Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Friday, December 18, 2015
Puerto Rico is an island in the Caribbean. It's small, only 100 X 50 miles, but chock full of culture and exotic foods and more! Better yet, you don't need a passport to go there. Puerto Rico (meaning Rich Port) is a property of the US - so while it might seem foreign, it's still part of the old US of A!
We spent a little over a week there, staying with my uncle. We drove all over the place. And like usual, I took a ton of pictures! heh heh. I'll share a few with you and also links to the albums in case you want to see more. (Albums have a slideshow feature!)
Hope you get a chance to visit the island someday!
Friday, December 4, 2015
When Doctor Who returned to television, the BBC started in 2006 having Advent calendars counting down to the Christmas episode of Doctor Who. The name was later changed to Adventure calendars and had a variety of wallpaper downloads, interviews, puzzles, sneak peeks, and other advance info appearing each day. The previous years can still be viewed. The countdown is slightly confused this year, as the season (2015 series) hasn't ended yet. So this year the beginning of the Adventure calendar has interviews and advance promo pictures of the season finale. It can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/16TJvP8hHBBVWyfxlJw9BP8/doctor-who-adventure-calendar-2015.
Diane Duane has a new release in her Young Wizards series coming out in February, but she has a self-published book out now. Her Advent calendar has snippets of dialog not used in one of the seasonal short stories. It can be found at http://www.youngwizards.com/interim-errantry/2015/12/01/how-lovely-are-thy-branches-advent-calendar/.
This sounds like a great idea for advance publicity for a book launch, so I'll keep that in mind for the future. Meanwhile, I'm just going to enjoy two great countdown calendars.
And one more Advent calendar, this time for cat lovers. Georgia Dunn, the artist who created the Breaking Cat News webcomic, has an Advent calendar of the Breaking Cat News crew in various holiday garb on her Facebook page.
Have you come across any interesting means of counting down via a calendar or similar structure?
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Friday, November 6, 2015
Promo items differ from genre to genre. I heard a lot of suggestions from the romance authors at my publisher of promo items I never saw at a science fiction convention. When I started attending EPICon, which was a convention run by EPIC, an organization of electronically published authors of all genres, I saw a demonstration of what other genre considered great promo. Emery boards, balloons, fans, bags of candy, flashlights, rubber ducks, ribbons for convention badges, book cover buttons, notepads, stress balls and many more. Since these were advertising ebooks, there were also CDs and mini-cds with sample chapters and, in later years, free flashdrives in a variety of shapes. As an example of what is popular recently among romance authors, my friend J. Kathleen Cheney wrote a swag summary of her experience at Romantic Times in Dallas.
bookmarks and postcards.
The pens are also useful when I'm not at a convention. My local bookstore isn't interested in bookmarks, but will take and give away my pens. My local post office is also happy to get pens. Black ink pens were the ones they preferred so that is what they all are.
Although pens themselves aren't something featured in my books (as a flashlight was when I tried using that as promo), I do try to have the colors reflect something in my books. The Crystal Throne pens are the colors of magic in that universe, while the silver pen for Agents and Adepts reflects a magic wand in one story. The stripes on the Michael and the Elf pen is similar to the stripes in the elf's cap on the cover of the book and the colors on the Talking to Trees pen call to mind those of a fall forest (well, they do to me).
Where does an author find promo material? You can often make and print out your own bookmarks, but after a while you'll start to want more professional looking material. There are several companies - all with varying price ranges and quality. Once you get on one company's mailing list, you'll start getting catalogs and samples from many more. I use Overnight Prints for my bookmarks and postcards and National Pen for my pens. I also have labels (book title and URL) that I get from Colorful Images that I put on the back of all my paper correspondence (especially my bills). Ask any group of authors and you'll get several more recommendations (feel free to add in the comments).
There is as well the more expensive form of promo. Tee shirts, mugs, messenger bags, baseball caps, etc. A few years ago, these were often freebie items. More often now these are considered a reward for your fans or patrons.
What type of promo do you give away? What types of swag do you pick up at conventions?
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Release date - March 15, 2016
$17.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 270 pages
Freedom Fox Press - Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Fiction/Young Adult - General (JUV000000) / Girls & Women (JUV014000)
Print ISBN 9781939844132 eBook ISBN 9781939844149
$4.99 EBook available in all formats
Friday, October 23, 2015
All my plans went kaput when I popped off my tire trying a new way to go home in the middle of a giant storm. Yeah....
Been one of those months...
While I missed about half of FanDays due to work, I still made it in time to get a few pics. Yay!
While I missed about half of FanDays due to work, I still made it in time to get a few pics. Yay!
Saturday, October 10, 2015
But, as the discussion went on, it turned out that there wasn't that much difference between the two sliding scales of writing. What mattered was the character. Some background characters could appear, speak their lines or carry a spear, and vanish in the next paragraph. A secondary character could stay in the shadow of the main character, never moving out of the role of the main character's best friend or supporting team. But then there are those, that due to either being so well developed or with such an interesting backstory, that somehow catch enough interest (either the author's or readers') that people demand that more be told. Cindy Matthews found it happened with just one throwaway line spoken by a character. Henry Melton noticed one secondary character had become so interesting that he realized that the story should be about that character, the father of the main character, rather than the son.
Several of my short stories in Agents and Adepts are due to my own "secondary characters want their own story" issue. While looking for a publisher for my first book, The Crystal Throne, I found my Fleet Ones, a race of talking horselike beings in that book, rather pushy in that regard. Renw's story of how he teamed up with an elf to become a scout was something I had to explore, as well as how Elin left the herd to learn magic. Elin even pushed his way into Talking to Trees.
Is this something you can plan? The panelists were divided on that. In order to make a story interesting, you have to have interesting characters. One way to make a character interesting is to mention details, such as what the character likes or dislikes, mannerisms, etc. The more details we know about the character, the better. The problem comes with knowing so much about the character that she or he takes over the story. The panelists did agree that, if a character doesn't fit a story, no matter how interesting he or she is, for the sake of the story it might be best to move him or her to another file to save for another story.
Patricia Wrede covers this dilemma well in her tips on writing about secondary characters.
What secondary characters are you aware of that have gone on to their stories?
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Awesome Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh is the founder of IWSG. His awesome co-hosts for today are TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar!
Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
Am I insecure? Doesn't that just go along with being a writer? We wait and hope for a contract. When we get it (yes, I have a contract for my YA contemporary novel, yay), we worry about getting the edits just right. We worry if anyone will read it once it's published. I say "we", maybe it's only me. So ...
I'm taking a lesson from my favorite baseball team -- go Rangers. They started the season so badly most people gave up on them from the beginning. I didn't even watch their games that much. But the team members worked together. The coaches worked with them, and in spite of one injury after another that sidelined some players for the season and others for many games, they never gave up. They worked hard. Every win was a victory. A loss made them more determined to make it to the playoffs.
Well, they did. They won their division, and it went down to the last game of the regular season. They never gave up. How far they'll go in the playoffs no one knows. But they achieved their goal.
I hope to be like the Rangers. Bring on those edits. I'm ready. And the rough sketch I saw of the cover is fabulous. My family will read the story. What more could a writer ask for?
So don't be insecure. Never give up.
Friday, September 11, 2015
First up is Girl Genius, a "gaslamp" (their term) comic set in a world where creative "sparks" are very inventive. Updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday. There's also a Facebook group. It's been nominated and won several Hugo awards. Several of the collected issues are available in paper.
Freefall is set on a colony planet with humans, robots, a wolf engineer and a humanoid squid. Updated Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Schlock Mercenary is about a group of space mercenaries. It's been nominated for a Hugo several times. Past issues are also available in paper form. Updated daily.
Phoebe and Her Unicorn I found on Gocomics under its previous title Heavenly Nostrils. A delightful story of a young girl who becomes friends with a unicorn. It's now available in newspapers and past issues were collected into two books, Phoebe and Her Unicorn and Unicorn on a Roll. Updated daily.
Unshelved is the activities of a group of library workers. Updated Monday through Friday and collected issues are available in paper.
Blind Springs is about spirits and the politics of those attempting to control magic. Updated Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
PS 238 is an elementary school for metahumans hidden beneath a regular school. Amazon has both the collected and the individual issues available in paper, so trying to find the collected issues can be interesting (I've found the term 'paperback' worked). This one I recommend starting from the very beginning, as the setup for the school is very interesting.
How to Be a Werewolf is yes, about werewolves. It just started this year.
The following comics have stopped, though the back issues are still online.
Digger by Ursula Vernon is for an older audience than her Dragonbreath series. The completed version won the Hugo award and is the tale of a wandering wombat and the beings she encounters. The collected issues are available in paper.
Gronk is the story of a small monster adopted by a woman and her dog. The fourth book should be out soon.
There are other comics I follow at Gocomics, but those are ones I followed in the newspaper before I started reading the online version of my newspaper. The universes of these webcomics are such much more interesting.
What are some webcomics you enjoy?
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
The story started out entitled SURVIVORS' CLUB. It's about four teens that help each other survive school and their families.
I started it in December of 2009. Yes, that was quite a while ago. Worked on it and worked on it.
My critique group read some of the chapters. Thank you, Cheryl, Beth, and Gail for your welcome comments and advice. Thank you, Kai, from another group for hanging in there with me and reading the whole thing, more than once.
So, month after month my characters led me along, sometimes telling me what to do, other times giving me silence and letting me figure out where they were going myself.
I typed. I revised. And finally decided I needed an expert eye to look the story over. I sent it to an editor for a critique. She went over the manuscript thoroughly. Boy, did she. Which is what I wanted her to do. Be honest. Be truthful. She evaluated each character, told me their strong points and also their weak points. She pointed out problems with the plot. The story I thought was perfect and ready to be submitted needed some adjustments.
In 2014, I started over. The characters were the same. I couldn't get rid of them because I really liked them. Each character's ARC was improved. Each one actually made a discovery about him/herself this time.
And, the title even changed. The old one just didn't seem right anymore. So SURVIVORS' CLUB became UNDER A PURPLE MOON.
I sent the story to a couple of publishers. One wasn't interested; the other one never replied.
I would not give up, because I really liked the story now. So I queried another publisher. They asked to see sample chapters. YAY! Of course, I knew that didn't mean a lot. But then, they wanted to see the whole thing. I took a breath. One step closer, but still facing reality.
They liked the whole story, but had a couple of suggestions. Ones that made good sense. I went back through the story, made a few changes, and sent the new version to them. Now, in September, 2015, six years after I started the story, I wait to see if it will be published. If they like it, wonderful. If not, I like it and will keep trying. Will let you know either way.
How about you? Are you a slow writer or a fast writer?
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015
Assassination Classroom is a manga written and illustrated by Yuusei Matsui (OMG! He's on Goodreads!)
The manga is currently being translated and released in the US and the first season of the anime is out on Hulu and other outlets.
It is an amazing series with the weirdest premise ever! And it challenges us as humans as well as plays with words and roles.
Premise: A powerful being has destroyed a large chunk of the moon. Having proven his power, he tells the governments of the world that he will destroy the earth. However, he is willing to wait a year before doing so, thus giving them a chance to try to figure out how to destroy him, if they give in to certain demands....
He wishes to teach a class of students... Not only that, he encourages them to try to kill him. Though he's promised not to hurt any of them for doing so.
The big yellow guy is Koro Sensei - his name was given to him by his students as he did not have one of his own and the name is a play on words - Koro coming from the work Korosu (To kill) - Sensei means Teacher.
Koro Sensei cannot be harmed by conventional weapons (the government has tried!), but he can be heart by a specially formulated plastic. (The green knives on the poster are made of it. As well as the bbs that go in the grenades and the guns) He can also travel at Mach 20, and can move so fast he can make illusions of himself appear before different people if he so desires.
A government official is there to teach the kids how to handle themselves even as Koro Sensei truly teaches them academics. He's quite good at it, too. Even tailor makes the lessons and exams for each individual student. And he encourages them at every turn for them to do what they can to kill him. The governments have enticed anyone willing to try with a 20 Billion Dollar reward. (Only high officials, the Principal of the school, and the students, know what's going on - the governments don't want a panic.)
The kids are in Class E of a very prestigious school. They are considered the losers of the student body and are housed in an old school building at the top of the mountain - no air conditioning, the butt of everyone's jokes, the 10% to be sacrificed so the 90% will excel.
Nothing is ever as it seems. Especially when the monster, Koro Sensei, seems more human than most of those around them. It is from him that the students in Class E start learning they do have worth.
Brilliant and fast, Koro Sensei also has a strange collection of quirks and issues. Chaos in a yellow package. And way too much fun!
I hope you go check it out. Let me know what you think!
Friday, August 14, 2015
Bad news first - no decision on a YA Hugo Award this year. Good news, though, the Committee recommends it be reformed for another year so that it can focus on the issues involved in having a Campbell-like YA/teen literature award.
I've blogged before about the business meeting in 2013 at LoneStarCon 3 in San Antonio and the treatment there of a YA Hugo proposal. Worldcon in 2014 was in London, where there were several standing-room-only YA panels. LonCon 3 reformed a committee to investigate a YA Hugo proposal. Meanwhile the NASFiC (Detcon1) in 2014 created the Detcon1 Award for YA and Middle Grade Speculative Fiction and was able to get nominations for both categories from its supporters and attendees. The winners were listed in Locus.
Looking at the YA Hugo Committee report for this year, I'm feeling a bit more confident. The committee has definitely done its homework. The history of the YA marketing category is covered. The usual questions/arguments about the proposal are brought up and answered. How other organizations define YA for their awards are discussed, though in the section for comparisons between other YA awards by other organizations only the Newbery (which is for children) is brought up. True, the Newbery is better known than the Golden Duck Awards/Hal Clement Award and has been around longer, so that might be why that award was used.
So, yes, I am hopeful that the committee might be able to develop some award for YA/MG. It would be nice if it was a Hugo award, but even the Campbell (Not a Hugo (standard declaimer whenever the Campbell is mentioned)) is voted on by supporting and attending members of a Worldcon. And that is good.
What are your thoughts?
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Writing and Marketing - Even Tiny Action Steps Can Produce Huge Results
By Karen Cioffi
This Warren Buffet quote inspires me. It's simple, yet so amazingly powerful.
1. A tiny seed can create something as massive as a tree, even a sequoia tree.
Think of the giant sequoia tree in California, USA. It averages around 26 feet in diameter, weighs around 4,189,000 lbs. and reaches heights of 275 feet. According to Wikepedia, "Record trees have been measured to be 311 feet in height and over 56 feet in diameter. The oldest known giant sequoia based on ring count is 3,500 years old."
The seed of the sequoia tree is 0.16–0.20 inches long, 0.039 inches broad, and 0.039 inches wide.
Hard to imagine, isn't it.
Well, this can easily relate to writing, to content marketing, to business . . . to just about everything in your work and life.
Small positive actionable steps, no matter how tiny, can create massive results. You may think your writing and marketing efforts aren't moving you forward, but think of how long it takes that tiny seed to grow into that tree that gives shade.
2. What you sow today can have benefits for many tomorrows.
Time will pass whether you take action or not. If you have an idea, take action now. Don't wait for tomorrow or until you have more time or until you have more money. Take action now. The benefits may turn out to be bigger than you could possibly imagine.
You may reap the benefits of your writing or content marketing or business efforts far into your future, so take that initial step. Or, maybe it's expansion that you're thinking about, or a new strategy.
Keep in mind though that every living thing needs sun, water, and food to grow. So, when you take that step (plant that seed), be sure to give it the nurturing it needs to become what you believe it can be.
Plant that seed today!
I hope you found this information interesting and helpful. Too advanced, not enough, just right? I’d really love to know, so please leave a comment – good or bad or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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