Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Links of Interest

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING:  Agent Rachelle Gardner continues to explain the stages a book takes from proposal to being published in a series of articles.

The Writing and Editing Stage:


Title, Cover, and Marketing Plans:

AGENTS: The Etiquette of Querying Note: Some of this agent’s “rules” run counter to the way other agencies want you to query. ALWAYS read guidelines for each agency!

WORD COUNT IN NOVELS: Agent Jessica Faust discusses the suggested word count in various types of novels.

QUERIES: What makes an agent stop reading a query and why.

PROLOGUES: An editor discusses the pluses and minuses of using a prologue.

WORLDBUILDING: Why Magic Should Have a Cost in Fantasy.’s-special-then-no-one’s-special/

AGENTS WHO HANDLE SCIENCE FICTION: Author Josh Vogt lists ten major agents who handle sf.


CRAFT: How to Identify Dragging Narrative

TRUE CRIME OR FICTIONALIZED TRUE CRIME: The advantages and disadvantages of each. Sorry, there’s no direct link. This is the blog for July 27, 2009.

CRAFT: The danger of overused adjectives.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's the Romance, Stupid! , CRAFT

In the 1992 campaign against George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and his advisers realized that the economy was Bush’s weak spot so they decided to focus on that subject. Around Clinton’s headquarters, the sign, “It’s the economy, Stupid,” was posted to remind everyone to stay focused on that issue.

In the same way, a writer needs to hone in on the targeted audience of her book.

When you are writing and you get a clever idea about the romance heroine’s business problems, you need to decide if that has anything to do with her relationship with the hero. If it doesn’t, out it should go.

Particularly at the beginning of the novel, that target audience should be kept in mind. The reader wants girl to meet boy as soon as possible so the heroine’s backstory and anything else must be second in importance in those first pages.

In the same way, the mystery reader wants the murder to happen, the science fiction reader wants some brand new scientific idea or world to startle him, and the horror reader wants his pants scared off of him.

When you are rewriting, always remind yourself that “It’s the romance/mystery/sf/horror, Stupid” and focus your book to that kind of reader.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Links of Interest

MARKET NEWS: From RWA National

PSEUDONYMS: Author talks about her different pen names, their advantages and disadvantages.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Agent Rachelle Gardner shows the stages a book takes from proposal to being published in a series of articles.

The Proposal:

The Contract:

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Does being a celebrity count more the quality of writing? A publishing insider shows you the score. Literally.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Sometimes, you should compare your book to other authors. Agent Caren Johnson explains why.

Overview of the International Intellectual Property Association release of the 2003-2007 “Copyright Industries in the U.S. Economy”

AGENT INTERVIEW: Super agent Ethan Ellenberg

Monday, July 20, 2009

Writers and Bad Weather

As the thunderstorms roll in, here in the South, I thought I'd repost this timely reminder.

Are you, as a writer, ready for bad weather or emergencies?

Preparing for bad weather can be as simple as having a storm alert radio that will cut on, if dangerous weather approaches, so you can shut down that computer before lightning fries it, then you can seek shelter. The storm alert radio also doesn't interfere with writing like a regular radio for those of us who like to work in quiet.

Is your computer plugged into an alternate power source (APS) so it won't be damaged or your current work lost if the power goes out?

Most alternate power source makers claim an APS with a surge protector will protect your computer and peripherals from lightning, but nothing will protect electronics from a close lightning hit. A good friend lost everything when lightning hit a transformer over a block away, and he had high-end surge protectors and an APS system.

The safest thing to do is unplug everything, including the APS.

Also remember to unplug your modem from the electricity and your computer. Dial-up modems are particularly prone to lightning. A cable modem is supposed to be much safer, but I err on the side of paranoia and unplug mine.

If you have a laptop as well as a desktop, you need to keep it charged then unplug it, as well, when a storm comes. If you want to keep working through bad weather, remember to save a copy of your work to a flash disk, CD, or whatever to move your work to your laptop so you can continue to work.

Weather preparation isn't just for a short summer or winter storm. It's for major disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wild fires. Always have a back-up copy of all your works in another location, or, better yet, several locations.

In the days before I wrote by computer, I had paper copies of my books at my home, my mom's beach house, and my brother's house near Charlotte. Despite being in different parts of the state, all three homes were damaged by Hurricane Hugo, but the manuscripts stayed safe. That experience has reaffirmed my determination to keep copies of my manuscripts and important papers elsewhere.

These days, I also keep a flash disk copy of my books in my safety deposit box at the bank so I can keep my updates recent. A flash disk or drive, if you're not familiar with the term, is one of those storage units you plug directly into your USB or Firewire connection on your computer or iPod.

It's always a good idea to have an emergency bag or briefcase for your writing partially packed and ready to go in case you need to get out fast because of an approaching hurricane or wild fire. Things to keep in this bag include a power plug for your laptop and an updated flash drive. Also include copies of current book contracts as well as notes, etc., of what you are working with at the time.

This bag is also a good place to store that copy of your house and car insurance, pictures of your valuables, etc., in case disaster strikes. Also include a CD with copies of your favorite family pictures, etc., in case the worst happens, and there's no home to return to.

Make a list of the last minute things you will need to pack and stick that in the front of the bag. When emergencies happen, we tend to forget the most basic things so that list will be well worth the time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Links of Interest

PROMOTION: An expert on author websites offers advice.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: The must haves for an author in a publishing contract.

QUERIES: Why rhetorical questions aren’t such a good idea in queries.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: This blog article explains what a publishing imprint is, and why you should know about it.

CRAFT: How to make your writing visual.

MARKET TRENDS: An interesting article that examines the current popularity of zombies in publishing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How Many Viewpoint Characters?, CRAFT

QUESTION: How many viewpoint characters can I use? And must I have the bad guy’s point of view?

The point of view character or POV is writing jargon for the person whose head you are inside during a scene in fiction. With the exception of omniscient viewpoint novels, all current genre novels have only one character’s POV at a time.

The number of point-of-view characters you use in a novel depends on genre needs as well as the story you have to tell. If your choice of POVs isn't mandated by the market, you use the number of POVs you need.

In STAR-CROSSED, I used six POVs because my story was so complex, and the novel was big enough at around 130,000 words to allow so many characters.  One of the POVs was my villain.

I have also created complex suspense plots with only one or two POVs because the plot was so tightly connected that those POVs were enough.  None of those had the antagonist's POV.

If the antagonist doesn't have a POV, the reader will still get a sense of the person because of what he does.

The main characters are also discovering who or what this person is by following the clues of the crime or the situation.  As the characters learn about this criminal so does the reader.

If this person's crimes are methodical, this gives the reader a bit of information about him.  If he cuts off the victims' fingers with a surgical knife, the reader learns something else about him.

By the time the bad guy is unveiled, the reader should have a very good sense of this character without a POV.  At the moment of unveiling, the reader will usually be given the final pieces of this character's emotional puzzle.

Some writers have trouble writing the bad guys because they are concentrating on the good guys and the plot needs of the novel.  I always suggest that a writer write a summary of the plot from the point of view of the bad guy starting with the crime, if there was one, and move from that point to the final unveiling.

The bad guy's choices and his story must be as logical for his personality as the plot choices and story of the main characters.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Links of Interest

EDITOR INTERVIEW: The editor of Juno Books, the urban fantasy imprint of Pocket, is interviewed.

NEW EBOOK READER: Yet another competitor for Amazon’s Kindle.


PUBLISHING BUSINESS: A blog which explains how the book goes from the publisher to the bookstore to the consumer.

PARANORMAL ROMANCE VERSUS URBAN FANTASY DEFINED: Be sure to read the comments section.

CRAFT: Writing the short story or novella. Advice for the novelist.

PROMOTION: Building blog traffic. Part 2.

CRAFT: When should you join a critique group?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Science Fiction and Romance in the Science Fiction Romance, CRAFT

Ursula Le Guin, among other writers, has said that science fiction isn’t really about the future, but about the present. SF authors use the future as a way to talk about what is happening right now. Le Guin’s incredible LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, for example, was about gender roles at a time when women and gays weren’t empowered.

So it’s not really surprising to see our current politics and other issues reflected in science fiction or science fiction romance.

SF novels are considered novels of ideas, romance novels are about people. The best SF romance is able to combine both ideas and people into a working whole.

One of the obligations of the SF romance writer is that she must be true to the principle expectations of both genres. For SF, that means correct science and a respect for SF’s various tropes. For romance, that means a romantic relationship with the expectation of a happily-ever-after.

A skilled author who is writing for both audiences can use technology like an airlock without a long explanation but with enough hints about what is happening that most romance readers can figure it out without being SF geeks while the SF geeks just buzz past the moment.

Readers of both genres are reading for a good story so few care if a few specialized terms are explained or not explained as long as it doesn’t interfere with the story.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Links of Interest

QUERIES: Agent Nathan Bransford offers advice on how not to write a query when your book is part of a hot trend.

EDITOR INTERVIEW: Susan Litman of Harlequin.

PROMOTION: How to build blog traffic.

MARKET NEWS: Quartet Press is open for submissions. It’s an epublisher with a solid backing.

BUSINESS OF PUBLISHING: Agent Steve Laube explains the process and people a book must go through to be accepted at a large publishing house.