If you’d like a letter drop me a line with your snail mail address (even if you think I already have it*). If you are also doing LetterMo and need someone to write to, drop me a line, I’ll send you my address (and promise to reply to every letter I receive).
*Treena, Beth and Amber, you are exempt from this. I owe you letters already :-p
I keep forgetting to share this so the news is a little less than fresh right now, but it’s still fabulous. Every year Tangent Online puts together a recommended reading list and Corvidae and Scarecrow are all over the 2015 list. You can see the entire list by clicking here (there is a rather long essay at the top of the page, the listings come right after it). The tl;dr version, however, is that there are 13 Corvidae stories and 11 Scarecrow stories on the list. Whoot!
Corvidae & Scarecrow stories on the Tangent Online 2015 Recommended Reading List:
“Raven No More” by Adria Laycraft (Corvidae)
“Bazyli Conjures a Blackbird” by Mark Rapacz (Corvidae)
“Black Birds” by Laura Blackwood (Scarecrow)
“Visiting Hours” by Michael S. Pack (Corvidae)
“The Rookery of Sainte-Mère-Église” by Tim Deal (Corvidae)
“The Cruelest Team Will Win” by Mike Allen (Corvidae)
“Knife Collection, Blood Museum, Birds” by Sara Pul (Corvidae)
“Flying the Coop” by M.L.D. Curelas (Corvidae)
“Seven for a Secret” by Megan Engelhardt (Corvidae)
“The Roofnight” by Amanda C. Davis (Scarecrow)
“A Fist Full of Straw” by Kristina Wojtaszek (Scarecrow)
“Scarecrow Progressions (Rubber Duck Remix)” by Sara Puls (Scarecrow)
“Truth About Crows” by Craig Pay (Scarecrow)
“Whistles & Trills” by Kate Otis (Corvidae)
“The Valravn” by Megan Fennell (Corvidae)
“A Mischief of Seven” by Leslie Van Zwol (Corvidae)
“The Straw Samurai” by Andrew Bud Adams (Scarecrow)
“Edith and I” by Virginia Carraway Stark (Scarecrow)
“Sanctuary” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh (Corvidae)
“Flight” by Angela Slatter (Corvidae)
“Only the Land Remembers” by Amanda Block (Scarecrow)
”If I Only Had an Autogenic Cognitive Decision Matrix” by Scott Burtness (Scarecrow)
“Judge & Jury” by Laura VanArendonk Baugh (Scarecrow)
“Kakashi & Crow” by Megan Fennell (Scarecrow)
And I’m just going to go ahead and say that even the stories from Corvidae and Scarecrow which didn’t make this list are definitely recommended reading. Because they are all awesome 🙂
In the spirit of writing being a team sport (get your buttons now! :-p) I wanted to open up my blog to more guest posts about things which might interest my readers. It’s a win/win situation, really. The guest blogger gets to increase their signal, my readers get to read something cool and I get content I didn’t have to write. So… I guess that’s a win/win/win situation really 🙂
I’ll be posting some guideline-type things and information about to snag a guest blogging spot here in the near future, but for now if you’re interested hit me up on social media or via email. Like Tabitha did 🙂 She contacted me on Twitter and boom, bang, just like that I’ve got a great blog post, written by her, ready to share with you. Check this out:
10 Things I’ve Learned Along the Way
by Tabitha Lord
There’s a lot of advice out there for writers. I spend a considerable amount of time during my workweek reading articles and blog posts on everything from marketing strategies to writing craft. Much of it is helpful. Some doesn’t resonate at all. But I do believe it’s dispensed with a generosity of spirit and a desire to be helpful that is characteristic of the writing community. So with that in mind, I’ve created my own list of (hopefully) helpful tips for writers new to the job. Here goes…
1. A completed manuscript is a draft. It isn’t even close to the finished product!
Typing the last word on the last page of my first novel was one of most satisfying things I’d ever done. Writing a book had been on my bucket list of personal and professional accomplishments for years, and when it was finally finished, I was giddy. But, wow, I look at that manuscript now and cringe! Clunky writing, character issues, and loads of info dumping littered my pages.
The thing is, that’s okay. That’s a first draft! But thinking the first draft is ready for the world to embrace, well, that’s a rookie mistake. Don’t get me wrong; completing a first draft is an accomplishment of epic proportions! Celebrate! Rejoice! And then proceed to edit!
2. Beta readers are critical.
Beta readers see things in our manuscript that we don’t because we know our story so intimately. With my first book, for example, some of my beta readers had a problem with the male protagonist. They didn’t like him at all! I had to figure out what they were seeing in him that I wasn’t. In my mind, he was in his early twenties. But once the plot got moving, he needed to make decisions and have a certain authority in his own world that required him to be older and have more experience. The character I had written was still too arrogant and immature to be the hero I needed him to be, and I think this is what my readers recognized. So I did a major edit of his scenes, attempting to keep the essence of his character, but giving him more depth and maturity.
3. Rejections, and lots of them, are part of the deal.
The first time someone said “no thank you” to my manuscript was the worst! But the thing about rejections, once you recover from the sting, is that they can sometimes be helpful. If your manuscript isn’t polished enough, you may need to work with an editor. If the story isn’t pulling people in quickly, you may need to spice up your opening chapters. Usually there is a common thread, and if you are open to hearing it, you can make adjustments and move forward. My first round of rejections, which included one R&R (rewrite and resubmit), suggested that I had a good story, but the manuscript needed more work. I hired an editor, and after months of rewriting, I had a much-improved draft.
4. Everything takes longer than you think in the publishing world.
If you take the traditional publishing route, some of the timeline is out of your control. Acquiring an agent, sending a project out on submission, negotiating a contract, and proceeding to production all take time (think years). If you are independently publishing, it is on you, the writer, to manage the timeline. But either way, a quality product takes time! It took me three and a half years to bring my first book to print, and that’s considered quick. But I’ve learned you can’t rush the process. I wanted a finished product I could be proud of, and it required a lot of time and effort to make that happen.
5. Independent publishing means starting and running your own small business. It’s a viable option – for the right reasons.
I think there are compelling reasons to self-publish. But if you choose this path, it’s an investment. You are essentially starting a small business and you have to treat it as such to be successful. First and foremost your product has to be good, and you have to be willing to put in the time, energy, and funds to make it so. You also have to build an audience, and then promote and market yourself, or be willing to hire others to help you do it. You have to take ownership of it all. For some writer’s, this is exciting. For others, it’s terrifying.
6. Good editing and good cover art are a must.
The first thing a reader sees is the book cover. An eye-catching cover can mean the difference between a potential reader flipping to the back cover blurb, or waking away without a second glance. Likewise, a really good editor offers just the right cues to improve the story. My editor found those places where my characters or plot weren’t working and prompted me to fix them without imposing a solution. I can’t stress enough how important these things are when bringing a book to life.
7. Don’t read the negative reviews!
People like different things. Not everyone is going to like my story. Logically, I understand this, but it still hurts to have my book baby slammed in writing! Early on I received very solid advice: Don’t read the negative reviews. Once the book is out in the world, the time for helpful critiquing is over.
8. Creating balance in my work life is more challenging than I thought.
Two years ago I left a job I loved to do something I loved more – write. Turns out, even though writing is now my full-time work, there still aren’t enough hours in the day! I struggle to balance writing creatively (making up the new stuff), with promoting my existing book, networking, blogging, editing, etc. And there is still a household to maintain!
When I was working full-time outside my home, I made time to write and I protected that time fiercely. Now, other things weave their way into my day and cut into that valuable time. It requires real discipline to stay productive.
9. Writers are wonderfully supportive of other writers.
I love the network of writers that surrounds me. I’ve met lifelong friends at conferences and received valuable advice and guidance from the writing group I belong to. Writers want other writers to be successful, and this sentiment is pervasive and authentic.
10. Go with your gut. There will be decisions to make, and once you’ve done your research, it may come down to trusting your instincts.
There are a lot of resources and good advice for writers out there. Not all of it applies to every person or every project. Whether the advice is about your daily word count or the best path to publishing, there is no one right way. I do my research, ask people I trust who are industry professionals – or who at least have more experience than I do, and then I weigh their information against my own instincts and go with my gut!
Tabitha currently lives in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where she grew up. She is married, has four great kids, a spoiled Ragdoll cat, and lovable black lab. The house is noisy and the dinner table full! She holds a degree in Classics from College of the Holy Cross and taught Latin for years at a small, independent Waldorf school. She also worked in the admissions office there before turning her attention to full-time writing.
You can visit her author blog at www.tabithalordauthor.com where she hosts guest bloggers and discusses favorite topics including parenting, and follow her on www.bookclubbabble.com where, as a contributing writer, she posts author interviews, reviews, and more. She released her first novel, Horizon, on December 1, 2015.
Earlier this month I sent three potential cover images out to the members of my newsletter and asked them to choose which one would be the cover. The response was overwhelming and the winner, with 75% of the vote is…
This installment of Rhonda Parrish’s alphabet anthology series asks skilled storytellers to write around the theme of chimera. The resulting tales are part fable, part poem, part dream. But like any chimera, the parts make up a greater whole.
Blend reality with fantasy. Mesh science fiction with mystery. Mix history with what should have been. They are all chimera.
A shadow tells a tale of schoolyard bullies. A long-vanished monster returns from the cold dark. Make-up makes up a life. Alchemy, Atlantis, and apocalypse. These 26 tales bring both chaos and closure to dark and elusively fantastic geographies.
Contributing authors include:
~ Alexandra Seidel ~ KV Taylor ~ Marge Simon ~ Pete Aldin ~ Michael M. Jones ~ Simon Kewin ~ BD Wilson ~ Gabrielle Harbowy ~ Sara Cleto ~ Megan Engelhardt ~ Michael Fosburg ~ Megan Arkenberg ~ Lilah Wild ~ Laura VanArendonk Baugh ~ Milo James Fowler ~ Brittany Warman ~ Michael B. Tager ~ L.S. Johnson ~ Beth Cato ~ C.S. MacCath ~ Sammantha Kymmell-Harvey ~ Steve Bornstein ~ Suzanne van Rooyen ~ Michael Kellar ~ Jonathan C. Parrish ~ Amanda C. Davis ~
Every year I set goals for myself, and then at the end of that year I look back at them to see how I’ve done. It helps with my productivity and gives me at least the illusion of some sort of focus 🙂 Now is the time for me to look at my 2015 goals and see how I did to help me determine what my 2016 goals will be.
My 2015 Goals:
Goals in italics are ones I’m saying I accomplished 🙂
Weigh less at the end of the year than I do at the start
No working on weekends and minimal working on evenings.
Huh. Yeah. So… totally failed at those first two, but I think with some small exceptions I did pretty well at not working on weekends and evenings. It’s a thing I need to continue to focus on because I really want to have a bit of balance in my life, but I definitely did better in 2015 than 2014 so I’ll take it 🙂
Editing / Publishing
Publish the final three issues of Niteblade and then close down that aspect of the magazine
Complete Corvidae and market it to the best of my ability
Complete Scarecrow and market it to the best of my ability
I published B is for Broken (and it’s awesome) but I may have dropped the ball a bit in the marketing department. It has significantly fewer reviews than A is for Apocalypse and its sales numbers are also much lower. Part of the issue, I think, is that ‘Broken’ is a much more nebulous concept than ‘Apocalypse’ but some of it was definitely me. It’s been a learning experience though, especially in regard to choosing anthology subjects that are easier to market.
When Shadows is published market it to the best of my ability
Have the manuscript for C is for… polished and ready for publication
C is for Chimera is pretty spectacular. I’m going to reveal the cover and officially announce the release date here on my blog this Thursday. Meanwhile, I’ve already managed to garner a 1 star review for it on Goodreads despite the fact no one has read it but me. So that’s awesome. *sigh*
Have the manuscript for D is for… polished and ready for publication
I have the authors lined up for D is for [TOP SEKKRIT] but haven’t progressed further on this title yet.
Come up with a way to set actual concrete goals for promotion.
I’m currently trying to turn my shortlist into a table of contents. There were about 200 submissions sent my way and even many of the ones I didn’t shortlist were really, really good. There are some very difficult choices in my near future.
Write and submit at least one new short story a month*
The ‘submit’ part of this is important. I can’t just write a first draft and leave it to moulder indefinitely. The story needs to be ready for submission and, in fact, submitted, within the month to count.
LOL Well, it looked good on paper.
Begin querying agents about Hollow
Self-publish at least one collection of reprints
Complete work on collaborative project with Marge
Successfully participate in April Poem-A-Day
This means actually writing a poem a day or at least having thirty poems written by the end of the month
Participate in NaNoWriMo*
Either complete the first draft of a new novel, or revise one of the novel first drafts I’ve already written (this can be completed in conjunction with NaNoWriMo or separate from it)
Read at least 50 books
Slush doesn’t count, nor do books by friends I read to critique.
Have at least 20% be non-fiction
I read 46 books according to Goodreads, plus 13 which aren’t on Goodreads. And those 13 don’t count slush or books by friends I read to critique. So I really was successful even if Goodreads doesn’t know it 😉
When someone visits this blog and leaves a comment — reciprocate.
I’m still not awesome at this. I go to the blogs of people who visit and I read but very often I can’t think of anything intelligent to leave as a comment and ‘I was here, but now I’m gone…’ just doesn’t work for me, ya know?
As of New Year’s Eve of 2014 I’d sold a total of one book via Kobo**. One. For a whopping $0.45 in royalties. One of my goals in 2015 is to improve that. I don’t have a super firm goal in mind but it shouldn’t be too difficult to top one sale and less than fifty cents in royalties, right?
Success! Partly on account of a BookBub deal, but I’d beaten my one sale for $0.45 in royalties even before that. There is still plenty of room for improvement here, but there’s always going to be, isn’t there?
*under this name or as a pen name project. Either counts.
**this doesn’t count books I didn’t self-publish like Fae, Metastasis etc.
Overall I feel like I had a successful year. I did plenty of things that aren’t reflected on this list of goals and even managed to accomplish more than I failed at. On paper it wasn’t a spectacular year but my reality was pretty amazeballs 🙂
I say “Writing is a team sport*” a lot, so I decided to dedicate this year to that idea, and to being a part of the team.
Our team includes (but is not limited to) readers, writers, editors, publishers, artists (and more) and the opposing team is negativity, depression, discouragement, loneliness and obscurity.
I’d like to host more guest posts here on my blog, and I’m going to try and signal boost more people, and basically just do what I can to support everyone else on my team. Because writing is tough. It is freaking tough and it is mostly a solitary endeavor. In the end it’s you and the story and the page. And that’s it. Sometimes there is eventually an audience, but what we do is largely done alone. So I want to provide support where I can.
The first thing I did, because I am who I am, is order swag. I won’t lie, what I really wanted was team jackets. You know, letterman jackets with patches and numbers and stuff? Yeah! I suspect this is largely motivated by the fact I didn’t get one in high school *sad face* but whatever… The budget said no. So I went with buttons.
And don’t get me wrong, they are spiffy buttons. They have the above design (by Cary Vandever, by the way) on them and they look like this:
(Crappy iPad photo because I’ve somehow misplaced every single memory card for my camera. What?)
Yesterday I offered subscribers to my newsletter buttons and today I’ve offered them to people who have ‘liked’ my Facebook page. You can have one too, if you’d like. I’ll be giving them away, while supplies last, with priority to my newsletter subscribers and Facebook followers. And if you have a writing or critique group let me know, I’ll send extra. And if you are attending a convention or other writing-related gathering soon let me know, I’ll send a lot extra 🙂
To get a button email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail mail address. I promise to only use your address for this and to destroy the email immediately after your package is in the mail.
But this isn’t all about buttons (though buttons, like bow ties, are cool!). I’ll be rolling out a couple more regular features on my blog as I get the details sorted in my mind. In the meantime, do you have a book launch or cover reveal coming up? Would you like a spot on my blog? Get in touch, we’ll work something out. Need a signal boost on social media? My presence isn’t huge but I’ll do what I can–let me know.
I want to help, because writing is a team sport and we’re on the same side.
*I recognise we could totally pick that phrase apart. If you don’t think I’ve done it a bazillion times already, well, you obviously haven’t met me, but can we not? I get it. It could say ‘Publishing is a Team Sport’, it could say ‘Art is a Team Sport”–I get it. I really, really do, but let’s just not pick at it okay? Because I think, really, you get what I’m saying. We’re all in this together. That is the idea I want to spotlight and highlight this year.
I’ll tell you what, if you can refrain from picking on my phrasing maybe I’ll make another set of buttons that say “Writing: We’re all in this together” or something… but for now — Writing is a Team Sport :-p
What I know for sure is that I live near an abandoned hospital and I find it completely fascinating. It keeps creeping into my fiction and ever since we’ve moved here I’ve had ‘Write a book about the haunted hospital’ on the little dream project list at the back of my mind. So when I met Mark Leslie at When Words Collide a couple years and learned he wrote ghost story books (Tomes of Terror, Haunted Hamilton, Spooky Sudbury) I couldn’t resist saying, “Ya know… I live near a haunted hospital.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Mark and I are writing a book about haunted hospitals and if you have a spooky hospital story to share with us, we’d love to hear about it. You can contact me directly (however you prefer — comment, email, social media) or check out our handy dandy form –> Right Here.
A while back I put Aphanasian Stories on sale and asked my readers to help me move the numbers–meaning, help shift the book up the ranks of Amazon and Kobo. We were incredibly successful (helped in part by a Book Bub promotion going on at the same time) and I wanted to take a moment and share the results with everyone here. I’d meant to do it before now but with the Giftmas Tour, holidays and the like, it kind of got lost in the rush 🙂
This post is image intensive. The tl;dr version is YAY!
This is the graphic I whipped up on Canva to show where we were starting out rank-wise for the book:
If you click on the picture it should take you to a larger size so you can actually read it, but there’s no real need because I’m going to provide you with the numbers here too. Here are the Before and Afters 🙂 Starting with Amazon.ca.
For one brief moment in time, in one category on Amazon.ca I was even ranked higher than a Neil Gaiman title 😉
And at another point I had books in both 1st and 5th place spots even though I wasn’t actively promoting Fae that weekend:
I was feeling the love on Kobo too, which was extra sweet because prior to this sale I’d sold less than a dozen books on Kobo total.
Amazon.com didn’t love me quite as much as the other Amazons… but that makes sense, my Book Bub promotion didn’t include the USA (though the sale price did).
Amazon.Co.Uk took a bit of time to warm up to me, something I’m mostly blaming on time zones (because I can LOL).
This is the ‘After’ image I created on Canva to sum up the success of our ‘Moving the #s’ attempt:
In case you’re wondering what this looks like in sales, this line graph shows my KDP sales for Aphanasian Stories in the days leading up to the sale, the sale itself, and the days afterward:
You may not be able to see it without going to the larger version of the picture but basically it’s a straight line with a blip or two now and then right up until the sale… which is that ginormous spike that slowly declines back to the straight line with an occasional blip.
What does this mean in the long term? Probably nothing LOL Mostly my career is built on those blips, the hope being that with enough books out there blipping along the trickles will eventually combine to be something more substantial but it was fun to watch my little blips turn into an explosion for a couple days. Thank you to everyone who picked up a copy of Aphanasian Stories and helped me move the #s. It was a lot of fun and I truly appreciate your support.
…and if you liked what you read, you’re in luck! I have an Aphanasian story (starring Bayne & Teyat) in the Women in Practical Armor anthology coming out this spring, and my novella, Shadows, which is also set in Aphanasia should also be out this year too 🙂
I think it’s fair to say that the 2015 Giftmas Blog Tour was a rousing success. Thank you so very much for helping make that happen! Whether you participated directly by writing or hosting a blog post, donated prizes, signal boosted us on social media or threw your name into the hat to try and win the amazing prizes we’re giving away, you totally helped. Thank you, thank you!
There are links to of all the blog posts (in case you missed some) right here –> 2015 Giftmas Blog Tour but I bet you’re actually here to see who won our prizes.
What are those prizes again? Well let me tell you —
My personal goal was to get 500 entries and in the end there were 509! Yay!
Now without further ado, the winners are:
Grand Prize – Ray Smith Second Prize – Danielle Davis Third Prize – Alicia Cole
I’ve already emailed the winners so if you see your name there and you haven’t got an email from me check your spam filter. If you STILL don’t have an email from me, contact me right away.
We’ll be doing the Giftmas Blog Tour and Giveaway again next year, but with a few changes. We’ll be running it over 10 days instead of 31, for example, and also aiming to try and help those less fortunate than us. But there’s lots of time between now and then to go into all those details. In the meantime, congratulations winners, and to everyone I hope your holidays were awesome and that 2016 is full of great things 🙂