My writing friend, fellow Pennwriter and who-i-wanna-be someday, medical thriller writer CJ Lyons has a new gadget for her writer's page. Can't wait till I'm big enough to get one too!!
Check it out! A widget of my own!
If you haven't read CJ's books, I highly recommend them. She has really mastered the art of creating characters you can care about and cheer for, flaws and all, and blending that with a great ticking-bomb kind of plotline. She's also a featured author at the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot page, CJ's post .
My writing friend, fellow Pennwriter and who-i-wanna-be someday, medical thriller writer CJ Lyons has a new gadget for her writer's page. Can't wait till I'm big enough to get one too!!
I've got a guest post up at the web home of romantic suspense writer Joan Swan. She's written a wonderful paranormal romance series coming out from Kensington Brava that I can't wait to read :) Come by and see if I'm working for love or money!
Do you love books? How about an autographed copy of Neil Gaiman or Carol Berg or Harlan Ellison? Or even an autographed copy of The Elf Queen? Pat Rothfuss, author of The Name of the Wind, is giving these and hundreds more away as part of his Worldbuilders fundraiser for Heifers International. For every $10 you donate, you could win one of these or many others, making your own world and the world at large a better place. Christmas is coming--give the gift of a very special autographed book to someone you love!
All right, I am trying to be calm, but I have to admit I'm pretty thrilled. The Wild Rose Press has had one of my manuscripts for several months, a romantic suspense sort of tale about a woman who runs a brothel in southern New Mexico and the Doctor without Borders who escapes from a vengeful Mexican drug cartel by hiding in her place. How could they not fall in love??
Last night, I received from them an offer to contract the story!
As you might imagine, I accepted. :)
Stay tuned for more details as I have them, but I'm guessing this will be a 2011 e-release. Ladies and gentlemen, start your Kindles!
Today I'm guest blogging over at the web home of paranormal romance author Joan Swan. She and I were part of the fantastic Immersion Master Class in Colorado last month-- she has the first book of the Phoenix Rising series coming out in 2012 from Kensington Brava, and I've got to tell you, after she shared the pieces of writing she brought to the class, I'm going to be one of the first in line for these. With Heroes-type abilities treated as a threat by the government, these protagonists will surely find themselves in grave danger, but survive to live and love again. Stop by and check her out!
Pieces are falling into place.
This week I'm spending with a bunch of talented women at Margie Lawson's Master Immersion Program, learning to empower and expand our writing. After a few days adjusting to the different in altitude (up here, it's about 9000 feet!), I've been able to settle in and learn.
Still doing some networking with other authors and posting their work too on the Clan Elves site, sharing their good advice with all our readers.
Finally today, I found out I've had a travel article on traveling with kids in Pittsburgh published at AOL.com. Come check it out!
I can't believe it's been a month since I posted! So much to do for the book that's just come out, and the sequel I've signed a contract for, due to the editor by October. I'm setting up blog tours, offering to trade blog posts with other authors, mailing out requests for book events, and networking like crazy.
On top of that, I've now signed a contract for book #3, AND I have gotten/accepted an offer on Second Chances, my novel about a 40-something lawyer who loses her job because of the economy and has to learn to start over again, which she does with the help of a 30-year-old Iraq War veteran with cancer. The story's set in Pittsburgh, and is very close to my heart, so I'm so glad it will have a home soon.
I've scored an intern from the local business school to help develop a marketing plan and keep the promotion running. Now that there are more books coming, we need to roll!
Today I'm guest blogging at the Savvy Authors site, which I really like for what it has to offer writers. Come by and say hello!
Come by their new home on the Web at http://www.clanelvesofthebitterroot.com/ and find out where all the latest book signings, etc. are going to take place. Suggest a place for a book signing, if you'd like to meet Lyndi Alexander in person. :)
Book two is well into existence, and the political intrigue and schemes just don't stop. Clearly elves have associated with humans for much too long, if they've picked up all our bad habits. Or is it the other way around?
Thanks to my newspaper-days writer friend Hank Henley for this guest post. He's hot in process on his own novels, and I can't wait to read the college-based murder mysteries! For more of his wit and wisdom during his Best Year Ever and future tales of Constantinople, visit him at www.hankhenley.com
You learn something new every day.
I don't think the old platitude is true--in fact I'm convinced it's just crap. There have been plenty of days in my half century on this earth where where I'm certain I was just taking up space and didn't accomplish or learn a single damned thing. And I personally know a bunch a people who haven't learned or done one useful thing in decades.
Learn something new every day? Give me a break.
Last weekend I made up for a bunch of the wasted days and wasted nights of my life when I attended the Alabama Writers' Conclave. Over three days I filled up a fresh composition book with all the new things I was learning. A lot of the things I learned were kind of writery, so you probably wouldn't be interested in hearing about them, Discerning Reader.
But four of the lessons learned over the weekend were so powerful I had to add them to my personal Rulebook of Life. These four discovered precepts belong in the "general societal hazards" chapter of the rulebook, and I've decided to share them with you today as a public service to all mankind. Now pay attention and commit these four rules to memory.
Are you ready?
1. Never hand a poet a microphone.
2. If you are in a room containing a poet and a microphone, the two will inevitably find each other over the course of the evening.
3. If you are trapped in a room containing both an aggregation (or barista, see post above) of poets and a microphone, you will soon experience both disorientation and discomfort. This is also inevitable.
4. The only thing worse than a poet with a microphone is a drunk poet with a microphone.
A significant minority of the people attending the writers' conference over the weekend were poets.
I've always been fascinated by poets. I'm challenged by their intellect and mastery of the English language. I'm in awe of their talent--at their ability to weave words in a way that stirs and illuminates the soul. I admire the civility and sincerity I've observed in every poet I've ever met.
Mostly I'm amazed these people are so dedicated to creating things so beautiful yet so undesired.
Most people today don't seem to care about poetry, and, other than in Hallmark greeting cards, you don't find a lot of it out there in everyday life. A reality show about trampy housewives can get boffo ratings, but of the hundreds of cable channels on my television, I can't think of a single place where poets and poetry are celebrated, featured and discussed.
Poets know the world ignores them, but they pursue their craft anyway, laboring in determined obscurity to create masterful works of art that have no hope of ever being seen by more than a handful of people.
To be a poet you've got to have a day job. Even if your self-identity is "poet," you need to find some other way to pay the bills. Poet is not a viable career path. A lot of poets are (or were) English teachers, which is about the closest one can come to being a poet full time.
Can you name the Poet Laureate of the United States? Me either. But I can now name the Poet Laureate of Alabama--a charming, energetic, whip-smart and frighteningly talented woman named Sue Brannan Walker. I met her over the weekend. In a room. With a microphone. They found each other. It was inevitable.
Even Dr. Walker has a day job to support her compulsion to write and disseminate poetry; she's a professor at the University of South Alabama.
I think you must be born with some sort of practicality gene missing in order to become a poet, and Dr. Walker embodies that spirit. When the microphone found her on Friday, of course she shared a few of her own poems. Poets are powerless to stop themselves from reading their own work. Between poems she spoke about an initiative she's leading to teach the homeless people of Mobile to write poetry. Everyone in the room, including me, heartily applauded the sentiment, positive energy and pure motivations behind this cause, but was I the only one to wonder if it is wise to expend resources and energy teaching unemployed people the single least financially useful skill on earth?
They may be accustomed to a world that ignores them, but poets crave affirmation and recognition too; so when the "open mic" times came after the day's formal activities were completed, the poets were irresistibly drawn, like flies to honey, to fill the available slots and share their work with an actual willing audience.
The open mic times were a sort of karaoke for writers. Anyone who wished to read from their works had five minutes and the microphone. A handful of prose authors and essayists read, but the vast majority of the presenters on both nights were poets.
Most of the poetry I heard was very good and crafted from words strung together like bright beads around a pretty woman's neck. Hearing those poems reminded me how much I like poetry when I accidentally bump into it. Some of the poetry I heard over the weekend was incomprehensible and quickly forgotten but I clapped for every single reader anyway.
Two of the poets were tipsy. Liquored up poets don't become aggressive or mean like drunks at a biker bar, but their condition does compel them to deliver rambling introductions to each poem they read and leads to the unfortunate decision to read poetry composed moments before on the back of cocktail napkins. When a poet introduces her work with the words "this is going to be a little rough," you can be sure a few incoherent moments are just ahead.
In case any poets stumble across these words, I'm not mocking you. Okay, I am mocking you--a little--but only because I love you and admire you for possessing a talent and a way of seeing and sharing your world that is absent in me.
The world may not respect them, but the world needs poets more than it could ever know. I am comforted they are out there hiding in plain sight among us and carefully tending and protecting words like gibbously on behalf of the rest of us. You never know when we'll need those words back.
Here's to poets. I love you all. Now will someone please switch off the microphone?
Check out my post, published yesterday, on a writers' site voted one of the top 101 for writers in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Thanks, Therese and Kathleen! I'm sorry I didn't make your cast of wonderful characters, but I've got other writing to do these days. :)
Getting it Down: Crappy First Drafts at Writer Unboxed
All my life, I've wanted to be a novelist. From the time I sat in the window seat of an Indiana farmhouse and wrote a blow by blow description of my cat chasing down and eating a mouse, other people have commented on my work and how they liked it.
In a few short months, I'll be a novelist. Not a newspaper reporter; that I did in the 1980s in south Florida. I interviewed governors, senators, drug dealers and won awards for my series a Day in the Life. In 1998, I had a book on divorce published called 101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce, a book with thought-provoking statements about mental health and wellness during the process. I didn't know very much about what an author was expected to do to promote a book in those days, though I sent out copies and did some radio interviews.
Since then, I've had many other pieces published, online and off, newspapers, magazines, even two stories in the Cup of Comfort Volumes for Divorced Women and Adoptive Families. Most of those stories promoted themselves for as far as they went. I didn't have to do much.
But I've come to the conclusion that after twenty years of really pushing at it, trying to score that agent and hit that big sale just isn't going to happen for me at this time. I want people to read my writing. I could just post it all here. But realistically, I'd like to make some money off it too.
In looking at small press, I've met several editors who deal right with the authors, no go-between needed, and even discouraged! Marketing support, suggestions for promotion are shared, and we get the chance to one-on-one with people who share our enthusiasm. It's wonderful. It's creative. It's....time consuming....
At the same time, consider, that at this moment I have five manuscripts IN THE HANDS of an editor.
Not lying around some agent's slush pile. Not waiting for some spring intern to find that I have no references to fashionable shoes in chapter three, so the entire book should be tossed. Not waiting for the interminable back and forth of mail exchanges. I am blessed and fortunate, and by using this, my best shot at contact with a live person, I have in fact been offered and signed a contract for my first novel. I have two unique promotion ideas that we'll be fleshing out as we're closer to the book release in September, in addition to all the items the publisher has already created.
It's happening. Along with her request for the rest of the series to be known as The Clan Elves of the Bitterroot. But I'm still trying to connect with other editors, find homes for my other "children." It's happening. I have no time to sleep any more. *L* But maybe I'll catch up on that later, between stops in the book tour, hmm?
“Do or do not... there is no try.”
Yoda's words don't only apply to the use of the Force.
Perennially, one of my writing groups, Pennwriters, debates between those who have been published traditionally and those who aren’t about which writers “should” do.
The old guard insists that if you want to write novels you must get them to one of the five big houses, get the publicity machine and promotion. Of course this means you have to get an agent.
If you’re a writer who has tried to do either, chances are 99 times out of a hundred, it’s just not happening.
The old guard then cites the urban legends of authors who just kept sending out until sure as heck, that 101st letter did it. And maybe they did. More power to them.
Over the last year, I’ve read a lot about the state of publishing, and indeed about the world of communication in general. Time Magazine did a whole series of articles about publication in the digital age, and their conclusion is that the traditional routes are no longer exclusive.
Lev Grossman’s article said “Publishers Weekly (PW) predicts that 2009 would be ‘the worst year for publishing in decades.’ A lot of headlines and blogs to the contrary, publishing isn’t dying. But it is evolving, and so radically that we may hardly recognize it when it’s done.”
At the same time, newspapers are closing their doors, magazine and book publishers alike laying off staff, and paying markets, in the way we have always thought about them, are drying up.
Also at the same time, the whole concept of access to the masses has changed. Once upon a time, you needed to be cherished by Harlequin or Doubleday to even have your book see the light of day, unless you wanted to type out versions on your old Royal typewriter, one at a time, to circulate them. The Internet has changed that game.
Now authors have options. They can self-publish through Lulu.com or iUniverse, or epublishers which pay a royalty for books available digitally, or in print books. As I pointed out recently on my writer’s blog:
If I were Stephen King, my books would be available online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, at the publisher's website, and all the other ordering sites.I'm not Stephen King. But when The Elf Queen comes out this fall, you, the reader, will be able to order it online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, at the publisher's website, and all the other ordering sites.You will be able to order it in hardback, paperback or for your favorite e-reader like the Kindle, Sony, Ipad and more. So what's the difference to the average reader?
Writers don’t need the fancy publicity tour, either. Authors like CJ Lyons and Christina Katz, aka Writer Mama, tour online, guest blogging in as many places as they can. Cost? Your time. The Internet has millions of outlets to reach the people who want your work.
Many professional artists are choosing non-traditional routes to promote work they want to do, and it’s starting to make headlines. Musician Jill Sobule found the traditional music business wasn’t working for her–and didn’t get money in her hands– so her latest album was funded entirely by donations from fans and giveaways. Screenwriters like Joss Whedon are thinking outside the box with projects like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, which first appeared on the Internet for free, but afterward started collecting revenues.
Communication venues like Twitter bring the celebrity even closer to fans, and news you want to share with many more people. Email and forums bring artists directly to their public, for the kind of one-on-one connection that sells readers, just as it sold Barack Obama to the American people at election time.
So we can all dream about that blockbuster sale, movie rights and New York Times listing right out of the gate. We can even work at it around busy lives of work, parenting and other distractions for forty years. Maybe some of us will get it.
But in the meantime, don’t you have something to say? Don’t we write so others can read? What’s the sense of having fifteen polished manuscripts in a drawer collecting dust? Maybe instead we should be out there exploring the new digital publishing world, meeting our readers, and sharing what we have to offer.
Welcome to my fellow CoyoteCon attendees! It's my privilege to share this with you, and I hope you come back again soon. :)
One thing that impresses me about any celebrity is when they use their fame for good causes. Paul Newman sold salad dressing, George Clooney and Bono speak out against poor conditions in third world countries, and Bill and Melinda Gates pledge their money to help kids in Africa. This month, best-selling author Brenda Novak sponsors an online auction to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
Okay, so the gesture isn't entirely unselfish, because Brenda's youngest son has diabetes. But who better to be aware of what families go through when their children are ill with this disease? Brenda has enlisted other writers, artists, jewelry makers and web designers to present a virtual cornucopia of offerings, some sincerely one-of-a-kind, to entice writers, readers and anyone you know.
You don't have to be a famous author to bid on these items, which include gift baskets, book collections by many of your favorite authors, some autographed, vintage jewelry and collectible dolls. Writers can choose from a whole list of reviews of their material by editors and agents from across the country as well as promotional packets for their works. (You can bet I'm bidding on a video for the new Elf Queen site!)
You can win a prize--just for entering a bid! Here's Brenda's award scheme for this year:
Week 1: An iPad, an autographed advanced reading copy of my new novel, WHITE HEAT, which won’t be available at stores until July 27th, and a VIP invitation to me and MaryJanice Davidson’s cyber launch party on Thursday, August 5 at 8:00 p.m.
Week 2: A Nook and $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
Week 3: $100 Gift Certificate to Borders, $200 Gift Certificate to Macy's and $100 Gift Certificate to Olive Garden
Week 4: A FAN 2011 Convention Package. This includes the price of the convention, $200 in travel money and a two-night stay aboard the Delta King. What is FAN 2011? It's the annual reader celebration convention I throw with #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Christine Feehan. For more details about the one we just held, visit www.fanconvnetion.net.
There will also be DAILY DRAWING PRIZES. I’ll draw a name each day from those who have placed bids that particular day and send that person something wonderful. :)
How can you pass that up? The auction is simple. Go to BrendaNovak.com and click on the auction link. Be prepared to register and to register a credit/debit card, and then start browsing!
We all need to look out for one another as we pass through this world. All people are our sisters and our brothers, and we should pitch in to help those who need help. Join the world village and help children in need of a cure.
Our guests are authors, editors, publishers and other industry professionals who love to talk about, and be involved in, the making of books: cross-genre, historical, romance, horror, fantasy, and science fiction, and all the related media they generate.
If there is a place where discussions of humanity, inclusion, exclusion, diversity, ability, disability, othering, religion, irreligion, feminism, patriarchy, sexuality, colonialism and post-colonial ideas also belong, it is with us. We should always be able to see what’s possible.
I've gotten quite a bit of curious questionry about my new publisher. Who is it? What do they pay? How do you get books? people ask. Good questions, but as Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest points out on a recent blog, perhaps irrelevant.
When I started working in publishing (1998), the epic dream of writers was to get their book published, have it win awards or hit the bestseller list, then allow that success (to) sustain a lifetime of writing more great books.
That is still the Big Dream.
Yet this feels more and more like an archaic dream—not because people will stop reading, or because the book form will disappear, but that this path:
(1) may close off entirely for new writers, depending on the future of traditional publishing
(2) may not present sufficient earnings (if it ever did!)
(3) envisions the book as the end result and ultimate achievement of a writer's effort.
What does this mean for me?
If I were Stephen King, my books would be available online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, at the publisher's website, and all the other ordering sites.
I'm not Stephen King. But when The Elf Queen comes out this fall, you, the reader, will be able to order it online at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, at the publisher's website, and all the other ordering sites.
You will be able to order it in hardback, paperback or for your favorite e-reader like the Kindle, Sony, Ipad and more.
So what's the difference to the average reader?
Sure, I won't get the end cap at the local big book store, and no one will take out an ad in the New York Times. But the book will be featured on my blog and probably a dozen others, hit the fantasy blog tours, be Tweeted around the 'Net, get a Facebook page and might reach the same number of people looking to read a fantasy book this weekend. At royalties between 10 and 25%, depending on the sale format.
After people read The Elf Queen, we've already got The Elf King in the planning stages to follow, the publisher and I. The third book in the series is more nebulous but on the table for discussion.
My book will be as available to anyone who wants to read it as any other author. I'll be as responsible for the success and sales as most authors today, as it takes someone of the cachet of Stephen King to have the publishers do the publicity for him. Most authors arrange their own tours, signings and promotional events, even when they're traditionally published.
I'm prepared for the work. And you bet I'm ready for the success.
Recently I expanded my writing goals in response to a couple of opportunities that cropped up, just to see what would happen.
Normally, I write novels. Period. I'm not great at poetry, even though it's a lot shorter, because I think it's so difficult. See here. I've written short stories from time to time, but I always feel like I have more to say than that. My main blog continues to say what I need to say, now more than two years in, and my articles and reviews at Firefox News are geared to Web reading.
But when our Pennwriters rep sent out a prompt from National Public Radio's Three-Minute Fiction, for Round Three, that lonesome newspaper lying on the table did suggest a story to me, and I put together the piece of flash fiction and sent it in.
About the same time, I ran across an invitation at Writer Unboxed for a writer who had not yet published a novel to become part of the group that creates the wonderful material on the blog.
I wasn't sure I was up to it, as the site was voted one of Writer’s Digest’s best 101 websites for writers in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The interviews were fabulous, the commentary from the other writers interesting and helpful. But...I gave it a shot.
I'm pleased to say that I was one of the top 14 semi-finalists out of 187 entrants, and as such, I will be entitled to publish a column with them each year, and perhaps more, if all goes well. Talk about Snoopy dances all around!
Add that excitement to the ongoing dialogues I'm having with editors and agents about my novel manuscripts, and I'm feeling an awful lot like a writer these days. How about you?
I think we're finally ready to go live here with this blog, now that the "business" is all caught up, so to speak. Blogger has some different features than Wordpress, and we've been able to pull together the widgets we need.
So sit back with a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy! Nice that you came by to visit.
In February, I found out I’d been given an award, over at the Polka Dot Banner –I’m a star author!! I'm also the featured author for the month of February, with a wonderful interview by Jane Nixon White.
This is very exciting, as it’s awarded for the books that I have posted there, including the Cup of Comfort books for Divorced Women and Adoptive Families, which each have a story of mine in them, and the divorce book I’ve written as well.
It also includes a special consideration for the fact that I support the PDB in its mission to promote writers, and acknowledgment that we all need to work together to make our careers successful. Whenever someone clicks on the PDB site, they have access to more than a hundred writers, where they can read blog posts full of great advice, search books, both fiction and non-fiction, and talk with authors on a very personal level.
It’s especially timely for me, as I have two manuscripts out for consideration with editors, one of whom has been very courteous and interested in my work, and I’m to the holding breath, biting nails stage. So please send some good wishes my way, and celebrate with me!