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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why do I need a platform? This soapbox works just fine.

 

Yesterday I wrote a guest post over at Harry Potter for Writers here:
http://bit.ly/k7gcgK

In the comments people mentioned that I *might* be the kind of gal who speaks her mind—and that’s true. I like to climb the tallest mountain and shout from its snow covered peak about things that I believe in. There is no shame there, I never claim to have all the answers but I will always know what I feel is right. No amount of naysayers or industry experts can take that away from me, or away from you.

Lately I have been reading a lot of about the importance of author platforms. Previously I ignored these types of informational posts, author platforms are for nonfiction writers, right?

Yes. But no.

If you are a politician, and you campaign on health care reform, that is called your platform. If you are a nonfiction writer you would need something that would make you an expert in your field, or qualified to write about your subject. Do you have a cooking blog that reaches 100k? That would be your platform. Are you a show dog judge with years of having your name out there? That would be your platform.

So how does any of this relate to the fiction writer?

It’s not like Amanda Hocking is qualified to write young adult vampire novels because she is a young adult vampire. I mean she could be, but I don’t know her business.

The more information I see on platforms for fiction writers, the more I realize they are using platform in the place of something else. A combination of audience, fan base, and followers. I see some people ask “What is your platform?” But what I hear is, “Who is going to buy your book?” Who, not what is the important part.

A million years ago Writer’s Digest had an article of platforms and it can be found here:

http://www.writersdigest.com/article/get-known-excerpt

I think it’s more accurate than a lot of the platform blogs I see out there recently. I’d say the first section is the best, after that it gets into the same thought process that platform= some kind of angle. Which again is more true for nonfiction writers.

You don’t need an angle, you need a captive audience. People could argue my platform is writing, but it’s every other writer’s too. Other people would be compelled to say my book is my platform, or my genre is my platform but none of those are quite right either.

I have come to the conclusion, I don’t need to define a platform. The soap box of my blog is just fine. What I need is to sell a number of books, that no one can define but enough to be called a success, and then no one will care about a few planks of wood.

So when people tell you that you need a platform, take a second to think about what they are really saying.

Monday, June 27, 2011

~*LOVIN THE LANGUAGE BLOGFEST*~

lovinblogfest

 

I decided to do this fun little number on a whim, you can check it out here:
http://jolenesbeenwriting.blogspot.com/

All the cool people were doing it!

After that I weighed on and off all morning WHICH ‘wip’ I should use. I am doing my final few edits on SKELETON LAKE and writing my first Draft of a Book called Those Damned DeLeons which you wont even get to see until next year.

So since TDD’s release date is so far away I went with Skeleton Lake! Pigments of My Imagination will be out soon, and after that is Skeleton Lake which is the first book in a 4 book series.

The RULES for this Blogfest:
Pick any five lines or any five SHORT excerpts from one of your WIPs. If you're feeling shy, and don't want to share from your own work, share from something you LOVE.

So here I go:

1.) "The lake is nothing but a false idol. Tormenting me like a cruel god. Reminding me for all my days, and every last dream filled night, that what it gives to us it can so easily take away." –Raiden

2.) Most of all I wanted to hate her, needed to. Because she had died and stayed that way, because she had left him alone and that made him miserable, and because no amount of anything I had to give would ever take that away.

3.) Raiden had invaded my heart; my very existence was of him, false flesh and bronze bones.  I couldn't let him live here, permeating the walls of my family home too.

4.) "I chose you from all the others," she sang. "to give you the life I gave away, to save you from sharing a fate with me. Don't make the same mistake again."—Cassie

5.) Conrad walked out into the muddy water of the lake. He did not use the dock. I watched him shed layers like every part of him was screaming in pain. I knew that it probably was. His back was turned to me, and I was grateful I couldn’t see the parts of him that made him what he was. A Hallow.

So what do you guys think?

Just FYI tomorrow I am doing a guest blog over at Harry Potter for Writers:
http://harrypotterforwriters.blogspot.com/

I am very excited about it!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Writing Process Demystified #3: To Tweet, or Not to Tweet? That is the Question.

hamlet

If I am writing book, which is often, I am writing it longhand. My first draft is always done in legal pads and spiral notebooks, with the exception the the middle grade books I write; those are done in composition books.

None of them involve actual skulls (well maybe Skeleton Lake) or soliloquies.

I have been writing for more than half my life, at twenty seven I am very set in my ways.

The one really bad thing about that is I HATE typing my book when it’s done, mostly because when you have to transfer it you get in your first good edit. I read my book out loud as I type it and I pick up on awkward sentences and things that do not work at all.

Only sick people like editing.

There is a battle being waged by those who think the pen is mightier than Microsoft Word; but there is an even more epic controversy.

To tweet, or not to tweet, (while writing) that is the question.

Coming from the girl who tweeted her way through the 3 Day Novel Contest, I guess it’s easy to see what side of the fence I typically end up on. Typically, but not always.

I think you can always tell when I am tweeting and writing. Mostly because those tweets make little sense, and are often entirely random and not about writing at all.

It’s true I have managed to ability to write longhand and tweet at the same time. That is because I don’t have to be looking at the paper to form the letters, and I already wrote the sentence in my head so the words are just there—on the tips of my fingers.

But sometimes… sometimes I need a reason to slack off. Sometimes I am looking for that distraction.

I have experimented with programs like Write or Die, I ground myself from twitter, and even the ability to mess with my playlists if I don’t hit my goals. BUT what it really comes down to is your ability to tune out the distractions, to make yourself do whatever it takes. If you can’t teach yourself discipline your writing career with be fraught with uphill battles that lead to no where.  No amount of fancy gadgets or anything else will save you from yourself.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wanted: CAVE so dark I can forget EVERYTHING

I have learned a lot of hard lessons in the past month and a half. Most of the lessons learned included things most people don’t have to endure; like my husband being gone, leaving me with four little kiddos and little sanity.

My husband is in the Air Force, and he goes on these trips several times a year. Usually I have a 2-3 day adjustment period to get used to being on my own again but this time I just can’t seem to get past it.

Today another deadline comes and goes, and even though it was a personal deadline it still HURTS to miss it. Especially because this was the revised deadline due to other things that happened outside of  my control, this time I feel like it’s me and that makes me feel like a total loser. I had willing able people to get me through it and I just couldn’t get my life in check.

I know that isn’t really my fault, but some of it is, and it’s my life. I feel like I should have a better handle on things and I just don’t. I have gone to bed every day since my husband has been gone so tired and sore my body feels like a cement puppet. I am trying to make myself move with steel wires that slice through my fingers when I try to make it do something it doesn’t want to. Which by ten PM is pretty much everything.

10 PM guys! That’s hours earlier than usual, and maybe that is part of the problem.

I haven’t picked up a pen in a week. You have no idea what that is doing to my mental state.

I am giving up on deadlines* until I come back from Vacation next month. You have no idea how bad I need a vacation. Of course I wont get to enjoy my vacation for a while, first I have to drive 9 hours with 4 small kids by myself to meet my husband at a rendezvous point so we can drive the rest of the way to Texas together. Joy.

We leave Thursday, if you don’t hear from me after that call the psych ward.

*Deadlines/ commitments I wont be forgetting:

Pirates VS Ninjas over at Ninjachat
Blogging
A guest blog over at Harry Potter for Writers

and all those other things I forgot about that involve other people I refuse to let down.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Writing Process Demystified #2: Oral Fixation

Ever notice that a high percentage of writers are addicted to coffee? Why do you think that is?

drinkcoffee

It’s because we keep stupid hours and because of other things.

Oh wait, you wanted me to talk about those other things didn’t you? Well it’s embarrassing, but I will admit the whole reason I got into coffee was because all the kids at the poetry slam were doing it.

Yes. I did say cool kids and poetry slam in the same sentence. What? You don’t think POETRY SLAMS ARE COOL?

Anyway, I used to hate coffee. At least the taste of it. It took me years, but then I was queen of the Starbucks, and eventually could even stomach my home brew. Sometimes while the glorious scent of my first (or seventh) pot of coffee is drifting through the air I think, “Why have I chosen this life?” Then I realized, I never really had a choice at all.

Before coffee, I’ll call that my dark ages, I still used to write. I still used to complete books on my frantic, inhumane, schedule. But something was different, it was my mouth!

What did I do with my mouth when it wasn’t drinking French roast?

I chewed pen caps! Really. I don’t actually recommend this, and the whole reason I brought it up was because I wanted to warn you!

Remember last week when we talked about REM for your writing? I said you could trick yourself into writing by always doing the same thing when you start over and over? They say it takes 2 weeks for things to become habit, pay close attention to what bad ones you may pick up. Many writers have some type of oral fixation, and contrary to popular belief it’s not because we are all insane…. I mean that might be true but it doesn’t explain the mouth thing. The mouth thing is because it’s comforting.

Writing does all sorts of things to your mental health, and not all of them good. Pay attention to your mouth next time you write. It will make climb the walls at first, so you might have to forget all about this blog later. But that’s OK because next Sunday is the third installment of THE WRITING PROCESS DYMYSTIFIED

Friday, June 17, 2011

Driving the Bandwagon vs. Hitching a Ride

“Hey Mister, where you headed?
Are you in a hurry?” –Green Day Hitchin’ a Ride

The thing I hated about trying to break into the world of traditional publishing was the time it took to do everything. You live and breathe on someone else’s schedule, and you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t start wearing you down.

These are troubling times in the publishing world. The lines have been firmly drawn, and each side has loudly declared the other the loser.

loserwinner

They seem to hate each other right now, but one day I think traditional publishing and self/indie publishing are going to need each other.

POPOSTEROUS you say! Well lets think about this shall we.

If sweet little Mary Sue, has her book published by Random House; how did that come about? Assuming she started her novel writing career as a nobody it likely went like this.

Mary Sue writes a book---> Revises and edits a book---> Submits a query letter an lit agent (or thirty lit agents)---> Is picked out of the slush pile.

Lets stop right there. WHY was she picked out the slush pile? Probably because of one or all of these reasons:
1.) Good story
2.) Good writing
3.) Agents personal preference
4.) The chance that it will be sold based off of Market trends as the agent interprets them.

So many decisions in the publishing world are based purely on speculation. What an agent thinks will sell to a publisher. What a publisher thinks will sell to a particular audience. So I guess the million dollar question is, do they really know?

Sort of.

Publishers aren’t really reinventing the wheel these days as far as content goes, and when they decide it’s out, it’s out.*

So what if we could take speculation out of the publishing equation?

IMPOSSIBLE! You scream.

Just shut up for a minute and let me connect some dots for you. As I am sure you have read all over the internet, amazon e-book darling Amanda Hocking scored a SWEEEEEEET traditional publishing contract earlier this year.

Do you think she followed the same formula Mary Sue did? Of course not she is Amanda Hocking! There was a HUGE bidding war, you know why? Because no one had to speculate on whether or not she would sell books. She has a ginormous fan base, of course she is going to sell books. Personally I LOVE Amanda Hocking, I love everything I have convinced myself she stands for (which is probably not at all what you think she stands for)

So what if it could always be that way? What if they always knew who would sell and who wouldn’t. The answer is, they could, they just don’t want to change their business model.

I have some vary simplistic beliefs when it comes to self or indie publishing. I believe if you were destined to be great you will be great, if you were destined for mediocrity you will be mediocre, if you were doomed to failure—which likely has more to do with your worth ethic than anything else—you will fail.

The path no longer needs to define an author. You don’t have to be driving the bandwagon, you just have to learn to be alright with hitching a ride. Sometimes it’s smarter to take the wheel and drive, and sometimes it’s smarter to fly, this is one of those few instances in life where the destination will mater more than the journey.

Where do you want to end up?

*More on this in my Vlog at the end of the month. Vampire Money Coming June 29th

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It’s not your IMAGINATION. Updates & Secrets to Book Cover Success!

Yesterday I was asked about finding art, or artists for book cover designs. I told Mr. Fetched that today I would blog about it! We will get into that but first updates:

PIGMENTS OF MY IMAGINATION is currently going through it’s last bit of final editing, and formatting. It’s already been edited of course, and re-edited, you get the picture… but I do this thing with commas… should probably be calling this the final proof read.

And don’t forget! PIGMENTS will also included an excerpt of SKELETON LAKE a dark YA paranormal romance.

Now on to book covers!

Q: Why judge a book by it’s cover?

judge_a_book_by_its_cover cartoon

A: Because everyone else does.

I have actually written a couple of blogs on book covers, have a refresher course:

I solded this book 2 my mothre & so can u!
Judge a Book by it’s Cover

Now lets say, for the sake of time, that you already know to *really* sell your book you need a professional looking book cover. So THEN what do you do?

A) Learn Photoshop
B) Google how to make a book cover in Microsoft paint
C) Consult Angela WRITE Now so she can tell you why A and B are horrid ideas.

Obviously the answer is C) Let me tell you why!

Answer A) Learn Photoshop: Chances are, if you don’t have Photoshop skills already, you aren’t going to be whipping out a professional cover any time soon. Also, have you priced Photoshop? You can commission a real artist to do real custom covers—a couple of them for the price of just that program.

Answer B) Google how to make a book cover in Microsoft paint. I once Googled ‘how to book covers’ and one of the top sites had a a tutorial for doing this. NO! I remember screaming!

NO
NO

Nooooo!

It’s too late for them, but it’s not too late for you! Step one, find an artist. I tromped through sites like deviant art. I will admit to searching for things like “Hot Emo Boys” and “dark underground lairs” for future releases. Search for something relevant to your book, find and artist you like and ask them if they will do a commission. MANY of the artists there also have this information already displayed on their page. It’s best to work with people who have done commissions before, but don’t be turned away from them if they have not done book covers. MAKE SURE YOU ARRANGE TO HAVE ALL THE RIGHTS, and ask them if they can do word art (or typography etc) for the title. Don’t worry if they can’t, you can find some one else to do this via the same site, or TWITTER. BTW I have seen people quote me a low as $15 for original digital art on DEVIANT.

I use Twitter for everything, I tweeted “need an artist who is good at typography.” Tons of people RT it, and people started coming to me. I got to CHOOSE. I chose @JenBrookman because she is the best. She did the PIGMENTS OF MY IMAGINATION cover and she will be doing many more for me I am sure.

PigmentsOfMyImagination-CoverC1_thumb[3]

 

I hope I helped you on your quest Fetched! If not, feel free to hunt me down. I’d gladly do some of the leg work for you if you tell me what you want.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I’ve Got a List & You’re On It

I have a list for practically everything, and if you follow me around the internet enough, chances are, you’re on one. Whole notebooks full of lists, piles of stray sticky notes that litter my desk but better not dare to end up on the floor. I have a stack of notebooks filled with nothing but book ideas I don’t have time to write for at least the next three, almost four years.

To me, lists are a good good thing, but there are some lists you do not want to end up on.

The first of such lists is quite a pretty thing to behold. It’s all written in purple girlie swirls on pale pink cardstock. The title of the top of this list reads:

The Wrong List

It always gets a look from people who dare to venture into my batcave office. “Why is it the wrong list?” they ask.

The thing is, there isn’t a right list. This list just contains people who have been in my opinion notably wrong. Usually on the internet. Now I know what you are thinking.

wrong

People are always WRONG on the internet, including myself. I know, I am not going to start a crusade against everyone who has ever tweeted an inaccurate fact EVER. The Wrong List is reserved for big time capital offenders. People who say things like, 99 cent e-books are RUINING American Literature and Twitter doesn’t help you sell books. Also there is a special place on the back for every author I have ever caught saying they make no money selling e-books so they don’t see how anyone else can or what the big fuss is.

Here is a hint, YOUR EBOOK COSTS ELEVEN DOLLARS. Which is like twice as much as some of their mass market paperbacks.

Yes people did actually say those things, and now they are on my list! See how it works?

The next list is my own personal HIT LIST. While I don’t actually plot anyone's demise, I do keep a detailed list of every writer I hope to one day do something better than.Some of these things are silly. Like I hope to sell more books than @XXXXXXXXXX wait you actually thought I was going to name names! No way baby, I don’t have a career death wish. (OK I do just not for this alright?) A lot of those goals are smaller, and I even managed to cross some things off my list like have more twitter followers than so and so,get it?

If I didn’t have a list, I would never be able to keep up with all those life goals.

Other lists currently on my desk: A rough draft of tomorrows to do list. Yes I do a RD! I tend to over extend myself and I like to make sure its possible before moving it over to the dry erase board.

I also have a list of people who are going to kill me if I don’t mail out the PIGMENTS OF MY IMAGINATION posters (me and @geovalentine) and no less than half a dozen shopping lists that never made it to the grocery store.

Ahh to see inside my head!

Ut-oh some NYT best selling author just got added to THE WRONG LIST!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Writing Process Demystified #1

If you have spent anytime crawling through the trenches of the World Wide Web, looking for information on how to become a more better writer/blogger/rejectee then my new Sunday special is for you. Likely, you have discovered by now that no two writers have the exact same method of getting those font sized twelve, double spaced, nuggets of pure lust down on the page.

The key to any amount of measureable success (in the form of completion- and not that other kind of success which we will discuss later) is knowing what you need to function at peak performance. If I had the power to make, and leave for you all, your very own fortune cookie saying “To write is to know thine self.” I would, but since they would be expensive and entirely unpractical, this blog can be like the fortune cookie for your soul. Or whatever other bad food metaphor you would like to substitute.

The Writing Process Demystified #1: REM for your writing.

The time I like to write, and the time I am best at it refuse to line up. When I was a young kid (think Junior High) I used to write every day after school. I did it almost every day for three whole years of my life. Some overly writer types will tell you, that you should write every day, and while I will for the sake of this blog refuse to agree or disagree I will tell you this: 15 years later and my body is still programmed to sit down and do nothing but write for that exact same time, in that same time zone, every day without fail.

Just to clarify, it’s not like I walk around like a zombie until I sit down at my laptop, or in my case locate some paper and pen, and hammer out some words without being able to process what is going on in the world around me. It is just that I have never not been able to write at this time, because my body seems to know what it should be doing even if I don’t. (Save for days where the table is too clean, the world has ended etc. etc.)

Since I know not everyone does not have the luxury of having trained themselves to plug along like a high speed train from Las Vegas to fantasy land BEFORE they say--knew how to use most of the truly awesome forms of punctuation. I am going to offer some ideas for how to improve the amount of quality time you spend writing. Just like sleep, you sleep better in REM then when just fall asleep. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could just play a song and slip into that deep deep sleep- or you know, your creative mind?

Well the truth is you can.

Some writers are babies, we need routine.

Routine doesn’t have to mean the same time, the same amount of time, or anything like that. After achieving what vaguely resembles a life I can tell you I don’t always have available 4pm CST M-F to write. So I have invented ways of recreating that feeling, tricking my body into thinking it is that time. Even if it’s 8pm or 2:47 AM. The key is, when the time devoted can’t be the same, it helps me if everything else is.

I relate my writing routine to putting on my favorite pair of old pajamas. Comfortable. Warm. It gets me ready for bed like this process gets me ready to write.

Step One: Acquire the tools. Yes I have mad OCD, I like to line up my pencils, and other writing utensils and nicely. And I like to have everything I will need to work i.e. paper, ink, notebook-both kinds, and caffeine (more on this in next weeks Demystified: The Truth About Oral Fixation). Laying out whatever you need to write saves you from getting up, wasting time, and ruining the mood.

AND you NEVER want to RUIN the MOOD. Just saying.

Step Two: Play Music. I am not writing JACK without a playlist about him. But if you ask my critique partner Karen, she would tell you that was a deal breaker; she has to have SILENCE. If you are searching for your own writing process, I recommend my way over hers. Not because it’s MY WAY but because when you live with other people SILENCE is a ridiculous expensive commodity, and there are even FEWER places outside the house where you can achieve it.

Step Three: Hit play. No, not the music you already did that in step two I am talking about the movie in your head. Don’t have a movie in your head? Get one. Some people are ploters, some people are seat of your pantsers, I like to think of myself as a 3D movie in my head film director. The good news is, my way works for both the people with the fifty page outline and the people who make it up as they go along. It sounds so easy when I write it, but really all it is, is this: Think about what you are going to write before you do. But don’t think about the sentence structure; don’t get hung up on the words. Pretend for a minute, you are watching the film of the century and you want to absorb everything. Pretend you are seeing it for you blind best friend/ spouse/ mother sister WHOEVER. Pretend you will make their EXISTANCE if you can just adequately describe the way the sun seems to bounce off the sea, or the way the main character’s eyes shine when she realizes some sort of startling revelation. Now pretend your special someone can’t hear or smell or touch either and include all those senses. (Heh!) If you already have a living, breathing, version of your world and your characters in your head ready to unpause at a moments notice it is considerably easier to write about them.

Now remember, the only ones writing process I am an expert is my own. I even manage to goof up that one from time to time, but I’d love to hear about yours. Leave a comment, let me know, and I might bring it up later.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Blog of SHAME

SHAMEEEE!!!!!

 

There is something important you should probably know about me. First—I tend to ignore my blog when I am stressed and things don’t seem to be going my way. Second, things are REALLY not going my way right now.

Actually, I shouldn’t say that only select FEW things aren’t going my way but those few things are making life mostly too difficult to blog however. Tell me to shut up I am whining.

I am supposed to be posting chapter three of PIGMENTS OF MY IMAGINATION it really will be here by the end of the weekend, and the book will be following shortly there after. But now that I am jinxing myself I will likely get hit by a bus before then.

Some upcoming things so mark your calendar:

PIGMENTS OF MY IMAGINATION release by 6/25
Vlog “Vampire Money” my 1st writing Vlog ever 6/29
SKELETON LAKE release by 7/31

Also there will be many other promotional things and contests to win. Lot’s of people have already received their PIGMENTS bookmarks. I’d love to send you one too, comment below for your chance to win. I will pick one lucky winner (at least) after I am no longer hopped up on cold medicine.

Am I even making any sense?

I am having a twitter follower contests as well.