It’s Been Done Before

For the writers out there, something to think about. A published work that has gone out of print, or the rights have gone back to the author does not make it a new story.

Close your mouth. I know that has us all in shock. Or maybe not. It is good information for those contemplating independent publishing, small publishers, magazines, news articles, and even large publishers (although you probably have an agent there).

Before you hit that button that seals the deal on your story, make sure that you are 100% okay with it where it is. If you ever think you might want to change where it is published you need to think about this. Some publishers will reprint or republish a previously published work, but not all, or most actually.

Things that go against the grain are books with massive sales previously or news articles. There are always exceptions to rules. But with all the means of publishing these days and the reality that digital doesn’t always go away, it is a very real concern to worry about where you want your baby to go.

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Fun Fact Friday – Stalking Made Easy

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Yes, thats right. Stalking made easy.  I was listening to the radio on my way to work and heard a song called “Crush”.  Okay.  In itself it sounded cute.  That was until I heard the refrain. “I follow you on Twitter. I follow you on Instagram.  Where else can I find you?” 

Alrighty. So it’s a song on stalking. Got it!

                                                    author

This made me think though.  It is a lot easier to get information on people.  It is a lot easier to hear of new authors and a lot easier to follow them.  Suddenly I can get insider info from agents and publishers by simply following them on some social network. That being said – when is it too much?  When am I being the creepy person?  I’d gamble and say, when you forget you aren’t really friends desipite what facebook says. 

The point of my rant is that technology has made being a fan and getting fans a whole lot easier.  All the social network platforms out there allow even the most shy author or fan the ability to interact.  Sure there are arguments on how much is too much, but in the end as long as no one is getting a restraining order, i’d say you are doing just fine. 

Fun Fact. It is not creepy to follow your favorite people’s blogs, tweets, posts, photos, and book lists.  It might however be cross ing a line to look up their house on Google maps.

Happy Friday!!!!!

Do you need help with social networking?  Let me know and I might be able to help.

Fun Fact Friday – Katherine Scott Crawford and Her Path to Publication

Oh the labor of love.  That is how I feel right now – like I should be in labor and in love with the baby.  Alas he still isn’t here.

Katherine Scott Crawford knows how I feel, but rather with her debut novel.  She actually has a 3 year old little girl to help remind her of her long path from agent to release.  No her daughter isn’t the subject of the book or the reason the book was written. She was conceived and born all in the time it took for her book to hit the market!Smaller jpg color - web

Katherine has been kind enough to share her fun fact on her path to publication.  Stick with it to the end and find out how to support and where you can buy her novel Keowee Valley!  This weekend there is a special promotion on Amazon.  Her book is on sale for $1.99!!

The floor, or blog, is all yours! ***********

My road to the publication of Keowee Valley was at times smooth and sweet, and at others rocky and rough. Above all, it was long.

 It took me about two years to both research and write Keowee Valley. I spent about 6 to 8 months on research alone, because I’m a history dork and I wanted to the get the period (the 1760s) and the people (colonial South Carolinians, frontier settlers, the Cherokee Indians) right. After querying literary agents, I got a few offers of representation pretty quickly. I thought, “Alright! This will be a piece of cake!”

 Not exactly: it took my agent three years to find a publisher. Then, there were another 16 months of editing, copyediting, and the whole publication process. During that time I had some great things happen, like winning writing fellowships and giving birth to my daughter, now 3 years old. But there were also dark moments when I wondered if anyone was actually going to read the novel I’d put so much of my heart, soul, and time into. The whole process, from the time I started writing the novel to the time it was published in September 2012, took about 7 years! But in the end, in spite of all those years of wishing and wondering—and with a few more eye wrinkles—it was most definitely worth the wait.

 

bio

Katherine Scott Crawford was born and raised in the blue hills of the South Carolina Upcountry, the history and setting of which inspired Keowee Valley. Winner of a North Carolina Arts Award, she is a former newspaper reporter and outdoor educator, a college English teacher, and an avid hiker. She lives with her family in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she tries to resist the siren call of her passport as she works on her next novel. Visit her website at www.katherinescottcrawford.com for more information, or to connect with her via Facebook and at her blog, The Writing Scott.

Excerpt

Prologue

My story begins before the fall, in that Indian summer time when the hills are tipped with oncoming gold, and the light hangs just above the trees, dotting the Blue Ridge with gilded freckles. The mornings and the evenings are cool, but it is the mornings I remember most: waking before the men, wrapping a shawl around my shoulders and slipping out through the fields, the dry grass crunching beneath my boots. Drifting down from Tomassee Knob the mist would spread over the Keowee Valley in a great, rivering pool of gray, the sun rising in the east flecking the horses’ breath—suspended in the air before their nostrils—with slivers of shine. It was then the whole world was quiet, no crows eating my corn, the peacefulness not even broken by the bay of some wolf on the ridge, calling to the still-lit moon in the western sky. The whole world was silent then, and the Blue Ridge breathed beneath the deep purple earth. I thought I could feel it, a great heart beating in the wilderness.

He came to me in the morning. I had crossed the north fields and made my way to the creek at the edge of the forest to check on the last of the Solomon’s Seals I’d watched cling to the embankment in the final days of summer. Ferns reaching the height of my elbows billowed out from the ground, spreading for what looked like miles. The smell of sap emanated from fallen pines where woodpeckers searched for tiny bugs and snakes lay still in the cool undergrowth. Every once in a while a squirrel or rabbit leapt from its camouflaged hiding place, skirting the path I walked.

Coals from a recent fire smoldered black in a pile a few yards from a bend in the creek, and I looked up and farther into the woods, wondering if a Cherokee scout or perhaps a trapper had decided to take his rest on our land. But the woods were eerily still, and not a bird sang nor cricket chirped. There was no movement except for the creek itself, bubbling up against a tiny dam made by runaway branches, cane and weeds. My eyes came to rest

across the creek on shadows at the bottom of an enormous oak. Suddenly, the shadows shifted, and the shape of a man stepped forward, seeming to emerge seamlessly from the trunk, his feet making no sound in the leaves.

The breath caught in a knot in my throat, and I placed a hand there, the other fumbling in my skirts for the lady’s flintlock I’d been given. He walked closer, still without sound, and stood watching me from the edge of the creek bed. I pulled the pistol from its hold, pointing it unsteadily at the stranger.

“Come no closer,” I ordered, the words tumbling awkwardly off my tongue and echoing softly in the small dip of valley.

He raised his head, eyes emerging from beneath the brim of a battered fa

rmer’s hat. Across that creek they looked as green to me as moss growing on boulders in the water. His hair was long, the fawn color of a well-worn leather saddle, and the ends were tipped with the same pale blond that streaked through the rest, like he’d dipped his head in white paint. He looked like a white man turned savage, with his moccasin-laced boots and dirty, fringed deerskin shirt, a beaded strap crossing his chest, holding a hatchet and musket on his back. He did not speak, just looked at me from under that hat, shadows cast high on his cheekbones and the solid line of his jaw. The creek gurgling and my breathing were the only sounds. Soon, I knew, the settlement would awake, and the animals would need to be fed, the horses let to pasture.

Surely someone would notice I was missing.

Keowee Valley - screen

It was the first time he had come to me, but it would not be the last. And though my story ends with him, he did not cause it to begin. I did that, on a midsummer day in the year of our Lord 1768, in the twenty-fifth year of my youth.

Chapter 1

I was an unlikely adventurer, at least by all appearances. I knew what the people of Charlestown saw when they looked at me: a wealthy woman clad in the new fashions, small of stature but possessed of an unruly mane of yellow hair that made me seem taller—a bluestocking with a well-worn volume forever in hand, one who looked out at the world from a pair of disconcertingly direct blue eyes. The ladies, especially, would whisper “orphan,” and allow that the early demise of my parents could be reason enough for a man such as my grandfather to keep me a spinster at age twenty-five. The gentlemen viewed my person with vague calculation, surely wondering just how much—as the sole granddaughter of Campbell MacFadden, Esquire, heir by marriage to a profitable rice plantation—I was worth. And so when the trapper arrived in the hour before dawn, smelling of wood smoke and the sweat of a hard ride, I was ready: ready to abandon Charlestown and my life there, to shutter permanently those judging, prying eyes.

It was the banging on the door that woke me, more than the shouting. On the peninsula, banging on doors in the wee hours nearly always meant one of two things: a slave uprising, or a fire. On Tradd Street alone there had been three devastating fires the past year, conflagrations that destroyed entire blocks, and I threw off the covers and rounded my bed in moments, pulling a stout case from beneath my desk and dumping the contents of my drawers—papers, pamphlets, quills, stoppered inkpot—as quickly as I could. I heard Grandfather’s footfall on the stairs outside my bedroom door, his step bounding and spry.

Where to Buy-

 I’m excited to announce that Keowee Valley will be on sale for only $1.99 at the Amazon Kindle Store, this Friday, March 22 through 7 p.m. Monday, March 25th! If you’ve got reader-friends or family looking for a new read, I hope you’ll share the news.
Other avenues for purchase are below.
 “Buy the Book” Keowee Valley is available both in paperback and as an eBook.

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Folks can follow me via the following social media outlets:

Is There a Stigma to Publication for Readers?

I think it is good to keep an open mind to all versions of publishing.  What am I talking about?  Well, Big Publishing Houses, small publishers, and self-publication.  A large publishing house is the one everyone out there wants to be a part of – the place where millions are made (or sometimes not.)  Then there are the small presses, which apparently most agents don’t like because authors can submit directly.  And third on my list is self-publication – the inspiration to this post.  There are lots of little details in each category, but the question remains is there a stigma to each? books

I suppose each method of publication has its stereo-types.  As a reader though, how does method of publication affect what you are going to read?  Obviously most small presses and self published authors won’t be found in book stores, so for traditional paperback reading that might cause a small problem.  For readers like me, and the fact I shop mostly online, this doesn’t bother me as much.  Do you scroll down to see who the publisher is before buying on sites such as Amazon or Barnes and Nobel?  Maybe you didn’t even know you could do that.

The reason I bring up the stigma, is that is appears even with the growth in popularity to self-publishing there are still a lot of people apprehensive to buy these books.  I had a self-published author share a fun fact about her current series.  Now it’s obvious that she has a smaller fan base as of right now and therefore participation would inherently be slower.  Why do I think that it is obvious she had a smaller fan base?  Well, most self published authors are their own marketing team, editing team, cover design team, etc etc.  They have to do it all on their own which can start out slower unless you have some big name connections.

The question I want answered is, is it a turn off to most people to hear a book is self published or even small publisher?  Would it be best to avoid these key words when marketing books in the aforementioned groups and why?  I know what my opinion is, but I would like to know what others think when looking for new books.  With the growing popularity in e-books, it is getting harder and harder to tell the difference of publishers vs self,  except in the case of the big six,  so maybe it is just a matter of time before any prejudice is forgotten.

Related Web sites and posts:

http://vintagevonnie.blogspot.com/search?q=self+publish

http://blog.karenwoodward.org/#uds-search-results

http://www.lafreeland.com/?s=self+publish

http://www.rachellegardner.com/2013/02/are-self-pub-books-the-new-slush-pile/

Fun Fact Friday – Author Kelly Hashway from Agent to Publication

Ever wonder how long it takes to get from agent to publisher to release?  Well… that’s incredibly dependent on your circumstance now isn’t it?

For one writer, Kelly Hashway, it took her from February 2011 to January 2013.  But that isn’t the full story.  For her new release Touch of Death she only really waited a year for publication.  Her agent had actually sighed her for another book in another genre entirely.  Because of the overwhelming want for Touch of Death, the book she was actually signed for was listed for a later release date in order to get out the new series.

It’s a fun fact to know that even though she was signed for one book, the book she pitched to her agent afterwards is her first release! Yes that’s right.  She actually pitched it to her agent who went out to publishing houses before it was even completed.  Once you have an agent miracles do happen 🙂

Let’s help Kelly make her Paranormal YA novel release a huge success.  Touch of Death from Spencer Hill Press is available now. Visit Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.

Touch of DeathTouch of Death

Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.

After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.

Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

 

A Contest – a Road to Nowhere?

Merry Christmas Eve – have you entered any holiday writing contests or submitted any holiday themed stories?  I haven’t, but I got the most random e-mail from a contest I thought was over about two months ago.  Happy Christmas to me- I finished close to not last.

Contests seem like a great option.  The free ones mean you have no risk, but usually come with little  in the way of bragging rights.  The question is, what can we learn from contests and should we actually pay to enter?

I had the notion that a contest or two would give me the publication credits I needed to put on a query.  Something that might just help me catch the eye of an agent.  Some contests even attract agents for you.  These are great benefits, great opportunities, or so I told myself.  The problem is that most contests won’t tell you where you failed.  They won’t tell you why you didn’t make it past round 1, 2, or 3.  So then what?

I suppose this is where finding a writers group is beneficial.  If you failed to finish in a number of contests take a rest. Try something new.  Branch out.  If you don’t have a group with experienced writers perhaps you should look for groups online.

Contests can be great, but when you don’t know what you are doing wrong in the first place they could just be a waste of money.

I had a short story finish in the top 200-should I be bragging about this or not?  I guess I don’t think it is worth much since I still can’t tell you where I went wrong, other than the typo’s I embarrassingly missed.

Do you contest or not?

Fun Fact Friday – Jenny Bent says, “be Tenacious”

starsJenny Bent, from The Bent Agency, started from the bottom in her career.  It’s impressive that she had a drive and knew what she wanted to do when she grew up.  Becoming an agent isn’t so easy.  So next time we, as writers, think of agents as anything but human, think again.  They struggled to get to where they are and understand we are doing the same.  The best thing we can do to help our own careers and help out the agents who need writers, is to write quality work.  Jenny Bent delivers another fun piece of advice:

 10. Tenacity is more important than anything else.  It even trumps talent, I would say.   Believe in yourself and never give up, no matter what.  -Jenny Bent

Credit given: From the Bent Agency’s blog

Do you know of any agents who write encouraging words for aspiring authors?  Share then below.

The Waiting BurnOut

PatienceIf you follow aspiring authors and even published authors, a common theme on a lot of posts is that the road to publication is brutal, tiring, tedious, and a mystery.  Not knowing if your hard work will ever pay off can be the most strenuous of all the challenges.

After looking around on different blogs and author web sites, the common theme is patience.  Most people didn’t get published overnight.  Yes there are those few that somehow broke the mold (Stephanie Meyer), and we can secretly hate them.  But for most success took 5-10 years.  Those aren’t numbers you want to hear, but why do you think it took that long?

One reason is to learn their own craft.  Note, I did not say to learn THE craft.  I truly think that each person has their own style and that’s what makes your stories marketable.  It’s nice to be similar to someone for readers, but you don’t want to BE someone else.  Do I believe in formulaic writing? Well, yes and no.  You do need to have the standard elements in your story to make it work.  Can you not mix things up a bit here and there though?  Well I say sure, why not.  But in order to break any of the rules you have to be aware of them in the first place.  That takes time.  If you are an avid reader you might be able to shave some time off of your learning curve, although you probably still have to prefect your own voice.

Another reason for taking so long to find that magical agent or publisher?  Learning how to query.  This is your résumé.  It needs to be professional and concise and I believe they should follow a standard format.  VERY few query letters get through to the agents if the query breaks the rules.  A query can have some quirk, but it needs to be professional.

A third reason is that the market just wasn’t ready for their story.  It’s awful to say this, but sometimes you have to wait for the market to break into a need for a specific genre.  Most agents will not wait for a hot market to accept a story, but they have to see a demand for a genre or the potential for one. You would want to sell snow in the middle of winter, but then again what if that winter is having a drought?

There are a million reasons why.  You could spend all day finding them.  The summary of everything though is patience and learn from others mistakes as well as your own.  If you truly feel in your heart that you are meant to write it will happen…or so they say.  Fingers crossed we are all moving in the forward direction.

Show Me Don’t Tell Me

A lot of writers can write and tell a story.  The issue is simply that, we tell.  So what does it mean to show vs. tell?  When an editor or an agent comes back with this comment it usually puts the writer into a tail spin.  Isn’t it always easier to point a finger at a general problem rather than point out the exact issue.

To over simplify the problem I think the best summary I can give you is this: any time you say she felt, or he looked you are telling rather than showing.  If you are using 1 sentence to get into the house, you are probably telling.  What can you do?  Stop and envision.  Watch the scene as a movie in your head.  Movies are show not tell – for obvious reasons. When you describe a movie scene how do you show someone in words so they understand?

What sounds better?  Marci walked thru the door.   Or Marci turned the knob and crossed the threshold.  One implies action while the other is stating the obvious. It really all in the word choice.  Is either wrong?  No.  But showing is preferred by almost every agent, editor, and publisher out there.  The idea is to choose strong verbs that entice the reader to envision the action.

Another example:  Jamie felt like her life was over and cried. Or Jamie’s heart thudded and her chest felt tight.  Her eyes burned as she let loose a flood of tears.

Jane walked into a dark room and felt instantly scared. OR Jane was surrounded by black as she entered the room.  Her hands began to shake and her breathing grew rapid. 

 Showing will add more words.  This isn’t bad as long as each word was chosen carefully and aids in helping your reader understand what is going.  I am no expert, but I am working on my own process at the same time so I hope this helps.  Someone told me that telling can actually speed along the story – in a bad way.  So slow it down, add some details, and let the reader escape.

If you have a great example or some useful show vs. tell advice please comment below! Happy Monday and Happy writing.

Fun Fact Friday – Kristin Nelson and What She Wants to See …Maybe

The Nelson Literary Agency is probably one of the most informative agencies I have found.  Yes there are others, and feel free to enlighten me on them in comments too.

Kristin Nelson, the founder of Nelson Literary and an agent, can’t quite sum up what she wants in submissions.  The good news is, she can’t because she feels like genre categories are limiting. What that means for writers?  Well it means that not all agents feel like you are limited to exactly the definition of a category.  Do you write romance with a hint of horror?  She isn’t going to list horror on her web site, but she’d probably love to see it.  The key take away is that if your book can fit into one of the major categories an agent wants to see, try submitting.  I have no idea how she would market a cross genre book but that’s for her to know and you to find out.

Always follow submission guidelines and obviously play up the parts of your book that fit an agents request, but don’t be afraid to send something with a bit of a genre twist.

Do you know of other agents who blog helpful information?  Share their links here for other writers.  If the agent is geared towards one genre more then another list that.  Happy Friday.