Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Early New Year's Resolution

And I expect all of you to make it with me.


Here's my New Year's Resolution, and I'm making it a few days early so it doesn't get lost in all the other resolutions.

Every time I buy a book in 2007, I will buy a second book to go with it. Or rather, I will buy one extra book every time I go to the bookstore.

This "extra" book will be by an author I haven't read before. It may be a first book by a new author, or it may not. But the point is, whether the book was recommended to me or it just looked interesting, I'm not leaving the bookstore without at least one book by an author I haven't read before.

I'll try to focus on first books by new authors, but that isn't always possible here, because we tend not only to get books after their US release, but sometimes not at all, and stores here don't seem to carry back catalogs as much as they do in the states.

Anyway. I want all of you to do this with me. And spread it around. Those of us who are writers know how important it is to support new writers. Those of you who aren't writers--it's important. It's important to try new authors, to buy their first books (new, not used).

So. You know how I sometimes do "Recommend a book day"s? I'm going to do them more regularly, and we'll try specifically to recommend first books by new authors.

Anybody else want to participate?

Monday, December 25, 2006

And to all of You...

Have a very merry Christmas.

I've had an okay day. A litle lonely and homesick, because Christmas Eve was always the big celebration night when I was growing up. We had cold cuts and stuff for dinner, not a big meal but we snacked all night, then opened presents.

Now...we've compromised. So I get evening present opening on a different night and we open gifts Christmas morning. Which, sorry, but I hate. It's nowhere near as festive and intimate without the lights bright on the tree and the darkness outside. In the lonely gray light of morning, that holiday cheer is missing. Opening gifts feels mundane. Like a performance instead of an experience.

Also, I can't get my traditional nibbles here. No corned beef, no Havarti Mom sent us scalloped potatoes, though, so at least I had something. (We had cold cuts but one hot dish, that was usually it. My Mom made meatballs when I was little but gave it up after a couple of years, when it became obvious all we really wanted was corned beef and cheese on Ritz.)

So I made a venison stew, which turned out pretty well.

I got the venison from our local butcher, where I also got tomorrow's goose. I ordered a goose no bigger than 5kg. I got one almost 7kg. I couldn't believe it when he appeared from the fridge with this...beast in a bag. I swear the thing was bigger than my Faery baby. He had to cut it up for me so I can fit it in the oven.

I really don't want or need 15 lbs. of goose, but by the time he found it in their fridge I'd been standing there for half an hour and just wanted to leave. "Oh, you Americans like big things," he said. "You always like to do everything bigger!"

"Oh, do we?" I said.

Which got a laugh. Which is good. I'm pretty sure the little crowd we'd attracted at this point was laughing with me, too, not something you can always assume here. Especially when you're staring ashen-faced at the goose Scrooge sent the Cratchits on Christmas morning (yes, I know it was a turkey, shut up. It was a big huge turkey, is my point.) The goose that swallowed Devon. The goose that scared the cows. The goose who played pro football.

One damn big goose, basically. And tomorrow I'm going to cook the "crown roast" of it, along with a host of accomapnying veg, after a bland morning present opening, and will likely spend most of the day slightly drunk, which is the best way to spend Christmas.

And thinking of al of you, of course. Big hugs to each and every one of you. You make my days fun, my nights interesting, and my heart light.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Oh my, it's been a few days, huh? I've been trying to keep up with the COM (for those who don't know, it's a sort of writing exercise happening on Miss Snark's blog) and everyone's blogs but I confess I've been so busy. I know I owe some emails (one of you in particular, I'm sorry) but I swear, I've barely had a minute to myself.

And my email load has gone up sharply, too. I've been lucky enough to have several people email me to congratulate me on the COM, or to say thanks, or to say something nice about my comments in general, which was absolutely lovely. So despite the busyness I've had a really nice week!

Oh, and I have been anointed "Queen of Blow-Job Fiction". The anointer (someone I argued with at the AW forums) was trying to be rude and nasty, but I think it's a pretty cool compliment. Who wouldn't want to be Queen? And what's wrong with blow-job fiction?

I confess, though, I'm burning out on the COM. I don't know how Miss S, or any other agent, does it. This is the clearest look at a real agent's slushpile I think I've ever seen, and it's amazing they manage to slog through it all. Granted, I do think it's harder on a computer screen, but still. Wow. How many has she actually requested pages on, out of the 400 she's done? 25, maybe? 50 or 60 tops? Has anyone been counting?

It makes me a little sad, too, the number of entries that end up with no comments, or only one or two. People who've put their heart into those hooks, and not only does Miss S not find it interesting, nobody else does either.

And of course I'm terribly worried about my 750 words. I decided after getting the request that my opening needed to be rewritten, to get the "dead body" right in at the start. So I scrapped about the first 1000 words or so and made the fifth page or so the beginning, and I do hope it works. After the new year I need to redo the whole first chapter so I can get the essential backstory in.

And I'm rereading a bunch of Maeve Binchy books. I do love her books. They're very soothing, which is just what I need this time of year.

More tomorrow. Rants, plus an early New Year's Resolution that will be easy to keep. In fact, it will be part of a resolution challenge, where I'll try to force all of you to do it with me and we'll discuss it throughout the year. (It's to do with books, not weight loss or giving up fuckwords or anything dull like that.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Black Dragon is released!

The Black Dragon is released!!

You can go buy it here.

And of course you're all going to go buy it, right?

To celebrate, I'm doing a couple of contests.

1. Go join my forum. Then post something. A holiday wish, a book recommendation, anything to start a topic or join an existing one. That automatically enters you to win
these dragon earrings.

2. The first 50 people to email me, through here (my email address is in my profile) or the website, and answer the following question, will be eligible to win one of three Amazon gift cards! Here's the question:

What was the name of Gruffydd's sister?

(Yes, this requires you read the book.)

There you go! Go forth and enter!

Sunday, December 17, 2006


This is the only pic I have so far--that's the hubby and me, living it up baby. It was a wonderful party and we finally went to bed at about 4 am. I wasn't thrilled with my hair, though. I wanted it much taller. I'm into big hair.

And we weren't even too hungover yesterday. I switched to Coke around the time my eyes started swimming and so dragged myself back into moderate sobriety before bed.

It's a good thing, too, because my reaction when I got home and realized once again my promised book release did not occur...let's just say I was grumpy and a bit upset.

Which makes the fact Miss S requested pages from me an ever bigger, huger, deal! Lovely to see that right before bed. Makes me think perhaps all is not lost.

I'll do a better post soon, and I'll tell all about the party (the poor man on my right ended up having to be carried up the stairs) and the hotel which made us all feel as if Poirot was about to join us, and about seeing the Atlantic Ocean from the opposite coast and how that was kind of a big deal, and I'll probably rant and go on and on about something as well. But for now, I am basking in the glow of my COM joy.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Oh, the brain

The other night I had a very detailed, very realistic dream in which I explained the plot of Bye, Bye Birdie to someone. I don't know who the person was, but they were very interested and sat spellbound while I sang "One Last Kiss" complete with demonstrations of the proper hip-rolling motions. And discussed with enthusiasm what a clever publicity ploy it really was, having Conrad Birdie kiss a random girl goodbye.

I have no idea why I dreamt this. What deeper meaning was my brain searching for in the plot of Bye, Bye Birdie? And why do I now have various songs from the score floating around in my head?

Any ideas?

Another brain blip: this morning I was walking home from dropping my eldest off at school. As always when I don't have the Princess with me to chat, I had my iPod on. And I suddenly realized I was singing along. Out loud.

So anyone outside at that particular moment would have been treated to a very off-key (I'm a terrible singer) rendition of "Rudie Can't Fail."

What is up with my brain? I feel like after finishing my big WIP, my head is gone. My CP and I are starting another cowritten book, but since she has it at the moment I'm not actively working on or thinking about it. There's a big void where creative stuff should be, and like a black hole it's spreading to other parts of my head, like the vital bits that remind me not to sing along to my iPod because nobody hears the music but me, something so elementary I usually do not even have to remind myself.

So to recap: dreaming of fascinating strangers with the plot of musicals, and singing out loud in public. Yes indeedy.

What does your brain do when you're not working? Do you feel good, or uneasy? I'm letting the book sit until the new year before doing any rereading/editing, so I'm not even still working with it, and I'm trying not to think of it either.

I am leaving in a couple of hours to head down to the hotel for The Party. So I won't be back here pretty much until tomorrow.

The Black Dragon should be releasing today, but I'm not counting my chickens until I have a link. So I will post that and announce my contests and stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Separate Industry?

This post by The Rejecter got me thinking (more) about ebooks, and erotica/erotic romance ebooks in particular.

The Rejecter says ebooks should be viewed as a completely different industry. While I'm not sure I entirely agree (although I see the sense of it and don't actively disagree), I do wonder if, as I said in the comments to Rejecter's post, if ero ebooks shouldn't be considered as different from ebooks in general.

The reason being, of course, that this is the only genre in which ebooks have really taken off on their own, apart from NY publishers choosing to release some of their titles in ebook on Fictionwise or similar sites.

As far as I know, only two ebook publishers have received recognition from professional writer's organizations (that would be RWA in this case, I don't think SFWA etc. have recognized any ebook publishers, so please let me know if they have and I'm wrong): Triskelion and Ellora's Cave. Both of which do erotic romance. (Trisk does regular romance as well, and EC does so now with their Cerridwen Press imprint, but for a long time EC was the only one.)

What interests me are the reason why, more than the wherefores. Personally, I think it's because these books are so different from anything out there before. I think it's because women were looking for something exciting, something very sexy (and very graphic). Something with unconventional heroes (you guys know I've railed against the "your hero must be a good man who doesn't really hurt anyone in the book, and your heroine must be kind and loving and care for the little children" conventions of traditional romance, and will continue to do so. They're not bad in themselves, and I like writing within them, but I also think we can branch out and give the readers something new. Maybe this should be another post), unconventional heroines. Heroes and heroines who don't wait until they're in love to fall into bed. Something where perhaps there are two heroes and one heroine. Basically, something that pushes the boundaries.

Not only were these books not available in most bookstores--at least, not if we still want our Happy Ending (a convention I do NOT rail against). Sure, there was erotica, at some stores. But a romance where sex is viewed not merely as the culmination of the H/h's feelings for each other, but an important part of the development of those feelings? Very hard to find.

Then you have to buy such a book. Take it to the counter, and feel like the bookseller is smirking at you (which they aren't, come on. But the feeling remains.) Or the people near you in line.

See now why erotic romance ebooks took off so well? Nobody knows you're reading it, nobody knows you're buying it. Just pick something, download it, done.

And I don't think the popularity will ease now that the NY pubs are doing erotic lines of their own. Ebooks in this category still offer a wider range of situations. More graphic laguage. M/M books, or F/F scenes, or BDSM, or whatever takes your fancy.

However...I am emphatically not one of those people who claims that publishing is dead, that now people can self-publish easily the real talented writers will do so, creating another seperate industry, and leave Random House holding the bag, or whatever. It's not going to happen. As someone (an Anonymous) said in the comments to that Rejecter post, self-publishing removes the filters which ought to be in place. You have no idea if you're buying the next To Kill A Mockingbird or the next book you'll throw across the room after two pages. (And am I the only one who's noticed how many self-pub writers don't post excerpts on their sites? And wonders why? Is that perhaps an indicator of the writer's feelings about their work--whether or not they're willing to share some for free, or is it simply most of them are farid to give any of it away for free because they see it as money lost? Or simply ignorance of the business?)

People buy books from publishers because they trust them. Bottom line.

Which has strayed a bit from my original topic, but so what. I think erotic romance in ebook form is a bigger industry than other ebooks. I think if you're writing erorom, the bar is higher in ebook and print than perhaps other forms of literature in ebook (which is just my feeling, as I haven't actually read many other ebooks aside from erorom, but the ones I've read I have noticed a difference [this excludes also books put out by Wild Child Publishing because I know how stringent they are] between the quality of eroroms and the quality of, say, mysteries. Hell, EC is so inundated with subs it takes longer to hear back on a query and first three from them than it does with Donald Maass--a year at least.)

So there you go. I think I'm done. Share your thoughts.

Oh, and who volunteers to send my hook to the COM for me? I'll be at the big party that night, and we're spending the night in the hotel, and while I should be back by 8 EST the next morning I can't be certain, so would rather have someone do it for me if you can and don't mind and won't forget and all that stuff.

Monday, December 11, 2006

But would it make a good movie?

(Yes! Two posts in a short period of time! Look at me, I'm creative!)

I'm sure you're all eager to hear my opinion on Britney's "womanly space" (as Furonda from America's Next Top Model so charmingly called it), but something else has taken my fickle fancy.

The book-as-movie, or the book-to-movie, or the "My book would make a great movie!"

It seems to me this is a question that really separates the men from the boys (yeah, I'm sexist that way), or the writers from those interested in playing the Published Author Role-Playing Game (TM).

I don't write movies. I don't ever sit and think, "Who would play my characters in the movie?" In fact, I don't model my characters on particular actors either (although I do have a hero who bears a slight resemblance to James Franco. Sheer coincidence, and the resemblance is only in my head--I didn't use that as a visual clue for the readers, because I consider that rather cheap--but there it is. Mmmm. James Franco. I digress.)

It always confuses me when people talk about their books as movies, or who would be in the movie, or "My book would make a great movie!" Because I just don't think that way. I write because I love to read and I love to write.

I love to read and write in all different sorts of formats. I love ebook and print books and comics and graphic novels--and I love the visual storytelling of comics and graphic novels, but I still don't read those as "If only this was a movie". Comics and graphic novels don't need to be movies (although they tend to translate well) because they're already visual. They're art. They can do things movies can't do.

I think what bothers me so much about the "movie fixation" is it implies a desire to lose ownership of one's work. It implies the book itself is not good enough, that a story must be on a movie screen for it to be legitimate--in the author's eyes. It's as if they don't think writing books is good enough, and that makes me sad.

(BTW, don't get me wrong. My theory on books-as-movies relating to my own books pretty much follows Stephen King's--give me the money and do what you like. The books are still out there, in the form the author intended. I wouldn't say no, believe me. I just don't see the desperate appeal of such a thing.)

I wonder, if you're writing with a movie in mind, are you really writing the book you should be writing? Or is some subconscious part of yourself thinking, "Don't put that, it wouldn't work onscreen"? Are you failing to commit to your book because somewhere in your mind it's really a film?

Perhaps this is why agents tend to list "My book would be a great movie" as one of their big turn-offs? Perhaps even if the book is good, that phrase implies the author is not committed to writing as a craft and an art form? That they view a book as a stepping stone, and not a finished product on its own.

Commit to your work. You're writing a story for people to read, whether it's a plain book or a picture book or a comic book. Stop worrying about the peripherals.


Oh goody...beta blogger

Since about 15% of me is possessed of a child's fascination with anything that promises to be easier and spiffier, when Blogger offered me--little old me--the chance to upgrade this morning I took it. This despite the other 85%, the Luddite part, who knew no good could ever, ever come from all this messing about. I mean, come on. I'm the girl who freaks out for weeks when Yahoo decides it needs yet another "new look". And no matter how many times they promise it will be easier to navigate, it isn't.

So why then, did I fall for Blogger's promises that changing templates and stuff would be oh so much easier with the new Beta Blogger?

I believe it was for much the same reason poor Charlie Brown tries to kick the ball again and again...because I thought, "Maybe this time..."

Alas, no.

"Rounders" still sucks for customization (witness the dumb little white triangle thingies around all the boxes, even the ones I made invisible) and Beta Blogger seems to have even less available templates. I did manage to make the blog title box a really cool, dark gray.

Unfortunately, for some reason the html codes for Technorati, Library Thing, and my little hit counter, all of which work perfectly well in this template, were all "unacceptable" to Beta Blogger's "edit html" screen.

So I gave up. I'm still stuck with Beta Blogger (Shiny! New! Awful! Begone, instruments of evil!) but at least I have my sort of old look back and didn't lose my links.

Speaking of which, the background here has been changed because I'm planning to do away with the deadjournal and embed Blogger into my website. The website blog looks so pitiful--nobody ever comments there--whereas this blog is of course a hotbed of fascinating discussion and freindly chatter. Okay, maybe not a hotbed. But I'm working on it. More rants coming soon! Thanks (or no thanks, as the case may be) to Bam, I have been forced to view images of Britney Spears' ladyparts. I plan to rant about said ladyparts, along with the whole "cult of celebrity" and how it relates to writing, either later today or tomorrow.

But first, note to self: New does NOT equal better. Ever.

We had quite a weekend. Friday was the Faery's second birthday. Princess's school had its Christmas Disco and we went. My new friend (remember! I officially have friends here now!) and I decided we were going to avoid the buffet of egg salad sandwiches and cold pizza, and so brought wine (everyone brought wine), Chinese appetizers, olives, hummus, crackers, and pretzels, and we all had a special little picnic on our table way in the back. It wasn't far enough back to get away from the cavalcade of shitty pop music ("Barbie Girl", for example, and they didn't even play any good shitty pop music like the Spice Girls, which is at least kitschy), but we tried.

Saturday those same friends came over for dinner. I'm telling you, we are social lions.

And yesterday we put up our tree, drank sherry, and watched the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol which is IMO the finest version ever.

So busy busy busy.

**Note: Ah. I see I can no longer copy my unposted posts for easy pasting into the dj. Nice. So I get to go back and rewrite all my html tage over there. Good thing I didn't include any links in this post. (shakes fist at Blogger)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

News, news, and...stuff

Okay! Item One:

The Black Dragon will be released on 15th December. So my contests and stuff will be announced either that morning or the following afternoon, as the 15th is the evening of hubby's big work do and I will be away most of the day. At the hotel spa, btw, ladeda.)

Item Two:

Personal Demons is my query. So get over to EE and comment. Feedback me, feedback me. All night looong.

Item Three:

This morning I got an email about a project I subbed way back in February, recommending I send it to a couple of other people in the same company. This is, I am tentatively hoping, a Good Sign. So my little fingers are crossed.

I am hoping my cold stays at bay for the next couple of weeks, because of teh busyness. But it is cold and miserable outside, oh yes indeed. There was a tornado in north London today! Which is several hours away, but my goodness! Our power flickered a few times. So I did not walk to pick up Princess. We took a cab.

Okay, sorry for the dull. I'm stopping now.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Some thoughts

Well, after the non-event that wasn't my book's release on Friday (I still have no idea when it will be released), and after the non-event that was my chat on Saturday, in which I had to explain several times that I don't know when the book will be released and be bombed by promos from other authors who hadn't bothered to check the calendar and note it was a scheduled author day (which means you shouldn't be posting your own promos, really), and after planning several contests relating to the book's release which now must be delayed, and after realising that most ebook buyers check the websites on the first of the month, pick the new releases they want, and don't check back until the beginning of the next month--which means the entire month is now effectively a wash as far as this book goes, and after the advertising I arranged months ago and paid for with two separate sites hasn't appeared on either of them and my emails are going unanswered...

Let's just say I'm a tad discouraged.

Which makes this the perfect time to answer another question!

But I've also wondered how ebooks earn compared to mass market ppb. What kind of sales does a good author get? The difference in the average royalty rate for ebooks (35-40%) and mass market ppb (something like 8-10% if you're lucky) is quite glaring. Does that mean ebooks don't sell well? I'm actually all for not having an advance--I'd always feel a little guilty if I didn't earn it out, and woe betide the author who doesn't and ever wants to be published again. I guess what I'm asking is what constitutes, in your words, decent monthly paychecks?

Probably really jumping the gun, but I am curious. Not about your numbers specifically, but just a general idea. Also, have you found that agents are at all interested in selling to epublishers? Are the earnings high enough to make it worth their while, especially with no advance?

Okay, I'm not an expert on this by any stretch. I can only report what I've heard. The EREC site (links to the right) is currently working on a survey for earnings and sales for epubs, so hopefully they'll be a good resource in the months ahead.

No, ebook sales in general are nowhere near mass-market sales. But I believe the earnings can be close, and the reason is because of the much higher royalty rate. 10% of a mm paperback that sells 1000 copies for $7 each would be $700. 40% of an ebook that sells 1000 copies for $4 each would be (this is a total estimate and math is not my strong suit, okay?) $1600. So if you have an ebook that sells well vs. a mm paperback that doesn't, you're doing okay.

Of course, a mm paperback that sold that few copies would be a huge failure, whereas an ebook that sold that many would be doing pretty well.

In essence, though, you need to sell half as many ebook to make the same amount of money. So if you develop a loyal readership you can do very well from ebooks--one reason why my fantasy plan has me continuing to write ebooks, because the royalty rate is so much higher (I'd consider even $500 a month as "decent", although not liveable, because my husband works so whatever I earn is gravy. For him to quit--our ultimate goal--we'd need to earn at least 8 times that--remember the lousy conversion rates for pounds & dollars just now--so don't look for that one happening anytime soon). I've seen in several places that some of the top EC authors are earning about 80k per year, which is nice money no matter how you look at it. (That's at EC though, which is still the highest-earning epub).

Really, epub is just like any other publishing. A good author can make good sales. A not-so-good author would make not-so-good sales. Get in with a big, reliable publisher whom the readers trust and you can do very well for yourself.

As far as advances, I think it's pretty rare for a book not to earn out an advance, because publishers and agents are pretty good at guesstimating a book's future earnings. I certainly wouldn't feel guilty about accepting one, as it's a sign of your publisher's faith in your project. (Which isn't to say pubs that don't pay advances, i.e. epubs, don't have faith in their authors. I'm not implying, nor do I ever think, anything of the kind.)

True, if you don't earn out your advance you could have problems. But that doesn't mean you automatically will. Another publisher might be perfectly happy to take on a different project.

And earning out your advance is no guarantee either--remember the girls who wrote The Nanny Diaries? Decent advance, huge best-seller, and their next book was so bad and their behavior so diva their publisher made them give back the advance for book 2 and cancelled the contract?

Every project is a new project, and every project could be the one that makes us or breaks us. The key is to keep going--and let go of the old ones when it becomes obvious they'll never get where you wanted them to be, no matter how much you love them.

It's all about letting go. At least today it is.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Chatting at FAR

Come join me today at Fallen Angel Reviews Chatters Yahoo loop for a chat! I'll be there all day and I'm doing a contest too...

The prize for the contest was going to be a free download of The Black Dragon, and I know you were all expecting me to announce the release yesterday. However, apparently Triskleion is having some issues with their website or something, and so The Black Dragon is not listed as one of their new releases. In other words, it is not yet available, and I have no idea when it will be made available. I know they are working very hard to solve the problem.

So I am offering an Amazon gift card as a prize today instead.

And I will announce my Black Dragin-related contest here as soon as the book is available.

I bought my gown today for the hubby's Christmas party. It's very, very pretty. Dark gray satin, form-fitting with a flare at the knee--a mermaid skirt--and the bust is white tulle with silver and grey embroidery. So now I just need jewelry and shows! (Sorry, no corset--to have the matching skirt would take too long. Next year!)