Bye 2013, Hello 2014!

2013 was a great year, especially since I didn’t have anything published in 2012 and wondered if I’d already seen my last word in print. Glad I kicked Doubt’s ass!

writing, from Microsoft clipart

writing, from Microsoft clipart

My alter ego and I saw three novellas and one novel published electronically in 2013. For some that might be a pittance, but for me, that was full of awesome! (especially after the drought of 2012, which really started in late 2010.) I wrote more words this year than I had in 2011 and 2012 COMBINED, and I plan to break that record in 2014.

This summer my alter ego and I both got contracts thanks to my fabo agent, which for now is the highpoint of my career–two contracts for two names/series from two different houses. I laughed, I cried, I freaked the hell out.

In 2014, I’ll see the print version of the 2013 novel, three electronic novellas, and one print novel published. That will be a personal best for me. But if I can swing it, I hope it will also see my first self-published efforts, two novellas that launch series with characters my readers are already familiar with.  If any of you are planning to attend Romance Slam Jam, I’ll be breaking the news and sharing the covers there.

The idea of seeing six new publishing credits is inspiring and motivating and stress-inducing all at once! But I am looking forward to the challenge and reaping the results of my endeavors.

All of that to say this: 2013 was a great year for me, and 2014 looks to be the same. THANK YOU for being a part of my journey!

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

looking forward

 

So here we are, at the end of another year. I can definitely say that 2012 was much better than 2011, even if I didn’t have a single book out this year.  Why? Because no books in 2012 meant I didn’t write or sell anything in 2011, and that was definitely hard. I was burned out by trying to write fully involved 400-page novels with world-building, romance, action, danger and hooks every six months while trying to maintain a crazy production schedule of writing and designing at my day job. I hit a wall, and I hit it hard.

Going in for surgery at the end of January and having six weeks of down time gave me plenty of time to rest and recuperate and think. (Ah, the blessed rest after the pain went away. Wonderful!) I thought about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. I thought about writing, and if I could do it again. If I wanted to do it again. If i could get something together for my poor agent to sell. If I could write something else and sell that. If I dared to get back into the maelstrom of deadlines and rejections and word counts and not hyperventilate.

Of course I hyperventilated. The memory of 2011 left its claw marks on my psyche. My series was dead in the water. Contemporaries, especially hot ones, were all the rage, but all I had in me were paranormal stories. Fighting for every word I wrote or typed exhausted me, and I was on bedrest! So I did what any good writer would do.

I read.

Reading. The one constant over my life has been immersing myself in other worlds through the written word. Reading got me through my awkward teens years, my family issues, long stretches between boyfriends, boredom, bus rides, lunches. Reading always got me through. It’s sad that I had forgotten that, sadder still that as I writer on both jobs, I lost time to do more than read cooking directions. But as I recuperated, I read, and as I read, I remembered.

I love words. Reading them, writing them, feeling them. The more I read, the more words sank into my brain, and so did the creativity to weave them. My love of reading did what it had done decades ago–nurtured my love of writing.

My agent sent me a blurb about Nocturne looking for sexy paranormal shorts. An idea immediately popped into my mind. I mean immediately. Just a phrase at first: The Sons of Anubis. Then another: The Daughters of Isis. And then conflict.

I wrote the first story. My agent sold it within a week of me sending it to her, with an offer for two more. I also polished a medieval romance that was a book of my heart type thing. Samhain bought that one. The medieval will be out next spring under my alter ego’s name, and the first two Sons of Anubis stories will be out summer and fall.l

I have my words back. And I have other authors and their words to thank for it.

I’m optimistic about 2013, fanatically so. I know I have at least one more Sons of Anubis story. These paranormal erotic romances have inspired me to write a full length IR erotic romance, which I’m working on now. And I have the beginnings of a new contemporary romance series that I’m fleshing out. I’m also polishing a Shadowchasers short story to put out myself hopefully before the end of winter. If it goes well, a longer story will follow.

Words. I have them back. And I’m looking forward to where they’ll take me in 2013 and beyond.

Goodbye, 2012. Hello, 2013!

That Cover

The person responsible for the Publisher’s Weekly cover and tagline “Afro Picks!” offered up a defense that many will recognize as an attempt to derail the true issue. Say it with me: “It’s not about the photo.” It’s not about the book the photo is in, or the artist, or any of that.

The photo says quite loudly and strongly that this issue isn’t for everyone. It’s about THE OTHERS. And when you make it about the Others, you instantly categorize it as not for mainstream. It instantly becomes marginalization.

Given that the article it illustrates the tough climate for black authors in publishing today, the photo is a doubly bad choice. We authors are trying to make a living from our writing just as non-black authors are. We want to appeal to the widest possible audience, to show that our words are for everyone who loves a good story.

The photo is beautiful, illustrative of a time when the African American community truly needed to be empowered and take pride in itself. But in case you didn’t realize it, Calvin, African American literature isn’t stuck in the 70’s. The publishing landscape isn’t the same, and the world sure as heck isn’t. We are a global community, and I think it’s high time that black authors join it.

Anatomy of a Bestseller

Lynn Viehl gives a open explanation of her last Darkyn book, Twilight Fall, making the NYT list. It’s worth a read, and the site is probably work bookmarking for a peek into the business of a writer”s life.

Live from New York…

Hi y’all!

I forgot to mention that I’m sitting in a hotel just off Broadway (literally like half a block) for the PASIC conference.  Last night was the cocktail reception, and we had like 90 industry guests to 73 authors.  It was very cool.  I didn’t have anything I was trying to pitch, so I was able to relax and enjoy myself and just have face time with people I know or wanted to meet. (And inhaling the finger foods the waiters kept bringing around)

And yes, you could really tell who were authors and who were editors/agents.  Almost all the NYers were rocking their boots.  I wore my purple ones, but no one would mistake my wide load for an editor.  Sorry no pictures because the place was packed and I didn’t bring my camera.  I know, bad author!

I will probably have more reflections and tidbits to share on Monday or so.  I did have a few tweets out there so look up seressia on Twitter and friend me already!  I’m also on Facebook.

Writing, Worrying, and Working

I wish I had something scintillating to share, but I don’t.  I’ve been writing this novella and this novel forever it seems.  I am still keeping their tones distinct, which is the best thing I can say about the process.

Based on advice from author and fellow GRW member Stephanie Bond, I took my synopsis, broke it down into chapters, and translated those chapters into an outline.  Each chapter gets a title that describes what happens in that chapter, and a sentence that explains how events drive the plot forward.  OH MY GOD, writers, you should totally do this, even if you are a pantser! It’s helped to show where I can drop in world-building, raise the stakes, and avoid the sagging middle (which worries all writers constantly because you spend so much time polishing those first three that you can lose steam.  Like one of my fellow GRW authors said, “You get to chapter 4 and go, ‘now what?'”)

Thursday sees me in New York for the PASIC conference, which occurs every other year in NYC.  I really enjoy being a member of this chapter.  I have to say, if I continue being a member of RWA, this chapter will be why.  I also plan to meet my agent for a face to face career plotting thing

I’m not even going to get into whole Race Fail 09 debacle that’s been occuring in the SF/F community since early January.  (Though it makes the romance racism discussions seem like pre-school spats in comparison.) Google it or check out this wiki if you want to know more or just want to find a timeline , but it will probably just piss you off or make you despair.  Since neither is an emotion I want to feel as I’m finishing my first urban fantasy novel with a black female as the main character, I’m not going to go there.

What it does tell me is there is still plenty of work to do and be done, that there needs to be dialgoue and effort.  You can’t just throw your hands up and say it won’t work, I give up.  I don’t know if I can contribute anything to the discussions, and there are probably people who think I shouldn’t.  Just as people thought I shouldn’t have gotten into the discussions of race in romance.  But when I’m at a writers convention, walking down a hotel hallway in business attire with my conference bag on my shoulder and a white woman steps out of her room to ask me for more towels, I tell her I don’t work for the hotel and she doesn’t apologize, I know we still have far to go.

Trying to Query?

If you’re trying to query editors and agents and want an idea of what they want, you might want to get on Twitter.  A group of editors and agents recently did a Query Fail day in which they share (high level) queries that didn’t work for them.

Agent Colleen Lindsay has more info on it on her blog, and you can follow the Twitter aggregate here. Some people didn’t like it, but in this business, it’s not about your feelings, it’s about the writing.  Do what you need to do to get your story read.  If some of these editors and agents are ones that you’re interested in, it would do you well to know what flips their switch.

Just sayin’.

New Jersey Romance Conference: Proposal Call

******* PERMISSION TO FORWARD*******

2009 NJRW Conference Call for Workshop Proposals!!

Due to some technical difficulties with the online submission
process, we are extending the deadline for submission of workshop
proposals for this year’s 25th anniversary New Jersey Romance Writers
Conference to MARCH 15, 2009!!

NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is building toward another
great year, and we want you to be part of it. The conference is being
held on Oct. 23-24, 2009, in Iselin, N.J., and we’ve got some great
plans to celebrate our silver anniversary.

If you have an interesting workshop idea and want to be part of this
renowned regional conference, please visit us online to complete a
proposal form:

www.njromancewriters.org/conference/proposals.asp

You’ll be in great company:
* Keynote Speaker — Karen Rose
* Luncheon Speaker — Allison Brennan
* Special Presentation Speaker — Angela Knight

If you have several ideas, please submit one proposal at a time; do
not group them together.

If you have any questions, or experience any difficulties using the
online submission method, please feel free to contact me at
jnbkerber at verizon dot net.

We look forward to hearing from you!
Regards,
Beth-Ann Kerber
2009 NJRW Conference Chair

******* PERMISSION TO FORWARD*******

Teaser Tuesday: The Sharpest Edge

Here’s the opening for new urban fantasy romance, The Sharpest Edge, which is part of the Carnivale Diabolique anthology coming out later this year from Parker Publishing:

Carnivale Diabolique cover

Carnivale Diabolique cover


********

“Well, will you look at that.”

Cam looked, and almost dropped the coffee carafe. Everyone had turned to stare at the towering, bronze-skinned man with black tribal markings etched into the left side of his face. Definitely not a common occurrence in Elberton, Georgia.

The demon that came in behind him? She’d seen plenty of those, unfortunately.

Get Your Read On

The Carl Brandon Society has posted their list of recommended reading for Black History Month (hat tip to SF Author Tobias Buckell):

Black History Month Reading List

The Carl Brandon Society recommends the following books, compiled form suggestions on the Carl Brandon Society list-serve, for Black History Month:

* So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction & Fantasy edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Uppinder Mehandir

* The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

* Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany

* My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

* The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust

* Mindscape by Andrea Hairston

* Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell (hey, that’s a Juno book!)

* Futureland by Walter Mosley

* The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

* Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

About the Carl Brandon Society

The idea for the Society first came about at the feminist science fiction convention WisCon ’99 in Madison, WI, when WisCon responded to a request from people of color in the community by scheduling more programming items that addressed race, and by having a focus group where people of color could meet and formulate strategies for increasing the awareness and representation of people of color in the genres and in the community. This request was incited by an article written by Samuel R. Delany: “Racism and Science Fiction” in the New York Review of Science Fiction (August 1998, volume 10 issue 12). This essay was recently republished in the anthology Dark Matter, edited by Sheree R. Thomas. It is available at most bookstores.