Here's another funny one that I've seen posted in several places lately. I know it's not Friday, so technically is not a "Friday Funny" but I won't be posting tomorrow. I've got an event that is going to take up my entire day. The link takes you to the original posting.

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device
Trade named: BOOK

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an armchair by the fire -- yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc. Here's how it works:

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder, which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKs with more information simply use more pages.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

Unlike other display devices, BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, and it can even be dropped on the floor or stepped on without damage. However, it can become unusable if immersed in water for a significant period of time. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session -- even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of new titles soon.


What it's really like talking to an editor

I've seen this on about a dozen blogs over the past week. I think it's incredibly funny, but then I don't mind laughing at myself either.


Chip's Guide to Marketing Your Book

On the advice of Candace Salima (see comments on this post; thanks, Candace), I checked out Chip MacGregor's blog. Hadn't seen him before. Interesting guy. Has lots of good tips.

I read a few posts, and found this one talking about marketing. That's been a frequent question around here, so I suggest you go read it. I agree with pretty much everything, except the cost of review copies. In a small market like ours, with small print runs, most books cost more than $1.00 per copy. Other than that, I liked what he had to say--especially encouragement toward internet marketing.

[If the link to that post doesn't work, go here and look for the Sept 13, 2007 post titled "How to Market Your Book and Lose Lots of Money."


Recognizing Greatness--or Not

A couple of months ago, someone asked if I thought I would have recognized something with as much potential as Harry Potter, had it come across my desk as a submission. (Read post here.) Of course, I said I would...but it's not always clear cut.

I was browsing Nathan Bransford over the weekend and found his take on that. He said it better than I did. Go read it.

And while you're there, bookmark his blog or pick up his feed. He has great info and he's pretty funny too.


Pen Names

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a pen name?

A pen name has one purpose: to hide or screen your identity from your reader.

There are several legitimate reasons to do that, the most common one is when an established author wants to write in a new genre. I talk about that here.

Some authors just have an issue with using their real name--either they are afraid no one will like their book and they don't want to be embarassed later, or they are afraid they'll be the next J.K. Rowling and want to protect their privacy. Sometimes the subject matter of the book is such that they need to protect their identity (for example, if it's a memoir about something that's socially unacceptable, or where you could get sued if people knew you wrote the book). Or maybe they don't like their real name. Or maybe the publisher doesn't like their real name. Whatever.

The disadvantage is that your friends, neighbors, old boyfriends, the teacher who said you'd never write worth anything, will never know it's you when your book ends up on the NYT Best Seller list.

It might also create some issues if you're out there promoting your book and people recognize you, but usually only if you're already well known. For example, if Hilary (she's a first-name celebrity now, right?) used a pen name to write about politics. That could be a problem.

A similar problem is that some readers will feel cheated if they find out you're not using your real name. This is more of an issue with non-fiction where you're presenting yourself as an expert in the area you're writing about. They wonder if they can trust what you're saying.

If you want to use a pen name, talk to your agent/publisher about it. Discuss the pros and cons with them and then make a decision. Personally, I don't think it's a big deal either way, but I do like to see authors use their real names when possible because I think if they've gone to all the trouble to write a good book, they deserve all the credit and perks that come with that.



I've been told that for YA literature, most editors want it told in 1st person POV. The rationale is that 1st person is more intimate, and young readers can identify better with the main, or POV character.

I’m not sure I totally agree with that. I've been writing a YA novel in 3rd person, and I think it is very intimate, getting into the thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. of 4 different characters, all having their own stories (sub-plots) that tie into the main character’s story. I was told recently that I should re-write it in 1st person as most editors won’t accept one written in 3rd person. If I were to re-write it, I think it would lose a lot, as I would have to cut out all the sub-plots that give the main story so much richness.

Is there any truth to that rumor?
Two words: Harry Potter.

Added to original post:
Perhaps I need to give more than a two word answer. Harry Potter, the biggest selling children's/YA series in the history of the world, is written in third person.

First person works very well for YA books for the reasons you list but it's not the only way to write. Do what works best for your story.


Getting on My Links List--Take Two

I've recently received several requests from bloggers asking to be added to my "Writing Tips for LDS Authors" links list (scroll WAY down toward the bottom).

It would be impossible for me to keep a list of everyone, so I have to be discriminating. But where do I draw the line?

After several days of thinking about this, I decided to draw the line a little closer to the descriptive title of my list. To be on the list, your blog must be PRIMARILY (as in mostly, almost all, only deviating a little bit on occasion) on the topic of writing and publishing for LDS authors; not a slice of life with a few tips thrown in, nor one that details daily experiences as an author. So, even though there were several blogs on my list that I personally love and read often, they got deleted because they are not PRIMARILY writing and publishing tips and information.

To get on my links list, your blog also needs to be kept current and posted to on a regular basis--at least weekly (although you're allowed to take vacations, as I just did).

However, because I want to support all of you in supporting each other, I have added two other links below the "Writing Tips" list:

LDS Blogs--a very long list of LDS bloggers
LDS Blog Webring--a shorter list of LDS bloggers, but the only other one I know about

Any LDS blogger may apply to these two lists.

If there are other lists and/or webrings for LDS bloggers, please let me know and I will add them to my sidebar.


Sordid Pasts

This is a little embarrassing. Thank you for letting us be anonymous. I have previously published some stories where the main characters' behaviors are--uh--not quite up to LDS standards. It was a long time ago and I sort of regret it now, but what's done is done. I haven't written anything in several years, but I now have an LDS story that I'd like to submit to an LDS publisher. Will my sordid past come back to haunt me?
Hmmm. That's a question I can't answer without more details, so all I can give you is a "Maybe; maybe not. "

It depends on several factors:
  • How sordid was your past? Or rather, your stories?

  • How widely read were your stories?

  • Did you publish under a pen name?

  • How likely are LDS readers to recognize you?

  • What is your current story? Is it squeaky clean or edgy?

There are some publishers who most likely would not have a big problem with that. There are others who would not even look at your new manuscript if your previous ones were in the realm of erotica or graphic violence. For most, however, I think it would largely depend on the quality and content of your new manuscript.

At some point in the submission process, BEFORE YOU SIGN A CONTRACT, you're going to have to let your potential publisher know about previous publications. If your books were truly sordid, your publisher is going to need to have a plan in place to counter any possible repercussions--this could be anything from using a pen name to referencing a conversion in your bio.

I recommend dealing with it right up front in your initial query by listing your previously published titles. Then make sure that query and/or synopsis shines so brightly that they'll have to read your manuscript.


Whitney Awards List

I received lots of titles and have updated the list in the sidebar. If you sent me a title and it's not on the list, it's because:
  1. I couldn't find a working link to it

  2. The link you sent had info that indicated it was not published in 2007

  3. It was an e-book (which I don't think are eligible) My mistake. E-books are eligible, as are self-published books.
Please make my life easier:
When you send a link, please be sure that it is correct. Do not add spaces in the URL, even if it's really long.

By providing this list, I am in no way endorsing the quality or content of the titles on the list. This is for your information only. Read the books at your own risk.

I do know how to alphabetize:
For the one person who thinks I don't know how to alphabetize book titles correctly, I know that the "A" and the "The" at the front of the titles don't count. But you know, I have a real job and a real life which do not include alphabetizing the Whitney Award book list. Nor does it include categorizing them by genre or publisher--although you are welcome to do that yourself and put a link to your list in the comments of any of these posts. But back to alpahbetizing, I use Blogger's Links List widget; I click "Alphabetize List" and it does the rest. (This is also why I must have a working link for each title. The Links List widget doesn't let me list a title unless it has a link.)

Isn't this amazing:
I knew LDS fiction was growing in leaps and bounds, but I had no idea. This list is certainly impressive, isn't it? And we still have several months left in the year. Please, keep the new titles coming.


Marketing Plan for Writers

Could you tell me what's included in a marketing plan? Is there a particular format? How can I learn how to put together an effective marketing plan? When is the best time to present it to the publisher?

Thanks. (PS Cedar Fort will publish my YA LDS novel in spring 2008--woo hoo!)

I've received marketing plans in all sorts of formats--from highly detailed and complex business proposals (overkill) to a simple numbered list. I don't have a preference--as long as I can understand the concepts and it doesn't take longer to read than your manuscript. (You're a writer; write clearly.)

Some publishers may have instructions on their websites.

Here are a few quick link for ideas. I am not endorsing these sites or the products offered on them, and I'm not sure how helpful each one actually is. I did a quick google on "marketing plans for writers" and skimmed the first few. I'm sure there are others that I've missed but this will give you a place to start. If readers know of some good sites or other sources, please post them in the comments section.




(P.S. Good for you! Feel free to identify yourself in the comments section,)


Books Eligible for the Whitney Awards

As I've said before, I think the Whitney Awards idea is wonderful.

I've been meaning to make a list of eligible books but haven't found the time. Stephanie, over on Write Bravely, has started a list and generously agreed to let me post her list here. I've posted it in the sidebar using the links she set up on her blog. If your book is on this list and you'd rather have it linked somewhere else, send me an e-mail with your preferred link.

If you have a book (or know of a book) that is eligible for these awards but is not on the list, send me an e-mail with the title, author's name and preferred link.

Everyone else, check the list for books that you have read and like, then nominate them for an award.

UPDATED (9/10/07):
  1. This needs to be a self-policing list. I don' t have time to make sure everyone who requests to be added to this list is actually eligible. It's up to you to check the eligibility requirements to make sure you meet them. If a book appears on this list that is not eligible, someone please let me know.

  2. I don't care where the link to the books go--publisher website, author website, deseretbook.com, amazon.com. It is up to the person submitting the title to provide the link. I will change the link upon request by the a) author, or b) publisher.


Why Should I Care?

I've read several manuscripts lately that have pretty good writing, a good plot, no major mistakes or problems, they've even been submitted perfectly.

So what's the problem?

I just don't care.

When you look at fiction, you basically have two types--plot driven and character driven. You need both to make a good book. What I'm seeing a lot of lately are decent plots without the character development needed to make me care. It's really sad when the main character is about to be eaten by a shark and you find yourself mid-yawn.

Look at your characters. If you didn't know them so well, would you like them? Would you care about them? Will others care about them? If you're not sure, the best thing you can do is find some ruthless readers who don't know you personally. People who know you well will color what they're reading with your personality, they'll "get" your jokes, they'll "hear" your voice. People who don't know you rely on written cues to assess your character's personality and traits. If complete strangers care about your characters, you're probably okay. If they don't, do some rewriting before submitting.


Watch Out for Libel

Are you aware of any guidelines or rules of thumb for including actual people/places/events in works of fiction? I know this is commonly done in historical fiction, but what about works set in the present or recent past?

If there are no guidelines, what are your own thoughts on this practice?

Places and events aren't too much of a problem, it's people that can get you into trouble. The main thing you need to worry about is libel. If the person is still alive and they feel that what you've said about them has damaged their reputation, they can sue for libel. Public figures, celebrities, politicians, etc. are generally safe to write about, unless they can prove malice on your part. You can read more about it here and here.

Where you really get into trouble is if you fictionalize characters that you know on a personal basis (like neighbors or family members), and they are recognizable to themselves and to other readers, and they don't like it, they can sue. Or possibly never speak to you again. This can be a problem in memoirs, where an author's story is tied up with the stories of the people in their lives. It's a fine line and has to be handled carefully.

If you're going to include a historical person in your fictional piece, you should do enough research that you can portray that person accurately and fairly.

I guess my bottom line is, I wouldn't want someone writing about me without my permission and approval of the text, so I extend that courtesy to others. If it's a quick reference to a public figure like, "Debra had a crush on George Clooney..." or even Debra having a brief conversation with George, I'd be fine with it. But if Debra was having an ongoing relationship with George, that I wouldn't do without George's signed and notarized release form in my files.