Susan blogs @ See Jane Publish
September 8, 2013
While the new Janes are getting organized, I thought I’d slip in the back door, and tell you all the exciting news since my last post. The one thing we know about publishing today is that nothing stays the same, and since I’ve had some time to surf the net, and blogs. There is one question that pops into my brain over and over again. Why does Indie publishing matter?
There are lots of reasons to indie publish a book, most of them discussed at one time or another at See Jane Publish. But we’ve never answered the question of why it matters? I don’t want you to think I’m casting stones. That is not my intent, only that I want to make an observation.
I was reading a post this morning, by Jaimie Brazil at Windtree Press, The Rejection Collection – Set Yourself Free. Jamie answered in part why indie books matter. For many years the New York publishing machine has owned the industry. They decided who’s voice readers would want to buy and read. And perhaps they did have the inside tract on that phenomena, but they weren’t right one-hundred percent, or even eighty or ninety percent of the time.
There are so many talented storytellers writing in their solitary offices, or local coffee shops that never make ‘the cut’. That’s why indie publishing and books matter. Besides the fact that it teaches an author about the practical aspects of publishing a novel, it gives voice to all those exceptional writers who wouldn’t otherwise see their stories in print.
For a long time indie published books have been considered the bastard stepchild to traditional publishing, and it was said, only the most unpublishable authors resorted to publishing their novels in that venue. That was never true, but today it’s the furthest thing from the truth, and I predict it won’t be much longer until indie and traditionally published books hold hands as full-blooded sisters and brothers in an industry that will respect an author not only for the story he or she tells, but also for the venue in which it’s published.
So my journey continues with a new release and a new venture. New at Amazon and BN, and coming soon to Windtree Press and Kobo, is Falling For A Hero, The Anthology; A Girl Named Jane and Jane’s Long March Home under one new, but familiar cover. And this week Crazy Hair Publishing, an online indie book site for my novels, went live. As always, it has been a labor of love.
Thanks for staying with me on this journey. Until next time, I’ll have mine shaken, not stirred, thank you very much.
July 30, 2013
It started Friday night when I met with Wendy Warren at Panera. Lost half a day of the day job because I had to run into Portland to swap out my computer. Got back just in time to drop the new one off in my office, and then turn around and head our favorite meeting place. The weather was beautiful, the 30 minute drive relaxing.
Probably because we spend so much time in our offices, and in our heads, when writers get together, there’s no getting a word in edgewise. Writers write stories, but they also have their own story. Somehow we got to talking about our stories. We started with Wendy, but she tired of that pretty quick, and steered the conversation to me. Did I stop her? No. Did she take notes? Yes. We got a little carried away. You remember we both right fiction, right?
Wendy: (writing on the back of a long grocery receipt she pulled out of her purse, which she later gave to me.) Nurse by day. Best selling novelist at 4am.
Me: I got a tattoo.
Wendy: Oooh! Let me see! (then back to the receipt) Dragonkind, an escape into a world of fire and power and love and fidelity, broken but mended hearts.
Me: My office is full of dragons. (Wendy, will you be my publicist?)
Wendy: Orphaned at a young Harlequin age; got an agent; went back to work full-time.
Me: (not too impressed with how my story was going so far) I have two computers and three monitors in my office. Occasionally a dog (not mine; he belongs to the children). Sometimes two delightful little girls.
Wendy: How big is your house?
Me: 1100 square feet, plus the unfinished edition.
Wendy: Works in 1100 square foot home; lives with three generations of family; had to add 300 square feet.
Wendy: To all things there is a season. I will write no matter what (meaning I will be writing), and the dragons will live. This is the story you told when you could no longer write the others. Look at the tattoo and remember your dreams!
Me: This is every woman’s story (I told her): work hard, have a family, pursue hard to achieve dreams.
Wendy: This is your story…a dream born out of the ashes like a Phoenix (I had mentioned there’s a Phoenix in my current WIP). As in all good dreams, you began again.
Me: I’d better see your story on your blog. Can I say I write on the funny side of dark?
I just popped over to Too Hot Mamas. Not a mention of Wendy’s “story”, but a very funny blog about ten year olds dating. The good thing to come out of our conversation at Panera…we both accepted a challenge to report on our current WIP every morning. Friday morning I wrote 210 words; Saturday 338; Sunday in four wonderful uninterrupted hours 1851 words; today (Monday) 0. Back to the day job. But this post is 521 words plus. That counts, right?
July 9, 2013
Absolutely nothing. Except, I’m reading Urbanophile, about Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, who is spearheading the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas. It’s called The Downtown Project. I’m sorry to say, I had never heard of Zappos before today, so I had to google it. Shoe lovers of the cyber-world, don’t throw your worn out Zappos at me. At Zappos.com, it looks like they sell more than shoes, but when I scrolled down to the bottom of the page, trying not to read how really cool some of these shoes were, I found something incredibly interesting.
Zappos Family Core Value: 2. Embrace and Drive Change.
Clearly The Downtown Project Las Vegas is a challenging project. And I had every intention of writing about how this project is a mirror for Indie authors…any kind of author really, traditional, and hybrid, but I ran across core value #2 and couldn’t leave it alone until I found value #1. The sweet thing about the internet, as you all know, is you can click on almost anything and it will take you somewhere. So I clicked on Embrace and Drive Change, and just at you’d expect, it took me to the very list I was looking for – not just #1 and #2, but a whole list of 10. Here they are:
Zappos Family Core Value:
Deliver WOW through Service.
Embrace and drive change.
Create fun and a little weirdness.
Be adventurous, creative, and open minded.
Pursue growth and learning.
Build open and honest relationships with communication.
Build a positive and family spirit.
Do more with less.
Be passionate and determined.
Many of you have hung around the water cooler here at See Jane long enough, you know where I going with this. Before we go there, let me add the piece from the Urbanophile that first caught my eye. The magic that Tony Hsieh is bringing to The Downtown project (in MHO) is the same magic we writers bring…or should be bringing…to the publishing industry. As quoted from Urbanophile (and paraphrased a little)… “The magic is happiness, luckiness, innovation, and productivity.”
The Downtown Project is about believing in something better, and building community. The Zappos Family Core Value list tells us how. I published my first traditional book in 2003, my first Indie title in 2011. We started this blog in July 2011. Over this varied journey, I’ve come to believe two things with my whole heart. To sell books you have to write more books. And, writing is not about selling books, though that is a happy by-product, and some of us will be lucky enough to sell a lot of books. Writing is about building community. I think Zappos has given us a ten-step program to accomplish this difficult task. My favorite is #8 Do more with less.
It sets my heart all aflutter. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go check out those shoes.
July 2, 2013
If you’ve been hanging out lately, you know Dragon’s Thief is on tour. The thing you might not know is, sending a book out on tour is NOT about selling books. It’s about making friends, and building community. Not the BFF kind of friends, though I think that can happen on occasion, kind of like meeting at the local watering hole and becoming instant buddies. No I think the kind of community you make on tour are the ones who will see your name again and say to their BFF, “I met her on line, and she was so funny…or nice…or some other kudo,” that makes them add, “I wonder what she’s up to today. Let’s find out.” I hope I was nice, and funny, and worthy of a second look this week.
Because of the tour, I ended up cruising the net. A lot. I have some links to share.
Paranormal Cravings. I spent hours there checking out all the cool books.
Thanks to Maggie Jaimeson: The Writings And Opinions Of Dean Wesley Smith, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Dean’s post about making a living writing short stories re-inspired me to kick it up a notch and write, really write, an hour a day/5 days a week. No research; no internet; no plotting the next scene for this one hour. He has the numbers. Check it out.
From Cassiel Knight , a Huffington Post on How To Use Pinterest To Promote Your Book. I’m a newcomer to Pinterest, but I love it. Mostly because, like writing the dragons, there’s no writing rules but the ones I make.
Mercer Addison’s new website. She just indie published her first book! Congratulations Mercer! If you haven’t already seen it, beautiful cover, catchy website.
And on Facebook: Windtree Press Author Cooperative, and I Love Romance Novels.
Today I bought five new books, Mercer Addison’s Even Nectar Is Poison, and J.T. Geissinger’s Shadow’s Edge, Edge Of Oblivion (which I LOVED, but had to have the set on my Kindle), and Rapture’s Edge. AJ Nuest’s She’s Got Dibs also sounded interesting enough to buy, but it was free.
Those I met on this first week of the book tour, who signed up for my newsletter, were entered into a drawing for a free copy of Dragon’s Thief. And, I worked in the garden today. It’s been a stellar week. Hope yours was as good.
June 25, 2013
“According to The Element Encyclopedia Of Birthdays by Theresa Cheung, my ruling planet is the Sun; my symbol the Lion; my Tarot card The Empress (creativity); my favorable numbers are 2 and 3 (my fav is 3). Lucky days are Sunday and Thursday; lucky colors gold, green, and pale blue; my birthstone is Ruby; and at my best, I’m loyal, adventurous, and idealistic.”
This was me at The Eternal Scribe today. The part I didn’t add, mostly because I didn’t want to shock strangers; at my worst, I’m “interfering, self-important, and reckless.” I hope I’m never reckless with other people’s feelings, but it is true, sometimes I think the world is only my oyster. And don’t get me started on how interfering I can be. In a subtle way of course. I figure you all can take this little insight into my less honorable traits. But wait, there’s more. Worse than being…you know, interfering, self-important, and reckless, I figured out this weekend…I’m a plotter!
Now I don’t mean that as an insult to those of you who ARE plotters, very good at crafting your stories that way, and dang proud of it. I’ve always admired writers who can plot the course of their books, then go merrily on their way until they write, The End. I also truly admire authors who can write their story in one draft before they start revisions.
I, on the other hand have been a little full of myself thinking, “I’m a pantser”, someone who writes a story by the seat of their pants. No plan. Just a beginning, and maybe an end. And, being a linear pantser at that. Start on page one, word one, and keep writing until The End. No deviation. No skipping around.
Imagine my chagrin then, when I discovered this weekend that about two-thirds of the way through Dragon’s Thief, I made a story map. I have irrefutable proof. Da da da da… The Note Book. While looking for something else, I found the map. Crap! Being a pantser sounds so creative. So exotic. A plotter sounds like…someone who settles into the details of the story and gets her done. That would be me, it turns out. And for the first time, it sounds like fun! No more getting lost in the desert. No more untangling the knots left behind by going over the same ground again and again.
Every writer has their own way. This is me taking a right when I usually go in circles. I have reached CH 5 in Dragon’s Keeper, page 26; three pages from the point where Carlton and Sage’s goals change. I’ve spent seven months and two weeks figuring out why their goals change. I have the story mapped to the mid-point when there’s no turning back for our intrepid characters. I haven’t been this excited about writing a story since I started Dragon’s Thief on a plane from Portland to Norman, Oklahoma.
So until next week when I may return gnashing my teeth, this is one Jane, reporting live, from a writer’s journey.
June 18, 2013
I LOVE to garden. Well, maybe not the weeding part, but I love picking out the plants, deciding which hanging plant to get, buying tools to work in the garden, bringing home garden decorations, planting what I buy, and the beautiful results when I’m all done. In Oregon, unless you’re an intense gardener and don’t mind mucking around in the rain – which I’m not, I’m a weekend, fair-thee-well gardener – you don’t get much done until May or June. I rarely get started before June or July, so you know the weeds are waist high.
The truth of the matter is, when I do finally get my hands dirty, it’s like making a bed. My mind gets off the merry-go-round, and the world and all its demands can just whiz right by. Each year as we retreat into winter, I forget how important it is to have moments every day that put us in that Zen place, and I let this crazy business take over. Shame on me.
This weekend, off to the Oregon coast I went with my good writing buddy, Darla Luke. Usually when we retreat for writing, I’m focused and driven with an overbearing need to write until there are no words left. There’s nothing Zen about me during that craziness. This time was different. I was the distracted one who couldn’t keep my …echmm… butt in the chair. I read, doodled, we took some walks, and I had too many Ben&Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream bars (you know, the ones you can buy from the frozen case at the corner market?). Lucky for me some interesting elements for the story presented themselves for consideration. And even better, they fit like missing puzzle pieces into the story.
There’s always a light bulb moment, right? Here’s the weird part. I realized I don’t feel harried about this story. I’m not frantically putting words on paper, or worried it’s not going to turn out or measure up. For the first time in my writing/publishing career, I’m in Zen alignment with the novel I’m writing. I don’t know how I got here, or how long it’s going to last, but I’m going to enjoy every second of it.
In today’s insane, exhilarating publishing world, writers are triangles, with equal parts devoted to life, the bus of publishing, and the actual writing. When those aspects of our selves are supporting each other’s weight rather than fighting for supremacy…ahhh, Zen.
So, I started cleaning up the garden when I got home Sunday and discovered my hydrangea has two blooms coming on. It’s the first time it’s flowered since I added it to the garden three years ago.
And finally, Dragon’s Thief is going on a book tour! Click on the Media Kit tab to catch the details.
May 13, 2013
This week I got a tattoo. I went on a two-week vacation and when I got home, I got a tattoo on my leg where I can see it. Refreshed, feeling a little full of myself, with a clear mind, the next thing I did was have a crisis of creativity. Actually it was less a crisis and more…why am I writing this? Hero’s Don’t Lie is coming along great. The characters are fleshing out, the plot is interesting, I like the story…but why am I writing it?
I’m preparing to give a workshop in August, and one of the questions I’m asking the participants to think about is why they are writing their current work-in-progress. There are, of course, a lot reasons to write a story – to continue a series, try something fresh, to push your writing chops to the next level, to revisit characters or a town you’ve grown familiar with and have enjoyed, perhaps because you’re excited to write the next book. But here’s the thing. If you are writing a story because you think it’s expected of you, because you might feel guilty because you are “abandoning” the series (in my case) before it is completed, then you have to think very seriously about WHY you’re writing that particular story.
A good friend told me – ’cause when I go through these things, which is quite often, I spill my guts. She told me, “you’re not really abandoning the project, you’re just setting it aside for awhile.” Always wanting to be honest with myself at least, I gave her sage advice considerable thought, and the real truth is, I don’t want to write contemporary romance any more. I won’t say I would NEVER write it again, because in this business you never say never, but I want to write something else. The Dragonkind Chronicles, Book Two is waiting, a little impatiently now, I might add, but even more exciting, I ran across a scrap of a note the other day on which I’d written a story idea, and pow!, I can’t stop thinking about how to make it into a story. It requires a lot of research, so I’m starting there. And it’s urban fantasy, which will push at my chops.
At the fork in the road, I turned right instead of left. Again all is right in my world. But there’s one more thing I want to say. There are so many changes going on in publishing these days, it’s like being in a speedboat racing down a rushing, white-water river without oars or wearing a safety belt. And it’s all happening on the net. Probably writers have always been busy at their craft, but not working ten hours a day at the “business” of publishing and eking out maybe two at the actual writing of the book. It’s okay to get out of the boat and take a step back. Maintain a web presence, but don’t let the business take over your writing time. And don’t let it take away the reason you’re writing your story, the passion behind discovering the characters, how they will survive the situations you throw at them, and the unveiling of who they (and you) have become during their journey.
Until next time, happy, passionate writing.