Friday, September 20, 2013

We've Got a Halloween Contest in the Works!

Hello darlings!

Stay tuned. We have a lovely Halloween Contest in the works. We already have two confirmed agents! Some of you will be happy to know that this contest's agents accept both ADULT and YOUNG ADULT works.

One does handle middle grade while the other does not. And one also goes for memoirs and non-fiction projects!

We're still working out the kinks, but we're hoping to have this contest up and running in early to mid-October!

So make sure to check back each week. Maybe we'll even share some agent hints!



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Post: Laura Elliott

Laura is the author of the brand new adult thriller, The Storytellers. She's here to today to tell us about why she chose to self-pub.

Confessions of a technogeek or why I self-pub


Why do I self-pub? There are a lot of reasons. I’ve always been an early adapter of technology. I was working in the dot-com world during the Internet boom of the 90s, programming and designing for a company that came up with proprietary software for online banking for credit unions. The company got taken over by Oracle and is still in business today. Then I fell in love with multimedia and animation in the entertainment and news industries. I took my passion for technology and taught animation software at UCSB (Univ. of CA at Santa Barbara) and trained staff at corporations on how to animate features for the web in a world called new media. There’s just something really cool about technology. It intrigues me. I love the way it can be used to tell stories. I guess I’ve been telling digital stories for a dozen years or so.


I published my first short story for the kindle, The Kindergarten Ghost, in 2008. I had no idea what I was doing. But it was really cool when I could read it on my kindle. Then I just sort of forgot about being self-pubbed. I kept submitting. I kept writing. And the industry all the while was changing. The story that I loved and felt compelled to write at the time was WINEMUCCA, a small-town fairy tale. It is literary. It is magical realism. It is not a commercial book. I knew this. So I thought it would be perfect to self-pub because IMHO it would be nearly impossible for me to traditionally publish a literary, magical realism book in the changing publishing climate. Once I published WINNEMUCCA, I fell in love with the process. I love designing book covers and producing book trailers. These were all things I had been doing in the news and entertainment world for companies, now I was doing them for myself and my stories.


The classic design problem of articulating a story through a single image fascinates me. That’s why I love designing book covers. I also enjoy engaging my other senses through music and video in ways that put me in touch with the story in deeper ways. I always learn a lot about what I’ve written when I produce a book trailer. The process seems to open up more interpretations and meaning behind my books.


Because I have so much fun re-imagining the story at the end of the process in these multimedia ways, I sometimes think I should reverse my creative process. Start with the trailer and the cover. Then write the synopsis, followed by the book. It might be fun to try one day.



Four storytellers
One ancient demon
No way out…
Four women who call themselves The Storytellers have gathered one hot August evening to tell tales, as they have for years. But on this night, they unknowingly evoke the powers of an ancient Mayan idol that breathes real life into their stories. The Mayan idol isn’t the only ancient being awakened. A power-hungry demon is determined to see the women fail and become enslaved to him forever.
Now the women’s lives depend on surviving each other’s stories, defeating the demon and solving a centuries-old mystery.
If they survive until The End untold wealth is theirs. But some stories have a life of their own…

Thursday, September 12, 2013

This Reject Has Got Herself a Job!

Well it's official boys and girls.

I'm no longer a writer/student. Well, based on my graduation post a few months back, you guys knew that.

But I'm officially joining the ranks of writers with a day job! Or if my future bosses are reading this...Writers with a career path! (Day job just has a better ring to it amongst my literary peers). At the moment I'm going to consider this a total "YAY, I'm a big girl!" moment. Some writers will probably say that they can't wait to quit their day job and spend all day writing.

BUT (and who knows, this disillusioned idea could totally backfire in my face down the road--after a few years of the daily grind)

I'd be pretty bored sitting at home writing all day, especially since life is what truly gets the juices flowing to write. I like to think work and daily life in general are ripe with potential. Like for example, that girl you work with, you know, the one managing to bend over in front of the male boss at the most opportune (or inopportune moments), she'd make an interesting character. Or how 'bout the guy that seems to stand guard beside the snack machine. No matter who goes up there, he always makes friendly conversation. But it's like he's trying to make sure no one else gets the Cheez-its.

Sometimes the daily and the mundane can surprise you. Ideas can strike at any moment. (The shower is my personal favorite).

All I'm saying is I'm super excited to be starting my new job! YAY! And you never know, I could come up with a great story idea because of it. Being out and about, a part of the world outside school will bring me in contact with unique people, people I may not have encountered before...perfect character fodder.

And I'm feeling quite blessed and lucky today.

Have a Happy Thursday lovelies! <3


Monday, September 9, 2013

The Most Important Thing

I've been in and around this industry a while. I've learned a lot over the years. Things like:

Don't mass mail queries.
Don't start a book with a dream sequence.
Clichés are clichés for a reason.
Writer are the best friends you could want.
Trends change and circle back.
Don't pitch your book to the agent you cornered in the bathroom.

The list could go on and on. I've been studying this industry long enough to have a degree in it by now. There are so many things I could say, pieces of advice I could give. But the one that has been resounding over and over in my brain is--

Write what you love.

Dude. I get it. More than most of you in the trenches, I get it--every book I self-pub is a several hundred dollar investment (on the low end) and I need it to earn out. Making money would be great. So the temptation to write what's selling hot at the moment is there. And This Love did well.
But the stories I love are the ones that I spend the most time in. Beyond Chains and Stars took god only knows how many revisions and eventually landed me an agent. It's the story that I've been wanting to read--the character driven, flawed and wonderful heroine-centric SF--since I was a teenager.
The book I'm writing now has my publicist more excited than either of my previous UB novels. It's fresh, it's different--dark and sexy and dangerous--and so much damn fun I don't want to quit working.

That's my advice, you guys. Screw the trends and what's selling and what's 'over'. Write the story you love. Pour your heart and soul and everything else into it--leave it all on the paper. If you don't, what the hell is the point of this?

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Woeful Writer

            Time flies when you’re writing a story. That doesn’t sound quite right, does it. Kind of a pity really. There’s so much involved in writing a novel that it doesn’t really feel like a whole lot of fun. Maybe that’s where a lot of us go wrong.

            The first thing I wrote was a 150k word novel. Yep, I went big. Of course I didn’t know just how big it really was at the time. The only thing I knew was just how much fun it was to write the story. It didn’t feel like work. It felt like I was reading the novel, soaking up each little turn and sub plot as it got displayed magically on the laptop monitor.
            It was so much fun. And it wasn’t the only time I felt it. Each time I started a new project, whether it was a full on novel or short story, I’d lose myself in the characters world as they stumbled their way to whatever havoc I created for them. Even creating queries were fun (well partially).

            That’s where I think a lot of people go wrong—myself included. When we query an agent, we start thinking more professional. It’s a good thing, to some extent. After all, you’ll never get picked up if your query looks like it was written by someone who’s biggest accomplishment was sinking the cheerio with their pee-pee. But the problem could be that we don’t remember to have fun again. From there on in, it’s all about the business.

            I guess what I’m trying to say is this. We’re creating stories to entertain people. That should never be taken too seriously. It’s not like we’re literally curing cancer or raising the dead. So relax everyone. Have fun and enjoy your work. Make someone smile, and hopefully get paid to do it. Seriously.


Monday, September 2, 2013

Mid Draft: Keep Chugging!

Mid draft.

We all get there at some point. In my case it happened much sooner than intended. (Yay for middle grade/chapter book type hybrid graphic novels! Less words!) <--Yes, I realize that was long. That's because I'm not entirely sure what I'm writing but the awesome part? I LOVE it. So when I finish it and begin revising I'll figure out exactly what I'll be pitching.

So we all reach this point. Sometimes it's after 5k or 10k or 30k, whatever it may be. And we lose our steam. That shiny new idea may be nudging our subconscious and perhaps making an appearance in our conscious mind. The one that says, "Hey, I'm shiny and new and sure to be easier and better than this other manuscript!" We must fight the urge. And get cracking to finish the original manuscript.

Author Holly Lisle has some great advice on digging in and finishing your novel. Whenever I feel the itch to work on something else or lack motivation, I go to her site. She suggests candy bar scenes. Scenes you just can't wait to write. Write toward them and dangle them in front of you like a treat. Just one more scene before I get to write THAT one. For erotica lovers it could be that steamy scene or for a middle grade fantasy it could be when the hero is betrayed by the best friend. Also sometimes she says it's best to write the ending. I did this with my last novel, a YA myth retelling. Boy did I throw in a doozy by starting with my ending. BUT I think it genuinely made my novel better. Granted now that blasted thing needs some revisions but hey, I'll get to them.

So when you feel like you need a boost. Check out her site. She has some pretty helpful advice :) And remember avoid the temptation of that shiny and new project.