9.18.14 - On Git 'Er Done!*

By JT Ellison

Productivity is sometimes my strong suit. I love making lists and checking things off. It gives me a perverse kind of pleasure, a little internal nanny-nanny-boo-boo to the forces of resistance that seem to hover around the edges of my world. I’ve even been known to add something to my To Do list that’s already complete simply for the pleasure of marking it off the list.

Today was banner day for getting things done. I finished a minor technical revision on WHAT LIES BEHIND – changes based on an experts input on the science of the book, and sent it to my editor. I started the research for the new Nicholas Drummond novel. I also started the synopsis/narrative/outline of the story, but there’s a bit more research to do for it to make much sense.

And I achieved the gold standard of productivity – Inbox Zero. [direct link]

I’m beside myself with excitement. I’ve had 50 or so emails tagging around with me for the past month, and another 50 starred, which is my way of saying they’re too important to be out of my line of sight for one reason or another, and I haven’t had the time to sit down, go through them systematically, answering or archiving or deleting. But it’s all clean now.

I’m going to give credit where credit is due – I use Gmail, and have for years. For a very long time I’ve been looking for a way to seamlessly incorporate my Gmail into my Mac. I’ve used Sparrow for years, but it’s getting long in the tooth. Apple mail is hideous, and doesn’t work at all with my archival system, which, I will admit, is rather extensive. (I blame it on all those years interning – they LOVED to have me file things. OCD much?) I tried a couple of ways to get directly into my Gmail from my dock, to limited success.

Then today, in a fit of despair, I hit the right terms on google and up popped Mailplane [direct link].

It’s expensive. And I balk at the idea of paying for what’s essentially a webmail link. But I downloaded the free trial, and oh, my. It’s perfect. Immediate access, and I don’t have to go online to get into my mail, which lets me focus on what I’m doing instead of trolling around.

I know this is going to help me rock my new productivity plans. And I proved myself right by getting to Inbox Zero.

Got some more good news today on the Nicholas Drummond front – THE LOST KEY got a brilliant starred review from Library Journal, and THE FINAL CUT paperback will be #7 on this week’s New York Times and #30 on USA Today. It’s also #9 on the iBooks list.

Now I’m going to go make chicken soup and bask in the glory of emptiness. I have a lovely weekend of research ahead, plus more cleaning of the house, hanging pictures and gardening and mulching. (I’ll be watching Randy do that, probably.)

I hope you have something fun planned too!

*Also knows as GTD – Get Things Done – the brilliant task management system I try to employ.

Via: JT Ellison


9.16.14 - On New Beginnings

By JT Ellison

Well, hello there! Long time no chat. Trust me when I say I’ve been up to my ears in work – and a bit of play, as well.

So, to catch you up if you aren’t on FB – WHAT LIES BEHIND is D.O.N.E. – and has been accepted by my editor, who really liked it. Will wonders never cease? And I mean that truthfully – I don’t think I’ve ever had such a difficult time with a book, and it took me literally until the 11th hour to get the story to come together properly, but the 5 months (5 MONTHS!) of work paid off. That book comes out in June (5.26.15 to be specific) and I’m incredibly proud of how it finally came together. Huge props to my husband and my BFF Laura Benedict for shepherding me through the process. And of course, all of you.

I did things differently this time, too. Usually my beta readers see the book before my editor, but this time, they’re going to see the last version prior to copyedit. I like shaking things up!

And so now it’s on to Nicholas Drummond #3. I had a week off between finishing WLB and flying to Cali to start ND#3 ( we have some titles, but none have been finalized yet.) I got back home Friday, spent the weekend putting my poorly neglected house and yard back to rights, spent yesterday cleaning my office, which, I must say, looks quite divine now, with everything put away and organized, and downloading research articles and books. I have a steep learning curve on this new book, so I actually have to do research prior to starting to write.

After a few weeks away from the craziness that was August, with the travel and the deadline, my schedule got all sorts of shook up. So I’m taking advantage of that to make some changes to how I work.

Sunday was my first SIS – Sunday Internet Sabbatical. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Since I’ve been on the road, I’ve been online in snatches, so I didn’t really miss it. I’m looking forward to the unplugged day, and I’m also not going to write on the weekends anymore. I feel like all I’m doing is working, as my house’s sad demeanor can attest to. I didn’t even play golf this summer, which is a travesty. So, let’s change that. Check.

I’m also trying to turn my laptop into my creative workstation, and do all my business on my desktop. And… doing an hour of business, then walking away. I am the worst about trying to sandwich in every single little thing that needs to be done to clear my plate for the writing, which oftentimes leaves me at 4 or 5 in the evening having accomplished a great deal, but none of it fiction. Which is my real job.

So the plan is, I will limit the online business time to 3 times a day – 9am, lunchtime, and early evening – and then it goes off. No more answering email at 11 p.m. Check.

And, since I’m finding so much inspiration these days, I’m going to start sharing some with you. My buddy Anna Benjamin sent me a box full, and they are lovely and profound. I will be using them as inspiration, and I hope you like them too. Ergo: see above.

So how about you? What have you been up to?

Via: JT Ellison


An Open Letter to Mr. Obama

By JD Rhoades
Pilot Newspaper: Opinion

Dear Mr. President:

I heard recently that you plan to delay any executive action on immigration, such as delaying deportation of child refugees, until after the November elections — this in spite of your stated intention earlier to do something by the “end of the summer.”

I’m sure your advisers told you that this would be a smart political move. You may even believe it yourself. Well, they’re wrong, and so are you if you buy into that.
Oh, sure, it’s true that some of the more hotly contested races that could determine control of the Senate are in so-called “red” states. I know it looks like a bad idea to rile up the Republican “base” of xenophobes, bigots, Fox News-addicted outrage junkies, and various other angry, frightened old white dudes. My stars, taking executive action might even upset them enough to get to the polls to vote against Democrats.
But here’s the thing, Mr. President: They’re going to get riled up no matter what you do or don’t do. Riled up is their default state. They’ve been in a state of apoplectic rage since Nov. 4, 2008, when you sent the poster child for angry old white dudes and his empty-headed snowbilly running mate packing.
It only got worse four years later, when their supposed savior, Lord Mitt Romney, couldn’t get out of the way of his own feet and stumbled to a humiliating loss that everyone except them could see coming. All you have to do to upset the Republican base and get them to the polls is be a black Democrat in the White House.
You don’t believe me when I say that trying not to upset the Raging Right is a sucker’s game? Check out Newt Gingrich, who went on CNN’s “State of the Union” to call you “cowardly” and “indecisive” for delaying taking action on immigration.
Of course, no one on the program bothered to point out that on Aug. 3, Newt called such action “unconstitutional” and an example of “the Venezuelan-style, anything-I-want-is-legal presidency.
Look at the House, where the speaker, John Boehner, urged you to act on immigration “without the need for congressional action,” the day after his caucus voted to sue you for acting without congressional action — to delay implementation of a law that they repeatedly voted to repeal.
You cannot placate these people. You cannot calm them down, especially since there’s a billion-dollar industry dedicated to keeping them angry and so afraid of everything that they’re convinced that they’ll be robbed, raped or killed if they don’t have a gun on them every time they leave the house.
Instead of trying to soothe the Republican base, why don’t you pay some attention to your own? You seem so worried at the prospect of right-wingers going to the polls that you’re forgetting the people you need to go there.
Latinos, of course, are the fastest growing demographic in the nation. You also need to get young people fired up. But what I’m hearing from them is a growing sense of frustration, complaints that “politicians are all the same,” and a general apathy about voting.
Dems will probably still get a goodly portion of the female vote, but that’s mainly because several Republicans will inevitably say something incredibly stupid, misogynistic, or patronizing toward women before it’s over. But we need the rest of the constituency, too. So now is not the time for half-measures.
I know, Mr. President, that you’re called “No Drama Obama.” But maybe it’s time for something dramatic. For starters, use the power you have as the executive to delay or defer the deportation of refugee children.
For all the caterwauling about “tyranny” (which, remember, they’re going to do anyway), that power falls squarely within the scope of what’s called “prosecutorial discretion”: the recognition that you simply don’t have unlimited resources to prosecute every law, all the time, so the executive branch can allocate those resources as it sees fit. Prosecutorial discretion has long been recognized by the courts as a legitimate use of executive power.
The Teahadists have threatened impeachment if you try that? Let ‘em bring it. Lawsuits? Bring those on, too.
Iowa Rep. Steve King has raised the idea of another government shutdown in protest if you take executive action. Tell him, “Please proceed, Congressman.” Because if there’s one thing that will get wavering Democrats and independents off the couch and into the voting booths, it’ll be the spectacle of the wingnuts once again waving their torches and pitchforks and threatening to destroy the country in order to save it.

So do the right thing, Mr. President, and dare the Republicans to do something about it. Thank you, and God bless.

Via: J.D. Rhoades


Indie publishing, UK style

By noreply@blogger.com (Alexandra Sokoloff)

I’m excited to be appearing at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival next week, very dramatic timing, since the festival begins the day after the vote on Scottish independence!

Along with appearing on a panel on crossing the supernatural with crime fiction, the usual book signings, and hosting a table at the banquet, I’m moderating a panel on indie publishing, UK style. If you’re in the neighborhood, hope you’ll stop by. And if you aren’t, you may be interested in a UK author/agent and UK indie author’s perspectives, below.


Digital Detectives: The author independence debate

This year at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, crime authors Allan Guthrie and Ed James will be discussing their books and their roads to independent publishing success, chaired by American crime author Alexandra Sokoloff. The panelists will share how they have reached hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide and built or added to full-time writing careers through self-publishing, on Saturday, 20 September, 10 am-11 am, in the Academy Suite, Stirling Highland Hotel, Stirling. (Ticket information here).

Allan Guthrie‘s traditionally published crime novels have won multiple nominations and awards (the American Edgar, the UK’s Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year), but he embraced the DIY options early and found indie-publishing success as well, his novella, Bye Bye Babybecoming a top ten bestseller on Amazon. Al is also a literary agent for Jenny Brown Associates, co-founder of the digital publishing company Blasted Heath, and a freelance editor for several British and American publishers, and his sage and generous advice have made him somewhat of a mentor to many authors, regardless of whether they’re traditionally published, indie published, or both.

Guthrie initially self-published digital editions of his crime novels Two-Way Split and Kiss Her Goodbye, in the US after seeing his client John Rector’s success with self-publishing:

“I started to look into the market a lot more closely because of John’s success with his debut novel, The Grove. And I liked what I saw. Not only did digital publishing expose an author to a new readership, but I did some calculations and discovered that a self-published book priced at $1.25 on Kindle would pay the author almost as much in royalties as a typical mass market paperback at $5.99. I wasn’t sure that there was a huge readership out there, but on the other hand, the chances were that anyone who spent a few hundred dollars (they were more expensive back then) on an e-reader was going to be a heavy reader and liable to buy a lot of books. So I thought maybe they’d take a chance on an author they hadn’t tried before, especially if the price was low. Things took off for me in early 2011, which is when the UK Kindle market really opened up.”

After rejection by traditional publishers, Ed James took his career into his own hands. He self-published his Edinburgh-based Scott Cullen crime series and hit the bestseller charts, enabling him to give up his corporate IT job to live the dream as a full-time crime author:

“Back in 2009, I sent off my finished book to about 40 literary agents. Three or four wanted to read it. I polished it up then sent it off before waiting three months for the inevitable rejections. For a while I got really angry about the rejection and didn’t write a word for 18 months. A couple of years down the line and things had moved on. The whole Amazon/Kindle thing had come out of nowhere. Suddenly it was possible to self-publish. There were guys out there doing it and making millions. I thought there was nothing to be lost. I published the book, started writing the sequel and, within a year, I had four books on Kindle. Somehow they crept into the bestsellers’ list. The first one has been downloaded 290,000 times.”

Thriller Award-winning US author and screenwriter Alexandra Sokoloff was doing well in traditional publishing — but not as well as some of her author friends who were experimenting with indie publishing. So she took a chance by self-publishing her Huntress Mooncrime series – and made the bestseller charts as well as double her usual advance from traditional publishers in just the first two months of publication.

In fact, self-published crime fiction often sells as well and even better than traditionally published crime fiction. Major e-publishing platforms (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple i-Books, Kobo, Smashwords) have promotional opportunities built in to their systems, which entrepreneurial indie authors can use to find an audience whether or not they have been published before. Indie authors can earn 70% of the RRP from these e-platforms, as opposed to (typically) 25% of the net receipts (ie, the RRP minus the vendor’s cut) from traditional publishers, and indie publishing gives authors the control over book pricing, which can lead to significantly greater sales and significantly expanded readerships. And e-publishing platforms, particularly Amazon, allow UK authors to make their books instantly available not just in the UK but also to the enormous US market, as well as Germany, France, Australia, and a growing number of other countries – with no additional work involved.

These days a huge number of authors consider themselves “hybrids” – selling their books through both traditional and indie publishing. For example, James will continue to self-publish his Cullen books, but is very close to having a traditional publishing deal for a new series based on the success of his first series; and Sokoloff just sold the rights to her Huntress Moon crime series to Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint, while keeping the rights to her supernatural thrillers. Traditionally published authors with out-of-print backlists have found new life for their novels and new income from going digital. And aspiring authors should note that agents and traditional publishers routinely track the success of indie authors, making indie publishing a viable alternative to the traditional query-agent-editor route to publication.

James says: “A lot of novice writers still tend to think of the Writers and Artists Yearbook as the primary method of getting an agent whereas I think it’s genuinely changing…” In fact, it was Guthrie who approached James to offer representation, rather than James querying the agency himself.

Guthrie explains: “If you can establish that there’s a market out there for your books, it can be a big help, no question. Selling tens of thousands of books, backed by lots of Amazon reviews with a high average rating, is a pretty clear indicator that there’s a big readership for your writing. Which is the kind of safety net risk-averse publishers tend to find attractive. Also, if an author has a good number of sales through their own efforts, a potential publisher is going to know that they’re very likely dealing with a canny marketer who knows what their readers want and knows how to reach them. A good publisher can take that to the next level.”

The audience is welcome to join the authors in an informal chat session after the panel and book signings, to discuss specifics of self-publishing and promotional strategies.

By phone: 01786 27 4000

More about the authors and their books at:

Via: Alexandra Sokoloff


NaNoWriMo Success

By PD Martin

Bookings are now open for my NaNoWriMo Success course. Nine Sundays…

  • Four Sundays in October as essential preparation (ideas, research, character exercises, plot exercises, writing craft, etc.); and
  • Five Sundays in November as fully catered write-ins.

Attendees also get a dedicated workbook that they can use for their NaNoWriMo novel and for every novel they write in the future.

More details and bookings

And don’t forget to read some of my testimonials.

Questions? Simply email me on info@pdmartin.com.au.

Via: P.D. Martin


Creative immersion

By PD Martin


This past week has been about creative immersion—not for me, for a group of students!

I created my new novel writing intensive course so I could have complete ‘control’ over my creative writing course in terms of the length and content. And I’m loving it! Don’t get me wrong, I also love teaching at Writers Victoria and the other state centres around Australia (like my two-day stint in Adelaide at the end of July). However, nothing beats designing the course yourself. In the case of my novel writing intensive, it’s five days in a row, 10am-4pm at the Abbotsford Covent (on the left). By the end of the week, participants really do have everything they need to write a novel or take their current draft to that next level.

And while I’m not actively taking part in the creative immersion, as such, it’s also pretty intense for me. I’m on the journey with my students, and I’ve got to say, nothing beats seeing a writer’s eyes light up when they see/hear something that clicks and their whole novel falls into place. Something that changes their whole world view—of their fictional world, that is.

As I expected, it was the character and plot days that provided the most lightning bolt moments for my students—who ranged in writing backgrounds from writers about to embark on their first novel to a student who’d had two books traditionally published ten years ago and wanted to up her professional development and to ignite her love of writing again. And I’m happy to say, by the end of the week she was raring to go.

While the course only involves me reading the students’ first 10-15 pages and so I’m by no means intimate with their stories and characters, it’s still incredibly satisfying to see students work out new beginnings, identify their problem areas, work out some more plot twists and turns, and head off after day 5 ready to attack their novels. There aren’t many things that beat the passion for a story and your characters. It burns you, consumes you, until all you can do is write.

That’s my job done, I guess. Mission accomplished. Now it’s back to MY work in progress. Man, am I behind.

Via: P.D. Martin


Cover Reveal

By Allison Brennan Good news: I finished MORTAL SIN, book three of my Seven Deadly Sins series. My publisher cancelled this supernatural thriller series more than four years ago. I was heartbroken and never planned on writing another book, even though I loved

Via: Allison Brennan


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