Friday, August 31, 2012

Libraries and eBooks

Tip of the Day: Go eat a cookie/ice cream sandwich. Why? Because they're yummy and one won't kill you. ;)

For a while now, I've been trying to figure out how to get my ebooks into libraries. Overdrive won't have me. Smashwords is starting a system, but it's taking a long time to get it up and running, much less get more than a handful of libraries to join.

I even asked A2A girl Deena how I can give my ebooks to libraries. Yeah, you heard me right - give. For free.

Look, I love libraries. My mom has been a library aide since I was in 2nd grade. I've worked in libraries. I'm a lifetime member of my local Friends of the Library. I volunteer at my library a few hours every month. I'm going to two state library conferences in October.


So if any libraries out there want my ebooks, they can have them for free. No DRM. Unlimited checkouts.

I thought I was the only one, until Joe Konrath posted about this yesterday. He wants to sell his ebooks for $3.99. Big whoop. I think any library can handle $3.99 for an ebook that they can keep in circulation forever.

I'm going to continue to pursue this. I might contact the library Joe referenced in his blog post. I plan to talk with more librarians this fall and find out how I can help them build their ebook collections. The big pubs are snubbing libraries - forcing them to buy super-expensive ebooks with limited checkouts. Some big pubs have even severed their relationship with Overdrive.

So, if any librarians are out there and want free copies of my ebooks, let me know. They're yours. Forever.

(Oh, and if you're a reader of my books, my latest novel, The Sundering, dropped last night on Amazon. The other sites should have it soon too.)

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Garage Sale - Everything Must Go

Tip of the Day: If you need a really big laugh, read through these reviews of the Bic Pen for Her on Amazon. Seriously funny stuff.

I'm planning a garage sale this weekend because we want to start emptying the house and hopefully sell it some time in the future. And it made me think about having a writerly garage sale. I don't know about you guys but I have a ton of unfinished books: books that need revision, books that I never got back to, books I shelved and didn't submit, and books I submitted but were rejected. Wouldn't it be fun to have an old writing garage sale with a bunch of authors? Disclaimer being this is not our best work, it's going to go for a low low price, it might be dented or something may be living in it so buyer beware, but here you can have our old stories? Selling old writing for say 25 cents. Wouldn't you go for this? I'm not saying with my own books (don't worry, I'm not really having a writerly garage sale) but I'd TOTALLY buy, say, Meg Cabot's shelved books for 25-50 cents. Or Stephen King's. Or John Greene's. Wouldn't you? :-)

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Middle Grade Goodies (or The Best Parts Are In the Middle)

Tip of the Day: Please don't send creepy letters to your public librarian. They are being nice to you because they like their jobs, enjoy looking up info for you, and like working with the public; not because they are in love you.

A few weeks ago, Kristina posted about middle grade novels she was loving lately as she works on an MG manuscript. I am also heavy into revision mode on a historical MG, and really enjoyed these recent novels:

BREATHING ROOM by Marsha Hayles
In 1940, Evvy suffers from pulminary tuberculosis so her family sends her to Loon Lake Sanatorium where she makes friends, experiences loss, and learns about herself as she fights to recover. This honest MG of sparse text is interspersed with photos from TB memorabilia/propaganda and would be a great addition to school reading assignments dealing with the period. It would also be well-paired with the Jim Murphy non-fiction book on TB that just came out (THE INVISIBLE KILLER). Evvy is a brave character to follow. (Christy Ottaviano, 2012)

LIAR & SPY by Rebecca Stead
With his mother working doubles at the hospital and his father looking for work, seventh grader George spends his days avoiding the bullies at school, eating take-out with his dad, and hanging out with his apartment building neighbor who claims a dangerous Mr. X lives in the floor above him. This MG is full of great lines, tight writing, and great characters. I love the relationship between George and his father, and the conclusion of this novel that is also accessible to reluctant readers. (Wendy Lamb, 2012)

Stella lives with her Great-aunt Louise and another foster girl while her mother "gets her life together," but when something happens to Louise, the girls work together to tend to her garden and the Cape Cod cottages so they won't end back up in new foster homes. A big premise of this novel was hard for me to swallow, but I enjoyed the narrative and Stella's point of view so much that I finished the novel and did like the ending. A sweet MG. (Balzer & Bray, 2012)

WONDER by R. J. Palacio
August has undergone a number of surgeries because of a facial birth defect so he was homeschooled for his whole life, but his parents decide to send him to school for fifth grade, which makes Auggie scared but happy and many other emotions over the course of the year. This book is told from multiple povs, which makes this novel so much more than it appears. Auggie's voice is fantastic, and the end is heartwarming. A beautiful MG nove. (Knopf, 2012)

THE STORM MAKERS by Jennifer E. Smith
When Ruby's twin Simon finds out that he can create weather as the youngers Storm Maker ever, she tries to help him refine his ability and save the country from an evil Storm Maker's vegeance. I liked the characters of the twins, and their helpers along the way. A cute MG novel. (Little, Brown, 2012)

What MGs have you read and loved lately?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Revision Angst

Tip of the Day: make sure to check out and possibly participate in Random Acts of Publicity (Sept. 4-7) to share the Book Love by promoting a friend's book!

This comic pretty much sums up how I've been feeling lately. I have no idea how it happens, but every sentence that is my favorite usually ends up being the one that needs deleted. Seriously, it seems criminal it keeps happening. And not just to me. I know bunches of writers that say they always have to cut some of their favorite parts of the book because it doesn't add anything to the story or it's out of place.

In fact, I just listed to an interview with Ira Glass about his new documentary film "Sleepwalk With Me" and he mentioned that in several low-budget test screenings for the film that the parts the writers felt were the funniest were getting zero laughs from the audience.

So how could something we love so much, not resonate with the readers (or audience)?

In the case of Ira's story, he said switching how the lines were delivered--almost like flashbacks shown while the main character was driving in a car, instead of happening in real time--made the viewer connect with the lines more. So simply by doing a few re-shoots, all the funny parts got big laughs from the audience.

That's a bit easier to do in film: when writing, you can't exactly re-shoot. You can move around the words and try to place them in another paragraph or even another chapter. Then you can hope since some time has lapsed that the reader can laugh along with the character when referencing the previous scene. Sometimes this might work, but I've found every time I try to do that it doesn't work for me. Instead, I usually love my line so much that I still keep trying to place it in random spots throughout my manuscript. Until it gets to the point where I've revised every sentence around my one line while trying to make it work, that the line itself doesn't even make sense anymore. Then I try to fit my line of pure genius into another spot...where it fits in even less.

And you know what...the second I push delete is the second the story seems to fit together even better.

Why it keeps happening I have no idea. But all I know is that I'm never going to stop trying to fit in brilliant lines into my novels. And I'm also never going to stop hitting the delete key when they keep not working out they way I intended.

Such is the life of a writer...during Revision Angst.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 27, 2012

Writer's Fear #27: Messing up the 8th Revision

Tip of the Day: Check out Nathan Bransford's The Publishing Process in GIF form.

You know what's scary? Revising something you've already polished. I was so terrified of this, I put my stomach in knots this weekend. I was literally nauseated over it.

Oh my God, the new passages are going to stick out like (insert good angsty metaphor here, like the only girl in 8th grade not allowed to wear makeup). They'll be so first draft. And what am I gonna do to fix that? Have my long-suffering critique partners read the chapter yet again? Or just keep revising until the day I DIE?

But you have to start somewhere. I knew in my heart that changes needed to be made to make the manuscript stronger. So, here I go, inserting new drivel into text that no longer includes the word "just." Wait, I saved it to a different file first, right? Because I'm ruining my book! Who said revision always makes things better?!

This is me! I'm Grover. The next page is going to be a monster to fix. Maybe I just shouldn't look ...

It actually wasn't as bad as I psyched myself to think it would be. The new information makes the story stronger. I'm excited. Only now I have to do a whole new SCENE towards the end of the book. Everyone will read it and think, "Yup, that's the new scene. You can tell, it's so first drafty and it doesn't fit at all." Or I can just keep revising that scene until the day I die.

You know, there's probably a middle ground there. I suppose the problem is that I feel like my progress towards the finish line with this manuscript gets slower and slower as I go along. But fear certainly isn't going to help. The book will actually be done someday. I think.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 24, 2012

Writing to Sexy Trends

Tip of the Day: Like entering contests? I'm on a blog hop right now where tons of authors and bloggers are giving away ebooks. Check it out!

You may have heard, erotica's really hot now (haha, bad pun, I know).

As a self-pub, I can switch gears, and genres, ten times a day if I want to.  If I want to write erotica, I can. I can come up with a new pen name like Kitty Malone and publish naughty stories until I'm a bajillionaire (that's where the money's at right now).

But I'm not going to. I don't read erotica, so I don't really know how it's written. I'd probably develop a permanent blush. The last time I read an erotica novel, back in the last century when I was working at a used bookstore and we got in one of Anne Rice's erotic pieces, I think I was pink for a week. It was great, but it just wasn't my ball gag, you know?

Here's the bigger reason I won't write it, though: I write because I love to follow my muse. I spent seven years as a freelance parenting journalist writing about baby poop and C-sections. Even though I made decent money at it, I hated writing about topics I wasn't passionate about. I had my own babies at the time. I was living, and breathing, that lifestyle. That's when it hit me - I needed an escape from the normal. That's when I allowed my muse to lead me back into the fantastical stories I'd written for fun since the age of seven.

Writing is my escape. It's my way to honor my soul (or what my family would call my weirdness). While I loooove making money, I'm in looooove with writing from my heart.

And if erotica is in your soul? Then GO FOR IT! I know lots of people who love to read it and have always secretly wanted to try writing it. I say, do it, but only if you love it. Readers are smart - they'll know if the author isn't enjoying herself (ha! another bad erotica pun!).

Don't write to trends - write in sync with your heart! <3

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School Reading List for Writers

Tip of the Day: Miss my Back to School Supply Shopping List for Writers? Read it again HERE.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged a list of cool supplies every writer should have and this week I'm going to go over some must-have books. Starting with,

ON WRITING by Stephen King

This is, I think, the first real writing book I read when I decided I might give writing a go. Sure I read writing basics over the years through schoolwork but this was the first book that hooked me. The first part is memoir and King talks about how he became a writer and the second part is valuable advice for writers. If you haven't read it yet, it's a must.

The next suggested writing book comes from Megg with BIRD BY BIRD by Anne Lamott. This book talks about Anne's joys and struggles as she writes her book and will inspire you to do the same.

Deena suggests we take a look at Cheryl B. Klein's SECOND SIGHT.  This book is a great one to read before querying an agent or editor. Cheryl has been an editor in the Children's and YA market for over ten years and offers tons of advice from how to find the heart of your story to building better characters.

Kate says SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS by Renni Browne and Dave King is a must. It is full of tips (and checklists) for you to polish your work as much as possible before submitting for publication.

Emily likes WRITING AND SELLING YOUR MYSTERY NOVEL by Hallie Ephron. It has tons of charts and genre specific suggestions that she finds super useful.

And here's an additional list of writing books our A2AGirls recommend:

See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit - Sarah Mlynowski and Farrin Jacobs
Writing the Breakout Novel - Donald Mass
Writing Down the Bones - Natalie Goldberg
Take Joy - Jane Yolen
Manuscript Makeover - Elizabeth Lyon
The First Five Pages - Noah Lukeman
Gotham Writer's Workshop Writing Fiction
Steering the Craft - Le Guin
The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide - Becky Levine
The Elements of Style - Strunk & White
Plot and Structure - James Bell
Creating Character Emotions - Ann Hood
How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy - Orson Card
The Comic Toolbox - John Vorhaus

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mildly Concussed (or A YA Novel Version of My Head Injury)

Tip of the Day: Megg's books are on sale for only .99 cents each!

The grass wasn't that long. Maybe only two or three inches. But it was the foot high weeds that got Mom yelling for the third time that morning, "Deena, will you please start on the lawn?"

I rolled out of bed where I'd comfortably been lounging under the ceiling fan while reading John Green's latest. "Fine," I called while throwing on socks and sneakers. The last time I'd mowed in my sandals and was stung on the toe by a bee. TJ, the college guy down the street, had caught me swearing and hopping around the yard while I clutched my foot like an idiot. I wasn't going to embarass myself like that again.

I grabbed the push-mower from the shed and headed for the front yard. It was sunny and hot, but not too hot. It was the perfect weather to have my friends over later tonight to play Kan Jam out back.

I pulled the power cord on the mower once. Twice. Third time was a charm. The mower roared to life and I plowed through the first strips of lawn with ease.

On my second pass toward the driveway, I caught sight of him. TJ. Shooting baskets in the hoop mounted over his garage. He was the guy who was two years older than me but hadn't acted like it until this past year when he basically stopped talking to me even in a neighborly way. But I couldn't stop looking at him or fantasizing that he'd come over and profess his love for me.

I shook my sweaty head at my ridiculous thoughts and turned the mower around. That was when things got messy. The trees that Dad continuously reminded the rest of the fam "provided much needed shade and oxygen" were hard to mow around with their long, knotty roots and low, thick branches. It took forever to run the square mower around the circular tree trunks without sending root chips into my eye or breaking Mom's expensive new mower. If I didn't do the job well enough, Mom wouldn't hesitate to send me back out to do it all again.

While I pulled the mower back and forth, TJ dribbled and shot his basketball. Then all at once two things happened: 1) TJ missed his shot and the basketball came bouncing down the street in my direction, and 2) I yanked the mower backwards and slammed the back of my head into a tree branch the size of a turkey leg. My vision went dark before speckling into focus again like a bad movie fade-in.

"Shit!" TJ and I yelled at the same time. Except as he came running for his ball, looking cool just the same, I was clutching the back of my head and hoping when I removed my hand there wouldn't be blood.

When TJ reached his ball just on the edge of my lawn, he stopped, said, "Hey," and dribbled back to his property.

There was no blood spouting from my head, but if there had been, it probably wouldn't have hurt as much as my pride.

I finished mowing the lawn with my head pounding, and after complaining about it for over an hour Mom called the doctor who informed her I was probably "mildly concussed," to keep an eye on me, and call back/come into the office if the headache didn't disipate in a week.

Some girls could've turned that story into something to flirt with, but for me, it was just more proof that I was incapable of simple tasks like mowing the lawn.

Perhaps I should switch to basketball.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Very Hairy Manuscript

Tip of the Day: since Kate posted about pets yesterday, I wanted to join in the fun. And since "have your pet spade or neutered" is already a famous tip from Bob Barker, then I guess my tip would be that if you are in the market for a pet, don't forget about your local animal shelter. There are tons of great animals that need good homes! You too could have your own wonderful animal to jump on your head when your manuscript starts to give you trouble!

... and leaving my hair wherever I go!
I spent most of this weekend doing one of my least favorite things: cleaning. Not my manuscript, but my house. However, I have noticed that the two share many things in common.

Both of them bring great joy...

Along with provide many headaches.

And both are littered with messy dog hair.

Okay, my manuscript doesn't really have actual dog hair mentioned within it, but it contains the messy part. Just in the form of misspelled words, incomplete sentences, dropped plot lines, and a whole lot of other messes that are far more difficult than dog hair to clean up (which trust me is far from easy, especially when your dog sheds more than Howie Mandel likes to mention his Twitter handle on America's Got Talent).

And cleaning up all that mess can feel very liberating. In your house, it's nice to be able to walk around without feeling like you have to hide your face in shame. In your manuscript, it's a great feeling of accomplishment when you tie up loose ends and make all your words sparkly and pretty.

But at the same time, as soon as you get one hair picked up, it always feels like three more have just fallen to add to the mess. In our house, it's a never ending battle against the dog hair, which mirrors my writing exactly. As soon as I pick up one mess, it immediately feels like three more have been created and also need cleaned up. It's a vicious cycle and knowing when to call it quits is hard.

For me the weekend ended, so I decided it was easier to live with dog hair again than drive myself insane trying to pick it up every second. Normally, it's clean enough, though, when we allow company in to see our house. And with my writing, the cycle usually ends the exact same way: when most the messy parts are cleaned up and someone wants to see it. Except it's an editor or agent, instead of a relative.

You will never get the dog hair all cleaned up and completely rid yourself of a mess. And if you did, chances are the book (or your home) wouldn't be nearly as interesting or exciting if it was spotless. But you have to do the best you can and be satisfied with how all that mess can lead to greatness--or at the very least happiness!

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 20, 2012

Writing Alone. Sort of.

Tip of the Day: Help me congratulate my online crit partner S.J. Laidlaw on the new cover release for her upcoming YA, Infidel in Paradise! I'll be interviewing her here soon.

The kids are going back to school! Woo-hoo! I can't wait to reclaim some writing alone time. Not that I'm ever actually alone. My writing buddies are my dog Hudson and my cat Caesar, and they help keep me sane. My writing time often goes something like this:

Me: I just don't have a hook on this new novel. It's just a bunch of ideas thrown together because I suck.
Caesar: *jumps on my lap* Who cares? Pet me.
Me: I don't even know who would read this. Oh, you're so fluffy! But I'm worried about the lack of a hook.
Caesar: You should be worried about a lack of cat treats in the house. Scratch under my collar.
Me: You're so cute. What was I worried about again? Can I kiss you?
Caesar: Okay, but I'll run away.
Me: I have to kiss you anyway.

Hudson: Oh, good, the cat's finally gone. Can I sit next to you?
Me: Of course. My novel kind of sucks. What should I do?
Hudson: Rub my ears. *Big Dog Sigh* Nobody ever rubs my ears.
Me: I rubbed your ears this morning.
Hudson: Really? I'm a dog. I'm not good at retrieving short-term memory.
Me: It's not your fault. Give me your ears. Can I kiss you?
Hudson: I wish you would. Nobody ever kisses me.
Me: I kissed you ten minutes ago.
Hudson: Really? You're so smart. You're the smartest human ever. Your novel will be genius. You probably just need to take me for a walk.
Me: You're right. Some Vitamin D will get my brain going.
Hudson: I don't know what that means. I'm a dog.
Me: I'll get your leash.

Hudson: Listen, Cat, don't try to run outside with us. She's stressed enough.
Caesar: Nah, I'll just make a feint for the door for the look of the thing. I'm planning to expand the hole in the sheetrock I've been working on while you're gone.
Hudson: How's that going to help with her novel?
Caesar: Help who with what now?
Hudson: When we come back in, if she looks like she's going to cry in front of the computer thing, jump on her head.
Caesar: How would I recognize when ... never mind. When I get hungry, I'll jump on her head.
Hudson: Ooh, good plan.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 17, 2012

I am a Lazy Author!

Tip of the Day: Don't work out three times in one day. You will not be able to move when you wake up the next morning. Trust me.

You know super-bestselling, uber-famous, author Sue Grafton, right? She writes those murder mystery alphabet books. She thinks self-published authors are lazy. Yes, in an interview with a Louisville news outlet, she said this, "Quit worrying about publication and master your craft. If you have a good story to tell and if you write it well, the Universe will come to your aid. Don’t self-publish. That’s as good as admitting you’re too lazy to do the hard work."

Bein' lazy & pickin' my nose!
It's true. I'm super-lazy. This summer I hired a babysitter and paid her $10 an hour so I could write pick my nose while playing on Facebook.

When my kids go back to school next week, I'm going to use my free time to write play World of Warcraft for a few hours each day before my soap operas come on. Then I'm going to edit bake a cake and eat it all.

I bought an iMac earlier this year. It makes it much easier to market create You Tube videos. Oh, and those SCBWI conferences and workshops I've paid to attend so I can learn more about craft? Shhh....don't tell, it's just so I can hang out with friends and score some food.

Working on my stank face for my crunk routine
After I close my eyes and type gibberish until the little indicator says I have 50,000 words, I slap my ebook up on Amazon. Why edit? That's lame. And it takes up too much time when I could be perfecting my crunk moves with last week's episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

I'm one of the few solely self-published authors in the world with PAL status within SCBWI. Usually it means Published and Listed. In my case, it probably means Pathetic and Lazy.

I'll make six figures this year. But that's easy, yanno, for us lazy authors. I wonder how much money the ones who work hard make?

If you're lazy, like me, you might want to consider self-publishing. Phew, I really dodged a bullet by not going traditional, didn't I? All that work...I can't even imagine what it's like.


-end rant-

***After I wrote and scheduled this post, Ms. Grafton wrote a response to the outcry from indie authors. Read it here.   Ms. Grafton was educated rather quickly, and while she still admits she doesn't understand self-publishing, she knows she spoke too soon on a topic outside her expertise.

My blog post doesn't make fun of anyone but me (my favorite person to make fun of!), so I left it as is.

I also hope the readers of this blog know that I am a very sarcastic person who would never, ever pick her nose or crunk ... in front of a camera. Let's not discuss what goes on when the camera's off. ;) ***

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School, Back to Schedule

Tip of the Day: Check out this AMAZING deal on the Pioneer Woman's cookbook. It's just $3.99 (normally $29.99).

It's so so close now. And I made it! I survived another summer vacation with my 4 munchkins. And not kidding, this one was HARD. I got such little work done these last few months. Almost none of it was new writing. I have this thing where I can edit in the middle of chaos but I can't create anything new. And that was hard. But next week they're back in school!

The blonde above is me. Yes, I have giant balloon boobs. Haha, ok no. But I will be doing a dance on the way out of school for sure. Because it means I'm going to be getting back to some sense of a normal writing schedule. I still have a preschooler at home so I'm not to the point where I have full days of writing yet (We've been doing this blog for over 5 years now. Anyone remember back to when I used to talk about that day coming? Still not here but close. Next year.). But I'm setting aside 2 1/2 hours M, W, F when my son's at school to just do new writing.

Anyone else excited to get back to a normal writing schedule? When do you write?

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

So You Think You Can Interview (or Scoring a Children's/YA Librarian Job)

Tip of the Day: WriteOnCon goes through the end of the day today! Check out this amazing and super well-attended FREE online kidlit conference.

At my library, the Children's Services Manager is hiring a new part-time Children's Librarian. The head Reference Librarian and I are on the interviewing committee. We sifted through over 30 applications to find six candidates to interview, and on paper, they look great!

Next comes the interviews. Dun dun DUN....

Based on conducting interviews for such positions in the past, I have some advice.

Now I'd hate to spout wrong information regarding interviews for other non-librarian jobs in the kidlit world (as a Children's/YA bookseller, agent, editor, teacher, etc. for example), but if you are being interviewed for one of these positions, it cannot hurt to consider the following.

1. Know the most recent Caldecott/Newbery/Printz/Morris Award winners. Please. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY, no matter how much you may have disliked the titles, know who won and possibly a runner-up or two. Nothing says, "I don't keep my eye on the industry at ALL" like having no clue about any of these titles.

2. Be able to name at least five of your favorite RECENT (within the past year or so) picture books, MG novels, and YA novels. This is where knowing the runner's up from the awards in (1) above can also come in handy (let your research do double duty).

3. Exude a huge interest in kids/teens/kidlit. Don't tell me you always wanted to be a librarian; say you always wanted to be a CHILDREN'S librarian. I don't want to think you just want ANY job (even if you do); make me think you are DYING for THIS job and you will just be CRUSHED AND BAWLING if you cannot officially call yourself a Children's Librarian (or whatever is relevant).

4. Be able to book talk some of your favorite titles without rambling/taking up half the interview. PRACTICE this out loud to yourself ahead of time if you are not comfortable doing book talks -- CONCISE book talks. We all know that person who tells you every detail of a movie/book they just watched/read so you don't even need to watch/read it yourself; DO NOT BE THAT PERSON.

Keep in mind, you don't need to memorize any of this info. You can come into the interview with a notebook with notes on it. You will look PREPARED! You will look INTERESTED! And you will NOT look EMBARASSED when you don't know the info above. Note: this can be super awkward for the interviewers too.

What questions do you have about the above? Any? Need any advice on interviewing for a librarian job? The door is now open!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Getting into the Swing of Things

Tip of the Day: not only is the WriterOnCon going on right now, but Cynthea Liu is offering a Free-tique Round through the end of the day. Lots of great, free resources to help writers out!

Since going on vacation last week, I'm definitely dragging this week, trying to get back into the swing of things again. Seriously, how does a mere week's vacation make you feel like the whole world has changed? Or that getting up out of bed after a trip feels like a Herculean task complete with fits of throwing your alarm clock at the wall because you don't want to return to work and feel that magically getting rid of your clock will make time disappear (thankfully I'm not prone to that much literal dramatics, but you get my drift)?

Does anyone else get this way or is it just me?

Some of it has to do with playing catch up with all the things you missed from the previous week, but most of the feeling for me comes from just wanting to still be on vacation.

Unfortunately, that same things happens to me when I take an extended writing break. And sometimes that can mean even just 5 or 7 days off.

Trying to get back into my book always seems to take a minimum of a day to reprocess the story and characters. And when you have a busy life and writing is your second job, then sometimes taking 5-7 days off occurs more than you would like.

And then jumping back into the book constantly feels like you are running back into circles trying to play catch up. I think that's why the first three chapters of my book probably get read 10 times more than the rest of the book. Not only because they are super important pages, but also because I constantly reread them when coming back to my book after a break.

I haven't really found a way around it, so I've just decided to embrace the fact that my beginning chapters will get read and edited way more than anything else and hopefully wanting to avoid having to play so much catch up will continue to motivate me to work continuously on my projects without taking many breaks.

Any one else have any great ideas on getting back into your projects after a break?

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 13, 2012

Outline Madness Wrap-up: Steal This Plot

Tip of the Day: The online writing conference Write On Con starts tomorrow morning. Check it out!

Okay, so you have a great setting and characters and you need some more ideas. Here's my last bit of advice: why not steal a plot?

I don't mean from your critique partners. But why not use a tried-and-true template to build on? Fairy tales, Shakespeare, the Honeymooners. My last book starts out with a brother and sister who live with their father. Food is getting scarce, and the new woman in Dad's life wants the old family gone. The brother and sister try to rescue each other. Yup, Hansel and Gretel. There are hundreds of settings and time periods where you could use the beginning of that fairy tale, and a wide variety of characters who would react to that set-up in different ways.

International folklore is another gold mine of plot ideas. Do you know what a ghoul is? In ancient Arabian folklore, dead prostitutes lured men out into the desert and devoured them. I've already got a story idea based on that hook.

Check out this title coming in 2013, The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd. It's based on the fictional life of the daughter of Dr. Moreau from The Island of Dr. Moreau. I really want to read that!

Whether your characters are making a Faustian bargain, getting help from a guardian angel, or being toyed with by a trickster fairy, take that traditional plot and give it a good twist. What bothers you about the original story? Where do you think it should come out differently? I hated that at the end of Hansel and Gretel, the kids run back to their criminally negligent father and the stepmother has magically disappeared. I knew my story wouldn't end like that. Also, it's hard not to be sympathetic to the ghouls. Has anyone ever taken their side before? You will imprint your personality onto the story like that. So it's not really copy-catting. It's,um, drawing from our rich cultural heritage.

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shhhh! It's a Secret!

Tip of the Day: I'm still a fan of spiral-bound desktop calendars. Find really cool ones at your local museum or arboretum instead of just picking up some generic 52 Cats calendar at your local bookstore. (Yes, I'm already thinking ahead to 2013.)

I was trying to think of blog post topics for this week when a traditionally published friend suggested I discuss why some loud & proud self-pubs jumped the ship and signed traditional contracts.

Is it the fame? The money? The stamp of approval? Is the self-pub end goal a traditional contract, no matter how much we scream that it's not?

Amanda Hocking says she wanted more time to just write. Honestly, I believe that. Self-pub is a lot of hard work that doesn't involve much actual writing time. There's marketing, social media, and promotional events. Hey, wait a sec, my traditional friends have to do those things too. Was it the formatting? Well, that can be hired out for a flat fee. Maybe it's the professional editing. Huh, that's something we can buy for a flat fee too. But yeah, with more management, there probably is more time for writing.

Jamie McGuire preached endlessly about how money should flow to the author, not away. She just sold her books to Simon & Schuster. In my mind, that tells me that the money is no longer flowing toward her - unless she got some incredible royalty rate that other authors don't receive. Or maybe she's betting S&S can get her more exposure.

Besides, let's assume her novel was at $2.99 when she self-pubbed. She would have made approximately $2 per sold ebook. Let's assume she's getting 25% now (which is probably generous) at $7.99 with S&S. Her royalty would be $1.99. Interesting, right? Same income, but now she's got a bigger team on her side. (It's totally possible my math is wrong due to a slight learning disability. Feel free to correct me in the comments - I won't be offended.)

Before anyone gets upset, this isn't a flame on these two authors. I've read Amanda's books and I love 'em. In fact, I'm meeting her tonight at my local bookstore. As for Jamie, I don't know her and haven't read her books, but we have friends in common who tell me she's total awesomesauce.

I have a feeling there's more to the story than we know. There could be a million reasons these two uber-successful ladies chose to change paths. One thing I do know is that traditional publishers have access to contacts that most indie authors do not. Sometimes the trade-offs are worth it.

Point is, authors are going to make decisions that puzzle us. Unless you're good friends with someone, you may never know why they made the decisions they did. It's okay to speculate, but hold off on judging someone. Until you walk in their shoes, it's impossible to truly understand.

As for me? Would I take a trad pub contract if it magically came my way? Depends on the terms, royalties, distribution, and a million-zillion other things. I'm a never-say-never gal. But I can tell you one thing - I LOVE self-publishing. I love the freedom it gives me to explore my imagination. I love owning the rights to my creation. Giving that up would be really, really hard.

Publishing, in any form, is a gamble. Support your friends when they win and when they lose.

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to School Shopping for Writers

Tip of the Day: Four kids are expensive. I spent $95 on back-to-school underwear and socks from Target this week. Not even kidding.

It's back to school time and if you're a parent you're running from store to store trying to get everything on the school supply list. Well, I have a back to school list for you writers. You must get (okay, look at and ooh and ah over it like me) everything on this list:

Edgar Allen Poe lunchbox, available at Entertainment Earth:

These freaking adorable pencil socks from sockdreams. (Deena & Em, you need these for work right?)

A purse made from your favorite book from rebound-designs.

Chocolate pencils from this Japanese chocolate store:

And book earrings that you can make yourself (I'm thinking I need to make some with my next book's cover. What do you think?)

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

NOW is the Power (or Living in the Moment)

Tip of the Day: Interested in reading novels that take place in video game worlds? For engrossing, try READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline; for cute, try HEIR APPARENT and DEADLY PINK by Vivian Vande Velde; and for creepy and British, try EREBOS by Ursual Poznanski.

I've been reading PRACTICING THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle.

In addition to finding that the words in this book help me to quiet my mind, they also resonate with my writing.

Writing a novel cannot be about getting it published, or awarded, or earning a bestseller label because those are all future goals for the work that you are WRITING NOW. And you should be enjoying the NOW, and experiencing every part of it: the music or silence in the background as you write, the smell of coffee or tea brewing in the kitchen or coffee shop, even the feel of the keyboard/pen against your fingers. Soak it all in as part of the experience of NOW because NOW is really all that exists.

Likewise, if feelings of doubt come into your mind about the future of your writing, the future of your career or book, remember that your thoughts are NOT YOURSELF. You can overcome this doubt by picturing yourself over your head -- like an image of your face hovering -- watching your brain and seeing the negative thoughts passing by like on a close-captioned TV show. And you can decide, "Wow, this channel sucks. Time to change it!" and not listen to it/watch -- just tune it out.

And then tune back into the NOW and enjoy the work you are doing. Because it is you and you choose to do it. Because you love it and you would not be you without writing.

It is a challenge to do, to get into the NOW, just like writing is a challenge each and every time. But if any of this was too easy, we'd get bored.


Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Vacations and Saying No

Tip of the Day: Are you bad at saying "no" to people. Next time try one of these funny ways to say no. Gotta love a list that starts of with "I have to floss my cat."

Sometimes you need to write and sometimes you need to just take a break.

This week is one of those vacation weeks. (If you call rooming in a cabin with eight children vacation, I guess).

Many studies have proven that time away from work actually makes you more productive. So I'm not going to argue with the experts.

As I've gotten older, I definitely appreciate my free time much more and try to say "no" more often so I can actually have free time. Sometimes working full time and then coming home to write can be extremely challenging and taxing. But most of us trying to break into writing are doing just that. Kudos to us! Many times I feel like I have a second job, even though I'm not making any money, nor do alot of people understand me when I say I have to go home and "work"-- aka write.

I think it's something that only writers can understand. Yes, writing is fun. Yes, most of us do it because we enjoy it. But publishing is a business and a hard one to get into at that. So it is a job, even if you aren't making money.

And just like with any job, sometimes breaks are important.

Which is why I'm enjoying my vacation right now.

And next week I will happily go back to "work" and keep on writing away.

--Emily, Miss Querylicious

Monday, August 6, 2012

Outlining Madness #4: Okay, Now It's Turning Into Madness

Tip of the Day: Like Tumblr? You can follow YA Highway on Tumblr at And Game of Thrones fans must get the excellent advice at

So an outliner is me. I outlined a trilogy based on a novel I wrote a couple of years ago and started rewriting the novel. And I don't like it. I don't feel like the outline is stiffening the writing or taking the surprise out of it. I just don't like it. Maybe revising an old novel feels like going backwards. Maybe I feel like I should be spending my time working on something more similar to my last novel.

Am I, an unpublished author, talking about branding? I might be talking about branding.

The problem is that my last novel required a lot of research, and if that's going to be my brand, it's going to be very, very difficult to produce in quantity. Which is a pain in the butt. Aren't we new media/new publishing world writers expected to have lots of product on hand? Have we lost the luxury of taking a year or more to write a novel because of the research involved?

Okay, back to the drawing board. The whole idea of having outlines this summer is so I'd know what to write. I went in fully prepared to put aside outlines and first chapters and ignore them. And if that's what I've decided to do ... well, that outline and opening chapters aren't going anywhere, and maybe they'll have some use someday. Ha.

But now I need to write an outline for a novel where I have no idea what the main plot is, I'm not sure   who all the viewpoint characters should be, and that naturally means I don't know where to begin the novel. I'm in pre-outlining mode. I'm Googling things like strip mining and Civil War regiments of colored troops and census names and hoping this all comes together into something.

Anyway, I have a page labeled "Promises to Reader." Actually, it's in my handwriting, so it's labeled "promses 2 readr" but you get the point. There are subtitles for things my setting promises the reader. (Underground tunnels. Fires/explosions.) And there's a subtitle which, in my writing, is YA Genre promses 2 readr. Here's what's under that heading so far:

looking ahead, not back
proactive main characters
making difficult decisions about the future

Right now I've got what feels like 7 subplots but I'm missing the hook. The thing that would make you think "I have to read this book." So I'm still reading and thinking and putting things together, and trying to come up with something that will catch me a fast hook and not push me off a cliff to nowhere.

But this week I'll start sketching out scenes and character motivations, and that will give me the foundation of an outline. And then I'll outline it, write a few chapters, and decide whether to keep going or pick a different story idea from the Acme catalog of half-baked ideas in my brain. And probably somewhere in there, I'll fall off a cliff once or twice. Let the madness continue!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hard Work Pays Off: SCBWI PAL

Tip of the Day: If you're a writer - treat it like a real job. Don't let anyone say your writing time isn't valuable.

If you're Facebook friends with me or a member of SCBWI-IL, you've heard the news: my self-published novels have been granted PAL status.

Maybe you're new to those acronyms. I'll explain what they stand for and what it means.

SCBWI = Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
PAL = Published and Listed

PAL is, traditionally, only available to those with a publishing contract from a verified publisher. Self-published authors could not be PAL members.

Back in April, the Yahoo! group for SCBWI-IL exploded in conversation on whether self-publishing was viable, valid, and worthwhile. As a self-publisher who loves what she does, I stood up for self-publishing. Others shared opposing feelings. It was a spirited debated.

Afterward I was encouraged to contact the governing board of SCBWI concerning self-publishing. Even though that made me very nervous, I decided to do it. To my surprise, I heard back from a member of the board quickly. They were all interested in learning more about self-publishing, particularly from those who were successful.

Over the last few months, I've shared quite a bit of my personal data. Sales reports, income statements, etc. Because SCBWI was so integral in helping me become the writer I am today, I wanted to give back in any way I could (I have also done various behind-the-scenes volunteering for them since I joined).

A little over a month ago, a friend told me I should apply for an exception to PAL. I was really surprised, but figured it couldn't hurt to try. I spoke with my contact on the board and asked if this was a possibility. Within a few hours I was encouraged to send along a detailed packet of information for them to consider.

It was weeks before I heard anything. Honestly, I had no idea whether or not they would accept me. I certainly didn't deserve it just because I'd been in communication with the board. If I was going to receive a PAL exception I wanted it to be for my achievements in writing and in the business of publishing.

Earlier this week, the good news came through! I had been accepted! My friends asked if I was bubbling over with excitement. I was happy, but at the same time I knew it was just an exception for me. I still want my fellow self-pubs to find a path to PAL.

To me, PAL means you're a professional. It means you've achieved something incredible in your writing career. So why are successful self-publishers still not able to have it? I'm certainly not the most successful self-pub out there. I do quite well, yes, but I'm not the queen by any means.

It's my hope the SCBWI board will find a way to make PAL work for everyone who's achieved success in publishing. I know it's not an easy task. I don't envy their position. I will continue to share my information with them if they want it and advocate for my self-pub friends. The publishing world is evolving. I don't know about you, but I think it's a beautiful thing.

Viva publishing and viva SCBWI!

Megg, Miss Enchanted ePubber

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Middle Grade Mania

Tip of the Day: Check out the Unread Reader's My Book Boyfriend giveaway!

I'm back to working on my middle grade so that means I'm looking around for middle grade books to read when I'm not writing. And since it seems like middle grade books don't get nearly the same amount of book love YA books do (online anyway. I know plenty of young teens who love their middle grade books!) I'm going to occasionally spotlight ones that look especially good to me. Starting with:

Sarah Mlynowski's Whatever After, Fairest of All. First of all, I adore Sarah Mlynowski's books. She had me with her Bras & Broomsticks series. So of course I was drawn to her newest. Here's a summary from Amazon:

"A fresh, modern spin on a classic fairy tale--from bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski!

Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall . . .

Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White's fairy tale.

I know it sounds crazy, but it's true.

But hey -- we're heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn't die, she won't get to meet her prince. And then she won't get her happy ending. Oops.

Now it's up to us to:
- Avoid getting poisoned
- Sneak into a castle
- Fix Snow White's story

And then, fingers crossed, find our way home."

I'm also especially drawn to S.R. Johannes' On the Bright Side. The cover grabbed me right away (background on how her cover was designed here) and then when I read the summary I was hooked. This one is waiting for me on my iPad right now. I started it last night and so far, so cute. Here's a summary from Amazon:

"On the Bright Side is a hilarious road to guardian angeldom paved with so much drama and due-paying that it makes middle school look painless.

As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. Until Gabby finds out she has to protect Angela, her school nemesis, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. Problem is, Angela is now hitting on Gabby's should-have-been boyfriend. (awkward!)

Instead of protecting Angela, Gabby pranks her (like tripping is a sin?) at the hopes of cooling off the new couple. At first, they seem harmless until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, her Celestial Sky Agent, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, puts Gabby on probation, threatening her eternal future. 

Determined to right her wrongs, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to Earth for just one day. Without knowing, she kicks off a series of events and learns what can happen when you hate someone to death."

The Land of Stories, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer is the last book that grabbed my attention. And not because it's written by Kurt from Glee. Or because of the cover because while it is interesting, it isn't the type of cover that usually stops me in my tracks. And not because of the summary on Amazon (but I'll share it anyway) because really it's pretty meh:

"Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales.

The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. 

But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought."

This book grabbed my attention because I heard Chris talking about it when he appeared on Windy City Live and he made it sound so interesting. He talked about how he got the idea and how after he read fairy tales as a kid he was always left with so many questions. Like, how was Cinderella's wedding? What happened in the years following? Why are there a couple of princesses (Snow White and Cinderella I believe) married to "Prince Charming"? And are they brothers? He said his book addresses things like this and that made it sound really cool.

I hope you guys check out these books and I'll keep my eye out for more great middle grade to share with you!

Kristina, Miss Author in Action

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What's Old is New Again (or Rewritten and Revised and Resubbed?)

Tip of the Day: The YALSA Symposium is three months away! Who's going (besides me)?

I am rewriting the MG novel that got me my first agent in 2008. Two slightly different versions of that novel were subbed to -- and rejected by -- about eight editors over the course of 2008-2009.

This year I went back to that novel. I love that novel (unlike some drawer novels that I have no interest in working on again). I've been rewriting and revising it like crazy, with good feedback from my CPs, and think it is so much tighter and developed and the characters stand on their own.

The main plotline of the novel is the same, as is the setting, but the execution is just so much more on point because I am a much better writer now than I was in '08.

BUT, it is too late for an agent to look at that novel? Has the ship sailed? I know editors move around a lot from house to house, and some who read it are no longer at the same houses or even still in the pub business.

If this novel were polished and ready to go out four years after its first attempt, what do you suggest I do with it if I am unagented?

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing