Friday, January 29, 2010

100 Words About: ebooks

I'm a big fan of epubbing in a lot of ways. I adore Project Gutenberg and Google Books, because I can find all sorts of wonderful hard-to-find books online for free. I love the fact that ebooks tend to be cheaper and can reach a wider audience. And, of course, there are a lot more open epub markets right now than print ones.

At the same time, when I read I want a print book. If I can get a book in print, I usually will (unlike audio stuff, which I will buy in MP3 format if at all possible). My favorite place to read is in the bathtub, and sorry, I'm just not taking the netbook in with me.

Image: Maggie Smith /

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Have a DR Plan

No one wants to think about your house catching on fire, or being damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster. But disasters do happen, and you can't afford to have all your eggs in one basket.

I've talked previously about backing up your work, but this is another level of security that you may want to consider. If you keep your back-up files in your house, a fire could still mean you lose all your work. A fire-proof safe is a good idea, but if the safe gets hot enough the contents inside may well melt or burn. And if you're anything like me, you don't back up to your safe-kept thumb drive nearly often enough, even if you back up to your laptop or other device nightly.

There are a number of options available. You can keep copies of your work on disc or drive at a friend or family member's house, or even in a safe deposit box, but this will only be as up-to-date as you make it. Make sure your plan is reasonable. It does no good to have a plan you continually neglect to implement. However, old files are still better than no files.

You can also email files to yourself. This can be particularly effective if you are emailing from one email address to a different one—double the coverage for the same amount of work. There is a small risk of your email account getting hacked or the email provider losing your files. Alternatively, if you have a trusted writing buddy or buddies you often send files to for critiquing, see if they will keep a folder of your stuff on their computer or in their email.

If you have trusted computer savvy friends, you might consider setting up file servers at each other's houses. This allows you to back up your files to your friend's computer, and vice versa, without necessarily having to go through email.

There are also back-up software packages and online services you can use. Research these heavily. There is always a risk in giving your files to someone else. Make sure they encrypt the files. Expect to pay for this service.

Test your back-ups to make sure they work, and check your logs if you're using software or an automatic back-up to make sure things are being backed up properly. You don't want to go through all that trouble, only to find out that there was a setting that wasn't right and you've lost everything anyway.

Friday, January 22, 2010

100 Words About: Done

Yeah, I'm late. I'm also sick. So sue me.

Done. It's a lovely word. I whisper it to myself, soft as a morning breeze on the beach. Done. I'm done with my stupid novel.


Any of you who have finished a novel at least once should know what I mean. It's an incredibly liberating feeling. Freedom! I can work on whatever I want! No manuscript-millstone around my literary neck demanding that I finish it. No more little voice in the back of your head reminding you that you haven't worked on it today. Ahhh, blessed silence.

Of course, after a six-month break or so, in which you may have done a lot of other writing, you might find yourself digging the manuscript out (because odds are you haven't had anything but rejection letters on it yet). You look it over. You find places that need fixing. And before you know it…boom. You're shacking up with your old buddy again.

I finished it twice last year alone. I have no idea how many times I've finished it since I started.

But it's done, again, and out the door. With luck I won't have to look at it again until someone else is telling me what they want fixed. Won't that be a nice change?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Make Friends

Writing is generally a lonely business, as I've said before. But today's post is about more than just getting away from the keyboard, it's about having writing buddies. People with whom you can talk shop. Because let's face it, a lot of the people in your life have absolutely no idea what is it you do.

I'm not even talking about critique groups, although critique groups are awesome if you can get into a good one. You average critique group, however, is probably too large for intimate venting, too focused, or too busy.

The nice thing about a writing buddy is you can bounce ideas off each other in a more relaxed atmosphere. Yes, editing and critiquing may occur, but then again, they may not. The important thing is you have someone to talk to who knows exactly what you're dealing with, because they're dealing with it too.

In my case, my writing buddy is the wonderful E. Victoria Wilson, founder of the group Mother Writer! at, and author of the blogs Mama's Experience Initiative and Penny Jar: A heads up on being at the tail end.

Victoria and I tend to write very different things. I mostly write fiction, she mostly writes memoir and essay, although I have written non-fiction before and her occasional fiction pieces are, in my opinion, awesome. (Still love the plant one.)

She's a stay-at-home mom, and I'm a full-time working DINK, and we both have troubles finding enough time to write. I've got more publishing credits, but she's kicking my butt in the social networking department, and while that sounds kind of competitive, it's actually really nice because we can help each other out. (For example, she's just about talked me into setting up a Twitter account. Sigh.) And of course, since we're both learning about the industry we can send each other useful articles or posts that we come across also.

But I think the best part is just being able to whine about having no idea what I'm going to do for one project, or the fact I'm going insane waiting to hear back on other projects, or whatever, and she actually gets it. And I get to try and help when she has issues or problems. Because anyone can help you celebrate. It's the folks that help you stay sane long enough to have something to celebrate that you need to hang on to.

Friday, January 15, 2010

100 Words About: Deadlines

I love deadlines. They're the only way I get anything done. I wrote two short stories in two weeks, which doesn't seem like all that much at first, a total of around 6000 words which is less than 500 words a day, plus revisions, but still. I swear if I didn’t have external deadlines I'd never get anything done. Why can't I set deadlines for myself and have them work? Probably for the same reason I keep buying potato chips after telling myself I'm not going to buy potato chips anymore. If no one else knows I'm a slacker, what's my motivation to not be one?

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday Tip: No More Bad Writing

I went to go see the movie Secret Window when it first came out in the theater in 2004. I enjoyed the movie on a lot of levels, but particularly a scene early on wherein Johnny Depp's character, a writer struggling with his next novel (among other issues), is working at his computer. "This is just bad writing," he says in frustration, looking at the words on the screen. "Just bad writing." Highlighting everything he's just written, he hits the delete key. "No bad writing."

You have to be willing to do that, to just chuck out all the work you've already done, if the little honest voice inside you tells you it's crap. (Not to be confused with the little self-conscious voice that tells you it's crap. You can't trust that one.) Sometimes you read through a section and you know, deep down, that it's not good. You don't want to have to rewrite it. If you're like me, rewriting from scratch is, while not impossible, incredibly uncomfortable. I have a difficult time re-envisioning a scene, and each time I rewrite it's harder for me to get into the character's head.

Just because it's annoying and difficult doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Suck it up and start over. You may need to give yourself some time away from the project first, or you may need to break it down into manageable chunks, but do it. Your manuscript will almost always be better for it.

And if it's not; highlight, delete, and try again.

Friday, January 8, 2010

100 Words About: Having an Audience

So usually after work I have the breakroom to myself, but this week an older gentleman has been coming in. We ignore each other. He sits down, turns on the Weather Channel and watches until the Local on the 8s goes through, then flips over to Fox News (ugh!) for a few, back to the Weather Channel, and then he gets up and leaves.

The weird thing is, I am totally squicked out about working while he's in here.

It's not that he bothers me in and of himself. I'm sure he's a very nice man. But he looks like he could be my grandfather, and trying to write erotica while your grandfather is in the room is, well, weird. Really, really weird.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti /

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Pit Stop" available at Mainstream Erotica

The January issue of Mainstream Erotica is up, and my short story "Pit Stop" is available to read for free! This is a fun little m/m microfiction about a chance encounter in a gas station bathroom, and was actually inspired by a real life event. Which just goes to show that you can find great story ideas in the most unlikely of places.

Tuesday Tip: Change it Up

As I type this I'm sitting in a local pub, listening to oldies and the quiet conversation of the other patrons. I'm sipping a whiskey coffee and waiting for a good friend to arrive.

So today my advice to you is this: get out of the house once in awhile.

I know many writers dream of having their own writing space, one place that's just for them to get away from everyone else and write.

But writing is a lonely business. (Oo! They're playing the Doors! "People are strange…") Even if it's only once in awhile, get out of your usual writing place, even if your writing place is just the kitchen table. (Maybe especially when your writing place is the kitchen table…) Sometimes a new environment will kick start ideas you wouldn't have come up with otherwise. A change of scenery may help you get past a sticky plot point you couldn't see your way around. An overheard conversation could spark a whole new story.

And it's healthy to have conversations with the people outside of your own head once in a while. No, really!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009: The Year in Writing

So, now that I've closed out my first calendar year of professional writing (and I don't have to put that in quotations anymore, woohoo!), here's what I accomplished in 2009:

(This doesn't count "A Wild Hunt" (approx 10k words) or the free microfiction pieces. Also does not include stories I started but haven't finished yet.)

Short stories written: 14
Short stories sold: 11 (two contracts are still pending)
Short story submissions: 29 (two pending. Four are from a non-erotic horror piece I've since stopped submitting for now)
Short story rejections (including revoked submissions): 16
Short stories published: 8
Total short story word count (final drafts): approximately 54,800

Times I thought I was done revising my novel: two and a half. I'm almost done with the latest one.

Number of agents I submitted my novel to: 18

Number of actual agent rejection letters: 10
Number of no-responses: 7 (and one who keeps telling me "give me another month or two.")

All in all I'm incredibly pleased. I've gone from "I can count the number of short stories I've finished ever on one hand" to "I have to start using my toes to count all the ones I've written just in 2009." And best of all, I've been working on something other than the novel! It's been so liberating!!!

I have a good start toward my goal for 2010: at least one story published per month. I'd like for at least six of those stories to be in anthologies. So far Mainstream Erotica is supposed to be publishing one of my stories in the January issue, and I have stories scheduled to be published in anthologies coming in February and May. The print version of Hungry For Your Love is supposed to come out in October, but I'm hoping not to have to count that one. ;) And one of the two submissions currently out is for an anthology scheduled for March (fingers crossed). On to April!

Friday, January 1, 2010

100 Words About: 2009

2009 was a mixed year for me. There were oh so many downs: I was laid off and unemployed for eight months, the washer and dryer both died, two windows on the front porch broke, had car repairs, there was much uncertainty and stress about the husband's job, and worst of all, someone very dear to me died.

And yet, there were good things, even great things. Two good friends got married, and other friends got engaged after many years. Several friends and family members gave birth safely to their first children. Despite our financial worries, my husband and I spent our ten-year anniversary on a wonderful adventure driving up the California coast. And I proved to myself that I can do this writing thing.

Remember the good and the love, and look forward to the future. The rest just weighs you down. Happy New Year everyone!