Saturday, May 19

The Versatile Blogger Award


For me, the good news today was that I wrote 4,700 words, I haven't done that in a while! The bad news, though, was that none of those words went into a blog post. That's okay, I decided, I did what writers do, namely write, but I still wondered what I was going to post about.

With these thoughts running around in my head like a gerbil on a wheel I opened my digital mailbox and found a note from Melanie Marttila over at Writerly Goodness breaking the good news that she had awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.

Looking at Melanie's email, it felt as though the universe had smiled on me. What a lovely thing to be given and what a marvelous topic for a blog post. I'm honored, thank you Melanie!

So, from Melanie's blog post, here are the rules (Oh my! And, yes, I have recently read 50 Shades of Grey ;):
a) Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
b) Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
c) Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
d) Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
e) Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
So, first, thank you Melanie! I'm honored that you thought of me when you were giving out the award. :-) I've put a link to Melanie's blog, Writerly Goodness, above, but I thought I'd include it here as well.

My fifteen nominees, in no particular order:

- Elizabeth Span Craig: Mystery Writing Is Murder
Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010, 2011, and 2012.

- Seth Godin's Blog
 The man needs no introduction and I would be hard pressed to winnow his interests down to just a few areas. Here are a couple of articles about him:
Seth Godin: How To Change Your Luck
Seth Godin: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread (includes a link to his TED talk.)

- Dead Houseplants.
I am a mother of three with an English degree and an obsession with children's and YA literature. I edit children's books part-time for a small, independent publisher. I love teaching and wish I could do more of it. I have a love/hate relationship with writing and think I ought to do more of it.

- Kim Nevile: Faith, trust, pixie dust
I write stories, most of which contain a fairy or two. On this blog I write about the things that matter to me. When I'm not making stuff up I also love taking photographs. All the photos here are my own. If you're still curious, find out more on my About page.

- The Land of Deborah. Singer, songwriter, composer.
Deborah isn't a writer, but she is definitely a fellow creative. Here's her YouTube channel [link].

- Failure Ahoy! Adventures in Digital Publishing
I'm a sci-fi/fantasy author, freelancer, and movie critic, which as far as jobs go is among them. I enjoy kung fu, which I'm all right at, and my aquarium, which kills more fish than StarKist. I'm not too happy about that.
(Ed Robertson has a terrific blog that is, among other things, filled with statistics on different strategies for selling books on Amazon. A must read for indie authors.)

- Ghostwriter Dad: Helping good writers make a great living online
His tagline says it all. Great writer, great advice.

I'm going to have to split this post into two, it's getting so long! 7 today, 8 tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

btw, I tried to avoid overlap with the links I gave out in a recent post, Great Writing Blogs, but Elizabeth's blog and books are just too good not to mention again!


Friday, May 18

Short Story: A Night In The Country, Part Two


This post has been removed.

Writer's Rejoice!

publishing industry

In her latest blog post, The Business Rusch: The “Brutal” 2000-Word Day, Kris Rusch discusses the beak future traditionally published writers are facing, even bestselling writers. Given this, you might be puzzled by my blog title: Writer's Rejoice. I promise I'll get there.

Overall, the amount of money traditional publishers have made is not going down, if anything it's going up, while at the same time print sales in every category are going down. Of course what's making up the difference is the burgeoning ebook market.

The big question: What effect are fewer print sales and ever increasing digital sales having on writers?

The answer: It's not good. Since traditional publishers give much lower royalties and few advances for ebooks, writers have to work more to earn the same amount of money.

But that's not all.

Because of indie writers, traditional publishers find their market shrinking. One consequence of this is that publishers expect authors to sell a higher percentage of their print runs. If they don't, they're dropped.

So, is the outlook for writers going from bleak to absolutely abysmal? No, it's not. There's some very good news hidden in the numbers. It's this:

In order to make a living as a writer you don't have to be traditionally published.

Terri Giuliano Long writes:
Today, many talented authors choose the self-publishing route and they do it for a variety of reasons. Jackie Collins recently shocked the literary world with her announcement that she planned to self-publish a new, rewritten version of her novel "The Bitch". “Times are changing,” Collins said of her decision, “and technology is changing, so I wanted to experiment with this growing trend of self-publishing.”

Industry superstars like New York Times bestselling authors Barbara Freethy and C.J. Lyons use self-publishing platforms to market their out-of-print backlists. Other authors are drawn to self-publishing because of its flexibility, the ability to publish within their own timeframe, for instance—perhaps to leverage topical interest or mark an anniversary. Others authors self-publish out of a desire for artistic control.

Self-publishing can also be a practical way to build an audience. Today, publishers expect authors to have a solid platform. By self-publishing, emerging authors can build the fan base necessary to attract a traditional publisher for their next work. Other authors, long-timers as well as newbies, feel they can make more money on their own. At $2.99 a pop, authors earn nearly $2.00 on every eBook sale. Even at 99¢, with average royalties of 33¢ to 60¢, earnings on a hot-selling book can quickly out-pace the meager advance offered to all but the superstars by a traditional house.
- Sticks & Stones: The Changing Politics of the Self-Publishing Stigma
I think the mantra of the writer these days is: be flexible. Seek out new markets and experiment.

Hopefully, despite the doom and gloom we're hearing about the publishing industry these days (Simon Says, Agent Fail) it is a time for writers to rejoice and embrace the new.

Well, that's my two cents.

Note: After I finished the rough draft of this post I noticed Joe Konrath posted a blog that touches on a few of the same issues: Exploited Writers in an Unfair Industry. Joe gives a great summary of the state of publishing today and how we got here. Well worth the read.

Related articles:
- Writers: Don't Despair
- Writers Despair



Why Dropbox Is A Writer's Best Friend


My brand new wonderful computer isn't working. I try to boot it up and electricity starts to surge, willy-nilly, through its circuits. That's never good.

Due to my computer being temporarily out of commission, I wasn't able to meet a writing deadline because my completed, vetted, manuscript (A Night In The Country) was on the malfunctioning machine and therefore inaccessible. If my story had have been on Dropbox -- and after this ALL my stories are going on Dropbox -- this wouldn't have happened. I have another computer--the one I'm using to type this post, one I've had since the stone age--and it works just fine. I could have used this computer to access my manuscript on Dropbox and meet my deadline.

But enough about me and my woes. I think Dropbox is the perfect solution for writers, even if you don't travel a lot, or have multiple devises you shuttle between each day. Because, as I'm experiencing right now, you never know when your machine is going to go down. (And yes, if I had backed up my work, I wouldn't be in this fix either. I know, I know.) But, again, enough about me.

Dropbox is free up to 2 gigabytes of storage and 2 gigs of stories is a lot. If you're Stephen King you might go over and have to pay, but if you're Stephen King I think you could afford 9.99 dollars a month!

In case anyone is unfamiliar with Dropbox, it allows users to store files in cloud storage and provides file synchronization across devices. My favorite feature is that it keeps a one-month history of your file revisions and any of those revisions can be undone. Here's a complete list of Dropbox features.


Note: I wrote this post yesterday and (* loud cheers *) my computer is working again. I'll be publishing the next installment in my A Night In The Country series later today.

Karen Woodward: A Night In The Country, Index

This post has been removed.

Thursday, May 17

The CW Making The Hollows Series (Kim Harrison) Into A TV Show


I am a huge, enormous, fan of Kim Harrison's The Hollow's series. I'm one of those people who rolls out of bed and thinks, 'Only X days till her next Hollows book!" and then I do a little happy dance. Well, in my imagination I do. No dancing before morning coffee; it's a rule.

Last October I heard stirrings there might be a Hollow's TV series, but didn't want to get too excited in case it didn't pan out.

Well, looks like I needn't have worried. Here's an excerpt of an article I just read on fearnet.com:
What can you tell us about the CW's TV series adaptation of The Hollows?

I don't have a whole lot of information on that yet. I'll know a lot more in June. But what I can tell you is that CW has picked it up. Jordan Hawley, he's the guy who worked on Smallville, he is writing the pilot right now, and they're aiming for the 2012-2013 season. Like I said, by June I should know about cast members and filming and all sorts of things. But it's Hollywood – they get easily distracted. [Laughs.] It seems like they feel very strongly about it, and I feel pretty good about the progress that's being made.

It seems like the perfect story for the current television climate, which has been so receptive to TV shows like The Vampire Diaries and True Blood.

And yet it's completely different. It's got a different feel to it, and I think that CW can pull that out and put it on the small screen. I really think it can rock and roll.

Have you thought once or twice about who you might like to see portray Rachel or her partner Ivy?

Oh people ask me that all the time! I actually watch movies more than TV, so I don't know what the current crop of available people are to tell you the honest truth. But my readers have very strong opinions, and they will drop suggestions at my blog. I've got a special section, and they go and dump all sorts of suggestions. I try not to look too much because I know I probably won't have a whole lot of say in it. And I feel comfortable trusting them in this. They know the talent a lot better than I do.

Since the TV announcement, as you said, will come in June, is there any chance we'll see you at Comic-Con in July?

That's a good question. I wasn't planning on it. But I have a very small ship that can turn very quickly if I feel like it. So I wouldn't discount it, but I am not planning on it at this time. I've got a lot of writing I need to get done between now and then. We'll see. If it works out I will be there, but I'm not counting on it.
- Exclusive: Kim Harrison on ‘The Hollows' TV Show
I'll pass along more information as I get it.

Link:
- Kim Harrison's Books

An Indie Writer Shares His Experience With KDP Select


I've written a few posts about publishing on Amazon and tried to say something intelligent, or at least intelligible, about KDP Select and whether paying the price of exclusivity with Amazon for the perks of being in its lending library are worth it.  (For those who don't know, in order to enroll your book in Amazon's KDP Select program one cannot publish that book anywhere else, not even ones own website.)

Fortunately Derek Haines has shared his experience with KDP Select. He writes:
If my conclusion about KDP Select was purely based on the number of borrowed books and having the ability to give my books away, of course I would be out. But there’s just one rather strange consequence that I’ve noticed since joining. My ebook sales keep increasing each month. For the life of me I can’t really put my finger on the reason though. Perhaps it’s all because of the free books, or maybe because I’ve changed deodorant. I really don’t know. But giving Amazon exclusivity has resulted in far, far more sales for me and more than make up for the few ebooks I used to sell on other retailers each month. As well as that it’s much easier to keep track of payments from just one source.
- The Vandal
 Thanks Derek! This is the kind of information indie authors love, it's good of you to share.

By the way, Derek's blog, The Vandal, is an excellent place to get tips about writing, blogging and the entire world of writing.

Related Articles:
- Amazon's Ranking Algorithm Has Changed: what this means for indie authors
- Self Publishing on Amazon: Kindle Direct Publishing

Wednesday, May 16

17 More States Join The Class Action Suit Against Apple et al


Sometimes I get so focused on the Department of Justice suit against Apple and 5 of the Big-6 publishers that I forget a class action suit is still pending against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin. (It used to be against Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins as well, but those publishers chose to settle.)

The latest news is twofold: 17 more states joined the class action suit and some documents have been released for public perusal, among them an email from the late Steve Jobs. He wrote:
    As I see it, [Conspiring Publisher] has the following choices:

    1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.

    2. Keep going with Amazon at $9.99. You will make a bit more money in the short term, but in the medium term Amazon will tell you they will be paying you 70% of $9.99. They have shareholders too.

    3. Hold back your books from Amazon. Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started, there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any other alternatives. Do you?- As 17 more states join class action against book publishers and Apple, new details revealed
Yesterday we learned that Apple et al lost their appeal to throw out the class action lawsuit.

Passive Guy, an attorney practicing contract law, has this to say: 
The basic charge against Apple and five of the six largest publishers is price-fixing. This charge is the antitrust equivalent of first-degree murder – the worst and most despicable act prohibited by this 120-year-old statute, The Sherman Antitrust Act. Its principal author, Senator John Sherman, said the purpose of the law is ”To protect the consumers by preventing arrangements designed, or which tend, to advance the cost of goods to the consumer.”

Based upon the allegations of the Department of Justice complaint, Apple and these big publishers intended to push up the price of ebooks sold through all retail channels and were successful in doing so, increasing the cost of these goods to book buyers.

Antitrust law contains a lot of gray areas, but collusive price-fixing isn’t one of them.
- by Passive Guy, A marketplace defined by collusion is neither a fair nor a free market
I would have never thought, two years ago, that Apple and two of the largest publishers in the US would be facing a suit by the DoJ and as class action lawsuit.

If Apple et al lose both lawsuits, what will be the result? I'm guessing, but it seems likely bestsellers will come down in price and (hopefully!) we will no longer see ebooks priced more expensively than hardcovers.

In the long term I suppose the question is: Will one or more of the Big-6 survive? But, whatever happens to the publishers, there's no question in my mind that Apple will do just fine. (Thank goodness! I want my iPhone 5. ;)

What do you think? If Apple et al lose, what will happen to publishing?

Joe Konrath On Going Indie: "This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it"

Joe Konrath
Joe Konrath

I don't like to quote extensively from other writer's blogs, but I had to share this. Sometimes it's hard, lonely, going the indie route but Joe's right. Being a writer is risky, but if a person never takes risks then ... well, I won't say it's impossible to get a reward, but I think it's less likely.

In any case, I needed this pep talk so I'm sharing it.

Joe writes:
I started this blog seven years ago, and I've long preached that is important to take chances, to experiment, to try new things. I'm also a believer in going all-in. This isn't a Newbie's Guide to Leading a Balanced and Happy Life. It's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. If you want to get lucky, you have to gamble first.

Gambling in this case means devoting time and effort to something that may never pay off. It means devoting your energy to something beyond what the world says you should be doing.

This isn't simply following your dream. It's chasing after it, full speed, until you catch it.

We're all, to a certain degree, risk-averse. It's scary to fail. Failure can mean a loss of time and money. It can mean bad feelings and disappointing others.

But if you aren't failing, you aren't trying hard enough. You aren't taking enough chances.

A lot of people dislike me. They dislike my tone and attitude. They dislike my opinions. They dislike my writing.  They dislike my blog.

I. Don't. Care.

We could all benefit from caring less about the opinions of strangers. Especially since, let's face it, there are so many pinheads in the world.

That's a learned behavior, as we all grow up seeking approval.

Taking risks can also be learned.

It'll be difficult, because it is unnatural and uncomfortable. It requires unlearning many of the coping mechanisms you've learned. It requires failure, and in many cases ridicule, monetary loss, and depression.

But no one ever became successful without taking chances. If you think about it, many of the important things in your life--the things that you're proudest of and that define you--are all about taking risks. Things as ordinary as asking or agreeing to a date that ends up in a long term relationship. Going to that job interview. Making an offer on that house.

Self-publishing that novel.

Risks are risky. True. But they can also be rewarding.

So what chances have you taken today?
- Guest post by Tom Schreck
The article started out as a guest post, but Tom brought up the topic of risk and Joe caught the ball and ran with it. Go Joe!

I tweeted the link to Joe's post yesterday, but I found this section of it very moving and thought it well worth sharing again. 

Photo credit: A Newbie's Guide To Publishing

Tuesday, May 15

George R. R. Martin, Author of Song of Ice and Fire, Can't Cook


In the forward to A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook George Martin confesses that he can't cook. Anyone who has read his evocative descriptions of food -- and have their mouth water as a result! -- might find this hard to believe. I thought anyone who understood food on that level would be a dab hand in the kitchen.
The book's authors, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer run the popular blog, Inn at the Crossroads, where they began cooking their way through Martin's books.
- Author George R. R. Martin Confesses His 'Shameful Secret'
If you can't wait for the the official cookbook -- it's due to be released May 29, 2012 -- you can look at the unofficial one, The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew - More Than 150 Recipes from Westeros and Beyond.

Here's one of the recipes:
Pentoshi Mushrooms in Butter and Garlic

"Even when he fears that he is being led into a trap and that the dish before him may be poisoned, Tyrion cannot help but acknowledge his desire for just a taste of it. The mushrooms before him glistening with butter and smelling of garlic make his mouth water, and it’s nob wonder. Poisoned or not, this savory dish would tempt just about anyone." (A Dance with Dragons, Chapter One)

Serves 4

4 large portobello mushrooms with stems
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
4 large white onions, finely chopped
10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
5 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons grated imported Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
Scented olive oil, such as truffle oil, garlic oil, or herb oil (or very good extra-virgin olive oil)

Finely chop the stems of the mushrooms. Set the caps aside. In a large saucepan, melt 5 tablespoons of the butter, and sauteÅL the onions and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped mushroom stems, and saute a minute longer. Season with salt.
Add the rice. Stir well to coat, then add 1 cup of stock and stir until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add another cup of stock, stirring constantly, and allow the rice to absorb it. Continue adding stock cup by cup, until all liquid is used and rice is tender, but still a little firm to the bite in the middle (about 25 minutes). Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the cheese, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
Slice the portobello caps paper-thin. Divide risotto into 4 bowls, immediately sprinkle with the shaved portobellos, and garnish with scallions and a drizzle (about 2 teaspoons) of truffle oil (or other flavored oil).

A Word of Wisdom

Need to know your mushrooms? Creminis are just young portobellos; both are nutty, and gourmand favorites. Fluted oyster mushrooms have a more subtle flavor. Any young mushroom can be called a button, but chefs usually reserve the name for the white button variety. White mushrooms are simply button mushrooms with the caps fully opened.

Related Links:
- Inn at the Crossroads
- A Feast of Ice and Fire
- George R.R. Martin, Wikipedia

Photo credit: Google Books Search