Free eBooks This Weekend!

If you love a great short story–and who doesn’t?–you can’t get much better than the ones over at Cold Moon Slivers. And the best part…they’re FREE from now until Tuesday evening for your Kindle!

There is something for everyone…one thriller, one scifi, and one fantasy. Stop by and download a few!

GET IT NOW!

Advertisements

April is National Poetry Month!

Since 1996, people, libraries, and schools everywhere have been celebrating National Poetry Month.

It’s wonderful that we have a designated month to celebrate, but I know I couldn’t wait until once a year to read or write a poem. It’s just way to long. So grab a book to read (some favorites of mine are listed below) or find a pen and celebrate poetry now!

The Hell with Love: Poems to Mend a Broken Heart:  A reminder that poetry can be fun!

Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West: Beautiful, passionate poems.

100 Selected Poems: Just because I like e.e. cummings.

What We Carry: Real poems from a real (amazing) poet.

River of Stars: A wonderful collection of poems by our very own Vonnie Winslow Crist.

Collaborative Writing

If you’re thinking about a collaborative writing project, here are a few tips to save your writing, your friendship, and your sanity!

Writing Tips – On Collaboration

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is Your Heart in it for the Long Haul?

There you are…smack dab in the middle of a long project. The electric that was in the air during the thrilling newness of it has the spark of, well, a sock with static cling attached to a pant leg. And the finish line seems a million miles (or weeks, or words) away. Here is where you have a choice to make: do I have the heart to stick this out for the long haul, or do I move on?

This feeling is normal in many jobs but especially so in our field. Whether you are a writer, an editor, or a publisher, you are constantly challenged to stay motivated. Many of our projects take months, often up to a year or more, to complete. Couple that with the fact most of us do this work as a second job or a hobby and it can be hard to not only find time but also stay interested and motivated.

If you decide to stick with the project, here are a few things you can do to keep going.

  • Set smaller goals to meet on the way to project completion. Write them down with a firm deadline date. Then, once you’ve reached the goal, do something to celebrate.
  • Get other people involved. This field tends to get a bit solitary. Get interaction (and accountability!) through writing groups or other types of peer review.
  • Take a break. If you need to step away from a project, take some time to research, do some planning, or begin your marketing. That way, you’re still moving forward.

What other methods do you use to keep motivated over the long haul? Leave a comment!

The Magic of February

There has always been something magical to me about February. It is still cold, but we are bridging to spring. With that knowledge, I relish the snow, knowing that any one of them could bring the last flakes to fall until the end of the year. If I close my eyes, I can see a sprite skating across ice-laden pine boughs of the trees in my yard.

Then, there is Valentine’s Day, of course, which I celebrate as a most sacred holiday, second only to Halloween. I imagine a modern Cupid, mischievous as ever, plotting how to get two awkward, flawed people to finally realize what is right in front of them.

And finally, the birthdays of a few of my favorite writers nestle in toward the middle of the month. Maybe there stories aren’t necessarily about magic, but there is magic in them…sometimes in the plot, sometimes in the characters, but always in the writing.

Kate Chopin, February 8
I read The Awakening at least once a year. I remember the first time I read it…sophomore year of college in a women in literature class. There was something about it that changed me. The writing was as smoldering and dream-like as Louisiana itself. The copy I had in college, now replaced with a hardback, was laden with notes made in the margins and dog-eared pages (both habits I dislike, but I felt a compulsion to remember each beautifully spun phrase). As a writer, I grew by reading it, finally making the connection that the language of a story is just as important as any other single element. Read this bit from her novel.

The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in the abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.

Toni Morrison, February 15
You pretty much can’t go wrong with a Toni Morrison book. The language is complex, pulling you feverishly through the story. Several years ago, I picked up a copy of Paradise. I was hooked. It was, literally, one of the best first lines I’ve read of a book. Yes, there is magical realism in this book. But the language is also magic. I was enchanted with the very first line I read:

They shoot the white girl first. With the others they can take their time.

Tonight, if I’m lucky, I will write a sentence or two with a bit of magic in them. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll imagine what creatures lurk outside in the light of the waxing moon.

National Letter Writing Week

January 9 marks the beginning of National Letter Writing Week. Never was there a better time to celebrate it than at the start of the year, when many of us are sending out query letters to jump start our New Year’s resolutions for our writing.

The query letter can be quite challenging. Authors who have been able to write 300 pages of a novel freeze at their keyboards as they attempt to fill paragraphs in a meaningful way. Here are a few links to help you get started!

Writing World – How to Write a Successful Query Letter

Agent Query – How to Write a Query

Writer’s Digest – Advice on Writing Query Letters

Taking Chances

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
William Shedd

I’ll admit it. I play it safe. I wear my seatbelt. I check my surroundings before using my ATM card. And I can’t even imagine making the choice to jump out of a perfectly good plane with the hope that a flimsy piece of fabric will break my fall from 3,500 feet. I’m just careful.

There comes a point, though, when you realize that careful isn’t always satisfying or fulfilling. My time came this year. Sure…it would have been easier to stay on course, but I could feel my barnacles forming as I continued to dock in my safe harbor.

So, I did it. I opened Cold Moon Press as a sister company to Book Mark It Promotions. Yes, it’s scary to try such a huge venture, but after years of learning so much from other great folks in the publishing industry, I figured it was time. Time for me to sail out of my safe harbor, time for me fulfill some of my dreams.

As a writer, I’ve often pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone. Sometimes, these chances have had little risk beyond a few hours of time and several crumbled pieces of loose-leaf paper. But every once in a while, it leads to something kind of wonderful. Which is what I’m hoping for with the writers I am and will be working with at Cold Moon.

Today, I invite you to take a few chances. Eat at a new restaurant. Talk to a stranger. Write that piece of poetry or prose you’ve been mulling over. Scrape off your barnacles and head out of your safe harbor.

Two Articles Worth Reading!

For all writers who have been ho-hum about ebooks…read this!

Amazon: eBook Sales Surpass Hardcovers

And this one is a much different. As an editor AND as a writer, this is a great reminder. I still struggle with “affect” vs “effect”…

10 Common Errors “Spell Check” Won’t Catch

Published in: on July 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Janet Fitch’s 10 Rules for Writers

I read this interview recently in the LA Times book section online. It’s not just about mechanics…it’s about challenging yourself as a writer and examining how you write.

Janet Fitch’s 10 Rules for Writers

Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

This world is but a canvas to our imagination.

~Henry David Thoreau

As writers, our canvas is the paper or keyboard upon which we create our art, where we share our imagination with the world. Although many of us many never pick up a paint brush or chisel a slab of marble, art is, nonetheless, a part of the process of bringing our voice to our audience.

What would be great is if the content alone would be enough to make your book fly off the shelves and into the hands of a reader. We also need a catchy title, which is a huge part of the lure of the book. Beyond that, the cover art becomes an integral part of our work. Just how important is it? “The cover should always portray the content, intent and personality of the book,” says Sierra Yanush in her article “Judging Book Covers.” Having cover art that is that reflective seems like no small matter.

Often, authors aren’t given much choice on the cover design. There is logic to that, really. I, for one, am not a visual artist; I’m a writer. While I would love to have a say in the cover, the design process would not be my strong point. And honestly, the publishers often have more insight into the psychology and trends in cover art. They are professionals in this arena.

That being said, with small presses becoming big players in publishing and the increased acceptance of self publishing, writers now have more say and can even help with the design of their book’s covers. Finding yourself in that new role can be a bit daunting, but keeping a few things in mind, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task.

I interviewed Vonnie Winslow Crist, who is both an artist and an author. Her website and her blog are both wonderful representations of her work. Included in a long list of publications is her book River of Stars, which features her art, poetry, and short fiction. You can buy the book on Amazon or buy it here, where she “will donate $1 to Books for Boots, whose mission is ‘to help greviously wounded war heroes’ in VA hospitals, for each copy of River of Stars purchased from AuthorsBookshop.com.” Here is what she had to say about cover art.

BMIP:  Can you give us one or two examples of what are good eye catchers when it comes to titles and lettering?

VWC:  You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression, therefore you need to grab the eyes of the shopper (or library patron) and hold their attention long enough for them to read the title of your book. Store shelves are lined with books. Yours must stand out from the rest. But how? Answer: Color!

There are certain color combinations that our eyes are naturally drawn to. Black lettering on bright yellow is one. Others? Look at traffic signs. Certain color combinations attract the eyes and can be clearly read at great distances.

But how to find a color combination that works for you? Go to a bookstore. Don’t look at the covers; instead, study the book spines that line the shelves. You’ll naturally gravitate towards certain book spines. From studying those spines, you’ll discover which color combinations and lettering styles are the most legible.

Remember, the most eye catching color combination can’t correct a poorly chosen title. Titles should be content appropriate, as brief as possible, and catchy! A title that makes a reader curious enough to open the book is what every writer is looking for.

BMIP:  Just because you like a picture, does it mean it’s a good fit for cover art? How does cover art differ from art you might choose for other projects?

VWC:  The first goal of a book’s cover is to communicate to a potential reader what’s between the covers. The bright colors and bold images of a children’s book wouldn’t be a good fit for most romance novels. Just as dark silhouettes and bloody knives wouldn’t be the correct image for most self-help books. Step 1: The image selected must match the content.

The second goal is title and author name readability. A beautiful photograph or piece of artwork doesn’t necessarily make a great book cover if the artist hasn’t left “open space” for placing the text. Most good cover art has an area that’s free of images or complicated patterns on which to position the title and author’s name. Step 2: Make sure there’s a place to layout text.

The color of the lettering is another consideration at this point (see answer to question #1). If the cover art background is sky blue, then it’s best to pick a color that contrasts with it. Orange lettering with a black shadow or outline would “pop,” whereas white or pale yellow lettering would blend in. Also, the font should be easily read. It’s a good idea to skip the fancy fonts when choosing a style for your letters. And remember to make the lettering large enough to be legible from an arm’s length away. Step 3: Make the title and author’s name easily readable.

Lastly, get the opinions of others. Technical help is available from professionals, but every one of your friends and family members can tell you if an image interests them and what sort of book they think that image represents. Even the potential cover, including text, can be shown to friends. And don’t be defensive. If everyone you show the cover to has trouble reading the text or doesn’t get the message from the cover art that you’d hoped to convey—maybe it’s time to re-think your cover. Step 4: Show others the proposed cover and be prepared for both positive and negative responses.

BMIP:  What advice do you offer to writers who need to help select cover art?

VWC:  Visit a bookstore. Look at the covers of books. Make a list that clearly states which covers appeal to you and why. Then, make a list of which covers “turn you off” and why. And forget about the covers which aren’t strong enough to cause a reaction at all—if they’re as bland as elevator music, you’re not the only one who barely notices them.

By looking for common threads in the best covers, you’ll be able to list what attributes your cover needs. Maybe simple, uncluttered cover images are your cup of tea. Maybe a fabulous photograph surrounded by a thick, solid-color border on which to place text works for you. Maybe a dark mysterious image with bright, bold letters is appealing.

Once you have an idea which covers attract you, then you can begin the process of selecting the artwork or photography for your book. In conculsion, keep writing, believe in your book, and good luck with finding the perfect cover!

Here are a few more ideas and resources for you!

* According to the article “You Can Tell a Book By It’s Cover” by Helen Rumbelow, “Studies show that a book on a three-for-two table has about one and a half seconds to catch a reader’s eye. If it is picked up, it is on average glanced at for only three to four seconds.”

* Ask for what you want or make suggestions if your cover doesn’t quite suit the material. You may not get what you request, but you certainly won’t if you don’t say anything. As long as you are respectful and flexible, professionals in the field are usually willing to have a dialogue.

* If you’re trying to design a cover on your own and are buying images, make sure you buy the right royalties to use them. There are websites online that help you create what you want.

* There are lots of great professionals to help with this process. Ask for recommendations. And think of this as an investment. Yes, if you are self publishing, you will be putting out more money initially to get your book out, but remember that a great cover will help sell your books and help you earn that money back.

* The tiny space on the spine? The art and lettering matter there! That’s what people often see first on a book shelf.

* Want to read a few more resources? Here area a few more good articles to help you.

“The Art Speaks Volumes”

“Designing Eye-Catching Book Covers”

What covers have you seen that are visually appealing (regardless of the story)? Have you ever picked up or bought a book because you liked the cover art?