ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

JOIN YOLANDA RENEE ON HER BLOG TOUR!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Beyond awesome! A search engine just for writers...

Elizabeth Spann Craig started something really cool! A search engine for writers. No more useless Google searches! Well, I'm a great fan of Google, but if you're like me and have bookmarked hundreds of excellent articles on writing, then can't find them in a hurry when you need them, Elizabeth Spann Craig came up with a solution:

A Search Engine for Writers

Here's what Elizabeth has to say:

Google doesn’t always deliver. If you want to search for specific information on POV, for example, try plugging the term into Google.

The top sites returned for POV are a video that PBS made (which isn’t on writing POV), a couple of definitions by Wikipedia (several of which have to do with automobiles), a racy YouTube video, and some freeware.


That’s right—nothing to do with the craft of writing.


When I started subscribing to writing blogs, I did it to access in-depth information on the writing craft—written by working writers and industry professionals.


After amassing a huge (1587 and growing) number of writing blog subscriptions, it occurred to me that other writers might be interested in the same type of information….and that maybe they didn’t know where to look.


That’s when I started tweeting the info I found.


Realizing that not everyone was on Twitter, I started sharing the links, weekly, on my blog.


Still, the fact that the links weren’t easily searched bothered me. What if there was a writer who didn’t need that great link on book marketing now? Maybe they needed an agent post on penning the perfect query. Would they just miss out on the marketing link since they wouldn’t need it for a while? Would they bookmark it for later and end up with a ton of bookmarks?


I put a couple of pages up on my blog to try to archive the links and make them, to some degree, searchable. Still, the searching wasn’t particularly efficient.


I mentioned on my blog one day, “I’m sure there’s got to be a better way to do this, but I can’t think of it.”


Enter Mike Fleming, software engineer.


Mike knew exactly how to make the links searchable—create a specific search engine for writing links. He emailed me to bat the idea back and forth with me (actually, it was more of a one-sided tennis game, since he’s way over my head in terms of technology.)


But I loved the idea of a free resource for writers. A way for writers to access information that would help them write better books or articles.


After a lot of work on Mike’s part, the Writer’s Knowledge Base was created.

As Mike stated on his blog:


The search is done instantly over thousands of writing-related articles ranging from character development to author promotion on social media. Unlike Google, all of the results are relevant to you as a writer. They may not all interest you, of course, but at least searching for "plot" will bring back articles on how to plot your story and not news articles on terrorist plots.


Mike has also included a fun feature where a writer can browse the links and find random writing-related articles.


Who are the authors of these blog posts? Writers, agents, editors, book marketing experts. Some of your blog posts may be included, too. Writers won’t only be accessing the information they need, but they’ll also be finding new and helpful blogs to follow. And Mike will continue adding the links that I uncover each week.


When you have a minute, we’d love for you to give it a try. What do you think? Please tell us what you like, what you’d like to see added, and any ideas or thoughts you have. You can comment on either of our blogs, email me at elizabethspanncraig (at) gmail.com or Mike at mike.fleming (at) hiveword.com.


And feel free to spread the news. I’d love for this to be a real resource for writers.

There you go, lovelies. Isn't this great news? Check it out, tweet, fb it, but most of all grab the picture/link I have in my sidebar (it's available on Elizabeth's blog) and whammo! You're set to read awesome how-tos on just about any writing topic. I thought Christmas was over!
 
And the fun keeps on...don't forget to comment on Alex J Cavanaugh's talk below to learn heaps and to be in the running for great prizes. New Publication Party post Wednesday - short story guru Helen M Hunt! Woo hoo!
 
Denise :)


Saturday, 29 January 2011

No Fear Blogfest - look how brave my MC is! Publication Party post below...

Thanks to Dominic de Mattos @ Writes of Passage for this No Fear blogfest. Here we are to post a passage from one of our WIPs where our MC shows bravery. Don't forget to click on the link to read other entries.


Here is my entry. I have publised a version of this story before, but I have tweaked it for this blogfest. It is an extract from which much has been cut for brevity.I hope it still makes sense.


MEMORIES

She is a fool to come back. This hated place holds too many memories, too many secrets. But they are memories and secrets she can no longer ignore.

She needs to face her fears.

Here it is, the beach house, its timbers broken and exposed. Years of relentless tides have eaten away at its foundations. It now teeters on the edge of the dunes, on its knees in the sand, ready to surrender to a king tide.


But today the ocean holds no threat, its gentle waves lap the sand, leaving a trail of silvery froth and grit. She falls to her knees onto the silky sand, her body hunched over. Memories of that night come rushing in with the force of a tidal wave.

At times she almost forgets why she has been running away from her memories for so long. But the mind holds onto things, remembers things best forgotten. Here today, confronted with the crumbling house, her mind is searching its dark recesses, unearthing hidden secrets which she thought buried. Through the years in her silent moments, she had heard it speaking so softly in the gentlest of whispers, as it tried to speak to her of its memories. Then there were other times where her pain had come rushing to the surface without warning, hurtling through her like a runaway train, threatening to derail her altogether.


She cries there, hunched in the wet sand. She no longer wants to carry that heavy sharp stone of hurt.

***
Her life changed on a night when the wind roared.
The Pacific waters swirled and fell in a dance of wave and tide. Then the winds calmed and the moon rose and sat outside her window.


She’d been dreaming of the sea as she did every night. This night, she opened her eyes and watched the moonlight creep across her bed like a lover’s soft caress. The sheets were tangled and fell over the bed like waves. She kicked off the covers and threw herself across the bed like a marionette without strings.


The moon’s light overlooked the angry welts criss-crossing her legs. The welts throbbed, but she had no ointments to ease the pain. But that was his intention.

***
The crashing waves come closer and closer as high tide approaches. Soon the water will be just below her window. She can hear its relentless pummelling. The sound and rhythm remind her of her father’s blows. He will not be denied his will. She will not give in.


There was a big storm earlier in the night and now the rain starts again. It will cover her tracks. She hasn’t been able to communicate with Ahmed but she is not afraid.


She knows he waits for her beyond the dunes.

The sea calls to her. The open window draws her into the night. A soft swish and she is swimming for her life in the treacherous waters, her robe tangling around her knees, threatening to drag her under.


Her bare feet find sand at last. She straightens and runs towards the trees, her sodden robe tripping around her ankles.


Ahmed whispers her name.


***
He sees her now as he watches from the top of the dunes, next to the crumbling wreck that had been her home, then her prison. A few long strides and he is by her side. He gently lifts her and cradles her and rocks her like a baby as she cries.


He knows the tears are healing, making her whole.

“My brave girl,’ he whispers.


THE END
©Denise Covey, 2011


Friday, 28 January 2011

N. R. Williams blog tour/Simply Hot Blogfest

If you're looking for N. R. Williams blog tour, The Treasures of Carmelidrium, go here.
The Simply Hot Blogfest entry, go here.


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Publication Party third session - author Alex J Cavanaugh tells us of his journey to the publication of his first novel, CassaStar.


Welcome to the third session of our great Publication Party. You all enjoyed Clarissa Draper's talk last week and you were so pleased to be at the beach with the sun and champagne (as soon as the cranberry mocktails ran out!) that I had trouble getting you to leave. So many enthusiastic comments afterwards. We all learned so much. Your writerly aspirations were obvious with the overwhelming requests to win the critique over the books.  


So today I've moved the party inside again. Help yourself to the drinks and nibbles and let's party! Firstly, a big drum roll for last week's prize winners. Congratulations to Tony Benson who won the chapter critique from Clarissa, (and I note that you're a little bit nervous at seeing it posted so we'll respect that) and to Kari Marie for winning Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs and to Simon C Larter for winning Ernest Hemingway's Across the River and into the Trees. Those looking for a CP have been contacted by email and I'm waiting on your details.


Hello to all you aspiring authors here today. In case you haven't met today's honoured guest, he has been all over the blogosphere lately as he recently released his first novel, a science fiction work, CassaStar (one of my current reads.) Many of us have followed Alex's journey as he posted about the process of writing, then suddenly, whammo! (or so it seemed) he'd found a publisher. Behind the scenes Alex was seeking publication, but I for one never knew the story of how the contract got signed. Alex's story is different again to our two previous guests and that's what we're here to learn about. So now, over to Alex as he shares his journey with us...


Here's a short bio of Alex accompanied by his latest picture:


Alex J Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He’s experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Currently he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.


Thanks Denise. I'd had a hard night when that photo was taken so excuse me if I look a little green.

Great to be invited along to the Publication Party.  Thanks for coming along all you keen writers. I hope you'll find something in what I say today to help you along the road to publication. Okay, let me tell you my story folks.
While I was writing CassaStar, I kept reading that science fiction was dead. Real encouraging, huh? I decided to just write the story and worry about the popularity of my genre later. I completed my book and it went through test readers, an editor, and a lot of polishing.


Now that I was ready to seek a publisher, it appeared heavy tech science fiction was growing in popularity. Obviously, my genre hadn’t died, but I was faced with a challenge. CassaStar is very low-tech. It focuses on adventure and characters rather than technology and science. My manuscript wasn’t in tune with the growing trend.

I never even considered an agent. I just started querying science fiction publishers. Many take direct submissions and I scoped out the guidelines before sending my query. Of course, most were seeking the high tech or political science fiction manuscripts. It didn’t take long to realize my approach wasn’t working.


Frustrated, I looked for another angle. I decided to capitalize on my main character’s youth and started submitting CassaStar to small young adult publishers instead. After all, there is a science fiction category for young adult.


That approach eventually landed a publisher. Ironically, Dancing Lemur Press decided to classify CassaStar as adult science fiction. I was right back where I’d started - in the science fiction - adventure/space opera category.


Do I recommend a small publisher? Absolutely! I’ve been very pleased with my publisher’s efforts. No, you won’t make a lot of money - but you might not make any with a large press, either. I make more a month at my job than most authors do in their lifetime. I think if a writer does it for the money, he’s writing for all the wrong reasons.


It was never about fame and fortune for me. It was just knowing I could do it, even if only once! And I did!


Thanks Alex. Your story is inspirational. I believe Alex has just completed the first draft of CassaStar's sequel.



Here are the details for Alex's debut novel, CassaStar, followed by the synopsis.


CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh - $12.44 in paperback through Amazon. Also available in ebook format - Kindle $4.95.
Science fiction/adventure/space opera, Dancing Lemur Press LLC
ISBN Print 9780981621067 eBook 9780982713938

To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…


Few options remain for Byron, a talented young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude. Slated to train as a Cosbolt pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life. Much to his chagrin, Bassa, the toughest instructor in the fleet, takes notice of the young pilot. As war brews on the edge of space, Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive. Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?


Here is an excerpt from a review by the Library Journal:


“…calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein’s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars.” - Library Journal

Note: I am going to review CassaStar on Reading at Dawn, a book review blog I collaborate on early next week (Tuesday Oz time, Monday US/UK time,) so please visit if you wish to read my review.

You can contact Alex directly at:

http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/

If  you'd like to learn even more about Alex's journey he has posted at Selling Books today. Catch what he has to say. 
Thanks again author Alex J Cavanaugh. Now to the prizes...

TODAY everyone who comments and leaves their email address will be in the draw to win EITHER of these books:

As today is Australia Day in my country, I'm offering an Aussie read by another of my favourite authors - Belly Dancing for Beginners by Aussie author Liz Byrski. This is a fictional story, not a how-to-bellydance non-fiction guide! It's both funny and serious (a great combo) showing that women can have hugely rewarding lives no matter what their age.

And for all the Dean Koontz fans out there, here is Relentless. It's a spine-chillilng thriller by one of the masters of the genre.
So thank you all for coming today. Before you leave would you mind doing the following:
  • leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's book prizes or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books and writing paraphanelia at the end of the series (you must comment on each post to win, starting at the first post. If today is your first day, go back to the previous sessions, read and leave a comment. I'm keeping track...)
  • tell us which book you'd like to win today - sorry, no critique, Alex is shy 
  • ask Alex a question
  • if you're published, share your story in the comments
  • tell us if you'd like to find a Crit Partner. Last week there were more requests. Contact like-minded souls and we may be able to help each other in this way too...
Thanks for coming everyone! Winners for this week will be posted at the next party Wednesday February 2. Don't forget you have until Monday 31 January at 8 pm NY time to enter for this week's prizes.


Next Wednesday February 2 we have very successful short story writer, autobiographical writer, blogger, book reviewer and novelist Helen M Hunt coming to our party to speak to us. Don't miss what she has to say! I, for one, want to know how Helen became so successful in selling her clever short stories to so many magazines. I want some of that to rub off on me.


Denise :)


Sunday, 23 January 2011

A new blog, RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal, Life is good award...

Hello everyone! This is my bits and pieces  post - (Very Important Bits and Pieces though!)

The Publication Party with guest speaker Clarissa Draper continues in the next post.
My new #fridayflash fiction story is up - 'I Talk to Dead People.' Ghosts and bikers this week. Read it here on my flashquake blog.


NEW BOOK REVIEW BLOG: I'd like you to check out a new blog, Reading at Dawn. This is a blog started by Dawn Embers in her quest to read more and you've got to encourage that. I am collaborating with Dawn and Writers Block NZ on this blog. We will be reviewing books of all different genres (between the three of us we have it pretty much covered.) Guest reviews will also be encouraged. Dawn has posted her first review on the zombie novel, The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Check it out here...and follow us to read some ripping reviews.


RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal
I first saw this post over at A Writer's Rush, the home of blogger Rula Sinara.and it has been making its way around the writing community. Please take a few moments to read it and pass it on. Small acts can mean so much in times of need.


We've all seen the devastation the recent Queensland floods have wrought and have wondered how we can help. We know that for many affected families, books will not be high on their priorities list for some time to come.


But...


We also know how valuable books can be in providing time out when reality gets tough.


So…


With the aid of some wonderful volunteers, we've put together a Romance Writers of Australia Flooded Communities Book Appeal.


What we need?


FICTION BOOKS! Romance books, children's books, young adult books, genre books, whatever – either new or in sparkling condition.


Please send them to:


RWA Flooded Communities Book Appeal
PO Box 1717
Noosaville Post Office
Noosaville BC
Queensland  Australia 4566


When to send them?


Now! And any time over the next few months. The books will be boxed and delivered to the appropriate libraries/schools/neighbourhood centres/community centres in batches as soon as the communities are ready to receive them. We’ll be liaising with councils, libraries and schools to ensure this is done appropriately. Feel free to pop a note inside, or if you're an author, sign it.


All languages welcome - please repost.


Now,an award.
Thanks to Patricia Timms over at Simplicity in Volumes for this award. It captures what I feel perfectly.




Well as you know in Queensland we have been through disastrous floods, but the clean up is ongoing and I'm feeling pretty good about it all. 'Life wasn't meant to be easy,' but life can be good no matter what we are going through. Isn't it great to be alive? Better than the alternative. Yeah!


The requirements for the Life is Good Award:


1. First, thank and link back to the person that gave the award. (Thank you Patricia!)
2. Answer the 10 survey questions.
3. Pass the award along to other bloggers whom you think are fantastic.
4. Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know about the award.


10 Questions:


1. If you blog anonymously, are you happy doing this? If you are not anonymous, do you wish that you had started out anonymously, so that you could be anonymous now?


I don’t wish I was anonymous because I feel in the end that lacks credibility. I've read posts where bloggers say they are aghast at people using their own names, or telling everyone about their family - husbands, children, grandparents. Well, that is a personal choice. Some blogs are based around people's day-to-day lives. I get that some bloggers create a ficticious name. That's their choice. I am who I am and feel quite safe as long as I don't publish things like birthdays and other salient facts that could lead to identity theft.


2. Describe an incident that shows your inner stubborn side.


Sorry. I'm never stubborn and I'll never change my opinion on that.


3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror?


Ooh, how personal can you get. If I were anonymous I could say I see Meg Ryan before the botox, ahem, but seeing I'm a real person I see someone who likes to laugh and needs to get to the hairdresser pronto.


4. What is your favorite summer cold drink?


Hmm. Telling again. Well, I could be virtuous and say iced water and lime (which I love) but really just hand me another gin and tonic or glass of Asti.


5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do?


People are supposed to be really surprised at this question and say, 'Ooh? Time for myself? What a radical concept!' But, sorry all you mums and dads and students out there, I manage to grab some time for myself regularly which I spend reading, checking out book stores or libraries or going out for coffee and cake.


6. Is there something that you still want to accomplish in your life? What is it?


I feel really happy with what I've accomplished so far, but it would be nice to get a novel or two published and tons of short stories in magazines. I'm sure I can achieve these things if I focus some more and stop looking in the mirror.


7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching?


I was the first three at different times. I loved school and always did well, but deep down I was a shy person although most people never knew it.


8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life, what would you see?


I was blessed to be at my father's bedside when he passed away. It was the most poignant moment in my life so far. I can still see him and the silent rapport we shared.


9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events?


I don't find it hard to honestly share my true self. Hey, I'm zooming through these questions like you wouldn't believe. What other way is there to share?


10. If you had the choice to sit down and read a book or talk on the phone, which would you do and why?


I don’t really enjoy talking on the phone so I’m going to pick reading a book. I love to read. I don't like the phone much. It always rings at night when I'd rather be reading.






I’ve comprised a list of awesome bloggers that I think more than deserve this award. Some are new to follow me, some have been following me for yonks. Thank you for that. Life IS good, isn’t it? Don't fret if you don't have time to pass this on, I understand.

I am passing this award onto:


Christine Bell who has just released a new book and is celebrating in Florida
ABSOLUTELY *KATE whose life is so good there In the Bijou she is jumping out of her hide
Tony Benson who recently began following me and is very supportive
Margo Benson who is a wonderful new follower and great commenter
Nas Dean, new follower full of enthusiasm
Joanna St James who inspires me with her philosophy on life
N R Williams whose life has been overtaken by her blog tour, but is still smiling
Grandpa who I want to convince that even though he has suffered the ultimate sadness, life is good even if at the moment it doesn't seem so!


I would like to keep going. There are so many I could have passed this award onto...if some of you pass them on to others life will indeed be good!






Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Publication Party. Session Two. Author Clarissa Draper. Hear Clarissa's journey to publication...


Welcome to the second session of our Publication Party. The response to our first session with author Christine Bell was overwhelming. Wasn't it great to hear her successful journey.


A round of applause to the effervescent ABSOLUTELY *KATE  who won a first ten pages critique by Christine and to...*drum roll*... GRANDPA who won a an e-book by Christine. As much as we all coveted these great prizes I think you'll agree they have gone to two wonderful bloggers. Congrats to you both! The desire for a critique partner (CP) was also overwhelming, so there are a lot of us out there wanting a critical eye to go over our writing. Those of you who requested a critique partner - I will get back to you individually about that and I'm sure we'll be 100% successful on that front too! So, back to you lucky winners, send an email directly to Christine to claim your wonderful prizes!


Today will be just as exciting. Every journey to publication is different and it will be wonderful to hear from mystery author Clarissa Draper. I have a lengthy blog association with Clarissa and she shares so much information for other writers and authors on her blog it is staggering. If you don't follow Clarissa, rectify that today!


Now, I would like you to grab one of those cranberry mocktails I've provided today, and thanks to Absolutely Kate who came with a stash of pink fizz. Someone asked for chocolate chip biscuits (cookies) so I cooked up a storm (whoops!) for you. To celebrate the rain finally stopping in Brisbane I thought we'd virtually mosey over to South Bank Beach and relax in the sun and sip our delicious mocktails while Clarissa speaks. No nodding off now... 


To get started, a few notes on the exotic Clarissa:
 
Clarissa Draper is a Canadian writer currently living in Mexico. Although trained in book layout and design, she prefers to spend her time planning and writing her code-based mysteries. Her short stories have been published in anthologies. She started writing full time in 2006, and is currently writing her third mystery in the Evans/Blackwell series.

Visit her at http://www.clarissadraper.com/




Thank you Denise for having me as your guest.


I would love to say my writing journey has been long and exciting, but frankly, I'm just starting out. Growing up, I never had the inkling to be a writer. A doctor or architect maybe, but never a writer. Well, that was until my sister came home with the six-hour Pride & Prejudice movie under her arm when I was twenty.


Shortly after watching that movie, the voices started talking. And I couldn't get them to shut up. Soon a story developed and the characters took on lives of their own. I was determined to write a story as beautiful as the one that Jane Austen developed - a period love story.

So I guess in the end, I can thank Colin Firth for my urge to write. (Or maybe it's just an excuse to watch him jump in the pond over and over and over and over...*sigh*) *and waits while Denise puts up image on the large screen*


Anyway, I finished the manuscript and joined a critique site (thenextbigwriter.com). I started submitting my story - chapter by chapter - and the response? The story sucked. Change this. Change that. Give up writing, my dog could write better than you. (No, they didn't say the last one.)


At first, my ego suffered. I wanted to throw in the towel. I loved writing but I was horrible at it. I wasn't an artist after all!


Thankfully, I have one of those personalities that sees a difficult challenge and immediately must conquer it. So, I studied plot, character, dialogue and grammar (and I'm still studying it). I read every book on writing I could get my hands on. It became my craft.

The first thing I decided to do was drop the historical piece and start my new passion - mysteries! I took up writing full-time in 2007. I wrote my first mystery in three months (1000 words a day). I submitted the chapters again to my critique partners and this time, I really listened to what they had to say. Slowly the story went from unreadable to manageable.

Also, I would challenge myself and my writing. To practice dialogue, I wrote stories in only dialogue (one story turned into a novel - my favorite novel to date). I wrote stories in only narrative. I even took up the challenge of writing short stories and entering them into contests. (I won two of those contests - now those stories are in anthologies.)

At the beginning of 2010, I decided my first mystery was ready to submit. I studied how to write a synopsis and query letter, but never got around to actually writing anything. Instead, I entered the first three chapters of the novel into a contest (at Karen's blog - http://karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com/) for a free critique.

No, I didn't get that critique.


But wait for it...even better...


Instead I got a request for the whole manuscript from Wido Publishing (a small publisher based in Utah). A few weeks later, I got a contract for publication.


Sounds easy! I would love to say my road to publication was super simple but I did put in years and years of study. I didn't give up. I firmly believe that if you work hard and never give up, you will be successful as a writer.


My advice:


1) Challenge yourself and your writing. Never feel you've learned enough. Study your craft!


2) Enter contests. Can't hurt, can it?


3) Find critique partners and really listen to what they have to say. If you can get a critique, take it. Then go with your heart.


4) Love writing. Really love writing.


That was tremendous, wasn't it? Thanks so much Clarissa! Your journey is very inspiring. So many helpful links and such good advice.

TODAY everyone who comments and leaves their email address will be in the draw to win EITHER:

a paper novel - A choice: EITHER: A paperback novel from one of my long-time favourite authors, Across the River and into the trees by Earnest Hemingway, OR a hardcover, Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs - her latest Tempe Brennan Novel, woo hoo! Love this author and this great character. If you watch the TV show Bones, you'll know Tempe very well. (Give me the books anyday though!)

  • a first chapter critique by Clarissa. Clarissa does these critiques on her blog on a regular basis then posts them so we can all learn. If you would like a first chapter critique it would be great if you give your permission for it to be publised on this blog at a later date.
So before you leave, please do the following:

  • leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's prizes or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books and writing paraphanelia at the end of the series (you must comment on each post to win, starting last post. If today is your first day, go back to last week's party and leave a comment. I'm keeping track...)
  • tell us what you'd like to win today - book (which book?) or critique
  • tell us if we can publish Clarissa's critique of your work here at a later date
  • ask Clarissa a question
  • if you're published, share your story in the comments
  • tell us if you'd like to find a Crit Partner. Last week there were 5 requests. Contact like-minded souls and we may be able to help each other in this way too...
Thanks for coming everyone! Winners for this week will be posted next Tuesday 25 January (NY time) with next week's post. Don't forget you have until Monday 24 January at 8 pm NY time to enter for this week's prizes.

Don't forget, next Wednesday 26 January we have author and blogger extraordinare Alex J Cavanaugh coming to our party to speak to us. Don't miss what he has to say!

PS Our guest authors have sung the praises of small publishing houses. I've just discovered Astraea Press, a brand-spanking new publisher who is currently calling for submissions. I'm headed their way! Check out the interview with the amazing Joanna St James here.

 
Denise :)



Monday, 17 January 2011

Stylish Blogger Award - what is style? Who has it? Do you?

Thanks to Writers Bloc NZ for the Stylish Blogger Award. This is the first time I've come across this award and think it's pretty cool! For this award you have to tell 7 things about yourself, so here goes...

No, no, no, I don't want to do the 7 things about me. I don't think I'm boring but boring people don't know they're boring do they, so just in case, I thought I'd look at the concept of style and what it means to me.


1. Some people are born with style.

The person who comes to mind to me is someone you don't know - my father. He always oozed style. I'm sure he was the original Horse Whisperer - he could work magic with horses. This was in spite of the fact that when he was 21 he was nearly killed by a bolting stallion, and next day his hair started to go grey overnight. True story. So for the rest of his life he had a shock of thick grey hair which set off the Akubra hat he always wore. In America he would have been called a cowboy, but in Oz men and women in Akubra hats, riding boots, R.M.Williams trousers, big horse buckles, spurs and western shirts are just called horsemen/stockmen/Rodeo men. L R Gilroy certainly had style. We buried his beloved Akubra with him.

2. Some people acquire style.

Think of a gauche teenager turned into one of the most stylish celebs in the world and you have Lady Di, Princess Di, Princess of Wales. 
Think of an ordinary, fresh-faced Aussie girl from Tassie, who, through (it is rumoured) yoghurt and yoga, turned herself into a pencil-slim Princess of Style. Hats off to Princess Mary of Denmark and congrats on the twins! 

3. Music is full of style/s.

Rock n Roll, Rhythm n Blues, Blues, Jazz, Country, C and W, Hip Hop, Rap, Grind, Pop, Motown, Anthem Rock, Industrial Rock, Classical, Big Band, World, Gospel, Soul...on and on, so many different styles. I'll bet you can think of a ton more. I don't love them all, but I'm rather wild over Anthem Rock, Bono style. Don't forget Alex J Cavanaugh's Music Countdown (Top 10 Songs of all time) blogfest on Jan 24.

4. Times of crises bring out peoples' style.

Aussies are stereotypically laid back, apathetic, friendly, good-time Charlies, mind-your-own-business sorts of people. Bring on a disaster, then Aussies en masse have style - they look at what needs doing, whether it's grabbing a drowning person, looking for survivors, or rebuilding. They don't whinge, they just roll up their sleeves, grab a bucket, a mop, a shovel, and apply elbow grease where it's needed. I'm proud to be a stylish Aussie. One story about the floods you won't hear as it's not well known - during the horrendous Toowoomba inland tsunami a lady in a small car was being swept away. A guy in a huge semi tugged on his steering wheel with all his might and drove into the flood in front of her. She stopped in the side of his truck, unhurt. That driver had heaps of style.


5.Writers have style (or they'd better!)

If you weren't born with your writer's style it can be acquired. Plenty of style tomes out there, grab a few and study them. You also need to study the style guidelines before you send your work off, as this varies from editor to editor. Writer's style can take years to acquire, but you won't be successful until you find your own style and let your unique voice come through. Some of us are still working on it.

6. Bloggers have style.


Don't we all love to discover a blogger who oozes style - someone who writes from their heart, spreads joy arounds the 'sphere, and even emails if you've been 'off the air' for awhile.It was a happy day for me when I discovered blogging. Now I think my life would be so much poorer without it. Sure, I'd have more time to clean house, shop, work on my WIP etc but what is more important? Let's all be sylish bloggers.

7. Whoever thought up the idea of the 100 Stories for Queensland has style in spades.

All donated stories which are accepted go into an anthology to raise funds for Queensland flood victims. Show your style by submitting a story (click on the Proud to be Aussie link in my sidebar, top right, for guidelines.) Thank you to those who are spreading the word.

So thank you Writers Block NZ for this award. Instead of passing it on to 10 Stylish bloggers, I'd like you to accept this award if you enter a story in the above anthology. That will fulfill the criteria for me.

See, I hope you thought this was more interesting than a list of facts about moi. You still learnt some things about me and the people I admire.

BTW, if you haven't attended the inaugural Publication Party (post 2 below) hurry! Draw for the first week's prizes closes Monday 8pm NY time. Clarissa Draper is the guest of honour at the second session, Wednesday. Don't miss it!

Denise :)


Saturday, 15 January 2011

Brisbane flooding and bits and pieces...PUBLICATION PARTY CONTINUES TO RAGE IN THE FOLLOWING POST! Don't miss author Christine Bell...

Here is an update on the Brisbane flood situation. My sympathies also go out to the poor people in Brazil who are facing a similar disaster but I fear will not have the resources to cope as well as we have. Kudos to our brave citizens who plucked people from floodwaters, volunteers who're helping everywhere, Brisbane City Council, State Government, police and Federal Government. Our world has run amok and we little humans are powerless against the mighty forces of nature.



The Gallery of Modern Art. Looks okay, but the ground floor is submerged as is the restaurant underneath. Taken from the Kurilpa Bridge which links my street across the Brisbane River to the Cultural Centre, South Bank.


The side of the GOMA, looking towards West End, one of the first suburbs to be inundated. A big mop up is currently underway there. West End is an iconic suburb, full of ethnic restaurants including my favourite, Punjabi Palace.


Looking across (I'm still on our bridge) towards our high-rise section of the CBD. My apartment is behind the tallest apartment building. The waters have receded a little from their peak when I took this shot, but as you can see these buildings were not in any danger. Usually you can see walkways/cycle paths beside the expressway along the river edge.


From my vantage point on the bridge, this is part of the Cultural Centre, South Bank. Here you see the State Library, the Museum, the Edge (a centre of innovation for people under 30), then the South Bank restaurant precinct. All have been inundated on the ground floor. Our walkways/cycle paths are submerged in the foreground. This was the view from my deck so I could keep an eye on it.


Looking towards the Victoria Bridge and the centre of the CBD as the River was rising. The Riverside Expressway on the left went under during the night.


Sandbags in Queen Street Mall the night before the peak was expected. It didn't get flooded...but Louis Vuitton was taking no chances.


Watching the river rise. That is one of our walkways/cycle paths beside the river. The waters went well over the top during the night. That is our newest toll bridge on the right. One of our favourite floating riverside restaurants upstream floated alright, right into this bridge - kapow! No more anniversaries and birthdays there!



 Looking back downriver to the city. Waters rising, pontoons etc floating downriver. Water, water everywhere and lots more to come. All of this went well under.


Enteprising backpacker traveller centre urging the tourists to head north.


Major South Bank pontoons going under. The river came right in over all of this parkland. We only just got back from our photo sortie in time!


Watching the waters rise was definitely a camera moment. Those are the edges of walkways you can see, looking across to the city from South Bank.


Just this morning I went hunting. Came home pretty empty handed. Good for the diet!


There's a few limes and avocadoes and some bruised mangoes left. That's about all in the fruit and vege dept. Eek, I'll have to resort to frozen with lots of guacamole!


Can't do without our coffee. Coffee vans along the street dispensing energy by the cupful. Our brave police hate being snapped. Sorry guys! Please don't arrest me!


Volunteers putting the sand on the South Bank beach to good use. Filling sandbags to save the shops.


The backpackers just keep arriving. Maybe they'll help wash the mud off the streets! At least the worst is over we hope.

So we're going to be busy cleaning up for weeks, months, across Queensland. We're all waiting anxiously for people to be found. We know there's lots of sad news to come.

I hope this photo essay was informative and reveals a little of what we're going through.

There is a book in the pipeline, 100 Stories For Queensland where writers are invited to submit flash fiction up to 1000 words as a way to raise money to help us rebuild. The subject matter is to be uplifting - no death, disaster, bleak storylines. Only one submission per person. I don't have the guidelines link as I'm on another computer, but it is all over facebook! I posted it yesterday. It'd be cool if you could donate a story. I'm working on my story now!
Denise :)



Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Publication Party! First session - author Christine Bell. Win her e-book or critique...

Welcome to the inaugural Publication Party! Grab yourself a glass of champers or non-alcoholic wine, or try the freshly-squeezed orange juice, some delicious nibblies, then settle back and enjoy! Today I welcome author Christine Bell, our first speaker. I can't wait to hear her journey to publication.

Firstly, a little information about Christine if you haven't already had the pleasure of meeting her:

Christine Bell is one half of the happiest couple in the world. She and her handsome hubby currently reside in Pennsylvania with a four-pack of teenage boys and their two dogs, Gimli and Pug. If she gets time off from her duties as maid, chef, chauffeur, or therapist, she can be found reading just about anything she can get her hands on, from Young Adult novels to books on poker theory. She doesn’ t like root beer, clowns or bugs (except ladybugs, on account of their cute outfits), but lurrves chocolate, going to the movies, the New York Giants and playing Texas Hold ‘ Em. Writing is her passion, but if she had to pick another occupation, she would be a pirate…or, like, a ninja maybe. She loves writing steamy romance stories under her own name and also under her pen name, Chloe Cole. One day she hopes to publish something her dad can read without wanting to dig his eyes out with a rusty spoon. Christine loves to hear from readers, so please contact her through her website, www.christine-bell.com

Over to Christine.
  
First, thanks so much to Denise for inviting me to speak about my publishing journey today! Hopefully, you’ll find at least one worthwhile nugget in this post, and if not, we have a smashing contest running, (go here for further details) so *listening* to me blather for a few minutes can still pay off!

The most important thing I want you to know is that just six months ago, I was in the same place a lot of you are right now. Writing my ass off and biding my time, just waiting for a response that wasn’t a rejection. After the first three or four, you start to recognize them and just skim the first sentence for key words to put you out of your misery. If you’re an aspiring author who hasn’t submitted yet, I will share that list of words with you now, in no particular order, so that you will recognize the signs when you see them (and you will see them. I only personally know one author who sold to her first targeted publisher on her first try. I did the math and you have a better chance of seeing a unicorn. Granted, my math skills are dicey, but trust me on this: you will get rejected and if that’s something you want to avoid, find
another dream).

Okay, without further ado, list of words that tip you off to a rejection email/letter:

1. Regret
2. But
3. While
4. Whilst (then you know it's a rejection from across the pond)
5. Sorry
6. Unfortunately

Just to keep things even steven (cuz I am all about even steven) here is a list of words that tip you off to a contract:


1. Loved
2. Offer
3. Thrilled
4. Pleased
5. Excited
6. Happy
7. Enjoyed

SO, back to my original point. The one thing I want you to take with you from this is that I had gotten a pile of the former and none of the latter as of six months ago. Then, everything changed. To date, I have nine contracts with four publishers (Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id, Carina Press and Cobblestone Press). The only reason I don’t have more than nine is because I have sold everything I've written so far.

And you can do the same thing. You just have to figure out what needs to change, focus on your goal, and don’t quit. *Denise points to her motto at the top of her blog*. I don’t know what needs to change for you. I just know what worked for me.

The first turning point for me was when I got into a fab crit group. I realized that my writing was not where it needed to be. There was a kernel of something good in there, a knack for story telling maybe, and a voice, but I had a LOT of work to do on the craft. I’ll never forget opening my first crit and seeing all the red, highlights and comments, then emailing the most anal (in the best way) member of my crit group, who misses NOTHING (wave hello to all the nice people, Lisa!) and saying something like, “Wow. This is unbelievably on point. I don’t know how I missed all of this.” It was a total light-bulb moment for me.

Another game changer was an online workshop I took called Before You Hit Send by Angela James. It was really helpful and again, a turning point. I took all the stuff I learned from her and my CPs and applied it to my mss. Surprisingly, it worked and all the “meh” mss I had been churning out suddenly sparkled. Lucky for me, I had only shopped a few of them, and even those only to one publisher, so I still had a world of options opened to me.

I always knew I wanted to e-pub, mainly because I have no patience and the idea of waiting two+ years from query to shelf makes me break out in hives.

I targeted what I consider to be the best e-publishers. I read websites like Brenda Hyatt’s Show Me the Money, and Emily Veinglory’s EREC site, which are two of the few places you can get some actual info on royalties. I asked around to author friends I met on various sites, and then started submitting.


On July 5th I got my first offer, and they just kept coming. And one of the nicest things I’ve discovered so far is that, for me at least, the first one was the hardest. Once you get into the groove, understanding what they want, go through the editing process once (which is unbelievable, changes you as a writer), the writing gets easier. Also, once you can add that writing credit to your query, are invited to submit directly to an editor, or maybe contract on proposal, it becomes a much less arduous process.

SO, go forth, get thee a crit group, or at least a GOOD crit partner, take some workshops, get some books on craft. And above all, don’t quit. You might quit the day before you were about to submit the one ms that was going to crack the whole thing wide open for you, and wouldn’t that be the saddest thing ever…


Success continues for Christine. Today, January 12th, her latest book Naughty Godmother is released. Check it out here and here.

Thanks so much Christine! You had us all rivited! So many helpful links and such good advice. Now, to the prizes...

TODAY and for the next five days, everyone who comments and leaves their email address will be in the draw to win EITHER:
  • an e-book of your choice by Christine Bell
  • a first ten-pages critique by Christine. As Christine says: '...a good crit is worth its weight in gold and can often be a life changing moment for an aspiring author where all kinds of lightbulbs go off and you learn so much that you can apply to other works...'
Now I know not everyone wants to win an e-book or critique. In your comment tell us if you would like to enter to win today's prize. If you win the critique Christine would like (with your permission of course) to see it posted on this blog so everyone can see the process and learn from it. So, totally up to you. You'll need to say if you're happy to do this if you win the critique. You will still win either way if your name is drawn. (I've done this when I won a synopsis critique. The pain doesn't last long and it's a great thing to do to help everyone!)

So before you head out the door, please do the following:
  • leave a comment with your email address if you want to be in the draw for this week's prizes or the GRAND PRIZE and giveaway books at the end of the series (you must comment on each post to win, starting today)
  • tell us what you'd like to win today - e-book or critique
  • tell us if we can published Christine's critique here at a later date
  • ask Christine a question
  • something further - why not look out for each other and say if you'd like to find a Crit Partner. I know I'd like one. So contact like-minded souls and we may be able to help each other in this way too...
Thanks for coming everyone! Winners for this week will be posted next Tuesday (NY time). Don't forget you have until Monday 17 at 8 pm NY time to enter! (I'll try not to get bamboozled with this time zone thang.)

Don't forget, next Wednesday 19 January we have author and blogger extraordinare Clarissa Draper coming to our party. Don't miss what she has to say! I'm intrigued by this mysterious mystery author!

Denise :)