Saturday, September 19, 2009
You would think that when given the opportunity to make a pitch to editors at the LERA Conference, I would pitch my winning historical romance, Matchmaker, Matchmaker. Nervous and naive, I sat down with the likes of NAL and Five Star-Gale, and rambled on with another manuscript. I still don’t know what I was thinking . . . but I do know I wasn’t thinking! Russell Davis, the-then-Five Star-editor, actually congratulated me on my contest win at the beginning of my pitch, and I still didn’t get it! When politely asked to submit my manuscript of choice to Five Star-Gale, I snail-mailed my second, completed novel and not my contest win.
Months went by before I got “the call,” saying thank you but . . . no thank you. It’s the answer I expected, being rejected. But wait, the call wasn’t over. Five Star-Gale asked if I had something else I might want to submit. When given this golden opportunity, you bet this time I sent in my contest winner! Some time later I got the call again, saying thank you and let’s talk sale!
That one moment will ever withstand the test of time as “the moment” in my writing life . . . five years and counting.
Joanne Sundell’s first sale was in 2005, to Five Star, Gale, Cengage Learning. The prime market for Five Star Expressions is the library market, but Five Star’s books are also available on-line at Barnes & Noble and all bookstores. The Five Star Expressions line is a combination of romance and women’s fiction. Joanne’s particular interest is in historical romance with suspenseful elements.
To date, Joanne’s sales to Five Star include: MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER (06), A…MY NAME’S AMELIA (07) also out in Large Print, THE PARLOR HOUSE DAUGHTER (08) also out in Large Print, MEGGIE’S REMAINS (09), & THE QUAKER AND THE CONFEDERATE upcoming series (5/10, 9/10). Joanne’s first sale was reviewed nationally by Booklist, her second by Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and her third by Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. A…MY NAME’S AMELIA garnered a top 4&1/2 star rating from Romantic Times Magazine.
History is always a strong character in Joanne’s books, with her first four stories set in colorful, turbulent Colorado history and her next, a two-book series set in Civil War Virginia. As important as it is for Joanne to convey a strong, credible, historical flavor of the time, it is equally important for Joanne to portray strong, credible heroines and heroes. A strong, determined heroine deserves an equally strong and determined hero. Joanne grew up reading romance, historical and contemporary, falling in love with heroes and heroines from Regency England to the American West, from London’s pubs to Colorado’s ski slopes, loving that moment when the hero and heroine meet and fall in love. That moment to Joanne is the moment when Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, when Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy … that’s the heart-stopping, passionate moment for Joanne in romance. That moment is what led her to attempt traditional, old-fashioned historical romance.
With her three, Colorado-mountain-raised-children grown and off on their own adventures, Joanne lives part-time in Colorado and California, with her husband and their entourage` of felines and huskies.
Joanne is a member of Colorado Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Los Angeles Romance Authors.
e-mail Joanne: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, September 17, 2009
How I got published is no exception.
Because I have an encompassing business career, which always has more work than hours in the day … and, for that matter, does not even have a regular day because I work simultaneously in many different times zones, I suppose I have not felt the same need to publish as many other writers.
Yet I have always sought to maintain my integrity in a struggle with questions that have no answers ... who am I … why am I here … what comes after this life.
And, because of that, I have always written.
Following the adage of writing from what you know best, I wrote from my first hand-hand experience accumulated as a director of an international investment firm. I wrote as truthfully as possible of the world of international finance — not with the over dramatization so common in film and television, but with an intimate telling through a first-person narrative ... of what it can be like to labour in the world of money spinning ... of how the money’s immense leverage for triumph or disaster doesn’t so much corrupt people as corrupt the way they treat each other ... of how the relentless demands of the money so often deprive you of sufficient time and energy to live through the events of your emotional and interior life.
The plot advances along questions arising from how we relate to our careers: How much money is too much? And how fast is too fast in life? And the central character advances along deeper questions in his own life: How do we cope with love and loss?
The story follows Paris Smith. As he steps onto the top rungs of the corporate ladder, he is caught between his need for fulfillment and his need for understanding; between his drive for power and his inability to cope with his growing emptiness where there was once love. When his wife disappears from the core of his life, his loneliness and sense of disconnection threaten to overwhelm him. When he tries to compensate by losing himself in his work, he stumbles off the treadmill of his own success, and is entangled in the web of a fraudulent bond deal that threatens to derail his career and his life.
Forced to put his personal life on hold while he travels nonstop between Toronto, Singapore and Bangkok to salvage his career, he is deprived of the time and space to mourn the absence of his wife and regain his equilibrium.
In the heat and turmoil and fast money of Southeast Asia, half a world from home, and half a life from his last remembered smile, he finds duplicity, friendship and power --- and a special woman who might heal his heart.
Overall, it is a deeply felt story about the isolation of today’s society, the prices great and small paid for success and the damages resulting from the ruthless exercise of financial power.
Yet, although it is a literary novel, it is also fast-paced and highly readable. By the time I had finished writing it, I recognized that readers would find the details fascinating, and would find the characters real, and not easily forgotten.
Because of this, it is the first writing that I have wanted to publish for wide circulation.
Prior to this, my primary fans have been editors who have followed my writing, always been supportive and encouraging, and always patiently promoted that I bring a book to print.
Finding a publisher was not as difficult as I thought it would be.
I retained a professional editor for final proofreading; the editor showed the manuscript to a publisher, Blue Butterfly Books; and the publisher accepted it on first reading.
As incredulous as it may seem, I would not have published with them simply because they offered me a contract.
Upon introduction, I was greatly impressed.
The company is founded on the mission statement of the publisher, Dr. Patrick Boyer, to bring to the market "interesting and important stories that are well-written for a wide audience."
All facets of the organization are entrepreneurial, and the people have great energy and dedication.
They publish some engaging and thought provoking non-fiction, especially in politics, history, public policy and biography; and they are building a selective list of high quality fiction. Their books have been very well received.
The website is: www.bluebutterflybooks.ca
Coming For Money has just been released, and is starting to attract a lot of attention.
As usual, in not following a usual path as with so many other parts of my life, I jumped straight from keyboard to published novel without an agent.
But I am looking for a high quality film production deal.
So I would be interested in hearing from an agent who would like to take on this initiative.
F. W. vom Scheidt is a director of an international investment firm. He works and travels in the world’s capital markets, and makes his home in Toronto, Canada. He is also the author of a new book, Coming for Money (Blue Butterfly Book Publishing), a remarkable and provocative novel about the world of international finance and the human quests for success, understanding and love. You can find out more about his book at http://www.bluebutterflybooks.ca/titles/money.html.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
On June 2008, I was publishing poems at the International Library of Poetry’s website (Poetry.com), as I received an invitation to Las Vegas by the International Society of Poets, which was one of the world’s largest poetry organizations. I was invited in Las Vegas because I was one of the nominees as Poet of the Year 2007. I was invited because of my poetic accomplishments at Poetry.com. It was an opportunity for me to meet the Pulitzer Prize Laureate, W.D. Snodgrass, Academy of American Poets Past Chancellor David Wagoner and others. But I couldn’t go in the U.S. because I wasn’t well physically and I was sad about it.
Somewhere in July 2008, I was talking with one of my acquaintances about my poems, while we were at a library in Kolding (Denmark). I also showed him the letter I received from the International Society of Poets.
He recommended that I write a book because he saw a potential in me as a writer, but I didn’t. I was afraid to write a book because I thought that I would make a fool out of myself to the world. I didn’t think that I could write good books and I always dreaded that people won’t like my books.
And then I thought about it and I decided to get help from a Danish library, in Kolding concerning finding a publisher. I was willing to find a publisher everywhere in Denmark, but common sense told me that I had to try to find a publisher in the U.S. because most of my poems are written in English and the book market in the States is bigger than in Denmark.
On August 2008, I decided to give it a try. I decided to write my first book and find a publisher across United States and Canada. But I faced lots of challenges because some publishers wouldn’t allow me to publish my book, because I don’t live in either the States or Canada. But I didn’t give up and I still had hope that United States or Canada are the places for me to publish my books.
I contacted Trafford Publishing from Canada and they were willing to publish my book, but I realized that I realized that I didn’t have enough resources and it would be too expensive for me to get my book published.
I felt like hope was gone and I almost quit writing my book. In September 2008, I was publishing my poems as usual at allpoetry.com. Accidentally, I found I-Proclaim’s website. I was very skeptic about their services because many publishers always ask for money before they publish your book. But I decided to get out of my comfortable zone and take this chance, which I might never of gotten.
I-Proclaim was very supportive and they helped making changes, when they weren’t satisfied with the way my document looked. In January 2009, my first book of poetry, The Depth of my Soul was published. In February, my second book, The Struggle of Power and the Fight for Survival and other books, like Freedom of press the sitting duck and Silent Talking. Currently, I am working on my fifth and last book of the year, which going to be a non-fiction book, thanks to the opportunity, I-Proclaim has given me.
My hope is that you get published and that you may be happy, when you look at your first book. Don’t give up on yourself. I know it can be frustrated, but keep on moving and do something remarkable. Don’t let someone’s negative opinion become your reality.
Balthazar Rodrigue Nzomono-Balenda is not only an author and a poet, but also a student, multimedia designer and translator. His previous books include The Depth of My Soul and The Struggle for Power and the Fight for Survival. Balthazar became interested in poetry by accident in 2003 when he wasn’t satisfied with the way things were going in his early studies and in the Danish society. His latest book is Freedom of Press: The Sitting Duck. You can visit Balthazar on the web at http://www.redroom.com/author/balthazar-rodrigue-nzomono-balenda.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The first reason is that e-publishing is more convenient than print publishing. Assuming you have a publisher who gives you the author, a lot of freedom, I can get an e-book published in a week after writing my manuscript as opposed to twelve months. I can make editing changes overnight as opposed to say waiting a month for my changes to come back from editor. It is much easier to market an e-book than a printed book. I can send review copies to reviewers by email as soon as my book is published. I can show my target audience and fans samples of my e-book on my website within days after I have finished writing my manuscript.
Expense is another major reason why I chose to e-publish my book. Face it print publishing a book can be a major expense. There are expenses to the publisher if you self publish, expenses to a professional editor, marketing expenses, etc….With e-publishing you pay a fraction the cost of print-publishing your book. Of course like an author or publisher you want to test the ‘sale ability’ of your book. What if sales are slow and there is little interest in your book? The potential losses are smaller with e-publishing than with printed-book publishing.
Your target audience, what’s more convenient, seeing a book advertised on the net where you can download it onto your PC or e-book reader in a matter or have to drive to several bookstores to see if they even have the book or place an order on the Net and wait several days plus pay shipping costs? E-books are just so user friendly and convenient for readers. E-books have potential if not now but perhaps in the near future more potential for a greater target audience than printed books do.
Editing, no matter how hard we and our editors fine comb our books, typos and grammatical errors still may appear after we have published our books. How exhilarating does it feel to finally see your printed book on a store shelf only to feel a big let down when you see a few glaring typos in the book. With e-publishing you can take care of those glaring typos in a matter of minutes as opposed to the time and expense to have your print books reprinted to take out the errors.
Is e-publishing perfect? Far from it, at this point only a small percentage of the reader population reads e-books. But that population is growing, especially with the younger generation such as the gen y audience, the people I try to target for Diary and Fifi, my first published book. Illustrations may be cruder and less refined than books that are printed, and of course as we all know, e-books may be subject to piracy, that is why writers need to copyright their books to the hilt. Finally the disadvantage of the convenience of getting an e-book published quickly could lead to poor writing and sloppy editing.
But at least in my opinion the benefits outweigh disadvantages and at least in the foreseeable future any books that I publish will initially be published as an e-book.
Marcus Dino has had an interesting professional career, first as an Aerospace engineer, next as a passionate math teacher teaching in urban Los Angeles which he currently still does, and finally, as a part time literary fiction author. It is Mr Dino’s being a die hard movie buff that led him to writing Diary of a Mad Gen Yer in addition to his first novel, Fifi, Anything goes in the Double Os, first published in 2003. Mr Dino is a graduate of Chapman University and he also has Masters Degrees in both Education and Electrical Engineering. Diary of a Mad Gen Yer and Fifi can be found at www.smashwords.com and www.summertimproductions.net. Mr Dino’s personal website which includes numerous blogs, short stories, and poems involving his central character Fifi Larouche, which helped inspire him to write his anthology, Diary, can be found at www.authorsden.com/marcusdino.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The easy answer I usually give is that, “I didn’t know how it would turn out!” Perhaps too glib and short an answer but it usually saves a lot of words, an excellent skill for a budding author to develop.
I began the book about five years after I lost my job as an airline pilot during the turmoil of the early years of airline deregulation when a corporate raider took control of our airline, drove the company into bankruptcy and used that as a pretext to tear up our labor contracts. There was a great deal of loose talk at the time that it was a wonder that someone had not assassinated this person who was regarded at the time as “the most hated man in the industry.” The obvious answer to this question is that you want your airline pilots to be “rational” people and that “rational people” don’t set out to kill their boss!
I contemplated these questions sometime after I decided to return to aviation when my new career as a securities broker went down in flames with the stock market Crash of ’87. Faced with the prospect of starting all over at the bottom of the flying business, it occurred to me, what would I do if I were in the mountains on my elk hunting stand and this individual happened to coincidently walk out in front of me? Would impulse overcome rationality?
Not knowing the answer, I wrote the first few chapters of the book and set out to find a writers agent. At that time self-publishing was virtually unheard of and unsurprisingly, my first thirty or so author queries were met with total rejection, at least from the agents who had the courtesy to respond. Some expressed shock that I would even consider writing a novel on this subject. I guess they hadn’t heard of murder mysteries.
As we all know, getting past rejection is easier said than done and I devoted my energies to finding another airline job. I caught on with two charter outfits that promptly went bankrupt themselves before I landed a job with an airfreight outfit and settled into a steady routine that lasted for nearly twelve years. I had thought that I would be able to complete the book during that time, since being back in the flying business had presented me with much in potential material and possible story scenarios, but my progress was much too slow.
Mandatory retirement from the airlines was followed by a job flying corporate jets and another excuse for the lack of writing discipline. The answer finally came from what we all know too well; to be successful as an author, YOU MUST WRITE! Perhaps it is trite, but it is something we have to tell ourselves every day. I had come up with the final plot for the book when I was still flying airfreight but it remained for me to set goals: a total page count, a chapter outline and a word goal for each chapter. Once organized, it was “only” a matter of fleshing out the story. I say that tongue-in-cheek because it still took two more years to finish, even once I had adopted a more disciplined approach.
I was even able to add a denouement to bring the story into the present time and the first edition was published just before the deregulation of the securities and banking industries led to the nearly total meltdown of our economy.
Of course, finishing the book is only half the story; getting published is entirely another matter. Frankly, it is a rarity these days for a first time, unpublished author to land a contract with a major publisher, unless one is a celebrity or a politician. From bitter experience, I know that bulk mailing query letters to literary agents is a waste of postage, ink and stationary. Queries must be specifically targeted to the preferred genre of the agent. One agent replied in her rejection note that what I needed was not an agent, but a publicist. I hired a nationally prominent publicity firm and it was not long before I realized that I could exhaust my retirement funds with very little to show for it. By this time it was obvious that I would have to self-publish and with the guidance of a good friend and mentor, it became clear that the best way to promote sales is through the internet. I am about to enter my third month of online promotion with a virtual tour organized by Dorothy Thompson of Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the internet exposure has grown exponentially.
In the end, I believe your success as a writer is a direct result of your determination and your confidence in the quality of your writing. You must be brutally honest when you ask your self and your readers whether you actually have a good book!
I have been fortunate to have lived a life of rich and rewarding experiences that have provided me with enough writing material to last for the rest of my life. If your life has not yet yielded the “big story,” start with the small ones, especially the one you lived today.
J.R. Hauptman has been a professional pilot for nearly a half century. Barely twenty years old, he began as a military pilot and for almost two years he flew combat support missions in the Viet Nam War. Upon leaving military service he was hired by a major airline and was initially based on the West Coast. His flying career was interrupted by the turmoil that racked the airline industry during the early days of deregulation. In the interim, he worked as a travel agent, a stockbroker and even trained dogs and horses. In the late nineteen-eighties, he returned to aviation, flying jet charters and air freight. He concluded his career flying corporate jets and now lives in Florida. He is completing his second work, a non-fictional social commentary and surfs every day, waves or not. You can visit his website at http://www.caddispublishing.com/.