Monday, September 29, 2014

Sprints or Marathons?

First things first. This Wednesday is IWSG posting for October. And it's the day to post your offering for IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. In my duties as human spell checker and minor editing details, I've read some terrific posts that are going to make this book very special. It's a great way to get your name out there in the nonfiction market too. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for being the creative genius behind the idea and the leader in bringing it all together.

I was very busy last week editing a book for my romance publisher, New Concepts Publishing. It was that final read through to search out any misspelled words or misplaced commas. I always take my time with that because it's so easy for one's eyes to skip over those when you're reading a book for the fifteenth or so time. Every time I go through the editing process I appreciate my small publishers more. When it comes time to submit your book to a publisher you have to decide whether to go the small press route or submit to one of the big traditional publishers. Many, probably most, of the published authors I know are published by small publishers. Working with a small publisher puts your career on the marathon path more than the quick sprint to glory path.

Many small publishers offer either no or very small advances. If you're looking for dollars in the bank as a measure of success, you might not get that immediately with a small publisher. The income may be spread out over years and slowly build up to equal the advance you might have received from a traditional publisher. Earnings come strictly from royalties. If you receive an advance from a publisher, they will keep a reserve of earnings toward paying back that upfront money. Unless your book sells well, the advance may be the only money you ever see from the book.

Small publishers are likely to pay your a greater percentage on sales than a big publisher. Most will pay 25-40% on digital books. A small publisher usually lets an author have more say on cover design. A big criticism of traditional publishers is the length of time between contract and the actual publication date of the book. Small publishers having a much shorter turnaround time. I usually expect six months or less from my romance publisher.

Often small publishers are started by a writer who loves books and authors. When working for such a company the author can develop a very personal relationship with the owner, the editors and the other people working in the small company.

One of the dangers of a small publisher is that they can go belly up. I went through that a number or years ago. That bankruptcy clause in your contract will not prevent your books from getting tangled in the legal process. It can take years to get your rights back. It's important to investigate a small publisher before trusting them with your hard work. Also with a small publisher you're less likely to see your book on the shelves at the local B&N but most bookstores will arrange booksignings if you want to do them. When it comes to promotion, both small and big publishers expect most of the work to be done by the author.

So I'm involved in a marathon of a writing career. No big advance checks but I'm slowly developing a small steady income from the three small publishers I work with. Looking for a small publisher? Here's a list of 700 book publishers. Here's another list of the top 101 Independent book publishers. You might find something you like.

Are the other advantages you can think of for authors pubbed by smaller companies? What do you think is a reasonable percentage for authors to earn on their published books? Have you prepared your post for Wednesday's IWSG?

Friday, September 26, 2014

First Friday of the Fall

The week flew by wit lots of work to be done. I had a book to be edited and I'm still working on it. I polished up my article for IWSG: Guide to Publishing and Beyond. Don't forget to get your post ready. Next Wednesday is our regular posting day and I know all members of the group have received instructions. We all know something, big or small that could be helpful to others.

Here's some weekly wisdom from my Old Farmer's Almanac. If you sing before breakfast, you will have bad luck. No problem for me. I like a day where I don't have to say anything until afternoon.

The sword wounds the body, but words wound the soul. -- Arabian proverb

It is not enough to be industrious; so are ants. What are you industrious about? -- Henry David Thoreau

A little Tolkien to get us through the weekend though maybe I should have saved it for the next Hobbit movie.

I'm enjoying some new fall TV shows. I liked the first episode of Scorpion. We'll see how it goes. Glad to have Sleepy Hollow and Person of Interest back on with new shows. Syfy's Haven is also back on for a short season. Supernatural will be back on soon and Once Upon a Time starts this Sunday. That's enough TV for me. Not quite an hour per day on average. Upped my jogging time to 90 minutes four or five times per week. For some people that might be half a marathon but I'm really, really slow. It does cause me some consternation when those turkey buzzards circle over my head. I'm not that slow.

Do you have your IWSG post ready? Any of the Old Farmer's wisdom hitting home this week? What TV shows are you enjoying this fall or do you skip it altogether?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Write It By Hand

A while ago I mentioned in a post how studies had shown that writing by hand helps keep your mind. Last Sunday, Parade Magazine published a short article in their Stay Healthy column about this very idea.

Except it's not just an idea. A psychologist, Karin James, Ph.D., shared results of studies she and her colleagues had performed. They found that five year old children practicing writing letters by hand used regions of the brain involved in mastering reading skills. Children typing the letters they were learning didn't not fire up that section of the brain. College students who take notes by hand answered conceptual questions better than students who typed their notes. Study after study shows that we process what we write by hand better than what we type.

I bring this up again because of another item mentioned in the article. The Common Core State Standards that are supposed to guide education curricula only require schools to teach writing in kindergarten and first grade. Schools are then directed to concentrate on typing. Since many students come to their first day of school without being able to even write their own names, its seems a little more time is needed to work on this skills. According to James, "in children, writing by hand helps improve letter recognition which is the strongest predictor of reading success." Follow this link to find lots more facts about handwriting and its connections to reading and learning. If you have young children, you really should read this.

I don't usually get involved in political things, but I think many people, including me, have no idea of the nitty-gritty details of Common Core. I won't share any more of my opinions on it but the facts back up that we all should do some of our writing by hand.

I do my book outlines by hand and often write scenes when I'm editing. I write out post outlines for my blogs and of course, endless lists of things to do. As I mentioned last week, I write twitter posts on a tablet and then use them during the next week. Usually I do that while watching the news or a TV show. When I'm preparing a blurb or logline, I write many versions of each by hand.

Do you write a lot of things by hand? Do you remember those penmanship lessons in grade school? Do you agree with the importance of learning handwriting for children?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Underrated Treasures Blogfest

Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh leads us in another creative idea blogfest. Today around 100 bloggers or more will post about a movie, band/artist, TV show or book that they feel hasn't received the love and attention it deserves. Have a look and you might find some treasures you want to experience for yourself.

If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you probably know my family is very much into sports both as participants and fans. We've watched our share of sports movies but there are a few we can watch over and over again. One that we love but that received some scorching reviews during its time is The Air Up There. This movie was criticized for just about everything except the wonderful location filming in Kenya.

In the movie, a has-been arrogant assistant college basketball coach (Kevin Back as Jimmy Dolan) is challenged to prove he's head coach material by recruiting a very tall and talented young man (Charles Gitonga Maina as Saleh) from a small village in Africa. Film critics harped on the stereotypical depiction of the natives but hey, it was a comedy movie. Instead of Saleh being grateful and impressed by Jimmy Dolan's sales pitch, the mature young man teaches the arrogant coach about what is really important. The critics complain about the cliches in the movie, lots of them, but that's what sports movies are. Fans watch them because they love the game but the story is always that other things are more important than the game. In The Air Up There, family values, friendship, teamwork and the idea that sports are only a game are the centers of an entertaining movie that will leave you feeling good.

I'm not surprised this movie didn't rate well in reviews but it's not the first and only film my family loved that others didn't love. But if you loved movies like Cool Runnings and The Sandlot, I think you'll like this one.

Don't forget to get your post ready for IWSG book, Guide to Publishing and Beyond. Please don't include quotes from others in your article. Do you have a favorite underrated entertainment to share? Have you ever watched this movie? Did it deserve the unkind reviews?

Friday, September 19, 2014

The End of Summer

Difficult to believe it's the last weekend of summer though the cool night temperatures is proving the calendar correct. The days are flying by. I felt like a I did a lot of work this week but then yesterday I decided my WIP was missing the mark somewhere. My characters need some work if I want readers to care about them. So I'm starting OVER. And I feel like I'm doing the right thing. Some scenes will remain mostly intact but most of them are hitting the trash.

A fall fact from my trusty Old Farmer's Almanac planner. The average person eats about 19 pounds of apples each year. Seems like a lot to me but I do almost always have some in the house.

And a Chinese proverb. Teachers open the door, but you must enter yourself.

And in case you think you're not getting paid enough for your writing here's a fact. Pennsylvania General Assembly clerk Jacob Shallus was paid $30 to pen the Constitution.  This past Wednesday was Constitution Day in case you missed that.

Today's quote about writing. Apologies to my California readers but this is a little bit funny.

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.
- Terry Pratchett

Are you eating your share of apples? What would you have charged to write the Constitution? Do you believe in writer's block? Ready for fall?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In a Land Faraway

Technology had made the world smaller but virtual travel will never replace actually being in a location. I mentioned my daughter is studying in Morocco. Though an open society compared to many countries in that part of the world, it's a way different world from the one most of us live in. To share her experience, my daughter has started a blog. Her topics are quite varied and wildly interesting. Especially to me. The Open Roof is Kelley's blog. I hope you'll take the time to hop over there and leave her a comment as she perfects her Arabic and studies the culture of Morocco.

I'd also like to thank Lori L. MacLaughlin. She gifted me with The Versatile Blogger Award. I'm supposed to share 7 things about myself and then pass it on to 15 bloggers.
1. Despite having knew replacement surgery 10 years ago, I still jog 3-5 miles most days.
2. I grew up on a dairy farm but never drink milk, then or now.
3. I have an inherited blonde streak that runs down the back of my head. It will never turn gray. Looks a little like a skunk.
4. I grew up in a two hundred year old farmhouse with a b&w TV that got one channel.
5. I didn't learn to swim until I went to college.
6. My fraternal grandfather was a bit infamous during prohibition. Can't say anymore than that.
7. I donate blood six or seven times per year.

I'm not going to pass this on to anyone in particular but I challenge anyone to share seven interesting tidbits about yourself.

I hope you've prepared your contribution to The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. If you're still undecided, the book has received lots of writing articles. If you have an idea about publishing or promotion, that would balance the numbers out a bit.

Have you sent in your IWSG post yet? What do you think of Kelley's blog? Have any infamous ancestors like I do? Are you a blood donor?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tweet That

Social media and promotion are not my favorite thing but I've accepted it as part of the business of writing. If you want people to know about your books you must get the word out. One of those ways is on Twitter. You'll find lots of advice out there, some good and some not so good. As with most promotion, you need to find your comfort zone in how you use the tweet verse. And remember what works for someone else might not work for you. Take all advice including mine with a grain of salt.

At one of my local writing groups we had a speaker who shared some expert advice on using twitter. She strongly suggested that you don't connect your twitter account to your Facebook account. People on Facebook don't like the short, sometimes confusing 140 character tweets. It also makes you look lazy.

This same speaker also said you should do at least four tweets per day to promote a product. But not all tweets should be about your product (book). Share funny things or interesting links. Be careful to not get involved in political debates.

Plan your tweets ahead of time. I spent a little time each weekend writing down some tweets about my books. Then it only takes me a few minutes each day to tweet about my books. Every time you write a new blog post, tweet about it. Read an interesting blog or news article, tweet about it with a link. One of your friends tweet about their blog or a book? Retweet for them. Someday they may retweet for you.

Follow people who have the same interests as you. Hopefully, they follow you back. Perhaps your publisher makes it easy to tweet an announcement about your book. Use the easy link they provide. Be careful not to get sucked into spending hours on twitter. There are so many interesting links posted there you can end up exploring all day long.

Don't forget to get your post ready for the IWSG book. And visit the IWSG blog for another great post. Maybe even tweet about it.

Follow me on Twitter if you're not already. Do you tweet? Do you plan ahead of time? Any advice for using the twitter verse for promotion?

Friday, September 12, 2014

There's No Place Like Home on a Friday

I'm back from my trip to visit Colorado. Enjoyed that beautiful country and spending time with my son. I've learned that I don't mind actually flying in an airplane but airports are the pits. I don't care for crowds of any kind but the thing that bothers me the most is the inefficiency I encountered in many areas of the whole business. I have endless patience with someone trying to do their job but absolutely none with people standing around when they should be working. Enough complaints.

I found this interesting article about writers who struggled with mental illness. Lots of us joke about writers being a little bit on the crazy side but there is a side of that we should find so funny. Go here to read about 10 Great Novelists Who Were Mentally Disturbed.

Some words of wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac.
Brides: For a happy marriage, wear a coin in your shoe on your wedding day.

Expect good news if your right knee itches.

To reduce anxiety, sniff lavender oil.

A busy weekend ahead getting some blog posts ready ahead of time and working on my contribution to the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. I'm also going to order some ink this weekend. Despite all the things I do digitally and writing on my computer, I still seem to print out a lot of things. Ink is so expensive I hate doing it.

Did you know about any of those famous authors' mental health issues? Any itches in your right knee? Like the smell of lavender? Do you use a lot of ink?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Out of Touch, Kind Of

It's been a wonderful holiday so far. Today we rode the cog railroad up Pike's Peak. It was quite cold, 33 degrees with 17 degrees with the wind chill factor. But it was clear and you could see for miles and miles. Very beautiful. We saw almost no wildlife which was a disappointment. Later though we saw a golden eagle flying parallel to us as we drove and then a bighorn sheep standing right beside the road. Didn't get a picture because there was too much traffic. Then we found a wonderful bar in a pizza restaurant to hang out and laugh about our day's adventures.
Stream on our hike.

Cactus on our hike

My son, James, in the batting cages

It's frustrating to try and keep up with emails and my blog while staying in a hotel. The internet is very slow relative to my Verizon at home and twice now it's just been so overloaded that I couldn't get online at all for the few hours I have in the evenings to check up.
My husband, Ron, and son, James, waiting for train up to Pike's Peak

Looking down on the cog railroad from on top of Pike's Peak

Seeing for over a hundred miles from on top of Pike's Peak

My husband and son with miles of sky behind them.

My son and I laughing at my husband trying to use the camera.

But I'm going to share some pictures I took over the last few days. Some were while I was hiking and a few from Pike's Peak. Colorado is a beautiful state. Their marijuana laws really provide lots of opportunity for jokes. Every time you get bad service at a restaurant or bar? Every time someone is driving in a clueless manner? All those strange conversations you hear while shopping? We had fun with it.

The bloghop in remembrance of Tina Downey touched me in so many ways. I smiled and cried at times. Even though I didn't know Tina well, the loss of such a wonderful person really made an impact on my sense of community, friendship and belonging of the blogging community. Life is so good because of the wonderful people I've met through blogging.

Have you even suffered the frustration of poor internet connection while away from home? Ever been to Colorado and Pike's Peak? Do you enjoy hiking and where is your favorite place to take a long walk? Ever have a wildlife encounter while out for a jog, run or hike?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sunflowers for Tina

I'm saddened and blessed to part of this bloghop honoring Tina Downey. Tina blogged at Life is Good and you can leave a comment there for her family. Most of us met Tina through her work with the A to Z Challenge of which she was an integral part. You can find a list of hop participants on that site..

I think sometimes what makes us feel old isn't the years ticking by but rather the accumulation of sadness and loss. I never met Tina in person and still the world is dimmed by her absence. If you've kept up with Tina's post, though they weren't frequent as she dealt with health issues lately, you had to admire her attitude. Tina spent her time living. She made me smile many times.

May we all honor her memory by facing difficulties with good spirits and hope. May we be as generous to our fellows, even the near strangers we network with online. May we all remember that life is good and even better when we make it good for others.
My Daughter's Sunflowers

I'm in Colorado this week, visiting my son, so I'm not sure of my internet connection. I'll be visiting as many of you as I can.

It's difficult to comment on a bloghop like this when you're reading post after post that are very similar. So if you chose to comment, just give a short example of how your life is good. Make us all smile like the bright face of a sunflower.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Week Flies By

Even with taking Labor Day Monday off from blogging, the week remained busy with IWSG on Wednesday. I'm still visiting the participants who celebrated the three year anniversary of the blogging group. I hope you're thinking about being part of the upcoming book.

As usual on Friday, I'll share some wisdom from my Old Farmer's Almanac Planner.
"A truth that's told with bad intent,
Beats all the lies you can invent."
William Blake, English poet (1757-1827)

Sunday is grandparents' day so keep this Swedish proverb in mind:
The young should be taught; the old should be honored.

And a quote from JRR Tolkien to inspire everyone to keep working for their goals.
"A single dream is worth more than a thousand realities."

So I'll be out of town for a few days visiting my son in Colorado but I'll be checking in on blogs and working on my WIP when I can. It will be great to get away for a little bit with no responsibilities except having fun and spending some time with family.

Have a good weekend. Hug a grandparent on Sunday or if you are one, get a hug. What did you think of the Old Farmer's wisdom today? Are you working for your dream? Did you vacation this year or have one in the plans?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

IWSG Anniversary!!!!

It's here! The exciting announcement promised last month. How did three years go by so quickly. I have found my closest blogging friends through the IWSG monthly blog hop. Every anniversary should include a special gift from the heart. Read onward and discover what this gift to all of us from all of us will be. As usual, not only is the IWSG the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh, the idea of a book sprang from his busy, creative mind. Thanks, Alex.

Today marks three years since the very first IWSG post. Next month marks one year since the IWSG site and Facebook group opened. And we’d like you to help us celebrate!

The IWSG Team is putting together an eBook that will benefit all writers - The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. And we invite all IWSG members, Facebook members, and followers to contribute.

Here are the details:

The three topics will be writing, publishing, and marketing.

Each contribution needs to be between 200 and 1000 words. Focus on one of those three aspects and give us your best tip or procedure. The essay can include bullet points, top ten lists, and recommendations. (Websites, software, books, etc.)

You can either post it for your October 1 IWSG post or email it directly.  or (Since the length can go over the standard IWSG post length.) Include a one sentence byline and a link to your site. Also state that you give us permission to use it in the book and which topic it falls under. (We will only edit for misspellings and grammar mistakes.)
design by Alex J. Cavanaugh

All submissions need to be sent or posted by October 2, 2014. We will compile them into an eBook and aim for an early December release. The book will be free and available for all eReaders.

Thank you for making the IWSG such a huge success!!

I hope your mind is spinning with ideas for your contribution. Wouldn't you love to see your expertise shared in this terrific book. Remember everyone knows something helpful. You can share something that didn't work for you as well as something that did. If you're not already a member of IWSG, this month is the perfect time to get on board. There are so many wonderful writers involved in this group that I expect a spectacular book. No pressure, everyone. Do you have an idea already? Will you be taking advantage of the free book in December? Early Christmas present for yourself.