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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Amazon Hurts More Authors

Amazon is taking money out of authors pockets, again. The myths about authors making millions are not true. I'm really sorry to burst the bubble of anyone out there with huge dreams. It still happens of course but it is the exception to the rule, not the norm. Anytime someone offers to sell brand new hardback books for ridiculously low prices it hurts authors, a lot. Authors get around 10% of a hardback price and 6% of a paperback, seriously, that's it. Most debut authors sell under 40,000 books. Add it up, but be careful, it may depress you. Don't forget to take out around 30% in taxes and 15% for your agent. That starving author thing, not a myth.

So what has Amazon done this time? They refuse to compromise with MacMillan, one of the biggest publishers in the industry. MacMillan was trying to get them to raise the price of an e-book from $9.99 to around $15 dollars. I think that is a reasonable request, both as a writer and a consumer. I don't mind shelling out a couple more dollars for someone's blood, sweat, and tears. That's what it takes to write a book folks, seriously, blood, sweat, and tears. When monopolies like Amazon lower the price of a book when it first comes out, before it's even had a chance to sell at regular price, they devalue that book and the authors hard work! It's one thing to reduce the price of a book that isn't selling, it's another altogether to do it to one that hasn't had a chance to sell yet.

A friend of mine, Shannon Delany, has a book debuting this summer, 13 To Life, and it is published by MacMillan. By pulling all of MacMillan's books Amazon is going to seriously hurt the sales of her book and will severely hinder her ability to make the New York Times bestseller list. How you ask? Because Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world, millions of people shop on it. Of course you'll still be able to buy all of MacMillan's titles from your local bookseller, which I urge you to do! Amazon thinks they have a monopoly on this and therefore the power to do whatever they want, they're wrong. Let's show them that. Support your local bookstore! No worries Shannon, I'll be buying your book from Barnes and noble!

Here's the New York Times article on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/30/technology/30amazon.html

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Moment Of Doubt

It happens to all writers. Admit it and face your fear. That's what I've decided to do. Until we face our fears we cannot conquer them. I hate to break it to those of you still on the agent hunt, but it doesn't stop once you get an agent. For a while it does, but then comes the moment when you hand your manuscript over and they submit it to publishing house editors. The wait and the stress begins again. Doubt creeps around every corner, within every empty in box, and every empty voicemail. It can grow like a great demon with every passing week if you allow it to. It can consume you, and it will if you let it.

A few of my friends who are waiting on submissions are battling the doubt demon right now. Heck, I battle it myself every day my manuscript is out there being considered by publishing houses. I have bad days, but they pass because I know how combat them. First, I know that what I sent off was as polished as it could possibly be and is worthy. You of all people must believe in your work and support it 100% or else no one else will. That doesn't mean doubt won't creep up on you, some days, it will. What it means is that you will be able to face doubt and force it to back down.

One way to do this is to keep busy. Writing another book is a fantastic way to take your mind off the horrible wait. Networking and building your writer's platform is another great (and necessary) use of your time. In seeking other writers and readers you will also find the support you so badly need at a time like this. With that in mind I'd like to thank every one in my support net, my followers and friends here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. You keep my writing hand strong so I can not only write that next book, but fight off the doubt demon as well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Heather's Odyssey Receives The Silver Lining Award

Heather's Odyssey has been awarded The Silver Lining blog award by fellow writer and blogger Anne Riley! I'm so honored, but I don't have a speech prepared! I'm a writer not a spur of the moment kind of gal. The Silver Lining award is given to blogs that help others in some way or focus on the good things in life to uplift others, or so I understand it.

To know that I have helped others or brightened their day enough to earn an award for it makes me feel amazing. That's what Heather's Odyssey is all about, making the journey to publication easier-or at least less mystifying-for other writers. To know I have accomplished that for at least one person makes every entry I've ever written worth it. Thank you Anne!

This award comes with a condition. I must now pass it on to five other blogs that I feel have accomplished the same thing. I love this because it gives you a chance to see some of the fantastic blogs that have helped me along the way. Without further delay, here are the five fantastic blogs that I feel have earned The Silver Lining Award in no particular order:

1) Portia Sisco
2) Krissi Dallas
3) Lindsey Edwards
4) Eisley Jacobs
5) Anne Riley

Of course I had to hand the award back to Anne Riley because I love her blog and it has definitely made me see the silver lining in life more than once! However, since she already passed it on to five wonderful blogs, I absolve her from the responsibility of passing it on again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Krissi Dallas

If people were cups of coffee Krissi Dallas would be a tall double shot peppermint mocha, lots of energy and tasty sugar with just enough bite to make you take notice. Krissi and I met on Twitter and have been friends/followers ever since. She has one of the biggest, kindest hearts I've ever known and is quick to support other writers. She's always there with words of encouragement when I need them and great advice.

Once I found out about her book Phantom Island: Wind I had to have it. It's about a girl who's life is forever altered when her father disappears. Six years later she returns to the youth camp that turned her life around only to embark on a magical journey that will forever alter it yet again. Krissi's love and understanding for teens shines through in her writing. This is another writer on the rise you don't want to miss!

You can find Krissi on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KrissiDallas
And check out her website and blog here: http://web.me.com/krissidallas/Site/Krissi_Dallas__The_Official_Website.html

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday's Muse~Dragons & Ancient Cities


I had a very busy week. Two chapters! The words were flowing like marvelous wine at a Greek dinner. These are Aztec ruins, where, I'm not sure. Don't worry, I'm not flashing back to my previous book, they just fit well for inspiration this week since I'm writing about an ancient dragon city. Turns out I didn't need the snowy pictures so much to set me in the right mood since our weather finally cooled down below forty, but the picture sure didn't hurt.


This is another beautiful picture from Ciruelo. Can you tell he inspires me? I love finding pictures like this that give me a glimpse into another world. My second chapter this week definitely took me into a different world. And yet, it feels like coming home. I missed writing fantasy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting Ready For A Writer's Seminar

Last year I attended the Hawaii Writer's Retreat and got to work with the New York Times bestselling thriller author, William Bernhardt. I'm not a thriller writer so why would I take his class, you might ask? I wouldn't have, except I knew how fantastic a teacher he was. In 2008 I attended my first Hawaii Writer's Retreat and I was suppoed to be in James Clemmens class. He's a remarkable fantasy writer for those who don't know, ironically, he's also a thriller writer under the name of James Rollins. Due to an unfortunate incident James didn't make it to Hawaii. I was rescheduled in Mr. Bernhardt's class. I was deeply disapointed but remained optimistic that I could learn at least something. Boy did I.

That class was full of writers from all different genres, not just thriller writers. It's where I met Aprilynne Pike and Sarah Brennan and fell in love with the young adult genre. More than that though, my writing moved to a whole new level I never imagined. Mr. Bernhardt had a wealth of knowledge to share, regardless of what genre any of us wrote. My writing life changed that summer. So in 2009 when I attended the retreat again I signed up for Mr. Bernhardt's class, and I learned even more.

When he invited my classmates and I to attend his advanced seminar in February I knew I had to go. My writing has gone from mediocre with promise to publishable and agented. I'd be crazy not to want to take it to the next level! I'm preparing for a trip to Oklahoma in less than a month, no Hawaii for me this time. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I can't wait to take my writing to yet another level!

So remember, if you get a chance to learn from a New York Times bestselling author, do it, regardless of what genre you write and they write. You don't become a NY Times bestseller without knowing what you're doing! Check out Mr. Bernhardt's seminars here: http://williambernhardt.com/small_group_seminars.php

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Rachel Jameson

Rachel and I met on Twitter through a mutual writer friend and am really glad we did. Her tweets (Twitter entries for you non-Twitter folks) are informative and often so funny I have to be careful not to drink my coffee when I'm reading them. Like me, Rachel didn't start out writing in the genre she's come to love. She sort of stumbled upon romance one day and discovered it was the one. It can happen to any of us, preconceived notions about what a genre is all about can keep us from our calling. Rachel now writes historical romance and is working hard toward publication.

If you're looking to connect with other writers who are supportive, helpful, and a blast to get to know, be sure to look her up.

Here she is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelJameson
And here's her blog: http://racheljameson.com/index.php/blog/

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday's Muse~Patagonia


Normally this time of year I wouldn’t need a picture of snow and ice to inspire me. I could just look out my window and see hills and hills of it. But, it appears all our snow has decided to fall upon poor Texas, hence the need for a frosty picture. A portion of my new book occurs in a place that looks very similar to this. Sometimes just working on my chapters makes me chilly. But that's perfect, that's when I know I'm really getting into the zone! Though I never make the mistake of opening with weather, as one of the many things that affects the senses, I try to keep it in mind when I'm writing. I want the reader to feel immersed in the tale.

As for couch inspiration, I'm watching the occasional episode of Legend of the Seeker. While I don't particularly like how the show has butchered the book (The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind), if I just watch it as a fantasy show and forget about the book, I can enjoy it to a degree.

I'm reading Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, and so far am really loving it. In fact, I'm having trouble putting it down. I'll let you know more as I get farther into it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Finishing Can Be The Hard Part

Most of you have heard someone say they have a novel idea they'd love to write. Many of you know people who've started and never quite finished. Heck, some of you may have even started a novel yourself that you didn't get around to completing. Any author will tell you, writing a novel and especially committing to finish it, are the hard parts. Ideas are a dime a dozen but sticking with them and caring about them enough to see them through to the finish is priceless. And it's often the difference between a writer and a published author.  If you never finish that book there's no way you're going to get it published.

So what makes most people stop and put it aside? One word: Perfectionist. Don't be one. Seriously. As a recovering perfectionist I can say that. You know what we call the first draft? A rough draft. That's not just a catchy phrase, that's how your first draft should look. My first draft is never seen by anyone because I allow it to be rough. Its not meant for criticism or judging eyes, its meant to be a foundation.

Every person I have ever talked to who started a book and didn't finish was editing the heck out of it, and it wasn't done! I never edit before finishing. It makes me second guess myself and can discourage me enough to halt the entire process. For the sake of my book I will not do it. Which is worse, a rough first draft or no first draft?

If you're struggling to finish that novel and this isn't quite enough advice, check out this great post by Writer's Digest on the subject: http://writersdigest.com/article/4-steps-to-take-your-novel-to-the-finish-line/

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Guest Column For Chuck Sambuchino's Blog

You know how I'm always telling you that good things come from writers using Twitter? Here's a perfect example. Like many writers, I love Writer's Digest. It's one of the best go to magazines on the market for us. So when Chuck Sambuchino, editor and writer for Writer's Digest started following me on Twitter and hunting for my e-mail, I promptly followed him back and sent him a message. He got a hold of me and asked me to do a guest column on his blog for his How I Got My Agent reoccuring post. I was thrilled and honored and of course said yes!

As many of my regular followers know, I had quite a bumpy ride on the road to getting an agent and it's quite a story. Check out my guest column on Chuck's blog here: http://tinyurl.com/yfw4jdz and for a link to Writer's Digest you don't have to go any farther than the Helpful Links For Writers link on the right side of my blog!

Twitter Tuesday ~ Emma Newman

I discovered Emma Newman when I visited a Twitter chat called Flash Friday (hashtag #flashfriday). Authors were posting links to their short stories for people to read and comment on. Intrigued by the idea, I read several of the stories then twittered links to the one's that really spoke to me. Emma's was one of those. I liked it so much I retweeted it (sorry for you non-twitterers who might scratch their heads at the term). For those of you who follow me on Twitter you know I only do that when I think something is really spectacular or helpful to writers. A random tweeter I am not. Not only can Emma write, she has a way with words like Picasso had a way with paint. This lady knows how to entertain.

More than just her writing though, Emma impressed me with her kindness and selfless desire to help other writers. Emma has podcasted her young adult novel, Twenty Years Later. Don't you traditional publishing folks go anywhere, I see you getting ready to click that x button. Once you listen to the first chapter of Twenty Years Later you'll understand that Emma didn't choose to publish this way because she wasn't good enough. She's more than good enough. She's amazing. Listen to just one chapter of hers and you'll be a believer too. It doesn't hurt that she has the perfect voice to do her own audio books! Twenty Years Later is about three teenagers searching for a kidnapped girl in post-apocalyptic London. More than that though, it's about the struggle to save what is left of humanity and the horrible truth behind London's darkest secret.

This is one gal you don't want to miss connecting with. Check her out on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/EmApocalyptic
And don't miss her website and your chance to listen to Twenty Years Later here:
http://www.enewman.co.uk/

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday's Muse ~ Ciruelo Cabral



This novel is going to be unlike anything I've ever written and because of that, I have to seek some pretty extraordinary inspiration. This is another of Cabral's impressive paintings. I love his take on dragons.  http://www.dac-editions.com/ If I were an artist I imagine I would draw them very much like this. To say this is unlike anything I've ever written is not to say I haven't written fantasy, that I definitely have. But not like this. Oh no, not like this. It sends a thrill through me to think of how unique this is. Do I run the risk of being too unique? I like to think not.

As for reading inspiration, well I'm staying away from dragon novels. I want to ensure that my style isn't compromised or altered by what I read. I wouldn't want to bring my writing down or take it in the wrong direction because my mind was trying to process both stories of a similar nature. Right now I'm reading Phantom Island: Wind by Krissi Dallas. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading this yet, I highly recommend it. Mind you, I'm not finished with it yet, but when I am I'll be sure to do a post about it! http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Phantom-Island/Krissi-Dallas/e/9781438961804/

My taste in music has shifted for this novel. I'm listening to a lot of soundtracks like Braveheart, Legend, and Rob Roy. Also a bit of Loreena McKennitt and Manowar. Hey, I'm nothing if not diverse.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Synopsis Time

Since so many of my friends have reached the query stage and asked me about writing a synopsis I thought I'd better blog about them. I hate doing a synopsis. They're hard! They are your first attempt at selling yourself and your story, which can be a bit of a transition for fiction writers. But, because it's your first attempt at selling yourself, it is also an important step. You will have to do some of your own promotion in the future and the synopsis can give you a little taste of that.

The synopsis isn't the time to be humble or secretive. Agents want a synopsis because they want to know how the story unfolds. Tell them. How should it read? That depends. Some agents don't want all the details and some don't want to know the ending. The amount of pages they give you can for it can be an indicator. When in doubt, ask how detialed they would like it.

Start with this premise: A synopsis should read like the cover of a book. I'm talking about the detailed inner cover, not a quick blurb on the back. Quick blurbs are for query letters. I'm also talking about the style, not necessarily the content, because like I said, some agents want all the details.

The main reason for a synopsis is so they can get a quick idea of your writing skills like plot and character. Most agents I've submitted to only want one page, double spaced. If you've ever tried to squeeze your synopsis onto one page like that, you know how painful it is. But don't worry those who want a detailed synopsis usually give you three to five pages. Above all, remember that a synopsis still has to be good writing. It shouldn't read like a play by play manual. Pull a couple of books off your shelf and read the inner jacket. It will give you a great place to start!

Still unsure? Check out this fantastic post by Chuck Sambuchino with eight great links on the synopsis: http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/Footnotes+8+Articles+On+Synopsis+Writing.aspx

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Joys Of Revision

From that title you're probably already thinking I'm crazy. Well, I am a bit perhaps. When the last word is written we all know the book is far from finished. But that doesn't have to mean the fun part is over. For me it means the opposite and I think it's all in how you approach it. If you're dreading the revision process it's going to suck because you've already set it up to. However, if you look at it as an opportunity to enrich your novel and add depth and dimension to it, then the process will be much more appealing.

I'm horrible about setting it aside. I don't want to set it aside because I know 'The End' doesn't mean it's done. But I do my best to ignore the shortcut on my laptop and not look at it for at least a week. If you can go longer do so. And I applaud you if you can. I cannot because I love the revision process and that's like putting a non-fat double tall mexican mocha in front of me and saying, 'don't drink it.' This part is important because you have to remove yourself from the story so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Once I've let it perculate for at least a week I open it up and do a read through. I like to do this on the computer because I can fix little things. LITTLE THINGS. This is not the point to dive in with a hatchet. It's a read through. I have to capitalize that to remind myself because it's not easy. Some people like to print it out and do their read through. Not me. If I print it out the Red pen will find it's way into my hand and I will have jumped right over the read through stage. Like putting that mocha in front of me.

After the read through I print it out. Now comes the part I live for, the Red pen. I must capitalize it because I love it that much. Yep, it's an illness, I know. Knowings half the battle. I once heard a speaker at a writer's seminar say they use a multi-colored pen to mark different things like adjective usage, mistakes, holes, needs for clarification, etc. I love that idea but haven't tried it yet. So I set to it with my Red pen and mark it up. It's important to cut anything that doesn't accomplish something for your story or the characters. And be careful on that second part. Even if it accomplishes something for the character, it still must be important to the story. It's like peeling away the unnecessary layers. It's not easy, but you have to do it.

Now all the Red pen revisions go into the computer. When I'm finished I do another read through and repeat the whole process as needed. At this stage I often have a trusted friend who will be honest read through it. Have fun with revision. Take your manuscript on a date to the coffee shop, or a cabin by the lake if you're lucky enough to have access to one. However you do it and wherever, enjoy the whole journey.

Here's some great advice on revising from Writer's Digest: http://writersdigest.com/article/WGF-Revision_excerpt

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twitter Tuesday~Kimberly Pauley

Building your platform isn't all bad. In fact, it can be really fun. The people you meet can enrich your life and some may even change it. Kimberly Pauley is the type of person that will enrich your life. She keeps me laughing, keeps me encouraged, and even keeps me grounded at times when I need it. As an author she's full of great links and tips that help other writers and she had great taste in books! So great in fact that she's a book reviewer for Young Adult Book Central.

If you haven't already Kimberly's young adult urban fantasy, you must. It's the most unique vampire story I have read in a long time. The main character, Mina, must decide whether or not she wants to be a vampire. Both of her parents are vampires and she isn't supposed to live among them unless she's one herself. But Mina would rather worry about catching the eye of the hot guy in school than make huge life decisions at this point. This book is a blast and you're missing out if you pass it up!

Check out Kimberly's website here: http://kimberlypauley.com/
Find Kimberly on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KimberlyRPauley
Check out Kimberly on YABC here: http://www.yabookscentral.com/

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday's Muse~New Book



This amazing picture was done by the artist Ciruelo Cabral. If you haven't checked out his website you must. He's a genius with a paint brush. http://www.dac-editions.com/ Quite the change from my usual muse I know, but you'll be seeing a lot of this new inspiration. 

With my young adult urban fantasy series completed and submitted to editors I found myself with empty nest syndrome. Several ideas have been fighting for the forefront of my imagination and one of them finally won the war. You may have guessed from this beautiful picture that it's going to be fantasy. It will be young adult of course, cause I'm loving writing that genre, and the protagonist is a guy! But Harry Potter this is not. Poor Harry would blush just reading it. I've posted a picture of my progress to the right. It's titled Grendar's Tale. I'm not exactly fond of the title so it will probably change, but that will come later. Feel free to keep track of my progress and give me a swift kick when you don't see it advancing!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 New Year's Book Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest and all my new blog and Twitter followers. You have brightened my new year and you are much appreciated! I look forward to sharing our love of books as well as writing tips and advice with you. You've picked a good time to start following my blog because next month I'm attending an advanced writing seminar that I'll be sharing with you! Okay, so onto the good stuff. .

Can I have a drum roll please? And the winner of the 2010 New Year's Book Giveaway is: Anne Riley! Congratulations Anne, I know you're just going to love Shiver! You can either Tweet me your address or leave me a comment (which of course I won't post!) and I'll get that in the mail to you today.

Again, a huge thanks to everyone who entered and those who spread the word about the contest for me. This was so much fun we'll have to do it again soon!