Saturday, September 29, 2012

Writers: Dealing with Overload?


Season of Truth 

Please Note that I'm in blog template update, so hopefully this will look better soon.

Author Chatter: Among the topics and conversations that interested me this week was a blog post concerning Classic Romance. With new readers out there, perhaps expecting different elements, it is important to note the difference.

To me, a Classic Series Romance is lighter in sensual weight than currently, or definitely romance. The hero is usually strong “Alpha”, which means he thinks he rules the little secretary, etc. in the relationship. Some great comedy romance was based on what “he” thinks.

When re-publishing a Classic, the typical question is: Do I update it?
I did, if possible. Rotary “dial” phones are now punch button cells, etc. In one particular Classic, click to read how I softened this hero.... 
.
Then the length of a novel came up, which e-published is typically shorter. Hey, folks. We’re caught by the media, want it fast, we do, yup.

Several writerly conversations I've had in the recent weeks concern how much and if promotion actually helps. We’re almost past the days of physical swag, i.e. sending out bookmarks, etc. but we still have newsletters to our dedicated readerships. (BTW, when presenting in person or meeting readers, every author should have something, i.e. a business card whatever to hand out to people.) I’m using a simple yahoo subscription for Cait London and I’m very careful not to overdo. My e-newsletters generally deal with what’s coming up, changes, wrapped in a little easy chatter-type stuff.

A typical writer has a Twitter and a Facebook page, a website and a blog. I jumped in and had 3, one for each facet of my life. (I’ve now cut down to Daily or Not.) Then, there are the e-loops and LinkedIn, Goodreads and Shelfari. Now there’s Pinterest. (How many Pinterest fans do I know? Let me count the ways….) Add that on to what a writer needs to do—write—and it’s a lot of work/time. BTW, an author usually maintains several e-mail boxes, each with a different purpose.

Each writer has their favorite “running pack”. Some people prefer Twitter over Facebook and vice versa. Some link between both. For professional stuff, learning/sharing with others, I have 2 of those loops and 1 loop from a Novelists, Inc. Generally, each writer has several mailboxes at different URLs, each for a specific need. You can write to me at mine.

A friend just noted that she wants her stories in audio books. “But the learning curve….” she sighed wearily.

SAM’S STORY (I'm hoping to write more about Sam Knight's family, his brothers and sister. Sam tells his own story... and I love the male point of view.)

That took us back, and it was no easy chore to get started in publishing our own. Since starting, the elements of e-publishing or self-publishing in e-pub or paper, have created one big huge learning curve. That learning curve changes as you look at it. Introduction of tablets, androids, etc. changes cover demands, which were smaller. Now they are not. Thankfully, new methods and formatting software have popped up.

The base advice now is to get a nice, clean starting document.

I note that most authors are focusing on what works best for them. Many are pruning what does not work.
.
IMHO, there is no specific set trail to more e-book or paper sales. Readers will usually buy favorite authors, so by brand. Then each genre and/or subgenre has a devoted readership. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc. all have different programs to raise promotion, i.e. Author Central at Amazon. Smashwords has coupons.  Kindleboards and Mobi offer tremendous networking, as do other Boards.
Price and cover changes sometimes increase sales. Opinions differ about Likes, Tags, and Reviews placed on the book’s URL. Again, what works for one author, is not a sure trail for another.

But the general rule is that consistency pays off, and definitely keeping busy online and networking. And here we go, back to pruning what does not work, again per author.

If you have input for what works best in book sales, what to "prune", please comment?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Between in Writer's Land



I’m Between. In a writer’s world that’s the off-center place where you’re shifting from one project to another. It’s also the place where you catch up on Life Stuff, that necessary stuff you’ve let slide while attending to a writing career.

If under a publisher's contract to write, a synopsis whatever still has to be written--and approved. Choices of whatever made. But for now, I'm just dealing with myself and what to do next.

Life Stuff is easy: Pay bills, clean, groceries, recycle, house stuff, friends/family. (Hmm, maybe the latter should be the former. J)


Daily Writer Stuff is usually posting on various places, Twitter, Facebook, checking sales, interacting with e-loops (I’m on some great ones, by the way), checking professional group notices, etc.

But Between…. That’s really hard and is not routine. It's highly uncomfortable, because choices must be made for time management. Time Management is perhaps a writer's biggest task.



My Between today concerns Which project next??

Here’s some of my projects:
  1.  Need to create a cover for Delilah, an upcoming western romance, revisited. This is a backlist book, rights reverted, and the text formatting is done. I have ideas on that, which is a good start.
  2. Ad Work, necessary for sales. Redoing the banner on this blog and reformatting. Not very easy since I did some of the HTML and have long forgotten some tricks. For now, I'm sticking with blogspot.
  3. Ad Work2: updating my website, which has had to wait while I worked with other projects. This is truly time-consuming, working with links, etc. I'm reorganizing each romance subgenre, into pods, no small task.
  4. Reworking a FB flub up. It was so great and somehow, I followed directions and ended up with--well, something I need to clean.
  5. I've gotten material to my Oops reader, a great copyreader, so she's working on that for awhile. Mark that off the list.
  6. Which Backlist book to start next, working on her remarks into my text and formatting that for e-publication. Very time consuming, very.

Then, the big one:
Which new project should I jump into. I spent several hours last night going through my material and options.

Here's a list:
  1. Edit a completed Women's Fiction.
  2. Finish a short story for one anthology.
  3. Begin another short story for another anthology
  4. Write the last half of a Viking historical. This would take time because I'd have to get into my research, gods, etc. again.
  5. Write another children's short story for that anthology.
  6. Complete a psychic romantic suspense, 3/4 done. (These projects get interrupted by what plops on the desk that day.)*

There's more, but let's revisit that *. Every single day, something pops up and it must be handled. That interruption takes a writer off track from their current work. Sometimes it's difficult to get back into the story.

And worst of all: At some point, when weighing all the uncompleted projects, it's necessary to weigh them. Are they really worthy? That's difficult.

Between is where a writer is unanchored. Sometimes, it's just good to do the small stuff, get that out of the way first. But what do you think?




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Author Biz

Gambler's Lady/Classic Romance

Yesterday was spent on Writer Business, all day. I longed to return to my current hero, truly one of the best I've written. I just love him. But, sigh....

Writing for publication is a business, an industry and sometimes writers have to tear themselves away from their stories to deal with business at hand. We (or someone we pay) deal with copyrights, ISBNs, Royalty Free Stock Photos, technical software, agents, editors, spreadsheets, taxes, etc.

Many writers are now securing their rights. In negotiating publishing contracts, Rights Reversion clauses are so important. Writers are taking those reverted rights straight to e-publishing and gathering new readers in a new medium. Or they may wish to paper/traditional publish. But author rights are their bread and butter, and the stories are frankly part of their individual hearts.

As a long-term professional, I am concerned about the following, and sought permission from Authors Guild for this reprint. Please read carefully:

By Permission, Authors Guild:
 Authors Guild v. HathiTrust. Last month, the Guild moved for summary judgment in its lawsuit against online digital repository HathiTrust, its overseer, the University of Michigan, and four other universities assisting in the unauthorized reproduction of copyright-protected books for the archive. The case was sparked last year when the University of Michigan announced plans to allow students and faculty unlimited downloads of so-called "orphaned" books, out-of-print books whose copyright holders were considered unfindable by the university. The Guild challenged the legality of the university's program (Congress has considered, but never enacted, orphan works legislation), and it quickly found copyright holders for many of the "orphan" titles. The Guild and writers' organizations from Australia, Canada, and Europe, along with several individual writers, came together to sue HathiTrust and the universities.
....

Unfindable. Now there's a word. With a few taps of a keyboard, almost anyone, anything can be found. Unfindable. Hmm.... Who's looking and how hard?

Big term, Orphaned WorksThe other day, I was at a favorite Thrift Shop and saw a big box of novels, marked $2.00. That was for the whole box. They were old, and the authors could have died, but their heirs might be alive and needing income. What if those books were declared Orphaned Works? Don't cut out the heirs.

Keep in mind that writers for publication want to earn a paycheck. They can't do that if their work is given for free. Or pirated.


Remember Gambler's Lady, the Romance Classic at the top of this post? It was my second book Ever. And now it is re-covered and epublished by me, one Cait London. I can do that, because Berkley reverted the rights to my real name.

(You can read more about Gambler's Lady here.)

On that Note: Authors, it is critical to assign an executor for your Intellectual Rights.

Something to think about, huh?








Friday, August 03, 2012

Classic Category Returns!

Now on Sale: Gambler's Lady at .99 for a limited time.
Kindle
Smashwords
Nook

Gambler's Lady is now in epub, listed at the above. I labeled the story as a classic, because it's my SECOND ever book.

You'll notice by the original covers, seen below, that the author's name is Cait Logan. Well, now in epub, Cait London serves better.

The original cover is pretty dashing, listed below and probably a better representation of Nick and Kim's love story.  Originally a SCAL (Berkley's great Second Chance at Love) it was edited by Joan Marlow (Golan). I'll always be grateful for her help and guidance.

Who knew?! I just wanted my name on one book cover and this led to an entire career!

But Wait! Gambler's Lady was reprinted in Berkley's Charter Line.

I led the Charter line with Tame the Fury, a western historical, and a great cover, too. Not yet re-released.

As for the story, it's basic romance and that's why I labeled it "Classic".  Nick is pure "Alpha" hero, which means he's not exactly sharing his "feminine side".

Then: Gambler's Lady is not erotica and sometimes shorter books can get tossed into the same bin. Secondly, it's a pretty standard story without suspense that is usual for my books.

Thirdly: It's just a sturdy good romance.

Here's the blurb:
Tough casino owner Nick Santos has a big problem: his ex-wife, an unfit mother, is lurking, wanting custody of their daughter. The minute he sees Kim Reynolds, who's seeking work to fund her fitness business, Nick knows what he wants, a temporary wife. But he isn't Kim's idea of a gentleman and she's not buying. When she takes this gambler's wager, Kim finds herself married and in love with his 4-year old daughter. This hands-off arrangement isn't working, because Nick's hunger for Kim is raging, and hers is returning the favor, and he's set on a real marriage...


I hope you enjoy Gambler's Lady and more of my Classics, selling well now, i.e.: Midnight Rider and Rugged Glory. I was just thrilled when a reader said that she searched for my books in used book stores and now could read the story all over again on her e-reader. How sweet!


If you're not on my newsletter for more news of my novels, please join


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Driving the Oregon Trail

NIGHT FIRE (Set on the Oregon Trail, which I drove)

Now in Kindle's Lending Library for a limited time.

You'll notice the draft horses pulling the wagons. Oxen were the norm, but Arielle Browning is determined to take her draft horses to Oregon. As a single woman, she has a Big problem.

Here's the story:

St. Louis.1847. Determined businesswoman/spinster, Arielle sets out to take a full cargo of not-so-sweet brides West on the Oregon Trail. Her secret mission is to marry her childhood friend; however marriage to a dying stranger is just the widow-requirement Arielle needs to join the train.

The dying stranger who only wants the D'Arcy name to remain after him? Lucien Navaronne D'Arcy, a dangerous man known as the Dark Avenger, is set to find and kill his sisters' murderers.

On the trail, Arielle's husband, westerner Luc Navaronne turns up, alive, disturbingly attractive, and nettled that his bride wants a divorce. As the required male-helper the women must have, dashing Luc wants his wife, who fascinates and frustrates him.

Danger lurks throughout for the "Widow Train", but the end of the trail is even more dangerous, an evil wanting to kill and destroy...
***
I truly enjoyed researching, and driving the entire Oregon Trail, loaded with disasters and trials. It's quite the feeling to drive a vehicle up a steep grade where once oxen struggled to pull wagons. Or to see the different marking points, the vistas that the pioneers must make by a certain calendar date, such as Independence Rock.

Some of this trail is not accessible, but we did try our best.

As a writer, one of the most difficult tasks was in keeping the timeline mentioned above, i.e. one of the women is pregnant, so how far along is she at which marking point on the trail? Or. How long does it take to move from one point to another? 

I also enjoyed Arielle, a determined, independent businesswoman, notorious for her left-hand, which was responsible for her "left-handed thinking", and her red hair, two points against her in that time period.


I hope you enjoy this western romance and look for more of my historicals and other romance books.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

Fiction Checklist Handout




Return to Fairy Cove

  Recently, I gave an impromptu workshop concerning a Writer’s Checklist. Please visit my basic handout, which we worked through. It is not self-explanatory, rather notes on editing your fiction work. I ran through the list briefly at the workshop, complete with Q&As.

Q&As are the best when presenting any instructional program. This is where the experienced writer may find holes in their program. Or skip over tidbits they’ve forgotten.

But on to my Checklist. And I hope you’ll visit my other articles at my website, such as Plotting. This blog is stuffed with writerly posts. See Writers Stuff and especially Writers Survival Guide.

In editing/revamping my early material, I’m finding errors so common to writers, such as writing he/she/he/she, etc. He/She need to be broken occasionally by real names.
You’ll get the idea from the Checklist.

But today’s writer, especially those formatting their own work, needs to be aware of the length of sentences, compared to the width of a small screen. For example: if you have a long word, joined by an em dash, then another long word, that may take up the whole line on a small screen.

Factoid: Writers are inventive. See my photo on a cover, The Wedding Gamble, which is only 2.99 for a limited time.

The em dash and ellipses, etc. can present problems when viewed on a small screen. Deep thought, huh? But complicate that word-em dash-word with one or two words on either side and you could have an extremely short line and a whole line required for the em dash, i.e.:
If you take a
hypothetical—obviously 
radical—dimensional
problem, it could be involved.

My point: Visual is a consideration in small screen presentation that has to be reckoned with—or not. Depending on the individual.

Meanwhile, paper print basic puncuation remains the same. So, two standards, maybe?

Even major publishers, with professional formatters, have a problem with adjusting to what is what and changing standards. One publisher has some ebooks that the left margin starts in the middle of my Kindle. Only a few words are allowed in the sentence, before the right side return.

In my workshop, I added body positions. !If you can get a book or a class on reading body language, it will help infuse your characters with telling postures.

Please do visit my Checklist handout? Of course, it's only an outline, but worth considering....



Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Preferred Writers Software

 It's 83 in SW MO at the time of this posting (expected mid-90s today). Temperature on the hot side is not my favorite. I like rain/mist/cool/cloudy. In fact, sun as it is now, overly bright depresses me. 

Return to Fairy Cove
I am not alone. Recently, I've found others who do not worship the sun and who love clouds and rain and cool weather. Hopefully, they are enjoying that somewhere.

As for me, I'm in my dark office working away, drapes extra lined and closed, mini-blinds of the dark persuasion, the rhythm of the oscillating fan enjoyable as I write this. I'm truly hoping this will help someone struggling with my same basic writer needs.

Sleepless in Montana
In my darkness, broken by a slice of light through my front room drapes--if I go there to the outer word--I'm testing software to better suit my needs. We have all kinds of it in Writer Land, some for novels, scripts, etc. I'm a PC user mostly because it would cost a fortune to move software into Mac domain. So the following relates only to my experience with PC programs....

Background: (Character Background is so important, too.) I'm been in computers since Apple IIE, which was my first computer, this after a range of non-electric/electric/memory typewriters. Loved the IIE as did all my comprades. I've had computers (PCs) built to spec and cannot count how much software I've run through. Like a bulk of writers, I've changed to the most popular, and we know what that is, don't we? :)


When Night Falls
Disclaimer: Not a paid promotion, but software I use and prefer for basic story organization and writing. (I final edit in another program, which sucks up PageFour's RTF ever so nicely.

I'm going to step out now and recommend PageFour software, once called an outliner. I've been using this for years and somehow got away from it. I've returned to an improved PageFour, plus a couple of other programs I'll tell you about later.

You can find reviews for it everywhere, but this is why I love it and returned for 2 reasons:
1. I'm starting what could be a complex series (or not). It's an involved suspense... Shh! I've done some PreWriting/Work, enough to settle into the story. However, since I'm not an Index Card User, (I can't read my own writing), I needed software to keep data/characters/notes/etc. straight.
2. Eyes. I'm set up well, here in my cave, but my eyes have always responded better to black background and amber font. All eyes respond differently. Backlit screens are not for me. I'm fine with the usual white/black screen for Internet, biz, etc. , but for writing hours at the screen, black/amber works better for me. Try different combinations, if you're going to be writing for hours to see what works best.

Very Important Note: Not all software allows you to change color, independently of the whole system. If you move around a lot on Internet, etc., you need a basic working screen. But I wanted a separate program from my usual screen that works independently, re: screen/font color.

Recently, I've tried different writing outliner, etc. software, comparing them to PageFour. Here's some differences:
1. Some will only use the computer's preferred color display.
2. Some do not indent, but use block paragraphs, not my preferred for story writing
3. Big Point. Some are too involved for what I want.

I've used PageFour for short stories and outlining, but after taking a plunge into this story for about 4 chapters in Word, I knew I needed a "bookkeeping" system, i.e. Story/Chapters, Timeline, Places, Characters (Major/Minor), etc. If this book goes into a series, I'll be set up. I've written an 11-book series (The Tallchiefs) and really cost time by not using a system prior to writing the first books. With a genealogy chart involved, I wasted a lot of time checking facts.

Basically, you can write and call up reminders of characters, phrases, etc. chapters, places, all on one screen. A full page screen for writing can be used. PageFour is based on creating "Notebooks". Within Notebooks (which I'm using one for my novel) are "Folders". Folders are Story/Timeline, etc. Then inside Folders are "Pages". Example: Story Folder has Chapter Pages; Notes Folder has whatever I'm watching for in edit. Pages can be mouse-dragged into Folders. I love this Mouse-Dragging arrangement, very good for organizing free-wheeling creativity.

PageFour (and no, I'm not getting paid for this endorsement) has just updated with no problem and I'm off and running, back into laying out the chapter outlines. Em dash creates a problem, which can be altered by adding a DLL as instructed. This software saves in RTF, suckable up by other software if needed, such as what I'm doing now, placing my classic books into epub. !Note: Because I prefer amber font, it's necessary to change that in other programs, or when importing copy.

I added two more new software after updating PageFour; found these at their website: SmartEdit and Name Generator. Both look great at first sampling. I'm not into Journaling, so I didn't test that software.

My basic needs, simplicity and organization, PLUS black and amber screen are met in PageFour. If you can test drive PageFour, and like it, you'll find it is very, very affordable.

Again, I hope this helps someone in Writer Land. Best on all your writing projects, big or small. 


Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Return to Fairy Cove

Return to Fairy Cove by Cait London (that's me) is the new title for What Memories Remain 2004. Now in e-publishing, this story has a new title and a new look.

Set on the shores of Lake Michigan, (a gorgeous real place I loved to visit and research) fictional Fairy Cove is saturated with great Scots-Irish lore.  There is nothing like the feel of actually visiting the site of fictional stories.

I also loved researching wooden boat building, which the hero, Ewan is set to do....

Reviewed originally as What Memories Remain, Return to Fairy Cove, is the story of world-worn Ewan Lochlain returning with his dream of building handcrafted boats, the same as his father, in the same lakeside shop. It's a promise to himself that he intends to keep.

But fiery Cyd Callahan has big plans for the lakeside shop, including making a mint from its sale. Haunted by her childhood, she'll do no favors for one smooth talking, gorgeous hunk, Ewan Lochlain. And she's set for revenge....

Determined to stake his claim on what’s his, including flame-haired Cyd, Ewan is haunted by his parents’ deaths— which are somehow linked to Cyd’s terrifying, hidden memories, and to deadly secrets. Now people are dying in Fairy Cove and a killer is stalking the night…

Here's what reviewers have to say:

THE BEST REVIEWS:
WHAT MEMORIES REMAIN [RETURN TO FAIRY COVE] is riveting. This romantic suspense thriller is embedded with so many questions, so much drama and intrigue, it makes us yearn for answers. As it captivates all our senses with an utterly sensuous love story, it weaves a story so compelling, so mysterious, it leaves one breathless. And the ending will leave you speechless. I'm reading it again just to make sure I didn't miss anything. It's a masterpiece.
Reviewed by Suzanne Tucker
 
Romantic Times:
London is back with an edgy thriller that's sharp and taut. Cyd and Ewan are very complex individuals with loads of baggage, and tension is rife in this gripping read. 
Reviewed By: Jill M. Smith

I hope you enjoy Return to Fairy Cove and I hope you can visit Lake Michigan's shoreline and lighthouses as I did. :)


Saturday, May 05, 2012

Study in Conflict

Night Fire by Cait London
*** ***

I've written several historical romance western subgenre and still love them. But the other day, I was taking some veg time and watched this movie. It was a real jewel in the study of character conflict.

Stagecoach to Thunder Rock 1964

In conversations with other writers/readers, this comment comes up frequently, regarding quality of writing and that is depth of character, i.e. “while the storyline could have been great, there was nothing to grab me, no substance to the characters.”

While just one of many western movies of its time, this one offers a great character/conflic/motives/needs study for writers. This is easily available on Netflix, etc.

If you can work through this carefully, you’ll see inner/outer, man against man, etc. conflict.

The cast is sturdy, with veteran actors:
·       Barry Sullivan: as “Horn” the straight, unbending sheriff who must face the man who rescued him as a child and who raised him. The name, Horn, is vital and probably sucked from Tom Horn, but indicates a tough/hardened man.
·       Marilyn Maxwell: the experienced “hired-woman” who has returned to home with nothing to show.
·       Scott Brady: A paid, but ethical gunslinger, who is a loving father and husband and must have money for his blind daughter’s operation.
·       Keenan Wynn: The man who took in Horn, the father of 2 other sons, and who has a bounty on his head.
·       Lon Chaney, Jr.: A father who has given up all hope and drinks to dull his pain, who does not challenge his screwish, money-driven wife.
·       His wife (sorry, don’t know her name): She is desperate to save their home and support, the stage coach rest stop.
·       A younger daughter: (don’t know her name): Very young; she’s desperate to get out of the country and see “life”.
·       A supporting cast that you’ll see in other westerns, etc., i.e. John Agar.

The Story:
Mission: Sullivan heads for the ranch home where he grew up. As sheriff, he’s after bank robbers, who happen to be his adopted family. Gets into a shootout, where he kills one of Wynn’s son (who looks like a very young Elvis Presley) and takes the other son prisoner.

He also takes the bank's holdup saddle bag with $50,000.  Note: This is the Prize, The Possession, that all want to save their problems.

Meanwhile, the town’s corrupt council wants the money back, has posted a bounty on the brothers and father of Sullivan. That’s where Scott Brady comes in on the stage coach with his wife and blind little girl. He’s after the bounty for that operation. He’s classy, not the usual type. Note: Motive

Maxwell comes in on the stage, too. The corrupt council does not want her around as she knows all their evil secrets. So she’s promptly shipped out with Brady on the stage coach.

STUDY NOTES:
Note:  Ticking Clock. From opposite directions, two parties are bound to meet at the stage coach rest stop and they will clash.
Note: The rest stop is where Maxwell grew up in her parents’ home/business, but left to see the world, and returns as a high class prostitute, also very classy. SETTING.
Note: SETTING is endangered of being repossessed, due to Chaney’s poor banking/loans.

Back to Story line:
As Maxwell gets off the stage, she is greeted lovingly by Mother, who thinks Maxwell is a school teacher and has brought money to save them. Which she hasn’t.
Meanwhile, Sullivan knows he’ll have to face the man who saved and brought him up, Wynn, who is coming after the remaining Bad Son, now prisoner.
Maxwell doesn’t want her younger sister, so desperate to leave the rest stop, to head out into the world as she did.
Younger sister is desperate and just wants $10 for stage fare.

Past Relationships: (Too often, we forget using the past as characterization/movites, etc.) Brady is just waiting to get his bounty on the Bad Son, which he must take from Sullivan. NOTE: An ex-sheriff, Brady sympathizes with the older Sullivan, who is going to be removed by town council as he is too straight. NOTE: their motive is to get a new sheriff, who will play ball with them.

Maxwell and Sullivan were young and in love once. She wants that again, but he knows he’s facing Wynn and tells her to wait until that battle is over.

Sisters: Younger adores older, who must reveal that she is not a school teacher.

Chaney, Jr. and wife: He loves her, but has been worn down, letting her rule.

Wife and Mother: Loves her daughters, but desperate to save their home/income.

In possession of the $50k and the Bad Son, who is tempting everyone to get him a gun to kill Sullivan, this character—the sheriff—is a CHARACTER OUT ON A LIMB.

If you get a chance to study this 1964 western, Stagecoach to Thunder Rock, and outline the conflicts, the combusion of all these characters and their motives, needs, etc., you’re in for quite the learning task.

Then, you might want to work on your own ending? J

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Great Anthology of Bestsellers


I belong to Ninc, which is Novelists, Inc.
Novelists Inc. is the only writers organization devoted exclusively to the needs of multi-published novelists. This is our first fiction anthology and is on sale today.


TWENTY-EIGHT LEADING VOICES IN FICTION –
INCLUDING ELEVEN NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHORS –
JOIN TOGETHER IN A CELEBRATION OF GREAT STORYTELLING

We love fiction. It’s in our blood and it’s in our souls. Great stories thrill us and inspire us in a way that nothing else can. If you’re like us, then we invite you to revel in this anthology of all-original stories we’ve created for you.

In Cast of Characters, you’ll meet a collection of unforgettable personalities. The devoted wife who discovers her husband’s devastating secret. The Black Death survivor who reinvents herself. The woman who finds love in the arms of a dark, dangerous artist. The devoted scientist faced with a daunting ethical dilemma. The woman who hears ghosts. The gorgeous but fated young man. The small-town beauty queen with a world-class mean streak. The inventor who fears his invention. The man seeking a reunion decades later with his first love. The stalker who understands too late who he is stalking. The dreadful athlete who gets one opportunity to win. The man who loves a woman society will not allow him to love. These are only a few of the figures who will leap from the page and take residence in your heart.

In addition, Cast of Characters is highlighted by several “events” you won’t want to miss:

·       #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander delivers her first short story with a contemporary setting – as does New York Times bestselling author Tanya Anne Crosby.
·       New York Times bestselling author Jo Beverley brings back the hero of her novel Forbidden Magic.
·       New York Times bestselling author Angie Fox creates a new Biker Witches story.
·       New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham writes her first story with her son Jason.
·       New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister tells the story of one of her most beloved teen characters as an adult.
·       National bestselling author Julie Ortolon tells the beloved Pearl Island story her fans have been clamoring for.
·       National bestselling author Diana Peterfreund offers the origin story for one of the most important magical items in her “killer unicorn” series.

A huge volume of twenty-eight stories ranging from romance to suspense to fantasy to comedy to poignant character pieces, Cast of Characters is a must-have book for everyone who loves fiction.

Contributors include: CATHERINE ANDERSON, VICTORIA ALEXANDER, JO BEVERLEY, BARBARA BRETTON, JULIE COMPTON, TANYA ANNE CROSBY, CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS, ROSEMARY EDGHILL, ANGIE FOX, HEATHER GRAHAM AND JASON POZZESSERE, GREG HERREN, VICKI HINZE, MARIANNA JAMESON, WAYNE JORDAN, KATE KINGSBURY, CJ LYONS, KATIE MACALISTER, ASHLEY MCCONNELL, JODY LYNN NYE, JULIE ORTOLON, DIANA PETERFREUND, LAURA RESNICK, PATRICIA RICE, DEB STOVER, VICTORIA STRAUSS, KAREN TINTORI, DIANE WHITESIDE and STEVEN WOMACK.

Visit NINC today and check out Cast of Characters! 



Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Old Alphie

With all the new gizmos for writers, I was thrilled that someone reached into their bag and hauled out one of my continuing favorites, an AlphaSmart 3000.

This little guy only has four lines of digital print and is not backlit, but it runs on 4 AA batteries for 750 hours. They were created to teach Second Graders keyboarding, and so they are practically indestructible. I've dropped mine on a concrete floor, and held my breath as I lifted it up. Worked fine.

They are made for rough draft, with a direct link to a computer for editing. A copy/paste program is available, called Get It.

At about 1 pound, they hold about 20 pages per file. Small in comparison to netbooks, etc. The AlphaSmart 3000 is not Internet available, which actually is an advantage for those who are easily distracted by e-mail, etc.

One of the advantages is that there is no warm-up, just a pop on/off at the same place where you left it.

In a pinch, they can be attached as an extra keyboard.

Years ago, prior to laptops and netbooks, you could see writers sitting around with their AlphaSmarts. Many writers still are using them. (Oh, poor Apple IIE. I love thee yet. :))

I just checked Ebay and used (which they aren't making new ones) run around $20-30. But if you go that route, make certain that you get the connecting cable. If you get the battery model, you actually do not need a charger.

For young mothers on the go, or those writer during breaks at their day job, this oldie is terrific, because of the pop on/off feature and packability, i.e. in a handbag. If only this had been around when I was working my day job and writing for 2 publishers.

There are newer models, i.e. Neo, etc., with a little bigger screen. But "Alphie" is really good for articles, short stories, blogs and business letters.


Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Painter or Writer or What?




I thought you might like an inside view of what a writer might also do....


Imagine this canvas bunny surrounded by clover and white blooms. I hope. I'm painting it from a photo I took of a yard rabbit. Lovely photo. The canvas bunny is dubious at this point. :)

He's waiting while I'm working on my writing projects, poor unfinished thing. But hey, if he doesn't turn out, I'll just gesso him out and do something else.

I've lost some painting skills, because of not keeping up with painting. But my family likes these efforts and they're encouraging.

It's difficult for a writer who loves to do many creative projects to write and only write. (I love to bake, too.)

I love painting, and painted before I was published. But I'm getting back into painting now, and had to completely rebuy my acrylics.

Acrylics suit my fast pace now, as I am now a writer, busy with writing projects. Stacks of blank canvases wait.

These ducklings were my first return to painting. They are nothing but little fluff balls, the picture taken while walking along a river. I do like direction-type paintings and water, but gee, I should have chosen something easier than those ducklings. I like the one above and to the left of the mother; one who sets his/her own direction. Their little beaks are nothing but a stub. Sigh.

Because I find small painting difficult, these seagulls weren't that easy either. This basic photo was taken off the coast of California, but I fudged a little on the splash over the rocks. Palette knife would have been great on the rocks, but I've not yet returned to that level yet.

Okay, graphic artists. You can probably create that, too, but truly there is nothing like the drag of a brush on canvas. I spoke to another writer/painter who loves her brushes and canvases. She is also torn between loves and how to spend her creative time. Many writers are also creative in other fields, i.e. sewing handbags for one writer. (By the way, graphic artists, I'd love to use a drawing tablet and stylus, too.:))

Speaking as a painter (and not the quality I was when painting more) the colors and canvas also appear in written descriptions.

Generally, these creative streaks run writers, who pick up from their "other" sides. 

When I first started writing, this was what editors noticed: the scenes portrayed in words. But I saw them in my mind. They also noticed dialogue and characterization, and the rest, I set out to learn.

Somewhere I read that it takes two hours a day to perfect a skill. Again, it's difficult to make a time-choice for writer/painters. But there are plenty of us out here....

If you are a painter, photographer, etc., I understand. 


Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Love Your Dreck Day

Love Your Dreck/Drek Day

Writers often complain that they're writing worthless Blah, Blah, Blah. It's termed Dreck/Drek.

Dreck is defined as Trash and Rubbish.

But Dreck, as it pertains to writing, is just a mush of ideas that can't quite take form, no matter how much we push them. There's nothing good about this mass of what we really want to write. Of the ideas circling our brains.

People, people. Dreck provides the doorway to what some people term as Writers Block. Personally, I do not believe in WB, the darkly feared boogeyman man of writers. Do not focus on what you think is WB. The more you focus on it, say it, you're setting it firmly into your creative brain and actually creating your block... Do not even think it. But more on that later.

When you're looking at that blank page on the screen, that first page, it's terrifying. Questions like, "I know I have a good idea, but what if I can't write it?" circle your brain. 

Okay, well, to get rid of that first page fear, here's a tip: Type in your regular format page, i.e. Name/Address/Contact left corner; go down spaces, Title Something, by Someone. Power down. Leave the page for awhile. When you come back, that page isn't blank anymore. This according to my own psychology of myself.

Writers have to do a lot of that, reassuring themselves, pulling little tricks to make them more comfortable with The Piece, The Work, The Book/Short Story.

So that takes us to Dreck, possibly the most valuable tool in our arsenal. 

You see, before a story starts to take shape, there are all sorts of ideas that the writer wants to infuse into his story. It's a huge bundle, even for the most efficient plotter. (You know there are Plotters and Plungers, right? :))

So here's this mass of material at the start of actual writing. We want all of it in the story, somewhere. But where to begin?

Just pick a Story spot that's best for that moment. Write. Write that Dreck. Free it. Push it out. Write more Dreck, stuff that doesn't move in a cohesive line, just a bunch of drivel, dotted with punctuation. This is probably your first chapter. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged when you do not have perfect prose, the perfect starting place for your story. Write on, Dreckers.

Dreck is a start, and that's a doorway through and into your story realm.

Sit back and take a look at your Dreck, this whole mass of too much that has to be filtered through the storyline. Your story is in there, but the pieces are too many to pick the right starting place. Snag a piece you think might work and write the Second Chapter. Then the third.

Go back to Chapter One and review. It's probably still a big lump of ideas. You may wish to cut that chapter, start with another scene, etc.  By the time you're 3/4 through the writing, you may want to go back to the start and infuse another element that just popped up, or delete an element/storyline that just isn't working.

The point of writing Dreck is that it gets the writer started. And that's what is important.

So, have you written your Dreck recently?


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Writer's Jumpstart Tips for '12

When Night Falls


At the Top of '12, I'm looking back at my goals, and prioritizing. One long-term goal for some time now has been to return to painting. I've almost completed 2 paintings. Another goal was to write a mystery short story (humor), and The Coupon Killer was born. I plan more of Jemma Kowalski, named after an old wrestling favorite, Killer Kowalski. :) And I'd intended to launch the L.E. Klein name somewhere, so The Coupon Killer was a two-fer.

Due to seasonal flu stuff I missed doing a workshop on Writers Block, which will come later. So sorry, local Write-In people. But look forward to my mini sessions in '12. I love the pop-up sessions.

Like Most Writers, I'm fully charged to take off in '12 with all sorts of goals. To start off '12, I started a redo of my website, which has waited while I got my E-Pub Feet wet.



If you are fully charged to jumpstart your writing in '12, the following may help you. They are included at Writers Tips included at my website.  I am so hoping this helps someone. To start, here are my Twenty Top Tips for Writers:

The Biggest Tip of All: Do Not "Find" Time. "Make" Time. Think Positive, Be Aggressive in this goal. Mind set is everything.
1. Self Motivate; learn to use your personal carrots and triggers.
2. When Writing to Sell: Consider Your Individual Time Frames vs Your Attention Span
3. Protect Your Writing Time. Prepare in advance and avoid Vampires.
4. Edit off/away from Biological "Up" Time*
5. Work for self-reliance.
6. Block number of pages on a calendar
7. Focus on the Story's Theme/Thread Throughout; keep notes on it.
8. Finish the Piece! A completed project is truly your graduation certificate.
9. Prepare Yourself Psychologically. Be your own best friend with affirmations.
10. Get Away, Experience Life
11. Cut the Umbilical Cord. Send Your Piece into the Cruel World.
12. Keep Lists of Agents/Publishers, ref: Market Talk below *
13. Keep Databases, lists of ideas/character names/story ideas.*
14. Network in Person and Private, Talk with Other Writers *
15. Do Not Do As Others Do. You are an individual; weigh advice and choose only for your needs.
16. Write Business Letters and Mail Them on Regular Designated Day*
17. Use Ring Notebooks with Replacement Paper (if non-computer)
18. Do Not Compare Yourself to Other Writers
19. History Lessons: Know that you did the best you could, made the right choice, given the tools/knowledge at the time.
20. Learn to say "no." *Busy Work

Other topics are: Pre-Plotting and Plotting/What Do You Want to Write?/ How to Get Ideas/Dependable Story Nuggets/Understanding the Givens/You Have Your Idea/Begin Laying Plot/3 Yellow Brick Roads/Editing the Plot Line/Style, Impact Writing.

This is a massive offering, almost a mini-course itself.  I spend a lot of time on Plotting, because I "came into" writing with strengths of basic characterization and dialogue. But I worked really hard to learn Plotting.

I plan to redo the plotting flow chart, but it's still there. I think basic computer programming and flow charts helped me to understand plotting early on. What works in programming's If-Then, works in creative writing.

I hope you'll visit my Writer Tips section at my website. There are several pages, and I'm reworking/editing sections, plus adding an E-Pub tips section later.

And be sure to subscribe to my E-Newsletter for more insider stuff, including contests.

Note: Discard the Read More. There is More but at my website. :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Pseudonym or Not

NIGHT FIRE The use of a pseudonym is constantly on the tabletop of writer issues. My personal experience is: I started with Cait Logan, this because my real name is too long and unappealing, according to editors. Since I wanted to be published after 7 years of effort--back in the typewriter/carbon days--I went with a pseudonym.

So that's how it began. Then Silhouette wanted a different pseudonym, despite writing in the same subgenre as my Cait Logan name, so Cait London came along. I thought that was clever at the time, the use of CL and developed all sorts of CL stuff for marketing. (Please visit my booklist for more information and links.)

But today, I'm here. Amid epublishing my backlist and with Avon and Silhouette publishing my other books. You can find links to my booklist here. But now, I'm placing all my romance subgenre (western, romantic suspense/category/paranormal, women's) under the Cait Logan "Brand".

"Brand" has a lot to do with an author's name. Basically, that means a product that readers believe will be within their expectations of certain dynamics, i.e. as Cait London, I write romance, so there will be romance.

There is much discussion about the use of pseudonyms, and why. (I just mentioned my reason.) One reason an author might start a new pseudonym is a technique known to boost sales--if the primary pseudonym does not have the desired sales. Many authors do this; many editors recommend it when sales figures sag.

But at this time, I see other authors who have used their real names their entire career. And I believe that makes marketing on Twitter, Google+ and other social media much easier.

Recently, I wrote a short story which is not a subgenre of romance, under the name of L.E. Klein. Writers often add new pseudonyms when diversifying into new writing realms. Diversification allows the readers to know exactly what "Brand" they can expect. For example, Jayne Ann Krentz, beloved by many, many readers, writes futuristic romantic suspense and suspense; Amanda Quick (another name) writes regencies, and as Stephanie James, she wrote for Silhouette or Jayne Castle in MacFadden years ago. Apologies to Jayne Ann, who is a super long-term author, if I mucked those up. I admire her very much.

Another example would be Barbara Samuel, writing earlier as Ruth Wind, writing now as Barbara O'Neal. Yet a perfect example would be Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb, again 2 different styles/branding.

Many erotica writers take pseudonyms to fit into the genre, and/or because they wish their privacy.

The benefits of a pseudonym boil down to: privacy and branding of different styles. The disadvantages are that it takes a lot of effort in cross-marketing to draw attention to a new pseudonym, and that there can be confusion in doing so. Cross-marketing isn't easy and calls for development of a whole new style of ad work and that takes tremendous energy.

All this is a difficult choice. A very individual choice per writer.

Do you think a writer should maintain one name, either real or a pseudonym, or diversify?