Monday, February 28, 2011

Quick update on donating to fund for LK Madigan's son

Follow this link to see how you can help.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Chaos or Opportunity?

I am a new writer in the fiction world.  What a time to jump into the deep end.  I’m still struggling with the questions of craft and now I must also figure out Facebook, Twitter, blogosphere and all the options for publishing.  So here in The Grove, there are more questions right now than answers.  Please feel free to share your experiences and help fellow travelers find our way through the forest.

So as I understand it, in the traditional publishing world there are several entities that assist the writer in becoming an author.  The difference between writer and author was once explained in a workshop I attended as (and I paraphrase): you are a writer until you get a contract, then you are an author.

So in the way things used to be, oh say, two months ago before Borders began its downward spiral and the e-books rocketed out of the holiday gate, I, as a writer, would finish a manuscript and then begin the query and pitch cycle.  It being a bad idea to pitch before I have a reasonably finished product.

So let’s say things go according to plan, after all, I write fiction/urban fantasy.  So follow along on my fantasy journey.

Said agent would most likely recommend revisions to increase the likelihood of signing with a publishing house.

Having survived the vetting and debating of a publishing house, I would then be paired with an editor who in all likelihood would ‘suggest’ further revisions to make it even more marketable.

And finally 18 months to two years later, the novel is ready for primetime.  At some point prior to that, I would begin working with a publicist on how to launch your novel to make the bestseller list. But which one?  NYT, Amazon, B&N, in the perfect world (this is my fantasy) ---all of them.

But here I am at the edge of some new world.  E-books are flooding the market.  It is, in some cases, the classic drive to eliminate the middle man by both the writer and the distributor.  Not a new phenomena in general economics.  The writer wants to shorten the distance to launch and the keep more of the revenue and the distributor wants, well, essentially the same thing.

But the agent, editor, and publicist do serve a valuable function in this process.  Let’s face it, few of us are equipped to negotiate a contract, we are often word-blind when it comes to our own work and most have only a rudimentary knowledge of superior marketing strategies.  But, how to rise above the pile, hit a bestseller list and work a day job?  In self-pubing the writer must become agent, editor, and publicist.

Or does the writer find someone with more expertise?  Afterall, I don’t repair my own transmission or do my own dental implants.  Does this mean that the process will become more fragmented with independent editors and publicists, similar to the agent model filling a need? 

Does this create an opportunity or opportunists?  Are you using a specialist to help you navigate the new reality of publishing and bookselling?  Are you happy with them? How did you find them?


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Passing of LK Madigan

I was not familiar with LK's work until recently.  My children have aged out of the YA category.  LK passed away yesterday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.  She is survived by her husband and teenage son and the readers who love her.

If you do not know her, please read her final blog posting at the link below.  As a person, a parent and a writer I was moved beyond words.  Please also continue to buy and support her work.

Plans are being made to establish a college fund for her son, Nate.

Details when they are available.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Maze: Day one of the Staycation-Indecision

So I am more or less on vacation this week.  I do have a job-related activity tomorrow, but otherwise I am on a staycation.  After the frenzy of the holidays and merger-related work stuff, I decided a week was needed to get back to normal, whatever that is.

My goals for the week: clean the house, gather up tax paperwork, edit, write, blog and go to the gym, read and lose weight.  Sounds relaxing.

So what did I accomplish today?  I rearranged furniture in the bedroom, cleaned some, had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in months and posted this blog. I still need to edit at least 6 pages and work on the next project.  Which brings me to the issue of the week… Which project?

I have three different stories started and two others floating around.  So I work on each depending on my mood and my muse.  Tonight might be the night I work on what I call “WereHousewives of New Jersey”.  Probably not the final title but it works for now.  It’s is about a recently divorced woman who finds a new life through her personal trainer in more ways than one.  Will she use her new “physique” to put her old life behind her?  It’s probably a novella but we’ll see. 

I could always delay that decision by doing more edits.  I am making good progress on edits on Dark Dealings. I’m still debating eliminating some characters or downplaying them while hinting at a greater role in the future.  So now I have to decide who is clutter and who is needed.  It has to be objective.  They can’t stay just because they are fun. Then again, I had a writer friend who read part of the manuscript, like Micaela’s chauffeur so much that she wants to see more of him.

One thing I am learning, in a changing market, finding a really good critique partner is even more important.  If you have a CP, are they online or nearby?  Are the two of you at the same level?  Do you write in the same or similar genre?  How did you find each other?  Because the first step to selling your book is making sure it is worth reading.

Off to edits and writing and hopefully reading.

In the meantime, check out these links, I think are relevant to our changing bookselling world:  What can we learn from how musicians have adapted to their market changes.  We as writers must recognize our responsibility in selling our books.  This is a business and an evolving one to boot.  We must educate ourselves.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bon Jovi - Just older ~ For me on my birthday

So today is my birthday and in honor of that I sharing one of my anthem songs.  I started writing a few years ago because I had reached that place in my life where I had to follow my passion.

And besides, BonJovi is still hot, even if he, too, is Older.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Fascinations: Family and Phantoms

Yesterday I talked about inspiration.  Today, I want to share some of my own experiences.

I few weeks ago awoke with a name in my head:  Marie Owens.  I didn’t know anyone by that name.  I asked my husband and others.  The name rang no bells.  So I went to Google and found that slightly over 6 months before, an amateur historian by the name of Rick Barrett had succeeded in having her recognized as the first female police officer in the Chicago and in the United States.  She joined the Chicago Police in the 1890’s (I live in New Jersey).  Her parent fled the Famine in Ireland and settled in Ottowa,Canada.  I don’t know why her name came to me.  She has become a phantom that follows me wanting to be heard.  If Rick Barrett reads this or any member of her family, I am not insane…just Irish.  I would love to connect.

I have also been followed by my great-grandfather, Michael Kenney.  He came to America in 1842 at a young (but indeterminate) age.  He may have been sent here as protection from the sins of his father. He also may have serve in a Brooklyn Irish Brigade in the Civil War.  He was in his late sixties or early seventies when he gave birth to my grandfather.  If anyone has information, contact me.

Somewhere in my psyche I know that these are stories I am suppose to tell.  Whether it is as non-fiction or Historical fiction or fiction based on their lives (but they and I will know that it’s about them).

So those are the people/characters that are haunting me now.  Who is invading your dreams? What are the stories you are supposed to tell?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Storyteller's Grove: Thursday Inspiration, Skiing and a good Cabernet

Storyteller's Grove: Thursday Inspiration, Skiing and a good Cabernet: "I wrote a post…Way too serious. So, I got it off my chest and filed it. On to other things. My husband and son are going to Verm..."

Thursday Inspiration, Skiing and a good Cabernet

I wrote a post…Way too serious.  So, I got it off my chest and filed it.  On to other things.

My husband and son are going to Vermont this weekend to get in one last ski trip in before the thaw.  So I have a long weekend to myself.  What would you do with this time?  Me…I’m planning on writing, editing, getting tax stuff together, working out and sleeping.  Sounds like a fun weekend, right?  In a way it is.  I love being around people.  I am around people all the time.  Once in awhile, it is nice to have quiet time. 

I am often at my most creative in those quiet, alone moments.  My main character in Dark Dealings, Micaela came to me as I sat alone on my patio on a lovely evening with an equally lovely Cabernet.  Her voice was so string, even at those early stages, that I had to grab a notebook and take notes.  Other places I found inspiration are the gym on an elliptical with my earbuds and, of course, in the shower.  I can take an index card and pen onto the elliptical but they have to wait on the bathroom counter and the ink better be waterproof. And if we ever share a room at a conference, ignore me if you hear me arguing with someone while showering… I really am alone and I generally don’t listen to the voices in my head.

So where do you find inspiration?  What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done?

Footnote to prior post:  Borders in bankruptcy but the ABA (American Booksellers Association) says indie booksellers are alive and well. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday, Twitter and Brags

Tuesday Tales: 

So for starters, I have to brag.  My daughter is a college senior and recently applied to 17 PhD or Masters programs.  She was just offered a spot at the University of Nebraska in their doctoral program.  Waiting to hear from the other 16. She has also been accepted as a presenter at a conference in her field in San Diego.  Of course, my brilliant daughter will probably be the first to publish.  Her Independent Research paper is being submitted to journals.

Hey, if you can’t brag about you children whenever and wherever possible, what’s the point of social media? Which brings to my point, social media as a marketing tool for new writers/authors.

Her more reticent Mom’s, that would be me folks (no snickering from those who know me), big accomplishment of the week is setting up a Twitter account. @kvictoriasmith. It is yet another step in building a platform for the day when I, too, can lay claim to the title Published Author.  So now I blog, am on Facebook and Twitter.

 I can’t say how it will all end up but we stand at the edge of a new world and places like Facebook and Twitter are not only marketing but educational tools.  We can teach each other and watch and speculate on trends.  After all we are writers, it’s our job to ask what-if.

So here’s the question.  What do you think the publishing and bookselling industry will look like in 5 years?  10 years?  Will the roles and responsibilities of the author, agent, editor, publisher and publicist change?   What about big bookstores, will they even be around?  Do they go the way of the music industry, as some have suggested?  Do we need any of them in an Amazon/Kindle/B&N/Nook world?

 What’s a lowly writer to do to get published and get Henry Cavill to play the hero?  Or maybe Alex Skaarsgard.   Or even Matt Bohmer.  Hmmm, now where was I?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Musings: Shadows, E-books and Entrepeneurs

I have always been a bibliophile.  I love the smell of a book, the feel of the page between my fingers.  Waking up on the couch with a novel splayed across my chest (dare I say bosom—how Jane Austen).  But I have recently discovered, along with throngs of others, the benefits of portable reads.  I dipped my toe in with the Kindle for PC.  It’s on my Android but my over-40 eyes, rebel against the screen.  I mean, how will I read the Large Print Version on a screen that will hold four words at a time.  I haven’t made the plunge into actually buying a Kindle, but my birthday is coming up….

Then there is the issue of book signings.  That’s for another time.  I have an idea.

I previously talked about a paper book I read that I liked called “Paul is Undead”.  For those who have read it, it shed a whole new perspective on Mick Jagger’s Grammy performance.  This time I want to share my thoughts on “Into the Shadows” by Karly Kirkpatrick.  I purchased the e-book from Amazon.  Karly and Darkside Publishing represent an interesting aspect on the changing landscape of book publishing and selling.

Her story is a well conceived YA story of difference and persecution and the paranormal.  As a former teacher, I think it could have an appeal to the reluctant reader.  It is the story of high school students and their families some of whom possess unique abilities and the government that would declare them Enemies of the State.  For struggling readers who need high interest text,  that could segway them to such required novels as The Crucible or history topics like McCarthyism, Nazism, Japanese American after Pearl Harbor, this might be a way in.

In “Into the Shadows’ we meet, for the first time, Paivi Anderson who is not like other teenagers.  Since she was a child she has seen things that will happen, a good grade, a fall in the playground and things more horrible than she can tell.  One day Paivi, her family and others are rounded up and told that they must wear special badges and that their movement is restricted.  They are now Enemies of the State.  It is modern and paranormal, a genre very popular with the YA reader.  Lots of potential here.

What is also interesting is Darkside Publishing, a consortium of writers who are trying you combine their markets and through mutual promotion and support create a combined momentum for their work.  It is this kind of entrepreneurship that we can expect to see in a fluid industry.  It is part of a trend worth watching. Follow them on Facebook and Blogspot.

What good e-books have you read lately?  Are you an e-book author?  Why did you choose that route?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jumping In---Again. Answering Call

I’m back.  It’s been a long two weeks.  My day job has been part of a national merger, the culmination for us occurred this last week.  Fifty-five hour weeks, thirteen straight days of work with lots of activity and the stress associated with the actual arrival of change.  Is there a state of being beyond exhaustion?  That place where sleep is dreamless and insufficient and all the caffeine in the word is not enough.

It is interesting to watch how people respond.  It is a real life “Call to Adventure”.   I watch as many refuse the call.  They want things to continue as they were, despite the flow of events around them.  Others rail against the change.  Some plod along resigned like characters in Chaplin's Modern TImes.  A few are invigorated by the change seeing it as the new experience that it is.  Some of my colleagues have reflected upon themselves and the new culture and decided to change their role within the organization or change organizations.  They recognize that their adventure lies somewhere else.  The departure of talented friends is sad but I am happy for them and proud to see them embrace the risk of personal change.

As writers it is our job to take what some would see as the mundane and raise the stakes.   We ask what would happen to the person who wants to leave an organization and start their own business, but can’t because their spouse/partner want to maintain a certain lifestyle.  Recipe for a murder mystery? What about the person who holds secrets that could blow open the multi-billion dollar merger?  A recipe for a thriller?  Perhaps a urban fantasy or sci-fi or romance. 


I like to think of myself as one who answers the call.  I have had a variety of careers and experiences.  I admit I am not a daredevil.  Of course, I am a female of an age where I was raised to not run because it was unladylike and you would fall and break something.  I was also told to not wear patent leather shoes.  I have yet to work up the nerve to bungee jump or sky dive.  But I am always willing to take on projects that push me to think in new ways and, I guess you could say, create.  And I do wear patent leather on occasion and sometimes it is on my feet.

Maybe someday I will jump out of that plane.

How about you?  Are a change embracer?  What is the most interesting change you have made?