Barbara Graham & Imaginary Friends

6 comments:
This morning, my guest is mystery author Barbara Graham who is celebrating the hardcover release of her third Quilted Mystery, Murder by Music: The Wedding Quilt.

Barbara is a self-described quilting addict and an enthusiastic, but dreadful, gardener. She and I became acquainted by discussing imaginary friends—you know, those people who live inside your head if you're a writer.

Take it away, Barbara!

Imaginary Friends
by Barbara Graham


I do have imaginary friends. Part of the joy of writing series characters, at least for me, is learning what’s new with them in their world, an imaginary county in East Tennessee.

There are many how-to books available for writers, laden with charts, lists, fill in the blank interviews, lists of vital statistics like height, weight, scars, hair color and favorite movies. However, what works for one, may not work for everyone. I don’t follow any particular plan, preferring to pick and choose and run off on my own tangent.

What's New With Old Characters

Starting a new book begins with me (and a dog) on the couch, armed with pen and paper and coffee (none for the dog). We, the dog and imaginary people and I, have informal conversations like those of old friends chatting over coffee. Questions like—how’s your mom? How are the kids? Are you still working at the same place? What’s your new job like? Have you lost weight? Don’t you think you should?

My job is to take notes, sympathize, make gentle suggestions or observations—maybe offer to kill off the problem thus coming up with a suitable victim. Occasionally I find myself asking one of them “are you nuts?” even as they provide clues and insight into their community. It is a bit disconcerting when I realize I’m listening to their conversations, not writing. I think I’ve told them what to do—and say—but I’m not always sure. Where does Blossom get those ideas?

Meet Blossom Flowers

My imaginary friend who most often wins the “reader’s favorite” vote is Blossom Flowers. I like her a lot too and love finding out what’s new in her life. She first waddled onstage in Murder by Serpents and proceeded to insist on being part of every book in the series.

Blossom is fat, has very thin bright orange hair, bakes a divine apple pie from a secret family recipe—she won’t even share the secret ingredient with me—and is the youngest of myriad other Flowers. She’s also very sweet, single and a royal pain.

A pie delivered by her to the sheriff’s desk can only mean she needs his help, or thinks she might. Her own fascinating love life doesn’t stop her blatant adoration of the sheriff making him a rare breed, a sheriff with a groupie.

Characters Justify Existence

I can see them in my head, as clear as in a photograph, Blossom, and the bald, good looking sheriff separated by his desk, his wife and a warm pie. She cannot just come to talk. On some level, she has to add to the problems in the story otherwise she doesn’t need to be there.

Everyone needs a role, even nameless characters passing through, whether it’s to supply information, distraction, history or hint at the future. As in any mystery, there are required elements of plot, sleuthing, denouement but it’s really about the lives of imaginary friends (or enemies) and they must provide the clues and insight about their own community.

Takeaway Truth

I am humbled by the generosity of authors who share their expertise. I hope you will thank Barbara and the other authors who guest star on SlingWords by purchasing one of their books.

Holiday Gifts for Writers

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Tuesday Is Holiday Gift Suggestion Day

Beginning next Tuesday, and each Tuesday through December 27, I'll blog about some great gifts for Writers and Readers. Why even after Christmas? To take advantage of after-Christmas specials of course.

My husband likes to tell about the family he knew in Abilene that bought all their presents after Christmas every year so they could take advantage of all the sales.

Hmm. That probably wouldn't go over too well with most people, but I guess in their family, frugality reigned supreme, and they delighted in getting more gifts for less money.

Joan's Holiday Bazaar

Just scroll down and look at the right sidebars. You'll notice a cute Christmas Lights graphic that says Joan's Holiday Bazaar. I'll post clickable links there to some good deals and great shopping.

The porcelain Christmas tree ornament shown on the right sidebar is my own design, available in round or oval, from The WriteWay, my Cafe Press shop featuring promotional and gift items for writers. If you buy using the direct link I provided, each ornament is only $8.49. If you buy through CafePress Marketplace or using their search engine, the same ornament costs $12.00.

Cafe Press Tip of the Day

Always go straight to a vendor's shop to make a purchase on Cafe Press because you'll get the lowest offered price. The Marketplace has a rather hefty markup as the pricing on this ornament illustrates.

Open To Suggestions

Every year at this time, I take suggestions for the items I'll feature. If you have a product to sell that will interest writers or readers, contact me. (Joan at JoanReeves.com -- Subject Box: Real Live Person -- Gift Suggestion). I'll review your product. If it passes my non-scientific approach of useful and/or cool--writers will like that, I'll mention you and your item.

Author Group Sales

Many authors are banding together and setting up websites to offer holiday specials on their books. Readers, I'll be posting banners or links to these so be sure and check them out.

I've already got a clickable banner up for Ebooks 99 Cents where each day a new book will be featured. Look for more banners like these. Just scroll down and look at the sidebars each day to see what's new.

Takeaway Truth

I'm beginning to think a lot about Christmas! Can't fight it so I might as well enjoy it!

We Who Are About To Die-t

6 comments:
Thanksgiving is over. We who are about to diet, salute you.

Yes, we have about two weeks to lose the Thanksgiving weight so we can begin putting on the Christmas pounds. After all, there are chocolate-covered cherry cordials, chocolate bourbon bon bons, pecan pralines, cheese logs, corn chips, Rotel Cheese Dip, eggnog, champagne, punch, and much more to consume.

Did you ever stop to think about the word diet? I mean, any word that begins with die pretty much describes how you feel when you start cutting those calories, fats, and carbs. There are days when I would kill for a chocolate bar.

Thankfully, my husband recognizes when I'm ready to commit chocolate-deprivation homicide and throws a Hershey's Miniature in my direction when he comes home from the office rather than berate me for giving in to a food craving.

Why do they call it diet? To quote an anonymous sage, "Its called DIET because all the other 4-letter words were taken."

Takeaway Truth

Yep, I'm dieting. In fact, I live on a diet just to maintain rather than gain. That's the curse of being a good cook and spending too many hours each day sitting on my behind in front of a computer.

Texas Byways and Highways

4 comments:
When you travel the farm and county roads of Texas, it's not unusual to see a variety of domestic and wildlife.

We've seen cows, sheep, and goats that have escaped their pastures, horses grazing on the shoulders of the road, dogs, cats, deer, raccoons, armadillos, skunks, coyotes, and even a donkey and a red-tailed fox or two.

However, today, as we drove to our house in the Hill Country, we saw something we've never seen before.

An emu crossing the road.

No kidding. At first glance I thought it was an ostrich, but some checking online showed me the difference between the two.

Takeaway Truth

I'm tempted to say: "Now I've seen it all." Surely as I do, something will appear to make me eat my words.

Old Enough To Know Better -- Available NOW!

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Don't ask me how, but I managed to not only finish OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER, but I also got it formatted and uploaded about 3 AM on Nov. 23.

Actually, it was pretty funny because as I was formatting for Kindle, I received an email from a reader asking when the book would be available. I was thrilled to be able to reply that it would be for sale as soon as Kindle made it live. Around noon on Nov. 23, that happened.

Even though I had originally planned OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER to be a novella, the characters just wouldn't cooperate. The story ended up being a full-length novel. No wonder it took so long to write, huh? However, I kept the $.99 price as I promised.

Story Line

Every woman makes mistakes. Meet Stormy Clarkson, haunted by the three whoppers she made that changed her life forever. Stormy is on the brink of turning fifty, and she's crushing on a younger man--totally gorgeous, sexy Sean Butler, owner of Sierra Verde Winery. Sean's been after her for six months, but she's resisted every advance. She can't risk another mistake, and Sean scares her because of the way he makes her feel.

Then, one night he kisses her. She can't forget his kiss.

Stormy learned some hard lessons from the men who wanted her for her face and her body, but not for herself. Armed with iron self-control and the desire never to risk her heart, she's determined to deny what she feels for Sean.

Sean Butler was once an interrogator for the U.S. Army. He knows a lie when he hears one, and that's all he hears in Stormy's icy refusals. Sean's smart enough to know that the only way to deal with a control freak is to make her lose control. He has a plan to do just that. The beautiful blonde had better be on her guard because he's coming for her like the U.S. Marines. To win her heart, he's prepared to: Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER is Book 1 of The Good, The Bad, and The Girly, and it contains a Linked Table of Contents and is chock full of Bonus Features.

Bonus Features

A Note from Joan Reeves
A Look at The good, The Bad, and The Girly
Behind the Scenes of Old Enough To Know Better
Stormy's Recipe for Homemade Mozzarella Cheese
Excerpt, Good Girl Conspiracy by Joan Reeves
A Look at San Antone Two-Step
Excerpt, Nobody's Cinderella by Joan Reeves
A Look at The Lingerie Cover Books
A Look at Texas One Night Stands
Excerpt, The Trouble With Love (Book 1: Texas One Night Stands) by Joan Reeves
Excerpt, Romeo and Judy Anne (Book 2: Texas One Night Stands) by Joan Reeves
Excerpt, Heaven in His Touch by Cynthia Wicklund
Excerpt, Rules of the Game by Elaine Raco Chase
Quotation Collection: Older Women

Help An Author Keep On Keeping On

If you go look at the book page, I'd appreciate it if you click Like under the title and scroll down to Tags Customers Associate With This Product and click Agree then check the little box next to the tag so it will increase the number.

If you buy the book and like it, I would certainly appreciate a nice review.

Takeaway Truth

If you're out shopping today, take it easy. If you're home needing to relax with a funny, sexy romance, buy my book! Thanks for your support.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Giving thanks today for all these blessings.

My wonderful husband who supports me in every way and puts up with my crazy career and puts up with my frequent flights of fancy when my brain is completely full of fictional people.

My absolutely delightful children and their spouses and kids. I love you all.

My daughter who is able to walk again, and had no surgeries this year, and the wonderful young man she will marry in the spring next year. Love you two--too.

Brothers and spouses and kids, oh my! Cousins and families and brother-in-law and wife too. Hugs and kisses to all.

Friends--writers and civilians as well as those who have helped me this last year by featuring me and/or my books on their websites. Thank you so much!

The people who developed inexpensive, user-friendly ebook reading devices. These created the growing ebook publishing industry. You guys rock! Thank you!

My excellent rights agent who helped negotiate a fabulous contract about which I'll be saying a great deal more when I get the counter-signed contracts, and it's all official. Thanks, Lauren.

The wonderful readers who buy my books. The readers who email to tell me how much they love my stories. The readers who take the time to leave 5 star reviews. Thank you so much! I am humbled and grateful!

The people who read this blog. The people who subscribe to my newsletters. The people who "buy me a cup of coffee" by donating to my blog. The people who subscribe to the Kindle edition of this blog. Thank you so much! Again, I am humbled and grateful.

Good health for me and all my loved ones. Living in this country with all its opportunity and freedom of choice. Success at my chosen career. Last, but not least, the wonderful feast we all had today, and the fact that we have an abundance of food and clean water--unlike many countries in the world.

Take time before the day closes to tell those you love how much they mean to you. Also, make a donation to an organization that works for hunger relief and/or provides clean water.

Action Against Hunger is a world hunger relief organization that receives an A rating from the watchdog website operated by American Philanthropy -- Charity Watch. I always check out charities there before donating because I want my money to go for the stated purpose not for expense account lunches and employee bonuses.

(This is why I no longer donate to the most popular name-brand charities that constantly are soliciting donations. Get in the habit of checking with Charity Watch before you make any donation. Action Against Hunger helps those recovering from earthquakes and other natural disasters as well as to provide food and water in so many countries that need help.

It's easy to donate to Action Against Hunger. I just did so--and tweeted it. You don't have to register to donate. If you don't want to donate one of the pre-selected amounts showing, just fill in Other and what you can give. They're a secure website and BBB certified.

You filled your belly today. Now, help someone else in the world have a meal too.

Takeaway Truth

Even on your worst day, chances are you have many things for which to give thanks. Get in the habit of doing this. You'll be surprised how it takes away the cranky. You may also realize, especially if you live in the U. S., that your life is pretty darn good.

Creative Marketing for Authors on a Budget

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On this day before Thanksgiving, I'm pleased to welcome today's guest star Julie Joyce, Executive Producer and Host of Cancer Free Radio and Book Tour Radio.

Julie's company, Dynamic Publishing Company, maintains various websites to help authors with book marketing. Julie is also the author of books on cancer prevention and family safety.

I met Julie through one of the other hats she wears, as owner of KindlePost, a blog with which you may be familiar if you are an indie author who promotes. Julie was kind enough to feature each of my romance novels in the last couple of months.

Suffice it to say that this girl knows quite a lot about marketing. Here she is with some great insights just for SlingWords readers.

Creative Marketing for Authors on a Budget
by Julie Joyce


The Publishing Industry today is such an exciting arena. No longer must stories and ideas be stifled by the constraints of the past. You no longer need an agent, a printer, an established Publishing House or connections to have your author dreams realized. You truly can, even on a really small budget, become a published author with a book for sale on Amazon to prove it. That's the good news!

Of course, for so many New Age authors the same age-old problem exists. How do you promote your book, so readers will find you? This is often where the author's dream hits a brick wall. And this issue is universal to the publishing industry. Even books released by big name publishing firms face the monumental task of launching an effective marketing effort to sustain a book's success.

However, just as there are so many amazing opportunities for the new and independent author to become officially published, there are also many new, amazing and creative methods to market one's books. The most important thing for a new author to realize is that all authors must assume the responsibility for mapping out a marketing strategy. Authors who have marketing budget challenges can compensate by using extra doses of creativity to connect with interested readers.

Here are 7 creative low budget marketing ideas to help you "spread the word" about your books:

1 - You absolutely must have an author website that has links to order your book, an "about you" page, links to all of your social networking pages, and an email list sign up box. You must give any visitor the opportunity to stay connected to you by joining your list. You can give a sample chapter, audio of you reading a chapter, or some other ebook as a "reward" for signing up. You can easily find a free website/blog host and email list host.

2 - Use a free conferencing service to create a sample reading of your work. You can then use the mp3 file as a reward for your subscribers. You can also send out free press releases to promote your free sample reading.

3 - You can host a monthly reading as a virtual event. You can use a free conferencing service to allow guests to call in and hear your reading and interact with you. You can promote this event for free with free press releases and by promoting on special event calendars online and in print newspapers.

4 - Become a talk show guest. There are thousands of podcast programs that are always looking for guests. Fiction and Non-Fiction authors will both find a volume of programs that would be interested in your expertise or subject matter. Do an online search of podcast directories, search their subject listings and find the programs that match your material.

5- Launch your own podcast. This is especially effective for non-fiction authors who write about a specific subject. You can invite experts in your field to be guests on your program, while creating valuable content for your target audience. Your book will be an ever present option for your audience. This also enhances your credibility. Fiction authors can produce a program that features other authors in their genre. This will build an audience that likes you and likes your genre. You are sure to have a built in market for your work.

6 - Network. Network. Network. Even if you are a shy writer and the thought of a networking event makes you cringe, you can do this. Remember, this is a New Age where author blogs, author groups, author clubs, and other online author forums provide unlimited opportunities to share ideas, make new friends, cross-promote and find the help you need to share your work.

7 - Promote your book around the world without leaving home. The New Age author now has the opportunity to launch a global virtual book tour from the comforts of home. Do a search for bloggers who interview authors and do book reviews. Email them to inquire if they would like to receive a review copy and if they are interested in interviewing/featuring you. You can send a PDF sample of your book by email at no cost to you. Be sure to preview the blogs you approach to be sure that the genre, subject matter etc. makes you a good fit for the blogger.

This is just a small sampling of how you can launch a really creative marketing effort at virtually no cost other than your time and effort. New Age authors not only have a level playing field in the publishing arena but also in the book marketing arena. The more you are willing to explore creative marketing techniques the more likely you are to find a warm and embracing audience for your work.

Takeaway Truth

Thank you, Julie, for taking the time to visit. Readers, if you have any questions, the Comment Line is open.

Websites For Format Conversion

2 comments:
Last week I gave you a step-by-step guide to publish with All Romance Ebooks.com. Here's the resource list to help you convert your file to the formats used by All Romance Ebooks.

(Note: This article was published in Writing Hacks, my free subscription newsletter for writers on Oct. 20, 2011. Subscribe to Writing Hacks so you can read articles like this as soon as they are available.)

Formats & Best Ways to Convert

1. Always start with a pristine, perfectly-formatted MS Word file. Many sites have problems with the latest Word file so remove that worry and use a version less than Word 10.

2. Be redundant. When you save a file with a different format, include the 3 letter file format designation as part of the file name. Sure, when you save, the 3 letter code at the end shows the specific file format, but you wouldn't believe how many people have uploaded the wrong file because they were tired and didn't pay attention to that format designation. So be redundant. Call your file -- BOOK_TITLE_PDF_MoDaYear.pdf.

3. Yes, I put the date at the end of my file title because I may want access to previous versions. Also, this is a good way to know at a glance on what date you uploaded a file to a digital publishing platform.

Formats

1. Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Rating: Easy. Worth it.

Save AS in Word to generate a PDF file is easiest. Be sure and fill out the meta data at the bottom.

2. Palm DOC/iSolo (PDB) Rating: Difficult. Worth it. I have NOT tried these yet, but I plan to do so. If you want to give it a shot, here are some links to learn more and then apps to download to try. Read thoroughly.

(a) http://calibre-ebook.com/

(b) For background information and other ways. Read first: http://www.isilo.com/ -- go here for the conversion app: http://www.isilox.com/

(c) More background info and another way. Read first: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4443 and read that discussion. Do NOT click the link in the article for Peter Gorod's PUblish Ebooks website because it's defunct. Use this link instead: http://publishebook.x10hosting.com/

3. Microsoft Reader (LIT) Rating: Very easy. Worth questionable because this reader is no longer supported by MS.

(a) http://calibre-ebook.com/

(b) http://2epub.com -- Do NOT download the software unless you want to buy it. Use the on-site converter. Near the bottom of the page, you'll see Step 1: Select up to 5 files. Click that and proceed. Each grayed out step activates when previous step is completed. When you get to save, select LIT and proceed.

4. Franklin eBookman (FUB) Rating: Difficult. Not worth it.

A dedicated eBook reader and personal organizer. Discontinued in 2002. The eBook products are sold in BOOKMAN Book Card, digital download (Franklin Reader, Mobipocket Reader, or other file formats) formats. They also made an eBook reader called eBookMan.

5. Hiebook (KML) (HTML) Rating: Difficult. Not worth it.

Hiebook as a reader was slated for online .kml book purchases and appears to be mostly for religious and scholarly works.
6. Mobipocket (PRC) and (MOBI) Rating: Easy. Worth it.

For the MOBI file format, use http://calibre-ebook.com/ or http://2epub.com

7. Rocket (RB) Rating: Easy. Worth it.

Use Calibre.

8. Open eBook (ePub) Rating: Easy. Worth it.

Use http://calibre-ebook.com/ or http://2epub.com

9. Print or POD (enter URL)

Just enter the URL where your print book resides.

About These Conversion Softwares

Easy and most popular conversion software websites are 2epub and Calibre.

2epub supports conversion with these parameters:

Input formats: doc, docx, epub, fb2, html, lit, lrf, mobi, odt, pdb, pdf, prc, rtf, txt.

Output formats: epub, fb2, lit, lrf, mobi

Calibre supports conversion with these parameters:

Input Formats: CBZ, CBR, CBC, CHM, DJVU, EPUB, FB2, HTML, HTMLZ, LIT, LRF, MOBI, ODT, PDF, PRC, PDB, PML, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT, TXTZ

Output Formats: EPUB, FB2, OEB, LIT, LRF, MOBI, HTMLZ, PDB, PML, RB, PDF, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT, TXTZ

Good luck!

Takeaway Truth

Free resources abound. Try several and stick with the one that works best for you.

SimpleNote: EZ Note App

3 comments:
I love free apps--especially when they work well and make my life easier. Note apps fit that description.

I use Flashnote on my home PC and my laptop. I've got them organized by folder. For instance, I have one "Book URLs" where I have all my book URLs at the various ebook sellers. If I need to quickly copy the link to The Trouble With Love on Amazon, it's right there on the desktop.

Flashnote is a quick notes manager that can be used any time during the work process without fear of damaging important data. It always saves what you input without having to click save or anything. Hit ESC and it hides. I recommend it to everyone, but it's only for Windows.

If you need one to work with Mac (and Windows) and one which will also sync with your mobile applications, try Simplenote.

10 Reasons To Use Simplenote

1. Access your notes everywhere because it syns with your mobile device, your computer, and any modern web browser.

2. Automatic and secure.

3. Access multiple backups of your notes by dragging version slider to go back in time.

4. Tag your notes so you can browse them as folders.

5. Search just by typing whatever you're looking for, and your list updates instantly.

6. Plenty of free storage for your notes.


7. Simplenote is an open platform. People are building lots of cool things you can use to extend your experience.

8. Minimal, relevant ads that don't suck on the free version. Premium subscribers can disable ads.

9. Security because notes are encrypted when they synchronize.

10. It's free!

Takeaway Truth

Signup and try the free version today. It will make your life easier.

Ebooks for Children? Yes!

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I've been getting a fair amount of email asking what I know about publishing an ebook for children. Even a few years ago, this was a non-existent market due to the graphic-heavy text of most children's books.

Today though, with so many ereaders capable of color, the children's ebook market is booming. Just take a look at the Kindle Best Sellers List for Children's Books, and you'll see the breakdown by age groups with a fair number of titles in each group.

Vtech - V.Reader Animated E-Book System is already available. Sure, you can only load Vtech cartridges, but the importance of this is that it teaches a child from babyhood to read books on an ereader device. The significance of this is enormous. If you look at the Vtech Reader, you'll see that it's designed basically like a Kindle, Nook, etc. A child will grow out of this and into a Kindle with no learning curve necessary.

Amazon isn't the only ebook retailer with a kids' section. Of course there's Nook for Kids along with Sony Ebooks and all the others. If you Google "children's ebook reader," you'll get more than 2 million SERPs.

Replies To Aspiring Chidren's Book Authors

Here are some of my comments to those who have emailed me about publishing for children. Although I am not published in children's fiction, I did try a few times long ago when my kids were little to get the stories I wrote for them published. I discovered it was very difficult to break into that market. However, with the rise of indie publishing, there's opportunity available for those who want to grab it with both hands and go for it.

Why Is It Hard To Publish For Children

It's probably harder to get published in children's books than any other kind of writing. Why? Because successful children's books last forever. That's why everything from Poky Little Puppy to Curious George, though many decades old, are always published anew every year. The market is selective, small, and extremely competitive.

Children's Book Classifications

Children's books are divided into specific groups based on the age of the reader. They begin with books for children aimed at the parent who will read the book to the child and end with books aimed at the teen/young adult market with many areas in between.

You need to know these classifications so you'll know how to categorize your book. Check out the bestseller lists at the various digital retailers to see how they class the books.

Solved Graphics Problems = Opportunity

Prior to the Nook Color, iPad, and Kindle Fire, being an indie publisher and using an eBook format wasn't especially lucrative because most children aren't given those devices to play with. However, with dedicated devices for kids, like the one I saw on TV, and the lower prices for the color devices, more parents are giving their kids these gadgets to at least use. I know one of our sons has children's books loaded on his iPad for his daughters.

The lower the price; the more you'll see parents buying the color ereaders for their children. This is a growth market for writers. Many writers now publish for ebook, but then use a service like CreateSpace to publish a print edition of their books. That way you've got both the smaller ebook market for children covered as well as the bigger print book market.

Interested But Unsure Of How To Get Started

As with any genre, if you've got the interest, then it's a matter of learning the skill set needed for the genre. Seriously study how to write children's books. Read, read, read in the category in which you want to publish. Writers Digest Books has published many books about writing for children. Every year they publish a market guide like 2011 Children's Writer's And Illustrator's Market. Visit their website and click Browse / Children's, and you'll find tons of info.

Plan B

I'm a big proponent of Plan B. That's the plan you'll follow if your first pursuit doesn't work out.

Develop a fall-back plan that means writing in a different children's genre because you may find that Chapter Books or Middle Grade Readers or Young Adult Books have a bigger market share so there's more opportunity for a new writer than in the niche in which you're currently writing. This is true of traditional print publishing or indie publishing. Markets get glutted, and it becomes difficult to rise to the top. Keep your options open by having a backup plan, i.e., Plan B or C or D or whatever it takes.

Takeaway Truth

Follow your bliss. If writing for children is where your bliss is hiding, seek it out. There's more opportunity now than ever before.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.

3 Excellent Blogs

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Today, I want to highlight 3 excellent blogs to which I subscribe and read regularly. All three have archives of must-reads for writers.

Subscribe by email or feed or follow--however you like to frequent worthwhile blogs. The important thing is to take advantage of the information offered.

Free Kindle Books and Tips

This is one of Michael Gallagher's blogs. This week Michael had his usual daily lists of free Kindle books that are worthy of a reader's attention, but he also had reviews of the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch as well as answers to questions about Kindle.

Michael's backlist of blogposts is a treasure trove of information. Be sure and read the post about Amazon Gift Cards and Coinstar.

Peace Love Productions

If you are into using music, this blog is one to which you must subscribe if you seek royalty-free music to use in video trailers or whatever. (Do me a favor and do NOT put music on your website that starts as soon as the site opens. Big mistake. If you want music, put a button so the visitor can choose whether or not to listen.)

Plagiarism Today

Jonathan Bailey is the publisher of this vitally important blog. He was hanging onto the precipice above the slippery slope of copyright erosion years before most writers had an inkling of how bad the problem of internet piracy was going to be.

Takeaway Truth

The knowledge you need is often just a blog away.

Self-Publishers & Amazon's New Format & Devices

14 comments:
This morning I'm having coffee with Steven Lewis, author of How to Format Perfect Kindle Books. If you've been looking for a comprehensive guide to help you format your ebook for Amazon, this is it.

I met Steven through Taleist, his blog for self-publishers. I'm a reader-fan of his blog where he advises authors about formatting and marketing their books.

Today's blog post is must-reading for all self-publishing authors. Steven has concisely and accurately explained what the new devises and format changes mean. Tell your friends and pass along this information.

(Note: I changed Steven's Aussie spellings to the American versions.)

What Amazon’s New Format & Devices Mean for Self-Publishers
by Steven Lewis


The Kindle world just got better and more complicated at the same time. It's more complicated because Amazon's just announced a new format for its ebooks and it's launched new Kindles as well as a Kindle tablet. It's got better because of those same things. Here's what self-publishing authors need to know.

The New Kindles

The Kindle Fire is Amazon's tablet, an iPad competitor, designed to give its owners a cheap device ($199) on which to buy lots of content from Amazon -- TV shows, movies, music and, yes, books. It's like your cable company selling you a TV at a fraction of the usual price in return for your accepting that it will not be easy to watch anyone else's channels on it. It ships this month.

Also shipping this month are the new Touchscreen Kindles; as well as an entry-level model that doesn't have a touchscreen (only $79).

New models and low prices guarantee Amazon goodies galore under Christmas trees this year and those new Kindle owners are going to need books!

Kindle Format 8

Amazon ebooks are really just webpages. You might have uploaded your ebook to Amazon as a Word document or a PDF but what happened behind the scenes was that it was converted into HTML, which is the simple computer language behind most webpages. This is also what Smashwords does with its "Meatgrinder" when turning your Word document into ebook formats.

Amazon has a special version of HTML called MOBI, which it's replacing "soon" with Kindle Format 8 (KF8).

Kindle Format 8 is based on the most recent updates to HTML, which will affect most profoundly authors whose layouts rely heavily on images, e.g. recipe books, children's books, comics, etc.

The changes do have something for every self-publisher, however. You will, for instance, be able to include a font with your book so you're no longer limited to the one and only font that's included with the Kindle now. You'll also have more control over the layout of your book, e.g. spacing, margins, sidebars, and more options in terms of color.

Intersection Between New Kindles & New Format

Older Kindles will never be able to display the new KF8 features. You might, for instance, include a font with your book but on older devices your book will display in the standard Kindle font.

Older Kindle includes every one of the tens of millions of devices shipped before the new ones are released this month so you don't want to ignore them when creating your book.

Gap Between Formatting & Converting Your Book

There has always been a big difference between using software to "convert" your manuscript to an HTML ebook and "formatting it" (going through the book by hand to make sure the HTML is correct). The range of capabilities in the extended Kindle family means that gap is wider.

If you don't want to use the new features included in KF8, you're in the same position as you always have been. Just as before you take a risk relying on automated conversion but it's the same risk self-publishers have been taking since the Kindle was launched.

If you do want to use the new features, there's no chance you'll be able to achieve that with automated conversion. You will have to format your book around those features rather than hoping to convert the book directly from Word or a PDF.

Where publishers do use new KF8 features, Amazon is going to do some magic behind the scenes to make sure your book is still readable on older Kindles, i.e. Amazon will have to find another way to display on older Kindles those parts of the book that use KF8 features.

Same problem, Same Solution

You can't format Kindle books two ways -- one (MOBI) for the older devices and one (KF8) for the new ones. Instead self-publishers have the same two choices they had before:

1. Format their books themselves into Amazon's format (used to be MOBI, now KF8) before uploading them to Amazon's KDP. This gives you total control over how your book looks because Amazon isn't doing anything to it after you've uploaded it.

2. Upload their books to the KDP in another format (Word, PDF or EPUB) and have Amazon's software convert the book to KF8 (used to be MOBI). The way your book looks in the end is somewhat out of your control because Amazon's software has the final say.

If you're using features that are specific to KF8, e.g. embedded fonts, you probably have only the first choice.

WYSIWYG

What you see is what you get. I've written a book about how to format your manuscript for the Kindle, and I also format books for authors, so of course I'm going to tell you not to rely on automated conversion whether you want advanced features or not.

You don't have to take my word for it about conversion vs. formatting, however. When it officially launches KF8 "soon," Amazon is going to be updating its Kindle Previewer software to give you a way to see how your book will look on each version of the Kindle. (Remember, someone who reviews your book on Amazon and says it had lousy formatting isn't going to care that it looks great on someone else's version of the Kindle.)

What Should You Do

My advice is:

1. Try conversion and see how it works for your book, if you don't mind not having total control over how it looks. Just be sure to preview it for all Kindles before you publish it.

2. If there are problems, you probably need to learn some HTML (it isn't hard, I promise) or pay someone to do it for you. Problems are hard to fix using your conversion software because it did the best job it could do in the first place.

3. Be excited! The new format gives you even more ways to create great-looking ebooks; and the excitement about the new Kindle models means there will be millions more potential readers for you by the end of the year. Those people need your book to buy!

Takeaway Truth

The generosity of authors in sharing their expertise always amazes me. I hope you will thank Steven, and the other authors who guest star on SlingWords, by purchasing a book.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.


How To Publish With AllRomanceEbooks

6 comments:
AllRomanceEbooks sells a lot of books. If you write anything in the romance genre, or a mixed genre book with a strong romance, you need to be selling your books here.

Through their sister site OmniLit, they publish other genres and nonfiction.

(Note: This article originally appeared in Writing Hacks, my subscription newsletter for writers on October 13, 2011. Subscription form is at the right if you'd like information like this as soon as it's available. )

What You Should Know First

1. As an indie author, you are also a publisher so don't be scared away when registration information talks about you the publisher and doesn't mention author. Just use your name as publisher.

2. You need an ISBN number to register. If you haven't purchased ISBN's for your ebooks, go ahead and register then use the website Contact Form to request ARe provides you with a unique numbering system that you will use from Book 1 to infinity for your books.

3. If you choose to register ISBNs, read the FAQ by Joan on SlingWords, and the post Understanding ISBN on the blog.

Get Started

1. Click Publisher/Authors on the main page to open the window with the required forms and the FAQ links.

2. Read the FAQ.

3. Follow instructions to register.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU CLICK "ADD BOOK"

This will save you time and effort.

1. Always use CTRL-C to copy and CTRL-V to paste. Right click doesn't give the same results.

2. At this time, if you don't have ISBN's, contact ARe and wait to hear back before you proceed because you cannot register a book without ISBN or ARe Identification Number.

3. Choose which formats you'll use and format your book file for those in advance. (Can do this while you're waiting for numbers.)

All Romance Ebooks and OmniLit sell ebooks in many formats. Choose all or select only the ones you want to offer. (Next time I'll offer some websites to help you with formats.)

These are the Formats currently used on All Romance Ebooks and OmniLit:

Adobe Acrobat (PDF)
Palm DOC/iSolo (PDB)
Microsoft Reader (LIT)
Franklin eBookman (FUB)
Hiebook (KML)
HTML
Mobipocket (PRC) and (MOBI)
Rocket (RB)
Open eBook (ePub) -- 2epub.com
Print or POD (enter URL)

4. Write your author bio and save it in a plain text file in a desktop note taker like Flashnotes where it's ready to cut and paste into each ADD BOOK form.

5. Format your Excerpt that you'll paste into the form. Again, use plain text file because the form won't take paragraph indentations, etc.

Now You're Ready To Rock & Roll

If you've got your ISBN or numbering system assigned, and you've done the above steps then you're ready to sign your books up.

1. Click BOOK MAINTENANCE / ADD BOOK -- once you start, you can't save the form in progress. If you close the window, you lose what you filled in.

2. Fill out every box. If this is the first time you've added a book, you'll need to set up your AUTHOR NAME. Follow the instructions. After you've set it up, in the future, if you need to find your author name in a search, you'll do it FIRST NAME LAST NAME, not last name first order in the Author Database on the publisher forms.

3. Upload the various manuscript formats. I've found it's faster to upload 1 format at a time. If you try to do too many formats, it locks up or slows to a crawl.

4. When you are finished, check the entire form to make sure the info "stuck" before hitting submit.

5. Click submit.

6. After the form processes, click on the entry to see how it looks. At this point, check TAGS and fill that in if the form didn't offer you the chance to do so before.

7. Repeat the process for the next book.

If you have any questions, make a comment, and I'll try to help. Good luck!

Takeaway Truth

All Romance Ebooks is very popular with romance readers, and they have huge subscription base. Be there or bemoan the loss of sales.

Anne Marie Novark: Self Publishing Adventure

12 comments:
This morning, I'm having coffee with one of my writing friends Anne Marie Novark who is a Texas girl, born and raised.

Like many of my author friends, Anne Marie's passion is Romance. She loves to read and write about men and women falling in love, overcoming life's obstacles, and living happily ever after. Anne Marie writes spicy Contemporary Western novels and Regency Historicals.

Before I dived into epublishing, I followed Anne Marie's ebook adventure via her blog posts at Just Write With Anne Marie Novark where she gives advice and guidance to others. Since she just celebrated sale number 50,000, she's sharing her insights with us today.

My Self-Publishing Adventure
by Anne Marie Novark

I self-published my first book on August 6, 2010. I chose that date because it also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Easy to remember and it makes the day doubly special.

I've been published for a little over a year now, and it's been a roller coaster of a ride, let me tell you. The constant emotional ups and downs literally take my breath away. People say self-publishing is easy, but they're wrong. This is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of work and perseverance and courage. You must be brave to release your books and stories into the wild. Putting your babies out there makes you feel exhilarated, as well as vulnerable. No, it's not for the faint of heart.

First, I need to say I had a "backlist" of nine books that I wanted to publish. I've been writing a long time. I had been submitting to agents and editors, entering RWA contests, placing in a few and getting requests. I even received a phone call from a Harlequin editor in New York. It wasn't The Call, but A Call. Thrilling, I must say. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. I got close, but no cigar.

Then along came digital publishing and the small ePresses. I was lucky enough to sell to The Wild Rose Press in November 2007. I liked being an eBook author, but my sales were dismal. I thought there had to be a better way.

And then came Kindle and Amazon Direct Publishing. Bingo!!!

My Ebook Adventure Begins

I started with my Traditional Regency Romance Midnight My Love in August 2010. I priced it at $2.99 so I would get the 70% royalty from Amazon. It was extremely gratifying to get my first sale on Smashwords literally minutes after uploading it. I sold about 6 on Smashwords and 9 on Amazon during the month of August.

I uploaded my second book, The Doctor Wears A Stetson, the third week in September. The price was still at $2.99, and, for the whole month, I only sold 4 on Amazon (total for both books) and 3 on Smashwords. A little disheartening, but not totally disillusioning.

In October, I dropped the price of Midnight My Love to 99 cents as an experiment and left the other book at $2.99. Sales picked up, and I sold 17 copies of the Regency and 7 copies of the Western. Smashwords sales were few and far between. I probably sold about 5 copies that month.

Not really wanting to sell my books so cheaply, I raised the price back up for November. As a result, I only sold 9 books (total for both titles) on Amazon, maybe 3 or so on Smashwords.

Everyone in the Indie Author Community was excited about December 2010 with the explosion of holiday sales of Kindles and Nooks. I remember I was eagerly waiting to hit that 100 eBook sales mark.

On December 12, I released my third book, The Cowboy's Surrender. Biting the bullet, I dropped the prices on all three books to 99 cents to see what would happen. Boom!!! Sales rose dramatically. At this time, I also uploaded all three books directly onto B&N's Pubit! instead of going through Smashwords. Immediately, I began selling more books for the Nook than Kindle.

I sold over 200 books in December. Could it get any better? Oh yeah.

2011 Book Explosion

In January, I released a fourth book, Adam's Temptation. Price? Well, I started out at $2.99. After a week of no sales, I dropped it to $1.99 then to 99 cents. That book was slow finding its way up the ranks, but the other three books went through the roof!!! I sold 643 books in the month of January, twice as many at B&N than on Amazon. (Alas, this did not continue. Sales dropped off at B&N for some unaccountable reason.)

On February 6, I hit my first big milestone: One thousand eBooks sold!!! I was pretty much in shock. And so happy!!! Sales at Amazon started to catch up to my sales at B&N.

The last week in February, I released my fifth book, A Match Made in Texas. This is the third book in my Diamondback Ranch Series. I decided to charge $2.99 since the other two were selling so well. And it worked!!! Readers were buying all three books in the series and loving them!!! An author's dream come true.

On St. Patrick's Day, I released my first Regency novella, To His Lady's Rescue. This is when things really started taking off. I sold over 4000 books in March and gave 500 away for free on Smashwords. By the end of March, I had sold over 6000 eBooks total.

One month later on April 16th, I hit another milestone: Ten thousand eBooks Sold!!! Sales exploded on Amazon. I had two books on the Top Ten Regency Bestseller List. My Westerns were also making the lists. I sold 8200 eBooks in the month of April. My little novella was selling through the roof.

It was a funny thing though. Readers either loved or hated it. It was around this time that I received my first one-star review and it was for the little novella. I was devastated. I wanted to pull it. I posted on the Kindle Boards asking how other authors coped with bad reviews and received awesome support and hand-holding. I also received my first Random Act of Kindleness. Another Regency author, whom I didn't know, read my book and wrote a great five-star review. Life was good.

Earlier in the year, I had asked for and received my rights back to the two books I had published with The Wild Rose Press. On May 3, I published and re-released Her Reluctant Rancher. I decided to charge $2.99 since it had already been "vetted" and published. It sold more books in that one month than the two years at the small ePress.

May was my best month ever!!! I sold over 10,000 eBooks that month. Awesome!!! I finally felt like a successful author. On May 31, I published Texan Undercover. I started it out at $2.99, but quickly dropped the price to 99 cents. (More about my pricing strategy later.)

I published and re-released the last book in my backlist, Tall Dark and Texan, on June 2. I put it up for $2.99. In the month of June, I sold over 9000 eBooks.

Ups and Downs

What goes up, must come down. This is where the not for the faint of heart comes into play.

The third week of June, I gave a workshop at my local RWA Chapter on Self-Publishing: The New Paradigm/Living My Dream. You can read excerpts of it on my blog. I'm glad I gave it when I did, because it wasn't long after that the summer slump settled in, and my sales started decreasing.

Not fun. You know, it's great when your books are selling like hotcakes and all's right with the world. It's a whole nuther thing when sales start to tank. Interestingly, as my sales declined on Amazon, they started picking up on B&N. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it. Not for the faint of heart.

I shouldn't complain too much. In July, I sold over 5000 eBooks. I gave 1000 away for free on Smashwords. August and September were pretty dismal, but in October sales started to pick up. I've now sold over 50,000 eBooks total. Not bad. But watching my sales decrease by 50% and more was not a good feeling, let me tell you.

So, I try to put it all in perspective. I started this self-publishing adventure with the goal of making around 300-400 dollars a month. I'm doing that and more. Readers are reading my books. Fans are sending me email. I'm writing what I enjoy writing and finding like-minded people who enjoy reading what I write. I'm truly living my dream.

I'm looking forward to the next year. My goal is to release ten more stories of various lengths. In the big scheme of things, I plan to charge $2.99 for my novels and 99 cents for my shorter works. I'm positioning myself for this next holiday season and beyond.

The eBook sensation is truly revolutionary. More and more people are going to switch over to digital reading devices, and that will hopefully mean more readers for all of us. Writers need to write and publish and be ready for them. That's exactly what I plan to do.

Happy Writing and Reading and Publishing!!!

Takeaway Truth

The generosity of authors in sharing their expertise always amazes me. I hope you will thank Kate and the other authors who guest star on SlingWords by purchasing one of their books.

You-Know-What Happens. . .

5 comments:
. . . when you least expect it. Today, I spent almost 5 hours in the ER. Very nice people there too.

Wow! Am I screwed. I'll be using dictation software for a while until I heal. I'll make every effort to correct typos, but I have limited ability to use the keyboard so please overlook errors and typos you may see.

What A Day

This morning was beautiful. Crisp air, robin's egg blue sky. I had a massage therapy appointment at ten so I had a few minutes before I had to leave. I walked around the corner to the mailbox, grabbed yesterday's mail, and came bopping along, just as happy and content and feeling so good because I was on track to get my work in progress to the proofreader.

The trash can was sitting at the end of the driveway so I thought I'd wheel it back to the garage. Here comes the dumb accident part.

The drought this summer has compacted the dirt beneath the sidewalk, causing a segment of the sidewalk to drop 3 inches below the level of the driveway where it meets the side of the driveway.

Audition for Cirque du Soleil

Don't ask me how I did it, but I tripped over that 3 inch rise and fell, soaring about six feet before my body met the concrete. Human nature being what it is, I broke my fall with both hands and my left knee and my right forearm and my face. Fortunately, by the time my left cheekbone hit the driveway, most of the impact had been absorbed by my hands.

Good news? No road rash on my face. Just going to have one hell of a bruise.

Bad news? My hands. See this x-ray? It's not my hands, just an illustration, but I ended up with a lovely collection of hand/wrist x-rays today.

Damage

I would show a picture of my hands, but they look gross. Good news? No permanent damage or broken bones. Bad news? Huge chunk out of my right hand at the joint near the wrist (in a line with my pinky finger)--you know, the part of the hand that rests on the desk when you use a mouse.

Pinky finger on that hand black and swollen so much I can't bend it even if I was dumb enough to try.

Left hand, entire thumb joint swollen, black, and size of a quarter missing skin. Gash on right forearm. Gash on left knee.

They shot me up with painkillers, anti-inflammatory, and a tetanus shot too. Cleaned the wounds. After the bleeding finally stopped, they coated all the raw wounds with antibiotic salve and told me to leave them open to breathe but coat them with the salve until they heal over.

They said I'd probably feel even worse tomorrow and with side effects from the tetanus added to the impact injuries. Goody. Something to look forward to.

Is it tomorrow already? Because I already feel enormously worse. Plus already running a fever from the tetanus shot.

I missed a day of writing, and I'm concerned again about getting my 3 new ebooks published this month.

Universal Truth

Why is it that when you're working so hard to achieve something, all hell breaks loose? In the morning, I imagine I'll crawl to my computer with a chorus of Don Henley's song How Bad Do You Want It? echoing in my head.

Takeaway Truth

Shit happens.

Writing Short By Edgar Nominee Kate Flora

No comments:
This morning, we're having coffee with attorney and mystery author Kate Flora, who's going to give us some advice about writing short fiction.

Of Kate's eleven books, seven are Thea Kozak mysteries, two are gritty police procedurals, one (writing as Katharine Clark) is a suspense thriller, and one is a true crime. Her 2007 Edgar nominee, Finding Amy, (co-authored with Joseph K. Loughlin) was filmed for TV.

Currently, she's working on Death Dealer, a true crime involving a Canadian serial killer, a screenplay, and a novel told in linked stories. Her third police procedural, Redemption, will be published in February 2012. She teaches writing for Grub Street in Boston.

Kate's short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including the Sara Paretsky edited collection, Sisters on the Case. She spent seven years as editor and publisher at Level Best Books, and she is a former international president of Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake conference.

Her story, “All that Glitters” appears in Dead Calm: Best New England Crime Stories, and her story, “Bone China” in the crime story anthology Dead of Winter.

In other words, Kate Flora is one busy author. Obviously, she knows a lot about writing and editing, and has a lot of experience with short stories. She's experienced enough to know that writing short sometimes takes much longer, and she's here this morning to explain why as well as to offer some advice on how to write short successfully.

Why Does Writing Short Take So Long?
By Kate Flora


Writing short is not the same as easy. There are many ways writing short crime fiction can go wrong.

I got into writing short stories accidentally. For years, mystery writer Susan Oleksiw and I had discussed doing an anthology of crime fiction as a snapshot of the New England crime writer’s mind. She decided to move from talk to action and invited me to join her on the editorial side of the desk. That was daunting.

As a further condition, Susan decided the editors must also write stories for the collection. That was ten years ago. We produced seven collections at Level Best Books, then passed the reins to new editors, who will bring out their second collection, Dead Calm, in a few weeks.

During those years, I read hundreds of stories, and wrote about a dozen. On the writing side, I learned that it usually takes a long time, and a lot of rewrites, to produce a satisfying story.

On the editing side, I have seen what goes wrong in short stories. I draw on that, and on the experience of fellow editors, for the following reasons why stories get rejected.

Rejection Analysis

1) Whose Story Is It?

Far too frequently, the writer isn’t in touch with whose story is being told. Sometimes this is manifested in a shifting point of view, so that the reader gets dizzy trying to follow whose story is being told. Sometimes, in mid-story, the writer becomes entranced by the voice of another character, and switches to seeing through their eyes. This happens when the writer doesn’t know her characters well enough, has a shaky understanding of point of view, or doesn’t really know what the story is about.

Often, in my comments, I will ask:

Whose story is this?

What does he want?

How do the events of the story disclose that or frustrate that goal?

How is the character changed by the end?

How does each particular scene build to the desired effect at the end? (Looking at scenes as the building blocks of story, one should be able to answer this question.)

A writer should be able to answer these questions. If she can’t, her story is not ready to submit.

2) Does the story have a strong voice?

This one seems obvious, but too often, writers haven’t disclosed what’s interesting about their characters; haven’t found the character’s world view, attitude, and idiosyncrasies and revealed it in their speech.

Readers want to be grabbed by the story. If the characters are generic instead of specific, if the character is a cartoon, or someone we’ve seen a hundred times, the reader puts it down.

Consider how much is revealed by the language choices and terse details of the opening of Mike Wiecek’s “The Gas Leak”:

When Sue Ann in dispatch got the 911, she called out the fire department, then immediately rang up the sheriff. Sue Ann knew that any action at the Granger place was unlikely to stop at firefighting.

3) Does the story show me something new?

Editors see a lot of stories. To rise above the pack, a story has to create a well-imagined world, one that will intrigue the reader, and make them feel something, take them on a journey, teach them something new, surprise them, or leave them feeling “wrung out.”

Among dozens of potential "spouseicides," what will stand out is the twist—a couple trying to poison each other, a couple where the poisoner is actually trying to save the spouse from a lingering and horrible death from disease. The same is true for almost any plot.

What can you bring to the page that will make it different? Use your imagination. Think what would happen if? Edgar nominee Judy Green, for example, writes about an older woman with dementia who has no idea she’s foiled a robbery.

4) Is there something at stake?

As one editor put it, a story can be beautifully rendered, but if she doesn’t care about what’s happening, she’ll put the story down. A corollary of this is obvious: there must be a character who matters to your reader for whom those stakes exist.

5) Is there a strong opening?

In the tight confines of a short story, things have to start happening right out of the box. As an example, an editor gave me this, from Ray Daniel’s story, “Communion.”

I sat in a café, in the north end, drinking a double espresso, eating a biscotti, and waiting for a funeral.

The story gives you place, an imminent event, and questions: whose funeral? How did the person die? How is the narrator tied to that death?

6) Is there a satisfactory ending?

Far too often, an otherwise good story gets rejected because of a weak ending. Editors see it all the time. An ending that comes out of nowhere. And ending that simply peters out. And ending that doesn’t tie up, or tie in with, the events of the story. An ending that leaves the reading saying, “Huh?” An ending that seems contrived rather than growing out of the plot and the characters.

No question about it: endings are HARD. But if endings are your weakness, go read some anthologies of good mysteries. The field is very rich. Then deconstruct the story, and see how that ending is inevitable. How it fits. How it stuns or surprises or shocks, or deeply satisfies and leaves a reader saying, “Aah. Yes!”

7) Is the story plausible?

This is a plot logical issue, and my own personal bugaboo. If you’re writing a crime story, know some crime basics. So many times, a promising story collapses in a “give me a break” moment.

Here are a few examples of dumb things that could be prevented by the most basic research. The wife wanting it to appear her husband accidentally fell overboard at sea shooting him before dumping him overboard. An interrogation that is central to the plot hinging on implausible investigative technique. There is no safety on a Glock. You can’t stick a new clip in a revolver.

8) The Magic Editor will make it all right.

Don’t submit a story before it is ready. Far too often, the reason a promising story is rejected is that it needs a couple more revisions before it is tight and clean and ready to go. Editors are lucky if they have time to brush their teeth in the morning. With a hundred stories to read, they may want to like you, but they’re looking for reasons to reject stories and make the pile shorter.

Go over your story and take out every extraneous word. Turn on your cliché detector. If you can’t spell and punctuate, ask a friend. Submitting a misspelled, poorly edited, badly punctuated story sets it up for rejection and you for unnecessary pain.

9) Follow submission guidelines.

This one shouldn’t need to be said. Too often, writers are so eager to be published they’ll submit anywhere. It’s sad to reject a good story because the writer didn’t pay attention to the word count, or other rules for submission.

It is easy, on the other hand, to reject a story where the cover letter begins: I know your story length is 5000 words, but I like my story just the way it is at 7000, so I didn’t edit. If you like the story, I’ll consider….

You know where that story went. A story that followed it right into the trash bin bore this note: You’ve asked for the author’s information to be in the upper right hand corner. This is wrong. You should have asked….

The Bottom Line

Great article, Kate! Thanks for those insights. Readers, you can also find Kate hanging out at her blog Pen Noir and also at Maine Crime Writers. Be sure and look for her third police procedural, Redemption, in February 2012.

Takeaway Truth

The generosity of authors in sharing their expertise always amazes me. I hope you will thank Kate and the other authors who guest star on SlingWords by purchasing one of their books.

Note: If Joan Reeves aka SlingWords helps you get ahead, please consider buying one of my books (Written Wisdom is perfect for writers--readers too!), subscribing (only $.99 per month) to the Kindle Edition of SlingWords,or making a donation of any amount by clicking the button below. Thank you for your moral support and any monetary support you see fit to contribute.