Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Did You Do?

It's time for lists and resolutions. I'm great at lists, not so much for resolutions. I do set writing goals, however. I'm part of a group that posts weekly goals and this has been a tremendous help to me. I can see where I've fallen short and where I've succeeded each week.

One tactic of this group, a counterintuitive one, surprises me at how well it works. When you miss a goal, you don't try to make it up the next week, or try to get everything done better. You cut your goal back. You're after success, not failure. Setting a goal that you miss, week after week, is setting yourself up for disaster. Cutting a goal that you didn't meet seems to work really well. If I've decided I should write 10,000 words and I only write 8000, then I'll aim for that 8000 the next week. And if I meet it (or even surpass it), then I'll fell much better.

How did I do in 2010? Pretty good. Better than I ever imagined, in fact.

üCHOKE - query my whole list, then small pubs SOLD!

ü-SMOKE (sequel to CHOKE) - finish writing

finish editing (not done)

ü -ICE - keep querying (Jan-Aug & Oct)

sketch out a sequel to ICE, just in case (not done)

üshort stories - get more than 2 published [5 accepted, but don't know pub date on two, and one

is 2011] *

üstart new mystery blog - started three

üpublish short story collection on Smashwords, Amazon DONE (createspace paperback)

So, on to the next task. I guess it's time to put up or shut up. Here are my 2011 writing goals:


CHOKE - promote and sell (being published in May)

put together mailing list

start newsletter

SMOKE (sequel to CHOKE) - finish editing, submit to Mainly Murder Press in May

BROKE (3rd in series) - first draft

ICE - keep querying with new direction and possibly new title

sketch out a sequel to ICE & write first draft

short stories - get more than 3 published

publish book on self-publishing (createspace paperback)

I like to give myself a boost when I journal every day, so I put a little bit of motivation at the end. Last year I used GET 'ER DONE for six months and I CAN DO IT the rest of the year. Next year I think I'll use either DON'T QUIT NOW or KEEP ON REVVIN' IN 2011, or both.

I feel good that I'm starting the year with three stories accepted! TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING will appear in "Dark Valentine" at the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas series. RESCUE 2005 was accepted by "Sniplits" and MAKE WAY FOR DONUTS by "Untreed Reads". I don't have publishing dates, but I'm VERY excited about these.

I'd love to hear about your goals!

Photo by Rich Tea

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where do writers get ideas?

I'm not always sure. Sometimes I probably forget what got me going, but I CAN tell you where I just got my latest from. Facebook.

Facebook, in it's infinite tinkering decided to take away the place where I can find my "lists" that were created for our convenience, as I recall. (This may be faulty memory, too, as far as I know.) They WERE convenient. A mere click at the left and all my friends are sorted into convenient catagories: agents, editors, bookstores, libraries, local writers, famous writers, etc. One of my faves is my "frequent posters" list, by which I mean "too frequent posters". That's where I put all those people that post twenty times in a row. I seldom glance at those, but do every once in a while.

I posted a rant using bad language (in symbols, of course), then did a desperate search for someone that had something to say about lists. I found a discussion on Bill Crider's FB stuff, and even found the answer. Not a good one. To get to the "lists" now requires many extra clicks. You have to be on News Feed, then click Most Recent, then click the little arrow, then click to expand the list that shows up there. Grrrrr.

Now, to get to the topic. When I said I felt a short story coming on (this happens when I'm in a murderous mood), Bill Crider commented that "Facebook and convenience are two terms not often found in the same sentence."

Aha! My title! AS CONVENIENT AS FACEBOOK. This calls for something in the way of farce and bungling, of course. I will make reference to the very scary (to me) shifting staircases at Hogswart. And someone will die.

That, at least, is where that idea came from. I'll let you know if I can write it--and sell it. Bill is asking for ten percent, so I'll have to try to get top dollar for it. Short story writers know how easy that is.

darling photo from Daan van den Bergh at

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ho Ho Ho!

I love Christmas as much as the next guy (or gal, if you weren't raised in the upper Midwest and call both genders by the term "guy"), but doesn't it just overwhelm me every year? You'd think I'd learn.

I belong to a goal-setting group and we set writing goals every week, post them, and report on last week's goals. I'm usually pretty good about being realistic. I set light goals when I know something big and non-writing related is coming up. Did I not know it's December? Did I not know Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat? Please to put some hours in poor Kaye's cap!

I carefully mapped out the month: a week devoted to short stories (and I have one I'd like to turn in to an anthology by January 6th, another to a contest by December 31st), a week to starting edits on the manuscript that I completed a rough draft of last month, a week to examining and querying one project, and a week for Christmas.

Wrong! A MONTH for Christmas. No short story action, no editing, no nothin'. But hey, I'm blogging!

Does anyone get writing done in December? How???

(picture is in the public domain)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Interview of David Wisehart

To make up for not blogging last week (horrible cold that keeps hanging on and hanging on!), I'm offering a special treat this week. David Wisehart interviewed me in his Kindle Author newsletter and, the more I read about him, the more impressed I am. I had to know more, and think you might want to also, so I'm bringing you an interview he graciously granted me.

Kaye: First and foremost, I'm dying to know how you manage to get at least thirty hours in your day. It's obvious that you do, since you get so much accomplished! You're a novel writer, travel writer, a writer-producer-director of plays, film writer, video game producer, host of the Kindle Author newsletter and at least five blogs! How do you get all this done? Do you have a time-management secret?

David: Coffee.

Actually, some of the things you mentioned—video game producer, travel writer—are things I've done in the past and am no longer actively involved in. Of the various blogs I've started, the only one I'm focused on now is the Kindle Author blog.

However, it has been a very busy year for me. I published a novel and a short story, edited an anthology of plays, wrote an opera libretto, and completed the first draft of my second novel, among various other writing projects. I've acted in four stage plays this year, directed three (counting my opera), and produced one. I started a very successful new blog, Kindle Author, with nearly 400 posts in five months. I also tutor part-time.

My biggest time-management secret is this: turn off the TV.

I don't own a television. I watched TV when I was trying to break in as a TV writer, but even then it was for work. Likewise, I don't play video games as much as I did when I was in the industry.

I also had a relationship fall apart this year, and that freed up some time.

Kaye: I'm sorry for that last reason, David. What's your main area of concentration? Or are do your projects carry equal weight?

David: I have short-term projects, medium-term projects, and long-term projects.

Blog posts are short-term. Screenplays and plays are medium-term. Novels and operas are medium- or long-term. But this can change. "Valentino: a play in verse" was a long-term project that took three years to write, but became a short-term project when I decided to produce and direct it for the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

On the other hand, I started a screenplay last year—a script my literary agent has been waiting patiently for—but it moved from the short-term to the long-term pile because I've completely lost my enthusiasm for it. The script is almost done, and it's probably pretty good, but I can't bear to even look at it anymore.

I think this short-term, medium-term, long-term approach is actually a very good tool for productivity. It helps me avoid writer's block. Because if I'm blocked on something, I'll move it from the short-term pile to the long-term pile, and find something else to write in the short-term.

Kaye: Why did you decide for forego an agent and put your books on Kindle and your play on Lulu?

David: I tried to get a book agent for "Devil's Lair." The response generally was that they liked the writing but didn't think it was commercial enough. And they may be right. Agents are looking for the next big thing, something that will sell, say, 50,000 copies or more. I'll be happy to sell 5,000 copies on Kindle—and I'll get there soon enough. My novel is in a commercial genre—fantasy—but uses a literary style closer to Umberto Eco or Gene Wolfe than, say, Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind. It also has some real Latin in it. If I had invented my own language, like high faerie or low goblin, it would have been fine. But people do seem to be put off by the Latin.

"Valentino" is even more esoteric. It's a full-length play in rhyming verse. I just assumed no agent would touch that. So, like most poets, I self-published. When I later produced and directed the play, it was nice to have printed copies to give to the actors.

I've had several agents in Hollywood. I've had scripts represented by ICM and CAA, two of the biggest names in the business. And I currently have a literary manager for my screenplays. But that's a different world.

Kaye: I've had agents say they like, even love, my projects, but don't think they could sell them, too. It's heartbreaking. How did you get the idea for the Kindle Author newsletter?

David: The newsletter is a natural outgrowth of the Kindle Author blog. It's another way to keep in touch with readers of the blog.

I got the idea for the Kindle Author blog after I self-published "Devil's Lair" and needed to find way to reach readers. I'd done other blogs, so it seemed the thing to do. At first I just thought it would be Kindle news and articles, and a bit about my own books. But then I read, in the comments of Joe Konrath's blog, that indie author Stacey Cochran was looking for blogs to add to his blog tour, so I emailed Stacey and he did an interview on my Kindle Author blog. Other authors asked to be interviewed, and I started inviting more self-published authors to discuss their books on my blog.

It proved to be a good service for the authors, and gave me lots of content and traffic for my blog.

Kaye: How have you publicized it and gotten followers?

David: I haven't publicized it much at all. I did start a thread at Kindle Boards and on the Amazon discussion forum. I'm on twitter. But I get most of my followers because I interview authors, post the interviews on my blog, and authors send their friends and family to read it.

Kaye: Do you think traditional publishing is in your future? Why or why not?

David: Yes, because I will be wildly successful as an indie author.

In a year or two or three, some traditional publisher will knock on my door and give me an offer I can't refuse.

Kaye: I hope that's true! How long have you been writing plays and novels? Have you had another career?

David: I wrote and directed and starred in my first play when I was eight years old. By high school I was writing spec TV scripts and screenplays. I went to film school at UCLA and wrote a bunch of scripts there. I returned to writing plays after I left the video game industry.

I've had lots of careers. I started in aerospace engineering. I worked for NASA when I was in high school, programming computers to analyze data for the HiMAT program. Then I put myself through UCLA film school by working as a programmer for The Aerospace Corporation. I got hired as a technical writer for a game company, then wrote narration scripts for art history documentaries, then wrote and produced children's educational CD-ROMs, then produced video games. Now I write, direct, produce, and act, mostly in theater. I also tutor the SAT and other subjects part-time.

Kaye: What keeps you going?

David: The need to tell stories that will outlive me.

Kaye: Where can we find your books and plays to purchase and how can we sign up for the Kindle Author newsletter?

David: You can sign up for the newsletter at my blog,

"Valentino: a play in verse" is available from, and will be available on Kindle soon. I've been reformatting the verse play, because Kindle and other e-readers don't handle the verse formatting very well.

My novel "Devil's Lair" and a short story, "Crimson Lake," are currently online. I will be publishing more novels and stories soon.

Kaye: What projects are coming up for you?

David: I'm revising and editing my second novel, "The Highwayman," which is adapted from a screenplay I wrote that until recently had an an Oscar-winning director attached. After the contract expired, the director chose not to renew. The script has been shopped all around Hollywood, so I decided to turn it into a novel.

Two other books are in the works. A horror novel, "Red Wedding," and a mystery novel, "Cold Reading." I'm also writing a new opera libretto, a new verse play, and have various other projects on my to-do list.

Kaye: Thanks so much for being my guest today!

David: Thank you!

(Visit the Kindle Author blog at and read more about David at

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Patchwork Blog today

To make up for not blogging last week, I'm having a triple header today.

***The first thing I want to do is promote an event for this Saturday: Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. Even if you don't buy a book, every child needs to know what a bookstore is like.

This is the brain child of Jenny Milchmann and I hear a Take Your Child to the Library Day will follow soon.

***The second item of business is to pass along an award given me by Stacy Juba, the Irresistible Blog Award. I don't know what I ever did to deserve great friends like Stacy, but it must have been something good!

Now it's my duty, and my great pleasure, to pass it along! This award needs to go to the fine writers at Mysteries and Margaritas, the gang at Writers Who Kill , and Lelia Taylor at Buried Under Books . The owners of these sites are working hard to get the word out and going to great lengths to help other authors. It's SO much appreciated!

***And, thirdly, a personal announcement: my short story collection is available as a paperback at Createspace with a preview here . It should be on Amazon soon, any day now. I'm happy that I can offer it for only $5.99. Better get a copy for yourself and some to gift during the holidays. Right?

Thanks for stopping by!