Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday 20

Running late today -- sorry, folks -- and I'm not in love with the final draft of the post I had planned, so I'm scrapping that.

Last week I made a trip to Pearl, the only decent art supply house within fifty miles of my home, and picked up some Japanese watercolors and my new playtoys, Prismacolor art pencils. I bought a small set, a tin of 48 with two bonus packs thrown in, but they had some monster 100+ sets, too. I can't sketch very well anymore, but these pencils have such a nice, smooth laydown of color that they don't require a lot of pressure. The pencils blend well, are not particularly brittle, and come in just about every color you could possible want. I'm going to use them to clean up some lines on my watercolors.

As obsessed as most of us are with writing and publishing, having hobbies outside the realm of the industry is a good thing. Outside interests keep the well filled and us from getting burned out. Every time I paint or sew or garden, I can think about work, or I can forget about it for a while.

Not that I can always escape work even on a trip to the art store. While I was at Pearl's I got into a conversation with another watercolorist, who steered me toward the book section and showed me The Tao of Watercolor by Jeanne Carbonetti. There seems to be a Tao of . . . book for everything these days, but this one contained both beautiful artwork and some useful techniques. I like to read art books, not only for the content but to see how they're put together by the artist/author. You never know, someday a publisher will need a How to Paint Swallows That Look Like Big Fat Flying Turkeys art book and ask me to write it.

That's all from my corner of sometimes-painting, sometimes-writing world. You all have any questions this week?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Cast Balancing

I think most writers try to compose interesting characters, and put a lot of work into creating an appealing cast for their story. Reading a novel with boring characters is like being locked in a room filled with everyone's least favorite aunt, the sort who wants to pinch your cheek, tsk over your clothes/weight/love life, and talk about their bunion or bowel problems without stopping for breath.

(Aunt Frances, I'm not talking about you. I promise.)

One thing I do notice about characters in novels is when the cast is unbalanced. Raise your hand if you've read a story populated by the following:

All of a kind: the characters have interchangeable or sound-alike names.

Gang Bangs: the cast consists of one female and twenty males, or one male and twenty females.

Generation gappers: the entire cast is in their twenties, or thirties, or forties, etc.

Monochromatics: all of the characters are white, or black, or Hispanic, or [insert ethnic group].

Threesomes: three siblings, three friends, or three of a kind.

Tokens: one black character in an all-white cast, one white character in an all-black cast, one gay character in an all-hetero cast, etc.

West Side Stories: all the characters are split between two opposing groups, no in-betweens.

Now before anyone starts sending me hate mail, I'm not knocking every story with these type of casts. Some of them have become a tradition in genre fiction, and I don't think they're unbalanced if they serve the story. Threesomes, for example, are the time-honored foundations for romance trilogies. If you're writing a book titled "The Last Woman on Earth" you have no choice but to use a gang bang cast. Casts for epic fantasies are prone to become West Side Stories because of the good vs. evil conflicts involved.

That said, if you're tired of the same-old same-old, and want more diversity and originality in your novels, it's a good idea to balance out your cast before you start writing the book. First, make a list of all the characters in the novel by name in alphabetical order. Then:

Ages: Note the characters' ages next to their names, and compare them. If everyone in your novel is 29, and it's not titled "Logan's Run" you might want to shift around some birthdays.

Gender: Highlight the names by sex: pink for girls, blue for boys. If you end up with a huge chunk of blue or pink, you might consider switching some of the characters' genders.

Group Dynamics: mark the members of any numbered group like a threesome among your cast. Are they individuals or blurred clones of each other? Work on how you can give them more distinct personalities so they're not so dependent on their group relationship.

Loyalties: Note whose side your characters are on. See if you have a few characters who are neutral or disagree with both sides. If you don't, think about changing around some loyalties.

Naming: Look at the characters' names to see if any sound alike or start with the same letter; readers often confuse these characters with each other. Think about changing the ones that are too close.

Race: Put a letter indicating race/ethnicity next to your characters' names. If your cast is all one race or ethnicity, and you can't logically justify it, it's monochromatic. Also, use this step to see if you've cast a token character. Unless there is a valid story reason for a monochromatic cast, consider putting a bit more racial diversity in your story.

Balancing your cast through diversification makes your characters seem more alive and natural. They become people who might exist in reality. Since that's the goal of most writers, I think it's worth the effort.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

RW: Book Making

As much as I enjoy seeing my publishers put my work in print, I love to create my own books at home. Doing all the writing, art work, editing, printing and binding by myself takes time, but it's fun, too.

I got seriously involved in creating my own books after I took a class in Orizomegani (Japanese paper dyeing) and book binding. An artist and a professional book binder ran the all-day class, and by the end of it I had a whole new perspective on the making of books. I've been hooked ever since.

These days I make up books of stories I write as gifts for family and close friends, or with poetry and stories that I write for myself. I also make blank books for use as journals, notebooks and quilting and gardening diaries. Occasionally I'll rebind old books that are falling apart or that have extensive cover damage.

Readers may not think they have any reason to make a book themselves, but if you have family letters, poems or stories that mean a great deal to you, why not put them together in book form? Think of it like a scrapbook of words instead of pictures. There are all sorts of book making sites out there with instructions that are easy to follow.

Now it's your turn for some ideas -- if you were going to make your own book, what would you like to put in it? Put your answer in comments to this post by midnight EST on August 31, 2007, and I'll draw one name at random from everyone who participates and send the winner one of my handmade blank journals, along with a pack of book-making materials to get you started on making your own. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Related links:


How to Make Your Own Trade Paperbacks

Make Your Own Journal

Rit Dye

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jordan's Meme

This is the last meme I'm doing this year. SHMG.

Four jobs I've had or currently have in my life:

1. Writer
2. Quilt Conservator
3. Bookseller
4. Minister's Secretary

Four countries I've been to:

1. Canada
2. Mexico
3. The Bahamas
4. Brazil

Four places I'd rather be right now:

1. K-2
2. Joren
3. Ravelin
4. Trellus

Four foods I like to eat:

1. Stir-fry
2. Cassoulet Toulousain
3. Pecan pie
4. Black beans and rice

Four personal heroes, past or present:

1. Dr. Maya Angelou
2. Dr. Edward Jenner
3. Dr. Jonas Salk
4. Oscar Wilde

Four books you've read or are currently reading:

(What happened to I?)

1. Bacterial Metabolism by H.W. Doelle
2. Nefertiti by Nick Drake
3. Smoke and Shadows by Tanya Huff
4. Iron Orchid by Stuart Woods

Four words or phrases you would like to see used more often:

1. I'm happy.
2. I'm healthy.
3. I'm not afraid.
4. I'm tagging Jordan Summers.

Four reasons for ending a friendship:

1. Abuse (emotional or physical)
2. Betrayal.
3. Bigotry.
4. Memes. All right, not memes. Lies.

Four smells that make you feel good about the world:

1. Gardenia
2. Honeysuckle
3. Rain
4. Sun-dried cotton

My question: Four favorite activities you did as a kid:

1. Building sandcastles at the beach
2. Riding my bike
3. Walking through the woods
4. Flying kites

I'm tagging whoever visits and wants to do the meme. If you post it on your blog, leave a link in comments so we can come over and have a look.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Make Time for Ten

Ten Things About Virtual Clocks

Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

1. Indulge your Neo or Trinity fantasy with a 3D Matrix Clock (scroll down on page.)

2. Banshee Screamer Alarm freeware has one purpose: to wake you up.

3. Get the time announced to you at your desired intervals with Claudio freeware.

4. Custom-design your own virtual timepiece with Clock! freeware.

5. Get an attractive analog clock for your desktop with ClocX freeware.

6. Cursor Clock is a nice little freeware utility that turns your mouse into a timepiece.

7. If you absolutely positively must have the precise exact correct time on your system, check out Free Atomic Clock.

8. Kaleidoscope Clock is a morphing screensaver freeware that also displays the accurate time.

9. MultiLingual Speaking Clock freeware can tell you the time in 25+ different languages.

10. Topmost Clock freeware gives you a transparent digital or analog clock that will sit on top of however many windows you open.

For the readers with a little time on their hands, has a nice archive of free classic literature e-books in .pdf format here.

A peek of what's upcoming on PBW this week:

Cast Balancing

RW: Book Making

The Novel Crash Cart

How to Talk to a Reviewer

The Previous Topic is a Joke

Just Seeing If You're Paying Attention

and much, much -- okay, probably not THAT much -- more . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Ten Things Editors Say, and What They Really Mean

1. "Authors are wonderful, creative geniuses. I love working with them."

Authors are neurotic, obsessive-compulsive nutcases. Luckily,
so am I.

2. "Congratulations on winning the Northeast Writers' Golden Goose Quill Honorable Mention for Excellence in Happily Ever After Endings."

There is no way in hell I'm fitting all that on your cover.

3. "Don't worry, John, I'm not mad at you."

Don't be surprised, John, if your next advance check is misplaced. For eight months. Bastard.

4. "I appreciate the chance to look at the revised copy of your novel, but it is still not appropriate for our line."

If you send me this damn Book of Your Heart one more time, no matter what cool new title you slap on it, I'm coming to your house and beating the crap out of you.

5. "I don't expect an acknowledgement."

Excuse me -- did your mother, best friend or critique partner help you work out the subplot problems in half this book, or listen to you cry about your reviews, or front you the money for your divorce, or take you out to dinner at National and pour you into your hotel room after you drank fifteen Margaritas? No? Maybe you should think about who did when you're writing up the acknowledgements.

6. "I can't believe how adventurous your heroine is."

I can't believe your heroine slept with every single guy in the story. Twice, no less.

7. "I see you've sent me a vampire romance."

Dear God, not another vampire romance.

8. "My greatest joy in life is editing books."

Pardon me? What life?

9. "Yes, I rejected Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. At the time it wasn't right for our imprint."

How do you like the final draft of my suicide note?

10. "Your advice on how we should edit, market and speak about our books is duly noted."

Oh, blow me.

(No real editor was actually quoted during the composition of this post, but a few were paraphrased. Dedicated to L., with much admiration.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Another Scam

Most of you know that I'm a big fan of Gerard over at The Generator Blog. For years he's provided endless fun and inspiration for his visitors by hunting down online generators the same way I go after freeware.

It seems that an overseas blogger has copied the content of Gerard's entire blog and is posting it as his own blog under a slightly different title. Gerard has repeatedly tried to contact the copycat to have him take down the blog, but he's been unable to get a response.

I'm not going to link to the jackass who did this, but I have flagged the offending blog and I'm going to write to Google and ask them to take down the copycat. If you'd like more details on the situation, you can read Gerard's post about it here.

Bloggers get bootlegged and ripped off all the time, especially if they're as popular as Gerard, but there are things you can do about it. The most comprehensive information I've found on how to go after bootleggers and hijackers is What to Do When Someone Steals Your Content by Lorelle.

Winners & Scammer Announcement

The winners of the RW: Quince giveaway are:




Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to, and I'll get your winnings out to you.

I've been expecting to be hit for quite a while, but up until recently I've not had a problem with scammers entering my contests and giveaways. In this case, the scammer is one person who pretends to be six or twelve or thirty by setting up false blog profiles, and uses all of the identities to enter one contest or giveaway and increase their odds of winning. Often scammers work in small groups, too, sharing information with like-minded cheats and pooling their resources. Usually an author finds out they're being contest-scammed after a growing percentage of their winners all appear to be living at the same address or next door to each other.

Listen, I'm not interested in exposing anyone or pointing fingers. Nor am I going to come up with any sort of complicated registration or validation process for my giveaways. And no way are scammers going to stop me from holding giveaways and contests. What I will do is put comments back on moderation and start deleting suspicious-looking entries as they come in. I will also make a list of suspicious-looking identities and profile addies and send it to every other author I know, and ask them to do the same to all the authors they know.

However, if you would like a free book, and are willing to play fair, you're welcome to enter any giveaway or contest here -- just quit cheating and enter only once, like everyone else does. I give away a lot of books here at PBW, so odds are pretty good that you'll win one. And think of how much better you'll feel about yourself if you win it fairly.

Friday, August 24, 2007

August: Finding New Markets

I. Paid to Write

You never know when you'll stumble across a new market for your work. I once got a thirty minute writing job while attending a national sales convention. I was working in the business center on a presentation handout for my boss, and another manager came in, read what I was typing over my shoulder, and asked me some questions about it.

I explained the effectiveness of a handout when addressing a large group, and how unobtrusively product information and business cards could be distributed along with the handout to everyone in the room versus trying to hand out cards and flyers during mix-and-mingle moments. I must have impressed him, as he immediately offered me a hundred bucks if I would compose and type up a similar handout for his presentation.

I was in luck; I knew his product line very well (it was a paper industry convention, and at the time I worked for the second-largest manufacturer in the country.) So I accepted, he gave me his notes and I returned a handout to him in about thirty minutes. He was very happy with the end result, and I had a nice bonus to take home and put in the bank.

While it doesn't sound like a lot of money, think about what else you'd have to do at a convention that rates $200 an hour.

II. The New Market Hunt

As a writer, you can't expect new markets and job opportunities to drop into your lap on a regular basis. You need to get out there and look for them. A new market is any place that publishes written material, is open to outside submission, and does not charge you a fee for the privilege of getting into print.

While there is no guaranteed payment scale for writers, you should know what your work can sell for. For example, rights to publish articles and short pieces are generally sold per word or flat fee per piece. A trade magazine might offer you five cents a word, which sounds like a lot until you multiply it by the 500 word maximum length for submissions in their guidelines. That means the most you can get paid for any submission to this magazine is $25.00.

Novel markets or markets for book-length fiction usually pay by advance against a percentage of sales, or royalties. This means the publisher will pay the writer a sum in advance, which is then subtracted from the writer's share of subsequent sales. A typical book deal is $5,000.00 advance, with 6% royalties on a $7.99 paperback. That advance doesn't sound like a lot of money, but at least 11,000 copies of this book will have to sell before the writer pays back that advance (assuming there are no returns, and there are always returns.)

Specialty, private or non-traditional markets can pay anything and do. I've seen writing jobs being offered for less than migrant workers make picking oranges ($1 an hour), and for more than most writers will make in their lifetime ($250,000.00 per book for an ongoing series.) Generally these jobs tip more toward the migrant-worker end of the pay scale, but enough pay very well to be worth checking out.

While you're looking, always remember the #1 rule of the working writer: We get paid to write. We do not pay anyone else to write.

III. New Markets in Trade Magazines

1. The Writer Magazine -- probably the best source of new market info in print; subscribers get free access to their online database of over 3,000 publishers, publications, contests and agents which they claim to update weekly. You can get a free trial issue and gain instant access to the database here (scroll down.)

2. Writer's Digest -- If you scroll down on Writer's Digest Contest page, you'll find a section devoted to their monthly "Your Story" contest (you write a short story, 750 words or less, based on their prompt.) Submission is open and free (electronic subs only), and the winner receives $100 in WD books, but the publication credit is really the valuable prize here. Caution flag: because Writer's Digest does not screen their advertisers, I was nearly scammed by Edit Ink, via one of their phony agents who ran an ad in WD. Based on my experience, I strongly recommend avoiding any market or job offered in this magazine's classified section in the print issues.

3. Writer's Journal -- has lots of contests, unclassified ads (most are not offering writing jobs), and a brief market report and some listings in every issue.

IV. Market-Focused Bloggers and Websites

1. Along with her writing blog, Angela Booth publishes a free weekly writers e-zine, Fab Freelance Writing, which gives great tips on how to freelance your way to success. This is more an advice source than a markets list, but it's good for those who are looking for new market ideas and motivation.

2. Finding new markets can be as simple as visiting your local online classified ads. Craigslist always runs job listings for writers; when I looked this morning at the listing in my region I found want-ads for copywriters, freelance editors, web content writers and writer-for-hires, and Craiglist has more writing job listings for every major city and urban area in the U.S. Caution flag: Always check out anyone who advertises writing jobs thoroughly before you sign on with them, and get the financial terms up front. For example, that writer-for-hire job I linked to only offers a $2K flat fee for the work, which frankly isn't much for a book-length job and the expertise required.

3. I occasionally list sub ops here at PBW, but Deborah Ng posts long lists of writing jobs every week at her Freelance Writing Jobs blog. She also gives advice on getting published and the professional writing life. One thing I appreciated about this blog is the little notations of how much $$$ is offered by the market and if they have any restrictions such as location; you can quickly skip the ones that don't work for you.

4. if you write horror, SF, fantasy or humor, you should be visiting this site at least once a month. By the way, August is fund-raising month at the site, and I can't recall ever seeing Ralan asking for donations. I find about half of the sub ops I post on PBW there, and he certainly deserves the support for all he does to keep his market listings online and updated, so I sent him a few bucks along with my thanks. If you are one of the 11,000 people who visit the site every month, and you're able to, I hope you'll do the same.

5. Writers Weekly's Market and Jobs section is updated weekly, they also have a search page for jobs that welcome new writers.

V. Market Writing Strategy

Some final thoughts before you start your new market hunt:

Know thy market. If there is anything that pisses off an editor, it's when a writer submits something that 1) violates their submission guidelines, or 2) is inappropriate for their market. Simply put, if you want to sell your 300K epic highland Scottish historical romance, you do not submit it to the earth science editor at Popular Geek Magazine, because he's looking for 1500 word essays on water purification in third world countries. Don't send it. Not even if you have a love scene that takes place next to a pond of semi-brackish water in Chapter Twenty-Four.

Be persistent, not obnoxious. It's one thing to send a half dozen different submissions to the same market, and quite another to submit the same piece that you've rewritten a half dozen times over and over. When someone says no, they usually mean no. You can always send them something else, unless they ask you not to. Which they will, if you keep subbing the same thing to them.

And one more thing: when you're rejected, accept it gracefully and professionally. Don't write anything back to the editor to inform them of how stupid they are for passing over your masterpiece. Don't rip the editor to pieces on your blog. Don't even respond to them if they behave ungraciously and/or unprofessionally toward you. Save it for the end-of-the-career expose, take the hit and move on.

Don't sub yourself into oblivion. It's ridiculous to try to sell to every market out there; research the markets where your work has the best chance to sell, and then submit to the ones that pay the most.

Related links:

Two excellent articles about the realities of freelancing: Freelance feast or famine? by Amber McNaught, and Michele R. Acosta's Starting a Freelance Writing Career (or How I Sifted Through the Muck and Found My Way)

Is Blogging a Good Way to Make Money? by Chris Garrett

Before you write up your publishing credits, check out Frank Giudice's article Writing a Resume That Works for You

How to Find Foreign Writing Markets by Gary McLaren

Tina Samuel's article Freelance Writing Ideas: Where to Write for Music Markets.

That's it for the biz post this month. To test out the topical suggestions for the New and Improved Friday 20; any questions out there regarding new markets and how to find them?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Synopsis

"Ms. Hartlace?" Jenny called over the intercom. "There's a gentleman and a lady here to see you."

Senior Editor Agatha Hartlace put her mah-jongg game on pause and cleared her throat, accidentally swallowing the Skittles she'd been sucking on. After coughing for several moments, she wheezed out "Do they have an appointment, Jennifer?"

"No, ma'am, but they have a letter from you." Jennifer paused and unfolded some paper. "It says you are interested in seeing the synopsis for their new novel, Angel's Darkness. They said they're here to deliver it."

These authors had no shame, Agatha thought, blanking on the book title. "Fine, whatever. Have them leave it with you."

"Um, they say they have to give it to you in person."

At this rate she'd never beat out the production team's top score. "All right, send them in." Her elbow bumped the half-empty bag of Skittles by her keyboard, spilling candy on the floor around her chair. As she bent over to grab a handful before the ten-second rule expired, her office door opened and closed.

"If you were a half-demon cop," a man said, "would you use your dark powers to solve crimes?"

Agatha banged her head on the edge of the desk as she sat up quickly. A tall, dark and handsome man in a black suit stood in front of her desk. "Excuse me?"

A petite, brunette woman in a pretty pink linen dress joined him. "Or would you resist the evil forces bubbling deep inside your soul," she asked Agatha, "so that you would not lose your humanity, or the chance to save the life of a half-angel librarian being stalked by a diamond thief?"

"I'd dump the cop and take off with the diamond thief," Agatha said. "I'm sorry, who are you people?"

"I'm John, the edgy but lonely detective wrestling to preserve his soul from the fires of Hades," the man said politely. "This is Marcia, my girlfriend."

Marcia elbowed him. "I'm also the half-angel librarian who is hoodwinked by the diamond thief at a Halloween party into transporting a soul-snatching diamond out of the protective walls of the house. Where the party is happening." She nodded toward her companion. "I meet John there, too."

"Of course you do." Agatha kept her eye on both of them as she reached for the intercom button, and then frowned. "Wait a minute. Are you two telling me a synopsis of a novel?"

"Yes. Angel's Darkness by Temperance Rising," John said as he sat down in on of the guest chairs. "I'm the protagonist. This is my love interest, Marcia."

Marcia laughed as she took a seat beside him. "His jokes are so cute, aren't they? I'm actually the protagonist of Angel's Darkness. He's simply the love interest, and the big plot twist." She pressed her fingers to her lips. "Oops. Better save the details of that for the end of the synopsis."

"You're giving her TMI, honeybunch," John said through his teeth as he smiled at the editor.

"At least my TMI is accurate, cupcake," Marcia replied, patting his hand.

Agatha sighed. An author who hired actors to perform a synopsis -- well, at least this would make an interesting anecdote for Mojito Night at the next BEA. "All right, so one of you is the protagonist, and you're both half-whatever. What's your story?"

"I've had a terrible life," Marcia said, her expression turning serious. "My mother sold me to gypsies three days after I was born. Then, after I spent many years telling fortunes and eating half-raw rabbits and stolen cans of beans cooked over open camp fires, I was rescued by my Aunt Millicent, who had been searching for me for years, as she never married and had no children of her own. Millicent never forgave my mother for that time she stole her boyfriend on Prom night--"

"I think Ms. Hartlace gets the picture, dearest," John said as he rested his hand on Marcia's arm. "Now, I was adopted at birth by a very wealthy couple who adored me, but who were also incessant travelers who couldn't stay in one place for more than ten seconds in order to die in a convenient plane crash on the day I turned twenty-one, so that I could inherit their billions. Before that I was raised by servants, went to private schools, that sort of privileged stuff, and frankly it left a bad taste in my mouth, so I went straight into the police academy as soon as I collected the life insurance and moved into Mom and Dad's bedroom at the mansion, because the only place I could sleep was in their beautiful old bed, not that there was any funny business going on between us when I was a child, you understand--"

Marcia studied Agatha's eyes, which were rapidly glazing over. "Sweetheart, maybe you should move along to the night we met, which is really the point where the story starts."

"Are you kidding?" John gave her an incredulous look. "I have another two chapters of weather reports and backstory to condense. I haven't even told her about my dog Rover getting run down in the street by the ice cream truck on that Thursday in late June, right after I turned eleven, and --"

"--the loss left you heartbroken, and you decided you could never love again," Agatha said, and yawned. "Been there, read that. You'll need to remove the dead dog from the book. Romance readers don't like animals being killed. Let's talk about the important details. Such as, when is the first time you two have sex in the story?"

Marcia glanced at John before staring at her shoes. "Well, not counting all the heated looks and erotic fantasies we have about each other, sort of on page five."

Agatha's eyebrows rose. "Page five?"

She nodded. "Right after my house explodes."

"We tell all of our backstory in flashbacks," John explained, "in between savage attacks, desperate car chases, Marcia's house exploding, other mystic but not too scary encounters with the netherworld, and bouts of increasingly passionate but non-consummated lovemaking."

"It'll all be in italics," Marcia assured Agatha, "and the page five thing? Is a quickie in the cloakroom at the Halloween party."

"It was not a quickie," John snapped. "I only do longies."

"Really." Marcia looked at the ceiling. "What do you want to call last night, then?"

John folded his arms. "I was tired."

The two began sniping at each other, until Agatha finally put two fingers in her mouth and whistled. "Enough. I'm only interested in the story. So you two meet at a Halloween party, and do the nasty in a closet, and then what?"

Marcia shifted uneasily. "You don't want to know about the very strange storm that blows up around the house while we're, you know, doing it?"

"Or what about the backstory of the soul-stealing diamond?" John asked anxiously. "It dates back to the time King Solomon had it dug up from his secret mines in ancient Egypt--"

"No diamond backstory," Agatha snapped. "Here's the deal. You two go home, tell your author that she needs to forget about all these useless details you're throwing at me and condense her story into a logical synopsis. It should tell me a little about you two, your conflicts and the other characters, but mainly it should chronicle everything that actually happens in the story. Save the rest of this stuff for the novel. Have her mail it to me when she's done and I'll look it over."

Marcia smiled hopefully as she and John stood. "Really?"

"Really. Now, if you don't mind, I have fifty other manuscripts I need to be reading," Agatha said, and gestured to the door.

"Thank you for the advice, Ms. Hartlace," John promised as he steered Marcia out of the office. "We won't let you down."

Agatha waited until they had left before she picked up the phone and called the legal department. "Prepare a standard two-book contract for a Temperance Rising. First novel titled Angel's Darkness. Paranormal romance." She listened for a moment. "No, don't date it yet. I haven't gotten a complete synopsis from the author." She listened again, and then chuckled. "Page five."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

RW: Quince

Before we dive into Reader Wednesday, one link I wanted to pass along for the back-to-schoolers and insatiably curious is Freeload Press, a web site devoted to making textbooks available for download at no or low cost. The book list they have is extensive, so check it out if you have a chance.

This week I am finally accepting the fact that I never had a sweet sixteen*. Yes, it's taken thirty years to get over that particular birthday, when I woke up, ran to the window and did not see a black Camaro with a big pink ribbon wrapped around it sitting in the driveway. At the time I knew my mom couldn't afford to get me a pair of skates, much less a car. Still, you always hold out hope for a mysterious rich uncle to show up on that day, with the brand new Camaro to make up for all the birthdays he missed.

Once Upon a Quinceañera ~ Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez is about another rite of passage birthday: the quince, or a Latina's fifteenth birthday. I don't often recommend nonfiction books, but this is one that is about so much more than a big whomping chick party at which the birthday girl wears a fluffy debutante gown and rhinestone tiara.

I grew up in South Florida, and my playmates were the American-born children of the first Cubans to escape Castro's regime. I envied my Latina girlfriends, because their quinceañeras made the most elaborate sweet sixteen parties -- and even some weddings -- look downright pitiful. No expense is spared, and it's not uncommon for parents to take out a second mortgage on their house to pay for a proper quince for a daughter.

I picked up this book out of idle curiosity -- as a teen I attended quinces for two of my friends. A lot of what went on completely mystified me (like the candle-lighting thing; I wondered if they were part Jewish.) I figured you had to be born Latina to understand the quince; Ms. Alvarez skillfully assures us that we don't. She documents one girl's quince, and talks about many others, and through observation and sharing some of her personal history, creates a fascinating, constantly-evolving portrait of the Latina in America.

We always talk about how Latinos are changing our country, but rarely about how our country has changed their people, beliefs and traditions. Young Latinas no longer have black-clad abuelitas and dueñas to safeguard them; they can't retreat to the safety of the convent or the arranged marriage. In American, these girls usually end up the bicultural rope tugged between their families and their friends, the old ways and modern life, tradition and individuality. And somewhere in there is the quince, the Cinderella birthday, when these girls become a princess for a night, and are considered women forever after.

Julia Alvarez tore down a lot of cultural and emotional walls that still exist between Latinas and non-Latinas with this book -- something that seems almost dangerous, given the subject matter. Militant feminists who burn Barbies, I will tell you upfront: this is not a book for you. But don't assume this is a fluffy celebration of the ultimate minority girl-fest. What Ms. Alvarez accomplishes with this book is a tribute to the hopes, dreams and realities of life shared by every generation of women, no matter what color our skin is, or what language we speak at home, or where our parents were born. We don't need those walls anymore, ladies.

As always, you don't have to take my word for it. In comments to this post, tell us which birthday made you feel that you'd finally grown up (or if that hasn't happened yet, just throw your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Friday, August 24, 2007. I'll draw three names at random from everyone who participates and send the winners an unsigned hardcover copy of Once Upon a Quinceañera ~ Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez, and a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

*The movie Sixteen Candles could have been a documentary of that birthday. Okay, I wasn't as pretty as Molly Ringwald, and I didn't have a Jake Ryan, but the gorgeous blonde sister getting married, geeky admirers and embarrassing, bathroom-hogging relatives? Totally my family.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Story Up

New Darkyn short story

Click on the cover art to download the .pdf version, or read it online at the fiction blog here.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Ten Things for Those Who SPAM Me

1. Auld Lang Asinine: If you're a publisher who couldn't be bothered to return my agent's phone calls about a submission of mine that you sat on during a year when I was living on ramen noodles and moonlighting as a malldrone in order to pay the rent, it's really not a good idea to SPAM me now with any promo on your new releases. I know you don't understand why, but just trust me on this one.

2. Con Proof: Whatever writer or reader conference you're organizing, running or guesting, the answer is no. To everything. Forever. You can't get me. Not for plane tickets and a free room, not for a speaking fee. Not because you can't get anyone else, not for the good of the industry. Not in a house, not with a mouse. Not here or there, not anywhere. I do not like your conference SPAM. I do not like it, SPAM I am.

3. Friendly Fire: If we were once friends but for whatever reason you've been dodging me and/or my e-mails for a period longer than 90 days, please resist the urge to put me on your newsletter mass mailing list and/or send your book junk mail to my house. Oddly enough I have not developed global amnesia, and I seriously doubt you can now classify me as your fan.

4. I Won't Fly One Thousand Miles: If you're an author who resides in a major metropolitan city over 500 miles from my home, please stop inviting me to every single public appearance you make, which is apparently ten every week. I did not subscribe to your mailing list, and I can't unsubscribe to it, either. Changing your e-mail return addies to get past my SPAM filter is really starting to piss me off, too.

5. Pedestal Pushers: If you're a writer who thinks your couple o' books career has elevated you to the status of literary giant, and you've thought up a new way to peddle this assumption along with your extremely short stack of novels while swindling money out of the internet reading public for stuff they can get for free elsewhere, please don't have your friend the garage-based publicist SPAM me for a mention on my blog. The mention will probably not be kindly.

6. Please: If you're a reviewer starting up a new web business that makes money off writers, mazel tov. Be advised that SPAMming me with a discount offer for your new service is just about the same thing as dangling a bloody hand in front of a starved Cheetah on a frayed elastic leash.

7. Re-zined: If you're starting up a new online e-zine but you have no venture cash and can't talk any reeeeelly beeeg name authors to give you a gratis piece, please don't go trawling the midlist for writers like me. Especially do not start your SPAM with, "I've never read any of your novels, but I saw one made the Publishers Weekly bestseller list. . ."

8. Strong Disarming: If you're an editor, and you've just forked out $200K for the right to publish the Next Sweet Young Writin' Thang, please do not try to wheedle a quote out of me by using the following enticements: "I know you will love her as much as I do" "A quote from you would thrill her to pieces" "You know how difficult it is to get a decent cover blurb these days" and especially "She's written the best [insert genre I write in] novel I've ever read!"

9. Vanity, Thy Name is Not Moi: If you produce any sort of plastic, useless, offensive or pricey writer promo widget, please accept the fact that I'm never ever ever going to be interested in buying one, much less five thousand. I do not need my bio pic photoshopped onto an example, either. I have enough nightmares, thank you.

10. You Don't Know Me, But . . . : If you're a colleague who has openly and loudly trashed me or my books in the past, but you have since switched genres and cleverly assumed a brandnew pseudonym, please don't send me a lofty-worded invite to blurb your new novel. Assume for one millisecond that I'm not as stupid as you think I am, and that the answer is blow me.

Upcoming this week on PBW, weather permitting:

August Biz post

John and Marcia, the Synopsis


. . . and other stuff, still in the works.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Ten

Ten Things from a Monday I was Offline

Freeware Caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.

1. Alien Speech text to speech freeware will read your text to you at the speed and pitch of your choosing.

2. Hands-on worldbuilding: create a virtual planet with weather, ecosystems and even disasters you introduce with Artificial Planet freeware.

3. Carabao Do-It-Yourself Machine Translation Kit freeware helps you create your own language.

4. Furnish freeware from BoConcept allows you to custom design the furnishings and layouts for all the rooms in your home (be it fictional or real.)

5. Find the perfect name for your character with the 26K+ available with HippoName freeware.

6. Get some free tile graphics made from natural images over at Nature's Mosaics.

7. ReadPal freeware "will take the text from your documents (Outlook, Microsoft Word, Text files and Web Pages) and display it to you in a format that is both easier and faster to read."

8. Poets, find the perfect end word for every line of verse with Rhyme freeware.

9. Said freeware is a random sentence generator that allows you to input your own word lists.

10. Scribe note-taking freeware was "designed especially with historians in mind...Scribe allows you to manage your research notes, quotes, thoughts, contacts, published and archival sources, digital images, outlines, timelines, and glossary entries...create, organize, index, search, link, and cross-reference your note and source cards...assemble, print, and export bibliographies, copy formatted references to clipboard, and import sources from online entire articles, add extended comments on each card in a separate field, and find and highlight a particular word within a note or article."

Saturday, August 18, 2007


After asking the magic hat to do something about keeping Hurricane Dean away from Alison Kent and our other friends on the Mexico/Texas side of the Gulf (because that's the kind of magic we really need later on this week), we had it produce the winners of the You Had Me At... giveaway, and they are:

Stacy S. (whose comment read For me it took 2 books by Julie Garwood. I'll read anything she writes.)

diane (whose comment read When I discover a new author I find it delightful and then I get all their books. One of these is Faye Kellerman. Great.)

ellie (whose comment read When I first read Laura Lippman I knew that I had to read all of her novels.)

Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to so I can get the book and the surprise out to you, and thanks to everyone for joining in.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Hurricane Dean is gathering strength, and in preparation we have to shift some family members and friends around and otherwise batten down the hatches, so there will be no Friday 20 this week.

Here we go again

I think we'll be okay here, as long as Dean doesn't loop around or take a big jog to the north. It's always so hard to tell what will happen with these storms in August. One minute we're fine, the next a couple million people are trying to get out of its path.

Some hurricane information links:

The American Red Cross has a page here on preparing for a hurricane.

South Florida Sun-Sentinel -- Their Hurricane Headquarters section has the latest local info, as well as tracking and satellite maps.

The National Hurricane Center -- where to find the most up-to-date advisories on the storm.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


This morning I'm over at author John Baker's blog, talking about the phases involved when I create a text. If you have a chance, check out John's sidebar archives too; he has a bunch of posts featuring some very interesting writers discussing their methods. My favorite is Winston Churchill.

Politicians often have ghost writers pen their memoirs (a friend of mine sends me Josh Marshall's column, in which he often rants about this.) When I was younger, I wrote corporate copy for executives, sermons for ministers and (surprise) speeches for some local minor politicians. It's funny how interchangeable they are.

If you could pick one politician or public figure you'd like to see write a book (of any variety), who would it be? My vote goes to General Peter Pace; I think he should write a nonfic history on how gays have been treated while serving their country in the military. All right, that was a little mean. Condoleezza Rice, then, writing an interracial romance. Could convince publishers to stop segregating AA authors. But would it be fiction or nonfiction?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

RW: You Had Me At . . .

Liz Carlyle, Anne McCaffrey and Martin Cruz Smith did it in three books; Jane Austen, Mark Kurlansky and Rosina Lippi all accomplished it in one. The quickest, Linda Howard, did it in ten pages. On the other hand, it took Stephen King, Robert Silverberg and Alan Dean Foster at least ten tries each.

That's how many books by these authors that it took to convince me to collect their entire works and/or buy whatever they wrote in the future.

There's no logic to how it happens, but sometimes I think a bit of luck with reading order is involved. Anne McCaffrey had me after I'd read Get Off the Unicorn, Crystal Singer, and Powers That Be , in that order. I don't think it would have happened if I'd read any of the Pern novels first, though; all of those dragons would have sent me running in the opposite direction.

Of the authors I collect, Liz Carlyle is probably the only one I met in person before I read her work. We bumped into each other at a conference booksigning and chatted for a while. At that point I'd pretty much given up on reading historical romance, but I really liked Liz's personality. Talking with her made me curious to see how she handled story. Three books later, I cleared off a shelf for her novels.

How long did it take for one of your favorite writers to win you over as a collector of their work? Let us know in comments to this post (or, if you have no favorite authors, just throw your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Friday, August 17, 2007. I'll draw three names at random from everyone who participates, and send the winners an unsigned copy of Linda Howard's new hardcover novel, Up Close and Dangerous plus a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


"To avoid having this book hurled into corner of the room by the suspicious reader, I will assert in time that this is not a newspaper story. You will encounter no shirt-sleeved, omniscient city editor, no prodigy "cub" reporter just off the farm, no scoop, no story--no anything.

But if you will concede me the setting of the first scene in the reporters' room of the Morning Beacon, I will repay the favor by keeping strictly my promises set forth above." -- O. Henry, No Story

I've always loved the way O. Henry started off this piece by deliberately making a pact with his reader. I will not hand you a lot of cardboard characters, he says, and you will forgive me for setting this in a place that breeds them. It's also a kind of warning to those readers who do expect the omniscent city editor-cub reporter-scoop sort of story: this, O. Henry says upfront, isn't it.

I remembered the O. Henry piece when I noticed that Kensington's Aphrodisia line has an easy-to-read caption on the back cover of their novels, right above the ISBN box that reads WARNING! This is a REALLY HOT book. (Sexually Explicit). I don't understand the last two words. Would we presume that REALLY HOT meant something else, like high-temperature, or stolen?

We've already done our own riff on warning labels, but if we could still get away with opening a novel by making a pact with the reader, I could imagine restarting a few of my stories, like so:

"To avoid having you waste $7.99 on this science fiction novel, please be advised that it does contain a continuing subplot icky romance between the protagonist and her lover, a character pretty much everyone hates. To you romance readers who have bravely jumped over the genre fence, I will not kill off Reever in this book or in the next, no matter how many times you e-mail me."

"To prevent you from having a hissy fit, I will assert that this is not a romance, was never a romance, and will never be a romance. I am not responsible for my publisher's erroneous marketing decisions, especially those I advised against, in the most vigorous language, many times. They told me to shut up and write books. P.S. You will encounter realistic relationships between characters who have serious flaws, but there is no happy ending, either. Deal with it."

"To knock you on your ass because you haven't a clue, this novel was ghost-written by me. What can I say, they offered me a pittance and I jumped at the chance to work. Starvation makes one do many strange things. I know all the starred reviews and stellar writeups this book got are upsetting, but we can pretend that I didn't write it. That way no one will ever know you gave me five stars for this when you swore you'd trash every book I write for eternity."

What sort of pact opening would you make with your reader?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Artfully Ten

Ten Things for the Art Blog Lovers

1. Art Tea Life blog offers mixed media art, experiments and many great links.

2. Lisa Hoffman's blog features her very creative work as well as posts about other artists and art resources.

3. Nothing to do the day before TGIF? Check out the weekly create segment over at Inspire Me Thursday.

4. Anahata Katkin's blog has art, great links and woo-woo, too.

5. Even dollmakers have blogs -- stop in and see Nicol Sayre's.

6. Stamp artists can pick up a new challenge every Wednesday at Wednesday Stamper/Mittwochstempler.

7. Posy is written by an English teacher and homemaker who sews, treasure hunts, crochets, gardens and re-paints the furniture. She posts wonderful photos, too.

8. I gained at least five pounds while wandering around Alicia Paulson's Posie Gets Cozy.

9. Artist Patti Van Dorin features other guest artists on her blog, River Bend Ranch.

10. Author, illustrator and guerilla artist Keri Smith, who created one of the journals I gave away during the virtual workshops, has a blog: The Wish Jar.

All of the above links found in the premiere issue of Artful Blogging magazine.

Upcoming this week on PBW:

Nothing planned for once, as I feel a tsunami surge of parody, satire and surprises coming on. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Day at the Bakery

Mary reported for her job at three a.m. that hot June morning. She wasn't scheduled to start work until five, but competition for the few jobs at Prunella's Cake Bakery had become fierce. If she didn't put in extra unpaid hours, Prunella would fire her and replace her with younger bakers willing to work for half the pay.

"Morning, Mary," Joss said as he carried a pan of his specialty designer mini-tarts to the cooling racks. Joss had been coming in at 2 a.m. because his adorable, tasty little gems hadn't been moving very well lately. "Ready to make cake?"

"Always." Mary chugged the last of her coffee, tied on her apron and went to work. She mixed three new recipes she had practiced on at home for weeks: a white German chocolate ganache, a ten-layer cherry-vanilla torte, and a brazo de gitano made with peaches and cream instead of oranges.

The other bakers straggled in and went to work. Some came to talk to Mary while they surreptitiously checked out her cakes. Others pulled screens into place around their tables so she wouldn't see what they were working on. One nosy cake maker argued with her about her audacity in changing the recipe for the brazo de gitano. Joss obliged Mary by sampling the ganache and pronouncing it to die for.

At six a.m., just as her bakers were preparing the last of the racks to go out into the shop, their employer arrived. The scowling woman's breast implants bobbed and her diamond earrings sparkled as she shrugged out of her furs and stomped through the kitchen.

Prunella surveyed the results of the bakers' hours and hours of hard work. "Where are the fruitcakes? The chocolate cream pies? The marbled cheesecakes? That's what everyone is buying over at Bruno's cake bakery -- or are you idiots too dim to keep tabs on what's selling?"

No one replied. Experience had taught them that Prunella didn't want honest, or any, responses.

"I swear, I'm going to go broke," Prunella grumbled as eyed Joss. "Joss Carter, I was going to cut you a paycheck for those pathetic tarts of yours that you sold back in December. But I had to dock you for the five thousand we haven't sold since then. You owe me seven hundred dollars. I'll just take it out of your paycheck until we're even."

"I have to be paid something!" Joss protested. "You only pay me a penny a tart as it is. I can't live on air!"

"You should have married a rich girl," Prunella advised. "And then you wouldn't have to bake for a living. At which you suck, by the way."

"You're an insane, greedy bitch. I don't have to take this kind of abuse." Joss took off his apron and stormed out.

"Mary," Prunella said softly, "get me the call sheet for all the other bakers. I want to make sure Joss never bakes another tart in this town again." She pulled up a chair to the work table, loaded it with cupcakes, and then looked around at her staff. "Why are you standing around?" She took a big bite out of one cake. "Get out on the floor and sell something before I go bankrupt!"

Mary dreaded the sales part of her job. She would rather bake liver-and-onion casseroles for eternity than get out on the floor and try to convince customers to buy her cakes. But Prunella insisted that business was terrible, and that the bakers had to help sell the stock or work elsewhere. Mary prepared a plate of samples, put on a fresh apron and went out onto the sales floor.

As soon as the doors opened, customers crowded into the shop. Some were regulars and bought their usual orders. A few were new to the bakery and sampled several cakes before buying the ones they liked best. But the majority of the customers came to scarf up the free samples from the trays before they left without buying anything.

A large, fat man in a loud suit waddled over to Mary and eyed her tray. "What's all this?" After Mary described the cakes, he clucked his tongue and took out a notebook. "You're not going to sell very much. Peach cakes are too strange, and that cherry-vanilla torte should be iced, not glazed. No one will want that ridiculous white German chocolate ganache, either." He looked her over. "You might sell a few more if you'd do something with your hair, and open a few of the buttons on that blouse."

"Have you ever baked a cake, sir?" Mary asked politely.

The man laughed as Prunella joined them and handed him a stack of cake boxes. "Why bake a cake when you can get it for free? You should read my column this week -- I'm going to print an excerpt of my new baking guide. Read it and learn what all you little bakers SHOULD be baking." He left the shop.

"I hope you didn't say anything to offend Fat Larry," Prunella hissed. "He's the most important food critic in the city. He just got a huge book deal, too."

"I just asked him if he'd ever baked a cake," Mary said.

"Oh, my God. Fat Larry is going to crucify me for this." Prunella slapped her. "He doesn't HAVE to bake cakes, you stupid little bitch. When will you learn to keep your mouth shut?" She stormed back into the kitchen.

All the bakers stopped selling and turned to stare at Mary. Most quickly turned their backs and continued offering their trays to the customers, but one came over to whisper her sympathy.

"You should change your recipes to what Fat Larry likes," the other baker suggested. "If he wants icing, give him icing."

"But that will make the torte too sweet," Mary argued. "I don't think he knows anything about baking cakes."

The other baker sighed. "When did that ever matter?"

Mary finished out the morning, emptying several sample trays, listening to housewives and caterers criticizing her work, and selling a few tortes. She gave away what hadn't sold, hoping to tempt some of the customers into coming back and buying one of her cakes another day.

At home that night, Mary took a bath, nuked a Lean Cuisine and sat at her table working on new recipes and checking her sales figures. She had moved enough cakes to pay for the ones that hadn't sold, plus a few extra. If she ate mac and cheese and didn't turn on the air conditioning, she might be able to make the rent this month.

She couldn't put icing on the torte, though. Not even for the potential praise from Fat Larry.

There were other jobs she could work -- and might have to, part-time, if she wanted to stay in the cake business. But making cakes was all she had dreamed about her entire life, and she couldn't imagine doing anything else. The kitchen was her home, and the mixing bowl her palette. Someday she would make a cake so wonderful that it would sell like, well, hotcakes.

Mary took a small piece of ganache she had saved from her tray out of her purse. It had gotten a little smushed by an indifferent housewife's elbow, so no one had wanted it. She nibbled at it, ruefully aware that her finances were so bad that she couldn't even buy one of her own cakes from the bakery. The fact was she could have her cake, or eat it, not both.

But such was the life of a baker.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

This, That and the Other Thing

Someone finally put together Freeware Wiki, for those of you who are interesting in finding, posting or reviewing the freeware available on the internet. They have a page started for freeware warnings, too.

One of you (you know who you are) asked me to hunt down the link to the 36 + 1 story situations, but you couldn't remember the name of the host. It was Julia West, and here you go.

For those who need a jumpstart, laugh or a customized prompt when they turn on the computer, check out Smart Bee freeware.

To amuse your muse: has a fill-in-the-blanks verse generator, e-muse, that actually produces some neat verse.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday 20

I have to thank author Dawn Thompson, who doesn't know me from Adam but still won a charity bet for me with the title of her new paranormal romance, The Brotherhood. A very nice donation will go out to the Make-A-Wish foundation, courtesy of my opponent, who probably won't scoff at my powers as the Trend Oracle any more.

Today I'd also like to discuss the future of the Friday 20. I started this weekly Q&A feature about a year and a half ago, as an evolved form of the old Friday night Think Tank chat sessions I used to moderate over at Offering ideas on how to tackle writing- and publishing-related problems is fun for me, and I hope has proven helpful to you.

This week, I'd like you to answer some questions:

Should I keep the Friday 20 feature on PBW?

Are there any ways I can make it better?

Would you rather have a new focus topic each week, or keep it open for any?

Would you be interested in having some guest authors stop by to answer your questions?

There's one more problem with this feature that I'd like to resolve. Whatever we post here can be read by anyone, and as you've seen some people who come here are not our friends or colleagues. If you have a sensitive question that can in any way be used as ammunition against you, don't post it. Send it to me at with a subject line of Private Comment, and I'll answer it via e-mail.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


The winners of the PBWisms contest are:

Funniest: Trace, for nailing me and my constant speeding:

"I brainstormed, outlined and wrote my newest upcoming release today. That makes 47 for the year, which isn't bad, considering that it's only July. But I think I'll really have to buckle down and get cracking from now on. I'm adding a few more genres after all, and these books won't write themselves, will they?"

Most Unlikely: Darlene Ryan, who zeroed in on the one thing I will never, ever do again:

"In comments write your suggestion for the design of a bookmark for my upcoming release, Evermore. 10,000 copies of the winning design will be printed."

Best in Contest: Bonnie R., who may impersonate me whenever she likes:

"I went out to the porch this morning and found the Borg had moved into our birdhouse. Now I want the chick-eating snakes back."

Ladies, please send your bookwish and your ship-to address to so I can get your selection and your surprise out to you, and thanks to everyone who joined in.

Anyone Order a Phoenix?

The Dragon has at last risen from the ashes of the old Windows meltdown, so PBW is back in business. You may break out the champagne or, if you started celebrating last week, you can put it away now.

I appreciate the many offers of help and the supportive comments you posted. You guys are the best.

While we were tinkering with things, Tom offered to solve a few more problems by moving the blog elsewhere. I was tempted, especially because he would do all the work. I decided to stick it out here because it is simple for me to use, and accessible to everyone. The day I have to password my blog or make it members-only, I'm shutting it down.

Not being able to blog also gave me time to think about PBW and what I'd like to do with it in the future. We'll probably discuss this again as I waffle and dither around about some of the new directions I'm considering, but there definitely will be some changes down the line. Before the Dragon blew up I did take comments off moderation so you can post freely again (I still reserve the right to bonsai any SPAM or troll comments.)

It's getting late here, so I'll catch up on posting the PBWisms winners and other things in the morning. Thanks for hanging in with me.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pardon Our Dust

Tom and I have been trying to iron out some communication problems and last night I had to uninstall the Dragon and my IP software. Which now will not reload. I can do a few things from my handheld (like this post) but until we resolve the problems PBW will also be down for a time. We'll figure it out and get things up and running as quickly as possible. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Sub Ops

8th Annual Writer's Digest Short Story Competition: Length: 1,500 words or less, deadline December 3, 2007. Entry fee: $12.00 Prizes: $3,000.00 first place, $1,500.00 second place, $500.00 third place, $100.00 fourth through tenth place, $50.00 gift certificate for WD books eleventh through twenty-fifth place. Electronic sub okay.

LAKE, South Lake and V Magazines: (applicant must be a resident of Lake or Sumter County, Florida) Seeking writers and a staff photographer. Letter of application, resume and sample of your writing to Diana Faherty, Executive Editor, English Communications, Inc. P.O. Box 498866, Leesburg, FL 34749.

On The Premises: Promotes new and unpublished writers, annual contests, no entry fees. First place $130.00; contest rules here; current contest details here deadline September 30, 2007. Electronic submissions only.

The Crisis: NAACP publication, civil rights, politics, African-American history and culture. Length: Nonfic to 3K. Contact: Crisis Publishing Co., Inc. 7600 Georgia Avenue N.W. Ste 405, Washington, DC 20012. Also seeking applications for Editor-in-chief and Sernior Advertising Sales Rep

The Kean Review: "The Kean Review, a new intellectual journal, seeks writing of every sort (including humor, layman's science, nature writing, memoir, etc.) for inaugural issue. Metropolitan NJ/NYC focus or inflections especially welcome. Poetry to 10 pages; scripts to 15; prose to 5000 words. PDF file to or paper to Kean Review, Kean University, Union, NJ 07083. Manuscripts not returned."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

RW: Holiday Wishlist

Every summer I started preparing for the winter holidays. I work on handmade gifts all year long, but I usually do my shopping from now until October, and have everything bought, wrapped and tucked away by Thanksgiving. It feeds my obsessive need to be organized, but it also frees me up from having to battle the holiday shopping crowds so I can bake, decorate and hang out with the kids during their vacation.

To celebrate the holidays here at PBW I'll be doing my usual giveaways, but I'd also like to put together something for all my readers. An e-book is the most practical gift, as I can get that to everyone. In years past I've published collections of short stories or series tie-in novellas that were fairly popular.

My question to the readers this week is: what would you like to read in a holiday gift e-book from me? Short stories, a novella, SF, dark fantasy, romance, a holiday-related story? Or something completely different? I've never published Caine and Moriah's story from the last Jessica Hall trilogy, that's one possibility. I could put together some of the unpublished Darkyn or StarDoc short stories. Or do a multi-genre collection with a little bit of everything in it.

I'm open to all suggestions, and I'd appreciate some feedback, so if you like anything I've mentioned or have something else in mind, please post your idea in comments.