Author Archives: Susan
While the new Janes are getting organized, I thought I’d slip in the back door, and tell you all the exciting news since my last post. The one thing we know about publishing today is that nothing stays the same, and since I’ve had some time to surf the net, and blogs. There is one question that pops into my brain over and over again. Why does Indie publishing matter?
There are lots of reasons to indie publish a book, most of them discussed at one time or another on this blog. But we’ve never answered the question of why it matters? I don’t want you to think I’m casting stones. That is not my intent, only that I want to make an observation.
I was reading a post this morning, by Jaimie Brazil at Windtree Press, The Rejection Collection – Set Yourself Free. Jamie answered in part why indie books matter. For many years the New York publishing machine has owned the industry. They decided who’s voice readers would want to buy and read. And perhaps they did have the inside tract on that phenomena, but they weren’t right one-hundred percent, or even eighty or ninety percent of the time.
There are so many talented storytellers writing in their solitary offices, or local coffee shops that never make ‘the cut’. That’s why indie publishing and books matter. Besides the fact that it teaches an author about the practical aspects of publishing a novel, it gives voice to all those exceptional writers who wouldn’t otherwise see their stories in print.
For a long time indie published books have been considered the bastard stepchild to traditional publishing, and it was said, only the most unpublishable authors resorted to publishing their novels in that venue. That was never true, but today it’s the furthest thing from the truth, and I predict it won’t be much longer until indie and traditionally published books hold hands as full-blooded sisters and brothers in an industry that will respect an author not only for the story he or she tells, but also for the venue in which it’s published.
So my journey continues with a new release and a new venture. New at Amazon and BN, and coming soon to Windtree Press and Kobo, is Falling For A Hero, The Anthology; A Girl Named Jane and Jane’s Long March Home under one new, but familiar cover. And this week Crazy Hair Publishing, an online indie book site for my novels, went live. As always, it has been a labor of love.
Thanks for staying with me on this journey. Until next time, I’ll have mine shaken, not stirred, thank you very much.
It’s interesting how the Universe works. Two years ago three Janes founded See Jane Publish, because we wanted to share our journeys to publication and whatever that looked like. Where we are today is certainly not where we were when Kim, Nancy and I raised our glasses in anticipation. We are like Fourth Of July fireworks, each one a burst of light heading off in different directions.
For me, I am heading back to my writing roots. I had a computer glitch this weekend, and lost access to my desktop, where I work on all my current projects: the ugly draft of Dragon’s Keeper; my next release, Falling For A Hero, The Anthology; the template for the print version of Dragon’s Thief. We’re working on the fix as I type this. In the meantime, for the first time in years I sat on the swing in my backyard and hand wrote four and a half pages of Dragon’s Keeper. Where I had hit a wall before the crash of my technology, now the story is flowing. That is a message in and of itself, right? And a perfect example of when the going gets tough in our writing lives, it’s time to step back, take a second look, and find out if our story can be told in a different way, perhaps even, with different tools.
This is true for my writing journey as well. It’s time to step back and take a different route than the one I’d planned. By no means am I giving up the writing. It’s just the map has changed. Two new ventures on my plate are the author cooperative at Windtree Press, and a website for Crazy Hair Publishing, my own publishing arm. The site is still being built, but I’ll give a shout out when it’s done.
Jessie Smith has enthusiastically agreed to take over the helm of See Jane Publish. Watch for a new format, and new Janes as a new chapter of SJP begins. And Jessie has promised to reserve a spot or two for me to come back and bug you all.
Thanks for taking this journey with me. You are all awesome!
Saturday I’m giving a workshop titled, Storymapping Your Novel. As both the titles of the workshop and this post indicate, (as those of you who follow SJP know) I’m in many ways a plotter. I didn’t start out that way. When I began doing the Storyboarding… workshops, many, many years ago, it was Storyboarding Your Story. As time when by, I realized this fun exercise could be used to plan…mold…plot a writer’s career in the same way you would a novel.
You can do this at home. You’ll need a poster board (½ sheet), glue stick, scissors, lots and lots of assorted magazines, and a large frame to showcase your finished storyboard.
Find a comfortable place to spread out. Let your mind fly free. From the magazines cut out pictures, words and numbers that jump out, speak to you, feel like, or seem to have some significance for your career as a novelist (you might not know how or why). Once you have a large pile, sort through them, placing the most significant on the poster board. Make a collage. Don’t worry if some of the images overlay others. In the middle put the the one that feels most important, the image or words that scream the loudest what you’d like your writing career to look like. Build from there to the edges.
Some of the images may relate more to your non-writing life, but blend them with your career pictures. This is a hodgepodge merging of everything that is you succeeding as an author. That can’t be done without the ‘normal’ life that makes you who you are as a writer. When you’re satisfied with the overall effect, glue everything down. Use numbers to date your board. Then take a good look. What do you see?
You don’t have to be an artist or natural born plotter to do this storyboard.
(Insert: For those of you who are readers, you can do this exercise too, for your career, or everyday life, whichever you would like to spotlight, or need help deciding where you could go from here.)
In fact when I made my very first one, I fancied myself a pantser, someone who writes a story by the seat of her pants, with no guideposts except the end – a happy-ever-after. At the time I made the one hanging in my office, I’d grown into a hybrid between a pantser and plotter. Now, after a lot of back and forth, I like to think of myself as a planner, a close sister to a plotter, only without the specific attention to detail. But, it doesn’t really matter how you approach your writing (or life), only that you do approach it…and your career, with the firm intention of finishing your current novel…and the next one…and the next one.
The best thing about storyboarding your career is you’re going to see something unexpected in your finished board. It will speak to you, tell you something you didn’t know about yourself. And, it can be framed. Mine hangs in my office. When I look at it, the visual image of my writing career reminds me, I’m a work in progress, same as the story I’m currently writing.
It started Friday night when I met with Wendy Warren at Panera. Lost half a day of the day job because I had to run into Portland to swap out my computer. Got back just in time to drop the new one off in my office, and then turn around and head our favorite meeting place. The weather was beautiful, the 30 minute drive relaxing.
Probably because we spend so much time in our offices, and in our heads, when writers get together, there’s no getting a word in edgewise. Writers write stories, but they also have their own story. Somehow we got to talking about our stories. We started with Wendy, but she tired of that pretty quick, and steered the conversation to me. Did I stop her? No. Did she take notes? Yes. We got a little carried away. You remember we both right fiction, right?
Wendy: (writing on the back of a long grocery receipt she pulled out of her purse, which she later gave to me.) Nurse by day. Best selling novelist at 4am.
Me: I got a tattoo.
Wendy: Oooh! Let me see! (then back to the receipt) Dragonkind, an escape into a world of fire and power and love and fidelity, broken but mended hearts.
Me: My office is full of dragons. (Wendy, will you be my publicist?)
Wendy: Orphaned at a young Harlequin age; got an agent; went back to work full-time.
Me: (not too impressed with how my story was going so far) I have two computers and three monitors in my office. Occasionally a dog (not mine; he belongs to the children). Sometimes two delightful little girls.
Wendy: How big is your house?
Me: 1100 square feet, plus the unfinished edition.
Wendy: Works in 1100 square foot home; lives with three generations of family; had to add 300 square feet.
Wendy: To all things there is a season. I will write no matter what (meaning I will be writing), and the dragons will live. This is the story you told when you could no longer write the others. Look at the tattoo and remember your dreams!
Me: This is every woman’s story (I told her): work hard, have a family, pursue hard to achieve dreams.
Wendy: This is your story…a dream born out of the ashes like a Phoenix (I had mentioned there’s a Phoenix in my current WIP). As in all good dreams, you began again.
Me: I’d better see your story on your blog. Can I say I write on the funny side of dark?
I just popped over to Too Hot Mamas. Not a mention of Wendy’s “story”, but a very funny blog about ten year olds dating. The good thing to come out of our conversation at Panera…we both accepted a challenge to report on our current WIP every morning. Friday morning I wrote 210 words; Saturday 338; Sunday in four wonderful uninterrupted hours 1851 words; today (Monday) 0. Back to the day job. But this post is 521 words plus. That counts, right?
This will not be long. When we recently made some changes to our blogging days, I picked Tuesdays because I thought how exciting it would be to write my post on Sunday and have it ready to go for Tuesday mornings. That way I wouldn’t be typing like a chicken (do chickens type?) with my head cut off, trying to meet a looming deadline I should have prepared for ahead of time. So far, good strategy. Until this weekend.
This weekend, several of us at Rose City Romance Writers entered into a…shall I call it…verbal contract to meet deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, but mostly get our booties (as the littlest female in my house would call it) in the chair and write, write, write. I dug out an old spreadsheet – thank you for that, Jessa Slade, who has a new book out btw. I started slow, but began to make headway on my current project sometime yesterday morning. In my zeal I wrote fresh new words instead of this blog, totally forgetting until this morning when I was kicking up my heels over my first 500 words written all in one session. And then it was off to the day job.
I’m guessing writing the novel wins. I’ll be back next week with something more to say than…this won’t be long.
There’s always talk around the water cooler about book marketing…or author marketing. It’s a never ending conversation because it’s almost impossible to measure what works and what’s just busy work. Marketing has a new label these days. It’s called social media. For a writer like me, who is in some ways a cave dweller (and becoming more so by the minute), and who has a full-time day job, social media is a logistics nightmare.
First off, there’s so many to choose from: Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon forums, Smashwords, and my personal favorite, Pinterest, just to name a few. I can spend hours on any of one of these, but then, when would I write, or read, or work in my garden, or put this really special photo in a contest, or visit favorite blogs, or write?
You can see the time management conundrum, and I don’t think I’m alone in needing a drink just thinking about it. Well the good news is, we don’t have to do it all (even if you’re a reader and not a writer who hopes to someday quit her day job). Every discussion I’ve had lately with other writers always circles around to one answer. No matter how much social media you participate in, that’s not what sells books. The only thing that sells books is to write the next one, and the next one, and the next one. We want social media to be the answer, but it’s not.
So what’s a work from home, cave-girl like me to do about the gargantuan cloud social media has become? First listen to your friends, and believe what they say. Only participate in the medias you enjoy, the ones that make sense to you, the ones you enjoy. Each person’s water cooler is going to be different. I killed my Twitter account because I’m not clever enough in 140 characters to make it fun. Quite frankly, sometimes I would forget to tweet for a week or more at a time. And then one day go, oh yeah, I should tweet. That is not the way to build a village. Twitter is a fast and busy medium. If you can’t keep up, like me, you should find another place to build your village.
If you’re a reader and love talking books, Goodreads is the place for you. But not necessarily if you’re an author, too. Except if you like to do book reviews. Goodreads is a good place for that.
Facebook. You either love it or hate it, but no matter how you feel about it, Facebook is a great place to gather your village around you, whether that’s your family and friends, or fans of your novels, it doesn’t matter. Facebook is here to stay. It’s growing on me, but I’d like to hook up with more readers there.
My absolute favorite is Pinterest. It appeals to the artist lurking in my heart. I was doing some research on the four horseman of the apocalypse the other day, and guess where I found the most pictures and info. That’s right. On Pinterest. It was incredible, and delightful at the same time.
This is my new trident approach to social media. Goodreads, Facebook, and Pinterest. It works for me. Your media approach will be what works best for you, but don’t try to do it all.
After the last Rose City Romance Writer’s meeting, I had a lot to think about. One thing I’ve been mulling over is…maybe what’s really important about social media is not what one may gain from it, but rather, having a presence there, leaving footprints in cyber sand… It’s stayed with me, just a curious thought.
Have a great week!
Absolutely nothing. Except, I’m reading Urbanophile, about Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, who is spearheading the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas. It’s called The Downtown Project. I’m sorry to say, I had never heard of Zappos before today, so I had to google it. Shoe lovers of the cyber-world, don’t throw your worn out Zappos at me. At Zappos.com, it looks like they sell more than shoes, but when I scrolled down to the bottom of the page, trying not to read how really cool some of these shoes were, I found something incredibly interesting.
Zappos Family Core Value: 2. Embrace and Drive Change.
Clearly The Downtown Project Las Vegas is a challenging project. And I had every intention of writing about how this project is a mirror for Indie authors…any kind of author really, traditional, and hybrid, but I ran across core value #2 and couldn’t leave it alone until I found value #1. The sweet thing about the internet, as you all know, is you can click on almost anything and it will take you somewhere. So I clicked on Embrace and Drive Change, and just at you’d expect, it took me to the very list I was looking for – not just #1 and #2, but a whole list of 10. Here they are:
Deliver WOW through Service.
Embrace and drive change.
Create fun and a little weirdness.
Be adventurous, creative, and open minded.
Pursue growth and learning.
Build open and honest relationships with communication.
Build a positive and family spirit.
Do more with less.
Be passionate and determined.
Many of you have hung around the water cooler here at See Jane long enough, you know where I going with this. Before we go there, let me add the piece from the Urbanophile that first caught my eye. The magic that Tony Hsieh is bringing to The Downtown project (in MHO) is the same magic we writers bring…or should be bringing…to the publishing industry. As quoted from Urbanophile (and paraphrased a little)… “The magic is happiness, luckiness, innovation, and productivity.”
The Downtown Project is about believing in something better, and building community. The Zappos Family Core Value list tells us how. I published my first traditional book in 2003, my first Indie title in 2011. We started this blog in July 2011. Over this varied journey, I’ve come to believe two things with my whole heart. To sell books you have to write more books. And, writing is not about selling books, though that is a happy by-product, and some of us will be lucky enough to sell a lot of books. Writing is about building community. I think Zappos has given us a ten-step program to accomplish this difficult task. My favorite is #8 Do more with less.
It sets my heart all aflutter. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go check out those shoes.
If you’ve been hanging out lately, you know Dragon’s Thief is on tour. The thing you might not know is, sending a book out on tour is NOT about selling books. It’s about making friends, and building community. Not the BFF kind of friends, though I think that can happen on occasion, kind of like meeting at the local watering hole and becoming instant buddies. No I think the kind of community you make on tour are the ones who will see your name again and say to their BFF, “I met her on line, and she was so funny…or nice…or some other kudo,” that makes them add, “I wonder what she’s up to today. Let’s find out.” I hope I was nice, and funny, and worthy of a second look this week.
Because of the tour, I ended up cruising the net. A lot. I have some links to share.
Paranormal Cravings. I spent hours there checking out all the cool books.
Thanks to Maggie Jaimeson: The Writings And Opinions Of Dean Wesley Smith, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Dean’s post about making a living writing short stories re-inspired me to kick it up a notch and write, really write, an hour a day/5 days a week. No research; no internet; no plotting the next scene for this one hour. He has the numbers. Check it out.
From Cassiel Knight , a Huffington Post on How To Use Pinterest To Promote Your Book. I’m a newcomer to Pinterest, but I love it. Mostly because, like writing the dragons, there’s no writing rules but the ones I make.
Mercer Addison’s new website. She just indie published her first book! Congratulations Mercer! If you haven’t already seen it, beautiful cover, catchy website.
Today I bought five new books, Mercer Addison’s Even Nectar Is Poison, and J.T. Geissinger’s Shadow’s Edge, Edge Of Oblivion (which I LOVED, but had to have the set on my Kindle), and Rapture’s Edge. AJ Nuest’s She’s Got Dibs also sounded interesting enough to buy, but it was free.
Those I met on this first week of the book tour, who signed up for my newsletter, were entered into a drawing for a free copy of Dragon’s Thief. And, I worked in the garden today. It’s been a stellar week. Hope yours was as good.
“According to The Element Encyclopedia Of Birthdays by Theresa Cheung, my ruling planet is the Sun; my symbol the Lion; my Tarot card The Empress (creativity); my favorable numbers are 2 and 3 (my fav is 3). Lucky days are Sunday and Thursday; lucky colors gold, green, and pale blue; my birthstone is Ruby; and at my best, I’m loyal, adventurous, and idealistic.”
This was me at The Eternal Scribe today. The part I didn’t add, mostly because I didn’t want to shock strangers; at my worst, I’m “interfering, self-important, and reckless.” I hope I’m never reckless with other people’s feelings, but it is true, sometimes I think the world is only my oyster. And don’t get me started on how interfering I can be. In a subtle way of course. I figure you all can take this little insight into my less honorable traits. But wait, there’s more. Worse than being…you know, interfering, self-important, and reckless, I figured out this weekend…I’m a plotter!
Now I don’t mean that as an insult to those of you who ARE plotters, very good at crafting your stories that way, and dang proud of it. I’ve always admired writers who can plot the course of their books, then go merrily on their way until they write, The End. I also truly admire authors who can write their story in one draft before they start revisions.
I, on the other hand have been a little full of myself thinking, “I’m a pantser”, someone who writes a story by the seat of their pants. No plan. Just a beginning, and maybe an end. And, being a linear pantser at that. Start on page one, word one, and keep writing until The End. No deviation. No skipping around.
Imagine my chagrin then, when I discovered this weekend that about two-thirds of the way through Dragon’s Thief, I made a story map. I have irrefutable proof to prove it. Da da da da… The Note Book. While looking for something else, I found the map. Crap. Being a pantser sounds so creative. So exotic. A plotter sounds like…someone who settles into the details of the story and gets her done. That would be me, it turns out. And for the first time, it sounds like fun! No more getting lost in the desert. No more untangling the knots left behind by going over the same ground again and again.
Every writer has their own way. This is me taking a right when I usually go in circles. I have reached CH 5 in Dragon’s Keeper. Page 26, three pages from the point where Carlton and Sage’s goals change. I’ve spent seven months and two weeks figuring out why their goals change. I have the story mapped to the mid-point when there’s no turning back for our intrepid characters. I haven’t been this excited about writing a story since I started Dragon’s Thief on a plane from Portland to Oklahoma.
So until next week when I may return gnashing my teeth, this is one Jane, reporting live, from a writer’s journey.