Category Archives: General Interest

Our New Year’s Resolution – Improve RMFW Membership

By Saytchyn Maddux-Creech, Wendy Howard & Corinne O'Flynn

Happy New Year! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Have you started achieving your writing goals? Or are you still recuperating from the holidays?

This year the RMFW Board made a New Year’s resolution to improve membership. Last month, in between eggnog, opening presents, and toasting in the new year, we all pitched in to move members into Cvent for membership management, event registration and email communications.

As you’ve probably read in recent emails, and seen on rmfw.org, you can access the new website at http://www.cvent.com/d/7rqn24/3W. We’ve also sent you instructions to log in and renew your membership when your renew date comes around. Are you still wondering how Cvent improves your online membership experience?

Upcoming events and event history are in one location: After logging in to the Cvent site you’ll land on the My Events page. Go to this page at any time and see upcoming events, events you’ve registered to attend, and a history of events you’ve attended.

Event pages provide more information: Check out the 2015 RMFW Writers Retreat on Cvent. Click on the tabs and find everything you need to know about an event: event summary, session agendas, speaker bios, maps to locations, forms to contact event leader, social links, all a click away.

Membership management is in one location: Your membership information and preferences are now in one place on the My Profile tab. Update your personal information there as well as identify your membership expiration date, renew your membership, manage your email preference, and add/remove your entry in the new members directory.

Similar home page to rmfw.org: The home page at the Cvent site is similar to the home page at rmfw.org. Go to either site for up-to-date highlights about RMFW happenings and links to additional information. Note that we are still moving into Cvent and apologize if some information is not yet available there.

NEED MORE HELP MOVING IN?

We are here to support you through the transition. Written instructions are available on the rmfw.org website and volunteers are available to help you manage your membership account:

Need log in help? Click on the Login link on rmfw.org for instructions to log in to your new account. The information on this page will also help you create your password if logging in for the first time.

Need to renew your membership? Go to the RMFW FAQs page for instructions to find your membership expiration date and pay to renew your membership.

Need membership related support? Contact Saytchyn Maddux-Creech, RMFW Membership Chair at membership@rmfw.org.

Have questions about a particular event? Go to the Contact Us tab on any event page and fill out the form to contact the event leader.

Need email support because you’re not receiving emails or need to update your subscription lists? Contact Corinne O’Flynn at communications@rmfw.org.

Need other website support? Contact Wendy Howard at website_liaison@rmfw.org.

Have a general question about the changes? Add a comment below and we'll answer it here.

Time to Update Your Bucket List for 2015

By Patricia Stoltey

I don't do resolutions anymore. Goal setting is good (see yesterday's post from Liesa Malik for more on that topic), but updating my bucket list ranks at the top of my year end ToDos.

Just because something was important enough to add to my list in the past doesn't mean it should stay there until I finally do it. I kept "A ride in a hot air balloon" on my list for about ten years, had plenty of opportunities to fulfill the wish, and chickened out every time. It's now off the list forever.

"Visit Greece" used to be on my list, but no longer. "One more trip to Paris" is on the list now, and that one can remain on the list as long as I'm alive and mobile. "Return to Norway" is a permanent entry as well. This is a photo I took about ten p.m. (early May 1998) from the window of a cabin that sits on a corner of the land my Norwegian ancestors once owned. I took that bucket list trip by myself, a true adventure for an upper-middle-aged lady who was accustomed to spending long hours at a desk.Norway_Through the Cabin Window at NightThere used to be a few other ambitious excursions on my list. Once upon a time I had a few items such as "Hike the Appalachian Trail" and "Walk the Camino de Santiago" on my list.

Stop laughing. I was serious at the time.

I have replaced those lofty dreams with "Walk every trail in and around my town" which is still a challenge in this outdoors-oriented corner of Colorado but can be accomplished (at least, it can be accomplished once I get this stupid knee fixed and buy a good, sturdy walking stick). A bucket list must be flexible and dynamic.

I put big writing-related items on my bucket list, too. "Make the New York Times Bestseller List" can stay on the list as long as I'm alive and writing. "See one of my novels made into a movie" is another favorite. I'd even like to "Win the Colorado Book Award" someday. My bucket list must include only achievable dreams, or at least dreams I've convinced myself I can achieve, even while others may call me delusional.

What about you? Do you do resolutions, goal setting, and/or a bucket list? What's at the top of your preferred list for 2015?

The Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers blog will return to its regular Monday through Friday schedule on Monday, January 5th. The regular monthly post for Kevin Paul Tracy has been moved from January 1st to January 7th. The regular monthly post for Mary Gillgannon has been moved from the 2nd to the 12th.

I wish you a wonderful new year, full of joy and great accomplishment.

Setting Smart Goals for 2015

By Liesa Malik

New Year's Resolutions. Bah, humbug, right? The whole practice of writing down what amount to goals that seem firmer just by calling them "resolutions" can be intimidating and defeatist.

Me? I've always liked this clean-slate time of year.  At least for a week or so I haven't goofed up my brand new year.  I really will lose those ten pounds, leap tall buildings in a single bound, write that best-selling novel that gets turned into an Academy Award Winning motion picture, earn millions, and go live in the Bahamas when Colorado winters get to me.

But wait!

A resolution is a goal, a plan, a firm decision--not a wish and a dream.  And here's where the conflict begins.  As writers, our job is to live in a semi-dream state for a good deal of our time.  Without our imaginations we couldn't conjure up the stories we do.  Without a wish, our heroes and heroines would be, well, just like us.  We need that skewed perspective on life.

But as professional writers, we also need a foot firmly planted on the ground.  We need to take our literary vision and make it a reality. So how can we blend the two?

In my work as a marketing professional for twenty years, I've had this conflict a lot (both with my own goals and those of my clients).  Over time, I've learned to embrace it, and one of the best tools I know to do so is the S.M.A.R.T. goal. Here's how it might work for a writer.

One: Dream Big

Think of all the writing projects, awards, accomplishments, and kudos that could happen this New Year.  Go ahead.  Shoot for the stars.  Say things like, "I will finish that novel I've been working on and write a complete second novel to boot!" or "I will write twelve short stories that will make it into the finals of the Writer's Digest annual competition."  You can even go so far as to jot down, "My mother will be so proud of me!"  Whatever your heart truly desires.  Take time to enjoy a great vision of  yourself (hey, we're all entitled to a holiday gift from ourselves, right?)

Two: S is for Specific

Now take your dreams and turn them into a list of goals.  But be specific.  Writing a novel is a good goal, but a novel can be a romance, a murder, a sci-fi piece, and a novel can be 80,000 words or 120,000 or anything you determine is right for your project.  The point here is to choose what specifically is right for you.  Go ahead.  Look through your dreams and write down a few specific goals.

Three: M is for Measurable

Eew! As writers, measurable sounds an awful lot like math--hex, gag, whatever!  But being measurable doesn't have to be intimidating.  Let's say you've chosen to write a novel in the mystery genre. That's nice and specific.  But let's make that goal measurable by putting a word count to it.

"I will write a mystery novel with a goofy protagonist who likes romance but keeps stumbling across dead bodies in 85,000 words."

Wow. That is both specific and measurable. Cool. What's next?

Four: A is for Actionable

Now is where we start to deep dive on a goal.  What actions can we take to get that novel written? In other words, what smaller goals do we need to put into place to make that new novel appear in electronic form instead of in dreamworld hopes?  Here are some things I would consider as good actions:

  • Make a character list
  • Write character biographies or backgrounds
  • Develop a theme or life question that really challenges me
  • Write a list of obstacles or challenges that might appear by putting two or more of my characters in a life-defining situation
  • Write a short outline of "what happened" from each character's point of view
  • Make a master outline (sorry pants-ers, us plotters need this sometimes)
  • Write 1,000 words a day in my first draft

Five: R is for Realistic

Ouch! Who wants real in a creative writing project?  Well, to be honest, I do.  I have a hard time thinking that maybe one day I'll have a novel published when I don't have a plan to get that novel written.  For a goal to be realistic you need to be in control of the outcome.  You can't say "I'll get a contract for six new novel sales this year" because you don't control the editors and agents who might offer that contract.  However, you can say "I'll pitch to twenty agents and editors each month this year," and then you can have realistic hopes of landing a contract.

Six: T is for Time-Bound

Again, this may sound restrictive at first, but in reality a project with a beginning, middle and END is very satisfying.  Let's say you've been working on a novel for oh, six or seven years.  Will this be the year you finish it?  YES!  If you tell  yourself you'll have goals X,Y, and Z done by June 15th and that date comes, you have the power to say, "Know what? I've put enough time into this project. Do I still want to invest more in it, or do I want to go on to something new?"  That isn't being a quitter.  That is being realistic.  Some projects work, and others don't.  If you're into your new novel and the deadline (decision time) looms, you can sit back and say, "Okay, I'm behind schedule, but I can get back on track by doing . . . " It's your decision.

Yes. I like resolutions.  But I love SMART goals.  Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a New Year that's filled with SMART writing success.

The RMFW Blogging Team Wishes You a Very Happy Holiday Season

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From all of us at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Blog:

Karen Duvall
Mary Gillgannon
Julie Kazimer
Jeffe Kennedy
Katriena Knights
Liesa Malik
Pamela Nowak
Colleen Oakes
Robin D. Owens
Aaron Michael Ritchey
Kerry Schafer
Susan Spann
Jeanne C. Stein
Mark Stevens
Patricia Stoltey
Kevin Paul Tracy

May your holiday season be happy and lots of fun.

We'll return briefly on Monday for a post from Liesa Malik on setting smart goals for 2015. Then we'll be back on holiday break until Monday, January 5th.

One Last Post of 2014 — Ten Things I Learned This Year

By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

Here’s the deal. I am the sort of writer who has to be smacked in the head ten times before I finally learn. But I do learn. Eventually. I learned a lot of writerly things this past year, some good, some not so great. But they are lessons I feel that are worthy of sharing with my fellow writers

1)   Never agree to write more books than you can in a certain time.

Like I need to tell you that. But I do need to remind myself of this time and again. I agreed that I would write two books in one year. Both books suffered and I am now suffering through rewrites on the last one. So yes, Virginia, while there is a Santa Claus, there’s also a deadline devil.

2)   If you don’t write, you won’t have a finished book.

Again, what kind of idiot doesn’t already know this? Me for one. I don’t write daily, but I should. That’s how words get on a page. Weirdly it’s not through osmosis, though I try and try my best to ignore that fact.

3)   Your career will have ups and downs.

This one I really hate. When The Assassin’s Heart came out in March, and then received RT Book Reviews top pick honor for April, I was flying high. This was the first time I’d received such recognition, and it showed in sales. Now it’s December, the sales have flattened, and a new book, The Fairyland Murders, has just been released. It’s time to start all over again…

4)   Your job never ends.

Forget the best part of writing, writing, and let’s focus on the never ending part—Marketing. Every day in every way, you are putting yourself into the world. No matter where you are in your publishing journey, you should be putting yourself in the world. Whether that’s on social media, writing articles, or talking to others, it doesn’t matter, you are showing potential readers who you are and hopefully engaging them enough to read your stuff.

5)   Publishing is not a one road trip.

There are a variety of ways to publish nowadays. Learn about each, no matter what your current path is.

6)    Write what you don’t know.

We’ve all heard the saying, writer what you know. Which is good advice. But I prefer the idea of write whatever you want. If you want to write dinosaur erotic (and I’m guessing you have never slept with a dinosaur), then write it the best you can. Write what you want. Otherwise, the process can be a chore.

7)    Celebrate the victories.

This one is huge. I have a hard time celebrating the good things. I hate the limelight. So I tend to not to revel in my victories like when a book is published. In fact, I did nothing for the last two releases. I didn’t even sneak a piece of chocolate. Messed up, I know. That won’t be the case again. My next victory, whatever it may be, will be celebrated. I’ll pop the champagne cork. I’ll tell strangers on the street. I’ll go out to a nice dinner, and hold the wait staff hostage as I share my news. This is a tough business, so enjoy the good things, no matter how small you think they are.

8)  And finally, never tell readers that you will give them 10 things when you only have 7 1/2.

What can I say? I’m a slacker. Why don’t you help me out by giving us some of the lessons you will take with you into the New Year.

Go!

 

Hope you had a great 2014 and will have an even better 2015!

You can find me online at www.jakazimer.com or more often on facebook or on twitter as @jakazimer.

Writing Through The Dark Times

By Robin D. Owens.

I reached the end of a book in a long series I love and found a note that the series, which the author had anticipated writing for years, had abruptly ended. She'd had a major upheaval in her life and couldn't overcome her new circumstances to reach back into the core happiness and central theme of that series and continue.

This is an epublished author and series and she designs her career. Of course, I empathized, and I'm deeply sorry that she's going through this, and I will darn well miss that series.

I know she's crafting a new life, but I think she is making a career mistake.

I've seen the promo for the new series she's writing under another name and I don't think the majority of her readers will follow her to it. Or if they do, the first book will have to be so EXTRAORDINARY, the characters so completely engaging that she'll pull her readers along, and that's a tough job. And I think her new genre is too niche to attract more than a few new readers.

Now I know something about the above. I know about writing a niche series. I know about readers following you (or not) to other series. I know about being the sole support of yourself and your family with your writing. I know about a train wreck happening in your life that changes it into a shape you'd barely imagined.

For me, in 2010, I hung onto my series (and I do write lighter, more humorous stories and that was a concern) and added a collection of stories to what I'd already contracted for.

And there is the big difference. I was contracted for more books in the two series I was writing at the time. I didn't have the luxury of walking away from them without paying back money that was mostly spent and thrashing around in legal complications.

I had to reach into myself and still pull up what I needed to continue those books, and hope that what I found inside would be sufficiently close to what my readers expected.

I'm sure if someone really analyzed my writing before and after April 2010, you'd see it's changed, perhaps gotten an edge here or there it didn't have. But one of my series, the Celta "Heart" books (all the stories have "Heart" in the title) is still continuing. The other series, Mystic Circle for Luna did not, but due more to the publisher and the changing face of publishing than my personal angst.

If I presumed to give advice to this writer (who I believe is much more successful than me), I'd tell her: fake it until you make it. Or perhaps that's not quite an exact a phrase: wring out what you can minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day and string it into a story.

Yes, writing is an emotional experience, based on inner feelings. But writing is also technique, and writers CAN be professional and carry on, especially if you have no choice.

Like I said before, you find that spot, that core of you that you reveal in bits through every story and you hang on tight to that and go there and mine it.

You also do exactly what you do during the darkISH times – the tough times we all have learned to write through. You use those processes you already have in place that work for you such as journaling (Morning Pages for those of you who follow Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way), venting to friends, afternoons away (Artist Dates), rearranging your office or going to somewhere else to write. You use everything to keep on track.

You also depend on your beta readers and critique group to see if the technique and the emotion you can put in will carry you through as you limp, then return to your stride.

With this particular writer, I think that she will find she has to go back to her previous series, first because it is a money maker, then because she loves/loved it too, and she can. And I think she will try shorter pieces first with enough of the emotional resonance of her first series until she can return. Her writing may be different, but perhaps not as much as she anticipates. Time helps.

Now, that's emotional darkness. What about LITERAL darkness? In these short days of winter light, writing can be a problem. I know it is for me. As I learned through research for my Summoning series, Denver has an average of three hundred days of sunshine a year. I have trouble writing when it's gray. Gray days are for snuggling and reading.

Personally (and I don't know the facts), this November and December have seemed grayer for me, and I've struggled, but, again, I have procedures in place and have instituted new ones. These work for me: a full spectrum light on my desk; taking a walk in the sunshine if/when it appears and if it doesn't taking a walk in the gray; writing with friends: online in a war room, sprints on twitter, and in person.

Or grab yourself some strong coffee (or tea), some music that will put you in the mood, and just march forward word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by sentence.

May all your writing dreams come true and may next year be even better than this year!

Robin

Protecting Your Copyright in Anthology Contracts

By Susan Spann

Happy Holidays!

Today, we continue our ongoing series on writing for anthologies with a look at copyright clauses in anthology contracts.

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Anthology writing differs from other forms of publication, and though the contracts often look similar, authors need to be aware of the critical differences between anthology contracts and those which govern publication of single-author (or even two-author collaborative) book or novella-length fiction.  

Anthology contracts should contain at least two clear statements of copyright:

1. A declaration that copyright in the author's work remains the sole property of the contributing author; and

2. A declaration that the copyright in the anthology "as a collective work" belongs to the anthology publisher.

Let's look at each one in more detail:

1. The Author's Retention of Copyright.

The anthology contract should contain the following statement (or something substantially similar): "Author is the sole copyright owner of the Work, and retains all rights to the Work except for those expressly granted to [Anthology Publisher] in this Agreement."

This ensures that the author owns the story, even after its publication in the anthology. Elsewhere, the contract should also address any limitations on the author's right to publish the story elsewhere (tune in next month for more details on that issue). However, the contract needs to contain a clear statement of copyright ownership -- which declares that the contributing author remains the sole owner of the copyright in the story.

2. Anthology Copyright in the Publisher.

The anthology contract will probably also contain a statement similar to the following: "To the extent a separate copyright attaches to the Anthology as a collective work, [Anthology Publisher] is the copyright owner of any such copyright on the Anthology as a collective work."

The reason for this second clause is to ensure that no one else can infringe the publisher's copyright by reproducing or publishing "pirated" (i.e., infringing) copies of the anthology without permission. A statement of the publisher's ownership in the collective work gives the publisher the sole right to produce that collective work. The copyright in the work as a collective work is not the same thing as the copyright on the individual stories, however, and you should never give the anthology publisher ownership of your copyright in your work.

To repeat: The publisher doesn't need your copyright to publish your work as part of an anthology or other collective work.

You may ask the publisher to add: "provided that no collective work copyright will limit or prevent Author's rights to exploit, publish, and profit from the Work separately from or in addition to the Anthology except to the limited extent provided in this Agreement." That language isn't absolutely required, but it's something authors might ask for if there's any ambiguity in the contract with regard to copyright. (It's also something to ask for if you don't know the publisher well.) 

A Word About Copyright Registration

Publishers often want to register copyright on an anthology as a collective work. That's OK, as long as the registration is clear that you, the author, own the copyright in your contribution. Make sure the contract is clear about the manner in which copyright may (and may not) be registered, and states that:

(a) The publisher will include an appropriate notice on the verso page (commonly known as the "copyright page") of the anthology, properly identifying the contributors as the owners of the copyrighted material contained in the work; and

(b) If the publisher registers copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, that registration will cover the collective work only, and will acknowledge the author(s) as the copyright owner(s) of the contributed works. 

A little attention to detail can help protect your copyrights and ensure a more successful anthology experience.

Have you contributed an an anthology? Did you notice the copyright language in the contract?

Susan SpannSusan Spann is a California transactional attorney whose practice focuses on publishing law and business. She also writes the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month and a finalist for the Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel. BLADE OF THE SAMURAI (Shinobi Mystery #2), released on July 15, 2014. When not writing or practicing law, Susan raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium.You can find her online at her website (http://www.SusanSpann.com), on Facebook and on Twitter (@SusanSpann), where she founded and curates the #PubLaw hashtag.

Change

By Pamela Nowak

Change...it’s a quiet word, not really representative of all that’s associated with it. For each of us, it has a unique set of implications. Since I’m in a contemplative mood, I’ll spend today exploring them.

When I was younger, change represented the unknown, with all its uncertainty. It was something I usually avoided. It often brought implications I didn’t like. I was forced into new ways of doing things and reactions I didn’t expect. Most especially, there might be risk in change and I wasn’t a fan of risk. It took me out of my comfort zone and I rather liked my little box.

We’re often advised not to make major decisions during times of change or to not make changes during times of stress—I’ve heard both bits of wisdom cited. This implies change is to be avoided, that it may be sought without thought, or that it may come back to bite us. It suggests that change somehow controls us.

Yet there is the adage that change is good. When we’re “in a rut,” change may prompt good things…new ideas, fresh takes, etc. It is the reason we build in turn-over in governing by-laws and we bemoan the lack of it when talking about entrenched politicians.

So, is change good or is it bad? I suspect it can be either—sometimes at the same time and altering upon the unique circumstance. Certainly, new ideas are to be applauded but the loss of old wisdom may be mourned. It is up to us to look at it from each angle and to adjust to it, be it positively or negatively.

At this point of my life, I choose to look at change as opportunity. How I react to it, what I do with it, is up to me. I’ve come to see that boxes can hold me back, make it impossible to stretch myself, to try different things or to react in new ways.

When I moved to the Denver area after several significant life changes, my dear friend Liz Roadifer gifted me with a gorgeous angel figure releasing several butterflies from her extended hands. The card that came with her indicated she was Arabella, the Guardian of Change. This quote was on the card: “Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.” (Maxim Gorky).

Arabella sits above my desk. She reminds me daily of the gifts that are in change and my role in releasing them. I can’t control what happens, but I can control how I react to it.

So, what does all this have to do with writing? It is a writing blog, right?

During our writing journey, from our first floundering attempts to becoming authors and building careers, we will encounter change after change. At first, we will be forced to decide if we will adapt our writing techniques as our craft develops. Will we reject painful critique or find the grains of truth in it? We will encounter reality that is different from our expectations with each rejection letter. We will see sales that may not be what we anticipated (be it low sales or a run-away best-seller). All of these are changes, all of them in addition to the changes we will meet in “regular life.” How we respond, what we find in each fork in the road, is up to each of us.

Life is not always kind, nor are our journeys smooth. The changes we are confronted with are not always those we would ask for, nor are they what we want. But they all hold opportunity...if we look hard enough. As you think on this year nearly gone and the new year approaching, I hope all of you are able to find the possibilities in the changes that have come your way.

A Book List for Holiday Shopping — Part Three

The members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers are both traditionally and indie-published in almost any genre you can imagine. Last weekend I posted a few books available for purchase along with a buy link so you can learn more about the novels (and click that “Buy” button, of course). That was just a drop in the bucket for an organization like RMFW. You'll find Part One on December 6th, and Part Two on December 7th.

Here are a few more of our incredible authors and their recent releases.

Dorchak_PsychicPsychic
By F. P. Dorchak
Wailing Loon
Paperback

"A humble, guilt-ridden hotline psychic becomes embroiled in the ultimate government conspiracy."

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Lane_TraitorTraitor's Moon
By Janet Lane
Dreaming Tree Publishing, LLC
ebook

"When half-Gypsy Stephen Ellingham accidentally kills Nicole’s father, he puts her family at risk of losing their holding, so he marries her to protect her 12-yr-old deaf brother from their uncle, who covets their lands. Then the War of the Roses begins, and the uncle finds a good way to be rid of Stephen: orchestrate a charge of treason against him and send him on to the executioner."

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Berg_DustandLightDust and Light
Carol Berg
NAL/Roc Books
Trade Paperback/e-book/Audible audio book

"Lucian de Remeni is humiliated when the Registry contracts him to a common coroner, restricting his magical gift for portraiture to dead beggars, starvelings, or soldiers. But sketching the truth of dead men's souls brings unforeseen consequences - sensations not his own, truths he could not possibly know, and mysteries that threaten the future of a kingdom and the world..."

~~~~~~~~~~

Biafore_Fresh SqueezedFresh Squeezed
By Bonnie Biafore and James Ewing
Slow Toast Press
Paperback, Kindle, Nook, epub, Google Play

"When Juice Verrone, a former Mafia enforcer in the Witness Security Program, is pinned in his boat by agiant hot dog, fiberglass bass, and plummeting corpse, he teams up with the police chief and Rudy Touchous, a forensic accountant, to find the killer. Instead, they discover a utility with financial problems, a troop of NASCAR-addled, bass-fishing rednecks, and a vegetarian commune that is tossing more than lettuce into its salad bar."

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O'Flynn_ExpatriatesThe Expatriates (Book One: Song of the Sending)
By Corinne O'Flynn
Big Ink Books
Paperback, ebook

"They told him his world was destroyed and they were the last to escape. They thought he was safe, but they were wrong."

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Goff_A Rant of RavensA Rant of Ravens
By Christine Goff
Astor+Blue Editions
e-book

"In an attempt to escape hellish matrimony, Rachel Stanhope sojourns to her Aunt Miriam’s ranch in Colorado in search of some peace and comfort. When Rachel agrees to host meetings of the local birdwatching society, she makes a much more disturbing discovery: a dead body."

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Kennedy_THE TEARSThe Tears of the Rose
By Jeffe Kennedy
Kensington
Trade paperback and digital

"Amelia has never had to be anything but good and sweet and kind and lovely. But the chess game for the Twelve Kingdoms has swept her up, and she must make a gambit of her own. "

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Harper_ReckoningReckoning
By S. J. Harper
Roc/Penguin Group
Mass market paperback, ebook

"The second in the Fallen Siren series finds Emma and Zack entangled with political tensions in the vampire and were worlds while unraveling the mystery behind a series of kidnappings in Southern California. Called the perfect blend of magic, mystery and romance, Reckoning will appeal to readers of any genre."

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You'll find many other extraordinary authors from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers writing posts for the RMFW Blog, teaching classes and workshops in the Denver area and on the western slope, and showcasing their work at the Colorado Gold Conference in September. Stay connected to RMFW by visiting the website and blog regularly. Even better, join us and get all the news through our newsletter and e-mailings.

Adventures in Self Publishing

By Karen Duvall

Self-publishing continues to be a hot topic among writers and just when I think I’ve heard enough, there’s more I need to learn.

I dipped my toe into the self-publishing pool for the first time about a year and a half ago. The water was ice cold and I ran away screaming, but not without learning a few things first. I tried an experiment to see whether or not self-publishing is right for me. Having been traditionally published first, I wasn’t prepared to be the one doing all the work.

Desert Guardian SmallThat first effort was with a romantic suspense novel that had been previously published and my rights were returned, so I figured why not give it a try? However, I admittedly didn’t try very hard. I released it as an ebook only, no paperback, and only on Amazon.

Now I’m doing it again with another book, a book that’s never been published before. I’m publishing it under a pen name, Cory Dale, to differentiate it from my traditionally published books. It’s probably not necessary, and I may even regret it, but it’s something I want to try. I learned a lot with the first book I self-published, so I sort of know what I'm doing even though a lot has changed since that first effort. There are more distributors now and better software for ebook conversion, and there are a ton of experienced self-publishers willing to selflessly share their successes as well as their missteps.

I am self-publishing the first book in a new urban fantasy series that my agent shopped to New York publishers to no avail. Many of the editors liked the story and the characters, but no one wanted to take the risk. Urban fantasy was already on the downswing, and this book is a fusion of urban fantasy, alternate history and steampunk. Too different, and in a genre that wasn’t getting the same attention that it used to.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00024]Rather than let a story I believe in languor in the lonely depths of my hard drive, I decided to make it available to readers. I received feedback from beta readers (thank you, Shannon Baker, Jim Ciaramitaro and Alan Larson) and made revisions. Then I had it copyedited (thank you, Margaret Bailey) and made more revisions and corrections. Next it was thoroughly proofread (thank you, Chris Devlin) followed by more revisions and corrections. Producing this manuscript took time and money, and I now have a whole new appreciation for how hard a publisher works to produce a book. Wow.

I’ve been a professional graphic designer for over thirty years, so I designed my book’s cover for both the ebook and the print book along with the interior pages. I bought Jutoh, a highly intuitive piece of software that makes ebook conversion a breeze (unlike my first effort). Now that production is complete, I still must actually publish the book.

Sample PageSo I’ve gone from dipping my toes to wading into the deep end of the self-publishing pool. Next stop, e-tail distribution. A new player has been added since my last foray into independent publishing: Google Play. And now you can also sell direct from your website or blog, so I’ll be using Ganxy for that. I’m exploring my options.

The book I’ve been talking about, Demon Fare, is now on Amazon for preorder with a release date of December 20. The print book is there, too, and I was told it will be another week before the “Look Inside” feature is active. Setting things up on Amazon was fast and easy, probably because I already had an account with KDP for my first self-published book. Demon Fare is up for preorder on Kobo, too (not as easy to set up). It’s set to go on Nook (Barnes & Noble) and on Google Play (which was complicated and had more approval steps) just as soon as I hit the publish button. iTunes, or iBooks I should say, is the last to complete and it’s a good thing I gave myself a couple of weeks to set all these up. E-tail distribution has involved far more than filling out forms and clicking enter. Apple has its own software that you must install to produce your book for iTunes, and you have to make sure there are no other bookstore links in your ebook because they’ll reject it if you do.

Page graphicI already belong to a few yahoo groups within the self-publishing community so I’ve re-entered the fray to glean from their wisdom. There’s also the Kindle-boards to peruse for advice and warnings and recommendations. Preparing for self-publication has practically been a full time job these past few weeks and Demon Fare isn’t even released into the wild yet.

Now that my distribution channels are established, I have to get the word out about the book. I won’t go crazy with promotion because it’s my understanding a lot of promo won’t do me much good unless I already have other books available in the series. Demon Fare is the first book of my Spawnster Chronicles and I won’t have the next one published until spring.

Even though I won’t be doing much promotion for Demon Fare, I have to do something. I was fortunate to be interviewed for the December issue of Electric Spec Magazine, so that helps. I’ll be in RMFW’s next promotional blue mailer that reaches 350 bookstores and all of RMFW’s membership. I also signed up for a 5-day book blast blog tour at the end of December/start of January that includes 11 different blog stops with a mix of reviews, interviews, spotlights and guest blogs.

Reviews are tough to get. I have a month rented on Netgalley, which is a service that connects reviewers with books to review. Most book review blogs have a policy against reviewing self-published books, not necessarily because those books are badly written (though some may be) or because some reviewers have suffered harassment by authors who didn’t like the reviews they wrote, but because there are so many books. Reviewer’s can’t keep up. I have a list of indie-friendly reviewers to query, but I’m not banking on many yeses. Even so, it never hurts to try.

So there you have the beginning of my big adventure in one blog post and I’ve barely touched the tip of the self-publishing iceberg. However, I thought it might be helpful to share with others what I’ve done up to this point in case any of you want to embark on your own adventure.

Which do I prefer: Traditional or self-publishing? It’s too soon to tell, but I must say I have had wonderful experiences with my traditional publisher. Now that I’m giving self-publishing a fighting chance, I feel better about it this time around. My expectations are reasonable and my goal is the same as if I were publishing traditionally: To put my stories in the hands of readers. Wish me luck.

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Karen DuvallKaren Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series last year, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series and is self-publishing a new urban fantasy series starting with Demon Fare, Book 1 of The Spawnster Chronicles.

www.karenduvallauthor.com