Sunday, April 25, 2010

Resources for Writers #15: Savvy Book Marketer Newsletter

Marketing Ideas
Subscribe (free) to Dana Lynn Smith’s Savvy Book Marketer Newsletter. This newsletter comes monthly. I print out and keep it in a folder designated for the newsletter. Noticed she’s offering a copy of her free ebook Top Book Marketing Tips with new subscriptions. She also offers a series of ebooks (for sale):
  • Selling Your Books to Libraries
  • Successful Social Marketing
  • Twitter Guide for Authors
  • Facebook Guide for Authors
  • Texas Book Marketing Handbook  (I have this one and found it well worth the price!)

In this month’s issue, there were two valuable links for ordering book display stands at reasonable prices.

This month's issue focuses on How to Sell Books to Gift Shops and Specialty Retailers. 

Check out this link to topics of past issues.

One good tip is worth plowing through several sources (i.e. newsletters). 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Resources for Writers #14: Poets & Writers Magazine

I'd never heard of this magazine until last year when I received a special offer in the mail. That's not significant, because there are many magazines with which I'm not familiar. However, I took advantage of the low introductory rate. At first, I found the bi-monthly magazine a bit over my head, but as time passed, and I became more familiar with issues relating to writing and publishing, I began to get more from the magazine. Still, when renewal time rolled around, I decided to renew only the lower-priced magazines and let Poets & Writers go.

To this day, I'm not sure what made me change my mind, but I dutifully put the check in the mail and didn't miss an issue. And, with each issue, I'm finding out what a gem the magazine is--for a lot of reasons and especially for the terrific 'catalogue' in the back, neatly categorized and alphabetized under 'Deadlines'.

Here you'll find listings (and even a submissions calendar!) for grants and contests, followed by a special section on winners of previously-featured competitions. Then there's a section on conferences and residencies. Finally, listed as 'classifieds',  there are listings of  anthologies, chapbooks, and magazines open to submissions. The latter is accompanied by the usual caveat emptor, cautioning writers to thoroughly check out all destinations for their manuscripts.

The card in the latest issue (May-June 2010) offers a year's subscription for $17.95, a 50% savings on the newsstand price.

FTC disclaimer: I share this information with other writers as a courtesy and am not paid to promote this or any other magazine.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Resources for Writers #13: Your Nearest Visitor's Center

I love to stop at the Visitors' Centers as I travel, particularly the ones on state lines. At each, you can find a wealth of information, and it's all free! Now, how is this a resource for writers, you ask? Let me count the ways, using Texas as an example. You can acquire comparable information in any state.

Stories/Novels need characters, settings, and plots. They're all here in these fat glossy folders replete with maps, charts, pictures, timelines, even glossaries!
  • The Chisholm Trail: Exploring the Folklore and Legacy
  • Texas Mountain Trail: Exploring the Heritage of Far West Texas
  • Texas Plains Trail: Exploring the Heritage of the Panhandle Plains
  • Texas Forest Trail: Exploring the Heritage of East Texas
  • Texas Independence Trail: Deadly Battles, Heroic Deeds, and a History Shaped by a Desire for Freedom
  • Texas Brazos Trail: Exploring the Heritage of Central Texas
  • Explore the Red River Valley: Your Gateway to the History, People, and Places that Make Texas and Oklahoma Legendary
  • Texas in the Civil War: Stories of Sacrifice, Valor, and Hope
  • Texas in World War II: United by Duty, Honor, and the Fight for Freedom
  • Official Roadmap of Texas Forts and Trail Region
  • Butterfield Overland Mail Stage Route
Every town with any historic link provides its own brochure, urging you to visit and behold the wonders of preserved homes, museums, and other historic sites. If wanderlust doesn't stir in your soul, it should.

Not only historical plots can spring from these treasures, but also contemporary ones as well. Romance, mystery, adventure, thrillers--it's all there waiting to be unleashed.

Can't get to a Visitor Center, you say? Not a problem. Simply write to the state historical commission or state tourism bureau (they're called by different names in different states), and your personal research library is on its way to you. Shoot, you don't even have to write these days--go to their websites and make your request! Then watch your mailbox--the snail mail one, of course.

Just yesterday I ran across a brochure that I picked up at the local Visitors' Center here in Hot Springs, and I'm already planning a trip about an hour southwest of here to Old Washington Historic Park. I'll spend at least a day touring and snapping pictures of no fewer than 49 restored/rebuilt homes and other historic buildings. Then, after dinner at Williams' Tavern Restaurant (circa 1832), I'll spend one night in a budget hotel and start home the next morning, stopping along the way to take in the scenery. It will be a quick, cheap excursion, but I'll have a wealth of information for future writing when I get home!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Book Review #11: Wide Sargasso Sea

This book, recommended to me by my well-read critique partner, may or may not tickle the fancy of every Jane Eyre fan--of which I am a big one! Bottom line, it is written as the back story for Rochester's mad wife, Bertha, who is imprisoned in his English manor house.

A slim volume, not even 200 pages long, it begins with a first-person account by Antoinette Bertha Cosway (later Mason by adoption) of her bleak childhood on a ruined Jamaican estate, with her widowed mother and disabled brother Pierre. They are watched over by two 'loyal' retainers, Christophine and Godfrey. She narrates the story through her mother's remarriage to Mr. Mason, the burning of their home, and her mother's resulting madness.

Part 2 picks up with the (unnamed) Edward Rochester whose marriage to Antoinette is arranged by her step-brother Richard Mason. The marriage brings Edward a large amount of money which, as a second son, he has no hope of receiving by inheritance from his own family.

Their wedding trip is at first passionate and later disastrous, as Rochester listens to the tales of her purported illegitimate brother Daniel. Suspicious of Antoinette, he renames her Bertha (thus distancing her from her 'mad' mother) and then is unfaithful to her. Finally, he decides that she, too, is 'mad'--but I wondered if he actually pushed her over the edge.

The final part of the book deals with her life locked away from the world. The symbolism used throughout the book--fire, slavery, birds, alienation--come together here. When she finally burns the house and plunges to her death from a parapet, she has come full circle.

The book is one of those that you want to put down before you sink into the abyss of the characters' misery, but an odd fascination compels you to finish and try to understand. Only by reading several excellent online summaries and analyses did I gain some insight into the tale.

I think that now, whenever I watch one of the several versions of Jane Eyre that I own, I will look askance at Edward Rochester--and I'm sorry for that. What he tells Jane about his 'terrible secret' is not, after reading Wide Sargasso Sea, the absolute truth. Jane ends her story by intimating that they lived happily ever after. I have to wonder.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, 1966

FTC Disclaimer (and I am really tired of disclaiming to you!): I checked this book out of the library, read it, and reviewed it because I try to do a book review for my blog every week. Is that okay with you?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Resources for Writers #12: Your Own Page for All Things Writer-ly

Consider setting up an iGoogle page. Just click on Make iGoogle my home page. On the left, click on the down arrow beside HOME and click ADD A NEW TAB. Type in the name of the new page--in this case, WRITING. Then go to the right and select your THEME--the picture/design across the top of the page. Now you're ready to ADD STUFF--and there's a ton of it available!

Here's a look at some of the items I placed on my writing page. The "gadget" may be simply a search box OR it may list several articles of interest (they change frequently without you having to do a thing!)

  • Writing Tip of the Week
  • Document to PDF (a converter tool)
  • Online Language Checker
  • Writing Progress Meter
  • Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  • Visual Thesaurus
  • Ancient Languages
  • Writing Tools
  • Daily Writing Tips
  • Writer Unblock Tool
  • Unexplained Mysteries
  • Writing Quote of the Day
  • Fiction Writing
  • Freelance Writing
  • Poe War
  • Wikipedia
Certainly, I don't use all of these everyday, and you can always find the information separately online. But it's handy to have it all organized on one page at your fingertips. And, you don't have to keep iGoogle as your homepage if you don't want to. Once you have all your tabs set up and all the "gadgets" added (I have pages for NEWS and GENEALOGY as well as WRITING), you can revert to another home page.

I access the iGoogle homepage from the Google Toolbar at the top of my screen.

Friday, April 2, 2010

First Review of Where Is Papa's Shining Star?

After the writing...and the revising...and the contract-signing...and the editing...and the galleys...and the waiting for the release...comes reviews.

I just received my first one for Where Is Papa's Shining Star? You can click on the link at the top of the main page (under the link to my website) to go there.