Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Best Laid Plans...

So last month I outlined my goal for 2010: one story published a month.

Here we are at the end of February, and my goal is already blown.

I thought I had February in the bag. I had one anthology scheduled and one ezine story submitted. But the ezine is having issues and the anthology got pushed back.

Such is life, I guess. Especially in the publishing industry.

I suppose I really can't complain. I had one story published in January, I'm expecting a contract next week for a story to be published in a March anthology, the anthology originally scheduled for February is now scheduled for April, and May is the scheduled release for the Please, Sir anthology.

So I'm four out of five for Jan to May 2010. (Barring further rescheduling.)

I've got my eye on a number of anthologies closing in the next couple months, as well as finishing the requested revision for 1794, and I'm also taking notes for a non-fiction project. Plus there's another mid-length fiction project I want to do before I start in on my next novel-length fiction project.

Oh, and I got my novel revision done last month, which is always a load off, at least until the rejection letters start piling up again.

All in all I'm still feeling good about 2010, writing-wise. But boy, I'm tired.

Friday, February 26, 2010

100 Words About: Spring

It's nearly March, and as far as the forecast can see it's supposed to be mostly sunny and highs above freezing.

I love spring. I waffle between whether spring or fall is my favorite season. I love the smell of spring, the wet earth, the growing green things. The sounds of the birds returning. The moist air, which makes everything seem warmer than it actually is.

I can't wait for the ice to melt away and make walking the dog less hazardous. And for the mornings to be light enough that we might actually get our butts out of bed in time to do a morning walk before work.

What are your 100 words about spring?

Image: Simon Howden /

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Website: Web Hosting and Services

Web hosting is the big selling point for a lot of domain name registrars. Any one of them can sell you your domain name, for roughly the same price as any other. It's the web hosting and other features that distinguish the various companies from one another, and these features are what you want research before you make a choice.


Web hosting basically means storing your data on a server. If your webpage is a house where all your data lives, the server is the street your house is on. The server connects your data to the internet and handles all of the traffic to and from your website.

You can do your own hosting if you have a server, but a small server can only handle a certain amount of traffic before it starts to see a performance hit. For those of you who are not familiar with the technology, imagine this as too many cars driving down a small street: eventually, traffic backs up and the cars go slower. That's more or less what happens to your website: the pages load slower, and eventually can just stop allowing connections altogether. Odds are that a small server would work just fine for you at first, but if your website takes off unexpectedly, the last thing you want is for people not to be able to get there. The advantage of using a web hosting service is that they have big fast servers with big fast internet connections. They make their money by making sure your website is always online.

That means that the biggest thing you want to look for as far as web hosting goes is reliability. Try to find user reviews of the service and see how many times people complain about the hosting not working right, or bandwidth issues.

Customer Service

If you're like me, you don't know a heck of a lot about computers. (And yet, I write advice articles. Keep this in mind, folks…) When things go wrong or you have a question, you need your web host's customer service staff to answer the phone. Customer service is probably going to be one of the largest differences between hosting providers. Again, look for customer reviews. If you have friends who have websites, ask what provider they use and what their experiences have been.

(My provider is so customer service oriented, they have a real live person call every once in awhile just to make sure I'm still happy with their service and to ask if I have any questions. Mucho brownie points. I know lots of other companies used to do that back in the olden days, but I can't think of another business I work with that does that now without trying to sell me something.)

Other Services

This is where you need to be careful.

To get started, all you really need from your provider is a domain name and web hosting. Most providers will try to sell you all sorts of add-ons when you buy your web hosting. No matter how big of a group discount you get initially, think hard before you click "yes." It all adds up, and discounts may not last.

If you don't fully understand what the option is, research it before you agree to anything.

There is one service that you may want to consider. Many providers now offer help in creating the actual website, either in templates or programs or even working with a web developer. I say you may want to consider this, because if you really truly don't want to learn how to do it yourself, some of these options are very good and can cost as low as $5 to $10 a month.

Personally, I think if you're going to have a website, you should learn how to maintain it yourself. Yes, it's a lot of work, but do you really want to have to pay extra every month when you may only need to update your website twice a year? Or if you update your website regularly, if you're working with a web development service they will probably charge a fee every time you want to change something. Read the fine print and take your time before deciding how you want to do the actual website.

We'll talk more about building your site next week.

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Friday, February 19, 2010

100 Words About: Overtime

I worked overtime at my day job the last two weeks, doing nine hour days. That meant I didn't have my usual after-work writing time, and I was also more tired when I got home and didn't do any writing there either, except one Wednesday when I pounded out a new 1200-word story. The first two weeks in March will be the same.

I know lots of strategies for making writing time, but when you get home and still have to walk the dog and feed the animals and do the dishes or the laundry or the checkbook, how do you find the energy to wrestle with your manuscript? Any of you have tips or thoughts to share?

Image: vegadsl /

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Website: Web Address

You've decided that you want to have a website of your very own. Great! Now what?

First, you're going to need a web address. That's the address that people type into their web browser to get to your site. That address can either be a subpage on someone else's domain (ie: or, or else you can have your own domain name (ie:

The nice thing about a subpage is you can probably get one for free or very cheap through the company you get your internet through. However, it's not quite as professional (or satisfying) as having your own name in that address.

You can't own a domain name, you just rent it. (Yes, this costs money.) All internet domain names are handled by domain name registrars which are overseen by ICANN. Examples of domain name registrars are and Network Solutions. Since you're getting the same domain name (the one you picked, if it's available) regardless of which registrar you go through, the main difference between them is in the packages offered, customer service/support, and the pricing. Do your homework. For myself, I got recommendations from my IT buddies as to what service they liked.

Choose a web address that will work for you: either your name/pseudonym, or the name of your book if the website is to promote a particular release. Personally, I think you get the most bang for your buck by starting with your name/pseudonym. You can always add pages later for your books.

If the that you want is already taken, you can always try or, or another similar variation. If too many of those are taken, you may want to consider using a pseudonym that's a little less common.

Friday, February 12, 2010

100 Words About: Patience

Yeah, I know I talk about patience a lot. It's probably the biggest non-writing asset a writer can have. There is so much waiting in this biz. Lately the waiting has been getting to me: I hadn't heard anything on two projects that were supposed to be out in February or the one for March, or one that was delayed from last year. Send out emails for updates and wait some more. Arg! But then all at once I heard back from one of the Febs and the March one, yeay! If I miss getting something pub'd in Feb but double up on March, does that still count?

Leave a comment with your 100 words!

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Do You Need a Website?

This is something you'll want to think long an hard about before jumping in. Do you need a website outside of your blog/Facebook page/Myspace page/etc? Every good author has one, right?

Maybe, maybe not. Here are some things to consider:

  • Unlike Wordpress and Blogger and Facebook and the rest, a webpage will not necessarily be set up for you. It's going to involve a lot of work up front.
  • The aforementioned social networking tools are free. A webpage will cost you money.
  • Odds are you are already sinking time into your aforementioned social networking pages. (If not, you should be! Do that first.) A webpage will involve even more time away from writing. Just like your other pages, a webpage needs to be updated regularly to maximize its marketing power.

Also, just what, exactly, do you want your webpage to do for you that is not already being done by your other accounts? Your website should fulfill a specific need other than just being the go-to place for all things you. Certainly your website should have links to your Facebook page, the RSS of your blog, your Twitter feed, etc, but it should also have its own purpose. Know what that purpose is before you dive in.

In my case, I wanted a website where I could easily and effectively display information about my work without making people dig through my blog posts, where I could also collect and display my reviews and interviews. I wanted more organization capability than I had with any of the tools I was using so far.

It's been interesting, to say the least.

Next week we'll look at the first steps of starting your own webpage.

(And oh yeah, by the way, I have a website.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

100 Words About: Hiccups

When I was a kid, my sister and I swore to the effectiveness of pickles as a cure for hiccups. Any time either of us were afflicted, eating a pickle would take care of it. Other people testified to the merits of swallowing a spoonful of sugar, or drinking out of the far side of a glass, or just drinking water. My old martial arts instructor even showed me a pressure point that was supposed to help.

But as I've gotten older, the only thing I've found really works for me anymore is diaphragm exercises: very slow controlled breathing or holding my breath while doing very slow controlled abdominal isolations. Who knew Middle Eastern dance would lead me to a hiccup remedy?

Leave a comment with your 100 words!

Image: Suat Eman /

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Know When to Blow Off Work

This is sort of related to what I said about priorities. Know when to buckle down and get to work, and know when it's ok to blow off your writing session.

For example, when you're working nine hour days all week and you have a friend in the hospital who is deathly sick, it's ok to not get your blog post done and go out with a bunch of friends to drink in his honor.

(Of course, since you knew ahead of time that you wouldn't have time to do the blog post on Monday, one could poke at your lack of planning ahead as well...I suppose there's a reason I don't talk about time management as much, LOL.)