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Tuesday Tips: Dragons, Mountains & Publishing

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Cuchara 2011 110

I miss my mountains!

Last week I was in the mountains of Colorado–BLISS!–communed with nature, beverage, bling, friends, and fictioning (not necessarily in that order). The past several week’s Tuesday Tips have been a great help for me sharing insight from best-selling thriller authors. And I harvested a bumper crop of all-things-writerly and meant to include them in yesterday’s Monday Mentions but there were just too dang many. So you’ll find ’em here. But first a little introspection.

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Meet Maurice, my dragon muse who keeps my fictioning ass-ets on target.

Like many bookworm rabid readers I thought that I could write a novel. And I tried, oooh how I tried! My first agent told me my work was wonderful, awesome, spectacular and that when the movie-of-the-week came out, I should play the lead. Wow! Of course, that was long ago in a galaxy far away when I’d only just fallen off the writerly turnip truck and PAID said agent for those glowing reviews. (See WRITER BEWARE blog listed below). Four novels later that agent got dumped–hey I was a slow learner!–and I’d begun selling articles while I searched for another agent for the fiction.

Low and behold, the articles garnered my first book contracts when an editor from Nooo Yawk contacted ME to write The Cat Companion followed by several other pet books–all without an agent. The search for an agent continued, and one in particular turned down the fiction but wanted to see nonfiction efforts–together we sold probably 15 pet care titles. I guess you could say the fiction gave me my book career, yet that success shoved novels and article writing aside.

Fast forward to the present–Nooo Yawk no longer calls or even picks up the phone or opens the email for pet books unless the author also has a network TV show or has slept with the wrong famous person. Print magazines that launched my own and others’ careers are gone or fading fast. Online writing for pennies a page or for the “glory” of a byline has begun the new paradigm. Agents can’t sell books because editors are afraid to buy.

Ebooks are the (current) king! Scary crappiocca but exciting, too. Never before have writers and authors had so much control–IF they take that leap. Once I’d finished pounding my head bloody against the wall and gnashing teeth over the changes, my books took that Ebook plunge and Internet articles became my bread and virtual butter. So how are you managing the changes in your writing life? Still angsting over schtuff that you can’t change or taking the bull-hocky by the ballz and making a difference in your career?

Oh, it’s still scary. Y’all know that now I’m the Puppies Guide at About.com, and they’ve just announced ABOUT.COM LAYOFFS, YIKES!  The “contributing writers” program at About.com (a New York Times company) was summarily dumped last week with little more than a week’s notice to the freelancers providing 12 or more pieces of “content” per month to various guide sites. In addition, 15 “channel editors” were laid off as well (see the link). After working for nearly a year as a contributing writer (CW) to the cats.About.com Guidesite before creating the spanking-new puppies.About.com Guidesite this comes as a shock to me and others working for the company. CWs are encouraged to apply for open Guide positions or the new “Topic Guide” program.  And any other writer with the credentials may also apply and find it a rewarding venue.

I’ll be releasing new nonfiction pet books in the months ahead but there’s never been a better time to return to fiction. I’m taking a fun Email course from Lawson Writer’s Academy from Tiffany Lawson Inman on the Triple Threat Behind Staging A Scene. I won the course (YAY!) from my blogging buddy Jenny Hansen. See? you can find all kinds of kewl schtuff reading, sharing and commenting on other folks’ blogs! Speaking of blogs and other writer-icity tips, take a look at the following for some great insight, tips and inspiration.

BLOG DESIGN 101, some helpful tips on color, font and more

8 TIPS FOR WRITING THE PERFECT BLOG from Lorie Huston, great writer and animal lover (she’s a vet, too!), all about keywords and tags and more.

PLEASE SIGN MY KINDLE!  here’s how...

PERFECT STORM LOOMS IN PUBLISHING from Bob Mayer’s Write-It-Forward

AWESOME NOVEL DIAGNOSIS TIPS, a peek inside the head (wowie!) of Kristen Lamb

REVISING & POLISHING YOUR NOVEL, guest blogger Jodie Renner at DP Lyle’s blog.

AMAZON’S KINDLE FIRE (TABLET), blog discussion from David Gaughran, and another great post on the topic from Jason Pinter

WRITER BEWARE! Aspen Mountain Press and also a great post on BAD CONTRACT CLAUSES

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Writer-icity, Canine Awards & Glowing Cats

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Today we’re celebrating a debut book, some amazing canines, glowing cats and fantastic writer conference/contest ops among other things.

It rained–and hailed–here last night. The rain is welcome after all the fires we’ve had and continuing drought conditions. But it drove at least two crickets inside–and they proceeded to drive me crazy! I sent Seren-kitty after them so eventually little cricket drumsticks will be all that’s left of ’em, but meanwhile the ventriloquist act drives me buggy. At least crickets aren’t dangerous to dogs and cats like bug bites and stings. Here in Texas we even get to deal with tarantulas an scorpions–hey, that’s sort of like dealing with publishers. *eg* Exactly the same, only different.

Please don’t be shy about sending me your own links or suggestions for others to highlight. I love doing a SNOOPY-DANCE-’O-JOY! in celebration of all the savvy writers and animal advocates doing the work of the angels–and to a few angels as well.

CAT CALLS New Book by Cat Experts Extraordinaire! Calling All Cat-Lovers! New York cat expert and cat sitter Jeanne Adlon, with purr-fessional writer Susan Logan, bring readers a tasty smorgasbord of fun kitty anecdotes seasoned with sound advice, and lots of furry inspiration. Cat Calls is Paws-itively delightful! For those who may not be aware, Jeanne is a contributor to CatChannel.com while Susan is editor of Cat Fancy magazine–as a friend of mine likes to say, “It don’t get no better none!”

Hey, I’m a writer, cain’t ya tell?

CAT & DOG SCHTUFF

GREEN GLOWING CATS and nope, it’s reality and not out of some thriller novel. But come to think of it, that might make a neat plot twist.

5 CANINES WIN AKC “ACE” AWARDS The recipient in each category (Exemplary Companion, Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Service, and Therapy) will receive an engraved silver collar medallion and a check for $1,000 at a presentation ceremony at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in Orlando, Florida, on December 17, 2011. Each Honorable Mention recipient will be mailed a bronze collar medallion.

White House Pets Pictures came to me in an email out of the blue–some neat new photos I hadn’t seen before.

BLOGS TO CHECK OUT

Writer Beware Blog has a terrific mix of publishing news on lawsuits and new trends, and writer tips written by Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin.

HOW TO BUILD A WRITING TEAM from Jenny Hansen’s excellent blog. Seriously, y’all need to bookmark this one!

Piper Bayard’s “On Life, Belly Dancing and Apocalyptic Annihilation has some of the coolest writer insights–and just plain LOL moments. You’ve gotta check out the Ben & Jerry’s latest ice cream flavor Schweddy Balls.

WRITER-ICITY

LIVESCRIBE, Never Miss A Word: My colleague Dusty Rainbolt some time ago mentioned a “magic pen” recommended some years ago by a speaker at the Cat Writers Association Conference. She raves about the LiveScribe, able to record a seminar, conversation or phone call. It apparently has some sort of smart memory so that you can “write” down a note about a topic on the special paper, later tap the text on your note and the recording plays back from there. As with many digital devices you can save the recording to the computer. I don’t have one but plan to look into this nifty writer’s tool. For thriller writers, it sounds like something the well-outfitted spy character might carry!

WORSE THAN CONTENT MILLS?   For those of us struggling to provide top-notch original content, this is scary. Computers generating word-spin and you don’t even have to buy lunch. Say it ain’t so! What do you think?

Ebook FOREIGN RIGHTS OPS article from thriller writer Karen Dionne.

AWESOME WRITER CONFERENCES & CONTESTS

Cat Writers Association 18th Annual Conference takes place this November 17-19 in White Plains, New York with many sessions specific to publishing and writing about pets–or really any subject. Oh, and I’ll be there with Susan Logan of Cat Fancy offering some “caterwauls” as entertainment. *s*

International Thriller Writers “Thrillerfest” and “Craftfest” Conference “early bird” registration is now open! But to get the best rate you’ll need to register by September 30. Of course you can still register later for the July 12, 2012 conference.

Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. hosts a massive contest for unpublished work each year, often judged by professionals who happen to be editors, agents and published authors. It’s cheap-cheap-cheap for invaluable feedback, only $20 for entering all of the 29 unpublished and 4 published book categories. The whole point of the contest is to help writers improve the work on the journey to publication. Check it out!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Tuesday Tips: Pix, Tricks & Writers Fighting Dirty

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Nose to Nose cats

"Be my mentor?"

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca. But I collected so much great stuff over the past week, yesterday’s blog concentrated on furry content and today’s Tuesday Tips catches the writer-icity spillover.

What are some of your favorite writer tips? Do you have a blog you love to visit? Or maybe there’s a book on craft that you can’t live without and made all the difference in your success. Add ’em in the comment section. Heck, if it’s your own tip, blog or book that rocks the world, you have MY PERMISSION for today to shout-about-it here in the comments. Spread the word, and we’ll make today’s Tuesday Tips a lasting resource.

CAN I USE THAT PHOTO?
My colleague Andrea Dorn always shares great writer and grammar tips with Cat Writers Association members (see her blog here). She shared that if you’re planning to use photos as news (that is, for the purpose of reporting on what happened at your event in newspapers, magazines or websites), permission isn’t necessary. However, if you intend to use photos in promotional or commercial materials, you need written permission from all individuals who can be identified in the photos. Publishing the art of a living artist on a web page, newsletter or brochure requires the artist’s permission. These and other questions related to “Can I use that photo?” are answered by Iowa State University experts.

INDIE WRITERS BEWARE

Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware recently posted that she’s received questions about a new awards program: the IndieReader Discovery Awards for self-published authors. Is it legit? What questions should you ask about Indie opportunities? The blog has some tips and insights you won’t want to miss.

INCREASE BLOG SUBSCRIBERS

. . . or subscriptions to newsletters or whatever else you want to share with your readers. I’ve done some of this but may add to my list. Derek Halpern offers tips for seven places on your blog where you can place sign-up forms to increase your chances that people will actually sign up and thus build your email list. I wouldn’t go with the pop-up box, though–that really hisses me off.

HOW TO FIGHT DIRTY FOR FICTION SUCCESS

I love Jenny Hansen’s “More Cowbell” blog and today’s Techie Tuesday offers GOLD for fiction writers wanting to escalate tension between characters. Learn how to use dirty fighting to your advantage!

KINDLE-GRAPH! WOOT!

Did you know that you can get autographed E-books on Kindle?  You need to have a Twitter account, but I am SO going to look into this!

WANT YOUR INDIE BOOK REVIEWED?

Full disclosure–I’ve not submitted my books for review to any of these sources, but they have received favorable comments from other authors on KindleBoards. I know that some are authors themselves, others simply avid readers and book lovers. They also review “traditionally” pub’d books. Check ’em out and read some of their reviews before submitting your own book. Report back about how it worked for you. And hey, you just may discover a new fav Indie author!

Red Adept Reviews:   Because Red has a team of reviewers, her site covers a variety of genres, including nonfiction.

Grace Krispy  reviews mysteries/cozies/thrillers, some fantasy, some urban fantasy and women’s fiction.

Books and Pals mostly reviews Indies.

E-Bookworms appears to review mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy.

www.DailyCheapReads.com mostly offers “bargain books” but sometimes also reviews them.

So what are your fav review spots for books? How do you judge if a new book is worth opening your pocketbook? Do you have a terrific writerly tip or resource to share? Add your comments and share the blog today with others and let’s get lots of stuff posted–I’ll do a recap later on all the goodies (and YES, include a shout-out to the submitters as well).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Muses, BlogPaws, Monsters & More Crappiocca

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This Chinese Crested puppy knows how to keep cool! Must be talking to the Magical-Dawg.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. So I had to share these lovely pictures taken by photographer  Robbie Goodall when he posted them in my Puppy Publishing group on Flicker and there’s a Flickr Kitty Publishing group too. A number of these great pictures will also get posted over at the Puppies site but of course you can post ’em directly there with details about your baby dog’s gotcha day and more. Check out the links, below, and please don’t be shy about sending me your own links or suggestions for others to highlight.

Just back from the chiropractor and after several weeks of  therapy, I’m feeling–well–stretchy. I can bend, I can pick up stuff (with care), I can walk the Magical-Dawg without flinching, and I just regained an extra hour a week to work. That’s because I’ve graduated from twice weekly sessions to once a week.

I needed the adjustment to my attitude and work schedule as much as rehab, though. Sometimes it takes a wallop upside the head–or a pain in the back while weeding now-crunchy roses–to wake up and realize nothing should be taken for granted. Pay attention to the little things so the big stuff won’t fall off the truck and leave you stranded. Anyway, that’s the plan.

The accompanist at church fell and broke her shoulder this past weekend when her daughter’s 100+ pound Labrador took off during a walk and jerked her off her feet. That means I’ll be at the keyboard in her place until she heals–or the dog learns to heel, I suppose. That reminds me of the time I broke my wrist while bathing my dog–hurt sooooo bad, and the back injury rivaled that pain.

Now taking care of my back and my health has become part of the daily schedule, alongside checking email, writing the blog, meeting and beating writerly deadlines. When I spend quiet time with the stretches or ice pack or treadmill, it forces me to slow down and think–really think–about what’s important, and focus on the goals of the moment, the day, the week. I just wrote and posted 9 new articles over at the Puppies site–and plan to work on fictioning this week. What are your plans?

Writer-icity Info You Want To Know

Writers, didja know about the wealth of cell phone info available? From Dr. Lyle’s wonderfully useful blog, great stuff to include in your fiction!

The Printed Book is Doomed–And Here’s Why

Another fantastic chock-full-‘o-info blog from Jenny Hansen–do writers need presentation skills? You betcha!

If you’re a writer, you MUST subscribe to the Writer Beware Blog from Victoria Strauss to stay ahead of the scams. These days, there’s new ones with “editors” and “agents” approaching self-pub’d Ebook authors and others. Know the score.

Google+ Monster? Clash of the Social Media Titans

Pet-Centric Stuff for Animal Lovers

Do you write about pets? Blog about ’em? Then check out BlogPaws and their upcoming paws-itively great conference that’s right around the corner.

My latest puppies.About.com article covers proper puppy identification–how do you keep your cats and dogs safe from going AWOL?

Last week’s Monday Mentions dealt with doggy poop pick up. My colleague read that and suggested equal time for the kitties.  Franny Syufy has some fanTAStic poop about cat poop–the radioactive kind–and what to do about it. And after all, isn’t all pet waste sort of (ahem) glow-in-the-dark-EWW?

Winn Feline Health Foundation Blog–stay up to the minute on cat-tastic health info.

China and dogs–NOT a happy story here when the government bans folks from owning dogs. What would YOU do? Sounds like a horror novel plot to me.

Paws Down on Latest Animal Planet Cat Show from my colleague Sally Bahner. What do YOU think?

AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day, coming to a city near you!

Marvelous elephant reunion–caught on tape! This pair hadn’t seen each other for 20 years. Totally moving and worth watching.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Author Beware!

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I’m playing catch-up, as last week was short a day. Lots happpened, I just didn’t have time to blog.  

I’m HISSED OFF about “The Balancing Act.” It’s a morning hour-long show on the Lifetime network that contacted me June 1st to be an expert/author on a pet segment they air on Tuesdays. Great news, right? I thought so, at least initially.

He “pre-interviewed” me (common) to be sure I passed muster and explained that not everyone was chosen and there was a selection process to go through. Okay. That’s not unusual. After half an hour or so of chatting, answering pet questions and telling him about my books, he thought I’d passed muster–but of course, the decision wasn’t up to him. But he wanted me to know what to expect if chosen to be on the show.

I’d be required to include an interview/blurb about the segment and my book in a newsletter distributed to 20-million viewers (oh, darn!), with a link to my website (double darn!) and my books (yee-haw!). Then mentioned companies pay $40,000 to “brand” the segments with their products, and name-dropped several that I’ve actually worked for as a spokesperson. He explained that their writers script the three-minute segment but the author has the chance to vet the script–

Now, I’m starting to wonder if they expected authors to endorse products, and if so, might I also be offered $$ to do so? But no, instead he had quite a finish. Although companies had to pay 5-figures, authors were given this great opportunity for only $4900.

And we were done.

Uh, right! I have NEVER, EVER paid to be an “expert” in any print, or TV/Radio venue. This is a bait-and-switch done badly. I posted a warning on my Facebook page, and sent similar alerts to the CWA, DWAA and ITW lists and discovered Tim Razor  or his associates contacted others of my colleagues.

If you’re an author of any subject, they may reach out to you, too. Is it worth $4900…? Well, for that amount you can purchase a lot of other marketing options, as well as have control over the content of your advertisement. So be careful!

Others have also experienced suspicious pitches, and recorded those at places like Complaint Wire and Scam.com that states Balancing Act aka BrandStar Entertainment are not on the up-and-up. However, JustAnswer.com opines that it’s simply an advertising venue, and additionally, one of the BrandStar entertainment shows claims to be a scam-investigator.

Hmnnnnn. I know what I believe.

amy-feeling bitchy