Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crushing Dreams

In my new novel, there's a man who tries to crush Marcie's dreams. Not her husband Shawn, he is a sweetheart and very supportive of his wife, when he remembers LOL. But since I finished House of Diamonds and sent it off, I have been thinking of all the ways one's dreams can be crushed. Who knows why I'm taking the negative end of it, maybe I'm just tired at the end of the day.

There are a few effective dream-crushing statements I've run across. For instance, I remember a blogger who had run out of agents to query and decided to go the self-publishing route. This was a year or so ago. When she wrote a post about it, people commented: "No, don't give up!!" Which is a back-handed way to say "You are making a mistake!" Well, some of those people may still be querying agents, while Mary McDonald has sold over 20,000 copies of her book No Good Deed on Kindle.

Sometimes when one gets a contract with a small press, there are those who throw out all kinds of scare tactics, in the name of trying to protect the writer who may get ....I don't know.... published?

Watch out for these kinds of dream-crushing statements-- "I've never heard of them. Are you sure they're ok?"  "Aren't you afraid to sign a contract without an agent?"  "If your book doesn't do well, it could ruin your chances of ever getting published again."  Many of these statements just don't make any sense, but people still throw them around like something really bad will happen if you veer off the beaten path.

I dislike scare tactics like this. It has writers worried into paralysis, afraid they will "submit to the wrong publisher" or "ruin their career" or whatever. When someone gives me advice about my career as a writer "for your own good," I run the other way, because it's like they are wearing a sign that says Dream-crusher ahead, detour for your own safety.

Monday, June 27, 2011

At last, progress on the writing front

After a very long nonproductive writing lull, I am back in business, baby! I never really worried. (Too much.) After all, when your mom dies and you have a major move to a new home shortly after, really it isn't the time to stress over word count and delayed projects.

But I am now happy to report that I am very close to having my BuNoWriMo draft complete by June 30!

And something else-- House of Diamonds is heading to the typesetter this week! A cover concept is being finalized, and the release date has been set for fall. I'll be organizing a blog tour to promote it, something I never did for my previous books so I'm excited about that too.

What it is about:

Two sisters, one approaching opportunity, the other tragedy. Marcie McGill moves towards realizing her dreams, while her sister Cindy faces heartache.  Can their bond endure? 

House of Diamonds give voice to a beloved baby who had none. And shows the incredible power that comes to families when they pull together to overcome challenges. At these times, a house of pain can become a house of diamonds.  

It will be the last novel about Marcie and Shawn McGill, and Marcie's sister, Cindy. (My next one is completely different, although also women's fiction.) But I still had some things to say using these particular characters. House of Diamonds is as much Cindy's story as it is Marcie's

I have some last-minute editing to do. This is why I love having an editor. When I think it is done, she finds some issues that, once resolved, will make it so much better. 

Also, Uncut Diamonds has been dropped to .99 on the Kindle, to prepare for the launch of the (sort of but not really) sequel. You can get it here here here!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Next Big Thing

Almost as much fun as people- watching is trend-watching. Facebook seems to have been the trend of the decade. It came out of nowhere and was suddenly everywhere. And like Myspace and AOL (remember them?), Facebook may go out of fashion. That's the  problem with trends. They become hugely popular, often very quickly, but don't have lasting power.

The Kindle was around for three years building steam before it became the Big Thing, changing the way people buy, read and publish books. Will it have lasting power? Looking at Amazon's history, I would say yes. But what do I know? I get sucked into believing in trends as much as anyone.

Right now, I am watching Twitter. Although I've read posts and articles "explaining" Twitter, the only way to make it work for you is jump in and get immersed. Much like learning a new language. I find Twitter one of the most exciting, challenging social media venues right now. I don't know if it will be The Next Big Thing, because I doubt that it can meet the common ground necessary to make it as huge as Facebook.Or blogging.

Blogging is running its course as The Next Big Thing. It used to be websites, everybody had to have a website--now it's a blog. Something may come out of nowhere and take the place of blogging, but I don't know what it would be. Any ideas? What's your best guess on The Next Big Thing?

What fascinates me about trends is that they seem so real, so lasting and solid. How could anything so very powerful, holding the interest and dollars of numberless people-- in the case of Facebook, billions and billions-- ever disappear?  Well, just remember the Titanic. And the Roman Empire.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Riding that Train to Publication

Why a train? Not a plane, that's too fast. Not a car, that's too comfortable. Not a bus, that's just gross. A nice Amtrak train, that's how I see it. If you've never ridden Amtrak, you should try it at least once for the experience.

Now that we are settled into the train to publication let's play that traveling game, "I'm going on a journey and this is what I'm taking." It's supposed to be alphabetical, where everyone goes round in a circle taking something on the journey with the next letter of the alphabet, but I'm changing the rules because I'm one person playing alone hoping you will join me if you can. And the word alphabet stresses me out ever since April.

So here goes!  I am going on a journey to publication, and this is what I am taking---

imagination           persistence         time       dedication           procrastination             frustration           hard work       

my laptop!   
   pens and paper         books!     

quick and easy meals         long walks        naps
 commitment        determination            the internet   a positive attitude           
writing friends

and don't forget those unwelcome passengers on my journey-- 

depression          disappointment         discouragement             despair           doubt   disillusion

Who are these people, and why do all their names begin with D? They must all be from the same family. They should be banned from the train. They make the journey so unpleasant, driving others away with their misery. Go away D- people!

Let's play! What will you bring along on your publication journey?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good day, Bad day

I must have celebrated too much on my birthday, because I seem to have the flu or something coming on. Keeping my fingers crossed that I can feel well enough to get some serious word count underway on my new WIP.

Have you ever noticed how days go in cycles like this? Good day, bad day, etc etc. One of my sons, when he was little,  would start out smiling. Then when something went wrong he would howl, "And I thought this was going to be such a good day!"


Yep, this is him, all grown up, having his head licked by a baby giraffe in South Africa.

Okay, I'm going to bed. Catch you all later.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If you are looking for a publisher....

WiDo Publishing's submissions editor has passed the word on to moi-- She wants submissions!

Apparently an interesting evolution has been happening among writers and publishers.  Small press, ebook and POD publishers are everywhere now.  And guess what happens when a swarm of new publishers start opening their doors? Not to mention that self-publishing has become a viable option for writers, meaning they are not submitting.

As a result, it is becoming more of a writer's market. You guessed it, Aspiring Writers Seeking Publication-- with more Publishers Seeking Submissions wonder how many hits this phrase will get me? means more opportunity for you to get published! haha there's another one!

One unagented author who Allie wanted had six offers on the table. SIX! Several other submitting writers have responded when Allie asks for a full, saying, "Oh, I just recently signed a contract with  such and such publishing company."

If you are an Aspiring Writer Seeking Publication note how I put this keyword in twice? Take that, Google search, and you have a polished, completed manuscript, what is holding you back? Fear of rejection? I hope not! Because rejection is the writer's badge of honor! It marks the Path to Publication--another awesome search keyword. Score!

And if this post has not got you Writers with a Manuscript Ready to Submit going here, then why not? What's keeping you?

Friday, June 10, 2011

I'd rather write crap in 30 days than take a year

I'm sure you've all heard of NaNoWriMo. Have you heard of BuNoWriMo, the brainchild of Hart Johnson and the Burrowers? It's like the November writing madhouse, only in June. I wanted to participate this year but wasn't sure I could get done with House of Diamond revisions in time.

Well, guess what, I finished my final revisions on House of Diamonds over the weekend! And it is good-- polished, ready for its final review by the editor and then on to copy editing. Release date is set for August. Done and done. No cover yet, but that's in the works.

So I decided to jump right into the next project and get that first draft done in 30 days. Because my first drafts are garbage. They are heinous. It's my ability to revise and rewrite that makes my work publishable, not my ability to spew out 50,000 words really fast. It is because my first drafts are so stomach-churningly awful, that I prefer to write fast and get it over with.Then I can take my time and rework it later.

So I'm in BuNoWriMo for this year. Here's hoping I achieve my goal to have one really garbage, piece of crap first draft by July 1!!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Checking the Stats

It's fun to see what kinds of phrases bring the random visitor to my blog. Here were some samples of search keyword's this week:

fantasy pen name

I self-published my kids book and now I would like to submit it to a publishing company

It's not that our aim is too high and we miss but thats

karen gowen blog

karen jones

list of million dollar uncut diamonds

movie involving reclusive behaviour

print vs. ebook

query competition

symbolism clear in misery stephen king


The only one of these that actually wanted my blog is probably "karen gowen blog"

How often do you check your stats?  One thing they do is show that people are viewing my blog even if not always commenting. I find that encouraging. How does viewing your stats help you?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Out of the Loop

I went away from Thursday to Sunday, and it's amazing how out of the loop with online activities I feel after just these few days. Not that I personally have considered giving up my online activities, it took too much work to find my place here, but lately I have read many posts by writers getting discouraged and taking breaks and just kind of disappearing out of the blogosphere.

I can see someone never really get established with a blog, and realizing after just a bit that it isn't their cup of tea I love using cliches in my blog, it's the only place I can get away with them, and they'd rather focus their efforts in other promotional activities, well, then that's one thing.

But imho, going offline, quitting the blog or whatever, after a year or so because of boredom, or impatience, or feeling a time crunch-- then it's time to pull it together and realize that connecting with one's readers, one's demographic, with what's happening with the publishing industry at the ground roots level is all part of being an author right now.

Blogging and/or other online activities are part of the job. It can be fun but it doesn't have to be. Just like a real job. Just like writing that novel. Sometimes it's work, sometimes it's not, but you do it anyway because it's your job.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's not about print vs. ebook or bookstore vs. online sales or small press vs. large

I came across this statistic the other day that shows where the real competition is in the publishing industry--


- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [English Language Edition], the seventh and mostly widely read book in the series, sold 44 million copies over three years.

- The video game Bad Company 2 sold over than 5 million units in one month, while Modern Warfare 2 sold an estimated 10 million in four months.

- With a US audience of 116 million, the average time spent on Facebook is over 7 hours each month and growing.

- And, of course, while watching videos (on the internet and TV) accounted for 9 hours per month, it was more than made up for by Americans watching TV 84 hours monthly.


These kinds of numbers tell why books keep shrinking in value (and sales). Because the reading public is shrinking. Especially kids, with all the other entertainment options out there, too many are no longer picking up books when they have free time.

Yet more books are being published than ever before. Books are everywhere, in every format. Is it any wonder that free and .99 has become standard for self-published ebooks?  Look for publishers, especially the smaller ones with lower overheads, to start following suit on that trend.

It is sad when books become devalued in a society.