Pro-Activity is Success Thursday, Jun 19 2008 

When I first got the idea to send something to a publisher after years of writing for myself I had this grand idea in my head. You get published, your book comes out, you get a cheque and move on to the next project.

While that it what happens there is a lot of behind the scenes work. There’s editing and rewrites, working one on one with a mentor to polish the polished manuscript until it shines like a diamond. There’s promoting the book on line and in stores. The Publisher will do its share but for anyone to be successful you have to be pro-active in promotions.

I’ve created a solid presence on line with my blogs, my newsletter/group, chats, and forums. That’s the first step now comes the hard stuff. Keeping that presence alive, keeping folks aware of me, aware of my work and not giving up.

There seems to be this grand illusion from those who aren’t published or don’t even write that once you’ve written and published one book you can sit back collect your royalties and not have to worry about real life. That’s not how it works in real life. It takes a solid effort on both the part of the publishing house and the author to keep awareness alive.

I’ve made myself a network of places and people that I can turn to to help me build awareness. Bookstores, clubs, forums, all are solid marketing tools that can and should be used. I want to be successful, and that means that I have to keep things moving.

While my book isn’t due out until next year I’ve already contact local bookstores, merchants, libraries, about booksignings, and carrying the book when it comes out in print. Most of them don’t mind me putting up a poster or bookmarks in their stores to encourage folks to be aware of the book in its e-book format.

The local manager of a huge chain bookstore has already given me authorization to come up and put my work in their store. They can’t order directly from the publisher because they are a chain but they’re happy to carry my work on consignment. That means that they’ll help me promote it. If it proves to be a big enough seller I may be able to expand, put in other stores even online bookstores such as Amazon.

However, that’s in the future – its not a now thing. Right now its focusing on building awareness, on creating a network of groups and people that will be lined up waiting to purchase the work. Its now that the real work begins, because the writing of it was easy compared to this.

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Real Life and Your Dreams Wednesday, Jun 18 2008 

For the past few months I’ve been a stay at home mom. My days were filled with housework and taking care of my son. Then when I got the great news that my book Master’s Mistress was to be published life hit fast forward. I didn’t know where I was going or how I was getting there, the excitment and adrenaline were pumping through my blood faster ‘n a Nascar Rally.

However, reality has set in. Yes my books coming out next year which means that when the time comes I’ll have plenty of edits, rewrites, tightening, and such to do before I can really focus on the things I want to. This hasn’t dulled my enthusiasm at all, in fact it’s only made me want to do more. So here I sit, one manuscript that I’ve finished and are doing edits on, and two that I’ve barely started. I’m waiting to hear back on my Christmas novella – on pins and needles I may add – and all this must be done in my spare time.

Finances and time have come to a parting of the ways. So, to keep a steady income coming in I’ve had to reassess my stance. That means going back to work. I must admit I cheated – I’m working from home, providing day care for two boys. They get along well with my son, and we don’t have any issues.

What does this mean for my time? Well it means that the time before I’d spend writing I have now to watch the boys. Time I could spend in teleconfrence or on the computer doing research means that it’s field trips to the library. It does not mean that I’ve stopped writing – I’ve just prioritized to include the boys.

When real life intrudes on your dreams it can lead to dismay and discouragment. I won’t let that happen for two reasons. First of course being that writing is a part of me. I can no more stop writing than I can spread wings and fly. To lose that would mean giving up a part of my identity. And the second reason is of course, its good for me. I’ce come to realize that I can’t spend 16 hours a day on the computer – its not good for me, for my family, and quite frankly I think it would kill the love I have for writing.

If you’re thinking that you can’t mesh your dreams with your reality think again. Prioritize, set limits, and above all don’t give up. Keep the faith you have in yourself and in your dreams. Be it a single leap or a series of tiny steps the path that you follow to reach your dreams has no difference, it simply means that you’re following that tiny voice within you that belongs to your heart.

Good luck and have a great day.

Fan Fiction – Real or not Monday, Jun 9 2008 

With the upcoming interview with the moderator of one of the fandoms I write in, I thought this week we could touch on a topic that is as controversal as it could be. I’ve heard every argument out there about fan fiction being a copyright infringment, about it being a useful tool to a writer, and everything in between.

Being an author of fan fiction I have to admit that using another person’s character to write a story is a harmless tool. I don’t see the difference in borrowing a well known character to write a story and borrowing a pattern to make an afgan. As long as the writer/creator doesn’t make a cent what’s the harm? Personally, if people are so enamored of a character or show that they’re willing to spend their free time (Something that there isn’t much of in today’s world) writing about it, take it as a compliment.

A fictional character is just that a piece of imaginiation by some really intelligent, creative people. Stan Lee is one of the most renowned super-hero creators of all time and with good reason. He’s come up with some of the most famous characters of all time such as the X-Men and many many more. Each of his characters belongs to him, but should the public have a right to play with them? That’s the million dollar question that has caused some serious debate. Fan Fiction borrows a character or a place and lets an author explore it before returning it. No harm in that, I say.

However, fan fiction is just that – fiction based upon an imaginary person. It’s when it goes the other way that it becomes an issue in my humble opinion. Now there are certain lines I agree should never be crossed. For example I’ve started to read some fan fiction and stopped before I’d even finished the first page because the author has drawn the real person into the story. We’re all exposed to the gossip and rumors of the tabloids and the celebrities, but really we don’t know them as a person. How can anyone say that John Doe would do this dispicable thing or that good deed if they don’t know him personally.

Heat Wave Contest Now Open Thursday, May 29 2008 

Heat Wave IN PRINT-Big Contest!

Midsummer Night’s Steam stories are now available in paperback from Samhain or Amazon to enjoy at the beach. The stories are bundled in several anthologies including HEAT WAVE which features three of the Erotic Muses authors.

To celebrate the release, the HEAT WAVE authors are having a contest. The prize is a tote bag with summer items: suntan lotion, a beach towel, a baseball cap, sunglasses and a margarita glass. All you have to do to enter is stop by EROTIC MUSES blog every day this week (May 26-30) and learn about these great stories! Leave a comment Tuesday through Friday for a chance to win. To clarify: YOU MUST LEAVE A COMMENT ALL FOUR DAYS-TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY IN ORDER TO BE ELIGIBLE.

The winner will be announced the following Friday, June 6, giving latecomers a chance to enter. If you don’t find out about the contest until the second week, that’s okay…go back to the previous week’s posts and drop a comment.

This week each of us will profile our books, including Jamie Craig, the author of Liaisons in Jubilee. The other stories in the anthology are Blackberry Pie by Bonnie Dee. Second Wind by Dee S. Knight and Hunk of Burnin’ Love by Veronica Wilde.

http://samhainpublishing.com/print/heat-wave-print

http://eroticmuses.blogspot.com/

Newbies and Learning the Craft Tuesday, May 27 2008 

Do you remember the thrill you got the first time you picked up a pen? The butterflies in your gut, the dry mouth, sweaty palms? Remember the tremble in your fingers as you stared at the page before you?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions than you’re on the right track. Regardless of whether you’ve written a year or ten years, if you’re dedicated to your craft but don’t feel any emotions when you begin to right something is wrong.

I’ve been writing for years, and I still get butterflies every time I start a new project. Does that mean that I’m a green-horn with no skill? Does that mean it takes me weeks to come up with a plot that’s believable? No. Not even a novice is like that. It simply means that writing is for me as much of a rush as bungee jumping for the next guy/gal.

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who asked a lot of questions and it got me to thinking. What does it mean to be a novice? How do we as writers develop our skills? Some say practice, others say our work writes itself. But while neither is right, neither is wrong.

Despite my experience writing I consider myself relatively inexperienced. Why you ask? Because unlike authors like Heather Graham or Judy Garwood or even Louis L’amour – I haven’t been around the world and back again. There are authors out there that spend years researching for a book. They travel the route their characters are bound to take, they experience their hero/heroine’s life for themselves (within reason – you can’t experience being a vampire or a ghost) before they ever put their thoughts on paper or feel confident enough to submit it.

For each of us, learning to write a good novel or novella – I will differentiate on these at a later date for those who don’t know the terms – is a matter of baby steps. No one has ever sat down and said here’s the equation for writing that NY Best Seller. Write what moves you. Write about love or hate, passion or boredom. Fact or Fiction has to be who you are.

If you’ve got an idea then write it down. You have to learn to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. I believe everyone who has a soul can be a writer – and I hope that those who read this article come to learn this.

Wednesday, May 21 2008 

With the recent blog I did on Deadly Vixens it got me to thinking of how the writing environment is so crucial to us. For each person there are little things that they need to write successfully. Some write better in natural light, others can write by a candlelight, still others require silence, myself – I prefer music in the background and the clutter of my life about me.

My office is by no way spotless. I have stacks of binders, folders, papers all about me. My printer is hidden by papers and notes. My computer desk has barely enough room for a cup of coffee. Not to mention the clutter of the floor but its got a comfort about it that I crave.

I don’t write so well with pen and paper simply because it takes too long and my thoughts like to flow as fast as I can type. Still if I get an idea I generally go with it, be it writing on a scrap of paper or a binder, or even the back of a receipt.

Each person has a special way of doing things. We like to think that a writer’s skills are nominal and that the life they lead is boring, and you starve. But it isn’t. The fact is that for a writer being surrounded by their ideal environment is key. Even now I have my music playing softly, my son is still sleeping, and the window next to my desk is open a bit. Am I in my comfort zone? Yes, am I in a writing mood – you bet your boots I am. Will I finish the manuscript I’ve been struggling with – I believe I’ll be finished the first draft today. Now, does that mean that all the things around me are key to my writing? Maybe. Maybe not, but at least I can say with complete honesty that the environment has played a key role in my success. So, find your niche, your nook or cranny and write away!

The Importance of Creating An Identity Monday, May 12 2008 

As people we always assume that we have an identity. Our name is who we are but its so much more than that. Anyone who writes can relate to this. Many author’s use a pen name or their initials. That identity is part of us, its another shade of our colors. However, for many people they don’t see that.

With any good thing there are bad points. For example, I’ve written fan fiction for years to go with my own original works. I’ve gotten good, bad, and indifferent reviews. I’ve also gotten a couple that were beyond bad, they were scary. But I didn’t take them personally. Why? Because the person that wrote the story, the identity that created that plot line wasn’t me. Wasn’t who I am in my core. My pen name got the review, the flame, the stripped down to nothing blast of fury from an irate reader. Did it hurt, darn right it did.

That pen name is still a part of me, but I didn’t let it affect me to the point where I gave up everything. I stopped writing in that genre for a month, posted things that I’d finished earlier, but nothing new. My muse had abandoned me. When I started writing again I was extra careful, but then I thought about it. I was able to seperate the event within my head because I was able to seperate my identity from my pen name to my real name.

You’re probably wondering what the point to my rambling is – but I’m getting to it. Regardless of whether you write fan fiction, short stories, poetry or technical columns for instruction manuals – you have to be comfortable within yourself. My original works are under my real name simply because I like the ring to it. However, I’ve had to build an identity around that name for those who don’t know me. To do that I’ve utilized the tools at my disposal with care and consideration.

Tools? What tools? Simple, this weblog is a tool. Blogspot is a tool, bebo, Myspace, chat rooms, forums, groups in yahoo and google. They are all tools. The trick is to spread yourself throughout them without spreading yourself so thin that you neglect some, or just plain forget about them. I try to touch base with each of my chats, forums, and websites at least once a week. Sometimes I can do more than that but that’s the minimum.

If you’re serious about writing, if you’re serious about developing your craft then you have to realize that at some point you’re going to be published. When you are, you have to look at marketing your book. Before all that though, you have to market yourself. To do that successfully and thus make yourself known to both publishers and readers you have to create that all important identity.

It’s not easy in the sense that you can stick something on line and say there you go. You have to be willing to work at it. There is no post today and leave it for six weeks or a year. People forget, time passes, and if you aren’t pro-active then you’re going to lose out. So think about that. It’s better to create one truly great site and promote it than to create a dozen cheap imitations and leave them hanging out there.

I’ve googled my name before and come up with several hits. Some attached to sites that are unrelated to writing, others to publishing houses, it all takes time and patience and a willingness to work your a** off. With that thought I shall leave you. Have a great week and I’ll see you soon.

 

Non Fiction Anthology Accepting Submissions Tuesday, May 6 2008 

For many writers we create worlds within our minds that we turn into fiction. Fan fiction or not our brains build on bits of fact and our experiences. I know a lot of people through several forums who research a great deal for their stories and in the end they have this fantastic fiction story and piles of notes from books, experts and others in the ‘know’ as it were.

So what do you do with them? I said in an earlier column about taking your notes and putting them into a non-fiction paper. This is sorta of an expansion of that idea. While I was reading an interview Kissa Starling did on her blog, I got to know a bit about a new publishing company that’s attached to an older, larger one.

This interview and editor peeked my interest so I did a bit of digging around and found that Jupiter Gardens Press has several imprints. Now Jupiter Gardens is a an alternative spirituality Fiction/nonfiction publisher. However they do have several other genres that their imprints publish. Pink Petals does Romance and Kittyhorse Publishing does animal anthologies that they donate proceeds to various charities.

The imprints looked good and I contact the publisher of one and spoke to her. She was enthusiastic, professional, and I felt comfortable discussing the idea I had with her. So if you’ve got a true story about an animal in your life, your cat, dog, horse check them out.

The links to them are: http://www.jupitergardenspress.com/

Fan Fiction an escape or a tool? Monday, Apr 28 2008 

 

Many people say that fan fiction is simply a copyright infringment and should be dealt with harshly. Still, others say it’s a valued tool in their arsenal. I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know what I think.
I’ve written original pieces for years, and fan fiction right along with it. I currently have not one but two full pages on two different fandoms and a smattering of other stuff elsewhere. When I’m bogged down by plots and character problems, or hit by that dreaded thing called writers block, I have an escape. I can simply go to another file, another world and write. I don’t have to pick at every little detail, I can simple throw the characters around and let my muse flow.
It recharges those creative batteries that we all have and I know for a fact that we need them, I need them. In the time I’ve written fan fiction I’ve learned all about plots, about how to build a character from nothing. I’ve also created a support network of other like minded people that is frankly astounding.
When I went to both groups I’m associated with and said, “I’m writing an original historical romance I’m going to try and get published” the outpouring of support and well wishes was astounding. It humbled me to realize that in the years that I’d been writing and posting what so many discount as unimportant crap, I’d been building friends along the way.
You may have an opinion on fan fiction, like it or dislike it. Think its valid or invalid it doesn’t matter to me. Either way, I believe quite strongly that Fan Fiction is a tool – and the men and women that write it are as valued and creative as those who write original pieces and have never tried it!

 

Forum’s and Frienships Saturday, Apr 26 2008 

For many of us having a blog is like having an extension of ourselves. We stop off chat, log in, log out, leave a comment, put up a picture, and carry on. For some of us though, a blog is part of our daily lives and has a great many uses.

I blog every day for one reason, I enjoy it. However, having said that a lot of the time I’m online is not on my blogs, my sites, or anything else. It’s busy chatting with and getting help from professionals on different publication forums.

I’m a member of approximately 6 – I’m not on my computer so I don’t have the list in front of me – but I’m active on all of them. I do online workshops, research, question and answer periods, you name it I’ve found it on there. During the process I’ve also learned alot about writing, about the skills and desires of others, and myself.

I’ve also made a few friends along the way. I have contacts in the editorial world who are very good at what they do, critique partners who aren’t afraid to ask a question or point out a problem, and have touched base with some pretty amazing authors.

So, if you haven’t joined one yet, find a forum that you like. Be it romance, sci-fi, or whatever, you’ll be amazed at what you can find!

The faster I write the better my output. If I’m going slow I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.~ Raymond Chandler

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