This year, and what I did in it

***Cross-posted from my Blogger blog***

First of all, just a reminder that today's the last day to enter my giveaway of Jenna Black's fabulous YA book GLIMMERGLASS. Giveaway closes midnight Thursday, California time.

Meanwhile, over at the Deadline Dames, the fabulous Rachel Vincent is blogging about what she's achieved this year, and I thought that was quite cool. So I decided to try it myself. Just to make me feel good, and prove that I do actually do something apart from eat chocolate and hang out on the internet.

Here's a little list of what I've done for the mighty cause of words-on-the-page this year:

- Wrote BLOOD CURSED, my August 2011 release. 106K. Remember yesterday's post, on keeping the conflicts simple? That's exactly what I didn't do when I started BC, and it took a really, really long time.

- In the meantime, I did edits for POISON KISSED (one word: ugh) and suffered through release day/week/fortnight/month for SHADOWGLASS. It may look like fun. Let me tell you, it's fun from the outside. On the inside, it involves madly writing a pile of guest posts where you're trying desperately not to say the same shit over and over, a few moments of OMG, this is the best job EVA!!! and then a month of sheer panic. Highly recommended, but not for the squeamish or thin-skinned.

- Then, I made a proposal for a sci-fi series, and outlined and wrote the first book. 85K. Actually, this was already a novella before I started, so it really only counts as 50K.

- Spent what seemed like the whole of July and August doing conferences. Disneyworld Orlando, Bondi Beach, Melbourne. Breathe.

- Did another pile of guest posts and an absentee release day/week/etc. for POISON KISSED, while I was on holidays in Europe for a month. See above. Good holiday. Bad idea. Note to Self: Self, next time, stay in your own time zone for release day.

- Outlined and wrote HUNTER'S BLOOD, a short vampire romance. 15K.

- Outlined and wrote CHERRY KISSES, a Shadowfae short. 11K.

- Outlined a new paranormal romance series (yay!) and started the first book. 40K.

I think I did okay! I've made... let's see... 220K plus, not counting outlines. It's never enough. But you can only stay awake for so many hours per day :)

What have you done this year that you're proud of?

Teaser Tuesday: Highborn by Yvonne Navarro

 Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading:

1) Grab your current read.
2) Open to a random page.
3) Share at least two 'teaser' sentences from that page -- no spoilers, please!
4) Share the title and author so others can add it to their TBR if they like the teasers.

Basically, it's another opportunity for me to pimp some cool books I've been reading. Sensing a theme here?

'I was looking for a friend of mine,' Brynna explained.

'Then ring the damned doorbell instead of hanging around like a hoodlum!'

'I don't know his last name," Brynna said without thinking.

'Then you're not much of a friend," the woman snapped back. 'You get out of here or I'm calling the police. This is a Neighborhood Watch area!'

--From page 17 of HIGHBORN by Yvonne Navarro.

blood cursed cover art

***Cross-posted from my Blogger blog***

Is this awesome? Or is it, like, totally awesome!?!

This is my fourth Craig White cover and I love it. Love, love, love it. It is so much what the book is about that I can't think of anything I'd like better.

"Sigh. So... what's the book about, then?" you ask patiently? Behold, cover copy.*

Enter the fierce, fantastical world of the Shadowfae, where blood is a drug, magic is a crime, and love is the most dangerous weapon of all…

To a vampire, nothing is sweeter than bloodfairy essence -- and Ember is the most sought-after fairy on the underworld circuit. Selling her blood to the highest bidder -- and robbing her clients in the process -- Ember has unwittingly become a target of dark and dangerous forces. Her enemies are everywhere. And if she hopes to survive, she needs protection...

Diamond is a glassfairy who, for better or worse, knows his way around the vampire underworld. Smooth as silk and tougher than trolls, Diamond is Ember’s only chance to keep her magical blood inside her body, where it belongs. But he also poses a threat to Ember, a strange kind of danger she’s never experienced before: She’s falling in love with him...

Yay! I'm so excited. Release date is 2 August 2011, US and UK and Canada.**

And if anyone out there's doing their Cool New Covers of the Week post, or Awesome Homicidal Chicks in Tight Dresses or suchlike, please feel free to plaster this one all over it, should you so choose :)

In other news:

Today, I finished my demon-hunting witches short story! Yay! It's tentatively titled CHERRY KISSES. Coming soon to an anthology near you.

And lastly: remember, you've got until midnight Friday West-Coast-US-time to enter last week's Friday Fancies giveaway of Eve Silver's SINS OF THE HEART. It's a great book. You know you want it.

*This may not be the final cover copy. But it's near enough.
** Those are pre-order links. The more orders, the more copies they print. If you enjoy my books, you'd really be doing me a favour...

Market research, and how not to be misled

***Cross-posted from my Blogger blog***

Welcome to Writing Wednesday, where I hopefully have something interesting to say about... well, about writing. Or publishing. Or agents. Or chocolate overload during a Supernatural marathon. Or anything to do with this crazy business.*

I'm in the middle of writing a short story, which is unusual for me -- I've written I think five... no, make that six... six novel manuscripts in a row, and only three shorts in that time, two of them in the last six weeks.

And one sad thing about getting published -- about deciding to do this mad thing called writing for a career -- is that I no longer have the time to write stuff I don't think I can sell. That means I'm always writing to a market, whether it's an established line at a single house, a collection of prospective houses or even just a genre, with all its conventions and no-nos.

So if I'm writing these shorts, they're for a specific market. You think agented writers and published authors don't have to do market research? Bzzt! Lose five points or your pants. It's even more important, because a story with no market is useless to us. A waste of our time. And time, sadly, is money.**

So, market research. That's to say: reading, right? Lots and lots of it. What's selling well in a particular line? What are the really popular big-time authors doing, and how can I do it too?


Wrong. You are the Weakest Link. Goodbye.

DON'T read the big-time authors in your chosen line/imprint. No no no no no. Don't.

Well... what I mean is, hell yes, read the big-time popular authors, because they're awesome! Just don't read them for research.

Because what they're doing, they've earned the right to do, with book after book, years of consistent sales, a profitable backlist. If their books go out on a limb, it's because the publisher trusted them to pull it off.***

I, on the other hand (and probably you, too) am a relatively new author, with only a short track record with a single publisher. Sure, I hand in manuscripts on time and do my edits without complaint and tidy up before the copy-editor. But the bestseller lists don't know me from a bar of soap. No house in their right mind is going to trust me to do jack shit.

So to whom should I look for research? The debut authors, of course. They're the ones who are selling from the slush pile, rather than on track record and a three-line pitch to the editor-in-chief from their agent. They're the ones who are dropping jaws at the editorial assistant's desk, lighting up the imprint editor's eyes and eliciting grins at acquisitions meetings.

They're the ones, in fact, who are writing what's selling, without the benefit of track record, RIGHT NOW. Not fifteen years ago when your favourite big-time author was a chicken.

Of course, in print publishing, RIGHT NOW is relative. It means probably twelve to eighteen months ago, minimum. But it's the best indication you'll get. And no one's saying the big-time authors aren't writing good books -- but bestsellers can generally write riskier books than newer authors, especially in category lines like Harlequin Whoever. If you're reading along and wondering how the hell the author gets away with first person present tense and Flashback Hell when the sub guides say third person past only and no flashbacks or we'll come around to your place and kill you -- chances are you're reading a more experienced author.

So read the new authors to find out what's selling last week. Read the big-time authors to find out what you can get away with, in a year or two when you've got credentials.

Then again, what the hell? Maybe your wacky idea will sell gazillions. If you don't try, you'll never know :)

* Yes, of course watching Supernatural for hours at a stretch is part of the writing business. You can't work ALL the time... anyway, did you and I have that little chat about Sam? Yeah, well. I meant it. Hands off.
** Well, yeah. That's not to say it's very much money. If I worked out how much I get per hour, I'd give up and work at Starbucks. Just don't do those sums, people. They aren't worth it.
*** The book, that is. Not the limb. Mixed metaphors 'R' us.

a new week...

***Cross-posted from my Blogger blog. It's not working in real time yet. But I'm determined...***

Spent the weekend watching cricket (eek!) and doing my civic duty as a Romance Writers of Australia contest manager. Any of you entering the Valerie Parv Award this year? You'll be dealing with me, bwahahaha...

I'm in the middle of my new short story (demon-hunting witches, yay!) and it's going pretty well so far. It's a challenge to write to a theme, yet keep the story true to the world-building I've already done. It's a Shadowfae story, in case you're wondering. New characters, new messes, same horny fairies. Amen :) All things going well, you'll see it in a St Martin's Press anthology later in 2011.

Writing a 10K short is challenging, too, when you're used to 100,000 word novels. The outline has the same shape - it's just a lot smaller, and everything has to be simplified. World-building has to be slimline. And as for backstory -- forget it, unless you can work it seamlessly into the story. You don't have time for flashbacks or paragraph-long ruminations on what just happened. Efficient scene-cutting (as in, deciding where you start and finish a scene) is crucial... hey, I just had an idea for my writing post on Wednesday! I'll shut up about it now :) you'll have to wait for my wisdom. Sigh. Oh, well.

Meanwhile, don't forget to enter last week's Friday giveaway  -- Eve Silver's SINS OF THE HEART.

And here's an interesting link: one author's take on what it's really like to get published. I'd have to say I agree, though I'd never have believed myself two years ago -- selling is the easy part, folks.

Don't get me wrong. I'm the last to whine about how hard it is to have a contract with an advance and an awesome editor and a big publishing house distributing my books. Wow, this diamond up my ass really hurts, y'know?

But pre-contract, all you have to care about is how good your book is, and researching markets. That's it. Once you sell, there's so much more at stake. So much more you can mess up. So much more you have no control over. You think rejections are frustrating and beyond your control? Wait till you have to deal with sales figures, and reviews, and why your book is or isn't in stores, and why your book is or isn't an ebook...

But hey, I wouldn't give it up for anything :)
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in the meantime...

I'm spending the weekend watching the cricket (ahem... someone get these guys out sometime soon, please!) and working on a new short story. It's for an anthology called HEX SYMBOLS that's coming out some time next year. Demon-hunting witches, yay!

In the meantime, pop on over to the Other Blog, where I'm chatting about horror romance, and giving you the chance to win a copy of Eve Silver's most excellent SINS OF THE HEART.

yeah, I knew that...

 Okay, so I didn't set up cross-posting properly. My bad. I believe it's fixed now.

For those who missed my first Blogger post (yay!) -- my new Blogger site is Come over and follow me there if you like!

I'll be cross-posting everything to this LJ, at least for a while. And I'll be starting some new features on the blog.

Friday Fancies, for instance, in which every couple of weeks I gush about a recent book I really liked, and then give you a chance to win a copy.

And Writing Wednesdays, in which I impart my latest wisdom on the strange world of writing and publishing.

Noticing an alliterative theme here? Pop on over to my new site and tell me what you think would be a good M-topic for Mondays. Monsters? Mad Manatees? Man-titty?

the dark side told me they had cookies...

Just a note to let you know I'll start cross-posting to this blog from a Blogger site real soon. Yeah, I know... but various factors have compounded to convince me it's the thing to do. And hey, Blogger's stolen so many features from LJ and Wordpress that they're all pretty much the same these days.

But, so long as you wacky LJ peeps are still here, all my posts will still come to this blog. I'm exporting all the old stuff to Blogger, too. And to bribe you all into liking me again, I'll be kicking off my shiny new Blogger blog with a few sweet giveaways of recent books I think are cool.

So stay tuned. I'll be testing the cross-posting thingy-jig shortly. Here's hoping it works... 

UK release, we haz it

Just a note to say that POISON KISSED is now available in the UK!! So if you're one of those folorn, left-out folks who can't access the US Amazon or Book Depository sites, you can now order from Amazon UK or BD UK.

Also check out my latest interview and giveaway at Nocturne Romance Reads. Ever been dying to know what the Shadowfae Chronicles theme song is? Sure you have.

In the meantime, I've been working on a vampire short story, and kicking a few proposals for novels into shape. They don't look much like novels yet. But they're getting there.

I start with some random idea, about a turning point or a character dilemma. But novels need plots, and I have neither the time nor the reckless hubris (you know who you are, folks) to begin writing on a project when I don't know for sure there's a decent plot in it.

An idea is not a plot. A scenario or a pile of world-building is not a plot. 'And then they fall in love and defeat the bad guys and save the world' is not a plot. Even if a few six-figure-advance YA authors seem to think it is.

So if I seem unproductive for a while, it's because I'm spending time plotting. And I plot because I don't have time to waste. Strange, but there it is.