Musings about the writing life.

Friday, April 26, 2013

St. Francis Book Sale Haul

St. Francis Booksale
3605 Lawndale Dr.
Greensboro, NC
Thursday, April 25th, 2013

My book haul:

Harry Potter 1-4 by J.K. Rowling
Lit by Mary Karr 
Slam edited by Cecily von Ziegesar
The Hollywood Book of Lists by Stephen J. Spignesi
The Rock Bible by Henry H. Owings
The Complete Jack the Ripper by Donald Rumbelow
Selected Poems: W.H. Auden edited by Edward Mendelson
Me & Shakespeare: Adventures with the Bard by Herman Gollob
The Roominghouse Madrigals by Charles Bukowski
Betting on the Muse by Charles Bukowski

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Edmund Schubert Guest Lectures to Creative Writing Classes

Edmund Schubert came to both the Creative Writing I and II classes and spoke about publishing and writing today.

He talked about how he is the editor for Orson Scott Card's online literary magazine Intergalactic Medicine Show and how he looks at a lot of different people's work and tries his best on deciding on what pieces should be in the magazine. "Character is very important and so is story."  He wants the writing to flow without any "speed bumps" allowing him to get "lost in the story."

The classes got to ask questions. One question was what did he do when he got writer's block? He answered that when he gets writer's block that he tends to fall back into his editor mode and edits his work. He said one can over-edit a piece to death and never finish writing the story. So he said, "Never lose the momentum."  One just needs to keep going and not stop until he or she gets to the end. Editing is something that can be done later, but getting a story down on paper while one is in the momentum of writing is the hard part.

Schubert explained to us the difference between getting a literary agent and self-publishing. The big advantage to going with a literary agent that gets you into the big publishing houses in New York like, Random House, Penguin etc. is that these these publishing houses can get you into Barnes & Nobles.

Going with small publishing houses is still good, but will not get one into Barnes & Nobles. Writers who self-publish their ebooks get 70% of the profits on a quarterly basis. They get to control what the cover looks like and have the instant gratification of publishing right away rather than waiting around two or three years.

Either way, all writers have to do their own marketing these days.  They need a "platform" whether this is done by blogging, social media, or reading in front of audiences.

Often big publishers keep an eye on what ebooks are selling the most and will then approach those writers to do their print books.  "Nowadays," Schubert said, "self-publishing a book is the new platform for writers."

(This blog was written by Golda Fried and Nicole Cline.)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Two Editors and a Comma Dialogue Workshop

April 20, 2013
Two Editors and a Comma
Dialogue Workshop
Quail Hollow Estates Clubhouse
Charlotte, NC

Yesterday, I went to a great workshop on dialogue led by Carin Siegfried and Betsy Thorpe, Two Editors and a Comma (Facebook page).
Carin Siegfried and Betsy Thorpe

They were extremely well-prepared and all the participants walked away with a stack of handouts.

Carin slipped us into the topic by going over dialogue punctuation on one of their daughter's whiteboard.  Then they bounced other topics related to dialogue back and forth such as layering narrative with dialogue and not overusing dialogue tags such as "exclaimed," etc.--using "said" is just fine.

I met a great group of women which is always nice. And there were very good homemade chocolate chip cookies and iced tea. The room itself was full of beautiful natural light and next to a "plond" (pond/lake) as Betsy called it.

Many great books with great dialogue were mentioned but the one that intrigued me the most was Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  "Remember, it did win the Pulitzer Prize," Betsy said.

Betsy also mentioned a YA novel, Hysteria, by a local author Megan Miranda that sounded interesting about a girl who murdered her boyfriend but can't remember it well.

Here's what's twirling in my head the day after: Don't bother putting dialogue tags in the middle of a sentence, sentence fragments are okay in fiction as long as they're not accidental, and the publishers of Fifty Shades of Grey did not have a lot of time to edit because it went straight from the web to print and nobody wanted to lose the momentum there. "Otherwise it probably would be half the size."--invisible dialogue tag there because I can't remember who said that.

Betsy said that she and Carin will try to do a workshop quarterly.  I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

North Carolina Writers Network Spring Conference

Yesterday, Sat. Apr. 13th, 2013, I attended the NCWN Spring Conference at UNCG (Greensboro).  I try to go every year.  It's always been one Saturday in April in Greensboro.  I love feeling like a student and talking shop with other writers.

I woke up without the usual trouble.  It was a sun shiny day.

When I got to the MHRA building, Ed Southern, the president of NCWN, checked me in.  Kevin Morgan Watson from Press 83 gave me a bright orange pen.  I found two people to talk to who I had been in classes before at previous conferences.

My first workshop was about self-publishing with author Scott Nicholson.  There seemed to be a whole bunch of people who already self-published in the group and the conversation in the Q&A type workshop quickly veered toward how to market one's book.  Many people had joined Kindle Select (on Amazon) and were talking about the benefits of that.

Scott said publishing is now a "button, not an industry." A quarter of U.S. books are now ebooks and that is only going to rise. He was sure Barnes and Noble would be bankrupt in a year. Majorly depressing.

Why epublishing?  Well, currently authors receive10% royalties in traditional publishing whereas in epublishing it is now 70% though there is talk of it going down to 35%.  Writers cut out "the middle man" and have more say in the cover design and format.

He said he uses the free software Calibre to change word documents into epub format.

We talked about which will distribute your ebook to Kobo and Apple and take a 15% cut.  They will pay you your royalties from these places every quarter.

Bookbaby was also mentioned; they apparently charge a $150.00 start up flat fee to get your ebook out to all the different formats.

He stated that Facebook will only let you send messages to some of the people who like your fan page and after that you need to pay.  I had not known that and found that pretty shocking. "When did that happen?" I asked.  "Basically when they started selling stock," he said. Instead he suggested for writers to start their own emailing lists.

Another interesting fact I learned: North Carolina residents can't become Amazon affiliates because of the tax laws here.  A lot of the Booktubers I watch on YouTube are Book Depository affiliates and I would guess the same would be true there.

He mentioned the resource, as a place to announce and find free ebooks. He also mentioned

Want to make your book an audiobook?  Go to

Scott Nicholson stated he was able to make enough money self-publishing to quit his day job, which is extremely rare for writers these days.  However, Scott seems like a prolific writer who hooks readers in with preludes and sequels--I'm pretty sure I personally am not that kind of writer.  It takes me years to come up with a solid 150 pages.

In the afternoon, I had a workshop on plot with author John McNally, another prolific writer but of the traditional publishing kind.  He came to class with a cart-load of handouts.  Handouts for me are like presents so it was basically Christmas in April for me!  They were basically lists of different plot types and short story examples.

I picked up John McNally's latest book which is about writing: Vivid and Continuous (a phrase from John Gardiner).

I have a pdf version on my Kindle but I still like paper versions, especially if they are a dying breed.