Two, count them, two release dates!

Some news for y’all!

Firstly as I mentioned last time, a new Katya and Starbride short story will be out this November! BSB is publishing an anthology called Amor and More: Love Everafter starring main characters from different BSB novels, and Katya and Star will be there. The story’s set between The Pyramid Waltz and For Want of a Fiend. I hope it tides you over until…

April 14 2014! Which is when the third Katya and Star novel will be released! It’s still tentatively titled A Kingdom Lost. I’ll let you know when the final title is decided. But there you have it. A date at last!

I’m still hard at work on Book 4, the last in this adventure. Now I’ve just got to think of something to write next…

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a pic of Polly watching me eat popcorn. Note the intensity. She didn’t blink.

I made this face while trying to learn algebra

I made this face while trying to learn algebra

If any of you are working on something right now (and it doesn’t have to be writing), what is it ? Do you plan what you’re going to do next years in advance or fly by the seat of your pants?

I swear…

…I am working on a Barbie post.

In the meantime,

Edits are away to my publisher. Now to decide what the hell I’m gonna do until The Pyramid Waltz comes out in September!

Network: I’ve missed talking to my blog buddies as much as I want, and I haven’t been able to click any #FF links on twitter or to take any blog recommendations. Now I can! I’m looking forward to meeting more internet friends. I’m soooo much more awkward in person. I tend to smile really wide in overcompensation. ^_^

Book release party: I’ve got to plan one. Got to figure out how many people might come, book a venue, and then…no clue. Bake some cheese sticks?

Keep writing: Not only do I have to jot down some ideas for what I’m hoping will turn into a series from The Pyramid Waltz, I also want to write some new stuff, just to keep my brain elastic. Maybe something about giant sharks. Or pirates. Or giant shark pirates. Heh. I almost typed pilates. Giant shark pilates might be fun, too.

On a totally unrelated note and since in my day-to-day life I keep flipping from topic to topic here, I heard Huey Lewis and the News’s “Heart of Rock in Roll” in the car, and when he’s singing about LA, I know what he really says, but it sounds like:

“Neon signs and the pretty pretty girls
All dressed so skeptically.”

You’d need sensible walking shoes, in case you have to disprove something in the wilderness. You’d need heavy trousers for wading through weeds. You’d need all sorts of gear for your skeptical tasks, like cameras, meteorological sensors, tape measures and other tools, and an EMF detector in case you’re investigating ghosts. A girl dressed skeptically has to be prepared to disprove anything. ^_^ I didn’t know they were all Scullys in LA.

Everyone else got any news?

Yeah, yeah, rejection, blah blah

Favorite quote of the day:

“Rejection always stings. It stings me, you, everybody. Nobody likes to be rejected. A writer who likes being rejected is a writer who is secretly a robot and must be smelted down into slag before he tries to kill us all because he hates our meat. Pain is instructive. And it’s not permanent. Not if you don’t let it be. Some writers savor misery like a hard candy endlessly sucked in the pocket of one’s cheek, but fuck that.”

Taken blithely from Chuck Wendig’s blog.

I read that earlier today and it brought up so many memories. I’m not currently submitting anything, but I distinctly recall most of the rejections I’ve gotten. Many have been the puzzling form rejections. Some of have been handwritten little gems. Only one suggested I try something different with the work. The rest were veiled ways of saying, “I don’t think I can sell this.”

My favorite rejection was from an assistant who said she tried really hard to convince her boss to take me on. It was handwritten on the first page of my manuscript, wrapped around the form rejection as if she couldn’t leave a paper trail. Utterly heartwarming. I hope she some day gets her own agency. ^_^

I think I’m going to have a thoughtful day. How about you?

The online writing community

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + (Sometimes Myspace). And those are just the tip of the social media iceberg. More and more, it seems writers are hearing about these must-haves for getting their names out there before publishing, hell, before they even start writing. Build a friend-base, that which goes before fan-base. Then you’ll have more people to guilt into buying your book when it eventually comes out. ^_^

Add to that one’s own blog and then the myriad of groups there are to join, online writing groups and hashtag groups and nano groups. Huge writing communities where you meet a few people you get close to and a ton more that are just casual acquaintances. I wonder what the actually sales numbers linked to this sort of thing are? Sales of those with a large media circle compared to those with a small one?

Of course, I’m not doing it for sales. (Surely everyone says this? ^_^) I love the writers I’ve found, the groups I’ve joined, the friends I’ve made.

Broaduniverse and The Outer Alliance have pointed me toward Crossed Genres, where I made my first sale.

Critters gave me friends I’ll keep for a lifetime (Hello, Pattie and Daniel!).

And as for the blogs I follow, well, I’ve gotten valuable support and advice (and some awesome good reads, Maria and Kaz!) not to mention invited to another blog and a given a really cute coin purse (looking at you, Marilou). As for the rest of you, (Faith, the Carols, Cat, Jackie B. Victoria, not to mention the Backspace folks and my writing group) and all the rest who’ve stopped by to comment, I love you, too, even if you never buy a book.

How did you jump on the social media train? Were you encouraged as a writer, or did you just want to meet other people like yourself? What’s your media outlet of choice? (If you’re on twitter, find me at @zendragandt and I’ll follow you back. ^_^)

More like a big sinkhole

So, the conference didn’t go quite the way I hoped. However, I did make a lot of new friends, and I got one of the things I came for: feedback.

Now, back to the drawing board. ^_^

New York, the city, was as cool as I remembered. Saw some old favs like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Also was able to take a walk through Central Park, something I’ve wanted to do but never got around to. And man was it hot, hotter than I expected. Luckily, I ate some very good food that wasn’t good for me at all. I had no choice, really. My ego demanded I eat to help it heal, really. That’s totally what happened.

I’m running ragged right now trying to finish my current round of edits but also preparing for the fact that I’m moving to Austin soon, with the only question being exactly when. I will try try try to get some pics up later this week, not only of the city but also of the swag I picked up here and there, including a very sparkly scarf and a purse that my friend haggled for. (I’m not a natural haggler, me.)

*Sigh* How has your week been? Did I miss anything?

I conference, you conference, we all conference!

Or maybe it’s just me. That’s right, kids, it’s almost time for the Backspace Writer’s Conference. I am at once both excited and terrified.

I’m excited because unlike pitch conferences, we’ll be reading the material to agents and getting feedback. Yes, you heard that right, actual feedback! Good or bad, I’ll be learning about how to improve my query and my opening pages straight from the agent’s mouth.

I’m terrified because of the very same thing. Really, you thought it would be different? I am currently feeling really positive about the entire thing, though. I’ve got my query letter in good shape and I’ve edited my opening two pages into oblivion. I even have my logline. Behold:

“Using Cherokee and African magic, an inexperienced young woman embarks on a dangerous journey through the Georgia swamp in order to keep a young man’s soul from being devoured by animal spirits.”

I hope that’s not confusing as hell. I also hope you want to run right out and buy it if I can get it in the door. Wish me luck, friends, and I’ll be posting again in two weeks!

The small press march continues

I submitted to another small press today. Blurgh. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I can say that in the same tone of voice as, “I went to the bank today,” or “I’m off to buy some throw pillows.” There’s hope, resignation and a sense of the everyday about the whole thing. I can’t say I get the exact same mishmash of feelings about throw pillows, though.

I’m doing pretty good on my current project. Spending most of yesterday at IHOP eating waffles and writing helped a lot. I’m definitely going out somewhere again this week to see if I can keep my roll going.

As for pen displays, I haven’t started trying to make a wall display yet. You all had some excellent suggestions, and I think the one that I might try first are those foam shapes that you buy at hobby stores. From what I’ve seen they, have all sorts of shapes and I could paint them and then mash pens down into them. I’d have to figure out how to hang them on the wall….

What’s taking up all your recent time?

This one’s for the spambots

I think I’m finally famous, guys. The spambots are leaving at least five comments on all of my posts. I finally made it! So, this is what fame is like!

Or not.

Anyway, I’m in serious trouble. I just found out that sharpie occasionally puts out limited edition colors. I had to buy them all. What the hell did I do before I had a “stingray” colored marker?!?!
Did I mention I’m a sucker for a pen/marker sales tactic? You already guessed? You know me so well!

I have my small press list whittled down. And soon, I will be making my first submission to Pyr. I’ve heard a lot about them, and I actually own some of the books they put out, and I think they’re a solid outfit. Now, if I only I can summon up the courage to begin the submission process all over again. Sigh. I think I’ll just submit instead of waiting for the Amazon contest. As I said before, I don’t have a hope in hell of winning, and I want to get this submission show on the road.

Tomorrow and hopefully every Wednesday, I’ll be blogging on Fansci. So far, it’s three women talking about everything sci fi and fantasy. Come check it out.

One more tidbit. In case you haven’t heard, Maria Zannini is holding a follower contest on her blog. Prize is a shirt or a critique of a 90K novel. She promises to be brutal. ^_^

What’s the first web contest you ever entered? It’s been so long for me that I can’t remember, but I think it was for a book.

One small press for man…

Or woman, in this case.

So, thanks to Marilou’s suggestion to check out Duotrope, Maria’s list of more small presses, and Carol Garvin’s info on the ones I had, I’ve got more presses on my list. Now, I’m whittling them down further. I haven’t had a chance to delve very deeply into their websites, and before I even try, I’m googling each of them to see how widespread they are.

I’m looking to see what social and business networks they’re on, what distributors they’re attached to and what contacts they have. I’m also checking to make sure they haven’t been tagged by Writer’s Beware or outed as scam artists by the Absolute Write Water Cooler. Victoria Strauss, I know you’ll probably never read this, but you’re da bomb, as the kids used to say. ^_^

Regarding social and business networks, I originally thought, who cares? Anyone can get a facebook, twitter or linkedin account. It doesn’t actually mean anything that they have them. Now, after my research, I think it might mean that they actually give a damn. Some of the presses I researched haven’t bothered to sign up for anything. As easy as it is to set up these accounts, some of them haven’t taken the time to do so.

The ones that have taken the time are getting the word out about their authors and doing what they can to promote them. So far, all the presses I’ve found that look really good (good history of publishing what I write, good buzz, good connections, etc.) have accounts on all the networks out there.

What do you think? Do a lot of social/business networks help a publisher’s credibility? Would you rank that low on your list of credits a small house should have?

Oh, and I have to share with you a sweet rejection letter I got from an agent’s assistant:
“Though what you’ve written promises to be thoughtful and compelling, I’m afraid we were unable to find a place for it at this agency.”
Call me optimistic, but I’m taking that to mean she really wanted her agent to rep it, but they didn’t have room. ^_^

Small Press update

I’m still compiling a list of small presses. I was disturbed to see that so many have been gobbled up by huge presses. They might still call themselves by their original name,s but when you go to their websites now, you’re redirected to Harper Collins or one of the other biggies.

And not too many of those take unagented submissions. Bleh. Some small presses are now doing the same, just because so many people are submitting to them. Double bleh.

If you live in the UK, Canada, or Australia, you have a lot of options. I had to take those small presses off my list, though, as I live in Texas. ^_^

Many small presses are currently closed to any and all submissions, probably because they’ve got too much on their plates. All this searching really makes me wish I’d gotten on the stick years ago with this writing thing.

So, my whittled down list of small pubs that are:

A) Open
B) Open to unagented subs
C) Open to subs from the US
D) Accepting SF/F

so far comes to 7. No seriously, 7. I’ve been to a hundred or so, and I’ve got 7. I’m going to keep looking, obviously. Submitting right away is not something I had planned to do. Still, that number is a little discouraging. If you know of any small presses, throw them out here. I’ll make sure to put them on my list if they’re not already. So far, I’ve got:

Lethe Press
Edge Press
Immanion Press
Aqueduct Press
Four Walls Eight Windows

I have not delved deep into any of these yet. I do not know there business practices, response times, etc. Please do not take my pasting of them on my site as any kind of endorsement. I’m just telling you what I’ve found. If you have any info or experience with these presses, I would love to hear it and would repost it, giving you credit for the info, of course.

So, that’s where I am. Victoria Dixon also gave me the idea of entering the Amazon Breakout Novel Contest. I don’t think I have a hope in Hades of winning, but feedback from random strangers could be nice. What do you guys think? If you’re in a go-for-it kind of mood, I might post my query here, just to find out what you think before I let the amazon people see it. Hell, I might do that anyway….

Any contests you like to enter? Do you troll the web for book giveaways? Writing contests? Fun fair raffles? I once won a stuffed bear at Kmart when I was little. It was an Icee giveaway. I was over the moooon. ^_^