Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, the forms...

Have I ever mentioned that I don't like filling out forms? Who does, right? Well, I've been filling out forms in the last couple of days, all of them related to my contract with The Wild Rose Press. Don't get me wrong; these forms are far from complex and aren't intimidating, and there are very few of them. My problem involves things like writing a brief bio.

Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to write about myself and not make myself sound more boring than a rock? Fiction is so much easier. So is writing about anyone other than myself. But, after about ten tries of varying degrees of failure, I finally came up with something that sounded good and captured my personality...I hope. If you're dying of curiosity, you can check out my bio on my MySpace page.

My profile isn't that exciting yet, since I haven't had much time to work on it, but the About Me section is done. I haven't had a chance to find friends, either, so right now my only friend is Tom. As anyone who's signed up for MySpace knows, yes, it's that Tom. The one who automatically becomes the friend of all new members. It's so nice to have a friend as soon as I sign up, but I really need to find more friends. There's something about seeing all these profiles with hundreds or thousands of friends, and then looking at my own profile and seeing only Tom.

Ah, well. That's what I get for not spending enough time on MySpace. Maybe I'll rectify that situation over the weekend. In between working on edits of course. It's so exciting to finally work on my own manuscript while knowing it's under a contract!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and fear forms no more. If I can survive them, anyone can do it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I am so excited!!! (hence the extra exclamation marks) Yesterday, I mailed my first contract! That short romance I've been focusing on for the last couple of months has been accepted by The Wild Rose Press. There are so many things that make this great. Here are some of them in no particular order:

1. The Wild Rose Press is a royalty-paying publisher

2. They are great people to work with (just ask their authors)

3. I've never had a contract before (even though I've published two short stories)

4. I'll be getting paid for my writing for the first time ever!

I'm doing the happy dance this week, celebrating with joy. I still have work, but it's a whole lot more enjoyable because I have a short story being published for which I will get paid. That's what I consider success: getting a contract from a royalty-paying publisher. Not everyone will agree with me on that, but my goal for years has been paying publication. Thanks to The Wild Rose Press, I've achieved that goal.

My next goal? Getting a full-length novel published. That one's a little more difficult, especially given the current economic climate, but someday it will happen. I can be very persistent and patient, two things that generally pay off in publishing.

Have a great week, everyone! I know I will.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Exciting News!

As you longtime readers know, I already have the most adorable niece ever. I love her to pieces, but in the next few months I’m going to have a couple more little ones to shower with my auntie love. My sister and her husband and my brother and his wife are having little boys!

I am so excited for all of them, and I can’t wait to meet my nephews for the first time. I love being an aunt, and I’m planning to crochet cute things for both boys. I already have a cute crocheted thing started for my niece. I can’t leave her out! I’m an equal opportunity spoiler.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I have a crochet hook and some yarn calling my name.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jouranlistic Responsibility

It seems everyone is writing about current events these days. It’s great that so many people are interested in what’s going on in the world around them, but I’ve noticed something concerning: a lack of journalistic responsibility.

What do I mean by “journalistic responsibility”? That’s simple. If you’re going to write about events like a journalist, you need to check your facts. Don’t state opinion as fact; use facts to support your opinion. A lot of people use the internet to share their opinions on everything from the best taco sauce to the state of the world economy. Which people get the most attention and have the most influence over others? The ones who have obviously done their homework and present their opinions in a logical manner.

Coming across as irrational or uninformed is a fast way to lose all credibility with potential readers. Sloppy writing and parroting what we’re fed by the mainstream media will also discourage people from listening to what you have to say. People turn to the internet and alternative news sources to get the rest of the story, the things the evening news doesn’t have time to talk about.

By blogging or getting into a discussion about current events on a message board, you’ve become an alternative source of information. That’s why journalistic responsibility is so important. The whole point of those discussions and blogs posts is to inform. Make sure you’re spreading true information and not misinformation. Half-truths or outright lies are generally easily exposed by a little research. Don’t lose your credibility by skipping the essential step of checking your facts.

I know what you’re thinking; all of this trouble just to write your opinion on biofuel? Look at it this way. If you go to all of the trouble to make sure you have your facts straight, not only will you have a more informed decision, your opinion will carry more weight with people just by the simple fact that you really do know what you’re talking about.

So, check your facts, write your thoughts in a clear manner, and show the world you know your stuff and can back it up with research.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fact-check...Always Fact-check...

There's nothing more frustrating than thinking you've reached the end of the revision process only to discover you have a big inaccuracy that affects the whole story. Enter yet another round of revising with some rewriting to correct the problem.

The moral of this story? Always fact-check early in the revision process. Even better is to do the research before you ever write the story to make sure you have dates and other information correct. Trust me, it save a major headache later on. The earlier you do your fact-checking and research, the easier it is to deal with revising the manuscript for accuracy. That way you're not having to rewrite pieces of prose you worked so hard to make perfect.

Inaccuracies are always annoying. I'm the first to admit it, since my writing over the years has had enough of them that I've had to correct. Thankfully, I'm getting better about researching before I write, or at least in the early stages of the manuscript, so that my writing is much more accurate than it used to be.

Now, keep in mind I'm talking about fiction here. Non-fiction is a different animal entirely, and accuracy is even more essential. Readers of fiction are a little more forgiving (sometimes, anyway) of miniscule inaccuracies. Any inaccuracy or misinformation in your non-fiction can kill your writing career and any credibility you have. Obviously, you want to do in-depth research before ever starting your non-fiction manuscript. That will save you not only headaches down the line, it could very well save your reputation and writing career.

So, in addition to the million other things you should keep in mind when preparing to write and writing your first draft, you also need to be aware that your work should be accurate. Don't let that scare you, however, and keep you from ever writing a word. Like every other part of writing, you can always revise later, after you've written your first draft and let it sit for a while. Just remember to do another round of fact-checking before you decide your manuscript is ready to submit. You don't want to send it off then realize you got something wrong.

As the title of this post says: Fact-check. Always fact-check.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Have I mentioned that I love writing-related webcomics?

I already new about Unshelved and Tales from the Slush Pile. Now I've learned about another whose posting isn't quite as regular, but it's still great: The Adventures of Comma Boy.

The first couple of strips are political, but once you get past them and get to the writing-related ones, particularly the ones about people preparing queries, it's hysterical and sounds like so many submission horror stories I've heard from agents and editors.

If you know of any other writing or publishing-related webcomics, let me know. I'm always up for adding to my list of ways to waste time on the internet.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's been a year already?

Today marks the one-year anniversary of this blog! I'm so excited. When I started this adventure last October, I knew nothing about blogging. I wasn't even sure I'd be able to keep it going until the end of 2007, but here it is one year later and still going strong.

I don't know much more about blogging than I did then, but what I'm doing seems to be working fairly well. For those of you who don't already know, I update this blog every Tuesday and Thursday. The topics range all over the place, but I almost always tie them into writing or some other part of the publishing industry.

Now I'll give you a chance to boss me around. What have I done in the past year that works for you? What did you absolutely hate and hope I never do again? Are there any topics I've covered that you'd like to see more on? Or maybe there's a writing/publishing-related topic I haven't talked about at all that you'd like to see a post (or series of posts) about.

Tell me what's on your mind. This blog is all about you, the reader.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Call for Submissions

Romance publisher The Wild Rose Press has put out a call for submissions. They accept all romance genres in any length from 3,000 to 100,000 words. They also publish everything from sweet romances to the hotter than hot romances. They even have a YA line, so if you have a sweet love story between teenagers, you can still submit!

The Wild Rose Press is an e-publisher, but they also do print for full-length novels (40,000 words and up). They're a very author-friendly company, with weekly chats where authors, readers, and prospective authors can chat with editors and sometimes the Editor-in-Chief. Most submissions receive a fairly quick response, though depending on an editor's work load it could take a little longer. If you happen to receive a rejection, it will never be a form letter. They always send out personalized rejections, usually with a few hints on how to improve your story. If the editor feels strongly enough about the story, they may invite you to resubmit after you revise. This is all part of the company policy to grow writers, not just books.

For more information about submitting to The Wild Rose Press, check out their submissions page. Look around while you're there, explore the site to learn more about the company, its authors, and the books. If you visit The Greenhouse, you'll find a wealth of information on writing, both general writing information and romance-specific. These articles have been written by multi-published authors and some of The Wild Rose Press' own editors.

Though a small publisher, The Wild Rose Press is respected among authors and has been recognized by the RWA. Good luck with your submissions!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Off, off, and away! And how long should it take?

Well, I sent off my short romance manuscript yesterday. Now I get to wait and worry about whether the editor likes it. I'm sure she will, but you never know. As I've said often enough, publishing is very subjective and what one person likes, another will hate.

I have to admit, I don't like waiting for a response any more than the next writer. But I understand that it takes time to review the dozens of submissions that publishers receive every week. Then a decision has to be made, and most publishers require approval from at least two people before offering a contract. That takes more time.

Publishing is SLOW. Yes, e-publishing is faster than print publishing, but edits take time. You still have the back and forth between editor and author as they work to make the manuscript perfect. Then there's the production process. That adds more time to the length between contract and release.

Would I mind a release a year after signing the contract? No way! It's better than the two years that's so common among the big New York print publishers. And if the e-publisher waits until the edits are done to assign the release date, I know I'm not going to be told the date has to change because the manuscript needs more work. Hallelujah, a release date that's all but set in stone! Every author's dream, as it makes promotional a whole lot easier if you know for a fact your book will be out on such and such a day.

It appears I'm in a minority, however. I've heard countless authors complain about the length of time it takes for their book to come out. It doesn't matter if it's an e-book that's out in a year or less or a print book that takes up to two years to come out. The complaint is the same. Why can't my book be released sooner?

Well, there are a couple of reasons for that. The ones you as the author can control are the condition of your manuscript when you send it in and the length of time you take on revisions. When you submit to a publisher, make sure you have that manuscript polished until it shines. The more perfect the writing, the less editing it will take, thereby cutting down on the length of time between contract and release, at least with most publishers. If it's a great story but the writing isn't up to par, it takes more work to get the manuscript whipped into shape so it can go into production.

The other time consideration is how long you take on revisions. Now, I'm not saying you should rush through the revisions your editor requests just to get the manuscript back to the editor faster. Rushing tends to lead to mistakes and that makes the editing process take longer. But you should always meet the deadline your editor gives you. If you find a few things that could be improved that the editor didn't comment on, by all means improve them. That may save the editor a step in the next round of edits. Don't completely rewrite the book, however, because the story you have is the one that's under contract. The improvements I'm talking about are taking an awkward sentence and smoothing it out, adding a bit of description to a kind of dry area, things like that. Small changes to improve the quality of the manuscript.

Now, the thing you can't control is an editor's schedule. Yes, your manuscript is one of his priorities, but he likely has several manuscripts under contract that all demand his time. Plus about a million other little things that add up to keep him busy beyond belief. Try to be patient with your editor. He wants to see your book released as soon as possible (just like you), but it takes time. Assuming you've gone with a reputable publisher, they'll get your book out to readers as quickly as they can.

I know, none of this helps if you're looking for instant gratification for your writing. If you're one of those people who absolutely cannot wait longer than a week to hear what people think about your writing, consider starting a blog. It may take a while to build up a readership, but your work will be out there instantly for the world to see. Another option is self-publishing, but that takes money. A lot of times, you won't get the same quality of editing that you'd get with a traditional, royalty-paying publisher; you may not get any editing at all. That lack of editing is likely to cost you in terms of sales, but your book will be out fast.

Remember the moral of the fable The Hare and The Tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's finished...I hope

I finally finished expanding a short story into a longer short story. Last night, I completed revisions on it. I'm going to give the wonderful people from my critique group the opportunity to look it over, then on Monday I'll send it back to the editor who requested the expansion.

I can never say enough good things about critique groups. I thought my writing was great several years ago. Then I joined a terrific critique group (the one that helped me with that short story) and learned that I knew next to nothing about writing. Their gentle guidance and helpful words have brought me to the place I'm at today. Two short stories published and an editor interested in a third. Through critiquing others' work, I discovered a love for editing and honed my skills to the point where I now work as an editor.

I've become a lot busier in recent months and my participation in critique groups has slowed way down. I try to keep up with the emails and help out when someone has a tight deadline. This weekend, since I no longer have that story hanging over my head, I'm hoping to spend some time critiquing chapters for those who have been kind enough to critique my chapters. I doubt I can ever repay all of the people who have helped me on my writing journey, but as I get farther into the publishing world, I hope I can provide some insight that might help my fellow writers succeed.

I'm still far from my dream of having a novel published, but I'm getting closer all the time. I hope to finish revising a couple of manuscripts and start submitting again soon, but it's okay if it takes me longer than originally planned. One thing I've learned through studying the publishing world is that it pays to be patient. The more time I spend polishing my manuscripts and making sure they're as perfect as possible before sending them out, the better my chances of gaining the interest of an editor and/or agent.

I'll update you all on the short story I'm sending out Monday just as soon as I hear anything from the editor. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and praying that this publishing house is where God wants my story to be. I have a good feeling about it, but we'll see what happens.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and check back on Tuesday for a new post!