Posts Tagged ‘digital publishing’

How We Write: Crunchy

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Heads down in a three-quarters completed draft, I’m also coaching an author preparing for the same creative battle: making story and characters come alive by force of will and your imagination alone. My first comment to her–it’s going to get crunchy. Don’t expect a cake walk. In fact if it’s not an all-out battle, you’re not challenging yourself enough.

Angry woman

That’s right. We write uneven and clunky and, yes, crunchy stuff when we’re slogging through the draft. And for most of us, even those of us who’ve published novels into the double digits, it gets harder the more stories we challenge, not easier. That’s the way it works. The more you learn about story, the more you decide to do with it, the less intuitive it can sometimes be to create what appears to be an effortless journey to the reader.

Several things cause the anxiety and mind-numbing tangents we encounter when we draft: (more…)

How We Write: Free Writing (Drafting) with a Plan…

Friday, February 17th, 2012

In addition to editing/reading other author’s manuscripts this month, I’m in the throws of drafting a new book of my own. Eeek! Writing into the ether isn’t my happy place. So I free-write with a plan. Huh? you say. Yep, I plan my characters and as many plot turning points as possible before I start. How? I’m so glad you asked…


My half-day workshops focus on my theory that if you know what you intend to accomplish with a character and/or story arc BEFORE you write a scene, you’ve got a much better chance of actually producing a successful experience for the reader once you’re done. And if you know what you want the reader to feel and take away from an entire chapter or a whole section of your novel, before you begin stringing scenes together, you’ll be aware of that plan as you write and your subconscious and instincts will help you not write yourself or your characters into corners you can’t plot out of once you’re there.

Having a goal in mind doesn’t mean you’re forcing yourself to follow only one path to your story goal, (more…)

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies: On the Radar

Monday, February 13th, 2012

I’m an author, always writing and pitching my work to publishers and (hopefully) reaching readers with ever-new titles. Now I’m also an acquiring editor, too, officially reading other writer’s submissions, searching for the perfect new story for Entangled Publishing’s soon-to-debut Dead Sexy suspense line. Which for some has become a, “Houston. We have a problem,” moment.


“What are you thinking?” a few have asked. Let me ‘Splain.

For me, I’m seeing more options than problems these days. And where I see and understand options that are in my best interest, I act.

I’ve freelanced edited for fiction writers for years–private work stemming from the countless workshops and weekend retreats I teach about writing craft and the romance publishing industry. Before that I was an professional editor, in my senior tech writing gig. Before that…well, we won’t get into (again) how my IT training and project management experience prepared me for the type of analysis needed to break story down, understand its parts, and help people learn how to knit it all back together in their own unique way.

Because that’s all backstory. And as I tell authors, backstory is only a place to begin. Me being qualified for the gig isn’t really the point–without primo qualifications, the savvy team at Entangled wouldn’t have hired me in the first place. The real issue I had to face as I decided whether or not to take their job offer, was what did it mean, me officially moving over to the business side of this journey, at least as I work to help other authors achieve their publishing dreams.


And that, that being a conduit for another writers’ hard work transforming into a dream-come-true, IS what matters to me and the other editors at Dead Sexy. (more…)

How We Write: Character Rules!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Most every writer’s heard of scene and sequel. Jack Bickham’s Elements of Fiction Writing is some of the best instruction on novel structure out there. But he, and I today, aren’t merely talking about plot. The key is to apply structure principles to your characters every step of the way. Because, as Robert McKee tells us, plot IS character.

family guy

I’ve studied with both these masters. Bickham, in addition to devouring his books, I bought a workshop series from and wish I’d had the chance to hear him in person before his death. McKee, who isn’t dead but some who attended the three-day scriptwriting seminar attended most likely wished him so, was worth the money and travel expense ten times over, given what I walked away from his course better understanding about the real source of good writing.

It’s character.All the plot rules, setting rules, structure rules, symbol rules, and any other thing that someone’s tried to make you think is most important to story, is actually about CHARACTER. Because your story is about character. Each scene and its sequel, each element and act and conflict and motivation… It’s all about character.

mad scientist

Readers want the journey. (more…)

How We Write: Time to Revise…

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

“Being practical, yet innovative…” A friend and freelance client emailed that sentiment to me during an exchange about the beautiful novel I’m helping her take apart and revise. I’m pushing her to dig deep. She’s wanting to keep as much as possible of the beautiful inspiration that drove her to write in the first place. And she should–as long as the reader feels equally inspired to devour her beautiful words. Which is what revision is all about, and what makes it so hard and time consuming, and why the majority of those who attempt to publish never make it to a book contract–it’s VERY hard to craft a story that readers will love half as much as you did when you first envisioned it.


Let me repeat. Rewriting a manuscript until it’s reader-ready is hard. Brutal. Seldom pretty, at least at first. And it takes time.To analyze. Re-evaluate. Re-focus. And only then, to revise what you’ve already painstakingly completed. The process takes a creative artist out of her comfort zone and dumps her into the hell of picking apart word and character and theme and plot choices, drilling deeper until the true meaning and purpose of each piece is (effortlessly) crystal clear to a reader.

This isn’t a post on the method and technique of revision. I’ve done that already, so scroll back through How We Write, or attend one of the half-dozen workshops I’m already scheduled to give this year, the majority of which will include a discussion of rewriting. This is a blog about attitude. Fortitude. Determination to maintain your unique writer’s voice, while doing the writer’s day-to-day job of reaching others through story.

If you can’t commit to doing that, once it’s made very clear to you how hard and uncomfortable and unpleasant that part of your job can be, then that successfully published novel of your dreams won’t become a reality, no matter how wonderful your original idea might have been. I fact, it’s that very commitment to making your story everything it should be that protects that innovation bursting to live through your imagination.


By successful, I mean a story that reaches into readers hearts and souls and pulls out the best and worst of who they are, all while you’re transporting them to a fictional place that existed only in your mind before they began reading your words. (more…)

Where Will 2012 Take Me in Publishing?

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Yes, I have five different book proposals in the works (four of them with my agent or with publishers, waiting for acquisition, finger’s crossed), but I’m also stretching my more technical/editorial muscles in new, exciting directions–I’ve been hired as an Acquiring Editor for the NEW Dead Sexy romantic suspense line at Entangled Publishing.


Officially, the new imprint is: 

Dead Sexy: The Nina Bruhns Collection.

And today’s the launch/announcement of our new baby!


If you know Nina, as I do, you’ll be as excited as I am by this announcement. She and I and our other newly hired editor Susan Meier are already working with authors and thrilling stories you’re going to love, come the May launch of Dead Sexy. What a great team, including our managing editor, Vicki Wilkerson!

The Dead Sexy editors were successful, award-winning, best selling authors first. All of us. Now we’re following our passion for teaching and nurturing and helping other writers fulfill their publishing dreams.

We at Dead Sexy strive to be the exciting home every successful romantic suspense author is dying to have. And Entangled is a digital-first publisher that puts authors first.   An amazing partnership from the get-go!

Check back often in 2012 for weekly Publishing Isn’t for Sissies and How We Write posts that are taking on even greater meaning and purpose for me, as well as more updates from my popular Dream Theories and Psychic Realm and Soul of the Matter and Things my Teenager Says series.

Now that you know what’s kept me away from regular blog posts these last few months, let me say it’s great to be back. I couldn’t be happier about the horizon before me ;o)

Join me.

It’s going to be an exciting ride!

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies–Conquer Your Fear!

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

What new facet of the publishing business will you conquer this year? With all the changes rushing at us, what’s your greatest fear? How can you turn that perceived weakness into an asset? Small press or indie digital publishing has long been my wishy-washy place.


Yes, I can publishing solo, but do I want to? Yes, there are small indie digital presses out there, but do I trust their ever-evolving business models. In the end, I realized the real question was: Do I trust myself, without the umbrella of a large, established publisher propping up both me and my work?

I love my traditional publishers and hope to always have a home in print. I respect most of the inroads these huge corporations are making into digital media, too, though the changes they’re enacting have been slow to come and even slower to implement. Which has left a huge opportunity open for me to make a digital impact with my writing without them… But until lately I’ve been too hesitant to investigate those options on my own.

  • Where will I be without a major press behind me?
  • Will anyone notice if I go out on my own?
  • Will my publisher/agent be less enthusiastic about my work, if I’m also self/indie publishing in the digital market?
  • Will I be wasting a lot of time I should be spending writing, by taking on even more “other” business beyond the hours I need to focus each day on my creative pursuits?

Hard questions, all of them. And each question sprung from a core fear of the change happening all around me. Because the reality is, the playing field of publshing that I thought I’d conquered when I signed my first traditional book contract is gone. A new world with exciting new opportunities and scary pitfalls has arrived. I can’t fly beneath the radar and expect folks to find me, because I have THIS publisher or THAT one backing me.

publishing piles

In this publishing world, a writer is either a brand/entity unto herself, or she won’t be found, period.

  • Traditional publishers expect us to do all the things we have to do to be successful as self/indie published authors.
  • Branding is essential to a book’s success now, regardless of how it was published.
  • (more…)

How We Write Wednesday: Putting the Writing First…

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I’ve been asked to HoWW blog more about putting the writing first…even when we’re being told (and seeing)  EVERYthing else in the business is more important. Especially the insanity we call social media (yesterday’s topic, where I ranted about writing first, because who knows what’s really making a difference on Facebook and Twitter anyway, no matter what the “experts” say).

Social media Insanity

It’s funny, when you think about it. Blogging about not blogging or tweeting or FB statusing so much that you never groove on your craft. Your art. Your purpose to begin with for dipping your toe in the Internet mustof “connecting.” We try to carve out niche in this great beyond. #weWRITE is a great example, which Jen Talty and I started after a few months of HoWW blog posts, to get writers talking about writing alone on Twitter, not just pimping their books or blogs or promo platforms.

We work to be relevant and plugged in and visible. But why? To support our writing, yes. But we do that best BY writing. To support our career? Better. But many of the folks doing the social media thing most fervently don’t have creative writing careers yet. They’re following the advice of social medial gurus telling them that building a following and pseudo platform (before there’s anything to sell from said stage) is more important to publishers these days than the product of the hard, daily, grinding writing work they’ve yet to do long enough to publish. To connect? That’s more to the point, I think.

We write alone, as I said yesterday, most of the time. And social media is a great way to connect with other writers, those we admire in the business, and, yes, those we trust to advise us about our journey. But it’s the massive scope of that very content we’re daily struglling to take in that, in my opinion, begins to overtake the writing itself, unless we’re very careful.

Because here’s the thing for me–anyone, ANYone, telling you to spend any significant portion of your day doing anything BUT writing, is doing damage to your chances of publishing. (more…)

Publishing Isn’t For Sissies: Social Media’s Taking over…

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

RWA National’s and the Thrillerfest workshop grids were amazing this year. So much variety, you couldn’t keep up. Amazing depth. Still, on nearly every panel one topic reigned. Social Media. Almost like it’s more important now than the writing and the books. How do publishers use it? How do they want their authors to use it? How do wannabe authors and publishers need to use it? You don’t use it??? What’s WRONG WITH YOU!


And no, I’m not exaggerating. I’m not just talking about the panels focusing specifically on the use of social medial for book promotion, though Shelia Clover English’s panel at Thrillerfestwas absolutely the best of the bunch. Check her out. Download her talk, whenever they make the audio available on the TFest website. Get on board the train to your future…

When I say social media’s taking over, what I mean is that everyone was talking about it, in practically every workshop, panel, and meeting I attended the last two weeks. As I said yesterday, no one knows for sure what’s happening to the publishing industry, but EVERYone seems to think that the old way of promoting and reaching readers is evolving into something else, no one’s really sure what, involving social media.

Several times a day, (more…)

Publishing Isn’t For Sissies: The things you see… The things you saw… The things you miss…

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Publishing Isn’t for Sissies is one of my most popular blog threads. Two weeks away in NY, both at RWA Nationals and Thrillerfest, and everywhere I turned writers asked me to post more. So, first day back, what am I prattling about–What is New York publishing looking like/for?

Snoopy strip

Interestingly enough, I’m not sure anyone at either conference had a definitive answer.

There was lots of talk about new digital offerings, for example from Harlequin (Carina Press) and Harper Collins/Avon (Impulse). The major houses are very aware that the digital future of publishing is now, even though they’re still not ready to pay authors an advance for dipping their toes into “traditional” experiments into the medium.

At the Avon spotlight,the editors were talking about quick turn around and prolific authors and getting excited about how quickly they could get your content up on their websites. Lots of assurances that you’d get great editing and covers and face time on a publisher site they say has heavy traffic, plus the books will be out there on Amazon, etc. But with so many titles going out the door, and the covers they were raving about honestly looked like something my teen could photoshop on his laptop, and talk of fast writing and editorial and revisions that sounds pretty close to flash fiction at times, you have to wonder how anything but their lead authors’ books will get enough attention to sell well.

They do have a great plan for using the digital publishing of novellas and such to promo mass market paperback releases of the star authors. Those ebooks should get promoted out the ying yang, and it should help both the digital and print sales of the corresponding mass market releases. But the rest of the books, it seems, will pretty much be on their own.

Let me do the math for you, if this is the case. No advance. No heavy online promotion. No digital sales to speak of. No money. (more…)