Sunday, May 31, 2009
I flew from Vancouver to Victoria to take part in a day of crime writing at the Victoria Public Library. Thirteen writers participated in four different panel discussions and shared a wide variety of experience, tips, and anecdotes about writing and publishing crime fiction.
It was a great day. I met new writers and caught up with others I hadn’t seen for some time. But what was really amazing was that over sixty attendees gave up their beautiful sunny Saturday to come and listen to us. Crime writing appears to be alive and well, as just about everyone in the group of sixty was working on a book. Oddly enough, only four of them were men. According to statistics from Sisters in Crime, the ratio of women to men mystery writers is about fifty/fifty. I’m not going to even try and guess why the guys didn’t show up, but there you go.
The day was amazingly interactive with lots of questions after each session. Our panel was “Sin and Salvation: Do's and Don’ts in Crime Fiction”. So much information was shared that I couldn’t begin to list all of it here, so I’ll leave you with one of my tips.
When starting to write a crime novel, there are two questions you need to keep asking yourself. What if? and Why? What if is especially handy when you’re plotting your novel. It’s a tip that Anne Perry gave at a workshop a few years back, and one that has proven really useful for me. While you’re plotting and forming characters and motives, ask yourself why your characters are doing the things they do. This single question addresses pretty much everything you’ll need to know about motive, which will show through techniques such as actions, behaviour, dialogue, and flashback.
And one more tip. If you’re a writer, keep going. Even a little bit of writing every day will end eventually turn into a polished novel.
To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death, visit http://www.debrapurdykong.com/
Friday, May 29, 2009
Life too is all about timing. Turn a corner and bump into a stranger who will become your mate. Run back into the house to answer the phone before you leave for work and later discover you missed being in an accident by those few minutes. Invest in a friend’s start-up business as a favor and end up being a millionaire.
Getting published is all about timing, too. You’ve written and rewritten your masterpiece, but you can find no takers. At best, you’re inundated with form rejection letters; at worst, you’re ignored. It’s entirely possible you are correct and your masterpiece is the bestseller-waiting-to-happen that you know it is. So how come you can’t get published?
Timing. As in the performing arts and the art of life, timing is everything, but unlike the performing arts, you cannot stand before a mirror and practice until you master your timing. All you can do is keep sending out your manuscript in the hopes that one day it will be on the right desk at the right time. Because one thing is certain, your desk is not the right one.
So how do you cope with all that rejection? Don’t think of it as rejection. Think of it as practicing your timing. Practice may not make perfect, but it does give you a chance.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The successful authors are those who accept promotion as a way of life, or at least an adjunct to their writing life. And truly, it’s not hard. Nor is it dull.
Repeat after me: promotion is just another word for party.
If you think of promotion, you get depressed, feel inadequate, start making excuses why it’s not for you. On the other hand, if you think of a party, you perk up, get excited, gear for fun. And that is exactly the attitude you need when you promote.
Many people have told me recently that they admire my ability to promote myself without being obnoxious, but the truth is, I learned how to do it from other authors. Or rather I learned how not to do it from them. Sometimes I get dozens of emails in a day from authors asking me to buy their books. I don’t read such emails. Do you? I didn’t think so. Then don’t send them. Why waste the effort on something that so many people find dreary?
If you’re on Facebook (and of course you are), I’m sure you get several event invitations every day. An unknown author has a book released. An unknown author is guest blogging. An unknown author is giving away a book. Do you respond to such anonymous events? Probably not. You want fun. And so do your potential readers.
So think party.
I’ve thrown two successful online parties so far. My “HALLELUJAH! MY NOVELS HAVE FINALLY BEEN PUBLISHED! LET’SPARTY!” party lasted a week and was full of games, gifts, videos, puzzles. Sure it took time to set it up, but it was fun for people. Or at least it gave the illusion of fun, which is the same thing when it comes to the Internet.
Most recently I threw a “PAT BERTRAM IS TWO YEARS OLD TODAY” party to celebrate the second birthday of my online persona. The idea was just quirky enough that it drew attention. I don’t know that I sold any books because of it, but a lot more people are aware of me now, and that’s a good beginning.
So, when it comes to marketing your book—have fun. Be creative. Throw a party.
Some of the compiled data was posted in a blog titled “The New Book Buying Realities” by Charlotte Abbott, which you can read at http://www.followthereader.wordpress.com/. You’ll have to scroll down a bit, though, as she posted the blog on May 14th.
A sampling of the data reveals that 67% of potential readers now find reviews online rather than through traditional print media. Also, the largest group of Kindle users are people age 50 or older, followed by the 18-34 group. Also, while ebooks represent only 1.5% of all books sold, ebook sales grew by 125% in 2008 alone, and a whopping 183% among readers who were age 65 and over, and 174% for the 55-65 age group. Wow.
Here’s an interesting stat: people ages 35 to 49 generally prefer to use their iPhones to read ebooks. Geez, I don’t even own an iPhone and I don’t know anyone in my family who does. Also, most people (48%) are still using their computers or laptops to read ebooks.
In case your head isn’t spinning yet, here’s a few more stats:
In 2008, 45% of Americans read a book last year, yet 50% of Americans, age 13 or older bought a book. The average age of readers was 44 and 58% of those readers are women. The average reader spends 5.2 hours per week reading, 15 hours online, and 13.1 hours watching TV. Apparently, going online surpassed watching TVas the primary activity in 2008, which doesn’t really surprise me. And I’m sure there are a lot of us who do both at the same time.
Anyhow, there are many more statistics on the blog and plenty of topics for discussion, so if you’re interested don’t forget to check out the wordpress blog.
Friday, May 22, 2009
1. According to GalleyCat , bloggers can now offer subscriptions to their blogs via Kindle. From the article:
"Amazon.com, Inc. has created a self-service method for bloggers to add their content to the Amazon Kindle--offering writers a 30 percent cut of a subscription price that Amazon will determine."
Interesting concept, but I'm not sure I would pay to read a blog when I can read it free on-line. Would you?
2. Take this What Type Of Writer Should You Be quiz. I took it and it said I should be a film writer. Hmmm. You know, I have had a BRAVEHEART meets DEVIL WEARS PRADA idea brewing.
3. Check out this site featuring my friend and guitar artEEst Rhett Butler. He plays two guitars at once. (Click the Video button to watch him) He's simply amazing. And yes, that's his real name. His brother's name is Ashley. Gotta love a mom who embraces a story so much it inspires her children's names.
-- Brought to you by K. Harrington,
visit my blog: http://www.scobberlotch.blogspot.com/
p.s. - Biblio Addict is hosting a book giveaway of JANEOLOGY. Stop by before Monday, May 25th and enter your name if you'd like a chance to win my book!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
This third draft of a 340 page book took over eighteen months to complete. Another reason for the lengthy rewrite is that I really wanted feedback from my talented writers’ group, but my allotted critique time is only a few pages every two weeks. Also, last year I worked on the final edits for Fatal Encryption, then promoted the book. I did manage to write two new short essays and an article, plus start a couple of short stories, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like nearly enough. Other times, I feel tremendously productive.
I truly admire writers who’ve written, let alone published, ten or more books. I’ve been writing novels for nearly thirty years with four finished and two published. I often see myself as the tortoise who slowly plods along in the race with the hare. Only the hare’s so far ahead that I’m pretty much alone and free to daydream and realize that all of this really isn’t so much a race but a journey. It’s a pleasure to look up and pay attention to what the world is doing while I move slowly forward, and to know, with a certain measure of comfort, that I’m on this journey for the long haul.
To read excerpts of Fatal Encryption and Taxed to Death (both available on Kindle and Mobipocket) visit www.debrapurdykong.com
On May 17, 2007, I --- or rather, Pat Bertram --- signed up for the Internet, and it was love at first byte. The entire world opened up to me, and I was reborn. I’d already written four books, but until I went online, I hadn’t started creating the author of those books. Who should I be? What name should I use? I considered using a male pseudonym, Cole Black, perhaps, since men with hard C’s and K’s do well in the public arena. Anyone heard of Steven King? Dean Koontz? Tom Clancy? Kevin Costner? Clint Eastwood?
In the end I decided to stick with a version of my own name, one that I didn’t use in my offline life. It’s a good name for an author with enough hard consonants to sound authoritative. And it has the whole androgynous “It’s Pat” thing going for it; I can be whoever I want. Besides, p’s and b’s and t’s and r’s didn’t hurt Brad Pitt any.
I signed up for my domain, set up a website at patbertram.com, then fished around for another way to create myself, and discovered blogging. I didn’t even know what a blog was, didn’t think it was something I would ever be able to do (my diaries as a kid never lasted more than a day or two), but I’d discovered that an author needed a blog. Since I was intent on creating myself as an author, I signed up for Wordpress, and oh! What a joy! I could write whatever I wanted, say what I wanted, be what I wanted, and people would read what I wrote. Okay, only a couple of people read Bertram’s Blog at the beginning, but I am still friends with one of them. How cool is that? I’m too embarrassed to admit how many blogs I now have -- some of which I keep up with on a regular basis, some I don’t -- but blogging remains one of my favorite online activities.
From blogging, I went to Gather.com to enter a crime writing contest, and through a series of incredibly serendipitous encounters, I found a publisher. And more friends. After that, of course, I had to start promoting, so I started social networking. I’d heard from so many authors how much they hated promoting, but me? I think it’s great fun. It’s all about making friends, and what’s more fun than that?
So, friends, please join me in celebrating this very special birthday. You don’t even have to bring me a present. I have presents for you! Click on any package to open. Or click on any other image. I hope you have fun.
I know I will.
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Now I'm taking that idea to a whole new level!
In the spirit of fun and because I love a good challenge, I invite you to submit a single sentence as an opening line to a thriller I plan to write in 2010. I won't tell you anything about the story.
By leaving a sentence in the comments section on my website, you are giving me permission to use it in this novel if you are selected as the winner. I will credit you, so please leave your name and email address too. I won't be judging this contest for a while, so feel free to enter as often as you like.
The winner will receive a credit or acknowledgement in my novel and a free signed copy of the book once it's published (a few years from now).
Please don't leave your sentences here. Only entries left on my website in the comments section of this contest will qualify. Enter here!
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Friday, May 15, 2009
That “good part” must be right up front, especially if you’re a first-time writer. That’s all you have going for you — the ability to get off to a fast start and capture the reader’s attention. Your name certainly won’t do it; no one knows who you are yet. Your credentials might help, but only to establish your credibility after a potential reader has been hooked. And they will never be hooked by your ability to turn a clever phrase.
So what will hook the reader? A character. Always a character. No one reads a book for a description of the weather, a place, or an issue. They don’t even want a description of the character. They want to meet him, to see life through his eyes, to bond with him. They want to know what he wants, what his driving force is. And they want to know who or what he’s in conflict with.
Without conflict, there is no story, but without a character for the reader to care about, there is no story either. Character and conflict are inextricably combined, and together they create the tension necessary to sustain a story. I know you think it’s okay to let the tension rise slowly, which it is, but the tension level at the beginning must be high enough to let the reader know something is going on.
A practiced writer knows how to adjust the tension by temporarily letting up on the main conflict and interjecting intermediate conflicts, or even adding inner conflicts to shadow the outer ones, but all conflicts must be somebody’s conflict. For example, you might be concerned about war, but seeing a specific soldier dealing with his experiences makes you care, maybe even makes you cry. And you will want to know what becomes of him.
That’s what hooks a reader.
3. And finally, strictly from a writing research point of view, this Dating 101: First-date red flags was an interesting piece. Apparently, if say, my character, Biff, tells character Clarissa that he's between jobs, never moves this fast on a first date, has never had a serious girlfriend and that he'll call her - he's just not that into her; which means, of course, that she'll be more attracted to him. That's how I'll write it anyway.
After their first course of martinis and penguins a la toothpick, Biff asked Clarissa to pay the bill because he was between jobs to which she responded "Nobody move! This is the guy for me!"
Monday, May 11, 2009
For those who know my story it has been a long but interesting journey to becoming a published author. I began many years ago with the dream of being a journalist but through life circumstance I traveled a different career path. A few days ago I was awarded second place for the Best Fiction of 2009 by the Connecticut Press Club, an organization comprised of journalists, and writers. The dream does come true for a debut author, one has to believe and have faith.
The guest speaker at the awards event was Wally Lamb. He received the Mark Twain Award from the Press Club. Mr. Lamb spoke of the writing process from his beginnings and how there were times when he couldn't find a word for the page. He often turned to his faith for guidance and found inspiration in his own spirituality. Good advice for all of us. The photo is of me, Wally Lamb and Judith Marks-White author of Seducing Harry and Bachelor Degree.
My thanks to the judges of the Connecticut Press Club for their recognition of Belly of the Whale.
This is a Good Day - have the best day every day.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
And for my mom who's always been there, especially during the tough times, when you found yourself with no husband, no money, and two young teenage girls to raise, I thank you for giving it your best, for sticking it out, and for still being there after all these years. What would I have learned about tenacity, hard work, determination, sacrifice, budgeting, and survival without you?
It has been almost eight years since you died, but I still find you in unexpected places. Is it any wonder that questions and curiosities about you show up in my writing and my journey as a mother?
I find you in the soap products I still use because you used them.
I find you every time I hear ANY song from Fiddler on the Roof because you played that 8-Track tape until it broke.
I find you in the lines on my face, which is starting to show glimpses of you in your 40s.
I find you in the little ways I protect my children; and though I haven't sewn them neon orange coats to wear to school so all the cars will see them - I now know that coat was stitched from a mother's love.
I find you in that old AM radio station when it plays The Entertainer.
I find you in slim, green glass iced-cold Coca-Cola bottles.
I find you in my brand new interest in knowing the actual names of flowers.
I find you when I make my kids Kool-Aid and I let them stir.
I find you when an older mom gives me a tip on how to keep your kid from getting lice at school only to think back, "Hey, my mom did that when I was little" and I never knew why. Now I do.
I find you when I discover a curious fact and squirrel it away in a notebook and everyone wonders why.
I find you in my recent need to have a magnifying glass handy.
I find you in canteloupe even though I LOATHE it due to that bumper crop you grew in our backyard and all there was to eat FOREVER was canteloupe; but my daughters love it like candy, so I buy it.
I find you in the Mother's Day cards I get from my daughters and wish I sent you one every year. If you were here, I would tell you that it is only through the lens of being a mother myself that I see and know and feel all that you did.
Keep showing up in little places and I'll keep looking.
My mom (right) with her sister in 1959.
"What's in the marrow is hard to take out of the bone." - Irish Proverb
from Karen Harrington
Friday, May 08, 2009
So how much time SHOULD a writer spend on online social networks?
The quick answer: Not so much time that your manuscript is piling up around you--unedited or unfinished.
All writers need to find ways to use social networks; it doesn't have to be time consuming. Only you can determine how much time you spend on your social networks. I recommend an average of 15-30 minutes each for MySpace and Facebook, 2-5 times a week, depending on your schedule. This would include reading and responding to emails, contacting friends with requests (especially reviewers), leaving comments on your friends' pages (socializing), sending invites to events or a bulletin (MySpace) announcing your new article, book, event etc. It all boils down to time management. 3-5 hours a week is a good goal.
Twitter requires less time. 5-10 minutes a day is all that's needed to make an impact on sales, word of mouth, and opportunities. One book marketing expert, John Kremer, likes to send out about 10 tweets (messages) a day. Mine will vary, but on average, I probably send out 5-10 messages every other day. More lately because I'm promoting a contest that is bringing new followers in by the hour. :-) I suggest people set small goals. Use a timer if you have to so you won't go over--or stick to one thing a day. Start small, working up to your goals.
As I mentioned in my presentation at the recent Get Publishing conference, all authors will have various needs. The first thing you need to do is determine WHO you need to connect to and WHY. Who can help you move forward in your career? Publishers? An agent? Bookstores? Magazine editors? Readers? Book Clubs? Book reviewers? Newspaper reporters? TV talk show hosts? Radio hosts? etc. This is the first step--target your network.
In the past I have been reviewed by a New York Times bestselling author because of my friendship with her on MySpace. It happened very quickly after connecting with her. I also have 5 other known authors who will be blurbing my new novel once my agent finds a publisher.
I have found numerous book reviewers through all social networks, and through them found other marketing opportunities, like guest blogging on their blog and using them as hosts for a VBT.
I have had film producers and directors contact me through these networks. Some have read my novels and my screenplay for Whale Song.
I have been interviewed as a result of online networking. I've had book clubs pick up my books; schools have too--which means I'm selling books.
The main thing is by being on these networks it becomes a "viral" form of marketing. Like a virus, word spreads and we all know how vital word-of-mouth advertising is. Twitter is perfect for this. Just add "RT" to your tweet and others will re-tweet your message to all their friends. And so on...and so on...
The bottom line is this: if you want to be a successful writer who is able to continuously bring forth new works and get paid for them, you will want to spend time marketing your books EVERY DAY.
I always try to do at least 3 things a day that will move me forward in some way--even if it's giving someone a bookmark at Starbucks. As with any kind of marketing, it has to be balanced with your writing and other life. If you're spending more than an hour a day maintaining the top 3 social networks (MySpace, Facebook and Twitter), then you might want to look at how you're spending that time. It's totally up to you though.
2. This site features FREE cartoons by Dave Walker that are very often spot-on about society.
3. And finally, I want to link to the Reading Comfort site because a very sweet person named Mandy offered to let me try out a product called the Book Buddy and I just love it. It holds your book in place so you can have hands free reading. Although, I most often use mine as a laptop buddy because of the wonderful lucite desktop that converts the book pillow to a comfy writing desk. Mandy, I'm sure that it will be because of this little tool that I will rite gewd.
He was trying to develop his creative genius, writing furiously atop his BookBuddy, adding more virtual friends on Facebook, ignoring the actual friends at the door. In later years, he would name said BookBuddy ...Wilson."
Brought to you by Karen Harrington
What did Jane do and why?
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
So, here's the question: would you be interested in selling your publications on consignment basis? Second Wind would pay for shipping and return all unsold books.
Second Wind is also considering a nook for self-published books, which would also be sold on consignment, though the author would be responsible for shipping costs.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Visit me at http://www.scobberlotch.blogspot.com
Monday, May 04, 2009
As the oldest brother, my husband was asked to write the eulogy which was an enormous challenge. Of course, there was the emotional component, but the challenge of writing something from the heart when he’s only written business reports was daunting. It took several drafts before he felt he’d adequately captured the spirit of Ronnie in a clear and meaningful way. He did a beautiful job. But he also admitted that this was one of the hardest thing he’s ever had to write. I can relate.
When my grandfather passed a few years ago, I flew to Toronto for the funeral, only to learn that I’d be writing the eulogy for the funeral in two days. My grandfather had four daughters and part of my job was to ask them to provide a memory which I would incorporate into the tribute.
It’s ironic how a lifetime of memories refuses to surface when one’s grieving and under pressure. It took several hours to get something I could use, and even then not every daughter could provide one. But slowly, after several drafts and repeated editorial input from the family, I managed to compose his eulogy. It was the most difficult page of writing I've ever completed. It was also the most emotional and perhaps the most satisfying based on the lovely comments I received. That day, I realized that perhaps many writers never publish their most important and heartfelt work. They don’t need to.
As writers, sometimes our skills our called upon in stressful situations. We rise to the challenge, give it our best, and use words to connect with those around us in a way we’ve never done before. Blessed be the written word and those we are privileged to share it with.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
A NEW OPTION FOR SELF-PUBLISHING
By Jerry D. Simmons
There are few choices when it comes to self-publishing, or what I like to call independent publishing. Unfortunately the terminology for publishing a book by yourself has a negative stigma which resulted from the flood of poorly written, unedited books that are mass produced each year. Any writer who invested in a professional edit for their manuscript typically had few options to publish, until now. With the launch of the INDI Publishing Group, the publishing landscape has changed.
The most common self-publishing companies are large assembly line, cookie cutter producers that are nothing more than printers posing as publishers. They are inexpensive and fast, which supports the business model of “publish anything.” These printer/publishers make money when the author signs their contract, not when books are sold. These people lack publishing experience and aren’t concerned with what happens after the book rolls off the press. The books they publish rarely follow book industry standards and are not allowed access to the shelves of booksellers in the U.S., for good reason. With these printer/publishers the author gets exactly what they pay for, a finished book, produced quickly, cheaply, and unacceptable in the marketplace.
The previously viable option to avoid unscrupulous “publishers” and manage the treacherous waters of independent publishing on your own was to start your own company or work with a variety of freelancers who could turn your manuscript into a finished book. The problem with wanting to self-publish without professional help results in books that are far from market- ready and unacceptable to consumers as well as booksellers. Dealing with people who speak the 'publishing language' is confusing. A writer often ends up with poor results.
Starting your own company or working with freelancers are acceptable forms of publishing your book, as long as you understand the limitations that accompany being published with the printing businesses, or working on your own without professional assistance. I‘m a strong advocate for publishing according to the writer's personal goals. If an author has hopes of selling a few thousand copies and catching the attention of an agent or editor, they will be disappointed with a 300-page trade paperback book that retails for $27.95.
The new INDI Publishing Group takes the combined publishing experience of a group of free- lance professionals and offers the writer a better option than the assembly line, carbon copy printer/publishers of the past, or venturing off on your own without experienced guidance. We offer writers an opportunity to invest in themselves and their manuscript by publishing under the INDI BEST imprint which follows book industry standards and provides access to booksellers around the country.
This group provides the author step-by-step assistance for publishing a professional book that can be sold and distributed through existing channels to booksellers across the country. If your hope is to invest in yourself and your writing to get results in publishing opportunities where anything can happen, then you owe it to yourself to explore the option of the INDI Publishing Group.
For more information, email Jerry D. Simmons firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, May 01, 2009
1. A wonderful article in the WSJ (which Kate over at The Lovers, The Dreamers & Me discusses artfully) titled Tinkering With The Ideal discusses how, or if, artists ever know when a work is truly finished. Here's an example cited by the article:
"The Portrait of a Lady," published in 1881, Henry James described a kiss in 16 well-chosen words: "His kiss was like a flash of lightning; when it was dark again she was free." When he revised the novel a quarter-century later for the New York Edition of his collected works, he rewrote that sentence extensively, making it more complex and far more sexually explicit: "His kiss was like white lightning, a flash that spread, and spread again, and stayed; and it was extraordinarily as if, while she took it, she felt each thing in his hard manhood that had least pleased her, each aggressive fact of his face, his figure, his presence, justified of its intense identity and made one with this act of possession. So had she heard of those wrecked and under water following a train of images before they sink. But when darkness returned she was free."
We readers are to answer - which is better? Is there an improvement? What do you think?
2. Turns out, Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg in Webster, Mass., is spelled incorrectly. What are the chances?
3. This woman creates purses out of books that, wait for it...she CUTS UP! The nerve. She says Pride and Prejudice is her most requested book bag. (But now, of course, I want one, darnit.) Here's the on-line catalogue for her company, ReBound Designs.
--She tinkered late into the night, adjusting the words on the page without pride or prejudice, trying to describe his Jamesian lightning kiss, only stopping once in a while to consult the dictionary in her purse, which had once actually been a dictionary, for the proper spelling of Lake CharraoggoagooaoooRobBlagojevichOoogaChuckaOoogaChuckaMaoMao.