Saturday, September 30, 2006

Now Here's a Good Use of Frequent Flyer Miles!

What amazes me is that VG let him stockpile so many! I wonder what special fees are involved? Mostly, though, I'm just envious.

Rob's already announced if we ever have $200,000 to spare, he wants to go. (Fat chance, but I wish I could give it to him.)

London man uses air miles for space trip

LONDON, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A London man has become the first person to exchange his frequent flier miles for a trip into space with Virgin Galactic.

Electrician Alan Watts said he flew to and from the United States on Virgin Atlantic flights more than 40 times in the past six years, earning him enough miles to take the trip into space with Virgin's space wing, London's The Sun newspaper reported Friday. The trip cost 2 million frequent flier miles, compared to the 90,000 miles required for a first-class flight from London to New York.

Watts said his daughter convinced him to sign up for the trip, scheduled for 2009.

"My daughter said to me 'if nothing else think about the view you would get out of the window,'" he told The Sun.

"I'm glad I decided to do it -- I would be kicking myself if I didn't. It really is a once in a lifetime experience. The more I think about it the more I get excited."

Virgin Galactic, which expects to begin flights in 2008, has been building five spaceships and two aircraft for its planned voyages, which will last 2 1/2 hours and include five minutes in zero gravity. Tickets cost nearly $200,000 each.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

WRITING: Faith in Fiction Workshop

On October 11, I'll be giving (with three friends who are talented authors) a workshop on Faith in Fiction at the Muse Online Writers' Conference.

The whole concept of an online conference is truly cool. In this way, we're not bound by money or space or even physical ability. If you write and have a computer and Internet access, you're a go for the conference! In addition to live chat workshops, many of the folks giving workshops are providing their e-mail addresses to answer questions for those who can't make a 12:30 AM (their time zone) chat.

Even better, the conference is FREE!

The conference looks terrific! There are workshops on poetry, ghost writing, publishing, journaling, improving your writing and improving your marketing. There are authors, editors, publishers and instructors to meet. There's lots of free stuff, including an e-book interview of Piers Anthony!

The conference runs Oct 9-13. The registration ends Oct 1, so go sign up now. Hope to e-see you there!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Announcing "my" new book

Finally, it's out! Yay! The e-book comes out Sept 25. If you don't like reading off the computer, wait a few months and it'll be out in print!

Please pass the word to your friends!

Hey--is that religion in my science fiction or science fiction in my religion? The writers of the Catholic SF anthology Infinite Space, Infinite God (available at Twilight Times Books) have so seamlessly combined the two that it's hard to tell.

Infinite Space, Infinite God is an anthology of fifteen stories about the future Catholic Church: its struggles to evangelize aliens and lost human colonies and to determine the soul-status for genetically modified humans, genetically-designed chimeras, and clones made from the Martian sand; the adventures of religious orders devoted to protecting interstellar travelers or inner-city priests; and how technical advances allow monks to live in solitude on the Moon and help one criminal learn the true meaning of Confession.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

NaNoWriMo and writing descriptions

(Got lots to do with a confernce and ISIG coming up, so it's nice to have friends with great advice...)

This is courtesy of my friend and writer Erik Van Asch, answering another person's question about worldbuilding and when to end a scene (or a book):

I'm starting a new fantasy writing project. I wanted to ensure I have
the depth and breadth to have a setting and history that can be
revealed over several books or can drive plotlines over several
books. Thus comes the world-building.

I stumbled upon some world-building exercises in last year's National
Novel Writing Month forums and am currently using it to organize my

You can find the exercises here:

I use an excel spreadsheet and each tab is a different day.

Going back to your first question, I find it useful to end in the
middle of some action. Typically I know what is to come next, so
picking up the story at a later date becomes easier for me.

To answer your second question, what I'm hearing is that you have
three story threads going on and not sure how to bring it all
together. Correct? You may consider checking your local library
system for "The Marshall Plan of Novel Writing" by Evan Marshall. One
of the few books that I've read that actually tackles multiple story
lines and subplots. His "templates" may be all you need to re-arrange
your storylines so the characters and plot begin to merge into one.

To your other questions about feedback from others. . .everything
I've read says "finish the first draft!" You don't need people
critiqing your work till you've finished the story. Many of us want
validation during the process but what I've found in most cases is I
stop my forward momentum to try go back over previous chapters and
address said feedback.

Just write the first draft!

Then grab a book on editing your fiction such as "The Complete Guide
to Editing Your Fiction" by Michael Seidman. Once you've done your
second or third revision of the story then worry about finding a
local fiction writer's group or online writer's group to provide

So. . .with all that said. . .spend the next several weeks working
through your world-building then get yourself ready to write the next
50,000 words of your story at warp speed on November 1st when the
next NANoWrMo starts (
Hope to see you there.

God bless,

Monday, September 04, 2006

Writing: If you give and editor...

Going on vacation for a week, but here's a great tale by a friend. You can find more of her stuff at

If You Send an Editor a Query Letter...

(With thanks to Laura Numeroff.)
(c) 2004 by, Inc.

Have you ever wondered what happens to the hundreds of query letters and proposals you have generated over the course of your writing career? Does some editorial assistant use it to line the bottom of her ferret cage? Do they cast shovels full of unsoliciteds onto the fire at the annual editorial weenie roast?

If you've ever wondered about this--or are just a fan of the full-circle themes of Laura Numeroff--keep reading. This piece, based loosely on the experiences of some editors I know (many of whom have exceptional assistants), offers a glimpse into the real world of editors everywhere. Enjoy.

If you send an editor a query letter, she'll want an SASE to go with it.

When she sees the SASE, it might remind her that she's almost out of stamps. She is also low on Diet Coke and Excedrin Migraine. So Ms. Editor loads up her 1993 Toyota Tercel with three large bags of cans--last week's soda supply--to take to the Piggly Wiggly on her lunch break.

On her way to lunch, Ms. Editor will pass the Fed Ex man, who is carrying a stack of boxes for her: three manuscripts (two of them late) and 260 proposals her cute-but-clueless new assistant requested while Ms. E. was out of the office last week. This reminds her to compose an ad to find Fabio's successor.

As she faxes ad copy, Ms. E's eagle-sharp editorial eyes will fall on her day planner: Meeting today at 3:00 with the publisher to discuss next year's fall lineup. Ms. E. digs production quotes and sales projections for her top six proposals (including your query, which she skimmed with enthusiasm as she guzzled her lunch) out of the mountain of paper in her inbox, getting a paper cut in the process.

The blood reminds her of the last editorial planning meeting, when some hapless editor (never mind who) suggested going to contract again with a talented but unknown writer, whose last book sold so poorly that the warehouse was using remainders as door stops. Ms. E. shudders and combs her pile of proposals for evidence of marketability, leaving frantic messages for you to e-mail her sales figures for your previous books and a copy of your speaking schedule for the following year. While Ms. E. is on the phone, one stressed-out graphics designer and three unhappy authors leave their own frantic messages, on a line to which no one but her mother is supposed to have the number.

Thoughts of her mother will remind Ms. Editor of a manuscript her mother's hairdresser's nephew sent for review "when she has a free moment." Ms. E's mother has been gently chiding her daughter about it for the past month. It doesn't seem to matter that the house Ms. E. works for doesn't publish science fiction, or that the young man couldn't write his way out of a paper bag. Ms. E. must convince her boss to publish it, or the hairdresser will make Mom look like she's backed into a weed-wacker for her fiftieth high school reunion. Ms. E. reaches for the Excedrin next to her office clock, and sees it is now 3:05.

Late for the meeting, Ms. E. carries your e-mail between her teeth, proposals in one hand and her Diet Coke in the other, and sprints for the conference room. Her ideas are met with unanimous enthusiasm. Giddy, Ms. E. proposes to give you a six-figure advance and a three-book deal. Someone asks Ms. E. if she's been sniffing glue.

The glue remark reminds her of the stamp on your SASE, which you so obligingly supplied. Ms. E. uses it to give you good news and bad news: They want to publish your book. But she doesn’t work there anymore. If you want the contract, Ms. E. adds, please send a full proposal and three sample chapters to her colleague, who was smart enough to keep her mouth shut during the previous editorial meeting.

A little surprised, you go ahead and submit the requested material, putting the new editor's name on the envelope. Four weeks later, you get a form letter from the new-and-even-more-clueless editorial assistant. "Sorry, but we don't accept unsolicited proposals. Next time you send a SASE... Be sure to send a query letter with it."

Heidi Hess Saxton is the editorial director of, a freelance writing and editing business. She has ten years experience as an in-house editor, most recently as senior editor of a medium-sized CBA publishing house. For permission to reprint, contact Heidi at

posted by Heidi Hess Saxton