Wednesday, March 30, 2011

There Are Places I Remember...

Today I wanted to do some cool links that I've seen in the last week or so in the blogosphere.

First, stop by the Kidlit blog where awesome agent Mary Kole is describing when it is a bad idea to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth--in fiction.

Then, go by Sarah Fine's blog to get a psychologists view of the Jacqueline Howett disaster from earlier this week. It's fascinating.

The Rejectionist posted dubious first lines of Amazon reviews. I'm still laughing at some of them.

Agent Rachelle Gardner posted about why no comes quickly, but yes seems to take forever.

Finally, stop by Monica B.W.'s blog to meet new agent, Kathleen Rushall, who is cooler than cool.

Okay, that's enough to keep you all busy--chop chop! ;-) What places do you remember from the blogosphere this week?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Limitless - Why I Wish I Lived There


I saw Limitless this weekend and today I'm listing all the reasons I wish I lived in their world. ***Slight spoiler warning... I reveal almost nothing about the plot, but I do talk about some things in the movie. Consider yourself warned.***

1 - Bradley Cooper... need I say more?

2 - All editors apparently receive an assistant with their promotion. How cool is that?

3 - Bradley Cooper... I've loved him since Alias. For the record, I doubt the sanity of any secret agent who isn't interested in him... *sigh*

4 - As an unknown writer, it is apparently perfectly normal to have a book deal, and an advance, before you even write a chapter. It sounds like heaven!

5 - Yes, it bears repeating... Bradley Cooper

6 - Writers drop off their books, in hard copy, on their editors desk. This could be fun...

7 - Robert De Niro-- what? I can have other interests!

8 - It is possible to clean up the messiest apartment ever, get a makeover, and write an entire book in four days. Note: due to this movie, I now blame my messy house on lack of brain enhancing drugs-- it's a difficult claim to argue with.


Well, what do you think? Want to live in this world with me... and, of course, Bradley Cooper?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is Anyone Else Scared? Self-Publishing


I don't know how many of you heard about this, but on Monday, NYT Bestseller Barry Eisler turned down a $500K offer from his publisher and announced he is going to self-publish. I read this article which has a link and summary to a conversation that Eisler had with JA Konrath about self-publishing and why they recommend it. Konrath posted on his blog about why all the rumors out there about self-publishing aren't true.

Here is another post by author Roxane Gay on reasons that self-publishing might not be the right route for a lot of people. While I don't agree with the assumption that all self-published authors tried traditional publishing and just couldn't cut it... I do agree that some of it is simply abysmal--then again, I can say the same thing of the occasional traditionally published book.

All the arguments are sound and after reading all of this I have a bit of a sick feeling in my stomach. It's confusing and there really is no definite, right answer. Everything they say makes sense, but as an aspiring author who has spent the last few years honing my craft and learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry by heart--it's more than a little terrifying to consider what may happen to this industry in the next couple of years.

Don't get me wrong. I think change is good and it's clear that the publishing industry follows an older, established regimen. Just like the MP3 changed the music industry, the ebook and digital media are changing publishing--whether we like it or not. I think it's a good thing and while I know that publishers are going to have to continue to adapt, I don't know if anyone knows how that will work out.

Does this mean that everything I've learned about the way the industry works is useless? No. I don't think so. No matter what happens, knowing the way marketing, cover-art, editing, product placement, etc. affect the sales of a book is going to help me. Understanding how to be professional and how to adapt to a virtual marketplace are key to success no matter what happens.

Still, these kinds of sweeping changes are intimidating. With many talented writers now choosing the self-publishing route. One thing is for certain--we, as an industry, can't afford the stigma that has been placed on authors who choose to bypass the traditional route and publish on their own. The industry is changing, and we must change with it. Are there terrible ones, yes. Should we assume they all are? No.

Does this mean that I'm going to go that route? I'm not sure. Not right now. I'm watching and waiting--learning about this new avenue just as I did the old one. But, if I do... I will still use everything I learned from the traditional publishing model. I'll hire a professional cover-artist and editor. I will do everything I can to make sure that my finished product has every chance of being successful--just as publishers have done for us in the past.

What do you think of the changes and different options that digital media brings? Does it make you nervous or excited?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Forgive My Crazy

So, the time I was planning to spend blogging today I am now going to be heading with my son to the doctor and really hoping his leg isn't broken.

So... I'm going to let some of my fave writing quotes speak for me.

~ There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily. - Anthony Trollope

~ In other countries, art and literature are left to a lot of shabby bums living in attics and feeding on booze and spaghetti, but in America the successful writer or picture-painter is indistinguishable from any other decent business man - Sinclair Lewis

~ Words, as is well known, are the great foes of reality. - Joseph Conrad

~ Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. - E.L. Doctorow

What are some of your favorite writing quotes?


UPDATE: My son actually has a stomach virus that migrated into his hip and caused quite a bit of inflammation. Odd, but he's fine. He just needs to take ibuprofen for a couple of days until the swelling goes down and the virus goes away. Thanks for all your kind words and well-wishes! You guys are the best!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oh, Agony, Misery, Woe

My post title is dedicated to anyone who has seen "Into the Woods". ;) Two more ridiculous princes have never existed.

After a very late, and astoundingly awesome night with my new writer's group... I woke up this morning with a terrible cold. Talk about a let down.

So, I wanted to use today to talk openly about the World of Stupefying Suck that writing can be... and more importantly, the reasons we do it anyway.

One of the hardest things about being an aspiring author is the self-doubt and that inevitably comes with it. You are putting something of your own creation, something that was born of your mind and developed in your soul and you're hoping against all reasonable realities that somehow your skill will eventually be good enough to do that creation the justice it deserves.

And somehow, at some point, you will always fall short.

Whether it's your drafting, your description, your ability to see the big picture or the tiny details that matter. At some point, justified or not, you will always feel like it isn't good enough.

After that... it's easy to give up. But we don't.

We want to keep going in spite of it all. I believe that all aspiring authors are secretly optimists posing as the destroyers of worlds. We make our characters lives terrible and we give them our pain and live it out through them. We might not be able to punch our struggles in the face, or smash their fingers under our oh-so-hot stiletto heel, but our characters can.

Through them, we can win.

That's why I keep writing, keep fighting, even when some days it feels like I've lost the war. Why do you?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

I've been spending a lot of time working on/thinking about/drooling over the love interests in my new project. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this part of the book so much and frankly, it's distracting.

So, while I'm busy with all the love and er... drool... I was just wondering what your opinions are on the classics. The love triangle, the bad boy, the couple that you know should be together--but they never seem to figure it out, etc.

Which of these types of scenarios are you sick of? Which do you love to read? Which do you hate? Which do you enjoy writing?

I know a lot of these are cliche, but assuming there is a twist and it isn't your generic been there, done that. Do tell. I'm very curious.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Drumroll Please!


Okay... I love that jpg. It makes me giggle.

So, I decided to have two winners to this contest and my reasons are twofold.

1 - you are all awesome

2 - I've seen writer friends struggle with their queries and it's no good. Makes me want to cry and curl up in bed with french fries on their behalf.

So, I used the random number generator at Random.org and the two winners are...

Christine Bryant

and

Lori M. Lee!!

Congrats ladies, get me your e-mail addys or just send me your queries to jenn at jennjohansson dot com except, you know, the real way, and less all cryptic and such.

Thanks to everyone that entered! I might do a contest like this once a month or so if there is enough interest in it and it seems to be helping people... let me know if that sounds like a good plan.

Friday, March 11, 2011

To Worldcon 2011


I really want to go to Worldcon this year... like bad. It's in Reno, which is a fun city within driving distance. I've also heard that Worldcon rocks and is where all the cool people hang out. Obviously, I am cool, and thus--I belong there. Other than the fact that it costs money, I'm having a difficult time finding reasons not to go.

So, I'm wondering if I will know anyone there. Are any of you going? Have any of you ever gone before? If so, how was it? Was it oozing coolness, as I have been told? Do you know anyone that is going? Any friends of a cousin's brother-in-law? I'm taking a poll. :)

Also, if you haven't entered yet, my Query makeover giveaway thingy is closing on Sunday, so stop slacking and go enter. And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How Do I Know It Won't Sucketh?



I'm working my way through a new first draft at record speed--for me. In the past, I've spent roughly 6 months to a year working on the first draft, and then I revise like the wind. The book is in pretty good shape after the first draft and I'm very fast with editing and revisions. I can do several rounds of massive revisions within a few weeks.

This time I'm doing it differently. I'm giving myself full on permission to suck. I'm not looking back at previous scenes. I'm even filling in aspects I haven't figured out yet with eloquent bits like : BLAH BLAH-DEE-BLAH-BLAH.

It's liberating, and fascinating--and terrifying. I'm worried that when I finish I won't be connected enough. I won't be as invested. What if I finish and then go... oh crap, methink it sucketh too much. And as my finger approaches the ominous 'delete all' button... I'll cry.

*sob*

So, what do you guys think? How do you write first drafts? Should I go back to the old way, or do you think this will work out okay?

And, if you haven't yet, don't forget to enter my Query Makeover contest!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Query Craft/Critique Giveaway!

My degree is in public relations and I worked in marketing for several years. Because of this, query writing has always been my strong suit.

For those of you pulling out your hair in a jealous rage right now, please note. When I started, my skill at writing queries FAR exceeded my skill at writing books.

This. Is Not. A Good Thing.

Amazing agents requested off of my query and then my book sucked rocks. And there was much sadness throughout the land.

So, I thought perhaps I could have a giveaway and lend my meager assistance to those of you in the land of Query-hater-dom. The winner can send me their 1 page query (whenever they have one ready) and I will help them polish it up until it hooks, gleams, and all other good things.

Here is what I'm thinking. To enter, just comment. If you would like extra entries (entirely optional, of course) you can get an extra entry for any tweets, posts, links, or signs you wear around your neck to let people know about the giveaway--provided, of course, that you let me know you did it in the comments section of this post.

If, you are lucky enough to exist instead in Query-love-land or I-Have-An-Agent-So-Queries-Can-Bite-Me-Ville, then you can choose between a book from my magical, mystical bookshelf... or a beautiful orange silicon Kindle cover (because I'm all about the Kindle these days).

This giveaway will be open until Sunday at 2:41pm Mountain Time (because I want to, that's what) and I'll post the winner in my post next Monday, March 14.

Let the fun begin!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Weird Stuff On the Internet

If you've ever seen the lolcats pictures online, you will understand why this picture made me giggle. hehe... still am actually. This post is about weird things that are online. It was inspired by this post by the hilarious Brodi Ashton. If you haven't been to her blog, you totally should. So. Funny.

Anyway, so Brodi's post is about a story idea she found for sale on e-bay. It got me thinking. What other weird things do they have for sale on e-bay...

This is a dangerous thought process. If you should ever find yourself asking the same question... turn back while you still can. But, I didn't. And now I need therapy.

I learned things I never wanted to know. For example: there is an actual category on e-bay called Weird Stuff--Seriously.

Not only that, but there are also categories called: Slightly Unusual, Really Weird and Totally Bizarre. I stayed away from the Totally Bizarre, but is it odd that I have this strange urge to find something I can sell in that category?

So, in the Weird Stuff category, I found the following useful items: (Yes, all of these are absolutely on e-bay exactly like this)

~ MOST HAUNTED amulet massive MONEY WEALTH SPELL bird

Now... I have no idea what this is, but with all of those words in one title--I don't know how it could be bad. I also think the mix of CAPS and lowercase is mesmerizing. In fact, it's taught me something. I'm officially changing the name of one of my books to

"INCREDIBLY EXCITING no vampires BUT HOT GUY with funny"

What do you think? I read that and I just think cha-ching, bestseller, no?

I also found:

~ NOVELTY GAG Old Mr. Butt Talking Pen Holder AWESOME

Awesome indeed. If you don't currently own something with the words Old Mr. Butt & Talking in the title... you haven't lived.

And:

~ MONO (KISSING DISEASE) GIANT MICROBE PLUSH

This is EXACTLY what the market was missing on Valentine's Day. A giant plush microbe to give to your significant other. I mean it's the kissing disease, hello. What's more romantic than kissing?

Last, but not least:

~ HAND CARVED COW WITH ROOSTER ON BACK SIGNED

Ah! The mystery item. I have so many questions. So the Cow is hand carved, but is the rooster real? Also, is the Rooster signed, or the Cow, or perhaps the Rooster signed the Cow, or maybe the back is signed? But the back of what? That's it. I can't handle the suspense. I'm buying it. I must know now!

So, now for the big question... what can you see in your house that you think you could put up for sale under the Weird Stuff category on e-bay. Do tell. I'm dying to know.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

American Idol & The Universe

It has to be said. I love American Idol. There are so many things to love about it... and now that it has J-Lo and Steven Tyler it just added two new things. If that wasn't enough, this group of contestants this year are freaking unbelievable.

I mean, dude... seriously... for reals.

With the guys performances last night I just kept thinking--wow, that was fantastic, he's clearly the leader. And then the next guy would come out, and I'd think it all over again.

Do you guys watch AI? What do you think of this season and the new contestants/judges? Do tell.

Now, about the Universe (Hereafter referred to as BOB--for no particular reason). I've heard many a story of aspiring writers making deals with BOB. Now it's my turn.

American Idol has inspired me. Some of you may know that I did a lot of singing in high school and a big group of my friends went to Vegas and auditioned a few years ago--I wanted to go (for the experience, if nothing else), but I didn't.

So, here is the deal BOB... help me move forward in my writing career... and I will post a recording/video of myself singing the song I'd planned to sing for my AI audition for the mocking pleasure of all internet-goers for all time.

If that happens, I will need your support. Just like all those other people who audition for AI and then the music industry has to take out a restraining order... I'm counting on hugs, tissues and chocolate.

That is all. I'm now officially at BOB's mercy.