The Storm is Coming Anthology – Submitted and Accepted!

Sending items out means getting an acceptance or rejection. Sometimes this is too much for writers to take, the waiting and the not knowing and most of all wondering if the writing is good enough.

Good enough is a troublesome concept. It’s not just whether or not a piece is well-written. There are so many things to take into consideration, like the overall market and whether or not the editor likes it. Then when the rejection comes through, you wonder if you’d just worked a little harder, made just one little change, if it would have been okay.

I can’t be the only one wondering these things. I don’t let it stop me from sending things out. I aim high. I get rejected. I try not to let it get to me. It’s not easy.

This time I got lucky, or I just had a great fit with The Storm is Coming anthology.

My story, The Rescuers, is one I wrote a time ago, but it always sounded like Chapter 3 in a novel. I needed time to focus it into something much better. It happens that way sometimes, when you have a good premise but the writing doesn’t quite follow through on the promise.

It helps to not give up on yourself or the story that needs to be told. Sometimes that short story has to be made into a novel, but other times it can work if other pieces are different. I throw out a lot of rough drafts, and some of them I tweak endlessly (or so it seems) and others pop out fully formed and ready to be something.

I guess it just reminds me of that saying where you write what you are ready to write. Sometimes we have ideas we aren’t ready to tackle at the moment. Other times we tackle them and falter, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep revisiting the idea until it gels.

There might be more to this Rescuers story later. I can’t say whether or not the characters will try to push their other adventures into my head or if I randomly run across something I know has to fit into their world. For now, I’m extremely excited to be slated for the upcoming anthology and waiting to see what else is in store from Sleeping Cat Books.

Does the World Need Another Fill-in-the-Blank?

I’m looking at writing an urban fantasy novel for NaNoWriMo. One of the challenges is to understand the market where I think this book would be placed. How often do you think about the market you’re going to be in before you write the book? I can’t say I do it often, though it is somewhere in the back of my mind when I’m thinking about a project.

Part of the trouble is that it’s difficult to imagine my book alongside the ones I take home and read. Not that I won’t be thrilled when that happens, it’s just difficult to picture ahead of time. Sometimes the closer I get, the farther it feels to the eventual goal. I have a published book out there, though it isn’t on the physical shelves of the bookstore. Some days that is hard to remember.

Today I was asking friends about urban fantasy novels they enjoyed. I know I’ve read a few, but I’m curious what draws in others who read that genre. I’ll also be making a trip to the bookstore this week to see what I haven’t read on the shelves that might be interesting or in the same market segment. The tough part might be keeping that list up to date by the time I get this manuscript ready to put in front of someone who can do something about the book-on-physical-shelf thing.

My answer to the title question is yes. It doesn’t matter how many urban fantasy genre books there are – mine will still be different. It’s like so many other things that take time and effort and seem to be a dime a dozen (bloggers and novelists can both fit in this category). If you want to make it work, do it. If you’re going to allow yourself to be daunted by the established names in the field, you’re toast. I’m working toward my goals and I won’t be afraid of failing. The only thing to be afraid of is not trying.

Sleeping Cat Books Debuts with Anthology

Sleeping Cat Books is a new entity out there – run by one of my copy editor friends, Sarah Holroyd. This newest venture brings all kinds of publishing services to authors.

I’m especially excited about the new anthology, The Coming Storm. It’s open to many visual and written options – from black and white photography to poetry to fiction.

Speaking of anthologies, my first published story appeared in an anthology, Ruins Metropolis. It can be a great way to start to build a presence and get a name out there for readers to see who you are and what you want to say. It reminds me also that the reasons all of us write are different.

I know there are writers out there who work on a book or one specific world for all of their spare time. It’s about characters who become very close to them and I was really struck almost speechless when I heard a woman say she didn’t want to end the book because then she’d be done with the characters. Maybe that explains why we just keep moving slowly through the story.

Other writers have a couple things moving at a time, each at different paces, cycling through ideas and characters as if they have a shelf life and must be written before they expire.

Do you ever feel like one set of characters or one world is so close to you that it is impossible to work outside that zone? Do you instead put a little here and a little there and mark characters in as many different times, places, situations as you can manage to imagine? What makes you decide to write this set and not a different one at this time?

Robot or Guru?

This doesn’t seem like something that can be easily confused. It’s a natural assumption that a robot wouldn’t pass a Turing Test [test your human/robot knowledge here], but how many humans interact the same way – especially in an online setting? When we remove the body language and tone of voice, we lose a great deal in our abilities to communicate. Add on top of that the pressure of being professional and trying to sell a product, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who runs into questions.

I read several different sources when it comes to writing, publishing, and the great ways to get your name out there. I ran into one this week that said (paraphrased) to channel everything you post on a social network to be focused toward your product/platform. I’m struggling with this – because while I do not post whatever I had for breakfast or every stop I made on my day of errands, I have heard from more sources that it’s good to have a dose of color in the blend of blogging and social networking.

That dose of color means part of my personality. Maybe not all of it. It depends on your audience and your platform, I’m sure. What I do know is that I appreciate knowing that there’s something behind the screen that isn’t simply parroting something at random intervals, and I believe that there are a lot of people out there that share my views.

I know I can link my Twitter and Facebook and blog and LinkedIn and a bunch of other sites together so when I post to one, it posts to all of them. Sometimes, when I see fifteen posts in a row about the same thing from the same person (yes, that has happened before) I wonder if each site pulls from the other and cross-posts to the rest in loops. Or if the person forgot all the sites were linked together and posted to all of them. Or if it’s really a person at all. So, while I will link a few things, I make sure they don’t go more than one direction. I’d rather spend a little more time posting, possibly catering to different sites, than look like a robot.

My other assumption is that if I only talk about my (published) book, my writing, and my platform – I’m going to bore everyone into blocking me to stop the madness. I’ll talk about my projects, especially if I hit a milestone like finishing a rough draft or finally figuring out how to fix a plot hole. Those are things meant to be shared. But if I also mention that I have a family and a job(s) and life outside of writing, I’m guessing that might be interest to some who venture here. The blog, the social networks, and all the other stuff are extensions of my bio, which doesn’t just include my publishing credits. I am a person and I’m not afraid to share that.

Found, via Twitter, a perfect quote from someone I admire: “Use your blog to connect. Use it as you. Don’t “network” or “promote.” Just talk.” NEIL GAIMAN

My question is to those of you who search online for authors of books you read (regardless of genre): What are you looking for? If you run into an author online, what makes you want to grab that book and read it? What would disappoint you if you did or did not find it in the search for that author?

Head-Hopping

Have you heard of head-hopping? What is head-hopping?

A writer is accused of head-hopping when the thoughts of more than one character are shown without a break of some kind. It’s considered sloppy at best.

Why?

As writers, we do our best to have the reader identify with the protagonist. Most of the time, that is also our main viewpoint character. This is who the reader spends the most time with in a book, and the writer always hopes the readers want more. It is also our first rule to be clear.

I know, there are a ton of big-name authors who don’t follow those rules. The thing is, they’re big-name authors and people buy their books just because they’ve been written. I’m not that lucky. While there are a few people who have purchased my book that I don’t know, the majority of people who own The Art of Science I know personally. (Thank you, everyone!) I want to write well enough to become a big-name sometime. At that point, I hope I do still play by the “rules” of writing.

No promises, though.

Clarity begs us to write from one perspective at a time, like we see as we go through life. It makes things clearer to know, for certain, that you will only be behind one person’s eyes at a time.

I mean, when was the last time you were sitting in a classroom and actually heard the teacher’s thoughts? You can evaluate his demeanor, find positive or negative qualities in the tone of his voice, or interpret his gestures in any way you want, but part of that will be based on the teacher and the rest filtered through some part of the viewpoint character in the way conclusions are drawn from there. And if not through the viewpoint character, then by intrusion of the author.

Giving direct thoughts that can’t be heard by the current viewpoint character is the author telling us things, rather than showing how it happens. Unless, of course, you have an actual mind-reader.

More about Promotion

What a cool interview with Penny Sansevieri about promoting books!

She reminds us that social networking can be taken too far. (Can you imagine having a presence on 350 sites? I don’t think I could manage all those if I did it all day and never slept.)

So where do you choose to have a presence, and why? She might not answer all of those questions for us, but each writer has different needs. No matter how much you promote, remember that next book is also important to keep working on. She has a presence on only 3 of those social media sites. I like that she reminds us that an abandoned site is worse than not having it at all.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Perhaps the difference is they were never on social networking sites.

Promotion for Authors

Before I was published, I had no idea how much of the promotion would be on my shoulders. I think I had a lot in common with other writers out there. Promotion wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t know what my brand was, or if I had a platform. What I knew was that I had stories to tell.

In the process of telling my stories, I can’t live in a vacuum. Sure, the story will be there, but professional development in the form of classes, critique groups, and professional memberships bring ideas for improvement. Those same avenues can help a beginning writer learn about brand, platform, promotion, and any other questions that come up.

One question a writer should ask: How do I want to be known?

This question takes you to a new thought process. It’s the start of everything else. If you want to be a children’s picture book author, yet your myspace page has indecent jokes all over it, you may need to rethink your image. On the other hand, if you want to sell erotica and your Facebook is covered with pictures of your two single-digit age children, you should address that disparity.

That isn’t to say you can’t have both worlds. Just that your professional image as an author needs to represent the part of you that your audience wants to connect with. It’s a little bit like a banker advertising he has a credit score of 2. Would you trust him? Would you invest your money in what he’s selling?

Take a look out there at authors you admire and aspire to be like. Do searches on them and see what comes up. Their pages are professional and deal with what they’re selling – books. (Or other products, but that happens when you take off, right?)

If you write it, who will read it?

At the most basic level, this question is directed to the writer. Who are you going to share your work with? I’m guessing you’re going to share it with the people you know. This probably includes your friends and family, as well as a critique group and online reviewers if you belong to those communities. Some writers don’t.

Others aim for larger audiences. I hesitate to say higher, because if you’re happy with your audience you shouldn’t worry about it. It’s not a higher goal if you’re not attempting to do something bigger.

These larger audiences are often reached through publication. There are several options, including traditional publication, POD, self-publication, and others. What do I mean by others? Blogging is a form of published work. I’d say the blog itself is self-published, but I have an audience. [If you’d like to disagree with that statement, please leave a comment below.]

When you’re reaching for that larger audience, marketing and promotion are required. Word of mouth with friends and family will only get you so far. Social networking might go farther, but you’ll have to be careful not to get sucked into the time wasting activities also associated with them. Repeat: I will not play Facebook games!

One of the hardest parts about writing for young adults is I know so few of them. How are we supposed to spread by word of mouth without knowing our audience? Well, I do know people who know my targets. I have friends with kids the right age. It’s just going to be a constant struggle to stay in the age as I get older. And yes, I have come to terms with the fact that I will continue getting older.

One of the most fun parts about writing for young adults is that the stories are so amazing to tell. I know, that’s just my opinion – but why else would you be here if not to read that? Thanks for being part of my audience.

Meeting the Readers

Okay, not all of them. But I went to a local mother-daughter book club and I had a wonderful time tonight. They read my book!

I think I had as good of a time as they did. They had so many questions about the writing and rewriting and publishing and even the naming of the characters. I loved listening to their discussion of the book and I could even ask my own questions of them. (And did, once or twice.)

I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of their discussion. They were great girls and their moms seemed awesome. The girls yelled ‘Thank you!’ as I left. And I smiled. Very big!

Thank you to Amber, Dahlia, Izzy, Gracie, Kylie, McKenna, and Sophie and to their mothers for letting me join them at their meeting.

The Green Bronze Mirror

Notes from the Author:
I wrote this book when I was 14, when I was a dreamy, bookish
adolescent who could listen to the teacher with half an ear and
write the book at the back of the class. My main reading at the
time was novels set in Roman, Greek or medieval times. A
weekend trip to Anglesey with my Mum gave the backdrop for
the starting point, and traveling back in time was always a
favorite fantasy. I believed my main character, Karen, was fictional, but with hindsight I realize she was me. Once started, the ideas flowed thick and fast and before the end of one chapter, the next would suggest itself. I did some additional research but even so slipped up on a couple of things that the editor later spotted, for instance the Romans had no tomatoes: they were brought to Europe from America centuries later.
I was thrilled when a publisher accepted it, and of course a huge fuss was made about such a young author. However, I spent the rest of my teen years trying to live it down. Boys didn’t go for clever girls and if anyone mentioned it at a party I knew my chances were snookered. The book has been gathering dust in my memory for decades, so I was frankly
astonished to be contacted by a private publisher last year, wanting to re-issue it. However, when I look at it again, I’m surprised how good it is, and friends of mine are now begging for copies and reading it themselves.
These days I’m a Speech and Language Therapist, but I’ve had a variety of jobs, including teaching English to foreigners, working in a bookshop, leading pony treks in the Welsh Mountains and running riding holidays in the Scottish Borders. I’m an outdoor person at heart, love animals, wild places and wine. I have two sons who are the best thing in my life, even though when I was younger I thought I didn’t want children.
If you want to write, just sit down and get on with it. Then go over what you’ve written, reduce and condense by at least a third, delete the word “I” wherever possible, and don’t stick to a strictly chronological order of events.
Review of the Book:
By Geraldine Ahearn,
Inspired by historical novels, which was Lynne Ellison’s favorite reading material for many years, she created a Masterpiece of historical adventure. This novel fills the pages with fantasy as it takes the reader on an amazing journey, after Karen looks into an ancient mirror that she found buried on the beach, and is transported back in time to the Roman Empire. What trials and tribulations must Karen face, during her struggles to return to her own time? I highly recommend this book to all fantasy lovers, children, and young adults. The adventure is breathtaking, the story is spectacular, and the unique characters come to life. The last thing Karen remembered was glancing into the mirror, while daydreaming, what happened to the island, and where did she wind up? How many years did the mirror take her back in time? Who asked Karen if she was a runaway slave, and where did he take her? What was Darvus ordered to do for Karen? Who was Cordella, and what did she give Karen? Where did Karen meet Kleon? Who bought Karen, and where was she going, after the auction? Where did Karen meet Locusta, and how did Locusta hide from the soldiers? Did Locusta’s magic help Karen find her way through the dark passages? Does Karen find her way back to where it all began, and is there a happy ending? Find out the answers in this breathtaking adventure as we follow Karen to see if there will be light at the end of the tunnel. “THE GREEN BRONZE MIRROR” is as mysterious as LEFT BEHIND and as captivating as Steven Spielberg’s, THE GOONIES.

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