Notes from the 1/14/10 Writer’s Group

Big group (11 writers at our peak). I would’ve have split into two groups if more people had brought work to read. As it was, you had two choices, read loudly, or bring a lot of copies. We had examples of both approaches.

Here are some relevant links:

Pine Ridge Reservation is a real place.

Em’s island is fictional, but based on the real Sandwich Archipelago in the south Atlantic/North Antarctic ocean.

www.ipulpfiction.com has some sort of Quicktime thing that locks up my browser. They have a $10 reading fee, which violates the Harlen Ellison Rule that money should always flow towards the writer, but they are up-front with the terms, and your odds are better than contest writing. Besides, some of that reading fee goes to one of our own.

An after-hours conversation brought up some interesting things:

That “long vowel sound” that your teachers beat into your head no longer exists. Its a relic from middle English (and several other languages) where a long vowel was just that – a vowel you held for multiple beats. It was abandoned in English around the 15th century, but its legacy still complicates our spelling. More on that here and here.

Finally, James Merill – poet – a brief bio from poets.org.

Now you know.

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It finally happened…

A moment to breath, and the will to blog coincide.

Holidays, the aftermath of holidays, work, other blogs, marketing initiatives and fiction have pushed ahead of this project for the past few weeks. So it goes.

My wife may have a marketng client, and we are cobbling together a business/marketing plan/site to help him (and presumably other self-published authors) get a little more exposure. There aren’tenough for-sure details yet to expound,but if you want to follow the thought process online, the dummy-test site is here: Writing Made Visible

For my Thursday night folk – I don’t have any good notes, but I do have this:

Writing: You're doing it wrong.

I discovered how far you can drive in a 2006 Equinox between the time the low-gas light comes on, and the time you actually run it out of gas – and that’s about 60 miles. Happily, I ran out of gas less than a block from my house, but that never makes for a good morning.

There’s really no good place in an Equinox, or any SUV, to put a gas can that has just been emptied.

Don’t even look at TV Tropes, or its kissing cousin Speculative Fiction Tropes unless you have several of hours of your life that you won’t need back. (A contributor to lack of production on this blog and many others).

Speaking of wastes of perfectly good space/time:

From Tor.com – and exchange of lunatic letters concerning our friends the octopi.

Werewolves are literary orphans

Have a few seconds? Need a comic-book or pup novel premise? They Fight Crime

Having failed to learn from previous attempts, I am thinking of putting together yet another RPG gaming group. Input welcome. In person (probably at my house in Phoenix) – I’m over gaming via e-mail.

Now You Know

Really Late writer’s group notes sans actual notes

If you don’t hit the blog right after writer’s group, the motivation evaporates.

Plus you remember that you have other deadlines.

Meanwhile, I learned that really good mariachi music is much less annoying than mediocre mariachi music. There was a time when I did not think this to be possible.

I can’t go into details here, but in customer service, you are only as smart as the client. Take a deep breath and get used to that.

My father in-law learned that when you can’t keep air in your lungs – its time to go to the hospital – dammit! (Pneumonia – he’ll be fine.)

I’ve lost my notes from the Thursday night group, but I have a ot of writing related links:

For non-fiction: A journalist’s guide to SEO

For fiction, three takes on markets for short fiction:

A summation of the “markey by Nihilistic Kid {writer/editor Nick Mamatis}

Submission strategies from writer/editor Cat Rambo

And the “Last Word” on pay rates from author John Scalzi

Writer’s Group notes 3 December 2009

If you trust the reader to keep track of information, you can avoid a lot of repetition in your manuscript.

No matter how well you summarize the map with written description, you are still better off showing the map.

A quick summary of Stargate Atlantis episodes with Todd. (because nerds keep count…)

Now for links:

Jeanne Cavelos on searching for reputable agents

Developing writers often have a very hard time finding a competent, reputable literary agent.

Info on the Flat Man Crooked poetry contest

Info on submitting to Glimmer Train

Word Count tackles the business and politics of working for content mills aggregators such as Demand Studios.

I’ve called it the race to the bottom, and maintain there are better ways to break into the freelance business, and better business models for building a successful freelance writing career.

Genreality discloses the true financial numbers behind a NYT bestseller.

And forwarded from our siblings in the North Phoenix Writer’s Group,

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

[Thanks to organizer Dharma Kelleher ]

Now You Know

Agents, taxes and oddities – Thurs Nite notes for 11/5/09

Quick & Dirty guide to finding agents

I have a list of twelve agents or agencies that I plan to submit Beanstalk and Beyond to. I assembled that list mostly from Publisher’s Marketplace.

Here are the steps:

1) Finish the book. If you haven’t done that, stop here and go finish the book.

2) Go to Publisher’s Marketplace. You do not need to sign up for a membership. What you need to find is the “Search Members” link.

3) Search for the genre, and add the word “agent” unless you want to see the pages of a couple dozen writers who also write in that genre.

4) Click through their pages. Write down the names of those you would like to submit to. (We all have our own ways of weeding through that list) Make sure you spelled the name correctly.

5) Onec you have your list of names, Google each name – and find out something about them. Check out their agencies’ actual website. read their blog if they have one. Get a vibe.

6) You’ll come across a lot of links for QueryTracker. This is worth joining at the free level.

7) Order your list in agents you wuld most like to represent you. Double-check the first one’s requirements. Send your query.

8) Wait.

There is a lot of conflictin onformation about te propriety of querying multiple agents at a time. I don’t – but that;s mostly because I can’t keep track of such things. Most of them have come to expect this practice, and the ones who want exclusives from the get-go are usually fairly specific in the submission guidelines.

If you don’t have at least a nibble after 12 queries – its time to look at your query letter. Hard.

OK – that’s what I know about that.

Agent Janet Reid shared her 20 nuggets of advice with Writer’s Digest. Worth reading.

Assuming you sell something (or even if you don’t) – Inkygirl has assembled a list of tax advice for freelance writers (so I don’t have to).

Inkygirl rocks – BTW.

I know less about Japanese poetry – but these guys know more.

The cloud at Chowhound considers fruitcake.

And if you draw a picture at Bored.com – they’ll tell you what sort of person you are. (I’m the sort that really doesn’t have time for that tonight.) (Can they predict whether you’ll like fruitcake?)

Now you know

 

Notes from the 10/8/09 writer’s meet-up

If I were to post the Amazon link for The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (as I have just done) after December 1st, I could wind up in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission. According to Slate:

In new guidelines (PDF) released Oct. 5, the FTC put bloggers on notice that they could incur an $11,000 fine if they receive free goods, free services, or money and write about the goods or services without conspicuously disclosing their “material connection” to the provider. The FTC guidelines extend even to Facebook and Twitter posters.

Even though I’m not reviewing the book (I haven’t read it – it just came up at the meeting) a link to a vendor could be considered advertising on behalf of the product. I’m in no real danger here because nobody sponsors me for anything, nor do I get anything for free. But if one of the group members gave me one of their books to review, and I did so anywhere on the internet, I would be obligated to disclose our relationship prominently within the review.

Which is crap for a lot of reasons, mainly because it does not apply t “legitimate media”. So I could plug whatever I pleased at my Examiner site (though it would violate my terms with Examiner) without fear of the FTC. Some Examiners do this anyway.

A round-up of reviews for Wind-up Bird

I tried to find a picture of a jahkey – but there is an artist called Jahkey B who promotes himself well on the internet.

CIA Factbook on Thailand

Ganymede info

C-span on William Faulkner (may need a plug-in)

Should be more, but I gotta go.

Now you know.

Notes from the Thurs Writer’s Group 10/1/09

I miss my dot-matrix printer. I pushed “print” and it printed. If it didn’t, it was out of ink. That was it. It probably still works – though I gave it away. Windows XP won’t support it.

It supports the Kodak AiO ESP3, which will print a variety of diagnostic test pages, but not the document I want to print. I bought it bexcause I grew weary of arguing with my HP printer.

What does it take to just get a printer to print documents?

So, I didn’t have copies for the meeting, even though I had new material.

Other notes from the October 1 writer’s meet-up:

http://www.freecomputerworld.org/ In hopes of finding inexpensive computer hardware that works.

“TK” in addition to being copy-editor shorthand for “To Come” is also the postal code for Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand located in the South Pacific, the stock symbol for Teekay Corporation, an oil shipping company, and an anaocronym for the Tool Kit GUI library for the TCL programming language.

Your resource for playing the concertina.

A steam-punk flavored automatic Genre Fiction Generator

Some alternate views on writer’s groups:

Steven Harper Piziks at Book-view cafe with the very basics of how they can be helpful.

And Dean Wesley Smith with why they are dangerous.

Homepage for the Desert Dreams Writer’s Conference , sponsored by the Desert Rose chapter of Romance Writers of America – which tells a lot about what sort of agents and editors are likely to attend. $218-248 for non-member registration depending on when you sign up, and how many extras you want.

And the difference between sketches of intelligent alien species, and sketches that resemble monsters from an RPG supplement is that aliens wear clothes. I have some examples, but my scanner is also my printer.

So we leave with a song:

Now You know.