Is That All There Is?

Just a quick update to those in the know: The minor municipal thingy is over and done! :-) Paid a fine, didn't lose the license. Now to concentrate on the Big One That Just Won't Frickin' Go Away!

Ahem. Had to get that out of my system.

So...what news on the writing front, that is, mine, to be exact? Haven't done anything of late, as I've been preoccupied with trying to find new streams of income to keep the ship afloat (which I obviously won't get into here). However, I've been rethinking my novel WIP. I mean, it's been in the revision stage for quite a while, lol. After reading through two Stephanie Plum novels, To the Nines and Ten Big Ones, in as many days (am I a book bimbo, or what? ;-)), I realized the idea I have for my novel is kinda, sorta simila to those books; that is, tough-minded Jersey girl is forced into another career/job due to: Being almost out of money (Stephanie Plum) or About to lose job/support from ex-husband (Jackie, my MC).

While Stephanie's world is ostensibly this wacky, nutty world we know (although the amount of cars/trucks/whatever that have blown up or been burned to ground is staggeringly funny), mine is going to have a decided fantasy twist. This includes a secret society (think the Masons or any of those ancient Greek mystery cults) that includes real magic and a shadow police force.

Where does it tie in? It ties in in that Jackie is used to working in a corporate environment. She loves research - which will come in handy in her new job/career - but the magic stuff, having to deal up front with her Egyptian background and what her paternal grandfather was up to when he came to the U.S., having to deal with a certain medical background, having to deal with a potential lover...well, let's just say it's not going to be easy for her to cope.

But, dammit, she's a Jersey Girl (like yours truly :-)), and we can do almost anything.


I'm hoping to get back to writing in about a week or so, now that one of the two cases mentioned in the first paragraph above has been dealt with.

Hallelujah for small miracles.

And yay for Stephanie Plum, and toughie women all over the planet!

~Nancy Beck


What Not to Look For in a Publisher

I was just on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, checking out a "publisher" someone asked about.

The site is nice to look at, and the owners are very up front about why they decided to start up their publishing empire: They received rejections from agents stating that those agents don't deal with unpublished authors.


My question to the owners would be: Which agents told you this? I would insist on names, because my suspicion is that either the owners sent their mss. to a scam agent (maybe with such scam agent "suggesting" a $100 critique to make it better) or they somehow misunderstood a rejection from a legit agent who is closed to new submissions. You know, the mind can blow things all out of proportion, I suspect that's what happened here.

Another knock against this particular "publisher": You have to buy your own books. Why? They entrust it to you, dear author, to pay tribute to the Fates or something with the idea that your book may - just may - be handed to someone in Entertainment Land who will give it some sort of exposure. Or something.

Yup, just what I want the publisher of my "baby" to do. Just leave it to me and luck to get my books onto bookshelves or whatever.

Hmm. So let's recap here. If we're going the publisher route (after we've tried, and failed, to find an agent to take an interest in our book), we would steer clear of:
  1. Places that insisted we have to buy X amount of our book;
  2. Places that left it to luck for publicity/marketing purposes; and
  3. Places that said they took all genres.
Oh, didn't I talk about that last one? Yeah, that's another thing. This start up is looking at all genres. What's that old saw, jack of all trades, master of none? I've read quite a bit about the publishing business (not that I know it all; I leave it to those who've been in the biz to that), and from what I've gleaned, if you want to give your publishing company any chance to make it, you're better off concentrating on one or two genres. Case in point? Try Ellora's Cave, which honed in on the erotica market; they started off as e-book only, but now can be found with print books in major bookstores.

They became expert at picking out the good'uns in the erotica field, had people in the back office who had book biz experience, and they're still in business however many years later.

Smart. And just the kind of published I'd be looking for (if I wrote erotica).

So don't sell you and your book short. If you've taken the time and the care to learn how to write and do it well, shouldn't you start at the top and work your way down? Shouldn't you give yourself some respect?

I thought so. :-)

Keep writing!



I get Dee Power and Brian Hill's newsletter (click here for their website), and in the latest one, she has an interview with Laurel K. Hamilton (the Anita Blake series). It's a short but neat interview. The one thing that struck me is what Ms. Hamilton thought was the most appealing thing about her series:

"My fan base runs from twelve year olds to sixty plus, male and female; my demographics are really broad. I've been asked this question before, so I decided to look at some other series that do as well as mine or better. What they all have in common is 'characters'. The characters have to be people that you like and enjoy being around, you want to spend time with them. They have to be real. My characters seem more real to other people sometimes than to me. They're my characters so I expect to talk about them. If I walked into the next room, I wouldn't be surprised if they were there. But when I talk to people across the country, we talk about these characters as if we could meet them. We have conversations about the characters as if we were talking about our friends."

Characters, not plot, or half a dozen other things. It's why I keep returning to the Stephanie Plum series: Stephanie and the other characters are absolute hoots.

But Ms. Hamilton also says this:

"You also need to create a world that seems real enough that the reader could step into it. I cheated, because Anita's world is as if you woke up tomorrow in this world but everything that goes bump in the night exists. That's much easier to do than creating a whole new world. If I say 'he ate an Oreo' I don't have to explain what an Oreo cookie is. But because I'm dealing with the real world, all my details have to be absolutely dead on. If the readers catch me on some fact that they know and can check me on, they won't believe in the vampires, or the zombies or the fairies. If they catch me, then their suspension of disbelief is shattered."

Worldbuilding ain't just for SF and fantasy anymore. :-) Whereas those genres need to explain certain things that aren't around in our present-day world, other genres need to do this, too, as Ms. Hamilton says above. Your world has to have rules and regulations that your characters must stick to, or else you'll be 'splaining why a certain character broke a certain rule in your universe. And you better 'splain, or you'll have a bunch of disgruntled fans muttering and complaining.

For instance, in one of the Stephanie Plum novels, Janet Evanovich has a character talking about becoming (or was) a New York Giants cheerleader. HAH! I've been an American football fan for quite some time now, and I know for a fact that the Giants have never had cheerleaders. Management always said people were there to see the team.

Of course, during the low points (and there have been plenty), I'm sure a lot of guys would've preferred looking at cheerleaders shaking their thangs as opposed to looking at the boobs on the field.

Anyway...did I grumble at that? You bet. Did I said an email off to Ms. Evanovich? Nah. I figured someone else probably brought her up on it. However, other than that, I've found the series nothing but fun. That is, the characters are interesting and very Jersey, heh heh.

So I'm trying to focus on my characters, to make them interesting, to give them flaws, to make them as human as possible (well, unless they're an alien species of some sort). Although my novel is set in the present day, I do have a couple of tweaks in it, but I'm setting it in the town (some town: it has 50,000 people in it!) I grew up in. Although a lot has changed since I lived there, most of the streets are the same, a lot of the buildings are the same, and besides, I can always take a trek across the state and check and make sure I've got stuff in the right places.

Plus, I can always bum a lunch off Mom. ;-)

Keep writing!

~Nancy Beck



I'm happy to say that the short story is still cranking along, lol. It'll probably be 5,000 words before this puppy is done. (The rough draft, that is. ;-)) Anyway, the MC and her son are now past the bridge and the toll collector (I'm not talking about NJ Turnpike toll collectors here), and are heading off to the countryside where the MC originally grew up.

She's really not sure if she wants to go back. Someone lives there whom she hasn't seen in a while...but she has no choice but to be reacquainted with that person.

I'm hoping to get this done in the next week or so. After that, I'll let it rest a day or two, only coming back to it after I take a look at my WIP (my novel, which has Egyptian stuff in it).

An Aside

Speaking of Egyptian stuff, I'm currently listening to a course on Ancient Egypt that's utterly fascinating. I got it from The Teaching Company. It's a big course, and it costs more than the other courses I've bought, but I got it on sale (and it was definitely worth the price). The guy who's the instructor is an Egyptologist, and his enthusiasm is infectious. As is his knowledge of Ancient Egypt. I mean, we're talking about a civilization that lasted 3,000 years! Sure, there were "down times" (when there was almost complete anarchy, like tomb robbing), but the kings/pharoahs reappeared even after those down times. Unbelievable.

The course isn't on sale right now, but if you want to check it out, it's here.

Keep writing!

~Nancy Beck