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 ;).


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Riding the rollercoster

Eons ago--seriously, in the dark ages folks--I read Battlefield Earth. It's a huge book, and while I sort of enjoyed it  at the time, nothing sticks with me except really tall aliens and that L. Ron Hubbard was very verbose.

Except for the concept of rolling in a plot. 

That was the first book where I became conscious of the ups and downs in storytelling. At the time I thought of it like a roller coaster. Or what I call down time. We've all read books where things just keep building and building with no let up, no quiet moments. They can be exhausting! (Some folks love that--more power to you!)

For me as a reader, a book needs to have an ebb and flow as it works its way up to the "Everything has gone to hell and we're all gonna die" moment. I like those quiet moments in a book. I can breathe a bit (a good writer will have you racing alongside the characters), there's often a bit of humor, or character development that makes the characters a little more real. Then I'm ready when the next massive battle, attack, mission, or whatever, happens.

This is more noticeable for action heavy books. For me, if there's too much going on and not enough down time hanging with my peeps (aka book characters ;)) I usually don't enjoy the book. I'm all for a great plot, but I LOVE characters I can fall in love with.

But even more subtle stories can benefit from the roller coaster. They too, can benefit from stepping out of the story for a moment. The sitting around a kitchen, the club, the favorite diner. Just a chance for the characters to decompress and show sides that might not have been noticeable before.

 But please, don't just use that time for an info dump or recap of what just happened in the story ;).

Sunday, May 7, 2017

THE GLASS GARGOYLE IS FREE!!!

For a VERY limited time--the ebook version of The Glass Gargoyle is FREE! If you know someone who could use some mayhem, murderous mages, and drunken faeries- send them over to get started with the series now!

(It's the faeries who made it free---I can't get them to sober up enough to unlock my Amazon password!)







Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#IWSG Goals versus Desires


Welcome to yet another monthly round of the Insecure Writers Support Group. Join us on a blog trip around the world looking at our hopes, dreams, and insecurities.



Join us!

Lately I’ve been thinking about how to make sure I enjoy what I’ve done with my writing—and at the same time keep improving, growing, moving forward.

I’ve noticed that no matter what goal I reach, no matter how much I think, “OH! I want that to happen!” once it does, I’m no longer as thrilled. I’m still excited and happy, but I feel like it’s not as cool anymore.

Then if I have a hope (desire) and it doesn’t come through, I’m bummed and feel like a failure (there’s a timing component to this post folks—two contests I’ve entered books in will be announcing their finalists in a few weeks ;)).

My ‘desire’ for awards, recognition, sales, etc. is threatening to drown out my ability to enjoy what I have achieved and why I do what I do.

As I’m looking into this I’ve realized there is a difference between goals and desires.

A goal is something we aim for and control. I can have a goal to complete three new books in a year. I control it (within reason, I do have a full time day job ;)). There are no other folks involved. I do it, or I don’t. I am solely responsible for controlling that goal.

Now a desire is that I wish for lots of people to buy and love my books. To be well off and be able to quit my day job and write full time. There are a LOT of other people (whom I have no control over) involved with that. The room for disappointment for a failed desire is HUGE!

If I don’t make one of my goals, it’s on me, and I regroup and figure out how to get back on track to make the goal. But if something I desire falls through, there is really nothing to do but feel bad. About something I had no control over. And that failed desire can negatively impact my ability to achieve my goals.

So, after this long talk with myself, we’ve decided to focus on goals (the setting and reaching of them) and avoid desire. If I want something to happen (such as a book contest) I need to make it a goal to meet the criteria to submit the book (my steps, my goal)—THEN forget about it.

I have a feeling this is going to be a work in progress ;).

What about you? How do you deal with goals and desires?

Happy IWSG day!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Titles, what are they good for?

I thought I’d bring up something I’ve always found interesting- book titles.

Some authors have all their titles set up before they dive in, series titles, individual book titles, etc. Yeah, me not so much ;).

My first series (which might come out some day- it's not my first ever book --which no longer exists ;)) is the Chaos series...yeah, doesn't really have a name. But the books do: Essence of Chaos, Division of Chaos, and Destruction of Chaos. Sort of a story arc in title form. Chaos in this world refers to magic and those titles fit.

The Lost Ancients series started out with a very long title for the first book: The Glass Gargoyle of The Last Elven King. Yeah, that got axed. I trimmed the title for an event before I published and realized that worked much better--and shows up in a thumbnail for the cover much better ;). The rest of the books all are named after other relics. The series name was just something quick to gather all the books--and the whole series does revolve around those long lost ancient folks ;). The faeries wanted to call it the drunken faery chronicles, but I out voted them.

The term AsarlaĆ­ is an Irish term that means sorcerer, wizard, or magician. I was looking for a term like that, and I liked the way the word looked. The accent over the ‘I’ is a pain as I have to adjust it everywhere I mention the series ;). (Note—might want to stay away from accented words ;))

The titles in the series are Warrior Wench, Victorious Dead, and Defiant Ruin. I wanted titles that were short and could hold double meaning. All three titles are names of  space ships in the books, and they also speak to what’s going on in the series.

My main character Vaslisha Tor Dain is not someone who would take being called a Wench lightly, but with a ship of that name it does happen. Victorious Dead concerns not only the name of her beloved ship, but people lost in the first book. Defiant Ruin sort of explains what happens when everything in the Galaxy goes to hell in a handbasket.

The steam punk that will be out later this year, is an open ended series-- not in a set number of books. I only have one title set so far—book one: A Curious Invasion. I wanted something again fairly short, but also that fight with the whimsy of a lighter steam punk (and there is an alien invasion as well ;)).


I see my titles as important as the cover in setting my brand. As a reader I enjoy books in a series that share a style of title. Adds to the cohesiveness for me.


What about you? What are your feelings about titles—both for series and for specific books?