Sunday, October 31, 2010

National Novel Writing Month

Why am I doing this again?

Maybe because I felt I didn't have enough insanity in my life. Maybe because I felt like pulling out some hair. Maybe because I really felt it would be a lot cheaper than therapy...

I am participating for the second time in National Novel Writing Month.

I'll keep a post of my word count here as well. The tentative title for my mystery novel is "Outsider Art." I don't want to divulge much of the plot here, but it is a project I've been wanting to work on with my friends K and S. This seemed like a good way to knock out a draft.

I've never written a mystery before, and I'm not sure I can pull it off. I'm hoping my friends K and S----and my old high school friend KC who knows a bit about police procedure-- will help me through it.



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Reworking book covers....

My first novel, Saint Jude, was released in 2000 by Tudor Publishers, Inc. of Greensboro. The book did well, but as its primary market was for high school and middle school libraries, it has not been released in electronic format.

Aside--it is with great gratitude that I can report that my first novel was rated one of the year's best reads for teens in 2004 and 2006 by librarians nationwide.

The message of Saint Jude is recovery from bipolar disorder, and that's an important lesson in itself.

At any rate, since the marketing rights have now reverted back to me, I am going to post it on Kindle. However, because the cover art was paid for and done under my publisher, I have to have a new cover.

I am working with P. Krause, and up-and-coming young designer. He's still in college, and his work shows great insight and maturity. He's talked with me about his initial ideas, and I'm very excited.

For the record, this is the cover of the first edition of Saint Jude---it's a great cover created by Scott Sturdy [I think he's an artist in Winston-Salem.] Can you see the girl's face in the cover?

[I confess, it took me two weeks before I saw it. That has more of a commentary on me than the artist's ability. Folks would tell me "I love hte girl's face on the cover" and I was like, "yeah, sure, I do too." Then I'd go home and I'd be all---wha?]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

50 State Dresses - and any guesses?

Okay, this is a section of my blog I'm going to file under "dang, isn't that cool?"

Artist creates dress art for each state

I can only guess, and somewhat shudder, at what North Carolina's dress will be. Seems like I do remember during my tenure at the Wilson Daily Times that there was a picture of Miss Tobacco from some pageant back in the early 60s ---she was wearing a dress made of tobacco leaves.

My understanding is that the artist isn't done with all of them, but let me give her a few suggestions for North Carolina (tongue in cheek, of course):

--- bright orange construction barrels
--- basketball netting
--- the Wright Brother's flier
--- cases of Cheerwine
--- old state lottery tickets

In all seriousness--wow and kudos to this artist. I love it.

Some folks try to write dangerously, why not dress dangerously?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Best Resource on How to Make Money on eBooks

If you haven't been checking out JA Konrath's blog, you're missing out. Granted, I have probably raised him to mythical proportions in my mind, which I'm fine with, but his blog "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" is brilliant IMHO.

I'm one of those mid range authors ---well, okay, maybe one of those lower class trailer park mid range authors. I once told someone it was like I'm doing well in minor league baseball.

But I want to go up to the major leagues, baby.

While nothing is a guarantee of success, Konrath basically gives the good 4-1-1 at this link here. Check it out.

How to Make Money on e-Books

Monday, October 11, 2010

Kindle Formatting---things that make you go hmmmm

I've recently had the wild hair to reformat my short story collection on Kindle before I start promoting the heck out of it. The way I have it now, it is readable, but doesn't look like a "book book." Since I'm doing the reprint of my first novel, Saint Jude, on there in November, I want to be able to have it look like a print book, so I am going to have to figure out the ins and outs of this Kindle formatting.

On the writer side, Kindle formatting is strange. You upload a word document, and you get these strange spaces, tabs, yada, yada...supposedly you can save the Word doc as an HTML and then clean up the "code." I'm going to give that a try, since I do know HTML.

And btw, this looks like a handy guide to help with it...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Following Kindle sales and the cult of JA Konrath

Okay, while I'm not JA Konrath [see his blog "A Newbie's Guide to Publishing" to get up to speed on context], In 2011, I am going to start following Kindle sales for the electronic version of my traditionally published first novel that is about to go out of print. I'm also going to start tracking my short story collection sales --but please bear in mind that I do think short story collections are harder to sell...but that is just IMHO.

Short 4-1-1, JA Konrath is a genre writer who has been making a butt-load of money on Kindle. A few caveats: 1) JA Konrath is a talented writer---or so I've heard, because I've not read any of his stuff but have read good things ABOUT them 2) He has a lot of books out and up on Kindle 3) He is working his butt off.

And maybe "cult" is a bit of a negative connotation for him. No offense intended.

None of this guarantees success, because like starting a fire, the conditions often have to be just right for it to occur.

I'm jumping "once more, into the breach" to just see what will happen.

I have published my short story collection [hint, hint, you can purchase it at the link on the right] just four weeks ago. I've made a total of $6. I'll try not to spend it all in one place. However, I must admit I've done next to nothing to promote it, and I'm hoping to get more serious about promotion in October---even if that means having a print version available as well because some of my "word of mouth" folks would not have access to a Kindle.

So...I'm going to track things here, if for no other reason, for personal accountability. Of course, I still have a day job [and very thankful for it] so while I do not have the luxury of a lot of time to dedicate to promotion, I also have the luxury of a regular paycheck. I'm not sure those are mutually exclusive, but I am sure that this is going to take a lot more work to remain to have a day dedicated for promos, one for writing...etc. etc.

Characteristics of a great writing group

I was just thinking today how fortunate I am to be in a really, really great writing group. Though it's small for what you might term a "group," what we lack in quantity, I feel we make up for in quality.

Here are a few characteristics that I think are vital to a great writing group---and I'm incredibly best that my group has all of them:

--Good mix of encouragement/ critique.
I think it goes without saying that no one would be in a writing group unless he/she wanted honest feedback. Of course, you don't want honest feedback to end up as an ego pissing contest. When you have a good group dedicated to the art of writing and what works on the page--regardless of "like or dislike," you have something that will help you grow as a writer and minimize drama.

---Healthy mix of social/ work
Remember "all work and no play?" Let's face it, groups are going to talk about the latest movie, what's going on in life, etc. and I think that is important fro group bonding, but there has to be the "work time" as well.

---Not just talking ABOUT writing but actually WRITING
I know so many people who can wax poetic about other writers, publishing trends, etc. but if the group spends too much time on this and not actually WRITING something, then the group is an art appreciation group, not a writing group.

--Everyone in the group should present something to be read.
Otherwise, it's just not fair to have some people on the "chopping block" and others not. Writing is vulnerable, if done correctly.

--People in your group have to know how to write.
To be frank, there are some folks who I really don't CARE what they think about my writing. There are others---who are talented and dedicated--whose feedback I value. I'm not saying anyone in the group is perfect, I'm just saying they don't violate any of the Snarky Muses' rules for crappy endings (see earlier post)

And of course, if there is a mutual respect and admiration, that helps even more.

If you have all these things and you're lucky, you have a great writing group.

But if you're blessed, you have a great writing group AND a great group of friends.

[ shout out to writing group member B who totally rocks.]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

And darn it, it's better than my blog!

Of course, when I started this blog, I wanted to claim the title “The Year of Writing Dangerously” for myself, but since someone had claimed that title on blogger, I had to insert the ‘dawn-‘ in front of my URL name.

So I wanted to check out that blog, mainly --and I hate to confess this--to see how much cooler my blog was by comparison.

Well, that didn't happen.
I went to the other "writing dangerously" and low and behold, it rocks. And as much as it pains me to admit this in my self-absorbed insecurity, it is a heck of a lot better than this blog. In fact, I'm now a regular follower.

I actually encourage you to check it out, particularly since this guy/gal is messing around with micro-fiction [whoa!] I’ve found the shorter the story, the harder to write.

Regardless, Kudos to this dangerous writer and kudos to the other dangerous writers who comment on his blog. Rock on, dude.


NPR Contest

Okay, so I sent off the short, short, 600 word story to the NPR contest by the deadline. I went the metaphorical route with the “haunted” lines. The premise was to write a short story in 600 words that had to begin with the phrase "Some people swore the house was haunted" and end with "Nothing was the same again after that. "

I really hope that it is at least posted as one of the ones they like [fingers crossed] though after reading some of the scathing criticism others have gotten on the comments section of the site, I might want to rethink...
...nah, I still want to be selected. Let the cards fall where they may.

You can see some of the entries and the past winners at the website of npr.org

COMING UP IN OCTOBER...


I am evidently so desperate for attention and hits on this blog that I am incorporating Clip Art icons to make it "easier" for folks to use. Not that folks are using it. But seriously, I am that desperate.

Clip art, the last refuge of the uncreative?

Because when you don’t know exactly what to say, there are cool clip art people?
Whatever.

Anyway, to try to get this blog back on track, and to try to give it some sense of cohesiveness again, I decided to categorize things using folks from the wonderful world of perfect cut out people clip art---which once again, makes me wonder just how exactly dangerous I am.

Coming up in October:

---The Snarky Muse confesses five things you should know about writing workshops. (see clip art icon of the Snarky Muse, above)
--Sneak peak of the true mountain man
--Goals for my writing residency.
--Why my writing group rocks
-- why everyone should just leave JA Konrath the hell alone and let him do his thing.
If you don't know who JA Konrath is, check this out: " A Newbie's Guide to Publishing."
-- Why some of the commenters on the NPR short-short story "Three Minute Fiction" competition need to take a chill pill. Seriously.
-- Why I'm a hack and why you're crazy.

I'm sure these posts will create some dissension, which is okay, as long as no one gets an eye put out.
"There are great societies that did not have the
wheel, but there are no societies that
did not tell stories."

---Ursula K. LeGuin