We had some kind of reading challenge in second grade, so I picked an easy reader from the library. One of those thin books with lots of pictures. I don’t even remember what it was. Clifford? The Berenstain Bears? Anyhoo, My teacher suggested that I put it back. She told me that I ought to pick something harder. I agreed, but didn’t know what to choose. So she steered me to a shelf of Nancy Drew mysteries instead.
Faced with a shelf of these inch-thick books, I picked out one that might hold my interest. The Moonstone Castle Mystery. Mostly I thought it might be about castles. I had a thing for reading fantasy, even then.
What I got instead was a book about a girl detective unlike anything that I saw on TV at the time. She had adventures on her own. She wasn’t some tag-along girl being tolerated by this band of boys (*cough*cough*Buck Rogers *cough*cough*) or the girl of the week with the problem she needed solved (I’m looking at you, The A-Team, Knight Rider and Magnum P.I.). She saved herself instead of wringing her hands off to the side while someone else rescued her. I could imagine myself in her place.
I was hooked, to the detriment of any future social standing at my little school. While to the rest of the world I became the bookworm, in my own little universe I became the girl detective/adventurer/hero of every book I picked up after that. And there were many, many books after that. Works by Tara K. Harper, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon to name just a few.
Eventually I started to write. First badly aped pastiches of the adventures I read. Then as I found my voice and gained confidence and skill as a writer, I gravitated back to mysteries (albeit with a strong fantasy element).
I suppose a little bit of me still wants to grow up to be Nancy Drew.
The website Arkansas Book Reviewer has a featured review of my new book Medieval Misfits: Renaissance Rejects. Today the website also has an interview that I conducted with the website manager Tammy Snyder, in which I talk about my influences and what i’m working on next.
The website is also sponsoring a giveaway of my book, so one reader could get their very own copy of Medieval Misfits: Renaissance Rejects for free.
The address for all this is http://arkansasbookreviewer.com/
I decided not to delete my Livejournal account. It’s not like I’m paying for it anyway, and apparently some people out there read it. Then again, I never got around to deleting my Myspace account either.
But that’s not what I want to write about today. Instead, file this under “things I really should have known all along,”. Or possibly “well, Duh!”
One of the many things my husband and I do in our little bit of extra time is that we are business mentors. Now I’m not about to slap on a badge that says “I’m the slayer, ask me how.” This isn’t about that. I bring it up because through doing that I learned that one of the things that most businesses have among their assets is a client list. I’ll digress a little bit, then come back to this notion.
About 4 years ago I attended a convention alongside Dave Wolverton/David Farland. He mentioned that the most important tool he used to market his books was his newsletter. In short, he’s developed a client list. (Told you I’d come back.)
I’ve known this abstractly, yet I’ve relied on Facebook and my blog to keep my fans and friends up to date on my publishing schedule. And lately, I’ve not always been thrilled with the results for several reasons:
1. Facebook picks who sees my news on my regular page, and my fan page. Although I have a number of “Likes” for the Facebook Tracy S. Morris page, whenever I post something, less than 1/16th of my fans ever see it. If you haven’t sacrificed an avocado under the last full moon, you might not know that Medieval Misfits: Renaissance Rejects launched last month, even if we are friends on Facebook.
2. Twitter: Am I doing it wrong? I feel like Twitter is the social media equivalent of being in a party where everyone is talking at once. The problem is, how can anyone hear you? It takes more than sacrificing an avocado for your news to get heard. This one might take a watermelon.
3. Blogging: at one point I was a dedicated blogger. Three times a week people could check back here and find new content. Then I had kids. These days, I try to actually write fiction in my limited computer time. So why should anyone check in with my blog on a regular basis when it just sits there . . .sitting there . . .
4. Newer platforms: I write ficiton, which typically isn’t picture intense. Newer platforms like Instagram and Tumblr seem to be visually oriented. I’m not quite sure how to approach them.
To that end, I’m going old school and starting a “let me know” list. (Technically, it’s a newsletter. In the same sense that my Christmas card is a newsletter. But I think of newsletters as being sent out monthly, with lots of all caps and multiple exclamation points. That’s not what I have in mind.)
Fans of my books and short stories who want to know when the next one is out can subscribe. I post only when I have news (which for me is once or twice a year. So not spammy). Facebook can’t decide for you that my news is not worthy of your time.
Friends who want to hear how the writing is going can also seek me out, so it’s not like I’m shouting into the crowded twitter aviary along with every other writer out there. And if my fans and friends decide that once or twice a year is more than they want to get an email from me they can opt out.
I’ve always had a notification sign up form on my page, and I’ve never done anything with it. I think it’s time to change that.
I plan to maintain my current activity level on twitter, Facebook and my blog (which mostly consists of posting cute pictures of my kids, and the occasional “this is a thing I wrote that is now a thing that is published.” But now I will also have the this option.
So if you want to know when the next Tranquility comes out, or if I have another Medieval Misfits or Celeste Ingram or Dennis and Betsy short story published, then subscribe to my not-a-newsletter (which will be devoid of cute-kid-pics, for those who are annoyed by that kind of thing). Whenever I have publishing news to share (usually once or twice a year) I’ll send you a note.
I hate spam (outside of my Bubbas of the Apocalypse stories) so I promise not to share this information with anyone else. I’m maintaining this list through MailChimp, so you can be sure that I’m handling it professionally.
Or, you know, just keep checking in on Facebook, etc.
A while back when Kickstarter got hacked, I changed all of my passwords. It wasn’t smart to have the same password on everything. Even if it was a random letter and number sequence that I made up in college.
The problem is that Livejournal has not allowed me to use the spiffy new password I generated just for it. My blog can crosspost from here fine. But every time I try to log in, I wind up locked out of LJ for hours. I’m wondering how useful even having a LJ is anymore, given that a lot of people seem to have migrated away in favor of Twitter or Tumblr.
I am usually pretty easy going, and I put up with a lot. But I feel like LJ is a broken tool these days.
I just had about the shortest MS rejection of my life! I sent a short story in to Unidentified Funny Objects. Within a few hours, it was sent back to me.
They liked it. Unfortunately, it’s similar to something Jim Hines is writing for them.
Oh well, if I’m going to get passed over, at least it was by someone really good. And I’ve already got the MS off to another publisher for consideration. So there is that.
A few years back I wrote paranormal articles (or weird stuff in the world that I think is neat) and reviews (which is why I love Joss Whedon, but could care less for his more rabid
internet ninja assassins fans) for Firefox News. At some point that I drifted away from doing that.
The other day, someone from across the country e-mailed me to ask me about an article that I wrote for Firefox news. Which caused me to go back and look at the website once more. It looks like that particular article is completely gone. Just the comments are left. (Although several of my other articles are still there. I have links to them in my Lagniappe section. )(FYI, Lagniappe means “a little something extra. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. I suspect the other half has something to do with superior ordinance.)
So since they let that particular piece of content go, I’m going to post it here in a few days. Just file it under “I couldn’t make this kind of thing up if I tried.” If I find something unique and weird enough to tickle my fancy, I may just continue the trend.
So Lynn Shepherd thinks JK Rowling should stop writing because she is taking all the readers from the rest of us.
I personally think that a rising tide raises all ships, and Rowling is the one who brought the wave machine. But for the sake of argument, I’ll take Shepherd’s position a step further.
I think that all writers everywhere should stop writing, because they are taking all the readers from me. Literary readers would enjoy more humor fantasy if they had no choice but to buy my books. Romance readers would buy significantly less romance and significantly more me.
Once this modest change happens, everyone will happier. But mostly me. I’ll be loads happier. And richer. And there will be ponies and cake. For me.
I’ve been a bit hidden away doing side projects for the past few days, so I haven’t had a chance to mention how ConDFW went.
This was the one convention I planned to do this year, due to my pregnancy. I’m really glad that I made that decision, now. 5 hours in a car, plus a lot of time either sitting in hard chairs or standing around isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
Regardless, my book sold out of all copies that my publisher brought, and I managed to spend a little time with almost everyone I know.
If I missed you at Con DFW, or you just want an autographed paper copy of the book, you can order it from Yard Dog press. Since I live fairly close to the publisher, I can autograph it before they ship it. (If you order from amazon, it ships from elsewhere).
And if I missed you, I hope to see you next year when I’m back to doing conventions again.
I have some writer friends (who shall remain nameless) who have had problems off and on for years with a creeper/fan. This person’s (let’s call him voldemort, again because he who will not be named) behavior crosses the line into stalking – partially because voldemort has the mistaken belief that if he could just make friends with a successful writer, he can use that friendship as a doorway to bigger name friends, and eventually to becoming the next Stephen King (or something).
I say that to say this: Writing is a business, and networking is a component of it. But the old shoe about the business being not what you know but who you know is completely false. If your writing chops aren’t there, who you know is completely irrelevant.
Over the years, I’ve has the chance to get to know a lot of wonderful people in the writing business. But this hasn’t translated to massive fame and fortune (nor should it). Why? Because my work isn’t on that level yet (emphasis on yet). Instead I have a lot of great friendships that have enriched my life.
One of my favorite memories is of sharing a room with an editor friend (and her slush readers) who rejected a short story years before we met. In the middle of the night (after sitting up and talking writing, and just as we were about to all fall asleep) I mentioned “you know you rejected my story, right?” After a long silence, she said: should I sleep with one eye open now? (Of course not).
The point is networking isn’t about “what can this person do for me.” It’s about making friends. If you approach everyone you meet like Wile E. Coyote after the roadrunner, you’re going to alienate everyone you meet.
Your friendship with a publishing gatekeeper might get your foot in the door, or it might get you past a slush pile. But that’s as far as it goes. If the work isn’t a good fit, it won’t sell on the strength of a friendship. And as a friend, your job is to be ok with that.
My new book is out! It’s available from Amazon in Kindle format right now, and should be available in paper format from both Amazon and Yard Dog Press after this weekend. If you like Terry Pratchett’s work, I think you would enjoy this collection of short stories. The exploding dragon story included in the book netted me an honorable mention from Writers of the Future, back when I could still send work into that contest.
I’ll be at Con DFW this weekend, and I should have copies of the book with me.
My schedule is as follows:
PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Friday, 4pm: Interstellar Archaeology: Part One – Initial Findings
Panelists: John DeLaughter (M), Linda Donahue, Taylor Anderson, Mary Gearhart-Gray, Michael Ashleigh
Finn, Tracy S. Morris
The first of two panels where we inflict discover startling artifacts of OBVIOUS alien origin and our
esteemed (and indeed, TRAINED) archeologists in turn tell us what the artifacts are. Light hearted fun,
and bring ear plugs! This year we will take a Star Wars theme. ROOOOOOAR!
PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Friday, 6pm: Crime Scene Investigation: Trends in Mystery
Panelists: Candace Havens, Patricia Burroughs (M), Selina Rosen, Tracy S. Morris, Paul Black
A common sight on the television these days are CSI-style shows and cop dramas. These aren’t a new
idea, however – the famous detectives in English literature – Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot are
examples of crime dramas. Our own expert sleuths talk about crime dramas and how to write for them.
MAIN PROGRAMMING (Addison Lecture Hall)
Friday, 9pm: Talking During the Movies
Panelists: Michael Ashleigh Finn, Kathy Turski, Selina Rosen, Tracy S. Morris and any others who speak
What evils are in store for us this year at the movies? Show up ready to find out, as we talk back to the
PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Saturday, 11am: Androids at the Dinner Table: Gadgets, Social Media and Society
Panelists: Julia S. Mandala (M), Rachel Acks, Selina Rosen, Tracy S. Morris, T. M. Hunter, Taylor Anderson
We see it more and more in this day and age: a group of friends at a restaurant, every one of them with
their smart phone open and texting away. The age of the Internet is not upon us, it passed by about
twenty years ago. What is acceptable in this day and age? Our panelists discuss this and other issues.
Note: If your cellphone rings during this panel, you will be mocked mercilessly, and then debated about
for a good twenty to thirty minutes.
READING (Trinity VIII) Saturday, 1pm: A. Lee Martinez, Kathy Turski, Tracy S. Morris
AUTOGRAPHS (Dealers Room)
Sunday, 12pm: Paul Black, Tracy S. Morris
PROGRAMMING 2 (Chinaberry)
Sunday, 3pm: Clichés in Paranormal Romance
Panelists: Paul Black, Julia S. Mandala, Tracy S. Morris, A. Lee Martinez
Have you ever groaned as you read yet another vampire love story? Have you ever given yourself a
concussion because of repeated forehead slaps while reading about werewolf vs vampires? Our
panelists talk about clichés and tropes in Paranormal Romance – and what to avoid.
There is also talk that we might be putting together a Yard Dog Press Traveling Roadshow, so I expect that I’ll be there for that.