Thursday, June 28, 2012

Once Upon A Time

I am writing this cutting close to the wire again. 
I have had a busy day editing a fairy tale down to under 1500 words for a competition. I don’t write fairy tales so it was a good stretch for me to study up on the genre...i.e. pull out the reference fairytale books my kids own... and work out how to put a fairytale in a New Zealand setting. I enjoyed it. I like to work with a few constraints because then you have to be more creative as you try to stetch them.... 

Writing to under 1500 words for this competition has challenged all the kiwi children’s writers and there now seems to be an unofficial competition going on for who has the most words under 1500. I got mine down to 1493 and was pretty pleased with my effort, however another member of the FaBo team got his to 1499. It is all good practice for us as the Fabo team is limbering up and ready to charge into FaBo Olympics.  We are just putting everything in place and then we get the starters gun on 16th July.

Around the blogoshere this week there have been some interesting tech developments. Microsoft launched their new tablet, Surface and things looked pretty nifty...Windows 8 operating system, direct price comparison with iPad, ships in November.

Today Google launched into the Tablet world with Nexus, voice operated, android system, direct price comparison with Kindle Fire, ships next week. Hmm the Tablet war heats up...Google threw in new tech virtual reality glasses to everybody at the launch...and these glasses record what you are seeing as people watching were treated to sky divers wearing them and streaming images of their jump in real time back to them.

Joe Wikert put out an interesting idea this week with his comment piece, Let’s open a ebook store. He challenges publishers to open an ebook store on their websites DRM free. If retailers can print books (think book espresso) why can’t publishers sell from their own site...there may be a few snags.

Mike Shatzkin has been thinking along the same lines and he is positive that Publishers who don’t figure this out will be has-beens in two years. And he is talking about the big six. Check out his opinion and get a heads up to the next big changes in publishing.

Kristin Lamb has been taking a hard look at Facebook and the changes they keep slipping by us, one of them holding your fan pages hostage...hmm. Why are they doing this and are they killing their own golden goose?

A lot of people are commenting on Jane Friedman’s blog with a guest post by Ed Cyzewski on self publishing being a tragic term...he has a different take. It takes a community to publish a book.

Joel is also reading from a similar page with his 6 things I love and hate about self publishing.

John Scalzi had his latest book Redshirts hit the New York Times Bestseller list.
In this entertaining piece he examines all the factors that contributed to this success or not. Not what you think...Take a look!

In the craft section

How to spot Mary Sue in your writing (that’s the character whom you agree with all the time)

In the more eclectic section, Writing with both sides of the brain...thoughtful post looking at whole self writing.

Jody Hedlund has 20 ways readers can help you...worth passing on to your readers 

To finish,
Also today Mark Coker of Smashwords tweeted his announcement that Smashwords is partnering with the Califa Library system in California. Yup you can go to their libraries read topselling ebooks and buy them on the library site. This is putting the power back into interesting development to watch in the coming year.

The End.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flagging The Craft

When I sat down to review the list of links I have made for your perusal this week I found that there is a strong craft element showing through. This is probably unconscious on my part as I have been back in the Martian landscape trying to move my characters from their unintentional holiday spot.... 
I own some great craft books on writing and I find myself obsessively reading them when I need to tackle my manuscript...this flows into my internet reading. Hence the collection of good links for you along with my usual foray into current trending topics, springing up from BEA and enlightened or thought provoking comments from writers in the trenches.

In the New Zealand blogosphere this week the comment has been all about The Frankfurt Book Fair. With New Zealand being a Guest of Honour and Children’s Literature being the focus genre, Kidlit writers here had high hopes. Unfortunately our government saw a Book Trade Fair as a place to promote New Zealand and wine and forgot about waving the flag for the BOOK aspect. We waited with bated breath to see who was on the list and now the kidlit community feels badly let down. They are worthy people but there aren’t many writers in the total group of 160 going. Melinda sums up what we are all feeling...and talking about.

Mike Shatzkin, publishing futurist, rounds up what he learned at Book Expo America this year and as usual it makes interesting reading. He flags MetaData Mess, Digital Rights Databases and the slow down of ebooks as the main concerns going forward. Picture Books will stay printed...but what about enhanced books?

The Gurdian highlights some research showing that enhanced ebooks actually harm children’s reading ability.

For those of us who dream about going to BEA... Publishers Launch has made available 5 keynote slideshow presentations...however they stress if you have limited time check out the presentation by Bowker on Global Sales...of course to us in the Southern Hemisphere we are firmly fixed on global but it does highlight what formats are doing well in what countries.

Goodreads has published an interesting article where they flagged what makes a book take off. There are some interesting comparisons and author agility is a must.

Writer Unboxed has a guest blog from the writer of Scrivener for Dummies. If you haven’t checked out this post...Many writers say they will never go back to word processing software again. Scrivener is especially targeted at writers.

Kristine Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith are great at putting the finger on the pulse of changing attitudes in publishing and these posts are no exception.
Kristine has been looking at the whole Indie vs Trad publishing debate and she has an interesting article on the long tail of each of these ways to publish...add to this 77 thoughtful comments. You need to take some time out to digest this great article and ongoing conversation.

This great article on how to do an author interview can be flipped on its head for authors...and if you add in this Fabulous post from the Midgrade writers site The Mixed Up Files Of... on tips to help create a memorable author visit to schools then you are on to some marketing gold.

In the craft section,

From guiding the readers emotions, you are the puppet master.

From the incomparable Larry Brooks...when you get told that your structure is off and what does that mean...just brilliant.

From K M Weiland, 25 ways to blow your book.

How to find weak verbs...just change your tense.

In the US, Print On Demand Book Espresso Machines seem to be taking off...Check out how authors are using this creatively and Joanna Penn has a list of 7 networking ideas for authors.

It is tax time here in NZ and I must really get down and carve out some time to get this in....

This week this post, responding to a letter about how downloading pirated music is ok, went viral...I flagged it on FB expecting to see comments and got zilch...maybe writers are too busy or have their head in the sand thinking that this attitude will never happen to books...As someone commented on the original happens to all artists. I’d be interested in your thoughts... 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Keeping Warm

The weather has turned cold down here in the Southern Hemisphere and all the writers I know are scrambling for heaters, blankets, fingerless gloves and other warming devices that can be plugged in and set to run under their desks.

In the blogosphere some writers are keeping warm with rants on the duplicity and underhandedness of other ‘writers.’
Take a well known writer’s name. Add a middle initial. Put that on your same genre self pubbed book. Market...
Galley Cat alerted everyone to the digital duplicity.

You could see it as a blatent marketing ploy...but it is probably lower than that as Sarah from SmartBitchesTrashyBooks explains. Why did the writer target the Romance community?

For those who follow Jane Friedman you will know that she is moving into the literary community combining her social media knowledge, publishing and Uni teaching while working for the Virginia Quarterly Review. Jane was recently interviewed by one of the founders of the Alliance of Independent Authors and it is a great interview. Jane’s tips for author websites as being their hot hub for all things is especially good...chock full of good advice.

Joel Friedlander revisits the best fonts for your P O D book this week. Joel is a great resource and he has a website stuffed with hot tips.

Chuck Sambuchino has a great guest post by Emmy Laybourne on his 7 things I have learned so far series. (7 ways to keep warm, doing some of these.)

Madison Woods gives the floor to Kath Meis, the founder of Bublish which had a lot of word of mouth at last weeks Book Expo America Convention.  Writers, it’s a free tool...and an interesting marketing idea...

Alan Rinzler, erudite observer of the business has spent an entire post looking at Barry Eisler and what writers can learn from what Barry is doing.... Alan has been a solid note of warning for the last few years about digital publishing but this year the speed of change in publishing community has got him almost spinning...and if Alan, with his long view, is spinning where are the rest of us in the centrifuge.... ( I could stuff another hot word in here but I won’t.)

The Guardian tells us all about the new release of dot suffixes in the internet domain world and what it will mean for book anyone?

 PaidContent has an overview on a ground breaking move by Google into epublishing in Europe...this may have flow on effects for us down here and is a smack for Amazon.

In the craft section,
What are your characters thinking while waiting for the story to get going. This is a good post on the importance of fleshing out your characters.

Larry Brooks’ Storyfix series on the Hunger Games has been compeling reading over the last couple of months but this post nails the novel and how you can nail your own work down to nine sentences. Just Brilliant.

My fingers are seizing up with cold...every sentence is finishing with me rubbing warmth into my hands...Ah winter...I so missed you...NOT.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Inspiration and Fiction

Some intriguing posts have got me thinking this week about writing and inspiration and the mixture of the two.

First up Fan Fiction. I remember explaining to an award winning Young Adult writer here what fan fiction was and how big it was. 
I started reading Harry Potter fan fiction with my daughter when we were desperately waiting for book five...and of course book six... book seven. Sometimes we would look at each other and say 'whoa that reads like J K Rowling wrote it.' 
Yes the writers were that good and some went on to have big writing careers of their own.
Jami Gold has a nice post on fan fiction and what it means to Authors. Do you want fans playing with your characters? Do you want restrictions? What can you do? Jami tells you the pro’s and con’s.

Publishing Perspectives takes a look at information gained from their one day mini conference on children’s publishing. Some interesting insights on what makes great children’s books.

You have to feel for the Russian Children’s writers. They have the same number of bookshops in Russia as in 1913. No awards for their work and no advertising of children’s books. Book Expo America has a Russian focus this year and Denis Abrams spotlights the struggles of their children’s publishing community. (and you thought you had it bad...)

Invent a Digital Reader then invent software for writers to create exclusive content. Apple did it with iBooks now Barnes and Nobel are doing it for the KOBO but with a difference...they want authors to play the KoboWriting Game.
Earn points and badges if you sell overseas...It is still being trialled at the moment...get the scoop here.

Kristen Lamb takes a look at Facebook and now that it is public what is happening to fan pages.. Facebook could potentially hold your page to ransom as they have to earn money for shareholders. How do you get around it. This applies to you if you have an author fan page.

Writers Digest have posted a list of seven things that will doom your novel...hopefully you are not guilty of any of these.

A standout post this week for me was this one. How I went from writing 2000 words a day to 10000. This is quite mind blowing in its simplicity and you will smack your forehead...

The WANA group/tribe, (We Are Not Alone) was started by Kristen Lamb a few years ago as an online twitter hangout for writers to share success etcetc. Kirsten is taking it up a notch and has created an online community social network site with classes... forums...resources and she has tapped into some great people to help her do this. Go and take a look.

Talli Rowland has a great post on dreams and the shifting goalposts of publishing. Have your publishing dreams changed in the last few years...are you having trouble just finding the goalposts.... Tali will help you make sense of it all.

Today the news came through of Ray Bradbury’s death. All those in the Sci Fi community mourn the loss of one of the giants of the genre. Neil Gaimen wrote a piece of what Ray Bradbury meant to him and it sums up what the sci fi community are feeling. One of the great legacies of Ray Bradbury is that tech he dreamed up became inspirations for the science community to if you are reading this on a flat touch screen...Ray thought it up first!

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury.

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