Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Final I Love Dark YA blogfest

Thank you so much to all the Dark YA blogfesters that find your way over hear from my author blog. Sorry I had to deter you, but as you may have noticed on my blog, I had big news that took the limelight over there today. But the I Love Dark YA blogfest must go on and my wonderful critique sisters' blog makes for a fitting place for the final post I feel.

On to the blogfest! Today we're posting about the dark YA novel that we're most looking forward to. That's a tough one for me because there are so many fantastic dark YA authors out there. I'm forever keeping an eye out for anything by Ellen Hopkins or Laurie Halsey Anderson but the one that really comes to mind is the one author that hasn't released a YA fiction novel yet. I recently had the pleasure of beta reading for a dear friend, Christine Fonseca (you may know her from her outstanding non-fiction work that was traditionally published). And I've got to tell you peeps, she is an absolutely dynamic writer. Her stuff is wonderful dark, just the way I like it. But just like other dark YA authors, she is having trouble getting agents who are willing to take the risk on it. The market is rough right now, agents aren't willing to take a risk, yada, yada, I know, I know. But this lady's work is so remarkable that the fact that her work wasn't snatched up immediately, shakes my faith in the traditional publishing world.

But I know how hard it is for dark YA to break onto the scene and I know Christine won't give up. Which is fabulous for you lovely people because believe me, you will love this lady's novels. Good things are coming her way very soon, I can feel it. ;)


Monday, November 28, 2011

Never Say Die (Except in Scene): Go NaNo Writers!

Are you writing like an insane person finishing up NaNoWriMo? Three days left!! Whoo hoo!!! For those of you who've made it this far, my hat is so far off to you I can't even reach it. Wow, you are seriously awesome. Events conspired to throw me off my NaNo game only a week into the process this year (sigh), and this my first time, too. But I got enough of a taste—and 34 pages, :-) —that I know a little about the pressure, excitement, frustration, exhaustion, and exhilaration that come with it. Hang in there, NaNoWriMo Scribes, only two more days after today!

There is nothing like writing to keep a person thinking, learning, striving, and feeling like life is amazing. So, in spite of this painfully funny cartoon from The New Yorker magazine that reflects the current publishing industry all too well,

never say die. If you love writing (at least when you don't hate it), your destiny has found you.

(Just remember, DO NOT send your unedited NaNoWriMo manuscript to agents. I heard last week that many agents claim they hate the first week of December because so many people do exactly that. Can you believe such a deluge happens? I don't think I can. It must be an urban myth. Sounds like a plot for a page turner, though. Hmmmm . . .)

~ Linda

Friday, November 25, 2011

Marketing You Book

"The Day You Stop Selling Your Book it Dies!"
Nathan Everett

Selling= talking, sharing, giving, promoting and anything you can do to move it into the hands of readers. Success will be yours if you never give up. Never stop selling. 

Happy Black Friday! 

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Inspiration From Others

Any time a friend of mine lands an agent, sells a book, or celebrates a debut, it inspires me because it reminds me that books are still selling and the industry is surviving. Today, my friend Saba over at Of Thoughts And Words, is hosting a New Author Blog Hop to celebrate all the wonderful new authors out there. Though I didn't sign up the Critique Sisters for the blog hop, I didn't want you, our friends and readers to miss out on it.

This year alone I've met so many fantastic new authors that I couldn't possibly list them all, show their covers, and have it fit on one page. I'll attempt to name a few, but the list is by no means inclusive. The Indie Elite: myself, Kristie Cook, Elle Strauss, Cyndi Tefft, Denise Grover Swank, Eisley Jacobs, Karlene Petitt (coming soon), Melissa Luznicky Garrett, Susan Kaye Quinn. The Indelibles: C.K. Bryant, Angela Carlie, G.P. Ching, Ali Cross, Jessie Harrell, Karen Amanda Hooper, P.J. Hoover, Megg Jensen, S.R. Johannes, Karly Kirkpatrick, Danyelle Leafty, Addison Moore, Lisa Nowak, Susan Kaye Quinn, Elle Strauss, Megg Vernon, Rashelle Workman.

How about you? Are there any authors you would like to give a shout out to? Who inspires you?


Monday, November 21, 2011

Trust Your Path

Thanksgiving week. This time of year always feels reflective. The holidays are upon us, the new year not far away. We find ourselves asking timeless questions with a clear and demanding timeframe. What have I accomplished? Where has my path taken me? What are my goals now? Next month? Next year?

This is a wonderful time of year for family, friends, and appreciating the love and joy in our lives. But the season also brings up complex feelings, often around love and loss, joy and pain, ambition and success or failure. Every emotion seems heightened; every life choice, everything that has happened to us, is celebrated or derided or mourned or questioned. At this time of year, we can easily find ourselves at a crossroads on our path.

Thinking about that made me realize how important it is to simply have faith in ourselves and in our paths, because that's where our truths lie. It made me think of the post I did last Monday on Tarot's Fool's journey (Never Underestimate Hope), because the Fool is sure as heck at a major crossroads, and his journey is ours.

Don McLean sings a beautiful song on his American Pie album (1980 CD), called Crossroads, that expresses this place in the journey perfectly. It's a love song in which any deep and true love (like writing) can be our beacon. Give it a listen here, and remember, all roads lead to where you stand.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

~ Linda

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Want to Write a Book!

I received the email below, asking me about how to become a writer…

“Well, I wanted to ask you regarding a situation: As I read you are an author too...I am 18 years old and aspiring Airline Pilot, well first one ever to even take in skies. I have always worked very hard in life and have got the bug of flying since a very young age. I have got myself involved in as much as I can with aviation (teaching at Air Cadets, volunteering in aviation related events-Member of Air League etc etc) so far and it has proven very positive. I am in London, recently I had won and completed a flying scholarship having gone solo-best moment of my life! I had written a diary, which included all the details from time, date, place, all technical details, fun experience, everything I can recall etc. I was wondering if you know any aviation Publisher who might take a little interest to turn it into a book. I have researched on Amazon and EBay and I don’t think there is any book out there that shares 'Zero to Solo' experience. I mean it is entirely my own experience nothing promotional just my experience. I was wondering if anything like that could be done. Thanks for your time reading this e mail, I just wanted to ask it’s completely fine if it cant be done. Hope your flying is great!” Dipeet

Thank you for a great question. Dipeet, yes… it is possible to write your story, but not in the manner you think. To have a publisher want your book… you normally need to go through an agent. Agents get about 3000 queries a week. They sell to the publishers, who may have books in cue for two years before going to print.

In your case, however, you’re writing a non-fiction book, which is different from fiction. Fiction you would spend years writing, then pitch, then query, then submit to agents, and if you find an agent, then they attempt to sell it. From what I see, the time to bring a fiction book to market is anywhere from 2 to 10 years, unless you are extremely good and lucky.

Non-fiction is different. You’ll create an idea, and write a proposal. You will sell your book before you write it. I have yet to do this… but, I’m getting ready, so I purchased a book by one of my favorite authors and teachers—Elizabeth Lyon. I’ve yet to read, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write, but I purchased it because I love all Elizabeth's other books. She’s brilliant. And then the next book I would recommend is Noah Lukemans’ The First Five Pages. This I did read, and it’s outstanding.

Having something to write about is easy with someone like yourself who is out there living life to the fullest. The next task will be learning how to write the story. That will come through reading and learning. Figure out what’s needed to start this process by learning "how to" write the non-fiction proposal, and then we’ll go from there.

Next week on Flight To Success, I’ll be featuring someone who took what you’re doing the greatest heights. I’ll be sharing his story all week… a must read for everyone.

Can anyone help Dipeet by sharing tips and advice for this aspiring writer? He also happens to be my Friday Flyer today. Drop by Flight To Success and read all about this amazing young man.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Becoming A Published Author

Each step down the path to publication has been like learning to walk all over again. I have misstepped, more than once, I've stumbled, and yes I've fallen. But I got back up and despite my wounds and pain, I kept moving forward. There hasn't been a single step of this journey that has been easy for me (and I know it's the same for many of you) but the rewards that come with each fraction of movement forward have been worth every ounce of agony.

I read a guest article on Chuck Sambuchino's blog~from Writer's Digest~by the fabulous author Anne Fortier that inspired me. Anne talked about seeking out agents and connections on your own instead of relying on others to do it for you. The wisdom of this runs deep, trust me. While it may be about who you know, you really need to meet them and connect with them yourself rather than rely on someone else to recommend you. Anne's article is filled full of great advice on not only how to reach that end goal, but how to do it right. You can read it by clicking here.

After much trial and error, I have reached my destination of publication and I have the right people walking beside me. Those people are not only my Scribe Sisters but you, our followers and readers. There are also my Twitter friends, my friends at Author Heather McCorkle blog and Goodreads. You give my legs strength and keep my resolve up. Thank you to each and every one of you. Together I know we can reach our goals. Becoming a published author is all about surounding yourself with people who support you, and about not giving up.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Never Underestimate Hope: Week 17 with Tarot's Fool

If you've been following the Fool's journey, you know that when he found the Tower last time we were with him, he yelled it down. The Tower was his alter ego, and when it crumbled, that felt like the end of him. It was the end of the him that used to exist, that got in his way of seeing his own truth and making it shine, but also of the foundations he'd spent much of his lifetime perfecting. What's he supposed to do now that he doesn't exist any more, at least not in any form that he recognizes or knows what to do with?

This might be the biggest question any of us ever asks ourselves. If we get to the stage where we have earned the right to be this scared and ask this question, we have accomplished something truly significant. But we sure as heck don't want to stay in this stage!

Luckily for the Fool, as he sits in the dark of night in the bleak landscape where the Tower stood, he notices a beautiful girl nearby. She has two water urns, and she's kneeling by a pool illuminated with reflected starlight. She's emptying the urns—one into the pool and the other into the earth. This is Tarot's Star.

"What are you doing?" he asks her.

"Refilling the pool," she says, her eyes twinkling, "so that those who are thirsty can drink, and also watering the earth so that, come spring, the seeds can grow." Then she says "Come, drink." The Fool joins her and drinks from the pool.

"I can see you are sad," she says, "but remember, you have not lost all. You still have knowledge, possibilities, and hope. They will lead you to a new future."

As the Fool feels the water's enlightenment, the Star begins to fade away, and he hears her say, "follow your star," as she disappears.

So, all is not lost? Distant as it may be, there 's a future ahead of him? It sounds farfetched, but something about the Star makes him sure this is not just wishful thinking. He has a guiding light. As he embraces this knowledge it begins to heal his heart. His thirst is quenched from the water she poured, that is true. If he plants seeds now, will they come up in the spring? Yes, he realizes, they will. He sets out to follow his star.

So what do we do with our newfound selves after we realize that yes, our foundations have crumbled? When we realize that what we thought was so great about our writing didn't quite meet our expectations? It didn't hold up because, as we've painfully realized, it was built on false ideas of who we are in the world and how accomplished we are. Ouch. We feel empty.

First, put the knowledge and experience you have gained back into that empty space, without any expectations. You have created a bedrock of work, a touchstone of hope that will see you through.

Second, you are in the midst of creating a new idea. Whether you're doing NaNoWriMo or waiting for that glimmer that tells you there's new stuff coming through your creative mind, you are in the midst of an effort that will take you somewhere good. No matter how exhausted you are, know that.

You may be working so hard that you feel you've used up all your energy and are not feeling your creative, driving force any more. Well, you've come this far. You have complete control, which also means you bear all the burdens of your choices. It's time to delegate some of those burdens to another person, if appropriate (like an editor), or to another time, so you can revive your energy.

Difficult as it all is, if you have reached this point in your journey, you know that part of you has achieved happiness, because that part feels a permanence of belonging in the writer community. That feeling comes from the knowledge you've gained through your hard work, and the support you've offered others and accepted from others. You've got peeps. And when you go through your dark nights of despair (as we all seem to do), they'll help you claw your way back to the light.

This is what the Star is telling you.

What else do you get when you follow your star? You get a project. You get a job. Whether that's a publisher buying your book, or it's putting in the time to achieve a step on the way to publication, you get the chance to do solid work, to make, create, and touch. Wow.

~ Linda

Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool1—The Magician2—The High Priestess3—The Empress4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot8—Strength9—The Hermit; 10—Wheel of Fortune11—Justice12—The Hanged Man13—Death14—Temperance; 15—The Devil; 16—The Tower 

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey is long-established from a variety of sources. Those I've relied on most heavily are: TAROT BASICS by Burger & Fiebig, AECLECTIC TAROT by Thirteen, and EVERYDAY TAROT by Fairfield

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mind Games: Finding Errors in your MS

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh

It amazes me how many times I can read my novel and continue to find errors. We all know you can be too close to your work and just can't see them. But I'm beginning to believe that closeness will eventually enable you to "see" the errors. You should know your story so well, that by the time you're doing your final edit, all you're doing is reading the words. Not the story.

I thought a fresh set of eyes would help find the word errors, but when someone reads your book for the first time, and they get wrapped into the story... a good thing... they may just miss those incorrect words because they can't see them either. 

The reality is, our brain sees what it expects. 

How do we fix it? Careful, slow, reading, word, by word, out loud. Last week I wrote a post...Weeding your MS, and the week earlier The Process of Editing, and I believe you don't quit until you can do a complete read without an error. You owe it to yourself to have a perfect product. Your mind will play games. The question is, will you let it win?

Could you read the words above? Are you willing to take the perfection challenge?  

Happy Veterans Day!

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Understanding Advances And Royalties

When you're first starting out as a writer advances and royalties can sound like another language. I've done a lot of research and finally have a bit of experience of my own regarding the subject. The answers are complicated, but I will do my best to simplify them for you.

It begins with an advance, and that is just what is sounds like, an advance on money you will hopefully make back for your publisher. This can be anywhere from a few thousand, to the impressive~yet now rare~six digits that you've heard about. If you have an agent they will get 15%~in most cases~of the advance. I know what you're thinking. Why even use an agent when there are many publishers you can submit to without one? Because an agent can make the difference between a $2,000 advance and a $20,000 advance. That 15% doesn't sound so bad now does it?

Earning out your advance and then earning royalties is the real goal. Most publishers are going to pay you 10% of the cover~or selling~price of a hardback and 8% of the price of a paperback. Ouch, I know but such is the traditional world. Ebooks are a different animal with sometimes a higher payout for the author for obvious reasons. First, enough of your novels have to sell to make the publisher the advance they paid you. Only after that will you start getting royalties.

I came across a brilliant blogger, Shawntelle Madison, who created a calculator to figure out royalties. Check it out here. She uses the 10% payout for hardbacks and 8% payout for paper backs. It appears that she has worked the agent percentage in there as well so it shows your net profits after that. With it you can get a good idea of how many books you have to sell to make a certain amount of money. Prepare yourself though, it takes a lot of sales to make much. If that calculator won't inspire you to work on your marketing, I don't know what will! Remember, this is for traditional publishing only, indie is a whole different matter.


Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNo, You Know?

We are all hunkered down, each in his or her way. Pounding out 1,667 words a day if we're doing NaNoWriMo, or, if we're not doing NaNo, polishing our manuscript for querying, or getting up the nerve to start something new, or any other number of writerly things (including my favorite: lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling until the urge to run away fades). We love it. We love it all. Except when we hate it.

NaNoWriMo is the stuff of people's fantasies (our fantasies) of what it's like to be a writer. And because it's here, it's raising the big questions: Can I be a successful writer? Is it worth all the sacrifices? Am I totally, like, narcissistic and delusional to think I can do this? Am I letting the people I love down by focusing on my own needs? You know the rest.

Whether you've got a crazy schedule and kids to take care of, or simply sometimes ponder the sanity of your choice to be a writer, you need to believe in yourself and your choice. I went looking for answers from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, and found the following beautiful poem. I hope it speaks to you, as it does to me, with love and reassurance. (And don't worry, your kids and spouse will still love you when you resurface and share yourself with them, even more, because you'll be more you.)

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

                                                One day you finally knew
                                                what you had to do, and began,
                                                though the voices around you
                                                kept shouting
                                                their bad advice—
                                                though the whole house
                                                began to tremble
                                                and you felt the old tug 
                                                at your ankles.
                                                "Mend my life!"
                                                each voice cried.
                                                But you didn't stop.
                                                You knew what you had to do,
                                                though the wind pried
                                                with its stiff fingers
                                                at the very foundations,
                                                though their melancholy
                                                was terrible.
                                                It was already late
                                                enough, and a wild night,
                                                and the road full of fallen
                                                branches and stones.
                                                But little by little,
                                                as you left their voices behind,
                                                the stars began to burn
                                                through the sheets of clouds,
                                                and there was a new voice
                                                which you slowly
                                                recognized as your own,
                                                that kept you company
                                                as you strode deeper and deeper
                                                into the world,
                                                determined to do
                                                the only thing you could do—
                                                determined to save
                                                the only life you could save.

Have a great journey, everyone.

~ Linda

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weeding Your MS

Question: How many times do you read your MS before it's complete? 

Answer: As many as it takes until there are no mistakes.

I've heard the answer to that question many times. But the problem is, I really didn't hear it. Because I had "thought" mine was perfect. My novel has been read numerous times by myself, as well as different people. Once again... I thought I was done. But being the perfectionist that I am, I decided that that I would do "one more" read. Lately, I've read far too many books in print with mistakes. I didn't want mine to be one of them.

What I found were better words, redundant sentences, a couple wrong words... I'm for I, an for and, etc. Incredulous little things that I thought had been previously weeded out. 

The fact remains there are some things that the eye passes over. But not all eyes. There will be someone out there who sees the error. Mine won't be one of them. 

How many times will I read my book? I will read it through the entirety until there is not one mistake found. Can we over edit our book? Perhaps. But mostly I think we can only make it better. 

Don't give up too soon. That "one more read" is the easy part in the realm of all that you've put into your work. If you can slowly read it, and not find one thing... you're done.

How many times have you read your book? 

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Three Elements Every Novel Needs

As many of you are diving into #NaNoWriMo there are a few important elements to your novel that you need to keep in mind.  If you're missing one of them, you don't have a story. Figuring them out early on will help you focus and keep your story on track. But don't worry, if you didn't do an outline for NaNo, just keeping these in mind will help. I'll share bits of one of my latest novels for an example.

Problem: Invaders are doubling their efforts to take over my main character's homeland. At the same time she is struggling to understand a power that is nothing like it should be, and is a disappointment to her parents. This shows both the inner problems she is struggling with and the exterior one she is forced to deal with going on around her.

Stakes: Invaders are not only driving her people from their land and taking over, they are wiping out her kind because they believe they are evil. If she can't figure out her errant power and discover a way to control it and use it, she may have to fear for not only her family's land, but her life. Again this shows the inner and outer stakes.

Solution: She must find a way to harness her power so she can use it to help her people fight back the invaders. In the solution the two combine, but this isn't always the case.

Once you know these three elements, you know the core of your plot. These are also the three elements that are found in a good one sentence log line. I've found that in knowing these elements, and writing my one sentence log line ahead of time, it helps me hone in on my story from page one and not lose focus on it. How do you make sure your story has the necessary elements? 

These elements are taken from my historical YA fantasy that is due out by Compass Press in early 2013.