Multi-passionate writer, author and solo-preneur

Month: May 2013

Five Writing News Tidbits On a Friday.

Here’s a quick and random Friday Five to update everyone on what’s happening in my corner of the writing and publishing world.

1. Last Friday, I submitted Eucha Falls to a horror anthology for consideration. As of today, their submission tracking system says it’s #705 in the queue and their average response time is 20 days. And so I wait…

2. I’m still taking a break from Radium Town as I work my way (slowly) through Holly Lisle’s latest free course, “How To Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck.” By the time I’m done with it, I should have a new flash fiction anthology ready to publish, with a couple of stories set in the Dominion-verse.

3. Otherwise, I’m pondering the future of my writing career and the path I want to take. As much as I enjoy self-publishing, the entirely DIY model is SO much work — really, I can’t overstate how much work is involved in producing your own book, especially if you care about quality — and my marketing reach is pretty limited. I’m thinking about shopping the Dominion trilogy around to some publishers, or maybe even some agents, to see if I can get it picked up. Even a small indie publisher would lift a lot of the burden off of me and extend my reach.

4. Along that same vein, I’m considering serializing Radium Town. I think it would lend itself well to serialization, and if I could get it into the Kindle Serials program, I could be earning on each episode (not to mention building a fan base) as I write the novel. I need to do more research before I decide on that, though.

5. I don’t really have a five, but Friday Four sounds lame. Oh! But I guess this counts as a #5 – if Eucha Falls gets accepted to that anthology, then I will be mightily encouraged toward writing more short stories for paying markets and seeing if I can turn that into a regular income stream. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. Let’s just wait and see how EF does for now.

In other news, we’ve had a lot of wicked weather this week, with more expected this afternoon and evening. Last night, a major storm passed right over us, with enough rotation to make the rain fall at odd angles while it dumped a bunch of hail on us, before moving a few miles southeast and turning into a full-blown tornado. Some roofs got destroyed in Broken Arrow, but nobody was hurt, thank goodness. I hope tonight’s weather stays on the mild side. Or misses us altogether. If you’re in Tornado Alley today, stay safe!

Is Kindle Worlds just kindling a storm?

Yesterday, Amazon announced that it’s starting Kindle Worlds, “a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games.” Naturally, people have thoughts about this. I’ve seen opinions ranging from “Yay, this will totally legitimize fan fiction!” to “Boo, this will totally destroy fan fiction!” to “… what’s fan fiction and why should we care?”

I have a few thoughts of my own; the first of which is, this is not fan fiction. Despite the label Amazon is trying to put on it, fan fiction is by definition unlicensed and unpaid. The fact that these stories will be both licensed and paid makes them, by definition, NOT fan fiction, regardless of whether they started out that way.

What it does make it is licensed, work-for-hire franchise fiction–the same thing as all of the tie-in novels you see on the shelves for Star Trek, Star WarsDoctor WhoBuffy, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The writers who produce those books work for very similar contractual terms and with pretty much the same guidelines. Back in my fan fiction days, I was interested in breaking into the tie-in novel market, and I sent away for the submission guidelines for Buffy, and also checked into the guidelines for Star Trek. What I saw then is pretty much the same thing I see here: don’t deviate from canon, keep it family-friendly, no cross-overs, etc., and whatever you write becomes the property of the franchise, to be used as they see fit with no further compensation to the writer.

The big differences are these: one, whereas for years fanficcers have argued that professional tie-in novels are nothing more than paid, legitimized fan ficiton, Amazon is coming right out and calling it that. And two, the traditional method of obtaining licensed novels involve paying hand-selected professional writers a sizable advance for their troubles that is in keeping with guidelines established by the Writers Guild of America. By lowering the bar for entry to amateur fanficcers, Amazon (and the licensors they’re working with) are able to get away with paying less than the going professional rate.

Do I think this is rather sneaky? Yes. Do I think it’s inherently evil? Not really. I think it’s a smart business move, and just another way that Amazon is pushing against the traditional publishing mold and trying to maintain their lead in shaping the future of publishing. I think they’re a little wrong-headed in the way they’re going about courting the fan fiction crowd, but I understand their reasons for doing so.

Do I think this will endanger the online fan fiction community in any way? Nope. I do understand that fear–that the production companies licensing this fiction might see this as a way to put the fans on a leash and give them more legitimacy for cracking down on unlicensed fan fiction; but, well, they don’t really need more legitimacy to crack down on fanfic if that’s what they wanted to do. And licensed fiction already exists. This is just a way for Amazon to profit directly from it by making a large portion of it exclusive to the Kindle. This is, first and foremost, about Amazon shoring up a market share where they see a potential for profit. They don’t really care about quashing or regulating fan fiction. What they care about is giving the fan fiction crowd a reason to buy Kindles.

Agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this development in the comments.

#PrayForOklahoma: It Matters

thingsBeing on Facebook and Twitter immediately following the Boston Marathon bombing, I saw a lot of prayer pledges being sent over the network streams. I sent a few myself. I’m assuming all of the others I saw were as sincere as mine, that, like me, those sending them actually dropped what they were doing to pray for the bombing victims. It was the only thing most of us could do.

In the days and weeks following the bombings, I also saw a lot of criticism of those prayers from atheist and agnostic commentators who feel like such expressions are a waste of time, or an exercise in futility, or complete and utter nonsense, a waste of words and breath meant only to make useless people feel useful but doing nothing that actually matters or makes a difference.

Well, if I may be so bold as to speak on behalf of Oklahoma, I’m here to tell you: it does make a difference.

Of course, there are exceptions, and those for whom it doesn’t matter. Although we’re a thoroughly red state and a major notch in the Bible Belt, we’re still a pretty diverse state and there are those who call Oklahoma their home who don’t believe in or understand prayer. But those folks are the minority here.

By and large, the people of Oklahoma believe in the power of prayer. We believe it can result in miracles, and for those who missed their miracles, it can result in peace and healing and the strength to stand up under the weight of overwhelming grief and loss.

When that massive tornado first showed up on the news yesterday, still in progress and bearing down on Moore, people all across the nation stopped what they were doing and lifted up Oklahoma in prayer. And let me tell you, while that storm raged a second storm cell was making its way through my neck of the woods, across several small towns north of Tulsa. That storm carried with it a tornado warning and showed all the signs of being as potentially deadly as the one in central Oklahoma. But before it could gather full strength, the nation started praying for us, and that storm didn’t turn out nearly as bad as it threatened to become. I fully believe that without those prayers, the devastation in Oklahoma yesterday might have been much more widespread.

And look at the miraculous reports coming out of Moore today. The death toll was downgraded by more than half. Over a hundred people were found alive and rescued after being given up for dead. This lady found her dog in the rubble after believing it had perished. And the outpouring of love and support from both within the state and without is awesome to behold. Hospitals and rescue organizations are having to turn away volunteers because so many people are showing up to help. People who have lost their own homes are focused on helping their neighbors. Oklahoma is doing what it does best: pulling together, reminding us that, even in the midst of devastation and tragedy, we are truly a blessed state.

If you believe prayer has nothing to do with any of that, then you and I are on completely different wavelengths.

But if you were one of the ones praying yesterday, I can tell you this: Oklahomans, by and large, are grateful for every single word of prayer sent up on our behalf. It’s not useless, and it most definitely makes a difference. Sometimes it’s all you can do. And sometimes it’s the most important thing you can do.

But if you’d like to do more than pray, my friend Rebekah Loper has put together a list of resources for how you can help support the people of Moore in their recovery.

UPDATE Re: the photo accompanying this post: “My nephew, Heath Alan Dodd, never would have thought his picture would have gone viral like it did. He wants doesn’t want to profit monetarily from the picture and so would like to ask that if the picture Moves You, to please donate to or $10 by texting “REDCROSS” to 90999. Our hearts are with the victims of the 2013 Moore Tornado. Any help in sharing this photo and helping to get the information about donations to the Red Cross would be greatly appreciated!”

Quick update…

I figured I should post a quick update for those who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter to let everyone know that we’re fine. Tulsa wasn’t in the path of any of last night’s storms, and as far as I know none of our friends or family in the OKC area were affected. It’s heartbreaking to see what the folks in Moore are going through today, but I also know that they’re tough people. They’ve done this before, and they’ll get past this and rebuild again. Even so, our thoughts and prayers are with them today, and we’re counting our blessings.

What to do with Eucha Falls?

Originally, my Slenderman-and-dream-inspired short story Eucha Falls was intended to be a free release, just a quickly thrown-together e-book with previews of both my novels in the back, more of a marketing tool than anything else. But then I grew attached to the idea of having a cover done by an illustrator whose work I follow (and adore) in the Marble Hornets fandom, which would really be a perfect fit. And in the interest of paying her for her work, I’d have to charge for the book. I suggested a profit share, but she prefers a flat fee, for which I can’t blame her in the least. She offered to do it for a very reasonable fee, but it’s still high enough that I’d have to do another pre-sale on Indiegogo to raise the funds.

Which, I think, is doable. I could pull my other unpublished horror novelette, Hungry Child, out of mothballs and finally do a revision to fix all the problems the beta readers found with it, and package them together for a paperback so I could offer signed copies. Maybe also throw in a few flash fiction pieces to flesh it out and make sure everyone gets their money’s worth. And if somehow the IGG campaign took off and became wildly successful, we could also talk about maybe doing that graphic novel version that Matt was all excited about.

But then yesterday I found out about a horror anthology that Ellen Datlow is putting together, and she’s accepting submissions, and in an unusual twist she’s accepting stories up to 10,000 words. EF is just over that and it wouldn’t take much trimming to get it under the limit. And if it’s accepted, it would mean a pretty decent paycheck. Not to mention a traditional publishing credit, plus it would expose my work to a much wider audience than I’m able to reach on my own. AND the anthology has the same title as my very first finished novel, which if I were superstitious I would take as a sign.

Hmm. Writing it all out, it kind of seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

There is a downside, though. Mainly, the waiting. If I submit it and it doesn’t get accepted, then I’ll have wasted weeks or months in which I could have been using the story to promote my whole body of work, just waiting to be rejected. If it DOES get accepted, then I’m sure I’ll have to wait some contractual period of time before I can publish it as a stand-alone, or in any other collections. Or do that graphic novel. 😉

But again, if it does get accepted, I’ll get paid more in one fell swoop than I’ve earned in total royalties during my entire self-published career to date. Which, admittedly, isn’t very much.

I’m thinking I should follow the money. What do you think?

Back On Track

I have done writer-type things this week. On Monday I made a complete editing pass on Eucha Falls, and then gave it to Matt to read. In an unprecedented turn of events, he read the entire thing that afternoon, pointing out a few typos and liking it so much that he’s started storyboarding a graphic novel and/or film version in his head. Then I fixed the typos and sent it off to some beta readers, and also contacted a lovely and amazingly talented young artist about possibly illustrating a cover. She got back to me today, and we’re negotiating. I might have to do another Indiegogo campaign to raise enough money to pay the lady. So that will set the planned publication date back a few months. Although I’m debating whether it’s worth all that trouble for a novelette. I guess I’ll wait and see what the beta readers think.

Today I finally got back into the first draft of Radium Town, and wrote the first 505 words of Chapter 2. The story is already over 5,000 words long, and I’m only starting the second chapter. If you’ve read either of my other books, that should give you an idea of how different this one will be from what I usually write. I’m usually a cut to the action kind of girl, and I have to force myself to slow down and spend time on description. But with this one I’m taking more of a meandering path to get to the point, which I’m enjoying more than I thought I would.

Here’s a sample from today’s output:

“So what do you call that thing again?” Betty stood back with the professor as the workmen unloaded his machine from the back of the wagon. Miraculously, nothing had been broken when they’d dropped part of it earlier at the train station. Still, the professor kept an eagle eye on every move the men made with it, barking instructions with an incessance that was clearly starting to grate. Betty knew full well what the machine was called, but she hoped her show of interest might distract him and let those poor men do their work in peace.

“Professor Noble’s Subterranean Combustible Location and Penetration Device,” he said. She detected only a slight note of pride in his voice as he named his invention, and she wondered how much louder that note would’ve sounded if he wasn’t so distracted. “Here, now,” he shouted at the men as they pulled the largest piece off of the wagon, “be careful with that! Don’t you understand that this is a prototype?”

“That’s quite a mouthful,” Betty said, ignoring his shouting. “What do you call it for short?”

“I don’t call it anything ‘for short,’ agent, but if its proper title is too much for you, simply referring to it as ‘The Penetrator’ should suffice.”

In other news, Demand Media Studios contacted me about possibly being a “Section Expert” for their new, soon-to-be-launched Crafts section. It’s an editorial/managerial position, and though it’s only part time, it pays better than writing articles. I interviewed for it this afternoon, and they’re going to schedule another interview with the person in charge of developing the section. I also signed a new web design client this week — a photographer this time. This will  be the first photography site in my portfolio, so I’m jazzed about that. Things are starting to look up in the employment realm.

The other thing I’ve been doing this week is trying to develop a daily marketing habit. Right now I’m focusing all of my efforts on Bauhaus Online Creative, but once I work out the kinks on a streamlined strategy that doesn’t take up half my day, I’ll start doing more to promote my books and this here blog. Remember when this blog used to be about the ins and outs of self-publishing? Yeah, I plan to get back to that at some point, and also start promoting other indie authors on a regular basis again. Although, I’ve been disappointed in the lack of ROI on my Indie Spotlight column. Part of the whole point of having blog guests is that they, y’know, promote their own guest posts or interviews, thereby helping to build traffic and SEO, but very few of my guests have made any effort to do so, which I don’t really get. I’ve promoted the bejeezus out of any guest posts or interviews I’ve done on other blogs. It’s kind of common courtesy, but I imagine a lot of people don’t know that. Anyway, that went to more of a ranty place than expected. Maybe that’s one of those instructional-type posts I need to write when I get back to writing teachy posts instead of just rambling at you about my life.

Keeping Calm and Carrying On

Since I haven’t posted since Sasha’s passing, I figured I should probably pop my head up and let you know how we’re holding up. We’re hanging in there — by now we’re pretty much pros at coping with sad times. We’ve been staying busy. I wrapped up all of my client projects last week (including the YA vampire series website I’d been hired to do), and between projects I tend to get even busier, what with trying to juggle writing,  prospecting for new clients,writing for Demand Studios to keep the money flowing, and working on mine and Matt’s web sites and projects that always get pushed to the back burner when I have active client projects.

I haven’t been sleeping great, and that’s not helping. I need to take two Benadryl every night just to get to sleep, and even then half the time it either takes me hours to fall asleep, or I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Plus, Benadryl gives me crazy, vivid dreams, so even when I do sleep I don’t feel rested. Blah. Matt’s not sleeping so great, either. All this sleep deprivation makes it hard to stay consistently creative and productive instead of just napping at every opportunity (except when I do lie down for a nap I usually can’t sleep then, either. Boo).

So I’m spending this weekend being as lazy as I can get away with, but on Monday I’m going to do my best to get back on track with my writing. I think Eucha Falls has lain dormant long enough that I can give it an editing pass with fresh eyes, then I’ll get back to Radium Town and try to make up for my complete lack of progress during Camp Nanowrimo. We’re trying to plan a camping trip in the very near future, which will most likely derail me again for a couple of weeks, but it’s hard to make solid plans when practically every other day is cold and/or rainy and at least once a week there’s a major storm warning. Frankly, I’m so desperate to get away for a few days and get some quality rest that I’d be happy to just hole up in a tent in the rain with a stack of books and spend the whole time reading between naps, but Matt wants to be able to actually get outdoors and do stuff. Go figure.

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