Friday, October 28, 2011

Finally Friday: VT

I'll be at my friend's cottage in VT for "Girl's Weekend," so I wont be online or answering emails.  I'll be back on Monday!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Author Net

Okay Folks, I've got a ton of cold medicine in my system, so I hope this makes sense... Here goes.

The author net.  There are a number of different definitions for this phrase.  Today the aspect of the author net that I want to bring particular attention to is the idea that authors have to be each other's best friends, fans, and partners.  Why?  Well, if we aren't there to catch each other when we fall down, then who is?

Like those crazy artists on television, authors are a special breed of human being.  While we are clearly functional in today's society, we're also a little like black sheep.  It's our job/hobby/passion to live with our heads stuck in another world, with our emotions wrapped up in the love life of an imaginary person, in constantly picking apart the world around us for that perfect explanation for what fifty people walking down a hall sounds like.  There's a slight disconnect (or over connect) between us and everyone else.  And the only people who really get us and the challenges we deal with are other authors.  We rely on each other for help both emotionally and creatively.

Not to mention professionally...

I know a lot of authors who are just out for themselves in this industry.  They wonder why they should bother giving advice to newbie authors when those very authors might become competition a few years down the line.  My answer is simple:  If you want to be able to do this in ten years then you should help others.  What goes around comes around, it's the karma circle.  If you don't help others they wont help you.  There are a lot of things competing for people's attention these days, it's easy to get lost in the fray.  The friendship and support of other authors, especially those who have already gone through the process is imperative. 

If you're a new author, you should be telling everyone to read the new and upcoming books of fellow authors.  If you're more experienced, get on a forum and help some newbies get over their issues with building better dialogue.  Everyone, get out there and make some author friends so that you don't have to bore your best friends from high school with five hours of obsessing over whether your MC should be gay or straight.  With any karmic luck, someone will do the same for you!

Write Well Wednesday: Monastic

EEP!  I completely flaked out yesterday!  Sorry about that, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Here's yesterday's post.  Today's will be up in a few hours.


Today's word reminds me of my life as a writer.  I haven't taken a vow of spirituality or anything, but in some ways I feel like dedicating myself to a book is like taking on a new religion.  The characters are my gods, the world is my temple, and I submerse myself in it and think about it non-stop until my piece is completed.  Very often I become like this word, shutting myself away from the outside world so that I can dedicate myself to the novel.  Enjoy today's word!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Armor

Since I just got another rejection from a big NY house this past week, I thought it prudent to address the author's need for armor in their toolbox.  Depending on what kind of writer you are and where you want to take your book, you're going to need to make sure you've got a good set of emotional armor.

If you're like me and your dream is to become a New York or USA Today Bestselling author, then 9 out of 10 say go the conventional way through New York.

First, you're going to deal with having to go through numerous edits with beta readers before you even think of pitching an agent.  Sometimes this is the most difficult part for a writer: taking that primary step and letting someone else look at your baby.  Being as shy and self-conscious as I can be, this part was very difficult for me.  I kept wondering, "What if they don't like it?"  Of course, at 20 (when I started all of this) not liking my book translated to not liking me.  I was also terrified that I sucked and sucking at writing meant I couldn't be a writer.

I assume everyone has this mentality at first, but then you live, you learn, and since you're too big for Luvs, you build armor.  I almost cried the first time I got a manuscript back from a beta reader.  I had been intelligent in choosing my old roommate (she'd been an editor for her school paper and thus the toughest Grammar Nazi that I knew), but man, did it ever hurt.  I also had many arguments and discussions with people who told me certain aspects of the novel didn't make sense or were unclear or they didn't like a particular character.  I got defensive, told them they weren't supposed to understand or that was just how things were.  But then I realized that if I actually wanted to be published, I had to make some sacrifices for the sake of the reader. 

My biggest lesson as an author: If you're not willing to bend a little for your readers, your market, or the industry, then you aren't writing for other people, you are writing for yourself...And if it's just for you then why the heck are you torturing yourself with trying to get published?

Things got better after that.  It turned out that I didn't suck, I just needed to work on some things.  So, I did the best I could with my beta readers, compiled a list of agents, wrote a query, and started pitching.

And got rejected.  And rejected.  And rejected.  I got a couple of partial requests...and got rejected.  During all these rejections, I was writing another book.  It was the only way to prove to myself that I could use what I learned and write something better than what was being rejected.  I was challenging myself as an author.  When I finished, I gave that novel to my betas.  They loved it, there wasn't that much I needed to fix.  I was jubilant!  So, I decided to pitch that one instead. 

And got rejected and got partial requests...and then got full requests.  Then an agent who was willing to consider taking it if I made some changes.  We will call her Agent A.  After a brief phone conversation with her, I started a huge edit that completely changed my book.  I gave it back to her and waited.  During that time I got rejected by two other agents who had asked for full requests.  And then Agent A got back to me and decided not to take it despite my three painful months of changing my book for her.  Luckily, I had met an agent (B) at one of the conferences I go to and she'd asked to see it if Agent A didn't pick it up. 

She liked it, signed me, but suggested making changes to it as well.  Month after month, edit after edit, I kept thinking, "This is it!  This is perfect!  This will be the last one!"  But it never was.  I cried, I screamed, I went through a period of writer's block.  Nine months later, the only thing that kept me going was sheer determination not to let my own monster kill me.  And then one day, that was it.  I was done and we were going on submission.

And now the rejections are coming again.  My dream houses, Tor, Simon and Schuster, Penguin...they've rejected me.  Why?  Not because my book sucks, but because the market is too full of the kind of book I've written.  I have a piece of gold, but it holds little value in an inflated market.  But I hope and pray everyday that someone will like it enough to hold it up and say, "This piece of gold is better than the rest!" 

Until then, I continue to write and I've gotten a few of my short stories published through small publishers.  Still, even here I need my armor.  I have to deal with getting reviews from people who don't like my work and I need to deal with having to promote myself if I want sales.

When my novel does sell, I know that I'm going to have to deal with contractual issues, deadlines, promotional fiascoes, touring, and a grueling schedule.  I'm also going to have to contend with the very real possibility that the book will tank and no one will want to publish anything by me again.

I started writing my first book when I was 18.  Seven years later, I've completed four manuscripts and still don't have a novel published.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finally Friday: LASTSFA

I'm heading to upstate New York to go to the LASTSFA Writer's Workshop!  I'm both excited and nervous because I'm going to be a panelist this year!  Here are the panels I'm on:

Promotion!  Yes, you have to do it...: 10am in Loft

Paranormal Romance: 11am in Guilder

Steampunk and Victoriana: 2pm in Town

Urban Fantasy: 3pm in Loft

The Writer's Workshop is being held 10-6pm at the Best Western Sovereign Hotel in Albany, NY.  Tickets are 40$ at the door and $25 for the High Tea on Friday afternoon.  Hope to see you there! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Kick Butt Girls Who We Love to Hate

Today is an open discussion day!  Disclaimer: This is not about a particular genre as a whole or about a particular piece.

Does anyone else find it odd that in real life, we don't actually make friends with the women who would -- given an invasion of demons and zombies -- strap into her Cat Woman leathers, don her stiletto thigh-highs, and go kick a vampire's butt (all without breaking a nail)?  Other than being pretty darn scary (and a manifestation of the generic-male's wet-dream); these women tend to be pretty unreasonable and their frontal lobe may not have developed correctly?  Maybe too many round-house kicks to the head? *shrugs*  They also tend to be promiscuous and emotionally unavailable.  Basically they are Doms...

Now, the general consensus is that these women don't represent "real" women, which I agree with.  Most women aren't like this.  So, why there is a disproportional amount of leopard print wearing, butt kicking demon hunters who nobody would go near with a ten foot pole in real life is beyond me.  I have actually have met a couple of these scary women in real life, so they do exist.  But why do they get the book face time?  So far, my experience both in real life and in the books is that they are difficult to work with, hot tempered, self-involved, and tend to make every man drool over them and thus every woman around them hate them.

Now, if you're a pleasant one of these types, I'd be pleased to meet you.  PLEASE, prove me wrong!  I'm also open to literary suggestions, of course. :)

Personally, I like funny, caring people who don't hold me at arm's length.  I don't want to make friends or date someone like the females I'm reading in some of these books...and honestly, I don't get why any character in the book does either.  So why are these books selling?   Why do we like reading about frigid women who make us want to shake them?  Is it just interest in the unknown?  Vicarious curiosity?  Do we feel that we need to love them because they are often damaged?  Or is it something deeper...Something deeply wrong about our human psyche that makes us morbidly drawn to the abusive evils in life? 

Just wondering...

What do you think?  If you like reading about these women, please tell me why cause I'm genuinely curious about what makes them appeal to you. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Write Well Wednesday: Comma Usage

Being a writer takes more than a good story and a fancy way of telling it.  Very often, a writer can be criticized for their improper use of grammar, misspelling, and using words out of context.  Sometimes, a reader will get so annoyed by the writer's inability to use the English language properly that they stop reading!  Make an effort not to be that writer.  This is especially important for small press and self published authors.  You have fewer people looking at your manuscript, so you have to be your own editor.

One of the biggest abuses in writing is improper use of the comma.  Here is one of my favorite sites to explain comma use.  Purdue OWL

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Scissors

I'm thinking figurative scissors, so if you're feeling particularly homicidal, you may want to skip this tool.

As a writer, you need to know what to cut out of a manuscript.  Often our pieces are too long for the market, we have scenes that drag on, or we have dialogue that just doesn't get to the point.  This requires a good amount of cutting on our parts.

The best tool to deal with this is a sharp pair of mental scissors.  Preferably, a pair with a fine tip for those difficult extractions.

Don't be afraid to practice with your scissors!  Learn where and when to cut to get the best results.  Use them often and love them!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Muse: Anything Can Happen

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Today's muse is worth a thousand possibilities.  I hope this inspires you too!

This piece is ...nothing but silence by deviantART's wariatka.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finally Friday: NYCC

I'm going to NYCC this weekend!  I'll hopefully meet some of my hero authors and have an awesome time.

Career news:  If all goes well, Salvation Station should be getting release through Tease Publishing tomorrow.  Finished Engineers of the Hear this past weekend and sent that on to my agent.  I believe it will be going to Ravenous Romance.  Also, Scar-Crossed is still on submission in New York.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday: Meeting Your Literary Hero

Seeing as how I am attending New York Comic Con this weekend and I've just taken a look through the guest list, I thought it prudent to address author-meeting-literary-hero etiquette.

If some of you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I have a deep seated love for a certain number of authors.

A. I love their work.

B.  I also want to be them when I grow up.

Most people only deal with issue A.  However, authors have a strange bipolar arrangement where they are both fan and followers.  I'd say worshiper, but that just sounds creepy, and really, I don't want to worship I want to befriend them.  Does it sound odd that I have "friend" goals?  It shouldn't, we all secretly want to get to know and quite possibly be best friends with someone.

So, that leaves me and every other wannabe Bestseller at a strange crossroads.

How do I conduct myself when I meet these people who both awe and inspire me?

I've seen many, many authors do the fan-girl thing.  You haul 15 books around a Con, hunting for the illusive authors, squeeing at the briefest sighting, cornering unfortunate author in an elevator and then holding them hostage with your life story and how you're an author too!  *face-palm*  This is not how you make friends...or get guidance.  This is how, in said author's next novel, the villain's obnoxious sidekick looks suspiciously like a combination of you and your creepy fandom cronies.

Here's some advice.

1.  Be cool and collected.  Nobody likes a hyperventilating maniac on the verge of verbal asphyxiation.

2.  If you must bring a book for the author to sign, that's fine, but don't bring everyone's book.  Choose your absolute favorite author and only bring their book.  They won't believe that they are your hero when you're going and getting all your other "hero's" autographs as well. 

3.  Fans get first dibs.  Let the fans talk to the author first.  The author is there primarily for them, let your hero bask in the glory of literary Godhood.  They have earned it.

Holy craps, this is it!  It's your literary hero!

4.  Make a good, professional impression.  Being an author is all about selling YOU.  If you come off as overpowering or demanding, your hero will remember it.  Try to think of a couple of good lines and memorize them.  Something like "I'm so and so, I'm an aspiring author (If you have some kind of clout, like an agent or book on submission insert it here).  I just wanted to let you know that you're one of my biggest inspirations and XYZ."  It's okay to flatter them (everybody loves a little flattery), just don't do it in a way that makes you seem like a desperate author-napping weirdo and don't tell them your whole life story.

5.  Make sure the author has time for you.  A simple "Do you have a few minutes?" is fine.  If they are in a rush, tell them what you're after, and ask if you can contact them via email, Facebook, or Twitter.  Make sure you remind them who you are and where you met them when you do contact them. 

6.  If they do have time for you, make sure that you're not holding up the line.  If there's another panel waiting outside the room, make it obvious that you're willing to speak on the move or outside the room.  Sometimes authors get this whole deer stuck in a corner thing when people are talking to them and you have to herd them out.  Just say something like, "Let's get out of the way" or "Do you need help carrying that out" (Inevitably they'll have promo or books with them) will work.  Sometimes suggesting lunch or a drink works too...

7.  Know why you want to have a relationship with this person.  And YES, you DO want a relationship with this person.  If you are meeting your favorite author, if at all possible, make friends with them!  Why?  Hello!  If you love their writing that means they are doing something right.  And you want to know what it is that they do.  Study their craft, find things that amaze you about what they do, and ask them about it.  I don't know a single author who doesn't love to talk about their writing or themselves.  :)  This goes along with the whole 'I want to be like you' thing.  Basically, you're Robin being like, "Holy Bananas, Batman!  That weird kick thing you did to the Joker was bangin'!  How'd you do it, Bro?"

...Cause we all know Robin is from the Hood...

Seriously though, if you want to be a successful writer then the best thing you can do is get a successful writer to tutor you.  Tutoring doesn't mean asking them to read and critique your MS.  (If ever Neil Gaiman or Brandon Sanderson did that, they'd never be able to put out their own awesome work.)  If you're a serious writer you should know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you should know what you want to instill in your readers, and you should always be trying to improve.

If you know someone that makes you feel like you want your readers to feel find them and find out how they do it.

8.  DO NOT start: pitching your book, asking them to introduce you to their agent/editor, asking them to write you a blurb, or ask them to read your MS.  This comes after the honeymoon.

 9.  Keep in mind that authors are people too.  if you're really serious about building a friendship with people, then make sure to engage them on things about THEM, not just about you and what you want.

I hope that helps some of you have a successful first encounter with your literary hero!  Good luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Toolbox Tuesday: Patience

What writer doesn't need a little PATIENCE?

Honestly, it's one of the fundamental instruments in the writer's toolbox.

Let me put it into perspective.  I wrote my first book in 2008.  I spent six months waiting for my beta readers to finish reading it.  I spent another year submitting it to agents.  It took me a year because some of them took so long just to reject me and others took even longer to read the partial or full manuscript requests they asked for.  By then, I gave up on that work and started another one.  I finished Scar-Crossed at the end of December in 2009.  My betas didn't finish reading it until May of 2010.  I started submitting to agents and didn't sign with one until October 2010.  I spent nearly nine more months editing Scar-Crossed with my agent.  I went on submission in New York in mid August and I'm still there.  I could be there for another year.  When I do get signed by a New York publishing house it will take 1-2 YEARS for my book to be published.  Every single day SOMEONE asks me, "Are you published yet?!"

All I can do is restrain myself from beating them over the head.

So yeah, be patient.  Sometimes it takes a really long time to hear back from agents.  It usually takes longer to hear back from editors.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Change of Pace

In an effort to be better at posting on my blog, I'm going to start scheduled postings.  Everyday, Monday-Friday, I'm going to -attempt- to post a little something for all of you.  The schedule is as follows:

Monday Muse:  These will be little posts, mostly links to things that I love in general.  This will be music, pictures, comics, etc.

Toolbox Tuesday:  These will be posts about what belongs in a writer's "toolbox."  Those interested in craft will want to read these.

Write Well Wednesday:  This is basically "word of the day" mixed with the rare guest author blogger and interview.

Thoughtful Thursday: These will be like my regular posts -- me talking about the industry or something wonderful I've read.  Those interested in craft will want to read these.

Finally Friday:  These will be updates about my writing and my pieces.  These days might get skipped on weeks where I am attending workshops or conventions.

This will begin next Monday October 10, 2011.