October 25, 2008



When Oprah speaks, people listen. On Friday, she talked about her favorite new toy: Amazon Kindle. Of course she gave them away to the audience, downloaded her favorite books to get them started, and hosted the man who made Kindle possible.

Everything I hear about Kindle seems to be a one-way street. This $359 gadget will replace books. I know I won't be able to afford one until the price comes way down. I'm the type who loses cell phones and digital cameras. I like the feel of pages and yes, I dog-ear pages when I can't find a bookmark.

What I'm not hearing is what is most important to me as a writer. For the first time I can conceptualize, execute and publish my work any way I choose. I don't have to pay anyone and Amazon assures me I will get a good share of the profits.

I have an instruction phobia. I was prepared to be circumvented by Kindle's step-by-step guidelines. However, I'd volunteered to do a speech on alternative publishing options at the Erle Stanley Gardner Festival in two weeks. I had to figure out this new form of publishing.

I ran into a few problems, I overlooked a button I was suppose to click and I jumped the gun on the title and now I don't know how to remove it. What I accomplished gives me hope. I took seven of my flash fiction mysteries and I'm formatting them by putting them in one document with colored titles in bloody fonts to separate the stories. I'm saving the download into HTML as recommended. I'll be previewing it to see how it looks on Kindle. I think I'll charge about $1.75 for the download. I will look into getting a separate bank account for the money that flows from sales.

What if it doesn't sell? I'm out nothing but my time. All of my work has been published before and I have my rights back. Those stories aren't making me money collected on a flash drive. I've also done a bit of detective work to find ways to let Kindle owners know I exist.

My mind is going into overdrive with ideas of other projects I want to tackle: a collection of longer stories, a version of my Guerrilla Writers workbook, my Caribbean poetry, and my novel FOOLS RUSH IN. I'm trying to talk Kathleen into serializing her vampire novel.

Kindle can be a two-way street. I wonder how long it will take novice writers to figure this out.

Labels: ,

October 23, 2008

National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month or nanowrimo as it is affectionately called is marking its tenth anniversary this year. What started out as a bunch of friends getting together in San Francisco to mega write has turned into a major non-profit charity that supports writers of all ages and library's in countries all around the world. Every year thousands of people write like crazy for one whole month with the goal of writing 50,000 words. None of it has to be perfect. It is a write as much as you can, as fast as you can marathon. The trial by fire starts on the first of November and ends at midnight on November 30th. I had heard about this contest ( strictly personal) a few years ago but didn't believe I had the right stuff to even think I could attempt such a goal. My views on my writing goals have changed this past year and I have signed up for the challenge. No fees are attached but donations are thankfully received. Follow this site to get way too much info. http://www.nanowrimo.org/ Just go to the about section. Image coutesy of NaNoWriMo.org

Does anyone else out there feel a challenge coming on? I double dare you!


Labels: , ,

October 19, 2008

Immortal Characters

Hello KC Writer's readers. Amy here.

So, like a lot of 20-something adults, I've lately been interested in teen things. I watch Gossip Girl more than I go to church, and I've missed an entire night's sleep plowing through book II (New Moon) of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. My mother asks me on a weekly basis when am I going to start watching and reading things about people who are closer to my age, maybe who go to college? (and by weekly basis I mean sometime between 8-9pm every Monday, which happens to be the time Gossip Girl is on).

So, Twilight series. Mrs. Meyer started writing the series just for fun, after a dream came to her about the love story between her two characters: the immortal Edward Cullen (who is a very sexy vampire, btw) and the very human Bella Swan. The thing that impresses me about this whole series of books is that she wrote four books, all around 500 pages each (2000 or so pages total), that only span the time period of, oh, let's say two years. Two years for an immortal character, oh that's nothing!

This got me thinking about how brilliant this idea is for the author. Immortal characters never die. Immortal characters can live multiple lives (multiple lives=multiple stories). An author with immortal characters can, if these characters become popular, have an entire career based on writing about these characters. For me, money isn't the number one (or even number five) reason I enjoy writing, but for those who really love to write, money is nice. When you have it, you don't have to focus your time with a real life job and real life worries (or so I romanticize in my head). No more typing at 12am on Sunday night, no more waking up at 6am to finish your chapter. How nice would that be?

So, Stephanie Meyer signed her first book deal for a $750,000 advance according to wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephenie_Meyer . That's for one book. She has four now, which are widely popular and topping Best Seller lists, and her first book is coming out on the big screen here in November (I am so excited). My personal dream is to have a book so loved that one day it can be turned into a motion picture.

Basically, Stephanie Meyer is living MY dream. So, needless to say I'm paying attention to how she did it.

I came up with my plot for a fallen angel story just yesterday. I can't wait to finish it. I wonder if I can belt it out in 3 months like Stephanie Meyer did.

If nothing else, reading this series has inspired me to write. It has caused me to think; to consider marketing and who my potential audience might be. It has inspired me to write fiction even. Fiction isn't even something I've taken a stab at yet, since I am a poet. Now I'm all interested in writing paranormal fiction--and now there's a huge market for it.

Maybe not all of you are interested in the paranormal, you want to write something a little more vanilla. Gossip Girl is a tv show on the CW based on a group of spoiled socialites going through high school. It also happens to be based on a book series. Even if you keep your characters human, they still have many stories to tell. I get nervous as the cast from Gossip Girl approaches high school graduation. What will I do with my Monday nights if it goes off the air? Never fear, their drama may continue into college (and I can smugly tell my mother I watch tv about college students!!! I'm not sure this will appease her though). Maybe even Gossip Girl's characters will have friendships that last late into adulthood, much like the girls in Sex in the City. Oh, there is hope. Even for those of you that want to keep it human, there is still wiggle room for many books with your beloved characters to last a life time.

Who would have thought? So next time you think about writing, consider the advantages and disadvantages of immortal characters. Also, if you're in your 20s or bravely embracing your high school years up until your 30s, watch Gossip Girl and read the Twilight series. And come get coffee with me.

Til next time...

Labels: , , , , , ,

October 15, 2008


I was just going to add a comment to the previous post, but decided I had far too much to say about e-publishing.

E-publishing, e-books and e-publishers have been around for a long, long time--long before Kindle and Amazon. The first e-publisher appeared on the scene over ten years ago. I was published by a company called Renlow. Book that were purchased had to be read on the computer screen--not so wonderful.

The first e-reader was the Rocket and it was great. It was the size of a regular book page, back lit, turned off automatically if you didn't turn the pages (like when you fell asleep reading.) Unfortunately, the company sold out to another company who didn't continue with it. Today there is the Sony e-reader, you can read books on your iPhone and any number of other hand-held gadgets.

Thousands of people have embraced e-books. Besides Amazon, there are many, many places to buy e-books, the best known being http://www.fictionwise.com

All of my books are in e-book format as well as trade paperbacks.

E-publishers are far more flexible than New York publishers. They are more willing to look at unusual books, cross-genre, shorter or longer books.

If you go to http://www.epicauthors.com you can find a list of e-publishers and from there go to their websites to read their criteria.

E-books have been around a long time and are gaining popularity. I'm proud to be e-published!


Labels: ,

October 12, 2008

*Guest Blogger Alert*

Today the KC Crew would like to welcome Sherman Lee.
Sherman is a local friend and supporter of the KC Writers who is with the Kings County Library.

Amazon Kindle: The Writer’s Friend
By Sherman Lee

Part One: Backstory
Developed in Cupertino, California, this wireless reading device hit the market back in November 2007. Customer demand was overwhelming. Amazon’s supply of Kindle’s sold out within five and a half hours at a price of $399.00 a unit. The price was later reduced to $359.00 in May 2008. The internal memory should hold at least 200 titles. The Kindle’s closest marketplace rival is the Sony Reader which appeared in September 2006. Other electronic reading devices on the market are the ECTACO JetBook and the iRex Reader 1000 ($650.00). The Sony Reader needs to be connected to a computer before titles can be downloaded. The Kindle requires no such connection to purchase books. But you must connect the Kindle to a computer if you wish to download music or audio books from Audible.com onto your Kindle.

There is no getting around the fact that the Kindle is expensive. Not everyone is going to go out and buy one. At this point in time it is still too early to tell if this will be a costly mistake for Jeff Bezos and the crew at Amazon, or if this is the spark that will ignite the e-book market after so many failed starts in the past. Sources vary as to the number of unit sold. Amazon is cagey about releasing such numbers. Guesstimates range from 10,000 to 30,000 units sold to 240,000 (a number that even Amazon claims is high).

Amazon will be targeting colleges and universities with a “student” version of the Kindle. The Kindle 2.0 is to be introduced in October 2008. Another Kindle with an 8 1/2” x 11” screen may be introduced in 2009. The two new Kindles might be introduced at the same time to take advantage of the 2008 Christmas shopping season. This time around, the consumer would be able to purchase a Kindle in a color besides white.

As with any discussion of the Kindle, I have heard many comments such as; I like real books, I don’t want to do my reading on an electronic device, and the Kindle is too expensive. I could buy a lot of books for that price. This is just a fad. I don’t want to have to buy my reading material from Amazon. All of these are good, valid points.

Perhaps in five years’ time, people will talk about the Kindle the same way people talk about old TV shows like “Fantasy Island” or “The Love Boat”—“Hey, do you remember that old….” I’m not here to predict the end of paper books. I’m not here to predict the future. I’m here to tell you, the published or soon to be published or would like to be published author, short story writer, essayist, poet, non-fiction writer, that you might want to look into the world of e-publishing using the Kindle as an introductory jumping off point. The Amazon Kindle could be a “game changer” in the publishing world.

Part Two: E-Publishing-The Kindle Advantage
In order to publish your work on Kindle, you must do two things: Have an account with Amazon.com and fill out a contract with them that requires some financial and tax information from you.

Why should you even bother? Perhaps you have a hard copy of a novel or short story sitting in a drawer or on a bookshelf somewhere collecting dust. Or you have months of work sitting in your computers hard drive. Why not get your work out to potential customers. Okay, maybe some of you are not computer savvy and don’t want to go through the hassle of uploading and formatting your work. But if you want to give it a try check out this site for more info http://www.amazon.com/ and go to Help and then click on Digital Products. This site was very helpful http://www.patbdoyle.com/?p=169

There are no guarantees in life. While it is possible to sell your work to Kindle customers, chances are you will not make a lot of money but you will reach a new source of readers and isn't that what we want.

Have you had an experiance with the kindle reader? Is it as easy as it seems?

Labels: , ,

October 5, 2008

Speaking Engagements, Writers Conferences, Blogging, Etc., What’s the Point?

If you’re a writer and expect to sell books in today’s publishing world, you have to “come out of your cave” as one publisher put it and let yourself be seen in person and on the Internet.

I’ll give you the downside to all this first:

In person engagements can cost money. If the venue is far away it might take gas money or even the price of an airplane ticket, rental car or shuttle fee and room fee–to say nothing about the cost of food.

Airplanes are uncomfortable and nothing is free on them any more.

You have to be able to speak in front of people and have something interesting to say. (This really shouldn’t be too hard for a writer–after all, you thought your words were interesting enough to put into a book. I always figure the people who came must have wanted to hear what I had to say.)

Blogging doesn’t cost anything, but you do have to think up something to say that people will take the time to read. Blogs must continually be updated so readers will come back again.

This all takes time away from your writing.

On the plus side:

In person engagements will give you the opportunity to meet new people, hopefully make new fans and friends, and visit new places. Hopefully, some of these people will want to buy your book, love it and tell their friends about it.

Speaking to others about your book is great fun–at least it is for me. Over the years I’ve found it’s easy to talk about something you really know about.

Using the Internet to promote is far less expensive and much easier. It also gives you the potential of contacting far more people than you could.

I’ve done visual book tours that were great fun. I’ve paid for the ones I’ve done because I just don’t have the time to find others blogs and ask them to host me, but they’ve paid off in the fact that they’ve brought book sales.

Ever so often I get to meet someone in person that I’ve met online and that’s always a plus.

Writing is a lonely profession. It’s good to get out and be around people.

Marilyn Meredith
Visit my website and read the first chapter of my latest Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Kindred Spirits.

Labels: , , , , , ,

October 4, 2008

Welcome to the KC Writers Blog. We would like to welcome our first guest blogger. Hi to Marilyn Meredith. Our local writer extraordinaire. Her latest release is Kindred Spirits. Her newest in the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. It weaves together murder, ghostly visions, and a quest for justice to create an engaging story. Check out her blog http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/ for updates to her speaking schedule. Thank you again Marilyn.