Monday, April 30, 2012

MY KINGDOM FOR AN ICE BREAKER

You can't tell unless you look closely, but the ice is so clear it's almost invisible. But it's there. No, it's not going away fast enough. Someone was so anxious to get out on the water yesterday, that they were spotted boating along the edge where the water's open. I'm not that brave. I'd get out there and the wind would come up and shift the ice. There's a lot of power behind its weight. I keep imagining me shoved to the beach, crushed under the ice folding on top of me.

I know. Silly.

I have other fears associated with the ice. Our first few winters here, in the early 90s, I often dreamed about a grandchild caught under the ice. I'd race after them, digging at the surface with my fingernails. The worst part was the look on their face when they realized I was losing the battle.

And then one evening we had neighbours over for dinner. When I confessed my fear to the woman, she suggested something very simple. She said that the next time I was stuck in this nightmare, I should lift the axe I was carrying and break through the ice and save my loved one.

I did. And I never had that nightmare again.

Here's everyone's guesses on when the ice will go:

    April 27 - Carrie Butler
    April 28 - Susanne Drazic, Amanda Borenstadt
    April 29 - Adriana Ryan
    May 1 - Laurel-Rain Snow
    May 3 - Susan H.
    May 5 - Suzanne de Montigny
    May 8 - Alina Niemi
    May 11 - Carol Garvin
    May 12 - Kittie Howard
    May 16 - Stacy Green

Carrie, Susanne, Amanda, and Adriana, honestly, nobody's more surprised than me that the ice hasn't melted yet. In 20 years, I think the latest was May 3rd. 

 The trees are sprouting!
By way of Careann's Musings blog, I stopped by for Catherine Knutsson's guest post on why she writes. Catherine's reasons for writing aren't my reasons, but they did make me stop to question why I choose to write. Because it is a choice, even though most of us feel controlled by the impulse.

So, why do I write?

I'm going to think about it and get back to you.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Breakup on Cluculz Lake, BC

Folks, I'm shocked to reveal that Cluculz Lake is still covered in ice. I was so sure it would be off by today. Goes to show what I know. The closest guess will win a copy of my suspense thriller Broken But Not Dead. I'll be sure and let you know when that happens. Here's a recap of April.

April 13

April 20

April 23

April 24

April 25, 6 am
April 25, late morning. 
    April 27 - Carrie Butler
    April 28 - Susanne Drazic, Amanda Borenstadt
    April 29 - Adriana Ryan
    May 1 - Laurel-Rain Snow
    May 3 - Susan H.
    May 5 - Suzanne de Montigny
    May 8 - Alina Niemi
    May 11 - Carol Garvin
    May 12 - Kittie Howard
    May 16 - Stacy Green

Friday, April 13, 2012

AGENT HAPPY, AGENT SAD

Not long ago, over four years now, I was in the thralls of a fear so incapacitating I couldn't see a way out. I was certain I'd never be published. My family and friends said it would happen. I even smiled confidently when asked if I believed that. But the fear had a strangle hold on my throat, and I knew to survive, I might have to admit to being the biggest fool ever.

I see other writers today feeling that fear. I hear it in their posts and emails. I've preached enough times on my blog that if you work hard, if you stayed committed, if you keep the faith, it WILL happen. But honestly, the true secret to success is to use the fear.

In my quest to find a topic to write about today, I mulled over some ideas while shredding files. That was when I came across some correspondence with an old agent. Yes, I've actually had three. The one I'm referring to was my second, and most respected and renowned agent. I can still recall the sheer moments of exhilaration working with her. Sorry I can't mention her name. Not that she'd care. She's probably retired now. But in her day, she was one of the very best New York could offer. And oh how I admired her.

She's been through her own battles to reach the top, and she knew her stuff. I knew it was up to me to knock her socks off. As I read my query letter again this morning, I was dumbfounded as to why she agreed to be my agent. I made every mistake possible in that query letter. By now you probably know what those mistakes are without me having to list them. I ended the letter with this statement: If my work doesn't move you as I hoped, of course, I'll understand. I'm just grateful for this opportunity. 

That was the summer of 2001.

Even I understood she needed time to come to terms with 911, yet by May 2002, she apologized for the delay and mentioned that she knew waiting was difficult. A few weeks later, she wrote a wonderful letter complimenting me on the many plot-twists in Dead Witness. She said that was no small feat for a writer to accomplish. Then she went on to suggest revisions, and promised once completed, they would make my manuscript even more riveting. She also requested a Bio and Writing History.

We corresponded a few times after that. She was always gracious and encouraging. I sent the Bio and Writing History; again she was gracious with her compliments. In September 2003, I mailed my Broken but not Dead manuscript. She acknowledged receipt of Broken and said she looked forward to reading it.

Two years had now passed since she agreed to represent me, but I was still thrilled.

One month into 2004, I emailed to see how things were going. She didn't respond. Six weeks later I emailed again. Nothing. I waited three more months. I felt like a stalker. One day I read an article in The Times about her and her famous new client. I was stung with envy. I gave my head a shake and asked myself what I was doing with an agent of her calibre. Yes, I sank to the depths of woe is me. One more unanswered email and, in July of 2004, I wrote the hardest letter I've ever had to write. I thanked her for all she done, and asked to be released. Within days she replied, said she understood, and wished me the best.

I won't even venture to guess how many times I've wondered if I made a horrendous mistake. Especially after she was so understanding. But like every other writer out there, I wanted my dream to come true now. I had a renowned agent and expected something wonderful to happen. When she failed to answer my emails, I felt rejected.

I'm not one to rehash the past, nor do I believe things happened randomly. Besides, I was raised to never cry over spilled milk. I learned a lot from my agent. I'm a better writer because of her. But I needed more than what she was willing to offer.

As you read other authors' journeys to publication, it's hard not to compare. Harder still not to wonder why their success seemed so easily obtainable, while yours feels like climbing Everest without a rope. The fear of never being published can be debilitating, if you let it. Or you can use that fear to push yourself past your comfort zone. I could have waited another four years for my agent to find Dead Witness a publisher. Or I could have spent those years as I did, learning my craft, the business, and finding out just what I was made of. It was my path, and I had a right to take it.

What's yours?


Now on a totally different note. It's breakup time again. Time to guess when the ice will come off Cluculz Lake. Somewhere between next week and the middle of May; I'm predicting. What do you think? Leave a guess in the comment section before April 20th, and if you guess correctly, I'll mail you a copy of my suspense thriller Broken but not Dead. 
 
Good Luck.  





April 18 - Susan Hornbach
April 23 - Kittie Howard
    April 27 - Carrie Butler
    April 28 - Susanne Drazic
    May 1 - Laurel-Rain Snow
    May 5 - Suzanne de Montigny
    May 8 - Alina Niemi
    May 11 - Carol Garvin
    May 12 - Kittie Howard
    May 16 - Stacy Green



Thursday, April 5, 2012

ASK PZM: April 2012, Timeline

Q: What does the new format for Facebook Pages mean for authors?


The new format for Pages (formerly fan pages) offers new opportunities for authors.

First, though, let’s talk about an author using a Page to connect with her or his fans:

On Facebook everyone starts off with a profile in his or her own name. (It is in violation of Facebook’s terms to use a book title or company name as your profile name.)

Once you have a profile, you may create as many Facebook Pages as you want. And this is where considering your marketing strategy is important.

Why have both a personal profile and an author Page?


Good question. And the answer will be different for different people.

Some people, for example, may only post on their profile personal info intended only for family and close friends. These authors would then want an author Page on which to share news about their books and writing projects.

Some authors, including me, share info about their books and writing on their Facebook profile. These authors want to take advantage of opportunities a Page has that a profile does not. (Yes, these opportunities change frequently, but there always continues to be more functions on a Page.)

Second, let me walk you through my own decision process as an example of what you might want to consider:

I started on Facebook soon after I self-published my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT in April of 2008. When I understood enough about Facebook to create a Page, I had one for book marketing, another for my online marketing company Miller Mosaic, and another for my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT.



Later I added more Pages for other projects, including a Page for my ebook technothriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS.

Which brings me up to now.

At the same time that Facebook Page formatting was about to drastically change, my newest ebook, HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE, became available at Amazon’s Kindle store.


I had already decided that I did not want a new stand-alone website for this ebook series as I had for both MRS. LIEUTENANT and MOLLIE SANDERS. Thus my business partner Yael K. Miller created a WordPress website in my name – www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com – as a central point for all my writing.

I decided this strategic approach was also what I wanted for my upcoming Facebook Page activities, and thus I needed a centralized Page for all my writing.

By the merging of the MRS. LIEUTENANT Page and the MOLLIE SANDERS Page into this new author Page, I had enough “likes” to immediately get a customized URL at www.facebook.com/username

Ironically, as I already had www.facebook.com/phylliszimblermiller for my profile I could not get this for my Page and instead got www.facebook.com/phylliszimblermillerauthor

Third, let’s look at two new opportunities:

First, on your Page’s “timeline” (replaces the “wall”) you can create milestones (similar to “life event” on Facebook profiles).

I decided that the earliest milestone on the Phyllis Zimbler Miller Page timeline would be the date in 1992 when the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION that I co-authored with Rabbi Karen L. Fox was published by Perigee, a division of Putnam.

Now I can fill in more milestones, including the date in 2008 when MRS. LIEUTENANT was self-published.

(For an example of a current milestone, see my announcement from March 29th that HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE is now on Kindle.)


Second, you can “pin” a Facebook update to the top of your Page timeline for seven days. (At this writing a profile does NOT have this option.) This is a great opportunity for any announcement you want to make about your book where the announcement does not merit a milestone.


For example, if you have a book signing a week from now, you might want to pin the book signing announcement at the top of Page. But you probably would not create a milestone entry for that signing.

Thus our updates to our Facebook Page now require strategic consideration. Is something worth being created as a milestone? Is an update worth pinning to the top of the Page? You get to decide.

Additional tip: Although I started on Google Plus when it was still in beta a few months ago, I know I am not yet using it effectively. I have just read Guy Kawasaki’s ebook “What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us” and I highly recommend it. Of course, I will probably have to read the book a couple more times to truly take in all the terrific advice. And then there is the implementation of his advice!


P.S. I am looking for people to read a review copy of my newest ebook, HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE, for a possible review on Amazon. Check out info about the ebook at www.HowToSucceedEbooks.com – and if you want a review copy, email me at pzmiller@millermosaicllc.com and let me know whether you want the mobi (Kindle), ePub (Nook, etc.) or pdf format.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and Pinterest) is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com, which is WBENC certified and also builds WordPress websites for clients. More information on her books and ebooks can be found at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com

 © 2012 Miller Mosaic, LLC

Visit Phyllis’ Google Plus profile.
Check out Phyllis’ books and other projects at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com





If you have a question you need Phyllis to answer, email me at cluculzwriter at yahoo dot ca, and I'll make sure she gets it. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

KEEPING THE FAITH, my 500th post!

Last month I had the honour of being the featured author of Wendy Laharnar CALAMITY'S CORNER, an ezine dedicated to sharing books, films places and leisure pursuits.


AUTHOR OF THE MONTH 
MARCH
JOYLENE NOWELL BUTLER

Her books are riveting. She’ll take you on a non-stop rollercoaster ride of suspense and intrigue.
__________________________
Joylene Nowell Butler draws on her Métis Heritage when spinning compelling novels about fascinating, yet seemingly grass- roots Canadians.

Her mother sparked Joylene’s love of writing when she gave her a diary at age 8. It wasn’t long until Joylene realized that writing made her feel alive.


Joylene’s Books:

Dead Witness – 
Amazon http://tiny.cc/vbza1
Kindle http://tiny.cc/czewl

Broken But Not Dead
Amazon http://tiny.cc/4p2lc

Visit Joylene at her website
http://joylenenowellbutler.com






KEEPING THE FAITH
by Joylene Nowell Butler




No one writes novels so they can torture themselves by collecting rejections. That would be silly. We write because it gives us great joy and because it’s who we are. It’s the one thing we love to do even though we agonize over every word.


While a few authors are lucky enough to receive a contract the first time out, the rest of us spend years learning our craft and dodging bullets from critiques. When the time is right, when we’re sure we can’t make our stories any better, we query agents and publishers because that’s step three in the process. If we’ve been around long enough, we’ve heard the rumours. We know the business is changing. We know publishers are finicky and searching for the next JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer or Stieg Larsson. But we persist because we could no sooner stop writing than we could give up breathing.

Or so we think.

What does happen exactly? Is it after opening rejection letter number twenty suddenly all that determination and confidence shatters? There’s a reckoning, and instantly you’re inconsolably and irrevocably certain you can’t do this any longer. No more queries. No more failure. No more writing.

Quit writing stories? If this question makes you panicky, then already you’re keeping the faith. If you are feeling like you should quit, don’t worry, the feeling will pass.

I tried once. Then one day I was making the bed and it occurred to me that the characters running around inside my head weren’t leaving until I wrote their story. I threw the pillowcases and duvet to the floor, made a beeline for my computer, and began work on my fifth manuscript Broken but not Dead. That was roughly twelve years after I started writing. Twelve more years passed before my first novel Dead Witness was published.

You meet authors online everyday who have similar stories to tell. You probably know gifted, prolific writers who have yet to be published. And if you’re not published yourself, you begin to wonder, if this talented writer can’t find a publisher, what are my chances?

How do you maintain your conviction after collecting a drawer full of rejections? How do you fill that empty void inside? How do you rid yourself of the negative inner voice yelling, I’m a failure.

How do I keep the faith?

When interviewers ask me that, I jokingly reply that I was too stubborn to quit. But the truth is, I couldn’t. Even when I had doubts, and I had plenty, I enjoyed writing too much. Even when it felt like I had quit, I was actually writing inside my head.

If you want to improve, if you can’t get your hands on enough books on the craft of writing, if you’re game for tough critiques that may send you on a pity-party for two days, then you have what it takes.

But, let me guess. You were hoping I had the secret formula? Actually, I do. Write it down where you can see it every day: You write because it’s a gift.

We’re luckier than most artists. We have samples of excellent writing at our fingertips. We can dissect books we admire and see for ourselves how they work. We’re privy to generous teachers who are willing to teach us everything they know. We’re not under a deadline. We can write, edit, revise, and rewrite to our heart’s content.

As writers, we belong to an elite group. We understand the driving force behind every writer. We’ve all experienced the crushing blow of rejection. We’re special because we can learn to create vivid, disturbing, enchanting stories about characters that feel real and that the reader will care about.

It takes work. It takes commitment. It takes days, weeks, years of sweat, heartache and gut wrenching determination. Don’t give up. That would be too easy. Know that if you don’t understand the origin of this desire to write, it’s okay. Just say, Thank you and keep writing.

Believe in yourself.

Believe in your ability, and learn everything you can about your craft. It may take awhile, but your dream will come true. Keep the faith. You have nothing to lose.







If you're interested in subscribing to Wendy's ezine, send her an email request at wlahar at bigpond doc com. Calamity's Corner is also chalk full of writing tips, news, marketing links, and pet of the month.