Wednesday, August 2, 2017

#IWSG Peeves and life

Welcome, yet again to another episode of how the neurotic writer turns! This is a monthly blog list where writers from all around the globe join forces and yell at the Universe :). Join us!





With this group, we have the option to run wild on our own, or answer a monthly question. Today I decided to do both!

 Mwhahaaaaa!

First, my own little bits of madness. Writing life. When something bad happens to a writer: rejection, bad reviews, more rejection, etc, we often go global on it.  The "Oh my GAWD! A reader hated my book! An agent rejected me! I MUST SUCK!" This is true for all aspects of life but I'm just focusing on the writing part ;). One apple is bad, therefore we must burn down the entire orchard in our woe.

Yet when something great happens--good reviews, nice agents, winning awards, we get excited immediately, then it fades. Part of our tiny lizard brain is certain it was a fluke or mistake. We don't go there with the bad stuff, oh no. That is clearly an indication that we are awful writers.

But the good? "Gotta be a mistake."  I very recently (like last Friday) won an award through the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of the RWA--a Prism. I had my moments of doubt when I was named a finalist for Warrior Wench. Then extreme happiness when the book won. Then back to doubts. Seriously? Why is it we are conditioned to make the bad global and the good a "fluke"? (I'm asking- if any of you know why ;)).

I realized that was pretty dumb (and yes, I have a Master's in Psychology and it took all these years to realize that was a dumb way to operate ;)).  

Did the win change my life? I now get to call myself a "multiple award winning author" so that's cool. But aside from that-no changes in sales, or life in general. But guess what? The bad things didn't destroy me either.  So to all of my fellow neurotic writers out there- let's treat our successes at least as focused as we do our failures!

Onto the IWSG question of the month--Peeves.

My biggest as a reader is when an author focuses on something, extremely focuses on it...then doesn't do anything with it. I read a lot of series, so I know sometimes a focus on one book doesn't pay off until a future book. But when it never does? GRRRRRRR.

What's your biggest peeve?

Happy IWSG Day!




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In which I pontificate about Comic-Con International

Yes, it's that time again kids--momma's going to Comic-Con International, San Diego!

Way back in the day, I wouldn't have needed the full name. Just Comic-Con worked as this was really the only one of it's kind. Also, back in the day, even telling local "mundane" people where I was going would bring a, "what?". Then I'd explain until their eyes glazed over or they ran away in terror.

Now when I say where I'm going there is envy there. Sometimes even a bit of drool. This is in part because of the rise and acceptance of nerdom. I think that back in the day there were a lot of closet nerds who refused to let their inner geek flag fly.

It's now okay to be geeky ;).

Plus, there is the cred. Folks want to be able to say, "I went to Comic-Con!" (ergo- cool by association whereas in the past it was un-cool by association ;)).

But we are here! It is time! This my 25th year (started in 1991, but missed a year early on). I have seen some changes.

 I remember when one of the registration folks was going up the escalator and yelled to another, "we hit 50,000 people!"

I remember getting a text from a friend in the "big" room saying, "IT's ARNOLD!!!" The first REALLY big star to show up. Prior to that there would always be rumors, "Johnny Depp & Tim Burton will be at the Sleepy Hollow panel!" Then there would be the, "they are unable to attend--due to traffic" (they couldn't get out of LA-LOL- right ;)).  Casper Van Dien held that panel all by himself and did an awesome job.

I remember walking by the reg booth for the next year, and the folks working it becoming very excited when we stopped to actually by our tickets.

I remember preview night being mostly empty and finding all sorts of deals (and prior to that when it was for the vendors).

We would have huge groups of friends meet for breakfast downtown. Ya had to get there early to fight for parking, and back then you didn't have lines, so we'd go have a nice, obnoxious meal together. The buffet at the Marriott (sadly, now long gone) was the usual place.

I remember joining with friends under the sails to dance, drink, and snark during the Masquerade. The line for that is not doable anymore. 

Up until a few years ago you could still get into Ballroom 20 (the second largest room at 4600 seats) with a few hours of line waiting. Now the line loops a mile or more away from the convention center.

The ol' con is not what it was. But it is still an amazing tribute to popular culture--comics, books, movies, games, groups, fandoms, you name it, it's there.

I still love it. In part for all the amazing memories of hanging out with long lost friends there. In part because the creative energy there is something that rolls off your skin. It hits you like a wave when you go to the exhibit floor, then just buffets you the entire time you're there. It's an amazing thing.

* almost forgot my shameless plug- if you're going to be there, I will be signing at booth 1119 (Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore) on Thursday from 12-12:45. Come say hi!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Maybe I'm getting the hang of this

I've got a confession, I'm a worrier. If something can go wrong I have already thought of ten other ways it can go even worse.

But, I'm trying to take my own words to heart (see prior post about pivoting ;)) and be more adaptable and not as freaked out.

I just released the Victorious Dead. Now, book releases are stressful and scare the crap out of me. This was book 6, so I doubt that is going to change. (Note: I need to build a reward into the process, to reinforce the good and change my reactions to these ;)--hmmmmm).

Anyway- so this one was extra stressful because I had it on pre-order (if you don't make your deadline, Amazon locks you in their jail for a year and your books are only fed food and water. It happened last year ;)). And I'm signing at Comic-Con International, San Diego NEXT THURSDAY.

I always underestimate the time it takes after the drafts are finished, but this was the closest I've ever cut it.

You don't have to order a print proof, but I'm old school and so I did from Createspace and Ingramspark (my two distributors for print). They both should have arrived yesterday.

Nothing.

Createspace couldn't track it and finally came back this morning saying, "Ooops- there was an error, you'll get the proof Friday." *buzz!* too late.

Ingramspark probably won't even respond until a few weeks from now and I can't track on their website.

Me: "OMG!! It's the end of the world! ARGH!!!"

Me pivoting: "Okay, worse case scenario- I order without print proofs. I really want to do the Comic-Con signing, but the world won't end if I can't."

Now, I know many authors do order without print. The online proofs are very good. But again, champion worrier here folks! However, I have just ordered some print copies. Without a print proof.

After six books, maybe I'm getting the hang of this thing (doubtful, but I remain optimistic ;)).



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#IWSG- flying by the seat of your pants

Welcome to another Insecure Writer's Support Group blog-o-mania!  Join us!



Today's prompt was one valuable lesson we've learned since we started writing--there are way too many!

But since I do need to narrow that down, let me say, "Being able to pivot".

Now, there are plenty of ways to interpret that. As a writer, it's important to be able to change with the publishing world. The publishing world wasn't buying humorous fantasy (people were, NY wasn't)- so I pivoted and went Indie instead.

We also have to adapt in our stories. Even a plotter is going to have moments where things go left instead of right. For us pantsers, it's even more common. But, you can't freak out. You simply turn and move on.

Changes can come from outside sources as well--editors, cover art, formatters, proofreaders- all of these folks can through you for a loop (rather, your well-made plans ;)). Pivot and move on. Keeping in mind that changes happen and aren't the end of the world--AND that I can just keep moving forward has been my biggest lesson--I think. I could be wrong. ;)

Happy IWSG DAY!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

So ya wanna be a published writer....

Every once in a while people will mention they have always wanted to write (and publish) a book. Or they want to ask questions about how they can get rich (the whole writing part being secondary ;)).

So, I just thought I'd outline the path to writing--the brief version.

You're NOT going to get rich ( almost all published authors have a day job for a reason, folks ;)).

Let's say that you're just starting out, brand new, wet behind the keyboard. You have an IDEA. I won't go much into the actual writing--first off it's different for each author, and secondly, that would be an entire series of blogs.

But you take your idea, and you settle down to tell your tale. There are two types of writers with a million variations, but basically : Plotter (also called an architect writer) or Pantser (also called a discovery writer).

Plotters are outliners. Some have outlines over 50 pages, some just a brief run down of the book. Thing is they know where they are going before they start the book. (JK Rowling is a famous plotter)

Pantsers are just jump in and start swimming. We (yes, I'm one) have a general idea or concept (usually) but definately a character or two we want to mess up. Then we write. For many of us, plotting would destroy the story--we write the same reason people read, to find out what happens! Now in a series, ya do have to have some points in your head to build the overall arc.(Stephan King invented the term, Ray Bradbury was also a famous pantser)

There are so many sources of help to write, I won't even go into it here--find groups, reference sites, writing books, go to conferences, talk to other writers.  The only words of wisdom I have is take all writing advice with a grain of salt, and be wary when someone says, "You ALWAYS/NEVER do blah blah blah." You'll hear a lot of conflicting advice.

So now you have your book. You've had a critique group, trusted friends, anyone you can find, look at it. You've also edited it a few dozen times. Now what do you do with it?

Two paths: Traditional publishing (you have an agent or submit directly to the publisher) and self-publishing (aka Indie--you are doing everything-- you HIRE a great editor or three, you HIRE a great cover artist.)

I do think that even indies should understand a bit on how the traditional side works--we're all part of the same business afterall. 

For info on traditional options: check out Writer's Digest, Query Tracker, Publisher's Weekly. Find out as much as you can about the business and which agents/editors are right for you. Submit it--a lot. Write another book while you wait...maybe a few.

For indies (aka self-pub) you need to really do your research. You are the one in charge, it is your name out there, and you control everything (which is great and scary ;)). I waited a year before I published The Glass Gargoyle. I was checking out cover artists, editors, web folks. Swag ;). Was everything perfect when it came out? Hell no. Still isn't. Perfection is a dream and you will drive yourself crazy over it. Make things as good as they can be right now. That's why it's so important to hire professionals to help you. Yes, it does mean you're shelling out very nice money for covers, editing, formatting, etc--but it is an investment. If you can't pay right now, hold off a year. Save your money. Write the next book.

Pretty much the bottom line is, if you want to be a published author--you can be. But you have got to LOVE the process. And have a day job ;).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Contests, awards, and not giving up

As you all know (and if you don't, you should ;)) writing is pretty solitary. Those of us with day jobs do get interaction from real humans (usually) but those jobs may or may not be related to writing.

So we lurk in our little writing caves, pounding out words, editing words, slicing and dicing words, then writing more words. Mostly all alone.

Entering contests is a way to not only gain some attention and hopefully new readers, but to interact with the writing world. It's completely subjective, one person's winner is another person's "DNF" (Did Not Finish--isn't that charming?)

Right now The Glass Gargoyle is entered in the fun and kinda crazy, SPFBO (self-published fantasy book off) a year long event that I don't have a chance of finaling in, but looks to be a lot of fun and I've already met some new fellow fantasy authors. http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2017/05/spfbo-2017-phase-1.html

I was recently notified that Warrior Wench is a finalist in the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter (FFnP) of the RWA's contest-- the Prisms! Very excited about that one, very heavy competition, but seriously, even just being a finalist is a major item on my list :).https://ffprwa.com/2017-prism-awards-finalists-announced/


And, last weekend, The Glass Gargoyle, WON for best published SF/F in the San Diego Book Awards!

 It was very exciting and I will say seeing this award daily makes me extremely happy :).

Each one of these is a chance for myself and my books to get out into the writing world. I've entered plenty of contests and come back with nothing. Yet, I'm glad I entered, I got the books out there! And I think it's worth the attempt--ya never know what will happen!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

SFWA Nebula Weekend

For today's blog, I figured I'd ramble a bit about the Nebula Weekend event I just attended this past weekend. This event is put on by SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) and is built around their pinnacle awards ceremony, the Nebulas.

This was my first one of these (but not my first convention ;)) and I've only been a SFWA member for less than a year (you do not have to be a SFWA member to go though!). 

First impressions--very, very, small. LOL. Yes, I have been going to Comic-Con, International San Diego for 25 years, so my world is skewed. But even compared to other writing conferences I've been to, this was by far the smallest. While it was kind of nice it being so tiny, I'm hoping more can be done to get the word out and make this a bigger event. I think that it's a great way for both members and new writers to mingle, network, and learn. Perhaps different panel tracks will eventually emerge for different levels of writers. The way for SFWA to grow is to support the new writers while bringing in established writers as well.

Everyone was extremely nice and helpful and they gave me a huge bag of books which will always win me over (thank you TOR and the other publishers who sent book copies ;)). I met some really great folks in the mentor session, at the signing, just walking around, and at the banquet--it was great to be around my tribe ;).

There was an amazing Grand Master- Jane Yolen. She is funny, charming, extremely intelligent and an amazing person to listen to. I'd say she was an excellent choice for Grand Master.

We also had a great Toast Master-- astronaut Kjell Lindgren. He was funny, poignant, insightful and had great stories--another excellent choice.

There were some very good panels-- just wish there had been more, but like I said, they are building this event still.

All in all, this was a wonderful event, and I would recommend ANYONE who is writing Fantasy, SF, or any sub-genre within, to attend at least once.

I'm now going to start pleading for them to move one of the cons to San Diego ;).