Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It's My Life

by Seleste deLaney

So, I'm taking a writing class right now... sort of.

You see, I signed up for it at the last minute in order to try to finish up a draft I was working on and revise it and get it to beta prior to NaNoWriMo. Mission accomplished! Woot! Thing is, I was left with about five days between sending it off and NaNo starting.

This was actually perfect (in my mind) since I'd just received a manuscript from my new crit partner. I had five days to turn that around and get whatever pre-NaNo plotting I was going to do finished before November 1 (oh, and take care of edits on my holiday short, but that was easy-peasy). Everything was going fine--is going fine, actually--and then the instructor sent a note basically saying not getting pages was unacceptable during the course.


Now, I don't know you about you as a writer, but I get hard-core burned out if it's all-my-words-all-the-time. I know for a fact if I'd picked up one of my other works-in-progress last week when I sent off the manuscript I'd just spent several weeks of blood, sweat and tears on, I would have been worthless for NaNo. As it is, I had to reset my brain from funny contemporary romance to urban fantasy which is no small feat for me. Flipping a switch literally from one day to the next can't happen for me.

I do realize the instructor probably wasn't talking to me specifically and the email was more directed to people who were making excuses about not getting pages. (When I finished revisions, I announced that I was taking the next five days to plot for NaNo and didn't even mention the critique-read.) However, it really stuck in my craw.

People paid for this class. I mean, I get that people pay for boot-camp exercise classes too (and suffer the requisite beat-downs if they slack off), but for some people this class is asking them to go from being page-a-day writers to being 20-page-a-day writers. That's a huge jump and it's a commitment that not everyone might be ready for when they sign up. They've heard it's a good class, so they pay their money and then O.O

As for myself, I knew what I was signing up for, even last minute. I just didn't expect there to not be things such as you-finished-the-draft-take-a-celebration-day or whatever. Maybe if I'd started the class with a brand new manuscript, I'd look at it differently, but I didn't. I finished what needed finishing and got the words plus revisions done quicker than I thought. If I was still in college, I would have totally taken the extra time for something else, even if it meant pretending I was still working on the original project.

This shouldn't be any different.

Yes, I know the instructor wants the class to be successful for everyone. Problem is it will never be successful for everyone by her definitions. Some people will never be 20-page-a-day writers. Some will only be able to maintain that while taking the class and never find the momentum again. Then there will likely be a few whose writerly lives are completely changed by what they learned.

But even if they only learned that this particular process doesn't work for them, the class was still a success because they learned something not only about their writing habits but about themselves. So, I'm going to continue to take today for my crit partner and my plotting (and my house cleaning since we have company coming this weekend that was already on the schedule before this class even hit my radar) because that's what I need to do for me both as an author and a person.

Then when midnight hits, I'm going to start writing again. I'm going to do my best to bust out my 20-pages-a-day for the rest of class. Know why? Because if I can pull it off, it means I win NaNo by the end of class. Also, if I can keep up the momentum, I can finish the draft by Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat. For me, that's well worth taking a non-instructor-endorsed breather right now. For me, that will mean the class was a complete and total success.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why Negative Nancys Look Like Douchey McDouchealots

Bitchstress here, a day late.

Okay, a few weeks...*cough*months*cough*...late. Yes, yes, stuff and things. I do the website stuff here too and I'm TIRED and I'm BUSY and JUST STOP STARING AT ME.

I have a series of posts I'll be starting soon, Editing 101 with Mama Bitchstress. There'll be some theory, some practical things, and probably homework because that's how I roll.

But that is not today.

Today I want to tell you about how you're probably being a douche.

An agent I follow tweeted the other night about being put off by queries where people gleefully declare their book isn't like X, Y, Z (in this case it was that it didn't have porn or vampires). Others have said this as well and it was one of the first things I noticed in acquisitions way back when: a lot of people, either unintentionally or intentionally, insult other books, authors, publishers/editors/agents, and entire genres in their queries.

This is not a way to make friends and influence people, and we shall count the ways.

1. You say your book is nothing like Popular Book X. Well, what if I like Popular Book X? What if my authors/clients write similar (or DID write) Popular Book X? 

What I hear is, "My book is better than that other stuff," and if I LIKE that other stuff, I don't like being insulted. If I DON'T like that other stuff, I don't like people who think they're better than everyone else. I know this isn't always intentional. I know you probably think it's GOOD to say your work isn't Fifty Shades of Fanfic, and all this vampire bitching: yes, there's vampire fatique going on, but a lot of people still dig them.

The solution? LET YOUR WORK STAND FOR ITSELF. Draw a specific, favorable comparison (my book would appeal to fans of X, Y, and Z) and for the love of god, don't bash anyone.

2. You say your book isn't porn. Well, sugar, say what you mean: erotic romance. And erotic romance? It is popular, especially with many a lady these days.

What I hear is, "I'm better than people who write a lowly genre I don't like." And that "lowly" genre? Making hand over fist money instead of yours, sweet cheeks.

The solution: say what it is, and don't bash people's reading tastes. (Noticing a theme here?)

3. You say you're querying the editor/agent because you had problems with your last publisher.

What I hear is, "If we have a difficult working relationship, I'm going to advertise my problems with you to total strangers." You COULD have legit problems (although I'm going to say it now: if you bitch about multiple publishers you're with, the problem isn't them, it's YOU). But the person to discuss your issues with is your spouse, your lawyer, or maybe your editor/agent if it comes up as something important to share.

The solution is shut yer damn trap. You don't go on a first date and bash you ex-husband; you don't cold query a stranger and bash your ex-pub.

We're basically seeing repeats of idiotic, douchey behavior people should've left behind in middle school.

Negative Nancy mutters insults as the cool kids walk by (didn't we all?). Does that make her more popular? Has it EVER made anyone more popular? "Wow, that's so awesome how you sound bitter because you're not cool--let's be friends!" <--- Said no one EVER.

Or how about Gossipy Gabby who talked shit about everyone the moment they were out of earshot? Who thought she'd make a few friends by knocking someone down a few pegs for the shoes she's wearing, or who she dated, or whatever? Of course you do: everyone knows That Girl. And let me tell you something about Gabby: anyone with a brain knows that if she talks about Debbie and Susie and poor, poor Nancy over there, SHE'S GOING TO TALK ABOUT YOU.

I'm not saying you have to pretend to like what you hate or that you can't share bad experiences ever; I'm saying that publicly, in front of professionals, it is probably not a good idea to go about insulting the people you either hope to work with or hope will be your fans. Don't tell me what your book is NOT; SHOW ME what it IS.

Negativity and gossip does not a professional make. It makes a DOUCHE.

Don't be one.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Our Condolences

Recently the Evil League of Evil Writers was able to support in a small way the Michelle Lachmund Appeal, a fundraising effort to help a woman diagnosed with stage four melanoma as she fought the illness.

None of us at the ELEW knew Ms. Lachmund personally, but we were brought to the cause by the tireless--and inspiring--efforts of a mutual friend, Danielle Kendall, who you may recognize from the comments here and on Twitter. Danielle is a huge supporter of writers, a raiser of zombie-prepared children, and an all around wonderful person who is quite evil as she's made me cry. So of course we threw our support behind something she was involved in.

The good news is that their fundraiser was an enormous success.

The terribly tragic news is that Ms. Lachmund passed away yesterday.

If you read the timeline, which I encourage you to do, you'll learn that Ms. Lachmund was diagnosed the middle of last November, and up until that point had no idea that cancer was so advanced in her body. Less than a year later, after an incredible fight and surrounded by her loved ones, she is no longer in pain and was able to leave this world with the knowledge that her family would be taken care of and that people like Danielle love her dearly.

As I said, none of us knew this woman personally, but I know she was an absolutely incredible human being. How? Due to the tremendous outpouring of support around her. At the end of the line, to be loved is perhaps what matters most in life--it's what stays with us, it's what drives us, it's what remains. And it's the sheer vastness and depth of the love people had for Ms. Lachmund that tells me the world has lost an extraordinary person.

Less than a year from diagnosis to passing is a terribly short time. There is never long enough, as far as death is concerned and parting from those we care about. But I encourage everyone reading this to take a moment to tell someone you love them, and to remember these things we get hung up on--over here it's writing, publishing, douchebag authors, rejections--are distractions from what really matters. Don't take what we think of as "life" so seriously; instead reserve that for love and for kindness.

If you would like to extend your condolences to Ms. Lachmunds friends and family, please visit their Facebook page or their website, and consider making a donation to support the Michelle Lachmund Appeal or your local cancer organization.

Per Danielle, the song they chose to remember Michelle by was Get This Party Started by P!nk, as in her words: "To the heavens, take care of our beautiful girl, and don't say we didn't warn you. It's about to get loud up there!"

To go with my reminder to be gentle with others, I leave you with the guide to a happy life, The Prayer of St. Francis.

On behalf of everyone here, I extend our deepest sympathies to all those feeling the loss of Ms. Lachmund.

In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.  
~Robert Ingersoll

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Baby Evil Writers 101: Information Dumps

Baby Evil Writers 101:  Information Dumps
Julie Butcher

Imagine yourself in a line at the supermarket. A couple stands in the front the line, and the woman turns around and starts talking.

“I know I've never met you but ever since I was a child, I've hated artichokes, hate them I say. They’re yucky and pointy and actually my boyfriend Steve, loves the nasty green boogers. Not that he’ll be my boyfriend for long because I secretly suspect that besides loving artichokes he is seeing another woman, probably his ex-wife, Nancy-- but that’s just too painful to think about so I’ll just wander around for a while before I dump him. Have all of my ducks on a row so to speak.”

You’d be all WTF? Why is this woman yammering at me with what is obviously a personal problem. You might move your cart and yourself to another line—one without a stranger spilling her guts all over the floor, one where your personal space wasn't invaded with her problems. The woman is all me, me, me
What if instead, you’re standing there, invisible to them?

He puts a bag of artichokes on the conveyor belt.She gives him a dirty look “I don’t know why you’re buying those.”
“Because, I like them.”
She frowns. “Why don’t you go back to Nancy-the-artichoke-eater, you know you want to.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. If I wanted to still be married, I would. There’s a reason she’s my ex-wife.”

Any time you can explain what’s going on with dialogue, you should. The first paragraph is chunky and hard to read. Subconsciously, the reader is put off by large blocks of text. We get all of the information from the clunky paragraph in a few lines of dialogue. There’s plenty of white space and it’s easy to read
Everyone loves to eavesdrop on conversations.
No one likes information poured in a flood.
Look for white space.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fill in those Plot Holes!

Good morning, bloggers! Coming to you live from gloomy, rainy Toronto, it's the Mistress of Bitchslaps and Backhands, Sarah-Jane, here to bestow another nuggest of writerly wisdom upon you.

Remember reading Lord of the Rings and asking yourself, "Why didn't the eagles just fly them to Mount Doom in the first place?" As much as I love Tolkein, his deus ex machina ending was just too convenient. And if I think on it too much, I get rather stabby.
Let's take a page from a totally not crazy lady named Annie, who said, "My favourite was Rocketman, and once it was a no breaks chapter. The bad guy stuck him in a car on a mountain road and knocked him out and welded the door shut and tore out the brakes and started him to his death, and he woke up and tried to steer and tried to get out but the car went off a cliff before he could escape! And it crashed and burned and I was so upset and excited, and the next week, you better believe I was first in line. And they always start with the end of the last week. And there was Rocketman, trying to get out, and here comes the cliff, and just before the car went off the cliff, he jumped free! And all the kids cheered! But I didn't cheer. I stood right up and started shouting. This isn't what happened last week! Have you all got amnesia? They just cheated us! This isn't fair! HE DIDN'T GET OUT OF THE COCK-A-DOODIE CAR!"

So for the sake of your number one fans, fill in your plot holes. Don't rely on some gimmicky, lame-ass plot device to save the day. You created this mess, now it's up to you to fix it. And fix it properly.
This is where my oft quoted Occam's Razor comes in. From Wikipedia:
Occam's razor (also written as Ockham's razor, Latin lex parsimoniae) is the law of parsimony, economy, or succinctness. It is a principle stating that among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.

Got it? Still not sure? How about K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid. Ask yourself why! Why does she go into the dark room after she heard that creepy sound? Why doesn't he just call her and explain the misunderstanding? Why? How? What the fuck?

Choose the simplest explanation. And if it comes down to "She/he/they did this because the plot called for them to do it," then you suck. You suck so hard.

You have a brain. Use it. Be creative, but be consistent. Don't make your readers stabby just because you've written yourself into a corner. Fill in those plot holes properly, otherwise your whole novel will get sucked in.

End transmission.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Go To Your Room

Dina here. (Warning: Ah, screw it. If you're reading this post, you already know this blog is NSFW.)

I've been reading the most…well, let's just say "interesting"…blog posts lately, and they all pretty much boil down to one particular sentiment:


I'm going to say this once, so listen very carefully:


Let's break this down, shall we? We'll go with Writer S and Writer T, because Writers X and Y are such prima donnas and I've given them enough attention on this blog. (Also, those may be their actual initials, which totally serve my purpose without actually giving them any of the attention they so desperately want. Onward!)

Writer S has had enough. Writer S is tired of being rejected over and over. They've been rejected so many times by so many people that it's just depressing. Literally. Writer S was so butt-hurt about their repeated rejections that they fell into a soul-deep crushing lethargy about their writing and announced a ragequit hiatus so they could visit their physician (who said the same thing I would have, which was "stop whining, up your fucking dose and cope" – though I'm pretty sure the doc said it in a nicer way than I would have) and search their innermost self for the Reason They Want To Write.

When they came back a week or so later, they made the announcement that they really want to write because they want someone outside their friends and family to read their work.

I'll pause here so you can reread that and let it sink in.

I discussed this issue with a friend of mine. He said, and I quote (with permission as I asked first if I may quote him), "It's more important for [them] to feel as if [they are] heard than to be paid for it."

All right. Fair enough. I can totally understand the need to feel like your work isn't in vain, and "Is Anybody Out There?" syndrome. I get it. Been there, done that, and personally, I don't think that's a valid reason to want to write/be published.

I'm sure wanting someone to read your work is a valid reason to Writer S, but I'm going to need a little more than "I just want to be heard" if you want to cross the line from "hobbyist" to "professional."

It's one thing to love your craft. It's another to bitch because the people outside your friends and family that you've given your work to all say the same thing.

I'll pause again to let that sink in.

If you're constantly getting rejections (which, by the way, is part of the game) from industry professionals that say the same thing, the problem isn't them.

The problem is you.

Which brings me to Writer T.

Writer T thinks that the purpose of a query letter is to prove that you can jump through hoops and has nothing to do with the book.

Again, I'll pause to let that sink in.

Note: If your query letter has nothing to do with the book, you're DOING IT WRONG. Just sayin'.

Writer T has (apparently, according to them) submitted to various people and places over 500 times, only to be rejected over 500 times and have their work read only three times out of that 500.

Note: If you've been rejected over TEN times with the same project using the same query letter and get the same standard "thank you but no" rejection letter, you might want to revamp one or all of the following:

a)      the letter itself – it may not be effectively communicating your premise
b)     the project  - it may not be suitable for the house/agent you're querying
c)      your approach – there are reasons for submission guidelines. Follow them.

Writer T also thinks that editors/agents/publishing houses are only interested in your "marketing plan."

Now, I don't know which of the above Writer T is querying, but not one of the above has ever asked me or anyone I know for a "marketing plan" before a query. I honestly have no clue whom Writer T is supposedly querying/submitting to, but whomever they may be, I seriously doubt they're legitimate publishing professionals.

Reading Writer T's…eloquent screed on the horrific state (and apparently inevitable collapse and death) of the "traditional publishing" (hint: the term is "commercial publishing") industry, I can't help but wonder if they did any research whatsoever on how to actually publish. There are so many obvious errors in both fact and judgment. [Example – an erroneous statement that a popular YA series was rejected "dozens of times" before the manuscript was ever read. Fact: Popular YA series was rejected thirteen times. Thirteen rejections =/= "dozens." And I'm willing to bet that Popular YA Author was asked for their full or partial manuscript at least five of those times, because that's the process.] There are also several paragraphs of complete and utter ignorance of how the legitimate commercial publishing industry works.

Both Writer S and Writer T have the same complaint. "The nature of the industry." It's "the industry" keeping them down/out/marginalized. It's "the industry" squelching their genius. It's "the industry" overlooking their brilliance and making them take matters into their own hands and self-publish, either for free on their own blogs or on a large internet for-pay publishing site.

Uh, no, it isn't. It's not the industry, it's the writers themselves. You don't get to blame other people because you can't deal with rejection.

Writing is hard. Writing professionally is even harder. Just like any other job (because professional writing is a job, just like being a secretary, doctor, lawyer, accountant, fry cook or game warden), there are rules of conduct, structure, balance, hierarchy and a standard of quality that one must meet in order to be considered for the job.

If you don't meet those standards, you're not going to get the job. Period.

I'll tell you right now that the vast majority of rejections are not personal. They simply aren't. I can give you link after link to professional industry blogs that illustrate this very fact. Rejections aren't personal. They're business and you didn't pass muster. That simple. (Of course, if you make a constant ass out of yourself, threaten, harass, stalk, or libel the people you're attempting to involve yourself with, there might be a bit of "personal" in your rejection, but that's on you, not on them.)

The solution to being consistently rejected is not to present yourself to someone else who tells you the same thing over and over again. The solution is to go back, spit and polish, then present yourself.

If you're still not getting the job, go back, polish up again and try again.

What both of the above examples have in common is their desire for results. For legitimacy and recognition. Fine. Those are fine things to want. But you have to work to earn them, and usually for a hell of a lot longer than either of the above have been at it. The average first novel takes ten years to get out. The majority of people publishing now have been at writing for a long, long time. (I'm not talking here about sensational examples of people found on fan-fiction sites and given publishing contracts in order to make the house a buck. Those are exceptions, not the rule, and generally done by one house in particular whose practices I find unpleasant.) They've all been rejected and they've all had their share of ups and downs.

Also, everyone has problems.


You are not the only one with medical issues, mental health issues, child care issues, money issues, emotional issues, citizenship issues, physical issues, marital issues, personal issues, job issues, social issues, or any other issues.

EVERYONE HAS ISSUES. Yours are not justification for your whiny-assed bullshit. No one gives a crap about your issues anyway! If you write as a way to deal with your issues, stick to writing emo poetry in your journal and don't bother trying to inflict it on the rest of the world, then get pissed when no one besides your mom thinks it's genius.

If you write for any of the following reasons, you're doing it wrong:

1)     For the money. (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)


3)     To be able to say "I'm a writer" when people ask what you do. (People either ask you to help them/refer them to your agent/want you to write "this great idea I have but I can't write," or what your "real job" is, and your mother will never accept that your writing IS a "real job.")

4)     Because you have shit to say and want a captive audience. (This is what blogs are for.)

5)     Because you're a creative soul and writing is art. (Fuck you. Go to your room and write emo poetry in your journal.)

You want to play with the big kids, you need to grow the fuck up first. Stop whining that you have sand in your panties and get your crying ass out of the fucking sandbox.

Friday, October 19, 2012

NaNoWriMO Time!

Skye here.  It seems unfair that I have to post on Fridays. Evil, even. Because by the time I make it to Friday, I'm so ready to be done with the week. Not that I don't enjoy writing these posts, but when my brain has already headed out the door on vacation, it's one thing that's hard to remember to do. Mini-rant over. Real post begins now...

It's NaNoWriMo time! (Yes, I mentioned it in my last post, but whatever.)

That's right, writing fans. November is just around the corner. And you know what that means?  Holidays, family, chaos. Oh, yeah, and trying to squeeze 1,667 words out of your exhausted, deep-fried brain every single day.

Yes, 50,000 words in one month. I'm going to try and do it this year. Of course, I say that every year and I've really only managed to achieve it twice. Maybe three times. I can't remember (it's Friday!). But it's definitely do-able.

I don't really do much to prepare. I'm not a plotter, so I don't outline or anything like that. I mostly just ponder the idea that most fully formed in my head on Nov. 1 and go with that. My life, much like my writing, is often by the seat of my pants.

What about you guys?  Are you going to do it this year? Do you plot ahead of time? Does it kill your soul just a little bit to try and do this during the holiday months? Or are you grateful for an excuse to escape the in-laws and high calorie cooking?

More importantly, what are you going to write about?  I'm thinking I'll start a YA I've been vaguely considering.

Happy trails!

Welcome Katee Robert!

Please join me in welcoming our newest member of eviltry, Katee Robert!

Katee Robert

Malicious Mistress of Tactics

Katee Robert learned to tell stories at her grandpa’s knee. Her favorites then were the rather epic adventures of The Three Bears, but at age twelve she discovered romance novels and never looked back. Now living in Eastern Washington, she spends her time— in between ogling men and planning for the inevitable zombie apocalypse— writing speculative romance novels and YA horror.

Website - Twitter - Facebook

Katee is bestselling author and the non-genetic twin of member Seleste deLaney, and we're pleased to have her on board! Pull up a chair, have a drink, and welcome Katee.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Julie!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled mayhem to announce the anniversary of the birth of our Senior Pie Coordinator and Clubhouse Keeper, Julie Butcher!

Julie is a super person. She's a super mom, does loads of charity things and other stuff that will make you feel totally guilty for not being as awesome as she is, AND she writes. Julie is the perfect example of How To Be A Writer, because she not only makes time to write in between her other awesome and doesn't take your shit, but she does Scary Mom Eyes. If you've never been subjected to Scary Mom Eyes, be grateful, and pray to whatever deity you may believe in that you never incur the wrath of Julie.

Offer her pie and cupcakes and back away slowly.

We here at the ELEW would like to extend our warmest birthday wishes and best bottles of alcohol in celebration of Julie's successful trip around the sun this year!


Money for Nothing

Seleste deLaney here with a little fact that a lot of aspiring authors don't seem to understand: most authors make squat for money. Sad but true. Until you hit the big best seller lists (USA Today and NYT), you really shouldn't quit your day job. (Once you hit those, there's a pretty good chance you'll be able to ride a wave for at least a while as long as you keep putting out decent books.)

What that means is within the writing community, we get it--we're all broke. Sometimes this leads to financial difficulties when emergencies crop up. In fact, it's happened a couple times to authors here at our very own ELEW.

So what is a savvy author to do when the shit hits the fan and bills start piling up? Savvy author knuckles down, swallows their pride and asks for help. But, they know money is tight and even if you love their work, you don't really know them. So, they offer something in exchange for your help. They dust off an old manuscript and shine it up to give to people who help out or they write a new short story/novella for a favorite character for the same reason. They start offering critique services for a fee. (These are the types of things our members have done. Something for something is a beautiful thing.)

There are a ton of things an author can do when push comes to shove. Yes, some more palatable than others, but the reality is no one really likes asking for help in this way. Or at least that's what I always thought.

(I'm going to go tangential for a sec, but I promise it all comes back around.)

The rise of online fundraising sites is a great thing. It helps to get donations to groups in need and helps up-and-coming magazines and the like to get off the ground. This is good.

However, a situation came to my attention recently where an author decided to fund-raise for themselves. Now, this is not a situation where their heat is going to be shut off this winter. Or they're at risk of losing their internet (which is a big deal for an author these days). Or medical bills. Or anything else that could be deemed as an emergency. No. Said author just wants something and doesn't currently have the cash to pay for it.

This would be like me trying to raise money for a new corset since we know so many of my fans love my corsets. Sure, I want it and maybe I can't swing it right now (I can because I'm lucky and my husband supports my corset habit, but we're playing pretend for a minute), but I don't need a new corset. I want it. (See the difference there?)

Also, if I'm going to ask the general population for money, I'm damn well going to offer something in return. So... any donation gets a copy of this new freebie short story with minimal editing and the very generic cover a friend of mine made for me. A donation over $X gets that and a copy of the manuscript I pulled from my trunk and shined up. A bigger donation, we'll call it $Y, gets the previous and a red-shirt character named after them in an upcoming story of my choice. Someone's willing to foot the entire cost of the corset? I'd probably be willing to work something out (something likely involving an ARC of said story with their named character and allowing them some choices about the character.)

Why would I do that? Because very few people out there, as much as they might love my corsets in theory, really give a rat's ass if I get a new corset (even if I take a million pictures in it). So, if I truly want that new corset, I need to be willing to do something to get it beyond asking for help. Otherwise, that's known as "taking advantage of your fans."

TAOYF is a bad thing. As an author, our fans are our bread and butter. (For the purpose of this, a fan is someone who loves your work and seeks it out because it's written by you.) It's simple math really:
No fans=reduced word of mouth=fewer book sales=poor author with no new corsets.
And TAOYF will turn some fans against you, thereby automatically lowering that first number and putting more pressure on both you as an author and those other fans to increase word of mouth... It's a vicious, ugly cycle.

So, yeah, people get it. Times are tough. We understand. But if you're going to put yourself out there and ask for money (from your friends and fans), don't be a douchebag author when you do it. Offer something back so it feels more like an exchange and less like you're sitting in your corner pouting and saying, "You aren't doing enough for me."

Also? The work involved is why this sort of thing should be reserved for needs and not just wants.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Baby Evil Writers 101: Starting a Book- Characteristic Entry Action

Since I’m the newest minion of evil here at the Evil League of Evil Writers, I've decided to use my powers to corrupt the newest and most tender baby writers. So those of you with your feet firmly on the crooked path of doom might already know the stuff I’ll blog about.

Baby Evil Writers 101: Starting a Book- Characteristic Entry Action
Julie Butcher

There are as many ways to begin a book as there are writers with ideas. (Actually a lot more because each writer has a dozen or more ways the book can start wandering around in their head). But how do you choose there where, and the when, for the reader to meet your main character?
When we meet a new person in real life, what they’re doing at the time has an effect on how we’ll view them forever. I don’t know about you, but if the first time I see someone, they’re taking a leak in the alley. I’m so way not impressed. I don’t want to meet them, or to get to know them better. The shock value of starting a story with a horrible/slimy/eww-worthy incident isn't worth losing the reader.

Heroes can be evil but they aren't douche bags.

A Characteristic Entry Action should crystallize your main character’s soul. Not all of it, of course, but it needs to focus on who they are and what they believe is right. If your hero is a man who rescues people in secret, superhero fashion. He might be giving his cab to an old person. He doesn't have to like it, and he can be snarking away at himself because he’s the one left in the rain with no umbrella and no ride but, he does it anyway because that’s who he is.
Take a step back and really look at your first page. It might surprise you. Remember, you only get one chance at a first impression.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Raising Lambs for the Slaughter

If there's one thing that non-writers don't get about writers (and trust me, they don't get an awful lot), it's how exhausting writing can be.
It all seems rather simple. Sit down and write. Voila! Instant story. Only that's not how it works. An author, in my opinion, has to have a certain insightfulness. They have to be empathetic. They have to be able to feel everything their characters feel, in order to do them proper justice.
And if you are an evil writer, a writer who likes to put their characters through the ringer, that can be a dangerous thing. You have to open yourself up to anger and fear and shame and all sorts of psychically draining feelings. And once you put the pen down, you need to learn how to shake off those emotions and get back to reality. This is why most authors have little strange rituals, both to help them get into the zone and to get back out of it. Everyone is unique, so what works for me, won't necessarily work for you.
The message I want to leave you with is to let go and explore these emotions as they come to you. Your story will be richer for them. But once the book is done, you need to kill those emotions, because the next step of writing--editing--needs to be as emotionless as possible. And nothing will hurt your story more than you being overly attached to it.
Remember: writing a story is an art form. Publishing a story is purely cold, calculating business.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Following The Crowd

It's pretty well known in the writing community that if one intends to commercially publish, they shouldn't write to trends. By the time you finish your book and get it out there, the trend will be over.

There have been a slew of highly-publicized, huge-amount book deals for trendy things lately. What's the trend?

Fan fiction.

Depressing, I know. With all this money being offered for what was once considered the least professional, basically junk food of writing, it's easy to take one look at your manuscript and think, "Why the hell am I wasting my time on this?"

Well, I'll tell you why. Because these examples are TRENDS. They're exceptions to the rule. They're what people want NOW, but in six months? A year? Who knows? Next month they might want ninja mermaid aliens from Neptune (totally my idea by the way) or cranberry farmer/mushroom hunter CSI riffs. Unless you can see the future, you just don't know what will be the Next Big Thing, and you can't constantly stop and start new projects trying to keep up with whatever it is people are buying now.

Write what YOU want to write. What YOU want to read. You can't write to trends. Book trends are like any other – they come and they go. Remember stone-washed/acid-washed jeans back in the 80s? Remember? (Look, just go with me here. I realize I'm dating myself.) Jordache and Guess jeans were the big favorites. Swatch watches (about six or more worn at once was the thing). Crimped and feathered hair. Trends, all of them. They came and they went.

This too shall pass. Jersey Shore has finally been cancelled (but not before one of the, uh, "celebrities" got a book deal) but has been replaced, regrettably, by Honey Boo Boo (just when I thought television could sink no lower). Twilight is finally sinking into obscurity (please, please, please).

And why is all this happening?

Because it's what people want right now. People want to watch "reality" television and eat junk food. Sure, there are several people who want to watch other things (or nothing at all) and eat better stuff, but the majority don't. And therein lies the problem. It's all about what sells (you know, money), and ice cream sells way better than frozen yogurt. In a battle between Cheetos and carrot sticks, guess which one most people are going to choose?

Consumers set trends, and what the consumers want right now is the literary equivalent of a sheet cake. (Mini rant: DEAR ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY: STOP ENCOURAGING HORRIBLE CHOICES BY MAKING THEM SEEM "ACCEPTABLE!" STOP IT! NO MORE TRAIN-WRECK TELEVISION OR BULLSHIT "BOOK" DEALS, DAMN IT! THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ARE NOT ONLY CAPABLE OF BUT WILL INDEED LIVE UP TO EXPECTATIONS GIVEN TO THEM AND YOU'RE GLAMORIZING IDIOCY AND TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR! STOP IT! /rant) Pretty soon, though, they'll get tired of the frosting and want something that actually satisfies more than their sweet tooth. You can't eat cake forever (it's not like PIE!). Eventually consumers (readers) are going to want something more, and when they do, you need to be ready.

Someone awesome once said to me, "There's always going to be an audience for penny dreadfuls. It doesn't negate the need for good stuff."

I couldn't agree more. So don't pay attention to trends. And don't stop growing your carrots because people want Cheetos. There are always people who want carrots, even if it's just to make carrot cake.

And now I'm hungry.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Woah. I have been crazy busy the last few weeks. Real life, real job stuff, not writing, unfortunately. But still busy nonetheless. Which is why I was astonished to discover that Monday is a holiday for me. The US federal government takes Columbus Day off and at my office, if the courts are closed, we're closed.

Hooray!  Bonus day I was not expecting!  To celebrate, I shall find an indigenous people and oppress them and/or give them syphilis. Thanks, Mr. Columbus!

The funny thing about being crazy busy at work is that I feel like I accomplish nothing at home. After a full day at the office, I just want to go home and sit on my butt and do nothing. So tedious things like cleaning, cooking, and oh, writing, get put aside to deal with when I'm less pooped. As a result, then I feel like I'm accomplishing nothing. Working hard AND hardly working. I'm an enigma and proud of it.

I have been thinking about NaNoWriMo, though. I'm hoping that it gives me the goosing I need to get back on track with writing. I did pretty good last year - writing during lunch breaks and at home. Of course, recently, lunch breaks have been figments of my imagination as I slurp soup while trying to read court documents and/or draft someone's will. Hopefully things ease up as November rolls around. (Ha. Hahahahaha. Right. Like that's going to happen as the holidays get underway. I crack myself up sometimes.)

At any rate, nothing super writery to report today, just some rambling from an overtaxed brain.

Do you get a three day weekend?  Do you really think Columbus Day should be a federal holiday?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm Rarely Beautiful When I'm Busy

See the title? Yeah. I'm usually busy, which causes a certain degree of rolling out of bed, whipping my hair up and going about my day. I usually remember to brush my teeth, shower and get dressed, but beyond that... it's just not important. I mean, I spend my day running errands, cleaning and sitting at my desk with only my dogs for company. Perfect hair, make-up, etc are a waste of time. 

Here's the funny thing though, I can clean up quite nicely. And I have the pictures to prove it. There are some people who know me, however, who are... not fond of these pictures. I know of at least one who when asked by a Facebook friend how she knew me included a link to a different photo and a "this is what she really looks like" in her response. Uh... thanks? (Actually, I didn't think the word thanks at all. I did think some other words, but we won't go into what they are.)

But it's true. My average day does not involve corsets or great lighting or a professional photographer who has been paid a lot of money to bring out my best. Hell, my average outing with family or friends involves at best a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am job on the hair and make-up. And clothes? I'm a big fan of comfort when dealing with my family--it makes getting out of Dodge quickly a lot easier. (I have also grown very adept at running in heels for the same reason.) 

I can't think of anyone who normally looks as good on an average day as they do in professional photos. (This is why they always do those "stars without make-up" things in tabloids. They're human too.) However, at this point, I don't want to show my readers and fans the every day me. If they run into me at the grocery store, they'll get that, but not online. Online I try to give them my best me. (And yes, the best me wears a corset most of the time. Deal with it.)

As an author, everything you do online is scrutinized, from your photos to your typos to how often you pimp your books. All of it. The only way to get ahead of that game is to scrutinize yourself and decide up front how you want to present your brand. For me, a big part of my brand is openness. I write with the door open, and I tweet/facebook with the door to my mind open. I don't hide my views on issues any more than I hide what I'm working on (unless I have to contractually). 

There's a mantra at one of my publishers that says "Your boobs are not your brand." As much as it might raise some eyebrows, I don't disagree with that. If that's all an author has to offer, that's a problem. However, I don't look at my photos and think that. For me, that has a lot more to do with another part of my brand: women are sexual creatures. We're allowed to be, damn it. We shouldn't have to hide behind drapey fabrics and muumuus. It's a sort of freedom that I allow my characters (even the book with no actual sex has a bit of sexual discovery in it for this very reason). 

Another reason I love the corset pictures? Confidence--which is also part of my brand. I stand/sit straighter when I'm wearing a corset. I feel better about myself and it shows. More often than not, my characters also deal with confidence issues and finding themselves. It's an important thing because so many women--young and old (and men too)--struggle with their confidence. I try to show through my writing those little steps (and some big ones) that help to build a person up. 

So, today, I'm sitting here blogging in a t-shirt that says "Neighborhood Witch," a pair of jeans, and some slippers that really need replacing. My hair is twisted up in a clip and isn't even dry yet (which will be a problem I  have to deal with later). And I have no make-up on. This is me as I sit at my computer and avoid normal human interaction. 

But that chick in the pictures? She's me too. She's me when I need to go out in the world and talk to people. She's proud and strong and open and sexy and confident. She's my brand, but she's still me. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Welcome Julie Butcher!

Please take a moment to welcome our newest member of eviltry, the lovely and wonderful Julie Butcher.

Julie Butcher lives with her husband and six children on the fringes of Utter Chaos. The sister of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher, who she adores, she writes because her awesome sister-in-law, author Shannon K Butcher said it was time to learn, and Julie doesn’t argue with women who own guns. Her super-powers involve sugar and ninjas and will be revealed on a need-to-know basis.
Website - Twitter - Facebook - Blog - BuzzyMag

Julie is our new Senior Pie Coordinator and Clubhouse Keeper. Please welcome her warmly with fresh baked goods to ensure we don't stab you.

We here at the ELEW love Julie dearly and are thrilled to have her on board. She'll be posting on Thursdays (which, I'm not sure yet), so keep an eye out for her posts.

Also, welcome to our new digs! This should be easier for maintenance on my end. Soon our domains will point here but the old site is up and still an archive of old posts.

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