Thursday, April 16, 2009

Two things - a contract and rebranding

First up.
Not only do I have a contract (anthology) signed, sealed, and delivered, but I also have our book cover to show off! I'll announce again when the book is actually *out* but Footnotes to a Lesson, described as my 'thinking man's zombie' story is appearing in the 'Dead Worlds' Anthology, eta July 2009.

The story, which was the first one I waved at my new tutor after xmas has been highly praised but really *really* hard to place, because the protagonist isn't a traditional inhabitant of a zombie tale - and to be completely honest, I do some fairly gross, and unexpected things to her.

But it's in this anthology - under my pen name 'Sabrann Curach' (I hope!) which is really cool. Mama got a book contract ;)

And onto point two - I'm in the process of a massive shakeup of all of my 'stuff'. As I have stupid amounts of 'stuff' scattered all over the web (I am the proverbial spoiled child in a candy store because I can write, code and design quite readily - in other words I've got no barriers to creation - just upkeep!) it's taking me a while, but it got me thinking about rebranding.
As a starter, before I start sharing links and stuff, cause this will be a topic I'll be on for a while, do you have a brand? Are you at a point where you could start bringing stuff together and create a solid concept brand or are you scattered like me?
Is there anything YOU need ideas to get to or brainstorming? Stick em in the comments and we'll see what we can do ;)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Forget Celebrating Strunk & White

April 16 is the 50th anniversary of that little grammar guide, Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, but should writers celebrate?

One writer and professor, Geoffrey K. Pullum, says he won't celebrate in an article published recently in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Pullum ends his argument by stating, "I've spent too much of my scholarly life studying English grammar in a serious way. English syntax is a deep and interesting subject. It is much too important to be reduced to a bunch of trivial don't-do-this prescriptions by a pair of idiosyncratic bumblers who can't even tell when they've broken their own misbegotten rules."

Basically, Pullum argues that Strunk and White didn't understand or follow many of the grammatical rules the pair touted. Pullum also notes that some of the original text written by Strunk was later revised by White including additions and deletions that didn't exist in the original nor did those additions or deletions make sense.

The Chronicle of Higher Ed's web site is a subscription-based site, but here is the link to Pullum's article titled, "50 Years of Stupid Grammar Advice."

And here is an article that doesn't mention the bad quality of the advice but does talk about the anniversary published in Newsday.

And supporting Pullum's more recent article is an article published in 2005, which Pullum applauded, by Jan Freeman titled, "Frankenstrunk."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Amazon Deleting Reviews Online

Recently, I was forwarded an email from Cheryl Kaye Tardiff, Author and Book Marketing Coach. It seems that she started to notice some of her reviews were being deleted. Not just ones for her books, but reviews for other books.

I am sending this to ALL writing associations I belong to because I really want you to have this information before Amazon deletes all your reviews.

A week ago I found that all 85 of the reviews I've written for other books had been deleted. It has been a very difficult and stressful week dealing with Amazon. They are not very accessible and I was given at least 3 different reasons for why my reviews had been deleted. After numerous emails, this is what it's come down to:

Their final ruling: "Please know that our participation guidelines don't allow customers to promote their own titles in their reviews."

If you sign your review with anything other than your name, your reviews could be deleted. If any of you are in the habit of signing your reviews with something like ".., author of Whale Song", which has been common practice for years, Amazon has deemed this as "inappropriate" and will be deleting them. It seems they're on a campaign to go through reviews posted. They recently made changes to the Amazon Connect program and all our blogs were temporarily gone too. Most are back up.

They also will delete your reviews if you have added the book link (that they supply) and directed it to your own book title's Amazon page. Many authors have used that in their signature line. It can lead to deleteion and suspension, according to Amazon's latest email.

I argued the fact that thousands of authors sign their reviews like this, and that it's common practice in our inductry. I was told by my last publisher to sign my reviews like this; he even wanted us to include the ISBN, which I only did a couple of times then stopped. It made no difference to Amazon that this is what my publisher wanted me to do; they aren't accepting signatures with titles.

Amazon is starting to take note of such practices and you'll get no notice; they'll just pull all the reviews you have written. That's what they did with me, even though many of my older reviews were signed with just my name.

So to clarify, according to Amazon, when posting a review, you are not allowed to have a signature of anything more than your name, and NO links to or mention of your books whatsoever in the review or sig line. I am giving you the heads-up now so you can go in and edit your reviews if you choose. That's what I'd do, to be honest, because fighting with Amazon is not easy. There is no one who will talk to you by phone, and waiting for their response is not easy. This rule also applies to any comments you leave on a book review. Amazon does not want authors to mention their own books anywhere on the reviewpages.

I haven't heard from yet, but I expect this will be funneled over to all the Amazons, so I'll be working on editing my reviews there next week.

Please forward this on to all authors you know and any writing organizations or associations you belong to.

Thanks for letting us know, Cheryl! By the way, you can find out more about her latest book, Whale Song, over at her web site!

(Cross-posted at The Writing Mother.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Help! I have a fiction idea and I give up!

Truthfully I have always wanted to be a fiction writer. And yet here I am, with the non fiction. And I like to read non fiction, but I LOVE fiction. It's the dessert and the non fiction is the steak. So I live vicariously through other writers:

Joshilyn Jackson
Shirley Jump
Sheila Curran
Jennifer O'Connell
Shanna Swendson
Jennifer Weiner

The problem is that whenever I come up with a great idea, I immediately thing, "oh yeah, that's a great idea because I heard it... wherever". Either it spikes in my brain for about 1.5 minutes and then I realize what a tired idea it was... or it doesn't even become fully formed before I shoot it down.

Except earlier this week I was thinking about one of my customers and something he said... and it spawned an idea, which spawned an idea and soon I thought "this is a REALLY good idea!" and it's stuck for the last week.

Except! I'm almost scared to put words onto page... I know my process for writing non fiction, but I'm afraid if I put my idea onto page... I might somehow wreck it. Weird, huh?