Thursday, June 30, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #24 - KindleBoards

Kindle, Wi-Fi, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology - includes Special Offers & Sponsored ScreensaversThis is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.


This is not a site just for writers. KindleBoards is an online community for those who love the Kindle, Amazon's dedicated e-reader device. That being said, if you are interested in promoting your work as a fiction writer, KindleBoards is a place you need to be, especially if you are selling your fiction in e-books for the Kindle.

Why do I suggest this? Because there is a growing number of traditionally-published authors as well as self-published indie authors who hang out regularly at KindleBoards, especially in the Writers' Cafe forum. Here you can catch some advice from long-time pros and up-and-comers, as well as pick up some news concerning writing and publishing.

If you just want to talk books, you can always check out The Book Corner. Or maybe you have a Kindle, in which case you might want to look into the Kindle Accessories forum, or the Let's Talk Kindle! forum. There are also Book KlubsReviews of Kindle devices, and plenty more.

Also, don't forget to check out the Blog for news and information about the Kindle and Kindle-related products.

Don't forget you need to Register if you want to become a member and leave comments.

Yes, KindleBoards is basically a forum site, but it is a popular one and continues to grow. A fiction writer interested in promoting his or her own work could do a lot worse than hanging out on these forums.

Let me add here that if you join the folks over at KindleBoards, please do not go in there all gangbusters and start promoting your e-books and other writings all over the place. That is considered spamming, and it is rude. If you look around the various forums, you will find a handful of posts where it is appropriate to market your works, but doing nothing but talking about your books is likely to bore and tick off others. Think about it: How often do you really like someone bombarding you with advertising? Most of us don't like it. Go ahead and promote in the places at KindleBoards where it is appropriate, but otherwise, take it easy. The best way to promote your work is to be yourself and become an active part of the KindleBoards community. Ask questions, provide answers, chat it up. Make some friends. If you are an accessible person to others, they will begin to notice. And when people begin to notice you, your e-book sales will improve.

Sometimes you get lucky ... with The Beatles

Recently I was visiting a city about an hour from where I'm currently staying, and visited a thrift store. From time to time I go into such stores to look at the selection of old books, and I've been fortunate enough to come across some great finds.

But this time I didn't walk about with any books. Instead, I found these six beauties:

Yep, six Beatles singles, all originals from Capitol Records from the 1960s. All with the sleeves, and all in at least very good condition.

Am I the biggest Beatles fan in the world? No, but I do like them. And I count myself fortunate with this find at a thrift store.

What am I going to do with these six 45s? To be honest, I'm not sure. I might keep them, or I might not. I might sell them on eBay, because I'm sure I could at least double the $60 it cost for these albums.

I just knew I could not pass them up when they came along.

And I heard a rumor from one of the thrift store clerks they have some Monkees 45s on the way and possibly some more Beatles singles.. I'm not much of a Monkees fan, though they had a few decent songs, but maybe this means the store will have more 45s in the future. I'm keeping my eyes out for some Beach Boys, and I'll be visiting this store again very soon.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review of "More Than Kin"

More Than KinI did not realize this until recently, but fellow writer and longtime pal Clark Goble reviewed my Appalachian literary novel More Than Kin a while back. Check out the review at this link.

100 sites for fiction writers: #23 - Writer Beware

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Writer Beware

Technically speaking, Writer Beware is not a website in and of itself. What it is is a watchdog organization that lets writers and others know about scams and scam artist. Sometimes the scams exposed are a vague, general sort of thing that's going on in the industry, but most often the scams are pinpointed to certain individuals or groups.

But if one is worried about scams, how can you know to even trust the folks behind Writer Beware? Well, for one thing, this organization is backed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America association. Writer Beware is also currently headed up by novelist A.C. Crispin, who also looks into writer-related schemes and scams at her blog.

What can Writer Beware do for you as a fiction writer?

Well, for one thing it can simply make you aware of current scams by offering Alerts for Writers. There is also extensive information explaining how Independent Editors and Independent Electronic Publishers work, and what to watch for if you believe one such service might be trying to pull a fast one on you. You can also learn about Literary Agents and Contests, and various things to look for when dealing with agents and awards.

If you need to learn the basics concerning Copyright law, that information is also available.

If you find yourself in a bind, thinking you might need an attorney and/or legal advice, Writer Beware tells you where to go for Legal Recourse. There is also a Recommended Reading section to help smarten you up as a fiction writer.

Protect yourself, be smart, and check out Writer Beware.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #22 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

The Freelancer's Survival GuideThis is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

A lot of writers out there have a blog, usually with a few writing tips and maybe a touch of news. A lot of writers also have a staid website that features their books.

Then you have the website for Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

Yes, here too you will find some tips about the writing craft, and yes, you will find some news related to writing and publishing. But you will also find much, much more.

Like what?

How about, an education in writing that you are not likely to learn anywhere else?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is a professional fiction author, having been writing for decades. She also used to be the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and she was once an owner and operator ofPulphouse Publishing press, along with her husband Dean Wesley Smith, also a known name in the fiction field.

If that's not enough to make you believe you need to check out this author's site, check this out: the Freelancer's Survival Guide. Yes, Kristine Kathryn Rusch provides extensive information on how a modern freelance writer can not only survive in today's tumultuous publishing world, but how a writer can find success. Best yet, she offers all this information for free. Within the online Freelancer's Survival Guide, you will find chapters on such subjects as PrioritiesInsuranceDiscipline, and so much more. Here you won't find pie-in-the-sky philosophical talk about writing, but actual down-to-earth advice from a professional who has been there and continues to be there.

Also at this site, check out the Business Rusch section to learn even more about the business end of writing, especially fiction writing.

If you are in the mood for some quality fiction, you might look into the Bookstore on this site, but before that you can sample some of Rusch's writing through her available Novel Excerpts. And take note that Rusch writes under several different pen names, one name for various genres.

Monday, June 27, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #21 -

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Whether you are an indie author, one of the growing number of modern self-published writers, or you just like to read books that are out of the accepted ordinary (meaning: only approved by a major print publisher), the website is for you.

Specifically, what is available at the site?

Right off the bat, you've got News about indie authors and independently-published books. Why is this important? If you're an indie writer, it can pay to keep up with the news in your field. If you are an indie reader, you can find out about new authors, new books, and what's going on with your favorite writers. In case you still think keeping up with news about indie authors isn't important, how about such news as "John Locke First Indie Author to Hit 1 Million Mark on Kindle?" Or what about news that famed indie author Amanda Hocking has a three-page article about her in the New York Times? If those two offerings aren't enough to convince you as a reader or writer that you need to keep up with indie news, then nothing will.

But news isn't all you will find at There are also plenty of Columns by professionals and others with vested interests in independent books. For example, authors such as Scott Nicholson have a regular column on

Also, if you are a beginning indie author or are considering taking the plunge to publish your own works, you might want to check out the IndieJourney section. Here you can read about various authors and their adventures in self publishing.

If you happen to be a writer in need of an editor, cover designer or of other related services, you might consider the Publishing Services offered by

Even if you are not a writer, you still can find much of interest at this site, especially in the Book Reviews section. You'll find all genres represented here in these reviews of indie books, from Fantasy to Erotica to Nonfiction, books for Kids, and more.

There is so much to be found at, do yourself a favor and spend some time perusing the site.

Books read in 2011: No. 33 - First Draft in 30 Days

First Draft in 30 Daysby Karen S. Wiesner

Started: June 27
Finished: July 4

Notes: I really need to ramp up my speed at writing and my discipline. To that end, I decided to check out this book once I had read a little about the author. Wiesner seems to write mostly romance fiction, which does not hold much interest for me, but she does appear to be quite prolific, and that definitely interests me. Hopefully I will pick up some ideas for disciplining myself and remain motivated.

Mini review: I can sum up the basics of this book in one word: Outlining. And there's nothing wrong with that. Some authors outline, some don't Wiesner outlines to extremes, in my opinion, but hey ... whatever works, right? I did not receive any major epiphanies from this book, though it did suggest to me a few little tricks and ideas, stuff I hadn't thought of before, so I'm glad I gave it a whirl.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #20 - PubIt!

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.


Barnes & Noble NOOK Color eBook TabletIf one were barely paying attention to the e-book revolution going on with reading, one might think the Kindle dedicated e-reading device from Amazon is the only such gizmo on the market. It's not. Far from it. There are many such devices, though the Kindle is so far the leader of the pack.

The Nook, from Barnes & Noble, is also a dedicated e-reader. And as of this writing, it has a handful of advantages over the Kindle. For one thing, there is a color version of the Nook. Also, the Nook comes with a touch screen instead of a keypad, which the Kindle has. And while there are literally millions of e-books available for the Kindle, the Nook pulls from the Barnes & Noble company, which means it also has a vast array and variety of e-books.

For fiction writers, one key to success is to have your works available on as many e-reading devices as possible, especially on devices which are popular, such as the Nook.

But how do you get your novels and short stories available for Nook readers? Easy. You sign up with the Barnes & Noble PubIt! program.

In many ways similar to the Kindle Direct Publishing program from Amazon, the PubIt! program allows writers to upload their e-books, earn money from those e-books, and to keep track of e-books sales.

In all fairness, a writer can also go through to make e-books available for the Nook, but the PubIt! program allows for more direct control over pricing and technical format issues.

My personal opinion is that PubIt! is a little flaky at times, and it's sales reporting is not quite as solid as that of Amazon's KDP by-the-minute reports, but overall I've been pleased working within PubIt!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and publish those e-books!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 32 - The Turn of the Screw

by Henry James

Started: June 24
Finished: June 27

Notes: Having recently read Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and loved, I thought I'd look into this earlier ghostly tale by Henry James. This story is supposedly one of the influences upon Jackson's writing, and it's not impossible I read this novella when much younger and have forgotten about it. As is, I'm working on a small project that has ghostly ramifications, so this should help to keep me in the mood. There were multiple versions of this novella over the years, but the one I am reading is from the first American printed version of October 1898, in which The Turn of the Screw appeared in the book The Two Magics along with the tale Covering End. The Turn of the Screw had appeared earlier in the year in the Collier's Weekly periodical.

Mini review: I have to say, I was not a fan of the writing style. And the ending ... it was far too abrupt, in my opinion. And I did not feel so much haunted by this tale, but more as if I was reading the words of someone going mad, which can be an interesting tale, but here it fell mostly flat for me. Ah well, at least I've read one of the "classic" ghost tales and it is behind me. It was not the worst tale I've ever read, but I did not overly enjoy this story.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"City of Rogues" recommended

City of Rogues (Book I of The Kobalos Trilogy)Indie author Brent Nichols of the Fantastic Adventures site has posted his opinion and a recommendation for my City of Rogues epic fantasy novel, and I couldn't be more pleased. Check it out here.

Bert the BarbarianAnd if you haven't already, check out some of Brent's own writing. You might start with his Bert the Barbarian novel.

100 sites for fiction writers: #19 - Writers FM

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Writers FM

As they used to say on Monty Python's Flying Circus, "And now for something completely different."

What am I talking about? Writers FM.

What is Writers FM?

It's an online radio station for writers. As the site itself claims, "created by writers, for writers." Better yet, it's on the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Best of all, it's free and has no advertising commercials.

I can imagine what you are thinking. A radio station for writers? And it's 24/7? What the heck could they talk about for that long?

Not all of the radio station is talking. Music plays throughout the day from time to time.

But there is plenty of talking. Author interviews abound on Writers FM, and there mysteries on the air every once in a while. If you listen in to Writers FM, you are also likely to pick up various tips about writing, and sometimes a little news.

Who is behind this idea of a radio station for writers? The main interviewer for the site is entrepreneur and author Karl Moore. Besides Mr. Moore, Writers FM is part of the WCCL Network, a company that focuses upon self-help literature and products, in this case with a focus on writers.

I'm not going to make claims that listening to Writers FM will make you a better fiction, but there is information to be found on the site. If nothing else, you might listen to some of the music to get you in the mood for writing.

More than anything, Writers FM is a different kind of site for writers. It's not all about craft or business, but also focuses on the fun and joy of writing, something those of us who make our living as writers too often forget.

Give Writers FM a listen. You just might hear something you like. And don't forget to check out their podcasts for recorded shows.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #18 - The Passive Voice

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

The Passive Voice

The book publishing world is in turmoil. Okay, some folks won't like the word "turmoil," but the truth hurts sometimes. Mostly because of the current economy and changes in technology, ie. digital publishing, book publishers are getting hit hard in the pocketbook. More and more readers are switching to e-books, and even those who haven't seem to be getting fed up with the growing costs of books. It doesn't help that book stores are closing in big numbers, the most noticeable being the recent death of many Borders stores.

So, if the book publishing world is having problems, those problems steamroll down to the fiction authors. It's tough to get a publishing contract, especially for a first-time novelist and sometimes even for those who have a track record at being an author. And even if you do get a contract, you have to read it with a fine-tooth comb because publishing companies are seeking more and more rights from authors, in some cases almost total rights.

In a way, this makes sense from the point of view of the publishers. Their business model is hurting, so they're trying to grasp at whatever they can.

But that doesn't mean you have to play the sucker and sign away a bunch of rights (and dollars!) to that novel you've been busting your hump on. Facing down a publishing company might be a little scary, especially if you are a beginner with a dream of having your book published, but that doesn't mean you have to be a fool.

What should you do then if you happen to land a book contract? My suggestion would be to hire an intellectual properties attorney to look over the contract. This will cost you a chunk of change, but it is likely worth it. Even if you have a literary agent, I still suggest having an IP attorney look at your contract.

But don't just take it from me.

Read about it at The Passive Voice website.

The site is an anonymous blog, but don't let that scare you. The blogger, known as Passive Guy, makes claims of being an attorney and an entrepreneur, and they seem to know what they're talking about. Again, don't just take my word for it. Professional authors such as Dean Wesley Smith are also suggesting writers check out The Passive Voice site. When professionals vouch for someone, plus that someone seems to know what they're talking about, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.

However, as is stated in multiple places on The Passive Voice site, do not consider what you read on that site to be legal advice. For that matter, don't read anything I'm writing here as legal advice. You need to hire an attorney if you want legal advice.

But what kind of information can a writer find at The Passive Voice?

There is some information about the craft of writing, but the majority of information on the site leans towards the legalities of book publishing, especially concerning contracts. In fact, Passive Guy collects contracts, though there are certain things he does not want in the contracts, such as the author's name, publisher's name, etc. What good is such a collection? Well, there's likely some personal interest for the Passive Guy, but he does use the information he garners to inform his blog readers.

The Passive Voice also has news concerning the book publishing business, as well as some posts about what is going on at various literary agencies, publishers, authors, etc. Again, most of the news is related somehow to book publishing contracts.

To make it a little more clear, I'll borrow a short quote directly from Passive Guy explaining his approach to The Passive Voice: "PG views his job (actually, more of an obsessive hobby) as helping authors understand what's going on during a time of massive upheaval in the publishing industry."

Writers can't ask for much more than that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #17 -

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Longtime fans of science fiction and fantasy reading will be familiar with Tor Books, the publishing company which has its online home at For more than 30 years Tor has been bringing best-selling fiction to genre fans, along the way earning numerous awards and consistently being recognized as one of the best science fiction and fantasy publishers in the market.

But often enough genre fans only know a publishing company by its name on the spine of its books. While Tor offer some excellent reading material, the company's website offers much more for readers and writers.

Tor has been one of the strongest, most active online communities for fans of science fiction and fantasy. includes a Forum, as can be expected, but there is also a Community page that focuses on blogs by various authors and others associated with Tor, as well as fiction from some of those authors and others.

For those with an interest in genre art, there is the Gallery, regularly featuring artwork by different artists in different mediums.

As can be expected, the focus here is upon Tor books and products, though there are mentions here and there of other publishing companies and books.

This is not a site for finding tons of information directly related to writing, though there is some of that here and there if one looks around. For the most part, is a site for readers and fans.

But writers need to pay attention to those readers and fans. Writers need to keep abreast of what's going on in the marketplace. Writers need to know what readers want.

This does not mean a writer has to curtail his or her work to only what the masses are interested, but it can help a writer form an idea of what is selling, what is not selling, what are readers' expectations, etc. And you never know, a writer might pick up a few ideas from those readers.

If you have interests in genre fiction, you should be checking out Even if science fiction and fantasy aren't your thing, you can learn a lot from the site. In fact, you can learn how to do a great website for genre fans.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 31 - Are We Rome?

Are We Rome?: The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of Americaby Cullen Murphy

Started: June 18
Finished: June 24

Notes: I've long been fascinated with the classical period history of Rome, mainly because I see so many similarities between the Roman Republic period and the Roman Empire with American history and politics. In college I minored in classical history and could have received a bachelors degree if I had remained in college one more year; instead, I moved into the working world after complete my journalism degree. I still get drawn to Roman history from time to time, and this book comparing ancient Rome to modern America drew me in, especially as it is written by a former editor of The Atlantic.

Mini review: One of the things I found interesting about this book was the differences the author points out between Rome and America. Also interesting is the idea that the Roman Empire possibly might not have ever really fallen, but did cease to exist as a legal entity at an immediate point in time, but the culture and society of ancient Rome continued on for a good long time, even being felt today in many ways (the Catholic Church, the U.S. form of government, the latin-based languages, etc.). Still, there are enough similarities between Rome and America that it is possible to make a few estimated guesses at America's long-term future, none of which are overly bright for the official entity known as the United States of America. That's not to say the U.S. will cease to exist in the near future, but that the waves of time will likely eventually wash away this great nation. Perhaps that is the way of things.

Books read in 2011: No. 30 - Henry Horn's X-Ray Eye Glasses

by Dwight V. Swain

Started: June 18
Finished: June 18

Notes: As I have just finished a book about writing fictional characters by this old pulp author, I thought I'd search out one of his stories and see him in action, so to speak. I found this one online. This tale is a science fiction story originally published in a magazine back in 1942.

Mini review: A funny little story. Very obviously a product of the World War II era in terms of style, plot and theme. Not great, not awful.

Friday, June 17, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #16 - Triond

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.


In an effort to tell it like it is, Triond is a content farm, one of many such sites that keeps spewing forth sub-par content online while promoting itself as a place for writers to make money. The money is very little, as in way way way below minimum wage. And much of the writing produced by such sites is useless and simply atrocious, though every once in a while there is a golden nugget.

However, that being said, Triond is one of the few such sites that allows for writers to publish their fiction and even poetry online. Once published, it is up to the writer to find an audience for their writing, with social networking and linking sites usually being used for promotions along with some little help from Web browsers.

Normally I would not recommend a writer, especially a fiction writer, to utilize such a site. The sites have a bad reputation, the pay is almost nothing and it is not so easy to build an audience of any numbers (though not impossible). However, for someone who is just beginning to write fiction, a site like Triond could have much to offer them.

If nothing else, such a site can give a budding writer a sense of accomplishment. They've written a short story or poem or novel chapter, and now they can place it online where it could potentially be seen by readers. For those just starting out, this can be a big step, making their work public, opening themselves to criticism and praise.

Triond can also help build a fiction writer's confidence. Praise from viewers definitely can help, but just having one's work out there and realizing the sky won't fall because of negative reviews is enough for many writers to continue trying at their craft. This helps to build a thick skin, which is something writers will need because if they are going to try to eventually become a professional writer they will need that thick skin when dealing with editors, publishers and even readers.

There are also educational values to be learned from a site like Triond. Just writing and putting one's work out there can teach a writer what works and what doesn't in their fiction. Feedback from readers will help with this, but just the practice of writing regularly is also a big help in teaching. Triond is a site that offers a certain amount of near-instant gratification because it publishes almost anything, and this gratification can be enough to not only help a writer to keep up their writing but can also be the drive to get him or her to write regularly, perhaps even every day.

Then there is audience. Though it is no easy task, it is possible to build an audience on Triond. Even if a short story or novel chapter or poem only gets a dozen or so readers, at least that's something, and often it is enough of a boost to keep a beginner writing. And with some luck and experience at online promotions, a writer could potentially reach thousands, possibly millions, of readers through Triond. That potential can also be a big boost.

Okay, for experienced and professional writers, admittedly Triond doesn't have much to offer. But for true beginners this site can be a boon. One can possibly even make a little money from their writing, but don't expect much, likely not even a few dollars (at least not without a lot of work).

Truly, if one were to want to self publish their material directly online instead of going the e-book route, I would suggest starting a blog for their fiction. But sites like Triond can still help the beginner get started and could possibly lead to better things.

About the site itself, you're not likely to find much helpful on Triond. Every once in a while you might run across another writer who is helpful, if you're lucky. And just stay away from the Forums as much as possible because they are beyond useless for those serious about writing (though you might have fun hanging out there).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #15 - Holly Lisle

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Holly Lisle

Holly Lisle's Create A Plot ClinicFor two decades now, author Holly Lisle has been working in romance, science fiction, fantasy and related genres. But she has not been content with only writing fiction, but also has been a big proponent for budding writers.

Of all the websites to make this list of 100 Sites for Fiction Writers, I have to say that Holly Lisle's sites is one of the most extensive, covering everything a beginning writer needs to know. If you are interested in writing fiction, do yourself a service and spend plenty of time looking over Holly Lisle's site.

Holly Lisle first began to draw attention as a writing guru in 2000 with the release of her e-book, Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love and Money. Interested in this e-book? You should be. And to make it easy for you, Holly Lisle has this e-book available for free at her site. While you are there, make sure to check out some of the other free e-books available, including a couple of novels. There are also about a half dozen other e-books pertaining to fiction writing for sale on the site.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

There is also the Forward Motion for Writers portion of the site. Here you will find tons of articles, online courses, link to e-books, and just about anything else you might need to lead you along your journey as a fiction writer. The advice given here is common sense, learned from Holly Lisle's years of experience.

Whether you are more interested in learning about the writing craft, writing as a profession or what-have-you, it is all covered here.

Holly Lisle's site also contains comprehensive FAQs for everything under the sun for fiction writers. Think you are ready to go pro, check out Questions About Going Pro. What about Worldbuilding? Or do you need to learn more about the Business of Writing?

There is also a Writing Diary, sort of a blog following Holly Lisle's latest writing projects as well as other interests of hers.

If you would like to know more about the author, check out her Author page or Readers page. And don't forget to sign up for Holly Lisle's Writing Updates newsletter, full of more tips and advice.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Birthday announcement

It is after midnight in the here and now, so it is officially my birthday. I am 42 years old today.

Never thought I'd make it this far. Now I've just got to try to make it to 50. Then 60.

And so on and so forth.

Monday, June 13, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #14 - Publishers Weekly

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Publishers Weekly

Publishers WeeklyThis trade magazine about book publishing and book selling has been around for more than a century. In all that time it has provided book reviews and industry news not only to publishers and editors, but also to writers, librarians, literary agents, book store employees and anyone else with interests in publishing.

Publishers Weekly covers everything having to do with books, including publishing, marketing, and ... well, everything. For nearly two decades now, the magazine's website had provided much the same information and news to online readers.

News and reviews are probably what this site and magazine are mostly known for, but the website offers plenty more. For example, if you like to keep up with what new books are coming out, you might want to check Publishers Weekly's New Titles section. You can also keep track of the latest bestseller lists. There is even aChildren's section in case you have a child, or a bunch of children, at home clamoring for you to read to them.

As for the news, you can keep track of Book News and/or Industry News. In keeping with the modern world, there is even a Digital section for news pertaining to e-books and digital publishing. For those looking for something different, they might consider the International section of the site.

For further news and entertainment, there is the Blogs section, which has opinion pieces, editorials, columns and blog-related news and posts.

There are even author profiles and a section on comics, as well as sections about cookingreligion and audio books.

There is so much information to be found at the Publishers Weekly site, it's likely you could spend weeks if not months trying to read it all. The site even archives its reviews going back a decade.

What Publishers Weekly does for fiction writers is it provides all kinds of news related to publishing, information which writers should want to be abreast of. No, you can't always know every single piece of news, but you can at least keep track of major trends, new big-name authors, new books being published, etc. It can pay for a writer to know their field.

Now, admittedly, there are some who feel Publishers Weekly is a bit too old school. In the age of digital publishing there is a division going on in the book publishing world between those who are embracing e-books and those who are taking things a little slower concerning e-books. Publishers Weekly, as a publication, sometimes faces accusations of not embracing digital publishing technology. I'm not suggesting I agree or disagree with that assessment; I'm just pointing out it's an accusation I've read and heard more than once. I will say that I feel Publishers Weekly is coming along, though probably not fast enough for some folks. Personally, I think Publishers Weekly will get there. Just give them time. The magazine has been part of the book publishing industry since 1872, and it that time it has faced all kinds of changes, so I'm guessing the magazine will continue to work at dealing with today's technological and economic climate.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #13 - Smashwords

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.


Smashwords Style Guide - How to Format, Publish and Distribute an Ebook for Free (Smashwords Guides)One of the keys to running a successful business is to have as wide a distribution as possible for the product you are selling. For writers of e-books, that wide distribution comes from Smashwords.

Somewhat like Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program, Smashwords allows the writer to self publish his or her own works online and sell it in e-book formats. But that's where most of the similarities end. While there is no doubting the power Amazon has to help promote an indie writer, Smashwords does many, many things which Amazon does not.

Such as?

For instance, Smashwords makes your e-books available in many different formats. E-books are available for reading online in html or JavaScript formats, but they are also available in epub, mobi, rtf, pdf, lrf, pdb and plain text. Don't worry if you don't know what all those different formats mean, just keep in mind they allow e-books to be read on pretty much all current e-reader devices, whether dedicated to e-reading or not.

Smashwords does something else even more important for writers. The site currently distributes e-books to more than a half dozen e-book distributors online. If that doesn't impress you, keep in mind the names of some of these distributors. Barnes & Noble. Sony. Kobo. Apple. And others.

What this means is you can go to one site, upload your e-books, and in a matter of days or weeks your e-books will be available for sale throughout the Web on multiple sites, many of them major retail sites. And if you don't want to send your work to all the sites, Smashwords does allow you to opt out of the ones you don't want to use.

Currently a writer cannot use Smashwords to make his or her e-books available at Amazon or Google, but that seems to be in the works. How do I know this? Because I regularly follow the Smashwords Site Updates and the Smashwords blog, both written by Smashwords Founder Mark Coker (who is a swell guy, by the way, if you ever have any contact with him).

All of this might sound confusing to the beginning e-book writer and publisher, but take heart. Smashwords has a free Smashwords Style Guide e-book available in multiple formats that offers step-by-step instructions on how to format an e-book for their services.

Now, beginners often are curious as to how much all of this will cost them. You've written your novel, formatted the e-book properly and now you're set to upload it to Smashwords, but what will the charges be?


What? Say that again.

That's right. Nothing.

There are currently no start-up fees whatsoever on Smashwords, and there are no fees down the road. So how does Smashwords itself stay in business? The same way Amazon and other self-publishing e-book sites do, by taking a percentage of your sales. Which means Smashwords only makes money if you make money. And don't worry about that percentage being too high, because you will stay make a good percentage yourself. How do you know what the percentages are? Well, to be honest, that's complicated. Why? Because of all the different distributors with which Smashwords deals, and because of foreign sales, the percentages you earn tend to fluctuate up and down somewhat. But it's still usually about more than 50 percent on average. The good thing, however, is that you the creator of an e-book get to set the prices for your e-books. You can even give your e-books away free, and some writers do this in order to try and build readership.

So go check out the Smashwords FAQ, and decide if the site is right for your self-publishing adventures. I'd bet it most likely is.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #12 - Kindle Nation Daily

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Kindle Nation Daily

Kindle Nation DailyKindle Nation Daily is not a website necessarily just for writers. If anything, it's more of a site for readers. But hey, writers are readers, too, right? And writers are always interested in studying readers and finding out what readers want.

What kind of things can readers and writers discover at this site?

Well, if you are someone who likes to read a lot, and you are some who enjoys cheap reads, then Kindle Nation Daily should be just right for you. Of course since the site's focus is on the Kindle, it would help if you have a Kindle. But even if you don't, there's plenty here to discover about e-books in general.

For instance, do you like free e-books? If so, check out the Freebies list at Kindle Nation Daily. There you'll find lots of e-books that are available for free.

If you want cheap e-books, check out the list for 99-cent e-books. These e-books are not only cheap, but they've also been given quality reviews, so you know you're not getting just cheap e-books, but good cheap e-books.

Still not enough for you? What about e-books for children? Or how about a Kindle Shop where you can purchase a new Kindle, Kindle accessories and even an extended warranty for your Kindle? You could also sign up for the Free Weekly Digest, which once a week will shoot you an e-mail letting you know about new free e-books.

But the Kindle Nation Daily site doesn't stop there. There's also plenty of information to be found on the site, including tips for using a Kindle, commentary on the Kindle and e-books, news about Kindles, etc.

All of this is great for readers, and it's of interest to writers. But how else can this site be of service to writers?

Through advertising. Because of the quality traffic that regularly checks out Kindle Nation Daily, there are a lot of potential customers in the mix. If you are an e-book author looking to draw readers, you might want to consider a Sponsorship for Kindle Nation Daily. Check the site for advertising prices.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 29 - Creating Characters

Creating Characters: How to Build Story Peopleby Dwight V. Swain

Started: June 10
Finished: June 18

Notes: I do not consider characterization as one of my strengths as a writer, though I wouldn't necessarily say I'm completely awful at it. But, I'm hoping this book will teach me a few things, or at least keep me motivated a little to work on character building techniques. Though the first edition of this book is more than 20 years old, and the author passed away nearly that along ago, I still feel there will be much here to learn. Honestly, I sometimes feel older generations of writers have more to teach me than do many of today's writers. But that's just me.

Mini review: This book was actually kind of painful to read. It was not awfully written, but there were two factors that made this not a joy for me. 1.) It's quite dated. I expected some of this considering the book is 20 years old, but for a modern writer it's quite off base when it discusses cultural norms, the state of the world and even writing careers and technology. So much so that it's jarring. 2.) I know most of the stuff already written about here. On the plus side, I did pick up a few ideas, and the chapter about writing humor opened my eyes to a few things. Again, not written badly, just not right for me at this point; 15 or 20 years ago I probably would have enjoyed it more.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #11 - Red Adept Reviews

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Red Adept Reviews

Red Adept ReviewsOnce a writer has a book or e-book, self-published or otherwise, available for readers, that writer often wants reviews.


Well, there are many reasons. Sometimes the writer simply wants his or her ego stroked by a positive review. Other writers believe, not without some justification, that reviews can help build readership and sell more books, especially positive reviews. Other writers are just interested in finding out what people think of their material. There are probably other reasons, ones not coming to mind at the moment.

But how does a writer get reviews?

Some writers remain patient, sitting back in hope that eventually readers and some professional and even amateur reviewers will notice their book and provide reviews. This does happen. However, it probably does not garner as many reviews as some writers might want.

Another way to get reviews is to simply ask for them. This might seem a little pushy to some writers, but there is a growing number of online book reviewers who do not mind being asked to review a book, though they usually do not promise a positive review.

One of the better-known online book review sites is Red Adept Reviews, headed up by Red Adept herself, also known as Lynn O'Dell. Originally Lynn did all the reviews on her site, but Red Adept Reviews has become so popular she has taken on a staff of reviewers. Currently the site has a total of six book reviewers, including Lynn O'Dell.

How does one go about getting a review of his or her book on Red Adept Reviews? Go to the site and at the top of the page click on the Review Copy Submission link. Read this page from top to bottom. Then do so again. And probably a third time wouldn't hurt. This page will inform you how to submit your e-book or book for review, and there are rules that have to be followed. I suggest you follow those rules, otherwise your book is likely to be ignored, possibly even trashed without a glance. Also, the site does not guarantee a review. If the staff is not interested in the book, they'll pass on it. And keep one other thing in mind: Even if the book is going to be reviewed, it might take some time before a member of the staff can get to your book and review. With a lot of review submissions coming in, there are only so many books and e-books a staff of six can read, plus they likely have other books they want to read besides those being submitted.

Besides reviews, there are other reasons to check out this website. For one thing, the site offers Editing Services. Check the site itself for current pricing.

Also, if you have a book or e-book available, you can Advertise on the Red Adept Reviews site. Since this is one of the more popular book review sites, it probably gets a decent amount of traffic. So, it might be a good idea to do a little advertising there, to draw the attention of potential readers.

Then, as with many sites, Red Adept Reviews also has a Forum section. Here you can chat with the book review staff and some of the authors who have had their books on the site.

If you are serious about being an author, Red Adept Reviews is worth your while. Check out the site. You might learn a few things.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Books read in 2011: No. 28 - The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House (Penguin Classics)by Shirley Jackson

Started: June 6
Finished: June 10

Notes: The last book I read has me in the mood for some darker material, though not quite horror, so I figured it was time I got around to this classic novel. I've read one other novel by Shirley Jackson, and a bunch of her short stories, having enjoyed it all, so this should be a natural for me.

Mini review: Perhaps the best ghost story, or at least haunted house story, I've ever read. The first half of the book was interesting, but built a little slowly for my taste. But about the middle of the book, things changed. It was not a drastic change, not one that occurred in a matter of a few words, but more or a mental/emotional change that comes over the reader, or at least it did in my case. This novel is spooky. I don't mean to imply it's scary, as most modern horror fiction attempts to be, but spooky. There is no overt terror to be found here. There is no bogeyman who jumps out at you. The horror here, the fear, is much, much more subtle. The reader can never tell what is real and what is not, and there's no full revelation, nothing to plant before the reader as an explanation. There are hints. There are suggestions. But nothing is truly unveiled. From my studies, it seems obvious Jackson meant this as a fairly straight-forward haunted house tale, but one of the delights with this novel is that it can be read on so many more levels. Is the house really haunted? If so, who is the ghost? Or is there more than one ghost? If the house is not haunted, then what causes the strangest of the events? Are one or more of the guests in the house actually telekinetic or telepathic without realizing it? Or is one or more of the guests simply going insane? Or were they insane all along? This book reminds me somewhat of Shakespeare's Hamlet in that there are no solid answers to the main questions that come to the readers mind. Was Hamlet insane? Or was he simply acting? Or was something else, an outside influence, involved?

100 sites for fiction writers: #10 - Duotrope's Digest

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

Duotrope's Digest

Story markets are important to fiction writers. After all, traditionally writers of all stripes made their living through finding new markets for their stories, articles, books, poetry, etc. Nowadays, because of digital publishing and e-books, things are a bit different with many writers publishing their own works, but a smart move is to continue working with traditional publishers as well as publishing your own works.


It only makes sense, especially from a financial point of view. As the old saying goes, why put all your eggs in one basket? No one knows what the future will hold, so it's best to play it safe and work in both print and digital formats, as well as continuing to work with publishers while doing your own thing. Despite the conflict that seems to consistently spring up between the print and digital fronts, it behooves writers to take the best of both worlds and use them for one's own ends.

Looking for places to sell one's stories has never been an easy task. Oh, there are books and magazines out there that have listings of the markets, but quite often those listings are outdated by the time they reach publication.

Today, instead of a writer having to buy a book or magazine to find story markets, he or she can go online to Duotrope's Digest.

Duotrope, as the site is commonly called, is sort of a search engine for markets looking to purchase stories, poetry, articles, books and more. It's quite simple. You go to the site and type in your various search criteria, from genre to pay scales, length of stories accepted and on and on. The search can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The great thing is that once you've put in all your information all you have to do is click a button and up pops a list of publications and/or publishers who fit that criteria.

For example, let's pretend you've written a romance novel and are trying to find a publisher. You pop onto Duotrope and begin your search. First you want to pick "Romance" under genre, then under "Length" you pick "Novel." Now click the "Search" button and your potential publishers will appear in a list. Of course you could go back and add more defining characteristics to you search, narrowing that list even further.

The focus at Duotrope is upon fiction and poetry, so keep that in mind. Still, many of the magazine, e-zine and book publishers listed will also consider non-fiction articles.

Also, the What's New section at Duotrope will allow you to keep up to date on changes within the fiction and poetry markets, providing recent updates of what publications have closed, which ones are new, which ones have temporarily stopped looking at stories, etc.

The market search and listings are the main enticement for many writers to use Duotrope, but the usefulness of the site does not end there.

Also available is a long link list of interviews with editors. These interview can be quite informative, giving writers clues as to specifics that cause an editor to be interested in a story.

There's even a Stats page where writers can find out the response times from publishers.

If you're looking to sell your fiction or poetry, you need to be checking out Duotrope's Digest on a regular basis.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #9 - A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

The Newbie's Guide to Publishing (Everything A Writer Needs To Know)I have been following author J.A. Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, for at least five years. During that time, much has changed with the book publishing field, and Konrath has changed much as far as how he approaches his career as a fiction author.

Initially Konrath's path was more traditional. He kept writing novels until one of them was accepted by a print publisher. Then he wrote another novel, and another, and another, and so on. He was having a solid career as a mid-list fiction author, with the potential to make it into the big leagues where names like Patterson, Rice and even King dwell.

Then along came digital publishing and the acceptance of e-reading devices by the general public.

And everything changed.

I won't go into all the details, because you can find that out for yourself at Konrath's blog, but Konrath basically turned his back on traditional print publishing and now works on his own for the most part, with a helping hand from Amazon and his agent. Konrath publishes his own e-books through Amazon for the Kindle, and he works with Amazon to put his books into print. He also makes is fiction available at Barnes & Noble and at other online venues.

All that's very nice, but why should budding fiction writers want to read the blog of this particular author? The title should tell you everything you need to know.

On his blog, Konrath has outlined his own road to success, including his writing of more than 7,000 letters to libraries and personally visiting more than 600 book stores in 28 states within one year. Sounds crazy, right? But it was part of what led to Konrath's success. More recently he does less promotional work, but he doesn't need to. His blog is popular and his books and e-books practically promote themselves online.

Much of this blog focuses upon making a living as a writer and less on the actual craft of writing, but it's common sense information fiction writers need to hear about. You might not agree with everything Konrath has to say on his blog, but you're sure to learn something.

And a word of warning to the meek: This blog has its share of drama. I wouldn't necessarily say J.A. Konrath is confrontational, but he is opinionated, though to my knowledge he always backs up his opinions with facts and/or personal experience. Just be prepared for a screaming match or two. And always keep in mind that this blog is Konrath's online home, and he will shut things down when he feels it's necessary.

If you're a fiction writer and you're not reading A Newbies Guide to Publishing, then you're one of the few. Join in and learn some things.