Tuesday, June 29, 2010

In this Corner.....

I opened up the account on Amazon.com, just to take a look. I read the terms and conditions.

I opened up April L. Hamilton's Indie Author's Guide and started reading.

It's all there.

I'm going to do it. I'm going to take that plunge and put "Let's Do Lunch" on Amazon's Kindle store.

Holy Crap!

I must be out of my mind.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh, Crap. Now What?

Marked up, high lighted, scribbled on, now a discarded pile of paper. It is the final draft of "Let's Do Lunch" It is sitting on the coffee table and it's staring at me.
What am I going to do with it?
I could send it back out - to agents or publishers in the paper market or to publishers in the e-book market. I could re-post it to Authonomy an spend the next six months chasing the Editor's Desk. (NOT!)
There is a co-op or two where I could post it - experiment with this new arena of e-publishing, blog the results like I blogged ABNA and Authonomy.
Or there is Amazon - Kindle and Create Space.
This is like standing a the foot of the diving board.
Do I or don't I jump?
How should I jump, high, flat, cannon ball, belly flop, swan dive?
How cold is the water going to be?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Look at Publishing 2010, Sites of Interest

As I travel over the interwebs, looking for the right niche to publish my first novel, I've hit a few interesting sites along the way.

Forward Motion is the best site for beginning or fantasy writers! The support a newbie receives here is unparalleled in my (limited) experience. You have the option of open forums, closed forums, joining a critique circle or taking classes. The site is famous for the "Two-year Novel" course, where the writer learns to build worlds and craft out a novel in two years. New classes begin in January.

Created by Holly Lisle, owned by Lazette Gifford, this site is a great resource. FM was where I discovered the "Writing Breakout Novel" books by Donald Maas, and where "Let's Do Lunch" was beaten into shape.

Authonomy, a primarily British site, is Harper Collins' combination of slush pile and "Survivor." This site promised a lot when it went live, in the way of five books reviewed each month and publishing contracts. While the monthly reviews of the 'Editor's Desk' top five books do occur, they usually aren't worth the six months of read/backing swaps required to get them.

When I joined, in 2009, it was a great place to get feedback from other writers. Now it has devolved into an addicting, frustrating 'time suck' of epic proportions. Your writing career has an equal chance of taking off and vanishing down a black hole.

Harper Collins allows the site to run wild, so the crazies have run off a lot of the serious writers. There are a dozen or so books published as a result of the site, though none of the books that have made the "Editor's Desk" to date have been published by Harper Collins.

Avoid the Forums at all costs…well, visit at your own risk…expect rampant egos, literary and class snobbery, flame wars, racism, sexism, petty deal making, read/backing swap whores, trolls and sock-puppets.

On the lighter side, drunk Brits are pretty darn funny…if you have a twisted sense of humor, and no life, hang out on a Friday or Saturday night. Beware of minors, not everyone is over 18.

Insider's Tip: The ranking system is skewed towards new books. If you upload 10k words and take the book public you will rise fast for the first few weeks. Once the book reaches the top 100 be prepared to live and breathe the site. The longer a book is on the site the harder it is to rise in the rankings. Editors, agents and other publishing insiders troll the top 100 books.

Litopia is another British site but with more of an international flavor.

The podcast, billed as "a Literary Salon," was in two parts, Litopia Daily and Litopia After Dark. Litopia Daily has (sadly) ceased to exist, but Litopia After Dark is still kicking. Litopia podcasts are a great(!!) resource into the confusing and frustrating world of publishing.

I think that Litopia's Writer's Colony is very good, and the forums are very interesting. Somebody running that site doesn't take any crap from the crazies or the trolls.

The downside is both membership and site are a complex series of levels. I haven't been on it enough to understand how you get to post your work for feedback or post a blog.

Authors on Show is a new writer's networking site. A lot of the Authonomy crowd has come here to show case their work and hang out. I'm not active on the site, but I'm backing them as a good solid writer's network.

However, I'm confused by complex interaction of the Authors on Show blog and the dot com site of the same name. The above link is to the dot com. I get the impression that Lorraine's blog evolved into the dot com site and that both are currently active. The dot com site went live only a week or so ago, so I'm sure the confusion will be cleared up in a short time.

New and Interesting Sites:

Writer's Latte is a nice looking beta writer's networking site that could use some support. I like the look and the feel, however there isn't much action as yet. I've got an account and drop in once a week.

Indie Lit Worldwide is an e-publishing co-op site for readers and writers. This is a site to watch as publishing co-ops look to be the wave of the future. As a market, Indie offers to format a POLISHED manuscript into various e-formats and offer the formats for sale.

Only up a month, this is e-publishing site supports various genre and offers a 50% share of sales to writers. This is a ground floor opportunity with only three books currently posted, but a dozen readers are signed up.

I have an account there, and am reading one of the books for review.

LIWW is currently offering to re-format a manuscript into various formats, including Kindle, for free, upon acceptance. Don't assume that a manuscript is automatically accepted. As always, read the contract carefully before you agree to post anything.

This is it for now. I'm going to get back to work on other projects.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Moody Blues at Horseshoe Casino

The guy sitting next to me looked around and chuckled.

"This is the most Vietnam Vets I've seen in one place in a long time."

Well, yeah - there were a lot of men in their sixties standing in what looked to me as 'at ease.' Some with no hair or buzz cuts and some who looked like they hadn't cut their hair since they came back from 'Nam.

It didn't matter, really. The music was absolutely fabulous.

I'm not a big fan of any one band, but I do love richly textured music.

It was a great time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Confessions of a Chicken Farmer

As a child, I had this dream of owning a farm. At one point it was a horse farm. I would own and breed horses, selling the weanlings, or two year old colts for big bucks. Later, once I figured out just how expensive that hobby could be, I thought about getting a flock of chickens. A couple dozen happy hens, cackling and scratching, producing wonderful eggs and cute chicks.

Reality, unfortunately, is quite different, again.

That's the most interesting part of this post - unless you are interested in economics. Or world building if you want to push this into the context of writing. Or even politics if you are a 'real' farmer.

I just sat down with my receipts to figure out if I'm making any money on my eggs.

The answer is: No, I'm about a hundred bucks in the red.

Mind you, after making the chickens buy their own feed and grit this week I was about $1.50 to the good. That lasted until I found the receipt for the new chicks.

The total bill was $95, or $6.33 per chick.

Mind you, this is 50 dozen eggs. I get between 6 and 8 eggs per day, so we are looking at 75 to 100 days of egg production.

Out of the 19 chicks that Smudge was raising, there are only 14 left. Assuming the chicks that died were the Dominiques I paid for, (Murphy's Law says they were) I lost $31.65 to the rain storm last week. I'm going to need to buy cartons before long, which is another $50 for 100 cartons.

My farmer's market sales for the last two setup days was $9. I made more money selling ducklings at the flea market. However, I'm out of ducklings. The yearling duck hens are lousy mothers. Now what shall I do?

Well, I have an incubator of 36 chicken eggs. Ever heard of 'don't count your chickens before they've hatched?' Ever wondered what it means? Well, the last batch of 46 eggs hatched 6 chicks. Of those 6 and 4 duck-hatched chicks only 5 have survived to 8 weeks of age. (BTW - 1 of 3 chicks is female.)

It looks like I'm going to have to sell babies to make up for my loses. That means my incubator is going to be my money maker, not eggs or dried herbs.

It's a darn good thing I'm not in this for the money. However, it's really interesting to see how this is panning out. I may be able to use this experience later in my writing. Expect to see a novel about a woman struggling to survive in a lousy economy.

Wait, I wrote that novel already!

Okay, I'll have to write another one...hmmmm.

Summer on the Run

There are not enough hours in the day. Even now, the longest days of the year.

The big news is that the Vine Grove Farmer's Market has a new vendor. Eskeridge Farms has joined us. Bee keepers, produce growers and bakers - Vicki and Dale brought their big blue tent and market experience to our little market.

A bit of background, 15 years ago there were ZERO farmer's markets in Hardin county. There were guys in trucks on the side of the road, the Amish and flea markets. Somewhere around 10 years ago, E'town started a farmer's market. But they couldn't get a permanent place to set up until last year when someone built a huge pavilion.

They are a very strict market. But they are the biggest market in our area. The vendors range from beef, chicken and bread to vegetables of all types. I've seen it grown from a couple trucks in the old Walmart plaza to a permanent market.

I started selling at the Vine Grove Farmer's Market last year. I'd just bought my flock of baby chickens so I didn't sell eggs. I  had a couple pounds of peppermint and spearmint that I sold out of the back of my PT Cruiser.

This year, I've got eggs and herbs. I'm not making any money, but sales are steady. (I blew three months earnings on 100 lbs of feed, 1 bag of shell and 1 bag of grit. This is not a big bucks operation.)

I'm talking it up, spreading the word. I take credit for getting Vickie and Dale to join us. They are pleased with their sales, I'm thrilled to have someone to talk to.

In all honesty, I think I will learn a lot from them. They've been at this a couple of years. They know all the local farmer's markets. I think they may spread the word around a bit, maybe get another farm to join the market. (I'd love to see the beef people join us.)

With more families moving in for the Human Resources Center on Fort Knox we need to spread the word.

This could be very interesting.