Monday, October 31, 2011

The Pink Heart Society: Deadline Recipes :: Conference Chicken

The Pink Heart Society: Deadline Recipes :: Conference Chicken: At every conference there is one dish that everyone laughs at -- conference chicken! The Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke is ba...

Emerald City Writer's Conference : Building a Career with a Digital-first Publisher with Tera Klienfelter & Shelli Stevens

Anyone can have healthy mid-list sales. Build your audience with regular releases, work to promote yourself.
What builds your career is a backlist. Each new release boosts the sales of previous books

How much marketing does Samhain put behind their authors? RT, Smart Bitches, Dear Author, sponsor conferences, etc. Promoting an author is also promoting ourselves, so most promotion for Samhain is intertwined with promoting our authors.

At what point do you start to pay for ads? Shelli Stevens shared that she did it for her NY books and did not see a pay off. "I don’t think I’ve done it for digital first. Social networking seems to work better for me."

Tera shared "the majority of the books that I accept are more story and less sex. As it becomes more mainstream to have a ereader, the sales are shifting toward more mainstream novels."

Editing tips from Tera
  • Felt, knew, saw, heard, remembered, wondered can be removed.
  • Write with all 5 of your senses. The most overlooked sense is scent.
  • He could see the sun -> he saw the sun -> the sun shone

Tips from Shelli
  • Write 1K a day, 5 pages a day. It is a single title book every 3 months.
  • Readers would rather have a conversation with an author rather than seeing a website ad.
  • Don’t hit and run on social networds – e.g. send the link to your book twice a week and only show up when you get a review. Readers get annoyed by that.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Emerald City Writer's Conference : Author Branding with Angela James

Branding Magic with Angela James

Author brand – it’s not the cartoon avatar on Twitter, Facebook, websites, it’s not your tagline. Those are components of it, but brand is how you become known for your voice, quality, genre. A brand is a promise for what you deliver to readers every time they pick up your book. An expectation.

10 tactics to creating a successful author brand

  1. Consistently publish quality editorial – if there is nothing else you do, write good books. Excellent editorial is the only controllable factor in good sales. Learn your craft, listen to your editor, apply what you’ve learned. Deliver the best book you can write. Readers expect every book to be better than the last.
  2. Write in a consistent style – Not about genre. Strong voice, good story, compelling characters. Helen Kay Dimon’s banter and dialogue, Susanna Fraser’s historical accuracy. Find your voice, not by rewriting the same book but learning from each project.
  3. Focus on a genre or style – build yourself in one genre first, after you are well established you can branch out.
  4. Write connected books – there is a reason Nora write trilogies. They are money. Easier to market a series. Have a plan for connected books from the beginning. Have a marketing hook and a series name
  5. Publish connected books close together – deliver on time, do edits quickly and well, keep writing the next book and the next book so you have a steady stream of books coming in. do your part to make it easier for your editor and publisher. Don’t flood your market. Readers will be suspicious of an author putting out a book a month
  6. Spend time marketing yourself every week – you don’t have to do everything. Do one thing and do it well. Spend 15 minutes on Twitter or Facebook every morning. Write a newsletter – they are a powerful tool.
  7. Develop and maintain a good author website – your biggest supporter of your brand. You control your brand and the information getting out there
  8. Create a career plan – where do you want to be in 5 years. How many books, what genre, which publishers.
  9. Develop your brand statement – you don’t know what your brand is until you verbalize it. Think of it as a bio for your writing. You don’t have to publicize it, you do have to know it.
  10. Consistently publish quality editorial. Do not publish an okay book. It betrays your brand. Readers don’t start reading your books because someone else is publishing something similar. They stop reading your books because it isn’t want they expected.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Emerald City Writer's Conference : Does Size Matter? Writing novels, novellas & short stories with Susan Lyons

Size matters more in the traditional publishing world than in digital publishing.

  • The shorter the story is, the more straight-forward and fast-paced the plot needs to be. Consider using first person and present tense to draw the reader in more quickly and identify with the heroine.
  • Short stories are perfect moments of time, moments of connection, growth.
  • Offering a short story on your website as a free read is a great benefit for readers. A wonderful way to showcase your voice, or for published authors to build momentum for their novels.

  • Trust the process, write through the moments of angst, and get to the end. Completing the story gives you the confidence to know you’ll be able to do it again and again.
  • The longer the story, the bigger the ripple effect of changes during revisions.
  • There is a copious amount of information on craft for novel writing. Study it, but respect your own process. Try different things to find what works best for you.
  • Work on it regularly. If you let it go too long between writing, it is difficult to get back into.
  • If short stories are too restrictive, and novels are too time consuming, novellas may be for you.
  • Less time to conceive, write, edit. Easier to have more releases in a year.
  • Limited word count can be a blessing and a curse. You may plot our more than you have pages for.
  • Introduce the hero, heroine and conflict right away. Letting them have a backstory helps create a believable romantic relationship and a more relatable happily ever after at the end.
  • Limit secondary characters. Snowbound or island settings help with this. They are forced to deal with issues without the distractions of real life and other characters

Take – or make – opportunities to write different lengths. At different times in your life, different lengths may work better. You may find you like to ‘pants’ novels and plot short stories. Do what works for you.

Emerald City Writer's Conference : Picthing!

It's the big pitch day, where most conference attendees get to panic about trying to sell their story to an editor or agent. Thank goodness for us, the industry professionals are used to nutty writers. Most are allowing us to send pages so they can see our writing, and not our ability to pitch our book!

To help the attendees know who would be best suited for their book, the Emerald City Writers Conference guru's held a Q&A. There were lots of questions, but here are some of the highlights.

What are you acquiring?
  • Junessa Vilora, Ballantine - Romance all genres, women’s fiction
  • Esi Sogah, Harper Collins - Romance for all Avon imprints
  • Leah Hultenschmidt, Sourcebooks - Single title romance of any subgenre and YA
  • Tera Kleinfelter, Samhain - All genres or romance, urban fantasy, fantasy, science fiction with romantic elements
  • Angela James, Carina– 15K and up in romance and non-romance – everything from sexy to sweet and non-romance in sci fi mystery thriller. No YA, womens fiction or YA
  • Suzie Townsend, Nancy Coffey Literary Agency – middle grade YA, all subgenres of romance, fantasy, sci fi,
  • Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency - All types of romance, paranormal historical category, nonfiction
  • Melissa Jeglinski, The Knight Agency– romance in most genres except scifi fantasy and paranormal
Charity auctions – are they worth it financially for the author. Do you spend more time on the critique knowing how much the author paid for the opportunity?
  • Leah – I do spend more time and only do Brenda Novak’s. Quality isn’t necessarily better, but I am aware of how much they spent and take my time with it.
  • Suzie – I’m shocked by the money people spend. It does get more attention, a deeper critique. They paid for it and I’ll read to the end and put together notes for them.
  • Esi – I do spend more time on it because they spend a lot of money and I want to honor it.
  • Jill – there are so many submissions usually we don’t have time to write detailed feedback, but we do that on auction submissions.
  • Tera – people email me, but never send it in.

What do you think about agencies that offer self-publishing to clients? Is it a positive trend or a conflict of interest?
  • MJ – Knight Agency is assisting current clients to release their backlist. We take our usual agency commission, not a publisher commission.
  • Suzie – a huge conflict of interest. An agent is an agent that sells books to a publisher. To combine those things doesn’t work for me.
  • Jill – we offer authors a choice. For authors that are too busy for formatting, editing, etc. we have a relationship with a company that does that.
  • Angela – self-publishing services are different than being a publisher. For agents who have worked with a book and the options have been exhausted, getting an agency cut on self-published books helps recoup some of that time and effort.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Emerald City Writer's Conference : Opening Day

It's opening day at the Emerald City Writer's Conference, and there's tons going on! After Bob Mayer's master class this morning, it was time for registration...and that means goody bags! ECWC collects the best swag. Between the goody bag and the swag table I wound up with a dozen books, candy, bookmarks, pens, pins, nail files...but the swag winner of the conference has to be Jayne Rylon's Kissin' Tonic. (It's gummy lips in a sour liquid candy...and wins for creativity)

We all have different swag preferences, so swapping items is a great way to make friends fast. Especially if you are willing to trade Milky Way bars for M&Ms.

There was just enough time for everyone to find raffle tickets and jot their name down on the back before selecting the baskets they'd like to win. The raffle baskets are legendary at ECWC. Everything is donated and all the proceeds go to charity, so we can all feel great about buying tickets and hoping our name will be called.  

Dianna Love was the keynote speaker for dinner, and she was insightful and funny and a true heroine we can all look up to. However, I'm now going to think of her everytime I hear that country song, My Baby Likes To Fish.

After our conference chicken it was time for Cherry Adair to celebrate the winners of her Finish The Damn Book Challenge.

Every year at Emerald City, Cherry encourages writers to set aside their excuses and just finish the damn book. She gives everyone an entire year to commit to themselves and the rest of the conference that they will meet the deadline. For those who win, not only do they have the glory of a complete manuscript, but they get special gifts from Cherry. This year, she arranged for a select few of the winners to have their manuscript read by an esteemed editor or agent and get a response in 2 weeks. 2 weeks! Unheard of turnaround in publishing.

The best part? My friend Mary is one of the winners! Mary is a breath away from getting 'the call'. I just know this is the boost she needs to see her dream come true.

Finally, it was time for Shelli Stevens to work her magic on the raffle baskets. My friend Jessie is a raffle expert, and buys enough tickets to assure she never goes home empty handed. Tonight Laurel won a Halloween basket.

And I won this huge basket of bathroom decor! To decorate the bathroom I haven't been able to fix up since we moved in! Huzzah! Cherry Adair donated it. I think she may be my fairy godmother.

Emerald City Writer's Conference : Publishing In The Digital Age with Angela James

Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James did a great overview of the history of digital publishing for us, and then opened the room to questions. Quite brave of her! Here's my abbreviated notes ::

Digital Publishing Timeline
1st ebooks published in 1971. The Declaration of Independence was the first ebook, and that is how Project Gutenberg began.
In 1998 the first ISBN was issued, to an ebook. ISBNs individualize a book on search engines and for retailers. The first dedicated ebook devices came out that year – Rocket Reader and ebookwise.
1999 – Bane Free Public Library A pioneer science fiction publisher, provided some of their backlist for free to encourage readers to pick up their new books.
2000 – Steven Kin self-published his first book, make $500,000 and declared it a failure. Ellora’s Cave was founded, allowing women to access different kinds of content and paved the way for a lot of different publishers.
2006 – Sony Reader hit the market.
2007 – Amazon launched Kindle. 
2009 – sony released a new edition, as did Kindle. JA Konrath self-published his first book.
2010 – ipad changed the scope of reading. Apple introduced the ibookstore and the agency model.
  • Over 70% of all digital piracy happens outside North American borders. They are pirating because they can’t get legal access to the books because of rights issues.
  • How do sales differ with length. Best selling length at Carina is 70K+ @ $5.99, though some of the best-selling titles are novellas.
  • Carina looking for erotic novel length books because of Spice dissolving, there is a need for those stories in overseas partners of harlequin. Contemporary romance and romantic suspense sell well. Looking for steam punk and space opera. No YA or inspirational, hard to market alongside erotic content.
  • Bloom of digital publishing in a decimated economy in a world without Borders. A huge hit to the mid-list author. There was a lot happening in a bookstore beyond the bottom line sales of books. It is harder for publishers to take chances because book buying is a luxury.
  • Google developed an algorithm to see how many books were published ever. 130million books. In 2010 3 million ISBNs were issued, only 316000 to traditionally published books. For 2011, closer to 6 million. Standing out from that kind of crowd is the biggest challenge, which is why building a brand is so important.

Emerald City Writer's Conference : Master Class

I woke up early to make it to breakfast with Paty Jager before we headed to the pre-conference master class. We hustled to the ballroom to find...we were an hour early! We'd both written down the wrong time.

After we chatted, somehow it was time for the class. Paty has started self-publishing her stories and her success is fabulous and fascinating. M.O. couldn't sit with us for class because her pesky day job decided to schedule a meeting. Drat.
Bob Mayer's One Day Novel Writing workshop was condensed into 3 hours. Hmmm. I have decided I need to take a Mayer workshop in the time they're designed to be given in. He's always asked to do 3 hour workshops in 1 hour slots...and this was obviously a 5-6 hour one in 3. So much information, your head starts to buzz a little bit, and not in the fun way!

Aside from the point-by-point of how to put together a novel from the original idea to resolution, I had some great takeaways ::

  • It gets more difficult to write the more you know.
  • Distribution used to be the choke point in publishing. Now it is placement. If readers cannot find your title, they cannot buy it. You need to get on a top 10 list @ Amazon, B&N, etc
  • 90% of 1st novels fail because authors think the publisher will do things for them. You have to do the same amount of promotion whether you traditionally or self-publish.
  • To become a brand author, you need to be read by people who don’t read – who read 5 books a year only when they are stuck at an airport or on the beach. People who don’t read much, don’t have Kindles.  The biggest mistake publishers are making right now is pricing. The sweet spot is 2.99-9.99. Opening books in a series at .99 brings higher sales throughout the whole series.
  • Whatever you are weakest at, is what you must work the hardest at. Your book is only as good as your weakest writing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pikes Place with the Samhain Set!

Lots of people are heading to Seattle this weekend for the Emerald City Writers Conference. There's lots going on, but most of it within the walls of a hotel in downtown Bellevue. These events often roll like that - you see the inside of airports and hotels...and not much else!

In order to share her love for her city, Shelli Stevens (who happens to be a New York Times best selling author, natch) offered to play tourguide for a few of us. She took us to lunch at Cutters, a fantastic restaurant next to Pike's Place with amazing views of the water. The weather even cooperated -- maybe too much! Tera Kleinfelter (who happens to be the assistant managing editor of Samhain, ha!) wound up blinded by the sun and had to wear fancy schmancy shades throught the meal.

Lunch was faboosh. I think we all orderd something with crab on it. When in Seattle seafood is a must!
Next it was on to Pike's Place for some exploring. The artistry showcased at the market is amazing...and so is the food. I grabbed up some grapes to munch on while I'm in my hotel room writing...and coerced everyone into getting cheesecake at The Confectional. We were all full from lunch, so we got them to go. I know they'll all be thanking me tomorrow.

Karen Erickson had a change purse full of quarters, so we all took our turn at the fortune teller. Mine warned about gossip (fitting for a conference weekend, me thinks) and Shelli's needed a dictionary to transalte. Seriously...none of us knew what it meant, and we are professional wordsmiths!

We snagged a dozen of the famous mini-doughnuts...which are good, but not as great as when they are warm and the sugar is melting off them.

Shelli made us check out the gum wall (ew) and I found a friend in Marty Matthews (Samhain's author liason extraordinaire) because she was as grossed out by it as I was! That thing gives me the creeps. I want to get out my UV wand and decontaminate it...but I don't think it is possible.

After that...Shelli was stuck with the bag of doughnuts! No one wanted to eat!

The magic shop had a a different fortune teller - and this one seemed to have more experience so Tera tried for a different fortune. AND... She got the same thing. Beware of Friday the 13th! Freaky!

I wonder what other trouble we'll get into this weekend?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

People often ask this of writers...right before they tell them about an idea that they have to write. It's the cutest thing. And then I explain that ideas are not the issue, time to write the story is!

Today was a fieldtrip with HappyBoy's class to a Forest Center. As we were hiking around enjoying the nature (and the Oregon drizzle) I kept noticing something.


They were everywhere, dozens of different kinds. Fascinating. And that, my friends, is where I get my ideas. They usually spring up from nowhere.

At some point, I'm going to have a character who knows about mushrooms, because now I'm curious.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Pink Heart Society: What Are You Reading Thursday :: Magazines

The Pink Heart Society: What Are You Reading Thursday :: Magazines: The Pink Heart Society editor Jenna Bayley-Burke thought PHS editor Donna Alward had such a great topic last week, she's using it again! Ma...

Bringing It Back

Fan-favorite For Kicks is going to be available again! Look for the e-version January 24th, paperback in October. I'm thrilled this story will finally get the distribution it deserves. And now...for the new blurbage.

If the shoe fits…run with it!

Breeze Cohen senses something is missing from her life, but her career doesn’t leave time for anything but retail business strategy—particularly the upcoming product launch for her cornerstone client, Nitrous.

No way is she going to let live-for-the-moment Logan Chandler tarnish her professional reputation. Even if the ex-athlete poster boy for Nitrous makes her heart pound like she’s run a marathon.

After surviving a near-fatal accident, Logan doesn’t want to waste a minute of life. It’s meant to be lived, ravished, enjoyed—and there’s no one he’d like to ravish more than Breeze. There’s a deep pool of mutual desire beneath her icy fa├žade. He can feel it every time they touch.

When a training snafu at Nitrous launches Breeze into damage control, Logan is ready and waiting to lace up and take her for a run on the wilder side—if he can catch her.

Warning: Side effects may include a desire to melt chocolate with body heat, spontaneous phone sex, and an intense drive to find loopholes in your workplace fraternization policy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

And Today...

I'm blogging over at Samhain Publlishing :)

And sitting on my chaise, in pink polka dot pajama pants, with a snuggly blankie, writing. Yep, I do that every now and again.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Foodalicious : Taco Pizza

Beer crust




crushed tortilla chips


sour cream

Monday, October 03, 2011

Write Away Weekend -- Day Three

One would think that after two nights of working post-midnight would call for sleeping in...but all three of us had our computers fired up by seven! Talk about using every minute!

Sunday Agenda

Jumpstart Your Mind :: Caffiene is a writer's friend. It can get words on the page even when the writer has had very little sleep. Coffee or tea, hot or iced, pick your poison and get to work!

Fuel Your Writing :: m&m's. The breakfast of best-selling authors. Really.

Ready Set Write Finale :: It may take four tries to figure out where your book opens, but once you know, you can write forward. See you soon, #1K1HR.

Explore Settings :: If you go to the beach and don't get your toes in the're not allowed to return. I don't make the rules. We took the mandatory walk because we didn't want to be blacklisted. Thes are the sacrifices we make for art. 

But seriously, setting needs to be as well-thought out as your characters. Let your character look around their environment, not just in front of them. Yes, the ocean is beautiful, but so are sandy beaches, sandstone cliffs, logs of driftwood, and even weathered staircases. Don't let your setting get flabby, make it work!

Sendoff :: We had such a fabulous, productive weekend. I think we'd all planned on getting more words on the page, but we all shifted gears and instead of focusing on word count we focused on making our stories as strong as they could be. We may not have pounded out the pages, but now that we know where our stories are going...we'll rock.

We agreed we must do this again. See you in January, Blessings By the Sea!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Write Away Weekend -- Day Two!!

The second day of our Write Away adventure began early...which was odd considering how late Michael Hague kept us awake the night before. But this wasn't a weekend vacation...we're working like mad women!

Saturday Agenda

1K1HR - The Twitter hashtag phenomenon proved helpful even without Tweeple. Sit down, focus, and let the fingers fly!

A Little Help From Our Friends - The joy of having other writers around is when you're staring at a blinking cursor and you're can verbalize the problem and have crackerjack brainstormers at the ready. Hero has no motivation...we can help with that!

Character Study - After raining words down on the page we took a field trip to the casino to try out for Wheel of Fortune. Oh yeah, this is part of our job!

Standing in line we saw all sorts of people...and then they let us into the show...there is something about trying out for a gameshow that has people wearing the 'gameshow contestant' persona.

Would you bellydance on a stage in front of strangers? Most had this uber-excited, beyond animated face they slipped on as soon as they made it to the stage. Fascinating!

Taking Chances - If you're in a casino, gamble a little. Get in touch with the thrill of winning and the agony of losing. But don't gamble more than your Starbucks habit costs. That's just silly.

Linner - If you miss lunch because you're standing in line for a gameshow and are now starving out of your mind...linner is in order. We reccomend an ocean view so you can catch the surf, kites, and playful kittens.

Nurture With Nature - Nothing fills the writer's well quite like appreciating the beauty of nature. Our weekend setting gave us amazing opportunities to appreciate the beach, sunsets, cleansing rain...we even arrived back at the house to a momma deer and her two babies!

Ready Set Write redux - After our field trip, we were all ready to get some words on the page again. Sit down, start typing and go until you're stuck and need a little help from our evening entertainment.

The Outer Journey with Michael Hauge - Michael was so good to us last night we invited him back to the DVD player for another round. We were happily plugging along - character, desire, goal, key turning points...and then he lost us completely by rushing through everything after the point of no return. Drat!
The Writer's Journey with Chris Vogler - We brought another man to the living room, and tried to stay awake through the 12 stages. We tried very hard.
Uniting Plot and Character Arc with Michael Hague - Opting to give Michael another chance since he'd been so good to us the night before, we gave the audio recording of one of his workshops from the last RWA conference a chance. Thank goodness. This time he redeemed himself as he traveled through Empathy, Wound, Set-up, Opportunity creates the preliminary goal, which leads to the new situation, Chnage of Plans, Progress, Point of No return, Complications, Set-back, Final push, Climax, Aftermath.

And then...since it was well into Sunday...we opted to start again tomorrow with Writing Jumpstarts and Fuel.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Write Away Weekend -- Day One!

We tossed together this weekend on the fly, but we couldn't have done better if we'd planned it!


Putting Emotion in Your Writing -- audio workshops from RWA 2011 conference while being chauffered to our coastal getaway. Spacious door-to-door service provided by Rose's Mom's Van (aka Melissa did the driving)

Lunch -- Andaman Thai Cuisine is worth the wait -- they even freshly brewed our unsweetened Thai iced tea.

Goody Bags -- a buy-your-own option @ the outlet mall. Melissa & I got matching purses (the deal at Coach was that good) and prizes to take home to the kids.

Setting The Scene -- arrived at Blessings By The Sea and staked out bedrooms -- Terri opted for the darkest room, Melissa took one for the team and slept in the skylight room, I have an ocean view!

Ready Set Write -- Write until your stomach demands food! Melissa won the round with over 1K.

Dinner -- Mo's of course. You may be thrown out of Lincoln City if you don't Mo's at least once. The garlic cabage and shrimp salad? Way better than it sounds.

Myofascial Techniques for Writers -- Terri showed us the tricks she learned to ease the aches caused by hours of writing using a tennis ball and a golf ball!

Writing Romantic Comedies - Screenplay Mastery by Michael Hauge -- We used the DVD to map out the internal arcs of our latest stories, pausing and discussing as we went.

And tomorrow? Play With Words, Ready Set Write, & an evening with Christopher Vogler.