Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Jason's Gone Mad
Okay, gang, just a quickie for you today. I'm doing the crazy last minute thing getting ready to go Hypericon in Nashville. I leave bright and early tomorrow morning. I'll be back on Monday (if I survive!).
In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with this excellent little tidbit. Apex publisher, Jason Sizemore, has had a temporary lapse in sanity and is offering a storewide 20% discount at Apex.
In his own words of madness:
We're having a store wide sale to celebrate four excellent events:
1) The release of Orgy of Souls by Wrath James White & Maurice Broaddus
2) The release of Beauty & Dynamite by Alethea Kontis
3) The release of Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales by Fran Friel
4) THE COMPLETION OF OUR WEBHOST MIGRATION!
Just enter the code NEWHOST on checkout to receive your discount.
The sale ends June 30th!
Apparently Jason's madness will be short lived so don't wait. Rush on over and order some Apex goodies. Of course, I have a particular favorite I could recommend, but they're all good.
See you when I get back from Nashville. I'll be singin' all the way home.
Happy Apex shopping!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Padrone on Time Management
Tom Monteleone, the author and publisher known and loved by many as Padrone has a lot to say about being a successful writer. His book on writing, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a Novel, is jammed packed with excellent advice on the subject. I've had the pleasure of studying with Tom and his brilliant gaggle of author/instructors at the writing workshop, Borderlands Press Boot Camp. He knows his stuff so when I saw that Cemetery Dance Magazine had a link online for an article by Tom, I popped on over for a look.
Have a look yourself--definitely worth your time (pardon the pun):
Time Keeps on Slippin' . . . .Into the Future
Or: How to find the time to write
by Thomas F. Monteleone
Rebellion and a Twisted Gemini
Time management has been vexing for me as a writer. I have more time than most writers, but it can slip away from me if I'm not diligent. I love to write and I'm a naturally hard worker, but I have a personality that rebels against a rigid schedule BUT if I don't have some semblance of schedule, I can dawdle time away like sand through my fingers.
I used to beat myself up for not adhering to the sacred writing rule of "you must write everyday." And while beating myself up, I was also creating a subconscious backlash against my joy for writing which ultimately caused me to rebel. A kind of negative feedback loop formed which made me war with myself about writing. Of course, most of this war was raging on the subconscious level, but it led me to find all kinds of excuses not to write even when I wanted to and needed to (oh, the joys of being a Gemini...always of two minds). And since I work at home, there are plenty of easy excuses at hand: laundry, dishes, bills, oil changes for the cars, cleaning, etc. And then of course there's the oh so enticing "networking" online, blogging and "researching." Oh yes, I'm a master of self-distraction and delusion.
Anyway, I finally had to admit to myself that I couldn't be a work-a-day writer with a time clock and a page limit. I had to rekindle my joy for writing and let that guide me to finding my own rhythm schedule-wise. To find that joy again, I had to force myself NOT to force myself to write (my dutiful German genes run strong, but my Bohemian rebellion side won't be silenced!), but rather, I had to learn how to love it again. Before going to war with myself, I'd actually found writing fun. I LOVED the process of uncovering a story and finding a way to tell it to others that made it fun and interesting to them.
It took me a while to step away from the rigid scheduling idea and break the negative pattern I'd set up, but I'm finally there. I'm still doing a little dance with myself and learning how best to keep the fun fresh and be productive at the same time, but it's much easier now because I'm kinder and gentler with myself. One thing I did this year was wrap up my big projects just before Spring sprung here in New England. I was determined to have time to go to the beach and be outdoors in the beautiful weather while it lasted. Spring is short here before the heat and humidity set in and I didn't want to miss it sitting in my office staring longingly out the window when I live across the road from the sea. Ack...no way! I figure I'm halfway through my life - how many Springs do I have left? As the saying goes, "life's too short"and I might add, all work and no play makes Fran a dull writer.
Of course, sometimes you just have to hunker down and get the work done, but for someone with my personality, too much hunkering is poison to the process but just enough keeps the literary lifeblood flowing. So I say, find your own rhythm. Writing everyday is a great way to succeed and the best way, I think, but some of us need a bit of flexibility in that rule to stay the course for the long haul especially if you want to keep loving what you do. Viva la difference!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
A Happy First
I've been so bad--I have so many things I've wanted to tell you but I haven't gotten the chance. Forgive me for my absence, but I'll at least leave you with a couple of bits to chew on.
Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales is nearing its release date of June 28th (yeehaw!) from Apex and I'm so happy to announce that along with its pending arrival comes its first review. A sweet one at that. I'm honored and thrilled.
Have a peek at a very Chrispy review from Chris Perridas at the Horror Mall:
Click Here (you might need to scroll down the page).
If you want to take the plunge:
MB is available for pre-order HERE.
I'll be making my first trip ever to Nashville TN is a couple of weeks, and now that I think about it, it will be my first trip to Tennessee...so yeehaw, ya'll. I'm heading down for Hypericon to promote the MB collection. If you're in town, be sure to come on by.
If you happen to stop in, I'll be yammering away on a couple of panels:
Friday 2PMSHORT AND SCARY
Tips on writing short horror fiction and why it is harder than you think.
PS Gifford, Matt Wallace, Fran Friel, Bill Snodgrass, (moderator)
Saturday 7PMHOOKED FROM THE START
Writers talk about how to hook the reader at the beginning of the story
Fran Friel, Allen Gilbreath, Sara Harvey, Elizabeth Donald
I'll also be doing a reading at 10:30PM on Friday and a book signing at 3PM on Friday and 5PM on Saturday (I think in the dealer's room area).
I hope to see you there! And if you can't make it, I'll do my best to take some pics to share with you when I get back.
Hope you're having a great weekend!
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Hair Pulling Help
As most writers soon discover, there's far more to writing than just crafting an entertaining story. You have to prepare your manuscript for submission, and in the case of novels, you have to write a compelling query letter and then you have to market yourself as if you know what you're doing. It's enough to send a writer into a bit of a hair pulling frenzy.
Well, today I've got a couple of links to help save at least a hair or two. This is old news for some of you, but hopefully it will help a few folks that still have their hair.
Make It Pretty
Unless you've taken a class on the subject or have a writer in the family, one of the things that you simply don't know as a new writer is how to format a manuscript for submission to an editor. And believe me, in my brief couple of years as an editor of a small mag there are lots of writers who don't know how to do this. A clean well-formatted manuscript makes an important strong first impression showing a commitment to being a professional. It can be a tedious job, but formatting is very important so don't skimp on the details. Hence, the following link is a good guideline for formatting a manuscript for submission (but remember to always read the specific guidelines of the editor you're submitting to--some have special requirements...sometimes silly ones...they have their reasons or they're sadist, but do it anyway):
William Shunn: Manuscript Formatting - Click Here!
Another important tool in the writer's tool kit is the skill of writing an compelling query to a publisher or an agent. Like a handshake at a meeting, the query letter is the first impression you give a potential agent or publisher of your work. Since they receive tons of queries everyday, a busy publisher or agent wants your query short, concise and clean. This sounds simple, but there's a real art to a great query letter. Here's a place to peruse for some very good advice on this mystical maddening writer's necessity:
Query Shark - Click Here!
Work It Baby
There are those lucky folks that are in the right place at the right moment and it all falls into place for them, but most of us have to do the hard work of getting our writing noticed by publishers and readers alike. Volumes have been written on the need to market in the writing business and amongst writers there are heated debates on this subject, but coming from a sales background and also running a private therapy practice for many years, I've learned that you have to do a little legwork or you wither on the vine waiting.
I guess my biggest lesson came from the Condo King. As a Realtor years ago, I worked with a marketing firm and they taught me the concept of "making it so." They introduced me to the Condo King, a guy struggling like all new Realtors to get a steady list of clients, that is until he bought a billboard and crowned himself the Condo King. Was he the Condo King? Debatable, but he indeed made it so with that billboard that turned him into the local go-to guy for condos. He talked the talk, but ultimately he walked the walk and delivered on his promise as the Condo King.
As writers our name and our work are our brand. I can hear the cringing of many writers as I say that, but it's a simple truth. What do you think when you hear about a new Stephen King, JK Rowling or Dean Koontz book? Most fans of their work think, "Oooo, gotta get that!" It's just like the album of your favorite band or the latest Prada purse dangling on a celeb's arm or a new Lamborghini model ripping up asphalt around the world --brands, baby.
But for the lowly writer without an army of marketers we've got to work with what we have at hand. First and foremost, good product and a good reputation. 1) Learn to write well and seek out teachers and colleagues who will offer you honest criticism. Let the sting of imperfection fade and learn from their comments. 2) Be professional and kind (or at least polite) in your public dealings. Blasting folks on message boards can be the kiss of death to your reputation. 3) Join message boards, writers groups, professional writers organizations and go to conventions. Get to know folks and build a good reputation that will help when your submission comes up for consideration. 4) Help others succeed. It feels really good to be helpful and people will remember your kindness. 5) Blog regularly, write articles, offer to interview your colleagues, volunteer to be a first reader or to do some editing for a mag or anthology--get your name out there so that when your submission comes before the editors and their choice is you or an equally talented writer whose name is completely unfamiliar, you'll have that slight and oh so important advantage.
I recently found a couple of free or inexpensive advertising resources to help spread the word. You might want to give them a try:
Horrorfind Banner Exchange
GenreBanners.com - Permuted Press Banner Exchange
Project Wonderful - Work like Ebay, bidding for banner ad space on sites of your choice
Well, this little blog has turned into a bit of a monster, but I hope you may have a least found something of interest here. Now I'm off to get some work done!
PS: Speaking of banners, if you have a little space for a snazzy Apex/MB banner I'd be honored if you'd post it for us. Please let me know if you do! Here's the banner and the link:
Link to: http://www.apexbookcompany.com/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=24
Embed direct code - copy and paste into website or About me Myspace code (be sure change red brackets [ ] to same facing arrows < >):
[a target="_blank" href="http://www.apexbookcompany.com/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=24"][img border="0" src="http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c333/franfriel/APEX_Mamas_banner.gif" /][/a]