November 2nd, 2012 by Diana Peterfreund
Why the NaNo Hating?

I’ve been reading a disturbing number of tweets and blog posts in the last few days from professional authors hating all over NaNoWriMo, not to mention the number of industry pros I see deriding it. The latter i understand. From conversations with industry pros, it has become clear to me that so many amateur writers send out queries on December 1 talking about their “NaNoWriMo novel”  that the term has started to make industry folks a little twitchy. I saw a tweet the other day from an editor who said she hated spending a day putting together a “substantial developmental ed letter” for an author who just announced on Twitter that she was doing NaNo.

(Methinks this particular editor/writer pair need to have better ways of communicating, but I digress.)

What really bothers me is all the pro writers who feel the need to dump all over NaNo every year. So it’s not for you. Newsflash: It was never meant for you. It was not, in fact, designed to be for those people for whom writing is a day job, or a night job, or a sure thing of any kind. It was always supposed to be a fun game for the kind of people I often meet at cocktail parties, the kind who say, “I always wanted to write a novel.”

I have written thirteen novels, four of which I’d written before I’d ever even heard of NaNoWriMo. It obviously was not meant for someone like me. But I have participated in the game four times, not a one of which I ever even came close to winning. And for me, that’s not the point. I know I can’t write a novel in a month. The only time I ever came close to writing a novel in a month, it was based off a screenplay (and it wasn’t for NaNo, either.) But I do like the word tracking tools, and the write-ins with locals at coffee shops, and the camaraderie and the fun and games.

I suppose these pro haters dislike the way NaNo has morphed from the “fun and games” of a couple of amateurs to being this albatross of a creature that bombards inboxes (and now, I suppose, Kindles) every December 1st. Maybe they feel it cheapens their “art.” But at the same time, I’m not sure why it should matter to them what someone else does. NaNo is not making a bunch of amateur writers any promises. They aren’t like some other amateur writing programs I can mention, like those sponsored by publishing houses, that hold out elusive contracts if you only get enough “likes” from your fellow players to be allowed to submit. Save your contempt for that. NaNo is a game, and if it’s not for you, then don’t play.

I’m off to write my 1,667 words of the day. I doubt it’ll last long, especially since I’m going to YA’LL fest next week, but it’ll be fun while it lasts.

November 1st, 2012 by HelenKay Dimon

As you read this I will be off somewhere napping. I can almost guarantee it. See, today is deadline day. My book is due to my Berkley editor. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy and the devastation in NYC, the Berkley offices are closed and I’m hoping my editor is home and safe.

Needless to say, the destruction of this week made it a little tough to complain about the deadline. I was warm and dry with electricity and my laptop. No problems on my end except for a plot hole that needed mending and a character who made the last part of the book (all of it, really) difficult to get on the page. But it’s done.

I went from this:

To this:

And now I relax for a few minutes until I start the next one.

October 31st, 2012 by Charlene Teglia
Happy Halloween! Twas the night before NaNo

Happy Halloween! I’m late posting this, but on the eve of NaNoWriMo, for all those of you who think you can’t write a book, it’s too hard, it takes too long, here is a book I wrote with my children today. The oldest came up with the main character, the middle came up with the plot and the title, I wrote it up, and the oldest illustrated it. Behold, a book. No, it isn’t 50,000 words, but as Lawrence Block said, “If you’re blocked, lower your sights.” Maybe you can’t write 50,000 words in November. But you can write 50. Or maybe 500, or 5,000, and that’s more than you have right now. If a 7 year old can do it, you can do it.

Holloween Story

October 30th, 2012 by Sasha White
Changes, and a chance to win.

I wanted to share this blog post with you that I wrote back in August. I didn’t share it back then, because I often feel like it’s tempting Karma to say when I don’t enjoy a book. It’s a silly superstition. I mean, just because I’m an author doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions as a reader, right?

Anyway, last week I was having a conversation with some friends about the state of publishing and the choices that are available to authors, and how what might be the wrong choice for one person is the right one for another. One of the points of our conversation was on how in just a year, the general opinion of self-publishing has changed. I think that’s partly due to the success of some self-published stories, and the level of quality of self-published stories rising. Then. yesterday I was clearing out some files from my “Notes” folder, and I saw this post below, and realized that while I couldn’t even remember what book it was I’d just finished reading when I wrote this, the point is still a valid one.

I just finished reading a short story ebook that left with very mixed feelings. Why? Because it could’ve been a fantastic story, and it wasn’t. The idea was good, the characters were good, the writing was very good, and the book was clean of typos and errors. So what kept it from being great, in my opinion?

It was careless.

Let me explain what I saw when I read this story.

I was hooked for the first three or four scenes. I liked the character, the set up, the authors voice. Then it started to fall apart for me, and it went downhill fast.

The story jumped from sex scene to sex scene, with no emotions aside from arousal being displayed, no thoughts that weren’t sexual happening within any of the characters narrative. Phrases were repeated over and over – the heroes hand “ran up her thigh” no less than four times in four paragraphs. There were two couples, separate sex scenes, one right after the other, and both women nipped the guy’s bottom lip during the first kiss, and both guys responded by lifting her, and spinning around to brace them on a surface (counter top, and against the wall). The main characters, who were all supposed to be experienced BDSM lifestylers said and did things that made me think that there hadn’t been any real research done. And the ending was very abrupt. Not in the way that made me think…“Damn, that was too short. I want more.” but in the way that made me think…“Well, that sucked.”

Now, the point of this post is not to run down another authors work, because honestly, I think it was the editor who slacked off on this one. I wish I’d had a chance to edit it, because I really think if someone had pointed these things out to the author, it would’ve been dealt with easily.

In my opinion this was a clear case of an editor doing a fabulous job on grammar and line editing, but a shit job on helping the author make the story the best it could be. Yes, it’s the authors job to make the story rock, but it’s also part of the editors job to help us make it better. That’s what I think anyway.

The sad thing about this is that this was not a self-pubbed story where you think…the author should’ve hired a professional editor. It was from one of the top ePublishers around. ANd this leads me to wonder what changes the next year is going to bring to the world of publishing.

Care to speculate? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts and theories. Share yours in the comments, and be entered for a chance to win a download of any of my available books, or a signed print copy of Primal Male, the second book in my Hunter Protection Group sereis.

October 29th, 2012 by Carrie Vaughn
Time is Marching On, and Time is Still Marching On

I’ve been contemplating time, and how I always need more.  Don’t we all?  The words “I’m bored” never even occur to me, because I always have something going on, even if it’s just vegging out and knitting a scarf (valuable recharging time, that is) .  It’s almost the end of the year and I have a stack of things I’d like to finish before the ball drops on Times Square.  It’s an arbitrary deadline.  But this business runs on deadlines.  Most of mine are self-imposed.

I’m a big fan of self-imposed deadlines at the earliest stages of a writing career.  First off, they prepare writers for externally imposed deadlines — you know you can hit that contracted deadline because you’ve already hit your own.  Second, they mean you get stuff done.

You have to learn to measure your own productivity.  It’s important to know how much you can do in a day, so you know how long it will take you to complete a project.  If you learn to gauge the length of projects before you start, you can judge how much time you need.  This is how the pros work.  It sounds so mercenary, doesn’t it?  Is there any room for art amidst deadlines?  Because I still like to think I’m doing art, even with the deadlines.  Write good books — that’s the goal.  If I don’t do that, I won’t have a career.  Of course I think it’s possible, I pretty much have to since that’s how I do things.  But I know this is how you have to work if you want to make a living at this gig.

Embrace the march of time.  Embrace deadlines.  Time and deadlines are your friends.   “The end of the year” is only one possible deadline.  Go ahead, pick a deadline.

  • Your birthday
  • A loved one’s birthday
  • Any holiday
  • Tax day
  • The end of the month, or the start of the following month.  Or heck, any day of the month.  The tenth, let’s say, if the end of the month doesn’t work .
  • The release date of an anticipated movie, because if you finish your thing you can go see it without guilt.
  •  Vacations make marvelous deadlines — the chance to go on a trip without worrying about a that thing you’ve spent every waking moment thinking about for the last three months is hugely motivating.
  • NaNoWriMo is built on deadlines.  (How many of you are doing NaNoWriMo, hmmmm?  How’s that going?)  In that case, your deadline is the end of the month.

Deadlines are the thing that will help your career move forward, because they are the things that say “You have to finish this, you have to send this off, you have to work.”  Otherwise, we’d sit around being bored.

This is my favorite song to listen to when I have an approaching deadline.

October 27th, 2012 by Ken Scholes
Excerpt Week Re-Do:  Amal’s Lament

Howdy folks and happy Saturday.  I missed excerpt week a few weeks back and thought I’d try to make up for it.  This isn’t actually excerpt in the traditional sense — it’s actually a poem based on my novelette, “A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon.”  The story is deep in the back story of my Psalms of Isaak series and will eventually expand into a series all its own.  This poem will be integrated into that series.  Now, I don’t write a lot of poetry so be gentle with me.  It makes less sense if you’ve not read the novelette, which is written from Frederico’s POV.

So without further ado, here we go….


Amal’s Lament

by Ken Scholes

Do you think, my love,
I do not know just what you do
You up there upon the dock
You of the land
Me here your loving ghost beneath the water
As you play
Upon your harp the very song
I taught you
A song of night sowing
Like the love we made with our voices and sighs
Late into our silver crescents
Only to, after giggles, fall asleep together
And wake up with the tears of our separation
As the distance of sky between us grew
You play it, our song,
To remind me who I am to you
And to share what we can share
Me beneath the waves
You bathed in the blue green light of me
On this moonless night
As I sing with you and shine in the shadows
Your moving fingers cast.
I will bargain Rufello from his grave and
Bid him bear me from the water
And wrap me in glass and hope and steel
You will no longer weep
My lover, my Czar,
When I stagger uncertain, drunk on love and metal legs
Into your waiting embrace
Once of the moon and then of the water
But shipwrecked now
Upon the island of you.

And there you have it.  Something of an excerpt and part of a larger story framework that I’m working on for Someday.  Trailer Boy out.

October 26th, 2012 by Diana Peterfreund
Reflections on the Long Haul

Yesterday, I was down for the count with what I hope was a bout of food poisoning (and not stomach flu that I can pass on to the rest of my family). As I was curled up on the couch, nursing my mug of green tea with lemon, watching Gossip Girl, I saw a familiar name pop up on the screen:

“Written by Natalie Krinsky.”

There’s a blast from the past! Krinsky, for those not in the know, made waves in the early aughts for running a Carrie-Bradshaw style sex column in the Yale Daily News as an undergrad. As soon as she graduated, she put out a chick lit novel called Chloe Does Yale along the same lines. A quick check of IMDB revealed Krinsky now writes in Hollywood, and aside from the above Gossip Girl episode, also has a Grey’s Anatomy episode and a screenplay or two on her resume. Good for her!

When my first book, Secret Society Girl, came out in 2006, she was one of the authors I was most often compared to. There were a bunch of us “Ivy League chick lit” types floating around at the time, and it’s interesting for me to reflect, now, on the many directions our careers have taken us. Krinsky is still writing, and from her work in soapy contemporary dramas, it seems like she’s still writing the same kind of stuff, albeit for TV.

Another “comp” of mine from that era, Kaavya Viswanathan — well, we all know what happened to her. The plagiarism scandal that rocked publishing soon after her book hit stands (and directly before mine did) ended Viswanthan’s literary career, though she has apparently gone on to find success as a lawyer.

The final “comp” who often appeared alongside mentions of my books in articles and reviews was Robin Hazelwood’s Model Student, a bildungsroman that closely mirrored the former model’s own life as an Ivy League student. (This book was set in the 80s, though, unlike the rest of our books, which were contemporary.) She hasn’t published any more books, though, which makes me wonder if what she really wanted to do was write a memoir. I enjoyed Hazelwood’s book, and wonder what she’s doing now (her website doesn’t go into it).

Then there’s me. I wrote four books in the Secret Society Girl series, then went on to write two contemporary YA fantasy novels (Rampant and Ascendant), a movie tie-in (Morning Glory), and two YA sci-fis (For Darkness Shows the Stars and the upcoming Across a Star-Swept Sea). I’m the only one of us who is still writing books (and until I saw Krinsky’s name pop up on Gossip Girl the other day, I thought I was the only one of us still writing.) I wonder if that would be the case had chick lit not crashed the way it did. (Well, Viswanathan was definitely out, but that’s a special situation.)

I did not know any of these ladies personally. I never even exchanged emails with them. One of the nice things about working in genre, and specifically in YA, is that now I’m far more likely to personally know the writers I’m “comped” with. I’ve probably met them at events or interacted with them on Twitter. Or maybe it’s just because we didn’t have Twitter in 2006.

But then again, the comps aren’t the be-all and end-all. For instance, if someone loved Secret Society Girl and writes to me asking for what else they should read in that vein, I’m likely to point them toward E. Lockhart’s excellent The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks for secret society shenanigans, or Tammara Webber’s Easy for college romance. (Also, I think only the Hazelwood is still in print, and that book, despite being set in a college, is very very different from mine.)

A few weeks ago, I was on a panel at Capclave called “How Many Years in the Business Before I Stop Being A New Writer?” — in many ways, I still feel like a new writer, especially when I meet writers whose books I read when I was a teen myself, or read in the RWR about folks crossing the 100-book mark (yay, Rebecca York!). At the same time, when I look back over 7 years in the business, with my ninth book going into production as we speak — and more, when I reflect on all those names I used to hear constantly that have moved on to other fields –I guess I’m not as new as I thought.

They like to say this business is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. So I just keep trucking.