Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday 20

Five items of interest found during blog rounds this week:

1. Don't ask for balloon animals: Not content with being an author, blogger, and composer of bestial love sonnets, John Rickards has raised the big top on his new crime fiction hub site, Mystery Circus. Abounding with interesting folks and discussions; go, read, join in.

2. Shiny new linkage: If you're lazy like me, and keep forgetting to update your links, cut and paste the following to your template for these blog pals who have moved:

Douglas Hoffman: http://ballsandwalnuts.com/
Jo Leigh: http://www.joleigh.com/wp/
Sasha White: http://www.sashawhite.net/blog/index.php

3. Very Cool Contest: Monica Jackson is kicking off a neat online treasure hunt contest to celebrate the launch of her new group blog, Writing Divas. The winner receives a gift basket with ". . . everything she’ll need to pamper herself in addition to books/CDs/E-book downloads from every Diva!"

4. Hair Today: Bill Peschel offers some amusing skinny on us natural redheads (and I had no idea Emily Dickinson was a scarlet sister) while Sharon Long ponders Hair as the Ultimate Stereotype over at RTB.

5. Absolute Gem Spotlight: Much applause for Ms. Selah March and this jewel: "...If we can live with the paradox of "Maddona/whore" we're fed from infancy, we can likely find our way through Barnes & Noble without big scary signs that scream "Here There Be DILDOES." (I say let's stage a coup, take out the Sisters and make Selah president of RWA. We'd have to invest in tear gas and pepper spray -- or maybe just some handcuffs (paging Shannon Stacey) and male strippers -- but I'd rejoin for that.)

As for the Friday 20, ask away.

25 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:36 AM

    LOL Selah...ROFL

    Hi PBW! I bought a copy of Way of the Cheetah and highly recommend it...tons of practical advice and great insights. My question is this: HOW did you switch from the night shift to the early morning? All my old tricks from my long ago college days (like moving the alarm clock across the room) aren't working for me, now that I'm a sleep deprived mom of two preschoolers.

    I'm going to sleep early, but the shift to morning writing is going maddeningly slow. Any suggestions for how you made the shift?

    Thanks...hope this isn't too dumb a question...

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  2. Anonymous wrote: I'm going to sleep early, but the shift to morning writing is going maddeningly slow. Any suggestions for how you made the shift?

    First, thanks for investing in WotC, and the kind words -- I do appreciate it -- and there are no dumb questions. :) I also know only too well the challenges involved in changing sleep and work patterns. Here are a couple of things that have worked for me:

    1. Get as much sun and exercise as you can during your new waking hours. This helps reset your circadian rhythms (your internal daily bio-process clock) so that you sleep better and are more alert when you wake (also an excellent cure for jet lag and alternating shift work.)

    2. Rather than try a sudden or radical shift in wake/sleep hours, trying changing them gradually, i.e. go to bed and wake up ten minutes earlier every day.

    3. Watch your caffeine intake toward the end of your waking hours. This seems like a no-brainer, but often some of the sodas and other things folks consume at dinner time and in the evening have a lot of caffeine in them. Caffeine is a strong stimulant and can compromise the quality of their sleep hours.

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  3. Greetings PBW! I've been enjoying your blog immensely over the past several months. It's always a pleasure to sit down and hear another writer's thoughts on the topic of writing.

    Here is my question:

    My creativity moves in cycles - especially when it comes to my writing. I'll go on a 6-12 month writing binge, and then I'll suddenly run dry for another 6 months (the durations can vary from cycle to cycle). During my off-times, I try to focus on absorbing new ideas and working on other projects.

    I am curious, do you experience this sort of creative cycling as well? If so, how do you deal with the frustrations of the "off-cycle" and get yourself back on track to writing?

    Many thanks, and happy writing,
    JLB

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  4. I'm a bit stuck in my novel writing and was wondering what you do to get the creative juices flowing. I've tried world-building for pages, but sometimes that doesn't lead to much.

    Any handy tips or weird things you do?

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  5. JLB wrote: I am curious, do you experience this sort of creative cycling as well? If so, how do you deal with the frustrations of the "off-cycle" and get yourself back on track to writing?

    I don't know if this is the same type of cycling, but I have regular days (Mondays and Sundays) and certain times during the year (Christmas, birthdays, unpleasant anniversaries) when my creativity seems to hightail it out of town, leaving me with the day's work and no enthusiasm for it.

    Like everything else that gets in my way, I write through the dry spells. If everything I write comes out lame on the page, I ignore it. Usually I find the act of writing alone jumpstarts my creative batteries and the engine of my imagination turns over about a quarter of the way in.

    It's not a 100% solution. Like every writer, there are times when everything I write that day is lifeless, worthless crap, but because I don't rewrite until the book is finished, I move past it and into something new the next day.

    I think your method of focusing on absorbing new ideas and working on other projects during your off-cycles is solid, though, especially for organic writers or those who become blocked by being forced to write on demand. I'd just suggest doing a little writing, regardless of what it is, so that writing becomes an integral part of your daily routine.

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  6. Paul Abbamondi wrote: I'm a bit stuck in my novel writing and was wondering what you do to get the creative juices flowing. I've tried world-building for pages, but sometimes that doesn't lead to much. Any handy tips or weird things you do?

    Like JLB's cycles, that happens to all of us, I think. Some of the weird things I do to refill the well:

    1. Burn a CD with music that helps me visualize the novel and listen to it on my CD player while I houseclean, or in the car when I'm out dropping off/picking up my kids or running errands.

    2. Cast my novel by putting together magazine clippings of actors to play my characters, or sketching/painting the characters and settings for various scenes.

    3. Play with photoshop and make covers for my novel, mock-up of ads, or print out chapbooks with excerpts of what I've written so far. I know some widget fans who make up bookmarks for their WIPS, too.

    4. Blow up something in the story. It sounds extreme (okay, okay, it is extreme) but explosions always put me in a good mood.

    5. Talk about the WIP with a writer friend or at a writing chat. Often our pals can see what we don't, and I know some writers who even write while they're in chat rooms (at FM, we used to have wordcount wars as friendly competitions.)

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  7. Thank you for the recommendations PBW - they are appreciated!

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  8. Hi!

    I just signed my first novel contract with a small press. I was wondering if you could give your top ten (or top five) suggestions for marketing/publicity etc to increase book sales when the book comes out.

    Thanks!

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  9. Lol, no. 4 in your reply to Paul reminds me of something Bernard Cornwell said that when he hits a snag he just throws in an ambush and a nice fight. :-) And no. 5 definitely works for me.

    For some reason I can't comment on the Blog Cloud post, but I wanted to let people know that for me it works under IE.

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  10. JLB wrote: Thank you for the recommendations PBW - they are appreciated!

    Anytime. Well, on Fridays for sure. :)

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  11. I did use the method of waking up a little earlier each morning. I don't just rush into writing either. I spend five or ten minutes reading a book on writing to get myself into the right mindframe. That seems to help.

    Just a suggestion. :)

    For PBW: Innie or outie? :p Just teasing. I couldn't think of a question today. Oh, except for do you plan to write any more ebooks like WOTC?

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  12. Anonymous4:37 PM

    PWB,
    Thanks for your answers.

    What software programs do you use on your PC during the writing process (including brainstorming, outlining, researching, writing first draft, etc.)?

    Do you read books on writing?
    (Any books on writing that you recommend?)

    Which part of the writing process do you find more difficult? How do you deal with it?

    Best,

    Pencilone

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  13. Anonymous4:41 PM

    When and how do you use a kitchen timer? You said once that you use one to restrict your time on Internet. Do you also use one to time a writing session?

    Thanks,
    Pencilone

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  14. Sandra wrote: I was wondering if you could give your top ten (or top five) suggestions for marketing/publicity etc to increase book sales when the book comes out.

    I would first talk to and coordinate with your publicist or the promotions director at your publisher, to make sure you don't pull double duty (doing something the publisher is already doing.)

    Take advantage of the internet as much as possible. I would identify, contact and offer to send galleys, excerpts ARCs and provide author interview opportunities to web sites, newsletter editors and/or bookwatchers who appeal to your target market, such as Carol Seajay at www.btwof.com.

    Keep your website updated with info on your book, excerpts, and regular updates. Put a link to your website in your signature block on e-mails and on discussion boards you frequent.

    Create a weblog and become active in the author/reader online community out here by commenting on other blogs. Offer regular features that will attract people to come back and visit your blog. Blogs are free, fun, and if you keep things simple, don't have to be very time-consuming (by writing offline and putting together articles in advance of posting, I only spend about thirty minutes a day to keep PBW updated.) If an individual blog proves to be too much work, you can also try joining a group blog.

    Write articles about being an author, writing for a specialty market, self-promotion and basically anything related to publishing and submit them to online e-zines and print publications. Even if there is no pay involved, this is free publicity for you. Be sure to include a link to your website or to your publisher's page for your book in your bio.

    Write a press release about your book and send it to industry, specialty and mainstream news sites online (do not SPAM anyone, though.) FAX or snail mail hard copies of your PR to traditional media sources like newspapers. Remember to provide e-mail, phone and snail mail contact data for interviews and further info.

    Be creative with the self-promotion you do by looking at what is unique about your book, and where you can find your target market audience. Where do readers who would enjoy your book congregate? Do they go to regular conferences, conventions, etc.? What would be the most effective way to let them know about your book? (again, without SPAMming them.)

    Talk to other authors you know and exchange information and ideas on self-promotion (by blog comment or via e-mail is best.) Ask an author who is already established with your publisher if he or she would put an excerpt from your new book in the back of one of their releases.

    If you plan to make public appearances, go to reader, not writer, conventions. Also, put whatever money you've budgeted for print advertising into reader, not writer, websites and periodicals. You want to focus the most expensive self-promotion you do on readers, not other writers.

    And finally, have a good time with it and only do the sort of self-promo and marketing that you enjoy. It shouldn't be torture. :)

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  15. Gabriele wrote: For some reason I can't comment on the Blog Cloud post, but I wanted to let people know that for me it works under IE.

    Blogger has been very wonky this week, G., sorry.

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  16. Pixel Faerie wrote: Innie or outie?

    Sort of both, as it happens, lol.

    do you plan to write any more ebooks like WOTC?

    Yes, although what I have in mind will be a bit different from WotC; more of a ref. type book. As to when, much depends on some pending offers and how much time I can devote to it.

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  17. Pencilone wrote: What software programs do you use on your PC during the writing process (including brainstorming, outlining, researching, writing first draft, etc.)?

    I always use Microsoft Word, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and the Visual Thesaurus for everything I write now. I've not yet settled on one outlining/organizing/drafting software program yet, so I still do most of that free-form in Word via Dragon.

    Do you read books on writing?
    (Any books on writing that you recommend?)


    Rarely do I read how-to books. I recommend Mugging the Muse by Holly Lisle (which she now offers for free here) as the best all-around, common sense writing book I've read so far.

    Which part of the writing process do you find more difficult? How do you deal with it?

    The most difficult part of the writing process for me is letting go of the book when it's finished and edited and ready to go off to the publisher. I've always had a very hard time separating myself from my work, to the point of severe anxiety attacks. The many unpleasant experiences I've had as a pro, particularly during my rookie year, are partially to blame. The rest is me being neurotic. I had to learn to disconnect emotionally from every ms. and move on. A well-planned and busy writing schedule helps the most with this.

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  18. Pencilone wrote: When and how do you use a kitchen timer? You said once that you use one to restrict your time on Internet. Do you also use one to time a writing session?

    I just set my timer to ten minutes as I logged on to the internet. :) I do that several times per day to limit the time I'm online (ten minutes for every two or three hours of work is what I shoot for.) Once work is finished, I usually spend thirty minutes to an hour online posting tomorrow's PBW article, answering comments here, catching up on e-mail, reading other blogs and leaving comments elsewhere.

    I used to use my LED desk clock in stopwatch mode to time myself now and then to see how fast I was writing when I typed. Now that I mostly use voice recognition to type, which is twice as fast as my hands were, I don't often time myself. I do average out each day by dividing my finished wordcount by the number of hours I've worked, and keep track of my productivity on a monthly spreadsheet.

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  19. Oooh, I've the handcuffs! My husband took my pepper spray away, though, so somebody else will have to bring that to the coup.

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  20. What's the worst rejection you've ever gotten?

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  21. Shannon Stacey wrote: My husband took my pepper spray away, though, so somebody else will have to bring that to the coup.

    I'm good for some mace. ;)

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  22. Zoe wrote: What's the worst rejection you've ever gotten?

    Worst in terms of crushing: I queried a SF publisher and the editor invited me to send a full manuscript. I did, and spent six months waiting rather anxiously for a response (I'd never been invited to send a full manuscript before that.)

    Another editor finally wrote to me, informing me that she had replaced the requesting editor who had left the imprint. She then pretty much called my novel a piece of crap. According to the letter, it was not up to her standards and she found the humor in it highly inappropriate. She finished it off by advising me not to waste my time sending it elsewhere. Looking back, I think she probably was tired of cleaning up her predecessor's leftovers, but still. Hard one to take under the circumstances.

    As for that piece of crap that the editor bounced, it eventually became my first published novel, StarDoc, which is still in print, and my bestselling SF novel to date.

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  23. Dildoes in Barnes and Noble? I can see I've been away from bricks and mortar too long.

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  24. Wow, Sheila -- that story about the editor who trashed StarDoc? How unprofessional! I wonder what ever happened to her.

    Great link to Selah's rant. I enjoyed that quite a bit.

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  25. I wondered why my stats spiked over the weekend. Shoulda known it was you.

    As for that whole Pres. of RWA deal...I only sell little pieces of my soul for very good causes. I've begun to doubt this organization qualifies. But maybe I'm just havin' a bad day.

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