Monday, November 28, 2011

If you're winding down after NaNoWriMo, let me introduce you to some "light" reading: namely, Monica Wood's The Pocket Muse, published by Writer's Digest Books and also available at Amazon.com. I stumbled on to her second volume New Ideas for Writing in a small bookstore called A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book on the main street of Van Buren AR. The first volume is Ideas and Inspiration for Writing. 

I'm not quite 60 pages into Volume #2, a gem of a book just the right size for pocket or purse. It's chock full of words of advice, pithy quotes, striking and thought-provoking B&W pictures, and topics to get you started writing writing writing. It's not your standard "how-to" book with chapters and text. Rather, it's easy on the eyes with information scattered about among pictures and many pages with just ONE sentence, quote, or idea.

You'll find
  • "Notice(s) from the Department of Procrastination Prevention"
  • "A Tip on ______"
  • "Memo(s) from the Department of Just Showing Up"
  • "Write About _________"
  • "Today Only-Writer's Special"
and so much more. It's one of those books that you won't just read and put on the shelf. 

While I'm on the subject of books to get your started--and keep you writing, I'll mention a book I blogged about several years ago: Name the World and Other Exercises for the Creative Writer edited by Bret Anthony Johnson. Each chapter is followed by a set of writing "exercises" which can be used to spark a story. The final chapter is full of five, ten, and twenty-minute warm-ups which could easily morph into short stories or even longer works.

We all need a good swift kick to restart after NaNoWriMo! These books will do it!

Where do YOU get your inspiration and ideas?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Run, Do Not Walk! (Part 2 of 2)

To clear up any misunderstanding before you read this, I am NOT planning to pay to publish--ever--but that is a choice.

Every aspiring author has heard of/seen ads for are known as 'vanity presses'. These are pay-to-publish presses, and many people use them for many reasons. Yesterday I 'attended' an online webinar sponsored by Writers' Digest and heard what I thought was a very fair and balanced presentation of the advantages/disadvantages of Traditonal (now often called commercial) publishing, Do-It-Yourself Publishing, and Supported Publishing, which is another name for pay-to-publish. Comparisons were made regarding speed to market, control, and investment required.

It's not my purpose here to hold one model up as better than any other. I believe it is a matter of choice. However--it behooves an author to recognize a vanity press masquerading as a small (commercial) press--and know the bottom line BEFORE signing a contract which is legally binding. (And let me state here that there are good pay-to-publish businesses.) Look for
  • fee of any sort
  • pre-purchase or pre-sale requirements
  • withheld royalties
  • promises that your book will be available 'everywhere'
If you are looking for a pay-to-publish business, make sure they are upfront about being what they are. Don't be led in the back door with the 'carrot-on-a-stick' plot and wish you'd taken a better look at the carrot first!

The link I directed you to in Part 1 contains lists and lists of other links to
  • research publishers and check reputations
  • learn about contracts
  • learn about epublishing
  • learn about print-on-demand publishing
  • find other resources to expand your knowledge about publishing
It is NOT trite to say that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. At the very least, knowledge is just plain common sense. And if we are creative enough to write, we are smart enough to know how to get it out there the very best way!The 'best way' may differ from author to author.

My thanks to SFWA--Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America--for their wonderful "Writer Beware Blog" and the Small Press Page (linked above) which inspired the "Run, Don't Walk!" topic. They are a savvy resource for ALL writers! Add their site to your desktop, subscribe to their blog, and stay up on topics important to the writing world.

Disclaimer: This recommendation is made strictly because I believe the information provided by SFWA is valuable.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Run, Do Not Walk! (Part 1 of 2)

The old saying, "There's a sucker born every minute," is an old one and is often spoke in various forms. No one wants to be considered a 'sucker', and we're tempted to say (when reading of a scam), "Oh, that wouldn't/couldn't happen to me." Maybe and maybe not. We are all human, and sometimes we let our feelings get in the way of our common sense. So--my fellow writers and authors--published and unpublished alike--be aware--very aware--there is always someone out there who will make your dreams come true for a price.

 I consider myself blessed to have 'fallen in' with a wonderful small press some four years ago when I decided to get serious about writing and publishing. The Wild Rose Press is an author's dream. Yes, my first submission was rejected, but three subsequent manuscripts saw print, and I have a fourth coming out next year. It is a professional relationship with the added perk of feeling totally at home and safe with the staff and my fellow authors. I may get more rejections from them somewhere down the line--but that will not change my feelings about how fortunate I am to be 'a rose'.

But I digress. In this two-part blog, I want to discuss how even small presses need to be vetted by savvy authors. Here are some things to consider:

  • Exposure, availability, sales
  • stability/longevity
  • competence
  • veracity
  • advances
  • fees
  • complaints
  • credentials of staff
  • website
  • backlist
  • printing technology
  • print returns from bookstores
  • professional production and editing
  • pricing
  • options for distribution
  • marketing
  • communication
  • CONTRACT
Most small presses do not pay advances. If an advance is a must for you, you'll move on. Many small presses are newer to the publishing world. A new press may be right for you if you're willing to share its growing pains. The request for payment FROM the author is, of course, a no-no. If you want to shell out, there are plenty of vanity presses around to take your money. But for everyone, the contract is of prime importance. Read it carefully. Get professional legal advice if you have any questions. But never just sign and return and consider it a done deal. 

For more, go here (and I'd recommend it!) and put a shortcut to this site on your desktop.

Later this week I'll be blogging about pay-to-publish operations and why one may (or may NOT) be good for you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Welcome to The Word Place, Sandra Koehler (writing as Alison Chambers)


 What genre is the primary focus of your writing? Do you write anything else?
I write romantic suspense, but I also write political thrillers with a lot of romance in them.
Where do you publish?
The Wild Rose Press and independently on Amazon.com and Smashwords.
What is your most important and most frequently used resource as you write? (This does not necessarily have to be a print/online resource.) 
I use Roget’s Super Thesaurus.  It has more than 400,000 synonyms and antonyms and I find it the best Thesaurus ever.
What resource has been the least helpful to you? Would you recommend it to another writer with a different focus?
 I am still having difficulty finding the value in Facebook and Twitter, though I know other authors utilize it  a lot. Takes a bit more practice, I guess.  But I do love blogging and find it  helpful  in getting your  message across.
Do you consider a special writing place a resource? Why?
In front of my computer. The words just flow more naturally there.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe because they are already in print and it’s easier to visualize them on the page.
Can you share a resource you are using/have used for a specific current/past work?
I utilized the non-fiction book “Rebel Gold” to get the treasure hunt idea for “The Secret Sentinel” published by The Wild Rose Press last year.  It really set my imagination to soaring.  So many non-fiction books or articles, especially those with a historical bent, can help an author dream up good ideas.
Do you have any other resources you would like to share?
When I first started publishing on Amazon, I began to receive some excellent information through a newsletter that is now called Taleist (www.taleist.com).  Other helpful resources (besides your blog, The Word Place, which never fails to teach me something new) include:  Kindle Boards, including the Author Tag Exchange, and Dana Lynn Smith’s The Savvy Book Marketer (which I think I learned about from you).
Do you have a  secret resource that you would never share? (Think chefs and top-secret recipes!)
Yes, the formula for my plotting strategy and how I like to keep readers in suspense (a dash of this, a pinch of that…)

Thank you, Judy, for giving me the opportunity to post on your fantastic blog!

The Secret Sentinel
Three lost keys to untold riches. Three cryptic rhymes. A secret society's deadly plot.  When museum curator Savannah Rutledge steals her father's treasure map to impress her boss, Winston Gale, and his handsome son Eric, she unleashes a Pandora's box of horror. Her father is killed and she is framed for murder. To atone for her father's death, she sets off on a cross-country chase for the treasure that ends with a dangerous showdown in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix. To get there she and a sexy stranger, Antonio Desada, follow a perplexing trail of clues that lead them to the keys that will unlock the mystery. Constantly moving, they must elude the police and the vicious Gales, hot on their trail once they realize they're missing a critical part of the map. Seductive and mysterious, Desada also provides the keys to a treasure of another kind. Will Savannah find the treasure—and love--before it's too late? 
Available from www.thewildrosepress.com
5 Stars-Night Owl Reviews--"Look out Nora Roberts...there's a new author on the horizon."

The Montezuma Secret
Murder and passion meet head-on in the steamy jungles of Belize.  Hunky Trey Zacco, gritty survivalist and host of the Miami-based Holiday Channel’s hit "Wildman" series and glitz and glamour girl, Erica Kingsley, host of the channel’s "Lap of Luxury" show, are thrown together in the steamy jungles of Belize as a publicity stunt. Erica’s father, Arthur Kingsley, the owner of the Holiday Channel, has proposed the angle, not only to boost ratings, but also as a way to toughen up his spoiled daughter. And Kingsley wants them to search for Montezuma’s lost gold, presumably moved to Belize from the Guatemalan jungle. Zacco cannot hide his resentment at having to share the spotlight with the flighty fashionista Erica, and he locks horns with her every step of the way even as both try to ignore the strong physical attraction growing between them. But when Arthur Kingsley’s plane crashes in the jungle, Trey and Erica launch a desperate search to find him. And when, one by one, members of the camera crew are killed and the equipment sabotaged, Trey and Erica find themselves stranded in the middle of the jungle where no rescue crew can reach them. 
Now Available on Amazon and Smashwords! 
Only $.99
  
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004JU0IX6
                http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/49140
Five Stars on Amazon and Goodreads—“Exellent writing…the words leapt off the page…a wild, sultry ride.”

And check out my political thrillers on Amazon and Smashwords:  “Stand in for a Dead Man,” and “Time of the Eleven.”



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Welcome to The Word Place, Suzanne G. Rogers

What genre is the primary focus of your writing? Do you write anything else?
I write mostly in the fantasy genre because I enjoy it, but I’ve also written several mainstream short stories.
Where do you publish?
I’m currently published with Astraea Press, but I will shortly have titles at The Wild Rose Press, MuseItUp Publishing and Musa Publishing.   My short stories have also appeared in various online magazines.
What is your most important and most frequently used resource as you write? (This does not necessarily have to be a print/online resource.)
As I’m writing, I frequently pull up an online Thesaurus.  I don’t like to use the same words over and over again.
What resource has been the least helpful to you? Would you recommend it to another writer with a different focus?
At the moment, most of my publications are e-books.  That puts a crimp in my style at Goodreads because they only allow hard copies in their giveaway program.  I wish they would consider e-book giveaways because I think their giveaways are a wonderful resource for authors as well as readers.
Do you consider a special writing place a resource? Why?
I enjoy writing at my desk, which has a view of a beautiful lagoon.  I think I could write anywhere with the proper tools (computer and Internet) as long as I have solitude.  I can’t write very well with anyone else in the room.
Can you share a resource you are using/have used for a specific current/past work?
I frequently use Google or other search engines to pull up photos of locations, people, vehicles or clothing I want to describe in a scene.  It’s easier to be specific that way.
Do you have any other resources you would like to share?
I have a background in acting and Improv.  It’s amazing how often I draw upon the skills I learned from those disciplines in my writing. 
Do you have a secret resource that you would never share? (Think chefs and top-secret recipes!)
I belong to several writers’ loops associated with my publishers.  The writers in these loops have been extremely helpful to me in many ways. 


After his father is kidnapped, sixteen-year-old Jon stumbles across a closely guarded family secret--one that will challenge everything he has ever believed about his father and himself.  A magical ring his father leaves behind unlocks a portal to another dimension, but in using it, Jon unwittingly unchains the forces of evil.  A crisis develops when a malevolent wizard transports to Earth to kidnap one of Jon’s friends.  With the help of some unlikely schoolmates, and a warrior princess from Yden, Jon embarks on a dangerous quest to free his friend and his father from the most vicious wizard the magical world has ever known.  In the end, Jon will be forced to fight for his life as he attempts to rescue the last great wizard of Yden.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Welcome to The Word Place, Jane Toombs

What genre is the primary focus of your writing? Do you write anything else?
At the present time I’m primarily writing paranormal suspense romance.  But I have written in every other genre, including non-fiction and horror.,  But never men’s action and erotica.
Where do  you publish?
In the past: Harlequin, Dell, Berkley and Kensington.  
Now I write exclusively for epubs: Amber Quill Press. Whiskey Creek Press, Champagne Books, Red Rose Publishing, Eternal Press. Zumaya Publications, New Concepts  Publishing, Books We Love and Divine Destinies 
What is your most important and most frequently used resource as you write? 
Online and my local library. And, yes I would recommend both to any writer of any genre because most every resource can now be found in one place or the

other.
Do you consider a special writing place a resource?   
Yes, because privacy helps.  But I have written in dining rooms, beside the cat’s litter box, and in bedrooms. Now that I have my very own writing room I have to admit that’s the best place. 
 Can you share a resource you are using/have used for a specific current/past work? Do you have any other resources you would like to share?
Because I have never used writing books or programs or anything of the sort, I have nothing to recommend  as a resource except a good critique group.  A critique partner is good, but a group is better. 
 Do you have a  secret resource that you would never share? (Think chefs and top-secret recipes!)
Sorry, no secret resource.  But here is a tip:  With every book you finish, you learn something that makes you a better writer when you start next one.  So do try to finish every book you begin. This way you’re creating your own resource.





My most recent book is  Moon Pool ~
 In the center of the maze at an Adirondack resort lies a spring -fed pool . Legend says that if you look into its depths under a full moon, you'll see the face of your true love. In this collection of four novellas, the magic of the Moon Pool touches the lives of eight people for whom love seems to be a dream that can never be reality.  

 All my books can be found at www.JaneToombs.com 



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Coming Next Week

So far, three authors have taken the interview challenge at The Word Place.

I will post according to first-come, first-serve in this order:

Monday:  Jane Toombs
Wednesday:  Suzanne G. Rogers
Friday:  Susan M. Koehler

Thanks, ladies!

And to all you other authors out there, it's not too late...