Saturday, February 28, 2009
(if you want to win a RITA)
Buy the condoms in advance and carry them in her purse and slap one in the hero's hand as soon as they step into the bedroom.
Once the romance heroine has wrestled for a couple hundred pages over the dilemma of whether or not to have sex with the hero, a discreet amount of condoms may magically appear in the drawer of her night table. The presence of these pre-purchased condoms must be explained as a joke gift from the heroine's older divorced sister or the younger girls at the office who want her to start dating before she becomes a dried up old spinster. Please do not have the heroine actually handle the condoms, either.
Go to the bathroom in front of the reader.
Romance heroines only visit the bathroom offstage where they cannot be seen or heard, and only once or at the most twice during the novel. The act must not be referred to by the heroine as peeing or urinating; the heroine never discusses her bathroom functions out loud but is permitted to think about it momentarily as something nice and ladylike, such as "relieving her needs." Heroines do not have bowel movements. At. All. And while the heroine must never be observed in the act or flushing afterward, she must never, ever, ever forget to flush.
Have sex with another woman.
Romance heroines are 100% hetero. When the heroine encounters a lesbian, she must not realize that the other woman is homosexual until the lesbian volunteers this information (which every lesbian in romance fiction must do, preferably during the first five minutes of meeting the heroine.) After that the heroine should be polite and kind but distant, just so it's clear she's not "that way" and the lesbian doesn't get the wrong idea, which of course all lesbians are prone to do around beautiful heterosexual women.
Have sex with the antagonist.
Unless he's her hateful and infertile former husband, with whom sex should be just a horrible memory, the only person the romance heroine has sex with is the hero. The antagonist may attempt to force her to have sex with him, but this must be stopped by the hero before it goes too far. Also, the heroine must never, ever consider the antagonist handsome or sexually attractive, even if he is -- there always has to be something about him that sets off her inner villain radar and makes her shudder whenever he is near or looks at her.
Kill an animal.
Animals are sacred, only behave according to their nature, and must be protected from death in romance novels at all times. The romance heroine may take in and rescue as many animals as she likes, but she must never cause harm to any animal at all ever ever ever. Even an animal that is rabid and attacking the heroine has its reasons and should be caught by the hero and taken offstage to an animal control officer to be dealt with humanely where the reader can't see.
Not have an orgasm with the hero.
All romance heroines have orgasms with their heroes every time they have sex, preferably of the multiple variety, and absolutely the best she's ever had, or would have had if she had ever had sex with anyone else (other than a hateful and infertile former husband, who was also a lousy selfish underendowed lover and never lasted more than two minutes.)
Refuse to procreate.
Once she has a ring on her finger, the romance heroine must bear her hero's children. If she's had past fertility issues, they are only a terrible lie told to her by her hateful and infertile former husband to hide the fact that the problem was his. On the latter, she must find out the lie only when the hero gets her pregnant, preferably the first time they have sex. A heroine never adopts children or takes in foster children, but she must instantly fall in love with the very young children of a tragically widowed hero; said children will also love the heroine on first sight and insist on calling her "Mama."
Shave her head.
Romance heroines must have a thick, luxurious head of hair of an extraordinary 100% natural color with no silver or white strands whatsoever. A heroine is not allowed to make use of wigs, hair pieces or hair extensions, and she must never dye her hair unless she is on the run for her life from her hateful and infertile former husband who wants her dead, and then the dye should be only a temp that she can wash out later when the hero rescues her from danger. The only time a heroine is allowed to lose her hair is during chemo (which of course must instantly and completely cure her cancer) and then only if it grows back exactly as it was or better in two weeks or as she's discharged from the hospital, whichever comes first.
Swear when she's angry.
A romance heroine does not use swear words. In fact, simply hearing swear words must shock the heroine and make her feel faint or nauseated. When she is angry, a heroine may stamp her foot, toss her head, lift her chin or become flushed (the body movements are important because all decent romance heroines are rendered incoherent or speechless by anger.)
Treat gay men like every other man.
Gay men make excellent substitutes for the romance heroine's absent girlfriends, or may serve as quirky neighbors, last-minute shopping partners, over-the-phone fashion advisors, and in a pinch great platonic dates for parties, but they must be laughed at, joked with and never taken seriously by the heroine, who must save her respect for, you know, real men.
This post was brought to you by: The Committee to Clean Up Romance Novels, Force Out Those Awful Erotica Writers, and Restore Our Beloved Genre to Its Former Pristine Glory, Not Counting All Those 70's and 80's Books We Don't Approve of Anymore and Pretend We Never Read, RWA chapter #907654
Friday, February 27, 2009
We put the magic hat to work, and the winners are:
nicswette, whose comment began with I thought that Larissa Ione's first Demonica book "Pleasure Unbound" was thrilling.
Amy, whose comment began with I thought Robin's pink book was fabulous (I'm another person who spotted it by the cover - when my eyes started tearing, I knew I had the right book). (This comment also made me laugh so hard I almost gave myself a stitch, thanks, Amy.)
Winners, please send your full name and ship-to information to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get these packages out to you. My thanks to everyone for joining in.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Chimercana Books has an open call for submissions for Chimeraworld #6, an anthology for "...stories depicting THE WORLD AFTER THE COMING REVOLUTION, as mankind returns to a life stripped of Capitalism and Mass Media Propaganda. Is this a worse or a better world, without the Google-fuelled glare of the bankers dictating every move you make? I want insane stories about a travelling life, a journey through real freedom. I want uncensored stories about chaos, uncertainty and anarchy. I want enlightening stories about how the world deals with no money, no banks and no business loans." (Before you submit definitely read all the editor's notes on the guidelines page.) Pays £10.00 UK (approx $20.00 U.S.) Length: 2-4K only. No reprints, electronic subs only, deadline when filled.
Hadley Rille Books has a open call for submissions for Destination: Future, a SF anthology to be edited by Z.S. Adani and Eric T. Reynolds. Wants SF stories, particularly hard SF, alien worlds, space operas, alien encounters, quests and exploration (not interested in fantasy, AH, horror or steampunk for this antho.) Pays 3 cents per word plus shared royalties. Length: 3-6K. No reprints, electronic subs only, opens March 1, 2009 (do not submit before that date.)
Ink Oink Art Inc. (say that six times really fast, I dare you) has an open call for submissions for Escape Clause their first annual antho of spec fic. Wants: short fiction (2-5K) and poems up to 50 lines max. Pays: $200 CA for stories and $50 CA for poems. Would like to see: "...character-driven pieces; for whimsical, absurdist, elegant, horrific, heart-felt, energetic, sad, scary pieces; for hard sf, sf with a bit of give in it, fantasy, and everything in between. Pick one or all of the above. If you have put your heart into it, we want to see it. Just respect the word limits." No reprints, electronic subs only, deadline: March 15, 2009.
Circlet Press has an open call for submissions for Like a Sacred Desire, an e-anthology of "sex magick: stories: "We are seeking stories that think outside the box of physical gratification as a means of manifestation. Think words of power, abstinence as a means of building up energy, invoking Gods and Goddesses often thought of as dark such as Baphomet, Kali or Lilith. Themes can include destruction and rebirth, healing the self, binding of a slave to a Master, pasts remembered and futures conceived. Surprise us. Turn us on and intoxicate us." Pays $25 (+$25 if it goes to print.) Length: 4-7K (not firm). No reprints, electronic submissions only, reading period opens March 1, 2009 (do not submit before that date), deadline April 1, 2009.
Circlet Press also has an open call for submissions for Like Clockwork, a steampunk erotica e-anthology. "We’re making a sequel to Like a Wisp of Steam, Circlet’s landmark steampunk erotica anthology. We liked what we received for that collection so much, we want to see more! Here’s your chance to explore the world of corsets and goggles, airships and weird science, all with a sexy twist." (If you want to see what they printed in Like a Wisp of Steam, it's available to purchase and download.) Pays $25. Length 4-7K. No reprints, electronic submissions only, reading period opens March 1, 2009 (do not submit before that date), deadline April 1, 2009.
NVH Publishing, "Publishing New Voices In Horror, Dark fiction, & Fantasy" is looking for horror, dark fiction and fantasy novels (SF with horror elements okay.) Pays 60% net for first six months, then 100%. Length: 40-100k. No reprints, electronic subs only. See submission guidelines for more details.
Shadowfire Press wants novels for e-book publication, all genres or romance (prefers erotic) also publishes SF, fantasy, horror and mystery. Pays: 40% net. Length: varies. Query on reprints, electronic submissions only, see submissions guidelines for more details.
Sonar4Publications is looking for SF and horror novels, novellas and single-author anthos. Payment: no advance, 60% of net. Length: varies. Rights note: after sale, this publisher will own the electronic rights as well as have deciding control over the print rights, so be sure you want to give that up before you sub. Reprints okay, electronic subs only, see submission guidelines for more details.
The New Bedlam Project specfic webzine is looking for fiction and poetry in most genres. Pays 1 cent per word to a max of $20. Length: 75-6k for fiction, and poems up to 40 lines. No reprints, Electronic subs only. See submission guidelines for more details.
All of the above sub ops were found over while cruising through the many wonderful market listings at Ralan's Place.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The Economical Writer
Most writers are already masters of economizing; we usually know where to get the paper, toner and office supplies at the lowest prices. I still recycle my old draft stories and manuscripts by turning them over and printing out new material on the blank side of the pages, and whenever possible I send out things via e-mail versus snail mail to save postage and shipping. My B&W laser printer may not be glamorous or cutting-edge tech, but it's dependable and allows me to make as many copies as I want for half the price a copy service would charge.
I can't say enough good things about the move toward electronic copy-editing that NY is doing. I may gripe about the problems involved (and I just did a few days ago) but what I like most is not paying $95 to overnight a copy-edited manuscript back to NY. Which is what it would have cost me for the last one if we'd done it on the hard copy. Whenever possible, send as much as you can to your editor and agent via e-mail or electronic copy.
I think promotional materials, ad space, mail outs, blog and web site hosting, travel expenses, conference fees and hotel rooms are probably the average pro writer's biggest expenses. Even the writers who are not yet published can still spend a great deal of money if they regularly attend writer conferences and events. None of these things are necessary to do our job, but I won't try to persuade anyone to give them up just yet. What I hope to do is encourage writers to try alternatives.
Promotional materials, ad space and mail outs -- these all cost a bundle, and once they're distributed and used up they have to be purchased again. Consider how much you'd pay to have 100,000 people take a good look at your work, and then hand them a copy of your backlist. That's what I've been doing for the last year, and it hasn't cost me a penny. All it took was posting my free stories and novels on
If you're bound and determined to pay for your advertising, think about partnering with another writer or two and doing some group promotion, ads, mail outs, etc. You can split the costs two or three ways and still do the same thing.
Blog and web site hosting -- you get what you pay for, yes? Paperback Writer costs me nothing. Zero. It's a free blog. It's always been a free blog. And while I'm sure all those gadgets and doodads writers get with their expensive blog/web site hosting service are fun to play with, they aren't necessary for a successful online presence. Great content, not fancy bells and whistles, are what bring visitors back for more.
Again, if you'd rather keep your pricey site, again consider bringing in some other authors, doing a group site and splitting the costs.
Travel expenses, conference fees and hotel rooms -- if you're a writer and you're going to writer conferences to market your books, you're not marketing to readers. You're marketing to other writers. Unless you're a member of RWA, which I think has a 9 to 1 ratio of unpubbed to pubbed writers, this is just a waste of time. The $2000.00 you spend for the privilege of hobnobbing with the big names and signing maybe a dozen books at the charity book signing at a single con could be spent instead on an entire year of giveaways of your books to readers at your (hopefully free) weblog or web site.
Should you still want to go, go to reader conferences. RT is the big one for romance writers; I hear these comic cons are great for SF, fantasy and UF writers. Also look for conferences that are within driving distance of your home or within a day's travel by car versus the ones you have to buy an $800.00 plane ticket to get to.
Something I always advise unpubbed writers do to save conference $$$: make it a rule from now on that for every writers conference you attend, you write, finish and submit one new manuscript. Otherwise, what's the point?
And before anyone says "But if I don't do this stuff I'll never be a successful writer." I'm a successful writer, and I don't do any of that stuff. You're looking at all of what I do, right here.
What are some of the creative ways you writers out there are economizing? Let us know in comments.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Desire Unchained is the second installment in author Larissa Ione's Demonica series, and although it's been six months since I read the first novel, Pleasure Unbound, I had no trouble remembering the characters, the series premise, or picking up the storyline.
Desire Unchained offers two strong protagonists, a large and interesting cast of characters, and an earthy, dark fantasy adventure that pulls a double shift as both a paranormal romance and urban fantasy. The cover art is gorgeous and appropriate to the story, something I'm allowed to sigh in envy over.
If plots were thrill rides, this book would be a hybrid combo of Shriekra and Space Mountain. The writing is pure adrenalin rush -- you're sucked in on page one and she never lets you go after that. It's difficult to write a story that moves as quickly as this one does and still retain the chilling elements as well as the ongoing moments of dark humor. Larissa manages all three with the skill of a seasoned novelist (pretty cool when you recall that this is her second solo novel.)
Desire Unchained is a full immersion experience -- it can't be skimmed; the story is infused with the kind of world-building that creates a new alternative reality. Everything in this book is layered beautifully, especially the characters -- just when you think you've got them pegged, they reveal something about themselves that makes you wonder what the heck you were thinking. If you're a reader who prefers the black and white type story, with the obligatory Shining Knight, Mary Sue and Evil Overlord triumvirate, then you should probably give this one a pass. Also, vanilla, non-explicit sex scene lovers? No. Not for you.
I really enjoyed the energy coming off the page; you can tell the author had a blast writing it. I also liked the strong subplot that carries over from the first novel with Kynan (but you don't need to read the first book to pick up this thread; Larissa does an admirable job with weaving in the backstory.) The excerpt in the back from the third book, Passion Unleashed should have everyone who enjoys Desire Unchained preordering as soon as they finish the book.
If I can offer any advice to the author, it's for a problem that I wrestle with, too: adding more descriptive and sensory elements. The story in Desire Unchained moves so strongly that at times the action and the dialogue overwhelmed the setting and the colors of this world. I'd like to say I have a quick-fix suggestion for that, but I'm also a dialogue-and-action girl, so it's an ongoing combat situation. What I've been doing is trying to look for more opportunities for fleshing out a scene with color and sensory elements when I edit; at times doing a pass just for those aspects because I know they're an area I need to improve on.
As always, you don't have to take my word for it. In comments to this post, name a book you've read recently that you thought was a real thrill ride (or if you've been thrill-deprived, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Thursday, February 26, 2009. I'll draw five names at random and send the winners an unsigned copy of Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.
Wait for It
In the meantime I'm heading off to see a man about some sand. See you all tomorrow when the blasted thing works again.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Book Making Ten
Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.
Blurb.com offers BookSmart*, a free software program you download and use to create a book from your photo and text files before you upload it to them and order however many copies you want printed (and their prices aren't bad.) The software also allows you to print out a copy of the book yourself, but the pages are produced only one per page and watermarked in the background with "For Proofreading Only." (Registration required, OS: Windows XP/Vista, Mac OSX)
For making a simple book cover online that you can print out, head over at ReadWriteThink.org's Book Cover Creator (yes, it's for kids, but we won't tell them we're grownups.)
Gordon Reynolds' Book Format freeware "takes a file of text and reformats a version of it in such a way that the pages printed can be put together as a book after being printed out from a standard A4 printer" (OS: Windows 95/98)
If you'd like to make some chapbooks (they're not just for poets anymore) check out Stacie Naczelnik's excellent online tutorial How to Make a Chapbook ~ an Illustrated, Step-by-Step Guide.
The Printable Notebook freeware allows you to organize your data and then print it out in notebook format.
Generate your own Romance Novel Cover.
The latest version of Seaside Soft Book Manager freeware allows you to create virtual books with graphics and music.
For some tips on the reality of self-pubbing, read Morris Rosenthal's article Self Publishing and Printing Your Own Book.
Good book-making advice can be found in Daiya.Mvps.org's article So You Want to Write a Book with MS Word.
Our blogpal Simon Haynes's yBookMaker freeware allows you to publish your own e-books (to be read with yReader.)
*I tried this myself because I'm interested in self-publishing a print novel, and they'll print as few as 1 copy of whatever you upload. I'd also rather handle all the typesetting and page layouts myself, so I like having total control over the final product. BookSmart ran very slow on Vista and also shut down on me the first three times I used it -- but on the upside it did save my work automatically each time and was pretty simple to use. I'm going to check out a couple more POD printers before I make up my mind, but I'll keep you guys updated if/when I decide what I'm going to do.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
After receiving all the great recs you guys made about how to spend my money at the bookstore, I printed out the list of comments and took a long look at them.
First I crossed out the titles that I'd already read (seven), that I already had on order with B&N.com (five), or authors who for whatever reason I will not read or no longer read (Who Shall Remain Nameless.) Once that was done, I took the rest of the list with me to BAM and started hunting them down on the shelves.
I spent an hour at BAM and then went over to Borders (which has a slightly better romance section.) Basically I browsed around and looked at the different titles, and if I wasn't sure I read a few pages. Some appealed to me instantly; others just weren't my cup of tea. Some I bought on impulse. A lot of the books on the list simply weren't in the store.
Between the two stores I picked up fifteen books, three of which I had planned to buy before I asked you all for recs (these I marked below with a *). The rest I bought for a bunch of different reasons, starting with the fact they were actually in the bookstore (can't buy what isn't there.)
What I hauled home, and why:
Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews -- Di, Shiloh and Booklover all mentioned the author, and someone who gets that many recs should be test-driven.
Bone Crossed by Patricia Briggs -- I didn't know the new Mercy book was out, that's how oblivious I've been. I also thought I had this pre-ordered, but if I did I can always pass along the extra copy.
The Woods by Harlan Coban -- I haven't read anything by him in a while; I haven't been in much of a mystery or crime fiction mood, either. I'm sure Harlan will shake me out of it.
Kiss of Fate by Deborah Cooke -- I almost passed on this because it has dragons in it, and I'm not what you'd call a (cough) dragon lover. But I'm trying to be more adventurous, and evidently the dragons are shape shifters, so maybe they'll stay in other-than-dragon form. I can always hope, right?
Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie & Pals* -- I did plan to buy this one anyway later on this month when the moon is waxing and I have a priest bless the house. Okay, if all of you could purchase Stay the Night with that radioactive pink cover, I can chance some bad luck and buy one adorned in evil yellow. But I'm putting a book cover around it tonight. Just to be safe.
Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione* -- Had planned to buy this in March but it's out early. Or I had the wrong release date written down. Or they ignored the author's laydown date. My head hurts.
My Wicked Enemy and Scandal by Carolyn Jewel -- Honestly I'm not sure how I ended up with two Carolyn Jewels; I only meant to buy one. Maybe Scandal jumped in my tote when I wasn't looking.
A Long, Hard Ride by Alison Kent* -- Another planned buy; and I bought all the copies they had at BAM because I know I'll need extras.
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning -- I picked up this one because I liked the cover. Hey, sometimes I just like the cover. Amie's glowing rec also helped.
Dark Protector by Alexis Morgan -- I like books that have a doctor character in them. Also very well-written cover copy on this one.
The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark -- Could NOT resist a book with that title, and PK's rec appealed to my inner "need something different" Bookeemonster.
Bad Penny by Sharon Sala -- I've seen her books but I don't think I've ever read her work, and she's been around for a while, so when Sasha recc'd her I thought it's time I give her a try.
Delicious by Sherry Thomas -- I almost didn't pick up this one because it's a historical romance, which I stopped reading some years ago after reading too many poorly-written knock-offs. It's been so long now I don't know who's writing what, so I'm hopeful this one will be different.
Fragile by Shiloh Walker -- Nice cover art, very decent premise, why not? (Don't tell her, but I buy all of Shiloh's books.)
I plan to read at least one book a day for the next two weeks or however long it takes me to demolish the stack, and then I'll report back to you on how it went. Thanks to everyone who helped me spend my money.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
After StarDoc Poll
I've considered developing the Holly Noriko stories into a full-length novel, but I'd really rather keep those as free books. My other ideas have been about following up with a standalone novel about Teulon Jado and Resa from Rebel Ice, or Alek Davidov from Omega Games, or writing a new story about Jory, Kol and the rest of the crew from Blade Dancer.
I can't promise anything, but if it's possible for me to sell one of those ideas to New York, which would you prefer to see in print? Or is there somethone/something else from the StarDoc universe that you'd like to see me write about in a new novel or short series? Let me know what you think in comments.
Friday, February 20, 2009
This and That
I also have an e-rec for you guys: if you enjoyed Marjorie M. Liu's The Iron Hunt as much as I did, but never got to read Hunter Kiss, the earlier anthologized story by Marjorie that tells how Maxine and Grant met and got together, Penguin now has the story available to purchase solo as an eSpecial.
I have been invited to contribute to a number of anthologies over the last year, and another three invites just rolled in. I am always flattered to be asked, but my past bad experience combined with my current contractual obligations prohibit me from accepting these invites. Also: when I refuse your very kind offer, please do not e-mail me back multiple times to argue with me about it. My answer isn't going to change. There are many, many other talented writers out there who would appreciate both the work and the exposure, so please consider inviting one of them to participate in your project.
After that copy-edit my brain feels like tempura, but all I think I need is some time away from Microsoft Word. I am Worded out. So what's up with you guys? Anything planned for this weekend?
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Off to Copy-Edit
Make your own sticky note online over at Wigflip.com's Superstickies.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Waiting to Inhale
I'll never run marathons, dance all night or play Twister again, but I'm a pretty decent swimmer. I love water; it's the only thing on this planet that makes me feel elegant and weightless, and swimming is the one exercise that doesn't put too much stress on my joints. I grew up near the sea, so that's likely why water has always been my favorite element. Whenever I needed renewal, I go to the nearest beach or body of water, and I always find it there.
As much as I love the water, I also respect and fear it. I nearly drowned in a rip current when I was nine. A guy I went to high school with lost his arm during a shark attack when he was out surfing. I took lifeguard training in my teens, and had another near-brush with death when I was swimming with a weight belt and got hit with leg cramps. Some of you remember Frank, a friend of mine who commented regularly here at the blog, who died with his wife in a boating accident.
Water is beautiful, but it is also a force of nature, and it can't be controlled, owned or ever taken for granted. Swimming means being immersed in that power, with its pressures all around you. You have to keep moving, even during those times when all you can think about is when you can take your next breath. That's all swimming really is: continuous effort, and waiting to inhale.
No one taught me how to swim. I found out through trial and error, playing at the beach as a kid, going out a little further into the waves each time, discovering first how to float and then how to dog-paddle. I probably would have learned faster with proper lessons, but there was no money for that. As with almost every other skill I've learned in life, I had to observe, study, experiment, and teach myself.
I can remember clearly the very first time I tried to swim in about three feet of water; the way the salt water stung my eyes and how long I coughed after I snorted a lungful of ocean up my nose. But I also remember that amazing feeling of being part of the sea, my body being supported and cradled and hustled along all at the same time.
Water worked its way into my imagination. I collected seashells and painted fish and spent endless summers at the beach, always in the water -- no sand castle building for me. I dreamt of being transformed into an aquatic creature and living out my life on a waterworld. And I wrote stories, and much later on wrote a couple of SF novels about that imaginary life.
No one is born knowing exactly how to swim, but anyone can learn and get better with practice. You can take lessons or you can teach yourself, but diving in alone that first time is scary, and incredibly freeing. If you fight the water, you'll flounder; if you keeping fighting eventually you'll sink. If you surrender completely to it, you can get swept off and carried away. The only difference between swimming and drowning is you.
You can also love to swim and still find a lot of excuses not to do it. Swimming is time-consuming, demanding, and ultimately exhausting. It can seem messy and inconvenient and not worth all the trouble. There are sharks out there who can smell a drop of your blood from a mile away, and rough seas, and constant storms. Sometimes you have to travel great distances to reach the water, only to find that the beach is closed, or it's been fenced off, or there's no place left to park.
There are other swimmers out there, too. Swimmers who are a hundred times better than you will ever be. Without even trying, they make you look like a total klutz. They don't go away, either; they just get younger and better every year.
Then there is the solitude of swimming, because even when you swim with a buddy you're still alone in the water. No one can hold your breath for you; no one can kick your legs or lift your arms or keep you bouyant. The ever-present danger of failing and sinking or being swallowed up by an enormous wave or some lurking monster will always be there, swimming right alongside you as well. No matter who is in the water with you, fear is your buddy on every swim.
It is much, much safer never to go near the water. Far easier to sit up on dry land, bask in the sun and work on your tan. You can amuse yourself by laughing at the novices splashing around, and sneer at the dedicated swimmers slogging along. Up there where it's safe and dry, there are no monsters or rip currents, no risks or dangers. No effort required. No waiting to inhale.
The funny thing is that however we feel about it, the water doesn't care. It was here long before us, and it'll be here long after. It doesn't serve us. It doesn't matter to the water who we are or how well we swim. It will never admire our swimming trophies or condemn us for not winning them. It doesn't choose or reject us. It accepts whoever dives in. It ignores whoever doesn't. It doesn't need us or want us. It's not aware of us. It is just water. Forever.
If you can know that and still wade in until the bottom falls away and you're all alone, holding your breath and swimming and becoming part of it, then you'll discover what the beach bunnies will never know.
And that? Is writing.
Photo credits: Paintings by Jeannie Maddox; "Diver" photo taken of the original painting with permission of the artist's husband; "Girl in Surf" print part of PBW's personal collection.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Spend My Money
After a long break from reading fiction I always try to read something really great, otherwise I skulk off in a snit back to my history and medical books. I almost picked up the new Jennifer Crusie tri-collab at the grocery store, but it has a bright yellow cover, and I'm too superstitious about that color to make that my first purchase.
Because I'm so out of touch with what's on the shelves right now, I'd like to get some recs from you guys on what to buy. Any new releases out there worth picking up and diving into, or are you working through your existing TBRs? What have you read lately that you really enjoyed? Let me know in comments.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Write Tool Ten
Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.
CoWord freeware "converts MS Word into a real-time multi-user collaborative word processor. With CoWord, you and your collaborators can edit the same MS Word document at anytime (the same time or different times) over the Internet. Changes made to the document are immediately displayed for all users to see. As CoWord retains the "look-and-feel" and functionalities of Word, you will be able to edit collaboratively in your familiar environment" (OS: Win 2000/XP, requires Microsoft Word 2000, XP, or 2003)
DeskTask freeware "connects to Microsoft Outlook and displays your calendar and task items on the desktop. Your tasks will always be visible, saving precious time to launch or switch to Outlook. Just minimize every window, and see what are the items due for today or tomorrow. DeskTask displays the whole week so you can be prepared to organize your work. Besides the calendar items, the Outlook to-do list (Folder Tasks) is also displayed. If you work with Outlook, DeskTask is for you" (OS: Win 9x/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3/Vista)
GizmoMarks freeware is "a secured electronic block-notes. The data of that block-notes are classed in topics and each topic consists of a unlimited number of categories : Categories of notes, Categories of links to applications or documents located on your computer or the network, Categories of link to web sites or electronic mails, Categories of passwords. All data of a block-notes can be saved and crypted by a 128 bytes key" (OS: Windows, Mac, Linux)
JDairy 2.0 freeware is a "diary developed with Java with functions like login, remember me, enable/disable login, set user´s photo/name, shoutout, search for certain diary" (OS: Windows XP/Vista, requires Java Runtime Environment)
Repetition Detector freeware "allows you to detect repetitions in texts." Features are listed as: "Process text without size limitation, Word and letter count, Top 50 of most frequently used words, Highlight small repetitions (two indentical words which are close), Highlight intermediate repetitions (words used too often inside two or three pages), Highlight each occurrence of a word by clicking on it, Take into account similar words, i.e. with same beginning, Customizable and automatically saved parameters" (OS: Win 98/ME/NT/2K/XP/2K3)
Sweet Home 3D 1.5.1 freeware "is a free interior design application that helps you place your furniture on a house 2D plan, with a 3D preview" (OS: Windows XP)
TheSage English Dictionary and Thesaurus is "a professional software package that integrates a complete dictionary and multifaceted thesaurus of the English language into a single and powerful language reference system." There's also an online version here (OS: Windows XP/Vista)
tinySpell freeware is "a small utility that allows you to easily and quickly check and correct the spelling in any Windows application. tinySpell can watch your typing on the fly and alert you whenever it detects a misspelled word. It can also check the spelling of text that you copy to the clipboard. tinySpell installs itself in the system tray for easy access. It comes with an American-English dictionary containing more than 110,000 words" (OS: Version 1.8: Windows 2000/XP/Vista; Version 1.5: Windows 98)
Tolon Notekeeper 0.9.7 freeware is "a multi-functional hierarchical information manager for Windows. Store notes and images in virtual folders in one file! Many notes and images can be stored in a single NoteKeeper file and can be grouped into flexible virtual folders enabling easy, intuitive access at all times . . . strong encryption keeps your data away from prying eyes" (OS: Win 9x/ME/2K/NT/XP)
Word RMR (Read in Microsoft Reader 1.1.3) is a Microsft Word 2000/XP/2003 Add-In that allows you to "use Microsoft Word 2000/XP/2003 to create your own Microsoft Reader eBooks. Microsoft Reader makes on-screen reading more like reading a printed book, while adding active reading capabilities" (OS: Win 98/ME/NT/2K/XP; website note: "In order to receive the full functionality of the Read in Microsoft Reader add-in, it is recommended that you install Microsoft Reader. RMR 1.1.3 is an update that enables conversion support for Word 2003. To learn more about Microsoft Reader, visit the Microsoft Reader Web site.")
Sunday, February 15, 2009
And the Title Goes to...
Among all the terrific entries was one I kept coming back to, one that encompassed both the story plan and the theme. It also crystallized around a story element that I didn't mention but that I've been driving myself crazy over, and that was what really clinched it for me.
The winner of the contest is:
Tami in Jacksonville for Chrysalis
Tami, when you have a chance, send your ship-to info and the title of the Darkyn novel you'd like me to sign for you to LynnViehl@aol.com. Thanks to everyone, you guys truly outdid yourselves on this one.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
In the meantime:
Friday, February 13, 2009
(for my guy)
Chocolate: I can't have it on my diet, and I gave away all the stuff that came in during Christmas. I can't do that again and not have a nervous breakdown.
Filet Mignon: I can already hear my arteries hardening.
Flowers: The cats eat them and then throw up. I do not want to spend Valentine's Day cleaning up chewed petal puke while the puppy tries to help.
Foot Massager: You're not allowed to touch my feet; why do you think I'd let some vibrating pulsing heated machine near them?
Jewelry: I didn't make you read that National Geographic article about how poor people in third world countries are killing themselves to illegally mine gold, did I?
Love Coupons: they're cute, but you never let me redeem them unless the kids are staying with Grandma.
Naughty Nighties: I'm too tired to remember to put on my robe in the morning, and I can't walk the puppy while I'm wearing something from Victoria's Secret for Seniors.
Perfume: I love you, honey, but you always shop when you're hungry, and I do not want to walk around smelling like a mango for a year again.
Stuffed Animals: What am I, six? And I didn't like them even when I was in the first grade.
X-Rated Toys: I can't remember to buy batteries for the flashlight in the kitchen, so unless they're solar-powered . . .
What I would like for Valentine's Day is to spend it with you, sweetheart.
All right, you guys, your turn -- what don't you want for Valentine's Day? Let us know in comments.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The 22 Immutable Laws of Publishing
1. The Law of Co-op
It's better to be in the front of the store than the back of the store. Unless you're caught there stacking your books in front of John Grisham's. Then you're in for it.
2. The Law of Genre
However you shape your novel, it has to fit into a type of fiction. If it doesn't, they'll make it fit. We call this categorization in theory, and sledgehammering in practice.
3. The Law of Importance
The more important you are in publishing, the harder it is to get you on the phone. Unless you're a writer, in which case you should really borrow the money from your mom to get your service reconnected.
4. The Law of Depth Perception
People in publishing always appear smarter, more popular and much more successful than they really are. They always believe they are, too, and they will stomp the ass of anyone who adjusts those vanity mirrors.
5. The Law of Soft Focus
Book jacket photos of authors are as accurate as images beamed down from the Hubble (after it's been hit by a couple of meteors and had a couple of key lenses smashed, anyway.)
6. The Law of Excommunication
Thou shalt not talk about the stuff we do not talk about in Publishing, else ye shall be banned, blackballed, fired, reviled and labeled as poisonous, unless you're more famous and rake in more money than everyone else you piss off with your big mouth. In which case, we'd like to do lunch and talk about a book deal.
7. The Law of Perpetual List
Once you make the NYT bestseller list, you are a NYT bestseller forever. Even if you only hit it once on a slow week when all the writers' new books don't reach the bookstores because of a freak computer glitch at every distributor's warehouse across the country.
8. The Law of Suits
If you're wearing a suit, you are obviously not a writer. Unless it's a bathing suit. Or your birthday suit.
9. The Law of Identity
You are never as famous or as obscure as you think you are, unless you're being introduced to a jealous rival, who has never read your work and in fact had no idea you were publishing in the same genre. Who are you again, anyway?
10. The Law of Revision
No manuscript, however perfect, can pass through the hands of an editor unmarked.
11. The Law of Respect
You are only as important to publishing as what you do today. Yesterday no longer exists. Neither will you tomorrow unless you stop playing on the internet and get back to work, you slacker.
12. The Law of Cookie Cutter
If the book is successful, they will want more of the same. Maybe with sprinkles, as long as they're close to the original color. And none of that changing the flavor, either.
13. The Law of Suffering
No important writer was ever a happy, well-adjusted, satisfied person with zero emotional baggage, a good marriage and a comfortable situation in life. No, they suffer in silence, sitting and sweating in a dark airless shed in the back yard while they watch cockroaches mate and think about crafting their next exquisite homage to the agony of existence. And you, the rabble, will never, ever understand their pain, so don't even try.
14. The Law of Acknowledgment
There is always a full page of them, gushing and teary, in the first book. Three affectionate paragraphs in the second. Four hohum dutiful lines in the third. One frosty line in the fourth, usually flipping off the ex-spouse. The acknowledgment page disappears by the fifth book.
15. The Law of Truth
No author ever writes a bad book, no editor ever makes an error in judgment, no reviewer was ever wrong, and no publisher ever prints a novel with a pink albino Robin Hood on the cover on purpose. Okay, we might have to revise this one a little.
16. The Law of Number One
If you have to pee at a writer's conference, don't wait. The lines at the bathrooms are always a mile long.
17. The Law of Title Assumption
Got you with that last one, didn't I? See.
18. The Law of Nonsuccess
Everyone fails. No one admits it. Fingers are pointed. Names are called. Then we go to lunch, fire the agent, jump ship and start over. Where we won't fail this time. Really.
19. The Law of Repeated Failure
Okay, so it didn't work out exactly the way we planned. But it wasn't our fault. Look at all the reprints on the list. Geez.
20. The Law of Buzzkill
For every book that is much loved by the readers, a pool of sharks will gather to dine on its author.
21. The Law of Trend
To illustrate, a conversation about a trend between two writers: *"They want vampire novels." "They don't want any more vampire novels." "They want vampire novels." "They don't want any more vampire novels" (repeat from * about a hundred times.) "Why are there all these freaking vampire novels on the shelves?" "Because they want vampire novels." "But God, if they read one more vampire novel they'll probably puke." "Okay, they don't want vampire novels." "Hey, what about vampire werewolves? Think they'll like that idea?"
22. The Law of Publication
If you print it, we'll write it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I created the above image by adding some text to an image generated by The Typo Generator, which does not misspell words but creates art out of them (and a tip if you want to try it -- I've found it works best when you enter the text vertically versus horizontally.) You can choose to keep any text style, color or background it produces while changing one or two of the others.
Here are a couple examples of the same text with different backgrounds and text colors:
So if you had to create a personal writing (or working) manifesto, motto or mission statement, what would it be? Let us know in comments.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Why pay for over-priced celebs for hire who are just going to get drunk and wreck your house when you can have the intelligent, thoughtful and articulate alternative of a national bestselling author who will shake your hand, patronize you and your friends, and drone out a reading of their favorite hundred or so pages of their latest work of breathtaking genius*?
Remember, all of our rental writers come equipped with:
1. Authentic grungy writing outfit
2. Mug of lukewarm, skin-topped beverage
3. End-gnawed pencil or pen tucked behind right ear
4. Real author hair (in one of the following classic styles: Bed Hair, Overgrown Hair, or No Hair)
5. Mini bottle of hand sanitizer (to be used by author only)
Bonus!! Every author comes with a pen to sign up to two hardcovers or paperbacks (as long as the books are written by them, brand new and their latest release.)
February Special Author Experiences & Events
Go to firing range and talk about your love life with Janet Evanovich!
Have your little girl make evil button-eyed dolls with Neil Gaiman!
Send grandpa to attend church, pray and get arrested for it with Poppy Z. Brite!
Discuss about your purpose in life with Rev. Rick Warren (not available for clients with alternative lifestyles.)
Have an elegant and intimate dinner with
Hot Tub Wine and Cheese Encounter with LKH and nine of her bodyguards! (clothing optional)
NEWEST: Twilight Books bonfire and weinie roast with master of horror Stephen King!
Don't deny yourself the encounter of a lifetime [R-A-A accepts cash, certified checks, all major credit cards or the equivalent in broken and unwanted gold.)
*Some authors reserve the right to get drunk and wreck your house after the reading.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.
One of my titling tricks: go to Bartleby.com's verse home page and enter a key or concept word from your story into the search box (leave the field box set to search all verse.) The site will give you a list of all poems that contain your key/concept word; read some and see how the poet used them. For example, I entered the word midnight and got Walt Whitman's In Midnight Sleep, Fitz-Greene Halleck's Marco Bozzaris, and 372 other results.
The Bonsai Story Generator will take the text you cut and paste into the box and recombine it in funny, weird and very interesting ways, so load in some of your story keywords or text and see what happens.
Sami Pyörre's Everchanging Book of Names is a shareware name generator program you can customize.
Samuel Stoddard's Fantasy Name Generator page has two interfaces to play with and produces some very decent name/title idea lists.
MODPlug Random Song Title/Band Name Generator produced a lot of silly stuff, so it would be perfect if you need a title for a farce or a satire. A few interesting combos popped up now and then, too: Dangerous Legends, Submersible Time, and Undoubtedly Creeping.
Maygra's Random Title Generator gives you six titles for every click (good ideas for romance, erotica, fantasy and SF titles here.)
Cut and paste some text from your story into the Robopoem poetry generator, choose your cadence, and (like the Bonsai Story Generator) it will recombine the words into verse that is rich with title possibilities.
Manon over at Serendipity has a fantasy novel title generator already set up for you to play with, but I like using words and phrases gleaned from the Interesting Site Generator for ideas, too.
Seventh Sanctum's page of name generators has something to inspire just about every sort of title hunter. I particularly like the realm name generator for interesting word combos.
Thinkmap's Visual Thesaurus is free to try online, and offers synonyms in an unusual visual format that may have you making some different word associatiosn for your title ideas.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
Evidently demand for copies of Dark Need, my third Darkyn novel, has resulted in a much larger than usual reprint run of the title. I think the free e-books featuring Lucan and Samantha, the protagonists from DN, have helped to get readers interest in the print novel, but I suspect you guys had a hand in it as well. So to say thank you, over at the stories blog I've posted a very early sneak peek of one of the scenes with Lucan and Sam from Shadowlight.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Okay, I'm desperate here. Please. Help me.
The theme of the story I have roughed out is transformation. Richard is changing, but so is Elíane, and with change comes discovery, conflict, and those universal shifts that shake the foundations of who we think we are. The old cliche of 'what doesn't destroy you only makes you stronger' never really worked for me. More like, what you think makes you stronger can destroy you in a heartbeat.
And that's all I'm going to tell you. I can't talk about it too much before it's written or I jinx it.
As for what to call it, I really don't know what I want for this book. I prefer short titles, and I adore one-worders. I like dark, obviously, but I like poetic, too. Evermore is one of my favorite titles, but so is If Angels Burn. The more original the title, the better I like.
So what do you think I should title Richard and Elíane's book? Post a title suggestion in comments (limit one suggestion, please) by midnight EST Friday, February 13, 2009 and if I choose your title, I will give you an acknowledgement in the e-book, send you a signed copy of any of my Darkyn print novels, as well as an advance .pdf copy of Richard and Eliane's story as soon as it's finished, which will probably this summer or fall, but definitely a month or so before anyone else can read it. This title contest is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Off to Haul
Today I'll be playing truck driver with one hand (sort of) tied behind my back, and then I must Deal With New York when I get home, so posts will probably be scarce until the weekend.
I have my very very very first sale over to tell on Friday over at the group blog, if you're interested in finding out what PBW was like as a teenager (my mother had white lips for about four years, that about sums it up.)
See you soon.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
I appreciate all the detailed comments on what you'd like to read about the biz, as this gives me a better idea of what concerns writers right now, which translates into timely topics to write about here at PBW and over at the group blog. So thank you all for sharing your concerns as well as giving me much food for thought.
The kids handled the magic hat for me tonight, and the winner of the Agents in the Trades giveaway is:
Laurel, whose is going to warn her kids to "load the silverware with the forks and knives pointed down!" and is looking for "more information on how online MFA programs compare to traditional MFA programs offered at the Universities."
Laurel, when you have a chance please send your ship-to info to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get this package out to you. Thanks to everyone for joining in.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Off to Get Stitched
It's not a serious wound, and I thought I could tape it up and forget about it, but now it looks like I'm going to need some stitches. So I'm going to bail on you guys today to go see my doc and have him sew me up.
In the meantime, remember that today is the last day to enter the Agents in the Trades giveaway, and if you want to see Cole's latest antics, stop by the photoblog.
Monday, February 02, 2009
Agents In the Trades
I've always liked The Writer even when they fly off into WriterLaLaLand, but in this issue they've really shown a committment to addressing more of the issues working writers have. I hope this trend continues.
In the Jan/Feb 09 issue of Poets & Writers, Jodie Ferrari-Adler talked with four young literary agents: Julie Barer, Jeff Kleinman, Renee Zuckerbrot and Daniel Lazar (Daniel is also with Writers House; he's the handsome guy in the center on the front cover pic) about the writing they want to see, where they're finding it, what they love, hate, and ten things writers should never do. But even if you don't want to hear what agents say after they've been wined and dined, about half of P&W is devoted to grants & awards and market listings, which they feature every month.
P&W is definitely geared more toward the literary writer, and I doubt that will change, but they're classy and informative, something you usually don't find at that end of the market. I think they also offer more market, grant and awards listings than any of the other trades.
I'm going to send my copies of both issues to one of you guys; in comments to this post name something related to writing or publishing that you'd like to read about or find more information on (or if you can't think of something, just toss your name in the hat) by midnight EST on Tuesday, February 3, 2009. I'll draw one name from everyone who participates and send the winner both magazines (read once by me) as well as a surprise. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Job Search Ten
Absolute Write offers a free e-zine that "...brings writers' guidelines, jobs for writers, calls for submissions, and writing contest listings straight to your inbox twice a month. And you get a free e-book filled with paying markets for writers just for joining us!" (AW also maintains a Writers Wanted discussion board/forum here with paying job listings.)
All Freelance Writing, Jennifer Mattern's blog, lives up to its name, as it is devoted to all things freelance writing. Jennifer keeps a section of freelance job listings that she updates regularly, and each job listed has a click-through link to the original posting.
The American Society of Business Publication Editors has a job connections link on their left sidebar that takes you to their job bank of classified for editorial positions.
Find your geographical region over at Craigslist and check out the writing/editing category under jobs (with Craigslist I've found some great markets for writers who actually landed jobs, and also some bogus ads that were vanity publisher hooks. Be sure to check out any employer offering a job listing thoroughly before you commit to working with them.)
Freelance Writing Jobs has web and print job listings and click-through links to writing job ads posted daily.
Indeed.com is a job classified search engine; use this to find listings for the specific type of writing job you'd like to find. Here's an example of a writing/teaching job listing it brought up when I gave it a test run.
You have to register to get a look at Mediabistro's job listings, but registration is free.
While some freelance writer job sites charge for the privilege of accessing their writing classifieds, Online Writing Jobs doesn't. Like Jennifer Mattern's site, they also feature a click-through link for each job listing that takes you to the original source, so you can check out what the employer actually posted.
Poe War also has a writer job web search engine; it returned mostly technical writer jobs to my first query, but my second returned some interesting job listings (including this one from Random House.)
If you write SF, fantasy, humor, horror or something in the darker realms of any story length, you definitely need to make regular visits to the market listings at Ralan's SpecFic and Humor Webstravanganza (this is a labor of love site, utterly wonderful, and the only writer jobs site that I've ever donated money to. Frankly someone should give this guy a medal.)