Great Stuff for Writers, February 28 & March 1, 2013

Okay… deep breath and here we go. Click the Publish button aaaaand…

Welcome to the renamed and relocated Great Stuff for Writers! I hope you like the new web site and the new-ish layout. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the content: I’m still surfing the blogosphere for important and valuable information for you, my fellow writers.

If you were subscribed to the old Great Stuff from the Cochise Writers blog, I’m afraid you’ll have to resubscribe, but the links are over on the right in the sidebar. You can (re)subscribe by RSS or e-mail, or both! Of course, you can also bookmark the site or mark it as a favorite too.

This new web site is still a work in progress, so if you have any problems with it, PLEASE tell me about them. In the near future I’ll be adding a sign-up for a monthly newsletter. Farther down the line will be podcasts and videos and other goodies, including where to buy my books and short stories as they become available.

But this blog will continue to be about the Great Stuff out there that can help you be a better and more productive writer. So without further ado, let’s get to it, shall we?

CRAFT

This idea won’t be for everyone, but Michelle Gagnon (@Michelle_Gagnon) has a Writer’s Block Rx: team plotting. Seems she’s discovered a podcast called The Downey Files in which TV writer/producer Chris Downey and a guest take half-baked (his term) pitches and movie ideas and flesh them out—while being recorded! Okay, maybe you’d want to skip the “being recorded” part, but maybe having another—independent—set of brain cells working on a plot problem with you might just turn on one of those 25W light bulbs that sometimes float above your head. Or not. Worth a try? Could be.

Neal Whitman (@literalminded) guest posts today on “Only”: The Most Insidious Misplaced Modifier, on Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl blog. The key to the post is Whitman’s advice to place “only” closest to the word or phrase it modifies in order to ensure that its meaning is clear. This is one of those tricky little things that can trip a writer up because placing this adverb in the wrong place can change the meaning of a sentence entirely.

BUSINESS

Gift cards for ebooks? Seems like a good idea but after reading Dean Wesley Smith’s (@DeanWesleySmith) Book Gift Cards Are Coming… Might be a Scam!!! (exclamation points his), and the comments below the brief post, it looks like this is something that needs what doctors call “watchful waiting.” In other words, don’t act on this yet, even if you like the idea. There are some as-yet unresolved questions that need better answers. Wait for the dust to settle.

Here’s a case of synchronicity—of the not-good-but-important kind. First comes Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s (@kriswrites) weekly Business Rusch post, The Death of Publishing. Now, to be honest, I didn’t read the whole thing. Kris’s posts tend to be multi-thousand word beasts that I just don’t have the time to wade all the way through, and this is one of them. BUT, the part that I did read can be summarized this way: more and more, traditional publishers are coming up with contracts that suck for authors. Good business for them, bad for authors. Unfortunately (this is the synchronicity part), just a few items up the Google Reader queue was Victoria Strauss’s (@victoriastrauss) Second-Class Contracts? Deal Terms at Random House’s Hydra Imprint, which reveals some of these very kind of bad-for-authors terms. A “life-of-copyright” contract? Seriously? Deductions from royalties for the company’s set-up expenses (for ebooks)? Ugh.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) answers half a dozen questions at some length in an interview on All The Write Stuff. Topics include dealing with the changes in the publishing industry, social (media) skills, dealing with fame, and finding support, among others.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Okay, so there is a serious side to Sonia Simone’s (@soniasimone) Copy this “Oscar-Ready” Approach to Boost Your Social Media Star Power post on Copyblogger. (I’ll give it away: be yourself.) (Unless, I suppose, you’re naturally a jerk and you know it; then don’t.) But anyway… the Q&A with Best Actress Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, while illustrating the point, also makes me glad I’m not a Hollywood reporter. A little schadenfreude? Yeah, well… sorry. Watch the video and decide for yourself.

TECHNOLOGY

“Metadata.” Does the term make your eyes glaze over? Yeah, me too. I’m fairly tech-savvy but this is a concept that is still trying to fit into my noodle sideways. OW! The good folks over at Copyblogger and ProBlooger have published plenty of articles on the concept but they’ve been to techie for me. Now Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn) gives it a shot with The Importance of Keywords for MetaData and the Discoverability of Your Book. Okay, keywords are only a part of the larger metadata concept, but Joanna does a good job explaining what keywords (which can also be phrases) are, how to pick good ones, and how they can improve your sales. If you’re still trying to get a handle on all this stuff, give this post a look.

THE WRITING LIFE

Rejection is part of the writing life. Anyone who’s been writing and submitting for any length of time knows that. Robert Bruce (@robertbruce76) of 101 Books reaffirms that reality, and urges each of us to draw strength and the right lessons from it, in On Rejection As A Writer. He even goes so far as to say that if he formed a writer’s club, he wouldn’t let you join until you’d gotten a rejection letter! Good news: I’d be in!

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