Has anyone seen my muse?

Xanadu-Olivia-Newton-John-Michael-Beck-2_large“I’m a muse.”

“I’m glad someone thinks this is funny.”

“No. A MUSE….”

You know it’s gonna be weird when I paraphrase Xanadu.

Since January, I’ve been consulting part time and writing. The last few months have been especially tough. More so, since my own personal muse seems to have gone on extended holiday.

Along with book 2 of The Arcana Chronicles (I’ve outlined through book five, BTW), I’ve been working on a super-secret SciFi trilogy, and am beginning character development on something that could be a very cool collaboration with writer Emmett Spain.

But most of the words coming from my keyboard have been crap.

Or online job applications.

jim-ignatowski-picThe interview process has been slow…I have a few great leads and potential opportunities…but I feel like I’m watching that episode of Taxi—you know the one, where Jim Ignatowsky played by the wonderful Christopher Lloyd is taking his drivers test and asks for help on the first question:

“What does a yellow light mean?” asks Jim.

“Slow down.”

“Okay. Whaaaat. Doooooes. Aaaaaaa. Yeeeeelloooow. Liiiiight. Meeeeaaan.”

That’s exactly what waiting for job follow-up and feedback is like.

Something will pop soon. I’m certain of it.

This waiting thing is playing havoc with my writing. The stress of not knowing what I’ll be doing is making me a bit crazy.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m lucky in the fact that my partner has a great job and is covering the household bills for the time being. And she is so unbelievably supportive of me in every way. I’m truly blessed.

I’m one of these weird people who like to work. Would I love to be a writer fulltime? Absolutely. Maybe someday that will be my “day job.”

But for now—for right now, I want to get back into the game full time.

Because when I work, I’m happy. And when I’m happy, maybe that fickle bitch I call my muse will come back from holiday.

 

 

 

The Word Count Episode 17 – “It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…”

Welcome to Episode 17 of “The Word Count” podcast!

This week’s show is based on the theme “It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…”

Links to the show:

Direct: http://thewordcount.libsyn.com/webpage
iTunes (and remember, iTunes takes their sweet time in posting.  If you don’t see it yet, keep trying!): http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-word-count/id392550989

Our guests this week:

Bill_KBILL KIRTON

Bill Kirton has been a university lecturer, presented TV programmes, written and performed songs and sketches at the Edinburgh Festival, and had many radio plays broadcast by the BBC and the Australian BC. He’s written three books on study and writing skills in Pearson’s ‘Brilliant’ series and his crime novels, Material Evidence, Rough Justice, The Darkness, Shadow Selves and the historical novel The Figurehead, set in Aberdeen in 1840, have been published in the UK and USA. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and Love Hurts was chosen for the Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 2010. He’s also published the first of a series of children’s stories called Stanley Moves In. 

Website: http://www.bill-kirton.co.uk 

Blog:  http://livingwritingandotherstuff.blogspot.com/ 

Twitter name: @carver22

 

eb_newweb_picEDEN BAYLEE

Eden writes erotica incorporating all her favorite things: travel; culture; and sex. She enjoys weaving together stories with edgy themes, and sex is but one way to do it. Her first book, Fall into Winter, a collection of four erotic novellas, is currently available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites located on her website. 
She is now working on her follow up anthology entitled Spring into Summer.Connect with her via her Website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Website:  www.edenbaylee.com

Twitter name:  @edenbaylee

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/edenbaylee

 

 

 

 

MMUNSONMATTHEW MUNSON

Matthew Munson has followed the Word Count Podcast since #1, and he is honoured to be a regular contributor to its hallowed halls. Matthew is a advocate for dyspraxia and deaf awareness and has his first fiction book being published by Inspired Quill at the end of September (Fall From Grace, look out for it!). Matthew has heard of the concept of free time, but believes it to be nothing more than an urban myth. 

Twitter; @mnwjm1981

Blog; http://vikingbay.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

kadinKADIN SETON

Kadin Seton is currently working on the science fiction series “Descent Into Darkness” and hopes to have the first book available by the end of the year. 

Twitter: @kadinseton

Why I went Indie – Part III

Printing-Press-1Part three of why I went indie (if you missed it, here is PART I and PART II) focuses on the Indie writer and the small presses.

I like to tell stories. I always have. When my partner and children suggested I finally start writing down my stories, well I laughed.

See, back in the 80’s I had delusions of being the next Tom Clancy, James Patterson or even Alan Moore. I have some of the coolest rejection letters from Penguin, Marvel and Dark Horse.

But with this new encouragement to write, I realized something pretty important.

I didn’t want to become famous. I just wanted to tell a story.

Between my change in writing purpose and the fact forty-year-olds tend to finish things they start (back in the eighties a ‘writing session’ turned into a ‘beer session’ very quickly), The Prodigal’s Foole developed very quickly.

While I was writing that first book, I began to look at how I wanted to get my story out there. The query process for both an agent/large publishing house was arduous and frustrating—having gone through that before. Oh, I went through the motions again, mind you. With similar results.

But there was something new to a burgeoning writer out there. Technology, PoD and social media weren’t around when I attempted to be a writer the first time.

Now, the publishing world was very different.

What I found is that there are a lot more ‘wannabe’ writers out there. And that’s not a bad thing as long as what you are submitting to the world is the best quality product you can make.

But quality isn’t always a part of the Indie and self-pub world.

So I began to look for something I really wanted for my stories—a collaborative group of like-minded authors within a small press environment. My criteria was pretty stringent for whom I wanted to work with: 

  • A small press with a cadre of GOOD authors—maybe 20 or so writers who put out really good stories.
  • A collaborative feel—industry professionals and authors who were willing to take time out of their own day to work with a writer—discussions of plot, storytelling, publishing experiences, etc. etc.
  • An attention to detail—a desire to produce quality work
  • The ability to change business models rapidly to adjust for all the new changes in publishing technology
  • Assistance with marketing and modern ‘word-of-mouth’ techniques.

The problem, of course, was not knowing what I wanted, but finding a group of people that wanted the same exact thing I did. To write stories, to be proud of ones words and to expand ones abilities by sharing, listening and growing as a writer.

Let me warn you now, there are a LOT of charlatans out there who are happy to charge you a boat-load of cash for the privilege of producing your book (rule number ONE of being a professional writer: cash flows TO the author). Do your research. Get a lawyer involved once you get some sort of contract. Understand and speak with other writers within a publishing group.

And if your gut tells you something is wrong, it probably is.

The group I ended up with is a small Indie press out of Pennsylvania called Pfoxchase. Before I signed with them, I’d gotten to know the creative director (and fellow author) Diane Nelson for over a year. We’d chatted via twitter, she submitted stories to The Word Count (my podcast, in case you didn’t know) she introdusced me to other authors. Some of which, like me, now write for her Pfoxpub Group.

 

There is the lovely and talented Bill Kirton, author and voice-over specialist (you’ve heard him if you’ve ever spent time in the UK listening to the BBC). There is Sessha Batto, erotic writer and graphic artist. Robb Grindstaff, marvelous writer and editor. T.L.Tyson, prolific writer and vlogger-she writes more in a week than I have in a few months. I could go on about talent like John Browne, John Booth, Jessica L. Degarmo, Heikki Hietala, Lisa Hinsley, Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova), Kira Morgana, Noelle Pierce, Kate Rigby, Greta van der Rol, Gev Sweeney, and Brian Talgo but you get my point (and besides, all their bios can be found HERE).

 

I found what I was looking for in a publisher.

You may have different aspirations. You may have different goals. But ultimately, as long as you stick with it, are willing to listen & learn and strive for quality, you will be successful.

 

Going with an Indie small press has been a wonderful experience so far. I have learned a lot from my association with Pfoxchase. I’ve also laughed, cried screamed and giggled myself into fits.

The end result is that my first book comes out at the end of October. And I’m happy with the story and the people I’ve chosen to work with.

In the meantime, I’m still accepting submissions for the next podcast (see the post below this one for details) and this blog is still in the running for a ‘Most Valuable Blogger of Boston’ award. You can vote once a day until September 9th, should you wish.

To vote, click HERE.

 

Peace

The Word Count Episode 17: Submissions now OPEN!

FastThe Word Count Episode 17: SUBMISSIONS are now OPEN!

There was a clear winner for the next Podcast theme as chosen by readers of my blog.  With 35.7% of the vote, here is your prompt:

“It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…”

The guidelines, due date, and details for submissions are all below.  We have a short window for submissions this time so get cracking my writerly friends!

The Word Count Episode Seventeen Submission Guidelines (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY)

PROMPT: It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…

GENRE: Any.

DEADLINE: I must receive your submission by MIDNIGHT (Eastern Time) Friday 26th August 2011

THE DETAILS:

The work must be an original of yours. It could be a poem, short story, song—anything really as long as you write something based on the stated theme (It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…).  Do NOT exceed ten minutes.  As this is a podcast, I need to receive a file of YOU reading (singing or otherwise performing) your work. MP3 FORMAT, please attach your MP3 file to an e-mail. The e-mail should also contain the following:

  • Your pen name
  • Your bio
  • Links to your websites
  • Your Twitter name (if you have one)
  • A photo I can use for the show notes
  • Permission to use your recording in the podcast
  • At the end of the recording, please add the following: “The is <YOUR NAME> author of <YOUR WORK(s)> and you’re listing to The Word Count Podcast”

Send your file to me@rbwood.com by Friday the 26th of August. You can also e-mail me with questions before hand. I do reserve the right NOT to post your submission, but will communicate that to you should it be the case. I add the ‘Explicit’ tag to the ‘cast, so if your story uses adult themes or language that’s ok—but it should be necessary for the story.

Peace

You decide the next prompt!

question-markThe Poll for the next Word Count Podcast is up and to the left!

Vote on what you’d like to see, write and record for the next show. I’m only going to keep the poll active until Monday morning 22 August so make sure you have your say!

The potential prompts are:

The star cruiser came out of hyperspace when suddenly…

It happened so quickly I had no time to think, only react…

It was not the birthday gift I was expecting…

The fire spread rapidly…

The knife was covered in blood…

 

Let your voices be heard!

<– Make your selection over here

 

Peace

What an honor!

MVB_badge_bostonWow!

I’m excited to let you all know that my blog (yes, the thing you’re reading right this second) has been nominated for a “Most Valuable Blog of Boston” award!

When I started this site a couple of years ago, it was initially setup as a cheap therapy session during my quest to publish my first novel. Since then it’s grown to include commentary on the writing industry, sharing the wonderful words of fellow writers via this site and The Word Count podcast, and so much more.

I want to thank whomever nominated me as well as all the readers who lurk on my page.  This has been fun so far and I look forward to many more years to come.

If you’d like to vote for me, here is the link:

http://boston.blogger.cbslocal.com/most-valuable-blogger/blog/383-the-arcana-chronicles/


You can vote once each day until September 9th, 2011.

Vote often! 🙂

 

Peace 

Why I went Indie – Part II

indieWhy I went Indie is a rather interesting tale. In the first part of this essay, I discussed Technology (Part I can be found HERE). Technology and the rapidly changing world of publishing and product (in this case my book The Prodigal’s Foole) delivery is just one reason.

In this section, I’ll discuss both the self-publishing industry and the social media impact on being a writer in the modern era. Both subjects seem diverse on the surface, but you’ll shortly see they dovetail together nicely.

Self Publishing has been around for a long time as an option for a writer to get their wares out to the reading public. There’s stories about authors traveling around with copies of their books in the trunks of their cars—Tom Clancy is one (it wasn’t until Ronald Reagan got a copy of Hunt for Red October and mentioned it to a reporter that Clancy’s books took off). Milton was the first to defend “self-publisher” rights (Areopagitica 1644). Some other famous self-published authors (and this is by no means an all-inclusive list):

William Blake, Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Zane Gray, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allan Poe…

Well, you get the idea. Self-publishing is NOT a new concept.

What is new are the multitude of options available to self-publish. Starting with the desktop publishing software available to the PC market (1985 is considered a pinnacle year with the introduction of MacPublisher and Pagemaker) and now with online Print on Demand services such as CreateSpace from Amazon or LuLu (there are dozens of others) there are even easier ways to “get your book out there.”

In fact, there are so many authors now that are bypassing the large and small imprints and going straight to POD, that the POD companies are beginning to have problems of their own. I won’t dwell on that here, but Tracy L. Darity wrote a great blog post recently about the “POD Bubble” which can be found HERE.

Self-publishing does have a series of downsides—one is that a large percentage of the work self-published isn’t very good. From story problems through to grammatical errors, many, many of these books are just awful. If you do end up going this route yourself, get and editor. Get beta readers. Make sure what you put your name on is a quality product.

The other issue is marketing. See? I told you we’d get to social media.

Let’s start with Twitter. I joined this micro-blogging site nearly three years ago. My first tweet was: “This seems like a waste of time.”

Three years on, 4000+ tweets and 2000 followers later, I’ve proven that first impression very wrong. I’ve “met” fellow writers, editors and publishers via Twitter. All (sans one) of my beta readers were found on Twitter. I found my own Indie publisher, Pfoxchase (and the lovely creative director Diane Nelson) via this medium. I recently met a dozen or so writers I’ve interacted with online at ReaderCON. It’s all about the networking. Because if you are going to self-publish or go with with a small press, a lot of the marketing for your work is going to be done by you online.

Facebook is another tool for your marketing toolkit. I have a writer’s page (You can “like” it and follow me via Facebook…there’s a button to the left of this article) and a page of my book series.

LinkedIn is yet another professional tool which I wrote about in detail in a guest blog post on Kait Nolan’s site found HERE.

There are plenty of author sites too. Authonomy is a site where you can get peer feedback on a work in progress. Goodreads is another site I use frequently.

Hell, I’m even on Google+ now.

My point is, you need to let people know you’re out there. All these tools and many others will help you. But be warned, just like the “Nigerian Diplomant who want to give me five million dollars,” there are scammers out there as well. Do your research and be smart about who you “friend” and who you interact with.

One of the reasons I went Indie isn’t because I couldn’t self-publish. It’s because I chose to partner with a group of writers who not only offer support and feedback, but help with the whole marketing aspect as well. It’s not like the big presses who have entire marketing departments to help with brochures, radio spots and have massive advertising budgets.

But there is a personal touch that you can’t get with a large corporation.

We’ll discuss Indie Presses in detail in Part III, coming soon.

Peace

 

 

The Word Count Episode16 is LIVE!

Welcome to Episode 16 of “The Word Count” podcast!

This week’s show is based on the theme “Your character suspects his/her husband is having an affair and decides to spy on him. What she/he discovers is not what he/she was expecting…”

Links to the show:

Direct: http://thewordcount.libsyn.com/webpage

iTunes (and remember, itunes takes their sweet time in posting.  If you don’t see it yet, keep trying!): http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-word-count/id392550989

Our guests this week:

ebfaceEDEN BAYLEE

Eden writes erotica, provocative stories incorporating all her favorite things: travel; culture; and sex. Sometimes there’s romance, sometimes not. Sometimes there’s a happy ending, sometimes not. What is consistent are the multi-dimensional characters who grow and change as the stories progress. Sex is the backdrop, but a very important element in their evolution.  She left a long and distinguished career in banking to become a full-time writer.  Her first book, Fall into Winter, a book of four erotic novellas, is currently available via AMAZON, Barnes & Noble, and other sites located on her website.

 

Website:  www.edenbaylee.com

Twitter name:  @edenbaylee

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/edenbaylee

 

Bill_KBILL KIRTON

Bill Kirton has been a university lecturer, presented TV programmes, written and performed songs and sketches at the Edinburgh Festival, and had many radio plays broadcast by the BBC and the Australian BC. He’s written three books on study and writing skills in Pearson’s ‘Brilliant’ series and his crime novels, Material Evidence, Rough Justice, The Darkness, Shadow Selves and the historical novel The Figurehead, set in Aberdeen in 1840, have been published in the UK and USA. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies and Love Hurts was chosen for the Mammoth Book of Best British Crime 2010. He’s also published the first of a series of children’s stories called Stanley Moves In. 

Website: http://www.bill-kirton.co.uk 

Blog:  http://livingwritingandotherstuff.blogspot.com/ 

Twitter name: @carver22

 

 

facebook_pic_by_Stan_Tunstall-OtterburnMICHELLE BIRBECK

Ever tried to teach the fish how to read? That’s what I was doing with my books when I was five; it’s one of my earliest memories involving books. Apparently I thought their little fishy mouths working away made them look bored, so instead of reading to them, I popped my entire Peter Rabbit collection right on into the fish tank and started trying to teach them how to read. I’m not sure if they learned anything, but I’m pretty sure that it was a memorable start to my journey into the world of literature, if only for the mess my parents had to clean up afterwards. Since then that journey has taken me to many places, and eventually led here, to the world of writing and publishing. Over the years however, I went from children’s classics to the darker worlds of horror and fantasy. Now my creative world is one filled with blood and pain, with characters that are tortured and tormented and put through hell on the fleeting hope that there might be an end in sight. 

Website link: http://michellebirbeck.co.uk 

Twitter: @michellebirbeck

Why I went Indie – Part I

book_and_ebookAdmittedly, I’m biased.

See, I’ve signed on with an Indie Publisher (PfoxChase). With Spirits of All Hallows Eve in final edits (before the Creative Director at Pfoxchase rips it to shreds ?) prior to an August release, and The Prodigal’s Foole about to go through final stages before it’s publication on Halloween 2011, I’ve got nothing but love for the Indie world.

My recent attendance at ReaderCON 22 this year did nothing but solidify my decision to go this route to get my writing out there for the world to see.

I think the why I’m going this route is an important discussion to have though, as well as some of the things to look out for.

This essay will be broken into three parts.  First I’ll chat a bit about the technology of today and how that impacts the “bricks and mortar” businesses of the traditional publishing houses.  Second, I’ll touch on self-publishing and modern tools such as CreateSpace do “do the deed” through to social media and marketing.  Lastly, the Indie presses.  Why finding one that fits what you want to accomplish is critical, what was important to me in an Indie, and things to avoid.

Technology

I’m a technology consultant—been in the IT business for nearly 30 years at this point.  This is important, because the entire publishing industry has been turned on its ear in the last few years and technology is one of the main reasons.

Not just because of the e-readers out there (which I’ll discuss in a moment).

Amazon and other large warehouse-type operations first changed how logistics is handled.  Bulk purchasing, distribution, ease of ordering and high services ratings along with low overhead created the first strain on the industry.  Margins were slashed.  An all out price war ensued.  This is the plus side to capitalism, and consumer costs come down.  It really is Economics 101.

The traditional publishing houses were, of course, watching.  But from their perspective, although financial models changed, it was business as usual with regard to talent acquisition.

Like the music industry when the iPod and MP3 players were released (and believe me the introduction of cloud-based services hasn’t made the financial models easier), introduction of the kindle, nook, and to some degree the iPad has allowed easier access to the written word digitally.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE the feel and smell of a book.  But with online book services such as Amazon and digital content companies such as Smashwords, the old bricks and mortar bookstores are in trouble (Borders is done, and B&N is not far behind).

And when I’m traveling, there is nothing like a library of 400 books on my Kindle to bring the weight of my bag down considerably.

What’s been fun to watch is how the industry itself is reacting to the technology.  Because they still have no real idea what to do with it.  Oh, there are many different formatting standards for digital books (ePub, MOBI, even PDF) but utilizing the technology is something no one has fully realized yet.

Let’s step back in time for a moment to see how we got here.

Writing on stone tablets became scrolls…the codex of ancient times, if you will.  But they were linear in progression, which was difficult to stop an start.  For example, let’s say you read a scroll 80% of the way through, then were called away to , say, build a pyramid or something.  When you returned, you’d have to find your place by unfurling 80% of the scroll again.

The Chinese were quite clever about their scrolls.  They included a progressive set of pages that could be unfurled leaving the reader with a slightly better way to access randomly where you were in a particular tome.

The book as it is today is a natural extension of this ancient technology.  It’s compact, broken into pages, perhaps has a Table of Contents and/or an index.  A much improved paper version of the scroll.  Believe it or not, your standard length novel of today developed for economic reasons—it was the most cost effective size to produce.

Now we have this digital medium for books.  We are currently in a transition phase to this new medium.  The economics are virtually the same for a short story and a massive tome, so what will be the driving force in the future?

My guess is that it will be time.  Time to produce work at get it out there for you and I to read.  I think you will slowly see the decline of the 100,000-word novel in favor of shorter works that hit the street faster to keep an author current.  These singles will act as standalone stories, or be published every few weeks/months in a serialized format.  It will all be about speed.

Along with this change will be the ‘smart book,’ an interactive literary experience that will not only tell a tale, but also include links and multimedia components to enhance the experience.  Maybe there will be an interactive map that will allow you to follow along with the main character’s travels and adventures.  Video of locations might be included or a song that a character sings might be imbedded.  For non-fiction digital books, the foot and endnotes might become hyperlinks for reference.

Not only will a writer need a good editor, but eventually a multimedia technologist might be needed.

But for now, for right now, the industry is unsure of the next steps.  Which is why the big publishing houses are watching the Indie publishers so carefully.  Indie’s can move and change business models much easier than a big conglomerate can.  And eventually someone is going to crack the technology model for this new digital book age.

Part II soon.

Peace