It’s dolphins all the way down

I learned a few things this week. Posts about writing will get comments, but posts about dogs with socks will bring visitors by the droves. ^_^

I also learned there are some cool views in my neighborhood. I went for a walk yesterday (in the finally cool weather) and it ended up lasting two hours. Here’s one of the reasons why:

It’s kind of hard to see from my phone pic, but that’s a hill. I’ve never really lived anywhere with significant hills before. (Yes, I know, o people of the mountains, that you have seen bigger and better hills. ^_^) Of course, the walking down was easier than the walking up, and the hill continued after that corner, all the way down to the depressed area in the distance. (I didn’t go THAT far.)

Along the way I saw an awesome tree:

If you look closely, you can see the moon showing itself during the day.

And I spotted a neat little function house:

Not quite sure what it’s for yet. Maybe parties or weddings. This is a huge neighborhood, what they’re tying to push as a planned community, and it has lots of parks and pools and function rooms. There’s even an elementary school INSIDE the ‘hood. What I like about it is the miles of sidewalks. Without any hiking trails close, sidewalks are the only place I can walk without the risk of getting run over or wandering onto someone’s property.

And the last thing I learned this week is….

I HAVE A BOOK COVER! >_< SQQQUUUEEEE! So excited. I don't think I can show you, yet, but I will as soon as possible. To keep you until then, here's a photo of the congratulatory balloons my husband bought me:

Nothing says congrats like a mylar dolphin. Remember that. ^______^

What fabulous or not-so-fabulous things have you learned in the week since I’ve seen 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. ^_^)

Guess who’s gonna be published…

…me! I’ve wanted to tell you so bad, internets, but was encouraged to wait until the press release. Behold:

August 24, 2011 Press Release: New Title from Barbara Ann Wright

Bold Strokes Books is pleased to announce the acquisition of Barbara Ann Wright’s new romantic fantasy, The Pyramid Waltz, scheduled for release in 2012.

The Pyramid Waltz – Coming in 2012

To most, Princess Katya Nar Umbriel is a rogue and a layabout; she parties, she hunts and she breaks women’s hearts. But when the festival lights go down and the palace slumbers, Katya chases traitors to the crown and protects the kingdom’s greatest secret: the royal Umbriels are part Fiend. When Katya thwarts an attempt to expose the king’s monstrous side, she uncovers a plot to let the Fiends out to play.

Starbride has no interest in being a courtier. Ignoring her mother’s order to snare an influential spouse, she comes to court only to study law. But a flirtatious rake of a princess proves hard to resist, and Starbride is pulled into a world of secrets that leaves little room for honesty or love, a world neither woman may survive.

About the Author

Barbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not adding to her enormous book collection or ranting on her blog. Her short fiction has appeared twice in Crossed Genres Magazine and once made Tangent Online’s recommended reading list. She is a member of Broad Universe and the Outer Alliance and helped create Writer’s Ink in Houston.

She is married, has an army of pets, and lives in Texas. Her writing career can be boiled down to two points: when her mother bought her a typewriter in the sixth grade and when she took second place in the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing in 2004. One gave her the means to write and the other gave her the confidence to keep going. Believing in oneself, in her opinion, is the most important thing a person can do.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
*deep breath*
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. I’m so excited, y’all. If I could do a cartwheel without guarantee of permanent injury, I would do one. And yeah, with my natural gracefulness, permanent injury IS guaranteed.

If you wanna see my bio with a full color, cleavage shot, go to my Bold Strokes bio page.

Must…hold…in…squee……

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Deep breath, deep breath. Maintain composure. Quick! Look over there! A sequined purse!

Ah, there. Calm returning. I can breathe again. Come on up here on this cloud with me, friends, and lets go get something tasty. I’m lovin’ life.

^_^

 

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!

I wish I was back in London, but no, I am in edit hell

The weather looks so nice in England. Not that it isn’t nice here in TX, but when my mom and I were in the UK in December, it was so freakin’ cold! I want to be back there when we can stay out past 5pm and not be in danger of hypothermia.

Also, if I were in another country, I wouldn’t be slogging through the first draft of my manuscript, trying to put everything in order, trying to make my plot run smoothly. And oh God, the cliches! I use them as placeholders, framework if you will, to hang my plot on and then I change the specifics later. But now I’m running into them and having to edit them out. I’m both laughing and ashamed.

Let me see you a scene. My group of three heroes gets separated. Two are in one warehouse, another is in a warehouse across a parking lot. The first two discover they’ve walked into a trap. They rush out to warn the third one, but as they leave their warehouse, the warehouse across the parking lot…does what?

Did you say explodes? I am deeply deeply ashamed to say that you’re right. However, before you disown me, let me say again that it is a placeholder for a misunderstanding and then a tragic event. I think seeing it written as a cliche helps me from pulling a cliche in the final draft. At least, *sigh* I hope that’s what it’s doing. Hey, I’ll think of it this way, when I’m a huge bestselling author *snort*, and my first draft leaks, people will still have a complete surprise waiting when they see the real thing. If they haven’t given me up in disgust after reading all my cliches.

Am I a complete weirdo? Does anyone else rely on cliches when they’re drafting, just as scaffolding? Please tell me I’m not alone. *Extra sigh* I’m alone, aren’t I?

One place I’m not alone is on Fansci, where it’s my day to post!

I work from home, neener neener

That’s something I never say, but since I do work at home, I encounter a lot of jealousy from folks who don’t.

Now, I think I work hard. I only have to look at the amount I write to see how productive I am, but people aren’t with me day in and day out. They can’t see how much I do. And even if they do, all they hear sometimes is “work at home,” which makes them project onto me what they’d be doing if they were at home all day.

Mostly, this seems to be watching television and jerking off. I can’t speak about spending day after day jerking off, but I did take a month off from doing anything right after I graduated college, and t.v. watching got really old, really quickly. I credit that month with the discovery that I could be a full time writer if I had the luxury to do so. I have quite a lot of self-discipline.

Do any of the rest of you that work from home have to deal with jealousy? Do you ever feel the need to justify your life like I do sometimes? Like if you aren’t earning a wage, you aren’t earning your oxygen? Wait, are any of you working from home AND not earning a wage, or is that just me? (I get occasionally freelance writing jobs, but nothing steady.)

If you work from home and get paid regularly, do you still have to deal with “work from home” jealousy? Is it less if you also have children?

To clarify, I do get people asking me what I DO all day since I’m not working out of the home, and they are asking from a curious place. Sometimes, I get angry questions like, “And what would YOU know about hard work? You stay home all day!” I used to sink into depression because I equated how much I earned with how much I was worth, like as a person. It took a lot of growing up to move past that.

Even now, I’m just to the angry, “I’ll TELL you how hard I work” stage. Soon, though, I hope to move into the stage where I don’t care what the angry people think of me and have the courage to say, “Think of your favorite thing, that you never get to do because you work out of the house. I do that. All. Day. Long.” Hmm, the non-caring stage is right next door to the sarcastic, antagonistic stage…. I think I’ll like it here.

A little bit of this and…

….a little bit of that. I think I’ve used this title before. Hmm…

Anyway, I wanted to let you know about a few things. First of all, the look of my site will be changing. My husband’s company FrogSlayer Software is designing webpages now, so they made a custom skin for my wordpress site. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action.

Second, I’m starting a new writing group here in College Station. I love my Houston group to death, but needs must and all. Anyway, if you know anyone near Bryan/College Station who is looking for a group, leave me a note in the comments and I’ll give you the details.

Did you all remember that I post every Wednesday on Fansci? Just thought I’d give you a reminder. ^_~ I’ll be linking to that from now on…sigh, when I remember.

I’m racing through my new project now. I think I’ve hit my stride. Looking forward to editing in early May and then the writing conference in late May.

Is everyone as busy a bee as I am? Whew! sometimes I forget what it’s like to slow down.

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
Pyr
Edge Press
Immanion Press
Snowbooks
Aqueduct Press
Four Walls Eight Windows

****HUGE DISCLAIMER OF HUGENESS****
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.
****END HUGE DISCLAIMER OF HUGENESS****

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. ^_^