Friday, September 28, 2007

Shelf Spots and New Authors

I was wondering if any other unpubbed writer, when in the bookstore, finds the spot on the shelf where your books will be one day? (or am I the only crazy one?)

As readers, do you think it's better for a book to be surrounded by big name authors in the same subgenre, or is it better to share shelf space with books not in the same subgenre?

Either way has advantages and disadvantages.

For example, when someone is searching for "Mrs Big Name's" newest book, if a new author's book is next to her on the shelf, there is a chance the reader will notice it. Or, they might only see MBN's book, and with a limited budget, will buy the author they already know.

On the other hand, floating off alone in a sea of another subgenres means the new author's spine might really stand out from those books around it. But, at the same time, readers who aren't looking for her and have never found a book in the subgenre they read on that shelf might not look there.

Kind of six one way a half dozen the other, I guess. So how do you find new authors? Do you search the shelves, or do you rely on hearing about the author first? Do you think shelf placement matters?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Projects

I've been silent for a little while. Sometimes the days just slip away.

In the interim, my computer has come home and I finished the major rewrite I've been working on. My wonderful agent really put a fire under me to finish that last one. I'd told her it was almost ready, and as she'd seen an earlier draft of the MS and happened to be on the phone with an editor who asked "What else do you have", she pitched the story. I didn't get a chance to agonize over the last few chapters, (because that is what I've been doing, agonizing over every last word--not so productive. lol) or send the chapters to my CP. So, currently I'm not opening the file because I really don't want to see if there are things I missed. It's gone, and probably on the editors desk by now. Who knows how long it will be there, so its best for my nerves to forget about it.

Now it's time to sit back and wait.

And by wait I mean start a new project. Over the last couple days, I've been world-building and learning about some new characters that have been puttering around the back of my head. Once I've got an idea of who everyone is and a solid picture of the world, I'll pull the sticky notes from my last story off the wall and start working out plot. I have a couple of ideas already, so I can't wait to get into this! It will also be great to be writing fresh material again--its been a couple months.

What is everyone else working on?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

My contest experience

At a workshop I attended last month, it was suggested that all writers should judge contests because seeing other writer's mistakes can help you avoid them.

"Oh," I thought, "that's not a bad idea."

The very next day a call for judges came across one of the loops I'm on, so I signed up and shortly received a handful of entries and a two paragraph instruction guide on how to judge them. No problem, right?

I started reading through the pages, some of the stories were great (and one I expect to see in print soon) some, not so great. I added my comments in yellow, trying to be nice but helpful, but then I finished and I had to assign a score.

Oh no. Now this was a problem.

I have no trouble being blunt and telling someone that their list of emotions is telling, not showing, but giving them a number on it--that's beyond me.

I've been struggling with the whole number thing all month. When 5 means ready to publish and 1 means major revisions suggested, what should I award this head-hopping entry for the 'POV handled appropriately' section? *sigh*

The entries are due back soon, and I'm happy to say, I think I judged very fairly and thoughtfully. But, as helpful as seeing other's mistakes and successes may be, I doubt I'll volunteer to judge again anytime soon. I think judging touches the same defunct part of my psyche that made me drop out of the fencing club.
(Some longtime readers may recall the story about when I joined the fencing club in college. I'd always thought fencing was really cool, and I enjoyed the first few weeks of practice. Then they decided we were ready to pair up and begin sparring, and I quickly learned that not only did I NOT want to hit my opponent, but it hurt my feelings when they hit me. So, that was the end of my fencing experience.)

Do you have a contest experience, either as a judge or an entrant? Does anyone else have difficulties relating numbers to writing?

Computer Update: My laptop is still in the far off land of 'fix-it' (at least I hope it's there and not the closet of 'get-to-it-later') but despite it's absence, I'm getting things done.