Thursday, September 25, 2014

In Celebration of Writing—Thirteen Great Minds Weigh In

Ever think about this writing thing we authors spend our time doing? Ever wonder what others make of this craft? Here are thirteen thoughts to inspire you.



  1. One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.~ Lawrence Block 
  2. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~ Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  3. Writers live twice.~ Natalie Goldberg
  4. Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. ~ Henry David Thoreau
  5. Anyone who is going to be a writer knows enough at 15 to write several novels. ~ May Sarton
  6. Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers. ~ Ray Bradbury
  7. I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it. ~ William Carlos Williams
  8. We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master. ~ Ernest Hemingway
  9. To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard. ~ Allen Ginsberg
  10. The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress. ~ Philip Roth
  11. Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts. ~ Larry L. King
  12. When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done. ~ Stephen King
  13. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. ~ George Orwell

Do you write? Do you have a favorite quote about the process? Please share.

Sources

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thirteen Tips to Launching a Debut Release

Hi Readers, 
Have I got a treat for you! The author of the contest-winning story Must Love Breeches Angela Quarles wants to share her tips on launching her novel.



Angela Quarles is a geek girl romance writer whose works includes Must Love Breeches, a time travel romance, and Beer & Groping in Las Vegas, a geek romantic comedy in novelette form. She has a B.A. in Anthropology and International Studies with a minor in German from Emory University, and a Masters in Heritage Preservation from Georgia State University. She currently resides in a historic house in the beautiful and quirky town of Mobile, AL.




Here's 13 Things I Learned about Launching a Debut Release

1. I use OneNote to organize everything related to my book, outside of the actual manuscript. It's so nice to have everything (links, tour stops, bios, blurbs, formatting) in one easily accessible spot.
2. Have a street team, no matter how small. I started out with only 3 but by the release, it's seven and they've been a great help
3. Do a Goodreads giveaway early on. My book released yesterday, and I have over 350 people who've added it to their TBR pile and a significant portion of that came from the Goodreads giveaway. Mine was for 2 and a half months.
3. Take advantage of Amazon's preorder ability. They've opened it up now to everyone. Consistency of sales is key with Amazon's algorithm and so I think it's going to help that I've had sales spread out leading up to my launch.
4. Start your social networking before you're published. I started blogging on hanging on Twitter in 2011 and so the friendships I forged by participating in discussions since then paid dividends this week. Everyone's been supportive and they're doing most of the promo for me as they're happy to see my book out too.
5. Add contacts you make along the way no matter how far out you are to publishing. Anytime a contest judge or someone else said they wanted to know when the book would be out, I added them to my Gmail contacts. Then, over the course of this summer, I reached out individually to each one.
6. Start a mailing list. And then treat them like gold. But don't add names to your list unless they opted in. I also didn't try to build mine artificially by running contests. I don't want people on there unless they're genuinely interested in learning about new releases from me, etc. I just make the link accessible on my website and let them accrue organically.
7. Hire a good cover artist! I used Kim Killion with hotdamndesigns.com
8. Make sure you have a compelling blurb
9. Create a Media Kit on your website. I wish I'd done mine sooner, but I finally knuckled down two weeks ago and did it. For ideas, visit mine: http://angelaquarles.com/media-kit/ Anyway, immediately after mine was up, I was getting hits, since I had review copies out with people and up on NetGalley. That week, one reviewer, on her own, mined that page and put up my image quotes and all sorts of stuff.
10. Which leads me to, see if you can rent NetGalley coop slot. I put out a call on some writer loops that I was looking to rent (and I put out that call several months before I needed the slot) and snagged one for a month for a very reasonable fee. I'm already getting reviews now from that.
11. Join writer loops to keep up with the latest indie news. I heard about the day they opened up Amazon preorders on the day it happened and so was quickly able to take advantage of that.
12. Stagger your announcements so that you're not spiking your sales all at once. Amazon now rewards consistency, as noted above. Even though it's hard, I've held off notifying friends and family via email, and staggered other announcements too.
13. Relax and try to focus on other projects too! Thought it's really hard not to keep checking stats!
Thanks for stopping by and reading this post. I had the pleasure of reading some of the super scenes in Must Love Breeches and I’m guessing you’ll like this story, too. Here’s the blurb, which I hope will entice you.

She's finally met the man of her dreams. There's only one problem: he lives in a different century.

"A fresh, charming new voice" – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.

Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.



If you’d like to get in touch with Angela or find out more about Must Love Breeches, here’s her contact information—
Join my mailing list: http://bit.ly/1sde3Qi
Paranormal Unbound, the group blog I belong to: http://bit.ly/1sdaIRa

And we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment. Thanks.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Philadelphia Story Experiment


Watching classics with a modern eye

By Elizabeth MS Flynn, w/a Eilis Flynn
Recently, we checked out a classic to see how it had stood the test of time. So we watched The Philadelphia Story again after many, many years. If you haven't seen it, it stars Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, with Hepburn starring as a Philadelphia blueblood socialite divorcee who is on the verge of remarrying, this time to a decent man of means who's worked his way up, when who should show up but her ex-husband, played by Cary Grant, who wants her back. Add to that mix Stewart, who's a reporter after a story, and who also falls in love with her. Oh, what's a girl to do? 

I was reminded that I didn't like this movie when I first saw it, and I really didn't like it after not having seen it for forty years or so. And considering I've always adored Hepburn, who played strong women, that I wanted to kick her character into the pool and keep her there surprised me. The character, Tracy Lord, is a pampered, privileged  prig who doesn't learn and grow after the events of the movie, remaining pampered, privileged and gets everything she wants. Worst of all, she's the classic Mary Sue, who's got three men in love with her. What to do? What to do?

And this was a HUGE movie when it came out, based on a smash success Broadway play. It was Hepburn’s comeback after being deemed box office poison for a while, and it did the job. If nothing else proves that society has changed, this movie does it. Likable? No. The working-class types represented by Jimmy Stewart and his photographer sidekick weren't all that likable, either. The only likable character was the kid sister, played by a young actress named Virginia Weidler, who stood out like a beacon and whose rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" was charming.

Cultural norm changes aside, as a writer this story annoyed me. I found I didn't CARE about the characters, except to hope they were thrown into a lion's cage and torn into pieces. They had money and privilege but they had little humanity, not connecting with the rest of the world. Not even the representation of the rest of the world, in the form of the working-class fiance and the reporter and the photographer, gave it much depth. They had it all, and they knew it, and screw the rest, classic "I've got mine, so who cares about you" sneer. 

Hey, I get enough of that when I read the newspaper. The last thing I want is to have that attitude shoved in my face by people I'm supposed to be cheering for. 

Could the story be updated for today's stars? No doubt. It was redone as a musical, High Society, in the 1950s, starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra (Kelly's last movie before she went off to become a princess). I haven't seen that, if at all, so maybe I'll do so to see if I like that version any better.

We’ll have to check out other classic movies. It’s an interesting experiment, seeing classics from a modern perspective.

Elizabeth MS Flynn has written fiction in the form of comic book stories, romantic fantasies, urban fantasies, historical fantasies and short stories, a young adult novel, and a graphic novella (most published under the name of Eilis Flynn). She’s also a professional editor and has been for more than 35 years, working with academia, technology, and finance nonfiction, and romance fiction. If you’re looking for an editor, she can be found editing at emsflynn.com and reached at emsflynn@aol.com. If you’re curious about her books, check out eilisflynn.com. In any case, she can be reached at eilisflynn@aol.com.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Are You a Dragonista?

What is a Dragonista, you ask? 

A Dragonista is someone who loves dragons. He or she can be a writer, a reader, a lover of fantasy or paranormal, of historicals or epic encounters on other worlds. Yes, dragons can be vicious and dangerous. They've been known to snack on sacrificial maidens and burn an occasional village or two to the ground. But they can also be handsome, strong, and sexy as hell. And did I say hot? Well, that goes without saying. *G*

Throughout the month of September, several talented authors are gathering on Facebook to talk about all things dragon.


https://www.facebook.com/AreYouAdragonista?

So, are you a Dragonista? I know I am.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Marx Brothers' A Day at the Race: the Experiment


By Eilis Flynn

As part of our ongoing experiment in examining media classics and see if they stand up to time, we decided to check out the Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races (1937). I hadn’t seen it, even though I’d heard plenty about it. So many of the quips, the style of joke telling, and acting that we know today come from that period, and Groucho, Harpo, and Chico were masters at the craft (not to mention the always delightful, always clueless, always picked upon Margaret Dumont). Not only that, this story’s sympathetic character, the one that the lunatic characters help (and there’s always one), is played by actress Maureen O’Sullivan, also known as Jane of Tarzan and Jane and the mother of Mia Farrow.

We enjoyed this still, even though it’s 77 years old (where DOES the time go?). Comedy is hard, I’ve heard tell, but the Marx brothers make it look easy. Groucho plays a veterinarian—although this being Groucho, who knows?—who’s mistaken for a physician and who gets involved in a scheme to allow O’Sullivan’s character to hold onto the failing sanitarium her family owns. The plot, which is a bit on the thin side, is bolstered by a few musical and dancing sequences, all of which go on long enough and made us wonder why in the world they were included in the first place. I guessed that they were inserted to stretch the running time (the container says 109 minutes). When we inquired of those who know these things (a music academic), we were told that the musical sequences were inserted to stretch the running time, as I surmised, and since they were for the most part with African-American entertainers, they were devised in such a way as to allow the producers and the local theaters in the South to delete them. So those moviegoers back then would never have seen or enjoyed those sequences.

So we had to ask the musical scholar about this, and he gave us what he told us was the short version of the story (of course, his version didn’t seem short, so it makes me wonder about the long version). Apparently, there were vaudeville and comedy circuits, performed mostly by Jewish entertainers, which came out of the minstrel show tradition, going back even farther. Apparently a lot of what the Marx Brothers did came from the minstrel shows, so inserting these musical sequences, but with African-American performers, was a natural decision because Hollywood actors and producers, who were fans of those performers, wanted to give their favorites some work.

And our musical scholar friend went on (and I’m synopsizing here; really, if this was the short version...but he teaches the subject, so it’s inevitable) to point out that a lot of what we saw in movies and even early TV came from that tradition. Jack Benny and his butler Rochester; Bogart and Dooley Wilson in Casablanca? Bojangles Robinson and Shirley Temple? All from that tradition that we saw a part of in A Day at the Races.

So that’s the thing about this comedy classic: the jokes are still fresh, but the music wasn’t universal, and it was even a bit political in a way that was at once overt and covert. Interesting to note, and something we wouldn’t necessary think of in our day and age. (Reminds me in some ways of Godzilla. Maybe soon in the series of examining media classics.)

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at www.eilisflynn.com. If you’re looking for an editor, you can find her at emsflynn.com as Elizabeth Flynn. Either way, you’ll find her online somewhere!


 
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