Monday, July 1, 2013

Jumping Back into the Fire

My little break from writing has proven to be restful and chaotic at the same time. Our cruise was fantastic--and, yes, we did go into the Bermuda Triangle. We also made a last minute decision to move back to my hometown in Florida for the rest of the summer. I am enjoying being around family and friends.

I am also excited to start back in on my writing. And what better way to do that than Camp NaNoWriMo! I'll be attempting 50,000 words in the next 31 days. I've done very little prep for the story--some kids run into the Florida Skunk Ape while camping in Myakka State Park. It should be a fun time.

I hope is to write some updates through out the month to help keep me motivated. For now, I am off to write!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Post-College Recovery

April has come and gone without a post from me. Hopefully someone found my last post on self-publishing at least interesting if not helpful. The last month has been quite crazy. I finally managed to graduate college! I wasn't sure if this day would ever come. I also found out that I had Mono for most of the semester! So I haven't gotten a whole lot of writing in. But that is okay.

I am going on vacation this month to just relax and recover from the last couple of months. I'm going on my first cruise at the end of May as well. It is with Carnival, so I am hoping to have smooth sailing, especially with all of their recent mishaps. If something does go wrong, however, I hope it is something like blowing into the Bermuda Triangle and sweeping away to some crazy magical location for a day or two. That ought to give me something to write about.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Bit on Self-Publishing

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to attend an awesome writing symposium. I wasn't sure what to expect as it was my first venture into any sort of writing conference. As stated in the last few posts, I had a great time and I learned a ton. I think the thing that stuck in my ribs the most was the information on self-publishing. For me, self-publishing went from being something to be snubbed and looked down upon to something to be enthusiastically excited about possibly trying.

I wholeheartedly and sincerely apologize and repent of my former feelings.

Now, I am not saying that I will definitely go the self-publishing route in the future. There are pros and cons to both sides of the coin. I just thought that I would outline a few of the things that I learned about why self-publishing isn't just for those who can't get published the traditional route. 

First off, I was amazed at the ease of self-publishing. Now by ease I do not mean one click of a button and you will be a bestseller. But there are so many options and you really can get your work out there quickly. If you want a good product, you obviously would want to spend some time making sure your product looks good, but there are plenty of ways to get your product out there.

 And you don't have to pay a dime out of pocket! I always thought that self-publishing entailed forking out a bunch of money to get your books printed and then storing them in your garage until you could get someone to buy a copy. I'm sure that there are those who still go this route, but there are other options!

For starters, you can do a Kindle version of your book through There is also CreateSpace, amazon's partner company. They do have some paid-for services, like formatting your book, or designing a cover, which can be helpful. But if you are savvy and can do these things yourself, it costs $0 to get your book out there. They are a print on demand site, so when someone orders your book on amazon, they print it and ship it. They then take a cut (and that is how they get paid) but then your get your percentage of the cut--and it is nothing to sniff at.

This leads me to one of the other perks of self-publishing. If you go the traditional route, after the publisher and your agent get their cut, you'll probably get around a 7-9% royalty. So on a $10 book, that's about 80 cents. Not too bad if you can sell lots of books. With the Kindle books, you can make as much as a 70% royalty (if the book falls within a certain price range). So on a $5 dollar kindle book, you would make $3.50. That's pretty great! The royalty is not as large on CreateSpace, but it can still be pretty good (it depends on the length of the book)--a 300 page book set at $10 would give you $1.55 in royalties. That is almost double the traditional publisher.

So there are definite pros to self-publishing, but there can be a few drawbacks. For one, if you self-publish, you have to do all the marketing of your book by yourself. This can take a big chunk of your time. At the writing symposium that I attended, traditionally published authors said that they spend about 15-20% of their time working on marketing. Those who were self-published said they spent around 50-60%. That's huge. So if marketing isn't your thing, self-publishing may not be the way to go. I did learn, however, that even when a publisher wants to publish your book, they expect you to have your own marketing plan of how to get your book out there. So you wouldn't completely escape marketing either way.

Personally, I like the control that self-publishing offers. I also like the indie culture. Although in many ways more difficult, the idea of pushing through the crowd to be successful has appeal. 

Crowd funding has also caught on as a way to get your writing (and other cool projects) out there. If you haven't had a chance to check out Kickstarter, I highly recommend it. Basically, you have a creative idea, and others help fund the endeavor and are rewarded with things that you will give them for helping you out. For example, one of the people I met at the symposium is trying to make a monster look-and-find book. He has various rewards for those who help fund his project, like copies of the book and original art work. Kickstarter has a whole section just for publishing. Its a great tool to potentially utilize. 

So yeah, those are a few of the things that I learned. I was amazed to find out that there are authors that make a living--pay a mortgage and raise a family--just by being a writer and self-publishing. How awesome is that. 

There were a few authors in particular at the writing symposium that helped expand my views on self-publishing. You can find links to their websites below. You should definitely check out their work.
Tracy Hickman --yeah, THE Tracy Hickman, co-author of the Dragonlance series

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

LtUE Symposium: In Review (part 2)

Hello again! This post will be the second part of my review of the Life, the Universe & Everything Symposium. The first part of the review can be found here. So as I stated in the previous post, this part of the review will focus on some of the stuff that I learned at the symposium--and boy, was there a lot!

It was the first writing symposium/conference that I have ever been to. I am grateful that I remembered to bring my writing notebook and pen because there is no way that I would have remembered all of the wonderful things from the conference otherwise. There was just so much information! All in all, I went to 12 lectures. I will try to summarize some of the things that I learned below.

I actually had a HUGE paradigm shift during the conference about the world of publishing. I will admit that before the conference, I sort of rolled my eyes and looked down my nose at self-publishing. Someone who self-publishes clearly was inferior to those who were published through a traditional publishing house. In my mind, the self-publisher was someone who had written a mediocre book and then had a bunch of copies printed which are now collecting dust in their garage. To learn otherwise was a complete revelation! I have since repented for my narrow-minded snootiness.

A few of the panels discussed self-publishing and then a few other panels just happened to have some self-published authors presenting. I learned a lot of tips on how self-publishing can be very successful. Now, I am not saying that those mediocre-sit-in-the-garage-and-collect-dust book publishers aren't out there. I am sure there are quite a few. But there are also a lot of successful authors who make enough money to support a home and family. Pretty amazing! I'm not saying that I will definitely go the rout of self-publishing, but it has opened my mind to the idea. I plan on writing a post in the near future specifically discussing more about this topic. Watch for it!

I also attended a few panels about writing good horror. They focused a lot on writing effective horror without being gratuitous or gory and disgusting without a purpose. They also commented on how the horror genre can be very cathartic and actually be the most redeeming genre because there is such contrast between good and evil. I liked that idea a lot.

Another valuable panel I attended was one that talked about making time for creativity with Sandra Taylor. This woman seems like Super Woman with all she is able to fit into her life. But she gave us 10 steps that made it seem possible to fit in some writing time:

  1. Identify your support group
  2. Have a physical space for your creative endeavor
  3. Understand your bio rhythms (when during the day is best for you to write)
  4. When setting up a schedule, build supports into it (ie what will trigger me to know its time to write)
  5. Master the small stretch--willpower is a limited resource--don't try to bite off more than you can chew
  6. Learn to work in fragments--especially true if you have young children
  7. Ponder the tortoise and the hare
  8. Health and spoon theory (at the beginning of the day, we're only given a certain amount of spoons [energy]--some people get 20, while others only get 2 [maybe because of health issues]--work with what  you have)
  9. Get outside your box
  10. Your system will break--its not because the system sucks, but because life changes so we have to adjust our system

Number 5 is the most important for me right now. I like to tell myself crazy things: "OK self, on Monday, we're getting up at 5:30am, writing for an hour, then exercising for 45 minutes, showering and eating breakfast all before 8am!" Yeah, today I rolled out of bed at 9am when my daughter woke up. How likely will it be for me to magically start getting up at 5:30am, let alone get the other stuff done? HA! Learning to implement small changes until you have your creative system tweaked is valuable info.

Alright, well, this post ended up being longer than I had expected. I could keep going on all the great stuff I learned, but these were the most impactful things. Keep on the lookout for a post about self-publishing in the near future!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

LtUE Symposium: in Review (part 1)

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the Life, the Universe, & Everything Sci-Fi and Fantasy symposium. The symposium was chock-full of panels, workshops and presentations by authors, publishers and sci-fi/fantasy gurus. According to their site, LTUE is the longest, student run symposium of its nature in the nation. Pretty cool, huh?

I was fortunate to hear about the symposium on Twitter a little over a week before it started. I hopped onto the site and found out that, as a student, I could attend for free! I had no idea what the conference really was, just that some cool authors would be there (Tracy Hickman, co-author of the Dragonlance series for one) and some of the panels seemed interesting. Sign me up!

John, my encouraging, amazing husband, graciously said that he would watch Samantha every moment that he wasn't in class (he even had a few big projects to work on) so that I could go to as many panels as possible. All in all, i was able to attend 13-one hour sessions and a ginormous mass author signing event over the course of the three days. Pretty amazing. My head hurt by the end of it all, but it a totally good way, if that makes any sense.

This was my first time going to any type of writing conference, but I figured I would give my two cents on my overall experience. First, I thought the location was a good fit. It was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Provo (just 2 miles from my apartment) and the layout of the hotel made finding the rooms easy. It was also nice to have a very roomy lounge area with many comfy-looking couches and chairs for breaks in between panels. Unfortunately, because I was running back and forth between home, class, and the symposium, I didn't actually get to do much lounging! But it was cool to see fellow participants sitting, chatting, and networking.

I also thought that the symposium was very well organized. I was able to get right in and get my badge and program (note: I did not get to the conference until about noon on the first day, so I do not know what kind of chaos ensued at the registration table when the doors first opened.) Almost all of the panels that I attended started on time and stayed on topic. The moderators were fantastic as well. There were a few times, however, that technical difficulties (mostly projectors now being set up) made the start of a panel lag a bit)

The symposium was a great place to network. I felt like everyone was very approachable and open to chatting. People from all walks of life were in attendance.

It was especially fun to rub shoulders with the authors. The mass author signing was great in that I met tons of authors, but I wish they would have held it in a larger room. It was just so crowded and loud that I went home a little hoarse from having to nearly shout to be heard. I did have a really neat experience, however, when I had an author ask if I was working on anything at the moment. I gave him a 2 sentence summary of my current project, and he asked to know more! He said that it sounded like a great idea and he then bounced one of his ideas off of me. It was pretty neat, and, I'll admit, a bit of a confidence booster.

All in all, I had a wonderful time I would definitely attend the symposium again. I would especially recommend attending if you are in the area next year.

I'll post part 2 of this review soon where I'll talk about some of the great things that I learned during the symposium--I learned a lot and this post is long enough already!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Quick Update

Life has taken over again, and thus I have fallen off the writing bandwagon. But its time to get up and dust myself off.

A quick update as to my writings: I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time last November. I decided that I would try something totally different and not plan out my novel. I started with a germ of an idea and on November 1st, I just started writing! This exercise taught me that I just do not work that way! I only clocked about 1,500 words. Abysmal, I know, but it was 1,500 more than I had on October 31st!

I am planning on participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in April and then again in July. My hope is that I will have enough of a story loosely outlined to be successful.

I really like the idea of not having every detail of my story figured out ahead of time. I think that there would be some fun in finding stuff out as I write. But I do like some bit of an outline, just to keep me on track.

I am super stoked for the Life, the Universe & Everything: The Marion K. ‘Doc’ Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy next week! I have never been and this will be my last chance to get in for free. I am excited for all the workshops they will be having, and I am especially excited that Tracy Hickman, co-author of the Drangonlance series will be there! I will make sure to update here with a recap.

As far as New Years writing goals, I came up with one: I want to have 7 working manuscripts by the end of the year. I once read on Jane Yolen's site that she tries to have at least 7 working pieces at a time. that way the always has something to work on and to submit. I think its a worthy goal.

I have also received 5 rejection letters for Sam the Bedlamite.  There are still 7 more out there, but I just heard back from the Shadow Mountain publisher and I felt that they were my best shot. Ah well. Like I have said in previous posts, the mere fact that I submitted the story at all has empowered me. Onward and Upward!

My writing group has started meeting again and they are a great bunch of gals. It is great to get together and toss ideas off one another. Our next meeting is next week. It should be fun. Lots of great writing stuff next week!