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.

Writer PR Workshop

From various sources.

SELF-PROMOTION: Does the very term make you cringe? Do you suffer from “Not-Doing-Enough-Self-Promotion” guilt? Do you think self-promotion is something you’ll have time to learn AFTER getting The Call?

In February, PR consultant Marcia James and over TWENTY promotion-savvy guest lecturers will present “PR Is NOT a Four-Letter Word”, a month-long, online workshop that will provide insider tips, hard-won knowledge, and tools to pick the PR options right for YOU.

The speaker fees for this workshop will be donated to Best Friends Animal Society (http://www.bestfriends.org/), which runs the largest no-kill animal shelter in the U.S.

Here’s the workshop’s topics and presenters:

  • Introduction & “What’s Your PR Personality” Quiz by Marcia James, Berkley/Cerridwen author
  • Promotion According To Deadlines, Paydays, And The Real World… by Kate Douglas, Kensington author
  • Promoting Yourself Before “The Call” by Beth Morrow, Wild Rose Press author & workshop presenter
  • Author Branding by Jenn Stark, Golden Heart winner & workshop presenter
  • Web Site Design by Karen McCullough, Cerridwen author & Karen’s Web Works designer
  • Chats, Reviews & Banners by Marcia James
  • Online & Print Press Kits by Patricia Sargeant, Kensington/Berkley author
  • Introduction To Co-Promotion by Dianne Castell, Kensington, Berkley & Harlequin/Silhouette author
  • Co-Promotion Through Group Blogs by Donna MacMeans, Berkley author
  • Cross-Promotion by J.C. Wilder/Dominique Adair, Samhain/Ellora’s Cave author
  • Author Promotion Sites by DeNita Tuttle of AuthorIsland.com
  • Advertising In RT, RWR, Etc by Janice Maynard, NAL author
  • Print & Trinket PR Materials by Marcia James
  • Public Appearances/Public Speaking by Karen Harper, MIRA author
  • Promoting To Acquaintances by Laurie Kingery, Steeple Hill/Love Inspired author
  • Networking I: Power-Schmoozing by Susan Gee Heino, Berkley author
  • Networking II: Mentoring & The Farleyfile by Jennifer Stevenson, Ballantine author
  • Social Media Sites I: Navigating the Galaxy of Social Networks – Kathy Kulig, Ellora’s Cave/Cerridwen Press author
  • Social Media Sites II — Social Networking: A Curse or the Great Coming? – Donna Hill, Harlequin author
  • Author Newsletters by Kay Stockham, Harlequin Superromance/Berkley author
  • Readers’ Loops by Carol Ann Erhardt, Wild Rose Press author
  • Published Author Contests & You by Jenna Petersen/Jess Michaels, Avon author & workshop presenter
  • Books, Shelves, and Signings by Linda Keller, RWA Bookseller of the Year & Barnes & Noble CRM
  • Interviews by Marcia James
  • Book Videos by Barbara Satow, PPA author & owner of NovelTeaser
  • Podcasts by Melissa Alvarez w/a Ariana Dupre, Nonfiction/Cerridwen Press author
  • Thinking Outside The Heart-Shaped Box & Wrap-Up by Marcia James

The workshop is sponsored by the Yosemite Romance Writers (YRW) RWA chapter, and registration information can be found at their site: http://www.yosemiteromancewriters.com/6.html

The fee is $25 for non-YRW members, and the deadline for registration is 2/1/09.

“PR Is NOT a Four-Letter Word” is a fun, informal workshop, and attendees are encouraged to print out the lectures for a binder of PR tips. In addition, Marcia James offers a 200-page Microsoft WORD file, filled with detailed information on all types of promotional options, to all attendees.

Published and aspiring authors: Learn to love (okay, LIKE) self-promotion. 😉 And banish the guilt of not doing enough PR. Join us online in February! See you there!

Like Free?

Some random tidbits from around the web today:

Liquid Story Binder XE is available for free today only at http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/

Here’s the blurb from the website:

Liquid Story Binder XE is a uniquely designed word processor for professional and aspiring authors, poets, and novelists. Writing software for those who require the editing ability of a commercial text editor as well as a document tracking system.

It is for those who want the freedom to create, outline and revise but are tired of losing track of their work.

Liquid Story Binder features: Multi-Window Display, Spell Checking, Thesaurus, Reference Notes, Timelines, Story Boards, Plot Outlines, Dossiers, Audio Recorder, Image Gallery, Reader, Manuscript Formatting, Time and Word Count Tracking, Chapter and Book Backups, Paragraph and Punctuation Cleaning, Toolbars, Templates, Portable Drive Install, Universal Search, Repetition Visualizer, External Editing, Project Goals, Playlists.

Also, if you’re interested in winning $1500 to cover your expenses for RWA San Francisco, check this out!


Valley Forge Romance Writers

The 1st Annual VFRW

Writer’s Rafflemania!

Benefits the
Sheila A. Conway Memorial Fund

The Prize
$ 1,500.00
To Defray Your Costs For.
-2008 RWA Nat’l Conference Fee
Held In San Francisco, CA
July 30 – August 2, 2008

-4 Nights Hotel Accommodations
-Roundtrip Air To San Francisco

Rules and entry information at www.VFRW.com

It Just Got Worse

Samhain will be unrecognized. From what I understand, EC will be as well.

From Angela James, Executive Editor of Samhain:

Yes, Samhain will lose recognition after conference. It doesn’t change anything for our business or with the deal with Kensington, nor our IPS print program. We’ll still pay royalties on time and do business as usual 😉 For us, it means we can’t do publisher type things at nationals next year. Perhaps someday things will change and we’ll be back at RWA, doing editor appointments and so forth, but until that time, we continue on as always. RWA is an organization for authors to network and learn from one another. As the guidelines have been set up, removing our recognition doesn’t take away your ability to utilize it as such and the benefits of RWA remain for those authors who wish to enjoy them.

Of course it’s disappointing to us that RWA is unable to accomodate small presses at this time, but it’s understandable that they must do what they believe is best for the authors and the organization.

However, it’s my belief that the allure of epublishing is our ability to sign a wide variety of books and genres without a huge monetary risk. Offering even 1000 dollars advance would remove our ability to do that. Our gain from being approved is not as significant as our gain from being free to take on books because we love them, not because they’ll earn out their advance. Once we enter into the world of larger dollar amount advances, we become a publisher who can’t take the publishing risks that we do now, never knowing what will hit and what will…not so much.

I know it’s important to some authors that their publisher be recognized and that there will be some who are disappointed by the way things have gone and choose to seek publication elsewhere, and that saddens me because at the heart of things, I think we’re a pretty damn good publisher. We’ll move forward from here just as we would have had we been able to keep “recognition”. Nothing changes. Samhain will remain the same publisher next week, when the policy goes into effect and we’re no longer “recognized” as we are this week.

Permission to forward granted

Angela James, Executive Editor

Posted in RWA

RWA Changes, Pt 2

Okay, there’s very little good in this post today. let’s just get right to it, shall we?

Some of your favorite publishers are now Vanity presses, according to RWA.

Here’s RWA’s new definition of vanity and subsidy presses:

The Board updated the definition of Subsidy Publisher or Vanity Publisher to: “any publisher that publishes books in which the author participates in the cost of production or distribution in any manner, including publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing and/or distribution.” This definition includes publishers who withhold or seek full or partial payment of reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishers whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site; publishers whose list is comprised of 50% or more of its books written by authors who are principals in the publishing company; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates.

That’s right, dear readers. Thanks to that sneaky little clause (that most people probably skipped over because hey, we all know what a vanity/subsidy publisher is) houses like Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, LooseID, and other epublishers are all now considered vanity/subsidy presses. Why? Because their primary means of distribution is through their websites.

So all of us who thought this opened the door to epubbed authors finally getting their due, I’m sorry to report that as it stands now, the door has been once again firmly shut in your faces. The only way to get around this is for epublishers to not sell any of their books on their websites, but have everything link to FictionWise, eBooks.com, or other places.

This is stupid because: publishers have to pay those distributors, which means less money coming to the publishers. Less money coming to the publishers mean lowered royalty rates because they have to recoup their monies somehow. Or they’ll just sign less authors to contracts. Or they’ll just not give a rat’s patootie because they obviously aren’t hurting for submissions so not being able to take editor appointments at National will not faze them. It just means that the author is, once again, shut out–not being able to compete in the Ritas, not being able to be in PAN.

Oh, and some publishers whose owners are also authors might want to look at their author stable. If more than 50% of your books are from the owners, you are a vanity press.

I find it ironic that based on these definitions, EC, Samhain and LooseID are out, and Genesis Press is back in.

Of course, I could be wrong, and the RWA board didn’t mean for it to include legitimate epublishers. After all, they’ve told us again and again that they aren’t against epublishers or epubbed authors. I sincerely hope that the scuttlebutt from National is that this is just a misprint/miscommunication and will be corrected shortly. I also hope the houses impacted have already cornered board members and the Executive Director and asked for clarification.

For the curious, here’s how Science Fiction Writers of America defines vanity and subsidy publishers. Somehow they forgot to include that whole selling from a website thing.

RWA Changes, Pt 1

Romance Writers of America announced their decisions regarding several major categories of importance to its membership today. If you are a member, log in, then click on the board decisions link. Among the changes were:

  • Publisher eligibility
  • Published Author Network (PAN) and PRO (career-focused unpublished writers) eligibility
  • Rita and Golden Heart contest categories.

There’s so much to go into with these changes that it’s going to take a while to sort through and organize my responses. But let’s start with the easiest ones, the contest changes:

  1. Novella is still in for the published author contest
  2. There’s still no multicultural category
  3. There’s still no erotic romance category
  4. Word counts were eliminated. Instead you now have Contemporary Series Romance, Contemporary Single Title, and Contemporary Series Romance Action/Adventure.

I’m not sure what to think about categories that were changed in which the rationale for the change mentions one publisher in particular, especially when they are the only publisher mentioned by name in these rules. Like the changes were made for them. They may be the largest publisher of romance fiction in the world, but really, it just seems a little…odd.

MC didn’t get a category because people didn’t clamor for one, certainly not as much as EroRom writers clamored for a category. Erotic Romance didn’t get a category because erotic romance is indefinable. Their word, not mine. I would suggest that the erotic romance writers hijack the Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category, based on this definition:

“Novel With Strong Romantic Elements: This category was retained in both the Golden Heart and RITA contests; however, substantial changes were made. The definition and judging guidelines of this category were edited to read as follows:

Definition: A work of fiction in which a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries.

Judging guidelines: Novels of any tone or style and set in any place or time are eligible for this category. A romance must be an integral part of the plot or subplot, and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic.”

That whole beyond the traditional romance boundaries” is what erotic romance writers have been saying their stories are all about. Okay then, you now have a category that you can flood with entries.


Tomorrow, I’ll talk about how the Rita contest is now opened to all authors who have published a romance book, regardless of the publishers’ RWA-recognized status.

Or is it?