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>Reentering the Work

> Life has a way of interfering with the execution of art (I am using the word in the broad sense of all artistic activity). Blame the cut-throat nature of the artistic world, or perhaps the fact that the gap between poor artists and rich artists is much larger than for any other section of society. Either way, this nasty thing called needing to earn a living and the other mundane things like taking out the trash and cooking dinner (and driving around the kids!) take out a big slice of time.

These nasty things really put a dent in the working flow. Like most writers I find it pretty hard to tune back into the work. Ideally I would like to write for a minimum two hour block each day. That’s about how long it takes me to tune into the story, the characters, chip through the usual layer of ice and start to get the words flowing again.

Life is a little like torture at the moment. I just get started, just break through into the story and I have to stop and help with the groceries, or run for the bus, feed the llamas etc. The worse thing is when you are forced away from the work for a number days.

Getting back in can be a real challenge.

My way back in is always through the story itself – in the flow of the plot – and through the characters. If the break has really been a long one, I might have to first review the plot and do some thinking about the characters then start re-drafting from a few chapters back, or even from the beginning to get back into the feel of the piece and understand at a gut level where I had been coming from.

How do you navigate your way back into your story when life gets in the way? Or can you pick up the threads easily?

>Open Thread

>Don’t ask. Just don’t.

The usual rules apply: no politics, no hitting, and have fun.

>Hey, Writer, if That’s Your Real Name

>So, you’re out there and you’re frowning at my blog – yeah, I can see you. You didn’t know that monitor was two way and powered with narrativium? – and going “okay, Sarah, what’s with all the different series and different names? I know that notorious criminals and people with multiple personality disorder use different names, but why you? And what’s with all the series? And, by the way, when are you going to update your website, so I don’t have to stumble around in the dark looking for your series in order?”

I’ll start with the last question first: renovations are ongoing. Only I’ve come to the conclusion I need a complete redesign. So, I’m building another site, from scratch, in the “invisible pages” of the site, and keeping it there until I can bring it all on line with a bang. Also, hopefully with a forum, which hopefully will have chat but no bangs, unless it’s New Years or something.

Now the series. Well… I didn’t set out to write multiple series. Heck, I didn’t set out to write multiple genres. I started out to write science fiction. To be exact, I was going to write space opera and maybe some historical, high brow, incredibly involuted fantasy. People were going to swoon at my brilliance for the fantasy and push cash at me for the space opera. I was going to have someone to do the cleaning and laundry for me and I could spend all my free time with the kids and Dan. And we’d have time and money to travel. Oh, yeah, and for purely morale purposes, I would have a cute male secretary who made a killer cup of tea. (Yes, I DO love my husband dearly, but I’m allowed eye candy.)

As you can probably guess… things went weird. First of all, I still don’t have household help. Or a cute male secretary. It also took me decades to publish. And on the way there I wrote eight books, two of which are now published in rewritten versions, and one of which I now know how to rewrite (it’s actually a trilogy). It is patiently waiting its turn. The other five are just in a world that’s not workable.

Anyway, in those thirteen or so years I was writing mostly for myself, I had to keep myself amused. So the Space Opera morphed into odd fantasy. And the odd fantasy begat other odd fantasy. And then I wrote historical and mystery and… I actually have a YA space opera with telepathic cats outlined somewhere.

And then I sold. And then when that series didn’t do so well, I sold the Musketeers. And then there was the historical. And, oh, yeah, the shifter’s fantasy. And then a proposal for an historic fantasy series sent out years before, sold. And then another mystery. And then I got attacked by a vampire series on the way from my art class.

If this sounds chaotic to you, it is. Yeah part of it is “market driven” to the extent that I tend to finish series that sell. But the other part is internal. You see, I trained myself to have ideas, and now I can’t stop having them. (Yes, it totally is a matter of training. I’ll write about it tomorrow, probably.) I’m now at the point that I believe – as Leonardo de Quirm, Terry Pratchett’s character – that the ideas rain from the sky all the time. I have tried to fashion a tinfoil hat to keep them out, but my agent says it will overheat my brain, and besides she likes it that I have ideas. (She’s a cruel woman. Love her to pieces, but.. Really. She’s leaving me at the mercy of the ideas!)

As for why the multiple names – no, I’m not embarrassed by what I write. I do however have two types of names: open and closed. Two closed, so far, (one published, one yet unpublished.) for good and sufficient reason either on my part or that of the publishers. Mostly marketing reasons. No, I’m not embarrassed. Nor am I doing anything immoral or illegal. It’s just that sometimes it’s easier to market things that way.

In the open, I have four currently, and frankly if I had started out today, they would have a slightly different distribution. Why? Because I think on the net, it is very important to brand your name. More important than it used to be when it was all paperbooks. Why do I think that? Well… because the covers might be harder to see or read for genre signs. I have plenty of readers of mystery who would be upset if they bought an SF by accident, and readers of SF who will not read historical and… So, I’m trying to establish branding. BUT because of the timing of my realization, some series are already started/done under a name that would not be different. That’s life.

As for a list, here they are in order:
Sarah A. Hoyt
The Magical Shakespeare Biography (somewhat literary fantasy, with tons of Shakespeare quotes and allusions, it reimagines the early life of the bard and his experiences with the elves of nearby Arden woods.)

Ill Met By Moonlight; All Night Awake; Any Man So Daring

Status: out of print. No authorized e-versions. I’m working on getting those out.

Sarah A. Hoyt
Shifters Series (Urban Fantasy Sarah Style. ALMOST science fiction. Shape shifters, but no vampires, no general magic even if some stuff is a bit mystical, not too much dark stuff. Mysteries and diners, though. Set in Goldport, Colorado.)

Draw One In The Dark; Gentleman Takes A Chance; Upcoming: Noah’s Boy

Status: last I heard hard to obtain in paper, but both are available in ebooks from Reasonably priced at that. I have heard rumors publisher plans to bring them out again at time of third which is started but not yet finished.

Sarah D’Almeida
Musketeer’s Mysteries and should the need arise, other historical mysteries. (Murder Mysteries solved by the three musketeers plus one.)

Death of A Musketeer; Musketeer’s Seamstress; Musketeer’s Apprentice; A Death In Gascony; Dying By The Sword and (possibly) upcoming Musketeer’s Confessor.
Status: Death of a Musketeer is being re-released by Naked Reader Press. For now it is available as an ebook. It will also soon be available POD. As for the others, their status is unclear. By the terms of my contract the rights should have reverted, however he house is being difficult. Proceed with care. If DOAM does well enough, I will write Musketeer’s Confessor for publication early next year. The trailer for Death Of A Musketeer is here.

Sarah A. Hoyt
Magical British Empire. (At the time of Charlemagne, in a magical parallel world, someone stole the eye of the goddess, which must be recovered. Victorian England. Dragons. Magic. Flying carpets. Trains and factories run on magic. Steam power and gas lights, too. Oh, yeah, romance. Africa. India. China.)
Heart of Light; Soul of Fire; Heart and Soul

Status: in print. No more planned – at least for now.

Elise Hyatt
Daring Finds Mysteries (A young woman struggles to survive and feed herself and her toddler, by refinishing furniture that, somehow, often has clues to crimes new and old. Sassy. Funny. Odd. Set in Goldport, Colorado.)

Dipped, Stripped and Dead; A French Polished Murder and upcoming A Fatal Stain.

Status: in print.

Sarah A. Hoyt
Space Opera (set along a future history populated with such things as artificial islands, wars between bioengineered and natural humans, biological solar collectors, feisty women and men who are not exactly slouches.)
Darkship Thieves and upcoming Darkship Renegades and POSSIBLY (not bought yet) A Few Good Men (in the same world/interacting, but not with characters from Darkships)

Status: in print and furiously underway. (Given my health giving me a break soon, should be done in a matter of days. At least DSR)

Sarah Marques
Blood Worlds (this is the first trilogy, but actually there is a contemporary series set in the same world. A world almost entirely taken over by vampires, in which humans must fight, gallantly, against overwhelming odds. And which vampire domination is often legalistic and undermines human societies from within. The first trilogy, just sold to Prime books, revisits the world of the three musketeers, where Richelieu is a vampire and with his guards rules the night, while the king rules the day. A noir feel and the sort of black humor where one laughs in the teeth of hell.)

Sword And Blood; Blood Royale; Rising Blood

Status: All are upcoming. The first one is delivered.

Any questions about the books or their content, or why some have a certain name? I’ll be glad to oblige with answers, if I can.

*crossposted at According To Hoyt*

>Brave New World, for real


The other day I saw something amazing. My husband is a fan of the Singularity Blog and he’s always saying, come here look at this.

First he showed me this one – a robotic’s company called Cyberdyne. Yes, you heard right, someone has a sense of humour. They’re making exoskeletons. See here. The lower leg version has been available for a year now.

And this one was elegant and amazing, a robot bird. It is controlled by a computer which communicates with the bird and controls it in real time, responding to air currents.

I like to read New Scientist on the train to work. It gives me ideas for stories and keeps me on my toes.

How do you get mental stimulation to keep your brain ticking over?

>Crawlspace and other stories – the kindle experience

>It finally happened: CRAWLSPACE AND OTHER STORIES is up on US kindle – now because this was the way Eric wanted it, it is not being done throught NAKED READER as the rest of my e-sales have been. I’m a better writer than I am e-publisher. (I have no real desire to fiddle my way through formats and covers and fine print.) But I am enjoying the sheer accessibility of my sales records. This is something so simple that publishers really need to drive towards. I have never met an author (and I doubt one exists) who really wants to be a mushroom – kept in the dark, fed on BS and harvested when convenient. If you’re running an open, honest shop, there is no gain in keeping this information from the author either. I’d argue that the information (along with publicity spend and advance) should be public domain, but I am aware that I’d have more chance of falling pregnant. But really – to set up the feed that tells authors where they are day-to-day is not – for your medium/large publishing house – a particularly expensive or difficult process. There must be at least a million programmers available to do the job. The point is, it’s a serious spur – both to authors and readers (and possibly publishers). It would be hugely popular with the authors, and cost little to implement. It’s also quite a wake-up call as to how little draw I really have – Crawlspace has sold 21 copies in 5 days (in fact the process made me 45 dollars this week), whereas the Nielsen data says I sell about 500 paper books a week. But it’s been very interesting in a number of ways. One has been that I’ve sold a few more NR shorts simply because readers discovered – on hearing about CRAWLSPACE and searching for me on Amazon Kindle – that there were more. That is why I intend to insist on teasers for other books/stories being part of any e-book in the future. It’s a feedback loop I’ve seen over and over. The best eg. I can think of is MUCH FALL OF BLOOD – where the paperback release has seen the sales of earlier books shoot up… Provided of course they are available – A MANKIND WITCH is not. So while SHADOW OF THE LION benefitted to the tune of 1004 copies… AMW sold zero (ergo I am asking for my rights back – hopefully before the next release in that series). I am not happy about this, as I’ve lost readers – which is one reason, perhaps, for keeping authors in the dark.

So where is all this leading – well, quite simply into into how valuable – to me anyway, seeing the results of sales effort is. And, more importantly, how vital it is to feed the beast and to keep feeding it, and use the books you keep putting into the system to get new readers.

So: what data would you like from your publisher, and why?

>Sunday morning round-up

>It’s been a busy week, both in the publishing world and in the little bit of the world that is mine. For me, I’ve been trying to finish up reviewing edits on several titles coming out for NRP and I’ve been attacked by a new novel — one that demands it be written NOW. For the industry, well, let’s just say there have been a lot of developments and I’ll try to touch on a few of them.

Let’s start with the news from the courts. A federal judge in New York has thrown out the Google books settlement. From Publisher’s Weekly: But citing copyright, antitrust and other concerns, Judge Denny Chin said that the settlement went too far. He said it would have granted Google a “de facto monopoly” and the right to profit from books without the permission of copyright owners. There is still the possibility Google and the other parties to the settlement can reach and agreement that will pass legal muster, but PW is right. This is a blow not only to Google but to the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers. The parties had taken two years to negotiate the current settlement and now must go back to the drawing board.

Then there’s this head-scratcher from Hawaii. Simply put, this bill would open publishers and authors up to civil liability if a reader of a travel book or article is hurt or killed trying to get to a location described in the piece. In other words, even if that person trespasses on private property and decides to hang off the edge of a skyscraper to see that nest of birds he just read about in the travel section of the newspaper and falls, the paper and the author could be held liable. It doesn’t matter that the reader didn’t exercise the common sense of a gnat. At the risk of stepping over the no politics line, I have to say that this smacks of legislators going a bit too far. There has to come a point where you have to trust folks to use a little common sense. If they don’t, then they need to suffer the consequences. From a realistic stand point, conditions change and what may have been true at the time an article or book is written may have changed by the time it is published. So the warning might be so totally wrong as to be misleading as well. So, trust folks to use their brains or let them suffer the consequences. This is like requiring publishers to have disclaimers that books written 200 years ago use words that are no longer considered proper, etc.

Then there was the news that Barry Eisler gave up a $500,000 publishing deal to self-publish his books. Among the reasons given were that he was unhappy with the current royalty scheme with traditional publishers — especially where e-books are concerned — and the desire to get his books out quicker than they would be going the traditional route.

Coming on the heels of the news about Eisler is this piece that indie publishing phenom Amanda Hocking has just signed a deal with St. Martin’s. As an indie, Hocking has sold more than a million books and made more than $2 million. She has done what every indie — heck, what every writer — wants. She’s made enough money to be able to write full-time. So why did she, as some will say, turn traitor and join the ranks of traditional publishing? According to Hocking, it’s so she can finally see her books on bookstore shelves. Something else every writer wants. There are other reasons, some very good ones, including making her books available when and where her readers want them, ensuring better editing (I hate to tell her, that may be a pipe dream. I’ve seen some horrible editing coming out of the major publishers.) But this doesn’t mean she’s giving up self-publishing either. As she notes in her post, she still has a number of books she can put out on her own.

So, who’s right — Eisler or Hocking? To me, they both are. Authors have to decide what is best for them and for their readers. The industry is changing. We have to change with it, whether we’re authors or editors or publishers. If we don’t, we’ll be left behind.

Finally, if you want to take part in a poll, Genreville has a poll about SF/Fantasy purchasing habits. You can find it here.

What do you think? Should there be a new Google books settlement? Should there be warnings and disclaimers in travel books and articles? Self-publish or traditional?

(Cross-posted to The Naked Truth)

>Authors and the dreaded ‘Promo’

Once upon a time, authors would sit in a little room somewhere and write. Not so, any more. Here is the poster I had to produce for SUPANOVA, (Brisbane next weekend and Melbourne the weekend after). They wanted a picture of me. I couldn’t bear the thought of a giant poster with my face on it, so I added the book covers. It still means I have to go to the hairdressers and get them to straighten my hair because no one can take me seriously when I look like a French poodle!

On a more serious note it means I have two weekends when I can’t write and, while I enjoy catching up with other writers and meeting readers, I’m happiest pottering around at home, writing when ever I can slip away to my study.

You know self promotion is serious when a publisher puts up a list of tips for their writers . (See it here, Simon and Schuster). Here are Patricia Simpson’s self promotion tips for romance writers. Have to admire those romance writers, they are so organised. And here Victoria Strauss from Writers Beware talks about self promotion, and invites Alyx Dellamonica to talk about it. Then we have The Author as a Brand from Writers Website Planner and Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers gets in on it.

All of which is pretty overwhelming. I’ve heard people say, don’t try and do everything. Just pick a couple of things that you are good at and do those. Here’s the list of what I currently do:

I’m on Amazon Author Central. Lucky for me it updates from my blog, so I don’t have to drop by there every couple of days.

I’m on Twitter, which I find surprisingly interesting. I didn’t think I would because – What can you say in 140 characters or less? – but I seem to have ‘Followed’ a lost of quirky writers and people tweeting about political injustice. There’s always a link through to a post that makes me think. I don’t know if I am actually using Twitter to promote myself, more I respond to what other people have said or share a great movie or book. I have linked my blog into twitter, so it updates when I post.

I have the King Rolen’s Kin blog. It’s been nice having a blog because people read my books, google KRK, then drop by and tell me how much they enjoyed them, which is reassuring because I’m as insecure as the next writer. I tried to post to the KRK blog about twice a week, but sometimes after I’ve been marking first year UNI student essays for 5 days straight, I’m all out of interesting conversation. I sit at the keyboard and think, what do I have to say that would possibly interest people? That’s why I’m relieved to be doing the interviewing of female fantasy writers. (Not that I don’t like male fantasy writers. See why I’m featuring female fantasy authors).

I’m here at the Mad Genius Club, where I get an insight into what’s happening with writers in the US, since my perspective is Australian and about 2 years behind the US as far as e-readers etc go. It’s been very informative for me.

I’m also at the ROR Blog, where we talk about practical things to do with writing craft and what’s happening in our end of the world, over here in Australia.

I am on FaceBook. I drop by once a day and do an update. Someone created a King Rolen’s Kin page and I still haven’t figured out how to use it. I found that if I did an update with the words King Rolen’s Kin in it, the update would appear on the KRK page, but then it would disappear after a couple of days. (Still a bit of a FaceBook newbie, I’m afraid).

And when my books came out I contacted lots of review blog sites, offering copies, a guest post and a give-away. it cost me a small fortune posting books off all over the world for prizes, but I figure it is cheaper than flying to the US, the UK and Europe (I wish!).

In-person-stuff I tend to do at conventions, festivals and workshops at libraries etc. I can volunteer for panels at SF conventions and I have writing groups contacting me for workshops, but I can’t get invited to festivals because my publisher is based in the UK and the way it works here in Australia, the publisher has to contact the festival. It’s considered bad form if the writer does. Most of the festivals are literary and they aren’t all that interested in genre writers.

All of this takes time when I could be writing. But I tend to do the on-line stuff after a long day at work, when my creative brain is tired, or after a long day of writing when my brain is creatively drained, so I don’t think it is stealing that much time from my writing.

The publishing world has changed so much since my first children’s book came out in 1996, all the things that you did or didn’t do are different. The process of reaching out to readers is much easier. I really like that part.

Authors, people who like to be left alone for hours on end while creating invented worlds, and self promotion. It’s a contradiction but we struggle on. What do you do to promote your writing?