Monday, July 20, 2009

VW #8 -- Ask PBW Anything

Just a note to explain my lag on posting and answering comments -- we've had some storms here with lots of lightning, and I've had to keep the computer shut down and unplugged most of the day. It may sound over-cautious, but we've already been hit twice in the last couple of years and once it fried two of my computers. I will catch up today and tomorrow.

The winners of the VW#6 giveaways are:

MusicWish: Aimee K. Maher

Goodie Bag: mmarques

Winners, when you have a chance, please send your full name and ship-to address to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get your prizes out to you. Thanks to everyone for joining in.



This is the last workshop of Left Behind & Loving It 2009, and as I did last year we'll make this one an open Q&A for leftover questions about the other workshops or any writing- or publishing-related topic. If you have any questions, please post them in comments.

While you're thinking about that, I also have a couple of things to talk about. All of the writers who were involved in LB&LI this year and every year do so strictly on a voluntary basis. They donate their time and effort to make this week informative and fun for all the attendees. If you've learned something new, had a good time or for whatever reason would like to show your support and say thank you, I recommend buying one of the writer's books or (if they're not yet published) visiting their blogs again.

I also know my editors will throttle me if I don't mention one time that I have two upcoming releases, Crystal Healer (StarDoc book nine) in August and Shadowlight (Kyndred book one) in October; pre-ordering one of them or asking for them at your local library would be more than enough thanks for me.

It's amazing how much my little summer project grown over the years, and how generous the writing community has been with getting involved and doing their part. I'm grateful to all the writers who are joining in for the 2009 event and who have in years past. As for me, I've always regarded LB&LI as my own summer writing vacation, the one time each year where I can hang with my people, talk shop and explore what it means to be a writer.

That said, I need to let you all know that this is going to be my last year as host/coordinator of LB&LI. There are a number of reasons for this, but mainly it's a time and effort issue. It gets a little harder for me every year to handle the work involved. I've also never been crazy about being broadcast by various RWA entities as providing an online alternative to RWA's National Conference for their membership. I have never done this for RWA. I did this for my friends.

LB&LI was intended to be an open and totally accessible group event, but as with any endeavor of this size, it does need someone to oversee the coordination and decision-making involved in making it happen. I'd like to see whoever takes up the torch have fun with it and make it what you want it to be (it doesn't even have to be called LB&LI anymore, you can rename it whatever you like.) These past two years there were a couple of sites that held their own versions of it -- which, btw, I always thought was pretty wonderful.

I'm hopeful the annual virtual workshops will continue on without me running things, but as with passing the torch I need to let go and leave that up to you guys. I will say that the need for free, globally accessible writing workshops is growing, especially now when most writers can't afford the cost or the time away involved in attending conferences and workshops in real life. It's a terrific opportunity to network and share ideas and possibilities.

I also believe events like LB&LI embody the spirit of the internet, and the concept of free online exchange of information, which is really the best part of being a member of NetPubLand. As a writing community we can always learn from each other, and by doing so become better at our craft and enjoy more of our writing life.

So there you have it. While I know this is going to disappoint some folks, I think after four years I've earned my retirement. I am grateful for all that you've shared with me and taught me about the writing life by hanging with me and everyone involved in LB&LI. Thanks for a terrific experience.

Today's LB&LI giveaways are:

1) A Mystery Art prize which may be a painting, quilt, or other artistic creation made by Yours Truly. No, I'm not going to tell you, that would ruin the surprise.

2) a goodie bag which will include unsigned new copies of:

The Treasure by Iris Johansen (hardcover)

Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen (trade pb)
The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi (trade pb)
Bullies, Bastards and Bitches ~ How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell (trade pb)
Animal Attraction by Charlene Teglia (trade pb)

Amazon Ink by Lori Devoti
Round the Clock by Dara Girard
Temptation and Lies by Donna Hill
The Iron Hunt and Darkness Calls by Marjorie M. Liu (paperbacks)
Hawkspar by Holly Lisle (paperback)
A Writer's Space by Dr. Eric Maisel (paperback)

plus signed paperback copies of my novels StarDoc and Evermore, as well as some other surprises.

If you'd like to win one of these two giveaways, ask a question or toss your name in the hat before midnight EST on Monday, July 20, 2009 (this means by midnight tonight, so keep in mind the short deadline if you want to enter.) I will draw two names from everyone who participates and send one winner the mystery art prize and the other the goodie bag.

Everyone who participates in the giveaways this week will also be automatically entered in my grand prize drawing on July 21st, 2009 for the winner's choice of either a ASUS Eee PC 1005HA-P 10.1" Seashell Netbook or a Sony PRS-700BC Digital Reader.

As always, all LB&LI giveaways are open to anyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Other LB&LI Workshop Links -- new links are being added every day, so keep checking the list for new workshops (due to different time zones, some of these will go live later in the day):

E-publishing: From Query to Final Edits and Beyond -- Authors Madison Blake, Paris Brandon, Cerise Deland, Fran Lee, Afton Locke and Nina Pierce provide helpful insights and tips on e-publishing.

Writing Transformative Sex - Part Two by Joely Sue Burkhart -- So you know you want to avoid Plot Interrupted and Tab A/Slot B mechanics, but how do you get “down and dirty” into the emotions of a really deep sex scene?

Bird Migration by Suelder -- third in a series of workshops on birds that will focus on the science as well as how to adapt this information to writing.

Why You're Not Writing by JM Fiction Scribe -- Examining the reasons behind your writing block - because the identifying the 'why' of the problem is the best way of getting past it.

How-To Books that Saved My Life by Alison Kent -- a look at the three how-to books the author can't write without, and why.

Break through your fears and write! by Tamlyn Leigh -- One of the biggest obstacles on a writer's path is their fear. It can be for anything: fear people won't like their stories, fear they aren't good enough. In my workshop I want to offer tools to break through that fear, and get everyone writing!

Writing Prompt Series by Rosina Lippi -- Ask Me Anything related to writing or the biz.

Have No Fear by Marjorie M. Liu -- third in a series of workshops about different aspects of writing and publishing.

From Pantser To Plotter: How I Joined The Dark Side by Kait Nolan -- five workshops on the transformation of a pantser to a plotter.

Writing Sex Scenes That Matter by Jenna Reynolds -- Readers sometimes say they skip over the sex scenes in a book. And usually it's not because they have a problem with the sex. It could, however, be because, other than the sex, nothing else is going on. This workshop provides some suggestions on how to write sex scenes that matter and that readers won't skip over.

Writing Lab – Write or Die by Midnight Spencer –– Something fun to add at the end of this workshop. Something to help you get the writing you want done, a little push in the finishing touch.

Left Behind in Interesting Times by Charlene Teglia -- e-publishing in interesting times.

Epubs-wondering where to start? by Shiloh Walker -- Info for those curious about epubs and where to start.

Killer Campaigns: Volunteerism by Maria Zannini -- Passive promotion at its best

Graphic credit: © Yellowj | Dreamstime.com

97 comments:

  1. Lauraine1:06 AM

    I want to thank you for all the time you put making these workshops available. I have visited your LB&LI workshops for the last three years and I just wanted to let you know that I had a great time visiting your site it will be missed. Thank you again.
    LD

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  2. Disappointed that you won't be conducting it anymore, but understand completely.
    Thanks for the last four years of sharing. I think I learned a lot. :)

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  3. First, thank you very much for all you have shared with us through LB&LI, and also your blog. I've learned many valuable lessons from you about writing and the business of publishing. Thanks for your generosity. :)


    I do have a question. I've read Scribd's terms of service, and while I understand they don't want to host documents with erotic photos, I'm still not clear on how they feel about erotic contents in romantic fiction. I wonder if you or any other authors who share free fiction through Scribd have encountered objections to your contents.

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  4. Anonymous2:10 AM

    I'm tossing my name into the hat!

    Thanks,

    Terri W.

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  5. Margaret2:26 AM

    Thank you so much for all the effort and time you've put into the LB&LI stuff, really. Very informative, enjoyable reading.

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  6. just tossing my name in the hat :)

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  7. These have all been such interesting posts.

    Thanks!!

    bacchus76 at myself dot com

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  8. I'm sad it's your last year but your whole blog has been very helpful to me in writing. Thanks so much!

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  9. I hope someone does take up the torch, these workshops are always so helpful. Thanks for doing them for so long.

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  10. Oh noes! Just when I've found you!

    I understand, Lynn. It must be a huge task every year to put this together and manage everything. Thank you for creating such a wonderful event and I am glad at least that I found you in your final year of doing it.

    Every year I choose a new (to me) series to enjoy during the quietest days of winter. All I need is a roaring fire, a neverending supply of coffee, and a new world for my imagination to explore. This winter, I'll be taking your StarDoc series to the cabin with me. :)

    Thank you.

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  11. Thanks for all your hard work, P., your posts are always interesting.

    I'd love to go out and buy your books, or zip down to the library, but unfortunately... you're on my auto-buy list so as soon as they're available here, they're sent on to me. Yippee! I am so looking forward to them.

    Of course, now you ask for questions, I can't think of a blessed one!

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  12. Thanks for your time and dedication.

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  13. Lynn, thank you so much for all the hard work you do organizing this each year. The time and effort you put into these is amazing.

    Thank you.
    Sandie

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  14. Thank you for all the effort and time you've put into this. I've always loved your LB&LIs, and am extremely grateful for the informative, funny, and very useful articles you and other participants have put up.

    As most of my questions have been answered by the aforementioned workshops, I'll just toss my name in the hat.

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  15. Anonymous5:12 AM

    Thanks so much for the workshops! I'll definitely be purchasing some works from the other writers and checking out their sites. And, of course, I'm looking forward to your new releases, too! I especially love me some Star Doc.

    Thanks again.

    Christina Stiles

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  16. Anonymous5:28 AM

    Name in hat

    Issy D

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  17. I also want to thank you for LB&LI. It has been very informative and gives me a lot of inspiration. You do so much for the writing (and reading) community. I am always uplifted by your posts on your blog no matter what it is about. I am eagerly awaiting your two new releases. (I got hooked on your StarDoc books last year and am slowly making my way through them.)

    I look forward to seeing where LB&LI goes from here!

    Best wishes!

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  18. Anonymous6:54 AM

    Another name being thrown into the hat...

    Marcie

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  19. Thanks for a great four years, Lynn! I hope whoever picks up the torch is as commited as you were!

    I really benefited from Marjorie Liu's essays this year, so my question is, which book of hers would you recommend to a new reader? I'm not sure what goes with what series. :D (She's been on the you-know-you'll-like-her-so-read-her-please-at-some-point list that I haven't gotten around to yet.)

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  20. You've earned your retirement. Thank you for all the time and effort you've put in over the last several years. Not only have I learned a lot, I've also made several new writing friends because of the workshops.

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  21. Your posts have been fabulous, but, I must say, reading the comments has been just as informative.

    I don't often have time to read comments, but I make the effort during LB&LI. Thanks for the hard work of coordination.

    Suelder

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  22. Thanks, Lynn!!

    Another great year, and I learned alot.

    Di

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  23. My parents' phone was literally blown off the wall when lightning hit the phone line, so no, I don't think you're over-reacting :).

    ah, hello hat!

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  24. Maybe next year there can be a group of hosts (like the 70 Days of Sweat). I'm game. Anybody else?

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  25. So sad that you won't be doing any more! I've thoroughly enjoyed them and while I wasn't able to host my own this year I was planning to participate next year. I hope the workshops do continue on without you.

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  26. Well, I am sad to learn that you won't be doing this next year, but I hope you will continue to post your blog because I always find something informative in it. I am constantly saving articles you wrote to read again later.

    On that note (and also pertaining to your introduction to this post), I'm wondering about backing up your work. I can't remember if you posted anything along these lines before (I read a lot of things throughout the day), but do you have any suggestions for backing things up? What is the best system for backing up your files? Right now, I use a flash drive, but I'm wondering if I should get an external hard drive.

    Margay

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  27. The amount of work you put into these is amazing - completely understandable that you're ready to move on!!

    Just put in my library request for Shadowlight. :) The library system has 10 copies ordered and I'm #22 on the list.

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  28. Thank you for all the time and effort you've put into LB&LI over the years, Lynn. Although I don't always comment, I always read and learn. Of course I'm disappointed you won't be doing this next year, but lady, you've earned retirement. Take a break.

    :hugs:

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  29. This is only the first year that I have known about the workshop. Bummer for me! But I can see how much work it is for you and agree that you deserve a break. Thanks for all of your hard work!

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  30. Thanks for all your hard work over the years doing LB&LI. I'll miss this next year and I hope someone else picks it up.

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  31. Thank you for the great workshops. I have learned a lot.

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  32. Thanks for hanging in with LB&LI as long as you did. Your posts have always been interesting and informative. Maybe without the pressure next year you really will be LB&LI!

    Wendy

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  33. I wanted to thank you for the workshop this last week. It has helped me in many ways.

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  34. Throwing my name in the hat and saying thanks for all your work on this project over the years.

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  35. clairecherven10:17 AM

    Thank you for all your work with these wonderful workshops. I can't imagine where you find the time and the energy to do all you do. But again the busiest people get the most done and find the time for everything that is meaningful to them. Enjoy a minute or two for yourself.

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  36. Lightning is very bad for computers, you can't be too cautious. Thank you for the 4 years you've invested in LB&LI. I think we'll all continue it at least in a disorganized way. *g*

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  37. I'm throwing my name in the hat, but I also wanted to say thanks for doing this workshop for 2 years now and dedicating your time. It's a big endeavor but it's been much appreciated!

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  38. Thank you for hosting LB&LI - it's been wonderful! I'm now a 'Follower' of a couple of workshop writers.

    Happy Retirement! We'll be watching for your new books. :-)

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  39. I don't have a question, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your time and effort. Thank you.

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  40. I am so sad to hear that you won't be hosting anymore. This is something I look forward to every year, you are one of the best writers about writing I've ever taken a workshop with. I love your analogies, and how you are so blunt about the publishing business. I visit your blog at least once a week throughout the year and I know that you post a ton of stuff about writing in your daily blogging but it just won't be the same! I wanted to let you know that I am a very avid reader of your stardoc series and I've had it on preorder since it came up at amazon. You can let your editors know you've done your bit to market!
    Helen

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  41. You've done a terrific job with the workshops. I hope someone takes up that baton.

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  42. Lynn,

    I'll miss you hosting this, but I totally understand about all the work involved.

    I learned a lot this year too.

    Thanks!

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  43. Desiree Armstrong11:40 AM

    Just tossing my name into the magic hat!

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  44. We get tons of lightning storms each summer here and we shut down everything...always better to be safe than sorry.

    Sorry to hear that this will be your last year at the helm of LB & LI but understand completely. My list of books to find and read has almost doubled since starting this workshop! Thanks for hosting LB & LI, you've done an awesome job of it, and my mind is swimming with all the new information.

    Tossing my name in the hat.

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  45. Thanks for this chance. Hope whoever keeps it going will be just as good and informative.

    :winks:

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  46. I can't think of a question right now, but I'd love to add my name to the hat.

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  47. Anonymous11:52 AM

    Thank you very much for so many kind and thoughtful encouragements you give to wanna be writers. I read your blog and am awed by your organization and discipline. Also appreciate how you have stayed kind, stable and humble amongst the sometimes hurtful atmosphere of publishing. I have loved this LB & LI group and been continually impressed by the posts in oh so many ways.

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  48. So sad to see you go since I just found all of this wonderful info. I do understand how hectic things can get. Good luck with new adventures.

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  49. Thanks so much for this workshop. I've been lurking, and am sad to see it come to an end and that you will not be running it in the future.

    Thanks for what you've done here, and I will continue to visit your blog, and many others you've linked to after having seen what great resources are out there for aspiring writers!
    Nic

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  50. Love to read these posts even though I am not an author. I find the process fasicnating. and I buy lots of the authors that particpated already. Ihave your stardoc already preordered and the other on my wish list. Just wondering is the 10th book going to be the last star doc and if so will you be doing any more scifi series cause they rock.

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  51. I just wanted to say thank you for the tremendous service you've provided, not just over the last four years but every year since you started PBW.

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  52. Have you heard of Publish America (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/publish-your-own-book-easily-with-some-help-from-publishamerica/) and if so, what do you think of it?

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  53. Thanks for all the kind words, you guys. LB&LI has been a lot of fun for me, and I'll always think it's the best way for a writer to spend their summer vacation -- among like-minded friends. :)

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  54. Ulesegi wrote: I've read Scribd's terms of service, and while I understand they don't want to host documents with erotic photos, I'm still not clear on how they feel about erotic contents in romantic fiction. I wonder if you or any other authors who share free fiction through Scribd have encountered objections to your contents.

    So far I've received no objections, and only once had an e-book I posted taken down by Scribd as potentially being in violation of their policy on erotica. It wasn't, so I contacted them directly and asked that it be reinstated, and it was. None of the other authors I know who are posting on Scribd have complained about having e-books removed for content.

    What is and isn't erotic is kind of a gray area. I consider my work to be extremely tame in that department, but someone else with a more narrow view of romance and sexuality might find them offensive. Since I write for an adult market, I write at an adult level. If someone prefers not to read adult fiction, there are plenty of other alternatives out there that are potentially less offensive, like Christian and YA fiction.

    I think if you have questions about the policy, you should contact Scribd and consult with them on their interpretation of what constitutes erotic content. Since they make the rules, and can remove documents they feel violate them, it's best to get their take on the policy.

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  55. Jaye wrote: Of course, now you ask for questions, I can't think of a blessed one!

    Oh, I'm not going anywhere, in case you think of one next week. :)

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  56. Jess wrote: I really benefited from Marjorie Liu's essays this year, so my question is, which book of hers would you recommend to a new reader? I'm not sure what goes with what series. :D (She's been on the you-know-you'll-like-her-so-read-her-please-at-some-point list that I haven't gotten around to yet.)

    Marjorie has a wonderful range of books on her backlist. If you like paranormal romance, I recommend her Dirk & Steele books; the series starts out with Tiger Eye. For darker, more adventure-driven urban fantasy (I think of what Marjorie writes as epic urban fantasy), try the first novel in her Hunter Kiss series, The Iron Hunt (although there is a prequel short story to the series, Hunter Kiss, which is available online to purchase as an e-book or in print in an anthology with Maggie Shayne titled Wild Thing.

    You really can't go wrong with anything she writes, though. She's brilliant.

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  57. Thank you Lynn, for all the time and effort you put into this project, you will definitely be missed.

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  58. Thanks for the great workshops. I've learned a lot.

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  59. Margay wrote: I can't remember if you posted anything along these lines before (I read a lot of things throughout the day), but do you have any suggestions for backing things up? What is the best system for backing up your files? Right now, I use a flash drive, but I'm wondering if I should get an external hard drive.

    Before I explain my procedures, I have to tell you that I am one of the most paranoid writers on the planet when it comes to saving data. In years past I had three computers meltdown simultaneously on the same day and nearly lost eight years of work because I'd lost my old backups during a move. It cost me $1500.00 to recover that data and I have never forgotten the lesson.

    As I write new material every day, I e-mail copies to myself (this varies, but usually 2-4 times a day, depending on how much writing I do. Roughly, every ten manuscript pages I've finished.) I save everything I'm working on any time I walk away from the keyboard. I also back up my work on three computers and a fourth/external hard-drive twice daily, and create four CD backups of my writing files twice a week (I write a great deal of new material every day so this is absolutely essential to be done on a frequent basis.) Once a month I send a set of my weekly backups one family member who lives near me, and another friend who lives in another part of the country. Once a year I also do an archival backup of all my data dating back to 1994 and put a set of CDs in my safety deposit box at my bank and send another to my ex in Europe. I figure that covers all the catastrophes that could possibly happen.

    I write a tremendous amount of stuff, probably about a million and a half words a year now. I know other writers don't have to worry about preserving that much data, but it's still a good idea to get into a backup routine. I recommend at least once-daily backups to more than one hard drive (an external drive is a great alternative to having two computers.) I don't trust flash drives because I've heard so many writers say they've failed on them. I also think you should backup your files to CD once a week. If possible, store an archive set of CDs with all your data in a place away from your home (keeping a set with a family member, especially one who lives out of state, is great.)

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  60. Pamk wrote: Just wondering is the 10th book going to be the last star doc and if so will you be doing any more scifi series cause they rock.

    StarDoc Book ten (which I just sold to Ace/Roc) will be the final book in the series, and I'll be turning that in to my editor on September 1st, so expect it to be released probably in the fall of 2010. I have been asked to pitch some new SF after that, but I'm still thinking about that and what I want to do.

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  61. Hannah wrote:
    Have you heard of Publish America (http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/publish-your-own-book-easily-with-some-help-from-publishamerica/) and if so, what do you think of it?


    Not much. Here's a blog post I wrote about them back in 2005 (I can't say if the links still work, but my feelings haven't changed):

    "PublishAmerica, not to be confused with any of those grubby vanity publishers out there, proudly bills itself a "traditional publisher." Except that PublishAmerica uses POD versus printing and warehousing books. Okay, those warehouse and printing costs are pretty steep; it could be a cost-efficiency thing.

    PublishAmerica is also an "advance-paying book publisher" with a company banner motto that reads We treat our authors the old-fashioned way -- we pay them. Except that the old-fashioned way it pays authors an advance is -- hold onto your hat -- a whopping total of $1. Now, I made twenty-five thousand times that as the advance for the last book I wrote, but hey, maybe I'm just ridiculously overpaid.

    PublishAmerica states on its web site that its titles "are available through most major bookstores." Except for this one little thing: "Availability is not necessarily the same as bookstore shelf display." Translation: you can't get them in the store, but you can order them through the store's computer. Assuming you have psychic power and can envision the titles, because they're not on the shelf. Have I got this right?

    PublishAmerica authors have applied to join the Authors Guild. But, oops, the AG says PublishAmerica titles don't meet membership criteria. Well, who wants to pay all those AG dues anyway.

    So, who's going to be the first author to dump their contracts with NAL or Harlequin or Tor or Ballantine and rush over to sign up with PublishAmerica? Anyone? Why am I hearing crickets?

    Paula Span has the rest of the lowdown on PublishAmerica in her excellent article about the company for the Washington Post online, and I picked up the link from Nick Mamatas' Journal. If you would, as Nick requests, spread the word."

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  62. Wonderful workshop. Now I am going to re-read everything slowly and savor.

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  63. I'm sorry that this was your last time hosting the LB&LI workshops, but I understand your desire to move on. Thanks so much for providing this wonderful learning opportunity for all of us.

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  64. Thanks for all your help to all (especially the aspiring writers). Now I'll just sit back await Shadowlight and Crystal healer. I do have a small question though, after Book 10 of the StarDoc series you are looking at starting a new Sci-fi series. How does one go about figuring out what the public likes to read especially in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre?

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  65. Thank you for all your time and generosity. Your workshops are always great.

    Tossing my name in the hat.
    Lavern

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  66. Wowza! Get a look at those books!

    Mrs. Veihl, I've been a lurker at your blog for a couple of months now, but you are made of pure WIN.

    :) Thanks for hosting LB for everyone!

    -Samantha

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  67. I really appreciate you running LB&LI, and your virtual workshops. Thank you!

    My question is a two-parter:

    IIRC you've said before that you primarily write short stories to test drive characters and novel ideas. Do you see value in writing short stories to develop overall fiction writing skills, or do you think that the differences in length and structure words) big enough that that really isn't a valid approach?

    These days, how much help are short fiction credits to selling a novel?

    Thanks again for all your hard work and generosity!

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  68. if and when someone takes over on a virtal workshop, will you be posting, to let us know the details for next year?

    :winks"

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  69. Thanks for the wonderful workshops of these four years, they have been very helpful.

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  70. Throwing my name in the hat.

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  71. Gloria6:23 PM

    I just want to to thank you for these workshops.

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  72. pt nguyen6:31 PM

    Thank you, Lynn, for your time and your effort in putting out these workshops. You may have started putting this together for just your friends but you have helped many others along the journey. I've personally enjoyed your workshops. Thanks again for everything! :)

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  73. Thank you for all the time and work you've put into hosting LB&LI for the past few years.

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  74. Keita Haruka7:09 PM

    I've just finished reading everything...and I really wish I could have been here to participate. It's going to take me at least a week to digest everything. Heartfelt thanks for the feast of very valuable information you provided. It's shattered a number of illusions...and for that I'm grateful. Dreams need to be balanced with a healthy dose of reality. :D I have a far, far better idea of how to proceed now. I could just hug you right now! Thank you.

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  75. I've enjoyed the workshops over the years - thanks for being such a gracious hostess for us!

    Misty Massey

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  76. I am tossing my name into the hat.

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  77. Lynn, I knew you were the person to ask! Thank you so much for all of these great suggestions. I am definitely going to invest in an external hard drive and try some of these other methods, too, like the CDs - I never thought of those! Thanks again.
    Margay

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  78. Lanette wrote: I do have a small question though, after Book 10 of the StarDoc series you are looking at starting a new Sci-fi series.

    So I don't confuse anyone out there, let me say first that I am not committed to writing another SF series just yet. While I've had one of longest-running series in the genre, I also had so many problems and heartaches with StarDoc that part of me shrieks everytime I even think the words "SF series."

    At the same time, I am primarily a series writer, and my publishers have come to expect series books from me, so I may end up going there again. It's really hard to say right now. I just want to focus on wrapping up StarDoc and then I'll start making the hard decisions.

    How does one go about figuring out what the public likes to read especially in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre?

    If I could answer that one definitively, I'd be selling a lot more SF books. :)

    There are a couple of approaches to guessing what will sell to dedicated readers of SF/F. You can read everything that sells really well in the genre, and make your writing choices accordingly. For example, the Singularity as a theme was pretty trendy for a while.

    I think (thanks to Star Wars and Star Trek) that space opera is always going to have a market. Cyberpunk (high tech/low life SF) still works, too, though I doubt it will ever regain the popularity it had in the eighties. Likewise Biopunk, which reached its heydey in the nineties. Dystopic sob stories, phallic symbol-laden hard SF, entangled time travelogues, epic colonization and the occasional far-future steampunk seem to do okay. Anything guys who couldn't get a date in high school gravitate toward as adults is pretty much money in the bank.

    Although it's considered slipstream, fantasy or anything else except SF, I always thought the Lovecraft-spawned New Weird (China Mieville was the ringleader of that one, and named it too, if I remember right) was an exceptional trend and should have been embraced by SF because it would have revived the genre considerably.

    I'm by no means an expert on fantasy as a genre, and I don't read a lot of it because magic in general annoys the hell out of me, but high or epic Tolkienish fantasy always seems to nab the dragon lovers, and some of the new trends in fantasy like YA (Harry Potter) and RPG/ video game media tie-ins (like Halo) look pretty promising. The big trend right now are spin-offs from the romance genre trend, which have fueled the popularity of urban fantasy, shape shifter fantasy, YA vampire, etc. etc.

    I think I'd get some opinions from other writers who are more active/interested in these genres. I stay far away from the SF/F people these days, so I'm not up on the cutting edge stuff at all. :)

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  79. I am sad to see this as your last LB&LI, as it is my first. Thank you for all your hard work as well as for giving me the confidence to host my first virtual workshop (FictionScribe).

    You've probably mentioned it before somewhere, but I'm wondering what you think about pen names, especially in regards to spreading out your work across genres.

    Also, is there anything in particular that hosting the LB&LI taught you and/or inspired you to do?

    Thanks again.

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  80. Dale wrote: Do you see value in writing short stories to develop overall fiction writing skills, or do you think that the differences in length and structure words) big enough that that really isn't a valid approach?

    I think it depends on the type of writer you are. I was never taught that short stories are considered a separate form of fiction from novels and an art form in their own right. To me they were just stories that didn't take as long to write as novels did (and yes, I can hear some of you gasping in horror. This is what happens when you teach yourself to write rather than go to school for it, lol.)

    I wrote short stories as writing practice, to play with an idea, and to basically teach myself the structure of story itself without having to spend eight months slaving over a typewriter. It was like novel shorthand to me. If you can do that, forget about all the rules and stuff you're supposed to do, and just have fun with it, I think it can be valuable and help you improve at the craft. But if you've had all that Hawthorne and Poe and Fitzgerald pounded into your head by some teacher, you're probably going to bring too many rules to the table and end up frustrating yourself.

    These days, how much help are short fiction credits to selling a novel?

    Now there's an interesting question. I'd say short fiction credits are almost a prerequisite to selling novel-length fiction in SF. Since there is no real market for it in romance, it won't help you there. Literary fiction, maybe, if you published short fiction in a highly-esteemed/sought-after lit magazine. It might also help to establish your name in the mystery and horror genres. I'd look and see how short story writers are treated in their respective genres (in SF they're fawned over; in romance they're lucky if they make it into the back pages of a multi-author anthology) and judge it by that.

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  81. Your scenes thrum with excitement and tension. Any advice for the rest of us on how to make our scenes yank the reader breathlessly along like yours do? :)

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  82. Lynn,

    Being the come-clean kind of gal you are, why not just admit that you'll be too busy with the PBW Bird Sanctuary to continue LB&LI!


    (Okay--seriously--thanks for the workshops and all the other great stuff. I'm thankful the day-to-day lessons will continue.)

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  83. Midnight wrote: if and when someone takes over on a virtal workshop, will you be posting, to let us know the details for next year?

    I won't be involved after this year, but if someone else hosts LB&LI or similar event next year I'll probably put up some general link.

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  84. No questions, I just wanted to say thank you for hosting LB&LI for the past four years (though I've only been around for three of them).

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  85. thank you, Lynn, for your hard work and dedication to this project. I've learned a lot under your tutelage.

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  86. Really enjoying the info you are working to provide, through this and other forms.

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  87. Congrats to the winners! Thanks for the workshop. I read all of the post but haven't posted till today. Great posts! Congrats on the upcoming releases!

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  88. tambo9:47 PM

    Thank you again for hosting this and for enduring all of our questions, comments, and general writerly wackiness for the past few years. I'm sure it's a lot of work and, again, thank you. :)

    As for questions, I kinda have one, but I don't know how to ask. Sorta. Perhaps I must ponder it some more.

    Thanks again and have a great remainder of the summer!

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  89. JM wrote: You've probably mentioned it before somewhere, but I'm wondering what you think about pen names, especially in regards to spreading out your work across genres.

    These days if you want to work as a multi-genre (writing in more than two genres) writer I don't think you have a choice. Publishers are pretty much insisting on different pseudonyms for each genre you write. Since chain booksellers order to the net sales by author name, having a couple of names out there can actually work in your favor.

    I know it's an ego thing with some writers; they want the same name on all their books regardless of genre. But it makes it tough to market such an author, creates shelving problems and reader confusion.

    Also, is there anything in particular that hosting the LB&LI taught you and/or inspired you to do?

    Creating the workshops for LB&LI gives me time to play with story theory and structure and come up with some new ways to communicate it to others. Sharing knowledge isn't about dumping a lot of info on people, it's connecting with them and finding common ground between you that you can use as a foundation for the exchange. Over the years I've learned a great deal, too, from the insightful comments you guys have made and the many discussions we've had.

    There are also some cool things that go on behind the scenes of LB&LI. One year I got together in a private chat with a group of high school student writers who were following LB&LI and spent the afternoon talking about the workshops and answering their questions. I am friends with a couple of English teachers who teach creative writing blocks for their classes, and we've put together modified versions of some of my workshops with lesson plans and exercises, and I've given them my permission to pass them around (so if you're taking English AP next year in high school, you might end up with an assignment for the novel wiring diagram or the story architecture workshop.) I've also sent the e-book versions of my LB&LI workshops to soldiers stationed overseas who have requested them (on some bases their internet access is restricted or basically non-existent), and I've corresponded with them by e-mail to follow up and answer their questions, which I consider a privilege, frankly.

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  90. Rob wrote: Your scenes thrum with excitement and tension. Any advice for the rest of us on how to make our scenes yank the reader breathlessly along like yours do?

    That's a very nice thing to say. Let me wait until the swelling in my head goes down and then I'll answer it....

    Seriously, I think whatever tension and pacing I manage to infuse in a story probably has a lot to do with my reader mindset. As a reader I'm very restless and easily bored. I'm drawn to stories that are suspenseful and keep me involved, and I think when I'm writing that's always somewhere in my head, like a subconscious mantra: Keep it moving. Don't bore them. Deliver the thrill. I also find when I edit that if I want to skip over some passage, I know the reader probably will, too, and then I immediately rewrite the boring part or cut it from the story.

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  91. Shawn wrote: Being the come-clean kind of gal you are, why not just admit that you'll be too busy with the PBW Bird Sanctuary to continue LB&LI!

    Shhhh. I just got the last ones out of here.

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  92. Hi Lynn! I missed so much being ill and trying to get stronger here so I'm glad I could stop by tonight!

    I first want to thanks all with LB&LI and you Lynn. I don't know what I'd do without my reads and all. Sure its been so much enjoyment in my life to read but too, its so much more, a great boost to me, like being a good thing for my emotional health. I don't know how to say it without sounding corny you know. But it is the best medicine. I even put together a list of fun romance, and the like for the waiting rooms for one specialist I went to because I told him how much reading is a relaxation and helps medically too. So thanks again!

    My question would just be, what does it do for you as a writer to be do what you do? For the most part it a job but too a joy?

    Thanks again.
    Cathie
    cathiecaffey(at)gmail.com

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  93. I too appreciate all of your hard work and efforts. The workshops have been wonderful and informative.

    Tossing my name into the hat.

    Cheers,
    Erin K.

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  94. Athena11:13 PM

    I know what you mean about the storms. It hit our dish once. It was disastrous.

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  95. I don't have a question, but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate all the effort you put these two years I've shared these workshops, and I have learned a lot, and will keep your ideas, suggestions and teachings close.
    Thanks, for all this effort

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  96. Christina M11:27 PM

    Thank you for doing these. I learned a lot.

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  97. Cathie wrote: My question would just be, what does it do for you as a writer to be do what you do? For the most part it a job but too a joy?

    Being a professional writer is my job, and in many ways it's no different than being a secretary or an office manager or some other business position. I have a regular schedule of work hours, people I report to, an office where I write, and all the same tasks and responsibilities as anyone else handles with their job.

    Because I'm self-employed and work at home, I have additional responsibilities, because there isn't anyone here to check on me or stand over me and make sure I'm doing my job. My family is respectful of my work hours, but sometimes they do interrupt me or forget that I'm working, and that can be a distraction. I have to be very organized and self-motivated to be sure I get my work done.

    The wonderful part of being a professional writer is the independence and privilege to be paid for doing what I love. I set my work hours myself, and I can rearrange them to my liking or convenience whenever I want, and for the most part serve as my own boss. Because of this, I can be with my children when they need me, which would be more difficult if I worked in an office where I'd be expected to adhere to a regular work schedule. I'm also being paid to write, which is an honor and a blessing, and something I've wanted to do my entire life. My job is not boring, either; it's a little different every day. My involvement in the online writing community also adds a great deal to my writing life.

    So yes, it is a job, but it's also a great joy in my life. I wouldn't want to do anything else.

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