Anything Goes Friday–Nominations And Awards For The Best of 2012

Well, all I can say is 2013 has started with a bang. HUZZAH!

Hang on, poppets. Shit's about to get REAL.
Hang on, poppets. Shit’s about to get REAL.

*Photo courtesy of xandert via morguefile.com

But we’re not done with 2012 just yet, even though January is looking really busy, and busy is good. Everyone I know seems caught up in productivity and it’s a glorious thing to behold. It’s also that time of year for awards and nominations, so I hope you’ll take a few minutes out of your busy day to nominate and/or vote for your favorite independent authors and artists. Next to word-of-mouth, it’s one of the most supportive things you can do for someone whose work you have enjoyed or admired in 2012.

Personally, I’ve been nominated for Best Editor in the annual Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll. I’m really honored to be nominated, but I’d be a damned liar if I said I wouldn’t love to win. But even if there’s an editor you love more than me, you really ought to show your support and nominate and vote for your favorites in all categories. These awards really do help your beloved creatives continue to do what they do best. Support, support!

And while you’re at it (it really only takes a couple of minutes, promise) the eFestival of Words Awards are open for nominations as well for the Best of 2012. Every category you can imagine regarding independent publishing is represented in both polls, from cover artists to editors to writers. As I said, this support can really make a huge difference in the career of any of the people working their heinies off to bring you the absolute best for your reading pleasure.

Gratuitous butt shot. We're working them off, people. FOR YOU.
Gratuitous butt shot. We’re working them off, people. FOR YOU.

*Photo courtesy of carygrant from morguefile.com

Not only is this a chance for you to acknowledge your favorite author, but also the artists behind the scenes. If you are a book lover, forget about the Oscars, the Grammys, the AMAs or CMAs or Kanye West’s “I’mma let you talk”. THESE are the award ceremonies for book nerds to cast their votes and have them count.

Yes, I’d love it if you voted for me as Best Editor. Yes, I’d love to have Sally Mae nominated as Best Novella or Best Short Story. But honestly, most of all I’d love it if you showed your support to ANYONE who has brought you pleasure through the written word. They deserve a nod, they deserve to be acknowledged for their passion, dedication, and talent. It only takes a few moments of your day to vote, nominate, and spread the word. Not only is it appreciated wholeheartedly, it is motivating, validating, and just plain COOL.

Our hearts beat for YOU! Because we love our readers and supporters. Please love us back!
Our hearts beat for YOU! Because we love our readers and supporters. Please love us back!

*Photo courtesy of imelenchon of morguefile.com

It’s a hard row to hoe on your own, and easy to take the work for granted. Many, many thanks to all of you out there who know what a difference fiction can make in someone’s life. Here’s a chance for you to say thank you for the indie books of 2012 that made you laugh, cry, scream, sigh over the cover, or appreciate good grammar and a strong story line. Go forth, ye book lovers! Nominate and vote, Tweet, Facebook, G+, call your mother. The more the merrier, and I bet she has her favorites, too 🙂

Thursday Editing Tips, Tricks, And Observations -What Is An Editor?

I thought I’d kick off my series of articles about the editing process by defining certain editing terms. In my wordage travels, I have come across a lot of confusion regarding just what an editor does and what certain terms mean. If you want to know WHO an editor is, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but you might find this article–I Am An Editor And Batshit Crazy–particularly interesting and enlightening. Go ahead and read it. I’ll be reiterating the major points here, but that article in particular will give you an idea of how my brain works and why I love my job so much.

And believe me, I love my job. It takes a lot of caffeine, I won't like, but I love that, too.
And believe me, I love my job. It takes a lot of caffeine, I won’t lie, but I love that, too.

*Photo courtesy of godidwlr on morguefile.com

My approach to editing is from the position of a freelance indie. I work mostly with indie writers; I love the freedom this gives the both of us. The process of taking a raw manuscript from the bloody beginnings to a polished and professional product is amazing. But there are different types of editors and different levels of editing.

Content or developmental editing: My specialty is content editing. A content editor evaluates the entire and complete manuscript from start to finish for story structure, including plot, character arcs, story flow, pacing, logic, back story, and an overall look at where these things can be improved or tightened up. Under this umbrella also falls developmental editing. While a content edit deals with a completed manuscript, a developmental edit may start at the very beginning of the writing process, in which a writer and an editor start from a basic outline, character sketches, and working together, “develop” a working ‘script.

A content editor will never, ever try to change your “writer’s voice”. And if they do, RUN. This is not the type of editor with whom you want to work.

Copy editor: A copy editor is not involved in the overall plot, per se, but helps you tighten up your prose to mean what it says and says what it means. A good copy editor will help you clarify what you want to say through word choice and sentence structure, along with cleaning up any grammar faux-pas. For instance, where to use “lay” and “lie”, catch those pesky “there, they’re, and theirs”, or how to construct a sentence so your reader knows what you really mean, which might sound good in your head but not translate well to the page.

Proofreader: A good proofreader is gold. This is your final polish, and the intrepid proofreader will catch spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Not a job for any but the most detail-oriented. I bet most proofreaders have their sock drawer color-coded. I have a lot of admiration for proofreaders because it is a particular skill-set, and one I do not possess.

Ideally, your manuscript needs to go through each step even after you are done with your own self-editing. There is no way for any writer, I don’t care who you are (looking at you, Stephen King) who can be objective enough about their work to be able to perform each and every step.The human brain is not built that way.

Think of it this way. You live with a partner every day for six months. One morning, they come out of the bathroom and say, “Holy shit, why didn’t you tell me half my left eyebrow was gone?”

“Huh?”

You never noticed. Because you’ve seen this person every day, your eye just happens to pass over the missing left eyebrow because you’ve seen it and it doesn’t even register. Same with your manuscript. You’ve worked on it so much for so long, the flaws disappear into your brain cells and you just can’t see them anymore. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it just means you have blind spots that only someone else who is objective can pick out. That’s where your editor can help.

In the same vein, my opinion is a content or developmental editor is so involved with your story that by the time the content edit is finished, if they’ve done their job correctly they are too close to the story to serve as a copy editor and/or proofreader. Be wary of people who say they can do all three jobs in one. While a certain amount of copy editing may be accomplished in a thorough content edit, this by no means precludes the need for a professional copy edit and proofreading.

Next Thursday I’ll talk about contracts. And then we can get into the nitty-gritty of how to whip your manuscript into shape so you can get the most out of hiring an editor at any level.

Handcuffs may or may not be involved. Depends on the editor. Heh.
Handcuffs may or may not be involved. Depends on the editor. Heh.

*Photo courtesy of Penywise from morguefile.com

Should Writers Review Other Writers? A View From An Editor

Oh wow! Could I stir up a bigger hornet’s nest if I grabbed a baseball bat and started whacking? Probably not. But I’ve seen a lot of stuff out and about the ‘net lately, and this seems to be quite a hot button topic.

Hot button
Woohoo! I’m pushing the button, baby!

As an avid reader of so many years, a professional editor, and a self-published writer myself, this question is as tangled as the ball of yarn Athena loves to torture. And it seems no matter what opinion you hold, there is always someone ready to jump all up in your grill and scream how you’re wrong and just who do you think you are, some kind of special little snowflake?

This is my thought process. Reviewing a book, editing a book, and critiquing a book are three very different things. From what I see, a lot of people can’t tell the difference.

1. Readers review books, and that includes expressing what does or does not work for them in the story. It’s more about how the book made them feel, as opposed to picking out general technical details unless they affect the story.

2. Editing and critiquing a book is more about picking out those technical details, right or wrong, to improve the basic theme or message of the story. To me, this is not a review and should rather be handled privately between the writer and the editor/critique partner (such as beta readers). And there’s no reason to be a cast-iron bitch about it, either.

Now on to the sticky-wicket part of this.

Sticky wicket
This is a croquet wicket. I have no idea if it’s sticky. Honestly, I don’t want to know.

As part of the price I pay to do what I love for a living, I do not review books. Caveat: sometimes I do review old favorites I love, in order to introduce them to people I think will enjoy the book. However, as a pro editor I think it’s a conflict of interest for me to formally review a book I’ve edited. Really, think about it. What am I going to say other than it’s amazing? My word is on the line, and I take that very seriously. I will give a shout-out to my authors, because I am really lucky to work with some hugely talented people. But you will not find a formal review from me because I just don’t think that’s fair or professional. As an editor, if I’ve done my job, I’m as close to the book as the writer and I wouldn’t be able to be impartial. So while I may be in love with the story and am excited when one of my people releases, I won’t review the book.

If you are an indie writer hopefully that means you are an avid reader. You may think it’s your duty to review books and if they fall beneath the threshold of what you consider good, you may also think it’s your duty to point this out to other readers. Some people take great glee in tearing down other indie writers to the point it’s painful. The thing is, if you are an indie writer, you are a PROFESSIONAL. And I believe you should act like one.

Look at other professions. Do you see indie bands bashing other indie bands? Sometimes. Not very often. How about indie film makers? Don’t see that happening either. Do you see Very Successful Writers writing reviews on their contemporaries? (Stephen King is an exception. He can pretty much do what he wants because he’s a King. When you sell as many books as he does, I think then you have the right to express a negative opinion now and again.) Why is it okay for an indie writer to tear apart the work of another indie writer? What’s the point? The fans, the readers who aren’t involved in the process, are the ones who decide whether a book is “good” enough, THEY ARE THE GATEKEEPERS and indies who tear into each other are not portraying the profession in a very good light. Frankly, it looks like sour grapes.

The adage from your mother applies here. If you don’t have something nice to say, then keep your yap shut. Because when you say something hurtful or nasty about someone’s work, to me, that’s more a reflection upon you than it is the writer you’re bashing. It’s divisive in the indie community. We’re not in competition with each other – there’s more than enough readers to go around for everyone. Why then this vitriol?

“But!” you say, “I’m just trying to warn others about how bad this book is! I’m just doing the author and other readers a favor! I’m saving other readers from drowning in bad writing, from spending their hard-earned cash on bullshit!”

Knight in shining armor
Yeah, okay. I get it. You’re the literary knight in shining armor.

Really? As much as I would love to believe all indie writers who review are totally altruistic in their intentions, I didn’t fall down with yesterday’s rain. Not when I see some really hateful things being said in a review most people wouldn’t dream of saying in person. There is such a thing as professional courtesy, and anyone who can at least finish writing a book, no matter how “bad” it might be, deserves a modicum of respect. Because it is not easy. If a book is that bad, it will sink all on its own, with no help needed from you.

You can be honest and respectful at the same time. If you, the indie writer, read a book which in your opinion is not of professional caliber, you have a choice. You can walk away and do not review at all and forget you ever saw it; review as a READER and point out politely what didn’t work for you about the STORY without descending into condescending bitchiness because you know so much more and are so much better, or contact the author privately and offer your opinion. But to post a review that attacks the author, telling them (and the public at large) they have no right to be allowed near any writing implements (including crayons or eyeliner pencil) is just mean and hateful, bordering on bullying.

I’m wondering, too, just how effective reviews are anymore, especially since it’s come to light certain writers have actually paid for reviews. Now all reviews are suspect, and that’s a damned shame. However, there is one fix for all of this. Most books available on Amazon have a preview option. Read the first couple of chapters, and THEN you can decide to buy or not. Easy-peasy.

What you say in private is your own business and you are certainly entitled to that. I’m sure you have your own little circle of people where you discuss the merits of various authors, and I’m all for it. Vent. Scream. Pull out your hair and have yourself a party. But to take vitriolic opinions to the public, in my opinion, is unprofessional if you consider yourself a professional writer.

Let me hear your opinion, since you were kind enough to entertain mine.

*All images courtesy of Morguefile.com.

I Am An Editor And Batshit Crazy

That’s the first thing you should probably know.

I’m a lot of other things, including a writer, but the question I’m asked the most is, “What’s it like being an editor? I mean, what exactly is it you do?”

The thing is, when people think of the term “editor”, they may think of a hunched over old lady, gnarled and grey, with crazy hair and long dirty fingernails, just looking for your grammar and punctuation mistakes. When she finds one, she’ll cackle with glee, wielding a red pen with unbridled joy, slashing the words, sentences, paragraphs with all the happiness of a zombie eating fresh (or not-so-fresh) entrails.

I don’t do that.

Or, the picture may be of a prim and proper virginal school teacher, with a mighty ruler at the ready to smack your knuckles into shreds of bleeding flesh should you end your sentence with a preposition; using “their” instead of “there”; abusing semi-colons on a regular basis.

I don’t even own a ruler.

Some people think of editors as nasty, overweight men who smoke cigars, play poker, and simply look at the first word of your story before dousing it with gasoline and lighting a match before sending a rejection letter which makes you cry for your mother and vow to never go near another writing implement ever again.

I don’t do that, either.

The term “editor” is somewhat misleading, because there are many different types of editors. The technical term for what I do is a content or developmental editor, also affectionately known in some circles as a “story doctor”.

In essence, I evaluate a story for proper structure, plot holes, character development, and story arc. I look at narrative flow, dialog, and voice. I’ll determine if the story holds together, and provide suggestions on how to tighten tension, balance narrative with action and dialog, and whether or not you really need the monkey in the corner with the cymbals.

Monkey
Yes, it’s a monkey. Yes, it’s cute. Yes, I’ll cut him from your story because I’m mean like that.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In order to perform my job properly as a content editor, I have to know the story better than the writer. I need to know the characters intimately; understand the writer’s vision; connect with the overall message or theme the writer is attempting to get across. As a writer myself, I can say being a content editor is more difficult than writing your own book, because I actually have to crawl inside the writer’s head. This is not always easy to do, and it doesn’t always work with every writer because everyone is unique. While I’m used to the insanity inside my own head, it might take time to adjust to the insanity of someone else. Because as we all know, writers are basically batshit crazy, too. I mean that with all due respect and love.

Bats in the belfry
Don’t play. You know they’re flying in your belfry too.

Story editing is very much a team effort, and it takes a great deal of trust. The writer has to trust I know my shiz-niz, and I have to trust the writer to be open-minded and willing to do the work. To stand up for what he or she feels is necessary to the story, but to also understand my passion is the story and I have the story’s best interest at heart.

In order to do this, I have to dive deep. When I perform a first read, there is no other world for me than the one the author has created. I liken it to lucid dreaming; my background is unique in that I have been reading almost every genre known to mankind since I was three years old. That’s over fifty years worth of reading. Uncountable books have saved my life and my sanity more times than I can count in very difficult and personal life circumstances, but as a result, I understand on almost an instinctual level what a story needs in order to connect with the reader. I take my job very, very seriously because fiction means so much to me.

There is no greater joy for me than when a client I have worked with releases a book on which we have both worked to great reviews and readers who find a new author with whom they’ve connected. I know how much a good book can make a difference in someone’s life, whether it’s momentary entertainment or a story which makes a reader think of a situation in a different light. There are books which can actually change the way a reader views the world or gives them a perspective they’ve never considered before. Other books can take you away to a different place, introduce you to people you’d never meet in real life, or whisk you away into a marvelous world making the stresses of everyday life disappear if only for a few hours. Books which refresh the soul, make you cry, laugh, and relate to similar experiences. It’s amazing.

I absolutely love what I do. It’s not always easy and it can be very draining emotionally. It takes a lot of work; sometimes I’m dreaming of the narrative, working out problems in my dreams, and sometimes I wander around in a daze forgetting to feed my cat or even myself. And you should see my laundry pile. Sometimes I have to take a break and put some distance between myself and the manuscript, give myself some time to re-charge and re-assess, because the book and the writer are depending on me. I am acutely aware of my responsibility as a content editor and the fact I hold the writer’s beating heart in my hands.

The shadowed heart
Trust me. I know exactly what I’m holding in my hands, and I’d rather break my own than yours. But the story comes FIRST.

And when I see a raw manuscript transformed into something wondrous, I am the happiest I have ever been. When I see a writer “get it”, and find their voice, see their vision come to light, it’s like being a midwife to a joyful birth.

I love my job. It’s taken a lot of work to get here, and I know there are many people who hate what they do; I spent many years (too many!) in the same position. I feel extremely fortunate that even at this late stage of my life, I have found my passion, what I love to do, and am able to make it happen. I thank the Universe at every turn for the most amazing people with whom I’ve had the honor to work; for the support of loved ones even when they think I’m batshit crazy, and the opportunity to have a small part in helping a fabulous book or story be the best it can be.

For me, story is everything. It is the reflection of the human experience, the heart and soul of what makes us all human and connected.

Yes. I am an editor. It’s likely I’m batshit crazy. But I’m also one of the luckiest women alive.

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

I was in a lovely conversation with a fellow writer who asked me about marketing and promotion. When you work a regular job and put in more than 40 hours a week; when you have a family who needs, craves, and actually LIKES your company; when every spare moment is dedicated to either working for a living or re-acquainting yourself with the progeny to which you gave birth or the person with whom you share a home; when any time above and beyond that is spent with the creatures who live inside your head, how do you find time to market and promote your work?

Tick-tock, tick-tock...all I have to worry about is my Evil Cat Overlord but trust me, I wish there were 12 more hours to the day.

It’s difficult enough to find enough time to write, much less pimp yourself out. And how effective is it to be an Internet ho? I don’t have the answers — all I know is what I’ve experienced, what I’ve learned from those who have come before me (and you will find some very helpful links to some amazing blogs on my sidebar) and what I have observed all my years in the writing biz. The number one thing to keep in mind when you’re angsting about selling books is:

THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT.

It's gonna take a while. And you'll need to drink a lot of fluids. Probably alcohol.

The best, most effective way to sell more books? Write more books. This is the secret most writers blow off, think it’s too simple or think it doesn’t matter. It does. You see, you hook someone on your book, and the first thing an avid reader is going to do is buy every single thing you have written. And they’re going to talk about it. Readers are very loyal and once they find an author they like, they would rather buy from them than someone new. It’s the truth and that’s what’s behind all the big name success stories you see in the news. Amanda Hocking? Has a shit-ton of work for sale. Joe Konrath? Barry Eisling? Same thing.

That’s not to say you don’t have to do ANY marketing. It just means without the material out there, it’s not going to be effective. You need books, short stories, novellas, on the market, more than one. The more you have, the more you sell, and the more you sell.

Not a hook like this. Using this kind of hook to get readers will lead to an arrest record. Don't ask me how I know.

Marketing can be a total time-suck, but there are things you can do that take very little maintenance. Here are some of my suggestions:

Your blog is a great start, but put links in your email signature. I like WiseStamp because you can link it to update automatically with your blog posts and Twitter feed. Don’t have a Twitter account? Get one. Use a service like Buffer (free) to capture pages you surf and to schedule automatic posts, but set aside a little bit of time to actually talk to people. Twitter takes time to establish, and it has evolved over the three years I’ve been on it. It’s social interaction and if you don’t interact, it won’t do you much good. But, it’s great for networking and support, even if it doesn’t sell a whole lot of books.

Support other writers. I am in an awkward position as an editor for some of the best books I’ve read this year. As an editor, it’s a conflict of interest for me to pimp my clients out, and that totally sucks. (Because really, what am I going to say? They suck? Of course not, plus if I don’t give every one the same amount of time, that will cause problems. PLUS, if I don’t like the story, what happens when I don’t pimp that one out? PLUS, I’m an editor, not a promoter and I barely have time to pimp myself out. I hate being in this position, I really do, but there it is. Other than a link on my site — I do that for all my clients, but that’s the most I can do. Although I do post guest posts. It’s a problem for me because I love all my clients and some of them are great friends, as well. *sigh*)

Yeah, we've been here before. I love you, but I can't pimp you. *sad face*

Goodreads — get yourself an author page on Goodreads, and hook it up to post your blog posts there, too. Same with an Amazon author page. Make it as easy on yourself as you can by taking advantage of the RSS feeds and that way, all you have to do is update your blog and it will update on Goodreads and Amazon. I’ll be updating Goodreads with a video trailer once it’s done for “Athena’s Promise”.

Here are mine:

Annetta’s Amazon Author Page

Annetta’s Goodreads Author Page

Shelfari is another good site to set up the same way.

Use as many “set it and forget it” options as you can.

Get your book in the hands of reviewers.

Put together a media kit. You only have to do it once, and you’ll use components of it over and over. Here’s how: How To Construct a Media Kit

Do you have a Facebook Fan page? I offer exclusive excerpts from my book — a couple of lines from every chapter, then some blurbs, then the cover…that’s the only place people can see them. I plan on offering the book trailer there first and then I’ll post two or three sample chapters on the blog when I get closer to launch, which will then update automatically to all the sites I just mentioned. Here’s my page so you can see what I’m talking about: Annetta’s Facebook Fan Page

Instead of devoting huge hunks of time to marketing, you’re much better served by setting up as much as you can that requires the least bit of attention and using the time to work on the next book, and the next, and the next. That is honestly my best advice.

WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.

Now, get going.

Fun In The Sandbox – A Writing and Editing Update

Time flies when you’re having fun, but it also flies when you’re up to your armpits in “To Do” lists. And it’s only the “To Do” lists which are keeping me from going nuts.

Oh sure, he looks cute. But see that crazy gleam in his eye? Yeah.

Lots going on. First of all, working on several editing projects and loving every minute of that, even though most days it means my eyes look like this:

Yikes. That's a scary eyeball right there.

Several of my client’s projects are coming out or have been launched over the last couple of months, and that’s really exciting. After much soul-searching and teeth gnashing with a little bit of hair-pulling and heartache, I have come to the conclusion pimping out my clients when they launch could be construed as having a conflict of interest. So, as much as I love each and every one of them and believe in their work, I must limit myself to simply posting the links on my sidebar over there <- labeled as "Editing Work", which I will be updating regularly so make sure to keep an eye on that list. A hard decision, for real. *sniffle* [caption id="attachment_1449" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="I do not endorse violators. Or bitch slapping. Unless you're a violator."][/caption]

But honestly, I have been extremely privileged and honored to work with these writers, and I encourage you to check them out. There are some amazingly talented people out there. It’s really humbling.

Next on the list is the launch of “Athena’s Promise” on October 28th. I’ve been posting snippets on my Facebook Fan Page, and that’s the only place you’ll see them. So, if you’re curious about what I’ve been doing in my spare time, “like” the page and see what’s shaking. I’m all the way up to Chapter 19 as of today with three more to go. Share the page with your friends, and the day I hit 200 fans is the day I will post here the first two chapters. FOR FREE. Sound like a deal?

No, not a deal like this. Besides, those are really shitty cards. I can do you better than that.

The covers of all three books in the series are being crafted even as we speak, along with a blazing trailer. I am beyond excited about this, especially since I’ve engaged the uber-talented Rebecca Walker. And let me tell you, she is AMAZING. I’ll post them when they’re ready, because I love you guys that much 🙂

In addition, I’ve set up all Kindle publications for a Kindlegraph. How cool is that shiz? Visit my fan page for more details! (See what I did there? Heh.)

Sneaky little bugger, ain't I? Heh.

Now that you’re all caught up for the moment, I need to take care of some of those “To Do” lists before the nice men in the white jackets get here. 😉

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

Noses Where There Shouldn’t Be

I love my job.

Today the weather is perfect. Sunny, clear blue sky with white puffy clouds. The dewpoint is thankfully low, meaning almost no humidity and it’s a balmy 72 degrees — a great relief from the 100+ temperatures from this Summer of Hell.

The windows are open, the breeze is blowing through the house and I’m working on articles today; tonight I’ll move on to editing. Foster the People are singing on my garage-sale stereo, procured for a mere $2. Life is good.

So, what’s the burr in my panties today? Because you know there has to be one. Well, I have to say it’s not entirely my fault — there were conversations, and then I read my friend Patti Larsen’s post and my irritation runneth over. And I just have to make some pertinent points:

1. Publishing a book doesn’t mean you are suddenly rolling in the money. Especially if you self-publish. Bitch, please. Saying something like that just highlights your ignorance of how the writing business actually works. Like Patti says (and it’s been my mantra for years) this is a MARATHON, not a SPRINT. Meaning, you might earn some decent cash over the span of months or years, but you don’t publish and take a wheelbarrow to the bank the next day. I wish.

This is more likely what's in my wheelbarrow.

2. People don’t take into consideration the fact that successful writers (notice the distinction, okay? Don’t make me point it out again) have put in thousands of hours learning their craft, practicing their skills and falling flat on their ass. Hitting it big right out of the gate is rare and you will probably have a better chance of being hit by lightning. Seriously. Not that it doesn’t happen, but the stars have to be aligned just right. The vast majority of successful writers have worked hard to get where they are, and work hard to stay there. They’ve taken second jobs, worked ungodly hours, made time at five am to throw words at the paper and hoping they stick while juggling a full-time job, family and personal relationships.

This is more like what we do. It's dangerous and we sweat.

3. In addition to this, successful writers have also invested in their BUSINESS. That’s right, you heard me. Writing for a living is a BUSINESS. Oh, there’s art and skill and talent, of course — but if you don’t treat your writing career as a business, you’re not going to make it. This means you are going to have to make some sacrifices along the way. Equipment, books, workshops, conferences, membership to professional organizations, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s editing, book covers, formatting, ARCS…so much more. If you’re not willing to invest in your business, in improving your skills as much as you can, you’re making this ten times more difficult for yourself. Don’t believe me? Fine. I’m the one making a living as a writer. How about you?

Tell you what. You don't dissect me, and I won't dissect you. Deal?

4. As far as asking me how much money I make or how many books I’ve sold, my advice is…DON’T. Don’t ask me or any other writer that kind of question, because it’s rude, invasive, and none of your fucking business. I would never ask YOU such a personal question, no matter what your profession is. How would you feel if someone asked you how much you have in your bank account? My kids don’t even know this. My boyfriend doesn’t know. And I don’t know this about them. It’s none of my business. No one but ME knows my financial status, it’s classified and unless you have the decoder ring and the password, you aren’t gonna know either. I’m the one that pays my bills. I’m the only one privy to that info. It blows my mind that just because you’re a writer, people think they have the right to stick their nose right in the middle of your personal business. So don’t be a rude fucktard.

GET OUT.

In conclusion, mind your own business and I’ll mind mine.

Decisions, Decisions

It’s been a very busy summer, and it’s only been summer for a week. I’m sure not complaining, just trying to keep up and keep it going. It’s more difficult than it sounds.

I’m very happy with the beta responses to “Athena’s Promise”, and the revisions shouldn’t take long at all. I’ve even started the first chapter of “Athena’s Chains” and I plan on having that done before I release AP so I can include it. Of course, that brings me to the Ultimate Plan.

I have no idea what the Ultimate Plan is. Besides total Universal Literary Domination, that is. How to get there is the real question.

With the publishing world in such flux, I’m really struggling with making a decision on which way to jump. Do I trust my precious work to a “legacy” publisher and hope for the best? Go with a small press, an indie press and retain a better measure of control? Or do I indulge my inner control freak, and blaze the trail on my own?

I’ve been back and forth so many times I’m dizzy.

By the time I get off this ride, I'll probably puke.

I won’t go in to all the pros and cons of each path or I’d be here all night. Suffice to say it’s not an easy decision and I will most likely wait to make a decision until next week.

Why wait, you ask? Well, because of the First Annual Intergalactic Pretendacon Sporkfest (A Very Serious Writing Conference). I plan on picking the brain of my esteemed colleagues, all of whom are in various stages of their own successful writing careers and whose opinions I value highly. I am very, very excited about this conference, especially since one of the participants I have known for nearly a decade yet have never met in person.

I will be connecting with my tribe. Like the Bee Girl. I’m so happy 🙂

In the meantime, I plan to keep writing. And editing. And writing some more.

This is what I see, night and day. Eyes open and closed. Makes it difficult to drive. Heh.

I have a great support system, online and offline. I have great friends and special people supporting me, and I appreciate that more than I can say. Although there have been, and probably will be, very difficult times, I still consider myself quite fortunate.

Thank you, supportive peeps! You lift me up and I love you.

I’m old enough to know everything works out the way it’s supposed to, so I guess for now I’ll just hang on to that.

Bona Fide Link Loving, Netta-Style

It’s been way too long since I did a Link Loving post, and I have a lot to share. Hey, even accomplished Premier Lady Ranters (a nickname bestowed upon me by the lovely and talented Eden Baylee, a HAWT erotica writer and All-Around Awesome Person!) can have a non-ranty day. It happens.

I think as a Premier Lady Ranter, I should have a tiara. Definitely a tiara.

I get around the Intertoobz. (Oh, not like that! Get your mind out of the gutter.) I call it “research” for my job, which most of it is. Most of the time. Okay, some of the time. (ALL RIGHT! Occasionally it’s for my job. Happy now?)

Regardless, you are the beneficiaries because I’m going to share some of the cool things I’ve found so you don’t have to dig around and get all dirty and sweaty! You’re welcome!

I really like book trailers. I have no idea how effective they are as sales tools, but when they’re well-done I’m mesmerized. For instance, take a look at this trailer for Patti Larsen’s new release this summer from Etopia Press:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IjBH1BNp0Ls

How cool is THAT? I love it.

Next up, also from Etopia Press, is the release of Ralph Hartman’s Ever Since. I can’t review this book, because it would be a conflict of interest, seeing as I was privileged enough to serve as editor. But I have to tell you, I love this novel. It is thought-provoking, unique and it was a true pleasure to work with Ralph. Check it out — you won’t be disappointed.

Ever Since by Ralph Hartman

If you think you know all about me, you’re wrong. I’m a mystery wrapped in an enigma, but author J.D. Riso gets to the bottom of the genesis of Not Nice and Other Understatements in a probing and in-depth interview in June’s edition of Skive Magazine, edited by the awesome Matt Ward. Not only that, but there’s some awesome fiction in those pages, as well.

Skive Magazine - Australia's largest literary magazine! Does this make me an honorary Aussie?

Go! Buy! Support your indie artists!

And, of course, I can’t leave you without a little fun for shitz and giggles, right? Check out The Dullest Blog in the World. I don’t know why this blog is so appealing to me, but it is actually hypnotizing. I don’t know whether to be disturbed or take a nap. Heh.

If you want to know how to tell a story, visit this little girl. She’s got it down!

If you ever wanted to know how to embarrass your children, this guy has it all figured out. He is my new hero. Heh.

Do you like horror? Of course you do! Everybody likes horror, and Rebecca Treadway, aka Creepy Walker has a great blog about her horror exploits. A talented and accomplished graphic artist, she also pens stories to chill your very soul. Man, I love it when that happens. Keep your eye on her — she’s got quite a future ahead of her.

This collection by Joseph Paul Haines remains one of my favorite reads ever. If you haven’t picked this up, you should. There is not one stinker story in the bunch and plenty to make you laugh, cry and cower in the corner. Amazing stuff.

If you don't love this, you're dead inside.

In other news, Lori Whitwam and I are in the end-stage edits or “Make or Break”, which will be released later this year (updates as they happen). I have gigglesnorted my way through this book and it has been a blast. I can’t wait until it hits the ground running. What a riot 🙂 While you’re waiting, pick up a copy of Monster’s Unmasked. It’s a fabulous read!

Zombies! Love! Darkness! It's Fabulous!

And of course, I have to keep current with Joshua Guess and the happenings over at his Living With the Dead blog. Don’t forget, he’s got year one complied neatly for you, with a ton of bonus material including an exclusive short story by moi, titled “Rollin’ In The Deep”. Feed your zombie love!

I LOVE ZOMBIES!!

This should keep you busy — and this is all great summer reading that should also entertain you for hours. Some great, great fiction here, seriously. All indies, and all deserving of your support, otherwise I wouldn’t have them here. Your Fearless Heroine don’t do junk.

Yeah. Not doing this.

So cuddle up in the air conditioning, swing the hammock, lounge on the beach and enjoy. Let me know what you think about my picks, and don’t forget to like or review what you’ve read to help support these talented artists. They work their asses off.

Viva la revolution!

Of Deadlines and Betas

Ah, the deadline for my beta readers was today, and with only a couple of exceptions, they were all really great about getting back to me regarding comments and critiques or notice they would be unable to fulfill their beta duties.

I have a bit of a reputation about deadlines, and that’s because of the copy background. Well, that’s not strictly correct. I have been anal about time since I was late showing up out of the womb. (Sorry, Momma!) See, in my line of business, time is money.

Notice there is silver in this pile. I usually see more pennies than quarters.

Being self-employed, I have to set my own schedule. And while I’d rather schedule marathon viewings of “Firefly”, long bubble baths to soothe my aching back, or hour-long sessions of cat-skritching, unfortunately none of those pay my bills.

Sometimes very difficult to explain to my Cat Overlord.

So, instead of leading the life of luxurious sloth I so richly deserve, I find my boss is an absolute bitch about deadlines. I know people depend on my finished work in order to accomplish theirs. I also know one of the best ways to kill your writing career is to make a habit of missing deadlines. That’s not to say when I set someone else a deadline I don’t understand when Real Life happens and things are derailed — sure, it’s happened to me. But I think the key here is communication. If I don’t think I’m going to meet a hard deadline then I’m in touch with the client as soon as possible to communicate that. To me, it is the height of unprofessionalism to stick your head in the sand and pretend the train wreck is not going to happen.

Do I miss the mark? Sure I do, but not often. It’s a personal thing. I know writers who blow off deadlines like it just doesn’t matter. That irritates me. Either you’re a professional or not — and if you are, act like it. Just because you have thirty days doesn’t mean you leave it to the last one. That’s stupid, and in NettaLand, a hanging offense.

Yes. I will find you, and I will hang you. But first, you will suffer.

The moral of this little story — if you’re not going to make it, communicate that factoid. This gives everyone a chance to make changes and shuffle important activities around.

***

Now that little lecture is over, let’s talk about something more fun, shall we?

Mired as I have been in writing web copy, I am very excited to be putting on my editor’s hat in the next week or so. Not only will I be editing the fabulous Lori Whitwam’s Make or Break, I will also be starting edits on the equally fabulous Patti Larsen’s second book in her Diamond City Trilogy. I’m very excited about both projects and can’t wait to begin.

Even more exciting, with the notes I’ve received from my blessed betas, hopefully I will begin revisions on Athena’s Promise.

This is Zach Carter. He looks like how I feel! Only he's so much cuter!

I’m not setting a deadline (heh) because I never know what the next day is going to bring and I have a wedding in August which deserves my full attention.

Don't worry, it's not me. I'd stick one of these in my eye first.

But, my hope is to have Athena’s Promise ready for publication in September. Of course, updates here as they happen. 🙂

And of course, I couldn’t let you go without expressing my eternal gratefulness to my beta readers. It really takes a special person to be a good beta reader, and all of mine are GREAT. Their insightful, perceptive and honest observations have confirmed some thoughts I had and opened my eyes to places where Athena’s Promise needs a little help. Thanks to them, I can take Pallas and her story to the next level, and for that I can’t thank them enough.

I Love You Beta Readers! *MUAH*