Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Twelve Days of Christmas Fun!

Hey ya. In case you haven't noticed the spiffy trailer posted, ahem, (it's on the right). Today is day ten, and yours truly is featured over at Sandra Sookoo's blog.

Come over and join the fun!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks


Here in the U.S., today is Thanksgiving.

There are many things I'm thankful for. So many in fact, this blog doesn't have space for all of them. I'll try to list some that are at the top of my list.

1. My man. He's the best.
2. My son. He's amazing.
3. My friends. They add layers of love and laughter to my life.
4. Being published. It's a long held dream come true.
5. My writer friends. They understand like no one else can.

Top five is good, eh? Don't want you snoozing before turkey. Speaking of turkeys, our friends from Denver are arriving later today to spend the holiday weekend with us. And I'm cooking. Yipes!!

At the end of the day, I'll be thankful if the food is edible and the house doesn't burn down.

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pondering

It's Monday. It's a holiday week. With all the shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc., I'll take my smiles where I can get 'em. Political correctness be damned.

Personally, I like six and seven. Not that one actually would, but sometimes, don't you want to?

Ten Thoughts to Ponder

Number 10

Life is sexually transmitted.

Number 9

Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Number 8

Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny.
If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich .

Number 7

Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day,
teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks.

Number 6

Some people are like a Slinky ...
not really good for anything,
but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.

Number 5

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals, dying of nothing.

Number 4

All of us could take a lesson from the weather.
It pays no attention to criticism.

Number 3

Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200.00, and a substantial tax cut save you $30.00?

Number 2

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird.
Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

And The Number 1 Thought

Life is like a jar of Jalapeno peppers; what you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aloha!

I've been interviewed at the SOS Aloha Blog. There are prizes to be had. And possibly a historic re-enactment.

Okay, just kidding about that last one, but stop on by. And when you've finished reading, have yourself a great weekend!

Monday, November 15, 2010

EPIC Ariana Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PERMISSION TO FORWARD GRANTED

2011 EPIC ARIANA ART COMPETITION™ is OPEN!

In its 12th year, the ARIANA honors the finest selection of cover art for electronically published books.

Art, in its endless variety, forms the solid core of EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition™, an organization consisting of industry professionals from outstanding authors, publishers, and editors to those imaginative artists who give eBooks eye-catching covers.

As a well-respected, award-winning artist and dedicated EPIC™ member, Ariana Overton is remembered and honored by EPIC's ARIANA Art Award ™. This prestigious award promotes superlative ePublishing artwork, applauding the best of the best in eBook publishing. Finalists and the winner are selected on the basis of the appropriateness of artwork to genre, the artist's attention to detail (including style and/or method), and the effectiveness of presentation (i.e. that book title, author’s name, publisher logo/information (if included), etc. are clearly viewed).

This global competition has grown rapidly over the past ten years. The genre categories often duplicate EPIC's current eBook Competition line-up. EPIC’s ARIANA Art Competition™ Guidelines may be found at http://www.epicauthors.com/ariana2011.html.

Rules Overview:

~ Cover art must be original and appear on an e-book published between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010. (Send to ariana@epicauthors.com)

~ Entries will be accepted from November 8, 2010 and closes 10 PM CST (U.S), December 5, 2010. (Go to http://bit.ly/ArianaEntryForm).

~ The entry fee is $15.00 (U.S. Funds) per entry/work and payments must be received by 10 PM, CST, December 6, 2010. (Send to treasurer@epicauthors.com)

~ Entries are peer-judged by active EPIC Members.

~ The 2011 ARIANA Award™ will be presented in historical Williamsburg, Virginia, during EPIC’s annual EPICon, March 10-13, 2011.

~ Questions may be address to Epic.competition.chair@gmail.com

EPICon Conference (March 10 – March 13, 2011 in Williamsburg, Virginia)

All awards for the Ariana will be presented during EPIC’s 2011 EPICon conference's gala award ceremony March 13, 2011 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

EPICon is a popular gathering for industry professionals to share the latest industry information, hone writing and editing skills, and explore new markets and promotional ideas. Featured this year is Saturday Keynote Speaker Debra Dixon, Saturday workshops for both adults and young writers, Saturday’s Awards gala and Sunday’s farewell breakfast. Find more information about this conference and workshop events at http://www.epicon-conference.com/.
# # #

EPIC – Electronically Published Internet Coalition™ was established in 1997 and is a non-profit, professional organization for published and contracted eBook and print authors. EPIC’s goal is to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing—the major publishing marketplace of the future.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Release Day!

A month or so ago, I mentioned placing first runner-up in a writing contest for Gypsy Shadow Publishing. The prize was to have your work published by them. Yay!

This story is a little bit different from what I usually write, but just in time for the holidays. I’ve always been a fan of Dickens A Christmas Carol, and Scrooged is always up for regular review. My favorite part is the ghosts. Don’t you wonder who they are? How they came to be? I did.

Without further ado, here’s the cover and blurb for my short story, Christmas Holly.

A gallery owner living in the past collides with a beautiful ghost from the future. Is it life, death, or love, which will imitate art?

Young, beautiful, and certain of her future, Holly Clark fully expected to have a wonderful time attending her mother’s annual Christmas Eve bash. The one thing she didn’t expect—was her own untimely death.

Gallery owner and world renowned artist, Greg Marshall is desperate to relive his past. Until he receives a startling visit from a woman he believed to be the love of his life. Her sudden appearance has the power to change everything.

Love doesn’t mean what it used to. Can the past really affect the future, or can the future transform the past?

Buy It Here

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stretching The Rules - If You Live In America

Ask anybody who really knows me, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people use whatever public platform they may have to push their personal views on you. Yep, that’s a big ‘ol button pusher for me.

You know, when you’ve paid good money to go to a concert, then you have to listen to a fifteen minute diatribe on why the artist believes one person is right for us, and another is not. I thoroughly agree that you are entitled to have an opinion, and to voice it. The tiny detail is that I paid to hear a concert. If I was going to pay to hear your political views, you should have told me. Now if I met or listened to you at a political rally or fundraiser, how awesome would that be? Totally, in my book.

Today, I’m not breaking my rule, because I’m not going to tell you my political views or make any suggestions. I’m just stretching it, to encourage you, whatever political party you belong to, please, go and vote. It’s your right as an American. And whether you approve or not, a lot of good people died to ensure you’d have that right. If you don’t use it, eventually you’ll lose it. The bottom line is, we’re all Americans. It’s a cop-out to say your vote doesn’t matter. Get off your lazy butt and get to the polls.

Please, vote.

And just so you know, if we are having a personal conversation about the results, and I find out you didn’t vote, that will be the end of the conversation. If you don’t participate, I don’t want to hear you bitch.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Milestone

Thank you to all my followers, both new and old. The public ones, and the private ones. Yep, I'm watching all of you. lol.

Today is a milestone for this blog. I've reached my 100th post. How awesome is that? In my book it's pretty cool, because when I started this blog, I really couldn't think of anything to say. Some days I still have that problem. I mean really, how interesting is my life? Perhaps I need to change my viewpoint. Maybe it's the minutia of everyday life which holds us all together.

Either way, thanks for being here, and following along. It matters.

Have a spectacular weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hanging Up The Robes

Contest judging is officially finished for this year. It turned out to be a much different experience than expected. Don’t they always?

Let’s compare excuses and see if yours are the same as mine, and maybe dispel a few myths along the way.

I never volunteered to judge a contest because...

Myth Number 1
Free time is in short supply. I mean really, how could I possibly judge a contest when I have so many other ‘important’ things to do? Sometimes, this one is true. You just can’t work it in, and do a good job on the entries. I did a little switch up, which worked for me. When we’re not writing, we’re reading, right? I used my free reading time to read contest entries. And it was great. I discovered some really outstanding authors whom I really hope get published. Their stories shined so brightly, I want to know The End!

Myth Number 2
I don’t know enough. Maybe there are some who’d agree with this. lol. But seriously, I’ve learned a great deal over the past several years. From my publishers, editors, and mostly from my CP’s who are editors, authors, and professionals in their own right. Brilliant women, I consider myself lucky to know. I realize I still have so much to learn about this business, but at the same time, I’ve learned enough, that I can start giving back to the writing community which has been so generous to me.

Myth Number 3
Contests don’t matter. Getting published does. Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this one. But, I admit to a change of heart after reading the entries. There are many different routes to publication. Who am I to say not to follow the one that works best for you? If you can draw the attention of an editor or agent with your entry, good for you! If you don’t, but you still learned something from entering, it’s still money well spent. If even that doesn’t work, try another route.

All in all, it proved to be a really good experience. I’m glad I did it. There wasn’t anything that got on my nerves about any of the entries. While not all spectacular, the work that each entrant put into their work was very evident. Judging will have a place on the calendar for next year. Can’t wait to see what’s new.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Irritation Nation – Bad Book Reviews

Sorry to come out swinging after an absence, but I read something today that just really hit me wrong. It was a review of a fellow authors work, and it wasn’t worth the pixels on the screen I was reading.

Let’s face it. If you’re a published author, you never want to receive a bad review. We spend hours and hours slaving over our work to make it the best it can possibly be. Reading each sentence multiple times to be as certain as possible we’ve used the correct word to describe the proper emotion, or setting, right down to the last detail. And that’s before the rounds of edits done by the publisher.

As adults, when we find out someone doesn’t like our work, mostly we manage to shrug it off and move on. It’s a big wide internet out here, and we understand that not everyone will love our work. Some people will just flat out not like it. And that’s okay.

I love Coke, and really don’t care for Pepsi. There you go. I doubt either company will lose one minute of sleep over my opinion.

But. I digress. And admit to confusion. Writers are supposed to be professionals, no? Following this happy trail, one would think a book review blog should be professional also. ...that screeching sound is the rubber meeting the road, as it were. Don’t get me wrong, there are several fantastic review sites which are run in a very professional manner, and it’s not these I’m referring to.

Thank you to the glorious internet, which helps all of us promote our books, it seems anyone who can type, can now also start a blog, review, and offer their opinion. Which is fine. I do it. You are absolutely entitled to do it also. But if you can’t even find the spell checker, I am absolutely entitled to not take one damn word seriously.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Honorable Ms. Fox

Finally, after all these years, I’ve volunteered to judge a writing contest or two. Waiting to receive the entries is a little like waiting for Christmas morning. Sometimes you’re not quite sure what you’re going to get, but will be interested none the less.

I’ve had some good experiences in contests and some bad ones. The bad ones left me not wanting to enter anything. Ever. After giving it much consideration, I thought one way to remove the blight of the not so good experience would be to pay it forward, and try to be a better judge myself. So I particularly looked for a contest in which the judge would be allowed to make comments on the entries.

In my bad experience some of the comments I received were, ‘this isn’t a romance’ and ‘no one uses language like that’. Uh, excuse me, it is, and they do. But the point is, to me, those were not constructive comments. Especially in light of the fact that one of the judges proceeded to comment about the thousands of romances she had read, and not found one like mine. Therefore, it wasn’t fit to be published. Thank goodness I received a contract for that story the same day. Otherwise I would have been crushed. And just for the record, it’s a bestseller.

Now I usually put on my big girl panties in the morning, so things like this shouldn’t get to me. If you want to think my writing is crap, you are totally allowed to think that. I promise, I won’t lose one minute of sleep over it. The big ‘but’ is, tell me why. If my characters are TSTL, tell me what I could improve, just don’t tell me they are. How does that help me make them better characters? As a contest judge, a response like that is not only condescending, it’s in poor taste, and totally unprofessional. And if you cannot tell me how I need to improve, even though you don’t like something, then you are not fit to be a contest judge.

*looks around* Crimeny, where did that soapbox come from? *climbs down*

So here’s hoping I can truly help someone, and inspire them to be a better writer. Or, congratulate them because they are totally awesome right out of the box.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Writerly News

I’m very excited to announce that my short story entitled Christmas Holly, placed first runner-up in a writing prompt contest offered by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. Which means at some point, it will be published. There’s nothing like the thrill of being offered a contract. That just doesn’t get old.

Here's a big shout out to a terrific author, Aubrie Dionne. Thanks, woman!! If she hadn’t posted the notice on her blog, I’d never have known about the contest. And doesn't she have the most beautiful website? It's lovely.

Don’t know if I’ve mentioned it once, or a million times, but I love to read paranormal novels. Christmas Holly is my first attempt at actually writing one. It feels great to know that it turned out okay. I’m very excited to be able to share it with you. Once the details get worked out, they’ll be passed along so you’ll know what’s happening.

This is very inspiring. I must go write. Now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Released!

Nah, not my next book. Me. From the hospital. Guess I was bored yesterday and decided a trip to the emergency room would be just the thing to liven my life up a bit.

Just wanted to touch base and let you know things are fine. They must be since they sent me home, either that or they thought a better route would be to just let me keel over at my desk in front of the computer screen.

I’ve been made to rest though and give some charming pills, so I’m off to take a nap. My caretaker is struggling to reach the plug and disconnect me even as I write this.

So, I’ll be back around with the rest of the analytics information next week. Very sorry to put you off.

Instead, go have yourself a great weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Writer Biz #15 – Analytics, Part One

What are analytics? In this instance analytics, or stats (statistics), are tools used to analyze web related traffic. Whether it’s to your website, blog, or other web arena, you should be aware of who is visiting your site, how they’re getting there, and what they’re looking for once they arrive.

Having this information will help you to direct your time and promotional efforts to the proper areas, thus helping to insure your marketing plan will be a success.

Another piece of good news is that although you can buy an expensive software package, in the beginning, you don’t have to. There are quite a few good programs available for free.

Before you even start looking at the data, have your desired objective in mind. What are the goals of your marketing plan? Once you see all the reports, in all the various formats, it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmed and just dump the whole process, feeling like you don’t have a clue.

Just hold up a minute before you make that rash decision. You are, or want to be a professional writer, correct? Part of that responsibility is to understand your business and know how to grow your business. This data will help you do that.

In the beginning, with your goals firmly in mind, you’ll want to mainly focus on the reports which will help you analyze the whosits and whasits that are centered around your desired outcome. In other words, what factors are producing the outcome you want? For now, just ignore the rest. It will only add to the confusion.

In the beginning, you may only look at a of couple reports. And that’s okay. Get familiar with them, that way you can look at a glance and see what’s going on, and if it’s going in the direction you want things to go.

There are a few reports which are more important than others, and tomorrow, we’ll talk a look at those.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From the Backlist

Out of the Darkness
By Lesli Richardson

Ancient evil forces a woman to fight for her life - and true love.


Man may forget horrors, but the land remembers. Built on a cursed patch of ground, George Simpson’s house of evil has ruined many lives over its hundred-year existence.

Author Steve Corey rents the place as an early anniversary surprise for his wife, hoping it might repair the deep rift his alcoholism has created in their marriage.

Before they moved to the Simpson house, Samantha Corey thought getting Steve sober was the hard part. But the house's dark nature has turned her thoughts to Matt Barry, Steve’s best friend and agent...and her old love. Can they overcome the ancient evil threatening them all from OUT OF THE DARKNESS?

Warning: Love, sex, violence, and a Labrador retriever who's no Lassie.

                                                   
The fact that this story started out as a creative writing project is what initially piqued my interest. I had to read it, simply because I wanted to know what would keep a person working on a project, not for months, but for years. Why would the storyline hang around and not be replaced by another?

Because the story needs to be told. I read this story several months ago, and I can still recall it, very clearly. I bent my own rule to tell you about it, since the pub date is January 2009. But I’m fairly certain it was being edited in 2008 so we’ll go with that.

The characters are fully fleshed out, real people, dealing with painful issues. You don’t just walk away from people you care about when they have problems, and Sami is a strong protagonist who does her best to work through the challenges brought on by Steve and their marriage. Who could expect the coming turn of events?

A little romance, a few paranormal elements, a bit of horror to spice things up, and plenty of thrills keep things moving along at a breakneck pace. Ms. Richardson does a masterful job of weaving all the elements together to create a powerful story. Before I knew it, I was captivated by the characters, by the house, the history and everything it stood for. The plot drew me in, and kept me turning pages, long after dark.

If you want to read a story that will make you shiver, even though it’s ninety degrees outside, this is it. For all of you Stephen King fans out there, I highly recommend this story.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Programming Pre-empted

Our regularly scheduled program has been cancelled due to the passing away of a long time friend of mine this morning. We'd known each other since our teen years, which is quite a while.

I'll address this issue in a later post, but for now, there's not really much to say.

"Farewell my friend. May you find joy, peace, a true relief from your suffering, and all the blessings that were never dealt you here on earth."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Writer Biz #14 – The Review, Part Three

Now that you have your goals set, and a timeline to reach them, let’s get to an action plan. Who is going to help you reach the desired outcome?

That would be your target market. Preferably more than one. For the sake of short blogs, let’s keep it simple. One market would be your current readers, another perhaps perspective readers. Think about who else in the publishing world has the ability to influence the sales of your book. I’m sure you can come up with a few more. Remember, the better you define your markets, the more effective your plan will be.

Once you’ve decided on your target market, it’s time to let them know about your great new story. Preferably about three months before the release date. The way you let them know, is by promotion. How you choose to promote is up to you. You’re savvy. If you’re reading this, you are probably already aware of several ways to reach your markets. Pick the ones that work best for you.

And remember, selling isn’t about telling people how great your book is, it’s about building relationships.

Last but definitely not least, is ROI. Return on investment. Once you’ve spent some time working your plan, you need to decide if it’s working for you. And don’t wait until you’ve reached then end of your timeline to check ROI. You need to check regularly. That way you’ll know if things are moving toward the goals you’ve set. Are you getting a good return for the time and money you’ve spent, or not? If not, you need to make adjustments to your plan.

One way to help gauge ROI is analytics. We’ll talk about those next week. They really aren’t as bad as they seem. And don’t worry, there won’t be a test.

That should bring you up to speed on Writer Biz.

Hope today is good to you!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writer Biz #13 – The Review, Part Two

This portion of the review covers The Marketing Plan. There are about as many marketing plans as there are people. This is the big reason there’s not ‘one plan’ that works for everyone. Every one is different. What I want to focus on, is what they have in common.

Things you’ll need to create your own plan. Those are - goals, an action plan for reaching those goals, a timeline to do it in, and a way to evaluate your results. Everything else is pretty much open to interpretation.

The first thing you want to decide on is your goal. To sell books, gain notoriety, make money, become Nora, or whatever. The more directed your goal is the better.

The next thing you need to do is add a timeline. When do you want to accomplish said goals? Three months, six months, a year? Setting a date will help in a couple ways. One, it will help you clarify your objective. Two, it will help you assess your results. And three, it will help with the motivational aspect.

Once you’ve set your goal and timeline, give yourself a reality check. The more realistic and honest you are about your personality quirks, lifestyle, and other commitments, the more you are likely to put yourself in a position to meet the goals you set.

This is the basic framework for your plan, and it’s not carved in stone. Things change, and as you follow this process, you will change and grow. You may find down the road, you’ll need to adjust your goals, your timeline or other aspects of your plan. Do it. It’s your plan, after all.

Tomorrow we’ll finish up with the final elements of the plan.

NOTE: These are suggestions only, and should be viewed that way.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Writer Biz #12 – The Review, Part One

NOTE: These are suggestions only, and should be viewed that way. Please contact a tax professional in your area, for income, expense and tax advice.

This will be a quick overview. If you wish to read the detailed posts, please feel free to check the archives under Writer Biz. They’re all there.

The first item we discussed was record keeping. By now all of you should have some type of system in place for tracking Income, Expenses, and Writing Time.

This will help you take your writing seriously and give it the proper place in your to-do-list hierarchy.

Income. Income is money you make from writing. Whether it’s paid in the form of an advance or royalty, it’s still income. Thus taxable. While you’re enjoying your new found riches, keep an eye on your royalty statements. Mistakes happen. People are human. It’s your responsibility to address them, and deal with your publisher in a professional manner.

Expenses. An expense is money that you spend on things to run your business. And you have to be realistic about what your expenses are. The most common are office supplies, advertising. There are also writing classes, and conferences with editors and agents. There are others, but again, you’ll need to consult a tax professional in your area to be sure of is deductible and what isn’t, or check out the IRS website for more information.

Writing Time. If you want to write for a living, you need to know how much time you spend at it. No matter the job, most people know what hours they work, and when they don’t. Why wouldn’t you? The four big reasons to keep track of your writing are – Professionals do it, Production, Taxes, and Motivation.

This covers Record Keeping. Tomorrow, the marketing plan refresher.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Manic Monday

Pretty sure you've all had one. If it's today, my heart goes out to you.

Lots of away from the keyboard things going on today, just wanted to let you know what's in store the rest of the week.

Starting tomorrow, we'll get the Writer Biz segment up and running. I'll spend a day or two on a quick review, and bring us up to speed on the marketing plan, and we'll take it from there.

At the end of the week there'll be a new segment starting up, called Not New Review or What's on the Back List. Tell me which title you like, and we'll use that one.

The rule is, it has to be at least two years old, or older. No current releases allowed.

Have you ever read a brand new release, loved the author and then went hunting for the books on their back list? I've done that with several authors, and just want to pass along some stories I've enjoyed very much, in hopes that you'll enjoy them too.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dirty Laundry

I grabbed a load of laundry out of the dryer, turned around to put it on the laundry table, then seeing something dark out of the corner of my eye, thought I'd left something in there.


Nope. He got in there, and out, all by himself. Fortunately, his sister came and stalled him long enough for me to take a picture.

Don't you just love animals? They make you laugh in spite of yourself.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Change Is Afoot

There are many changes happening in the publishing industry. Ebooks, the economy, and new technology seem to be the driving forces behind most of the current changes. Everywhere you look, there are quotes, articles, and opinions about all the goings on.

Isn’t it exciting? I know for some of you, it’s scary. Change is never easy. And for some, it will be more of a challenge than others. Like when your print publisher announces a complete change of business model and decides to go totally ebook. This has got to rock your world, simply because it probably seemed to come out of the blue.

Or how about this one. That B&N is for sale. Who saw that one coming? Things are happening at a rapid rate in the publishing world for sure. And the truth is, change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. You can make it work for you. If you’re willing to consider, and embrace new ideas.

Imagine. Living in an era when big publishing’s business model will be changed forever. Powerful stuff. Overflowing with opportunity, despite all the negative press.

When it comes to change, especially major changes in the marketplace, this is the way I see it. There are three kinds of people.

-Those who wait for things to happen.

-Those who make things happen.

-And those who sit back and wonder what the hell happened.

Which one do you want to be?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rules, Rules and More Rules

This came through the other day, and it’s still hanging about in the back of my consciousness, so apparently I’m meant to tell you about it.

It’s very easy to get bogged down in negative self-talk, rejections, not enough time to write, and all those other things associated with trying to work at building a writing career into the rest of our already bursting-at-the-seems life.

When I read this article from Writers Digest entitled,

The 10 Commandments of Fiction Writing,

it was like a going back to basics moment for me. Aha! My perspective snapped back in place. It was just enough of a tug back to reality to remind me that I write because I love it. And all the negative things don’t really matter because they are all part of the process. And I will not, live my life without it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Personality Conflict

Have you ever written a character you didn’t like? And I’m not talking villain here.

It’s all about the heroine, or the hero. In this case, both. I make no claims to know all there is to know about the craft of writing. Yes, I’m published, but that in no way means I’ve nothing left to learn. As taught to me by my current WIP (work in progress, for those of you having a wtf? moment).

They each have a job to do in your story, correct? What do you do if you don’t believe they can handle the task the story has set for them?

It took me awhile to come to grips with this. At first I balked and thought, nah, I created them. Of course they’re going to work it out. I justified their existence by telling myself I didn’t know them well enough. And kept writing. And I still wasn’t buying it.

The hero seemed weak, more of a nineties kind of guy, when what I wanted was more like knight-in-shining-armor wrapped in Pierce Brosnan.

The heroine couldn’t convince me she was a strong female role model, no matter how she tried. Simply going with the flow does not a role model make.

What to do, what to do. Um, uh, mmmmm. *light bulb* Rewrite! Yes. That will work.

It didn’t. And the third time it didn’t work either.

I looked at all the other story elements. Plot, subplot, supporting characters, setting, dialogue, back story, etc. Nada, zip, zero. It all seemed to work together, I could see where the story would go, knew the beginning, middle, and end. The problem still remained. I didn’t believe in my main characters. Nothing they did could suspend my disbelief.

I have to ask myself, did I run out of talent? Or is there an elephant in the room and I’m just not seeing it?

The choices are - ditch these two losers, or recreate them with the strength they need to carry on.

What would you do?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Renegade Renovation #12 – We’re In!

The trim was all painted, and hung on the drywall with care.
In hopes that the inspector would soon be there...

And here’s the rest of the story. At the end of June, somewhere around the last blog post here, we made one final push to get everything ready for the final inspection. The inspector came, and said things looked great, we could move in. Yay! Sort of.

Yes, it was a milestone. One we’d been working to reach for more than a year. There was one tiny thing we didn’t realize though. The work wasn’t over yet.

The trim still had to be filled, caulked and touch-up painted. There were closet organizers to install.

And then the biggie. Moving our belongings from storage, into the house. Whoo-hoo!!

The answer to your question is, yes. I’m writing this post from my shiny new office. It’s not quite together yet. After all, you need a place to put all the junk, right? But it’s so cool. After what feels like months of depravation, here I sit surrounded by box after box, stacked three high. Of books! Ain’t life grand.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back On Track - Or Is That Off Track?

Any hoo, I'm back in the land of technology. Taking time off was a must do, in order to get things done as fast as humanly possible. I'll clue you in on those 'things' very soon.

The only coherent post I could have made over the last several weeks would have been, "Oh, I'm so tired." Brings to mind Madelaine Kahn in Blazing Saddles...which makes me laugh out loud.

Starting Monday, we'll be back to the regularly scheduled program around here. Whatever the heck that is. I'm looking forward to it. I hope you are.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TBR Everywhere You Look

It's no secret that writers are also voracious readers. Our To-Be-Read piles are legend. Tell me, was I the only one so naive as to think that getting an ereader, and an app to read books on my BlackBerry, would eliminate the piles of books which multiply like rabbits all over my house?

You have got to be kidding me. Not only do I have an overflowing TBR pile, I now have a very large TBR file. The whole renovation thing is taking up most of my spare time, and working on a manuscript I'm behind on, is taking up the rest of the time, so there isn't any time left over to read. That's really okay for now. But the aforementioned problem still exists. Ten-fold!

Here's a short list of what's in my TBR's. These are the ones I can see at a glance.

Pile

Original Sin by Allison Brennan
Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
Atlantis Redeemed by Alyssa Day
Hot Westmoreland Nights by Brenda Jackson
What a Scoundrel Wants by Carrie Lofty
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Ms. Percy Parker by Leanna Renee Hieber
Serpent Moon by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp

File

A Bitch Named Karma by Stephanie Haefner
The Devil's Punchbowl by Greg Iles
Jack Daniels Stories by J.A. Konrath
AfterGlow by Pamela Vee
Under The Dome by Stephen King
A Darker Trinity by Candace Gilmer
Bright Star by Greyson Reyes-Cole

Yep, my tastes are eclectic. I'm one of those weirdos who reads the back of cereal boxes too.

What's in your pile?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Renegade Renovation #11 – Queen of the Tile

Welcome to June. And summer. Niiiice.

Holy cow, where did the month of May go? My apologies for being a bad blogger again.

It seems the time passed me by in a flurry, well, more like in stacks and stacks of tile. Endless days of being on the floor, against the wall, or bent over the tile saw. And it’s finally finished!! That’s what I want to celebrate and who better to do it with than you? Hope you enjoy the photos.


Why did I do so much tile work, you ask? Well, here’s the deal. My budget allowed for inexpensive flooring in a few places, installed by the flooring people. Or, it allowed for tile if I did it myself. Of course, back when everything was shiny and new, with the blush of oh-my-we’ve-got-our-own-house still upon us, tile seemed the best way to go.


Fast forward about eight months, spent working on nothing but the house in our free time. The blush is long gone. Actually, was there a blush? Not sure I remember it. I can’t blame anyone though, because I willingly agreed to do the tile since I’ve done it before. Funny, though, after a few years, you forget how much work it was way back then.


Just how much tile did I do? Uh, let me count the rooms...the laundry room floor, the master bath including floor, shower and counter tops, the guest bath floor, and the kitchen backsplash. Queen of the tile, for sure. Guess it could work as a side job if the whole writing thing doesn’t fly.

At any rate, the push is on, to get this renovation finished so every spare moment is spent doing something on the house. Looks like only a couple more weeks and it’ll be finished. I can’t wait for the day I can just walk into my office, and write.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rude Authors

Have you ever met one? If you have, I bet you remember them, and the incident associated with them.

I saw one many years ago. Funny, it was at the very first writer’s convention I ever attended, you know, back when most of the roads were dirt and we traveled by horse and carriage.

She was a very fav author of mine. Top of my auto-buy list. I say I saw her, because I didn’t really meet her. We were both part of a group milling around the elevators, waiting for one to arrive. If you’ve ever been to a conference, you know the wait seems interminable.

Said author got tired of waiting, and of course by this point, other people with nothing to do were starting to ask for her autograph. She wasn’t rude to the people in question, but I happened to be close enough to hear a snarky comment she made to the woman who was with her, about having to stand there and ‘deal’ with ‘these people’. Needless to say, the two of them left in a huff. I think they must have taken the stairs.

I was so shocked and offended by her behavior, to this day, I’ve never read or purchased another book with her name on it. And no, I won’t tell you who it is, because believe me, she’s at such a level of success that it makes no difference whether I buy them or not.

The only reason I choose to bring this up, is because during the RT convention (which was fantastic btw) in Ohio recently, it seemed to be a common theme. While waiting in line for this or that, you tend to chat with your line-mates about whatever, or whoever crosses your path to pass the time.

One thing that came up over and over again, was that people would not, now, or ever, buy books from authors who were rude, snarky in person, or generally ill-mannered.

I have to confess, as an author, it made me think twice about my own behavior. Especially during those times when I thought it wouldn’t matter. Like waiting in line, holding the door for someone, answering a question for directions, or even waiting for the elevator. It once again reminded me that as a published author, I’m a professional, and people are watching.

Then I began to wonder if I wasn’t just becoming the teeniest bit paranoid.

What do you think? Does an author’s behavior in person affect whether or not you will buy their book?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Do You Write Romance Novels?

I saw this today, and just had to share.

I Write Romance Novels - So What?

It's a special by author Eileen Dreyer to CNN.

Well said.

Best of luck with the historicals, Eileen!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Writer Biz #11 - ROI – A Time Suck or A Success?

What is ROI? It’s Return On Investment. Another one of those business-ey terms authors need to become familiar with.

ROI is about creating measurements which will tell you how effective a particular marketing effort is on your marketing goals. This is why you need to be sure your goals are as specific as possible. The more focused they are, the easier ROI is to measure. As time goes by and you’re following your marketing plan, doing the promo, and twittering your little heart out, you need to know if what you are doing is working. Or not. Was it a time suck, or a success?

Let’s say for your marketing plan, you set your timeline for one year. The first quarter flies by, and then before you know it, your looking at the end of the second quarter. You need to take time out, look at your measurements and see if things are moving in the direction you want them to. This really depends on the goals you set at the beginning of your plan. Are you garnering more readers? Selling more books? Are more people wanting to engage with you?

You need to be sure you are moving in the direction of your goals. If you are not, then what you are doing may not be working, and you’ll want to adjust your strategy. The unfortunate part about all of this is that there is no hard and fast rule about what works and what doesn’t. It really seems to be unique to each author and how they connect with people.

How do you track ROI? With analytics. Which is the next post. Don’t worry it’s not as awful as it sounds.

And I can hear you naysayers out there. ‘Some things you just can’t measure. You have to go with your heart.’ IMO, that’s an excuse to be lazy and to allow failure. Save your heart for your stories. This part requires your head.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Visit to the Windy City

This time, it wasn't particularly windy. The weather was gorgeous. Which only made the trip that much more enjoyable.

Little did I know, there were surprises in store for me. Like a surprise birthday party for one. And a new Sony reader for the other. Doesn't that just rock? I think so. Count me totally floored by both. And totally thrilled. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by people (okay, so they're a couple hundred miles away, who's counting?) who would care enough to take time out of their busy schedules to participate in such an event.

Honestly, I'm telling you this as an explanation of sorts, as to why there have been no posts the last few days. And to let you know that as soon as I recover from the travel, which one good nights sleep in my own bed should take care of, I'll be back to the regular posts.

To that end, tune in tomorrow, for the next installment in the Writer Biz segment.

Friday, April 2, 2010

You Know You’re Lost When...

You’ve taken a detour, and come upon a hand-painted sign on the side of the road that reads, The GPS is wrong, turn back.

No kidding. We laughed ourselves silly. And then drove for two hours trying to find our way around a rock slide. Some days are just like that.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writer Biz #10 - Taking the Pain Out of Promotion

Let’s see. You’ve set your goals, created a timeline, and figured out at least one or two target markets. Now it’s time to contact them, and let them know about your fabulous new story. Preferably starting about three months before its release date. And how will you do that?

Promotion, promotion, promotion.

There are several ways to reach out to your target market. You can do it online, by several methods. Social networking, press kits, chat groups, author interviews, review sites, podcasts, blogs, websites, blog talk radio interviews, and the list goes on and on. You may also reach your markets face-to-face by doing book signings, teaching workshops, social networking(the face-to-face kind), advertising, radio and television interviews and so on. You need to decide what will work best for you.

One way to take the pain out of promotion is to initially focus on doing the types of promotion which don’t make you feel terribly uncomfortable. For example, if you like talking to groups of people, workshops may work well for you. If you are not comfortable with groups, you may prefer to do more online promotion.

This is where knowing your personal strengths and weaknesses will help you. Be honest with yourself, and be prepared to grow. No one is comfortable with every type of promotion. People just get more practiced at doing it, and some are more natural than others. If you start with something that doesn’t make you too uncomfortable, then you can work your way up to the next thing which may make you a feel a little awkward, but with practice, you should be able to do just fine. Simply know at some point, you will be outside your comfort zone. That is probably the most natural thing about promotion.

Another way to take the pain out of promotion is to realize that selling books, or selling anything for that matter, isn’t about standing up, or emailing people and saying, “Buy my book.”

It’s about building relationships. Perhaps that will make it more tolerable for you. Beside that, it’s true. You’ll build relationships with your publisher, your readers, booksellers, and other authors. All of which will at some point, in some way, help you to sell your book.

Don’t worry, no one will drag you kicking and screaming in front of people to promote your book. Either you will do it. Or you won’t. It’s really that simple.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Travelin' Blog

I'm the guest blogger today over at The Lyrical Press Blog. I've talked about five reasons why you need a marketing plan. Stop by and add your own. I'd love to know what you think.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Writer Biz #9 – What’s A Target Market?

Now that you’ve set your goal and come up with a time line, you’ll need a target market. Preferably more than one. Let’s keep it simple for now, and you can expand it on your own later.

When marketing types work their magic, they use what’s commonly referred to as market segmentation. It’s a complicated way of saying they divide us up into groups by different variables.

The groups can be (notice, I said ‘can be’ NOT ‘must be’.) divided by demographic areas, geographic areas, psychographic areas, and behavioral areas. Still clear as mud? Let’s go a little deeper.

Demographic areas – these are based on variables such as age, gender, education, occupation, and income.

Geographic areas - are based on regional variables such as region, climate, population density.

Psychographic areas - are based on variables such as values, attitudes, and lifestyle.

Behavioral areas - are based on variables such as usage rate, price sensitivity, and brand loyalty. And yes, as an author you are a brand.

Once the segments are decided upon, they are usually profiled. (Not in a bad way.) In other words, a description is written for the segment and it’s given a name which represents the area which will be one of the targets for the marketing plan.

Sounds awful business-ey doesn’t it? Don’t worry. It’s really just a way to help you narrow your focus, so you can achieve your goals. The above list is to make you aware of things you may not have thought of when trying to figure out who your target market is.

I hear you, I hear you, already. “Readers, readers by books!!” “My profile is readers, you dummy.”

Yes, that’s true. But not all readers have the same taste in stories, so to make your plan more effective, let’s narrow it a little more. How about your existing readers for one segment. Perhaps prospective readers for another. Here’s an example of how the profile would look:

1. Existing readers – people who currently read my books.
2. Prospective readers – people who haven’t read my books but might read them based on the fact that they read another authors work which is similar to mine.

If you think about it, you can probably come up with a couple more. Give some thought to others in the book world who may be able to influence the sales of your book. They can be a considered a segment as well.

Remember, the better you define your target markets, the more effective your marketing plan will be.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rocks, Jeans, and Busy Machines


Growing up, I was taught that doctors and nurses heal people. Teachers form young minds, police and firemen help or save people. And as I grew I learned that journalists wanted to change the world. What did I hear about engineers? Zip, nada, zero.

Engineers were in that sort of nebulous geeky career field. Nobody knew exactly what they did, and certainly couldn’t talk about it. Unless of course you wanted to watch someone’s eyes glaze over. That’s always a cool effect.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was much older, through my own work, that I came to the realization that it’s engineers who shape the world we live in. And it’s a shame that kids, especially girls, are not made aware of, or encouraged to enter this career field. They should be.

Girls as well as boys need to be encouraged to develop their brilliance. Math and science shouldn’t intimidate children, it should excite them. To quote the Engineering Kids website, “Engineering invokes creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills.” Isn’t that totally cool? Who wouldn’t want their kid to have those capabilities? Not that a liberal arts degree is a bad thing, but maybe going forward we could also include another option.

I came across this book while reading a copy of ENR (Engineering News-Record) and had to share it. Did you know there is a worldwide shortage of engineers? Long term, this will affect each of us. In ways you can’t imagine.

The authors, Raymundo and Alane Rivera, are young engineers and the book is self-published. It is very well done. The plan is a series of books showcasing different engineering specialties to kids ages 4-8. The first title Rocks, Jeans, and Busy Machines: An Engineering Kids Storybook, is available now, and there are more titles to come.

I’ve purchased a copy for my niece, who will be four in a few weeks. Who knows what she’ll be when she grows up. But maybe, just maybe, if she’s not an author, we’ll have another engineer in the family.

If you think this is a great idea, please pass it on.

Buy Link

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Renegade Renovation #10 – Shining Light

Do you take lighting for granted? I did.

Have you ever walked through the lighting department at a home improvement store? Of course you have. It’s because whatever you need to purchase will be on the other side of the store. No matter what side you park on, or what door you go in. I swear, it’s like the contents automatically shift when you touch the door handle. Well, okay, not really, but I couldn’t resist the visual of thousands of products virtually changing location. Lol.

Any way, the big announcement this week is…

I have lights!

Not just any lights mind you, these are my lights. This is lighting I will most likely live with the rest of my life. Rooms full of lights, purchased after carefully scouring lighting departments and showrooms from Florida to Indiana and several states in between. There are lighted ceiling fans, sconces, under cabinet lights, vanity lights and even a chandelier or two for good measure. Illumination abounds in the Fox project.

I’m certain there will come a time when, once again, I burst through the doorway, mind occupied with other things, and swipe the light switch without a second thought. But for now, it’s a thrill to enter a room, and have the power to dispel the darkness.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Writer Biz #8 – The Plan, Part B

Okay. You’ve put your goals in place. The next thing you need to do is add a timeline. When do you want to accomplish said goals? Three months, six months, a year? Setting a date will help in a couple ways. One, it will help you clarify your objective. Two, it will help you assess your results. And three, it will help with the motivational aspect.

It’s easy for me to say I want to sell one hundred books, or one thousand, or ten thousand. If there’s no deadline to accomplish this, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being passive about your goal, and simply waiting for it to accomplish itself. It’s not long after setting a passive goal, the excuses start. Well, it’s only just released, or it’s only been out for six months, etc. You get the picture. Don’t give yourself permission to fail. Goals should not be passive, they should be active.

Once you’ve set your goal and timeline, give yourself a reality check. Given your lifestyle and commitments, what will it take for you to accomplish your goal? Again, this is different for everyone. Be sure to take into account your family obligations, the responsibilities of your evil day job, and any personal commitments you have. After giving your goal the serious consideration it deserves, you may have to adjust your timeline in one direction or another.

The last thing you need to take into consideration is yourself. Do you have personality traits which will hinder meeting your goals? If so, maybe you need to make an adjustment. On the reverse, do you do things which will help you accomplish your goals more quickly? The more realistic and honest you are about these things, the more you are likely to put yourself in a position to meet the goals you set.

A final note. While this will be the basis of your plan moving forward, remember, it’s not carved in stone. Things change, and as you follow this process, you will change and grow. You may find down the road, you’ll need to adjust your goals, your timeline or other aspects of your plan. Do it. It’s your plan, after all.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Got Irish?

A big shout out to Thatcher McGhee’s in Pompton Lakes, NJ. One of the best Irish pubs and eateries I’ve had the pleasure to visit. This charming establishment is in northern New Jersey, just a mile or so from the New York state line.

On Monday, I was blessed with the luck of the Irish. My business in New York concluded just in time for us to swing by for dinner.

Having visited on multiple occasions, I can tell you, the traditional fare is outstanding and the service exemplary. If you’re ever in the area, stop by and have a pint.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Writing Time

Just in case you missed the post here a couple weeks ago about writing time, I've posted a review over at the Lyrical Press Blog.

Now you won't have to search through the archives to read it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Writer Biz #7 - The Plan

There are about as many marketing plans as there are people. This is the big reason there’s not ‘one plan’ that works for everyone. Every one is different; everyone has different thought processes, and more importantly goals.

What we can talk about, are what each plan has in common. Things you’ll need to create your own plan. Those are - goals, an action plan for reaching those goals, a timeline to do it in, and a way to evaluate your results. Everything else is pretty much open to interpretation.

Sounds simple right? It is really. At least until we get to the implementation phase. But we’re not there yet, so let’s not worry about that right now.

The first thing you want to decide on is your goal. To sell books, make money, become Nora, or whatever. The more directed your goal is, the better. Don’t say, ‘I want to make money. Or make a living writing.’ Well, how much money? What is a living? It’s different for everyone. Maybe making a living is earning enough to put away for retirement, or actually paying the mortgage, or maybe just having enough extra to buy a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. Or next weeks lunch. You get the idea. Do the math.

What does it really mean to you And what do you want to get out of it? Those are questions you need to answer for yourself. Don’t feel pressured here. Some people just want to say they are published and go no further. That’s great for them, and its fine for the industry. However, if you want to get a return for all of your effort, you need to decide what you want that return to be.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Blog Hoppin'

Today I'm over at Long and Short Reviews talking about an interesting, yet very humbling discovery I've made on my writers journey.

http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/

Come on over. Love to see you there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Writer Biz #6 - The ‘M’ Word

Ahh, one word sure to strike fear into the heart of an author. M-m-m-marketing. These days most authors are expected to promote their own books. Let me put it another way. Unless your last name is Roberts, Brown, King, or Evanovich to name a few, you’d better be promoting your books.

Take a quick moment, and think about it. If you don’t promote your books, who will? Who knows your story better than you do? Who could possibly be more passionate about your story than you? Who knows what audience your story is intended for, better than you do? Wait. Were you caught up on that last one?

If your answer to the last question is, Well, everyone, silly. Everyone reads. Or maybe the answer is, I wrote it for women. They like love stories. Let’s not forget this, Everyone reads vampire stories, right, Edward? No, Dorothy. They don’t.

We need to chat. For clarification, I’m talking about primarily about eBooks. If you’re a print author, you’re welcome to tag along. The point is, eBooks are electronic books. We have the whole internet to promote on, right?

If you’ve chosen the eBook route to publication, like me, maybe you share this feeling. It’s like someone threw me into the middle of the ocean and said, Okay, honey, swim for it. Some days it’s like someone has thrown the internet at me, and said, Here little girl, go sell your book.

Allll-rightey, then, where do I start?

With a plan. Over the next few sessions we’ll talk about marketing plans and what they are, and what they can, and can’t do for you. Now don’t get stressed out. It’s not hard, and you don’t have to create thirty stone tablets or anything.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Irritation Nation

Today's Topic - Litter

Honestly. I’m aghast that I’m even writing this. But more than that, consider me supremely irritated.

On a trip out of town recently, I had to attend a public function. Chatting with friends when it was over, I realized we were among the last to depart the venue. Gazing around the nearly vacant stadium, the rows of empty seats were a stark contrast to the floors in front of them, which were littered with empty concessions containers. How hard is it to carry an empty beverage or food container with you, and deposit it in a trash receptacle, on one of many trips to the bathroom?

For whatever reason, this thought stayed with me on the long journey home by car. Traveling through several states this time of year is an ugly process. Nothing is blooming, and unless its snow covered, it’s mostly hues of gray and brown. Except for the bright spots of trash along the highway. Why, oh why, would you throw your trash out of the car window, instead of putting it in the nearest litter can, or carrying it home to be put in your recycle containers? After all, it’s your trash.

Come on people. This is the twenty-first century. We have eBooks, BlackBerries, iPods, iPads, Mac Books and a million other gadgets which supposedly make us more enlightened than our predecessors. If that’s true then the question begs to be asked. What happened to our self-respect? Our commitment and pride in the area in which we live? Our pride in our country? (oh, excuse that last one, it’s not PC to have that anymore. Call me a redneck, because I have it anyway) Did we give them up for the latest gadget?

I’m not your mother. But don’t preach to me about how humans are harming the planet, and deride me about my lifestyle, when you don’t even have the decency to clean up after yourself. Don’t make me break out the crying Indian.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Writer Biz #5 – Record Keeping Part D – Writing Time

Why would you want to keep track of writing time? After all, don’t you have enough things to keep track of already? Of course you do. However, if you are a new writer, or even a mid-list one, there are some very important reasons why you should. And before we continue on, I mean actual writing time spent on a piece of work you will submit for a contract. Not net surfing in the name of research, facebooking, or tweeting.

1. Professionals Do It

Even if you’re only writing part time because you still have an evil day job (EDJ), you’re treating your writing as a business, correct? Fanged bunny slippers and pajamas aside, lawyers do it, accountants do it, and have you ever asked a general contractor how long it takes to do a particular job? If he’s worth the price you’ll pay him, you can bet your next royalty check he can tell you how many man-hours it should take to complete a task. Professionals know how they spend their time, because like it or not, time is money. They don’t waste it.

2. Production

If you want to be a successful writer, and for the content of this post, I mean make a living writing, or have it be your EDJ, you need to be able to produce a marketable product in a timely fashion. What are you going to say when the editor of your dreams wants to know how fast you can have book two completed to fulfill the two book contract she’s offering? Do you stand there and say, ‘Um, if Billy doesn’t get sick, and I call in sick to work, and use my vacation time, maybe six months to a year.’ Of course not.

You’re a professional, remember? You know from the records you’ve kept, that you worked an hour a day, or three or whatever time frame you have, for a month, six months or how ever long it took, so you know how long it should take to complete the next work. The reason being, life happened while you were writing your book. Chances are really good, it will continue to happen during the second one. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. You won’t need that contract after all.

Yes, you still must write the best story possible. As you write, you become more knowledgeable about handling the writing process. Not to say it get’s totally easier, but you will learn your strengths and weaknesses, thus be able to write faster. Which means, increased production. You will be able to build a larger back list, which means increased royalties. It’s all good, no?

3. Taxes

Consider your writing log like a mileage log. You’ll want to note the date, time, length of time, and the project you worked on. You can spreadsheet this or set up a manual log, and it’s going to be quicker than keeping up with the food journal you have. Oh, you don’t have one? I do, but it’s under the table leg, so it’s got a far more important job at the moment.

You cannot deduct writing time per se. What you can do is maintain a log and use it for supporting evidence if necessary, that yes, your writing is a business and you are treating it like one. Even if it’s part-time.

4. Motivation

Lastly, if your writing career isn’t shaping up the way you want it to, i.e. if you think you’re not making enough income for the effort you’re putting out, I suggest you get a reality check. And a writing log will help you do just that.

Have you really been writing everyday for a month? And your writing log is blank? So, were you really writing, or were you getting caught up in the extraneous business of writing, doing things like research, online chat groups, promo, all of those other things which suck up a writer’s time like nobody’s business. Not that these things aren’t necessary in manageable amounts, but you still must write. Or you will run out of product.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Farewell Captain Phil



My thoughts and prayers go out to your sons, Jake and Josh, and the crew of the Cornelia Marie.

You will be missed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Renegade Renovation #9 – Cue the Peacock

I have walls! The drywall is complete, along with all the necessary inspections, etcetera, and per the code enforcement people, the project can move on to completion.

This brings me to the color portion of the program. What to do, what to use? The walls are now suitably covered in snowstorm white primer. After only one small mishap.

Okay, maybe not so small. Who would’ve thought a thirty foot hallway would be tough to put primer on, and get it come out smooth? I had to hire the drywall/paint fairies to come and fix that mistake. Said hallway no longer looks like snakeskin. It’s baby-butt smooth and beautiful. Thanks guys! When the drywall guy walks in and says, ‘What did you do to the wall???’ You know it’s bad.

Now the walls resemble some sort of peacock. Splashed hither and yon with paint samples of blue, green, brown, lavender. You name it. I’ve had a field day.

What, I ask you, is wrong with eggshell (screams rental property) white? After all, it feels like home.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Writer Biz #4 – Record Keeping Part C – Expenses

NOTE: These are suggestions only, and should be viewed that way. Please contact a tax professional in your area, for income and expense advice.

The first thing to keep track of is income, which was last weeks post. The second thing you’ll want to keep track of are your expenses. Which if you are a new author, will way out number your income. At first. But this is typical of most businesses in the beginning. So don’t be worried. Just do your best to budget (we’ll talk about budgets in another post) in a realistic manner. If things go well, they will either at least balance each other out, or in a perfect world, your income will far exceed your expenses.

What are expenses? An expense is money that you spend on things to run your business. And you have to be realistic about what your expenses are. Some are small, some are larger. The obvious are office supplies such as printer paper, ink, envelopes, etc. Advertising is another expense. Do you pay for banner ads, or cover ads? They are expenses. Do you pay for cover flats, bookmarks or other advertising materials? Those are also an expense.

Don’t forget the business use of your home. This one always comes up because you are technically allowed to deduct a portion of your utilities. Some people do this one and some don’t, because there are those who claim this is a red flag for being audited. Although the argument seems to be running about fifty/fifty at this point.

If you take classes to improve your craft, attend conferences to meet with editors, agents, or to market your current releases, those can be expenses also. You’ll want to keep track of who you met with and make a brief note about what was discussed. i.e. talked about manuscript XYZ. You’ll want to keep track of travel expenses to go to these events also. Conference fees, class costs. Keep track of the mileage, if you drive to the venue. There’s a standard deduction for that. Or maybe you traveled by airline, then taxi. Another expense.

Did you buy a $10k Persian carpet for your home office? They probably won’t let you get by with that one, but if you’re not afraid of audits, go for it. Just be ready to defend your decision to people who have the power to take money out of your pocket, and change your life.

For a detailed listing and instructions you can check out Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business on the IRS website. This form will have to be added to your 1040 if you’re filing a tax return in the United States. If you’re from another country, they may have something similar.

Be mindful, and honest with yourself. If you’re just going to conferences to meet your friends, good for you, enjoy yourself. If you have no intention of ever really being published, don’t view writing as a business, and you’re just taking the tax deductions, it’s obvious to those who deal with taxes on a daily basis. Even if you don’t think so.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Trouble Under Venus


Sending out major congrats to my writer pal and friend extraordinaire, Autumn Piper. Today mark’s the release of her novel, Trouble Under Venus.

This is a very special story for Autumn because it has to do with her long lost father. You can find out the how’s and why’s over at her blog, Piper Patter. It will touch your heart.

Whatever you do, Don’t miss this story. This is Autumn’s finest work to date. It will sweep you off your feet at the beginning, and you’ll have no trouble turning the pages until the end. Her books are peopled with characters so real, you’ll laugh and cry right along with them, even as you’re hissing the bad guys and cheering the hero. Autumn’s deft blend of intrigue and humor will keep you entertained, while her finesse with matters of the heart will leave you breathless.

Here's the blurb:
For some love lasts a long time, for others a lifetime. Can theirs outlast space-time?

Randi’s summer vacation plans? Attending Professor Sudo’s Time Travel Academy so she can blast back to 1980 Miami and figure out where her father disappeared to. She’s the head of her class until hottie Mitch arrives disguised as a geeky geologist and totally messes up her meditation. Goodbye Soulful in Sedona, hello Yearning in Yoga. So long solo time-travel, hello pushy partner--who happens to be a buff tri-athlete, a sympathetic listener, and an ace FBI agent on a top-secret mission. With his help, she’ll conga her way into the Cuban mafia, try not to destroy the delicate fabric of the space-time continuum, dodge a few bullets, and solve The Mystery of the Missing Dad. And maybe fall just a little in love…

Content Warning: A new adventure in women’s fiction, with a heroine who boldly goes where no chick has gone before, tons of danger and intrigue, a roller-discoing Granny, life and death betrayal, steamy Miami nights and one hot FBI agent.

Don't you just love the content warning? Great job, Autumn!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Flying Pigs

Get ready to duck folks. Never thought I’d see the day when pigs fly, but with Amazon willing to (reluctantly? Or for a bigger share of the pie, I’m guessing) give up some Kindle revenue, that day might just be coming our way soon.

This article is a bit lengthy, and there might be a tiny techie part, but you can handle it. With all the hoopla surrounding the new iPad, I thought it worth mentioning. Why Amazon Won’t Launch It’s Own Tablet

No matter what direction we turn, seems like ebooks will be everywhere. Damn. Doesn’t that just make your day?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Writer Biz #3 – Record Keeping Part B - Income

The first thing you want to keep track of is income. What is income? It’s money you are paid by publishers, usually in the form of advances or royalties, for the sale of your articles, or books. Be they magazine articles, ebooks or print books, if you are paid, it’s considered income by the Internal Revenue Service.

Okay, you new authors out there can stop ROFL. If you keep writing, being published, build up a back list, and a readership, you’ll have income. It takes time. The same as it does with any other business. If you’re multi-published by different publishers, you’ll want to keep track of income to be sure you’re receiving the correct royalty amounts from each publisher.

Remember, mistakes happen. If you are not paid the correct amount, discover an error on your royalty statement, or whatever, it is up to YOU to figure that out, and let your publisher know. Sure there are some crappy publishers out to get your money, but for the most part, publishers are also in business. Before you get mad because you know they are out to get you, take a deep breath. You are a professional. Contact them and let them know you’ve discovered an error. I’m sure they’ll be glad to be alerted, and work with you to correct the problem.

One last thing about income. It’s taxable. You’ll want to be sure withhold part of it to pay the taxes on it. I recommend one third. But then, I like to be sure I have enough put by. If there’s some left over after payment, I reinvest it in marketing, but that’s another post.

NOTE: These are suggestions only, and should be viewed that way. Please contact a tax professional in your area, for income, expense and tax advice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Writer Biz #2 - Record Keeping Part A

Before you snore, let’s get the nastiness out of the way first. I’m getting my tax things ready for the accountant, so my mind is on records. You must keep good records. What do I record, you ask? Simple. Income, Expenses, and Writing Time. I know, you already run a household, manage your family, and have a ton of things to keep track of. Sorry to add to your burden, but next to writing the very best stories ever, this ranks right up there in the top three.

There are variables to these three things depending on whether you write full time, or if you write part-time and work a full time job in another industry. The reason being, if you have a full time job in another industry, you must be ready to prove, tax-wise, that your writing is a ‘job’ not a hobby. Good record keeping will help with that.

There are several ways to handle business records. The really non-negotiable part is that you keep track of things. How you do it, will be up to you. Just be sure you do it.

If you are a new writer, start simple. A spreadsheet will work fine. If you are a more established writer, with a back list and more substantial income/expenses, a simple program like Quicken will work. You’ll also want a place to file paperwork. File folders, an expandable file, or one drawer in a file a cabinet.

As forward reaching as the writing industry is becoming, with the advent of ebooks, electronic submissions, etc., the business end still comes with a butt-load of paper.

One more thing, while your eyes are still barely open...if you don’t have one, you’ll need to find an accountant, CPA, or tax professional you trust, to turn to for taxes at the end of the year, and for questions during the year. I cannot stress this strongly enough. I’m not saying run out right now and hire somebody, but use some common sense here. It’s better to know them, and have a working relationship with them, before you need them for something really important. Like that six-figure advance, and what to do with it. And let’s not forget the taxes that will be imposed upon it.

Next post, we’ll explore what to do with the three categories mentioned above. Income, expenses and writing time.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Writer Biz #1 – Street Cred

Welcome to the first post in Fox Tales new weekly column entitled Writer Biz. Just in case you are wondering who this crazy woman is, and why in the world you should listen to a darn thing she says about business, I thought we should get the credibility issues handled first.

My educational/occupational background is in accounting and marketing, (notice how all my series posts are numbered? I find it soothing) with a minor emphasis in human resources. If you think this is where I’m going to brag about my fancy education from some Ivy League school, you’d be wrong. Sorry folks, it’s not who I am.

I’ve been educated and employed by companies both small and large, so I have thorough knowledge of the inner workings on multiple scales, and what it takes to be successful at both ends of the spectrum.

While I’m not quite as old as dirt, I can say I’ve been managed, and a manager, for many years. If you are a writer, you are a small business person who needs to know how to manage the business end of your career as well as the craft portion. While I’m still learning the craft part, right along with you, I’m quite familiar with the other side.

And last but in no way least, I’ve been successfully self-employed for several years now. Remember, success is a relative term. Are you going to find me on the Forbes 500 list? Of course not. Am I successful enough to pay my own bills? You bet. And then some.

You can make of this what you will, but I do invite you to follow along. Because after all, business is business and no matter what business you're in, there are certain fundamentals common to all. I’ll tell you what's worked for me, and what hasn’t. And we’ll try to have a laugh over this gawdawful boring stuff called business.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Oklahoma!

No, not the play, but the state. Although, thoughts of Hugh Jackman as Curly does bring a smile to my face. And wouldn’t you know, it’s freezing and Hugh is nowhere to be found. Guess my timing is off, by a couple years. Just as well, since I’m here for work.

I really stopped in because I couldn’t wait to tell you about one of the new things happening here at Fox Tales. Starting next week, there will be a new weekly feature called Writer Biz. I’ll be doing a weekly post about the business end of writing. If writing is just a hobby for you, that’s great. But if it’s your business, or you want to make it your business, you may want to follow along.

Until then, have a fantastic weekend. And stay warm!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Conference Anyone?

If you’d like to attend a conference this season, but like most of us, are concerned about the cost, let me recommend EPICon. Presented on a smaller scale, this makes it ideal because it’s less expensive than most, in a fun location, and is offering an excellent roster of speakers (besides me, check out the list) to help you improve your craft and marketing skills.

The banner provides a link so you can take a look yourself. If you’d prefer an intimate setting, where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. This is it.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

It's our usual custom to stay indoors on New Years eve, so we had a great quiet evening.

Honestly, our butts were kicked from painting all day. So we snoozed in our recliners.

We just finished painting for today, and must go find dinner. I just wanted to stop by and say thanks for a great 2009. I'm really looking forward to lots of exciting things this year, which I'll share with you soon.

Until then, wishing each of you, all the best for 2010.