November 30, 09 @ 5:27 pm
The entries are starting to come in for my O Come All Ye Fangful short story contest! There’s still a couple weeks left to enter by December 15th! Whee!
Didn’t realize it had been so long since my last blog post! Time sure flies…
So… November happened. And now it’s over.
Nanowrimo happened. I got approx. 30,000 words on two different projects done, but not the required 50,000, alas. The problem with doing Nano when you write books for a living is that your schedule does not always lend itself to fast drafting during a specific month. I had to switch projects due to several reasons, thus I did not win this year. *boo hoo* Ideally Nano for me would be this coming January, when I anticipate doing at least 50K on my next urban fantasy Nightfall (the second book in the Nightshade duology). Possibly more.
What else did I do this November? Well, I wrote the synopsis for Nightfall that will need approval before I dive into the actual writing. I also wrote two different synopses and fifty pages on a spec YA project.
SPEC = not a book on contract. Sometimes the muse lands when it’s not really a good idea. Unless it is a good idea. And this one is. Dammit. And I wanna write it. However, I’m having a hard time finding my footing on this particular idea. It started its life as an adult paranormal novel that I wrote in full that didn’t go anywhere. But I love this idea and won’t let go of it until they pry it from my cold dead hands.
I find that I get fixated on certain ideas, like I just KNOW deep down inside that they’re viable and worth any extra effort I need to put into them. I’ve had two projects that haven’t taken off from day one, but I knew they were books I had to write. One was Demon Princess which went through a ton of drafts since it was a Nano book that needed a lot of work. The other was The Demon in Me, which started its life about three years ago as a very gritty urban fantasy that looks nothing like the light paranormal final version that will be out in May (other than the fact that the heroine is possessed by the hero). I refused to let go of the main idea that sparked these books and they both eventually sold. They’re also both about demons. I have no idea why my ideas are so biblical these days, considering I’m not exactly a mega religious person. Well, they aren’t biblical, per se, but they are about biblical subjects. You know what I mean.
Okay, other than the above, I also wrote 20K on my second Blaze, Stormy Weather. I want to get back to that no later than next week and will write it for the rest of the December. It’s fun. I need to backtrack a bit and nail down character motivation just a little bit better, but other than that I’m trying not to overthink it. Me? Overthink something? Ridiculous. *shifty eyes*
When I finish that one, it’ll mark the fourth book I’ve written this year. Wow, hard to believe. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you devote full time hours to it. The pages just start to add up. Well, everything else falls by the wayside, at least as far as my lengthy to do list is concerned, but the pages do add up!
Movies I’ve seen in November:
New Moon — loved it! But oddly gave me a Chinese food feeling. I was hungry again an hour after I watched it. Will need to watch again.
2012 — hated it! Found the massive destruction more upsetting than entertaining (who finds this sh*t entertaining??), and I wanted almost everybody except the geologist dude to die. John Cusack’s family was completely TSTL and I felt zero emotion at the key points. I left the theater wishing for my 3 hours back, but heard a woman in the washroom gushing to her friend about how awesome it was the second time she saw it. Different strokes, people. Vive la difference.
November 19, 09 @ 12:14 pm
Looking for something to do after Nanowrimo’s done? Want to quit Nano and focus on something with real prizes? Well…here it is!!
It’s become very important to me to give back to the fiction-writing community and encourage other writers. Therefore I think it would be BIG FUN to have a short story contest!
I know that a lot of people who read this blog, follow me on Twitter, or are my Facebook friends (as well as other social networks) are aspiring writers. Well, get yer hands on yer keyboards for my….
1st Annual O COME ALL YE FANGFUL* Short Story Contest
- First Prize: $50** Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble gift card
- Second Prize: $30 Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble gift card
- Third Prize: $20 Amazon, Borders, or Barnes & Noble gift card
THE RULES & REGS
- This contest is open to all writers, published or unpublished, anywhere in the world
- Stories must be 1000 words or less in length
- Only one story per entrant
- Entry must be in English (the only language I’m fluent in, alas)
- No fanfic, original stories only please
- Stories must have a holiday theme — Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, etc. — make it festive! (even if it’s just a smidge)
- Stories must have a paranormal or fantasy element (ie: vampires or werewolves opening up their gifts on Christmas morning. Ugh, don’t use that, but you get the idea)
- All authors retain all rights to their work, but agree to allow me to post the top three stories on my blog for public viewing
- Entering this contest does not include a critique of your writing, advice on how to get published, or a recommendation to my agent/publisher. (you’d be surprised by what I’m asked for sometimes)
- December 15, 2009 at Midnight EST, no exceptions
- Copy and paste your story into the body of your email (no attachments please) or send me a link to where I can read it on your blog or website
- Send the story or link to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: “O COME ALL YE FANGFUL“
- Entrants will be contacted by email to confirm receipt. If you don’t hear back from me within 48 hours of sending, I didn’t get it. Please send again!
- Entries will be judged by yours truly, Michelle Rowen
- Winners contacted by email on Sunday, December 20th to claim their prize
- The top three stories will be posted here on my blog on December 22nd-24th (one per day starting with the third place winner) for all to enjoy
I look forward to reading your entries!
*thanks to Richelle Mead for suggesting the contest title
**Gift cards will be delivered by email and purchased in US dollars
November 18, 09 @ 2:07 am
There’s been an uproar in Romancelandia again. Harlequin has apparently teamed up with a self-publishing company to create Harlequin Horizons and everyone seems to be upset about this on some level. I just read through the entire comment string on Smart Bitches to get a better sense of the issues and will be watching very carefully how both Harlequin and RWA handles this situation. Right now, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea. But, hey, you never know. I will reserve judgement for now.
Normally I don’t comment on this sort of thing, shying away from controversy, and I certainly am not aiming to be controversial with this post, but I have to say one thing:
I get it.
I understand why writers would be tempted to shell out $$$ amount of money to be published.
Why do I get it?
Because I almost did. I was *this* close to publishing Bitten & Smitten (then titled Dearly Departed) with XLibris back in early 2004. I even did the artwork for the cover (which I wish I still had somewhere). I researched self-publishing and felt NEARLY ready to shell out $799 for a low-end package that would net me page set up, and about ten physical copies of the books — and I believe it was the chance to be stocked in a bricks and mortar store. I registered for more information. Reps for the company continued to periodically call me up until around three years ago when I (tried to) explain that I was traditionally published and wouldn’t be needing their services. They didn’t quite understand what I was saying, though, and still tried to sell me a package.
So basically, I ALMOST self-published a book that found a New York publisher and launched my writing career — which I currently am lucky enough to do full time.
Back in 2003 I was writing B&S as part of the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Correspondence Course (approx $500 to take at the time) that hooked me up with a published author as my mentor. My mentor was awesome and full of experience, but she cautioned me that vampire fiction wasn’t selling (!!) and that I might look into self-publishing. This made me feel kind of sad and hopeless, but ready to look for the best way to go about this. In fact, I will share what she wrote to me in May 2003:
“I have been considering potential markets for your work, but in today’s marketplace a new writer too often has little luck. There is, however, an alternative now that did not exist in past years. Print on demand publishing offers an affordable method of getting a book into print, and these days The Writer’s Digest holds a competition each year for the best self published books in many categories. Try regular markets first, but keep that in mind.”
A few months later:
“I have found, since our last communication, two more self publishing venues worth looking into. (URL removed) does both the publishing and aggressive publicizing, and the other is PublishAmerica.com, which is new to me but looks interesting. Studying their web sites can give you some idea of what they want and what their policies may be.”
I do not believe she was trying to push me into self-publishing, but was simply offering her honest opinion about the highly competitive market.
However, I might have been slightly naive six years ago, but I was really, really stubborn. I knew what I wanted. I wanted to see my book on a shelf in a bookstore and get it into the hands of thousands of readers. I may still be midlist and certainly not coasting on my modest success, but I have achieved those goals. If I’d hit that button to “buy” the self-publishing package and uploaded my PDF of “Dearly Departed” I know I would not be where I am right now.
Is self-publishing right for some people? Absolutely. But it’s not right for everybody. It’s not right for you if you’re just looking for an easy answer and think that you’re going to be the chosen one whose self-pubbed book hits the NYT list and gets picked up by a traditional publisher like The Shack or The Celestine Prophesies.
So what changed my mind about self-publishing other than sheer stubbornness?
Well, at the time I have to say I was throwing money at my writing hobby like a drunken sailor. I hadn’t joined any organizations like RWA (mostly because I didn’t want the reminder about how much competition there was out there!) but I took a bunch of courses online. Through a couple of those courses I met an editor who offered her services, for a fee of course. I believe I paid $600 to have “Dearly Departed” looked at by her. Several months later, I got my edit letter, and I was a bit disappointed. She didn’t find anything I needed to change. She said she loved it and it was in the top five books that she’d ever edited. I felt like…well, if you loved it so darn much, where’s my refund? LOL
The thing is, I knew her well enough to respect her opinion, even if it was difficult to take a compliment. She wouldn’t say this if she didn’t believe it. So, basically, while that $600 didn’t net me any tangible edits on my manuscript, it did buy me enough confidence to delete the bookmark to the self-publisher and start querying agents (and I got the second agent I queried who subsequently sold the book in record time — hoo yah).
I’m not saying that you need to spend big bucks for someone to tell you your work is good enough, but I am saying that if you’re looking at spending lots of money on self-publishing because you think it’s the easy way to get published — or the easy way to become a “Harlequin author” then give it a bit more thought. Your publishing contract — where the publisher pays YOU — might be right around the next corner.
Okay, that’s all I wanted to say. As you were.
November 11, 09 @ 7:15 pm
Back when I was an aspiring writer, I had a hard time actually…well, writing. I was a perfectionist with low self esteem (still am) and that mentality definitely gets in the way of getting first draft pages done when the weasels of doubt come a-callin’.
These are a few of my diary (not blog!!) entries from back then. This was just prior to my taking writing seriously and getting some real work done as I fiddled with my first book (as yet unpubbed). If you’d told Michelle from the year 2000 that she’d be writing four books a year nine years later, she probably would have laughed in your face. And then thrown up. In your face.
The point of this post is to say, even if you’re feeling like I was below… it is possible. Just keep writing! The only real failure is giving up before you’ve even given yourself a real chance!
September 10, 2000
I actually didn’t think I’d be able to manage it, but I did manage to not work on the book for even a solitary moment this whole weekend.
What an accomplishment! At this rate, I may never actually finish it. Wow. To be able to deny following through on a lifelong dream is really something and I should be very proud.
Or I should stop being a smart ass and figure out how to proceed as painlessly as possible.
October 9, 2000
Oprah said today to begin to see or make the changes in your life, you must first be honest with yourself about the nasty little lies that you think help, but are really hurting. Speaking as a woman constantly in denial, this may be something.
–It’s a joke that you say you want to be a writer but you never write
–The muse is unlikely to appear anytime soon
–Writing is hard work that may not lead to financial freedom
–You may never get published
October 17, 2000
I’ve been doing some relatively deep thinking on the subject of my stagnant writing career. And these are the thoughts I’ve had:
1) I could be a great writer
2) Writing is hard work
3) One must actually “write” to be able to call themselves a “writer”
Just like with exercise, I am not going to wake up one morning and go: “Gee whiz, I feel like going for a 10km run.” I will not (doubtful) wake up at 4:00am with the muse leading my fingers to the keyboard.
Persistent and Consistent
I have those words taped to my computer at work to remind me what success takes.
I guess I just don’t believe in myself and my abilities enough. But I gotta get over that. Big time.
December 4, 2000
When can I write? When would be the most feasible time for me to get my ass in a chair for an hour (just a godamned hour!) a day.
Right now (11 pm) is bad because I’m tired and it’s too easy to say — I’ll start tomorrow.
Probably the best time would be when I get home from work – after I’ve had dinner. Of course my mind now tells me that – hey – that’s exercise time. Uh, yeah. And the week I exercise seven times will be a miracle. I exercise (if I’m lucky) 4x per week. That leaves me at the bare minimum…gee whiz…four hours more than I currently devote to writing.
This passion must be developed and nurtured. My talent is very shy and easily intimidated. But it is there – hiding in the shadows. Reach down far enough and it just might bite your hand off.
November 02, 09 @ 12:01 pm
Nanowrimo 2009 has begun!! I can’t believe it’s been six years since I did my first one in 2003 and finished the first book I’d ever written THE END on. With this Nano I’m working on my 14th contracted novel. Craziness. This book is going to be fun. Stamped it, no erasies. I did nearly 4K on it yesterday so I’m off to a running start. Onward!!
Hot Spell is now available at audible.com. This is my first audio book ever and listening to the sample feels really bizarre but fantastic. This might be how actors feel about seeing themselves on the bigscreen. Well, a little. Here’s the link if you want to give a listen.
And I just got a very nice review for Demon Princess in Publishers Weekly!
Demon Princess: Reign or Shine Michelle Rowen. Walker, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8027-8492-6; $9.99 paper ISBN 978-0-8027-9534-2
Paranormal romance author Rowen’s (the Immortality Bites series) charming YA debut skillfully balances a lighthearted teen voice with emotional maturity, which bodes well for this new series. Sixteen-year-old Nikki Donovan is less than pleased when a mysterious young man named Michael shows up bearing a message from her absentee father, who she learns is a dying demon king. Additionally, Nikki is her father’s heir. Upon her father’s death, Nikki will assume control of the Shadowlands, where her father rules the border between the demon lands and the mortal world. “That sounded like more of a gatekeeper than a king,” Nikki thinks. “[T]he thought that my father wasn’t a horrible, evil demon set my mind slightly at ease. Slightly.” When Nikki balks under the sudden responsibility, she is offered a choice between mortality and fulfilling the responsibilities of her demon heritage. But as Nikki’s feelings for Michael grow and as she learns more about her growing powers and her demon family, her decision becomes more difficult. Though the villains can tend toward the cartoonish, Nikki’s engaging voice and several intriguing secondary characters make this a winner. Ages 12—up.
I certainly can’t complain about that! All in all, a very good start to the week, I’d say.
Okay… time to start writing……….