Endings and Beginnings

•December 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

My publisher, Dreamspinner Press, runs a Google group for its authors, and what a busy little group it is, too.  I’m amazed we get any writing done.  One of the active threads lately has been about self-promotion.

There might’ve been a time when a writer’s publisher, with a lavish budget and an in-house public-relations person, too care of the advertising and publicity for a novel, but those days are long gone, and in any event, Dreamspinner is a small outfit.  Authors need to take the lead in promoting their work to a certain extent.

This terrifies me.  I’ve been good at promoting myself or my work.  That was my biggest challenge when I taught at the community college: selling the material.  The value of studying Western Civ is self-evident to me, and I couldn’t sell it to my bored, indifferent, and in some cases just downright stupid undergraduates.  Here it is, kids.  Enjoy! The test is in two weeks.

I want my writing career to be more successful that my teaching career, which means I’m going to need to put myself out there.  There is a very good reason for this—if the first book doesn’t sell well, there may not be a second books.

Fortunately, the authors’ group has a variety of suggestions and resources as far as getting a book reviewed goes, and the more experienced authors themselves are full of good ideas and encouragement.  I’m still not entirely sure who pays for these, me or the publisher. I recall reading something in my contract about that, so I’ll review said contract when the publication date gets closer.

So I’m learning to use social media to promote my work, starting with this blog and extending to the Facebook author’s page I’ve set up.  I’m still not certain how that’s going to work, as it’s attached to my personal profile.  I suppose I’ll have to make a list and anyone who friends me from my writing will be put on that one, and the personal things like family photos subsequently restricted.

But it occurred to me the other day…when I was writing my novel, I had the idea that selling it was the end of the line, but it’s not.  It’s only the beginning, starting with the editorial process and continuing to publication and publicizing the work so people buy it. Interestingly enough, but publish and publicize have the same Latin root word—publicus, or public.

So writing strikes me as rather Janus-faced in this respect, with one face looking backwards, one looking forwards.  This seems appropriate, given that we’re coming up hard on the new year and the month named for that Roman god.

As Semisonic put it in a song, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

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Off-season training

•December 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

I realize at this point I’m blogging for myself, because until Rocking the Boat is published, this address won’t be widely disseminated. I feel funny using that word. I spend enough time studying cultural history in grad school to freak out over obscure implications of words, and my dissertation advisor spent one seminar vaporing on about how disseminate and semen share the same root. For that matter, so does seminar, I think. I suppose all are appropriate, given that I write m/m erotic romances.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

Anyway, no one’s reading this yet, but three entries into it, and I’ve already figured out this is a good place for me to reflect on my writing and the writing process.

I’ve updated the header. For those of you who row, you know what those are.  For those of you who don’t, those are Concept2 ergometers (Model D), the rower’s best friend and worst enemy.  The erg is a pretty close match to the rowing stroke, although there’s a new design out that’s supposed to be even closer. But the erg’s appetite is boundless.  It swallows all the you have to give, belches in your face, and then demands more.  No matter how strong you are, no matter how great your endurance, there’s always more, always room to grow.

Rowing usually observes an off-season that starts around Thanksgiving, when the fall racing season is over. My hypothesis is that this reflects the east-coast origins (in the US) of rowing as a collegiate sport, and rowing’s not a lot of fun if you have to chip a hole in the ice to put your boat in the water.  Where I live on the west coast there’s not a lot of call for an off season. Sure, fog keeps us off the water once in a while, but it rarely gets below freezing. Nonetheless an off season we observe, and hence the ergometers.

I meant to erg this morning, but didn’t. Actually, I only kind of meant to erg. I skipped CrossFit because yesterday’s practice included a double weight circuit and my body was telling me, “Break time!” But erging didn’t happen, either. I think I’m coming up allergic to the Christmas tree. Seriously. It’s setting off some kind of sinus snit. I suspect this is the year we go with a fake tree. Oh well, the day’s young. Either or both activities could still happen.

Rocking the Boat is somewhere in the editorial sausage grinder. I haven’t heard anything back since the EIC requested an author bio, which I’ve submitted. Frankly, that bio’s going to make me sound batshit crazy, or at the least rather eccentric, but to an extent, it’s me.  I just checked the Authors page and it’s not there yet. No reason it should be, as the book’s not listed, either, not even as “under contract.” Perhaps once the cover art’s done, it’ll be listed to generate buzz. When the cover art’s done, I’ll post it here, too, and probably on my Facebook page. Still no decision about what I’ll do vis-a-vis FB and a writer’s page.

In the mean time, I’m working on Tipping the Balance, the sequel to RTB. This story concerns the adventures romantic and otherwise of Brad and Drew. Interestingly enough, for all that Brad was a minor if pivotal character in RTB, his story’s turning out to be the one at the center of TTB. I have a much clearer sense of who he is and what (and who!) he wants and needs. Or maybe it’s that Drew already knows who he is, whereas Brad’s figuring it out. It’s also turning out to be a very different novel than RTB.  In RTB, Morgan and Nick were hot for each other pretty much from the get-go, but the erotic element is, at least 100 pages or so into it, much tamer in TTB. But then, that too may be a reflection of the fact that Brad’s only slowly coming to realize he craves the dick.

But then, writing fiction is a funny thing. Characters tell you who they are, sometimes in ways that surprise me, and the plot sometimes heads in directions I didn’t anticipate, but end up working better than what I’d mapped out before I first put pen to paper. Maybe I’ll discuss my writing process in another posting, but for now, suffice it to say that I try to have a fairly thorough outline before I ever start typing. Still, the characters become people under the impetus of my subconscious, and under that subconscious impetus and as people are wont to do, they hare off in directions I couldn’t have predicted.

And I’ve dawdled long enough. Back to work.

Progress!

•December 7, 2010 • 1 Comment

I FedExed (look! it’s a new verb!) my contract back to Dreamspinner last week, and then spent the ensuing six days gnawing my guts out because I hadn’t heard back. I do that a lot, gnawing my guts out. I heard back yesterday with a request for an author biography, which I sent back today. In the requirements for the bio were instructions to include any social media addresses.  While I refuse to twit (tweet?), and am considering my options for a Facebook page, either for myself as a writer or for the fictional college crew at the center of my story, a blog I figured I could handle. How well remains to be seen, I suppose.

But I’m amazed at how time-consuming this “under the hood” part of writing is turning out to be, and how important is an at least passing familiarity with social media. Writing’s a pretty solitary profession, and now I’m having to dance naked on a virtual street corner while shouting “Look at me! Look at me!”, as it were, and I haven’t yet come to the part of the process where my work is edited and I have to turn galley proofs around in a hurry. I’ve worked as freelance proofreader for a major publishing house, so I’m at least somewhat familiar with what it takes to get a manuscript to print from that side of the desk. But this is my first major publication, or my second, if you count my essay in the Good Man Project’s anthology, so I’m plunging ever deeper into terra incognita on a near-daily basis.

This is a good thing.

But it does take time away from writing. I labor to convince myself that all of this counts as writing.  Intellectually I know it does; without it, my writing won’t be seen or better yet, purchased.  Emotionally, however, I fret because I’m not getting any writing done.  Did I mention how neurotic writers tend to be?

Getting started

•December 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to my blog. It’ll get shinier and sparklier as I go along, but for now, this is my writing blog.