Lone Wolf Marketing

Welcome to ISWG for September 4, 2013. Any writer who experiences moments of insecurity can join us on this wonderful site by clicking the link.

Lately, I find myself obsessing about the same question. I’ll keep this rant short, I promise. 1194986475730032167air_stefan_bazelkov_01.svg.thumb

What’s up with traditional agents? After you’ve sent in 10, 50, 100+ queries without success, what’s next? Rejection notices used to mean your book wasn’t any good or you hit the wrong person on the wrong day. We’ve all heard the stories about Stephen King and J.K. Rowling sending out a multitude of queries. But, that was then, before a deluge of novels, short stories, and poems flooded the internet. Yes, you can rewrite your query letter and synopsis and start all over again with the same agents, many of whom don’t even acknowledge your query if they aren’t interested. (Some of the nicer ones warn you of this possibility beforehand.) Yes, I know these poor folks are swamped by submissions but what’s a writer to do?

You become desperate and load your novel up on Amazon where it disappears into the void of zillions of self-published e-books.

Then what? Massive tweets? Major Facebook pressure on all your followers? Carefully crafted platform (fancy word for attractive blog – right?). Thousands of folks want to sell your their marketing secrets for publishing and that’s fine, but I hope there’s a systematic process for publishing evolving from all this mess.

I know I’m not the first person to wonder about the possibility of a completely digital publishing house; people who read your query, respond no or yes, edit your manuscript if necessary and load it on their site.  So far, I’ve found only one reputable site. Elora’s Cave. They specialize in Romance, from sweet and innocent to extremely steamy. They are very specific about what they want, offering clear guidelines to one and all.  If they accept your manuscript, they present it to their customers for a few days and then you’re on your own. Back to lone wolf marketing.

11954241201556281584tomas_arad_heart.svg.thumbBut, what if you aren’t a Romance writer? Are there other digital publishing sites out there?

How can we make marketing a good thing instead of a mysterious burden? There, I’m done. Whew. I feel better already. Sort of.

OUTLOOK from H**l

Greetings, everyone.

I’ve finally done it. I’m officially an Insecure Writer.

Two months ago I finished my first novel, a science-fiction romance. I wrote my query letter and synopsis, and I  described my book in thirty words. The worst is over, I thought.

But, I’ve hit the wall. Submitting the queries.  Navigating the arcane submission rituals (different for every agent) is a test of my patience, not to mention my self-esteem.just-a-lonely-heart_l Have I been under a rock for the last two years writing the novel, completing HTRYN, and everything else? Apparently.

OUTLOOK, the email of choice for so many agents, is kicking my rear. I can’t get it to work from my PC. It occasionally sends the query letter packet  but, more often, it will not send. I pressed the right button, I swear! My poor query ends up in the outbox from which it will not budge. My attachment (yes, some agents take them) is small – just a plain word doc.

So, any one out there have this problem? How did you solve it? Does OUTLOOK work better on a Mac? Help!

(Oh, on the brighter side, my surly muse has given me an idea for a second novel. I’m taking a few weeks to ponder the plot, do character sketches, and see if I still like it by July:))

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Fickle Muse Man

Check out A Scenic Routewhere Kirsten created a wonderful encounter with her muse and characters, a virtual Q and A with the illusive spirits that haunt all artists. I was so inspired by this post I wanted to get to know my own muse better. It turns out, in spite of his surly behavior and arrogant demeanor, he does have a heart.

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My fingers froze on the keys, so I scrambled for a pen. The ink was dry, so I snatched a pencil. The lead snapped, so I sat still, gazing at the paper, experiencing a blazing total eclipse of creativity.

Four dry months had passed and I resisted the impulse – the desperate need – to contact my muse. Everyone knows mere humans cannot summon a muse, but I called him all the same. I fantasized about him at work, and I dreamed of him at night. But, like a lover who won’t return your text, he was silent. I tried the usual ritual muse-luring activities: deleting the remaining clutter of my novel, The Spear, from the virtual desktop and swiping the real desktop with a Pledge drenched paper towel. Obsessive cleaning gave way to desolation. I was helpless in the grip of a four-alarm literary apocalypse.

Finally, he appeared.specter-2

Juan Reyes, intergalactic combat videographer, stood by the french doors opening to our deck. The warmth of the day faded with the lowering sun, and I squinted to see his face in the expanding dusk. Orange clouds fading into purple sky framed his rugged profile. How out of place he looked in such a beautiful setting. Juan’s most familiar haunts were streets crowded with ragged soldiers and refugees, sordid back alley bars, or noisy parties filled with greedy politicians.

Of course, he saw me lurking nearby. After you die a violent death, are you senses heightened? Maybe.

During his last scene in The Spear, Juan died instantly under the backwash of a flamethrower. His beautiful features were lost in fire as his clothes smoked and withered from his body.

Following the lightBut  here, with me, he was still as handsome as an Aztec-priest, his dreadlocks swirling around his shoulders as he turned to me. His fatigue pants, boots, and tunic were intact except for a few scorch marks and a single bullet hole over his left chest pocket. His face was shadowed, but I could see the flash of a smile as he fished a cigarette from the side pouch of his camera bag and lit it with a flame dancing on the end of his fingertip. I couldn’t smell the smoke, but I remembered the fragrance.

Horrified, I blurted, “Juan! You’re smoking!”

He laughed – a cozy masculine chuckle. “I’m dead. It’s the perfect time to start a bad habit!” He inhaled, sighing with pleasure. “I should’ve enjoyed these when I was alive to taste them.”

Leaning in the doorway, he watched me. Hesitantly, I stepped toward him and he held up his hand, palm out. “You can only talk to me. I’m no longer part of the corporeal world, so if you try to touch me, I’ll disappear.”

I whispered, “I’m so pissed at you, Juan.”

You’re pissed? You killed me, remember?”

“Where in hell have you been, Juan? Dammit, I made you my muse!”

“Yes, I know,” he said. “My death was central to the plot, but I hope you understand as a murdered character technically I owe you nothing.” He was preening like a cat, teasing me, just out of reach. “I know I had to die, but I still don’t like it,” Juan continued. For the first time, emotion crept into his voice.  “Your  plot made sense, of course. I’d been striving for thirty years to duplicate my original moment of glory so just when I made the perfect shot – boom! Lights out.”

a-wwii-combat-photographerHe shrugged and gestured toward me with his cigarette. “What was it you said about me in your Flat Line blog?”

“‘He was just too hot to live,’” I muttered. “You were a goner from the first page. But, you were so useful, such a wonderful foil for naïve Varla and the other women who loved you.” I knew without looking he was smiling again, white teeth brightening his copper skin. Vain even in death.

My muse beamed. “Yes, they did love me. In spite of all my misfortunes, I never lost my touch.”

In spite of his warning, I stepped closer. “Juan, what would you change in the novel, aside from your death?”

He thought for a moment and I closed my eyes, waiting in the cool night breeze for his answer.

“Just a few things. Jef and Varla should become lovers before the second chapter. This was a romance novel, remember? It’s supposed to be fun – not like real life, with all the tedious emotional bargaining. Also, I would like Ishana sent with me in a blaze of glory. I miss her.” He sounded lonely, so I turned away. Let him have his pride and privacy.

The sun was long gone, and faint stars rotated above the horizon. I couldn’t see him now, but I knew he was close by.

“I want you to come back, Juan. My mind is blank; I’m paralyzed.”

Sudden irritation tinged his voice.  “Look, you’re not the only needy writer in limbo. You’ve turned me into a damned literary Santa Clause, running my ass all over the world, bestowing blessed gifts of inspiration on you burn outs.”

“You really are pissed, aren’t you?”

He shrugged and flicked the cigarette onto the deck. Its tiny coal winked out on the trex.

bokeh-kiss_l“What can I do to appease you – to make you love me again?” I asked.

“Give me one more night with Ishana!”

“That’s all it would take?” I grinned. “I could write that. For you.”

A moment passed before he said, “You wrote a good first novel, kid, and I’m proud of you. But, there are rules. Even if I wanted to, I can’t show up just because you whistle.”

I sighed. “What if I beg, plead, and grovel? I will, you know.”

“Hell, don’t do that. I hate women who beg.” He lit another cigarette. “Listen, you know how this works. I don’t appear until you are ready. You’re just too tired now, but it won’t always be this way. You have my permission to play with words, enjoy sending out queries and swat at rejections like some word-wielding King Kong. Whatever you do, do not stop writing. Promise me.”

In a wink of starlight, he was gone. The faintest whiff of cigarette smoke tingled my nose.

“I promise,” I whispered. No matter what, I knew he would always have my back.

What does your muse want from you?

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Photo credit: DVIDSHUB / Foter.com / CC BY

Photo credit: Defence Images / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

FLEXING MY WINGS in MAY

I wish there were more letters in the alphabet. A to Z  Blogging Challenge keep me writing every day. It gave me a chance to flex my wings, and I want to keep the momentum.

So, my gentle goals for May, 2013 are as follows: the-rise-my-new-flickr-friend-camera-truth_l

1. I will blog once a week, Sunday night.

2. Nightly, I’ll continue working on first chapters for several novel ideas (just to see if anything grabs me), and I’ll be more open to panster style. Maybe a rigid outline isn’t what I need now. Luring my muse out of hiding is crucial and, if I have to give up obsessive control of my words to find him again, I’ll do it!

3. I’ll search for more firsthand information and advice from published authors. So far, two wonderful ladies, Tina and Gayle, have shared their experiences on the way to the published land. Nothing takes the place of the thoughts of those who did it. (I’ll add their last names and book titles when I get permission from these great gals.)

4. Two queries a week will leave this house, no matter what. It surprises me how difficult it is to push the button on your query letter or print out the packet for snail mail agents.  Arrgh!

5. My quest for information about the pros and cons of self-publishing continues.

6. Daily, I’ll send thoughts of thanks to my husband, Rick, my great fan, Georgie, my beta reader, and Lynette, my critique partner, for their honest, intelligent feedback.

And, I haven’t forgotten that Spring is coming, and I’ll be outside, getting dirty, planting, or just basking in the beautiful Colorado sun.

So, what are your gentle goals for May?

Photo credit: gmayster01 on & off … / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Renegade-self

R  is for Renegade.

My first novel is finished, queries are emailed. Now what? I have several ideas on the back burner but, honestly, they aren’t what I want to write. Not at this moment.

So, I’m wondering – should I give in and write a contemporary adult fiction novel – a story of life right outside the front door with no paranormal creatures or sexy space guys. Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best books I’ve read are about normal people solving problems, but I have the feeling these stories are not mine to tell. Once you’ve written something you really enjoy, something that makes you laugh, cry, or wish you could be in the story, you can’t ever go back.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a renegade but when it comes to this, I fall down the predictable rabbit hole. I do want to snag an agent, and I want to be traditionally published. If I create a mainstream novel at least I would have more agents to query. Another novel (possibly a sequel) with an interstellar setting, humor, and sexual content reduces my potential agent base.

So, I’m faced with a dilemma. Creativity verses $.  Write what might sell or write what you love? Slog on with the popular stuff or be a renegade writer, out for a good time, fearless and foolish?

The song Girls Just Want to Have Fun keeps running through my mind. Well, so do writers!

What does your renegade self tell you to write?stars-th

Night Talk

N – It’s blog time. This nightly blog is becoming a habit, a good one. In fact, with this blog I’ve completed one hundred posts!stars-th

So, how did I end up blogging in the first place?

Several years ago I attended a course for writers given by a literary agency. I had promised myself I would NOT start attending conferences, spending tons of money I don’t have to listen to agents and authors talk about themselves. But, a friend persuaded me to go, and fifty bucks later there I was, crammed in a tiny room in a local synagogue basement.

It was an amazing two hours. The advice was invaluable. I asked about internet presence, and the agent said I absolutely needed at least a blog and preferably a website. That information alone was worth my hard-earned money.

Blogging has been a tremendous source of joy for me. Many writers and artists are solitary creatures, and a blog forces me to communicate. It opens an incredible world of creativity, opinion, and some really gorgeous travel photos. Blogging offers such a wealth of beauty and information, I’m proud to be part of it – albeit in a small way. I’ve made new friends all over the world, I’ve been amazed and charmed,  annoyed and offended. But never bored.

And the nameless agent who inspired my blog? She has the honor of being the first agent to reject my novel query! I don’t hold it against her, though. She opened a fabulous world of information for me, and I’ll always appreciate it.

And, she was the first dent in my new car. What a relief that’s over. 1206561194340298058Chrisdesign_Future_car_svg_thumbWho or what inspired your first blog?

Building Blocks

B – My Building Blocks of writing started piling up when Mom showed me how to use a thesaurus. She wanted to share one of the greatest resources for word enthusiasts ever created.  I would pick a page at random, study words, learn new ones, and read for stars-thhours. The sheer number of words dazzled me.  And, even now, I close my eyes, rifle the pages  and, when I stop,   I’m always amazed at the beautiful and miraculous variety of our language under my fingertips. Some people do this with the Bible, finding endless affirmation and hope. To me the thesaurus is the bible of words, filled with inspiration and creativity.

What building block of writing sits on your bookshelf?