I write like
Jack London

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Awkward Pause

Since I had to run GK to the doctor this morning (toe vs. bed, luckily nothing was broken) and I'm doing last minute format verifications for Zombie Love, here's the Neil Gaiman interview from last night's Craig Ferguson and The Late, Late Show.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3 Questions and a Contest - Jane Carver

WINNER!!  Joan Reeves has won the free copy of Mind Rider!  Thanks everyone for participating!


Welcome to the latest edition of THREE QUESTIONS AND A CONTEST with special guest genuine Jane Carver.

Jane has worn several hats over the years. She’s been an editor and a contest coordinator as well as a writer.

Her latest book Mind Rider came out this month. Musician Rake Bennigan is the only one who sees the spirit in the desert. Artist Miranda Owen goes nowhere but allows her imagination to soar. Can Rake love a woman with limitations? Can Mindy love a man with freedoms?


Tell us a little more about Mind Rider. What made you choose a musician as the hero of your story when conventional publishers say that’s a major no-no?

You’re going to laugh but I wrote this back in my Russell Crowe adoration days. He’s a musician and has a band. When the band came to Austin twice I was there. Saw them again in Chicago. I got to be friends with the sound engineer. Crowe and the band also like to ride motorcycles in Australia. This story came to me one day when the soundman, Bruno, complained that the guys had just finished a long bike ride and his butt was chafed. Keep in mind that all things are fodder for a writer’s imagination, even a movie star/motorcycle rider/singer. Needless to say conventional publishers never picked up on this particular short story but I think Amazon Kindle readers like it.

You’ve worked with a small publisher and self-published your work. What do you think is the most important thing new writers need to keep in mind with the topsy-turvy world that the publishing industry has become?

First and foremost is writing the best story you can. Without that, all the rest, promotion, learning how to self-publish, seeking an agent and/or editor is worth nothing. Being part of a group that will support your efforts is the second most important thing. With members of that group, you can learn to do anything. What you don’t know about publishing, seeking agents or editors, promoting yourself someone else will. You, in turn, share your expertise with a member in need. With those critical pieces in place, anything is possible.

And for the wacky portion of our interview and in honor of Rake, name your favorite ‘80’s hair band.

Well, why don’t ya ask a hard one, huh! Lots of individuals of course…Bryan Adams, Phil Collins and Billy Joel. Lionel Richie and Bon Jovi along with Elton John but I guess my favorite band would be Fleetwood Mac with Stevie Nicks. When I worked as security at the Mitchell Pavilion in the Woodlands north of Houston, I guarded the back stage dressing rooms several times when Fleetwood Mac came on tour. Nice people as well as talented. Can’t say that about a lot of groups these days, but yep, that would be my favorite 80’s band.


Contest:

Jane’s books are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, as well as her online publisher Melange Books. For more info on Jane, check out her author page at Melange as well as her website. Just for fun, she also has a photo site that she enjoys working with at http://www.photo-fun-by-janie.com/.

Today, we are giving away a copy of Mind Reader to one lucky blog reader.

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment stating your favorite hot musician you’d want to meet. PLEASE, if you comment anonymously, leave a contact e-mail.

Per usual, comments will be closed on Thursday, June 30, at 11AM CDT, and GK will draw a name from his Capt. Rex helmet. The winner will be posted at noon.

Legal $#!@:

The contest is open to everyone! To the FTC, I have received nothing from Jane for this opportunity other than her gracious southern manners.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The J.K. Rowling Conundrum

Currently re-reading - Gotcha! by Christie Craig

Everyone in publishing is talking about J.K. Rowling's announcement for Pottermore.  I'm not going to bother linking because everyone else already has.  And unless you've been shacking up with the Geico dudes that live under rocks, I'm sure you've seen it.

With this announcement, a lot of people, both Trad and Indie, have converted to Little-ism and are running around screaming about the sky collapsing.

Seriously, people?

How exactly is Joanne going solo with her e-rights going to affect moi?  Or vous?

I considered setting up my own website for sales.  It lasted all of .329 seconds because I'm well aware I don't have the name recognization of a Bob Mayer, much less a J.K. Rowling.  Frankly it makes sense for her to do so.  Why give money to someone for your own idea?

Say it  with me, people.  Yog's Law--The money flows to the writer, not away.

So the middlemen are now whining that Joanne is taking money away from them.  How exactly?  They've refused to acknowledge the possibility of e-books for nearly 20 years.  Now that the paradigm's shifted to where consumers love e-books, all of the sudden they're interested?  I can't say that I feel sorry for them.

Joanne was a smart cookie by keeping her erights.  The same way George Lucas was brilliant thirty-five years ago by keeping the merchandise licensing for Star Wars.  Hey, 20th Century Fox didn't give a shit about toys and books, so they thought, Yeah, let's throw the dumb kid a bone.

As for Joanne's decision affecting indies?  Raise your hands if you write kids' books.  Out of all of you with your hands up, how many of you really believe lightning will strike you?

First of all, I write adult books.  Very adult books.  While Joanne and I may have some overlap in customers interested in our product, I'm not worried.  This is not a zero-sum game, people!  Just because one of you buys the e-version of Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone for your kid or grandkid doesn't mean you won't buy one of my Seasons of Magick for that special spouse time after the kids (or grandkids) are tucked in.

Second of all, Harry Potter is a publishing phenomenon.  How many of us can replicate this kind of word-of-mouth popularity?  We can't compete with this kind of viral event, nor should we try.  Hell, Joanne never intended any of this craziness to happen.  So really, folks, it's like comparing apples to lunar rocks.

The only thing I'm doing to imitate J.K. Rowling is to write the best damn book I know how.  I strongly suggest y'all do the same.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

William Shatner Covering Cee-Lo Green

What can I say? This is so f***ing funny. And check out what the background singers are wearing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Status Update

Currently re-reading - Gotcha! by Christie Craig (e-book)

First of all, I want to thank everyone on behalf of my co-worker Bea and her husband Ray for their prayers, wishes and support.  If you're reading this on the morning I've posted it, Ray is currently undergoing quadruple bypass surgery.  Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for him.

[UPDATE:  As of 4:30 PM CDT, Ray is in recovery and will be moved to ICU in a little bit.  Everything went smoothly, and we're very relieved!!!]

As for my summer publishing schedule:

1) Zombie Love will still go on sale July 1.

2) Seasons of Magick: Summer is still on target for July 25.

3) Zombie Wedding has been pushed back to September 1.  I'm a little disappointed about the delay, but by the same token, I want to make sure I'm releasing a quality product.

As for sales, I was doing well until last week--only two books sold.  I believe it's a combination for school letting out and the slow down in promotional activities due to my lack of time.  I'm hoping the release of Zombie Love will trigger some new sales.

One of the pluses of going indie is the flexibility in your schedule when life stuff happens.  One the other hand, I don't have someone else who can do my promo for me when that same life stuff happens.

In the meantime, I just have to keep my eye on my goals and keep plugging away.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Contest Reminder

Christie Craig and I are holding a joint contest over at Killer Fiction.  To enter, leave a comment.

Don't wait! The contest closes at 11:59PM tonight!


Have a Happy Litha, everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lessons Learned Part 7 - Double-check Your Shit

Currently (Re)Reading - Gotcha! by Christie Craig (E-book)

A lot of published folk I know are putting out their backlists.  The problem for a lot of them is that they don't have a digital copy.  So they're having to scan their old typewritten manuscripts or paperback copies, and in a lot of cases, they need new artwork because of licensing issues concerning the original covers.  What I'm about to say applies to both new authors and old:

(1)  There's no such thing as a perfect OCR program (at least not yet).

(a) For those who aren't computer geeks, OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition.  Most OCR scanners 'read' each line of text and tries to translate the shapes it 'sees' into a corresponding alphanumeric character in a word processing program.  If the OCR is missing some 'training', it may translate 'K'ehleyr the Klingon' into 'Cpl. Klinger'.

ALWAYS proof-read your text after a scan!  In fact, have a couple of people put eyeballs to the novel.  Then you won't be mocked on various blogs where the bloggers get a thrill out of trashing anyone self-publishing.

(b) Depending on the OCR program, the file may go through a couple of conversions before it gets to your preferred word processing format.  This means you could have invisible formatting characters totally fucking up your file.  I know this sounds like extra work, but I highly recommend using Smashwords founder Mark Coker's nuclear option to make sure you have a clean file.  Yes, it's a pain in the ass to reset indents and re-italicize words, but it beats smacking your head against the wall trying to fix formatting errors on your e-book.

(2) Don't assume public domain art is actually in the public domain.

Sorry to bust your fuzzy bubbles, but people lie on the internet.  ALWAYS double-check rights to a particular piece of art.  An acquaintance got a cease and desist letter from the owner of a particular painting after she used a JPG from a public domain site.  Even better, pay the couple of dollars to license photos or art from a reputable company.  It'll save your ass.

Anybody else have a double-check suggestion?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Different Writers Do with the Same Premise

Are you a writer who's worried about someone stealing their idea?

Have you come up with a cool concept involving a young blonde who discovers that she has supernatural abilities?  A story where no one in her world can tell her exactly what she is?  That her change in status totally messes up her life and her relationships?

Today, the summer blog tour stops at Killer Fiction where Christie Craig and I (well, actually our characters Kylie and Sam) show how two writers with the same basic premise came up two totally different books.

P.S.  There's a contest, too. Maybe you can guess what one of the prizes is from the cover to the left.  Christie's also throwing in a signed copy of Born at Midnight.

[Edit to add: Since someone at Killer Fiction asked, Zombie Love will be on sale July 1st at Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com and Smashwords.]

Songs I've Been Listening to a Lot Lately

I indie-publish 'cause I was Born This Way

Friday, June 17, 2011

Will Graham Strikes Again

Will Graham has his second book out, Monsters Under the Bed.

Here's some behind the scenes gossip:  This story started out as a spec script for a TV show (one I'm not at liberty to reveal due to certain legal conditions).  Will knew I loved this particular show, and he let me read the script.  The story was fabulous and a perfect fit.  Apparently the producers, etc., did not agree with my expert fangirl opinion and rejected it.

Hey, their loss is our gain since Will kept the delightfully creepy ending.

Plus, he has a special extra story after the end of Monsters Under the Bed.

It's currently available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Blurb:
In 1996, SSA Michael O'Leary of the FBI's Child Abduction and Serial Killer Unit (CASKU) investigated the disapperance of Amelia Reardon, the five year old daughter of textile heiress Annabelle Sinclair Reardon. Annabelle was attacked by the kidnapper, brutalized, and left for dead. Michael found Amelia, but what happened after that horrific discovery sent him into a spiraling depression, resulting in his resignation.

Annabelle Reardon survives her attack, but discovers she possesses a very slight psychic ability, a talent causing more awkwardness and embarrassment than any concrete benefit. Using her considerable personal resources, she founds the National Center Victims Advocacy Group (NCVAG), an organization dedicated to assisting and supporting the victims of violent crimes. One of her first actions is persuading Michael to come into the fold and use his training and skills.

December 23, 1999. When a member of a local boys' choir performing at a shopping mall brushes against her, Annabelle has a vision of an actual vampire; swirling cloak, bloody fangs, emanating an aura of menace that staggers her. The 'vision' induces such terror in her Annabelle is compelled to look into the matter, dragging a reluctant Michael with her.

Using the resources available to them through the NCVAG, Michael and Annabelle begin an investigation on Christmas Eve that takes them from Washington, D.C. to the beauty of the Virginia countryside, a compassionate doctor, a private institute, and a confrontation with genuine evil on the most special of days, Christmas Morning.

***BONUS STORY***

A serial killer terrorizes the city of Houston. A hunter stalks his prey. But, nothing is what it seems. It’s all a matter of PERCEPTION….

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'm Not Here Right Now. . .

Today's stop in my summer blog tour is at Ciara Gold's Treasures where the subject is "Just Because It's Make-Believe, It Doesn't Mean You Can Skip the Research."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Contest, But Not Mine

C. J. Redwine is hosting a Lilith Saintcrow contest.  The prize is a gorgeous necklace inspired by Lilith's Jill Kismet character.  Check it out!

Monday, June 13, 2011

L.A. Banks

One my favorite authors Leslie Esdaile (aka L.A. Banks of Vampire Huntress fame) is gravely ill.  Friends and family aren't giving too many details, but Leslie's condition is serious enough that the medical bills have become, in her friend Tina Wise's words, "astronomical."

[Edit to add:  I found out late this evening that Leslie has late stage adrenal cancer.]

Leslie is a wonderful, caring person, someone who gives back to the writing community.  I was fortunate enough to meet her at the RWA 2005 National Conference in Reno.  I can't say enough how warm and encouraging she was to me, a newbie with my bright orange "First Conference" ribbon.

A fund has been set up on her behalf for contributions towards medical expenses:

Leslie Esdaile Fund
Account #81538801
Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
Operations Center
901 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107-2404
215-931-0300

For those wishing to send a card or letter:

Leslie Esdaile
c/o Tina Ryan Wise
P.O. Box 37189
Philadelphia, PA 19148-9998

Industry News You Probably Should Read

It's summer in NYC, so the normal slow-down in the publishing offices is happening.  But that doesn't mean things have crawled to a halt.

Last week, noted editor Alan Rinzler wrote a piece on publishers' mistakes and why those mistakes are a good thing for writers.

Of course, authors/editors/publishers Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith advocate authors having one foot in Trad and one foot in Indie.  Just watch your back with both agent and publisher contracts.

Speaking of contracts, fellow recovering attorney, Passive Guy has a series this week on reading a contract from the perspective of a contracts lawyer.  Definitely a MUST READ, folks!

On the other side of the field, author/publisher Bob Mayer talks about the elephant in the room, i.e. the all-or-nothing mindset that's afflicting some writers and how it can damage all writers.

And last week, both Bob and Joe Konrath talked about the weird definitions different writers' organizations use to establish who's a professional writer and who's not.

Well, I've been writing a magazine column for the last four years and getting paid for it.  I hereby declare myself a professional writer.

Hang in there, fellow writers, and don't forget the sunscreen!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'm Not Here Right Now. . .

Today, I'm visiting with Melissa Ohnoutka, the author of Faithful Deceptions, and talking about the challenge of being an indie publisher.

Drop by and hang with us!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I'm Not on Facebook

Currently reading - Vampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)

The reason for this quick Summer T-day post is that I've been asked by quite a few people lately how to find me on Facebook.  At this time, I am not on Facebook.  I simply don't have the time to deal with another social networking site.  I'm barely keeping my head above water with my blog and Twitter.

That's one of the bummer things about being a writer--juggling my time.  The writing has to come first.  Without the writing, I have no story.  No story means no product to sell.  No sales means no money to support the family.

There is a Suzan Harden on Facebook who's a high school guidance counselor down Ft. Myers, FL.  After what happened with Ellora's Cave author Judy Mays, I'm little worried her students and parents may think she's me.  Hopefully, she has a good sense of humor if someone asks her when the next Seasons of Magick novella is coming out.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Woman Plans, The Gods Laugh

Currently reading - Vampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)

I didn't even make it past the first week of summer vacation before something hit the fan.  *sigh*

School was done, I was only scheduled to work four days a week at the Day Job, and I had my writing/publishing production schedule for the next three months mapped out.

First emergency:  The cover art arrived for Blood Magick.  It was beautiful art, but it wouldn't work as a book cover.  So DH and I put together an emergency photo shoot.  The results were far better than either of us expected.  In fact, DH was so proud of his work that he's got the next few covers planned out for me.  Potential disaster averted, right?

Second emergency:  The husband of my Day Job colleague Bea was rushed to the ER, unable to breathe.  He's still in ICU and looking at surgery.  Unfortunately, our manager runs a lean staff, which means overhauling the shift scheduling since we're not sure how soon Bea will be back.  Instead of 20 hours for four days a week, I'll be working close to 40 hours for five days a week for an unknown length of time.  Shit happens, but I'll give our manager credit for not dumping Bea on the street when she's in the middle of a family crisis.  Not sure yet how this will affect my summer release schedule.

Third "issue":  Not an emergency, but I had to laugh.  We have a waterbed.  The bed heater decided to croak Monday night.  Do you have any idea how uncomfortable it is to sleep in an unheated waterbed?  Even when it's 100 degrees outside?

Guess it's a good thing I'm pulling in some extra money this summer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Advice Is Only Good If . . .

Currently reading - Vampire Mine by Kerrelyn Sparks (MMPB)

(1) it's worth following, and
(2) you follow it.

I've had a few people asking for advice in the indie publishing arena.  I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I can tell them what's worked for me.  I can also refer them to people who I believe know what they're talking about.

Like J.A. Konrath and his blog A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.  All of Joe's promotional antics aside, he makes a lot of good points.  He also has what he calls the Four Rules for indie authors, but after listening to him, I believe he really has five.

1) A good book

Really, folks.  There's no way around this one.  Craft is king.  If you don't make the time to learn the craft of fiction, you're screwed.

2) A good cover

Thanks to evolution, humans are visual hunters.  No getting around the concept applying to books because if you do a general-type search on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, what pops up and draws your eye first?  Yeah, the covers.  And if you have some half-assed cover that screams amatuer, folks will pass you by.

3) A good blurb

After the cover, the next thing a potential buyer looks at is the blurb.  Your online blurb is no different than the query letter you send to an agent or editor.  Okay, it's a little different, but the purpose is to entice the potential buyer to read your book.  If you have run-on sentences, repetition or the phrasing is confusing, the reader will assume, rightly or wrongly, your prose will be the same.

4) A good price

This is the tricky part to me.  I don't want to give away my work, but I also don't want to price it to where people don't think they're getting their money's worth.  Don't be afraid to experiment a little.

5) Good luck

The one thing in the list that the indie writer can't control.  But if you get the first four right, you may find that Number 5 seems to appear out of nowhere.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Lazy Song

I'm not a big Bruno Mars fan, but this alternate video is effing hysterical!  Thanks to Pam Noles for the link.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I'm Not Here Right Now. . .

I'm visiting over at Tess St. John's blog today.

But don't forget to enter my contest below before you pop over to Tess's and check out my interview!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Contest Time!

It's June 1st already, and it's already starting with a bang.  Blood Magick is out!  And I'm giving away five (that's right, 5!) copies of my brand-spanking new e-book!

And since Blood Magick is the first novel in my Bloodlines urban fantasy series, I'll add another of my favorite urban fantasy firsts to sweeten the pot.  One of five lucky people will also win a DVD copy of the first season of True Blood, based on Charlaine Harris's fantastic Sookie Stackhouse mysteries.

So how do you enter?  In the comments, tell me who you think Sookie should end up with.  Bill or Eric?  Or should she forget the vamps and give more time to one of her were-creature suitors, like Sam, Alcide or Quinn?  You have until 11:59 PM CDT on June 7, 2011, to leave a comment.

Who is eligible?  For the e-books, I can e-mail the MOBI ("Kindle") or EPUB ("Nook") versions of Blood Magick world-wide.  If you need a different version, let me know and I'll make arrangments.  However, I only have access to Region 1 (U.S. and Canada) DVDs, and I cannot arrange for shipping outside of those countries at this time.

How will the winner be chosen?  Per my usual contest criteria, all names will be put in GK's Captain Rex helmet.  The first name drawn will be the Grand Prize Winner and will receive a copy of Blood Magick and the set of DVDs for True Blood Season 1.  The next four names drawn will each receive a copy of Blood Magick.  Should the Grand Prize winner live outside of the U.S. or Canada, the DVD prize shall be forfeit.

Additional Legal Stuff:  Neither Charlaine Harris, Inc., HBO Home Video, or any their assigns, officers, heirs, representatives, etc., have participated in this contest, nor have they provided any prizes.