Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Everybody, meet Simon "Random Penguin" Schuster. You can call him "Scummy."

It's rare that I do a midweek post, but this couldn't wait 'til Sunday.

Simon & Schuster has announced a deal with Author Solutions to set up a "self-publishing" company they're calling Archway Publishing.  You may remember that Author Solutions is a vanity press with a lousy reputation.  I've written about it before, here and here.

I could go into all the myriad ways why it would be a supremely bad idea to do business with Archway Publishing.  But I don't have to, because David Gaughran has done it for us.  Here's his blog post on the announcement.  It's a wonder and a marvel.  I recommend it highly.

Please, please, please, for the love of the gods -- if you've ever thought about publishing your own work, stay away from these guys.  I'd hate to see any of my readers lose thousands of dollars to these shysters masquerading as legitimate publishers.

Thanks.

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This quick moment of serious advice (really, I mean it -- don't deal with these guys!) is brought to you, as a public service, by .

Monday, November 26, 2012

The NaNo hangover, or: I had a great title for this post, but I can't remember what it was.


Yes, that's right.  After all my dithering, less than a month ago, over whether to participate in NaNoWriMo this year at all, I have won.  In the wee hours of this morning, I dumped the first draft of Book 4 of the Pipe Woman Chronicles into the Validator at nanowrimo.org, and NaNo stuck a fork in me and called me done.  (You guys remind me of this next October, when I'm dithering over doing NaNo again, okay? Thanks.)

Fun Facts to Know and Tell:  At 52,760 words, the first draft of Gravid is ten words longer than that of Tapped, 630 words longer than Fissured's first draft, and 110 words longer than Seized was at this stage.  In other words, I'm scarily consistent.  (Whoa.  I had no idea.)

I'd also like to point out that I started late this year.  I wrote a little bit of the novel while I was in Toronto, but I didn't really get going on it 'til the 5th.  So really, that's 50,000 words in 20 days.  (I just want to kick myself.  If I'd gotten serious about writing fiction when I was in my twenties, I could have a backlist as long as Joyce Carol Oates's.)

But all the late nights are telling on me.  I'm feeling stupid-sleepy right now, as if I might fall face-first into my keyboard at any moment.  I write a word or two, and then my brain goes walkabout; eventually, my eyes refocus on the monitor and I go, "Oh, yeah, I'm supposed to be doing something.  What is it?  Oh, yeah -- Facebook!"

But I really do want to finish this post, because I have news other than just NaNo.  Yes!  Now that I have cleared the decks, I am about to embark on the final round of edits to Tapped.  Which means uploading will commence this weekend, and the book should be available for purchase shortly thereafter.  (I think I've said this on Facebook already.  But maybe not.  Gods know what I've been saying lately, as short on sleep as...uh...was I doing something?  Wait, I was.  Was it important?  Wait....)

In addition:  As all good Americans know, Thanksgiving means Yule/Hanukkah/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Festivus is not far off.  And Yule, as all good Neopagans know, falls on the winter solstice (which, this year, is December 21st).  Now, this particular winter solstice is important for a couple of reasons:  yeah, yeah, that Mayan calendar thing; but more importantly, it's a significant date in the Pipe Woman Chronicles.  Plus, I'll have a new book out. 

So I'm going to start a Winter Solstice Advent Countdown event.  For the next three weeks, there will be a new contest each week with prizes, but I promise not to ask you write anything this time (because that worked so well last time...).

So that's the news.  Tapped will be available sometime next week (don't worry, I'll let you know when); and the Winter Solstice Advent Countdown starts Sunday, Dec. 2nd.

Now I'm going to bed.  Oh, wait -- there was a vote for moar kittehs.  Here you go. 

Please welcome the Lady Morgana to the blog.  But please don't applaud -- the poor thing startles easily.  She has rejoined us at Casa Cantwell for the winter, to help keep Mr. Wommy occupied so that he doesn't drive me crazy.  These two grew up together but have lived apart for several years, so they are currently renegotiating their personal space.  It's going pretty well -- there has only been one night when the hissing/spitting/yowling jolted me out of bed. So far.

(Why is there packing tape on the bar stool, you ask?  Why, that's because Mr. Wommy considers it the ideal scratching post.  The things I do for my grandkittehs....)

Now I'm going to bed.  No, really.

Wait.  Was I doing something...?

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012, or: Gratitude with an Attitude.

My weekly news feature has been sadly neglected of late; I apologize for that, but I've been concentrating on writing (Tapped and Book 4) and editing (Tapped), so promotion has gotten shoved to the side a little bit. Well, that's about to end.

For one thing, as of today, we are just about 30 days shy of the date of the first scene in Seized:  the night Brock proposes to Naomi.  That means the Winter Solstice and White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman's first appearance to Naomi are fast approaching, too.  I'm planning to mark the occasion with a little celebration.  You'll notice the decorations are already going up -- the banner up top and the countdown clock (roll your cursor over the countdown clock -- it's kinda fun, once or twice).  I've got several guest blog slots lined up, some of which are listed on the Tour Dates page.  And I'm planning a contest.  ("Ooooh!  Aaaah!")  More details to come next week on all of that, but in the meantime, get ready, and tell your friends and neighbors.

Speaking of redecorating, I keep forgetting to mention this:  Tucked away on the Buy My Books tab is a link at the top of the page to "Lynne's Book Emporium on Amazon.com."  There you will find, besides links to my own books, links to most of the books I've been using as reference works for the Pipe Woman Chronicles.  If you enjoy perusing bibliographies and "suggestions for further reading" lists, feel free to take a look.


In addition, I should mention that I did more at WFC in Toronto than just attend one panel.  I did a reading, sold two books (yay!), met some local knitters (yes, that's right -- I met two knitters who live in northern Virginia while at a writers' conference in Canada), and people-watched.  One of the panels I attended was the Patty and Mike Show, where Patricia Briggs (who writes the Mercy Thompson books and the Alpha and Omega series) and her husband held forth for an hour or so.  I got a t-shirt, too.



The Friday night mass autographing session is always a great place to spot writerly celebrities.  I was pretty much stuck in my own little corner all night.  But as I was leaving, I happened to turn around and notice Patrick Rothfuss sitting by the door.  If you've ever wondered what the guy who writes the Kingkiller Chronicle looks like, take a gander over to your left.






Moving on from convention news, I should mention that I've got a cat again, if only for a limited time.  Tom, a.k.a. Tommy Wommy, a.k.a. Mr. Wommy, a.k.a. The Wommy Man, is once again in residence, due to a quirk in my older daughter's housing situation.  Here he is, in all his adorable glory. You can easily see why he merits multiple nicknames.  (I should just convert this to a blog featuring pictures of Mr. Wommy, shouldn't I?  That would drive up page views, I bet....)

Finally, I'm feeling much better about my NaNoWriMo totals after this weekend.  As of right now, I have written a little more than 35,000 words of Book 4 and feel confident that I will finish it well before the end of the month.  Which is good, because I will need to do final edits and formatting on Tapped then.  Whew.

Anyway, enough about all that.  This Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US, and one of our hoary traditions (besides watching huge balloons float down NY streets on TV and eating ourselves sick) is to list things we give thanks for.  So here you go, my list of Five Things I Am Grateful For This Thanksgiving.  (I could come up with more, but this post is already pretty long, and I'm sure y'all have things to do.)

  1. Friends and family, of course.
  2. My fans.  I'm especially grateful for those who fit the description for both #1 and #2.
  3. My day job, which allows me to live comfortably while pursuing my dream of being a full-time novelist.
  4. The ability to write the books I want to write and to publish them.  Indie publishing for the win!
  5. My colleagues at Indies Unlimited and the Indie Exchange, who, besides being available at a moment's notice to commiserate and cheer each other on, are just plain fun to hang out with.
And a Bonus Thing I Am Grateful For This Thanksgiving:

NaNo is almost over!

Have a great Turkey Day, everyone.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

What a difference a year makes.



Nowhere, I submit, is the upheaval in the publishing world more apparent than at writing conventions.  At last year’s World Fantasy Convention in San Diego, I attended a panel during which an agent (or maybe she was an editor) made some disparaging remarks about self-publishing, and a few audience members stood up and respectfully explained to her why she was wrong.

Fast-forward to 2012.  This year’s World Fantasy Convention, in Toronto last weekend, featured a whole panel discussion about e-publishing.  

One end of the dais seemed to be spewing dinosaur breath.  The former editor-in-chief of Del Ray (Random House’s speculative fiction imprint), Betsy Mitchell, complained that her business is drying up; she said indie novelists aren’t willing to pay $3,500 for the kind of top-notch professional editing job she can offer.  (I wondered whether it had ever occurred to her that the vast majority of indies simply can’t afford her.)  Next to her sat Robert Runté, an acquisitions editor for a small Canadian press, who called the indie trend of using beta readers “editing by crowdsourcing.”  He also said he used to write reviews of speculative fiction novels for money – but “that job is gone.”  Who’s taking up the reviewing slack?  Bloggers, said Emily Craven (although apparently she doesn’t review books on her own blog).  

The panel agreed that 99-cent e-books devalue the author’s hard work, although there was some support for a 99-cent price point for the first novel in a series.  Craven suggested a reasonable price for an e-book would be half the price of a paperback edition.  Leslie said most e-books published directly through Kobo’s Writing Life list for $2.99 to $5.99, while Smashwords authors tend to undervalue their work; prices for Smashwords titles sold at the Kobo Store average from 99 cents to $1.99.  

Ah, Smashwords.  Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld.com said, “Friends don’t let friends use Smashwords.”  He went on to explain that the site’s automated Meatgrinder conversion software “doesn’t always work as well as it should.”

The panelists also warned indies away from making their own cover art.  One suggested using a site such as bibliocrunch.com, where you can list your project and your budget, and artists (and editors, too) can then bid for your business.  Still, they advised, it’s best to ask for samples and references before hiring an artist or editor for your book.

In terms of the market for science fiction and fantasy, the panelists said Amazon accounts for somewhere between two-thirds and three-quarters of sales, with the rest more or less evenly split among the other sellers.  Leslie also said only about twenty percent of self-published authors make money from their books.  But then, that’s not all that different from the way traditional publishing works.

I could have wished for more on the nuts-and-bolts of indie publishing.  Heck, I would have liked to see more indie authors and book bloggers on the panel.  Ah, well.  Maybe next year.

This article first appeared at IndiesUnlimited.com on Nov. 9, 2012.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Late update (sorry!).

I'm a day late and short on time for my weekly blog post.  Sorry about that.  When I was supposed to be posting here, I was driving home from Toronto and the World Fantasy Convention.  I'm relying on you guys:  the next time I blithely suggest that driving to Toronto for the weekend would be doable, please remind me that it takes 12 hours, no matter what Mapquest and Google Maps promise, and tell me not to do it.

Ahem.  Anyway.

We weathered Hurricane Sandy just fine, without even losing power.  But my heart goes out to friends and others in the New York/New Jersey area who have lost so much from the storm.  I hope the power comes back on and life gets back to some semblance of normality as soon as possible.

The Toronto trip has put me way behind on NaNoWriMo, as I knew it would -- but I did get in a couple of writing sessions (although the second was cut very short by a bout of food poisoning -- it's okay, I'm fine now).  So I am only, by my calculations, about 5,000 words behind where I should be today (ack!!).  Hoping to catch up by the time I go to bed tonight.  Although I also need to unpack, do laundry and clean the house.  I did have a lot of time to think about book 4 while driving, which is all to the good.

A full convention report will have to wait 'til next week, when I'm not behind the NaNo 8-ball.  But I had a great time (despite having to talk to Ralph on the big white telephone), and I even sold a couple of books.  I will tell you, as a sort of teaser for next week, that the publishing industry's take on indies has changed markedly since last year's convention. Let's just say I was smelling a lot of dinosaur breath this year....

Have a great week, everybody.

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