Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Release day for Ground Rules!

I am super excited! Not only is today the day that The Wild Rose Press releases Ground Rules, my Christmas fantasy, but it's also the day that Margaret Atwood is holding a booksigning in Carlisle! If Mother Nature tries anything today, she'll have to answer to me, lol. Ms. Atwood's my literary hero, a goddess of speculative literary fiction. I'll be there with bells on, come hell or high water.

And oh yeah, I'm also excited that Ground Rules is here! It always feels like release day will never come. Wish the excitement could last as long as the anticipation!

I can't wait for you to read Ground Rules. If you do, I hope you'll let me know what you think! Is Luke a lovable snarky angel? :)


Monday, November 28, 2011

End of the NaNo road for me

I'm straggling to the end, coming in at just under 35k. But I'm not disappointed; it's 35,000 words I didn't have to work with at the beginning of November, and I'm off to a good start on book two of The Goddess Connection series. Time doesn't allow me to work on the story anymore this month, unfortunately, though of course I'll return to it. After life stops interrupting.

I floundered a bit, mid-month, because the story took off in an unexpected direction, and I wasn't sure I was happy with it.

So I actually went back to my ghost story and added a few thousand words. That story, too, went in an unexpected direction, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Then I put together the TBR blog.

Then my NaNo story grabbed me again. That's the way it goes sometimes. I let the characters take me by the hand and lead me where they wanted to go. Characters always seem to know best.

Sometimes, their language tends to be more colorful than I personally use. That was one of the things that didn't set well, but some of the characters being demons, they were bound to talk that way, lol. I toned it down a bit, though, because I know when I'm reading sometimes it takes me away from the story if a character overuses expletives.

What about you - does it bother you to read bad language? Or does it feel real if it fits the character?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

TBR – a new blog to find new reads



I regularly host authors on my blog, but wanted to provide a place that would feature them more prominently. So I created TBR. The site will replace the Author Spotlight feature now on my blog. TBR’s still in construction, as you can see, and won’t officially launch until the new year, but in order for it to launch, I need the participation of authors.

I would love to feature your work on TBR.

To book a guest date on TBR, first check the available dates listed under the 2012 Schedule tab. After selecting a date, email me at tbrtheblog [at] gmail.com to reserve yours. The new year's approaching fast, so I'll be putting an open invitation out on the general loops, but if you want to reserve a date, just let me know when and I'll gladly list your name beside it.

I'm hoping to make this a nurturing community for authors and readers alike, but to do that, I'll need followers and lots of them. I hope you'll support TBR with a follow, and perhaps help promote it after it launches on January 2.

You can also grab the blog badge shown here (and on the site's main page, top left), by right-clicking your mouse and selecting the “Save As” option, then (in Blogger) add it under Gadgets as a Picture with the link http://tbrtheblog.blogspot.com/ 


Help spread the word about TBR! And visit often to find great reads.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An attitude of gratitude!

I have so much to be thankful for, too much to list. Most important are family and friends, but I'm so grateful for the support and friendship of other authors, and for readers who make it all worthwhile. Thanks for a wonderful year! May your Thanksgiving be filled with good food, family and friends and memories that will last a lifetime. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Writing this weekend

In between posts at the TRS Thanksgiving Party, I'm sequestering myself in my little nook this weekend. Gotta catch up on my writing.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful for readers

Tomorrow through Tuesday, I'll be part of the TRS Thanksgiving Party, a celebration to give thanks for readers. I can't think of a better way to say thanks than with a giveaway. Come on over and join the celebration. You might win a print copy of my fantasy, Surfacing.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's not toxic waste

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. This month, life's been crazier than normal (which is saying a lot!). I knew signing up for NaNoWriMo would tempt my last thin thread of sanity to snap, but no, I'm not going to pressure myself to that point. My goal was to get a good start on a first draft, and if I manage to make it to 50k (I won't), then great. In any case, I'll have the beginnings of a story to delve into and edit.

Lately I've also been reassessing. My interests are so varied, and I let my writing take me in many different directions. Is this a bad thing? It's funny, but after listening to an interview on my favorite radio station, WXPN, with Ryan Adams, I'm beginning to wonder. Ryan's a very talented musician, and has experimented with many different genres of music. When host David Dye delicately suggested maybe he stretched himself over too many, Ryan Adams' argument went something like: "it's not as if it's toxic waste" meaning, I guess, that music doesn't harm anyone, and why would anyone object to him making lots of different types of music? 

My WIPs and story ideas range from literary  to mainstream to romance to indefinable. Should I -- or any writer  -- let someone else tell me I should limit what I write? I don't think so. How do I know that what I'm writing now isn't what I should be writing? Maybe if I return to literary and mainstream stories, that's where I'll finally pen the long-awaited masterpiece.

Or not. But without experimentation, how will I know? Artists need to stretch their creativity, not limit it.
 
That's my take, anyway. What's yours?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Path to Publication: Ebooks and blogging


Below is the presentation I made at The Midtown Scholar's Second Annual Book Festival in Harrisburg on Nov. 12, 2011. As I promised at the event, I added more information regarding blogging as well: sites to find blogging tips, unwritten rules of blogging, the benefits of blogging, and how to gain followers. 

Hello! I’m Cate Masters.

Thanks to the Midtown Scholar for putting together this very cool event.

I’m a multipublished author of paranormal/fantasy, contemporary, historical, speculative, mainstream, sometimes mashed with romance, sometimes not.

Multipublished simply means more than one publisher has released my work – it’s actually up to about seven publishers now, although I’ve taken back rights to some stories and self-published them this year.

Currently all my publishers are online publishers – their main product is ebooks. Some also make Print On Demand (or POD) versions available, but ebooks are their focus.

Until a few years ago, I’d never heard of online publishers. I’d been writing for decades, querying agents, and had a few nibbles. I queried some publishers directly, but generally they prefer you have an agent. And some of my short stories were published by literary magazines or web zines.

Then one of my critique partners encouraged me to submit to The Wild Rose Press. I began researching the submission guidelines, as any writer should do before querying, and found a wide range of publishers. The Wild Rose Press is a romance publisher, but many of my stories were straight paranormal, contemporary, speculative or mainstream, and I found a few publishers who accepted those. And within these past three years, have had 27 stories accepted for publication.

Ebooks are huge business these days. They took the New York publishers by surprise – basically yanked the rug right from under them. The entire industry is in complete flux. How will it all shake out? Many people speculate about it, but no one really knows.

What effect have ebooks had?

Let’s look at the statistics. A few years ago, the big print publishers scoffed at ebooks, which represented about three percent of the market, at that time.

One of the contributing factors to their success was the economy, which basically tanked. Ebook sales skyrocketed.

Just this past July, Publishers Weeklyreported that ebook sales had doubled. That was the headline, actually – then the article went on to say that, and I quote:
“ebook sales had their smallest  increase of the year in July.”

So sales doubled, but it represented the smallest sales increase all year.

Here’s what the Publishers Weekly article then said:
“E-book sales from 17 reporting publishers rose 105.3% in the month, to $82.6 million.

For the seven month period, e-book sales were up 152.8%, to $560.5 million.”

Needless to say, the New York publishers aren’t laughing anymore. In fact, they’re more than a bit frightened. And of course, everyone wants a piece of that pie.

The print publishers are shifting toward electronic releases, though there’s a huge controversy about pricing – no one wants to pay ten dollars for an ebook. Can’t blame them, when there are so many established online publishers selling full-length novels for usually about half that.

While unscrupulous publishers have always existed – and that’s where you really have to do your research up front, and check sites like Preditor & Editor – one of the unfortunate results of this shift is that new scams pop up all the time.

Self-publishing has become more popular. Some authors have found incredible success with self-publishing – Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath have made millions. Literally. Other popular authors have broken away from the big publishers to strike out on their own – J.K. Rowling’s a prime example.

I’ve published a few stories on my own, mainly as an experiment. Some have sold pretty well, considering I really don’t market them.

Online publishers are sometimes considered substandard, and some people mistakenly assume all are the same.

Not so. Just as there are some terrible print books out there – you know it’s true – there are, admittedly, some terrible ebooks.

Most online publishers, however, have very strict standards. Their submission guidelines are very clear about what they’ll accept, or not accept, and their editors see the stories through several rounds of revisions.

Again, not all online publishers are on the same level, but many publish high quality stories.

One of the things I love best about ebooks is the flexibility regarding length. My stories range from short stories to midlength to full-length novels. That’s an advantage over the print publishers. And many of the online publishers will send full-length stories to print on demand, if you’re set on having a print edition.

Another advantage – you don’t need an agent. In fact, I have no idea what benefit an agent might be.

While there are no advances from online publishers when they accept a story, there is a huge advantage over print publishers regarding royalties. Royalties from online publishers range from 20 percent to 45 percent for ebooks, versus about 7 to 10 percent for print.

One of the downsides to having an online publisher is that marketing is squarely on the author’s shoulders. There’s no huge PR machine to send authors on nationwide book signing tours. But the nice thing is, authors can do low-cost promotions such as online chats, blog tours, Facebook and Twitter.

Regardless of which type of publisher an author has, print or online, they still have to establish a social networking platform. When you submit a query to a publisher, many these days will ask you to also submit a marketing plan detailing how you’ll promote the story if accepted.

A key component of the social networking platform is blogging.
I’m just going to cover the basics.

Authors should begin blogging before they’re even published. One blog is absolutely essential. Two is just good business sense.

For me, it’s three blogs. My own: catemasters.blogspot.com, which is solely my own.

I set up a group blog for local writers called The Susquehanna Writers, at: thesusquehannawriters.blogspot.com

And I helped set up another group blog called Paranormalists, which you can find at: paranormalists.blogspot.com

You might have noticed I like Blogger.

There are other sites where you can set up blogs
WordPress (though you need to purchase hosting space for that)
Typepad
SnapPages has a free version which includes a basic blog
There are more, I’m sure, but Blogger, to me, is great.
It’s free – no matter how much space you use.
It’s easy to set up, and you can tweak their formats to personalize it.
It’s connected to:
Googlemail – which makes it easy to leave comments
Google Picasa – through which you can set up online photo albums and add book covers, etc, to rotate on display, as we have on The Susquehanna Writers
Dashboard – where you can see in one screen all the Blogger sites you’re able to post to
It’s connected to YouTube, so when you log into Google, you’re automatically logged into YouTube
Google Alerts – these aren’t very reliable, but you can set it up to search the web for any mention of whatever keywords you enter
There are a few other options I don’t use
Again, those are just the basics.

I actually eliminated my web site earlier this year, and expanded my blog so that it functions essentially the same as my web site. I kept my domain name and simply pointed it back to my blog. You always want to own your domain name, or else someone else will purchase it and attempt to sell it back to you for ten times its cost.

I have a very active blog. Oftentimes, I’ll post every day – this, despite announcing at the beginning of the year that I felt I needed to slow down after a manic couple of years.

Didn’t happen. This year was much busier than I anticipated. Some days, I actually had more than one post. I try not to do that often.

If you start a blog, it’s not necessary to post every day. It’s helpful if you establish a schedule so your followers know what to expect. If the content isn’t updated on a regular basis, your blog might still show 101 followers, but visits may drop to almost nothing. If you give them no reason to return, they simply won’t.

There are no rules to blogging. Officially, anyway. There are lots of unwritten rules.

Such as:
-               Don’t use your blog as a venue to rant
-               Don’t overwhelm your followers with depressing personal news
-               Don’t make it all about you and your books – if all you do is market, you’ll lose people fast

Check out this great post at The Story Siren on other potential irritants to visitors.

If you need tips on how to get started blogging, there are plenty of sites to help you. Here are just a few:
kisswebmaster.com/top-100-blogging-tips-all-time/

If you enter the search terms “blogging tips” into Google or Yahoo, you’ll find a much longer list of sites.


Why blog? Well, if I didn’t convince you about its benefits, maybe Seth Godin can:


Here’s another video regardin social networking’s value to business:


Once you launch a blog, you may wonder how to get followers. There are several ways. First, make sure you have interesting content to draw followers. *grins*

If you want to increase your traffic fast, try joining in a blog hop. Bloggers set up hops all the time, and it’s just a matter of signing up and joining in.

Here are a few I’ve participated in, or which have caught my interest:
Six Sentence Sunday http://www.sixsunday.com/

Another way to obtain followers is to hold giveaways on your blog, either on your own or through an organized giveaway, and make one of the requirements that entrants become a follower. Once you become part of the blogging community, you’ll become aware of such organized giveaways through others’ blog posts. Another good resource is Goodreads, where friends will often alert you. One of the most active I’ve come across is through I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

I hope some of this has been helpful to you! Thanks again to Catherine Lawrence of The Midtown Scholar for organizing the Second Annual Harrisburg Book Festivaland to all those who attended.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

SSS: First peek at Ground Rules, my Christmas fantasy

Thanks so much for visiting, and especially for your comments. I love 'em all.

Here's the opening of Ground Rules, my Christmas fantasy soon to be released from The Wild Rose Press

The first snow of December fell like a promise, full of sparkle and glimmer. Like hope.
From her desk by the tall, second-story window, Alice Garner watched, enraptured. This year, though, she'd stopped believing in promises.
Still, snow had been second on her Christmas list.  Today being Christmas Eve, she could almost believe someone had been listening.

Don't forget to check out the amazing offerings of other SSS authors. For those who celebrate it, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'm sitting out the next two weeks to catch up on NaNoWriMo and share the holidays with my family. Have a good one!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book video for Ground Rules

It's 11.11.11! Are you superstitious? I may go buy a lottery ticket, lol.

Or I'll just entice you with my new book video for Ground Rules, my Christmas fantasy coming November 30 from The Wild Rose Press!



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Part of the Harrisburg Book Festival on Saturday

The Midtown Scholar Bookstore organized the second annual Harrisburg Book Festival. Check out the great lineup of events, running from Friday night through Sunday!

On Saturday, I'm joining Don Helin, Susan Gourley, Lori Myers and Franklin Kury on the Path to Publication panel starting at noon. There'll be time for Q&A, so bring your curiosity along.

And before and after, we'll be signing books. I'll have copies of my fantasy Surfacing, my Native American historical Follow the Stars Home, and a few copies of the previously published One Soul for Sale and Picture This, both 2011 EPIC finalists. The Midtown carries copies of both these titles any day.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

At Night Owl Romance today

Do you believe in Christmas magic? Come share your tales and holiday wishes at Night Owl Romance. You might win a copy of my upcoming release, Ground Rules, a Christmas fantasy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

At Romance Books R Us today

Pop on over and say hi! I'm blogging at Romance Books R Us about the inspiration for Romancing the Hero, my latest release from The Wild Rose Press.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SSS: Jody gets her groove back

Thanks so much to all who visit! And thanks especially for your comments - I so appreciate them!

Here's another scene from my latest fantasy, Romancing the Hero.  I love a guy who dances, don't you? :)

“You never know your limits…”
Rolling her eyes, she finished the sentence: “…until you test them.” Great, hurling her own words back to taunt her.
The slow song segued into a disco beat and Jake whooped, his shoulders and arms gyrating like train wheels. His mood proved infectious, and all those dancing nearby followed suit.
She let loose, matching his every move and then some.