Archive for July, 2012
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Sasha White
Check out Roni Loren’s post about using pohotos when you blog, or so on…You CAN get sued for using images
The Renegade Writer talks about using her short attention span/ADD in ways that help her writing.
50 Habits of Highly Successful People by LifeHack.
And lastly, to get your imagination going and get you revved up. check out 21 Really Stunning Photoshopped Photos for Creative Inspiration.
Monday, July 30th, 2012 by Carrie Vaughn
Tomorrow is book day! Tomorrow is book day! Kitty Steals the Show will finally be out! For those following developments in e-books, I do believe this one is included in Tor’s new policy of releasing all e-books DRM free. By all reports, this has been a very popular move.
I’m taking part in a blog tour with many interviews and giveaways and such, starting last week and continuing for the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes open for that. Now for some publishing logistics neepery.
I’m so happy that this book is finally out in the world. It’s been a long time coming. Here’s what happened: Initially I turned this book in December 2010. That’s right, it’s been pretty much done for a year and a half. Revisions and copyedits were done about a year ago. So why did it take so long to get released? A quirk of scheduling. The contract for this and the previous two Kitty novels stipulated that I turn them in every six months — December 2009, June 2010, and December 2010. For whatever reason, Tor decided to release them once a year rather than every six months — summer 2010, 2011, and 2012. A once a year schedule makes sense, and that’s fine. But you can imagine how it’s been for me over the last year, every time someone’s asked me, “Why does it take you so long to write the next book? Why do we have to wait so long for the next book?” or some variation thereof. All I can say is, “Hey, the book’s finished, this is just how the schedule works.” To be fair, I think this actually is the longest I’ve gone between book releases since I started publishing novels. When readers say it feels like it’s been a long time since the last one, I know what they’re talking about.
The happy ending to the story is when I signed the contract for the next four books last summer, I said I wanted ten months to write each book instead of just six, and Tor agreed. If the books are going to be released on a once-a-year schedule, there’s no reason I shouldn’t have an extra few months to write them, and it’s made a big difference in keeping my life a little less stressful.
And after tomorrow, I’ll only be two books ahead of my readers, instead of three. Easier to keep from giving away spoilers that way.
I’m currently in Alabama for a family reunion, and I’ll get to celebrate the new book with a signing tomorrow at the Books-a-Million in Oxford. Maybe someone not from my family will join us…
Saturday, July 28th, 2012 by Ken Scholes
Happy Saturday and howdy!
Today, I want to talk briefly about the writer’s team.
Writing, when we all start out, can be a pretty isolated activity. But just like raising children, we hopefully learn quickly that it does indeed take a village. So in thinking about my writing as a Story Factory, what kind of team do I need?
Quality Assurance: When we’re starting out, our QA team is largely going to be writer’s groups, workshops or first readers depending on what suits you best. These are the folks who assure the quality of your story, lending their insight as readers and writers to help you do your best work. As we progress, our editors, copyeditors and agents become a part of that QA process as well.
Finance: At first, this wasn’t as important because there were no finances to speak of. But eventually, tracking revenue and expenses, preparing tax returns and budgeting became necessary. If you know you’re terrible at these things (and a lot of writers I know really are) then you’ll want a team to help you. In my case, my wife handles tracking revenues and expenses (which sometimes means a box where all of the check stubs and receipts go until tax season is upon us) and I have a tax accountant who specializes in tax preparation for writers (if you need such a thing, email me and I will refer you to him.) Because I am terrible at this sort of thing, it’s crucial to have these team members — doing it myself would pull me away from the parts I’m best at — writing and promoting myself and my writing.
Research: Initially, research for me was about being out in the world finding new story ideas. But once I started the Psalms of Isaak and once there were multiple volumes it became apparent that there were vast details buried in the earlier versions that I needed access to while drafting future volumes. But the good news is that as those books went out into the world and my readership began to grow, people rose up within that crowd who loved the books and wanted to help. So I have my Gypsy Research Scout, Tracy, a fan who has become a great friend and who happily digs back into the previous volumes to find the bits of detail I can’t remember. Sure, I could take the time to go digging — and sometimes I do — but I can’t tell you how helpful it is to have someone with a keen eye and a big heart.
Marketing: Again, in the beginning it’s just the writer doing this. Identifying markets, meeting editors, submitting work for publication. For me, eventually, this involved a publicist (Tor has them on staff) identifying and arranging opportunities to promote me and my writing.
Event Support: I didn’t need this as much in the beginning, but the busier I get and the more in-demand I am, I’ve found it exceedingly useful to have a “handler” of sorts who is with me at events making sure I get where I need to go when I need to go there, stay hydrated, stay fed, etc. Not all writers need this, but for me, once I’m exhausted and frantically racing around a convention, having someone along who is more focused and centered has been really helpful and between Jen and my myriad of friends, I’m usually able to find someone who’s happy to come along and help me stay on task and on time.
And since many of the members of a writer’s team are volunteers — usually folks who love that writer — it’s important to take good care of them. I try to be generous about that, covering their costs if they’re attending an event with me, giving them ARCs or other copies of my books ahead of the rest of the world as a way of saying “Thank you,” and (if they are also writers) trying to help them with their own careers at whatever point they happen to be in.
So what about you? What team to you have now? How are you letting others help you build your Writerly Empire?
Friday, July 27th, 2012 by Diana Peterfreund
Unfortunately, a family emergency required me to miss theme week, but I’m back to talk (a wee bit belatedly) about conferences, conventions, and other booky gatherings.
I’m in an interesting position as a writer because I’ve written in several different genres and each, it seems, has its own world of events. I think it’s also important to differentiate between a writing conference and a fan convention. Though many fan conventions have writing tracks, and many writing conferences have promotional opportunities for attendees, they have incredibly different flavors. The following details my experiences, which is of course very much depends on the shape my career has taken over the last ten years.
RWA is a writer’s conference for romance authors, and as an aspiring romance author, I went every year without fail for six years straight, as well as to many of the local chapters’ smaller conferences and retreats. This year’s National Conference is actually going on now. However, my attendance has dropped off, since there’s less an RWA conference has to offer me as a published, agented, non-romance writer outside of the occasional craft workshop and the chance to see old friends (see pic of my hugging pal Simone Elkeles and her RITA Award, in that order, in 2010). I’d probably be going this year, seeing as my new book is romancey, but scheduling did not permit. However, for an aspiring author, especially one in romance or women’s fiction, it can’t be beat.
The NINC Conference filled my desire for a published-author based writing conference for a few years, with amazing roundtables with editors and extraordinary day long workshops with research experts and storytelling masters. The 2009 NINC Con in St. Louis was the best writing conference I’ve been to in my life. In the past few years, however, its focus has switched almost entirely to indie publishing, which is not my focus. But again, if that’s your thing, the NINC Con is one of the most well run writer’s conferences on the planet.
RT is a very popular fan convention for romance and, increasingly, YA authors, especially of the type who write paranormal romance. I’ve never been, but I know several authors who swear by the event every year. It’s very expensive, though, and I’ve never taken the plunge, mostly because it falls at an inconvenient time of year for me.
The spec fic versions of RT are big fan conventions like Comic-Con and Dragon*Con, which can also be expensive if you don’t have help from your publisher. But I like to try to make it anyway, since when I’m at Dragon*Con, I’m a fan as much as I am a pro. This year, I’m headed back to Dragon*Con with my husband and our daughter (and a trunk full of costumes!) for days of fun, panels, and sightseeing. (That’s me in my clockwork can-can dancer outfit in 2009.) I just found out I’m to be on a panel with Mercedes Lackey, which made the 13 year old fangirl inside me squeal. Catch me there!
I’ve also this year gotten into more writer focused and smaller science fiction conferences, and attended the SFWA Nebula Awards weekend here in DC this spring (which, as you can probably guess by the organizers, is a writer conference). This was my first Nebulas and I had an amazing time, met a bunch of new friends, and even formed a singing group with RJ Anderson, Ellen Kushner, Lily Yu, and Franny Billingsley (pictured at right). And I’m going to be a guest at my first Capclave in October (organized by DC-area SF fans).
If I have a new book out, I’m always very eager for my publisher to schedule me at the industry expos like BEA, ALA, ALAN, NCTE, etc. etc. These conferences are historically focused on the gatekeepers: booksellers, teachers, librarians, etc., though they are increasingly drawing readers and book bloggers. (Pictured, because apparently all I do is take pics with my writer buddies, is me with the fabulous Malinda Lo at the Harper Booth at the 2010 ALA.)
It’s interesting to see the different types of gatherings different genres have. As a mainstream and children’s fiction author, I find myself attending a lot of book festivals, which are usually held outdoors or in bookshops instead of in convention centers, and are attended primarily by families, many who picnic. Specialties here include local-interest specialty publishers and authors, mystery writers, non-fiction writers, literary authors, picture book authors, and of course, brand-name stars as headliners.
I’ve been a guest at a wide variety of local book festivals, including the Baltimore and Annapolis Book Festivals, the New York Library’s Teen Book Festival, and I will be speaking at the Virginia Fall for the Book Festival this September as well as headed back to Charleston in November for the second annual YALLFest (a young adult book festival). The picture shows the incredibly kick-ass (and very hot) Zombies Vs. Unicorns panel at the 2010 Baltimore Book Festival, with Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, Scott Westerfeld, Kathleen Duey, Carrie Ryan, and me.
The interesting thing about book festivals is that though they can be amazing (that Baltimore event pictured above was unbelievably awesome), they can also be a challenge. Some may draw local crowds that aren’t necessarily big genre readers or well-informed about the industry. They may not know what “young adult” means, or be familiar with books outside big blockbusters like The Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter. It can be quite a change from attending a sci-fi fan convention or YA extravaganza where every attendee you meet has memorized George R.R. Martin’s entire backlist and can quote chapter and verse from Tamora Pierce. You really have to learn to tailor your conversation to your audience. (I attended one book festival panel where a panelist had to explain what a zombie was, and another where as a “children’s author” I was relegated to a tent with toddlers and a puppeteer, which… don’t get me wrong, I love puppets. I just don’t think the people who came to the tent were necessarily looking for sexy teen books about killer unicorns.)
As I go to all these different events for the first time, I’ve learned that they all have their own set of rules and culture. At Dragon*Con, I merrily sell copies of my books off a table alongside a dozen other authors, but apparently, that’s not expected at SF writer conferences (oops, lesson learned!) At RWA, they won’t even have your books at the literary signing unless they’ve been ordered by the organizers in advance (which can get sticky if the conference is held around your release date, as I learned with my debut novel). At some events, the attendees want to hear about how to become a writer, but at others, the focus is on the state of the industry, of literary criticism, or even just fan service.
The type of event that’s right for you is very much dependent on where you are in your career. Aspiring and newly-minted writers are going to get the most bang for their buck at conferences that focus on their needs, like RWA or SCBWI conferences. Though many fan conventions feature “writing tracks” with craft and industry workshops, they are a feature, not a focus, and you’re more likely to get face time with editors and agents at a writing-focused conference. So by all means, attend the writing tracks, but don’t attend a fan convention JUST for the writing tracks.
Published, established authors looking for writing conferences are going to derive the most benefit from those that cater specifically to you (see my NINC love, above). I go to fewer writing conferences these days and save my cash for master classes and workshops. And of course, published authors are going to spend more of their time reaching out to booksellers, librarians, and readers at fan conventions, industry expos, and festivals.
Wednesday, July 25th, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
A writer’s roundup of useful things:
1. Do you have regular offsite backup for your electronic files? DropBox makes it easy to keep a current copy safe in the event of laptop theft or house fire, plus it syncs easily between machines.
2. Writing on the go is easy with EverNote. Put a portable version on your iPad or other device, sync with your desktop. The portable version lacks some of the features of the desktop version, such as word count tally, but it’s still a very practical way to take work with you.
3. Feeling like you could use a creative boost? The Creative Pathfinder Course is free and covers a broad range of topics the working creative professional needs, from the challenge of creating on demand to organization and business.
4. Clarion West has announced a lineup of teaching talent to make your jaw drop. For those serious about taking it to the next level, consider this powerhouse workshop.
5. Crunched for time? Write a book in three days with time-tested fiction building techniques.
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 by Sasha White
When I first started writing, I had no idea what a Critique Partner was, or that there were writer forumns online, and workshops, and all manner of learning tools out there. Then again, I started writing 10 years ago, and online wasn;t as populated as it is today…anyway…what I’m getting at is this. WHen I started writing, I wrote, to the best of my ability, and I submitted. The only people who saw my work was me, and the editor I submitted to.
I did take a correspondence writing course, and had a mentor who was supposed to go over my work before I submitted it, but, well, like I said, online wasn’t as populated then as it is now, and the correspondence was snail mail, not e-mail. Combine that with my impatient nature and I never waited to hear back from my mentor before submitting my work. Needless to say I never finished the course either.
Because I started out like that, and because of my own personality quirks, I always wrote fast and furious, and totally by the seat of my pants. I never gave much thought to book planning, let alone career planning.
Times have changed.
Now, I look at trends, keep up with industry news, and think harder about what each story/release means on my career path. Some are certainly just for fun, but others are written with more in mind. I’m still not a plotter, but I’m no longer strictly by the seat of my pants. I’ve changed, my process has changed, and my writing has changed. And it’s not a bad thing.
So if you’re finding yourself a little lost, or feeling down because you’re doing the same thing you’ve always done, and it’s just not working anymore, think about this. Change = growth. And unless we’re talking about weight gain, growth is a good thing.
Monday, July 23rd, 2012 by Carrie Vaughn
It’s been a rough couple of months for my home state of Colorado. Last month, two of the state’s worst, most destructive wildfires in its history happened — at the same time. And now the mass shooting in Aurora. It’s been a lot of heartbreak and feeling helpless and wanting to make things better for people, but knowing there’s absolutely nothing I can do to assuage the grief after someone’s lost their home in a fire or a loved one in an act of terrible violence. We offer condolences and make donations. Try to build our community.
My writer self becomes conflicted during these times. I feel like a horrible scavenger, because I can’t stop myself from picking apart what’s happening, from observing my own reactions, my friends’ reactions, details from the event itself, and filing them away in the part of my brain labeled “maybe I can use this in a story.” It’s reflexive at this point, and so mercenary. But it also feels necessary. These details may never become part of a story, but if the story does come along, at least the details I have will be real and true. It’s not journalistic — I’m not recording or reporting facts. I’m a fiction writer, and it’s about recreating experiences, and the best way to do that is through details. So I continue to observe and collect.
The other thing my writer self does is empathize. It’s a natural part of developing character — you put yourself in the scene, you imagine what it’s like to be in that situation, you imagine what people are going through — both the perpetrator and the victims. I want to understand, so I play the scenes over in my mind from all points of view, again and again. And again, it feels mercenary and exploitative. I get more emotionally involved than is probably good for me, and it certainly doesn’t help the situation at all.
As a fiction writer, I don’t think it’s fair or useful for me to write directly about these events, and I don’t want to. But I still want to gather the experiences, file them away, and let them ripen. If I ever write about something like this, maybe I can make it feel more true by paying attention, by being respectful now. I want to acknowledge the tragedies, sympathize, help when I can, and respect the experiences of the people directly involved. And I hug my friends and tell my family I love them. Try to keep hope and remember the good times.