roh morgon

~Weekly e-Watch Wrap-up: 20 May 2011

Enough news has already accumulated in my files this week to warrant a special Friday edition of e-Watch. Without further ado, here’s the Weekly e-Watch Wrap-up:

The Battleground Expands

Fast Times at Publishing High

Sink or Swim: It’s All About Survival

More Publishing News

The Last Word

Why you won’t succeed in self-pubbing by Joe Konrath
 

 That’s it for today, folks!  Have a good weekend!

roh morgon @ Friday, 20 May 2011 3:52 pm
Comments (0)

~biases in publishing

The opportunity to express oneself in print is one of the founding tenets of this country. It’s called “Freedom of Speech.”

Yet the biases out there in the publishing world could lead one to think that those controlling the printed word believe differently.

Now, before you think I’m about to go off on some political/gender/racial tangent, what I’m talking about is nothing that you’ll read in the headlines.

In fact, some of you may even laugh! And that’s okay, because there are definitely humorous aspects to the subject of my rant.

And what is the subject? Who are the victims of this publishing bias?

Why, none other than some of our oldest and darkest villians:

Vampires.

And those who write about them.

What!? Is she serious? Come on. We’ve got Twilight and its sequels, we’ve got True Blood, The Vampire Diaries – the list of vampire series in the most popular medium, that of television, seems to be one bloody show after another, and the shelves in the bookstores nearly drip red.

But I am serious. Very serious. Just try pitching something about vampires that you’ve written.

Agents. Publishers. Periodicals.

They all say the same thing in their submission guidelines.

“We love paranormal/supernatural, but don’t send us anything about vampires (or werewolves).” Some of them will include the caveat “unless it is really new and fresh” – but come on. Really now?

How new and fresh is a story of a mousy/shy/outsider girl in high school and the hot guy/Mr. Popular/top jock? I mean, girl meets boy, things get complicated, girl and boy end up together. How frickin’ new and fresh is that?

Or what about the story of someone whose friends/family/life are/is in danger from someone else who wants to expose/ruin/kill them? Or the story of one or more someones who are on a mission/lost/kidnapped that wind up in a foreign culture/land and have to fight bad guys to achieve their goal/get back home?

Get my drift? Not only do popular stories boil down to recurring themes, they are printed and sold by the millions. Why?

Because people love them. People need to step outside their own lives, even if it’s only a paragraph at a time. And they like to step into something a little familiar, and will read the same type of stories over and over. Sometimes they’ll venture from their standard reading fare and try something new, but they usually go back.

And that is just as true for readers of vampire, werewolf, and other paranormal tales. These are readers who need to move a little further away from reality than the average Joe or Joann Blow. They like the edge – a little fear, a little violence, a little blood – encased in a strong dose of the unknown or the supernatural. And for them, all those common themes, like the ones I mentioned above, take on an eerie glow when populated by the paranormal.

The other interesting fact about readers of the supernatural, ESPECIALLY vampire stories, is that they number in the millions. And millions. Worldwide. Just look at the fanbases, old and new, of classics like Dracula, or series like Ann Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire) and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.

Millions.

And what do they want when they’ve read the entire Vampire: The Masquerade  series (based on the popular role-playing game) or devoured Twilight and its sequels dozens of times?

More vampires!

Vampire popularity in this country (and many others) ebbs and flows like the tides, but it never ebbs much. Hit movies appear every 4-6 years in an unending cycle of fangs and blood.

You think the current craze for vampires will burn out? That people will tire of these mysterious, fanged beings once the Twilight movies are all done and True Blood/The Vampire Diaries are cancelled and relegated to rerun hell?

Think again. Vampires do not die natural deaths. They are eternal, which is one of the sources of our fascination with them.

The next hot property on the horizon for vampire filmdom?

Dark Shadows, a feature film based on the wildly-popular gothic soap opera that ran from 1966 to 1971.

And if you haven’t heard, you’ll never guess who is not only producing this project (he’s a huge fan of the series), but is also starring as Barnabas Collins, the resident vampire.

Johnny Depp.

And if you think Depp and this movie won’t infuse vampire popularity with new blood, you’ve been in the tomb too long.

Get ready for the next vampire wave.

Dark Shadows is scheduled to begin filming in April 2011, with a projected release date of sometime in 2012.

Agents? Publishers? I doubt any of you will read this blog, but if you were smart, you’d start looking at vampire tales again.

The craving for blood never ends, and neither will demand for stories of those who must drink it.

roh morgon @ Friday, 10 December 2010 10:55 am
Comments (8)

~Nathan Bransford, Central Coast Writers Conference & Book Festival – part II

So, where was I?

Oh, yeah. On a rant about an experience I had at the Central Coast Writers Conference in San Luis Obispo (see part I).

But that’s not what this report is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about the conference workshops, the cool industry people that were there, the awesome attendees, and the friendships that were formed.

So I almost deleted my previous post, since folk are likely more interested in the conference itself and not my own personal experience of it.

But then I thought about those people who’ve never been to a writers conference and have no idea what to expect. People similar to me. I attended my first one a year ago – this very conference, in fact.

People who might be unprepared for how vulnerable they’ll feel about their writing, how sensitive they’ll be to criticism – no matter how gently it’s given – when it’s delivered in person and face-to-face.

Those dashed hopes, the fear that our writing isn’t good enough, is a part of every conference.

And so is this part:

The part where a professional compliments you, or gives you encouragement, one-on-one, with a smile and a reassuring pat on the back.

Nathan Bransford did that for me. I spoke with him at lunch about my concerns with my novel written in present tense. He smiled and shook his head, then gave me this bit of uplifting advice:

He told me it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether it’s first person or third, whether it’s past tense or present. What matters is the story. What matters is the voice. That’s all. Tell the story and tell it well.

Even though I’ve read this on his blog, expressed in many different ways, I was still surprised by the rush of relief upon hearing his words. I smiled and nodded, and glowing, thanked him and left him to finish his lunch in peace.

So that’s my experience at the conference from a personal perspective.

The rest of the story?

There were some great workshops. Those on writing covered poetry, short stories, mystery, travel, nonfiction, children and young adult. There were a few on getting published as well.

One that I attended was called Poetry: The Heart of the Story and the Story of the Heart. It was  taught by Kevin Clark, a poetry and literature professor at Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. It was a wonderful examination on how to weave words that evoke thought and emotion, something that’s important for any storyteller, whether they write poetry or prose.

Another was Writing for Young Readers: Deep Stories in Small Words, given by Kathleen Duey. We ended up discussing MG and YA as well as children’s stories, and she offered advice based on her experiences as a writer of all three. Kathleen has the coolest website, too. This was a great workshop.

But my favorite of the weekend was given by Nathan Bransford. He is the most positive and upbeat guy, one who smiles and laughs – a lot. His workshop was called Getting Published: Let’s Play Query Mad Lib, and it was quite a hoot. He gave us his basic formula for a successful query letter, then divided us up into groups of 8-10. Our task: Write him a winning query – humor encouraged.

The results of this were hilarious. My group chose ‘historical sci-fi’ as the genre of the novel, with a hero named ‘Caesar Lightyear’ whose goal was to recover the Mayan calendar and save the world from the evil Brutus. It was ridiculous.

There were a number of silly queries with ludicrous plots and over-the-top heroes. The winning entry was a vampire story! Cracked me up (since that’s what I write!). Who says vampires are dead?!

One of the best things about a conference is meeting folk that are passionate about writing – on both sides of the publishing fence. I ran into a couple writers I’d met last year, and made the acquaintance of a few more. One of these was Anne Allen (hi Anne!) who told me that I’m on the right track to getting published by blogging and going to conferences. You can read her take on the conference here.

So overall, it was a great conference, and its moments of downs were vastly outnumbered by the ups. The only other thing I can say is…

Go to writers conferences, get a taste of the real world. Put them in your budget and at the top of your to-do list.  Think of it as an investment in your writing career – the payoff can be well-worth the expense.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 9 October 2010 2:21 pm
Comments (6)

~tomorrow’s blogfest and upcoming writers’ conference!

OMG – it’s almost here!

I have been so slammed lately with real-world stuff that almost everything relating to writing (including this blog) has been rudely shoved into a gloomy corner.

And that’s how I feel when I can’t make the time to write or blog – GLOOMY! And pissy, cranky, crabby – you name it. I love to write and really enjoy blogging. Not being able to do either takes some of the purpose out of my days…

BUT – tomorrow is the BACK-TO-SCHOOL BLOGFEST!!!

I’m so excited – and I’m thrilled at the number of participants who’ve signed up! I can’t wait to read everyone’s entries. It’s a good thing I stretched the ‘fest over four days, because I want to read each and every story.

The other thing I’m excited about is that I’m attending the Central Coast Writers Conference this weekend, and guess who the keynote speaker is!

Nathan Bransford! Uber-agent for Curtis Brown, Ltd!

Nathan has the coolest blog full of great advice for writers – I encourage you to check it out if you’re not a regular reader.

He’s also presenting one workshop session called: Getting Published: Let’s Play Query Letter Mad Lib – and I was lucky enough to get a seat in this! The timing couldn’t be more perfect for me. I am beyond excited…

Hope to run into some other West Coast writers from the blogosphere while at the conference. I’ll give a full report when I get back.

Off to do my homework for school tomorrow…

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 14 September 2010 5:23 am
Comments (3)

~OMG! WATCHER TIED FOR 3RD PLACE!!

Yeah! You read that right!

But you might be asking, “Uh, third place in what?”

Miss Snark’s First Victim August Secret Agent Contest, that’s what!

The ’secret agent’ was revealed earlier this morning: Cameron McClure, of the Donald Maass Literary Agency!

I’m stunned – she is at the top of my intended submission list! I had actually planned to start querying by the end of the month.

Entrants for the contest were to submit the first 250 words of a completed novel. Submission windows were limited in both time and number of entries. A total of forty-four entries were submitted.

There were a number of great ones. I’m hoping the other winners will announce soon who they were – I’d love to visit their sites to see more of their writing!

In the meantime, I’m off to do my happy dance!

roh morgon @ Monday, 23 August 2010 12:17 pm
Comments (10)

~what are agents really looking for?

Check out this post by Veronica Roth over at GotYA on agent responses to queries at the Backspace Writers Conference.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 2 June 2010 11:41 am
Comments (1)

The San Francisco Writers Conference

I recently attended the San Francisco Writers Conference (http://www.sfwriters.org) held February 12 – 14. Let me say just one word about this conference – AMAZING!

Well, actually  I have a few more words than that to describe this fantastic gathering of editors, agents, writers and other folks within the publishing community. A lot more.

Let me start with saying I met some fascinating and talented people during the course of the conference. The variety of interests, backgrounds, and works of these professionals is astounding to this newcomer. It was like stepping into a bookstore – even though some had similar titles or maybe even similar areas of focus, each one was unique and full of surprises.

People are like books. They are walking stories filled with the scenes and chapters that make up their lives. Some fit in specific genres, others are crossovers, or slipstream, or whatever you may want to call it. And you never know what’s inside until you crack open the cover.

One person I met was a former military pilot. That’s all they said about their time in the military. But as conversations developed with this person, I started listening to the variety of places they’d been in, and realized this was no ordinary pilot. Moreover, it wasn’t what they said, but what they didn’t say, that made me realize the special ops background of this person. Talk about a rich palette of landscapes and experiences to draw from! But I also understood that it wasn’t all fun and adventure. You don’t walk away from that business without haunting memories of loss and regret. I felt fortunate to have met this person and wish them all the best (out of respect for them, I’ve used the genderless ‘they’ intentionally).

And that is really what the primary purpose of this conference is – to meet people, to network, to make connections. Agents and publishers come to these conferences to see old friends and find new talent. You are given opportunities to ask questions, have your writing reviewed, and even submit your work to professionals who normally don’t accept unsolicited material.

The seminars and workshops that take place throughout the day are filled with information on both the technical aspects of writing and how to navigate the rough waters of getting published. I gained insights from every one that I attended and regretted missing many of the others.

The conference schedule was quite impressive. There were five to six workshops every hour, along with other activities, beginning at 9:00am and ending at 7:00pm (or later). Many of the presenters only speak at one or two conferences per year, but this particular one seems to be favorite.

The Larson-Pomada Literary Agency ( http://www.larsen-pomada.com/lp/index.cfm ), is California’s oldest, and is the primary sponsor and host of the SF Writers Conference. Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada put San Francisco on the publishing map when they moved from New York and established their agency over 40 years ago. Thanks to their efforts, San Francisco is the second largest publishing center in the country (New York is the first for those who are new to the biz).

So if you truly want to get published, then you need to make a point of attending writers’ conferences. They are held throughout the year and I strongly encourage you to invest in your writing career and attend one or more. Who knows – you may meet the person who can open the door that will allow you to see your book sitting on a shelf in your local bookstore.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 24 February 2010 6:19 am
Comments (1)

new home

Wow! A new home!

I think I can stretch my wings and do a little writing here.

But before I begin, I want to give a BIG THANK YOU to CHRIS of the Fresno SciFi & Fantasy Writers for setting this up for me. His countless hours helping me build an online presence are greatly appreciated.

Chris, you are definitely The Man. <bows down>

This format, besides looking pretty cool, will allow me to update my blog on a more regular basis.  Hopefully I can find a way to archive my older posts from my first and rather limited blog ( I did – check the archives).

But for now, I have a little rewriting to do in preparation for a 6-hr workshop with DONALD MAASS, accomplished author AND literary agent. I’m sooo excited…

roh morgon @ Saturday, 6 February 2010 11:05 am
Comments (5)