Archive | August 2010

Tweetering on the edge of success

Social networking media is hyped as one of the best ways to promote yourself and your work today. But think before you tweet, blog and post. This is a VERY public arena you’re playing in.
I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m saying think about your content before you post. On Twitter I follow some very influential people in the publishing industry international and I have already seen a couple of instances where people have been offended – rightly or wrongly.  People get unfollowed or blocked for spoilers, causing offence or stalker behaviour.

As outlined in my interview with Angela Slatter, http://downunderwonderings.blogspot.com/2010/08/angela-slatter-australian-short-story.html, the publishing world is quite small and the last thing you want to do is put your wrong foot forward.

Controversy can help people get traffic their way, but make sure it’s not controversy that will kill your publishing dream.

Part of the problem is it is so easy to misunderstand intent online. There is no body language, tone or emotions that help us decode messages.

In the same way, be careful about how you interact with industry professionals on these sites. The last thing you want is to be branded a stalker or gain a poor reputation amongst agents and publishers.

Here are some helpful sites to guide you through social networking for writers:

http://helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/2010/08/twitter-for-authors-part-3-tweeting-in.html

http://www.articlesbase.com/networking-articles/4-rules-to-successful-social-networking-2086318.html

http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/savvy_book_marketer/successful-social-marketing.html

http://chillibreeze.in/career-tips-for-writers/on-the-extraordinary-bandwagon-of-social-networking-authors/

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2009/08/mind-meld-how-does-blogging-and-social-networking-affect-the-publishing-industry/

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/426195/social_network_for_writers.html

Angela Slatter: Australian Short Story Queen

Angela Slatter (photo by David Pollitt)
Angela Slatter is the Australian Queen of short stories with more than 70 published titles to her name.  Her hard work and university studies have led to an initial collection ‘Black-Winged Angel’ and two 2010 releases ‘The Girl With No Hands & Other Tales’ and ‘Sourdough and Other Stories’

Tell us a bit about your current University Studies.

I’m doing a PhD at QUT in creative writing. It’s a practice-led PhD, so the idea is that your creative work is your contribution to new knowledge – mine is the Sourdough Collection of interlinked fairytales, or ‘mosaic novel’. I’m now working on the exegesis, which explores how you use the form of the mosaic novel to ‘unpick’ the remembrancer in traditional fairytales; how you write a coherent story if you take away the old woman or man who in traditional tales inevitably holds a lost child’s history for them until they are ‘of age’. It’s also an exploration of memory and what happens when we are cut adrift from the collective memory of a family.

Tell us about what influenced you to pursue a career as a writer?

I’ve always been a voracious reader and I guess eventually it just morphed into a desire to tell the stories as well as read them. Writing is as much telling myself a story in the first place – keeping myself interested in where the story is going to go as much as the reader.

I scribbled for a lot of years without finishing anything, all the teenage years of writing angsty poetry and ghostly romances. Finally in 2003 I decided it was time to get serious and I sold my first story in 2005 and it was published in 2006.

Share with us your journey to getting your first short story published?

The first stories I had published came out of my MA creative work. I was lucky in that my supervisor encouraged me to send my work out – actively encouraging me to seek publication of my fiction, rather than just be an academic. My first two sales were to Shimmer and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

You have two anthology of short stories released in 2010, ‘The Girl With No Hands & Other Tales’ and ‘Sourdough and Other Stories’, and you have the ‘Black-winged Angel’ collection of reloaded fairytales – how does it differ for you to have a whole book dedicated to you when you more often than not share the pages with other authors?

It’s quite daunting. If you’re in an anthology you’ve got a few buffers around you! You’re not the only one in the spotlight. But a single author collection means it’s just you out there on stage, trying to tap dance. The awesome thing about it is that you get to make it your very own thing. It’s what you want it to be – so you get to sink or swim all on your own!

You are currently working on two novels, tell us a bit about those?

The first one is Well of Souls, and it’s about a young witch, Zira, who flees an arranged marriage and a lute-maker called Beatriz. They end up having to try to find the legendary well of souls to locate an artefact that restores the health of the ailing. The second book is Gate of the Dead, which follows them into the well of souls and their adventure trying to save the ruler of the land they’ve ended up seeking refuge in. Publication? Will occur when I finish them and if a publisher takes up them! I do have offers to read from three publishers – I just need to carve out the time to finish the duopoly.

What has been the most surreal moment for you on your writing journey?

Going to Orbtial in 2008 and meeting China Mieville! He’s very nice, but not so surreal. Actually, I think it was at Conflux in 2008, when we launched the Jack Dann edited anthology Dreaming Again. It was quite strange sitting down signing with all the other authors and having people line up for my chicken scrawl! And then a couple of people hunted me up later for book signing – it was rather weird.

The Australian Literary Market is quite hard for local writers to break into, what advice would you give an aspiring author?

We are a bit hampered by the fact we’ve got a small population (although a comparatively large book-buying public), so the kind of market share an author gets in the US is very much larger than here. We’re competing for piece of a smaller market. Also, we only have about 20 working literary agents in Australia – not a lot for the number of writers seeking representation – and they don’t seem to be making any more!

Best advice: if you can, start with short stories, get them published in magazines and journals – don’t just focus on the Australian market, be brave and submit overseas. A publication list can help lift you out of the slush pile of an agent or a publisher, but it shows you’ve managed to finish something and you’ve got a record of achievement. Be polite to everyone you meet – it’s a small community and everyone talks. A bad reputation will travel even faster than a good one. Always research your markets, send the right stuff to the right place. Don’t be a prima donna. Join a writers centre and learn everything you can from them about the writing and publishing industry, because your job doesn’t end when you finish writing the book.

You can purchase Angela’s anthologies below:

Sourdough and Other Stories http://www.tartaruspress.com/sourdough.htm

To find out EVEN MORE about Angela then check out her website:

 

From the horse’s mouth: What the YA’s are saying about Mishca!

Originally I wrote basically to get things out of my head. Sometimes to deal with life, sometimes because an idea just kept nagging at me.  A friend of mine started reading my work and when she read Mishca I was told “You have to try and get this published!”

Then I found Inkpop and posted a portion of Mishca on the site, making Top Picks in June out of more than 25,000 pieces of work.  It was the feedback from there that made me confident that Mishca should get published.  It is these comments are straight from the horses mouth – my target market and potential buyers of Mishca – if I can get an agent and a publisher. The feedback also helps if I am feeling self doubt it is comments like these that will lift me up so please indulge my ego boosting session:

Barbie Jones: Amazing work. I didn’t want to comment until I had finished the book and I must say I can’t wait to see it published. It is definitely a page turner and your writing is amazing, it is like your with Mischa every step of the way. Good Luck! I wish you all the best!

Aikawarazu: First off: I adore the name Mischa, and your cover is absolutely beautiful! You are an amazing writer–if this were a book, I would definitely buy it. Everything about the writing is so real, and I feel as though I could get lost in it. Not once did I want to simply speed-read or glance over a part due to a loss of interest. Already I feel as though I can identify with Mischa in a lot of ways. It’s a very interesting situation she’s in, and she’s a unique character. That little twist at the end of the first chapter definitely caught me by surprise, and further demanded my attention–it really changes the mood of the whole story! I’m excited to see what’s in store for Mischa. This is going straight to the top of my reading list, and has definitely earned my pick! If I could reasonably read all of it tonight, I probably would! This is simply amazing–something to be proud of.

Lauren Ashley: Oh my gosh. You have such a way with words! Incredible. I love the setting, your characters, and everything! I also love how you left me wondering after each section what was going to happen….very unpredictable, and i like that. there are so many authors who leave me always figuring out what happens in the book, but you have a unique talent with that. I picked it! 🙂 … It’s a great book! I can’t wait to read it all over again when it is published! Let me know when it is, I will buy it! 🙂 Very excellent job, again.

ShekinahGlory: Oh wow! I can see why this is number one in the Picks category! I just read chapter one, and already I’m captivated! First off, I LOVE LOVE LOVE how Mishca is adopted and doesn’t know her historyAlso I love how you describe everything with a personal eye and use words and phrases that were very unique, yet such an obvious choice for success! I liked how you said her adoptive father was disappointed that he couldn’t solve her heart problem with his physical prowess. Also, I like to see that Mishca and her mom are so close—my favorite line was: “Despite having very different blood flowing through our veins, we always seemed to be on the same wavelength.” I want to know more about Wirth and Othilia so I can’t wait to read chapter 2!!!! It was very intriguing how you said Wirth should be tired from jumping onto her roof, but he’s not…so you implied he’s not human. So what is he? The suspense is killing me! lol And he is fascinated with Mishca—is it love? or does he want her to join them and become one of them? And what process will she go through? Very good cliffhangers! I’m not going to stop reading but I figured I should comment on chapter one! Very good work and I hope your book gets published!

Sunnytragix: I was just going to read the first chapter, but I ended up reading straight through to fifteen. The writing is so engaging! And this is wondrously…different. I love that it’s set in Australia. That’s refreshing… Mishca’s not the typical white main character (don’t get me wrong, my whole family’s paler than pale…it’s just a nice change; again, refreshing). I love the unpredictability. I’ve read many books, so many that they fail to surprise me these days, but let me tell you, certain…events…were completely unexpected in this one. There were some fantastic twists. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate that in a story. I didn’t even realize there would be a fantasy/paranormal edge to it at first, so when that hit, I was stunned.

Bookbaby100: Fantastic job. You gave real feeling and personality to the scenes, characters and statements made. The loneliness that lurks in Mishca because of her lack of real friendship is conflicted beautifully with the love and care her family has for her. This story had some fantastic- very unexpected- twists in it! It gave the story an unique intrigue and captivation. I love Ryder, -he is definitely SWOON WORTHY(oops did i just admit that?)- and how blatant he is with his feelings for Mishca…(Can’t wait for more!!!!!)

Aceforlife: Ah! No! Why?! It stopped right with Colin. Agh. Must. read. more. Yaa.. I think I might be a smidge addicted to this story.

Sammy_ashwrote: This is really, really good! I like the detail you write with, totally makes it easy for me to picture it all. And I love Mischa’s character, too. And like sunnytragix said, it’s really cool that it’s set in Australia! It really deserves to be #1. =)

Katherine187: I seriously love this! You are an awesome writer and this story is seriously addicting. I love how it is in Australian first off because it is so different from anything else I have read. Mishca is definitely one of those characters that readers can relate to, minus the heart transplant aspect of course. This is great and I am so glad that I read it! Keep up the good work!

dellafiora3395: Like so many other people that have commented on this, I had the intention of reading the first chapter… Yeah, that didn’t happen. I made it through the entire thing. I’m pretty much in love with this! The characters are so interesting, the plot’s quite different from what I’ve read on the rest of InkPop, and there are plot twists and turns to keep it exciting. I surely see why this is the current rank 1. Great job!

Glo: WOW! I absolutely love it! I mean not like I was expecting to NOT love it, but I mean I REALLY LOVE it!!! =D I was originally going to read only 2 chapters then maybe go practice some guitar, but I couldn’t stop!! I can SO see this one on the shelves and I’m so happy that it made it to the top of the top 5, Congrats! And it is SO hilarious!! Mind you I only made it to chapter 6 (10:20pm on a stinking school night. grrrrr.) I laughed until the abs hurt and the tears started to flow at the beginning of chapter 6 when you said “he moved towards me and slashed at my face with… a feather duster?” it was so intense and epic and it turned into a really hilarious joke. I love it! I also love how Trista just invited herself to the party. Too funny! 😄 I think this book can really make it places with the right advertising. Thank you SO much for sharing it! … I, like sunnytragix, also love the fact that it’s placed in Australia. I love Australia. Never been, but I still love it. Their accents are to DIE for! I have to say, I am completely in love with the book. ❤

Alex R: I wish that I had read this when you first asked to me way back when. You’re plot is so real for me and I can actually feel mad or sad about your characters doing something. I must admit that “Ded” threw me when i first read it, but I really like it now. And Australia, how many books are set there? I love it. This is by far my favorite story I’ve read on this website. Amazing job.

In a daze: Wow. I love this already. Brilliant that it’s set in Australia. I haven’t read many books that take place there, though I’m not really sure why. It’s a beautiful country. I also like that Mischa herself is a rather, hmm, special of sorts. She’s not your typical YA MC.(I mean that in a nice way =D) This is so unique, though quite sad from her point of view. Her poor ‘parents’, I can’t imagine having to go through such a thing. Mischa is very strong for being able to relax them from their worries and being able to reassure herself as well. =) The end of the first chapter is very mysterious as well, interesting… I shall now read more. I will pick ASAP, probably after I finish and can comment once again. Awesome job. No wonder it’s Ranked 1.

In a dazw again:WHOA. WAIT. WHAT???!!!!! =OOOOOO OMG. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Why, Mischa, why?! D= Uh, uh,—- aah!!! Sorry for the outburst, but I just finished it, and don’t want to ruin it for whoever else wants to read it, but, how coul you? D= It’s a twist, I love eet, but AHHHH!!!!!!!!!! AWESOME story.  You better write more. ^.^

ForensicPathology: That was astonishing. Your writing is incredible, and your premise is very fresh, which is a rare thing to come by nowadays. Your flow is wonderful as well. You left me hanging on the last word, and I definitely plan on reading further. I’m not sure what I can tell you that others have yet to, but it seems you definitely deserve your rank.

ShoSHNAZZYdood: oh, my gosh this book is flipping incredible! i saw it on the top 5 and the name alone drew me in (i’m a stickler for cool book titles) so i started to read it and i can safely say, “DANG!” like, surely. your book was, like, flipping amazing and i couldn’t help but read more and more! so i read more and more. and more. innyhoo, this is the first thing i read from you and i can only hope there’s more to come in the future! BIG WOOP, DOOD! (:

And if you made it to the end of all that – thanks! When I am reaching my YA market and they give me feedback like this it just makes me want to strive harder, writer better and write more.  I hope that soon an agent will have the belief in my story as so many members of Inkpop did and work with me to get Mishca onto the shelves.

My laziest blog ever!

A young writer friend of mine emailed me to bounce ideas.  When I wrote back to her I thought to myself “Hey – that would be good for my blog”.  So here is my laziest blog post ever – borrowed from an email to a friend.

MF – I can’t seem to focus long enough on one idea. I know that I have a short attention span (when it comes to writing, anyways), but this is almost getting of hand. What do you get when you are plagued with so many ideas? How did you stick with one and finish it?

ME – That’s natural for some people – I am the same way. That was why I predominately wrote short stories before Mishca.
So how I deal with it – I let the stories decide, I write whatever storyline is banging the loudest in my head. So at the moment I have a couple of chapters on Mishca’s follow-up story Ryder done, 8 Chapters of Leena Barclay done, two short-stories that I want to submit to anthologies underway and only the first chapter and prologue of Conquest done and a couple of other ideas in my head. At the moment I haven’t had a lot of writing time because of my family circumstances, but I am hoping that will change soon.

I found that if I at least captured my ideas for stories, not necessarily write them out, that it helped me get back and work on Mishca. Because I am querying with Mishca I am happy to write whatever comes to mind, but I am trying to focus on the short stories so I can get something published under my belt.

MF – How did you figure out that you wanted to write paranormal? Did the idea for “Mischa” just come to you?

ME – What helped me finish Mishca was:

1) Research – researching her heart transplant recovery information helped drive the early plot and added so much to bits along the way.

2) Sending it to a friend who was passionate about my writing – her nagging me for the next chapter helped me to finish it

3) Time away from the Internet. I have a laptop and I often write at the beach. Over Christmas holidays I had an hour a day or so at the beach and I could write about 1,000 words per hour.

4) Daydreaming time – this is so important, but carry a note book with you! I let Mishca’s story consume me, I would think about it before I went to bed at night, I would go for walks and think about it, I would play inspirational music in the car and think about it, I would think about it while I was at the gym… the women in the shower room must have thought I was crazy scribbling in a note pad after a work out.

Before Mishca I had written a bunch of short stories that were more general fiction, though one was speculative, and a couple of plays. I had started on a sci-fi novel and a general fiction novel that I hadn’t gotten far with. Mishca isn’t actual strict paranormal, it is Speculative Fiction – combining Paranormal, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy and Horror together – I intentionally threw out the paranormal flavour though for a specific reason.

I found speculative/paranormal easier to write as I have a weird imagination. The concept of Mishca came to me like a “What if” scenario, like “What if you time travelled and met yourself?” (though that is not the scenario that came to me btw). So I had the ending first and worked backwards. A lot of characters weren’t even in the original concept. it was also a one-off story until I started thinking about why the scenario would exist – then it became a series.

I have a problem

My name is Sharon and I am addicted to online social networking.  It has been 5 minutes since my last log in on Facebook, 2 minutes since my last look at Inkpop and one second since my last Tweet.  I am usually on my iPhone on either Facebook, Inkpop or email last thing before I go to sleep at night and the first thing when I wake in the morning.

My husband has scandalous suggested that my self promotion skills are at a par with my writing… I know I would way prefer to be cracking my head opening and catching the ideas that pour out by transposing them into written words that marketing for someone else.  But I tell you what, if I get published I will have a ball with an agent and the publisher coming up with marketing for myself.

Somehow my Facebook page has ballooned to 2,400 people!  I have a strong profile on the YA writer’s community Inkpop with more than 1,000 friends, Top Pick Star book status (my story Mishca was picked as one of the best five books in June out of more than 25,000 pieces on the site), been Inkpopper of the Week and am now a Top Trendsetter.  Hmmm but my Blog and Tweets needs more traffic (note to self – start promoting these more).

Well it seems my husband is right – I love promoting, marketing and networking.  And in the current competitive book market it makes sense to have a strong online presence. Many debut authors already have followers before they even have a book on the shelf.  This is great, as long as you strike the balance between promoting yourself and spending time writing.  Just don’t get caught up in your own hype and neglect your writing.

For newbie writers, there are also great ways to network and promote yourself offline too.  Joining writer’s centres, attending conferences and participating in workshops gets your face out and about in the writing community.  Even if you are geographically challenged like me (a regional Aussie), you can make these things happen.

Your writing can always speak for itself, but a little self promotion can go a long way.

Remember the name Jeyn Roberts

Remember the name Jeyn Roberts as her debut novel ‘The Dark Inside’ will be hitting shelves in Fall (U.S.) 2011 and with mass interest from publishers you can be assured it will be a hit. Some lucky people got a sneak peak at the story on HarperCollins Young Adult writer’s community Inkpop and where impressed.  Here is her first interview.

So Jeyn, all of Inkpop is abuzz with the fact that a book posted on the site is being published and Inkies would love to pick your brain on your writing life. Tell us, how did your love of writing start?

I’ve always had an intense love for the written word. I remember writing my first book when I was eleven. It was about a runaway named Ricky and it was pretty much a rip off of everything I’d seen on television that season.

The Dark Inside, aka Baggers, was climbing the Inkpop charts before you had to take it down when you were signed by an agent. For the Inkies and non-Inkies who didn’t get to read it while it was posted, tell us what it is about?

Freaky eyes US Cover!

The story concept came to me from a series of dreams I had as a teenager. It’s about the end of the world. Four strangers will journey across North America where they will band together in a final attempt to save both humanity and themselves.

In the moments before a worldwide disaster—the Baggers are awakened.

On the first day Mason’s mother dies. Then the earthquakes shatter the West Coast. The Baggers stir and the killings begin. In just three weeks, mankind is on the edge of extinction and the last remaining survivors are still being hunted.

Mason learns quickly there are no friends in this new world. In an attempt to escape his guilt, he travels across the country where he meets Aries, Clementine, and Michael. He knows he shouldn’t trust them but he’s drawn into their circle. Together in an abandoned tenement they will do whatever it takes to stay alive. But someone will betray them, a friend who doesn’t want to kill but can’t ignore the darkness inside.

Now you are trained creative writing, what are some of the most important things you learnt about writing and yourself through your studies?

Be open to criticism. Don’t take things personally. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. To be able to look at your work with a critical eye is very important. We don’t always catch our own mistakes because we’re too invested in our own characters.

Having an agent is such a vital step on the way to being published. What tips would you like to share with aspiring authors on finding the perfect agent for them?

Patience! This is not something that will happen overnight. It can take years to find a good agent. Don’t take it personally when you get turned down because you will get turned down. It happens to all writers. There can be a thousand reasons why an agent might turn you down and it’s not just about your writing. Remember, all it takes is one yes.

People often think authors are an overnight success, but that isn’t always the case. Tell us about your journey to being published?

It’s mostly a waiting game. Just because your book is sent off to publishers doesn’t mean they’re going to read it right away. I found the hardest part was just waiting.

You have signed a two book deal with Macmillian in the UK and with Simon and Schuster in the US What are you plans for the second book?

I’ll be starting the next book in the next few months. I’m very excited about it. The new ideas have been gnawing away inside my brain for a while now. Can’t wait to get it down on paper!

Rocking UK Cover!

What final words of wisdom would you like to share with people wanting to make it in publishing?

Be patient! There’s a reason why we’re called ‘starving’ artists. It’s a long journey to get there but it’s worth the ride! Love every moment of it! And remember, there’s always a first time for every author.

Thanks so much for your time Jeyn.  Looking forward to being one of the first to purchase ‘The Dark Inside’ when it hits the shelves in late 2011 (UK release) and 2012 (US release).

Want to know some more:

Jeyn’s Profile