Sunday, March 16, 2014

Getting Into the Writing Zone (or For the Love of Music)

Tip of the Day: Scrivener, the Must Have Digital Writing Tool, is on sale for only $20 for a limited time through AppSumo! I just bought my copy and can't wait to use the Save the Cat outline + Scrivener to write my next MG novel; I'm sure the novel will practically write itself.

I have committed myself to e-pubbing DESERTED, the sequel to BLACKOUT, on August 1 -- if not before! In order to make this deadline, I need to finish writing it, get crit partner feedback, get it copyedited, send it for formatting, and upload it in just four short months.

Can I do it?

Of course I can!

What do I need to do to make it happen?

Write like there is no tomorrow!

Or at least write like there is no internet/Candy Crush/distractions.

It's not like writing DESERTED isn't fun -- it totally is! It takes place in Las Vegas and involves rogue environmental groups and secret chemical experiments to harness natural energy. I get to call on both my sister and brother for their Vegas and chemist expertise.

Still, like many people with 21st century technology at our disposal, it's easy to get -- oh, wait, it's my turn on Words With Friends. I'll be right back.

Oh, right.

What helps me tally up my word count is going to the library (not where I work; that would be the opposite of productive writing time) or Panera, plugging in my earbuds and pumping up the tunes, and cranking on the keyboard for 2-4 hours. Not only does the location make me stay on task (since I'm not on my couch getting too comfy), but the music helps, too.

How does the music help? I'm not sure exactly, but last month I went to an author talk by Heather Terrell and she said what helps her switch her brain from mom/household chores mode to writer mode is playing the same music that she's been writing to all along. She couldn't remember where she'd heard that the musical association worked like that, but once she said it, something clicked for me:

THAT'S why I keep listening to the Twilight Soundtrack!

Ahem.

To be fair, I alternate it with the rest of the saga's music, plus Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and The Great Gatsby. For some reason, albums with various artists work for me, as do those with a YA flavor when I'm writing contemporary YA fiction.

The other night I needed to get some writing done, and the library wasn't open and I didn't want to leave the warmth of my living room to head to Panera, and my mind was already wandering to Things Other Than Writing. So I decided to give the music association theory a shot. I queued up my Stephenie Meyer inspired iTunes tracks...and finished my outline in 2 hours while sitting on the couch!

I won't give up my library/cafe writing zone, but I do feel like I have another option that can work fairly well when I'm at home.

What helps trick your brain into being Writing Ready?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A View of Reviews (or What I Like About You, You Really Know How to Write*)

*with apologies to The Romantics

Tip of the Day: Only 82 days until the Rochester Teen Book Festival! If you are anywhere near Rochester, NY on May 17th, you must come to this FREE event featuring 30 authors!

As a book reviewer for VOYAGenesee Valley Parent Magazine, and the RACWI newsletter, and after commenting on a thread about starred reviews in the SCBWI Discussion Board (as created by picture book author Verla Kay), I've been thinking lately a lot about how I approach reviews.

Of course we all have favorite genres of books, topics we'll gravitate towards without question, and authors we'll pick up no matter what the book is about. But within those books there are aspects that make us really, really like some more than others.

*Please note that I'm focusing on novels in this discussion.*

And in books that are not part of my usual repertoire, I can still fall in love with them if they rock in one or more of three areas.

What are those three things?

Why voice, characters, and page-turning plots of course!

So if a book in any genre stands out in any of these areas as compared to the 150-200 other books I read each year, then I'll give it an above average rating or review. And if it stands out so much that I can't stop talking about it or telling others that they must read it, then I'll give it a glowing review.

A recent read that has made this most latter list?

Not only is main character Mo LeBeau smart, funny, honest, and caring with a sharp voice that makes me smile on every page, but she's joined by a cast of additional fabulous characters. If you enjoy middle grade novels at all, you must read this book and THREE TIMES LUCKY (the first Mo LeBeau book) as well.

For the sake of more examples, I'll tell you what I love about each of the Author2Author Misses' work and why they stand out to me. :)

Kate -- her plots are smart and make me think about new worlds, and her characters have witty lines that make me laugh out loud and want them to succeed.

Emily -- her plots are high concept and seem to write themselves, and her first-person voice is hilarious.

Tina -- her plots are well-crafted and fit together like a sharp puzzle, and her characters' honesty and naivete are refreshing and fun to follow as they get into hijinks.

Megg -- her characters kick butt and lead the plots instead of letting the plots lead them.

What aspect of a novel make you love them more than others you have read lately?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Book...Wha'?

Tip of the Day: A2A contributor Kristina Springer has a FREE young adult novel for download today. Check out Boy Swap on Amazon!!!!! Also for free is her short story, Cart Princess. And her novel Paparazzi Project is 99 cents!

All of my books up to this point have been female-oriented. Every main character has been female. All the books have been in first person...and I've faced a lot of criticism for having too little romance and too much action.

http://www.meggjensen.com/#!buybooks/c1xdrThey're probably right. I'm not a girly girl. I'm the girl all the guys want to hang out with. Not because I have big boobs or flirt or whatever - but because I'm into guy stuff.


The majority of novels I read are written by men, for men. They involve explosions, mysteries, and hot & fast sex with little romance. Not to say I don't enjoy a good romance once in a while, but, for me, that is an exception. I prefer action-adventure movies over sweet comedies. I'd rather spend an evening in sweats playing video games than be taken out.

With HIDDEN, I decided to let go of everything I thought I was supposed to do. I wrote with my man's mind. I wasn't gentle to my characters. I didn't have a lot of kissy romance (though there is some quick & dirty sex). I hacked creatures to bloody pulps. I exacted cruelty on my characters. They live and die by the sword. And things just get worse in the next book in the series, HUNTED.

For the first time in my writing career, I'm getting feedback from men. They love the covers (a few women have written me and said they hate them). Women who are readers of my earlier books are writing me and telling me their husbands and sons are enjoying HIDDEN even more than they are. I have male fans!

I can't tell you how exciting this is to me. I know there are a lot of women out there like me who enjoy reading men's adventure fiction and would rather watch The Expendables than the newest romcom. I'm so happy they're reading my books!!!!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19540790-huntedBut if I can reach men, admittedly a smaller reading population than women, I'll be thrilled. My only concern........will men go out of their way to buy an action-adventure fantasy written by a woman? I don't know.

I seriously considered publishing HIDDEN under a fake male name. Or using initials. But, I figured, screw that. If indie publishing has taught me anything, it's that we can be and do anything we want. Why hide the fact I'm a girl? Just because I have a vagina, it doesn't mean I can't write with some grit.

I'm excited to see where these books lead me. It's been a blast writing them. Since I'm not writing specifically for teen girls anymore, I can let loose with the plot. I don't have to be afraid. It's so liberating.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that my Dragonlands series can do it. I want men to take a chance on them!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber
www.meggjensen.com


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Picture Book Remix (or Short and Sweet and Funny)

Tip of the Day: This has been seen in the wilds of B&N! Pick up your paperback copy and laugh hysterically today.

My first Book Nook column is up in the February edition of Genesee Valley Parent Magazine! I am very excited about this for a number of reasons:

1. It is my first review writing gig that is paying me in actual dollars

2. GVPM is a fantastic locally owned and run publication with quality articles, relevant ads, and great distribution. Plus they are a sponsor for the Rochester Children's Book Festival.

3. I was "forced" to spend time reading picture books

Some of you may be thinking, "Forced to read picture books? Don't you work at the Children's Reference Desk for seven hours each week in your library? How are you not reading picture books? Besides, don't they take about two minutes each to read?"

The answer to all of these questions is YES. But the truth of the matter is:

a. When I work in the Children's Center, people usually ask for books about a certain thing (trains, dinosaurs, trucks, etc.), not for general recommendations about anything...and if they do, I have some go-to titles that I love (books by Tammi Sauer, Audrey Vernick, Anna Alter, and Jean Reidy to name a few).

b. Believe it or not, librarians do not actually sit around and read all day at work. Not even if each picture book only takes two minutes each. Those two minutes add up to time you are supposed to be spending on ordering, doing reference, answering emails, doing PR, running programs, planning events, etc.

c. I focus most of my reading on YA and MG because they DO take longer to read, and patrons can more easily flip through a picture book to see if it appeals to them than a novel.

That said, reviewing picture books for GVPM has been so much fun! Article due dates have driven me to check out and read lots of them at home, compare them, and actually know and love some of the Caldecott Winners this year. And you know what else about picture books?

They are so stinkin' cute and funny! Don't believe me? Or do? Either way, try some of these:





Will this make me want to try my hand at writing a picture book text? I only have once and it was a disaster, but perhaps if inspiration strikes, I will now have some masters in mind to use as inspiration and motivation....

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The ONLY Right Way to Publish

Tip of the Day: Want one of my ebooks for free? Just sign up for my newsletter.

Anyone else tired of the debate?

Self-publishing versus traditional publishing! One is right, the other will lead to certain doom! Dun dun dunnnnnn!

Seriously?


It's been, like, four years since self-publishing took hold of the marketplace. I've been in it for three years (well, on Feb, 11th, it'll be three years).

At first, I was scared! What would people think? Would I lose friends? Would I become an outcast?





 Well, people thought I was nuts. I lost friends. I became an outcast.

Most of those people have come around now because they've realized self-publishing isn't evil. In fact, it's kind of fun!




 So, self-publishing must be the only right path since it's clearly proven itself to be so freaking awesome!

WRONG!





The right path to publication is WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU!

Look, anyone who says one way is the only way is um....


Do your research. Talk to as many authors as you can. Attend conferences. Learn about the industry. Figure out what works FOR YOU!

I'm tired of the arguing and the one-upping and the debate over who is better.


We're all writers. We're all lovers of books. Let's support each other. :)



XoXo,

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

*All these amazing gifs via ReactionGifs.com




Saturday, January 11, 2014

Let's Talk Money...Again

Tip of the Day: What would publishing look like if Hugh Howey was in charge? Check it out!

There's a lot of talk going around Facebook & the web about how much traditionally published authors make and how much self-published authors make. Wendy Higgins, a YA author, had a post up, but then was forced (?) to take it down, detailing her income over the last two years. Basically, she made $6,000 as a traditionally published novelist.

I can't link to Wendy's original post, but Google cached an image of it here:
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3A6FHJqkM6ShQJ%3Awww.wendyhigginswrites.com%2F2014%2F01%2Fhonety-pot-average-traditionally.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

(Just more proof that nothing can ever be deleted.)

I think Wendy sounds like a total sweetheart. I also think she's very happy with the decisions she's made in her publishing career, for the most part.

Here's what we need to take from this: assume NOTHING about how much authors make. Some make tons. Some don't. Just because a book is on the shelf at your local Barnes & Noble, it doesn't mean that author is rolling in dough.

Most authors cannot make a living at writing. On top of that, most authors who make enough to support themselves have NO GUARANTEE they will be able to sustain it over the long term.

Publishing is a fickle lover. One day you're on top. The next, you're forgotten.

So, really, does income matter? Sure. It matters to me. I want to put my kids through college someday. If I can't make enough money writing, I'll have to get a job. It's that simple. I'm also lucky in that my husband is the primary breadwinner, so my income is a little less important.

In 2012 I made over $50,000 self-publishing.
In 2013 I made over $25,000 self-publishing.

Why the difference? Well, I put a lot more effort into 2012 than I did into 2013. In 2013, we had to deal with my husband's major health crisis and then we moved (and were between houses for nearly 6 weeks). I just didn't have the time or energy for as much writing and marketing as I did in 2012.

Even though it's less, my 2013 income was still more than what I would make at a part-time minimum-wage job (which is really all I can get since I've been an at-home mom for 12 years and my degree in medieval history is fascinating, but useless).

I hope to make more in 2014 than I did in 2013. With a little effort, I'm sure I can.

Now you know what I made. So what? It's not that big of a deal, really. One author's income doesn't correlate to another's. You can't assume you'll make what your friend does (or doesn't) make.

Publishing is a lot like gambling. You don't always get out what you put in. The best you can do is follow your heart, make the choices that work for you, and always remember that it's about the reader and entertainment. Try not to take yourself too seriously!

XoXo,

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber
www.meggjensen.com

Friday, January 3, 2014

That Obligatory 2013 Recap Post (or Writing Related Reality Check)

Tip of the Day: Want to see a author/businessman's trailblazing predictions for 2014? Check out J. A. Konrath's 12/28/13 blog post. Wild and crazy, or spot-on? Time will tell!

Welcome, readers, to 2014!

I thought I'd go back and update my post from about one year ago on my goals for 2013, but, um, I guess I never did one. So, starting from scratch, and so I have something to ruminate over at this time, here are the fab readerly/writerly/librariany things that happened in the past 12 months:

1. I read 180 books! To see my faves, check out my LiveJournal post here.
2. I attended the NYC SCBWI Conference with three other ROC ladies and had a great, inspirational, fun time.
3. I wrote a fast draft of a new MG novel, and mostly rewrote the second draft.
4. I launched my website www.DeenaLipomi.com.
5. I self-e-pubbed my YA novel, BLACKOUT -- and people actually bought and read it! (THANK YOU!) (Of note: I've been writing fiction seriously for 9 years, and this is the first time I've made any money from it and am so glad I took the epub plunge.)
6. My husband created a book trailer for BLACKOUT with original music and it rocks.
7. I wrote more of the BLACKOUT sequel.
8. Teen Book Fest volunteering. Need I say more?
9. I signed with a fab agent after she read my MG novel -- which is still on submission...fingers crossed! She totally helped me nail the revisions and I am hopeful that an editor will fall in love with Joanie and Anna in 2014.
10. I met up in Dublin, OH with Tina, Em, and Kate for a writing/gossiping retreat.
11. I was offered and accepted a gig writing kidlit reviews for Genesee Valley Parent Magazine; they should go live in print starting next month! (Of note: this is my third review gig, but the first in which I will be paid in actual dollars! I am moving up in the world! :-D)
12. My husband bought me a MacBook Pro to replace my dear but failing Dell laptop that has been with me for the past five years. Man, is this machine slick!
13. I did YA Best Book presentations for Rochester BOCES and Wayne County/Finger Lakes Library Leadership Academy -- and got to see Steve Sheinkin do a keynote speech at the latter! Cool guy.
14. I got a YALSA grant for Teen Read Week and hosted A. S. King for the Fourth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Read. It was an amazing week!
15. I bought an iPhone and downloaded Candy Crush. Oh, wait, that's actually an anti-writing device....
Am I forgetting anything? Probably, but that's OK. It's been a busy year and I look forward to 2014. Thanks to all my friends, family, and colleagues who have helped make it great!

Writing things I plan to do in the coming 12 months:
A. Polish my next MG novel (hint: tween library volunteers + Native American artifacts!) and get to my agent for thoughts.
B. Finish writing and revising DESERTED, the BLACKOUT sequel, and epub it.
C. Read through two YA mss, run by my agent, and either prepare them to sub or epub.
D. Start rewrite of new MG novel, a rewrite of an old YA (hint: haunted cottage in the Adirondacks + Ouija Board + water wraith)
E. Anything that an editor asks me to do if they want to buy my MG (!). Just putting it out there for the universe! :)

Phew! Can I do it? Maybe with the new MacBook Pro I can!

And less Candy Crush....

Happy New Year!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing