Friday, October 4, 2019

Finding a Publishing "Team" Beats "Self" Publishing


No one should self-publish their book.

Now, before you get all excited, what I mean is, no one should self-publish their book alone, with just software to guide them. You need a team to publish professionally, and whether you do that by going through the process with a hybrid publisher (Acorn Publishing, She Writes Press, etc), or you do that by finding your own team, don't go it alone!

One way to find your own team is to join a community like ChapterBuzz. There, you'll find ways to share your work as you go, as well as a vetted list of people who can help you with all the steps required to publish a book you'll be proud of. (Full Disclosure: I'm listed in the new ChapterBuzz directory, and I offer members 10% off my services there, but have not yet worked with anyone from the site.)



However, as you can see, I was the most recent "cover girl" for Books & Buzz, the ChapterBuzz community's online "magazine," which was pretty cool. I think the editor of B&B did a great job with our interview article, since my literary career, and my life in general, is pretty darn hard to encapsulate. 

Enjoy the read and hasta pronto!


Friday, August 23, 2019

It's That Time Again; Six Reasons to Attend SCWC

Well, August is three-quarters over somehow, while I have barely begun to think it is August. We have managed to squeeze in a tiny bit more vacation-ing along with work, lots of family obligations, and all the fun of everyday life on a boat (including some actual sailing), and then this week was “back to school” time for Professor Russel!

Luckily, September follows August and is one of my favorite months, because it contains one of my favorite weekends of the year, when I get to teach (and learn!) at the Southern California Writers Conference in Orange County. If you don't know about SCWC yet, click here.

The schedule for LA17 (in Irvine) is up and the workshops and speakers are listed. There is so much to look forward to: Not just Pitch Witches, but a Pitch Witch query class, my ever-popular (if I do say so myself!) expository class, and an early morning ("early bard") read and critique on Sunday. I'm even teaching a brand-new workshop on content editing—about what it is, exactly, and when writers need it.

My "Pitch Witch" Partner, Marla Miller with Yours Truly

Aspiring writers ask me all the time why they should go to a writers conference and I always tell them that you shouldn't go to just any conference, but that there are some very good reasons to go to SCWC.

1. You'll learn about writing & publishing & marketing, from successful writers, editors, and agents.
2. You'll get feedback on your work-in-progress or that manuscript you think is finished (or is it?)
3. You'll make contacts in the world of publishing that'll help you succeed in this ever-evolving biz.
4. You'll meet your “tribe” and make friends who will understand and support you (I sure have!)
5. You'll get out of your lonely writing room.
6. You'll have a blast!
I hope you can make it to Irvine this year—there's still time to register and to get a hotel room at a discounted SCWC price (if you book a room by Aug 29).
hasta pronto!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Vacation Brain, and Some Transition Talk

Yes, I've been on "vacation"—lots of moving and packing and unpacking going on, but not a lot of editing has gotten done. Now I'm back aboard "Watchfire" and ready to get back to my life and my work. Unfortunately, I've got Vacation Brain. V.B. is the fuzzy, vague, can't-quite-concentrate feeling that you strive for on vacation, but that you have to shuck like an oyster shell once you return to the real world.


So, here's what I have been thinking about, in spite of V.B.: transitions. Both in life and in writing. Transitions don't get enough love, and they certainly don't get much respect. In life we tend to gloss over other people's life transitions with phrases like "It's just a phase," "this too shall pass," "you'll get over it," and even "get over it!"

In judging an author's writing, editors and agents often say "the transitions were weak" but what exactly does that mean? In my experience, it means that either you took too long to get from plot point A to plot point B, thereby boring the reader, or that it happened too fast and left us wondering, so make sure you know which problem your text suffered from.

Sometimes transitions surprise us unintentionally, and then it isn't really the transition itself that is to blame, but all that came before it. (A surprise can be a good thing in some genres, but not a completely surprising surprise, if you know what I mean. We've all read those, where we say, "WTF? That character would never have done that!")

In order to improve your transitions, you must first find them. You can spot them by highlighting what they are not. Transitions are not usually whole scenes, they are the connective tissue between scenes. There is action/reaction in a scene (a "beat," if you will) and then the scene ends and, at some point, another scene begins. That connecting section is your transition.

Of course, rules are meant to be broken, and sometimes a whole chapter—usually, a very short one—works as a transition in a book. A great example, in a book by Ray Bradbury, was a one-sentence chapter which I'll try to recall here: "Nothing else happened the rest of the night." Great transition, but it won't work in too many books.

Sometimes a transition has to do some heavy lifting, like jumping through space and time, and, unless you're Zane Grey you don't want to use the cliched "Meanwhile, back at the ranch..." So, how do you make those leaps, from breakfast to break-up, or from colonial Bangaladesh to modern-day Bermuda?

The best answer I can give is to read. Read the greats, and see how they do what they do. When you find a great transition, jot it down or highlight it (easy on a Kindle or most other e-reader apps). Go back and re-read them and see which one moves you. Keep a list of them for inspiration. Next time you are stuck, refer to that list. You won't use the transitions word for word, of course, but they can certainly act as a jumping off place.

That's the best I can do with Vacation Brain. Hope it was a little bit helpful...Now for a nap...
hasta pronto!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Author Friends (and Their Books) are Springing Up!


One of the great things about being an editor is how many authors you meet in your everyday life. Not just the authors I work with, but those I meet at conferences, and at author events, and the many friends of friends as well. Today's post is about just two of those authors.

First off, how cool is it to have a client and friend like Dominic Carillo? Not only does he write intriguing books for young audiences (though adults will love them too!) but he has won awards for his books (like The Improbable Rise of Paco Jones which won a San Diego Book Award a couple years ago), and garnered plenty of acclaim and lots of "ink" about them.

His latest news is: one of his books, The Unusual Suspects, was just published in Bulgaria—in Bulgarian! Granted, Dominic lives in Bulgaria, but still...the book had to appeal to a publisher enough for them to negotiate the rights to re-publish it and get it translated into another language. Not a minor proposition, as I well know.

Anyway, here are the two covers for The Unusual Suspects. 

 

Nice, huh? I even got a mention in the Acknowledgments, in Bulgarian!


Another new book from an old friend is out this month. Girl Boner Journal is the companion to Girl Boner: The Good Girl's Guide to Sexual Empowerment which debuted last year. The books' author, August McLaughlin, is a podcast host, writer, speaker and all-around goddess of sexuality and good sense. She is someone I met once briefly at the Southern California Writers Conference and have stayed in touch with because I just love her chutzpah and style (and I applaud her mission of spreading knowledge about sexuality, too!).

The Journal is a sort of guided workbook that can help a willing reader to document and understand the process of exploring her sexuality, or lack of it. (Disclosure: I received a free ebook to read and review, which I am thrilled to do). In answering the compelling questions and reading the intriguing prompts, we can learn what we like and don't like, and what we want and don't want (both in bed and out of it!). Or, as August puts it, Girl Boner Journal will "help you take your sexual empowerment journey deeper." And, after all, who doesn't want that? 




Speaking of fullfillment and happiness, Russel and I are celebrating thirty (30!) years of wedded bliss at the end of May, so we are heading off on a short land-locked adventure...to a hidden desert getaway to—you know—get away! It may be raining and cool on Memorial Day weekend, but don't worry, we'll be warm and cozy in the hot tub, or hiking out among the flowers and rocks.

See you in June—hasta pronto!

 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The First Annual San Diego Writers Festival—Free and open to the public!


This weekend, I'm going to be volunteering at the first annual San Diego Writers Festival at our wonderful Downtown Library. Check out the festival's site and find their schedule, which is chock-full of events/talks/panels, here.
It sounds like a great idea, and I love what the organizers are planning—to make San Diego a destination for writers and those who want to write.
This is just one of the many talks and panels that will be offered that day—and it is all free!


I'll be participating in the "Ask An Expert" event at 11am, as part of the day's line up, and floating around as a volunteer during the afternoon. Look for the blue T-shirts, as we volunteers will all be wearing them.
I think it is going to be a lot of fun—I hope to see you there!