Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writers Write.... Every Day?


"You have to write every day."

I've heard this gem around writer's forms, said by agents and editors and authors themselves. And for the most part, I agree with it. If you want to be a professional writer, you have to write pretty much every day. You can't write just when the inspiration strikes, or you'll never produce anything fast enough.

If you don't want to be a professional writer, then hell, take as much time as you need. Write only when the inspiration hits. Wear crappy berets and sit in coffee shops telling strangers about YOUR PROCESS.

But if you want to be a professional writer, do you really have to write every day?

I didn't write today. I realized this on the way home from work. Partly, this was due to me buying the long awaited Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (which was fabulous, of course.) but it was partly due to errands and doing this necessary to, you know, live.

But I could be writing. As I work on this blog post now, I could be writing. I could have dinner, and then for an hour or two sit at my desk and write before bed.

But I'm not going to.

I don't have family demands (actually, my house is quite empty at the precise moment) I don't have other obligations to fulfill. I have no viable excuse not to write. Instead, I'm going to make myself dinner, park myself in front of the TV, and watch cartoons while surfing the 'net for things I find amusing.

Does this make me a bad writer?

There are many writers out there who have a hard time forcing themselves to write. It takes effort for them to focus and plow through hard parts when they'd rather be out doing other things or giving up on the project entirely. Honestly, if you're this type of writer, you HAVE to sit down and write EVERY DAY. Because up until this point, your life has been structured without putting in the time it takes to write. Learning to write is a lot like being on a diet-- it's a change of lifestyle, a change of habits you have to get used to.

But once your used to it, is the strict schedule really necessary? Do we fear that, after spending so much time learning this discipline, that a night or a week or a month away will ruin it?

No.

Those questions can be summed up in that simple answer, in my opinion.

Discipline is discipline. Something that takes that long to build and work for doesn't disappear the second we take our eyes off of it. It can be easy to fall off the bandwagon and spiral back into those bad cycles of not wanting to work on the novel. But that takes weeks, even months to do. If you've been writing seriously for years, then it can take YEARS to lose that discipline. Give or take some time depending on personality types. But that's not what I'm talking about.

Writing every day isn't necessary. It's healthy, and it certainly helps build up your craft, but will you fail as a writer if you don't? No. The average publisher expects an author to pump out one novel a year, and if you write more than that, great! But this doesn't mean you should force yourself into a situation where you feel you HAVE to write, to the point where the fun is sucked out of it. Writing is supposed to be fun, even if it is a job. And like every job, we all need a little time away from it to breathe.

Here's my take on it:



I also think my flowchart skills could use some work. Oh well.

Peace,

-Katie

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Contest Winner!!

First of all, I want to apologize to everyone for the delay of getting this up. I'd hoped to get this up before I left, but things got in the way and I couldn't get to it in time. Long story short, I'm sitting on the floor of my hotel room in San Jose typing this. It's hot. And there are palm trees. I thought those only existed in movie-land.

ANYWAY.

We had 14 people enter this contest, which to me is like, huge. I want to thank everyone who entered, retweeted, blogged, or whatevered this contest. It may not seem like much, but I would giggle insanely whenever a notification popped up. YOU'RE ALL WINNERS IN MY BOOK.

Before we get to the winner, check out these links.

We have a review of Bumped here and here. They're worth checking out.

Also, check out this review of The DUFF.

And then check out this awesome post on teen sexuality.

We kinda got a conversation going, which is awesome. Let's keep it up.

Now, for the moment you've all be waiting for. Your champion, chosen by a randomizer is.....

SERA.


WHEEEEEEEEEEE. Go you. Everyone else hates you now, but in a good way.

I will shortly be sending you an email asking for your address so I can come to your home and GIVE YOU THE BOOKS IN PERSON. Kidding, but you get the idea.

SCRATCH THAT. Sera, please email me your address at katiecarson (at) hotmail (dot) com. If I don't receive an email by Monday the 22nd, then I will draw a new winner.

Thanks everyone for entering. I promise I will be doing more giveaways soon. (If I survive this holiday) So stay tuned. ;)

-Katie

Thursday, August 18, 2011

PublishAmerica is a Scam.

Can I rant? Can I whine and complain and bitch to you guys? Well, ready or not, here goes.

Very few things can make me angry, like really angry, especially in this business. Really bad query letters? They make me laugh. Rude authors? They're a dime a dozen. Receiving no reply for MONTHS at a time? Frustrating, but not the end of the world.

PublishAmerica, on the other hand, makes me MAD. These guys are not just crooks, they're assholes. They're scam artists, they're dirt bags, and just all around horrible people. They have no problem crushing the dreams of writers, taking their money, locking them into contracts. And then, if you dare ruffle a feather or demand your rights back, BAM, they'll sue you for every penny you're worth.

There is NOTHING redeemable about this company and the people in it.

PA's slogan is "We treat authors the old fashion way-- we pay them" and nothing could be further from the truth. The number ONE rule of publishing is, if you are taking the traditional publishing route, you should pay ABSOLUTELY NOTHING OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR JOURNEY. Your agent's pay will be taken out of your advance/royalties. They don't see a penny before your book is sold. Publishers shouldn't be taking any money from you, either. Quite the opposite-- they're buying your book from you. Their job is to back you up, and help promote the book. The amount the publishing house puts into promoting your book is THEIR choice. They chose that amount based on their prediction of book sales. You giving them money will not make that promotion budget go up.

PublishAmerica's website alone makes me mad. It's poorly done, for one. For another, head to the online bookstore.

See what we have there? $69 dollars and YOUR BOOK "will be submitted to our print and distribution partners for Mexico, Colombia, Argentina and Spain. Your book will also be prominently displayed at the Guadalajara Book Fair which will be attended by our partners as well."

Not good enough for you? Try this one on for size: For $29 dollars, "We'll let the president, John Boehner, Harry Reid and your local Congressman, AND your local TV, know."

WOW. You're going to get MY BOOK to the PRESIDENT? And all I have to do is pay $29?

$89 for "Your book will be displayed and promoted in our booth, immediately visible for all visitors. We will send you a photo, live from Germany, that will show your book at the Fair, for your home hall of fame."

OH BUT IT GETS BETTER. Because under all these "promotions" we get this baby: "This is an introductory offer. Prices will go up after this week."

THAT'S RIGHT. PRICES WILL GO UP. ACT NOW.

PublishAmerica is a SCAM. All they do is force you to hawk over your cash so they can bind your manuscript and sell it back to you. Yet they deny, deny, deny that they are vanity publisher. They SAY they put books in bookstores, yet the only place we can actually find these books (except on rare occaions) is the PA online bookstore. The worst part is these guys have no restraint. They aren't a quiet publishing scam, they go in for the BIG ONES.

Recently, PA stated that for only $49 they would get your manuscript to JK Rowling.

WHAT!?!?!?!?!

These guys are batshit CRAZY, I tell you. Of course, Rowling's lawyer's retaliated with a silent cease and desist notice. PA shot back with a cease and desist of their own.

PA stated this in their return cease and desist: "First, PA has done nothing to harass your client or invade her privacy. The simple fact is that your client’s Edinburgh residence is public knowledge; she even publicizes this fact on her own website!!! Accordingly, PA did nothing wrong by repeating that fact in its promotion. If she wants to keep her residence private, perhaps she should not publicize that fact."

So it's all right to lie and say you can get a manuscript to JK Rowling because her address is public knowledge? Did PA intend to walk up to her doorstep, ring the bell and demand she read the manuscripts? They say they used the address because it is "public knowledge" and "By revealing only well known information about your client that is generally available to the public, PA specifically contradicted the impression that it has some direct line of access to your client."

So what they're saying, is DESPITE the fact that their promotion stated that they would get the book to Rowling ("bring your book to the attention of Harry Potter’s author next week while our delegation is in her hometown, and ask her to read it and to tell us and you what she thinks.”) they then double back and say the wording contradicts itself, saying only that they would be in the same town as Rowling. Therefore, if the author's book didn't make it to Rowling, they can simply put it down as unfortunate "happenstance."

The promotion has since been taken off their website, but the promotion to get your book to the president still stands.

WHY can PublishAmerica get away with this? Because their lawyers are good, their contracts are airtight, and they're not afraid to be bold and fight to destroy writer's dreams.

I really hope, hope, HOPE that one day, they fuck up. Hear that, PA? I hope you keep pushing the boundaries, keep pissing off authors like Rowling. Because someone needs to sue the pants off them and win. This company needs to COME DOWN.

But until that time, writers have to learn to protect themselves. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do your research. It is of VITAL IMPORTANCE that you know what you're getting into when you query agents or publishers. There are scam artists out there, like PublishAmerica, but there are also just plain bad agents. You wouldn't buy a house or a car or go to Hawaii without knowing what you're getting into. UNDERSTAND the business, at least for what stage you're at.

There are many great resources for writers out there. Predators and Editors is one, which lists agents, agencies and publishers alike, telling you who has sold, who's recieved bad reviews, and who are really the star players. More great ones are Query Tracker and Agent Query. I used Agent Query RELIGIOUSLY when I was querying. Great resource. We also have Absolute Write, which is just an all around amazing place to be. If you're unsure about an agent, check our if they're part of AAR or AAA(UK).

If you want to see more personal horror stories from authors who have been screwed over by PublishAmerica, then look here.

Otherwise, I think I've spammed all of you with links enough for today.

Remember Writers: The most important thing is for you to be informed. This is YOUR career, so you'd better know what you're doing.

Peace,

-Katie

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

IS THERE A PLACE FOR CAPSLOCK IN NOVELS?

My contest to win Bumped by Megan McCafferty and The Duff by Kody Keplinger is still going strong. Enter now, before time runs out!

Anyway, onto the topic I've been thinking about for the past few hours.

DOES CAPSLOCK HAVE A PLACE IN LITERATURE?

I love capslock. I'm guilty of getting FAR TOO EXPRESSIVE and SHOUTING OVER THE INTERNET VIA CAPSLOCK. DON'T LIE, THE VOICE INSIDE YOUR HEAD IS SHOUTING AS YOU READ THIS, ISN'T IT?

Of course, this post isn't about using caps like I do. But for words or parts of sentences, especially dialogue, that you really want to emphasize, is capslock acceptable?

Still don't know what I'm talking about? That's okay, I'm not making much sense today anyway! Sometimes, we need to emphasize things in our writing, either for clarity, for voice, or sometimes because you want to add that extra little umph to your tension.

There are several different ways to emphasize in writing. Some traditionalist writers go for the underline approach which was used most commonly when typewriters were the bee's knees, because it was easier for an editor to see the underline as opposed to the italics.

But now that we've moved to these fancy-dancy computers and internets, the common standard is to use italics for emphasis. I still hear some debate about this between underliners and italic-ers, but the general consensus seems to be that italics are in, for the time being.

So where does that leave the outrageously obnoxious CAPSLOCK PEOPLE? I'm so guilty of emphasis alone, and I love capslock. I think in SHELL, literally half the book was emphasized. My beta readers made me cut out 3/4 of it, and a lot is still in there.

I've seen capslock used in books and in other cases I've seen it ignored. Some writers claim that it does have a place in fiction, but so long as it's kept only in dialogue. The Child Thief by Brom, I remember, had great use of capslock in dialogue. And boy, was it effective.

There are others, though, who I've heard say that capslock has no place in fiction. The standard for emphasis is italics, right, so why waste page space by blaring your message across the page? It strains the eyes after a while, and there are subtler ways to get your message across.

Of course, then there are those (LIKE MYSELF) who believe that capslock does have a place in fiction, either narrative or dialogue. It's a whole different package than italics. Italics do emphasize, but capslock emphasize in a bolder, brighter way.

I'll use an example to show how I think italics and capslock can coexist, doing the same thing in subltly different ways. If we take the following sentence:

"I can't believe you'd pick him over me," she cried.

Right now it's fine, but using italics, you get get a different meaning across.

"I can't believe you'd pick him over me," she cried.

With the emphasis there, we see get more of a bitterness to her tone. Change the emphasis, change the tone.

"I can't believe you'd pick him over me," she cried.

Placing the emphasis in a different part of the sentence completely changes the tone of this. Instead of coming across as bitter, the speaker suddenly comes across as whiny and/or needier than before.

And, of course:

"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU'D PICK HIM OVER ME," she cried.

Also effective, but watch how this changes the tone. Also, it's best to be careful with capslock, especially when emphasizing a full sentence like this. For best results, use capslock while the speaker is swinging a giant ax, lightning shooting out of her eyes and looking as though she might have crawled from the darkest recesses of the netherworld.


So I want to know your thoughts. What do you think of capslock in writing? Does it pull you out of the story? Does it bring a boldness and sharpness to the narrative? Does it feel grittier? Is it more effective? Does it make your eyes bleed?

Peace,

-Katie

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Must-FUCKING-Reads + a Giveaway

(If you're just here for the contest and don't want to hear my ramblings, scroll down until you see a giant sparkly "CONTEST." )

So, SO, people of internet land. Some of you may know that I've been on vacation, which means a whole hell lot of READING. Which is awesome, because sometimes in my life I forget to sit down with a good book. Things can get crazy.

So I read this mofo:



Bumped by Megan McCafferty. I'd picked it up a few weeks ago, mostly because I was interested in this dystopian that had a very contemporary feel.

I read it in two days. Whoa, WHOA, this thing is... well, it's a BOOK. A FABULOUS book. A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious book. It's the kind of AMAZING, BREATHTAKING, absolutely MIND-BLOWING book that makes me incapable of leaving a review, because the review would only consist of me screaming "BUY THIS BOOK. BOOK GOOD. BOOK MAKE KATIE HAPPY. BUY MANY BOOK."

And as I reached the climax, my heart thumping, sitting literally on the edge of my seat, reading into wee hours into the night, trying to sit close enough to the fire for light but careful not to CATCH FIRE OR ANYTHING, I realized something. This book reminded me of another book. Another book that I read in two days. Another book that was so MIND-BLOWING, BREATHTAKINGLY AWESOME that I still pick it up and re-read it, which ladies and gentlemen VERY RARELY EVER IN A MILLION YEARS HAPPENS.

It happened to be this book:



The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. Again, another book I am incapable of writing a review for because I am unable to take my biases out of the picture.

So what do these books have in common? Yes, they both have fabulous plots and wicked tension that keep readers turning the pages long into the night. They have FABULOUS CHARACTERS! (Oh GOD, Wesley makes me want to MELT, and Jondoe is absolutely adorable! And can we talk about how perfect and real Zen is? Or how about how Bianca totally stole my heart with her no-nonsense attitude? Or the emotional growth and change that Melody goes through? Or how sweet and naive and innocent Harmony is, and her tumble through an alien world?) They have smooth writing which makes them an easy read. Flawless transitions. Fabulous voices that are easily discernible from each other.

All around, these books ROCK. But why are they so special that I feel I need to talk about them? What about these books throws me off my feet and then slaps me with my own socks?

Simple. Kody Keplinger and Megan McCafferty have BALLS.

That's right, you heard me. These ladies talk the talk and walk the walk. They are not afraid to jump on the controversial train. Hell, these ladies are fucking BULLETPROOF. Bring it, psycho parents who think their kids are darling little angels and this kind of literature RUINS CHILDREN AND OMG YOU'RE DESTROYING SOCIETY AND HOW COULD YOU???? Nah, Keplinger and McCafferty take it head on. They talk about teen sex, virginity, teen pregnancy, condoms, the whole shebang.

GASP.

CONDOMS?!?!?!?!?

Yes, that's right. McCafferty's Bumped is a fabulous satire on modern society. In a world where teenage girls are getting pregnant and selling their babies off, the idea of teens having sex for pleasure, because they're in love, is scandalous. Condoms are illegal. The mere mention of teens having sex for something other than reproduction is a horrifying thought. Girls are crying when they find out they're not pregnant after a wild tumble at MasSEX parties.

And in Keplinger's The DUFF, we're faced with a girl who uses sex (with a boy she thinks has more in his pants than in his head) to try and escape the troubles of her home life. These are not virgins bumping uglies for the first time. Both Bianca and Wesley have had sex before. They know what they're doing, and they enjoy it. And boy, do they get at it a lot. But she paints such a real and fresh image of teen sexuality. Yes, we do have the virgin first times. But what happens to the teens who are passed that point? Do they just... stop having sex?

A lot of writers are talking about teen sexuality lately. It's a hot topic. But these ladies don't just talk about teen sexuality (and they do. Kody's blog is a great place for talking about sexuality in literature and in everyday life) they WRITE about it.

YA comes under fire every once in a while. Most recently the Wall Street Journal published the article "Darkness Too Visible" (which I think everyone and their GRANDMA has seen by now) Not exactly about teen sexuality, but along the same lines. This prompted a huge response from the community in the form of the #YASaves hastag on Twitter, which is still ongoing. When they pushed, we pushed back, and it really makes me proud to be part of the young adult community.

That's why these women rock my socks. Because they're talking about teeen sexuality. They're getting their books out there. I'm sure they face their own bit of guff, but they keep going. People are always going to oppose change. We will always have parents or other misguided people who don't understand what we're about trying to shove their ideals down our throats. But we can't back down, because as writers for teens, we speak for teens. We give a voice to a lot of people who don't have one. We tell stories that are gritty, sexy, cute, simple, complex, dark, light, whatever. When we talk about sex, we show teens that it's okay to talk about sex. We show them that it's not taboo, and if they have a problem, or a question, or a concern, they can ask about it.

A world where kids aren't ashamed of themselves and the feelings and changes they can't control is a brighter world. It's one less thing they have to deal with while they're riding the uncomfortable roller coaster of adolescence.

I would chew off my left foot to write a contemporary. I suck at it. I would chew off both my feet to be able to write something half as amazing as The DUFF or Bumped. But, sadly, I'm not there yet, and until I find a magical fairy who will trade feet for contemporary-writing abilities, I'm SOL.

But, I can't stand idly by when I find writers like this. Who are TRUE heroes who are also AMAZING STORYTELLERS. I have to help these writers. I have to spread the MOTHERFUCKING WORD, YO.

So I'm having a CONTEST.

Glitter Words
[Glitterfy.com - *Glitter Words*]


Here's the lo-down, peeps. I'm giving away a copy of BOTH Bumped and The DUFF. That's right, you guys are LUCKING OUT TODAY LET ME TELL YOU.

The contest is international, because I love you guys. It will be open until midnight (mountain time) on August 18th. If I receive over 25 entries before MONDAY, AUGUST 15TH, then I'm going to extend the contest until the 31st. (Because I'm going on holidays AGAIN and I might as well leave it open for many people to enter)

If I get over 50 entries, then I will add ANOTHER prize pack. That's right, a second person will receive a copy of Bumped and The Duff. HOW COOL IS THAT?

And if I get over 75 enteries (I know, I can dream, right?) then I will do something SUPER SPECIAL AWESOMESAUCE. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but it's going to be HUGE, like, PRIZES FOR EVERYONE huge.

Here's how you enter:

--> Comment on this blog (with your email address for contact) in the comment section of this post

--> RETWEET this contest. RETWEET THIS LIKE CRAZY. Every time you tweet this contest, I will enter you again. DO YOU HEAR THAT? YOU COULD TWEET THIS FOREVER AND GET A BAZILLION ENTRIES. (Just make sure for every tweet, you post a comment with the link.)

--> Blog about this topic. Blog about teen sexuality, and you get another entry. You can also post a link for an old blog post that you did (because, you know, you're such hipsters that you guys blogged about this BEFORE IT WAS COOL.)
----> If you mention me, this post, or this contest in your post about teen sexuality, you will get YET ANOTHER ENTRY.

--> If you follow this blog or if you follow me on twitter, I will add another entry. BECAUSE I'M THAT AWESOME.

Also, when I announce the winners I will also post up all the blog posts about teen sexuality, so we can all have a chance to read more about the topic and talk about it more. Because the more we talk about it, the more we'll know.

AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE. YEAH.

So go, my minions. Spread the word!

Peace,

-Katie