Monday, August 29, 2011

Write, Research & Stuff

MY Status: writing latest book on my Bigfoot paranormal, urban fantasy series; new research (time suck but fun) for book; pulled my lower back Sun AM (painful but pumped up on meds - can you say Tylenol #3 with codeine?), my little right broken toe is better (can't wear certain shoes yet) and tonight is Pizza & Movie Night - will be watching "Beastly".

Been reading "Origin" - J.A. Konrath. Finished Morgan Rice's "Destined, Book #4" last week. Lovin' my Nook :)

Watching some of 9/11 documentaries & memorials on TV lately...so sad & still shocking. I DO cry seeing all of it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My books are now available for the Nook at B&N!

My publisher has uploaded Unknown Touch and Unknown Scent to Barnes and Noble for the Nook as an additional purchase option besides the print version that's been available. Here are direct links to B&N:

Unknown Touch-Werewolf Series-Book 1

Unknown Scent-Werewolf Series-Book 2

Very excited about this additional option in today's environment with heavy focus on ebooks!! Love it!!

My latest movie article on 'Priest'

With the large number of vampire, werewolf, demon-type movies, etc. that have been and will continue to be created, we tend to feel like we've "seen it all" and nothing new will cross our paths pertaining to storylines and characters and action sequences. Well. Priest impressed me, kept my full undivided attention and my husband never drifted off to sleep (that in itself means the movie was decent). Read entire article here:

http://www.examiner.com/speculative-fiction-in-st-louis/priest-on-dvd-vampires-that-are-not-cute-review

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Writing Updates-Werewolves, Vampires, Bigfoot - Oh My!

Here's the latest on my writing endeavors:

1) I AM writing! It's slow, but coming along. I've been crazy distracted the last few months and low on motivation.

2) The current work-in-progress is a new series. I've spoken of it before, but to refresh: paranormal thriller, young-adult, urban fantasy -- a Bigfoot Saga. It's outlined in great detail, many many pages long. So don't say I have writer's block - the storyline is staring me in the face - I just need to take action and quit surfing the net so much...oops-I confessed to one of my sins aka "distractions." I engorge myself on knowledge and reading and marketing and research and ... well, you know.

3) I will return to the Unknown Touch-Werewolf Series (Book 3) ASAP...like once Book 1 in the Bigfoot Saga is completed.

4) I am SELF-PUBLISHING the Bigfoot Saga. I will focus on ebooks with Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Smashwords, possibly others. I will ALSO create a print version through Amazon's CreateSpace. I am very excited about this project!

5) I plan to keep the Werewolf Series with my current publisher - as long as they will "have" me. If not (meaning if they don't want to publish my future books - currently the Werewolf Series), don't worry, I'll self-publish them then.

6) These actions keep my foot (or feet!!) in "both doors". I maintain having a publisher for certain books plus I do my own self-publishing for other books!

7) I'll be writing way less Speculative Fiction Movie articles for Examiner.com now. Writing those articles takes up valuable time that should be spent writing my books. I can't give Examiner the significant amount of time needed to heavily promote my articles (in order to rack in tons of article views which would equal higher pay for me). There aren't enough hours in the day to write articles, write books, market/promote/social network for the books, take care of household stuff, etc., etc., etc.

8) I'm in the process of adjusting how I will move forward in my writing career. I'm not getting any younger. There are a few successful authors that I look up to and massively admire and respect. I've decided to not try and reinvent the wheel or keep flailing about in ten directions stretched out to the max. What's that expression? Something about...insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

9) I have found an accountability partner who will hopefully keep me in line and kick my butt when needed. And who I can bounce ideas off of (storylines, character flaws, dialogue, etc.)

10) Last...I came across this awesome program:
"Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit." http://www.workrave.org/  Kim Komando (for those who've heard of her) recommends it...which means she checks it out for safety, performance, etc.  http://www.komando.com/
And NO - I'm not getting any benefits by mentioning these two sites! But my wrists (mostly right one) hurt from typing and using the mouse and this program is neat in that it brings to my attention when I need to take a break. You set up your own time limits, etc. so it also helps keep you focused on a project.

That is all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fellow Writer Offers Detailed Tips for Building Author Platform

My previous blog posting (Excerpt from Writing Speech: Author Platform & Cover Art, Post 6) caught the attention of Christina Katz who posted:

"Your readers might be interested in this article I wrote on the topic of fiction writing and platform. Hope it's helpful!"

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/get-published-sell-my-work/elements-of-a-successful-fiction-platform

I read it and agree that it does offer suggestions in great detail. Check it out! Thanks Christina! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Excerpt from Writing Speech: Author Platform & Cover Art, Post 6

This is an ongoing topic -- it is the 6th and final excerpt from my writing speech:
~~~~~~
Remember, these are just my opinions and suggestions. Nothing is set in stone. Other writers could answer quite differently and argue with me over my answers. What works for one person may not work for another.
~~~
OK…next topic…I mentioned an author platform earlier which goes along with the question about social networking. YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST CREATE AN AUTHOR PLATFORM even if your book isn't completed!!! Now I'll amend that statement: Ask yourself WHY are you writing a book? Are you writing it for the joy and passion of writing, as a fun, creative hobby and are NOT that concerned with whether it ever gets published? OR do you plan on publishing it to earn a few bucks, or a lot of bucks, plus the joy of writing? If you want your book to be PUBLISHED AND FOR READERS TO KNOW THAT YOU AND YOUR BOOK EXIST AND YOU WANT IT TO BE BOUGHT AND READ AND TALKED ABOUT then you MUST CREATE AN AUTHOR PLATFORM! The author platform in general is used to impress agents and publishers. Portions of it are also used to interact with readers and draw attention to yourself. The platform includes any previous type of writing you've done: books; articles or stories in newspapers, magazines, anything to do with writing, editing, publishing, copyrighting, marketing in this field. And a ton of your author platform involves the internet: articles & online content you've written, actively blogging on specific sites, maintaining your own blog, having your own author website that you keep updated, possibly a bulletin board, newsletters. Your author platform involves building fans or friends or simply having a good number of decent contacts on: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Goodreads, and maybe LinkedIn. (UPDATE: And now we have Google+ !)It's advantageous if you have a blog where you consistently write enticing, informative content and can start to build a base of followers. But you also want to come across as a real, live person with other interests in life besides just trying to chat about your book. If you don't throw in other off-topic comments a little here and there, people will be turned off by the constant advertising of your books in their face. WHY, you ask, is it so important to have an author platform? Because, as I stressed earlier, if your goal is to SELL your books, people have to know you and your book EXIST! That's especially critical if you're with a small publishing house and they are limited on how much they market your book. Of course, your book needs to be entertaining and well-written, but FEW people will know about it until you build a base of contacts and friends you can CHAT with or post to about your book & your writing endeavors. That's assuming you want people to BUY your book! Hopefully some WILL get excited about your book, purchase it, love it and then tell others about it – word of mouth advertising!! An author platform shows people - which could be your prospective agent, publisher or current and future fans of your books –it shows off your books and projects, credentials, talents, references, interests, your influence, your involvement in the writing field, your quantity and quality of contacts and efforts made to increase your contacts and that you are serious about networking to aid in your endeavor to succeed as an author.

The internet is your friend and enemy. The points I just covered explain how it is your friend. The internet can become your enemy easily, as it is a gargantuan time suck. Occasionally I'll set timers to ring so I don't play around on the internet too long. And even they don't always work – because I ignore them.

So, don't be afraid to set up accounts on the main social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and get a blog going at Blogger.com. Your blog, if set up properly, can even serve as your author's website! Track down people you already know and Friend or Like or Follow them…Start looking for other authors to connect with. Find blogs that discuss the genre you write in or cover a subject you write about. Post comments. Make friends. Invite them to your blog or Facebook page, etc.

The last topic is cover art. Many different situations or agreements or contracts could affect how cover art is dealt with. In MY situation, with my publisher, I was able to choose my own cover art for my book. I also had an option to use their artist for free to create the book's cover. I really like photo images, though. At least for what I felt I wanted the cover of my book to portray. And honestly, I did work with two, young, local artists who drew covers for me. Both were drawings that didn't quite turn out the way I wanted the cover to look. The second artist explained that what I was seeking would probably have to be done with paints. And she didn't do that. And I was staring at a deadline of one day left to submit my chosen book cover to the publisher. She suggested using a photo from an online site that sells images. I purchased photos from that particular site and that's where my covers for my books came from! Both photos were tweaked for the covers to get the right look. From what I understand, many publishers assume the responsibility of creating the cover art for you and send it to you for approval. A lot of authors are at a complete loss for what to do about covers, which is why publishers handle that for them. I'm sure in many cases, though, the authors who DO have ideas for their own cover make suggestions and go from there. Their ideas could be shot down or happily embraced by the publisher.

So, cover art is something that may not be determined until you decide if you're going with an agent/publisher and if THEY'LL choose the book cover or if you'll have any input in design, like I did with mine. It doesn't hurt to have ideas, sketches, or photos set aside of what you like. That way you know in advance how you want the cover to look, maybe some feature that you specifically really want on it…Just don't spend days and days dwelling over it, though, and then later discover your publisher has complete control on that issue and makes their own decision, possibly with no input from you.
Of course, if you're self-publishing, it's all up to you, baby! You're in control!
~~~~~Note: I do NOT know everything there is to know about publishing. These are simply my experiences and opinions. This is the last segment/posting of my writing speech.

Monday, August 8, 2011

'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Weekend Success-Apes Rock! - my latest article

Rise of the Planet of the Apes premiered in the Number One spot at the box office this weekend with $54 Million (August 5-7, 2011). That was about $15 million to $20 million more than analysts expected. It was still below the $68.5 million opening of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake 10 years ago. Read full article:

http://www.examiner.com/speculative-fiction-in-st-louis/rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-weekend-success-apes-rock

Yes, I wrote a different article about this film a few months ago. But since it just released & is having so much awesome success (and I LOVE the original Planet of the Apes) I wanted to write another article. So exciting!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Excerpt from My Speech: Submissions, Agents/Publishers/Self-Pub-Post 5

This is an ongoing topic -- 5th excerpt posting from my writing speech:
~~~~~~
Remember, these are just my opinions and suggestions. Nothing is set in stone. Other writers could answer quite differently and argue with me over my answers. What works for one person may not work for another.
~~~
Back in the summer of 2009, I found my lists of who to submit to at www.writersmarket.com. They are legit. I chose to deal directly with publishers at that time and skip the agent route. Whether you choose to find an agent or a publisher, and whether you use the lists at writersmarket.com or elsewhere, you need to figure out what your genre is & search out the agents or publishers who are interested in only your genre.  Do NOT blindly submit to everyone out there. If your book is sci-fi then don't submit a query to someone who represents romance. You're wasting your time & theirs.
I literally searched through 750 publishers at writersmarket.com. Through a process of elimination, I narrowed the list down to 30 or so. A lot of the choices were easy to cross off simply from the name of the publishing house. Many names were so obvious as to what they published and I knew they wouldn't be a match with my category of writing. Still, this takes many, many hours to go through. I think I spent over 2 days just picking out possible publishers.
Once you have picked good candidates and have a more workable list, you'll need to scan each of those agents or publishers for more detailed information. Sometimes what you need is posted right there with all the listings, but probably you'll need to go directly to individual websites and double-check that they have an interest in what YOU write, and if they are CURRENTLY taking any submissions, and EXACTLY how they want your submission sent to them and what it should include – plus if they'll (hopefully) take email submissions or require it be sent regular mail.
Once I had dwindled down to which publishers I would actually submit to, I ended up with only about 15. This was the best of the bunch that suited my situation. I knew I could go back to the list and try others later if those got me nowhere. And the publishers I picked -  I didn't have to send any of my submissions by regular mail. All the query letters were emailed – some included the synopsis, some chapters, some the full manuscript. If you're lucky, a note might state how long it takes to hear back from them. It's shocking! Some warn it could be over a year or two!!!!! I didn't contact ANY that stated it could be over 5 months before I'd hear back from them. That's just me – I'm impatient. Keep track of the people or places you sent submissions to. And you will get rejection letters. Some never respond.
With my experience, a couple of weeks after I sent off those initial submissions, one publisher in particular asked that I send him the full manuscript by email. Then he contacted me only a few days later and basically wanted to publish my book. He sent a contract, I read and thought it over along with several other people I enlisted for guidance, and decided to sign. My publisher is a very small publishing house. I like them and it's only taken a few months to get a book published. I haven't had any real problems & I'm allowed a great deal of input in the process of publishing my books… BUT because of how small they are, they cannot afford & don't have the time or manpower to constantly be marketing my books.They do take care of some basic promoting and press releases when the book is first released and setting up at internet sites for the book to sell at – example would be Amazon.com.

Being involved in promoting your book is something most publishers and agents EXPECT an author to do – even the big ones expect authors to do some kind of marketing in this day and age. It's never-ending and another monster topic all to itself. Bookstores, what few there are, want to stock books that will move quickly off their shelves from known authors and bigger publishers and authors that have had tons of media attention. They don't like taking chances on books that sit and gather dust from authors that few readers are familiar with when those bookstores financially do not bring in massive profits. My books are for sale at all the major online sites where you can buy books (like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, thru my publisher), and from me, and they're currently stocked at Box TV and Walgreens in Highland.

OK…back to agents vs. publishers vs. self-publishing. Agents normally get 15% commission off book sales (although I'm sure that varies some). They are supposed to make your life easier by representing you and your book and being the one who deals with getting your book sold to a publisher for the best deal and to handle all the confusing contracts that are drawn up between everybody. But the agent has their own contract with YOU that you're still going to need to review. You want to really know your agent, do research on them, and understand the terms of their contract. Some agents lose interest in your work and don’t try to promote it as they should or fall short on the whole multi-step process of getting your book published. You see – there's a chain of people involved in getting a book published the traditional way. YOU the writer, an agent (if you go that route), the publisher, editor (or sometimes agents work with editors first on your book & then it's off to the publishers or perhaps your agent also steps in and does the job of an editor, too), the printer, publicists, distributors and bookstores or other wholesalers who can finally sell the retail book to a reader. Whew! Are you sweating yet?!
For my situation, several of those steps are not in the mix. So, as I was saying about an agent, if you choose to pursue one, you want to do your research on them, hope you get a decent one who is as passionate about your work as you are and maintain good communication with them, and keep them fired up about your current book she's representing and any of your future projects. If the agent is doing her job properly and your book is making progress out in the big, wide world, her commission is most likely worth it.
Also, many publishers won't even take a glance in your direction if you don't have an agent. This can be a problem if you chose to bypass an agent and you had your heart set on a certain publisher and then discover – nope, they do NOT take unsolicited submissions – which usually means you HAVE to have an agent that submits on your behalf. Submission guidelines will state this for you – whether you have to have an agent or if an author can submit and deal directly with the publisher. If you forego an agent, and the publisher will accept queries/submissions from an author, then YOU will deal with the contract that is written up by the publisher - or your lawyer if you choose. Again, it IS a contract so be sure to understand what you're signing and that the publisher isn't trying to swindle any type of royalties that should be in your pocket instead of theirs.  Some publishers, especially mid-size and larger, will offer more services that automatically come with having them as your publisher, but the smaller the publisher, the more extras YOU will have to step up to the plate and help out with.

Another thought – if you go the agent route –your manuscript actually has to impress someone TWICE to get published. FIRST – an agent that you're trying to capture, and SECOND - THEY have to capture the attention of a publisher. This can be an excruciating process that takes many months if not years until a book is finally published. So, if you manage to land an agent, that does NOT always mean your agent is already working with a publisher who will automatically accept and publish your book. Many times, your agent has to go through a similar process that you went through in getting him/her as they try to FIND a publisher interested in your book.
Self-publishing is something 2 years ago I had zero interest in. The publishing industry has changed so fast and so much since then, I am now all for self-publishing. My next book, in a different series, WILL be self-published using Amazon.com's services. I will offer the book in paperback format but will focus promoting it more so in the Kindle ebook format. I will also upload it on Barnes and Noble and Smashwords as an ebook. The reason I'm going the way of self-publishing for this new series is that although I don't have any issues with my publisher, I feel I can do the publishing myself with what is available now. In a way, I'm already playing the part of agent, partial editor and publicist! As mentioned previously, there is minimal promotion that my publisher can offer, especially once the book has been published for a month or so. I completely understand their limitations with promoting my books and am not cutting them down. In fact, I am pleased with their quality and service with what they can offer me.

Another MAIN, HUGE reason I'm switching to self-publishing with the new series is the amount of money I can pocket is drastically higher than the royalties (or commissions or profit) I'm currently making with a publisher. Also, I can set the price of my ebooks on Amazon to a lower price. The process to format my manuscript into an ebook is smoother and has become less complicated over the last year, too. I love working on computers and enjoy marketing, so I'm actually looking forward to creating an ebook!

And another thing with self-publishing, the final product, the book – is made available to the public much faster than all the waiting that is common in traditional publishing. Again, I admit – I'm impatient. I can also have a lower price on the paperback books, compared to what my publisher charges, and I'll make the paperbacks available through Amazon's CreateSpace.

~~~~~
Note: I do NOT know everything there is to know about publishing. These are my experiences and opinions so don't anyone throw rotten tomatos at me!! Another segment from my speech will be posted in a few days!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My latest movie article on '11-11-11'

'11-11-11' (2011)

Horror | Thriller   - To be released in theaters on November 11, 2011 (USA) - bet you would've never guessed that!

A horror-thriller set on 11:11 on the 11th day of the 11th month and concerning an entity from another world that enters the earthly realm through Heaven's 11th gate.

There is internet chatter about the meaning of that date, stirring up much curiosity. Read full article...
http://www.examiner.com/speculative-fiction-in-st-louis/11-11-11-2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Interview with an Aspiring 16 Year Old Writer

INTERVIEW WITH AN ASPIRING 16 YEAR OLD WRITER


Let's welcome to the blog my guest, Alex Kuhn. He's a young writer bursting with creativity and who displays a talent meshing ideas and words into stories. Alex is currently working on a new project that will become his debut novel. So keep his name in mind for future reading. I hope you enjoy the Q and A session below!


GINA: Alex, can you tell us a little about yourself?
ALEX: I am a 16 year old male. I would call myself a "guy", not an "author" at this point, since I haven't finished a book, yet... I live in the southern Illinois area in a small town about 28 Miles from St. Louis, Missouri. I LOVE to play video games such as: Legend of Zelda, Mario, and my personal favorite, POKEMON!! I have been known as the "Video Game King" to some of my friends! I honestly wouldn't consider that a great thing to be called, seeing as I have over 3000 hours on the Pokemon series since about 2004! I think that's enough time to write a book. Something I absolutely HATE is when people use the word retard – it is a disease that many people laugh at, rather than care about. Also, I usually write with no idea of what I'm going to write about. I just sit there, staring blankly at the screen and eventually something comes to my mind and gets me going!!

GINA: Do you have any links or methods for people to contact you that you'd like to share?
ALEX: http://alexmkuhn.webs.com
GINA: And I'd like to note that this is a new site recently created, so it's under construction.


GINA: When did you realize you wanted to write a book? Even when you were little, were you making up stories then?
ALEX: I was usually told I was good at either poetry or writing stories since I was little and I don't mean to suck up, but...it was Gina Marie Long that inspired me! I read on the back of her book that she was from the same area as me. I thought,"Hey! If I'm good at writing, maybe I could type up a story and see if it was possibly "publishing" material!" Later, I found that my mother went to school with her, too! That helped me become her friend!


GINA: What genre/category do you write about?
ALEX: I like to write about the supernatural and paranormal. But I keep switching around which story I'm writing because I'm getting so many ideas. It will probably be similar to Gina's books which would fall under the urban fantasy, paranormal, young adult genre.


GINA: Can you give us a little hint on what you're currently writing about?
ALEX: I can't really choose yet what I'm going to focus on. I keep switching between different stories and ideas to see which seems the best. I have typed up notes, brief outlines and even partial chapters on stories with vampires, werewolves and other paranormal subjects.


GINA: Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
ALEX: I'm pretty sure almost everybody has heard of my favorite book series: Harry Potter. I also enjoy the books Gina Long's writing. And I hope to aid Gina in her fight against boring books!!
GINA: Awesome!


GINA: Any favorite TV shows?
ALEX: I don't really watch TV much other than the news. But I'd have to say the Full-Metal Alchemist series. It's a pretty interesting show. I'd recommend it to people who may watch shows that use a few cuss words!


GINA: Did you create an outline and notes for the book you're writing or do you just dive in writing, wing it and not have a clue what happens next?
ALEX: I type up a bit of an outline for a chapter or two, write from that outline, then create another outline for the next few chapters and write from there.


GINA: What part of writing DON'T you like?
ALEX: Well, I don't like WRITING but I do like to TYPE the stories! And I really don't like how my computer "suggests" words for me to use. I prefer to do things MY way!


GINA: What's your FAVORITE part of writing?
ALEX: I think I like creating stories because it is a productive way to kill time.


GINA: When reading another author's book, is there anything a writer does that drives you crazy? Or something that might make you completely give up reading a book?
ALEX: The book can't be boring. It's hard for me to explain what I consider to be boring about a book...but I won't really give up on reading a book unless it's my Algebra book! Most books are boring at some point, but as you keep reading, they usually get better.


GINA: When is your best time to write? Day, night, weekdays, weekends?
ALEX: Anytime that is considered my free time.


GINA: What are your thoughts on the e-reader/e-book explosion?
ALEX: I think it's ok to have an e-reader and e-book collection but if you aren't careful with it, you might lose all of your books. I think it's better to have the real books because of what I just mentioned and also the physical books can be reused by giving them away and recycled.
~~~~~~~~~~~


GINA: Five Flash QUESTIONS – ALEX, ONLY ANSWER WITH: YES, NO or SOMETIMES for the next 5 questions:

1) Do you read book reviews?
ALEX: No

2) Do you think a book's title helps to sell a book?
ALEX: Yes

3) Can a book's cover alone capture your attention enough to make you consider picking it up or seeing what it's about?
ALEX: Yes

4) Do you watch book trailers?
ALEX: No

5) Do you or do you know if your friends go to book signings?
ALEX: No
~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GINA: What is your favorite food? Favorite drink? (Gotta have something off-the-wall here!!)
ALEX: Food: Pizza and my favorite drink? I LOVE soda, just about any kind!


And now a big round of applause for Alex Kuhn! [*clapping, cheers!!*] Thanks again Alex for taking the time to be "interrogated" and providing great answers and insight that come from the mind of a young writer. I wish you the very best of luck with your writing adventures!!