazzed to learn they're still developing their Shivers and Kink line - big hurray!  They are also still working to develop the Branded line, which is interesting, but I don't know a whole bunch about it.

Last night while doing a google search for editors, I found out that Don D'Auria has moved to Samhain Publishing. I'm thrilled this guy is still around. He worked as a/the horror editor for Dorchester before they changed their business model and all the cuts and changes and hocus pocus started. I hoped he would show up some where else, and I'm glad he's found a new post. I hope this means that Samhain will be putting out more horror titles?  Anyone got info on that?

I'm sad nationals is almost over. I've been caught up in the excitement since I started reading about friends and editors packing for the trip. I tell myself one of these days I'll have the pleasure of attending. Until then, I'll live vicariously through everyone else. ;o)

Big congrats to all the RITA and Golden Heart winners!