Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baby Evil Writers 101: On Publishing Wait Times

On Publishing Wait Times
Julie Butcher


Before you hit send on that manuscript submission or query letter, realize what you're getting yourself into. Because the honest truth is that you're going to need the patience and restraint of a saint. When you're evil this can be the most difficult part of the publishing process.

Not kidding, guys.

Whatever reply scenario you see on a website's guidelines is the fastest possible reply time. It can be longer. In most cases, it will be longer. That said you'll get rejections at an amazingly fast pace. It's always seemed to me that the no comes much more quickly than the yes.

In my own experience, it took sixteen months from querying my agent to an offer of representation.  I know of writers who had an offer on a book as long as two years after they sent the full manuscript. That said, it probably isn't a good idea to poke at people who have only had your work for a couple of weeks.

Learning to wait is part of the process. You'll wait to get an agent or editor. Then you'll wait for them to find the time to read your work and give you notes. After you write like a fury on the revisions, you'll have to wait some more. Then you'll wait to get a publishing date, and wait for the longed for day.

Seriously. You will wait until every nerve in you body screams for it to be over. Then, when you're at the breaking point, YOU WAIT MORE.

The easiest way to deal is to not worry until at least six months after you've sent your work out there. Then, you can email and ask. Then, wait another six months. Find something to do instead of clicking your email every six seconds. Start another project. Write a different story. Go outside and soak up some sun.

This will take a while.

Things you can learn to make waiting easier:

1. Stand on you head in a corner and spit nickels.
2. Make Latin an undead language and chat with your friends.
3. Invent a hover board. (Marty McFly has obviously fallen down on the job.)
4. Tibetan throat singing/ make it to the international contest.

Any more ideas? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why I Won’t Read Your Half-finished Novel

I should call this post, Why I Say No a Lot and All My Friends Think I’m a Colossal Bitch, but that’s a mouthful and they’d like it way too much.  But it’s true.

For whatever reason, I get a lot of people asking me to read something they’ve written, and more times than I like to think about, it’s something unfinished. My answer? Not a chance. I am happy to read it when it’s done. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

I understand the urge to get feedback before you’ve finished something. I get it too. Usually I try to rapidly squash it with a hammer…or the nearest door, and I recommend that you try the same. It’s natural to want to share your words as soon as possible but, if those words are still pouring out, it’s a terrible, horrible, awful bad idea. 

Why? Because despite our surface level intentions, when we get absolutely brutally honest about it, the motivation for wanting to share at this stage is most likely to get praise. What we usually really want is a big ol round of, Oh My God, This Is The Most Brilliant Thing Ever Written. We want to hear that we are not writing in vain, that our words are golden and that, once we buck up and finish the grueling task of getting this story down, it will be perfect, shiny, splendid, and we will never have to work on it again.

Ha, I say. Ha! You just made me laugh so hard that I snorted my coffee.

Just for a second let’s pretend I’m not a bitch and I don’t enjoy trashing other people’s work. Let’s pretend, in fact, that I love to encourage new writers, that I’m absolutely passionate about it. I’m still going to be honest about someone's writing. If they trusts me enough to ask for feedback, I feel like I owe them that, and even if I love the book. Love love love it, I’m going to find something to mention that isn’t 100% glowy praise. Also, never has a first draft been written that didn’t need editing, lots and lots of editing. I believe that. So if you think you can get around that stage, I’m totally the wrong person to come talk to.

I will laugh shamelessly at you.

Okay, that’s out of the way. Now, what are the main reasons I hate to read unfinished books from, well, anyone? First off, one comment said casually could be taken the wrong way, could be seen as the crushing evidence that they should never write another word, that they should at least scrap this novel and start a different one, that they should never finish this story. That is one huge ass risk, and I refuse to take it on. I will not be responsible for a story not getting told. In fact, I have nightmares about that very thing. It’s probably something I should discuss with a therapist and not here.

So! The next reason…If you haven’t told your whole, entire story to its finish, then something I say might change its trajectory. In fact, you might not end up writing the same story you intended to write at all. In the editing phase, it’s all about taking feedback, but while you are still writing, I think you have to get your story down. The one you are meant to write. Alone. Write the story you want to tell, your way, all the way to the end first. Then go looking for help with sorting it out.

All this stuff aside, my final reason is where the real issue comes to the surface. You see, if they haven’t finished this thing, how do I know they ever will? The majority of would be authors don’t finish. Never do. That’s not really my problem, until they ask me to devote time and effort to read it and give them feedback. Now it is my problem, because like it or not I don’t want to invest a lot of time and effort (and I do put a lot of effort into beta reads and such) if I’m not even sure they’ll finish the story…ever, no matter what I say.

The bitchy part is that makes me feel like they’re wasting my time. I believe that finishing what you write is the hardest part of writing. It’s the one and only thing that separates a want-to-be author from an author in my book. It’s the thing. Finishing is bigger than starting, more important than all the writing they’ve done so far and scarier than the editing they are imagining at the end of the tunnel will ever be. It’s also the one thing they have to do if any of the other stuff is even going to matter. Finishing. Getting to the end.

Please don’t risk not making it by asking for my feedback prematurely. I won’t be one more thing in a long list of excuses you’ve collected for not reaching the end. It wouldn’t help you one bit if I was.
Finish it first. Prove that you can. 

The proof is in the pudding, you see. I have author friends who I know can finish things, friends who churn out finished projects on a regular basis. Should any of them come asking for feedback in the middle of a project (most of them are smart enough not to) I will consider it. Maybe. Depending on the circumstances and the individual, how busy I am or how pissy I feel that day. Anyway, I’ll probably still say no, but the point is a lot of my hesitation would be gone simply because I could trust that I won’t kill their story completely with one comment. Some of them, I I’d probably only make so mad they’d have to finish just to prove me wrong. . .

But that’s a whole different topic, and I’m riled up enough as it is.
Finish your book before you let anyone see it. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Series Post: Ask Dr. Dina - Loss of Consciousness

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I do not hold a current medical license or certification (I let them lapse because I no longer work in the medical field and don't intend to ever again). What I do have is an extensive medical background in various fields. Everything you read here is the result of either education, training, research and interpretation, or personal experience. The information in this post is not to be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice or examination. Seriously, if you're having an immediate medical problem and you're reading this blog for help, get off the damned computer and call an ambulance! That being said, let us continue.

Today I begin a series of ELEW blog posts inspired by our lovely Bitchstress Dreamkiller called "Ask Dr. Dina."

As the above disclaimer states, I'm not really a doctor, nor have I ever been. I have worked in the medical field in various settings and have an extensive and varied medical background. These posts will all focus on how medicine applies to your writing.

We’re going to start this series off talking about fainting. In the medical field, this is called "syncope" or "sudden loss of consciousness" (not to be confused with "altered level of consciousness" which is a separate issue I will address in another post). Both are written as LOC in medical charts.

Writer Andrew Jack has done an excellent series of posts involving fighting, and he addresses some fantastic points about what it's actually like to lose consciousness and the repercussions involved.

Let's bring up some of the names people call LOC, shall we? "Fainting," "passing out," "blacking out," "knocked out," "unconscious," etc. They all mean the same thing. They might not all have the same cause (because there are a lot of reasons LOC happens), but they all mean the same thing. Your character is non-responsive.

As Andrew up there says, LOC isn't a quick thing to recover from. You don’t just pass out, then when you "come to" get up and are your old self again. Depending on the cause of the LOC, there are going to be problems – disorientation at the very least. If you've ever been knocked out – and I have – you're going to have a headache. How long and how bad it is depends on what happened. Even something as simple as a sudden change in blood pressure can cause LOC, and when consciousness is restored, your head will pound.

There are various stages of consciousness (the altered states I'll talk about in another post), ranging from mild WTFery to coma. "Coma" or "comatose" means you're not able to be roused by any means (and there are lots of ways to try and bring someone around, and most of them aren't pleasant). You're unconscious. This can last minutes, hours, days, or longer. Sometimes you never regain consciousness, but that's another post.

If you've ever called an ambulance or been in the emergency room and been asked what you thought were silly questions, there's a reason for it. They're trying to determine your mental status. If you don't know your name or what day of the week it is or who the President is or how you got where you are (or don't know where you are at all), it tells the health care professional a lot of things. Your answers determine your LOC and by proxy what needs to be done to help you/what part of your brain is affected.

When they shine a light in your eyes one at a time or put their hand in front of your eye and pull it away again, they're looking for a reaction in your pupils. Your pupils can tell a lot about your LOC (which is why a policeman will shine his flashlight in your eyes at night when he pulls you over – if you're stoned, your pupils won't constrict like they're supposed to. They'll remain dilated thanks to the high you're riding). It's called PERRLA – "pupils equal, round, react to light, accommodation." If any one of those things is off, there's a problem. If you ever see someone with one pupil bigger than the other (and believe me, this is noticeable), it's called a "blown pupil" (mydriasis) and generally (but not always) indicates stroke or other intracranial pressure issues.

As I said, a lot of things can cause LOC, and those things have consequences. If your character is knocked unconscious by a boot to the head, how long they're out and how they behave when (if) they regain their senses depends on you.

And therein lies the problem.

You need to know, as a writer, if their reaction to their change in LOC is realistic enough FOR YOUR WORLD. If your charrie is superhuman or not human at all or has special abilities and can take a blow to the head and be fine, all right. Great. But justify that. If they're just a regular person, be sure and add consequences to being knocked out or even just beaten up.

If possible somewhere in your story, have them checked out by a medical professional. It's the least you can do.

 Questions about medical issues with your writing? Leave them in the comments below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. (THESE MUST APPLY TO FICTIONAL SITUATIONS ONLY. I AM NOT YOUR DOCTOR, NOR A SUBSTITUTE FOR ONE.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Selling yourself

I'm trying to sell my car (because I'm getting a new awesome one!) and it's made me think about marketing yourself, which is applicable here.

Promotion is a pain. It is also, unfortunately, how you sell books. While it would be delightful to write a book and then never do anything again and have it sell millions of copies, that's just not how it works. Promotion and marketing are especially important if you're published with a small press or self-published. The big publishers will do more to promote your books, but unless you're one of their best sellers, you can still be doing more.

You can always do more.

But, don't be obnoxious about it. That's your basic rule of thumb, I think. Like anything, promotion is good in reasonable quantities. If you overdo it, people will want to hit you. Trust me, I will.

I love Twitter. I think it's a fabulous way to connect with people, see what people are up to, and it's especially great in the writer community. But there are inevitably those people who sign up for an account and then spam-blast their 2 followers every hour on the hour with promotional tweets. Uh, no. That's not why ANYONE followed you. Same goes for Facebook. The people who follow you or like you or are friends with you are there because they're interested in you. In your books too, sure, but you as a person more. So go ahead and promote yourself on Twitter or Facebook or other social networking sites, but don't let that be the only thing you do.

Be personal, let people into your life a little bit. I'm not saying show them pictures of where you sleep, but let them get to know you. Whether that's funny stories about how your writing was going, typos that made you giggle, or whatever, but don't make it all promotion. Because I (and most of the rest of the universe) are likely to unfollow you as fast as possible and possibly report you for spam.

Most people seem to have gotten the hang of social networking these days, fortunately. But word to the wise, real life is like that too. (What? Life is like the internet? No way! It's true. Fewer cats, probably. I digress). Asking your friends and family to buy your book is great. Please do not badger them about it. People have a variety of reasons for not being able to purchase a book. I'm pretty sure your Uncle George is not the reason you didn't make it on the New York Times bestseller list.

There you have it. Promote, but not too much. Just don't be obnoxious.

Words to live by  :)


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What I'm Not Doing on My Vacation

Seleste here, and I'm on vacation this week. You know, one of those things I mentioned in my last post that are good for authors to do sometimes? Yeah. Doing it, plus it's my birthday week, and according to some people's definition, I'm officially old now. Obviously I need a break.

During this time, there are several things I'm not doing.

  • I'm not answering email. Internet costs a ridiculous amount, so it's not happening. I figure if someone really needs me right now, they'll call. (Especially since all my editors with projects currently in the works know I'm gone.)
  • I'm not reading books to review. That's not to say I definitely won't review what I'm reading, only that I'm not reading with that in mind. It's my vacation. I read what I want.
  • I'm not making myself hit a daily word count. Yes, I have projects I should be working on. Yes, I like to stay consistent. Yes, I normally write on vacation. I'm just not going to beat myself up about it. 

What I am doing is:

  • Recharging. The holidays are an incredibly stressful time for me and this year was no different.
  • Reconnecting with my kids and husband. I love my internet relationships, but I want more with my family than the couple hours between the end of school/work and bedtime.
  • Reading. Without the internet distracting me, I'm hoping to get a lot of solid, happy reading in. <3
  • Recon. We're going to places I used in a book that is with one of my publishers right now. I'll be making sure I got things right and taking notes on what I didn't but I'm leaving anyway (more on this in a different post sometime.)
  • Writing (I know it doesn't start with Re-, get over it). See where I mentioned word counts? I stand by that, but I know me, I will write. It just might not be on what I'm supposed to work on. *shrug*

The hope is when I get back, I'm all re-invigorated and ready to put back on my snarky pants and post something fantastically ranty. For today, I'm just going to kick back, soak up the sun, hang with my family, and remember why I do all that other stuff.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Seleste!

Today is an auspicious day. It is the anniversary of the birth of our Blasphemous Dispensator of Expenditures, Seleste deLaney!

Seleste is smarter than you, handles a lot more shit than you do, and is just generally better than you. Also, she looks FANTASTIC in a corset. If you don't believe me, check out her site and see for yourself.

Additionally, she shares this day of natality with none other than Buffy the Vampire Slayer (shut up, I have this on good authority from someone who knows the 'verse canon, so I don't want to hear ANY ARGUING). That adds many, many points to her Evil Cred. She is truly a valuable and outstanding member of the Evil League of Evil Writers, and we're very pleased to count her among us.

Happy birthday, Seleste! May you enjoy your day in the manner which most pleases you, drinks borne to you buy scantily-clad members of your preferred gender, and booze-filled cupcakes.

Evil hugs,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Baby Evil Writers 101: On New Year’s Resolutions

Baby Evil Writers 101: On New Year’s Resolutions
Julie Butcher

So, I have been watching everyone on Twitter and Facebook make their choices about what they’ll try to achieve in 2013. The thing about resolutions is that you’re supposed to actually do them. You’re making a promise to yourself that you will accomplish these goals. You might want to think twice about a few I have heard.

  I will get an agent/editor.  ßBAD IDEA

Ummm…no. First of all, the agent or editor chooses you. You pick who to query with your work but after that, the words are all you have. Also, you don’t get them. You work together as a team. The better goal would be to say, I will send out 100 polished, edited, queries in 2013. You can control this resolution while the first is really up to fate.

  I will get a book deal.  ß BAD IDEA

Once again, this isn't within your control. You cannot force anyone’s hand. You cannot make a deal—unless, of course, you make your own fake publishing company and self-publish your story. If all you want is to see your words in print, then go ahead. But don’t expect Goofball and the Amazing Muse to sell like Fifty Shades of Grey. You have a better chance of winning the lotto.

  I will make a bestseller list.  ßBAD IDEA

Of course we would all like to see our book in the top ten lists of The New Your Times. I’m happy for every single writer who is on that list. But, once again, you have no control over whether you make a list or not. All you can control is your writing. You can make yourself sit at the keyboard. You can make yourself outline and write a killer synopsis. You can’t make the faceless masses buy your book. There are names for people who try to force others to do things. Most of them I wouldn't use in public.

   I will write like it is my job.  ßGOOD IDEA

If you have the goal of writing, and actually making green money from your books, you’d better get in the habit of making it your work. This is a resolution that, for the most part, you can control. Of course, if an airplane crashes into your house, you get a free pass and a do-over.

   I will think before I hit SEND on an email. ßEVEN BETTER IDEA

I firmly believe that most writers shoot themselves in the foot agent-wise. They get a form rejection, and fire off an email quicker than snap. A rejection is only that. Your work isn't ready, or it isn't a story that the agent/editor loves. It isn't a reflection on you, your brain, your heart, or your children. Until you click send, the door to that particular agent/editor is open. The very second you pop off that blistering tirade, the door closes forever.

  I will edit the literal crap out of my work to the best of my ability.  ßBEST IDEA EVER!

Editing your own work is difficult, but not impossible. You definitely need a group of beta readers to help you find where what was in your mind didn’t land on the page. You can see your characters like they’re standing in the room. They’re ingrained in your imagination so well that unless you put your work away for weeks (and possibly months if your memory is good), you literally cannot find the mistakes. Editing makes the difference between getting an agent/editor, and singing the blues.

But no matter what you said on January first, give your resolutions a good think, and change them if you need to. Unrealistic goals set you up to fail, and no one needs that, right?

Does the Dark side really have Cookies?

I get the feeling I’m about to find out. 

When the invitation came through to join the Evil League of Evil Writers, I was thrilled. I’ve guest blogged on the site, and I agree wholeheartedly with their mission of evil. That won’t surprise a lot of people.

I jumped at the chance, primarily, because the rest of the members all pretty much rock, but also because the very idea of an evil league is pretty damn cool.  I watched the League theme song video with a delighted cackle on my lips and, like a mad scientist, began to analyze just why the Dark side was so appealing. Do they have cookies, and if so, are there any white-chocolate, macadamia nut goodies left for me?

Villains are cool. My villains, your villains, anyone’s villains. Personally, I trace the phenomenon to its origin, somewhere between David Bowie’s goblin king and Dragonlance’s evil, wizard twin, Raistlin. I fell for the dark side somewhere between Maleficent and Mad Madam Mim. (Disney really does the evil sorceress best) I’m sure everyone else has their own favorites, but why do so many of us just love that bad guy? It just might be because the dark side actually does have much more to offer…

Points in favor of villainy (the cookies)

Power: The dark side has better magic. It’s true. No matter how many sparkly, swish-and-flick spells the good guys have at their disposal, the other side’s are always bigger, more dramatic and far more powerful.

Spontaneity: You never know what the dark side will do next! The villain can be counted on to shake things up whenever boredom threatens. They are the unpredictable element, the spooky excitement of the unknown.

Underdog value: If good always triumphs, then you can’t find a better underdog than a villain. They try so hard, and yet, you’re pretty sure they’re going to eff it up in the end.  

Style: (it’s all about the clothes) The dark side often has better costumes. (Certain superhero franchises aside.) Evil couture is sexier. So are black horses, evil cars, villainous hairstyles, dragons and most evil spaceships. Evil pets are definitely cooler. Case in point:

They will get you...just as soon as they wake up.

Theme songs: The dark side gets the best music nine times out of ten. (I just made that up.)

Infamy: Way harder to earn than fame. Anyone can be famous, but to become infamous takes something really, globally, immensely huge.

Underlings: Minions are terribly useful when moving…or you know, whatever you’re doing.

Truth: The dark side is honest. Seriously. Not in a goofy, heroic, honor and chivalry kind of way. I mean in the straight up, “Hey, that’s not mine, but it’s shiny and I want it,” sort of way. You’ll never know what your good friend is really thinking. They HAVE to act nice. Your evil friend won’t bother with false, goody-goody rubbish. If you have something they want, they’ll simply announce it directly and get on with plotting your demise.

That’s the real gem, if you ask me. Not the demise part, perhaps, but the straight up bit. I want a friend who’ll tell me this dress does make my ass look huge, and then make me go change before we go out in public.  Whether you know it or not, so do you.

You want someone to tell you, “Hey, your plot has a galactic hole in it.” You do. It will sting a bit, because no one likes to hear the truth about their ass…or their book. But it’s good to know it, just the same. We need our evil friends to save us from public embarrassment. Thankfully, in this industry, we have critique partners, beta readers, editors and reviewers who will happily lend an honest opinion.

Love them. Embrace the evil. Once the stinging stops, you can probably have a cookie. But hands off the white chocolate chips. They’re for me.

~ Frances

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Not Butt In Chair, It's Hands On Keyboard

Gothic Goddess, here.

There's been a lot of talk lately about your word count and producing words and so on, and this is understandable. It's a new year, which means new beginnings and new goals and so on, and productivity/changing your habits is usually one on a lot of people's New Year's Resolutions list.

I'm okay with this. BUT!

Here's the thing. Like any new routine or goal, the enthusiasm and drive behind it can fizzle out about a week or so into it. They say it takes about three weeks to make or break a habit (some sources say six, but we'll go with three for argument's sake), so sticking with it (what’s called "discipline" for you free spirit hippy types) can be a challenge. This is where wanting it badly enough comes in, but I've covered that topic before.

What I'm going to talk about today is not desire, but fear.

See, I share our Bad Horse's opinion on the subject of writer's block. There's no such thing as writer's block. (I'm not talking about writer's angst or writer's apathy. These are two different animals I'll discuss here another time.) There's only fear.

And if you're going to be a writer, you have to stop being afraid.

That right there is the real goal. Anyone can produce words. It takes courage (guts, huevos, brass balls, a pair, cojones, a set, a backbone, a spine – you get it) to write, and I've met more than a few people who should really step back and admit to themselves that they're not brave enough to be a writer.

And you know what? That's okay.

It's okay to be afraid. It is. What makes the difference between a writer and someone who writes is what they do with that fear.

Someone who writes cries "writer's block" or whines about how they have no time to write or how they wish they could write or that they "should/want to get back to their writing" (that they haven't touched in months or years).

A writer sits down and puts their hands on the fucking keyboard and lets it happen, and THAT is terrifying. Every damned time.

Just because you accustom yourself to something doesn't mean it's less scary. It just means you're less afraid. Writing, like anything else you want to become proficient at, is scary as hell the first time you do it, but unlike firearms training or driver's education, every time you touch the keyboard, something different happens. There is no "getting used to" writing.

There's only letting yourself be okay with the fear.

Writing is about surrender, every time, and that can be tremendously frightening for control freaks.

But it's also insanely addictive and seductive. You create your own worlds, can control them (sometimes – more often than not they do what they want/control YOU), are familiar to the inhabitants of that world, you know the rules, on and on. It can be intoxicating, and sometimes you never want to leave. (Other times you can't wait to get the hell out, but that's another topic.)

When you put your hands on the keyboard, you're taking a risk of losing yourself, and that's what the majority of people who "want to write" don't understand and never will. They still think they're in control and don't want to give any of it up, when that's exactly what you absolutely must do if you're going to be a writer. (I'm smirking evilly at you,"indie" authors.)

So many of those who "want to write" think that because they blog about their various personal issues and oh-by-the-way-throw-in-something-wordsmithy-here they're a writer.

This is not so.

Being a writer is about more than production. More than being paid to make words. More than "wanting."

Being a writer is about putting your hands on the keyboard and surrendering yourself to whatever may happen. It's about losing control and letting go and not knowing where you're going or what's going to happen to you when you get there (thank you, Starman, I just totally nicked that quote).

Writing is about fear and the courage to face it.

P.S. For those writers who are committed to their wordcount/goal and want a nice way to keep track and have a good visual record of their progress, may I recommend this excellent word tracker shown to me by our beloved Bitchstress Dreamkiller, available free from the wonderful Svenja Liv.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Young at Heart

Okay, I'm not old. I just turned 31, which I consider to be just barely old enough to justify me acting like an adult. And young enough to still call my parents for advice about stuff. I'm married, though, so that ups the relative age a few years. Given how many nights I stay in reading instead of going out and partying my youth away, I'm probably even older than I thought.

Plus I just got my first real wrinkle.

Oh god. I'm ancient.

*chugs a bottle of wine*

Okay, I'm better now. Normally, I could care less about age. I mean, on the internet, no one knows how old you are, right? And that's all that matters. Besides, in my day job, being older is an advantage (for some reason people get uppity about being charged $225 an hour to talk to someone who's younger than your grandchildren... and I can't say that I blame them!).

But I'm working on a Young Adult novel these days. And my heroine is in high school.

I barely remember high school. My overwhelming impression of it is that I couldn't wait for it to be over. I even considered graduating a year early to escape to college. I didn't, but man, I wanted to.

So how am I supposed to write a book with believable high school characters when I can barely remember what high school was like?

If I were older and had kids of my own, I'd pester them until they told me. If I had cousins or nieces or nephews that were in high school, you can count I'd be harassing them for the hip new things. But I don't. So short of hanging around the local high school until I get arrested, what's a girl an old lady perfectly aged female individual to do?

I do have some leeway because this is scifi YA, so a couple hundred years in the future, who knows what kids those days will be saying/doing? But attitude will probably stay the same (unfortunately!)

So I've been watching a lot of teen movies. Yeah, sure, they feature 20-somethings trying to pretend like they're high schoolers, but they do a pretty good job of getting across the stereotypical teenage drama. Any suggestions for movies or TV I should check out?

Otherwise, I'm up a creek until my non-existent children are conceived, born, and grow up.

Although I did just get a monster zit, so maybe I'm regressing. In no time, I'll remember what life in the super cool crowd in high school was like (Yeah, right. I was a nerdy loser back then. And now.)

Like, totes later, dudes!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shouldn't You Be Writing?

by Seleste deLaney

I have this author friend. She's seen a bit of success and has picked up an uber-fan. Not quite Annie Wilkes (Misery), but an uber-fan nonetheless. This fan keeps poking at my friend about the next book. At first I shrugged it off because it looked like it had only happened a couple times, but lately it's happening more often. A couple weeks ago, she made the "mistake" of posting about something on her social media that *gasp* wasn't writing. Uber-fan basically told her to get back to work.

Um... excuse me?

First, no one works 24/7. No one. I'm a mom, and even I get a couple hours away from that job every night to sleep. Everyone needs sleep, food, exercise, and a bevy of other things that aren't work. As much as writers joke about how we never stop writing (not entirely a joke, but I'll get to this in a bit), we don't spend all day every day at our computers tapping out stories. It is a job that most of us spend more than the normal 40 hours a week at, but it is a job.

Second, an author's job involves a lot more than just writing. If all we had to do was type out stories, we could (most of us) churn out 6-12 books a year, no problem. Most of them would be crap, but we could. You see, we also have to make time for editing, which can take as much time as writing. We also have to make time for querying/submissions/paperwork/etc--all the businessy parts of dealing with publishers. We also are supposed to be active in promoting our work. That means blogging and book tours and social media. Unless an author is making a solid six-figure plus income, they're probably doing most of that solo, which is more work. And none of this even takes research into account. Authors do the job because we love the job, but there's more to it than just writing the story, and all of it takes time.

Third, (and I am a classic case of this) if all a person does is work, they will burn out. That well of stories in their head? It will dry up because everything will sound like a crappy idea. They won't be able to write because the idea of sitting in front of the keyboard and creating a world out of nothing is exhausting. It's ceased to be a joy and it's become drudgery. At that point, the author that you love? They're not only going to not be working on the next book in the series you're anxiously awaiting; they're not going to be working on anything. Maybe ever, but certainly not for a while. Everyone needs to recharge sometimes, and writing can be incredibly emotionally and mentally taxing.

Lastly, that bit about how writers are always writing? It's both true and false. It's false because of all the things I've mentioned above. It's true because when we listen to music, we often find inspiration. When we see a movie, watch TV, or read someone else's books, we're learning new story-telling paths. When we go on vacations, we're finding new and exotic places to authentically include in our work. When we spend time with our children, pets, family, friends...we're having actual interpersonal connections that we can bring back to our work and make it more alive.

Writers are all readers. We know the frustration of wanting the next book now. As often as not, we wish we could write faster so we could get more stories to our fans, because we appreciate you and your excitement. But we also know the reality that no matter how fast we write, some things are out of our control (release dates included).

We're all on the same side here, believe it or not.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Welcome Frances Pauli!

Change is afoot! Which is a lot like EVIL being afoot only more...change-y.

It is my pleasure to welcome our new member Frances Pauli.

I have known Frances as an author for a few years now and had the utmost pleasure of working with her on some of her fantastic books. It is during this time she has MADE ME CRY. And we all know I don't have feelings, so this is a feat indeed. I, for one, need no further proof of her eviltry.

She is also a fantastic writer, an utmost professional, and a perfect addition to our league; I'm beyond excited to have her among us on the dark side.

Frances Pauli writes speculative fiction, usually with touches of humor or romance, which means, of course, that she has trouble choosing sides.

She's always been a rabid fan of things outside the box, odd, weird or unusual, and that trend follows through to her tales which feature aliens, fairies, and even, on occasion, an assortment of humans. Frances eats far too much chocolate, drinks far too little wine and does her best to get the stories out and on paper before they drive her completely insane. More information on her work and upcoming releases can be found on her website:

Website - Twitter - Facebook - Goodreads - Blog

Frances Pauli is our new Releaser of the Hellhounds. So when you are naughty and we'd like to get rid of you, her smile will fill with malice and she will release the hellhounds to chase you down and tear you apart.

Please join me in welcoming Frances! (Or don't and be prepared to see said hellhounds in action.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Let "Show, Don't Tell" Be Your 2013 Mantra

It's standard writing advice, right? Show, Don't Tell? As a writer, you hear those words so often, you probably want to pull your hair out and HERE is Mama Bitchstress saying them to you AGAIN, OMGWTFBBQ SKYLA??

As often the case, that which is true in writing also is in life.

I read this Cracked article the other day. Go check it out.

No really, I'll wait.

*two hours pass*

Right. I forgot to warn you Cracked is like a gateway to procrastination hell. (Second only to TV Tropes.)


Anyway, you'll notice in a lot of ways the article basically sounds like our Gothic Goddess giving advice, straight down to proclaiming the hippies as being wrong (those dirty, dirty hippies). But one of the things that stuck out to me was "What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do" on the second page.

Let this be the year you show what you are instead of tell.

If you are a writer, stop telling people this. Just stop. Stop and do. Spend a week loosely tracking how many hours a day you spend talking about writing/telling people you're a writer vs the actual motherfucking writing you DO. The former should not be greater than the latter.

Notice I say "write" and not run out and throw your shit on Kindle. Publishing doesn't make you a writer; actually writing does. Honing your craft does.

Are you querying? I can't tell you how many fucking cover letters I've read where the writer assures me the book is really funny. Again, our advice for life: don't TELL ME you're funny, SHOW ME. Write a query letter showcasing your sense of humor.  This is not rocket science.

And yet it is, actually, or feels like it. In life it's very easy to say you're something when your actions say something else.

But here's the thing: Life is not a YA novel and you are not the secretly awesome, compassionate, funny but shy girl no one notices. The Hot Boy is not going to one day zero in on you and see The Real You and defy social expectation by hanging out with you because he just "knows" deep down your amazing, kind heart by just looking in your fabulous probably-violet-coloured eyes.

What you think happens.
What actually happens.

Someone isn't going to notice you in life and then take you to the prom because you're SO AWESOME INSIDE and live happily ever after.

You don't become a better writer without writing stuff. You are not going to get a publishing contract without submitting stuff and showing stuff like you're an entertaining storyteller. You are not going to successfully network and make friends in this industry unless YOU make YOURSELF someone that other people will want to hang out with.

Sit down and make a list of everything you think you are. All of the various attributes. Now...what have you backed up with actions in the last week? In the last month? Writers, have you written anything? If you're compassionate, have you actually done anything for anyone recently? If you consider yourself gracious, have you thanked people for things? If you believe you're a good friend, have you reached out to anyone lately? Have your actions shown that you are the various things you think you are?

Because I can tell you, the world at large doesn't give a fuck who you think you are inside; what matters is what you do, how you interact, and what you contribute.

Don't answer the questions above. Don't think. Don't tell me. Simply do. Make this the year that you decide to show who and what you are instead of just tell people.

And be sure to make your actions evil.

Happy 2013: The Year of Eviltry. Now do the work.

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