Tag Archives: Kristen Lamb

Celebrating failure

Don't get overwhelmed by the goals you set yourself....

Don’t get overwhelmed by the goals you set yourself….

My favourite Douglas Adams quote of all time refers to deadlines:

“I love deadlines, particularly the whooshing noise they make as they go by…”

For the #RomanceChallenge that I picked to kick off this year, I gave myself a tough deadline – I was going to write a 35,000 word novella between the end of January and Feb 14th (Since publishing a romance e-book on Valentine’s Day seemed like a good marketing move…)

I’d like to say my unexpected bout of Lassa Fever (or Bubonic Plague, Black Death or whatever…Clearly it wasn’t just FLU, that would be pathetic…) was the reason that the work is stalled at 10,000 words. Certainly it didn’t help to lose a fortnight, but since then, I’ve really had plenty of time to bang out the required wordage. I mean, I read Rachel Aaron’s excellent book on increasing your word count per day, and by that token I should be done and edited and published already.

I didn’t make enough progress to be done by the deadline, especially since there are many other domestic tasks to get done by the weekend, not least being Tiny Weasel’s birthday preparations. Now I have a choice. I can flip tables in frustration and announce that the project was a failure. Or, I can just keep plugging away, and put out the book when it’s ready.

Some years ago, I complained to Mrs Dim that I have a completion neurosis. I start many, many odd projects in the course of any given year, but most of them will languish half-complete for a long, long time. It’s not that they don’t get finished, it’s that they don’t get finished in order, or within the original timeframe.

My Mandalorian armour, made for Fan Expo 2012. Yet to appear at Fan Expo...

My Mandalorian armour, made for Fan Expo 2012. Yet to appear at Fan Expo…

As I’ve got older (not necessarily grown up, you understand) I have become more organised. I have seen the value in pursuing a task until it is complete. I have less guilt over leaving sillier projects to languish while I finish the worthwhile things.

So I’ll be annoyed with myself for not hitting the target I painted for myself, but I’ll be glad that Tiny Weasel doesn’t have to take a backseat to my writing progress. I’ll be glad the house gets hoovered and there’s food to eat, because there’s ALSO the odd e-book now and then, published when I’ve finished, and that’s fine.

As I sat down to compose this, WordPress told me Kristen Lamb had just written a blog post in a very similar vein (Though she doesn’t have Mandalorian armour. As far as I know…)

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/setbacks-success-excuses-oh-my-the-truth-about-publishing-myths-about-muses/

The point is that your goals are things to aspire to, not things to bring you more misery. Strive to be better, to achieve more, and be content with what you do achieve.

Question an author – Joy Daniels

Meet Joy Daniels

Meet Joy Daniels

I met a great group of writers on Kristen Lamb’s “We Are Not Alone” blog-boosting course. As a group we come and go, but have an email connection that we all use from time to time. When Joy Daniels had her latest two projects coming to fruition, she lets us know about them, and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind answering a couple of questions for me. She was kind enough to agree, and I asked about her contribution to “Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey” and her own new book “Revving her up“.

What’s the idea behind “Fifty Writers on Fifty shades of Grey”? And how did you get to be involved?

“Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades” explores the novels and pop culture phenomenon of E. L. James’ trilogy from, not surprisingly, fifty difference angles. It includes authors, a psychologist, a publisher, a matrimonial lawyer, BDSM practitioners, and a sex educator, as well as two fictional parodies. As Publisher’s Weekly said in their (stared) review: “Love Fifty Shades or hate it, this engaging eclectic read has something for everyone.”

Lori Perkins, the editor of “Fifty Writers” and the head of the literary agency that represents me (L. Perkins Agency), invited me to write an essay on the sexual arc of the first novel after I subjected her my theory of the role of sex scenes in erotic romance. (No, they’re not just there for titillation, although that is one of their functions).

Why do you think the original trilogy made such an impact, despite the legions of bad reviews and negative opinions online?

Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan fiction. Since Meyer’s books are among the most popular in history (amazingly enough) James’ take-off started out with a built-in audience. After the first million or so readers, are the rest really so hard to get? Seriously, once it became the “must-read” book, women bought it just to find out what the hell everyone else was going on about.

I enjoyed “Fifty Shades of Grey.” No, it’s not brilliantly written and the heroine is whiny and annoying, but the sex scenes are incredibly hot! Just as no one buys Playboy for the articles (yes, there are articles), no one cares whether E. L. James used proper grammar when describing the Red Room of Pain.

Some folks have criticized the books because of the relationship between Ana and Christian, saying that it’s sexist and demeaning to women. Feminism means honoring women’s sexual desires and choices, whether we’re comfortable with them or not. Besides, is it all that surprising that in our patriarchal world, so many women have patriarchal fantasies? As for how it will “affect” women, that’s just a lot of paternalistic BS. I don’t recall legions of op-eds predicting that kids would start leaping off buildings with brooms between their legs after reading Harry Potter – perhaps we can credit adult women with a comparable ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy?

As for the bad reviews: from what I’ve heard, Meyers’ books aren’t that great (haven’t read them myself) but that didn’t stop her from becoming insanely popular either. Clearly, the average reader couldn’t care less about what literary critics think – she’s going to read what she likes.

Is the success of Fifty Shades something that can be emulated by other writers?

Not quite at the same level – we haven’t seen another mid-grade success like Harry Potter – but many erotica authors are benefitting from James’ success, so bless her!

By eliminating Point of Sale shame, e-publishing has caused an explosion of erotica, or so it seems. Do you think other genres are catching up, or is my assumption the result of biased reporting?

Romance has always been the #1 bestselling genre, and it was the only one with sales that grew during the recession. Happy endings and all that. Romance readers are voracious, buying fifty or more books a year. And that was when they had to endure disparaging looks at the bookstore and on the metro. Now that e-readers have eliminated that “shame”, as you put it, and it’s become so incredibly easy to buy books from your Kindle or Nook, those numbers are only going to climb. Can I get a “Hallelujah”?

Many people think that, by removing the Gatekeepers of traditional publishing, e-publishing has allowed everyone and their dog to become authors. Peer review ought to separate the wheat from the chaff, but responses to books of questionable quality don’t seem enough to keep sales down. Will things ever shake down, or are we always going to struggle to find the good, new writers by wading through oceans of dross?

True peer review only exists where objective truth is a possible, i.e. in the hard sciences. Everything else is subjective. A book review is one man/woman’s personal opinion no matter how erudite, lettered, or snobbish the source.

The idea that publishers and agents were the only legitimate gatekeepers is ridiculous. I’ve read plenty of published books that sucked, as I’m sure you have, as well as stories that were rejected dozens of times by the so-called “gatekeepers” before they went on to sell millions. Publishing folks have their own biases and personal tastes, and are no more objective than you or I.

There are no gatekeepers for restaurants – so how do you find somewhere worth eating? Google reviews, Yelp and the like, right? Same thing for books – you can check out reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, book review blogs. Why trust a single editor or the group-think of the New York publishing scene when I can get multiple viewpoints and reviews? I tend to follow reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and recommendations from friends. Finally, I rely on trial and error, i.e. taking chances on books that just sound good.  Amazon lets you return e-books for a refund up to seven days after purchase, so I can read a few chapters and send the book back if I don’t like it.

Tell us more about your new novel “Revving Her Up.”

RevvingHerUp72sm

“Revving Her Up” is an erotic novella about a New York lawyer who finds a surprising solution for her troubles when her car breaks down in a small Virginia town. It’s my debut novella and my first attempt at writing erotic romance.

I’ve lived in the Washington, DC area on and off for almost ten years.  While I won’t claim that it’s truly “The South”, it’s a lot closer to it than my native New York City.

Many thanks to Joy for answering my questions, and I wish her all the best with both books (which are available NOW! Follow the embedded links to Amazon and make your purchase! Then don’t forget to write your review and help your fellow readers make THEIR decision.) Joining a group like WANA can help with more than just your writing. As a group we send each other regular messages of support and pleas for help and encouragement. Writing can be a lonesome and frustrating business, and it can really help to have friends who understand the stresses and strains.

#endofblog

Ever get the feeling you took a wrong turn?

 

It’s possibly a little over dramatic, but today is the day I stop blogging. Maybe forever, maybe just for a while. Sme friends have been kind enough to ask why, so here goes.

 

A couple of years ago, I was blogging under the banner “The Great Canadian Adventure.” Here was me and my family doing something brave and unusual, throwing all our possessions into a container and moving to a different continent. We were leaving behind family and friends, and blogging seemed a good way to keep everyone updated on our progress and news.

But after a year or more, it wasn’t so important. We were skyping, we were on Facebook, and folks had adjusted to us not turning up to visit. Some had even been out to visit us. I went to a seminar on blogging and how it was an essential tool for the modern writer and took a long look at my own blog. Did it do the job? I bought Kristen Lamb’s book, “We Are Not Alone” and put some of her ideas into proctice. I took her online course, making a bunch of great friends along the way, and yes, I raised the visitor stats on my blog too.

And over the last year I have checked those stats with an obsessive fervour, worrying about making my daily, weekly and monthly quota, trying to find the mystic subject that would ignite the net and get me Freshly Pressed. Should I add video clips? Should I link more per page? Am I mentioning my e-book enough?

On the other side of the Atlantic, one of my writing partners was being just as obsessive about our sales. He sends me regular updates on a spreadsheet, which showed that, while they were still healthy, in most cases sales were falling. We were selling less, despite my impressive readership. The fabled “Word of mouth” recommendation I had been chasing has not materialised.

 

That’s not to say I don’t believe what Kristen has been teaching. I KNOW that her methods work, that a platform is essential for an author, certainly more so now than ever. It may be entirely my fault, but the blog has not improved my situation. In fact, it may have made it worse.

 

Since we hooked up with our publisher all those years ago, TLC Creative have maintained a healthy market share. We produce a new panto each year, and I added to the stock of one act plays on a semi-regular basis. Sketches appeared more often than not, and we’ve even come up with a couple of full-length pieces. But not this year.

This year the only writing I have managed has been the scenes I was tasked with for our pantomime. They were late, the latest I’ve ever produced work for TLC, and far from writing more than I was asked, I scraped the bare minimum.

 

Since I finished my full length play “Merely Players” over a year ago, I have not written a single thing. Other than my blog.

 

Some of you may be sitting at your computers saying “Well, that’s just writer’s block, everyone gets that.”

I would agree, except it’s not that I haven’t had ideas. I have. I’ve had quite a few ideas trot through my brain, but I have not given them the time that I have dedicated to chasing another ten views on my blog, and that has to be wrong. The blog is supposed to be a way of connecting with people so they can be interested in what I write. It’s not supposed to BE all I write.

So the logical thing, the obvious thing, the right thing to do is stop blogging. Stop pouring my available writing time into building castles online and go back to building worlds on other people’s stages. People still find me, and the people who have been in touch most recently did not come to me via my blog. They found the TLC website and contacted me through that.

I’ll still follow with interest the blogs of my friends, and I’ll still use my wordpress id to comment and encourage. But perhaps some time away from staring at the visitor stats will allow me to make some new, imaginary friends and write about their adventures.

 

After all, it’s what I get paid for.

The Devil Colony Party

If it's a costume party, I'm in!

Woody Allen once said “I don’t advertise. I don’t pander. Because it’s illegal, and immoral to advertise a product that you don’t actually use.” Yeah, but this isn’t advertising, folks, this is a PARTY! Let me explain….

Tiniest Weasel joins the party

Tuesday the 21st June sees the release of ‘The Devil Colony” by James Rollins. Up until very recently I wasn’t familiar with his books, but then I took the excellent online course on boosting your author profile by Kristen Lamb. She’s Jim’s Number One Fan and between them they came up with a revolutionary concept. Instead of those stuffy publishing parties that only the very very elite get invited to when a book launches, why not have a worldwide ONLINE party for EVERYBODY?

 

Yes, it sounds like one of those wacky and insane ideas that won’t catch on, like three-quarter length trousers, and pre-teen singing stars, but stay with it. Kristen posted on her blog , inviting one and all to attend the party (in dress up or not) through the media of FaceBook and Twitter. No one is excluded!

Even my nephew wants to party!

So, here it is: Your chance to be part of a book launch party for an internationally published and successful author. Upload your party pictures with a #devilcolony tag or head over to Jim’s Facebook fan page . The best pictures will be selected for a wall of fame. There’s even a rumour of *gulp* A MYSTERY PRIZE!

If you’re wondering why you should do this, then shame on you! This is what social media is for – word of mouth recommendations for things you would otherwise have missed completely. Unlike a lot of the characters in the Sigma Force books, you don’t have a gun to your head, but you do have an open invitation to chat with people from all around the world, including James Rollins himself. When did you last have that opportunity?

Check out his books, either through Amazon or your local library, then rush out and reserve a copy of “The Devil Colony”, available TUESDAY 21st June.

If this isn’t very clear, check out Kristen’s original post… Or the excellent one by Educlation… or Jenny Hansen’s take on it….or the awesome Ironic Mom… And if  you haven’t got the idea yet, why not go to http://www.tlc-creative and download my book on writing a play for community theatre, because you’re obviously going to be at a loose end on Tuesday while EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD WILL BE AT THIS PARTY…………….

Is it the writing, or the having written?

Do you love the process..........or the finished product?

Some days it seems that everyone loves writing. Certainly a glance at the numbers for “Freshly Pressed” (The best of 337,656 bloggers, 327,229 new posts, 327,146 comments, & 79,537,749 words posted today on WordPress.com, as of this morning) suggest that there are a LOT of wordsmiths out there.
But what is it we love? Statistics will tell you that the number of writers out there who can point to their novel on the bookshelf is very small, and the number who can point to it on sale in the shops is even smaller. Does that mean that the bulk of writers do it for the love of the craft? Do we love the writing, the rush as the words drop into place on the page or screen, or is it the feeling of accomplishment, the sigh of satisfaction as we type “The End”? Is it the writing or the having written?

The beauty of the internet age, as Kristen Lamb will tell you, is that authors are now available to their readers in a way they never have been before. Ok, so you may not be able to drop JK Rowling an email to say how much you admire her work, but most savvy authors have a website, or a blog, or a Facebook page, or a Twitter account or all of the above. Because of this, when pondering the question above, it was possible to approach successful writers and put the question to them. They didn’t have to respond, of course, but here’s what the ones who did have to say:

Jane Espenson (Writer for Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Torchwood and many others) : I love both. But I hate the starting-writing.

James Moran (Writer for Doctor Who, Torchwood, the feature films “Severance” and ‘Cockneys Vs Zombies” and many more projects) :Both. I love writing, sometimes it’s hard, but it’s great fun. And I like the sense of achievement when I finish something.

Jason Arnopp :Writer/exec of @Stormhouse_film, Doctor Who/Sarah Jane plays, Friday The 13th novel, TAPS film Ghost Writer.   Hi! I love those special times when the writing almost feels like it’s handling itself. Everything else feels hard work

For a wider cross section of writers, here are some of the responses to the question posted on Twitter:

@AKyleWilliamsAmanda Kyle Williams

The process is excruciating. Finishing a draft,revising-that’s when the magic happens 4 me – & getting an accepted manuscript.

@bjsmithB.J. Smith

I’d have to say both: the writing and the having written. Both have their own rewards

@JessicaThomasIN Jessica Thomas

I like having written better than the process of writing. Would rather be editing than writing.

@Tiffany_A_WhiteTiffany White

To me, there’s nothing greater than the feeling of accomplishment. It keeps me putting my fingers to the keyboard

@Claire_KintonClaire Kinton

think I love the editing best, great satisfaction getting the story out but polishing it up is best 4 me x

@PattiYagerPatricia Yager

Definitely the writing. Being in the zone is awesome.

@Julie_GloverJulie Glover

I love most the process of writing; everything outside the page disappears. It’s hard but engaging work.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that we all have different answers, or maybe we should be surprised how similar some answers are. The question seems to show that writing is more than the physical act of committing the words to the page or screen – it’s the evolution of drafts, the crafting of a final manuscript.

And we love it.

Feel free to pitch in with YOUR response to the question if you didn’t pick it up on Twitter. And which famous author, living or dead, would you love to trade Tweets with? The best answer gets a free copy of my e-book “Writing a play for  Community Theatre”.

A writer’s tools – what do you REALLY need?

Do you NEED a huge desk, piles of papers and a dodgy haircut?

Writing a book used to be a simple, but longwinded thing. You took some paper and a pen, and you wrote. When you got something wrong, you crossed it out and wrote it again. Then along came the typewriter and that made things neater, but mistakes still needed correction. And then correction fluid. Now we have computers, netbooks, tablets, smartphones….There’s almost no end to the number of gadgets that allow you to write, blog, compose, educate…on the move.

But what do you NEED? Obviously, if you’re blogging, you need something with access to the internet, so you can upload your wit and wisdom for the eager masses. And if you’re any kind of author, you should know that a blog is part of building your author platform (See Kristen? He CAN be taught!) So there’s an argument right there for the inclusion of a computer and router in your Writer’s toolbox.

Inspiration is a flighty thing, and it can strike at any time. A decent smartphone can let you record your brilliant idea as it occurs. Maybe you can even slot the bare bones onto Twitter for the benefit of your followers. (And isn’t it great to have followers? Like you’re some kind of prophet leading your people through the literary desert to the flowing waters of wordy goodness….) Ok, a smartphone. Which we’re definitely not getting for the games, oh no. Ooh, look, Bejewelled!

Smartphones are good for 140 characters of tweet, but writing my novel two thumbs at a time? No way. But a laptop is too bulky. Get yourself a neat little netbook, hook up to the Starbucks Wi-Fi and away you go! Proper keyboard, decent size screen, and you can even check Facebook. For your author-type publicity updates of course.

You know what’s coming, though, don’t you? All these things are lovely, and yes, to be a successful published author, you’ll need to use the internet and present your manuscript in a legible form. But to write, to communicate the notions in your ever-whirring brain, all you need is that good old pen and paper. Don’t believe the hype that says you need the latest software to write your novel, or that you can’t live without a 28inch screen for your PC. You could write a whole novel in pen on paper, and it could be just as good as a first draft in Times New Roman in Word. Yes, you’ll have to re-type the whole thing, but if you aren’t planning to do more than one draft, then you’re no writer, my friend.

Today’s secret is a simple one: To be a writer, you only have to write, and you can do that with a pen and a piece of paper.

My fellow students:

Nothing to do with the post, but it's St Patrick's Day!

Just taking a quick moment to acknowledge my fellow students on the Write it Forward course run by Kristen Lamb. They’re a great bunch, filling my in-box with interesting and thought-provoking questions and making me think FAR TOO HARD about where I’m going with my own author platform. The best revenge I could think of was posting their blog addresses here to let you all see why I’m in awe of these people! (And, my fellow students, if I’ve missed your blog off the roll, send me a rocket by email or comment, and I’ll apologise profusely and and add you in! It’s still early over here in Vancouver, you know…)

Amy Shojai: http://www.redroom.com/blog/amy-d-shojai/

The Survival Mama: http://thesurvivalmama.com/

Brave Blue Words: http://daniellemeitiv.com/

Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines: http://sweetdreamsflyingmachines.wordpress.com/

 Pamela Mason:  writermason.blogspot.com

Please bear in mind, we’re all learning and changing, so if any of these links break down, please let me know and I’ll sort it out! These blogs are worth a look, in fact they’re worth a read, so pour yourself a healthy mugful of your favourite beverage, put on some cool music and settle back*.

I’ll be back to post on my job success (or otherwise) tomorrow.

*Bearing in mind my last post, I would also recommend adjusting your seat to ensure a decent posture.