Here’s an update to the post below by Allison Williams:
I’ll add something for authors who wish to query in the USA – literary agent Janet Reid‘s blog is terrifically helpful with query and process guidance (it’s not quite as scary as ‘they’ll trash you if your title isn’t in italics 🙂 ) and the Query Shark blog is great for exactly how to write a query and where authors go wrong.
Also, the practice I’ve followed and that has helped many writers I know – send queries in batches, not all at once. Query 10 agents. If they all say no, something’s wrong with the query, so revise it before sending to the next ten. If agents request pages and then say no, revise the pages before sending to the next ten.
In the USA it’s important to send a personal query (Dear Agent X, I appreciate your focus on books like this, and here’s how I fit into your list). It’s hard to get personal if querying too many at once. Plus, the advice I’ve found useful is that you don’t want any agent, you want the one who is a good match for you and your book, and that’s also where small-batch querying helps: you have time to carefully vet the agents and see who you really want to query.
Check out Victoria Strauss’s post on Writer Beware on why it is critical that writers read the fine print carefully before they submit their writing to contests or publishers.
This is what Victoria says of the Write India contest run by the Times of India: “I’ve rarely seen such a greedy rights grab in contest guidelines. If anyone had contacted me to ask about this contest, I would have advised them not to enter.”
If you’ve not heard about the Times of India writing contest debacle (or even if you have), you should check out this excellent post by Sharath Komarraju.
This all started when Sid Balachandran wrote an emotional Facebook post on the rights grab by The Times of India (see previous post on this blog).
#TimesofIndia #RightsGrab #SidBalachandran #SharathKomaraaju #WriteIndia #WriteIndiaContest
When Christine Nolfi, bestselling author and awesome sauce, suggested I write fan fiction for the Lei Crime Series (#LeiCrimeKW), my first reaction was – but I don’t do 50 Shades of Gray! ☺ (If you’re not aware, the latter started off as fan fiction.)
Once I got past my knee-jerk reaction, I bought Blood Orchids, the first book in Toby Neal’s amazing series. To help with my research, Toby generously offered me free copies of the rest of the series – both ebooks and audio. Toby’s books are meticulously plotted police procedurals, so it was no hardship to read/hear them. I was hooked!
I needed a character to build a story around, so I chose Wayne Texeira. He’s fresh out of prison and ready to get on with his life. He just has a little problem with anger management. Something about this rough around the edges, yet honorable, man appealed to me. I decided to give him something to look forward to – a love interest who is also a very capable woman (no wishy-washiness for me).
I also decided to throw Texeira bang in the middle of suspicious deaths (because, really, what’s a murder mystery without bodies?) – and Valley Isle Secrets (link and cover coming soon!) was born. Toby Neal and her band of Lei Crime Kindle World writers (me, included) are doing a joint book launch for multiple books in this series.
But, really, what’s a book launch without readers? So I’d like this chance to invite you to join our Facebook party on Dec 28, 2015.
Thank you, Christine Nolfi, for suggesting #LeiCrimeKW to me. And thank you Toby Neal for inviting me to be a part of your writing world and, of course, for writing this fabulous series!
Lately I’ve been getting lots of invites from “Traditional Publishers” offering to publish my books for me. I’m always leery of such ‘offers’ because many of these outfits are self-publishing scams dressed in traditional publisher clothing.
Some quick and easy ways of checking if the traditional publisher is legitimate (though they are getting smarter by the year):
* Is the publisher’s website geared to the reader (as it should be), or are they in the business of selling you, the writer, services or ‘packages?’
* Is it a digital-only publisher? Frankly, I don’t see how this is beneficial to the author. Instead of a one-time payment to your editor / book cover designer / ebook formatter, you’re now paying a lifetime of royalties. If you have also been asked to pay for these services (in addition to the royalties) definitely stay away. Self-publishing is so easy – create an account on Amazon, smashwords etc and upload your book. Why would you hand over your rights to someone else for this effort?
* Are they asking you to pay for publishing your book? Stay away.
* Typically, traditional publishers have provided the author access to in-store distribution, which was what authors wanted / needed. But things are in such a flux now that it is hard to know whom to trust.
I wish I could say only scummy self-publishing outfits are demanding payment for publishing a book, but I find that (in India, at least) traditional publishers – the big established-for-decades ones – are also selling services on the sly. I’ve heard of a few of them offering to publish a book and provide in-store distribution for these books, provided the author ponies up hundreds of thousands of rupees. Not only that, these established traditional publishers are then pressuring the author to buy up the entire print run so the publisher can declare the book a success. If this isn’t smarmy, I don’t know what is.
Jane Friedman also deal with this on her own blog. Click here for her take on it.
My article today in scroll.in.
Incase the link doesn’t work for you, you can check this pdf on my blog.
Note: There will be two winners drawn from the commenters at the end of the tour. Winner 1 will receive a lovely pair of colonial era earrings (U.S. only please due to shipping constraints); Winner 2 will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate.
Pull your desk up to the edge of a cliff and start typing. You’ll survive your fear or fall into the precipice. Either way, it’s an adventure.
Carley and I met many moons ago during the beginning days of MSN groups. Remember them? I was running an interactive writing group. It proved to be a great training ground for me, and I think for Carley as well. We instantly clicked. She not only fully embraced the format, but soon became a leading force in the stories, taking on several key characters and both of us mentoring other writers who were struggling with the more basic aspects of writing.
When MSN groups shut down we lost track of each other for the most part. We became busy with family concerns, as most people do, and I started my freelance writing career. Finally, when all our kids were gone and we each had an empty house, Carley contacted me, wanting to write a story in the same interactive manner. I was equally hungry to relive the adrenaline rush and we started a private Google group with just us as members. Within six months we had written four books worth of material set in her favorite time and theme, the American Revolutionary War.
I was reluctant to delve into this theme, being Canadian and not really knowledgeable about American history, but through research I soon became addicted. This era lent itself to mystery, suspense, romance, all the aspects we loved in a story. We are polar opposites in lifestyle, her being a confirmed city girl and me being a country living, city hating Albertan redneck, so it has always amazed me we thought so much alike when it comes to writing. What’s even more amazing is that we have never met in person. I think it’s the dream of both of us is to finally meet and work on a book across the table from each other, complete with lively discussions and heated debates, hashing out details for hours. It’s our modus operandi, since we care so much about our stories.
That’s our brief history. Now I want to get specific and plunge into a subject that may seem depressing at first, but essential if you want to write a book that doesn’t hopelessly bog down and readers abandon you. These are not all, by any means, but ones that particularly irk me.
Backstory: Don’t put the history of your character too soon into the story. They will learn what brought your heroine to this point throughout the book. Also, don’t try to tell their whole life story within a few paragraphs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this, and not only is it annoying but it clogs and, in some cases, completely stops the flow, deadly for any author. Instead, just add a short blip that only relates to what they are experiencing at the present time which may influence how they act or reason, and only if it’s the only way to explain the resulting decision. Tiptoe through it if you think it will help you not get carried away with backstory.
Story: Even if you’re writing science fiction or fantasy, your story has to smack of realism. It has to be believable, where the readers ask, “Could this happen? Did it happen? Will it happen in the future? Yes, I can see it.” Many writers have dove into a fantasy story believing they can write anything with no thought of whether it’s believable; not so. The key phrase, especially for science fiction, is “science”. Do your research. And for fantasy, it has to have some logic at least. If a reader is led to suspend their belief too much, you’ve lost them. They have to be able to visualize what you’re trying to say.
Characters: Two dimensional, no consistency in behavior, too perfect, too evil, no personality; these are the characters that drive me crazy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across this problem in novels. I’ve especially experienced it in romance novels, where both the heroine and hero are paper dolls, with no depth or personality. I call them “cookie cutter” characters; great for baking, bad for writing. Another issue is reality. I once started reading a book that had interesting characters and the story drew me in until, early in the novel, the main character had a conversation with a street kid. This child was barely sixteen years old but had the dialogue of a University trained English professor. I mean, seriously? Yes, the author intended the child to be intelligent. But it entered the realm of impossibility. No matter how smart this kid was, there was no way he could converse on such a complicated matter with words that I had to look up in the dictionary, and I’m relatively well educated. This is a prime example of the author’s ego taking precedence over his characters and his story. He wanted to present himself as an intelligent writer, not realizing that realism in his portrayals would make him intelligent. My message is, stay true to the characters and suspend your eager ego to present yourself as a smart person. You’re writing a book, that makes you smart.
Writing Tools: This is, by far, the most important beef I have. If you don’t have a basic understanding of writing tools like grammar and punctuation, then you must learn them before you can even dream of publication. You simply can’t write without them. As Stephen King so eloquently states, you can’t be a licensed journeyman carpenter if you don’t even know how to use a hammer. You must learn the basics and keep them in your virtual toolbox, bringing them out and knowing how to use them when you need them. In the last month alone, I have read two self-published books that were so horrendous that I simply couldn’t finish them. I had a hard time knowing when there was dialogue because it seemed the quotation marks were just inserted willy-nilly, with no thought of where they actually belong. Some paragraphs ended in the middle of a sentence and proper nouns were not capitalized where appropriate. It destroyed stories that had a lot of promise, with interesting premises that had inspired me to choose those books in the first place.
Now you’re going to say “That’s what editors are for.” True, to a certain point. But if your mistakes are so glaring and numerous, any publisher or editor will probably throw up their hands in despair. Being a writer isn’t just about typing out words; you have to know what those words mean, how to put them together in a coherent, readable manner, and know the structure of language, as well as marketing, editing, and developing a really thick skin. And even if you possess all these tools, there is always room for improvement. Now HERE is where the editors and proofreaders come in, and not before. No matter how good you are, they will find ways to improve it, if they are good. It is essential to accept criticism in the spirit it which it’s intended. Publishers are in business, and they want your book to be the best it can be because that’s how they make their money. It’s also how you will ultimately make your living, so keep that in mind.
A few quotes:
It is perfectly okay to write garbage–as long as you edit brilliantly.
– C. J. Cherryh
Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it…
– Michael Crichton
There is no mistaking the dismay on the face of a writer who has just heard that his brain child is a deformed idiot.
– L. Sprague de Camp
Never throw up on an editor.
– Ellen Datlow
NO GENTLEMAN IS HE
Carley Bauer and Lynette Willows
Young, adventurous and widowed in a new land, Cassandra Courtney Brooks finds her dream of raising a superior breed of saddle horse slipping away with the death of her husband. Left with four horses, living in a tavern attic, and her scant savings depleting, she resolves to see her vision through to fruition by accepting the scandalous position of steward at Varina Farms.
Born in the image of his native ancestry, Colton Rolfe’s savage blood runs through his veins. Scorned by his father, Colt grew into a man of ill temperament whose only interest is the wild equine beasts on his plantation. His desire to breed his horses with the superior Thoroughbreds of the newly widowed Cassandra Brooks leads him to abandon societal rules. Colt’s growing resentment toward the Crown and his assistance to Sons of Liberty missions is complicated by the discovery that Cassandra’s father is a titled English nobleman.
Cassandra is soon forced to question the wisdom of her decision when she finds herself enamored with her employer. As fiery passion grows between them, Cassandra realizes her own spirit of independence, love of the land, and the savage man who is so much a part of it.
As the threat of war comes ever closer, wills are tested through gunfire, treachery, danger, and kidnapping. Does Colt dare trust Cassandra with Sons of Liberty secrets? More importantly, can he trust her with his heart? And will Colt ever trust Cassandra enough to love her as she longs to be loved?
Bertie took the corner chair, and rubbed her knees, continuing. “Now, Mr. Rolfe made the excuse that the wagon wheel broke. He supposedly had to fix it and Miss Elvira helped. But she showed up with him next mornin’, muddy and with her dress ripped. She was ruined for good.” Bertie pursed her lips, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms. “He refused to marry her, too. Just laughed and scoffed while the town waited to see if she grew big with child. Now, what do you think of that?” Bertie continued before receiving an answer. “If I were you, I’d be careful. They say he’s murdered many a man what crossed him, too.”
The word “murdered” hung thick in the room.
“I am merely taking a better position,” Cassandra said, determined to hide her doubts. Despite her casual air, she had to ask, “I trust this Elvira Gregory was as slim as ever after a few months?”
“Aye, she was, good luck to that savage man. Well,” Bertie shrugged, as if casting off any responsibility on her part, “then I wish you good luck.” She bobbed her head, her thick chin jiggling. “But remember, that man takes what he wants, missy. No one says no to Colton Rolfe, and no one crosses him. No gentleman is he.”
I’m Lynette Willows. I live in rural Alberta, Canada. My debut novel, “No Gentleman Is He”, the first in the Sons of Liberty series, is co-written along with my partner in romance, Carley Bauer.
Some have mentioned I have a very interesting past. Not only was it unusual, but some would even say reckless. I’ve lived on an Indian reserve in a teepee with my young son for three months in the winter, I’ve chased storms, and worked as a social services aide on one of the most troubled and dangerous reserves in Canada, where I met great friends as well as made a few enemies.
I enjoy camping, movies, especially historical bio dramas, strange dogs, stranger cats, exclamation points, coffee mugs with stupid sayings, friends, the crazier the better, family, as long as they are crazier than I am, and I have a huge collection of shiny, outrageous earrings. Yes, I’m a magpie. I’ll only play chess with my husband because he’ll let me win.
If you’re curious about my favorite reading material, it’s very eclectic and varied. I’m extremely picky about what I read, so check out my “to read” list on Goodreads. You can also follow me and Carley, my talented, patient, and illustrious co-author at our fan page on Facebook at “Lynette Willows & Carley Bauer”. I’m also on Twitter under @LynetteWillows, as well as Pinterest, though I’m still figuring that out. You are welcome to also visit me and chat at “Lynette Willows, Author” at http://lynettewillows.blogspot.ca/.
“I have enormous respect for the reader. They are able to take symbols from a page that an author has invented, and turn them into images in their minds that create an enduring story. If that’s not artistry, I don’t know what is.”-Lynette Willows
Carley Bauer enjoys life on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. with her husband and their blue eyed feline, Noelle. After 30 years as a state contractor in a self employed capacity, she decided to try her hand at her first love, writing.
She loves being an empty nester, free to travel with her husband. Still involved with her children and grandchildren, Carley loves big family events. Some of her other hobbies are home decor, fashion, graphic arts, and the occasional bite of the Big Apple where the excitement feeds her natural love of city life.
Tirgearr Publishing: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Bauer_Carley/index.htm
No Gentleman Is He available for purchase at:
Eros Books: http://www.ebook-eros.com/item/SW00000292998/Bauer-Carley-No-Gentleman-Is-He/1.html?fb_action_ids=10151368097972005&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582
Tirgearr to Author Carley Bauer
I’m very gratified that someone voted for my novel, “Tell a Thousand Lies” in the Opening Round of the 2012 #GoodreadsChoice Awards, then tweeted about it! Here’s the link: Click herefor the link, if you liked it enough to vote for it.