Tag Archives: goals

On Choosing Indie…Again: An Epic Journey

How can I possibly break this down to be a single post? The decision is part of a journey, and I can’t figure out how to yank out the reasons and present them out of context. I’m not a bullet-points kinda girl; I’m a novelist, for Heaven’s sake. So I’m hoping that if you’re interested enough to know the whys, the what I’ve been through, the what I’ve learned, that you’ll be willing to sit through the tale, backstory and all. I’ll provide you some headings if you want to skim and maybe someone could write up the bullet points for me later.

Backstory beginnings

About 13 months ago, I released my first novel, Hush Money, independently. It’s a short, YA novel of about 50,000 words, the first in a planned series called the Talent Chronicles. The series is about people with supernatural abilities who are trying to hide what they are amidst governmental abuses of their kind, and yet they keep finding themselves in situations in which they have to embrace and be what they are in order to win the day.

Why Indie The First Time

The negativity on the internet surrounding traditional publishing had become so prevalent and so disheartening, that I had actually given up writing. Every article I read about why your query letter will suck, why you will never make it out of the slush pile, why your chances of being struck by lightning are better than your chances of ever selling your book were personally directed at me, and I took them to heart. That’s  just how I am. I’m working on it. The point is that I became certain that Bill, sitting there on Capitol Hill, should stop his whining, because he had about a million times better chance of becoming a law than I did of becoming a published author.

Long story shorter, I decided that I needed to stop torturing myself and find other avenues for my creativity. I wrote for other purposes, I continued to do critique and editing, but I quit the novel-writing thing. When I started to learn about indie publishing, that’s when I got excited again. At the time I had had a successful run with an Etsy shop, but I got in over my head with a popular design and I was just burnt out. Everything I learned about indie publishing seemed so analogous to everything I loved about my Etsy business, and I became crazy eager to dive back into writing and catch up with my friends who were building audiences of readers.

Releasing the First Book and Living Indie

When I released Hush Money, I had no expectations. I mean, I didn’t know what to expect, so I tried very hard to keep my wishes and dreams in check. By the time the book was six months old it had sold 10,000 copies. People were writing to me to thank me for doing something that I loved. People were commenting on instructive articles I wrote and asking me for advice, like… Well, I don’t know if I’d ever in my life felt like I’d earned anyone’s respect before.

Living within that indie publishing community, I began to identify very strongly with being indie. There was certainly a component at the outset in which I would introduce myself as an “indie author” or “self-published author,” simply as a disclaimer. I’ll be clear up front about what I am so you don’t think I was trying to style myself as “published author” when I’m not publisher-vetted. Or whatever notion. I was happy to be indie, and proud of my accomplishments, of my work, and all I’d learned and done. But my view was still that others would see it as less, even though I, myself, came to a point where I truly didn’t. I was truly, deeply, passionately, devotedly indie.

It wasn’t all perfect. There’s a lot to keep up with. And there’s a lot I was keeping up with that I should have just let go so I could write more books. I got very caught up in being indie, and that was part of what was keeping me from writing. (Lots of stuff was going on that was keeping me from writing, and most all of it was me.) I’m not a multi-tasker. I focus passionately on one thing at a time and my focus was not on writing my book. Anyway, I don’t beat myself up for this. I watch it happen to other people, and I think it’s a phase a lot of us go through.

The Case of the Mysterious Foreign Agent

Also relevant to mention is an incident in which I had a foreign agent contact me about the translation rights to the book. This freaked me the f out, as anything legal does. I didn’t even know how to respond to the email I received, and I found next to nothing on the internet to help me. Which is rare. You know, usually you can find the answer to anything on the internet, and usually when you’re indie you don’t even have to go that far. You can just ask someone. So that was my next thing. I wrote to the two people I knew to be indie, with whom I had had some kind of brief contact in the past, and asked their advice. Both of them were unable to tell me what to do. Their agents handled that stuff. Their advice: get an agent.

But a) I didn’t have time to query an agent, so I just continued to freak out about the foreign thing. I ended up having to find an intellectual property attorney. Which means I had to TALK ON THE PHONE, which you know terrifies me, especially when I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. And then I went in and talked to a VERY nice man who was interested in my story, seemed genuinely excited to learn about my successes, gave me good advice on how to respond and how I might go on if anything came about, and sent me on my way with the suggestion that maybe I should really think about getting an agent.

Well b) as indies we’d been practically beaten over the head by others with the notion that no reputable agent would ever touch us. Kind of amazing how things have changed over the course of one year, but my impression was that most might just be insulted that I wasted their time with a query. I did spend some time researching agents, but I found practically none who stated that they had any interest in representing self-published authors. So I threw up my hands and walked away, very unsettled by the whole incident.

Representation

Jane came to me in the spring. In my inbox was a message with the subject Representation. I could not have been more blase about this. Seriously. Months after the foreign rights incident, after finding no help with that, after having given up on the notion of any agent ever coming to me (Kait Nolan had already accepted representation, as had indies well ahead of me like Amanda Hocking and HP Mallory and who knew who else), I was probably a little bitter and had set this firmly aside.

It didn’t take long for me to get excited about Jane’s offer to talk. And by “get excited” I mean “totally freak out and spin up into a whirl of dramarama,” because that’s what I do. I was in IM with Kait, had told her about the email. I think then I got up to get a drink or make a snack or something and she had to demand I open the email.

When I did, Jane was complimenting me on my Amazon success, mentioning her interest in the possibilities of electronic publishing, inviting me to call her to discuss print publication. She also mentioned that her agency represents Joe Konrath, of whom I may have heard. Um, yeah, just been hanging on his every word for the last year. So already there’s a certain amount of Wow-factor. I go to her website to look at the client list. James Dashner, Richelle Mead, Carrie Ryan…NYT bestseller this, NYT bestseller that…

Holy shit, why is this woman writing to me?

Talking to Jane spun me up to drama-level magenta. I was still working on Heroes ‘Til Curfew, deeply, hopelessly mired in Second Book Syndrome and absolutely consumed by doubt that I could produce a second book that wouldn’t disappoint. I was creatively paralyzed by fear, with a million brain-eating voices in my head, from every review of Hush Money I had ever read, every time I opened my file. Jane was offering to help me make the best book I could make. And when Heroes ‘Til Curfew was the best book I could make, she would take it and Hush Money and try to sell the rights to a traditional publisher.

In a way, Jane was an answer to prayers. I didn’t want to go unrepresented. I didn’t EVER want to go through again what I went through with the foreign rights thing. It might not seem like a big deal to you, but trying to seem like a grown-up professional and handle my own shit when I’m just a clueless kid (inside) who has no fucking idea what she’s doing or how to get the answers she needs to act how she’s supposed to act on the outside was very affecting to me. And as a writer who wants to make a living and help my family, I’d be a special kind of idiot not to jump to say yes to Jane.

Temptations Toward Trad

And yet I hesitated. What Jane was talking about was taking my two books and selling both the print and the ebook rights. While I could do something else on my own, the Talents would belong to someone else. I would no longer be free to do whatever I wanted with them. I might have restrictions on length, content, language, who knows. I might not be free to give stuff away when I wanted to. I would be giving up my carefully chosen cover art that was really working for me. I would be pulling Hush Money off the market and putting the building of my readership on hold for the next 1-3 years, while postponing the release of my already delayed second book for years.

Lots of stuff to consider. And on the other side of the coin: opportunity. Indies have done a lot on our own and will continue to do more. Opportunities will continue to open for us. But they’re not all there yet. One very real thing I had to consider was the possibility of a sizable advance. Konrath talks about not taking a contract unless the advance is “life changing money.” Well, it wouldn’t take a whole lot of money to change my life. That’s my reality. If I thumbed my nose at the opportunity to bring my family security, wouldn’t that just be plain wrong?

And look at all the stuff I could learn? Haven’t you wondered about all the stuff that goes on between the time a writer finishes the manuscript and the time it comes back as a bound book? Haven’t you ever wanted to be on the inside of that? And the possibilities for mentoring. I will always be a work in progress. I hope that I will always be a work in progress. My writing improved exponentially when I started getting critical feedback from peers at my own level. They pointed out weaknesses for me that I couldn’t see on my own. How much could my writing be improved with feedback from the kinds of professionals I’d be exposed to under contract? I know there have been a lot of negative things said about this, and I get that. But that’s not all of it, and I could choose to see the possibility as exciting.

Then the extras. Yes, it is possible that indies are making movie deals and I don’t know what else. But right now at this moment, cool stuff like that is a lot more likely (though perhaps still quite unlikely), with the backing of a traditional publisher. If those opportunities were possible for the Talents, I did want them to have that chance.

Paperback and Bookstore Relevancy

Finally, and most obviously, distribution. I mean, forget vetted validity. I believe that in the numbers game, that’s practically a non-issue. If a few people on the internet are still saying they won’t read a self-published book, if they’re actually checking for the publisher imprint to make sure they’re not getting indie when it looks like every other good book on the surface, I don’t think those people represent enough “lost readers” to get upset over. Non-issue. Distribution: still an issue. Right now, at this moment, paper books and book stores are still entirely relevant.

Yes, ebooks are becoming more and more popular, as are ereader devices, as has shopping online every day for the last 15 years. Big pluses for us indies, for sure. These are things which make it possible for us to succeed financially on our own.

But what I’m talking about here is another level. Kristen Lamb, social media expert for writers, tells us that writers are often marketing to the wrong crowd. We love fellow writers and other avid readers. Of course we want to sell our books to those people. But the books that break out and become the ones that “everybody’s reading” are the books that…everybody reads. That person who picks up just a few books a year. Each of that person who picks up a certain book because they keep hearing about it over and over again. And where do those people go to buy a book? Often it’s the bookstore. Even if they buy it online, they buy print. And a mass market paperback is probably going to be a more attractive price point than what you can do with POD.

(Note: In spite of the price of POD trade paperbacks, the point is that print is still relevant and it’s not expensive for authors. 1% of my sales are print. But if I’d only ever sold 5 copies, I still believe it would be worth it to have it out there to offer.)

Anyway, there are so many higher levels that seem at lot more likely with publisher backing, and I wanted that opportunity.

Submission

I finished Heroes ‘Til Curfew at the end of June, got a couple beta reads to make sure it made sense, and then I sent it off to Jane. After the holiday she was able to start reading it. Ironically, she had no editorial suggestions. She and her partner, Miriam, approved the book as written. So score one point for the side that says Susan’s self-doubt may be overblown. After getting in touch with some editors to check on their vacation schedules, the book was submitted to the first round of her picks toward the end of July.

I’ve no idea how Jane goes about deciding whom to contact first. That’s her job and I never asked. I figure it’s some combination of what imprint and what editor she thinks are the best match based on what they’ve put out before, her contacts and personal relationships in the industry, who might be in a position to give us the most both in terms of money but also marketing and distribution and stuff like that.

Waiting and Rejection

The waiting wasn’t difficult for the first maybe two weeks. And then I’ll admit that I started to get antsy. Finally I asked Jane how things were going and she sent me the few rejections she had received.

They were awesome! I really got a charge out of reading them. By now there’s something you understand about me: I’m not full of self-confidence. I will probably always be surprised to find that someone else enjoyed my work. I got responses in which editors at this big label imprints that publish all kinds of really awesome books tell Jane things about me and my work like “engaging and compulsively readable,” “great, commercial writing,” “able to completely suspend disbelief and become immersed.” And these from people who have read everything!

Still, what we kept hearing was that the concept was not quite original enough for them to get behind. There’s that thing we keep reading where we’re told that you can have a swell, well-written book that people might love to read. But you might not be able to sell it, and it may never see the light of day because NY might not find it marketable. That phenomenon? Yeah, I haz it.

Wavering

Signing with Jane was hard. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. Because I had spent the last year of my life so excited about independent publishing, and the last several months embracing it and enjoying my success. It had become part of my identity.

It took a lot of soul-searching to become open to traditional publishing again. But when I made that decision, I embraced that too. All the stuff I said about the opportunities it offers are things I believe, continue to believe. They’re things I wanted and continue to want.

But I missed being indie. I missed having a current book out there. Hush Money sales began to fall at the beginning of the summer. I know that lots of people have experienced a dry summer, but this book’s rank plummeted. Because it was time for that. It had been out for nearly a year with no sequel. I had put out a free short story, but that’s hardly the same as putting out a new novel 2-3 times a year which is what we tend to see when we talk about big number indies. With one book out, it was pretty much a miracle that I saw 20,000 sales for Hush Money before it was a year old.

I felt out place. I felt like I never knew what to say. I continued to have to stall on the question of a release date for the second book because I didn’t know if I’d be releasing that myself or breaking the news that I had sold it and the release would be further postponed. I was carrying a lot of guilt about that, even though some rational part of me knows that my readers are both supportive of me and what I need to do for my family, my career, and the series; as well as people with full lives who are not actually suffering from the delay.

But beyond the guilt, I began to recognize what I was feeling as longing. I longed to share this book. That’s why I wrote it. Friends kept asking, “Well, what do you really want?” And I couldn’t figure it out. It was a big mess of what I want, what I need, what I dream, what I think I can have, what I should want, what I should be doing—aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!!!!

Why do I write? A hundred thousand reasons, intertwined with stunning complexity. But maybe, at the heart of it, because I have something share. And while I was tied up in submission and it had been over a month and there were still people we hadn’t heard from, and if it got sold and all kinds of stuff had to be done with it by a staff of people before it sat in queue waiting to be released for who knows how long–while all of that goes on, it’s not being shared. And I’m unhappy.

I Want It All, And I Want It Now

I wanted all the opportunities of traditional publication and I wanted the control and immediacy of going indie. And by this time, the dramarama has reached EPIC proportions. I’ve gone to Jane and I’ve dumped all this on her, told her maybe don’t want to go into the next round of submission with another handful of editors. I now get to be in the middle of the

epic guilt deathmatch of DOOM

as I contemplate that I can either

a) stay unhappy with what’s going on and what will probably be the result if I continue this path, ie, delaying the book for the current readers who say they’re waiting for it while we wait for a publisher to buy and then release it, or

b) be equally selfish by pulling the books from submission to release on my own, deny my family the potential for the security of an advance and career opportunities I might have with a publisher, and, AND, take Jane’s opportunity to earn a commission for this such that I have just asked my agent to work for me for free.

Oh awesome. Fuck. Me. Running.

YA novel, Gone, the third book in Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy, talks about Morton’s Fork: a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives. Morton’s Fork, I haz it.

OMG, Susan, snap the hell out it. You call that a Morton’s Fork? Did you learn nothing from the reading? You have a choice between two potentials for AWESOME in your life. And YOU’re the one who makes it about guilt. NO ONE puts that on you except you. So get your head on straight and figure it out.

“What do you want?”

I want both.

And somewhere in the muddle of feeling like everything was so absolute, that times are what they are and I’m looking at two mutually exclusive things, I came across this little thread of sanity that I followed to an understanding.

I can have both.

I can’t have both right now.

Nothing is forever. This is not my one and only shot. Part of this was finally accepting that Jane does want to work with me. That she’s not going to up and abandon me because I’m difficult. Because she thinks I have potential. Maybe things will come up, like that foreign rights thing, as the series progresses. And maybe that won’t be anything big enough for her to get excited about, but she’s got a whole staff of people to deal with stuff and a whole bunch of money-making clients and me needing to do this right now is hardly putting her on the food stamp line. (Not all agents will be able to be this understanding.)

Meanwhile, I’m going to be working to come up with a new idea. Something that’s not the Talents. Something to do on the side. I will get better at this. I will get better at writing and better able to handle the other stuff, and I will be able to do that. And Jane is going to work with me on starting from a marketable concept. But I’ll still have the Talents for my own. I’ll still have control over that to see what I can make of them on my own. Because that’s interesting, and another kind of opportunity. And I’ll have this other thing that Jane can be more involved in, that will allow me to learn more of what she knows, and I can have another shot at this trad thing and learning all the things that those guys know.

And certainly, if anyone wanted to go to Jane with an offer at this point, I’d be willing to hear it. I’m not closing this door because I want it closed. Right now I just really want to share this book so that I move on to other things. Jane just got John Locke a print deal where he keeps his erights. I’m no John Locke but things are changing and maybe something like that will open up for me someday with the Talents.

The Possibility of Failure

The possibility of seeming like an epic failure here is two-fold.

It is no small thing for me to be worried that a lot of people are going to see it as me having failed in NY and crawling back to indie. I don’t see it that way. A) Indie is not something you crawl back to. It’s a choice with its own awesomeness that I’m embracing after a lot of soul-searching. B) Yeah, I got a few rejections, but every one I read said positive things about my books, about the quality of my work. I got no indication that I suck. What I understand is that I do NY quality work, but that the concept is “too familiar” and therefore not marketable enough for any of these editors to take on. And while that’s surprising (I have no proper word for the amount of surprising) to me, it’s okay. I truly believe that Jane would have found a buyer for this, both because I believe in the series and because I believe that Jane is a BAMF of an agent who would not stop until she found the right editor.

The second possibility is that I sold over 20,000 copies of Hush Money merely because it was 99cents, most of those people didn’t read it, a lot of the people who gushed about it are over it now and will not rush to buy the second book. At $2.99 it might not make the charts to get the visibility it needs to really sell. Heroes ‘Til Curfew is a different kind of book from Hush Money. I have no doubt that some readers will embrace what it is, while I also know as a certainty that there will be people who won’t like it. And who will tell their friends and strangers how very much they don’t like it..

I doubt there are many people who don’t experience performance anxiety over a release. I’m trying not to make this too important. I’m trying not to attach to the numbers. I will try not to watch them. And I will try very, very hard not to put even more pressure on myself for things I can’t control in some effort to convince myself that I haven’t just made a horrible decision.

And yes, I’m not even close to being so big a person that I don’t want this book and this series to sell like MAD to prove that it was marketable. As an indie I want to be able to point to it and say “Look, here’s a series that was rejected in NY and look what’s done. So don’t give up.”

But as an author, ever so slightly, politely, complimentarily scorned, I would not mind hearing “I wish I had grabbed the opportunity to buy this when it was offered, would you consider…?”

As I come to the end of this epic post, I realize that this still isn’t everything I’ve learned. How is that possible? If you read all the way through, bless you. I hope you got something out of my long-winded share-a-thon of spew. I, of course, feel better for having written a story and shared it with you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some publishing to do.

Heroes 'Til Curfew Release Postcard

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#ROW80 and Recommended Reading

Things are going well for me. In my measurable goals, I’ve managed to participate a little on Twitter and to post to my FB page every day this week, and I’ve kept up with my blog schedule, including scheduling posts at least a day in advance to be sure I don’t forget.

In writing, I’m continuing to work on my blueprint for HEROES UNDER SIEGE. I’m at the stage now where I’m gathering up the list of things that need to happen, things that need to be planted and shown along the way, and trying to come up with a list of specific scenes to write. Kind of the real getting down to outlining business part of the process. But next is actually writing.

I took a day off from that yesterday to map out something completely different. I don’t usually think of anything else except the Talents, but sometimes your brain needs to do something else just to remember that it can. I came up with a world, problem, and character list for a new YA trilogy. I also came up with general ideas for all three books and a plot skeleton for the first one. I have a lot of Talent work to do and I don’t know when I’d ever get to such a thing, but I wrote it all up and sent it to Jane to see what she thinks of the idea. Now so I got that out of my system for a bit and it’s back to work on the Talents.

Speaking of Jane, I think I might be interrupting Friday’s regularly scheduled post to bring you some news about HEROES ‘TIL CURFEW. Maybe. Ack.

While you’re waiting you can check out this week’s

Recommended Reading

Superman, like Shrek, has layers
I know, as soon as I said that we all started thinking of parfait. Or maybe that’s just those of us with a sweet tooth who didn’t have breakfast. Well anyway, I found What Does Superman Stand For? to be a very thought-provoking article on Superman’s motto Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Recommended for Superman fans and general malcontents. (via Twitter @slackerheroes)

Writing: a force for good in the world
No matter what your level in the writing thing, you need to read every word of Holly Lisle’s Money From Nothing: The Economic Value of Writing Original Fiction. It will explain to you how, even if you kinda suck right now, you’re adding awesome to the world. And as you improve, your contribution of awesome seems to increase exponentially. A joyful read for all of us who scribble. (via subscription to Holly’s newsletter which should be mandatory)

Don’t make me send you back to the kids’ table
This is a bit old and has probably made the rounds because it’s pretty awesome. But if you haven’t read Self-publishers Need To Start Minding Their Manners, I suggest you check it out. Catherine Ryan Howard reminds us of just how good we have it–so don’t screw it up. (via Twitter @Belinda_Pollard #MyWANA)

This is neat
That was just my reaction to seeing this blog by the awesome Vicki Lieske. If you’re wondering “Why is my book not selling?” you can submit it to this blog and she’ll go through your listing, give her reactions to the cover, blurb, writing, etc., and make some suggestions. She’s not tearing these listings apart. I found the posts to be very polite and professional, and very much in the spirit of being helpful. No surprise there. (via Twitter @VictorineLieske)

She’s 94 years old!
Piper Bayard runs a regular feature on her blog called “The End Is Near–and we deserve it!” It’s a spotlight on…the foibles of humanity? Okay, really, on people who must be smoking crack. This week’s clip is a crack up. It’s just over a minute so get over there and click it. She’s also got a list of recommendations for you. The apocalypse is freaking nigh, people. Nigh! Get a move on. (via subscription)

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#ROW80, Recs, and Talent Chronicles plans

So the ROW80 stuff… Proving that I can only concentrate on one thing at time, I missed my Friday blog post because I was working on planning out the future of the Talent Chronicles. This was something I had wanted to work on during this round. Agent Jane called me on Thursday and asked me to write something up for her about where I see the series headed. So of course I was like “Oh sure, no problem.” [hangs up] “Oh crap, where is this thing headed??”

Fortunately, all this stuff in my head that feels very scattered and choppy actually came together better than I thought it would. Me being me this meant I wrote over 8,000 words on Friday and by the time I was finished Saturday night I had nearly 11,000 words and 18 pages of notes for over a dozen more books. I think maybe this was overkill, but I sent it to her this morning so we’ll see.

The important thing was that I had an absolutely fabulous time doing this, and am so excited about what I’m doing.

And on to…

Recommended Reading

Save the comma!
Short and sweet, this post from Stephanie DeVita both amused me and made a good point. What are bits of bad writing advice you’ve read? (via subscription)

That’s my girl!
I’ve been out of it and totally out of the loop, so it should come as no surprise that I did not know that the reason Harry Potter hasn’t been available in e-book is that JK Rowling retained those rights herself, not because the publishers were holding them back. Oh! Jane Dystel talks about that and what it means for indie publishing in this post. After reading this, really, how excited am I all over again that this is the person representing my work? Very. (via subscription)

Novel Killer!
Kait and I used to exchange scenes every day and polish each scene as it got written. While we learned a lot by doing this and it helped develop our working relationship, overall it wasn’t good for the work and we decided that were going to stop editing on the first draft and avoid reading each other’s work until the draft was finished. Much better. In Meet the Novel Killer, the brilliant Kristen Lamb explains why editing the beginning before you’ve reached the ending is such a bad idea. While I kind of disagree about taking it to the extreme of not even being able to correct spelling errors when you see them, I do know that since I started to avoid reading and working my own early pages before the end of the first draft, I’ve been much more likely to actually reach The End. And when I do go back and read, I find a bunch of cool things I did at the beginning that relate to the end that I don’t even remember putting there. Awesome! (via subscription)

Speaking of Killers…
Nothing kills a read for me like overwriting. And in the ebook world where you’ve got 3 screens of text to snare me in the sample before I move on, if those three screens are full of wordy descriptions and the like, I might not even get that far before I have to go away. In In Which We Have Sprinkles, Writer_Monkey makes a nice analogy for this common problem. (via ROW80 Check-in)

And she was never heard from again…
Earlier this week I talked about the kinds of video games I liked. Topping the list are the Sims franchise from EA Games and Pop Cap games like Bejeweled and Plants vs. Zombies. So then I came across an article announcing that EA has acquired Pop Cap. Surely this means my doom. DOOM! Okay, not recommended reading for most of you, but perhaps interesting to a few. (found because I got video game recs in my comments this week and was checking them out when I was supposed to be sleeping.)

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#ROW80 Goal/Update Combo

I have a lot to catch you up on, I know.

I was supposed to write this over the weekend, but, being a holiday, it’s been busy. So considering that a lot of my ROW80 goals have to do with blogging and getting back into the swing of things here and on Twitter, I’m sort of starting off in a fail state. But rather than call it fail, we’ll just say it’s perfectly acceptable to wait until the first update day to state my goals.

But first I should answer the question some of you are asking and some of you have already heard. If I’d participated in round 2, my goal would have been to finish my draft of Heroes ‘Til Curfew. That did get done. Finally. The manuscript has been through a very quick round of crit with a few peeps and is now with Agent Jane for her to read. Once it was finally done and I was able to read it over, I really came to love what I’ve done with this story. Still, I’m really nervous about how it will be received. That’s just the way of things.

So here we are in round 3 and Kait came ’round a-hinting that she needed another sponsor. I didn’t think I did too well with round 1, didn’t participate in round 2, and really hadn’t given much thought to round 3 at all. But impulsively volunteered in the hopes that it would help me back into things with you guys.

So I guess my primary ROW80 goals have to do with blogging, Twitter, and perhaps even [cue evil music] Facebook. During the school year, I usually have the computer open all day and am sitting in front of it more often than not. During the summer, this is really not the case. My daughter requires a lot of attention and there are days I don’t open it at all or don’t do more than check my email. I’m here on my new laptop and still haven’t set up my email client so I’m still hardly checking that at all. (There are so many things I told myself I couldn’t do until AFTER the draft was finished that I now have a to-do list as long as my arm).

Social Media Goals

  • Do the ROW80 updates twice a week.
  • Do my sponsor duty and visit some ROW80 bloggers.
  • Check in to Twitter at least once a day to reply to mentions.

That’s it for now. Baby steps. Later I want to get back to my blogging schedule, actually get back to interacting with my friends on Twitter, and make a habit of updating on my Facebook page at least a few times a week. But I’m not ready to jump right back in even though I feel kind of guilty about that.

Writing Goals

  • Continue to work the blueprint for book 3, working title Heroes Under Siege

This should have some kind of definite, measurable thing attached to it, but…not yet.

As I was finishing the draft, I started getting up at 5:30am when my husband leaves for work and getting at least a couple hours done before my daughter woke up. After finishing up the draft and the initial edits, I gave myself a little vacation. I need to readjust my sleep schedule and go back to doing that, but until I do, claiming I’m going to get up at that hour to get the work done is just setting myself up for badness. And if I don’t work while motor-mouth is unconscious, I can’t possibly claim I’ll get anything done that makes any sense. If I push it there will likely be some yelling and bad feelings all around. Yes, discipline is a problem for me in all areas.

However, the blueprint is going well and it’s the kind of thing that my brain works on while I’m not physically writing it down. The basics are there. I know what the plot is. I know what each act is basically about. I know my character arcs. I know, generally, how it ends. I am excited about this story.

So later I’d like to tweak my goals to be more measurable. I’d like to be working every a few hours every day. This round I’d like to finish up the blueprint, have a scene list ready to go, and deal with whatever edits come my way regarding Heroes ‘Til Curfew. I also haven’t given up the idea of writing that short piece that takes place at the end of Hush Money and I’ve got at least one other short I’d like to work on as well. And I need to do some work on my long-range plans for the series.

I know I’ve been away a long time and I’ve probably got a million things to tell you about. Likely I won’t remember what they are. If anyone wants to give me blog fodder by asking stuff in the comments (stuff that’s not about a release date for HTC because I can’t answer that now), do feel free.

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#ROW80 Wrapup

Forgive me friends for I have slacked. It’s been six weeks since I left the internet.

And except for a single blog post, a few automated tweets, and a handful of blog comments (mainly responses on my own site), I really did put a stop to the general mingling. I can definitely feel a big difference as far as how much I feel is packed into my brain all the time.

A Round of Words in 80 Days

But I don’t want to get too much into that, because this is supposed to be about the end of A Round of Words in 80 Days. Strangely, I can’t find where I listed concrete long-term goals for the challenge. Mostly I’ve talked about my short-term goals which were about working daily on the series for at least an hour, with at least half an hour unplugged from the internet, and to write at least three scenes per week on Heroes ‘Til Curfew until it was done.

Heroes 'Til Curfew Cover Art

Cover Art by Robin Ludwig

I had mixed success on that. On the time spent, I’m still not great with daily habits. And this is on everything, not just writing. Exercise, dish washing, bed making, and there are still a lot of days I forget to eat for the better part of the day. So consistency continues to be an issue I need to work on. I would say that, for the most part, and especially since I’ve taken my internet break, I’ve at least averaged my hour per day, which is something.

Three scenes per week? No. I’ve still got the end of Heroes ‘Til Curfew ahead of me, and there was definitely a point at which I just got stuck. I stubbornly let myself stay stuck for a long time and accomplished next to nothing.

I finally decided to let myself go back and edit the front end. I’m back to working productively. I’ve fixed things that were wrong or just not so good, things that may have been holding me back in some subconscious way. I’ve done a fair amount of new writing, working on a few scenes I’d skipped the first time around, I’m shifting the order of things a bit, and I’ve still got some new material I need to add. I’m hoping that by the time I edit up to the point where I left off, I’ll have gained a stronger sense of what of I’m working toward and will be able to push through that block. I think I will. New ideas have already started coming to me.

So yeah, I didn’t stick to my short-term goals, and I didn’t achieve my Round 1 goal of finishing this book and getting it out. But I am back to doing quality work and I feel a lot better than when we started in January.

My other Round 1 goal was to try to write a short story for the Kiss Me, Kill

Cover Art by HP Mallory

Me anthology. I hadn’t actually written anything short since college, and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. It was hard to wrap my brain around that way of thinking. But as I wasn’t getting anywhere with Heroes ‘Til Curfew at the time, so I felt like it was okay to take a side trip, try to do something productive, and maybe get my writing brain working again.

Impulse Control Cover

Cover Art by Robin Ludwig

I really enjoyed writing it. It was fun and a lot less stressful than the novel. Most of my stress, ofcourse, is crap I put on myself, and I didn’t have to do that as much on a short story as the monumental amount of crap I have buried myself in over this sequel. So that goal was also achieved, was released in the anthology, and is being well received. I also decided to release that on its own, so it’s up for free at Smashwords and a few other places around the internet.

I’ll admit that I’m on the fence about Round 2, and that’s about the nature of me rather than about the nature of the challenge. These days, I kind of feel like the last thing I need is social pressure to meet my goals, you know? And the fact that I think of it as social pressure rather than community support shows the kind of place I’m still in right now.

What about you? Did you participate in Round 1? How did it go for you? How do you feel about signing up for Round 2?

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Hush Money: 6 Months and 10,000 copies

I’m a real boy!

As I begin this post, a few days before it will go live, days before Hush Money turns six months old, I’m still looking at the number on my spreadsheet. Marveling at it. Recording the numbers from the previous day is usually one of the first things I do in the morning. Seeing how many potential readers I gained overnight is generally a pretty awesome way to start the day.

So let me tell you why I’m posting this, even though I said I wasn’t going to share numbers anymore. Let me tell you why this is a special occasion.

Deciding to self-publish isn’t easy for most people. Even for someone like me who was more or less “it’s indie or nothing” because I didn’t feel like I wanted to get involved in the traditional industry, even for someone who believes in the tremendous potential of independent publishing, etc, etc, it was hard. It was hard to get over that concern of being called a “fake author.”

Now I’m a nice person (right?) and probably,  hopefully, no one’s going to say it to my face. But they’re out there, saying it, saying it about us. And even if it’s not directed at you, you know, you still kind of carry that.

You ask yourself, “Am I going to regret this use of a manuscript that I believe in so much? Am I going to wish I would have at least tried to shop it in a traditional manner?”

So something I did was I picked a number. (You may not agree with my number. You don’t have to. It’s MY number.) They say that many books don’t earn out their advances. I looked around and figured my advance as an unknown would be $6k. I had read that with a standard royalty, authors generally earned about 64cents per copy. So… 10,000 x .64 = more than a $6,000 advance. And that’s how I picked the number of books I wanted sell by the time Hush Money was 12 months old.

That was the number of books that would make me know that I wasn’t a fake author. Because sometimes, the hardest person to convince is yourself.

Now there will be some people who will come across the post and say, ten thousand copies in six months? Why are you even bothering to mention that? Have you seen the cavalcade of stars Konrath has been parading on his blog?

Yeah, I have. And I admire those authors. I’ve loved reading their stories. They’re selling more in a month than I have in six, and I couldn’t be happier for them. They’ve earned that. Maybe when I’ve earned that, I’ll get there too. But this post, this goal, wasn’t about out-performing anyone else. This is about me, something I hoped to get for myself, and how incredible it is to not only pass that mark, but to do that in half the time I thought it would take. No one else’s success takes away from that.

(Dudes, every time I write else’s–and I do that a lot–spellcheck hates me. Is that not a word?)

So that’s where I am today, feeling like Pinocchio, Version Shrek 2, flying through the air yelling, “I’m a real boy!” and waiting for something to strike and turn me back to wood.

Meanwhile, I owe you a ROW80 update, so here it is:

My goals were to spend at least an hour a day in my world and write at least 3 scenes per week.

I’m still spending lots of time in the Talent Chronicles world. Not a problem. I’ve written a number of scenes and thousands of words.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I wasn’t writing. But I wasn’t terribly worried about that. I said that when I was ready to write, I would write, and the words would come. And that was pretty much true.

Something happened this fall as I worked, or didn’t work, on Heroes ‘Til Curfew, as I let my mind fill up with the personal problems that cropped up, and then tried to squeeze in a brand new full-time career as an indie author in on top of that. I tried too much, pushed too far, and pushed those words right out of my head.

I know that there are a lot of people out there waiting. I value all those readers (I know there should have been a paragraph above thanking all the readers and friends and stuff, but if you guys don’t know by now how grateful I am, then I just don’t know what to with you!), and I’m sorry to have to keep saying that it’s just not ready, and no, I don’t know when it will be. But I do know that since I really owned that, since I made up my mind that it’s okay for me to say that and to work on my own schedule, it has been so much easier.

My ROW80 update for this week is that I’m finally starting to feel like when I’m ready to write, the words will be there.

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#ROW80 and Thoughts on Blogging

So life here is slowly returning to what passes for normal. Last week wasn’t terribly productive as I had a lot of catching up to do in a lot of areas and needed a lot of staring dumbly at the wall time. If you have little kids and a low tolerance for chaos, you know what I’m talking about. But things are better now and this week I found myself faced with the fact that I REALLY have to actually work.

This resulted in a lot of procrastination. But since I had decided to give myself a freakin’ break all around, I was able to allow it to be productive procrastination. I think that when I decide I have to work on JUST THIS AND NOTHING ELSE BEFORE THIS, I end up with more stress and less productivity overall.

I’ve recently been spending more time on my blog. I’m always going around in circles about what I want to do with it and getting it “right,” and like you really care. But I finally came around to some ideas of things I want to cover. I do want to talk about writing and self-publishing because most of you who visit on a regular basis are interested in those things, and often seem to appreciate those posts. Even though they aren’t things that readers are into, and even though they’re not the kind of thing that would draw a reader in or get her to subscribe to the blog, I have no doubt that sharing my experiences and opinions about what works has earned me a lot more support than I can measure. So I’m going to keep up with the posts about writing and self-publishing.

I’ve been trying to blog too frequently, I think, and I just write up a post when I think about it and hit Publish. Now I’m hoping to jump in and write up that post and hit Schedule. And keep those writerly posts for Mondays. Maybe that will keep it from being so feast or faminey around here.

I do absolutely agree with Kristen Lamb–and how can you not?–that readers don’t want to read about writer stuff, and the way to attract readers is to talk more about the kinds of things that readers like in your fiction. Well, it’s easy to get caught up in that expert knowledge trap we talked about the other day. I’ve probably mentioned before that I was caught in that for a long time with regard to the Talents. There’s that bit of wisdom, and it is wise, that says you need to read a lot in the genre you want to write in so that you understand the rules and reader expectation. So I thought that to write about superheroes, I needed to become an expert on comics. Even when I put that aside, I still felt under-qualified to blog  about superheroes on a regular basis.

Just like it was hard to blog about writing before had a book out there to point at and say hey, here’s how I put this into practice. Lately I’ve come to realize that my best posts aren’t the ones where I try to be an expert, they’re the ones where I really personalize what information I have to offer, wrapping it in my own perspective, and feeling less like it’s my turn to stand in front of the class for the oral report and more like we’re all sitting around getting caffeinated and I’m the one sharing for a few minutes before the really hot guy painting the storefront across the way takes off his shirt and I lose your attention.

So in the one day a week reader-oriented (hopefully) posts, I’m talking about what I love in fiction: superheroes, heroism, and/or romance. Those are the things I tend to pay attention to when I read or watch. This may lead to me feeling like I’m reviewing some stuff, which I don’t like to get into, but I’m more trying to think of it as discussing my perspective on a particular facet of the fiction in question, and if I have to include a paragraph or two to gush or whine about the overall fic in general, well, you guys are used to OT babble, so…

We’re in ROW80, and rounds of that are planned throughout the year. So I’m also looking at two more days on the blog for updates. On Sundays, I’ll be combining my update with list of recommended online reading for the week. I don’t have time to read a whole lot of blogs, but sometimes something really stands out and you just think others should read it or might enjoy it. I keep a file on my desktop to make note of those when I read them.

Wednesdays, in case you haven’t figured this out, are for me to be even more self-indulgent than usual. A free day to include in the ROW80 update whatever happens to be on my mind, or not include anything else at all. Today the bloggy stuff is on my mind, along with the fact that our bus driver just told us she’d be coming over 45 minutes earlier starting tomorrow which is going to add more time to my work day (good) and cause less sleep, more morning stress, and take some getting used to (bad). Anyway, a me me me babble day. Witness the babble.

So back to the update: This week’s productive procrastination has allowed me to try out the schedule I had tentatively set for myself, and I now have posts for my topic days scheduled through Feb 4. I’m still spending a lot of time on writing blog posts. I posted the schedule, tinkered in my sidebar a little, gave some thought to what people are looking for when they come to the site, if they can find it, what I’m trying to present and what they see, etc, and I’m pretty satisfied with what I have right now.

Goal #1 has been to spend specific amounts of time on the work. Recently I’ve been suck and fail at that, but I didn’t change my goals because it wasn’t about scoring, it was about continuing to strive for that. This week I’ve been excessive as far as time spent working on problems in the Talent Chronicles world and in Heroes ‘Til Curfew specifically.

Goal #2 has been 3 scenes in Heroes per week. I wrote the first of those three yesterday. I also finished listing everything that was supposed to happen from here forward so that I could identify all my holes and logic problems. A loose outline that allows room to move around is important. But it is amazing to me how it can seem like a solid story and then you get to that part and it’s like–well, that doesn’t really make sense. Why would he do that? Why wouldn’t she just…

Meta-humans are fascinating, but their abilities cause all sort of dilemmas.

So I’ve made copious notes and written all my WTF? questions in pink, and hopefully I’ll be able to draft some of my buds to help me kick ideas around this week because talking things through with someone else really helps me focus, and I often lack focus even though there are no shirtless painters in my neighborhood.

Today’s ROW80 Linky.

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#ROW80 Update

Not a lot to say here. Things have been much better this week in general. I’m getting to spend more time on the writing stuff, with time to actually think. I spent brainstorming time this week with Kait and Andrew, which is always good because I’m the sort of person who thinks better with help. When I have someone else to ask me questions or throw out ideas–even if they’re not ideas I can use, at least it keeps me focused and not thinking about things that have nothing to do with the Talents.

So anyway, Kait helped me think through a new story that I’ll write at some point. I know what basically happens in the story, I just haven’t got the why of it–why I should write it/why you should care.

I always get stuck right before an action scene. They don’t come naturally to me, I’m not practiced at how to think through them yet, and I always balk at writing them. Fortunately Andrew got me a lot closer to figuring this next one out than I was earlier this week.

Some recommended reading…

On writing something good, then trying to do it again…
Well the title of JM Tohline’s blog post really says it, doesn’t it? The Trials Of Writing A Work…After Writing A Work Of Art. (Link given me by Andrew Mocete during a discussion of the pressures of expectation in trying to write a sequel.)

On Blogging
Yes, of course it’s a Kristen Lamb post, and of course it’s amusing. But Blogging Part 7- Fashion Faux Pas also contains helpful advice I wish everyone would follow. (Found because I subscribe.)

Oh Snap, we been told!
Laura Kinsale, author of the wonderful Flowers from the Storm and other works, tells it like it is and kicks some serious ass in Writing Is Not a Service Industry. She does this with such lovely, lyrical language that it’s kind of like eating elegant tea cakes iced with spite. (Link sent to me by Zoe Winters.)

Speaking of Zoe…
Zoe Winters is planning to release her new novel, Save My Soul this week. Naturally, I recommend picking that out when it becomes available. But for now you can check out her awesomely spiffy book trailer. (Found because Zoe’s been telling me about this a lot.)

Oh Snap, we been told!
Laura Kinsale, author of the wonderful Flowers from the Storm and other works, tells it like it is and kicks some serious ass in Writing Is Not a Service Industry. She does this with such lovely, lyrical language that it’s kind of like eating elegant tea cakes iced with spite. (Link sent to me by Zoe Winters.)

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The Joy of Being Indie

How long have you spent preparing for your life?

A big part of what I remember about school is being bored, doing work I wasn’t interested in and couldn’t care about, and wanting so much to get out and do and be. And so much of that time, I was being told to be something else. That the things that interested me were so competitive that it wasn’t likely I could ever be successful. Either that or just altogether not worthy of pursuing. What I should do is work harder, get better grades, get into a good college. Why, with my test scores, I could probably be a doctor or a lawyer if I applied myself.

Dudes, have you met me? Read the posts from the last few weeks. I think it takes a little more than brains to be doctor or a lawyer and I ain’t got it.

Outside of the college route, I was told that to be a writer I should go to NY and work for a publishing house. I’m a social phobic. I couldn’t even walk into a restaurant by myself. No way was that going to happen. What I wanted to do was stay where I was, continue in my fabric store job, marry my boyfriend, take in sewing on the side, work on my writing, and just see what-all happened.

And then that pesky National Merit Scholar thing came up, a college offered me four years of tuition, room and board, and a stipend for books, while my friends who actually seemed to want to go to college were scrambling and scraping for funds. Well damn.

I did 4 years of hard time in the frozen wasteland of Western NY. I got a Bachelor’s in Psychology. It didn’t help.

At some point during that time I found out that I was going to have to go to school for another EIGHT years, and God only knows what else before I could sit in a quiet, comfortable room for one-on-one, 50 minute chats, which is what I thought you did with a psych degree. It’s not. It’s what you do with a doctorate. How did I not know this? I don’t know, I was a kid. But that was so not happening.

I went to work in a sweatshop with 200 people who didn’t speak English. There were maybe 5 of us who did at any given time during the 5 years I worked there. We made polo style golf shirts. It’s the kind of thing where you learn one little piece of the process and you do that same bit hundreds of times a day for a few cents per piece. I loved the challenge of that. And then I loved the challenge of learning every operation that went into putting that product together. It was hard work in crappy conditions, but I was young and I was making money at the sewing machine, something I had been told was not a career option.

Yeah, ok, so that was part of it. I’m a rebel and I’ll never, ever, be any good. Sue me.

Besides that, I was alone all day. Alone in a room full of people, machines, and noise. But I didn’t have to interact with anyone for 95% of the day, all I had to do was sew. And my brain was my own. Finally. I could read audiobooks (remember that part where you got out of school and realized you could read anything you wanted to??) or I could just be and think about whatever crazy story I wanted to think about, for eight hours a day, and I got paid for that.

To keep this from being the story of my freakin’ life, I’ll fast forward over carpal tunnel, design school, more retail, and a lot of other crap. We’ll sail years into the future to the point where I’ve retired from my non-career and am at home with a baby, having now achieved a bunch of life goals, and feeling again that need to do and be.

I don’t know why it so often takes me 600 words or so to get into the meat of my posts. I found Etsy and I decided to try something I’d wanted to do for years: make and sell doll clothes. You know how crafting used to be? It wasn’t realistic to try to sell handmade Barbie clothes through traditional crafter venues. But I could sell some on Etsy. It was fun. Some people bought them. And they wrote to me and thanked me.

Would you believe that never happened to me in all the years I had ever worked my ass off for someone else?

I did what I loved to do, people gave me money, and then they said Thank You.

And then a friend said that my skills were worth more than what I could get for Barbie clothes, but people were paying at least three times that much for Blythe clothes. So she sent me a Blythe. And I made some clothes. The Blythe market was getting pretty competitive at the time, and I sold a few things, but no real success. Until I decided to smock.

My Smocked Valentine, the first smocked dress I sold on Etsy

It was an experiment. I sat down with 28 Days Later, because I was working on ideas for a zombie story of sorts, and this was in the days of baby napping time, and I smocked myself a tiny little dress. I was very proud of it. I had the audacity to price it at $23.50, so I was actually as afraid to put it out there as I had been when I first listed at Etsy. (Don’t ask me what I was afraid of. I really don’t know.) I called it My Smocked Valentine because it had hearts, it was the end of January, and I hoped the title would encourage someone to buy it before the end of February.

The freaking thing sold within 10 minutes.

One of my most elaborate designs, "The Spider" had to have its own video.

Every dress I smocked sold within minutes, even though I raised the prices and most of them were between $40-$50. People LOVED my work. They made special requests. They queued up in a seemingly endless special order line just to get one. I LOVED what I was doing. People gave me money. And they thanked me lavishly.

But you guys don’t care really care about dolls and their overpriced couture, so why am I telling you this?

Because it’s been the same thing with the book. Just like I found my niche in a fairly competitive market on Etsy, a lot of putting out a book is just about just getting the damned thing out and then waiting for your customers to find you. I put off, for so long, just freaking doing it and putting something out there. Because I was afraid of the process, because I was afraid of rejection, etc, etc, etc. Second verse, same as the first. And every day it’s out there, it just brings more awesome.

When I got out of high school, I wanted to create things. I wanted to write and I wanted to sew. It’s taken me twenty years to make this leap into finally doing what I really wanted to do in the first place. To get to this place where I know I can make money doing what I love, and where people go out of their way to thank me for it. And maybe I needed all that time to learn and to practice, and for technology come along to help me out. But maybe not. I’ll never know because I didn’t really try.

Part of the point of this post is that I’m finally in a good mood today, and those of you who have slogged through my whiny dramatic crap of the last few weeks really deserve some happy happy sunshine. It don’t happen that often, so soak it up, people.

If you read my blog because you’re thinking about getting back to writing, because you’re thinking about finally finishing that book, or you’re thinking about going indie, just freakin’ do it. If you have a dream, give it a chance. Don’t let being scared make you put off your life. Because there might be good things down that road, and awesome people who smile at you around every corner. That’s how it is in my world, and I appreciate you.

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#Row80 Check-in and the Snow Day Saga Continues

They’ve already called off school for tomorrow. In December we had 6 snow days, and then they got for Christmas. They were supposed to go back from holiday break on Thursday, but they called it off Thursday and Friday, and now Monday.

When I looked at my calendar for December, and I noted all the snow days and vacation days, and the days I had plans to do things with and for my mom, I had 3 days on which I could get things done. And I used two of those to get my Christmas shopping done, leaving me one day in December on which to write.

Clearly the thing of feeling like I need to wait for the peace and quiet in which I do my best work hasn’t been working out really well.

So I’m happy to report that my first week of working my ROW80 goals went pretty well. Even though there was no school, even though my daughter had that rescheduled minor surgery thing and we had to spend a whole day in the hospital.

My two small, measurable goals:

  • spend at least an hour, with at least 1/2 hour unplugged, every weekday, working in the world of the Talent Chronicles, whether it be on notes or prose, but NOT on blogging, correspondence, etc.
  • finish 3 scenes per week

The second goal I was able to do. The first I did every day but Friday. On Friday I shut the computer down at 10:30 to get ready to take my daughter to an emergency “let’s not eat our young” gathering of moms and small kids at Burger King, didn’t open it again until Sunday morning, and was hardly online during this whole very family-oriented weekend. I’m not going to beat myself up about that or try to make it up. I went into overtime 3 of the 4 days I did work.

Word counts:

  • Monday: 1255
  • Tuesday: 1133
  • Wednesday: 842
  • Thursday: 1225
  • Total: 4455

Which is more than I’ve been able to do lately with the whole struggle with attention and focus and doing a lot of spinning my wheels and staring thing I’ve been into lately. So yay!

In other news…

Trivia! For those of you who use PubIt, did you ever notice Hush Money on the log-in page? Lauralynn Elliot sent me a heads-up about that this week. I usually go there at least once a day to record my numbers and never noticed. I’m there with HP Mallory and Amanda Hocking. Must have been a good day. Neat, huh?

AND…

I didn’t get a whole lot of time for reading this week, but I did jot down some things that I particularly enjoyed. So here are some links for you:

Book Marketing
Chuck Wendig’s Drop the Pen, Grab a Hammer: Building the Writer’s Platform. A fabulous post about platform that made me laugh a lot. Do I have to tell you this is NSFW? (via Kristen Lamb)

Getting the Writing Done
Kristen Lamb’s post Being More Productive- Taking on Procrastination Pixies by…Eating Frogs? is a funny and scarily accurate look at a common problem for many of us. You may see yourself in this and a number of the posts Kristen has written lately. I have. (Read this one because I subscribe to Kristen’s blog, and I’d recommend it for all my writer friends.)

Superheroes!
The Samhain Publishing blog featured a wonderful article on romantic relationships in superhero comics and movies by Corrina Lawson, What’s So Scary About Romance? It points out a lot of the romantic relationships we’ve loved, and how they made these fictions speak to us, even though the romance isn’t supposed to be the focus. Great article by someone who obviously loves romance and superheroes. (Found via Google Alerts)

And for today’s ROW80 blog hoppers, the linky list.

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