Monday, January 12, 2015

Psst! We're Blogging Elsewhere Now!

Hotel Eviltry has moved!

Our new digs can be found at There is much evil to be had over there, so pop by and have a look, meet our new member (it's a BOY!), and update your bookmarks. All future blogging will be there--you can subscribe to new posts by email, RSS feed, or continue using Networked Blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.

See you there for pie and ritual sacrifice!

~Evil League of Evil Writers

Monday, December 22, 2014

Go Away

While evil never sleeps, it does kick back every now and then, and the Evil League of Evil Writers is going to do just that. Today begins our annual holiday hiatus, so things are going even darker than usual around here.

There might be the occasional post of an evil Bob Cratchit member, toiling away over the holidays, but there won't be any regular/consistent/scheduled posts for the next couple weeks.

We here at the Evil League of Evil Writers would like to wish all our readers a very evil holiday season. We're going to be getting up to our own no-goodness for the next few weeks, and will see you all again after our New Year's shenanigans.

You know, after someone has posted our bail.

Your regularly scheduled eviltry will resume Monday, January 5th.

Join us for some new shinies, a new face or two, and other sinister fun we're plotting behind the scenes. Until then, whatever you celebrate (or don't!), may it be filled with evil glee.

The Sithmas Tree of our Gothic Goddess Dina James represents the ELEW holiday spirit!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baby Evil Writers 101: About Last Year

So you might be thinking about this past year since we’re getting close to 2015. You might be having dark thoughts. Oh my darling babies do not confuse these with evil thoughts because they are not the same thing at all.

Dark thoughts come at you in the night or when your hands are busy wrapping packages. They tell you that you are a loser and that you wasted the year. They whisper that your writing isn’t any better than it was before—that you are made of fail. Dark thoughts can be beaten by evil ones. Oh, yes they can.

Evil is powerful and you need to take those dark thoughts and stomp them hard. Burn them with fire. No really, write them down and then burn them up with fire. Teach your brain that such horrible (not-evil) opinions are only worth burning. Writers have enough obstacles to face without having to fight their own brains.

If you wrote one thing this last year then you are ahead of the year before. Bad stuff happens. Tornadoes suck up houses and floods eat your basement or your husband dances with chainsaws and bears. We don’t have control over all of the things. Sometimes horrible takes over. But the thing you need to remember is that deep down inside, you are an evil writer, and evil will eventually win.

Happy Holidays my sweet babies of evil. Celebrate until you have to post bail—then probably stop.

Love and hugs to all,

Julie Butcher

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Lieutenant Quillstabber!

Many people forget in the midst of all the holiday cheer going on this month that there are other birthdays besides that of a secular deity to celebrate. One such is that of our dear Melinda Skye, or Lieutenant Quillstabber to those of us at the Evil League of Evil Writers.

Today we celebrate the anniversary of her birth, and you should be celebrating it, too! This year the Lt. spawned a Mini-Evil, so she will be even more formidable than before. There is a level of bad-assery that only mothers can attain, and I do not envy those who come between a mother and their offspring.

So break out the booze and cupcakes. Spike that eggnog and gnaw the head off a snowman cookie! It's Skye's birthday!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Time and Time Again

As this is my last post of 2014, I thought it appropriate to talk about the passage of time.

A lot of people use this part of the year to look back and see all that's gone on (or all that hasn't...), and make plans for next year.

Now, time management is great and all, but in the professional writing business, "time" is a varying concept. Let me explain using a very broad example of a timetable:

Writing of zero draft (this is the draft that just gets the story out - for your eyes only. No, not even your betas get to see this one): a few weeks to a few months (Stephen King recommends "a season" to write.)

Aging between zero draft and first draft revision: six weeks or so

First draft revision: a month or so, sometimes less depending on how cleanly you write

Beta readers: a few days to a few weeks depending on their availability

Revision based on their feedback: varies - let's say a month for shits and giggles

Time elapsed on Project - 7-8 months, give or take. Sometimes less, sometimes more.

For the purposes of this post, let's use 6 months as a baseline, just to make things easier.

So, let's say Project is all pretty and shiny and ready for querying after 6 months of work. (Hint: this is a stellar achievement. Finishing a novel is awesome in its own right, but to have it ready to query in 6 months? Go you! Fuckin' A!)

Now you follow the submission guidelines for each agent you're going to query. Some agents on your list might be closed to queries for whatever reason, so they get put on the back burner until they open again, so there's some waiting there on that. Others that are open have anywhere from a couple days to 3 month response times depending on various factors, so for the purposes of this post, let's go with the longest response time. (Note: This includes "no response means no interest" queries. The agents using a policy of NRNI ["no response, no interest"] usually give a time in their guidelines as to when you should hear back by if they're interested. Look for it.)

So, 6 months to write and polish (and again this is stellar - some authors write faster, some are slower. These are rough estimates, not absolute law. Chill.), and another 3 months wait for a response to your query. That's 3/4 of a year on a single project, right there. 9 months, people. That's enough time to gestate and give birth to a human infant.

Stop laughing - the comparison is apt. You're creating lives, here. Fictional ones, but lives nonetheless. There's a reason many in the writing game refer to their work as "their baby."

But I digress.

Back to the 9 months of Project. Keep in mind that 9 months on Project is barring any accident, illness, injury, or happenstance. This 9 months doesn't account for Life Happening or anything else. This is a bare-bones scenario.

So let's be generous and realistic and give you 3 months for Issues. Now you're up to a year in Project.

Now let us say the stars align, everything is shiny and happy, and Project lands you an agent! WHOO HOO! YEAH, BABY! That's what it's all about! That's what it's all been for! Now- wait, what? What's this? They have suggestions for changes? Oh. Okay. Add another month.

Awesome! They love the changes! Now it's off to sale! (Add another month or three or six, possibly longer, maybe never. But wait! There's more!)

Yay! Project sold! You have a book deal! Awes-wait? What's this?

Oh, would you look at that! A revision letter (or editing letter, or whatever else it might be called by you or your agent or house or whatever)! It's HOW many pages long? No problem. You can knock that out in a couple months if you work hard. Maybe less. What? It's needed back by WHEN? Oh, hell. You'll have to work harder and longer to meet that, but okay, it can happen.


Well, yeah! Commercial publishing is a slow business! "You rush a miracle, you get rotten miracles!"


Because. Because reasons. Because stuff you don't have to concern yourself with, but part of it is because there are other books out there besides yours and you have to wait your turn. That's right. More waiting. Things take time. Some things take more time than others, but there's never enough for all the things you want to do.

That book that won't be out for a year? Write another one so it will be ready while the other one is in the oven. (Shut up - I know that's another pregnancy metaphor. People all around me are spawning, all right? I may also be knitting things for small humans, so SHUT UP.)

The point here is, not only does the actual writing of Project take a lot of time, the sale and publication part takes even more. In addition to that, you're going to have to devote more time to Project than you ever thought you would. This is why it's said that you need to love the story you've written, because you're going to be writing it again, and again, and again, and yet again before it leaves your hands for good. Using the "baby" comparison from above, that thing has a lot of growing up to do before it's ready to go off into the big, scary world all alone. You're going to be spending a LOT of time with Project, so settle in. Get comfy. Put on your loungie pants and get a cup of tea. You and Project will be together for a long time. You'd better love that world you created, because you're going to be spending more time there than you think.

So take the time that you do have and do something with it. Like write. Don't just sit around waiting for something to happen, because if you do that, you'll always be waiting.

This concludes your Gothic Goddess Eviltry for 2014. The ELEW is going on our annual holiday hiatus for the year starting on the 22nd (there will be a post detailing this), but we'll be back next year with more evil!

Meanwhile, KEEP WRITING.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ho ho holidaying

Oh my god, I am so unprepared for the holidays!

I used to look forward to this time of year, because of the time off, And I'm still looking forward to the time off... if I got any time off. I wish grownups got winter vacation. Then I might have some of my shopping done!

But now, I keep hoping I'll have some free time to squeeze in writing, between all the holidays and the family and gift buying and giving.

Ha. Case in point. Started this post yesterday, didn't get very far.

Anyways, I was thinking that perhaps if I focused on writing a holiday story, that might help. I mean, lend a festive air to the writing, as well as the season. But I've never really written a holiday story and am left struggling with where to begin.

Do I go paranormal and introduce Santa as a character? Do I do a reunion story about coming home for the holidays? Do I go all Die Hard and make it an action packed story that just happens to have a holiday at the center of it? (Why is Die Hard every guy's favorite Christmas movie, by the way?)

For me, I think romance and the holidays go together - it's why my favorite  Christmas movie is Love Actually. It shows a variety of different kinds of love - true love, broken hearts, unrequited love, friendship love, new love. And, at least for me, it warms the heart.

Maybe that's what I need to get me in the mood... a holiday romance marathon. Of course, that'll use up what little free time I have, but maybe feeling festive is more important than getting the writing done right now...

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Are We There Yet?

Recently I went through a spell where writing was about as much fun as going to the dentist. Now, maybe you are a twisted type who actually enjoys going to the dentist. The sound of the drill, the injection of novocaine and the resulting dead lip, that smell...

As for me, when the topic of dentistry comes up, I shudder. The thought of a filling makes me cry. Even a simple cleaning sets me off. 

So basically, what I'm telling you here is that the writing was not going well. I found myself avoiding it in all sorts of creative ways. Like cleaning, for example. I'm just marginally more fond of vacuuming than I am of dentistry, although I engage in it a little more often. When I did finally maneuver my butt into the chair I would find myself falling asleep. No amount of coffee or snacking or napping changed this. I'd sit down to write and my eyes would drift shut. My fingers would descend on the keyboard, unguided. And then my head would jerk, my eyes would open, I'd type a couple of words and off to sleep I'd go again. This activity being pointless, I'd give it all up and take to the couch where I could sleep in peace. And then go to bed, only to wake up and try again.

This block was making me a little crazy. There are all sorts of reasons to be excited about the project. I'm working on The Nothing, the last book of the Between trilogy. It's going to be an indie book this time. I love it, I love the editors who are going to help me make it beautiful, I love the cover. But I was hopelessly and horribly blocked. My self imposed deadline vanished into the past and I set another one, only to see it do the same thing.

All I wanted was to be done with the damned book so I could move on. 

And that, right there, was the problem. I was so focused on the destination that I couldn't appreciate the journey.

I have two ways of approaching a car trip. One is all about the experience. I pack up snacks, load up the tunes, and set off on an adventure. I'm happy to just chill, watch the scenery go by, and enjoy the trip. I'll get there when I get there. The miles zip by happily and this is a pleasant experience.

The other version is not so fun. On these occasions, I just want to get where I'm going. And it takes forever to get there. Each mile is interminable. The car seat is uncomfortable. I'm bored. I have trouble staying awake. There are so many other things I want to be doing and I  Just. Can't. Wait. To get there.

So I had to remind myself of what I've learned before. Each book is a journey. Each book brings with it the temptation to fall into an Are We There Yet? frame of mind, like a bored toddler on a road trip. Writing is meaningful and rewarding when I'm in it for the story, and not for the end game. 

Things are better now. I'm back to immersing myself in the words and characters and it feels good. 

The end of this journey is still around a corner and up a hill and I have a sneaking suspicion there might be some road construction along the way. But that's all right. I'll get there when I get there and that's okay with me. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book-Giving at the Holidays


I love giving books as gifts. Like LOVE giving books as gifts. It makes me happy on more levels than I can iterate:

  • Introducing someone to a new world to get lost in
  • Helping another author make a living
  • Spreading the love of books that will hopefully be shared and talked about
  • So on and so forth...

But there are some problems with giving books at the holidays too.

  • For every Smutketeers 12 Days of Christmas that gives away tons of books and gift cards and stuff, there are ten authors who are pushing their books on readers and buyers. 
  • For every author willing to answer questions to help you pick the best book for a reader, others ignore  questions completely. 
  • And so on and so forth. 

If you are an author, this is really the wrong time of year to be a douchebag author. It's a busy time for everyone, but you ignore your readers and potential readers at your peril.

For example, my daughter is nine. She is a very advanced reader. Middle grade books, for the most part, are too easy for her. She's reading young adult and soaking it up like a sponge. But she's nine. While I don't see her stepping out and trying to become the next evil wizard bent on world domination, she can and will be inappropriate in certain things she choose to talk about. (In other words, I'd prefer books for her where sex and swearing are at a minimum, thank you very much.) Yesterday, I asked about a series she's interested in and (on the off chance it was caught) @mentioned the author. The author did see the tweet. Retweeted it in fact, but didn't answer the question about whether or not the series contained sex. She left it up to her readership to do so. Thankfully they did, and I know it's not an appropriate series for my daughter right now.

But too often questions online are lost to the aether. Thousands of people see them and no one bothers answering (to put it in perspective, this author has over 30,000 followers...3 answered the question, one with a "not sure on the last book"). I get it, and it's fine, but normally when people retweet questions, I assume they don't know the answer and are trying to help. In the case of a reader asking you about your're the best source of information.

Will I potentially buy the series for my kid in a few years when she's older? If she still wants it. But that author turned me off her work personally. I would like to thank the readers who stepped up to answer my question, though.

If you are an author, you need to remember that readers and potential readers are necessary for you to make money. (We shall ignore pirates and jerky readers, obviously.) No readers, no money. It's ridiculously simple math that my math-hating 9 year old could figure out. Be kind to your readers. Be as generous to them as you can. Without them, you don't have a career.

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