Tuesday, January 4, 2022

5 Writer's Resources: From Concept to Marketing

 New year, new novel? Thinking of trying your hand at penning a fantastical futuristic horror romance? Great! Here are 5 websites that might help you focus your plot, dodge the scammers, get the cover of your dreams, and sell the book you've labored to bring into existence. 

  1. Writer Beware: I enthusiastically "ditto" Charissa's recommendation from Sunday for this priceless resource to protect yourself from the predators in our industry. Victoria Strauss and company investigate and report on fraudsters, exploiters, and scammers in publishing. No "fake news" here. Before you think about paying anyone a single penny, check this blog.
  2. Query Shark: Wünder agent Janet Reid's blog for critiquing queries submitted by blog readers (yes, the author(s) volunteer to receive public feedback). Why, oh why, would you care about your query at the beginning of your authorial journey? Isn't a query pointless if you plan to self-publish? Simple answer: The meat of the query is your book's plot. If you can't distill your story--at least in your head or on the back of an envelope--you're going to waste a lot of time and creative energy on tangents and revisions. Do yourself a favor by jotting down the rough draft of your query before you start. Keep it at hand as your North Star so--whether pantser or plotter--you don't stray too far from the story you meant to write. While the wrappings of a query may change over time, how to effectively convey your story's short summary doesn't change. Dig through the Shark's archive to find plenty of samples of queries in your genre. 
  3. Art Station & Deviant Art: Whether you're searching for your next cover artist or creative inspiration, these two illustrator/artist sites are rich in offerings.
  4. Reedsy: Finding a great editor (dev, line, copy, or proof) who is experienced in your genre, attentive to detail, able to communicate in a way that is comfortable for you, delivers on time, and has availabilities in their schedule is no easy feat. Reedsy is a great starting point, but be sure to do your due diligence before committing. Every robust site has its share of rotten apples. 
  5. David Gaughran: You've written the book, had it edited, acquired the eye-catching cover, and uploaded it to retailers/distributors. Now, how to make people aware that your book exists? David's site is rich in the basics and his how-to books are usually under $5 (though, depending on how marketing savvy you are, they may be a bit remedial). I stay subscribed to his newsletter to remain abreast of the latest changes in big distributor/advertiser policies and technologies. He also does a nice job of sharing best practices that he's field-tested. He'll also caution against marketing fads that make you into an asshole from whom readers flee. 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Top 5 Writing Resources

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. This week's topic at the SFF Seven is our Top 5 Writing Resources. I have so many websites, books, and software programs that I love, so it was hard to choose just 5, but I did and I'll tell you why each one made the cut.

  1. KM Weiland's Helping Writers Become Authors website. I've linked to KM's story structure series which is one of the very best I've come across. I've read KM's books too, but I refer back to her story structure series any time I get stuck or feel like I need a refresher. Even for those writers who don't plot, understanding story structure can help build much stronger fundamental skills and aid in creating cleaner drafts. There's a ton of other info for writers on this site as well, and I recommend reading as much as possible. Helping Writers Become Authors is truly a one-stop-shop.
  2. Jane Friedman's Writing Advice Archive. We won't talk about how long I've followed Jane, but I can tell you that her publishing industry and writing advice is always on point. If you aren't sure how to navigate the publishing world, I highly recommend perusing her Writing Advice Archive. She covers everything from getting started as a writer to rights and legal issues. Most importantly, she's been in this business for 20 years with a vast range of experience, so she knows what she's talking about.
  3. Writer Beware. I've had several inquiries lately from new writers about publishing routes, and I was sad to learn that most every person who reached out to me had experienced bad dealings with vanity presses or scams. I was also surprised how many new writers don't realize that you do NOT pay for a literary agent. To make certain you're dealing with a reputable publisher, I advise researching agents, publishers, and editors thoroughly. Writer Beware can help with some of this.
  4. Hiveword. Man, how I used Elizabeth Spann Craig's Knowledge Base when I was a newbie writer tiptoeing into this writing world. I can't begin to tell you how beneficial this website (now Hiveword) was for me when I was starting out. I'm pretty sure there isn't anything you won't find here in your writing quest, so if you have a question, hit up this amazing search engine and delve into thousands of writerly articles.
  5. Writer Unboxed. This site is excellent for the technical parts of the writing journey, but it also has posts from veteran authors who make you feel far less alone on this journey. They share their insight and struggles, and the community is strong here. I see this site as 'nourishment' for the writer's soul, a very important and often overlooked part of a writer's life.

That's it!! Now go read, research, and write, write, write! 


Friday, December 31, 2021

New Years Eve

New Year, new stray cat in the neighborhood who found the sucker sign hung out on my door. This is Hemingway. He started coming around in the early morning darkness to get yelled at by my cats. He wouldn't let me even look at him. He'd charge away at a dead run. The good part is that someone had clearly already caught him once. He's ear tipped, which means he's already neutered and vaccinated. He went on being really shy and elusive for months. It was clear he had someone caring for him. His body condition was too good.

This holiday season, though, something changed. He began coming around more often. A lot more often. I managed to get a plate of cat food out to him one morning. Instead of running away, he crept onto the back porch and ate like he'd never seen food before and might never again. He was skinny. I suspect whoever had been feeding him either got sick or moved away. Our handsome, solid black cat with gold eyes shows up every evening and most mornings, ready for his hand out. And yes. He is a polydactyl. The boy is graced with a couple of extra thumbs on each front paw.

My cats have gone from being offended by the trespasser (and complaining loudly about it) to sitting at the back door to watch him eat. I'd like to trap him and bring him in to assess his socialization. If a cat can settle into life indoors with humans, a cat should have that opportunity for two reasons. First - cats live longer, healthier lives indoors. Two - outdoor cats have a hand (a paw?) in stressing songbird populations. 

Since Hemingway has warmed up quite a bit - I'm now allowed within three feet of him. He'll look me in the eye and ask for more food. I'm comfortable saying he's not really feral. It's clear he knows what people are and I think he's learning from my cats not to be afraid. The only hitch is that he's trap wise. If I put the live trap out, he won't come anywhere near. So I'm going to have to be much sneakier. However, the rescue I usually work with is currently shut down to quell a terrible upper respiratory infection that's running rampant through their cat population. So we're all on hold, caught in the liminal space between aspiration and action. Seems appropriate for New Years Eve when you're waiting for the old year to end and for the new one to begin.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Adjusting Those Variables for the New Year


This week at the SFF Seven, we're sharing thoughts about the changing of the year.

I like the reflection the end of one year and the beginning of a new one brings. You all know I'm into metrics, so the end of a year - however arbitrary a measure - provides me with a milestone to group data. I can look back at the past year, compare it to previous years, and make plans for the one ahead. 

Am I a maker of resolutions? Some years more than others, yes, but mostly I look on the process as adjusting my variables for the year ahead. Life is an ongoing experiment this way. We try stuff, see how it works out, then make changes accordingly. This is how all experimentation works: make a hypothesis, test it by gradually adjusting variables, and keep track of the resulting data.

I know a lot of people react negatively to the concept of new year's resolutions, especially given the daunting statistics about them. For example, from this article, after 6 months, only 46% of people who make a resolution are still successful in keeping it, and by the end of the year only 9% feel they are successful in keeping it.

Interesting to me, a third of the people who failed to keep their resolutions didn’t keep track of their progress and another quarter of them forgot about their resolutions. This may sound funny - I laughed! - but it's actually super easy to forget those aspirations in the tumult of daily life. 

One year I tried writing down goals for the coming year and sealing them in envelopes to be opened on New Year's Eve, so I could see how I did. People, I'm telling you: if I hadn't made myself a reminder to open the envelopes, I'd have forgotten they existed! Reading my goals from Past Jeffe of only a year before was truly eye-opening. It almost didn't matter which goals I'd met, exceeded, or fallen short of - simply comparing the reality with my aspirations taught me a great deal.

This is partly why I'm a believer in tracking all kinds of metrics about myself. Remember, a third of the people who failed to keep their resolutions didn't track their progress while another quarter forgot about them! That's 60% of the failures that might have been successes if they'd had daily tracking and reminders. 

So, I'm doing a series on my podcast this week about the metrics I keep - particularly regarding my writing process - along with the how's and why's. Feel free to ask questions! 

And Happy New Year to all!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A Wish at the Changing of the Year


As we depart an angst-laden 2021, I wish for you, our dear readers, a joyous new year filled with good health, abundant hope, sufficient wealth, and many occurrences of happiness that warm your bones and thrill your heart.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Happy New Year!!!

 May the new year bring you all joy, prosperity, and good health!  

May you have endless reasons to smile.

Friday, December 24, 2021

The Day Before Christmas

Not a creature is stirring (except to change who gets to snooze under the tree) this day before Christmas. Arya and Cuillean want to remind you that the smallest things are often the greatest gifts. 

May you and yours find peace and joy this holiday season.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

DIY Holiday Cheer!

A solid-core door cut in half and flipped to make a Christmas tree, painted bright green, and strung with white lights. 

Baking, decorating, wrapping...crafting decorations. Whatever you're up to this week I hope you enjoy! I finished turning this solid-core door into a Christmas tree. 

If you have an old door sitting around, collecting dust, give this a go!

  • Cut the door diagonally in half
  • Paint it! I went with a bright Christmas tree green
  • Flip one side so it takes a tree shape and reattach the hinges
  • Set upright and enjoy!

I’m excited about the stack of books waiting for me. Coffee and reading, that’s my Christmas morning plan. After the kiddos wake us up for presents that is. But after dealing with puke this week, I’ll gladly wake up early if it means they’re feeling good.

I hope you and yours stay healthy and joyous! 

Merry Christmas! 

Happy Holidays!