Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tis The Season

NaNoWriMo season, that is. The November madness will soon be upon us. What is it, you ask? Sheesh, have you been hiding in a coal mine? Okay, if you're not a novelist (I sort of am), you probably don't give a big whoop anyway.

NaNoWriMo happens during November--all month long, so forget about going to the relatives for Thanksgiving. If you're participating, you just won't have time for that. Oh, yeah, that's only if you're American. The rest of the world has November open for anything they want to do.
The concept is to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. For some, this is entire novel. For real novelists, that's about half a novel. Since I primarily write for the kiddies, 50K or less is fine.

On the Nano website, you can delve into the forums which offer help, plot ideas, challenges, tricks for getting word count, suggestions for the proper herbs to keep you going, and general encouragement. You can join a specific group (there's a group for just about any flavor you are) and/or a regional group (your city, state, province, canton, or whatever). Within regions, Nanoers can also meet in the flesh for write-ins, gripe sessions, pizza, and shoulder-crying.

Interesting in hitting your inner editor over the head with a sledgehammer and stuffing them into a closet for a month? Go check it out. Maybe it's just the type of madness that will help you get that novel out of your head and onto your computer hard drive.

National Novel Writing Month

Oh, yeah, they also support literacy campaigns for kids with your donations.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I received the Freya's Bower Newletter and I thought this article by Marci Baun was well worth sharing. I asked permission and she said okay, so here it is. Please visit Freya's Bower and WildChild Publishing. - Marva

This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, along with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many others. However, domestic violence, while a virulent disease, receives very little attention and is pushed under the rug.

Some years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles, I dated a man briefly whom I'd met salsa dancing. He was intelligent, attractive, and an amazing dancer. He was also abusive. On our first date, we met at a dance club where he and some of his salsa friends liked to go. We were having a great time until he said something that made me pause: "I would never allow one of my friends to dance with you. They might steal you away." A little voice in my head whispered: "Wait a minute, weren't these people his friends? And when did I become his property?" But I ignored that voice and gave him the benefit of the doubt.

By the second date, he had insulted me several times, but in an insidious manner that had me questioning myself. (The insults seemed to have a kernel of truth, but only enough to make the insults seem plausible and start the questions.) When I realized what was happening and that my self-esteem was spiraling, that little voice grew louder, more insistent. I listened--because whenever I don't, I usually end up in trouble. That's when the answer hit me: this man was an abuser. I felt in my bones. If someone is attracted to you and supposedly likes you, they don't insult you and they certainly don't treat you like property. If someone likes you, they praise you, they respect you, and they support your dreams.

In any case, we were supposed to see each other again the next day, but I decided that he was not good for me. The following phone call confirmed my suspicions. He belittled me in an attempt to get me to see him again. I refused. I am so thankful that I did and consider myself lucky to have escaped with very little damage.

I encourage every person who has ever heard that little voice warning them to get out... do it. That voice will never lie to you. It is protecting you. It is never wrong and it is never too late to listen. And you deserve better. You deserve to be emotionally supported, to be loved, to be praised, to be respected.

Most of us don't realize what constitutes abuse. Here is a list of behaviors that can be found in the foreword of Dreams & Desires: A Collection of Romance and Erotic Tales, published by Freya's Bower .

1. Jeckel and Hyde behavior: Your partner is wonderful and caring for a while and then will do an about face and be angry about things that they thought were fine at an earlier time. They switch back and forth between behaviors for no apparent reason.

2. Life Would be so Good If: You frequently think that your relationship would be perfect if not for his or her emotional storms. The storms seem to be coming more and more frequently. Between times, life is wonderful, but when a storm is coming, you can often tell by that Walking on Eggs Feeling.

3. That Walking On Eggs Feeling: You feel at times that any action on your part will cause your partner to erupt into anger. You try to do everything you can think of to avoid it, but the longer the feeling goes on, the more likely the blowup will happen, no matter what you do.

4. I Can't Stand You, But You Better Not Leave: Your partner keeps telling you that you aren't worth having a relationship with, but will not consider breaking off the relationship and acts more outrageously when he or she finds out you are attempting to leave the relationship.

5. So Much, So Fast: Your partner just met you and doesn't know much about you, but he or she has to have you, so you must commit now.

6. It's You That's the Problem: Your partner never seems to consider his or her own part in your domestic disputes. You get blamed for all problems because of the most ridiculous things.

7. This Happened to Me and It's All Your Fault: You are blamed for your partner's problems even when it was his or her responsibility to not make mistakes. This could be things like him or her not getting to work on time and getting in trouble, not getting a job, not paying the bills in a timely manner, etc.

8. It's Their Fault: Your partner is never the cause of his own problems; if it's not your fault, it was somebody else's.

9. Overreacting: Your partner overreacts to little irritations. Small offenses like leaving the cap off the toothpaste cause him or her to have huge anger scenes or act out in an outrageous manner.

10. I Will Get You for That: Your partner doesn't try to negotiate a better relationship, but retaliates by doing something to you that he or she knows will hurt you emotionally.

11. All the Fights are about What I Do Wrong: You never seem to be able to talk about his or her wrong actions; the discussion always seems to be about what you did wrong, and there always seems to be something new that you did wrong.

12. You are Worthless: Your partner keeps telling you that all your problems are because you can't manage to do anything right.

13. Unrealistic Expectations: Your partner is dependent on you for all his/her needs and expects you to be the perfect mate, lover and friend. You are expected to meet all of his/her needs.

14. Blames Others for His/Her Feelings: You are told, "You make me mad," "you're hurting me by not doing what I ask," or "I can't help being angry".

15. Intense Jealousy: Your partner tells you that expressing jealousy is a sign of love. Jealousy is a sign of insecurity, not love. You are questioned about who you talk to and you may frequently receive calls or unexpected visits during the day.

16. Isolation: He or she has attempted to cut off your family, friends, and independent financial resources. Your friends and family are put down, and you are put down for socializing with them. You or they are accused of ridiculous motives.

In honor of this month, we have discounted all formats of Dreams & Desires -- . Please help us help others.

Marci Baun
Freya's Bower

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This makes me happy

Sometimes, I get all frustrated and feeling down. Here's where I go to make myself feel better. Tell me you don't smile.

Singing Horses

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Easy to Carry Book

Not having much else to do with my spare time, I created a mass market paperback of Tales of a Texas Boy. The dimensions are 4.25x7" (approximate). This is a handy size to slip into a purse or pocket. Hey, maybe that's why they call them pocketbooks!

Anyway, this version is only for sale from me or through Lulu.

To keep the price down, I omitted the illustrative photos from this version. That's a shame, because the pictures do add to the charm. This book is 134 pages long.

Price: $8.00 plus shipping. If you want to buy a copy direct from me, send me an email and we'll work out a Paypal or other option.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

M.E. Ellis - Writer, Editor, Reviewer, Mom

This was posted way last March. More recently, M.E. edited the anthology Weirdly in which I was lucky enough to have some stories.

M.E Ellis is a writer and editor. She came from relative obscurity only a couple of years ago into being a well-known novelist all while raising five kids. M.E started in the psychological horror world with the ebook "Pervalism," which is now also in print format. M.E's blog profile says:

Writer, horror editor of WildChild magazine, associate editor of DredTales ezine, novel reviewer, editor and proofreader for WildChild publishing & Freya's Bower, all-round strange woman, mother, wife, cleaner, cook, soft-arsed eccentric.

Visit her website M.E. Ellis
And for good laugh, check out her blog Nutter's Gang

Q: First off, why don't you give us a rundown on what you're up to these days. We already know you've published:

Pervalism: Psychological horror.
Quits: Psychological horror.
Garou Moon: Horror erotica.
Charade: Humour erotica.
All About Brenda: Humour erotica.

You're becoming a regular library all on your own. Which baby is your favorite? Come on, I won't tell the others. And what's on the burner for your next book?

M.E: My favourite is Quits. I'm currently conversing with my mind to persuade it to create Quits 2, title Aquitted. Seems people want to hear more from Wayne, the mental-case in Quits. I could tell you which book of mine I absolutely hate (excuse me one moment, two of my boys are fighting and I need to speak with them in a manner that lets them know that an early bed time is upcoming...) Yes, I could tell you which one I hate but that isn't very good business practice.
* Read a review of Quits at Cocktail Reviews

I have one novel, Five Pyramids, which I've half-heartedly wanged at a few agents. Though half have rejected it, most did comment that my writing was good, just too dark for them to sell. It's either dark or light with me, so, when one agent said she'd be happy to read something of mine that wasn't so horrific, I had to wonder what I could send her. I'm still thinking about that.

My current WIP is another dark one, though I've gone with the softer horror approach. More of a 'reader knows what's happened but I haven't spelled it out'. The MC refers to her murders as 'accidents' and they can, in fact, be claimed as such. She also listens to everything her doll tells her, which makes for some creepy scenes (so my wonderful ‘read as I write’ people have said).

Q: You've turned recently to writing erotica. Okay, humour erotica. What's that all about and how do you hide it from your kids?

M.E: Garou Moon is my only rude-rude erotica. I was uncomfortable writing that book. I'd alternate from having bright red cheeks from being embarrassed at what I'd written, to laughing out loud every time I wrote the word cock or buttocks. Like a small child swearing for the first time, Garou Moon was certainly an eye opener for me. I then settled for the sweeter chick-lit (say that word when drunk and it sounds like a part of the woman's anatomy that made me laugh while writing it) erotica as it was easy on my cheeks to write. The demand for erotica is so high, I thought I'd get my name out there that way too.

As for hiding it from my kids, I don't. I mean, I don't sit here and yell, 'Hey kids! Mom's just wrote cock, come see!' but I have explained that some people like to read about sex so I've written something for them to read. The boys found it hilarious. I remember telling them about it while walking round town, as they asked what I was writing at the time while I poked and prodded some fruit in the market. My middle son, quite loudly I might add, said, 'Mum writes about dicks!' We got some funny looks but I steered them in the direction of a shop and bought them a gobstopper candy.

Q: I'm a longtime reader of your blog and I'll have to say you're one of the funniest people I know. How did you get to be so funny, yet scare the pants off everyone at the same time? What attracted you to horror, then to erotica?

M.E: How did I get to be so funny? I wasn't really aware that I WAS funny until people mentioned it in emails and on blog comments. I literally just write my blog posts as I would speak. In real life, I did go through a phase of being a silly person so that people laughed and thought everything must be fine with me. Hilarity can cover up a multitude of hurts.

I used to write cheesy romances and, looking back, those books really are quite crap. I sat down one day after writing a few funnies on the crit group I once belonged to and bashed out a dark piece. People kind of liked it, so I decided to try my hand at a horror novel and Pervalism was born. Dark writing helps me purge inner angst from my past, from the horrible stuff going on in the world. And it gives me a chance to murder all those people who have hurt me in some way. There are many walking cadavers in my life now--unaware I've sliced and diced them in my books.

With erotica, it's just one of those things--I wanted to try my hand at it (at the writing not at...oh balls...) and see if it was my kind of thing. Full blown sex isn't but the sweeter versions are, so that's cool.

Q: Besides writing, you're also an editor for WildChild and Freya's Bower. What advice can you give other writers as an editor? What are your pet peeves and what do you really like to see when you're editing?

M.E: Advice, murder your darlings. Learn as much as you can. Don't just settle for shoddy editing so that you can say, 'I'm a published writer!' Soak up as much knowledge as you can, study published books, break up the plot, get into the author's mind to see how they made the book work. I do that all the time, takes the pleasure out of reading though.

Pet Peeves? I don't really have a pet peeve anymore. When I first started editing, certain things bugged me quite a bit, but those things are so common in nearly every MS that I've edited that they fail to annoy me anymore. They are just every writer's quirk, I guess.

What do I like to see in an MS? If just one line lights up the screen and brings tears to my eyes from the beauty of it, then the whole book is worth it. I've read some superb lines in my time, they stand out from the rest and bring great imagery. I also like character-heavy books. Probably why I write those kind myself.

Q: You've also got a hat that says "Reviewer" on a slip of paper tucked into the brim. How do you keep your Editor persona in check when you're reviewing?

M.E: I used to find it really hard to review without screeching or picking. Now I have to zone my mind out, read the book with the characters and plot in mind, not the editing (or lack of). If I didn't do that, I would have to close the document and never open it again. I'd miss out on some great books if I did that. Just a shame the was-ings etc are all there to bug the crap out of me. Might just be me. Other people don't seem to mind them!

Thanks, M.E. See you on Nutter's Gang!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Why I Self-Published

It's tiresome to run across article after article castigating the self-published author. I feel bad for the authors, especially those with excellent books which couldn't get the time of day from agents or publishers.

Yes, there's a ton of bad vanity press out there, but you're not likely to run across any of it without looking hard. The fact is, self-pubbed books don't have the marketing support given by major conventional publishers. Heck, small presses don't have those resources either. So, unless you can get your book into the diminishing number of big-time conventional publishers, you can either stuff your manuscript in a drawer or send it off to any of dozens of self-publishing companies.

Here are some reasons why people have self-published:

1. The topic of the book is very limited in scope either because it's something like a family history or set in one tiny corner of the world that nobody is interested in hearing about.

2. The writing isn't up to par. Without lots of first readers, critiquers, and whoever else a writer can shanghai into helping out, then it's almost impossible to have a decently written book. No more lonely (drunken) writer hanging out in a dark garrett, then getting discovered by BIG PUB company. It takes a village to create a book. Writers definitely need to work at their craft and improve their writing through coursework, joining critique groups, and buying some good how-to-write books.

3. Time is of the essence. This is where I fall in the self-published reasons list. The one and only book I'll self-pub is "Tales of a Texas Boy." I've mentioned before this is based on stories my father told me about his life growing up on a West Texas farm in the Depression Era. I think of this as his book and I was merely the (rather talented) scribe to convey his stories. Maybe I should have put his name on the cover with an "as told to..." line following his byline. Then, I wouldn't have the stigmata of self-pubbed on my name. But, I didn't think of that at the time and now the damage is done. Still, I'm glad to have his book out in the world, even for the limited audience who'll find, read, and enjoy it.

I know a lovely lady who self-pubbed four books. I told her she should have tried to get an agent or conventional publisher because her writing and stories are certainly good enough. Her answer was "I'm too old to wait for that process." She's a senior citizen. She wanted her books published. End of story.

4. Good writer, good book, good topic, but the writer was naive and believed that the likes of PublishAmerica was a "real" publisher. These folks were conned because they didn't do their homework and gulped down the snakeoil the Vanity Press was selling.

Anyway, I just wanted to say a few words on the subject. Don't be put off by a book you think might be interesting because you recognize the publisher as a vanity press. Fortunately, Amazon has the nice Search Inside feature. Use it. Read some of the book. Does it pass muster? Does it interest you? Then buy the damned thing and make the day of some poor writer who fell into one of the above categories.